My Unusual 2021-22 Award Predictions

Every year, people make predictions for who they think will win various NBA awards, such as the MVP Award, ROTY, DPOY, and many more. Many websites have betting odds for who will win these awards, which lots of times are accurate, but other times, not as much. In this blog post, I will make my predictions for the end of season awards, but with one catch: none of my predictions can be for the players or teams that have the best odds. I have to pick players or teams that aren’t favored, and the betting odds that I will be using are from Vegas Insider. With that, let’s get to it.

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

Credit to Kyle Terada of USA Today Sports for Picture

According to Vegas Insider, Luka Doncic has the best MVP odds for this season, followed by Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant. I can understand why Doncic would be favored, but aside from the fact that I can’t choose him, I wouldn’t have had him as my MVP pick anyway. With a coaching change in Jason Kidd, I think the Mavericks are going to take some time to figure out their identity and how they play, and if they aren’t at the top of the standings, it’ll be difficult for Doncic to claim the award. On the other hand, we saw Curry’s resurgence towards the end of last year, when he won the scoring title and averaged a career high 32 points per game. The Warriors have been off to a hot start, and Curry has been leading the charge. Plus, with reports of how Curry has been training this offseason, I think he’ll be better then ever. The Warriors will get a boost once Klay Thompson returns, and even though he has the fifth best odds, I think Curry will win MVP.

 

Rookie of the Year: Scottie Barnes

Credit to Michael Dwyer of AP Images for Picture

Cade Cunningham has the best odds to win the ROTY Award (+250), followed closely by Jalen Green (+300). While these rookies have a very good chance to become All-Stars down the road, chances are that none of these rookies are going to make a huge impact on their team immediately. It’ll come down to stats, consistency, and how quickly these players adjust to the NBA play style. Barnes, who has the fourth best odds, is averaging 17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, while being a nightmare matchup for me in my ESPN fantasy leagues. The Raptors are only 3-3 right now, but no one is expecting them to be contenders in such a stacked Eastern Conference. He has a positive box plus/minus, which is another good stat, and given that Cunningham has only just started his career and Green is on one of the worst teams in the NBA, I think Barnes has a very good chance to win this year.

 

6th Man of the Year: Derrick Rose

Credit to Steven Ryan of Getty Images for Picture

At the top of the odds for 6th Man of the Year are Jordan Clarkson, Kevin Huerter, and Patty Mills. I would have Mills as my 6th Man of the Year because I really like what I’ve seen from him so far, but Kyrie Irving isn’t going to be playing this season (unless he gets the COVID-19 vaccine), and Mills may be a starter for a majority of the season, disqualifying him from this contest. Rose is going to be a 6th man behind Kemba Walker, who he has a history of playing at Madison Square Garden. Rose isn’t the athletic, explosive player he once was, but he’s shown he’s a very valuable addition to have come off the bench. If the Knicks have a good enough record, I see no reason why Rose can’t win the award.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Joel Embiid

Credit to Tim Nwachukwu of Getty Images for Picture

At the top of the DPOY odds are Rudy Gobert and… Ben Simmons????? These odds were made on October 8th, before the season, but that still sounds very wrong given Simmons’ current situation. However, I do believe that his teammate, Embiid, will win DPOY this year. Without Simmons, the team’s overall defense is going to go down, meaning Embiid will have to step up. Considering that Embiid was an MVP candidate last year (finished second in MVP voting) in large part due to his defense, I think he can win DPOY, assuming that his level of play stays the same or improves.

