Loyola, The Toast Of The Town

By Lamar Battle

 

Who would have thunk it?  Loyola  Chicago’s Men’s basketball team would take the nation by storm.

The Ramblers, who last won an NCAA title 55 years ago Surprised everybody by making it all the way to the NCAA’s Final Four.  The 11th seed made the big dance by winning their conference (The Missouri Valley).  The proverbial little sister of the poor did it by playing team ball on offense and defense.

To make it Loyola had to beat Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State but unfortunately the Ramblers fell to the University of Michigan in the  NCAA’s coveted Final Four.

How Did Loyola do it?

Well to start small schools always have a chance to make the big dance if they accomplish just one thing,  Win their conference.  The Ramblers play in the Missouri Valley Conference who with the departure of Wichita State is winnable.

Having a good coach doesn’t hurt either.  Loyola’s Porter Moser is a coach  given the time by the University to develop his type of players and program.  A writer asked him how would he deal with big ego type players?  The coach’s response was basically they don’t recruit those players.  The reporter followed up with how about if one of your existing players became that way?  The coach then added that the culture of the team would take care of that.

Those points are key in evaluating a program that understands the impact of having self sacrificing and coach-able kids who also just happen to hail from winning high school programs.  The Ramblers played the type of switching rotating defense that requires both conditioning and genuine commitment to your teammates.

Fortunately for the Ramblers that same commitment works on offense too as they passed up good shots for better ones as and anyone who knows anything about basketball will attest  defenders hate chasing offensive teams through a series of five to six passes. (normally how long it takes to break a defense down).

Most good things do occasionally come to an end and that axiom held true as the Michigan Wolverines ( who had better players and coaching) ended the Ramblers Cinderella season.

What does this mean for Chicago?

The entire city got behind Loyola and if the University can find the cash to keep it’s coach then this could be the start of a fruitful relationship.

Other states have raided Chicago’s top basketball talent for years but maybe just maybe Loyola’s success will motivate Chicago area kids to stay home.

One thing is for sure,   U of I and Depaul sure could use some of them.

 

 

 

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Listen NBA, No More Locker room Brawls.

 

By Lamar Battle

 

I think it’s time for the NBA to go Retro !  Regarding  fights.  No more following each other to the hallways, locker rooms or team buses.

What’s a pissed off player to do?

Here’s what,  don’t fight but if you must,  settle your scores on the court like in the old days when men were men.  Currently the penalty’s for fighting are severe so as to discourage players from possibly dragging fans into their skirmishes.

So consequently players now try to settle most disagreements after the game is done.  Consider the most recent example when Houston Rocket players (Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza and providing mis-direction Clint Capela ) got into the Los Angeles Clipper locker room via a secret passage way to confront Clipper Players directly.

This was not the first instance of delayed conflict resolution as who could forget Carmelo Anthony approaching the post game team bus of Kevin Garnett who during the game allegedly engaged in a verbal exchange that disrespected Carmelo’s wife.  Then there was Jerry Stackhouse who apparently changed into a sweat suit prior to his sojourn to the visitors locker room to beat down a peer.

Who started this ?

Rumor has it that in an effort to protect his image and bottom line Micheal Jordan would tune cats up on the regular away from the court and cameras.

Why Change?

Sporting competitions are supposed to be settled between the lines period.  Youth basketball players are always taught that any and all conflicts are over once the buzzer sounds and you line up to shake your rivals hands.

Any conflict so serious as to call for the throwing of hands should be dealt with immediately or not at all besides rolling up on a locker room with your boys has the paltry feel of a street gang action.  Aren’t these players supposed to be models for our communities and youth?  Any player concerned about a suspension should probably go to his bench and cool down.

Frame of reference?

Who could forget the dance between Lonnie Shelton and Buck Williams that started on one end of the court and finished on the other  throwing hay maker after hay maker and of course New York Knick center Willis Reed who took the cake when he knocked out the entire Lakers bench. (You Tube it).

