Tag Archives: Chicago Bulls

NBA Midseason Awards

 

Kevin Durant

Jesse D. Garrabrant- Getty Images

 

What has been an exhilarating start to the 2014-15 NBA season, there has been many captivating story lines of emerging NBA players that are going in the right direction of success in the association. As we approach the second half of the season, here are the front runners of our NBA Awards.

 

Brace Hemmelgarn- USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn- USA TODAY Sports

Rookie of the Year- Andrew Wiggins

     This year’s number one overall selection in Andrew Wiggins has so far been able to live up to expectations, making himself the runaway favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. Making the maximum of his efforts of playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he has been able to polish his talents with the opportunity given to him by head coach Flip Saunders, averaging 15.2 points per game shooting 43%. The ceiling is very high for Wiggins with the future ahead of him.

Gary Dineen- Getty Images

Gary Dineen- Getty Images

Most Improved Player- Jimmy Butler

     Shooting guard Jimmy Butler has evolved as one of the best two way players in the NBA. Entering his fourth season, putting himself into All-Star consideration for what he has done for the Chicago Bulls. Developing his offensive game, he has averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists this season to go with his stifling defense that has made him a go to option and a backcourt mate Derrick Rose has been missing majority of his career. Going forward deeper into the season, Chicago’s success could weigh heavily on what he can provide on both ends of the floor. It will also be interesting what teams have to offer Butler as he becomes a restricted free agent.

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Ned Dishman- Getty Images

 

Sixth Man of the Year- Isaiah Thomas

     Leaving his starting position in Sacramento, Isaiah Thomas had adapted well in his new role with the Phoenix Suns as the catalyst of the bench. Adding himself to a backcourt of guards featuring Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, Thomas has often found himself closing out games for head coach Jeff Hornacek has been a a recipe for success for the Suns. Hoping to hold on to a playoff seed in the Western Conference, Thomas will be a x-factor of how far they can go.

John E. Sokolowski- USA TODAY Sports

John E. Sokolowski- USA TODAY Sports

Coach of the Year- Mike Budenholzer

     There is no debate that Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer is the NBA’s Coach of the Year. Taking a page out of Greg Popovich’s head coaching book, Budenholzer has his team playing unselfish team basketball that results into open shots and great chances to score along with a top defense in the league. It is too soon to call them the Spurs, as they have their own identity with only 8 losses in the league, leading to the best record in the league.

John Amis- Associated Press

John Amis- Associated Press

Defensive Player of the Year- DeAndre Jordan
     What has been a successful year for DeAndre Jordan could earn him honors of being the defensive player of the year. His efforts and contributions has led him to be put in consideration to be an All-Star. Controlling the paint with a league leading 13.1 rebounds per game and 2.4 blocks per game, Jordan has become the defensive anchor for Doc Rivers wants for his team in order to win a championship.

Nathaniel S. Butler- Getty Images

Most Valuable Player- James Harden
     The Houston Rockets do not have the best record in the Western Conference. However, they do have the player who is most valuable to his team in James Harden. The one who is feared with the beard has taken his game to another level averaging career highs across the board including 2 steals per game on the defensive side that has been a struggle for him in the past. With running mate Dwight Howard absent from the lineup during the season, the challenge has been set for Harden where he has answered the bell leading the team in points and assists. To sustain the high level of success that has been obtained, Harden must stay healthy and on the attack for Houston to make the next step towards winning it all.

Top Tier NBA Point Guards

 

B/R NBA 200: Top Point Guards in 2013-14

USA Today Sports

 

While we watch the NBA continues to evolve its game play and style across the league, the most depended position over recent years has been the point guard position. Being required to carry a heavy work load, the success of a franchise rest on the floor general on the court. With the talent depth around the league of the position, we look at the cream of the crop that is the top 10 point guards.

