Basketball

STERN LEFT AT THE RIGHT TIME

Sunday, 3 August, 2014

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News of David Stern’s exit from the NBA was known for a year and a half. Stern made the announcement publicly and stated he would be helping Adam Silver transition as the new commissioner. Time passed and his exit came swiftly. Silver has came in and dealt with a whirlwind situation with the Clippers and has done a few other things to win over NBA personnel.

What matters to fans is what the product represents on a night in and night out basis. In baseball there is lousy attendance throughout the franchises. The prime reason is because of the product on the field and the duration of the season. In football there are only eight regular season home games so teams primarily do well because it’s on a limited exposure basis. Sure there are some teams that draw blackouts every week but the ticket sales for those games pale in comparison to some numbers drawn in MLB and the NBA.

The product on the NBA court right now just does not suffice an 82 game season. It started to wane in 2000 and became noticeable on a nightly basis in the mid 2000s. Structure of the game has fled. Teams do not seem as focused on a nightly basis. Maybe it was the influence of higher paychecks. Surely there are several factors that have caused the decline in solid basketball.

Lets just run through the Eastern Conference as an indicator of how poor basketball is right now. We saw Miami turn into a shell of itself and literally get to the Finals as a one-man show in LeBron James. Indiana was considered a favorite to win the NBA title at one point last year. Months later they were getting beat by the poorest of teams on a night in and night out basis. Now they’ll be without Paul George and Lance Stephenson.

Chicago has been a steady team largely because of their head coach, but watching them play in the regular season can turn into a yawn fest. Pick out of a hat and you can go on and on about the nightmares of watching teams from the Eastern Conference play. The Knicks were a scrimmage style defensive team with one on one intentions on the offensive end of the floor. Atlanta and Toronto played with energy but lacked synergy and direction.

Let’s not even get into teams such as Detroit, Milwaukee, Orlando, Philadelphia etc.

I’ll give the NBA credit. They’ve done a great job masking the woes of the league currently. Marketing has been phenomenal. Of course the league is filled with talented superstars, any professional level sport is. They can hammer the name LeBron James and Kevin Durant 100 million times and keep printing money to the NBA headquarters.

But to watch the entire league fall in a year to year steadily decline is depressing.

It’s easy to see the difference from the premium basketball the 1990’s had. Veterans had bigger roles and a passion for the game. You did not see the amount of 2nd and 3rd year players getting starters minutes that you do today. Coaching was done on both ends of the floor and held a higher standard.

Now players passion dwindles when they get that first big paycheck. All out talent that was on display in college and high school has been scaled back to turn up the effort when they need to.

Out of all the major sports none appear to be on as big of a decline as NBA basketball. Hopefully Adam Silver can ignite some major changes to franchisees that seem to care more and more about the dollar than their product. It only can last so long before heads start to turn to another outlet or sport.

NBA SUMMER LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP FREE PLAY

Monday, 21 July, 2014

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The NBA summer league has been a reversal trend for many bettors that got in on the eight day action. Favorites and obvious sides seemed to cash at will the first four to five days. Once tournament play began though upsets have been occurring left and right.

No one would have picked this championship between the Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings. Charlotte looked like a team that had no offensive weapons at all. Sacramento on the other hand has a talented roster, but looked like a team mailing it in like a preseason NFL game.

For Monday’s championship the draw from Vegas and offshore likely will be very small. Baseball is back in action with a full slate of games Monday.

For those that want to finish out the summer league, I’ll side with the Bobcats. They have went from an 0-3 start to a sudden reversal of a four game winning streak. Players that were down and out have come alive. Players such as Justin Brownlee, Noah Vonleh, and Cody Zeller.

This is another revenge matchup for the Bobcats. During their three game losing streak one of their losses was to the Kings. They started off the first quarter of that game in with a woeful nine points. It became a competitive game but that first quarter proved to be an uphill battle too much to overcome.

Look for the Bobcats to dig deep in this summer league championship and snare another avenging win. Against the Knicks a team that blew them out of the water they turned a one point 1st quarter lead, into a 11-0 run start to the second quarter.

Grab the Bobcats to close out the summer league.

SATURDAY FREE PLAY: BOBCATS VS KNICKS

Saturday, 19 July, 2014

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YESTERDAY’S FREE PLAY WON ON THE UNDER IN THE ANGELS AND MARINERS. TODAY I HEAD BACK TO THE SUMMER LEAGUE IN LAS VEGAS. THE TOURNAMENT PART OF THE SUMMER LEAGUE IS DOWN TO THE FINAL EIGHT TEAMS. LETS FOCUS ON THE BOBCATS VS KNICKS.

ONE THING I FULLY BELIEVE AS A HANDICAPPER IS WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET. SOMETIMES PEOPLE WILL DIVE TOO MUCH INTO TRENDS INSTEAD OF TRUSTING THEIR EYES. DURING THE PACERS HEAVY SLUMP IN THE SPRING, ODDSMAKERS WERE STILL BELIEVING THE PACERS OF DECEMBER AND JANUARY. IT LED TO SPORTS BETTORS DOING THE SAME WHEN THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN TRUSTING THEIR EYES.

JUST A FEW DAYS AGO THE BOBCATS AND KNICKS MET IN THE SUMMER LEAGUE AND IT WAS THE MOST LOPSIDED PLAYED SUMMER LEAGUE GAME IN VEGAS. NEW YORK WAS WINNING BY 35 POINTS AT THE END OF THE THIRD QUARTER AND HAD A HALFTIME LEAD OF 33 POINTS.