The point is after it was over they all probably went out for beers.

Top Five 2017-18 NBA Rookie Leaders

By Lamar Battle

 

Most predicted that the 2017-18 NBA rookie class would be one of the best and from the looks of things they were right.

Who are the Leaders in the race for Rookie Of The Year and team contributions?

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers:

At the quarter mark the leader in the race for ROY is 3rd in rookie scoring 16.6 ppg, first in rookie rebounds at 8.6 rpg and first in rookie assist with 7.5 apg.  At 6′ 10″ and with natural point guard skills Simmons is probably the closest thing to Magic Johnson that we have seen in a while. Along with center Joel Embiid the 76ers are looking like a team of the future in the Eastern Conference.

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz:

The rookie scoring leader at 18.2 ppg Donovan came on late as a spectacular athlete who routinely gets the fans out of their seats (You did see that stupendous dunk against the Cavs right? ).  He has the talent and ambition to be one of the best players in the league.

Kyle Kuzma L.A. Lakers:

Quite possibly the steal of the draft and 2nd leading rookie scorer at 17.9 ppg and 5th leading rebounder at 6.7 rpg.   A  6′ 10″ slasher and quality shooter (39% 3 pointers) from Flint Michigan who gives Laker fans a reason to hope for a better future.

Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls:

4th in rookie scoring, 14.6 ppg and 2nd in rebounding at 7.4 rpg and 2nd in free throw percentage at 83.3%.  All of a sudden the Jimmy Butler trade is not looking so stupid.  Lauri surprised everybody with his confidence and surprising athleticism.  This kid has All Star written all over him as evidenced in a recent game against the Knicks where he took on the challenge to play the Knicks vaunted Kristaps Porzingas to a standstill and did just that.

Markkanen joins 2nd year players Kris Dunn (a sleeper for sure) and Zach Lavine (two time winner of the slam dunk contest) in what will become a solid nucleus on the Bulls for years to come.

Jason Tatum, Boston Celtics:

Boy did Boston G.M. Danny Ainge pull off a heist with this guy.  Tatum 6′ 8″ with what may be an 8 ft wing span will be barring injury the starting Celtic small forward for a long time.  Jason is 5th in scoring at 14.1 ppg and is shooting an incredible 47.1 percent from the 3 point line…That is correct 47.1 percent !  Boston penciled him in as a starter at 19 years old and they knew what they were doing.

Honorable mention:

Lonzo Ball, L.A. Lakers:

People who know me will say there he goes again drinking that purple kool aid and giving props to a player ESPN’s Steven A. Smith called a bust.

Lonzo started slow but is now starting to shoot better from the outside ( 10 ppg 34.9 fg%) even though you never hear as much conversation about the outside shooting regarding Rajon Rondo, Ben Simmons, Andre Miller or Jason Kidd.

The metric for Lonzo who among rookies is 2nd in assist, 4th in rebounds, 2nd in minutes and 3rd in blocks will be his impact on the culture of the team.  Can he through the force of his unselfish nature transform the Lakers into a respectable team with a promising future ?

And the winner is:

Stay tuned to what will be one impressive race to the finish.

Stats courtesy of NBA.com

 

 

The Thunder And The Bulls, Two Trains Running.

 

By Lamar Battle

 

Two teams two examples of confusion.  One team ( The Oklahoma City Thunder) were projected to be at this point one of the NBA’s elite teams.  The other, ( The Chicago Bulls ) were projected to be one of the league’s worst and as fate would have it the Thunder are extremely unpredictable and disappointing and the Bulls are seemingly screwing up their chance at a top lottery pick.

The Thunder brought in All Star Paul George and All Star Carmelo Anthony to join 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.

At this point the Thunder is in 8th place in the NBA’s Western conference.. Experts and fans are all debating on what’s ailing the team.  Could it be bad chemistry, Westbrook’s inability to share, Carmelo’s defense ?