 

Andrew D. Bernstein

Andrew D. Bernstein

 

10. Kyle Lowry

The emergence of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry has been a major factor for the recipe to the Toronto Raptors success and there ongoing improvement. Averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and assists, many believed that Lowry was an all-star snub the previous season. Leading by example, he would help lead the Raptors to an Atlantic Division champions. With the dynamic backcourt duo of himself and DeMar Derozan, the sky is the limit this season of more to come.

 

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

 

9. Derrick Rose

The absence off the court of Derrick Rose has many optimistic of the return to the 2014-15 NBA season. Having damage to both knees creates minor doubt of what can be a slim window for Rose to have the longevity to play later in his career. Using FIBA World Championships to get his legs under him, the former MVP has looked up to part over the course of the NBA preseason. Adding Pau Gasol to the Chicago Bulls supporting cast will elevate there chances to a NBA Finals birth with the play of Derrick Rose we are accustom to seeing.

 

Ned Dishman-Getty Images

Ned Dishman-Getty Images

 

8. John Wall

The anticipation of John Wall to raise his game to the next level has began. Coming off an injury riddle season in 2012-13, he has made his way into the elite point guard after last season coming off an all-star season playing all 82 games as he led the Washington Wizards to the postseason. Making it to the 2nd round of the Eastern Conference, his playoff performance was sub par to what he is capable of doing. Wall will be asked to do more with the injury to the emerging shooting guard Bradley Beal with a wrist injury out for six weeks.

 

Matt York

Matt York

 

7. Goran Dragic

The Phoenix Suns left many appalled after going 48-34 under first season head coach Jeff Hornacek as they were led by 28 year old point guard Goran Dragic. The Slovenian star in the making became one of three NBA players since 1993 to average 20 ppg shooting 50% from the field and 40% from the 3 point field including the names of Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Dirk Nowitzki. The breakout season would lead to being awarded the NBA Most Improved Player of 2013-14. The tough part for Dragic will be to duplicate the results of last season. However, with the addition of Isaiah Thomas and the return of Eric Bledsoe will increase the chances of the Suns for a playoff birth in the Western Conference.

 

Danny Moloshok

Danny Moloshok

 

6. Chris Paul

      While many view Chris Paul as the best point guard in the league, the reign stops here. Leading the league in his third straight season in assists and steals per game, Paul continues to get a postseason pass for early exits in the playoffs. The jury is out on him following his debacle in game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder where he made costly decisions that would lead to a Thunder victory. It is difficult to consider Paul the best where he is potentially not the best player on his team anymore.

 

David Liam Kyle-Getty Images

David Liam Kyle-Getty Images

 

5. Kyrie Irving

The emergence of Kyrie Irving has caught the attention of the NBA this upcoming season. Coming off what was a below average season for Irving’s standards, he managed to excite the basketball world winning the NBA All-Star MVP and was able to show off his top tier skills during the the FIBA World Championships which would lead to the 2014 FIBA World MVP. Returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers with a new and improved team featuring superstars LeBron James and Kevin Love, higher expectations are help upon Uncle Drew to become a complete player to championship aspirations.

 

Danny Moloshok

Danny Moloshok

 

4. Russell Westbrook

     All eyes will be on Russell Westbrook during the first half of the season without running mate and current reigning MVP Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. If anybody was to embrace this situation, it is him. Known for his questionable shot selection that can take you out of a game, Westbrook can surely keep you in a game with his athleticism that is second to none against many at his position while providing the intangibles to want to win. Still an ongoing learning process at point guard, he will have to cut down on costly turnovers that have an impact on the game.

 

Danny Moloshok

Danny Moloshok

 

3. Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers are slowly evolving into a team to be dangerous in the Western Conference with the former Weber State point guard Damian Lillard. The third year veteran has been nothing less than spectacular in his first two seasons following clutch performances throughout the season including his remarkable performance in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs that eliminated the Houston Rockets in game 6. Being cut from the USA National basketball team has added fuel to the fire for Lillard and his off-season training. Dame’s got next and he is coming for the number one spot.

