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Early Under/Over-Rated Season Predictions Answered – @RyanOak

Which teams ended up being over, under or properly rated in 2013/14?

In the pre-season I wrote two articles in which I outlined which five teams I thought were over and underrated, respectively, heading into the 2013/14 NBA season. Though you always expect to end up with egg on your face making such public predictions, now that the regular season has been completed, it’s time to see exactly how much yoke is on Oak.

In case you are in need of reminding about my earlier predictions, you can check them out HERE, and HERE.

 

Five teams I said were underrated for the 2013/14 NBA season:

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat - Game One

To be fair, this prediction was based upon people saying the Heat wouldn’t win the title again this season, which I thought was crazy, considering the talent they have on their roster. Especially an individual by the name of LeBron James.
We can’t really judge this prediction until the Finals are over – though my money remains on Miami to three-peat – so this prediction gets a ‘incomplete’ mark for now.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Oh dear.

Though I appreciate the West is loaded and it’s tough to even qualify for the playoffs in such a deep conference, Minny’s talent means they should be a better team than Dallas or Phoenix. Sadly, the Twolves have once again underperformed, frustrating their fans, and making me look like a goose. That’s a cross next to my name.

Washington Wizards

I’ll move swiftly along from the Minnesota fiasco, and restore some pride by gloating about my Wizards prognostication. Plenty to boast about from this prediction. From John Wall fulfilling his potential, to Bradley Beal making a leap, to the Wizards making the playoffs in the East in the 6th seed, it all adds up to a solid ‘tick’ from the suddenly un-humble me.

Portland Trailblazers

But wait, there’s more! Let’s really kick the arrogance into overdrive by reveling in the sensational selection that was the Blazers. Portland got off to a blistering start, and though they cooled off in the second half of the season, they still finished an impressive 5th Another tick, thank you very much.

Los Angeles Lakers

*Thud*

That noise you heard was me falling back to earth. With some serious force, I might add. Let’s just put this one down to irrational bias, while assigning myself a big cross. Though to be fair, I did admit at the time that this pick was wishful thinking and I was deluding myself.

 

Five teams I said were overrated for the 2013/14 NBA season:

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Golden State Warriors

Again, you can’t really judge this prediction until we see how the playoffs unfold, but for a team with championship ambitions this year, the Warriors were kind of disappointing. And that was point I was making: the Warriors playoff run last season heightened expectations for this season, but they were never truly the title team that many people thought.

It’s N/A for now, but I suspect it will be a tick come season end.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Time to gloat again, for I stated that “This team doesn’t deserve some of the lofty predictions I’ve heard touted, and it would shock me little if they only won 30 odd games.” The Cavs won 32 games, and were generally very disappointing all season long.

Tick.

Los Angeles Clippers

Another prediction that probably needs to be analyzed after the playoffs, due to the fact I wrote “ . . . I see this roster crushing teams all regular season, before getting crushed themselves once the real basketball starts in the playoffs.”
The Clips have actually been impressive this season, especially Blake Griffin, but this team had championship aspirations, so it’s incomplete grade for now on this selection.

Houston Rockets

I wrote at the time that this prediction was the one I feared would come back to haunt me the most, and that’s not far from the truth. I figured Dwight Howard would be more trouble than he’s worth, but he fitted in quite well with Houston, and the team did a fantastic job of finishing in the top four in the tough, tough conference that is the West.

Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, I definitely got his one wrong. Cross.

Philadelphia 76ers

This is actually a tough one to adjudicate on. The Sixers struggled to an epically bad 18-64 season. However, my prediction was predicated upon the statement that I didn’t think they’d win double-figure games. Based on that, you’d have to say I got this one wrong.

 

So all up, I’m going to need the Heat to win the title, with the Warriors and Clippers struggling in the playoffs, in order to finish with a solid 6-4 record.

And I actually like my chances . . .



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Allen Iverson – The Highs and Lows

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Image courtesy of http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/

“We’re talking about practice. I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we’re talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last but we’re talking about practice man.”

Even the most casual of NBA fans would be familiar with the quote above. Allen Iverson was a man who created headlines. In his 14 years in the NBA, the diminutive point guard certainly lived large on and off the court. His brash attitude and ‘street look’ were often the focal point of the mainstream media and despite being one of the greatest to ever play the game he suffered from such scrutiny, whether fairly or not.

