NBA Power Rankings Vol. 7

  1. Boston Celtics 18-4 (-)
  2. Houston Rockets 16-4 (Up 1)
  3. Golden State Warriors 15-6 (Down 1)
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers 14-7 (Up 2)
  5. San Antonio Spurs 13-7 (Down 1)
  6. Toronto Raptors 12-7 (Down 1)
  7. Detroit Pistons 13-6 (Up 2)
  8. Minnesota Timberwolves 12-9 (Down 1)
  9. Portland Trail Blazers 13-8 (Up 2)
  10. Washington Wizards 11-9 (Down 2)
  11. Denver Nuggets 11-9 (Down 1)
  12. Philadelphia 76ers 11-8 (Up 3)
  13. Milwaukee Bucks 10-9 (-)
  14. New Orleans Pelicans 11-9 (Up 2)
  15. Indiana Pacers 12-9 (Up 4)
  16. New York Knicks 10-10 (Down 2)
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder 8-11 (Down 5)
  18. Miami Heat 10-10 (Up 4)
  19. Utah Jazz 10-11 (Up 4)
  20. Memphis Grizzlies 7-12 (Down 3)
  21. Orlando Magic 8-13 (Down 3)
  22. Charlotte Hornets 8-11 (Down 1)
  23. Los Angeles Lakers 8-12 (Down 2)
  24. Los Angeles Clippers 8-11 (Up 2)
  25. Phoenix Suns 8-14 (Down 1)
  26. Brooklyn Nets 7-13 (Down 1)
  27. Sacramento Kings 6-15 (-)
  28. Atlanta Hawks 4-16 (Up 1)
  29. Dallas Mavericks 5-16 (Up 1)
  30. Chicago Bulls 3-16 (Down 2)
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NBA Power Rankings Vol. 6

  1. Boston Celtics 16-2 (-)
  2. Golden State Warriors 13-4 (-)
  3. Houston Rockets 13-4 (-)
  4. San Antonio Spurs 11-6 (-)
  5. Toronto Raptors 11-5 (Up 4)
  6. Cleveland Cavaliers 10-7 (-)
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves 10-7 (Down 2)
  8. Washington Wizards 10-7 (-)
  9. Detroit Pistons 11-6 (Down 2)
  10. Denver Nuggets 10-7 (Up 4)
  11. Portland Trail Blazers 10-7 (Up 6)
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder 7-9 (Down 2)
  13. Milwaukee Bucks 8-8 (Down 1)
  14. New York Knicks 9-7 (Up 4)
  15. Philadelphia 76ers 9-7 (Up 1)
  16. New Orleans Pelicans 9-8 (Down 1)
  17. Memphis Grizzlies 7-9 (Down 6)
  18. Orlando Magic 8-9 (Down 5)
  19. Indiana Pacers 10-8 (Up 4)
  20. Los Angeles Lakers 8-10 (Up 4)
  21. Charlotte Hornets 7-9 (-)
  22. Miami Heat 7-9 (Down 2)
  23. Utah Jazz 7-11 (Down 1)
  24. Phoenix Suns 7-11 (Up 2)
  25. Brooklyn Nets 6-10 (-)
  26. Los Angeles Clippers 5-11 (Down 7)
  27. Sacramento Kings 4-13 (-)
  28. Chicago Bulls 3-12 (-)
  29. Atlanta Hawks 3-14 (-)
  30. Dallas Mavericks 3-15 (-)

Winning On The Road: A Christmas Gift That Can Make Or Break The Knicks!

The (8-7) Knicks return home to Madison Square Garden tonight where so far in this early season, seem to play their best ball. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Clippers (5-10) come reeling in losing 8 in a row. If there’s a game the Knicks need to win, its tonight and here’s why.

As you may have been noticing, the Knicks have been playing an abundance amount of home games to start the season. Out of the Knicks first 15 games, they have played already 10 at home where they have gone 7-3. Starting tonight, 11 out of the next 18 games will also be at MSG. When the December 25th home game against the Philadelphia 76ers concludes, they will have played a stretch of 21 home games in their first 33 games………….And this Knick fans might hurt them if they can not take the same intensity they show at home, on the road.

In this early season their struggles, besides one win in Cleveland, have come when they have to play away from the Garden. They have looked like a completely different team posting a 1-4 record. Yes it might still only be a small sample size, but in these games they have lost, they have shown to lack that tenacity to win. Some players have come out saying that the home crowd gives them an extra boost of energy to keep pushing. Well I say, the Knicks need to find it in themselves to get that will power to win on the road or an upcoming stretch will be a “Recipe for Disaster!”

