Tag Archives: Stephen Curry

Russell Westbrook should be starting the All-Star game

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Westbrook is an All-Star starter in all but actually being one.  Source: Bleacher Report

Two players are currently the front-runners for the league’s Most Valuable Player trophy at the end of the season. However, only one of them will be starting the All-Star game, showcasing the NBA’s best talent, in November.

Russell Westbrook has been on a tear this season. With the departure of Kevin Durant weighing heavily on his shoulders, it’s pretty much his outstanding form alone that’s kept the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoff race.

He leads the league in points per game, averaging 30.6 a night and is currently the only player averaging a triple double, which is insanity. There has only ever been one player to maintain it throughout an entire season, the great Oscar Robinson, which just highlights how monumental that feat is.

Voting ended with the weighed rankings leaving him, James Harden and Steph Curry neck-and-neck. The fans ranked Curry ahead of Harden then Westbrook, while the player’s and media votes put number zero up top, Harden second and the reigning MVP third.

With that, Curry goes in ahead of Westbrook. Is that fair?

No. Curry’s role with the Golden State Warriors has unsurprisingly diminished this season with the introduction of Durant. He’s no longer the top scorer on the team, he’s not the leading assist maker and he’s barely the best three-point shooter ahead of Klay Thompson.

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Curry is a great player but this year, he should not be an All-Star starter. Source: nbabayarea.com

While he’s not putting up awful numbers, quite the contrary he’s still an exceptional player, he’s not killing it night in and night out like Westbrook. All of his averages are down this season, he’s not the key to the Warriors any more but he’s still a once-in-a-generation talent.

That still doesn’t mean he deserves to start over Westbrook. He’s pulling his team out of the mire on a nightly basis, bringing everything he has to get them in a position to win and even when he does go off, sometimes they don’t win.

The fan voting and popularity of Curry got him in over the body of work over the course of the current season. That’s not what these games are meant for, a reward for those who have earned it rather than a tool for fans to see an exhibition.

Some may dismiss it as that but at the end of the day, people still rank players on their All-Star appearances. Those that maybe only made one Finals or failed to get a ring are then weighed up on MVP wins and then All-Star appearances, so it can’t be said that it simply doesn’t matter.

There was a re-jig in the voting system this year after Zaza Pachulia got a ridiculous number of votes last year but it hasn’t worked. It still pulled the wrong names out of the hat and gave those deserving a cold shoulder.

Isaiah Thomas has been on a tear scoring this season and is another big miss but this one on paper is the more blatant. Westbrook has proven he’s a sensational talent and deserved the nod more than pretty much anyone.

Credit to him for saying he didn’t care, which is not surprising, but it will just add fuel to the fire. Fuel to win another All-Star MVP, fuel to push himself to being out alone to win the overall MVP and quite possibly push him to crush as many as he can take with him come playoff time.

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Kevin Durant makes the Golden State Warriors a sporting powerhouse

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs

Durant is in the top three best players in the league and he’s joining one of the other two, it’s that big. Source: slamonline.com

Two days ago, the internet shook as Kevin Durant revealed his destination for his NBA future.

He chose the Golden State Warriors.

In a move that makes the beaten NBA finalists look more like the Monstars from Space Jam, the whole NBA stood with their mouths open to the news. Why would Durant do this? How will they all get the shots they need? But more importantly, who can stop them?

The first question is pretty simple, KD is determined to win. Some will take a chop at him for joining another bunch of superstars, which he has every right to do and some will call it “weak sauce” that he joined a team that beat his Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs.

That series was really the only chance that OKC could convince him to stick around long term and even then, with Russell Westbrook’s future up in the air with or without the small forward, it was a difficult sell. The Warriors can win now, have a good-to-great-to-MVP player in every starting position and adding him almost guarantees a ring somewhere down the line.

The second question is absurd, as they all know the real key in basketball is to get everyone involved. The benefit they have now is that they have at least four excellent players that can take over the game in a pinch should they find themselves on an off night.

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These three will be delighted to add a fourth big name to their roster. Source: nbabayarea.com

Steph Curry, the reigning two-time MVP, can rain threes as can his splash brother Klay Thompson. As seen in the playoffs, Draymond Green can get it going as well so to add a player that averages over 27.4 points in his career can only be a good thing, even if on some nights he doesn’t put up 25 shots.

The biggest question is that final one and it’s a tough one to answer as there isn’t a clear way to stop them. They have so much range with a smaller unit, able to shoot from absolutely anywhere and with a number of very good options that can all score heavily even when contested.

Someone would have to come up with a stellar defensive performance for four quarters that at least kills some of their three-point threat and then emulate the Cleveland Cavaliers and crush them in the paint where they struggle the most with the smaller line-up. Even saying that, it would have to be a superhuman effort to deny them when they are all locked in and even if one or two aren’t, they have at least another two to lean on.

Adding a player of Durant’s calibre to any team would be a shot in the arm. He was the top average scorer in the playoffs with 28.4 points per game, was third in scoring in the regular season and the 2014 MVP has really bounced back with a vengeance from his injury-ravaged 2014-15 campaign.

When you put him in the mix with a championship-chasing team that could feasibly win it without him, that creates a scary prospect. This is a team no one will look forward to facing next season and should they go on to win it all, this could be a dynasty that could dominate the basketball world for years to come.

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Damian Lillard comes out swinging after All-Star snub

This man is on a real tear.  Source: SB Nation

This man is on a real tear. Source: SB Nation

The message has been sent, loud and clear. Do not snub Portland Trail Blazers’ guard Damian Lillard, he will come back to haunt you.