The prevailing thought pattern now is that given his free agent status Paul George may bolt this summer so General Manager Sam Presti has his work cut out for him.  Does he keep Paul George throughout the season and risk losing him to free agency or does he trade him at mid season.

If I were in his shoes I would find a 3 and D forward / guard to replace Andre Roberson in the starting line up, bolster the bench and  risk the big three hitting their stride just prior to the playoffs.

 

Da Bulls:

 

At the start of the season it was generally understood that  1. The Bulls would be the worst team in the League and  2. The Bulls would have a legitimate shot at landing a top five lottery pick in what is stacking up as one of the best NBA drafts in years.

All that was before the fight i.e. knock-out.

A well publicized practice brawl between Nikola Mirotic’ and Bobby Portis cost the team valuable games for both.  Portis served an eight game suspension for his role in the fracas and Mirotic’ was out for an extended period with a concussion and facial fractures.

With both players out rookie power forward Lauri Markannen was forced to start.  The team discovered that Markannen is a true player and building block for the future. But did Markannen’s starting prevent the team from losing ten games in a row?

No, it did not.

But, on the way to the draft lottery something weird took place.  Mirotic’ returned and led the team on a 5 game (now 7) game wining streak and to top that off Bobby Portis started playing some of the best basketball of his career.  The Bulls made NBA history by becoming the first team to win 5 games in a row after losing 10 in a row.

So what now ?

In a rare post game interview 2nd year guard/forward Denzel Valentine declared the Bulls as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.  Well, Denzel’s zealousness not withstanding. Bulls brass may have shown their hand when they Put Markannen back in the starting line up replacing Mirotic who had been playing lights out.

That move may signify a commitment to rebuilding and a chance at what announcer Stacey King referred to and I’m paraphrasing the race for the Baggs. ( A not so subtle reference to Duke University super freshman Marvin Bagley III ).

 

 

Cavaliers School Knicks

By Lamar Battle

 

In what turned out to be one of the more exciting NBA games of the season so far the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the New York Knicks Monday in Madison Square Garden.

Cavaliers star Lebron James fanned the pre game flames by saying the Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is the player the Knicks should have picked instead of the guy they got rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina.  Lebron raised the ire of Knick strong man Enes Kanter who came to the defense of his rookie.

The game itself provided a bevy of thrills as LeBron, Ntilikina and Kanter became involved in a shoving match that saw the rookie Ntilikina confronting LeBron directly.

The Garden erupted as the Knicks used emotion from the dust up to race to a 23 point lead over a Cavalier team that seemed dead in the water.

Ultimately the Cavaliers erased that huge lead to win the game and illustrate the difference between an experienced team hardened by winning and an up start just learning how good they can be.

So what are the take a ways:

LeBron is still a gun fighter,

An older one but a gun fighter nonetheless.  LeBron stoked the flames that knocked most of the Knick players off their square, guarded Kristaps Porzingas with six minutes left roughed him up and then dropped the three point dagger right in his grill.  All of that while serenading the City with possibilities of a free agent signing next season.  Not a bad days work.

Kristaps Porzingas  may not be a franchise player,

At least not yet, Porzingas allowed himself to be rough housed and thrown to the floor all game long.  He has added muscle for this year but apparently not enough as Jae Crowder, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James took turns treating young Kristaps (who had his worst outing of the young season) like a rag doll and the physical play affected his game  Kristaps will need to develop his legs as they are  key in holding offensive  position close to the basket. If he continues on his current trajectory he will get stronger and more experienced sooner rather than later. ( Good news for the Knicks)

 

Frank Ntilikina is a player,

The 19 year old last remnant of the Phil Jackson regime may have come one step closer to NBA legitimacy.  Everyone is aware of Franks defensive chops and how could he not be effective on defense with that 7 foot wing span.

In all fairness this player is a potential diamond in the rough with natural play making abilities and the gumption to take the big shot when the opportunity presents itself.

The Knicks are smart to bring him along slowly as this selection will start to pay dividends in year two.

