Tag Archives: Chris Paul

 

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/ USA Today Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/ USA Today Sports

 

     The pinnacle of the Los Angeles Clippers success has never been higher this season before this year. Led by Blake Griffin & Chris Paul on the court and the coaching ability of Doc Rivers, the x-factor for the Clippers has been the substantial growth and improvement of center DeAndre Jordan who has become the anchor on the defensive side of the ball.

 

After signing a four year $43 million dollar contract in 2011 with the Golden State Warriors as a restricted free agent, the Clippers front office decided to match the offer sheet that would keep him in Los Angeles.

 

     While providing many highlights for the fans of lob city, many were beginning to become disgruntled for the lack of productivity being put on display. The team would continue to improve with the talents of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and the previous head coach Vinny Del Negro, who was considered the Achilles heel of the Clippers. Many felt Del Negro was infringing on the Clippers ability to compete at the next level for a NBA title.

 

Steve Mitchell/ USA Today Sports

Steve Mitchell/ USA Today Sports

 

     Acquiring head coach Doc Rivers, Jordan’s game has taken flight as he is now having his best season in his six year career. Under the tutelage of Rivers and his coaching staff, DeAndre Jordan has become a dominant force on the floor. Posting career high numbers with 10.4 points per game, league leading 13.6 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game, Jordan has put the NBA on notice becoming a contending candidate for Most Improve Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Rivers has also instilled the confidence in him to play him in the 4th quarter, something that Jordan was not accustomed to doing in the previous seasons under Del Negro.

 

After the recent controversy of the disturbing comments of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Jordan would go on to become the spark to ignite his team after a lost in Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors with a 25 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks that led to a victory, giving them a 3-2 series lead.

 

As the Los Angeles Clippers continue their quest for their first NBA title, they will go as far as Jordan can take them as the leader of the defense and creating second chance opportunities and finishing above the rim better than most.

 

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Western Conference Playoffs Preview

 

Chris Humphreys-USA Today Sports

Chris Humphreys-USA Today Sports

   As the NBA playoffs approaches us, the Western Conference presents a NCAA Tournament feel this year with various teams looking to represent the conference in the NBA Finals. Teams begin to shape into form, peak at the right moment, and get ready to turn their aspirations into tangible success. On the flip side, others begin to fall apart rather due to lack of execution, immature mistakes on mundane routines, or injuries towards the finish line of the 82 game season. The marathon is over, but the race has barely started.

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

 

 

     The Western Conference has become the ‘survival of the fittest’ conference with teams battling for playoff positions throughout the season. The San Antonio Spurs have been playing its best basketball this season. When they are healthy, they are led by explosive forward in Kawhi Leonard who is slowly evolving into one of the league’s best two-way players.  While San Antonio pursues another championship title, health and consistency will be needed to avoid last years debacle to the Miami Heat.

While been the hottest team since the All-Star break, the consensus picks have been the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers.

    Emerging as favorites to represent its conference in the NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder are led by the Most Valuable Player front runner in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They look to continue their mission to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to capture its first franchise NBA Championship that would silence their critics and end discussions of the two superstars not being able to coincide with one another. The key to accomplishing their goals will be the supporting cast featuring Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson along with the veteran savvy of Derek Fisher and recently acquired Caron Butler while getting stops at the defensive end.

 

 

Getty Images

Getty Images

   The Clippers have made strides to improve their roster in order to reach the NBA Finals led by head coach Doc Rivers. The teaching and coaching methods of Rivers has expanded players games such as DeAndre Jordan as he has became a candidate for Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards. Also, Blake Griffin who has arguably been the Clippers best player due to the shoulder injury suffered in January by Chris Paul.

However, as many basketball fans know, the postseason comes down to matchups that could ultimately play into the hands of a lower seed teams.

Derick Hingle- USA Today Sports

Derick Hingle- USA Today Sports

 

 

For teams such as the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies, a deep run can be made in the postseason. Following the previous success found in last season’s playoffs will not be a surprise given the experience both teams possess. We await the debut of the Portland Trail Blazers who will face the Houston Rockets where we get the tandems of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge against the talents of James Harden and Dwight Howard. The key factors in this series will be the supporting cast of Portland that features Robin Lopez, Nicholas Batum, and Wesley Matthews against Houston’s role players that consists of Patrick Beverley, Chandler Parsons, and Terrence Jones will have to produce.

 

     As the cream of the crop rises into place in, the standings has set the playoff tree into an upset bracket for higher seed teams. The last man standing in the battle royale of the Western Conference may be the team hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of it all in June.