 

Most Improved Player: Mo Bamba

Credit to Brian Babineau of Getty Images for Picture

The players with the best odds to win MIP this year are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+700), Zion Williamson (+700), Michael Porter Jr (+750), Kevin Porter Jr, Zach LaVine, Collin Sexton, Christian Wood, Jarrett Jackson Jr, Jaylen Brown, John Collins, Chris Boucher, and De’Aaron Fox. Some of these I don’t understand at all, and some I do, but I think that people are sleeping on Bamba. Many people thought that Bamba was a bust only a few seasons after he came out of the University of Texas, but that is far from the truth. In his first three seasons in the NBA, Bamba started in 6 games, largely due to the fact that he was playing behind All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. Bamba also had to deal with some nagging injuries, so in his first fully healthy season as a starter, I expect Bamba to thrive, and run away with this award. The only thing that will keep him from being a clear favorite in my mind is Orlando’s record, a reason why I think everyone is sleeping on him.

 

Coach of the Year: Wes Unseld Jr

Credit to Jonathon Newton of The Washington Post for Picture

The favorites for the Coach of the Year award are Steve Nash, Erik Spolestra, and Billy Donovan. However, I don’t think any of the coaches with the best odds will win this award. I think it will be Washington Wizards Head Coach Wes Unseld, Jr. Son of Wes Unseld, this is his first year as an NBA Head Coach, and he has already led his Wizards to a 5-1 record, the team’s first since 2006. The team has gelled very well so far, and the only loss the team faced was on the road against Brooklyn, who is a title favorite. The Wizards have been horrible recently under Head Coach Scott Brooks, and if Unseld, Jr, can lead this team to a high playoff seed, he will easily become a Coach of the Year contender.

 

Championship: Golden State Warriors

Credit to Clutch Points for Picture

The Lakers and Nets are tied for the best odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship, but because of injuries, drama, and how old the Lakers are, I don’t think they will win it all. If Thompson comes back healthy and Jordan Poole continues to produce at the level he is, I don’t see any reason why Curry can’t win a championship, the MVP, and a Finals MVP this year. The Warriors also have depth with rookies Jonathon Kuminga and Moses Moody, wing players Andrew Wiggins, Otto Porter Jr, and more. They’re 4-1 to start the season, and if they can build off of that, then expect to see them playing in June.

 

Which of these predictions do you think will come true, and which won’t? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

 

 

 

 

The Chicago Bulls are Simply Amazing

After an offseason that saw the Chicago Bulls revamp their roster, they came into this season locked and loaded to make a run at the east. Within the first week of the season, they’ve lived up to and even surpassed expectations, going 4-0 to start the season. In addition to All-Star Zach LaVine, who has been with the franchise ever since the Jimmy Butler trade, the Bulls have lots of other All-Star talent, including All-Star Nikola Vucevic, former All-Star Demar DeRozan, and a borderline All-Star in Lonzo Ball. They also added Alex Caruso for depth off the bench. Many speculated that these moves were to keep LaVine, the team’s only All-Star talent, from leaving the franchise in free agency. Because of this and how the Bulls got these All-Stars, many teams, fans, and analysts speculated that the Bulls were overhyped, and wouldn’t do well this season.

Credit to The Chicago Tribune for Picture

Most of these thoughts came because of the DeRozan deal, in which DeRozan was traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Bulls in exchange for Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a protected first-round draft pick, and two future second-round picks. That’s five players for a four-time All-Star who is at the end of his prime and is 32 years old. However, what many ignored was this: DeRozan may be nearing the end of his prime, but it’s not like he’s the age of the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. DeRozan is still 32 years old, and is more versatile than ever. Once known for his high-flying athleticism, DeRozan has become a much better playmaker, as last year with San Antonio, DeRozan played power forward, and averaged a career high 6.9 assists. Being able to play three positions (shooting guard, small forward, power forward) is useful for any team, and while the Bulls may have overpaid a little bit for DeRozan, it really doesn’t matter. Young and Aminu were good players, but they had nowhere near the impact on the game that DeRozan is having for the team so far.