 

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

 

2. Stephen Curry

      The baby face assassin has arrived on the scene as a premier point guard after the breakout season, making his first all-star appearance in 2014. Expanding the talents beyond his shooting ability, Steph Curry has elevated his game to the next level with career highs in points and assists per game that would lead the Golden State Warriors to its best franchise record at 51-31. Expect a career year and what can be a MVP type season for Curry in 2014-15.

 

Mike Ehrmann-Getty Images

Mike Ehrmann-Getty Images

 

1. Tony Parker

     Today in the NBA, Tony Parker may be the most under appreciated point guard on this list and across the league. Not flashy nor the most exciting point guard, yet he gets the most consistent and raises the level of his game in the postseason. Bigger picture, he is what young points guards want to be, a champion. While many chase to be where Parker is and that is on top.

Leaders of the New School

 

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Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA Today Sports

 

Just days away from the start of the 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championships, the final 12 man roster has been set for Team USA as they prepare for group play. With the injury to Paul George and withdraws of Kevin Love and Kevin Durant, coach Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA have new hurdles to overcome and holes to fill in very little time. The talent of the aforementioned players cannot be replaced, but depth and versatility will be the theme for this American team. There are four players who will need to step into a larger role in order to complete the task at hand that is winning the gold medal.

 

2014 USA Basketball Practice

Stephen Curry

Seeing limited minutes in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Stephen Curry has elevated his game to elite status through the USA Basketball camp. Despite the loss of Durant, he is slowly becoming a leader for this team. Curry has been able to pick up the scoring load while playing both guard positions on the floor along with his improved defensive intensity. Coach Krzyzewski will need Curry to carry his hot shooting into group play and throughout the tournament to win gold.

 

James Harden is eager to take on a featured role with Team USA. (USATSI)

USA Today Sports

 James Harden
After recent comments being made regarding the best player in the NBA, the stage is set for James Harden to support his statement. The loss of George and Durant has now positioned him to show his abilities on the offensive end, but also the defensive end where he has been criticized for being lackadaisical at times. Team USA is depending on Harden to become who he says he is starting on Saturday.

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Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls and basketball fans must remain patient with the comeback of Derrick Rose during this tournament. However, expect him to have an impact on this roster as it progresses. With the idea of alternating with point guard Kyrie Irving at the starting position, it gives Rose a chance to improve his stamina mentally and physically before the start of the 2014-15 NBA season. It will be vital for Rose to play well in spurts for this team while remaining healthy.

 

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Anthony Davis

Since the warm up games leading to Saturday, Anthony Davis has became the face of USA Basketball going into his third year in the NBA. He has been a man amongst boys in the frontcourt while adding weight to his body along with the improvement of his jump shot. This has allowed him to add to his array of skills he already possesses. After winning the national championship at the University of Kentucky, Davis was forced to grow and mature quicker than other rookies being on the 2012 Olympic team. Now, he is poised to lead USA all the way.

 

MJ Mondays- 1992 Olympics vs. Lithuania

 

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       The performance of the 1992 USA Dream Team has started the revolution of countries around the world to assemble their best talent to compete as the world’s best basketball team. With the many names committed to head coach Chuck Daly and his team, none were more important than Michael Jordan.

     Jordan would embrace a different role during his second stint with Team USA. Being the main catalyst for the 1984 team, an influx of talent featuring NBA stars Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and fellow teammate Scottie Pippen would be reassurance for him. As a result, this meant a less workload for him.

 

The Dream Team would annihilate all competition standing in their way as Jordan would have one of his best all around performances versus Lithuania led by Arvydas Sabonis and Sarunas Marciulionis.

 

Michael would set the tone on both sides of the ball, finishing with 21 points, 3 rebounds along with the suffocating defense resulting into 6 steals and 2 blocks to lead USA to a 127-76 win to advance Gold Medal Game where they would meet Croatia.