Deserved All-Star Reserves

 

While NBA fans have their vote to be accounted for, All-Star selections continue to become to lose its significance while turning into a popularity contest. It has benefitted many players such as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Indiana Pacers forward Paul George among first time starters in the All-Star game. Yet, it becomes a difficult process when there are players going unnoticed due to the marquee players in the league. Here are those player who deserve an invite to New Orleans to be an All-Star.

Western Conference

LaMarcus Aldridge- Portland Trail Blazers

     Make no mistake that forward LaMarcus Aldridge is having a  MVP season thus far.  Portland’s early season success has been led by Aldridge who is averaging a career high in points and rebounds as they have matched their win total from the previous season. Aldridge has certainly been the catapult for that success as he looks like he is in the prime of his career.

 

Chris Paul- Los Angeles Clippers

Before the shoulder injury to Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers were clicking on all cylinders. While average double digit numbers in points and assists, Paul has arguably been the best point guard in the association as he is responsible for his teams 42 points per game. Due to the injury, his goal is to return in time for the game.

 

David Lee- Golden State Warriors

David Lee has played himself into the All-Star conversation and deserves a second consecutive selection to New Orleans. While Curry has stepped into the leadership role, Lee’s productivity has not regressed from last season as he becomes a reliable second option for Curry and the Warriors to go to.

 

Damian Lillard- Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers are one of few NBA teams who deserve multiple All-Star bids for the exceptional play of Damian Lillard. Picking up where he has left off last season, Lillard has continued to play with poise and leadership from the second year player. Hitting back to back game-winning shots on the road, he has shown us why four years of college basketball can groom a player before making the leap into the NBA.

 

 

DeMarcus Cousins- Sacramento Kings

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins deserves an All-Star spot for what he has done on the court for Sacramento. With dramatic growth in his maturity, Cousins may be the best offensive center in the game today with career high averages in points, rebounds, and steals. The Kings are not having large amounts of success in wins, but they continue to improve this season starting with the man in the middle with an opportunity to join the USA Men’s Basketball roster.

 

 

James Harden- Houston Rockets

James Harden is the best shooting guard on the offensive side of the ball in the Western Conference. Leading his team in scoring at 23.7 ppg, Harden is still growing as his game evolves to a higher level. However, the Houston Rockets will need him to lead the way in order to take off and make a championship run.

 

Dwight Howard- Houston Rockets

After a nightmare season in Los Angeles as a Laker, Howard hasn’t had the ideal season that would silence his critics. Only averaging 18 points per game from 17 the previous season, he has not lived up to expectations as the next great Rockets big man. However, Howard’s ability on the defensive end makes him an All-Star in the Western Conference. There aren’t many prolific centers in today’s NBA which is a positive for him to flourish as an All-Star.

 

Eastern Conference

Demar Derozan- Toronto Raptors

     Since the Rudy Gay trade, the Toronto Raptors have found success led by the play of the dynamic swingman Demar Derozan. Evolving into a premier shooting guard in this league, he is having an all-star caliber season averaging career high numbers in points, rebounds, and assists as the Raptors sit atop of the Atlantic Division while maintaining a steady mindset geared towards the postseason.

 

Joakim Noah- Chicago Bulls

Joakim Noah is the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls as they thrive through the adversity of injuries and trades for another season. His intangibles have became a healthy virus to his teammates that is preached by head coach Tom Thibodeau. Noah is the least flashy player on this list, but he plays with 110% effort every night and plays for more than the name on his back. Noah might not be the most talented in New Orleans if he gets the nod, but he certainly will be the most passionate, energized, and the hardest worker.

 

 

John Wall- Washington Wizards

If the season would end today, the Washington Wizards would clinch a playoff berth led by the terrific play of John Wall. After signing a $80 million dollar extension, Wall has been spectacular displaying his talents to the world. While averaging a career high 20 ppg, Wall is confident he will lead the Wizards into the postseason. We should see some dazzling highlights in the All-Star game if he is named as a reserve.

 

Chris Bosh- Miami Heat

Due to the problematic knees of Dwyane Wade, various NBA fans have a found new respect and appreciation for what Chris Bosh does for the Miami Heat. Some nights, he is being asked to defend the opponents best low post player while carrying a heavy set of the offensive load. Numbers do not tell the story of how much Bosh means to this Miami team as he will be counted on. The playoffs should definitely be indicative of Bosh’s worth and/or future in Miami.

 

 

Lance Stephenson- Indiana Pacers

Indiana’s early success during the regular season has been somewhat predicated on the play of Lance Stephenson. As he leads the league with three triple doubles, Stephenson is having fun where there are nights when he is the Pacers best player with playmaking abilities that catches the crowds attention.