Knicks Coach Hornacek needs to get up to speed,

In today’s game there are a handful of teams that play effective help defense and they are Boston, Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland (only in the playoffs).

Notice the Knicks like a lot of teams were not included.  One of the best indicators of an organizations viability is their teams ability to play help defense.

Why is that?

Because it is truly hard to teach and enforce.  The sacrifice, energy and rotations needed will expose teams that don’t listen to or respect their coach.  Of course it pays to select the right players as smarts and unselfishness are key.

The Knicks led by Kristaps Porzingas are starting to experience early season success but until they start playing real defense they won’t seriously challenge battle tested teams like the Cavaliers.

When the smoke cleared the old gunslinger sensed a young gun ( Porzingas) in town but like those before him ( most notably Micheal Jordan)  He dealt with the young challenger in a way that will probably leave a lasting impression.

 

 

All Gods Children Got Guns

CJ Powers:  Taking Shots

 

…All God’s Children got Guns… Last week in our Church Men’s Workshop, we got into an interesting discussion. How do you keep your faith…what does faith even mean…in these troubled times in our communities, country and world.

While exploring these issues, we talked about concealed carry, and I gave an explanation of why I obtained mine. I talked about the spirit of violent hopelessness engulfing our communities and our nation. The specter of not only having to be vigilant regarding the criminal intent of certain adults, but even the violent actions perpetrated by a wounded and tragically unrestrained population of youth.

But I was not totally candid with my brothers. Yes these are daily concerns, especially given the recent attempted robbery of a woman by an armed youth near the church entrance. With his partner urging him to “shoot the bitch”.

But what really drove me to join the armed masses in our fearful money driven gun culture?

White people.

This answer may need explanation to my white brothers and sisters. Among my people, who have lived in America’s racist crucible, and feel its impact every day, it does not. In 1959, in the infancy of the television era, journalists Mike Wallace and Louis Lomax produced the documentary the introduced the country to the Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and other early proponents of emerging “Black Nationalism”, which was a human response to American Apartheid. It was titled: The Hate that Hate Produced. The title was so prescient that it could easily serve as theme for the Trump era.

Or better yet: The Hate that Haters Produced.

A president who proclaims that an empty patriotic exercise at a football game is more important than a Black man, woman or child’s life. Even worse, the people…my neighbors, grocers, restaurant servers, parents of my son’s friends, teachers at my son’s school, police officers …who voted for him. Who accept and relate to what he says, does and represents. Who feel he unleashes them to finally be what they what to be and do what they want to do. Who raise their children by this standard, to the point where late in the campaign, my son’s predominately white school held a mock election, after -45 revealed himself to be a degenerate racist, sexual predator, and astounding liar, and -45 won. Who really believe he is the embodiment of what it means to make America great again.

The prevalence of crime, and the determination to protect my family, made me think about it. The election of -45 motivated me to do it.

White people. That’s why I got my concealed carry.

White people. I need to chat with you for a minute. Listen for a change.

…White people!… Hello white people! I’m going to need you to stop agonizing over how I should protest your centuries of dehumanizing me. The world, and the emerging majority of the country, needs you to have some serious conversation among yourselves. Do you really care about your country? Your planet? Your eternal souls?

Maybe -45, this reptilian swamp thing you have been duped by our national enemies to elect by an almost white-only minority vote, once the damage to our nation is EVEN MORE CLEAR, will at last lead you to embrace what Lincoln called your better angels. Pain brings clarity.

I am only hoping and praying, based on my naïve belief in your capacity for good (or in reverse Trumpian illogic…you are all sociopathic racist mass murderers…but some of you are good people), that -45 does not represent your final answer. The world is anxiously watching. And presumably building bomb shelters.