Almost everyone agreed that Lonzo Ball and Vucevic (traded at last year’s NBA Trade Deadline) were good fits for the team, but there were some questions about Alex Caruso, who was arrested during the offseason for drug possession. However, Caruso is a lot better than many people know, and impacts the game in multiple ways. He and Ball already have some chemistry from their days of playing on the Lakers together, and like Ball, Caruso is a fabulous passer. He thrives in transition settings, feeding his teammates who are some of the best scorers in the world. Caruso has this one move he does where he is able to freeze his defender in place coming off of a pick and roll, and he’s learned how to manipulate his hips and arms to create one of the deadliest no-look passes in basketball. Caruso has a high Basketball IQ, and always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and while he won’t get a ton of shots due to how incredible his teammates are, he’ll make defenders regret sagging off of him, making him one of the most valuable 6th men in the entire NBA.

Their first game of the season was against the Detroit Pistons. Everyone chipped in, and although the team only played 10 men in total, DeRozan had 17 points, Vucevic had a 15 point-15 rebound double-double, LaVine scored 34, and Ball recorded 12, 6, and four. Second year stud Patrick Williams also proved that the Bulls made the right choice in drafting him with the fourth overall pick last year by playing out of his mind in summer league and chipping in six points in this game as a starter. The Bulls would win 94-88, and two days later, on October 22nd, they would play their second game against the New Orleans Pelicans. While the Pelicans don’t have their franchise star in Zion Williamson on the floor, they still have All-Star Brandon Ingram, and one of the best big men in the NBA in Jonas Valanciunas. In this game, Ingram would have 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists while carrying the Pelicans on his back, but it wasn’t enough. The Bulls looked incredibly cohesive as Ball recorded his first triple-double in a Bulls uniform (this was made all the more sweeter when you consider the Pelicans were his old team) and LaVine scored 32 points, making the final score 128-112.

In a rematch against the Pistons the day after the Pelicans game, the Bulls would once again win, this time by 15 points. A few days later, they would play the Raptors in Toronto and escape with a three-point win as Vucevic, Ball, DeRozan, and LaVine accounted for 80 of the Bulls 111 points. However, not all of the success can be attributed to the players. Bulls Head Coach-Billy Donovan-has had experience working with stars (as he coached Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Victor Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis), and he is a highly qualified candidate to coach the Bulls, as he led the Thunder to many deep playoff runs during his tenure there. He is easily a better coach than Jim Boylen, who I said was one of the worst coaches in the NBA a few years ago and needed to be fired (he was soon afterward; thanks to the Bulls Front Office for reading that!)

Credit to NBA.com for Picture

The Bulls 4-0 start is the franchise’s best start to a season since the 1996-97 season, in which Michael Jordan led the Bulls and they went 72-10 (they would also win the NBA Finals that year). Obviously, they are not going to match the talent of that Bulls team, but I do believe that people are sleeping on just how good the Chicago Bulls are. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that they could be a top three team in the East, right behind the Nets and the Bucks. This next statement is going to sound very outlandish, but if Kyrie stays out and players on the Nets roster get injured (like last year), and the same thing happens with the Bucks, then the Bulls could be playing in their first NBA Finals since 1998. Congratulations Chicago Bulls fans. You finally have something to look forward to, 10 years after Derrick Rose became the youngest league MVP and had his career derailed by injuries.

Make sure to tell everyone you know that Chi-town could actually have a good basketball team again, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

 

A Preview of the New Orleans Pelicans

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Right now, the New Orleans Pelicans are desperately trying not to fail their history class, although it already seems to some fans as though they are repeating history. In 2012, with the number one overall pick, the Pelicans drafted Anthony Davis from the University of Kentucky, as he was easily considered the best player in his class, and was a generational power forward. After multiple years fed-up with New Orleans, Davis eventually demanded a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, moved there, and won a ring.

