NBA Power Rankings – Week 7

There’s a lot of movement in the top 5 and top 10 this week. Come check it out! See how the Raptors, Warriors, Bucks and dare I say, CLIPPERS did in week 7. The landscape of the NBA is changing before our very eyes this season! Let us know what you think of our rankings if you don’t agree.

By Any Other Name

Any basketball fan can remember it. 2012 Playoffs, Chicago vs. Philapelphia. The youngest MVP to ever win the award collapses to the floor and needs to be helped off the court. Chicago fans and NBA enthusiasts around the world held their breath waiting for the result of the MRI. When it was reported that Rose tore his ACL in his left knee, the NBA world’s collective hearts sank. The explosive nature of his game did not lend itself well to this kind of injury, and everyone knew the road back would be difficult, if not impossible.

After missing the entire 2012-2013 season, Adidas and Rose teamed up for a momentous comeback. #TheReturn was coined and marketed to bring Rose back into relevance, and I was fully on board.

The league was electrified for the return of the MVP. Was he back to his old explosive self? Could he be even better? After his first pre-season game back in Chicago against the Detroit Pistons on October 16, 2013, Rose was quoted saying:

“I think I’m way more explosive now. Like getting to the rim. I think I can take contact a little bit better. And as far as jumping-wise, I think I can jump even higher. They tested my vertical — I increased it by 5 inches”

 Friedell, Nick (October 17, 2013). “Derrick Rose: I’m more explosive now”ESPN.com. Retrieved November 23, 2013.

People started to believe he was back despite a slow start to the season. That is, until November 22nd, 2013 where Rose injured his right knee playing against the Portland Trail Blazers. Fans were devastated when they found out that Rose had torn his meniscus in his right knee and after a successful surgery, would be out for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season. 

Fast forward to the 2016 off-season. Rose is back again and showing flashes of his former self. After stringing together an injury free 2015-2016 campaign, Rose is traded to the New York Knicks. He begins 2016-2017 well until the turn of the new year. On January 9th, 2017, it wasn’t an injury that plagued Rose but a personal choice. He flew to Chicago and no-showed for a game against the Pelicans without notifying any team officials.

Now fans begin to question his dedication not only to his teammates and franchise, but to the game of basketball itself. To make matters worse, Rose then tore the meniscus in his left knee on April 2nd, 2017 forcing him to undergo his fourth knee surgery in nine years.

His contract was up during his rehab, and he decided to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2017-2018 season, hoping to contribute to a perennial Finals contender and help LeBron James take down the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, Rose didn’t make it that far, leaving the team on November 24th, 2017 to “re-evaluate his future in the NBA”. At this point, murmurs began agreeing that Rose should just hang up the sneakers. Between his ailing knees, mental wariness caused by continual injuries, and the inability to play his style of ball, Rose was not even a shadow of his former self. Despite the media backlash and self-doubt, he decided to try another comeback, rehabilitating an ankle injury with the Cavs until he returned on January 18th, 2018. Less than a month later, Rose was traded to the Utah Jazz who immediately waived him.

Rose never claimed to care about the money, but he would be leaving more than $80 million on the table in a contract with Adidas should he never step foot on a court again. Even if he wanted to comeback, what team would take a player with four knee surgeries, a history of letting his teammates down, and has publicly questioned whether he wants to be playing this sport?

Enter the Timberbulls.

Thibs is crazy. Although it’s not mentioned above, coach Tom Thibodeau was step-for-step on this journey with Rose up until he was traded to the Knicks. In the midst of everything else going on, Thibs is let go from the Bulls (another post perhaps) and subsequently given the GM/coaching gig in Minnesota. Thibs is met with young talent that is not yet accustomed to his style of play. So what would anyone do with the power of a GM and the system of a coach?  Go get your boys back.

Thibs went on a tear, acquiring Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Luol Deng to bring in the veteran presence with experience in the defensive system Thibs was hoping to bestow on the Twin Cities. 

So what do we have now for our hero? A last chance. An opportunity with his old coach and teammates to try to turn back the clock one more time before being forced out of the league forever. Rose knew this of course, and to the amazement of everyone pulling for him he has once again begun to take the NBA back by storm. His season thus far has been great, but if you had to pinpoint the game that set the world on fire, look no further than Halloween of 2018 against the very team that waived him less than a year ago. The former MVP showed what he was still capable of, scoring 50 points on 4/7 three-point shooting, a known weak-spot in his dramatic career. After sealing the game with a block, Rose succumbed to emotion.

It’s clear this was built up over the past eight years. Rose went from the youngest MVP with the brightest future, to likely being kicked out of the league as the only MVP to never see the Hall-of-Fame. This performance was his answer to the question of whether he was going to give up or not. This game could very well be a defining moment not only in his career, but his entire life. The weight of this event is what caused the emotional reaction in the interview, and watching it live evoked the same thing in me.

What impresses me most is that it didn’t stop here. Rose has kept his foot on the gas this month shotting a blistering 63% from deep and arguably being the best player on a T-Wolves team packed with talent. And now, with the Butler debacle finally over, Rose has a clear path to continue this amazing run that we’ve been waiting for since 2013.

So if you’re a basketball fan, if you were a part of the hype in the early 2010’s, or if you just like a good story, sit back and enjoy witnessing the long awaited comeback five years later than expected.

