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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 . . .



Playoffs

2014 NBA Playoff Race

 

With the 2013-14 NBA regular season coming to a close there are still a number of playoff spots up for grabs. Let’s take a look at the run home for those still with a shot at a post-season berth in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Eastern Conference

There are five teams who have clinched playoff spots in the east which leaves, realistically, five teams to fight for the remaining three spots.

6 – Washington Wizards 38 – 36

Run home – Boston, @NY Knicks, Chicago, Charlotte, @Orlando, Milwaukee, Miami, @Boston.

The Wizards have five home games and three on the road in their run towards the playoffs. Two of their eight games are against opposition who have a better record than themselves and with this is mind; we should see the Wizards in the post season for the first time since 2008 and with a decent sixth seed.

Prediction

43-39 .524. Playoff bound.

7 – Charlotte Bobcats 36 – 38

Run home – @Philadelphia, Orlando, @Cleveland, @Washington, @Boston, Philadelphia, @Atlanta, Chicago.

The Bobcats have five of their eight games on the road leading into the playoffs but the good news for Charlotte fans is that four of the five games are against teams with inferior records to their own. Of the three home games only Chicago have the superior record. The Bobcats should win five of their eight remaining games and clinch just their second playoff appearance since the team’s inception in the 2004-05 season.

Prediction

42-40 .512. Playoff bound.

8 – Atlanta Hawks 32 – 41

Run home – Chicago, Cleveland, @Indiana, Detroit, Boston, @Brooklyn, Miami, Charlotte, @Milwaukee.

The Hawks have the luxury of playing six of their remaining nine games on their home court but the problem lies with them having to face Chicago, Indiana, Brooklyn and Miami in their remaining games. The Hawks should win as many as they lose to finish the season, losing to the aforementioned teams whilst beating the hapless Bucks, Pistons and Boston during their run toward a post-season appearance, scraping in with the eighth seed.

Prediction

37-44 .451. Playoff bound.

9 – New York Knicks 32 – 43

Run home – Brooklyn, Washington, @Miami, @Toronto, Chicago, @Brooklyn, Toronto.

The Knicks season has been one of major disappointment and their slim hopes of making the playoffs aren’t looking good. Their run home consists of teams that all have a better record than themselves including the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. It’s hard to see the Knicks winning too many of these games and they seem doomed to finish one of their most frustrating seasons on record with a failure to make the post-season.

Prediction

33-49 .402. Playoffs missed.

10 – Cleveland Cavaliers 30 – 45

Run home – @Orlando, @Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, @Milwaukee, Boston, Brooklyn.

The Cleveland Cavaliers started the season with high hopes but the reality has been far from flattering in Cleveland. Even after picking up Luol Deng the Cavs look very unlikely to see their season end in a playoff appearance. They have  three road games and four at home on their run home and despite having a decent chance at winning most of them their current record doesn’t have them in much of a commanding position. Its looks like the Cavaliers are destined for the post LeBron blues once again.

Prediction

34-48 .415. Playoffs missed.

 

Western Conference

The western conference playoff race is going to be an interesting one. With so many teams fighting for seeding and a few fighting to make the eight there are some key matchups in the coming days that could decide who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t. Let’s take a look at the run home for the west.

4 – Houston Rockets 49 – 24

Run home – @Toronto, OKC, @Lakers, @Denver, @Minnesota, New Orleans, San Antonio, @New Orleans.

The Rockets have a chance to land the four seed in the strong western conference and have a run home that should see them finish with a good record and a great chance at that seeding. They face only two teams who would be favoured to beat them in the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in their final eight games and should they win six as predicted they will finish the season with a very respectable 55 wins.

Prediction

55-26 .671. Playoff bound.

5 – Portland Trail Blazers 49 – 27

Run home – Phoenix, New Orleans, Sacramento, @Utah, Golden State, Clippers.

Five home games and one road game against a less than stellar Utah Jazz should see the Trail Blazers win the majority of their remaining games. Two tough games against the Warriors and Clippers round out the regular season in Portland and despite the fact that they should start as under dogs in those particular games it’s a stern test prior to what should be their first playoff appearance since 2011. How far they can go in a stacked western conference in the post-season is debatable but it’s been a successful season for Portland.

Prediction

53-29 .646. Playoff bound.

6 – Golden State Warriors 46 – 28

Run home – @San Antonio, Sacramento, Utah, Denver, @Lakers, @Portland, Minnesota, @Denver.

The Warriors have been on a bit of a slide of late and it has put some question marks on their title aspirations but their run home should ensure they make the post-season. Home games against the likes of Sacramento, Utah, Denver and Minnesota should yield positive results with road games against the Spurs and Portland proving a challenge. All in all the Warriors have a good run into the playoffs.