Now comes the obligatory disclaimer. Obligatory because it is obvious. This is not all white people. Just the 30-40 percent of all white people…3 to 4 of every 10…who support his antics, relate to his insanity, and accommodate his utter ineptitude. And perhaps the 1 or 2 more out of every ten who are suddenly forgiving…more forgiving than white Jesus…of every morally bankrupt episode, springing eternal hope for -45’s pivot, when he suddenly becomes a reasonable, presidential racist…

…and the additional 1 or 2 who were so morally appalled at the out-of-context snippet of a brilliant theologian (the Honorable Jeremiah Wright) that Barack Obama was compelled to seek atonement with the sensitive white psyche by repudiating, disassociating, renouncing, disavowing and all but presenting his nuts for ceremonial castration his own CHRISTIAN pastor…

…and the additional 1 or 2 who while vaguely sympathetic to the abstract (for them) issue of social inequality, economic inequity, mass incarceration and police violence, are far more invested in narrowing the options of how the victims should protest their victimization: Black Lives Matter! No! You may say All Lives Matter…or better yet…Police Lives Matter. But asserting your lives matter is disruptive to our American Zen. Hands up. Don’t shoot! That’s not fair. Some police don’t shoot Black people. I can’t breathe! -45 is gutting the EPA. Soon everyone can’t breathe! Stand your ground! Nope. We own that one. And please do not wear a hoodie. Or threaten us by walking and minding your own business. Or being Black, male or young. Or Black, female and old. Officer, I am reaching for my license. Then die nigger die. Officer I have a legal firearm. He’s got a gun!!!! You think the 2nd Amendment is for you????

Btw, it is amazing when I go to the range to shoot with my friends how much attention from store security we attract. Makes it difficult to breathe sometimes.

…Let’s have nonviolent civil disobedience, as the dude with the beautiful DC statue and the National Shopping Day whom you claim to love advocated. Get military gear. Deploy Urban Assault Vehicles! Now we’re angry because we are not being policed. We’re being occupied!

The thugs are rioting! Lock them up! Lock them up! No Justice, no peace. We only give peace. That’s why we shoot you. We kneel to protest injustice. You’re disrespecting OUR FLAG! (Union and Confederate), the military, first responders, Anheuser Busch, fried Twinkies, cute puppies, and everything else holy including our god himself! We stand up! Now we got to shoot ya (or at least knock you upside the head and send you to our prisons for profit…

(Interlude: I am currently praying, fasting and undergoing a period of intense personal denial, including self-flagellation, in order to attain enlightenment…a state of mindfulness in which I am less moved by football players kneeling than by how I am standing. Revolution is not a spectator sport. The Declaration of Independence is not a spectator sport. Our national survival is not a spectator sport. Which is the point, right?)

I’m bad at math so please forgive me if it seems to add up to all white people. Really…it’s just my public school education. When I took the ACT in high school, a teacher told me I had all the math aptitude of a plant. So blame it on my seventh grade class that met in the school auditorium because of overcrowding and was assigned a clueless first year teacher after all the whites fled my neighborhood when we moved in during sixth grade.

My bad math may be what motivated me to get legally strapped.

(Lets now take a deep breath and enjoy a peaceful Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. interlude: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klaner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice”)

…My First Shot…. The first time I ever fired a gun was at a church youth retreat. My church back then owned some acres of land in Indiana near New Haven, not far from Lake Michigan. The church built on it and turned it into a “roughing it” retreat center called Camp Exodus. It was a deeply spiritual place. Boys and Girls learned to be men and women there. People from the community discovered the meaning of community and got closer to God there. We took homeless drug addicted men up there to get free ( back in the days when drugs were dope and addicts were locked up; unlike now where drugs have become opiates and addicts are to be rehabilitated).

Some local Klan members started riding by our camp harassing the children. The local Klan had rallies in town every Thursday. One boy who liked to go into the woods to collect bugs was accosted by a young white man who shouted “bang nigger you’re dead”. This was in 1998 Yall. Maybe we really should’ve seen -45 coming.