A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet

The New Regime

The NBA officially crossed over into the third week of this young 2018-2019 NBA season, when Klay Thompson accomplished another remarkable feat. On October 29, 2018, Klay Thompson, Splash Bros. #2, drowned the young Chicago Bulls and the rest of the United Center, in Chicago, with 14 three-pointers. Like the fabled gladiator of legend, Sparticus, Klay Thompson was certainly the Bringer of Rain on Monday night. Although this type of individual performance from beyond three doesn’t happen every night, there is no doubt that the NBA is now a three-point shooting league. How has the NBA and its teams evolved into emphasizing a style of play that is so incredibly three-point shooting dominant? What do the historic three-point shooting statistics indicate about past, current, and future changes in the way basketball is played in the NBA? Allow me to apply a “scientific” theory of explaining what the three-point shot has done to NBA basketball.

If my booze hampered memory from university serves me correctly (and perhaps a quick Google search), the Regime Shift Theory (or Ball-and-Cup) goes something like this… According to regimeshifts.org:

Regime shifts result from a change in the dominant feedbacks. All complex systems contain many feedback loops, but these can typically evolve and combine in only a limited number of ways. Over time, a particular combination of feedbacks will tend to become dominant, leading the system to self-organize into a particular structure and function – or “regime”. However, if the system experiences a large shock (the Phoenix Suns going for 62-20 during the 2004-2005 NBA regular season) or persistent directional change (e.g. the Golden State Warriors dominated the NBA night in, night out on the way to the 2014-2015 NBA Larry O’Brien trophy) the dominant feedbacks may be overwhelmed or eroded. At some point a critical threshold may be passed where a different set of feedbacks become dominant, and the system experiences a large, often abrupt change in structure and function – or a “regime shift”.

http://regimeshifts.org
Image retrieved from: regimeshifts.org

Let’s review the 2005-2006 NBA Regular Season and apply what we have now learned about the things necessary to create a regime shift in a complex system, like the way the game of basketball is played in the NBA. According to NBA.com’s “Advanced Stats”, during this season, the Phoenix Suns were the first team to have a seasonal average of 10 3PM/Game or more, gunning in 10.2 3PM/Game. How was this achieved? The answer is: Coach Mike D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” offense, consisting of a high tempo, run-and-gun style of play with a strong emphasis on pick-and-rolls and of course, three-point shooting. However, the turning point in the three-point shooting revolution came a season earlier, during the 2004-2005 NBA Regular Season, when the Phoenix Suns finished with a record of 62-20. In my opinion, this season serves as the tipping point towards the NBA of the future, even if the Phoenix Suns only hit a measly 9.7 3PM/Game. However, it’s clear that in those initial two regular seasons, with Mike D’Antoni at the helm, the Suns had tapped into something great. The blistering pace of the games mixed in with buzzer beating 3’s made for games that were fun as hell to watch! NBA teams during D’Antoni and Nash’s first two years together, and the way basketball had been played and coached in the NBA up to this point, both received “a large shock”.

Image retrieved from: http://lakerholicz.com

The first time two NBA teams would both have a seasonal average of 10 or more 3PM/game would be in 2008-2009, with both the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic averaging 10.0 3PM/game. To me, this is the first sign of the three-point shooting feedback loop coming full circle in the NBA. Since the 2014-2015 NBA Regular Season, at least one team has put forth a seasonal average of 10 or more 3PM/game. Roughly three weeks into the 2018-2019 Regular Season, and as of October 30, 2018, there are 24 teams with a season average of 10 or more 3PM/game! Currently, the Milwaukee Bucks lead the league with 15.6 3PM/game! Regime shift.

One of the most defining characteristics of the NBA, and arguably basketball in general, is the sport’s ability to evolve. The American Basketball League (ABL), was the first professional basketball league to officially institute the three-point line into its rules, in 1961. The three-point line would later be instituted into other professional basketball leagues like, the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), in 1967-1968 and 1979 respectively. Basketball legend, George Mikan, who served as commissioner of the ABA, is quoted as describing the three-point shot as something that “would give the smaller player a chance to score and open up the defense to make the game more enjoyable for the fans.” By golly, was Georgie ever right.

The game of basketball as it is played in the NBA, is as fast and wide open as it has ever been. A newly instituted rule for the 2018-2019 NBA Season has helped ensure that games will be played at a faster pace going forward. The Association changed the amount of time that the shot clock resets to after the offensive team retains possession after a missed shot. The time on the shot clock has now been reduced from 24 seconds down to 14 seconds.

“The system experiences a large, often abrupt change in structure and function.”

In addition to the potential for more three-point shooting, what does this rule change mean for pace? Let’s go back to the 2004-2005 NBA Regular Season, one last time. It should be no surprise that the Phoenix Suns led the league in points that season, with 110.4 PTS/game. A total of 6 teams that season averaged over 100 PTS/game during the regular season. What’s the story this current 2018-2019 NBA Regular Season? All 30 NBA teams are averaging over 100 PTS/game, with the Golden State Warriors currently averaging 124.3 (as of October 30, 2018). If this year’s shot clock rule change and the changes to the NBA regular season schedule (where teams play the least amount of back-to-back games in NBA history) indicate anything, it’s that the NBA recognizes the desires of the players, teams, fans, and the league itself.