After the Christmas Day game, the NBA and the Grammy’s have gifted the Knicks a stretch run that includes 16 road games in a 20 game span. The Grammy Awards, who are returning to New York for their 60th anniversary show, will take place at Madison Square Garden on January 28. With that being said, the Grammy committee will need the venue for two weeks prior to the event, which is why there has been an unbalance in the Knicks schedule with all the home games.

Now the Knicks will have 7 road games in which hopefully are enough games for them to get it together. Another thing, they have not been away from Madison Square Garden for more than one game so far this season. In fact this upcoming weekend will be the first time they play two road games in a row, when they go up against the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets, in back to back games Friday and Saturday.

But before all that, there is a home game tonight and a home game Wednesday night!

The players love being at home. The fans are enjoying this gritty Knicks team. There is a buzz around New York City. Which makes picking up a win in tonight’s game and any upcoming home games important. And hopefully by the time Christmas Day comes, the Knicks will have notched a few more wins on the road. Because to go into this stretch not having confidence to win on the road, and then to make matters worst having to play 16 of 20 away, this can make or break their season.

The New York Knicks are definitely on the come up. Will they make the playoffs this season? Who knows. At home they look great. On the road, not so much. By the end of January, I believe we and the rest of the NBA will definitely know where this Knicks team, led by Kristaps Porzingis, ranks among the Eastern Conference.

When this time rolls around, with more than 50% of their games being completed, will the Knicks be in the top 8 defending a playoff spot? Or will they be on the outside looking in? One thing’s for sure, the Knicks must learn how to win on the road to stay relevant.

3 Centers and Joakim Noah .. What should the Knicks Do?

The Knicks have a problem on their hands, but it’s a problem Jeff Hornacek doesn’t seem to mind having. Joakim Noah, who just finished serving a 20 game suspension, is now on the bench along side his teammates…..but in his street clothes. With an abundance of centers on the Knicks roster and how well they have been playing, Hornacek basically said there is no room to play him right now. Hornacek and the organization couldn’t be any more right with this decision.

So now what about that atrocious Joakim Noah contract? A player in street clothes making about $18 million a year with 3 years left is just going to sit and not suit up? Well, maybe the Knicks organization is considering looking at the stretch provision. You might ask what is that? In the NBA, the stretch provision allows the organization to waive a player and stretch his remaining salary and cap hit over a number of years equal to the years remaining on his contract plus one. So by doing this with Noah, he would receive about $7.5 million per season for the next 5 years. This also gives the Knicks about $11 million in extra cap space for next year and $12 million for the year after that.

Right now with Noah’s contract, the Knicks have no cap space. Waiving him outright or finding a compatible trade suitor will not help the Knicks because that money would still be on the books. But by this “stretch” provision that the NBA provides, this in my opinion is best long term for the Knicks. It also gives them the opportunity to pursue a big free agent next summer when Lebron James and Paul George look to headline the free agent class.

Again only my opinion but this is what I feel the Knicks should do. The Knicks also have time in which to come up with a plan since they won’t have to make a decision til September 1, 2018 based on the stretch rule. Right now Noah will be looked to serve as a mentor to the Knicks young centers during practice until they ask him to dress. On a positive, the team did vote him this year the defensive captain so you can tell he is well liked by his teammates.

Also with Noah gone, the Knicks have themselves above .500 with Kristaps Porzingis at the helm of this new look team. It’s so rough with the abundance of centers, and the team playing so well, that Hornacek doesn’t look to get the fan favorite 2nd year center Willy Hernangomez into the in-game rotation. At this time Enes Kanter (acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade) and Kyle O’Quinn (Brooklyn Native) have provided everything the Knicks need from the center position.

NBA Power Rankings Vol. 5

  1. Boston Celtics 13-2 (-)
  2. Golden State Warriors 11-3 (Up 1)
  3. Houston Rockets 11-4 (Down 1)
  4. San Antonio Spurs 9-5 (Up 1)
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves 8-5 (Down 1)
  6. Cleveland Cavaliers 7-7 (-)
  7. Detroit Pistons 10-3 (Up 3)
  8. Washington Wizards 8-5 (Up 2)
  9. Toronto Raptors 8-5 (Up 2)
  10. Oklahoma City Thunder 6-7 (Down 3)
  11. Memphis Grizzlies 7-6 (Down 3)
  12. Milwaukee Bucks 7-6 (Up 1)
  13. Orlando Magic 8-6 (Down 1)
  14. Denver Nuggets 8-6 (Up 2)
  15. New Orleans Pelicans 8-6 (Up 3)
  16. Philadelphia 76ers 7-6 (Up 1)
  17. Portland Trail Blazers 7-6 (Down 2)
  18. New York Knicks 7-6 (Up 1)
  19. Los Angeles Clippers 5-8 (Down 5)
  20. Miami Heat 6-7 (Up 3)
  21. Charlotte Hornets 5-7 (Up 1)
  22. Utah Jazz 6-8 (Down 2)
  23. Indiana Pacers 6-8 (Down 1)
  24. Los Angeles Lakers 6-8 (-)
  25. Brooklyn Nets 5-9 (-)
  26. Phoenix Suns 5-10 (-)
  27. Sacramento Kings 3-10 (Up 1)
  28. Chicago Bulls 2-9 (Down 1)
  29. Atlanta Hawks 2-12 (-)
  30. Dallas Mavericks 2-13 (-)

Should we be worried about OKC’s “Big 3”?