We called the local police over several days but no one came. Finally, late one night when some idiot banged on the windows of the girl’s cabin, terrifying them, we put in a call to some guys we knew in Chicago. They arrived in an hour and a half, with a trunk full of hardware. The older boys, standing erect as soldiers, stationed themselves in the girl’s cabin, guarding them with baseball bats. The men got the pieces and laid out a line of fire in every direction, just to let them know we were serious about protecting our children. As we walked back to the cabin, guess who suddenly developed rapid response capability…

Yep…local police. They obviously didn’t want an “incident” because they sent a young white woman and an older black man. The newly formed special Black people relations unit?

We talked it out with them, calmly and intelligently expressing our point of view and intentions. The white woman officer was very understanding and the Black officer, the silent partner, was nonetheless impressed.

This was the first time, I ever fired a gun.

I obtain no added confidence, no shallow swagger, no pleasure whatsoever in my concealed carry license. I actually hate guns (though I uphold the constitutional right for you to own one, or two, or 30….Ok?) I simply acknowledge the obvious to all but the willfully blind. These are dangerous times to be Black in America. Even more dangerous than typically dangerous times to be Black in America.

Dangerous like seeing confederate flags in my neighborhood. And the white man trying to curse me out at the gas station because I backed up near his angry white man pickup truck which I had clearly in sight via my rear view camera (he tried but didn’t succeed). And the blatant disregard for human life and suffering of non-white people encapsulated in -45 paper towel tossing obscenity in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rican lives matter!!!!!!

…Are You Ready for Some Football?!!!… In light of all of the above, I wrap my head around the predicament of the toughest Black men in America: NFL Football players, discovering that author William C. Rhoden was right: they really are Forty Million Dollar Slaves. You got to love the cynical gall of “America’s Team” owner Jerry Jones kneeling with his players in a show of “unity” for marketing purposes, then threatening to bench any players who kneel in protest of injustice in America. This begs the question: If protesting against injustice is disrespecting the American flag, does that mean the flag upholds injustice? Is the flag yours or all of ours? If your flag upholds bigotry and systematic injustice, then fuck your flag.

If, on the other hand, the flag, under which my father served in the military, presents what the slave holding founding fathers declared to be the inalienable rights of every human being, then I’ll fight and give my life for that flag.

After all, I just bought a flag t-shirt from Walmart! Manufactured in Taiwan.

To my brothers in the NFL…keep that job and save your money. Do what you got to do. Stop kneeling if rules they just made up command you to stop kneeling. But don’t let -45 and your owners punk you out. Keep standing up for your communities. Keep standing up for what is right, justice indivisible! Just be creative, like a few men and some children at the Exodus Camp. Like Barry Sanders ducking and dodging and driving his way to the end zone.

Any manner of self-determined protest is going to be outlawed, punished, or otherwise

marginalized by your owners. They will pose variations of the argument that protest is offensive to fans, which is bad for their business. Their angst is not caused by you protesting during the national anthem. Their tender sensibilities are disturbed by you protesting at all. White privilege is a very sensitive topic for privileged whites. So you have to be creative. You have to duck and dodge. Juke and dance behind the line until you find an opening to break through to the end zone.

Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

Modest proposals: They say you can’t kneel. Come out with black tape across your mouth to protest your denial of freedom of expression. They outlaw black tape protest? Refuse to speak at the after game press conference. Answer every question with: I will not speak because I am being denied freedom of expression. They order you to speak and answer all questions. Begin every press conference with: I am here under protest because of the systematic injustices in American society and the bigotry of its president. Questions? They make you stick to a script? Pretend that because of football related CPD, you can no longer speak English and from now on you will answer all questions in the language of the Kingdom of Wakanda. Hire Ta-Nehesi Coates as your official interpreter.

You must talk the way they want you to talk? They throw down new slave codes….um…codes of conduct on you? Come out on the field carrying copies of William C. Rhoden Forty Million Dollar Slaves…

They kick you off their billion dollar plantation? Take your mad skills and build your own damn league.

Feel me? Protest against injustice never happens with permission. So do whatever you can to make the change you can.

