Tag Archives: Kevin Durant

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.

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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.

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.

Top 5 NBA All-Star Weekend Moments

 

The 2014 NBA All-Star weekend was an overall success for the debut of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. A time out of the busy NBA schedule to recognize the best players of our league was rejuvenated as they showcase their talents to the world. While there were many exciting highlights that we witnessed, here are the top five moments from New Orleans.

 

5. Ovation for Bill Russell

During the intermission going into the 2nd quarter of the NBA All-Star Game, the All-Star players representing both conferences stood and applaud for Bill Russell celebrating his 80th birthday. To acknowledge one of the greatest centers of all-time and pioneers by today’s players and fans was significant for the game of basketball.

 

 

 

4. Marco Belinelli become Three Point Champion

     Coming into the competition leading the league in three point field goal percentage at 45%, Marco Belinelli would become the dark horse to win the shootout that also featured Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. Only to prevail in overtime defeating Bradley Beal, the NBA journeyman was able to enjoy this victory, adding on to a consistent season thus far with the San Antonio Spurs.

3. Dion Waiters vs. Tim Hardaway Jr.

     On the eve of NBA All-Star Saturday Night, the highlight of Friday was the one on one battle between 2nd year player Dion Waiters and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. in the Rising Stars challenge. The duel of two NBA bright stars grasped the attention of their NBA peers and fans that had people raving about what was taking place.

 

 

2. John Wall becomes Slam Dunk Champion

     What was once lost in the Slam Dunk Contest has been found by Washington Wizards John Wall. Started off as a team competition between the Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference became a dominating performance for the East while Terrance Ross would defeat Damian Lillard and Paul George handled Harrison Barnes. Wall would steal the night with his leap over the teams mascot while completing a reverse dunk that left the crowd appalled and social media buzzing as legends Julius Erving and Magic Johnson proclaim the Slam Dunk Contest being revived.

 

 

 

1. NBA All-Star Game

Capping off an exciting weekend, the 63rd annual NBA All-Star Game did not fail to disappoint fans across the world. The best players in the game today put on a performance filled with vigorous effort and jaw dropping highlights from both conferences as it became a lack of defensive effort that resulted in an offensive record setting night. While Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin were to able to score 38 points each, the spotlight belong to Kyrie Irving becoming Most Valuable Player with 31 points and 14 assists.

NBA Mid-Season Awards

     We have reached the halfway mark through the 2013-14 NBA season. One that has been filled with enticing highlights from superstars along with the surprising play of teams improving from the previous season. On the other side, we watch some of our favorite players get knocked down, once again, by injuries. Before we embark on the second half of the season, we discuss the selections of our mid season awards.

Rookie of the Year- Michael Carter-Williams

    It has been a sub par season for the NBA rookies, overall. However, despite the play of rookie guard Victor Oladipo, there is no rookie playing as well as Michael Carter-Williams. The 6’6″ guard has shown the ability to be a leader on the court, leading all rookies in scoring, assists, and steals. While injuries have been a burden to him, the sky is the limit for Carter-Williams as he improves to become an elite guard in this league.

Most Improved Player of the Year- Lance Stephenson

     Kudos to Lance Stephenson as he continues to make leaps of progression in his game for the Indiana Pacers. Remembered for his choke sign given to LeBron James during the 2011-12 NBA Playoffs, he is, now having his best season thus far. Averaging a career high in points, rebounds, assists, the sporadic play of Stephenson has been under control for majority of this season and it brings Indiana excitement to its fans. Also, it gives his team another weapon to rely on. The man who is proclaimed to be  ‘Born Ready’ deserves heavy all-star consideration as he will become a hot commodity on the free agent market this offseason. Not to mention, he is a walking triple double waiting to happen as he leads the league with three.

Sixth Man of the Year- Nick Young

      As the nightmare of a season continues for the Los Angeles Lakers, Nick Young gives Laker nation something to cheer for. After the early season move to the bench, ‘Swaggy P’ has been nothing less than spectacular, leading the team in scoring averaging 17 points per game. It may be difficult for him to win the award due to the minimum success of Los Angeles has had despite being the team’s most consistent player this year.