Prediction

53-29 .646. Playoff bound.

7 – Memphis Grizzlies 44 – 30

Run home – @Minnesota, Denver, @San Antonio, Miami, Philadelphia, @Lakers, @Phoenix, Dallas.

The Grizzlies sit in a precarious position and with some big names to play on their run home it’s a distinct possibility they slip out of the playoffs. They play four games on the road and four at home. I see them splitting their remaining games with wins over the Timberwolves, Nuggets, 76ers and Lakers but the likes of Miami, San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix will prove more challenging.

Prediction

48-34 .585. Playoff bound.

8 – Phoenix Suns 44 – 30

Run home – Clippers, @Portland, OKC, @New Orleans, @San Antonio, @Dallas, Memphis, @Sacramento.

The Phoenix Suns were supposed to be talking lottery about now, instead they find themselves fighting for a playoff spot in a strong western conference. Their run home is a tough one with five of eight games on the road and with teams like the Clippers, OKC, San Antonio and Dallas in their schedule it’s hard to see them making the post-season. A great effort to be where they are right now but I fear it will all be in vain.

Prediction

47-35 .573. Playoffs missed.

9 – Dallas Mavericks 44 – 31

Run home – @Clippers, @Lakers, @Sacramento, @Utah, San Antonio, Phoenix, @Memphis.

The Dallas Mavericks have to play all but two of their remaining games on the road, but thankfully for Mavs fans most are winnable. With the exception of the Clippers and Memphis it’s fair to say Dallas should be favoured to win against the Lakers, Kings and Jazz and their home game against Phoenix has to be a huge factor for both team’s playoff aspirations. I see the Mavs sneaking into seventh or eighth in the west.

Prediction

49-33 .596. Playoff bound.

 

 

 

 



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Jordan Crawford: The Player That Splits The League Right Down The Middle

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Boston Celtics guard Jordan Crawford is the player most fans in the past (and if I’m honest even now) love to hate. Whether it’s because of his tendency to speak his mind of his over confidence in his skills (Better than Michael Jordan anyone?), his trash talking to opponents (Did KG really sleep with LaLa Anthony?), or just his eagerness to put up a shot.

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Washington Wizards v/s Phoenix Suns January 21, 2011

Freeing the Polish Hammer

Freeing the Polish Hammer – an ENTERTANKING update.

When word filtered through on Saturday morning that the Phoenix Suns had agreed to trade the package of Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall and Malcolm Lee to the Washington Wizards for the very valuable (but very injured) Emeka Okafor and a top-12-protected first round pick, my initial reaction was one of shock.  Shock not at the fact that the Suns had traded Gortat (this was universally accepted as given at some point this season) but that they had pulled the trigger so early on in the piece, before Gortat had had a chance to artificially inflate his value by piling up big numbers as the trusty anchor of an awful team.  Adding to that sense of shock was the fact the Suns had decided to include two of their more productive veterans in Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee as well as onetime Nash heir apparent/ 2012 #13 draft pick Kendall Marshall. That’s four, yes four active NBA players, being traded for a solid but indefinitely inactive veteran and a heavily protected first rounder.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks

By conventional wisdom,  this trade would be considered a howler for the Suns and an act akin to  dark wizardry by Washington, but this blog (and this franchise) isn’t a place for conventional wisdom, oh no this blog is a place for ENTERTANKING wisdom.

Make no mistake about it, when held in the context of ENTERTANKING this trade is a MASTERPIECE, for BOTH the Wizards and the Suns.  The Wizards get the reliable veteran big (Gortat) that their very talented, but frustratingly inconsistent young roster needs in order to make a legitimate push at a playoff berth and three other useful pieces (either as trade assets or role players) in Brown, Lee and Marshall as an added bonus.  All of this for just the price of a veteran big who wasn’t likely to play much of a part this season due to injury and a first round pick that if all goes according to plan, won’t be all that valuable anyway.  (The top 12 protection on this pick is essentially a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ button). For a franchise that fancies itself a legitimate playoff contender and the Wizards certainly do, this is the exact type of trade they should be making, and one can only applaud them for doing so.

From the Suns perspective, this trade is a work of absolute unashamed ‘ENTERTANKING’ genius. By agreeing to ship Gortat, Brown, Marshall and Lee in exchange for two assets that either can’t (the draft pick) or are unlikely to (Okafor) suit up this year, the Suns have managed to achieve three things that are crucial to the achievement of both their long term and short term goals.