 

Roy Hibbert- Indiana Pacers

Roy Hibbert is the NBA’s best defensive post player in the association. Being the backbone and last line of his team’s defense, he is a natural NBA center with old school post moves in the paint that we don’t see today. He may not necessarily be box office or must see TV, but Indiana deserves multiple All-Stars.

 

 

Kyle Lowry- Toronto Raptors

In a contract year, while being the topic of discussion in trade rumors, the play of Kyle Lowry has warranted himself an all-star bid to New Orleans this season. Becoming a jack of all trades in Toronto, Lowry is averaging a career high in points and assists as he pairs well with Derozan to lead the Raptors on a mission of being division champions and ultimately earning himself a lucrative contract in the near future.

Injury Prone Guards

    The latest trend around the NBA in recent memory has been the collapse of many NBA guards across the league. Whether its a recurring them of injuries with the same players or freak accidents occurring, we are seeing key players being sidelined for various reasons at a high rate.

 

We are in the age of the association where the point guard era has been asked to consume more responsibility while placed with the task of leading a team. Guards such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams are now relied on to provide more offense by scoring the ball while being the floor general. The defensive side has also become a challenge as many are taking on the contact of pick and roll defense that takes a toll on the body over time.

   At this point, teams are inclined to have a serviceable backup point guard that is capable of controlling the offense like players such as Darren Collison, Reggie Jackson, and Shaun Livingston. It has become a rarity at the position to have exceptional guard play when others are forced to play out of their natural positions to fill roles they are not accustomed to playing especially for teams such as Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics without all-star point guard Rajon Rondo as we await his season debut.

  Due to today’s frenetic style and pace in the NBA, the frequency of injuries may increase specifically knee injuries. It has been well documented that many with multiple knee injuries do not come back as explosive as before while many NBA fans are hoping that is the not case for former MVP Derrick Rose.

 

We should value and appreciate the point guard play of what the league has to offer for now. The likelihood of having a longer career with less injuries comes into question for many NBA superstars leading their respective teams to accomplish their goals.

Best of the West: Pacific Division

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     With the first quarter of the season over, it has been an interesting start to the year. The Western Conference has been the cream of the crop for being a competitive conference over the past few years as teams improve every year. However, the Pacific Division is one to keep an eye on this season. Player transactions and acquisitions along with head coaches landing jobs with new teams has changed the landscape of what this division had in store for us this season.

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Los Angeles Lakers

All eyes will be on Kobe Bryant during the 2013-14 campaign as the aging veteran overcomes the hurdle of the dreaded Achilles injury. While many write the Lakers off, as many believe they are looking forward to the off season where we will see a re-innovated roster. Despite this LA franchise being voted to finish in 12th place by ESPN, you can not count Los Angeles out just yet. With expectations deflating from last season, expect the Lakers to make a run for a playoff spot with various contributions on the offensive end due to the success of the Mike D’Antoni system. Lakers must continue to develop team chemistry and stay healthy in order to overcome the odds and early season adversity.

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Golden State Warriors

It has been a roller coaster start of a season for Golden State Warriors, located in the bay area, as they are off to a slow start. While winning 4 of their last 11 games, Golden State is relying on its reinforcements to bounce back from injuries such as Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Jermaine O’Neal. The starting five with the feature of the “Splash Bros.”, in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, will have to carry the load of the team. The supporting cast on the bench will be asked to do more as well.

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Sacramento Kings

Under new ownership, there is a new pulse in Sacramento as they look to improve. The debut of head coach Michael Malone will be one to keep an eye on as he will continue to develop the team with scoring threats DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas leading the way. Cousins is having his best season, averaging a career high in points, 22.6 points per game. However, in the association thus far his lack of maturity has been the main concern. The Kings have assembled pieces around Cousins including 7th overall pick Ben McLemore and newly acquired star player Rudy Gay and former 2nd overall pick Derrick Williams. Sacramento has plenty of athleticism on the offensive side of the court that teams have to match every night. The key for them will be to improve on the defensive side of the ball and find an identity going forward.

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Los Angeles Clippers

     It was a busy off season for the Los Angeles Clippers as they were able to keep Chris Paul in Lob City and acquire former Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. With the additions of JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, and Darren Collison, many claim the Clippers not only as division champions, but also predicting them to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. Yet, the script has not went according to plan. The Clippers defensive woes continue to show primarily in the frontcourt between Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. With injuries to Redick and Matt Barnes, Los Angeles will look to the new signing of free agent Stephen Jackson to pay dividends as he is expected to bring perimeter shooting and toughness that is well needed if the Clippers want to succeed.