What is the first desire? Greater career longevity for NBA players. This has been accomplished with more rest time throughout the season and a less physically grinding style of game play for NBA players. And the second desire? Creating an exciting, fast-paced, high-scoring games, which may aid in attracting greater viewership and make NBA games more fun for the casual (and in a lot of cases non-causal) fan to watch. Lastly, and ultimately long-term, both desires equal more money for players, teams, and the Association.

It should be recognized that it is impossible to recognize or predict all the changes and trends that may be linked to the three-point shooting mania currently taking place in the NBA, but if the findings in this article suggest anything, the current regime is here to stay.

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson celebrates after scoring a three pointer against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Six Games In

As avid NBA consumers, fantasy addicts, and amateur bloggers, we all know that the media and fans love to overreact to the start of the season. Coming from the off-season where digging for solid content needs a bit more work, it feels like story lines write themselves after the first week of regulation play. I, for one, say why try to fight it? So, without further adieu, let’s blow things out of proportion.

East

Starting in the East, we have the only two remaining undefeated teams, and one lowly winless team who seems to have sipped the Kool-aid of overreaction themselves. Starting at the top first:


Milwaukee Bucks

6-0

People knew coming into this season that the Bucks were bound to be better after the coaching turmoil of the 2017-2018 campaign, but coach Bud has given them more than they bargained for. Milwaukee has started 6-0 around All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo with great contributions from newly acquired center Brook Lopez. Lopez is incredibly hot from deep right now averaging 41% on almost three 3PM/game, which has opened lanes for Giannis to get inside. That was a great acquisition to play off of Giannis’ strengths, and guys like borderline All-Star Kris Middleton have shown up this year in a big way to bolster the rest of the roster. To recap, they’ve played the Hornets, Pacers, Knicks, Sixers, T-Wolves, and Magic. Easy schedule may have contributed to this start, but that’s why we call it an overreaction!


Toronto Raptors

6-0

More often than not my Raptors writing comes with a hint of distaste. Not because I dislike the team, but more so but I resent the fact that every person thinks that I am Raptors fan because I like the sport of basketball and I happen to live in Canada. Geographically, over half the league is closer to me than Toronto, and I’ve never really been an honest fan of them going back to the Vince days. If anyone cares, my team was moved to OKC after the 07-08 season and has been used as a bargaining chip for franchise owners to leverage money and commitment out of their locale. Soon, Seattle will get a team back, but for now, I’m digressing.

The point I’m making is that even I have to be excited for the Raps right now. Kawhi has performed exactly how he has needed to on both ends of the floor. The team has seamlessly transitioned from DeRozan and Casey to Leonard and Nurse, with decisive wins over conference heavyweights in the Celtics and Wizards already. Their other wins against less than impressive teams, but as of now I have a tough time seeing anyone else coming out of the east. The good news is that either Toronto or Milwaukee will lose their first game as they head-off on Monday, October 29th. Make sure to check that one out.


Cleveland Cavaliers

0-6

Time to scrape the bottom of the barrel. I think everyone had a good chuckle when Tristan Thompson spoke about holding the Eastern Conference throne during pre-season.

Still, you would think Kevin Love would be enough to get one win out of six games to start the year. The answer has been a resounding NO, and the Cavs looks really bad. Now the Cavs have fired Ty Lue, and are considering an extended period of rest for Kevin Love to aid his sore foot (A.K.A. tank-mode engage). Coaching was not the issue here. The massive pressure
put on the organization from yearly one-and-done contracts by LeBron James has left them in shambles. This is a bad look for a team and GM that promised an All-Star calibre player the Cavs wouldn’t tank less than a month ago. Love signed a 4-year deal and here we are. I’m sure there will be more drama to come…Good luck Cavs fans.


West

No one is undefeated, and only one team is winless, but my money is still on the Larry O’Brien marching west at the end of this season.

Golden State Warriors

5-1

What do you say at this point? The biggest drama on the team is what’s happening with Patrick McCaw; although, it’s fun to hear people talk about Curry making another MVP run while also simultaneously questioning whether he’s even the best player on that team. Oh, don’t forget Boogie comes back at some point. If KD leaves next year, we’re going to be in for some fun in the West. Until then, enjoy one of the greatest powerhouses in NBA history doing what they do best – laughing and dancing to Fergie’s infamous All-Star anthem.



New Orleans Pelicans

4-1

Anthony Davis is an absolute monster right now and looks poised to prove me right in the early season MVP predictions. True to his nature, he missed last game against Utah and it cost the Pels their first L of the year. The supporting roster here has been fantastic around their future Hall-of-Famer and the GM should be credited with some great moves. Will it last? Why the hell not. After Boogie went down last year AD went supernova and has looked much of the same so far this year. I am still betting he takes off after this year unless they somehow pull out a deep play-off run, but if you’re a Pelicans fan hold on for the ride while you can.


Denver Nuggets

4-1

This is what patience and faith in a young group can do for you. The Denver Nuggets have been honing the skills and on-court chemistry they now boast for a number of years, and it is incredible to see what Coach Malone is doing up there. Jokic has been the player fantasy GMs hoped he would be, and it’s also translating to wins. Even in a stacked conference, I see the Nuggets making the playoffs this year and they will be a blast to watch.