Fast forward seven years, and in 2019, with the number one overall pick, the Pelicans picked another player who had an amazing one-and-done season at a blue-blood college, knowing he was the best pick in the draft and a generational-type talent. While he hasn’t demanded a trade, it’s Zion Williamson‘s third year in the league, not his seventh (it’s also worth noting that Davis and Williamson lost the Rookie of the Year Award to upstart point guards from small colleges, Damian Lillard and Ja Morant). As you can see, New Orleans is repeating itself, and this year is crucial to sending a message to Williamson, and showing that the Pelicans are going to be contenders, and not lottery bound for the next four years. Let’s dive right in to what New Orleans can realistically expect from its team this year.

Credit to Michael Reaves of Getty Images for Picture

The Pelicans made a few moves this offseason, and had a few signings come close… but ultimately never fall through. The Pelicans let Lonzo Ball go in a sign-and-trade to the Bulls, and in exchange received Garrett Temple, Tomas Satoransky, a 2024 second-round pick, and some cash. No GM would have normally made this move unless they were forced to, but the Pelicans front office did this because they believed that they were going to receive a much better point guard later during the summer… 7-time All-Star Kyle Lowry! If this move happened, it would have been amazing for the Pelicans and amazing for the team… but he went to Miami, teaming up with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Victor Oladipo, and head coach Pat Riley. Lowry coming to the Pelicans was a huge part of their offseason plan, and it really crushed them when he was traded elsewhere. For now, the starting point guard will be Devonte’ Graham.

Believe it or not, the Pelicans have some of the worst depth in the entire NBA this season. At point guard, they have Graham, Satoransky, and Kira Lewis Jr. At shooting guard, they have Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, and three guys who are on two-way contracts. At small forward, they have Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Garrett Temple, Naji Marshall, and another player on a two-way contract. At power forward, they have Zion Williamson and Wenyen Gabriel. Lastly, at center, the Pelicans have Jonas Valančiūnas, Willy Hernangomez, and Jaxson Hayes.

There are a few very concerning things to me about this depth chart. For one, there is only one other “true” power forward on the team (Gabriel), and he only played 21 games last season. Is Williamson’s body ready to fully handle the stress of the NBA (probably)? The shooting guard spot is near abysmal in terms of depth, and for those that didn’t know, Hayes was arrested this offseason on suspicion of resisting arrest. The Pelicans roster only has 13 players for this upcoming season, many of which haven’t played real minutes in the NBA.

Credit to ClutchPoints for Picture

However, there are a few bright spots on such a bleak roster. The Pelicans acquired Graham, who didn’t have a chance to shine with the Charlotte Hornets, playing behind LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. Many have called him underrated and this season could be a coming-out party for him.

The Valančiūnas trade was also a great move for the Pelicans, as he has entered his prime and is a much better center then Steven Adams. Last year, Valančiūnas averaged 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds on 59.2% shooting for the Memphis Grizzlies, which is amazing. He’s 28 years old, so he still has 2-3 more seasons in his prime before he (likely) begins to fall off. Valančiūnas can solidify the paint, but the one argument you could make against him is that he simply doesn’t shoot threes. He and Williamson are going to have an interesting time working out floor spacing; or maybe their head coach will.

As New Orleans gets more and more desperate to make Williamson happy, they are firing head coaches and bringing new ones in. After 2020, the Pelicans fired Alvin Gentry, and replaced him with Stan Van Gundy. After a single season in which Van Gundy did not meet expectations (the team went 31-41 and finished as the 11th seed in the Western Conference), he was fired. One season? This shows the kind of agenda the Pelicans have, and that to an extent, they are not thinking clearly. It is incredibly rare for rookie head coaches to coach a winning team and build a winning environment in only their first year with the team. Among 17 rookie head coaches in the past five years, only four have had winning records in their first year coaching: Nick Nurse (who came to a contender and helped lead the Raptors to a championship), Steve Nash (who joined a super team in the Nets), Joe Prunty (who joined a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, and was also the interim after Jason Kidd was fired), and David Fizdale of the Grizzlies. Willie Green, a former NBA player, has been an assistant coach for both the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns, but this is his first job as a head coach. If the Pelicans don’t give their coaches time to get to know the roster and find out what will help the team succeed, then they will never reach the lofty goals they have set for themselves.

