Right around this time of year, usually a week after the Super Bowl and over a month before MLB Opening Day, the NBA takes center stage. It's called "All Star Weekend." Well past the midway point of the regular season but still pretty much the official starting point of the NBA's stretch run to dominate the sports landscape.
2017 started with a bang right after the All Star Game itself. Reports surfaced and were later confirmed of a blockbuster trade sending one of the league's most dominant young players to team up with perhaps THE most dominant young player in the league. (As with all things, Kristaps exempted.)
The hapless Sacramento Kings traded mercurial star DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins, a 6'11/270 pound offensive force averaging 27 and 10 while shooting a career high 35% from the 3 point line to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he can team with "The Brow," 6'11 Anthony Davis, himself averaging nearly 28 and 12 a game. This is a big time transfer of talent giving the Pellicans two superstars in the front court along with point guard Jrue Holiday, it's the Big Easy's, Big Three.
Cousins and Davis are both bigs that can shoot from the outside, and score from anywhere. It will be interesting to see these former Kentucky Wildcats stars learn to play with each other and exploit match-ups in virtually every game. And because New Orleans is 2.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot, a first round matchup with the Golden State Warriors looms, a team that has struggled against skilled big men.
A few more thoughts and questions answered from the season so far.
^^You can fast forward to about the :43 second mark listen to what the fan yells out or you can watch some dunks from Saturday night beforehand.
MVP - This one's hard and perfectly encapsulates the major rift in schools of thought when it comes to MVP debates. Should it go to the player having the best season or the player helping his team win the most? Russell Westbrook is AVERAGING a triple double but finds his Thunder team as the 7th seed in the West while James Harden is averaging 29, 11, and 8 for the 4th best team in the entire league this year. Reminds me of the 2012 AL MVP race when Miggy Cabrera got the Triple Crown. I don't see how you can't give it to a guy averaging a FREAKIN' triple double and has his team in the playoffs a year after losing their best(?) player.
The Warriors Strikes Back - The Evil Empire franchise of the NBA may reside in the Bay Area now. Although they'll never reach Lakers levels of being hated (because people are intimidated by sustained greatness) there is plenty of disdain and general jeering in the Warriors direction.
They're doing just fine with the addition of Durant, giving them a Fab Four that simply cannot be matched anywhere in the league, Kyle Korver be damned. It's fine that they've already lost 9 games, matching last year's record total. Something tells me the Warriors aren't concerned with breaking regular season records as much as they are on learning how to not blow 3-1 leads in the Finals. Although I'd never count San Antonio out, barring unforeseen injury, right now, I don't see the Warriors losing in the Western Conference.
The State of the Cavs - The state of the Cavaliers, as always, revolves around LeBron and LeBron's twitter tantrums. When LeBron takes it to the streets of social media admirers and detractors alike, shake their heads. Why does the most powerful player in the world need to post passive-aggressive tweets requesting help when his team already won the championship the year before with the highest payroll in the league? A couple thoughts on this:
- LeBron doesn't care what you think. He hasn't for a long time. He's King James and if kings cared a lot about how everyone felt, they wouldn't have abandoned their homeland to go to Miami to train under a wizard while at the same time setting the stage for a comeback to a team with young talent (and Anthony Bennett).
- LeBron cares more about his legacy than Dan Gilbert does. His legacy's rise in stature is directly correlated to the number of banners he raises. And as he's openly admitted he's chasing Jordan, how important is a championship really to Dan Gilbert's bottom line? Is it a coincidence that Forbes put out this article soon after Bron's comments? Both men reaching out in their realms of influence. Is there a "deep state" working behind the scenes within the Cavs organization?
- Maybe this is how LeBron motivates himself or his teammates. Maybe he's doing this solely for Kay Felder. But we've seen this song and dance before. LeBron seems to think making his concerns known publicly puts pressure on those making the basketball decisions. And if the past predicts future, LeBron seems to get his way in these situations.
The Cavs have shown some signs of struggle but they've also been a little banged up. I don't see them in any trouble at all and I think they actually have an easier road to the Finals than Golden State. The East is steadily improving but the West is still the best. And although it's difficult to advise doing anything to a team that just won a championship, the Empire did just get Sith Durant. With J.R. and K. Love out for a while, the Cavs are most likely going to make a move. It will be interesting to see what they give up to get the playmaker LeBron is looking for. And although Melo would be an amazing addition, it's probably too risky to give up Love for him. I'd look for a point or combo guard. Lou Williams would not be a bad pick up.