Do Durant. No Problem

People were taking about during the off season that the Thunder were going to struggle this  year without Durant.  Those were at least the circles that I was in.  I have to say though, I think that the Thunder are going to be fine this season.  Here are a few take aways from last nights game for the Thunder.

Westbrook

First thing that needs to mention is that this player should be in talks all season for MVP.  I think that we could be witnessing a very strong case for him because if you look at what he did without Durant last season it was like he was preparing for this to happen.  He was averaging close to a triple-double when Durant was not there.  He might be the first player since Oscar Robertson who could average a triple double this season.

Let me repeat that if you didn’t understand what I just said.  The last player to average a triple-double during the season was Oscar Robertson during the 1961-62 season. That season he averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game.  Westbrook last night had 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists.  All Westbrook has to do is raise his assists per night and we could be seeing hands down the MVP of this league.  Health will play a key role in this as well but we might be witnessing history this year if Westbrook can keep this up all season without being hurt.

The Big Men

For those of you who read this blog, I love the big men positions in the game of basketball.  I think that they are starting to become underrated due to the fact that teams are going small ball to win games.  However, the big men on the Thunder are most likely going to have a monster season this year.  Without Durant being there, someone has to pick up the load and I think Enes Canter and Steven Adams are going to be the ones to do it.  Lets start with Canter

Enes Canter

People have forgotten this, but Canter was originally drafted by the Utah Jazz back in and was the third over all pick during the 2011 draft.  Here is what is interesting for Kanter.  During the first three and a half years he was in Utah, his averages for points and rebounds was on a steady climb up.  This average points he was averaging when he was traded from Utah was 13.8.  When he was traded to the Thunder he started to average 18.7 points.  His points went down the next couple of season due to the fact that he was coming off the bench and Durant and Westbrook were scoring most of the time.  I see know that Canter is going to be the X factor for this team.  I can see him averaging 20 points a game this season or more depending if Westbrook sees him being a factor.  Which I do think that Westbrook does see him as the catalyst that is needed for the team to succeed.

Steven Adams

I expect him to have a break out year since he is in his fourth year in the league.  His stats for scoring have been going up slowly the last three years.  Now that Kevin Durant is out of the Thunder line up, I expect that he will be more involved in the offense for the starting line up.  Since Canter will be coming off the bench for Adams, it will give Adams more chances to score while Westbrook is out on the floor with him.  Adams is going to be key for the starters while Canter will be the key for the bench.  The powerful one two punch at the Center position for this team will be super effective.  If Adams doesn’t have a break out season with the Thunder, don’t expect the Thunder to go far this year.

Victor Oladipo

Don’t expect much from Victor this season.  His game is a little to similar like Westbrook but not as aggressive.  I believe that Oladipo will be better if he was coming off the bench with Canter.  It would provide the Thunder with two consistent scores on the floor at all times.  If Victor doesn’t come off the bench, I don’t see him being involved that much in the offense.  He might get close to 20 points a night, but I don’t see him being the super star of the team.  If he were to come off the bench with Canter, he would get closer to scoring 20 points a night.  Oladipo is like Westbrook in the fact that he needs the ball in his hands to score.  Right now at shooting guard he will not be that affected for the Thunder.

I expect the Thunder to make the playoffs, and possible go to the Western Conference Finals.  It all depends on what happens between the Spurs, Warriors and Thunder.  If the Spurs get the number one seed, then the Thunder will have a chance to make the Western Conference Finals.  It will be a battle with the Warriors but I think if they face the Spurs that they won’t make the Western Conference Finals.  The other thing to think about is if the Thunder get the number one seed, that you can expect them to make the Western Conference Finals for sure.  However, we will have to see how this season goes because health will be an issue for any team all season.

 

Numbers tell a story for the Warriors

Last nights game for the Warriors is telling a story that needs to be discussed.  Hardly anyone will talk about, because it will be around the fact that Kevin Durant is still trying to learn the offense and that Warriors will still be the best team in basketball before the end of the year.  However, there are a couple of numbers that people are over looking because we look at the flashy stats of points and we go crazy over the highlights that ESPN gives us on a nightly bases.  The category I am talking about is the need for a big man who can rebound the ball for this team.

If you look at the individual stats of the team last night on rebounding, you will see as a Warriors fan that Draymond Green was able to lead the team in rebounds with 12 and Durant was the second in rebounds with 10.  As good as that is, I believe that these two rebounding will cause the down fall of the Warriors as the season continues.  Here why.

When looking at the stats of rebounding they were able to keep up on the defensive end of rebounding the ball, but on the offensive end, it was a different story.  The Spurs had 21 offensive rebounds to the Warriors 8 (9 if you count the team rebound).  The last offensive rebound for the Warriors was at the 10:26 mark of the fourth quarter.  It was a team offensive rebound, the next closes one was at the 4:05 mark during the third quarter and that was done by David West.  If you break down all the offensive rebounds from these rebounds of the fourth quarter, it looks like this.