Whatever off-court issues Iverson had, and he had a few, the way he played the game was mesmerizingly beautiful. As a six foot, 165 pound guard, he was always up against it, every time he stepped foot on the court, but he never backed down and his talent shone through over the years. He was honoured by the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday, with the franchise retiring his jersey to the rafters.

Iverson’s NBA career began back in 1996 when he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the number one pick. He would go on to win Rookie of the Year honours that season whilst putting up 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game but the 76ers finished with an abysmal 22-60 record.

Iverson’s numbers in his rookie season were impressive but the team’s horrible record caused some to blame Iverson for his score first attitude. In John N. Smallwood’s book entitled Allen Iverson: Fear No One Iverson was quick to point out the lack of support from a team of role players with little ability to score.

“You saw the team we had last year, who was going to score? I’d throw a pass; somebody would miss, the next time I’d say I’d rather do it myself. That’s not the right way. You have to go to the guy again. People said I was trying to win Rookie of the Year, but I was trying to win games.”

This kind of criticism was to follow Iverson throughout his whole career. Being a shoot first point guard was a fairly new thing in the late ‘90’s, unlike today, where the league has so many scoring point guards so it was Iverson who really paved the way for guys like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose but it was also Iverson who would have to take on the critics too.

Iverson would endure a second season with a team that struggled and failed to make the playoffs and the question marks over Iverson’s ability to be a team player and guide his team to the playoffs continued.

Thankfully, the following season, the 76ers reached the post season and whilst the criticism didn’t completely disappear, it wasn’t as loud as it had been previously.

The 76ers would reach the playoffs for the next four seasons, led by the play of Iverson and along the way he would pick up a league MVP in 2001, as well as numerous All NBA first team selections, All Star appearances, including two All Star MVP awards as well as his much vaunted scoring titles.

The 2000-01 season will forever be remembered in NBA folklore as A.I’s year. He was named MVP, putting up 31.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game and took a rag tag bunch of players all the way to the NBA Finals. Iverson exploded for 48 points in the first game of the series, including an amazing crossover, step back jumper over a falling Tyronn Lue, the ensuing images of Iverson stepping over Lue’s fallen body will be forever ingrained in hoops fans minds. The Sixers took the first game of the series against a Laker team stacked with stars that were on a 19 game winning streak and were supposed to just turn up to win the title. Iverson explained via ESPN.com what drove him when interviewed after the historic victory.

“I’m glad nobody bet their life on it because they’d be dead now. Everyone says we can’t do it, and that drives us.”

The game was indicative of what Iverson was all about, an underdog who always came to fight. The fight however was one that was unwinnable. The star studded Lakers, led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant would win the next four games and take out the championship.

Iverson would never again experience finals basketball. He would toil away in Philadelphia with mixed results, a few playoff appearances and a few disappointing seasons before he was traded away to the Denver Nuggets.

He would see his scoring output decline whilst playing for the Nuggets but they were to have some successes, even making the western conference finals in 2009 but once again it was the Lakers who stood in his way.

He would endure a few seasons of trades and clashed with management and coaching staff on both the Nuggets and Memphis teams before finally ending up back where it all began in Philly, but it wasn’t to last long.

The NBA career of Allen Iverson ended in 2010, he was seen as too demanding and troubled for any franchise to risk signing him and he went overseas to continue playing. His marriage fell apart and he’d spent most of his career earnings, he had reported alcohol and gambling problems and it all looked very bleak for the once mighty Iverson.

He has since retired from playing all forms of the game and it was yesterday that his jersey was retired to the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and there was an outpouring of respect and gratitude from many players, coaches and fans for what was an incredible, albeit controversial career.

Allen Iverson did it all his own way and whilst he made many mistakes along the way he will be remembered as one of the greats of the game. Perhaps he summed it up best himself after the ceremony.

“It feels good, but some part of my heart hurts because I know its over.”

His playing days are over, but they will never be forgotten.



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Ten Things I Love/Hate About You

Hey-there-Andrew.-Image-via-@JordanRaanan

The NBA season isn’t too far away now and there’s a lot to look forward to in season 2013/14 but I thought I’d share ten things that are on my mind as we impatiently wait for the season to begin

10. Pre-season.

It’s better than no NBA basketball at all and it’s the pre-cursor to the real thing. Enough said.