Houston Rockets

1-4

Wow. Didn’t see this one coming. After pushing the Warriors to 7 games and arguably winning that series if Chris Paul didn’t go down, they have lost all momentum entering this season. Now, CP3 has been serving a suspension for Spitgate, certainly a team that believes it can dethrone Golden State can squeak out a few wins with reigning MVP James Harden. I’m not worried about the Rockets yet, and they might just be distracted by the recent Jimmy Butler rumours flying around. Jimmy may be the final ingredient in the antidote to the back-to-back champs, but he’ll have to get out of the mess he’s created in Minnesota first.


Oklahoma City Thunder

0-4

Oklahoma City Thunder 0-4

One of the only two remaining teams winless so far has a recent MVP and another two-way All-Star in Russel Westbrook and Paul George. Russ missed the first two games, but even in the two since he’s returned, the Thunder have looked out of sorts. They had a Chernobyl sized meltdown against the Celtics last Thursday, giving up a 16 point lead to lose by 6. After the game, Russ took responsibility for the loss, and I have to say it was warranted after watching him try to do it himself for the ump-teenth time. After taking the blame, Russ said he’ll get the next one so it looks like nothing has changed. As the old saying goes, you live by the Russ, you die by the Russ.

Give N’ Go Podcast S3E7

The dynamic duo are back! This time Raj and Jordan are both in the booth in Vancouver! This podcast recaps an action packed first week of NBA Basketball including:

  1. Rockets vs Lakers Brawl and the Rondo “Spit-gate” (2:55)
  2. The State of the Lakers (12:40)
  3. Western Conference week 1 impressions (14:35)
    – Pelicans, Nuggets, Jazz
  4. Eastern Conference week 1 impressions (24:47)
    – Raptors, Celtics, Sixers
  5. Rookie Impressions after week 1 (38:50)
    – Doncic, Ayton, Young

A Disturbance in the Force and the New Hope

In the history of NBA basketball, Summer 2018 will be known as a sneakily defining chapter, where a supreme NBA superstar ever so subtly passed the baton to the greatest player belonging to a new era. The cogs of fate were set in motion this summer, with the announcement that King James; Maker of The Decision, The Chosen 1, Benjamin Button, The Breaker of the Cleveland Curse, Member of the Banana Boat Brotherhood (minus Gabriel Union), the Eastern Conference God; would finally relinquish his 15-year rule over the Eastern Conference, and head westward to the bright lights of Hollywood, California. After 9 total NBA Finals appearances, 8 of which occurred in THE LAST 8 YEARS, King James vacated the Eastern throne, and entered the Western Conference fray, in what may be the most competitive conference in NBA history. With all of this in mind, if Lebron can pull out one more championship, regardless of how stacked the roster may be and even wearing a jersey for a recreant organization like the Lakers, he will undoubtedly be the GOAT. Lebron’s personal and team accomplishments, combined with his undeniable star power regardless of what arena he may find himself in, and what it has all meant for the league and growth of the basketball worldwide, helps support such as notion.

However, despite the new and exciting possibilities in the Western Conference, The Disturbance in the Force, created by the King’s departure, cannot be understated. Despite the foolish arguments created by some NBA personalities and critics, regarding the competitive imbalance created by the King’s move, I feel this year marks another incredible turning of the page for the NBA, more specifically, the reign of Giannis the Great. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the New Hope. Giannis is now the best player in the Eastern Conference. Hands down. Here are some fast stats and thoughts for your ass (Samuel Jackson voice):

Giannis is 23! Giannis is 6’11 and can play 1 through 5. Giannis was “the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks (NBA.com).” Giannis is the NBA’s next superstar, which will be reflected by nightly stat lines for years to come, but will it be reflected in the persona of the individual himself? Giannis will be playing in the small market city of Milwaukee until 2021. Giannis somehow, someway, fell to the lowly Hooked on Sonics, at the 9-spot, in the Basketbrawlers NBA Fantasy Draft. Giannis can take the Bucks all the way to…the Conference Finals? For this year, I feel it may be the best possible outcome for Giannis’ Bucks, as they will undoubtedly have their hands full in the playoffs with a matchup with either the: Raptors, Celtics, 76ers, or Pacers. However, despite all the possibilities, I believe that the Bucks will play the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals (see below for my NBA regular season standings predictions). However, at this stage in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics will best the Bucks as they have the deeper bench, and the playoff experience that the Bucks currently lack.

When thinking about this NBA season, I couldn’t help but think of Star Wars. The original 3 films, Episodes I, II, and III. Although, I admittedly don’t claim to be a fan of the series, the storyline somehow, sort of jives with the current landscape of the NBA. Golden State undeniably represents the Empire, the most stacked powerhouse in league history, with 5 All-Stars from the previous season all on the same team. A third title in what would be a dynasty, almost seems like a guarantee. Granted, credit needs to be given where credit is due, and the team Golden State now possesses has been years in the making. At this point, the only likely way the Death Star blows up in San Fran, is if it implodes. How long will the core group of players that make up the current Golden State Warriors stick together? Perhaps not much longer than this next year.