The Thunder fleeced the pacers for Paul George, as well as grabbing Melo from the Knicks last offseason. Now, they are 5-7 in the first 12 games of the season. As we all expected, there has been some chemistry issues here. Westbrook hasn’t quite gotten used to being the 2nd/3rd scoring option while having to facilitate. He is coming off an MVP season and breaking the triple double record it will take a while for him to “get into the groove” of this offense. If you ask me, that isn’t the biggest problem for this Thunder squad. So far Westbrook has not been great on defense, almost downright terrible. But don’t worry it will get better. Now, another big problem for this team is their bench. We have seen Raymond Felton light it up, and Jerami Grant throw down some huge jams. But we are missing something. We need that player to coke off the bench and light it up night in and night out. Say, former 6th man of the year Lou Williams? Or a Jahlil Okafor for that paint offense as well as another pick and roll option for Westbrook & Co. Both of these trades would be hard to pull of but we’ve seen Sam Presti do some magical things.

With that said, OKC fans should not worry quite yet. I expect the chemistry issues to fix themselves throughout the season. As well as Westbrook’s defensive woes. But, without making a move for more depth I don’t see OKC making it past a Houston Rockets or Golden State in the playoffs, 7 game series that depth will kill you.

 

Photo Credits: USA Today

Blazers Drop Second Straight at Home as Weak Supporting Cast is Exposed

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are arguably the best backcourt in the NBA, at least certainly offensively, and will remain at the top of the backcourt duos list as long as the pair remains in Portland. Despite their collective skill, the Trail Blazers dropped their second straight game at home Friday night as the team fell to the Brooklyn Nets 101-97.

It is hard to say that a team that has made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons is a bad team, but that might be what we are beginning to see in Portland. A few summers ago, the team lost four starters (Robin Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wes Matthews, Nic Batum) and was looking at a massive rebuild set around young star Damian Lillard. The following season, however, turned out to be a surprising success as CJ McCollum burst onto the scene and the team managed to climb to the second round of the playoffs out West.

Looking closer, one can see that the Blazers defeated a heavily injured Clippers team in the first round before falling to the Warriors without much of a fight in the second round. The following year in 2017 the team managed to hold onto the 8th seed in the West before being swept by the Warriors in the first round. Essentially, the Blazers may have only delayed their rebuild by a few seasons and wasted precious years of their star’s career in the process.

Portland’s roster features one of the highest payrolls in the entire NBA with little to no young talent and several unfavorable contracts. The team is stuck with players such as Meyers Leonard, who has a career average of 5.7 points per game through 301 games, unless they can find a trade partner willing to eat some of the bad contracts on the roster.

The problem with trading away bad contracts and trying to remain a contender is that you rarely are able to get anything of real value in return. The team could trade draft picks to sweeten the deal and shed salary, but that would only compound the other issue which is the lack of young players performing for the team. In the loss to the Nets Friday, the team’s four most recent draft selections (Pat Connaughton, Jake Layman, Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan) combined for 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists on 3-10 shooting. Most of those stats came from Connaughton alone, with the Notre Dame product scoring 6 points on 2-7 shooting. Layman and Collins did not play in the contest.

The lack of talent around the star guards does not just apply to the young role players, though. The bench as a whole ranks 25th in the NBA in scoring at only 28.4 points per game while shooting 42.6% from the floor, a mark only good enough to reach 20th in the league. To compound the offensive mediocrity of the bench, the unit also commits the 9th most fouls of any bench in the NBA allowing opposing teams to score easy points while Lillard or McCollum get rest. This keeps games much closer than they could be and forces incredible pressure on the starting backcourt, which shows as the team is now 3-5 in games decided by fewer than 10 points this season.

As tough as it may be for Blazer fans, it might be time to completely scrap the roster and try to start fresh. It would not be a true rebuild, as with Lillard and McCollum the roster will always at least be in playoff contention, but shedding as many of the current supporting players as possible before the off-season should be a priority. Floating in the middle of the Western Conference will only lead to the eventual frustration, and departure, of the star’s even if the pair claims they will never leave Rip City. With the dynamic duo both still under the age of 30, the time for Portland to act is now. Otherwise, prepare for another mass exodus of talent without Damian Lillard there to break the fall this time around.