9. The Cleveland Cavaliers.

What can I say about this youthful and talented squad? There’s Uncle Drew with those crazy handles, Andrew Bynum with that crazy, well everything, not to mention the hair watch we’re all constantly on. Then you have the explosive and exciting number one pick Anthony Bennett, who should give us Larry Johnson style highlights on the offensive end and be a disaster defensively. If Head Coach Mike Brown can get this roster to gel, they will be a highly entertaining team to watch, if not, there’s always Bynum’s hair to keep us all entertained.

8. Michael Beasley and Greg Oden.

You’ve got LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, etc, etc but what you now have to add to that locker room is a walking frame and a bong. Talk about two guys on their last legs! Oden is a guy I’ve always wanted to see come back from those knee injuries but now he’s on the Heat I’m not sure I feel as strongly about him overcoming those setbacks. Michael Beasley is one lucky cat. He’s also on his ninth life and if he doesn’t get his act to together then I don’t see any more chances coming his way, but then again, like Oden, I don’t want to see Miami gain another valuable piece to their team. Anyone got Beasley’s dealers number?

7. Lakers Losing It.

Now I know I’ll cop some grief for this one, especially considering I converse all too often with many Laker fans, not to mention my fellow NBA Nation Australia writers, but it has to be said that things don’t look too promising in Laker land this year and I for one won’t be losing any sleep over it. Kobe is on his way back from a serious injury at 4000 years old, Steve Nash is 5000 years old and Pau Gasol is just too nice to be a big man in the NBA. Whatever happened to that nice fellow Dwight? Sounds like a sub .500 year for the second best team in L.A. Yes I just called the Clippers the best team in L.A and it feels so wrong, yet so right.

6. Tank For Wiggins?

Things could get really ugly this year between the cellar dwellers. Next year’s draft is off the charts and there’s no shortage of teams willing to tank for Wiggins. I mean seriously, the mighty and proud Boston Celtics blew up their team to have a chance at getting that elusive number one pick next year so you know tanking is the new winning in 2013/14. I fear for my mental health when I switch on League Pass whilst nursing a hangover on a Sunday morning only to see the 76ers playing the Bobcats. Also, MJ, what the hell were you thinking with Cody Zeller!?

5. New Orleans Pelicans.

Of all the names you could choose for a sporting team, the Pelicans is the best you could come up with? Whoever is responsible for this atrocity should be forced to watch Austin Rivers rookie season over and over again. I’m sorry but I’ll never be able to take this team seriously now, actually, come to think of it, I don’t think I ever did beforehand! Move on.

4. Sun Shines In the Golden State.

One team I thoroughly enjoyed watching in last year’s playoffs were the Golden State Warriors. Those huge games from the sharp shooting Steph Curry were ones to remember and although they failed to beat the Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals they showed they’re not a team you want to take lightly. They have made some solid off-season moves and providing Curry’s glass ankles stay healthy and Bogut can avoid whatever freak injury may occur then the Warriors will be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Can the sun shine on the golden state?

3. Bring Back Wilt!

It’s about time we seen a scoring champ who averages over 30 points per game this season. KD, Melo, are you there? Shit, I don’t care if it’s Kobe and he shoots .400 to do it, actually I would take great pleasure in witnessing this; see number 7 on this list. I just think the scoring title isn’t the same when the winner averages a mere 28.7ppg. Bring back Wilt!

2. The NBA Finals.

The NBA Finals! What more do I need to say? I’m no fan of the Miami Heat or the San Antonio Spurs but watching that Finals series last season was unbelievably great. The spectacle, fanfare and meaning that comes with each and every game is what keeps me coming back every year to see it all play out. One thing though, hoop gods, can we not have the Heat again this season? Sincerely, Bulls fan Dan

1.The Return.

Ok, so it’s a little later than first anticipated but it’s no less exciting. The prodigal son returns, Chicago’s very own, D Rose, rises from his injury exile to take the league by storm destroying everyone in his path! Ok, so I’m going with the best case scenario here but after almost 18 months it’s my god damn right to be so optimistic! Bring on the season!