So, what does that make the rest of the league? In some ways, every other team in the league represents the Rebel Alliance. The likelihood of one of these teams beating a healthy Golden State Warriors in a 7-game series? About as likely as an Ewok murking Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel. Since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s, the best teams in the NBA have typically belonged to the Western Conference. Since 1999, 14 out of the 20 Larry O’Brien’s have headed westward, leaving an anemic 4 championships for the East. Similarly, to how this championship trend is unlikely to change perhaps another NBA trend will continue. In carrying on with the GOAT tradition, the next greatest basketball player is currently found in the Eastern Conference, The New Hope, a name that doesn’t flow worth a damn – Giannis Antetokounmpo.

U. C. Swaghman’s Post Season Predictions

NBA Finals 
Golden State Warriors 4-2 Boston Celtics
NBA Conference Finals
Golden State Warriors 4-2 Houston Rockets
Boston Celtics 4-3 Toronto Raptors

U. C. Swaghman’s Regular Season Standings Prediction

Eastern Conference Standings
  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Milwaukee Bucks
  4. Philadelphia 76ers
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Miami Heat
  7. Washington Wizards
  8. Detroit Pistons
  9. Brooklyn Nets
  10. Chicago Bulls
  11. Orlando Magic
  12. Cleveland Cavaliers
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Atlanta Hawks
  15. New York Knicks
Western Conference Standings
  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. LA Lakers
  5. Utah Jazz
  6. Denver Nuggets
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. Portland Trail Blazers
  9. Dallas Mavericks
  10. LA Clippers
  11. Dallas Mavericks
  12. New Orleans Pelicans
  13. Phoenix Suns
  14. San Antonio Spurs
  15. Sacramento Kings
  16. Memphis Grizzlies

BasketBrawler’s Pre-Season Award Predictions

By Rajan Sharma

If this off-season has taught us anything, it is that the NBA is a 12-month sport. There have been no breaks in the action as we went from another Golden State Warriors Championship to the NBA draft that saw DeAndre Ayton go 1st overall and the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks exchange future studs Luka Doncic and Trae Young, to a free agency period that saw the best player in the world – Lebron James – take his talents to Hollywood, to the end of the summer drama with Jimmy Butler taking the entire Wolves organization hostage and terrorizing everyone and their grandmothers on the practice courts.

The NBA is one giant soap opera, and I love every second of it. But with that being said, every good soap opera needs a star-studded cast to take it to the top. That’s where I have turned to the Basket Brawler’s own panel of basketball analysts and experts to see who they believe will walk away with the hardware this season with each of the top regular season awards. Joining me on the panel today will be our local Seattle Supersonics enthusiast Draydan Power, Basket Brawlers Fantasy League Defending Champion Adam Johal, the Tech Guru and lead analytics expert Adam Kroon, the Give N’Go Podcast’s own Jordan Taylor, and Fantasy Basketball Analyst Extraordinaire Steven Petterson.

So, without further a due, lets see who the Basket Brawlers expert panel has chosen to take home the hardware in this upcoming NBA Season!

Most Improved Player Award

Rajan Sharma’s pick – Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
After having a disappointing season last year, Myles Turner has completely changed his diet and body in anticipation of a big bounce back season. Myles Turner is the ideal big man in today’s NBA. He is long, athletic, protects the rim, and he has an outside jumper. Look for Turner to help the Pacers build on an impressive 7-game playoff series loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and take a run at the Eastern Conference crown now vacated by The King.

Draydan Power’s Pick –  Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)
The blue arrow has already taken a leap forward after a great finish to last year’s campaign. He was heating up after the All-Star break and was absolutely electric to watch during the OT thriller against the T-Wolves last season. A big piece of me would of loved to have seen the Nuggets in the playoffs just to see what he could do, but regardless, he’s geared up to continue his rapid rise with a huge year this year. Even though IT is there, I don’t think it will affect his play time and I can’t wait to watch him, Jokic, and Millsap make a splash in the high elevation.

Adam Johal’s Pick – Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
Myles Turner was a hot choice for MIP heading into the 2017 season, but injuries led him to regress a bit in his third year.  Turner has dedicated his summer to his conditioning and appears to be in much better shape than his previous three seasons. Like his teammate Victor Oladipo, Myles Turns looks to translate his improved conditioning onto the court for 2019.

Steven Petterson’s Pick – Josh Richardson (Miami Heat)
Josh Richardson will be an All Star in the East this year. Book it. Spoelstra, Pat Riley, and Richardson himself have all been hyping him up as a break out player this year and his final two preseason games showed why. He is controlling the floor and scoring at will. Richardson has stated he hopes to reach 18ppg this year and I believe he will do it as he grows in to a force to be reckoned with and shows everyone why Riley was so hesitant to include him in a potential Butler trade.