 

 

USA would go on to victory, defeating future teammate Toni Kukoc and Croatia 117-85 to claim the gold medal.

FIBA Four Breakout Players

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While we await the anticipated return of the NBA season, we are just a few weeks away from the start of the 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championships. This summer’s basketball festivities will give fans not only the opportunity to see the many talents from around the world, but also the growth of the global game of the sport. As all eyes will be on USA Basketball, we focus the spotlight on who to watch in each group’s pool play.

 

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Group A- Marc Gasol (Spain)

      Spain continues to find success throughout international play through players such as Pau Gasol, Juan-Carlos Navarro and Jose Calderon. Marc Gasol has slowly became the leader of Spain basketball. As a veteran of FIBA competition, he has became a global household name being a leader on defense and a focal point of the offense. Gasol must lead by example and set the tone early in the tournament in order for Spain to win it all.

The Immense, Incalculable Potential of Giannis Antetokounmpo

Getty Images

 

Group B- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece)

The horizon of Greece basketball has caught the eye of people and made them a favorite to win in group play. The player to look out for will be the second year player of the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek freak has captured the attention of fans with his size and athleticism while showing his talents in spurts during his rookie season. The FIBA platform is an ideal stage for Antetokounmpo to shine and display his game.

 

Derrick Rose Returns to the Court a Changed Player for USA Basketball

AP Images

 

Group C- Derrick Rose (USA)

With the departures of Paul George and Kevin Durant, the stage has been set for Derrick Rose’s return to basketball to lead USA Basketball to repeat as FIBA World Basketball Champions. So far throughout the two scrimmages we have seen, Rose has played with confidence and performed at an exceptional level. The basketball world will be anticipating the comeback as he has only played 11 games in the previous two seasons due to injuries. Whether he is still elite will not be a concern, but rather the health will be a problem for Rose in this tournament.

 

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Group D – Dante Exum (Australia)

The new kid on the block that may have a breakout performance in pool play is Dante Exum. Without team leading scorer Patty Mills, more responsibility will be asked from the 4th overall pick in order for Australia to compete for a shot at the championship. Not knowing what Exum can bring to the table makes this the best opportunity to show what he is able to bring to the Utah Jazz in the upcoming season.

Free Agency Watch List

 

NBA Free Agents 2014: Updated Rankings of Top 5 Players at Every Position

Eric Gay- Associated Press

     As we await July 1st for the start of NBA free agency, the free agent class of this summer that is being presented to us is intriguing. Very few marquee players are available that can change a franchise immediately, but many players are capable of being the missing piece to a championship puzzle. Here are the top free agents to keep on your radar during the off-season.

 

 

Pau Gasol Injury: Updates on Lakers Forward's Groin and Return

Getty Images

 

Pau Gasol

 

     The past two seasons for Pau Gasol has been rough as he has been on a team consisting of disloyalty and lack of trust between a player and a head coach that was Mike D’Antoni. While being put in difficult positions and rumored in various trade talks, he would average 17.4 ppg and 9.7 rpg in an injury riddled season. Gasol is not the go to player he once was in the early stages of his Lakers career and as a member of the Grizzlies, but he is more than capable of being a reliable option for a championship contending team.

 

 

Kelly L Cox- USA Today

 

 Isaiah Thomas

The former last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft has come into the league and surprised many by what he has been able to do for the Sacramento Kings. Averaging career highs with 20.3 points per game and 6.3 assists per game, his numbers have been comparable to the number one pick in his draft who happened to be Kyrie Irving. The 5’9″ point guard is becoming a household name that will receive a lucrative for his talents at his position that is valued.

 

 

Daniel Shirey- USA Today

 

Lance Stephenson

 

     Lance Stephenson has made himself a hot commodity for free agency this summer after having a breakout season as he became a focal point of the Indiana Pacers success. Yet, the antics on display during the postseason in the Eastern Conference Finals may have cost him millions of dollars while showing us the immaturity that once hindered his draft position. Stephenson is a unique player who can play and defend multiple positions along with having star potential, but the concern for him is if he can control his emotions on the basketball court.