Credit to Gerald Herbert of AP Images for Picture

Brandon Ingram has been a consistent 23 point per game scorer for the Pelicans, although his numbers did drop off a little bit in 2020-21 from 2019-20 when he was an All-Star. Believe it or not, his 23.8 points per game are the most ever points per game averaged in franchise history, with the second being Davis’ 23.7 points per game. His defensive game does need some work, and at this point in time, I don’t see Ingram as the second option on a playoff team. However, one of the Pelicans’ biggest problems are the never fading rumors that Williamson will leave the franchise as soon as he’s eligible to.

The fact that one family member of Williamson’s said that they don’t like Zion playing for the Pelicans, stirring up weeks of rumors and controversy, shows just how important Williamson is to the franchise, and what it would mean if he left. A similar thing happened when Williamson said that he “loves” playing in Madison Square Garden. These are off-hand comments, but everyone treats them as though it means he will be traded or leave in the offseason! If the Pelicans can persevere through this and keep Williamson happy, then that will be great, because I believe they can be contenders this year… for the play-in.

For the upcoming season, I predict the Pelicans will win between 30-35 games, assuming they don’t make any big trades (such as for Ben Simmons or Kristaps Porzingis). While I wish the Pelicans would be able to do more, given their lack of a supporting core around Williamson, and how stacked teams in the west are, I think it’s unreasonable to expect more. Even among the teams that may end up making the play-in, there is the Memphis Grizzlies with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson, Jr, the Portland Trail Blazers with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, as well as teams like the Jazz with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert that have the potential to fall that low. I wish them success, but realistically, if they could make the play-in and even be the 10th seed, I’d be impressed.

How many games do you think the Pelicans will win this year? Let me know in the comments below, as well as any other teams you want me to preview, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

Report: Rick Carlisle Hired by Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks Find New General Manager, Head Coach

The Dallas Mavericks are making lots of changes this offseason, although many of them don’t have to do with their players, but their management. Head Coach Rick Carlisle and General Manager Donnie Nelson have both left the team for separate reasons, although one of them has already found a new job. Carlisle, 61 years old, has agreed to a four-year, $29 million contract with the Indiana Pacers, plus incentives. This will be Carlisle’s third stint with the Pacers, as his first came in 1997, when he was an assistant coach for the team. He stayed in Indiana as the top assistant to Larry Bird from 1997-2000, meaning he was a part of Indiana’s 2000 Finals run, which came to an end against the Shaq and Kobe-led Los Angeles Lakers.

Credit to Ryan Michalesko for Picture

His first head coaching job came with the Detroit Pistons, from 2001 until 2003. During this time, Carlisle was named the 2002 Coach of the Year, and from there, he was named the Head Coach of the Indiana Pacers, from 2003 until 2007. This means that Carlisle had the honor of being the coach during the infamous “Malice at the Palace.” However, in his first season with the Pacers, they went 61-21, showing just how good he and his team were. After Indiana, Carlisle was hired by the Mavericks, where he has remained the coach until this season, when he was fired. He was with the team through thin and thick, such as when they won the 2011 NBA championship.

General Manager Kevin Pritchard of the Indiana Pacers had the following to say about hiring Carlisle:

“He has demonstrated throughout his career an ability to build something with sustainable success. He has great respect for our franchise and our fans from his previous times here. We are very happy to welcome him back to Indiana.”

Carlisle then added the following:

“[General manager Kevin Pritchard] and I have talked extensively about the roster. I like their roster. It’s a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard. It’s always possible that moves could be made before the season, but I think Kevin and I are both very excited about getting the roster healthy and seeing what this team can be.”

Carlisle’s return will be welcomed by Pacers’ fans, as this season, Nate Bjorkgren, the head coach, led the team to a 34-38 record, and was fired. Despite the fact that this was Bjorkgren’s first season as head coach, the Pacers want to win now, and since Carlisle has a lot of experience and a Coach of the Year Award under his belt, he should help turn the team around from play-in bound to playoff bound.