Adam Kroon’s Pick – JaVale McGee (Los Angles Lakers)
Playing with Rondo and LeBron is going to revitalize his career. I have nothing else to say, but lob city just switched LA teams

Jordan Taylor’s Pick – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
If you had Victor Oladipo winning this award at the start of the season, I have some stocks and bonds I want you to take a look at. After preseason I really don’t see alot of players looking like they will take a major step forward. Some that come to mind would be Miami Heats Josh Richardson, the guard-forward was a nice surprise last year and many news outlets have lavished over his off season training. When your part of the package for a potential jimmy butler trade, better believe this guy can ball. Other player consideration I have were Atlanta’s John Collins, a cheap pick in itself as players in their second year make incremental improvements to their game. Finally someone you cannot leave out of the conversation is Giannis, all preseason has taught us is that he truly deserves that number one overall fantasy spot. Is this the year he goes from all-star to better than LeBron? He is a legitimate shot at both MVP and MIP. 
Winner: Giannis Snub: Josh Richardson

Defensive Player of the Year Award

Rajan Sharma’s pick: Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
Adding to my theory of a good storyline, this one is just too juicy to pass up. Kevin Durant has already made it known during the off-season that he wants more respect for the work he puts in on the defensive end of the court, and blames the fact that people “hate” him for the reason he doesn’t get his proper recognition on that end of the court. The Slim Reaper averaged nearly 2 blocks and 1 steal per game last season, along with having one of the best rim defense statistics in the entire league. This is the year that Durant finally breaks though and adds to his already impressive resume.

Draydan Power’s Pick – Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)
After what most people consider to be a Twilight Zone season for Kawhi, he needs to come back and make a big splash in the worst way. I truly believe that Kawhi will be in the running for MVP but won’t quite close it out (spoiler – I’m betting that will go to the other DPOTY candidate). All the pressure is on the Raps after firing Dwayne Casey and giving up DeMar DeRozan for a Kawhi rental, so expect him to come out gangbusters. I hope to see a Kawhi with a chip on his shoulder, getting down and dirty on both ends of the floor and carrying the Raptors to a deep playoff run.

Adam Johal’s Pick – Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)
Amongst the players with the most to prove this season, Kawhi has to be near the top of the list.  Fans and journalists around the NBA have seemed to forgot the level Leonard was playing at prior to his injury last season.  Kawhi will once again have to prove why he is one of the greatest two-way players in NBA history, and in a weaker conference, I think he will certainly do that.

Steven Petterson’s Pick – Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
This is a real, dark-horse pick. It’s weird to think that Simmons is only in his second year in the league, but I believe we are going to see some considerable growth – specifically on the defensive end. Last year Simmons was a strong force on the defensive end and from what I have seen in preseason he looks extra committed to that side of the floor this year. He locks in, guards with intensity, and smothers opposing guards. I think this year people realize how much of an asset Ben Simmons’ defence is. Does he win the award? Maybe it’s a season or two early… But if he does, I told you so.

Adam Kroon’s Pick – Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
No one will challenge the throne. We’re looking at another Ben Wallace type run for DPOY with Gobert. No surprise here whatsoever.

Jordan Taylor’s Pick – Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Defensive player of the year is always a hard one. Mainly due to stats not having as much of impact when being factored into voting. Short and quick: were looking at back to back award from the Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, something we have not had in at least 4 years. He’s got it all defensively, and with a clean bill of health relative to last year. He’s primed to patrol the paint erasing opponents shot attempts with his quick feet.
Winner: Rudy Gobert Snub: Drummond Green

Coach of the Year Award

Rajan Sharma’s pick: Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors)
Adding to the story line and what I feel will be a special season North of the Border, first year head coach will take home the Coach of the Year honours after leading the Raptors to 60+ wins and a 1st seed in the Eastern Conference. All the attention seems to be on the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers coming in to the season and the Raptors will once again fly under the radar and take the crown out East. For those unfamiliar with Nick Nurse, his peers voted him as the most likely best future bench boss when he was an assistant last year. He is an analytical genius and an intelligent basketball mind who likes to experiment and think outside the box. Having come from the Houston Rockets system previously, Nurse is an advocate for high efficiency shots and this new look Raptors team may be even better on both ends of the floor with Kawhi Leonard. I fully expect them to finish top 5 in both offense and defense this upcoming season.

Draydan Power’s Pick –Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics)
He could of easily won it last year as well. Brad took a team of rookies and sophomores to the Eastern Conference Finals, pushing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to 7 games without the help of their two All-Stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. People have been spouting off all summer with questions of “What do you do now when you developed so much young raw talent and now have to add two All-Stars!?”. Boo-hoo what a tough problem to have. Even if it was a problem, I would trust Brad to figure it out and incorporate everyone as needed while getting players up and down the bench to buy in to the system. This guy is for real and this will be the first of many awards for him.

Adam Johal’s Pick – Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks)
Coach Bud has had of history of making rosters with less than stellar talent perform beyond their capabilities.  Now that he has a roster equipped with a bonafide superstar in Giannis, Mike Budenholzer is ready to show the league what a full roster is capable of under his system.

Steven Petterson’s Pick – Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks)
Unlocking Giannis Antetokounmpo’s full potential and unleashing a fast, free-flowing, high octane offense is going to make Budenholzer look like a genius. I see him as being for Giannis what D’Antoni was for Harden. Giannis was already fairly successful while being held back by Kidd, and he will be unleashed now. Budenholzer and Giannis will lead the Bucks further than anyone currently anticipates, and Coach Bud will be rewarded for it.

Adam Kroon’s Pick – Brett Brown (Philadelphia 76ers)
With another year of Simmons and Embiid blossoming under his tutelage, we’re going to see the Sixers make the Raptors and Celtics feel hot under the collar. Looking for 50 wins this year is the next step for this team, and hopefully a nice trophy for coach Brown.