 

 

Christian Petersen- Getty Images

Gordon Hayward
 
     It will be interesting to see where Gordon Hayward will land in free agency after Utah decided not to offer a contract extension. On the right team, Hayward can be a difference maker who can elevate his team to the next level with his talents and versatility at the wing position. As a member of the Jazz, he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. Seeking a lucrative contract, teams may shy away from him for his desire of big dollars wanted. If some team grants him his wish, Utah is set to match their offer.

 

NBA Free Agency

Gary A. Vasquez- Getty Images

Nick Young
     As the Los Angeles Lakers season was filled with injuries and disappointment , the one bright spot that kept fans excited was the on and off the court performance of Nick Young. In his return home, Young has arguably had his best season in his seven year career averaging 17.9 ppg. ‘Swaggy P’ will look to return to his hometown team under a long term contract that will keep him in purple and gold for years to come. The idea of bringing him back to the Lakers should be a top priority this offseason as he will become a target for teams looking for instant offense to uplift them.

Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports


Eric Bledsoe
 

     In his first season as a starter, Eric Bledsoe found a home in the Phoenix Suns where early success was found during the 2013-14 season. It was a short stint season for Bledsoe as he sidelined with a knee injury. However, he would show promise as he averaged 17.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 5.5 apg and is now known for his defense. His return to Phoenix may be slim to none with the recent draft acquisition of TJ Warren in the NBA Draft with no qualifying offer being proposed to him, making him an unrestricted free agent. The success of the Suns without Bledsoe may also be a factor in whether to pay the dynamic point guard. For his talents, teams will be willing to offer him top dollar where the feeling from the Suns is not mutual.

Report: Los Angeles Lakers Interested in Kyle Lowry During 2014 Free Agency

Kathy Willens- Associated Press

Kyle Lowry

    Kyle Lowry’s breakout season with the Toronto Raptors has led him to being a marquee free agent acquisition during this off-season. With trade rumors swirling around him for majority of the season, he was able to perform at a high level averaging career highs 17.9 ppg and 7.4 apg and becoming Toronto’s leader on the floor with his play and emotionally. Lowry can take his talents elsewhere to elevate a teams chances of fulfilling his championship aspirations.

 

Longest-Tenured Houston Rocket, Chandler Parsons, Is Also Likely Most Important

Scott Halleran- Getty Images

Chandler Parsons

     After the recent story of the Houston Rockets deciding to decline the option to maintain Chandler Parsons, the market for the small forward has became more attractive for him. Helping Houston lure in Dwight Howard, he would be the glue guy to this team with his play on both ends of the floor while improving his offensive game as he goes forward with a career high 16.6 ppg and 5 rpg. In Parsons case, a team may overpay for Parsons due to a high demand of interest by other teams. Being a 6’10 small forward will also help as teams will look for a wing that can deal with the likes of a Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, and Kevin Durant.

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Chris Bosh Says Miami Heat 'Must Win' Game 4 of 2014 NBA Finals

USA Today Sports

Chris Bosh

     Coming off a sub par season to his standards, Chris Bosh has became under appreciated in South Beach. Having catered to Miami’s game plan revolved around LeBron James can be a detriment to the team’s success, more plays should have been called for Bosh during games as he would display his clutch ability in moments. Although, the situation that was brought upon him has also improved Bosh’s overall game by expanding his outside perimeter game that leads to bringing out the opponents best big man into unfamiliar territories. A center in today’s NBA who can play both offense and defense at an exceptional level is rare. Bosh can easily become a second option elsewhere for a team who is looking to get over the hump of being a championship team if Miami is not willing to make him one.