THEY USED THEIR TRIANGLE OFFENSE TO RUN CIRCLES AROUND CHARLOTTE. THIS CHARLOTTE TEAM’S BEST OFFENSIVE WEAPON IS PJ HAIRSTON. HAIRSTON HAS COME ALONG THE LAST FEW GAMES ALONG WITH CODY ZELLER. THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THIS TEAM’S STRENGTH IS DEFENSIVELY.

THE TRIANGLE IS TOO MUCH FOR AN OFFENSIVELY CHALLENGED TEAM TO OVERCOME IN THE SUMMER LEAGUE. TRUST THE RESULTS OF THE BLOWOUT A FEW DAYS AGO AND PLAY IT AGAIN HERE.

NAPIER’S SUMMER LEAGUE WOES GOING UNNOTICED

Friday, 18 July, 2014

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Shabazz Napier and the UConn Huskies came together at the right time to propel themselves to another NCAA title. Napier was a huge catalyst from a leadership standpoint. Where the Huskies moved forward as a team was unheralded play from their backup point guard in Samuel and 5th year senior Kromah.

Another turn around performer for the Huskies was forward DeAndre Daniels. Napier played solid all season but the Huskies success for a title came with their depth.

Napier went from a mid second round to undrafted player to a top five point guard. I’ve been big on Napier from his freshman days at UConn but I can’t ignore his performance in summer league play.

He is shooting just 27% from the field. His assist to turnover ratio per game is alarming. He is averaging 2.8 apg to 3.5 turnovers per game. To say he is having a poor debut for Miami is an understatement. It brings the question if Napier is better suited as an undersized shooting guard more than a point guard. After all he was a scoring guard at UConn. The defense is still there but an ability to run a team on the professional level has to be in question.

He’ll continue to get his chances with the Heat as a point guard, but you have to wonder how long that would last.

Part of Napier’s problem now is he needs to play more under control. As a team the Heat in the summer league are turning the ball over at an insane rate. Thus far they have 84 turnovers to 78 assists. That’s just poor basketball all around.

Napier needs to leave the summer league with one solid outing to hang his hat on. Just because LeBron is gone doesn’t mean he won’t face criticism from the media. The return of Bosh and Wade will keep the media eyes surrounding South Beach.

FREE SUMMER LEAGUE PLAY: SPURS VS JAZZ

Thursday, 17 July, 2014

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Free plays are 3-0 in the summer league. Today’s free play comes in the Spurs vs Jazz. The Spurs are coming off a resounding win yesterday, and the Jazz won in a rout Tuesday. The focus on this free play comes in the total.

Totals have floated around the high 150’s to low 160’s in the summer league. Lots of people have been cashing in on the over, but in these tournament rounds it’s time to start reversing those bets on the under. Individuals want to have eyes on them as long as they can, so they’ll step it up on the defensive end as well.

I haven’t been all that impressed with the Spurs or Jazz in their summer league half court offense. Bettors are going to look at the last game’s both teams played and see a lot of points. With the way these two teams have been shooting in the summer league this total should have been in the high 150’s.

Both are barely shooting an average of 30 percent from three point range. Utah is also not getting to the free throw line enough to trust taking an over. They’ve only attempted 55 free throws and have made just 33 of those.

The Jazz also have a shot blocker in Rudy Gobert who has been a key presence inside for the Jazz. A poor shooting perimeter team in the Spurs should miss those layup bunnies with Gobert’s presence.

My last variable in this under is the way the Spurs are handling using their summer league roster. Coach Ime Udoka is choosing to spread out the Spurs minutes like Coach Poppovich does with the Spurs. Poppovich can do that with the great roster he has. In summer league play though that is a disaster for inconsistency.

Twelve of their fifteen players are averaging over ten minutes a game. Eight are getting between 17 and 25 minutes. Take a look at other summer league teams and you’ll see this is not common.

Take the under on this game and go 4-0 on free plays. I also have three other premium plays available for today.

CAVS DON’T NEED TO TRADE

Thursday, 17 July, 2014

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Cleveland continues to be the heartbeat of sports media. LeBron is back. What are the Cavaliers going to do next to please the King? Based on media reports they’re in speculative discussions to acquire Kevin Love. This is coming from the same media that reported all types of scenarios for Lebron prior to him declaring to Cleveland.

As the Cavliers sit they are in prime position to grow this season. Why take their valuable young assets and ship them away? Instead they have the formula everyone in the NBA would die to have. An unimaginable of high end low salary young assets (Dion Waiters, Thompson, Irving, Wiggins, Bennett) and veterans in Mike Miller, James Jones, and Anderson Varejeo.

The team that Cleveland will put on the court with Lebron is almost a replica hybrid of the 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder and Lebron’s Miami Heat teams. Vegas is usually spot on over the media and there’s a reason why the Cavs are Eastern Conference favorites and right behind the Spurs for title chances.

The pairing that will bolster this team to the top is their backcourt. Kyrie Irving’s care and attitude waned under poor leadership of Mike Brown and Byron Scott. He wanted out of Cleveland mid-season and was grumbling to the media. Dion Waiters and Irving clashed to the point that Waiters was nearly dealt to rid the team of camaraderie issues.

As the offseason approached Cavs fans were more worried about their youth than the far fetched idea of Lebron signing. If Kyrie would have exited there would not have been a possibility for LeBron heading there.

Why destroy a team of young athletes that have now decided to come together under LeBron? Build with them and see how LeBron and the new head coach see the team. If issues arise once again then put them on the trading block for a possible Kevin Love. Until that time hold tight and see where the athletes take you.