The young point guard was passed over for the All-Star game in Toronto, admittedly amid a tough crowd of guards, but he has been exceptional. Averaging a career-high 25.1 points per game and 7.2 assists after being handed the face of the franchise since LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure is no mean feat.

In fact, comparing him to some other superstars shows you how well he’s doing. His three-point percentage (37.2%) is better than the likes of James Harden and DeMar DeRozan, while he also has more assists per game (7.2) than the best player in the NBA at this moment in time, Stephen Curry.

Lillard is solid from the free-throw line (86.2%), his turnover ratio is similar to other All-Star talent on similar minutes too. The main attribute he’s behind on is steals, his average of 1.1, is way below the likes of Curry, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul, who all average at least 2.

Not many put Curry on skates.  Source: YouTube

Not many put Curry on skates. Source: YouTube

However, Portland fans are starting to chant MVP since his snub and for good reason, the former Rookie of the Year has been on a tear.

In his last five games, Lillard has averaged 35.8 points per contest, which is already ridiculous. Combine that with the fact he’s shooting at a 49.5% clip and you have a real monster that’s slowly helping the Trail Blazers rise up in the Western Conference rankings.

What’s really impressive is that through this spell, he’s earning himself easy baskets. The 25-year-old is 23/32 on shots from within 10 feet of the basket, meaning that he’s picking his drives at the right time and making sure he’s finding an easier show when his team needs points on the board.

The real statement came against possibly the best opponent in the Golden State Warriors. Facing the best in the game, Lillard put up a career-high 51 points, shooting at 64.3% from the field , hitting 9/12 three-point shots while adding seven assists and six steal.

McCollum has helped make an incredibly exciting backcourt in Portland.  Source: USA Today

McCollum has helped make an incredibly exciting backcourt in Portland. Source: USA Today

What a barnstormer of a performance that is.

Admittedly, C.J McCollum’s rise has helped too, with the absolutely nailed-on Most Improved Player averaging 21.1 points per game. He notched 31 to Lillard’s 30 against  Utah Jazz and equalled his point guard’s 34 points against the Brooklyn Nets, highlighting how good these two young guards are.

In many eyes, only the Splash Brothers at the Warriors are better. While some could argue that DeRozan and Lowry should have something to say about it, there’s no doubt that Portland have a backcourt they can really excited about for the next eight to ten years.

And as for Lillard, it’s almost a certainty that if he keeps playing like this, he will not be ignored for long. Him and McCollum are both lifting the Blazers way above where most would think he would be and his on-the-court leadership, showing everyone how it’s done, has simply been exemplary.

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Iguodala reminding us that defence is king

These three helped them in the regular season, but Iguodala's defence helped them win it all.  Source: resetsanfrancisco.org

These three helped them in the regular season, but Iguodala’s defence helped them win it all.
Source: resetsanfrancisco.org

Defence wins championships. It’s a sentence that’s repeated in American Football regularly and it’s shown to be the case on almost every occasion. That also translates well to the NBA and despite the Golden State Warriors’ shoot-happy offence, it’s their defence that won them the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The Warriors offensive prowess is very hard to ignore and took centre stage throughout the entire regular season. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Splash Brothers as they are affectionately known, are deadly from three-point range and can top 40 points on any night if given the chance.

Curry wasn’t just voted as the league’s MVP simply because he’s dead-eye from beyond the arc, he has probably the best handle of the basketball in the NBA and create assists that boggle the mind even whilst watching replays. He’s a true superstar, adding Thompson and the vastly improved Draymond Green to that mix, the Warriors are a potent threat.

However, they stalled against a under-powered Cleveland Cavaliers who lost two of their best three players. Granted, they still possessed the best player in the world but they also missed another key contributor in Anderson Varejao.

Iggy sacrificed his starting role for the better of the team but that didn't stop him from being a key component.  Source: pac12.com

Iggy sacrificed his starting role for the better of the team but that didn’t stop him from being a key component. Source: pac12.com

Many saw the Finals as a cake-walk as soon as Kyrie Irving limped out of Game 1 but LeBron James went up another gear. Role players like Matthew Dellavadova and Timofey Mosgov gave everything and it surprised the Warrior, who lost Game 2 at home and then tumbled 2-1 behind. It was a riddle that Golden State were struggling to overcome.

Then, Steve Kerr made a bold move. Out came Andrew Bogut from the starting line-up, in slotted Andre Iguodala to stop the freight train that was becoming LeBron James. It would have old-school fans turning in their graves, a smaller line-up would have been scariligious to some but oddly enough, it absolutely worked.

It didn’t completely stop LeBron, he still racked up plenty of points but more often than not, Iguodala made him think for a moment longer than before. It cause Cavs coach David Blatt to try and find an answer, like removing Mosgov almost entirely from Game 5 and it failed.

LeBron was special but not enough and was very gracious in defeat.  Source: Sky Sports

LeBron was special but not enough and was very gracious in defeat. Source: Sky Sports

Not only that, Iggy brought a bit of offence to a team that was stagnating and breaking them out of that funk got them the win. Daring to change something, especially to have more of a focus on defence, was absolutely vital and it was even evident in last year’s Finals when Kawai Leonard won the Finals MVP by stopping LeBron and producing on the other end.

There’s certainly a case that had the Cavaliers been fully fit, this would have been a different series. They could have even combated the Warriors small line-up with a huge line-up of LeBron, Kevin Love, Tristain Thompson, Varejao and Mosgov, which would have been an insane match-up.

However, the realisation that defence is key is clear in the NBA once again and a lot of the credit should go to Coach Kerr. No matter how dangerous the Warriors are on offence, it’s their defence that pulled them through the mire and got them their championship.

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