 

 

The Detroit Pistons Have a Major Greg Monroe Dilemma

Rick Osentoski- USA Today Sports

 

 

Greg Monroe

     Greg Monroe’s name has been mentioned with many teams as a potential addition to their roster for next season. While playing for the Detroit, he may be unknown to many outside the Motor City. Monroe continues to remain consistent with his play, but also can be a household name with the right team in a major market with the right supporting cast around him. At 24 years old, he has not reached his ceiling that makes him more attracting to teams moving in a new direction. Monroe’s addition could work out immediately along the likes  of the Bobcats signing Al Jefferson last offseason. Monroe is a blue collar player who comes to work with his lunch box ready to go.

 

New York Knicks Giving Carmelo Anthony Every Reason to Leave in 2014 Free Agency

Daniel Shirey- USA Today Sports

Carmelo Anthony

 

     Carmelo Anthony’s journey has been well documented starting with the force trade from Denver to  New York all the way until the present where he has chosen to opt out of his final contract to become a free agent. Having to carry a heavy load of the work last season, the same may await Anthony next season with majority of the same players under contract for next season. The chances of Carmelo returning to the Big Apple are slim to none with what is set in place looking forward to destinations such as the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets becoming more appealing for a chance to win a NBA title and cement his legacy as a great during his era.

LeBron James' Mask Hides Miami Heat's Real Story vs. New York Knicks

Steve Mitchell- USA Today Sports

LeBron James

 
     LeBron James created headlines by making the choice of opting out of his current contract that has now led to many teams preparing to make a pitch to the best player in the NBA. Does this give any implications of him leaving Miami? Not at all. The Miami Heat will do anything possible to retain James by any means. By opting out of his deal, King James is allowed to re-sign for a max contract that is well deserved while giving the Heat a chance to bolster its roster with talent that can take the pressure off of himself. Miami is has already made a step in the right direction in acquiring Shabazz Napier via trade during the NBA Draft, who LeBron is a huge fan of. Assuming Chris Bosh & Dwyane Wade come back to accept less money, it gives the team a chance to appease James with his needs.
 
     While we await the decision from LeBron James, teams have to remember not to focus on one player, running the risk of missing the opportunity to bring in exceptional players that are available. The free agency season is around the corner with plenty of players who are ready to step in right away and contribute to a new franchise. Other players that could become a factor on teams include Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, Loul Deng, and Patty Mills as well as possible big trades with players like Rajon Rondo or Kevin Love. Let the July fireworks begin.

 

Center of Attention: Top 10 NBA Centers

 

In today’s NBA, the center position has lost its significance as it has became diluted and heavy guard play in the association. The league lacks a true dominance at the center position and no consistent play unlike Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, or Patrick Ewing. The prerogative of a big man on majority teams is to set screens and rebound as opposed to being a focal point on the low block in an offense. Let’s appreciate the elite big men in the league as we take a look at the top 10 centers in the NBA right now.

 

 

 

10. Nikola Vucevic

While the Orlando Magic continue to improve for the future, an important piece to their puzzle of success is Nikola Vucevic. During his third season, his offensive productivity has elevated as he is averaging a career high in points at 14 points per game while grabbing 10.8 rebounds. The former USC Trojan can become a focal point for this Orlando franchise with the talents surrounding him in Aaron Afflalo, Tobias Harris, and Victor Oladipo. For a player of his size and stature, the key to Vucevic taking that next step involves becoming more of a defensive side of the ball. Orlando will contemplate on opening their check books to retain him as he awaits free agency.

 

 

9. Andre Drummond

     Andre Drummond has grasped the attention of many around the league with his athletic abilities for the Detroit Pistons. Becoming a starter this season, he has been able to show us his capability as a center, averaging a double double at 13.2 ppg and 12.9 rpg. His ability to score without plays being called for him is an asset while scoring off second chance points. As he continues to improve his overall game, Drummond can become a franchise player where Detroit can build around him.  His growth as a player may slow down if the Pistons do not fix the logjam in the frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Josh Smith.