Defensive Player of the Year- Roy Hibbert

     As the Indiana Pacers are atop of every defensive category, Roy Hibbert is the anchor of that side of the ball. Hibbert is the backbone of this team as his defensive post presence allows perimeter defenders to be more aggressive. When they play aggressive on the perimeter, it allows Hibbert to erase any mistakes that were made. The Pacers postseason success is relied on the defense of the big man in the middle.

Coach of the Year- Jeff Hornacek

      Before the 2013-14 season began, everybody had the Phoenix Suns projected to finish in the bottom half of the Western Conference. Head coach Jeff Hornacek has surpassed critics expectations as they are among teams in the playoff hunt after missing the postseason the previous three seasons. Without rising star Eric Bledsoe out with a knee injury, he is doing a great job with the roster led by Goran Dragic. On pace to eclipse the win total from the previous year, Hornacek has his team playing very well as they are improving as the season moves into the second half.

Most Valuable Player- Kevin Durant

     With all due respect to the magnificent play of LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul George, and LeBron James this season, Kevin Durant has seperated himself from his competition thus far. While averaging a career high in assists, Durant is scoring the ball at a rapid pace and with great efficiency averaging 36.5 ppg since Russell Westbrook has been sidelined with a knee injury. What’s more remarkable is how Durant has scored his points with 69% unassisted without Westbrook compared to 41% with him. It is important for Durant to stay assertive on the offensive end while continuing to be a play maker until Westbrook returns. As we await, Durant must continue to carry the work load for the team in order to maintain success going forward.

NBA MVP Race

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    We are off to the races in the 2013-14 NBA season where it is never too early to announce our predictions for season accolades. The Most Valuable Player award is the most coveted in all of sports, the recipient must display a high level of play while being the leader of his respected teams. We often get lost in statistics rather than looking at the overall picture.  As we enter the second quarter of the league schedule, here are your early candidates for Most Valuable Player award.

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4. Paul George

    As an emerging superstar in the NBA, Paul George is off to an amazing start during this early part of the season as he is the catalyst to the Indiana Pacers owning the best record in the Eastern Conference. Averaging 23.8 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game, the Pacers have put their faith in George to lead them to the promise land which is the NBA Finals. However, the overall success of the team can possibly deflate his chances to win the MVP trophy due to the strong supporting cast surrounding him. There are nights where George is not the best player on the floor for his team. Not a terrible thing to have in a team, but this can hinder his MVP argument at the end of the year.

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3. LeBron James

      LeBron James continues to display his dominance in the Eastern Conference as he attempts to lead the Miami Heat to a third straight NBA Championship. The four-time MVP is shooting the ball at a career high 60% from the field. On the other side, his numbers across the board have dropped in rebounds, his assists have decreased while his turnovers are at a career high 3.8 per game. James continues to lead the Heat this season, but has to improve his play in order to win a 3rd straight MVP trophy.

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2. Kevin Durant

     Kevin Durant has expressed his strong feelings regarding himself being labeled as the 2nd best player in his short career. Ironically, he remains 2nd in the MVP race. Durant has shown growth in his game by adding different elements to his repertoire as he averages career highs in assists, dishing out nearly 5 assists per game and rebounds grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game. With that being said, he must continue the transition from fitting in to standing out. Having Oklahoma City Thunder one game behind out of first place, Durant has to find a way to separate himself from the other candidates to overtake the No. 1 spot.

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1. LaMarcus Aldridge

     Many people continue to under value and under appreciate what an outstanding power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is for the Portland TrailBlazers. With the best record in the NBA, Aldridge is averaging career highs in points and rebounds with 23.5 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game. He does not amaze you with you amazing highlights, but rather leads by example with terrific play on the court for Portland. He has become the dark horse and epitomizes what it is to be the Most Valuable Player to his team.