Tag Archives: Phoenix Suns

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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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.

 

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.

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.