Jordan Taylor’s Pick – Mike D’Antoni (Houston Rockets)
Coach of the year; definition; which team with the best roster finishes top 3 in the conference while not underperforming or over achieving. Check the history, I ain’t lying. Would love to see Denver Nuggets Head coach Mike Malone win. He has done amazing work out their with that young team and they are primed for a David vs. Goliath playoff first round if they can make it in the ever talented western conference.
Winner: Mike D’Antoni Snub: Michael Malone

6th Man of the Year Award

Rajan Sharma’s pick: Tyreke Evans (Indiana Pacers)
Tyreke “The Freak” Evans had a bit of a resurgent year last season – posting his best campaign since he put up 20/5/5 in his rookie year. Make no mistake about it that last season was no fluke. Tyreke displayed elite ball handling and court vision, an improved jump shot, and leadership qualities that we had not seen from him before. With the Pacers looking to take the next step in to one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams, look for Evans to bring a spark off the bench and even close out games with fellow dynamic scorer Victor Oladipo.

Draydan Power’s Pick – Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)
Call me safe with some of these picks. Eric Gordon was runner up last year and much like Brad Stevens, I don’t think anyone would of been too surprised to see him win. His touches will definitely go down with Melo in town, but this guy balls out against any starting or secondary unit in the league. He’s a huge reason the Rockets had and will have so much success, so look for him to put in another phenomenal year. If he stays healthy, he’s a top pick.

Adam Johal’s Pick – Dennis Schroeder (OKC Thunder)
The Thunder have been longing for the days of James Harden when they had elite scoring off the bench. Dennis Schroeder is clearly not on the level of Harden, but his ability to score off the bench and potentially play alongside Russ could vault him to the top of the SMOTY race

Steven Petterson’s Pick – Terry Rozier (Boston Celtics)
Terry Rozier is coming for his money. With his contract ending after this year, Rozier has already stated that he is going to play so well that Coach Stevens won’t be able to take him off the floor. I envision a ton of games where Rozier’s tenacity and drive propel him to be on the floor when the game is on the line. Will he get enough minutes behind Kyrie to have the stats needed for a 6th Man award? Debatable. But I think Scary Terry is going to force himself into this conversation one way or another, in his quest for a massive pay-raise in 2019.

Adam Kroon’s Pick – Carmelo Anthony (Houston Rockets)
He did not go quietly into the night. He did not want this. Holy fuck he’s good at it. Whodathunkit? Lou Will will have competition this year in Carmelo now that he’s deemed playing off the bench to be possible. Look for him to drop at least 8 long 2s a game with a couple boards and minimal defense to help the Rockets lose to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals again this year.

Jordan Taylor’s Pick – JJ Reddick (Philadelphia 76ers)
6th man of the year, as I write this Jamal Crawford still remains without a team in October and you can never count this perennial award winner out of the conversation. Most of my early picks have become full time starters on their teams this year (Denver’s Will Barton to name one). I’m not fond of LA Clippers Lou Will, into reason why is there are alot of capable mouths to feed in LAs step child NBA team. Bother their draft picks look good and Patrick Beverly and Avery Bradley appear healthy and ready to go this season. My dark horse for this award resides on the city of brotherly love. Preseason has shown us Brett Brown is starting to have more faith in second year point guard Markelle Fultz, he has been playing well in response after being inserted into the starting lineup during ore season. The odd man out becomes my NBA look alike: JJ Reddick. A starter in his own right, I see him leading the 76ers second unit on A nightly basis while maintain similar scoring averages to last season. A victim. Of circumstance, but hey bringing a trophy home to wifey should take the sting off.
Winner: JJ Reddick Snub: Eric Gordon

Rookie of the Year Award

Rajan Sharma’s pick: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
This one was an easy choice for me. Luka is the best rookie prospect we’ve seen from Europe in a long time. Luka just has that special IT factor in his game that will translate beautifully to the NBA after winning Euroleague MVP last year as a 19 year old Phenom. There is just something with how in control Luka plays that separates him from the rest of the rookie pack. Some may say he is too slow, but he moves just at the right pace, he is never in a rush, and gets to any spot he wants on the floor with a James Harden-esque play style. Couple that with his elite playmaking and court vision and you have the makings of a perennial all star in this league for many years to come! I am all aboard this hype train!

Draydan Power’s Pick Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)
It’s a stacked rookie class again this year, but the era of the big man is ready to make a come back. Deandre Ayton has impressed everyone this pre-season by looking like a man among boys…probably because that’s exactly what he is. I am a big believer that it will transition well into the regular season and we will see Ayton get as many touches and looks as he can handle with Booker out to begin the season. Oh, and when Booker is back, he’ll be a full-time glass cleaner on both ends of the floor. He’s my man for ROY.

Adam Johal’s Pick – Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) 
This year’s crop of rookies are extremely talented with the likes of DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr, Trae Young, and Miles Bridges.  However, amongst all rookies, Luka Doncic appears to be the most NBA ready, and more importantly, has the best roster around him. Often, success of rookies – and NBA players in general – depends on fit. Luka will slot into the point forward role will targets like DeAndre Jordan, DSJ, Wes Mathews and Harrison Barnes around him.  Expect big things from Luka in his first year.