Be creative like the OS (Original Slaves). Grind glass in massa’s food. Burn some crops. Organize field labor slowdowns. And always listen for the voice of old Harriet Tubman…Steal away…. Steal away to Jesus we don’t have much time.

 

cjpowerssite.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA 2017-18, Let’s Get It On !

 

By Lamar Battle

 

Finally, after the best off season in it’s history the 2017-18 NBA season is here !  So with out further ado let’s break it down.

West Side Story:

Oklahoma City Thunder: 2016 MVP Russell Westbrook didn’t need much help to start with (seriously) but the team added in their primes Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

The Thunder had nothing last season when Westbrook went to the bench but this year will be different and remember, Brook doesn’t need much help.

Golden State Warriors:  Last seasons NBA champs will be in the mix again boasting game changing three point shooting and near flawless defensive play.  Contrary to popular belief the road to repeating will be littered with land mines in Minnesota, Denver, Houston, San Antonio and OKC.

Can the Warriors avoid injuries and chemistry issues to repeat? Note to self, It will not be a cake walk.

San Antonio Spurs:  The leagues flagship franchise for class and consistency will have to survive the injury bug this year to truly compete.

Little known nugget,  Golden State cannot guard Kahwi Leonard who has been developed into a true superstar and future Hall Of Famer.

Houston Rockets:  Top three player James Hardin has sublimated his ego enough to allow the team to bring in super star point guard Chris Paul.  The Rockets were aggressive in their desire to compete for championships and brought in defensive pieces P.J. Tucker and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute that will pay dividends in the playoffs.

Free Throws:

Do not sleep on Denver and the crucial addition of Paul Milsap.

Show Time is back in LA !

The Clippers will benefit from the subtraction of Chris Paul on the chemistry front

OKC over Golden State in 6.

 

Return Of The … Kid:

 

Boston Celtics:  There are two other teams with a symbiotic relationship between management and coaching to match the Celtics they would be Golden State and San Antonio. Boston is built for the future with young thoroughbreds and a legitimate star(Kyrie Irving).  to contend today.  Do not sleep on this team that obtained Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes to deal with Cleveland? No, those two gentlemen were brought in to balance out Draymond Green and the dreaded Zaza Pachulia….Go figure. The Celtics were dealt a bad hand with the devastating opening night injury to free agent star Gordon Hayward but don’t discount the teams prospects.

Second year man Jaylen Brown is according to ace announcer Chauncey Billups “ready right now”.  Back up guard Marcus Smart is a gamer but a lot could be riding on the accelerated development of rookie Jayson Tatum.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers:  Blog contributor Mike B observed that during a pre-season loss to the Bulls the Cavaliers didn’t seem to possess much chemistry or continuity.  Hopefully the Cavaliers will work out the kinks or it could be a truly frustrating season.

Most experts predict another trip to the Finals for this Eras best player LeBron James but the Cavaliers with new editions Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade and Jae Crowder still lack size an aspect that hurt them last year against the Warriors.  A number of players are long in the tooth which could make the team susceptible to younger and more athletic teams like Boston and Milwaukee.

However the Cavaliers still have LeBron James and it will be a challenge for any eastern conference  team to beat him in a seven game series.

Washington Wizards:  This team perhaps more than most will benefit from growing together. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are locked up and they still have the ever solid Marcin Gortat holding down the middle.  The challenge will be the play of the bench for this team.

Milwaukee Bucks:  There was one player actually playing defense during the 2016-17 NBA All Star game.  That player was Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Many have predicted that Giannis will carry the torch as the NBA’s best player after LeBron retires.

The Bucks are young, long and hungry.  Second year players Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdan are poised to make a difference for this team that made the playoffs (5th in the east). even without their second best player, Jabari Parker who will return for this season.

Free throws:

Health and maturity stand as test for the young Philadelphia 76ers

Bulls Rookie Lauri Markkanen can hoop

Calling Kyrie Irving “Kid” is one of last psychological edges LeBron still holds.

Speaking of Kyrie, he is ready and so are the Celtics…Boston over Cavs in 7.