This picture is used under a Creative Commons License

Back in Dallas, changes are coming, and they are coming fast. The next Dallas Mavericks Head Coach will be Jason Kidd, who is a Hall-of-Fame point guard and 10-time NBA All-Star. Kidd began his playing career with the Mavericks, playing his rookie and sophomore seasons there. After much longer amounts of time spent in Phoenix and New Jersey, Kidd found himself on the Mavericks once again in the twilight of his career, where he won a championship with the 2011 squad. He then left the team after 2012 to sign and finish his career with the New York Knicks, which rubbed the Mavericks the wrong way. However, any hard feelings or broken relationships were patched up, as there isn’t a person in the Dallas organization (that we know of) who still holds a grudge against Kidd.

This is not Kidd’s first gig as a coach. Kidd first became the Head Coach of the Brooklyn Nets for the 2013-14 season, leading them to a 44-38 record. After that, he coached the Milwaukee Bucks from 2014-18, before Mike Budenholzer took over the team and Giannis Antetokounmpo became an MVP. Kidd then spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, on their 2020 championship squad and team this year. As a Head Coach, Kidd’s overall record is 183-190, slightly under .500%.

Everyone in Dallas liked the idea of Kidd becoming the Head Coach, including Carlisle himself.

“My hope is that Jason Kidd will be the next coach of the Mavs because he and Luka have so many things in common as players. “I just think that it would be a great situation for Luka, and I think it would be an amazing situation for Jason. I’m the only person on the planet that’s coached both of those guys and that knows about all of their special qualities as basketball players. To me, that just would be a great marriage, but that’s just an opinion.”

Carlisle on Jason Kidd

The other acquisition in Dallas is of Nico Harrison to replace Donnie Nelson as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations. Harrison was previously an executive for Nike, who has had many different connections with NBA players. Dating back to 2002, Harrison was involved with players throughout the league, including Kobe Bryant. He has been very influential throughout Nike, and helped to convince Luka Doncic to switch from Nike to the Nike-owned Jordan Brand in 2019. Although Harrison has never held a job in the NBA, he has been pursued by multiple teams to assume a front-office role for them.

Michael Finley, the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations, is expected to continue working with the Mavericks with Harrison as his boss, and it will be very clear how effective Harrison is as a GM starting with what the Mavericks do during this offseason. Everyone is expecting a Kristaps Porzingis trade, so it will be interesting to see what happens and how things progress.

Speaking of Porzingis, I recently thought of a very interesting trade if the Mavericks do decide they want him out. Let me know that you want to see this trade scenario with a like and/or a follow, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

 

Report: Detroit Pistons win 2021 Draft Lottery, Celtics Hire New Head Coach

Following one of the weaker draft classes in recent memory, 2020, the 2021 NBA Draft is loaded with talent, led by Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, and Jonathon Kuminga, to name a few. Many teams have plummeted to the bottom of the standings this year with the hopes of landing some of this talent, and the results are in.

Credit to Icon Sportswire for Picture

With a 14% chance to win the lottery, the Detroit Pistons did just that and now, chances are, will end up picking the consensus best player in the draft, Cade Cunningham. Cunningham is a 6’8″ point guard who has often been compared to Luka Doncic, and has an incredible amount of potential. Ironically, the Pistons winning the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery was predicted by NBA YouTuber Mike Korzemba, as nearly a year ago, Korzemba used NBA 2K and simulated the NBA to 2050 to predict how things would play out. In this prediction video, the Pistons won the lottery, which was amazing…but the 76ers also won a championship with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. That last one might not work out.

See below for yourself:

The Houston Rockets, who also had a 14% chance of landing the number one pick, finished second. After a subpar season that saw the team trade superstar James Harden and plummet to the bottom of the standings, the #2 overall pick will help the Rockets a lot… assuming they choose wisely.