Julius Erving: “The Doctor” – Dan Attias

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To celebrate the release of NBA TV’s ‘The Doctor’ we here at NBA Nation Australia would like to get some of you acquainted with this great icon of the past.

Julius Erving was a breath of fresh air at a time when the NBA was in desperate need of change. An athletic, graceful, yet powerful 6’6″ forward who could change a game on both ends of the floor, Erving’s NBA accomplishments include a championship in 1983, MVP trophy in 1981, five All NBA First team and two All NBA Second team selections, two time All Star MVP and 11 time All Star. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 and in 1996 was named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players.

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LOTTERY PREDICTIONS: 1-14

NBA DRAFT

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“You Can’t Teach That Kinda Move!”

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Ever since John Wall came back from injury he has been playing like a man on a mission. Trying to prove to all that he is a PG to be reckoned with. If he keeps on pulling off ridiculous moves like this, shouldn’t be too long before people sit up and take notice again.

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2012-13 NBA Punters Preview – Team Totals, MVP’s and Rookies.

2012-13 NBA Punters Preview – Team Totals, MVP’s and Rookies.

As we fast approach a new season we want to pass on some words of wisdom to you.
We all love a bet, a cheeky punt from time to time and what better time then the start of the  NBA season. We think we have found a few options for you this season.

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NBA Season Previews: Part 7

Howdy folks! We’re back today with the latest team season preview taking a look at Western Conference favorites the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perennial dark horses the Philadelphia 76ers (or will they be?) and southern giant killers the San Antonio Spurs. Enjoy!

Oklahoma City Thunder

How Will They Do?

Oklahoma City are the NBA’s darlings, rising out of the ashes of the Seattle Sonics. Last year they fulfilled what most predicted – making it to the NBA Finals before being steamrolled by the Heat juggernaut. This season brings another series of high expectations and even more challenges. As the Lakers rebuilt and retooled for another assault on the title the Thunder took stock and made very few changes. Last season was an important moment for this franchise as it gave them the irrational confidence that they can now reach the highest heights. The biggest story line coming out of this camp this season will be can they re-sign James Harden?  Currently the team is cash strapped. They hold the contracts of Durant, Westbrook, Perkins and Ibaka in their hands. Harden is the icing on this cake, coming off the bench with confidence, fearless determination and one of the best ball handlers in the league. Harden’s presence cements this team atop the Western Conference, without him there is an air of uncertainty.  We really like how the Thunder have built upon their roster and given themselves depth at most positions. Collison & Jones backing up Ibaka & Durant as newest Thunder recruit Thabeet brings size off the bench. Harden, Maynor and Cook act as dynamite off the bench lifting the tempo of the team whenever they are on-court. Sure it’s not the deepest team in the league but it’s one of the most reliable, you know what you will get from your bench. Very similar to Moneyball it’s about working your way to a win any way you can. Coach Brooks knows this, has assembled a squad capable of challenging every team in the league. This team is one of the most explosive and dynamic in the league, a League Pass must every night. There is no doubting they have the talent, if they can just sprinkle in a dash of experience (gained from the 2011/12 Finals & Olympics) this team could destroy the Western Conference. Look for them to pick up 55-65 wins this year. 

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Andrew Bynum ‘Excited’ To Be A Sixer; Considering Long-Term Stay

Ex-Lakers Center Andrew Bynum has been welcomed by the Philadelphia 76er’s in an open press conference in which he expressed his happiness at being part of the team, and how he is leaning towards signing an extension.

Bynum was traded to the Sixers as part of the blockbuster deal which saw Dwight Howard head to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers.

Full press conference below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hocw8Xf8U8E]


NBA Nation Australia’s Weekly Roundtable Feat. Leigh Ellis Of The Basketball Jones/The Score

Welcome to another edition of NBA Nations Australia’s Roundtable Discussion

Our Roundtable Knights Are:

Nick Caro: @NickoToGo

Nick How: @Nick_A_How

Leigh Ellis: @LeighEllis

This week we are joined by the 6th man for the Basketball Jones and The Score, Leigh Ellis. Leigh has been working closely with journalists in all areas of the NBA for a number of years and his podcast with JE Skeets and Tas Melas as part of the Basketball Jones are amongst the World’s most popular. Thanks again for coming along, Leigh.

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