NGSC Sports

NBA: What we learned in November

Class is in session for all of our NBA fans out there. The season is a full month in by Thanksgiving weekend and for those with complete teams, the “eye test” does NOT lie in the world of basketball and the NBA. The Dark Knight of Sports is ready to shine the light on the dark truth for the teams who are clear favorites, clearing struggling and even a couple teams that may have just retired before the season ever began.

The “NO DOUBT” teams:

1. Memphis Grizzlies: The Memphis Grizzlies always seems to come into the season as the “under-appreciated team.” Rightfully so when their major names are Zach Randolph, Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies may not be “Lob City” like the LA Clippers, but they beat them. They are not a shining stars like in Houston of Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Grizzlies beat them. Bottom line, the Grizzlies play as a team and they win as a team. Leading the NBA with the best record so far (12-2) is a clear sign that the pieces are in place for another run at the NBA title. Granted there are teams within their conference that are missing key pieces, but it doesn’t matter to the city of Memphis and their Grizzlies.

2. Toronto Raptors: Was it not just a couple years ago that the city of Toronto was the target of a team in need of retraction? Well in the last two seasons, the Toronto Raptors have begun to have consistent success post Vin-sanity and post Chris Bosh. Leading the Eastern conference with a 11-2 record, the Raptors, led by All Star guard DeMar DeRozen, is reminding the NBA world that the city of Toronto is more than just the Canadian Football League and more than hockey itself. With victories against teams like the Cavaliers and Western Conference leaders, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Raptors look to be the real deal once again this season. There are very few issues with this team but if there is one, it is against strong teams within their own conference, but not enough to alarm anyone enough to have doubt.

3. Golden State Warriors: The one thing that worried a good amount of experts was the incoming new Head Coach, Steve Kerr, that he would mess with what was already GREAT chemistry. Well that is not only NOT the case but the Warriors thrive under Kerr’s coaching system and style. The “Splash Brothers” of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are without question, the best guard combo in the NBA today. The health of Andrew Bogut seems to be alright. With him, David Lee and Draymond Green patrolling the inside, and Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala slashing the perimeter, the Warriors seem to have that championship formula. Their 2 losses this early season came to the defending champion Spurs and the up-start Phoenix Suns, who most see in the playoffs this season.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Dallas Mavericks (team chemistry, stronger defense inside)

2. Houston Rockets (team chemistry, able to score opponents out of the gym)

3. Portland Trailblazers (Damien Lillard = MVP anyone?)

4. Chicago Bulls (Pau, Pau Pau with Noah)

5. Washington Wizards (Young team getting healthy)

Teams OBVIOUSLY struggling:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: The team chemistry is obviously not there right now and Cavs fans cannot expect it to happen just like that. The team is not filled with Lebron James clones (things look easy). It is the supporting cast of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love that are struggling to find their role in the Cavs offense led by NEW head coach David Blatt. While the Cavs (5-7) have beaten the teams they were suppose to beat, it is against the more formidable foes that they seem to be “not” on the same page. Recently it has forced Coach Blatt to play Lebron James more minutes, which is no secret was one of the reasons why James left Miami to begin with, his being overused was taking a toll on his body. If the Cavs are going to contend for the title THIS season, this chemistry issue must be fixed and soon before they fall to fall behind and are in a hole that they cannot dig themselves out of.

2. Los Angeles Clippers: Seems that the same problems that has been following the Clippers in the postseason has manifested itself in the regular season, the inability to beat their Western Conference playoff contender opponents. At a 7-5 clip to start the season, the Clippers would be OUT of the playoffs if they started today. It is obvious that there is a lack of order when it comes to who is leader, who is the “go-to guy” during needed times. Point guard Chris Paul seems to always be dishing and shooting but where is his scoring. Have the Clippers gone so far away from “Lob City” that they lost what made them relevant? Is Blake Griffin focusing too much on becoming a better all-around player than he has forgotten what makes him great? There is an old saying that goes, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t go trying to fix it.” This could very well be the 2014-2015 Clippers.

3. New York Knickerbockers: Oh, the “triangle” the “triangle,” all the talk seems to be about how difficult the “triangle offense” is for the Knicks players to execute. Head Coach Derek Fisher, who is a disciple of front office President of Basketball Operations, Phil Jackson, is struggling in his first season on the bench as coach. Carmelo Anthony continues to struggle, Amar’e Stoudemire looking to find his place in the offense. Perimeter play is led by J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. both players who have inconsistencies in their individual games. Bottom line, the KEY to the triangle offense is the pieces of the puzzle, which the Knicks obviously do NOT have.

Honorable Mention:

1. Miami Heat (Enough offense and size inside)

2. Brooklyn Nets (Lack of scoring, injury plague once again)

3. Atlanta Hawks (Loss of Josh Smith too much)

4. Chicago Bulls (Health of Derrick Rose, need I say more)

Teams that should have STAYED home:

There are only two teams who have ZERO chance i n making the playoffs. Inf act, these two teams are SO BAD, they are making history in the worst way possible. The Philadelphia 76ers, who are 0-13, that’s not a typo, the 76ers are winless this season so far. The other team is the injury plague and “pride on the brain” driven Los Angeles Lakers who are 3-11. Again this is NOT a typo, the Lakers, with a HEALTHY Kobe Bryant, are 3-11. It may be an early season but with the rosters that these teams carry combined with front office philosophies as they currently stand, these two teams are the bottom feeders of their respective conferences. To say that about one of the most historic franchises “Lakers’ STILL does not compute for most. But it is real and Lakers Nation continues to be frustrated as they see the Purple and Gold be tarnished by the young up and coming little brother, the Clippers.

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Ralph Garcia


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