Rounding out the lottery we have:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Orlando Magic
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Golden State Warriors (via Andrew WigginsD’Angelo Russell trade)
  6. Orlando Magic (via Nikola Vucevic trade)
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. New Orleans Pelicans
  9. Charlotte Hornets
  10. San Antonio Spurs
  11. Indiana Pacers
  12. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors and Thunder both made very smart trades, and now have two lottery picks each in this loaded draft class. If they choose wisely, they could end up with two All-Stars, or at least two quality players that will help their team in the future. We will have to wait and see who they choose.

Credit to David Dow for Picture

In other news, the Boston Celtics have hired a new Head Coach, and it’s not who you think it is. Former assistant coach of the Brooklyn Nets Ime Udoka is going to become the Celtics new Head Coach, and hopefully lead their team into the future. Udoka played professional basketball in the NBA, the NBA D-League, and overseas in Spain. After his playing career, he was an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs and Greg Poppovich for seven years. After that, he was an assistant on the Philadelphia 76ers for Brett Brown for two years, and after that it was on to the Brooklyn Nets and Steve Nash. Now, as a 43-year old, Udoka has landed his first head coaching job, and part of that may have to do with the recommendations players gave him. Udoka coached the Team USA 2019 FIBA Team, and received high praise from Celtic stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.

It will be interesting to see how Udoka does in his new role, and I wish him the best of luck. I also wish all the teams in the NBA Draft Lottery luck, and hope that they, like you, follow the NBA Blog, and have an awesome day!

Coach K Calls it a Career After 41 Seasons

Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, announced that at the end of the 2021-22 season, he will be retiring from coaching the Duke University Blue Devils. This move comes after 41 seasons with the Blue Devils, during which he led them to 12 Final Four appearances and won five national championships in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, and 2015. Krzyzewski also holds the record for most wins in a career at the collegiate level, with 1,170. The next closest is Jim Boeheim, who is over 100 wins behind Krzyzewski.

Credit to Travis Long for picture

“You might ask, ‘Why are you doing this right now?’ Look, this is not about health. Mickie and I, whether we look it or not — she does — whether I look healthy … I am. It’s not about COVID or saying, ‘Boy, that year was so bad.’ It’s not about that. It’s certainly not about what’s going on with college basketball. ‘Boy, the game is changing.’ All right. I’ve been in it for 46 years. You think the game has never changed?”

Coach K in his retirement press conference

Coach K chose to announce his retirement a year in advance for two main reasons: the new coach and recruits. It wouldn’t be fair for Krzyzewski to recruit players and then unexpectedly retire when one of the main reasons they came was to play for him. Second, he wanted to give his successor, Jon Scheyer, a chance to adjust to the new role that he will be playing. Scheyer is a gifted recruiter (helping to land Jayson Tatum and ranked number three in his class Paolo Banchero. Scheyer played on the 2010 Duke national championship squad, and spent a few years playing overseas professionally post-college. He came back to Duke as an assistant coach in 2013, and in 2018, he was promoted to associate head coach (which is below the head coach but more valued than an assistant coach).

Every player that was recruited or played under Coach K loved him, and said that playing for him was one of the most important experiences in their lives. He has also helped dozens of players go pro, including from the 2010s alone: Vernon Carey Jr, Cassius Stanley, Tre Jones, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Marques Boldin, Zion Williamson1, Marvin Bagley, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent, Wendell Carter, Trevon Duval, Luke Kennard, Harry Giles, Frank Jackson, Amile Jefferson, Jayson Tatum, Marshall Plumlee, Brandon Ingram, Jahlil Okafor, Quinn Cook, Justice Winslow, Tyus Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, Andre Dawkins, Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Austin Rivers, Andre Dawkins, Miles Plumlee, Michael Gbinije, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Kyrie Irving, and Lance Thomas.