 

 

 

8. DeAndre Jordan

This season has been a turnaround for Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Due to the change at coach with Doc Rivers taking over, he has been playing the best basketball of his five year stint in Los Angeles becoming a strong candidate for Most Improved Player of the year. Averaging career high numbers in points, rebounds, and blocks, he must sustain his overall play for the Clippers in order to reach championship aspirations. While Jordan continues to improve his free throws and post moves, his athleticism has allowed him to become a defensive anchor.

 

 

 

7. Marc Gasol

The current reigning Defensive Player of the Year has had a difficult season with knee injuries. However, Marc Gasol is the best player for the Memphis Grizzlies when healthy as he is a focal point on both sides of the ball.  Since his return to the team, the Grizzlies have been playing +.500 basketball as they make a late regular season push towards the NBA Playoffs. Memphis will not reach the postseason without their man in the middle performing at a high level.

 

 

 

6. Roy Hibbert

The Indiana Pacers success begins with their productivity on defense that starts with the 7 footer in Roy Hibbert. The former Georgetown Hoya has not lived up to expectations with the max contract deal he signed in 2012 worth $58 million dollars. He is inconsistent and does not rebound well for his size. Nevertheless, his role for head coach Frank Vogel does not undermine his value to the Pacers as he is the last line of defense to the rim. Hibbert allows Indiana’s perimeter defenders to become more aggressive. When called upon, Hibbert can have an offensive post presence. His post moves allows the Pacers to slow the game down in the postseason.

 

 

 

5. DeMarcus Cousins

As the Sacramento Kings continue to find ways to improve its team, the centerpiece for their franchise is DeMarcus Cousins. Averaging career highs in points and rebounds, Cousins is having his best season as many considered him an All-Star snub. His downfall continues to be his lack of maturity in his fourth season in the NBA. Many remain skeptical if he is the player to build around due to his antics that were recently on display against the Houston Rockets which resulted in an one game suspension. Cousins talent is not the question, rather his leadership skills and intangibles are.

 

4. Dwight Howard

     The Houston Rockets are beginning to peak at the right time of the season on the eve of playoffs. The answer? Dwight Howard. Although his stats from his previous season in Los Angeles (17.1 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg) mirror this season’s (18.9 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Howard is playing in a comfortable role in Houston with the arsenal of James Harden and Chandler Parsons surrounding him while being an eminent force on the defensive side of the ball.

 

3. Chris Bosh

You can make the argument that Chris Bosh is the Miami Heat’s second most valuable player to their team this season. Being undersized at the center position, he is able to pose as a threat to the opponents center due to his talents on offense and defense. Becoming more efficient behind the arc has also helped spread the floor in Miami for Lebron James. Although he is not averaging staggering stats at 16.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg, he has shown the ability to step up in clutch situations when his number is called. It is difficult seeing Bosh leave Miami under any circumstances as he has the option of becoming a free agent this summer. However, his worth may increase as the season progresses.

 

 

2. Joakim Noah

      The storyline remains the same for the Chicago Bulls as Derrick Rose ends his short season with yet another knee injury. However, the Bulls continue to find success with the help of All-Star center Joakim Noah. A strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, he has elevated his role on the offensive end  as he averages a career high in points and assists along with two triple doubles this season. Noah’s leadership and dominance has became contagious to his teammates that may lead to a spot on the All-NBA team. With the postseason in reach, Noah will relish the opportunity in leading his team with the possibility of taking down the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.

 

1. Al Jefferson

The center who is most effective for his team this season, thus far, has been Al Jefferson for the Charlotte Bobcats. As the Bobcats are fighting for playoff position, the catalyst has been the man in the middle who is arguably the most underappreciated player in the NBA. Averaging a double double with 20.5 ppg and 10.4 rpg, the offseason acquisition has helped turn Charlotte in the right direction of success going towards the future. Jefferson is a load to handle on offense as he score inside and outside the paint. With limited exposure nationally, the playoffs should help Jefferson and the Bobcats gain respect going forward.