Firstly, in the short term, the Suns have rid themselves of arguably their most productive player in Gortat, an act that ensures he cannot accidentally win them an extra five games due to individual acts of brilliance. For a team that has a vested interest in losing as often as possible this can only be considered a good thing.  Secondly, by trading Gortat they’ve also freed up valuable development minutes for promising young centre (and 2013 #5 pick) Alex Len.  The inclusion of Brown, Lee and Marshall in the trade means the Suns have also freed up minutes at the 1 and 3, two of their most backlogged positions. This should ensure they are able to give promising rookie SG/SF Archie Goodwin more minutes, without having to sacrifice minutes of the likes of the Morris twins and PJ Tucker. For a team that is on record as planning to develop around young talent, this is arguably an ideal outcome.  Additionally, the decision to jettison Marshall, so soon after drafting him only further serves to reaffirm that the Suns are all in on the Bledsoe/Dragic guard combination going forward, something that should excite the success starved fan base.

In the long term, the combination of extra minutes for youth (and the inevitable extra losses that should follow), another potential first round draft pick in the highly anticipated 2014 draft (the Suns also potentially own their own pick, Indiana’s pick and Minnesota’s pick as well) and the $15 million of future cap space the widely expected buy out of Okafor will bring about, should ensure that this trade is seen as a landmark moment in the Suns all out ENTERTANKING.  Go Suns!

Note: It has to be said that the players not named Gortat seem to be the real losers in this trade, but hey, someone had to lose, and for once it wasn’t the Polish Hammer, so no harm, no foul as far as I’m concerned. (Especially in the case of Shannon Brown, dude should NEVER HAVE LEFT THE LAKERS)

- Brenton

What did you think of the trade? Let me know at @iambren10

ENTERTANKING update:  The official ENTERTANKING scale and scorecard will be posted this week, prior to the tip off of the first Suns game.  So be sure check back in with myself and the crew at NBA Nation Australia.



USP NBA: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS S BKN USA DC

Five underrated teams for the 2013/14 NBA season

Miami Heat
The Heat have made three straight trips to the NBA Finals, won the last two NBA championships, have the greatest basketball player on earth in his prime, and have completed some shrewd off-season moves.

So it’s bewildering to hear people say that their successful run may come to an end this year. Why? Because people are simply bored of them winning?

I haven’t heard one logical, rational or believable reason to suggest why the Heat shouldn’t start overwhelming favourites to once again take home the NBA hardware.

The signings of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley are low risk/high reward, and if they come off towards the latter, the Heat will be near unstoppable.

Yet, even if both players flame out, a nucleus of LeBron James, (a healthy) Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chambers, Chris Anderson, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, etc, should be expected to win the title.

I personally am not underrating the Heat, as I think they will three-peat, so it feels strange to put them on this list. But for all those that think their championship run is over, this selection is for you, because I think you’re madly underestimating them.

Minnesota Timberwolves
This was actually a popular pick last season, when many thought the combination of a healthy Ricky Rubio, the All Star play of Kevin Love, the return of Brandon Roy, and the emergence of Nikola Pekovic, would combine to see the Twloves sneak into the playoffs.

Sadly, injuries to key players cruelled their season and the team never recovered. However, I’m going to roll the dice again this year, and believe that if the roster can stay healthy, the team can create some noise based on everything in that first paragraph.

The key difference is that Kevin Martin replaces Roy in a sneaky good move by the organisation. Martin will give them reliable offense from the backcourt, along with experience and a level head.

I also like some of Minny’s role players a lot, especially Alexy Shved and Derrick Williams, both of whom I feel have the potential to have somewhat breakout years.

There is a lot of ‘ifs’ with this team, but if (there’s another one!) everything falls into place, I could see this team qualifying in seventh or eighth place in the West.

Washington Wizards
I must be mad selecting this perennial underachieving team to be underrated.

I won’t lie, I’ve been seduced by John Wall’s second half of last season, in which he looked like an out-and-out superstar. It remains to be seen whether or not that tremendous run was an aberration or a sign of things to come, but I’m banking it was the start of Wall fulfilling his potential, which will make the Wizards a dangerous team this season.

I also think Bradley Beal is a star in the making. Fluid, smooth and with a nice stroke, he could make ‘the leap’ this year, especially with Wall’s penetration setting him up for open looks or easy buckets.

Though Emeka Okafor is currently injured, when he returns alongside Nené, it forms a formidable and underrated frontcourt pairing. And if one other player can step-up and be consistent – ideally at the small forward spot – it will provide the Wizards with a very nice starting five.

Considering how weak the bottom half of the Eastern Conference is, playoff spots are up for grabs. The Wizards should be in the mix to nab one of them.

Portland Trailblazers
The knock – quite deservingly – on the TrailBlazers last season is that they had no depth. In fact, their bench was horrible. Credit must go to the front office for going out in the off-season and recruiting some reserves.

Mo Williams, Earl Watson, Thomas Robinson, C.J. McCollum, Dorell Wright and Meyers Leonard form a very solid collection of back-ups that should allow Portland to rest their starters without fearing they’ll be surrendering the game.