Andre Iguodala offensive rebound at mark 2:55 of the second quarter.  Draymond Green offensive rebounds 3rd quarter at marks 11:15, 8:34, 8:33, 5:05, and 4:56.   Zaza Pachulia offensive rebound at the 8:30 mark of the third quarter.  These numbers are scary for Warrior fans who actually look at the entire picture.  Yes they spread the floor, and they are one of the greatest small ball teams in the league.  But what will happen when they run into the Cavaliers who will most likely be crashing the boards all night with Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love?

Warriors need to get a big man, who’s soul purpose is to rebound, rebound, rebound.  The Warriors can make it all season with their starting line up and score lights out when they are on.  They still need a big man who can just rebound.  If they can get that man, the Warriors will win the NBA finals hands down.  Warriors might want to consider trading to get Tyson Chandler who can make Draymond Green’s job easier.  If Draymond isn’t having to use his energy to rebound on every possession of the game, he will be able to be more effective on the offensive end of the ball.  It will also help Kevin Durant with being able to focus more on scoring while at the same time, being the third option with rebounding.

Tyson Chandler can help the Warriors get over the top.  His toughness of crashing the boards becomes addicting.  He would feed off of Draymond  when it comes to playing the game and since he is able to rebound the ball, he would make the Warriors that much more of a threat in the West.  However, to make that trade will be a problem because of the salary cap that they have.  So the Warriors need to either find a Tyson like player or find someway to get that man on that team.  Doing so, will result in the Warriors winning it all this year.

NBA game Predictions tonight

Tonight is opening night of the NBA. Here is what I am predicting will happen with the teams that will face off tonight.

New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers

This will be the preview we have been waiting to see since the Knicks have made all these moves during the off season to make themselves a title contender since they would either have to beat the Cavaliers or the Warriors if they were to make it to the finals. Today the Knicks will have to beat a very emotional Lebron and Cavaliers team for bringing home the first ever championship banner for this organization. I expect the Cavaliers to win but if the Knicks want to be able to stop the party in Cleveland, they will need to do the following.

Knicks Bench

The Knicks bench will have to come out to play. In fact, if you look at their back up point guard and shooting guard, they use to be former stars in this league. Most people don’t remember much from Brandon Jennings back when he played with the Bucks that he did have a superstar stamp on his forehead before he disappeared from the NBA superstar radar. If Brandon Jennings can come out to play, then the Knick shouldn’t have a problem with being able to compete with the Cavaliers. At the same time, Sasha Vujacic already knows the triangle offense that the Knicks are going to be using because that is what Phil Jackson knows and loves. If these two can work together when coming off the bench, the Knicks should be able to stop the party in Cleveland.

Cleveland will win in a landslide unless the Knicks understand how the Triangle offense works

Utah Jazz vs Portland Trailblazers

This game I don’t think will be a good one. I believe that Utah is still in a rebuilding mode and still hasn’t been able to find their superstar yet. I understand that they do have Joe Johnson but he is old. They did pick up Boris Diaw but he does better these days when he is able to pass the ball instead of carrying the load for the team.

Portland’s one two punch

I know for a fact that Damian Lillard is one huge piece for this team, and continue to perfrom very game that he is able to. I do believe that their chances can go up for being a threat in the West if Mason Plumlee. I believe that this year if he is involved in more pick and rolls with Lillard that he could be a double double player this season. The key for Plumlee will be that he needs to be able to make the mid range shot in order for the pick and roll offense to work well. I believe that this will make the Trail Blazers and winning team this season.

Expect Portland to win this game tonight.

Golden State Warriors vs San Antonio Spurs

This was the match up that everyone was expecting to see last year in the West Conference finals. However, that didn’t happen and now we have a post Tim Duncan era for the Spurs. This match up is really even all across the board. So I will break this one down on how either of these teams could walk away with a victory.

Spurs

The Spurs bench will have to be on tonight. I think that the Spurs have the advantage when it comes to the bench, but Golden State makes it up with their starters. I also believe that the Spurs will have to take advantage of the fact that they most likely have the better team when it comes to rebounding the ball. However, that will determine based off if the Spurs won’t be tired out by all the running that they will most likely have to do with the Warriors. Spurs also will have to be playing defense the entire night which means that they will even have to be guarding the three point line all the way to half court with Curry and Durant when they are on the floor. The Spurs will also have to be able to make three pointers when they have the chance to shoot. Turn overs will have to be controlled as well since that is what caused them to lose to the Warriors last year.

Warriors

As was discussed with the Spurs is that the Warriors will have to move the ball a lot. If they move the ball a lot I don’t think teams have a chance at beating them. Warriors will have great spacing out on the floor. Rebounding might be an issue but that will only be a problem if they are not making their shoots from three point land and if they are not having ball movement on and off the ball. I also think that a zone might be needed in order to stop the big man plays from the Spurs since the Spurs do have big men that can pass and shoot the ball. Since the Spurs don’t usually take that many shoots at three point land, it would be best for the Warriors to do a zone to control the big men on the Spurs. If they do start making three’s, the the Warriors will have to do man to man switches so that the Warriors can control the pace of the game.

Verdict for this game I think the Warriors will win by one point and it will be a close game the entire time.