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Phoenix Suns

It is safe to say that nobody could foresee the early success of the Phoenix Suns coming this season. Led by first year head coach Jeff Hornacek, the rambunctious Suns are becoming a fun team to watch featuring a dynamic backcourt duo of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. Also, they have terrific twins in Marcus & Markieff Morris. Will Phoenix overcome the odds and make the postseason? No. However, they can play the role of bracket busters as the season starts to end.

What is easily forgotten over the course of the year is that the 82 game is not a race, better yet a marathon. Teams begin to peak in the latter half of the year when players and coaches begin to work cohesively, rather than individually. Nothing is predictable in the NBA as you have to put injuries and transactions into consideration. The shootout for the Pacific Division in the wild wild west has just began.

Top 10 Point Guard in the Association

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     We live in the NBA era where the point guard has gained more responsibility to consume. From more than a floor general such as Mark Jackson, Magic Johnson and John Stockton to the leaders of the new school from Chris Paul to John Wall. The evolution of the position has continued to leave NBA fans amazed by what we are witnessing. Here is your Top 10 Point Guard’s in the Association.

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10. Damian Lillard -Portland Trailblazers
    Lillard was a runaway pick for the  Rookie of the Year trophy, averaging 19 points and 6.5 assists per game catching eyes around the league. He has began the 2013-2014 campaign playing at an all-star caliber level. With Lillard’s talents and intangibles, a promising future is coming his way.

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9. John Wall

Before the start of this season, John Wall had recent contract extension worth $80 million dollars. With that being said, Wall is expected to lead the Washington Wizards this season with the young talent and veteran leadership being put into place. As he only played 49 games last season, Wall still had flashes of being a top 5 point guard a few years from now, but he must start by leading his team to the postseason.

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8. Deron Williams -Brooklyn Nets

     Deron Williams had a season that was one to forget that was cause by early injuries and overweight coming into last season. When healthy towards the end of the season, he showed us why he was considered a premier point guard in the NBA. With a new season,and additions of head coach Jason Kidd and player personnel surrounding him, Williams should flourish and put his name back in the top 5 category.

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7. Rajon Rondo

     Rondo has flew under the radar with his recent ACL injury that kept him sideline for majority of the season. With a new coach and rebuilding roster, it will be interesting to see the leadership he can bring to the team as all eyes are on him to be the man in Boston.

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6. Stephen Curry

 Stephen Curry
     You can do nothing but cheer from the emergence of Curry. The baby face assassin has elevated his game this past season with his prolific scoring from inside and out that has led the Golden State Warriors to the playoffs last season. Curry has to become a better defender in order to complete his game that will raise his game to another level. However, health is the main concern for him as ankle injuries has slowed him down. If he can remain healthy throughout the season, it will be tough to contain him.

 

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5. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls

     Rose continued to keep many NBA fans optimistic about his health as he decided to sit out the entire 2012-2013 season. Since his return, Rose has struggled shooting the ball thus far this season at 31% and turning the ball over at a rapid pace. Rose has shown his flashes of greatness being the youngest to win NBA MVP back in 2010-2011 campaign.  All eyes will be on Rose as we watch him grow from the concrete of criticism he received for sitting out the entire season.

 

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4. Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers

     The legend of Uncle Drew continues to grow for Kyrie Irving as he amazes us with his play. With a much improved supporting cast around Irving, it gives Irving a chance to have the defense primarily stopping him. With much improvement needed on the defensive side of the ball, it’s hard to find any player in the association that can keep up, yet alone contain him. Just ask Brandon Knight.

 

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3. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder

     With the criticism that Russell Westbrook receives for the plays his decision making, he displayed how valuable he was to the Thunder with his knee injury that kept him out of the postseason as they were eliminated in the 2nd round. He has also had a career best in rebounds and assists. With outstanding play on offense and defense, Westbrook has proven himself a top 3 point guard.

 

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2. Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs

I believe it is time to give the veteran Tony Parker the credit he deserves as he leads the Spurs to a very successful season. Parker has had his stats rise from the previous season across the board, giving him consideration for MVP before his injury. His ability to facilitate the ball along with the lost art of a mid range jump shot keeps the defense guessing when Parker has the ball in his hands. The Frenchmen is not leaving the game anytime soon as he improves with age.

 

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1. Chris ‘CP3’ Paul – Los Angeles Clippers

From New Orleans to the spotlight in Los Angeles, Chris Paul has evolved the Clippers into a contender in the Western Conference. A bulldog on defense and being a floor general along with the first option on offense, Paul has shown to be a dominant force on the court. The key addition of Doc Rivers as head coach will elevate his game that can give him the help he needs to reach the NBA Finals in the near future.