Good teams always have a nice inside/outside combination and Portland are lucky enough to have one of the best in Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Point guard Lillard was the runaway rookie-of-the-year award winner, and earned himself the reputation of a big game player by hitting a number of big shots last year.

Meanwhile, Aldridge is a stud. A beast on the low block, and what sometimes feels like an ‘automatic two points’ shooter from mid-range, he’s one of the best power forwards in the game, and deserves a solid supporting cast.

Considering both stars – plus other starters Nic Batum and Wes Matthews – will be able to have a consistent rest this season, I think Portland will push for playoff contention.

Los Angeles Lakers
I suspect this is more wishful thinking than anything else. Either way, I make this prediction with zero confidence, and 100% bias.

Yet utilising a ‘glass half full’ mentality, let’s assume Kobe comes back 100% and with a vengeance. Let’s assume that Steve Nash overcomes his injury concerns and keeps Father Time at bay for another season. Let’s assume Pau Gasol will be rejuvenated at being reintegrated into the offense. That’s the makings of a pretty dangerous team; I’m not sure I’d want to play them in the first round of the playoffs.

Of course, they’d have to actually make the playoffs in the first place.

That’s a lot of assumptions to rely on, and as my mum used to say ‘assume makes an ass out of u and me’. In fact, forget it. I can’t even delude myself into this pick. I’m off to watch some DVDs of the 2010 NBA Finals.



Draft And Trade Rumours Update

25/06/13 11:04pm

Just a quick update on some of the rumblings around the NBA with regard to the upcoming draft and free agency.

- Cavaliers reportedly offered their 1st and 19th draft picks for LaMarcus Aldridge. Portland declined the offer.

- JR Smith unlikely to pick us $2.9 million option in favour of the Knicks being forced to sign him, should they wish to keep him, (which all sources allude to) via the “Early Bird Exception” which would likely see him get the league average salary, roughly $5 million per season.

- Chicago Bulls are exploring a trade which would involve Luol Deng for the Wizards third pick in the draft with Washington centre Emeka Okafor reportedly part of the deal. More rumours that the Cavs have an interest in Deng.

- Nets and Timberwolves reportedly talking about a trade involving Marshon Brooks.

- Patty Mills has exercised his player option with the San Antonio Spurs and will return to play for them next season.

- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune reports that Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has ruled out giving up Derrick Williams for the opportunity of moving up the draft. Wolves look set to keep their ninth pick.

- Sacramento Kings looking to trade Jimmer Fredette for a late first round draft pick.

Dan. A



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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Wizards’ Crawford To Boston For Injured Barbosa

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford has been traded to the Boston Celtics today in exchange for the injured Leandro Barbosa, sources confirm. Included in the deal, Jason Collins who will suit up for the Wizards. While Crwaford was seemingly a valuable part of the Wizards’ plan, he has been on the receiving end of reduced minutes behind Bradley Beal and more recently has had four straight DNP-CD’s to his name. Boston’s need for athletic big men have not been the focus of trades this year, but it is thought that Crawford’s ability to register good numbers will help Boston’s back court offense alongside Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Paul Pierce. Leandro Barbosa’s contract stands at only $2.3 Million giving the Wizards room to move under the cap in free agency.

Nick C.



Season Previews Part 9 (Final)

So here we have it hoop heads, the season is finally upon us!

We hope you have stuck with us during the Pre-Season  and have enjoyed our previews on every team in the NBA.

Here is our 9th and final part to the series. Enjoy the season!

 

Portland Trail Blazers

How will they do?

It’s been a long time since the Blazers have really put up any serious fight out West. Sure they have been playoff bound for most of the last handful of seasons (apart from last season) but have generally only snuck into the 8th or 7th slot. However, with all of this midtable fight, the Blazers certainly looked like a team that was heading in the right direction. Oden, Aldridge and Roy were gaining momentum in their careers and everything was looking up for this young team. Then the curse hit them…hard. Injuries ruined this team and all the groundwork done to get themselves past that 7th or 8th seed was undone. They needed to rebuild again. it may have taken them a couple of seasons to really start to believe again, but i think they are back on the right road now. They have a supremely talented PF in Aldridge who is a genuine star in the prime of his career and have managed to build a quality young roster both through the draft and trades around him. The gifted Nicolas Batum was resigned and the selection of rookies DamianLillard and Meyers Leonard in the draft has many Blazers fans excited about what lies ahead.Lilard especially may just turn out to be the answer to all their problems. A free scoring PG that knows how to run the floor and control the tempo of the game, he will be critical in the success of this team for years to come. Many reports coming out of the balling media have Lilard as a massive chance at sneaking through and stealing the ROTY Award from some of the more fancied players.