Steven Petterson’s Pick – Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Luka is going to make Atlanta look like fools. It will be a strong two way battle between him and Ayton, but Luka will prevail. His long tenure in the European professional leagues will help him battle through the trials of a long 82 game season, giving him a sustainable edge over Ayton. His highlight plays, and already-signature, behind-the-back drives will be on Sportscenter reels all season.

Adam Kroon’s Pick – Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Serbian National Team coach and current Phoenix Head Coach was quoted as saying that Luka would be like a wolf among children this season. Former Euro League MVP Doncic will prove all the haters, including the Hawks front office, completely wrong.

Jordan Taylor’s Pick – DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)
ROY this year more than ever will be about oppurtunity on the team your drafted by. You have to consider depth, coaching staff, and team expectations. PHX Deandre Ayton fits the bill. With little depth behind him, Ayton will demand heavy minutes from the get go. The suns have no expectations going in and this will allow Ayton to flourish as a legitimate player. Other notables to watch will be Dallas Mavericks Luca Doncic and Atlanta’s Trae Young, no depth on either team behind them, but I only see their roles as ok players and not spectacular like Ayton. Not to take away from their talents, they could definitely have the better careers. Time will only tell.
Winner: DeAndre Ayton Snub: Ben Simmons :smirk:

Most Valuable Player of the Year

Rajan Sharma’s pick: Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)
This was probably the hardest award to choose from. Its hard to bet against the King, and we all know what James Harden and Anthony Davis are all about…. But the NBA award voters love a good story and this one fits the mould. Disgruntled Superstar leaves San Antonio on bad terms and returns to the league to lead the Toronto Raptors to their first 60+ win season in Franchise history. All the talk around the Raptors will be about whether Kawhi will stay or will he go, but make no mistake about it – Kawhi will be on a mission this season to prove that he has still got it! Voters LOVE a first time award winner, and with all signs pointing to Kawhi being happy so far in Toronto, im expecting him to take the league by storm! The Raptors will improve on their 59-23 season last year and I expect Kawhi to laugh all the way to his first MVP award of his career.

Draydan Power’s Pick – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
As I said above, it’s all about the big men. AD nearly won it last year with his incredible performance after the All-Star break to close out the season with Boogie on the sidelines. The dude has a new agent and has not been shy about his feelings towards leaving if there isn’t success in New Orleans. He knows what he’s capable of doing to the best talent in the league and he will do everything in his power to bring success to the Big Easy, or at the very least, cement himself as a top player in today’s game as he looks to move on. Side note: if he didn’t win the MVP (and even if he does), he’s a good bid for DPOTY as well.

Adam Johal’s Pick – LeBron James (Los Angles Lakers)
I really wanted to pick Giannis here, but this season seems ripe for the King.  LeBron’s Lakers have a better roster than his Cleveland team last season and I fully expect the Lakers to usher in a new era of showtime basketball.  While some (ludicrously) have the Lakers finishing as low as 9th, I think the Lakers will finish top 3 in the West – thrusting LeBron to the top of the MVP conversation for 2019.

Steven Petterson’s Pick – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
The Greek Freak is coming for everyone this year. At 23 years old, Giannis is ready to take his reign as one of the best players in the league (and make about 8 league members look foolish too). In Milwaukee’s new system his full range of talent will be on display, and it is going to horrify every opposing team all season long. 30-7-7, with Giannis pushing Milwaukee to the 3rd seed in the East – you heard it here first.

Adam Kroon’s Pick – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
This is a contract year for the Brow, and if he wants to get max dollars while not playing for the Pelicans, he’s going to need to blow up and carry the Pels into the playoffs. Without Boogie to help in the last year’s playoff push, we saw Davis pull a LeBron like carry-my-team-on-my-shoulders move. I think we’re going to see a carry over of that Anthony Davis this year.

Jordan Taylor’s Pick – LeBron James (Los Angles Lakers)
The MVP race remains ideally the same horse and pony show after the dust settled on the major off season moves over the summer. The likes of James Harden, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis will continue to reign supreme as upper level players. My guess is the enamour of LeBron in LA is to much for the voting board and the king continues his tyrant rule over the NBA. Let’s not forget that there is always the outliers in teir two that could shake up the status quo: Kevin Durant, kawhi Leonard, and Giannis.
Winner: LeBron James Snub: Giannis


Well, there you have it! Who do you think got it right? Do you agree or disagree with any of these rankings? Hit us up in the comments and let us know what you think!

Give N’ Go Podcast S3E6

Check out a special episode of the Give N’Go Podcast with your hosts Jordan Taylor, Rajan Sharma, and special guest host Adam Johal!

Today we go over a number of topics including:

  • Kawhi Leonard’s laugh heard all around the world!
  • Kyle Lowry’s impact on the Raptors (9:15)
  • Los Angles Lakers Media Day (16:15)
  • Enes Kanter’s Nipples (20:17)
  • Jimmy Butler Trade Update (22:15)
  • Fantasy Basketball Tips (30:56)

Check it out, leave us a comment, and hit that subscribe button on Soundcloud and twitter/IG/Facebook for all the latest updates!