Over three dozen players to the NBA in 10 years. That averages out a ridiculous 3.8 NBA players on every Duke team this decade.

Coach K has been the head coach of Duke’s basketball team since 1980, so his retirement will be well deserved. After starting out his first few seasons at Duke, Krzyzewski somehow had a losing record of 38-47. Despite this, athletic director (at the time) Tom Butters believed in Krzyzewski, despite many around Butters wanting him fired, and gave him an extension. After he began to turn the program around, Coach K was offered yet another contract, until Duke reached the point where they just gave him a lifetime contract with their team. He’s the most influential person in Duke’s basketball program, as they named the floor they play on after him (Coach K Court), students camp out in tents to get tickets to games which is called Krzyzewskiville, and he has been with the program longer than any coach, player, trainer, or athletic director. As the heart and soul of Duke basketball for four decades, fans and students will miss him terribly, and personally, I will be very disappointed if they don’t make a documentary about this man2; he deserves it.

Even though Krzyzewski has said he will stay active in the Duke community, we will all still miss him3. Don’t mourn and cry because he’s gone; smile because he was there.

Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

1: All-Stars in the NBA are bolded

2: There already is a documentary called, “The Recruiting Class That Saved Coach K,” which is appreciated. But can’t the fans have one just dedicated to his legacy?

3: Don’t forget, he still has the chance to win a 6th National Championship this upcoming season and add even more wins to his already impeccable legacy

Four Coaches Whose Jobs Are On the Line This Offseason

Every offseason, there are coaches that get hired to new teams, and inevitably, get fired from previous teams. Some coaches are with their respective teams a lot longer than others, but when the team itself isn’t changing or there are problems, those coaches are soon shown the door. Today, we are looking at four coaches who are the most likely to get fired if they don’t have a successful playoffs or offseason.

Honorable Mention: Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics

Credit to Sarah Stier of Getty Images for Picture

Yesterday, Stevens stepped down from his head coaching position with the Boston Celtics and became the president of basketball operations, as former president and Celtic legend Danny Ainge retired. Since the Celtics had not appeared to be making much progress in their quest towards a championship after losing to the Brooklyn Nets in five games, I wrote the following:

The Celtics have made the Eastern Conference Finals multiple times, which includes 2017, 2018, and 2020. In those multiple series, the Celtics have always come within one game, and even one quarter away from a trip to the Finals, but just miss out every time. Now, as of the writing of this blog, the Celtics are down 3-1 against the Brooklyn Nets which has three MVPs. There is very little chance the Celtics win this series, and if they do, something tells me Danny Ainge will be getting restless with the lack of Finals, and want some changes.

The Celtics have been contenders for the last five years, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean anything except that they are a top four team in the NBA. Only the top two compete in the Finals, and since Ainge played on the 1980s Celtics, he knows his basketball and how to win, even if it’s not how certain fans want to. While I hope Stevens does not depart this offseason, it could be another executive or coach who is fired, and another player who is hired (who knows, maybe Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers will sign with the franchise and give the team a big three).

This prediction proved to be both right, wrong, and somewhat backwards. There was a major change among the staff, and the Celtics will have a new head coach. This is the opposite of what Greg Poppovich did in the late 90s, as he resigned from his position as General Manager so he could coach the San Antonio Spurs himself. It will be interesting to see who the Celtics hire as head coach, and how different their style of play and win total will be in comparison to Stevens’ tenure with the team.

#4: Luke Walton, Sacramento Kings

Credit to the Los Angeles Times for this picture and accurate representation of Walton’s time coaching the Los Angeles Lakers

After an unsuccessful post-Kobe Bryant coaching career with the Los Angeles Lakers in which the team never made the playoffs, Luke Walton signed a contract to become the head coach of the Sacramento Kings. At the time, the Kings were not a playoff team, but they had hope. De’Aaron Fox looked to be a future All-Star, Buddy Hield was becoming an elite shooter, and Marvin Bagley was a powerful force in the paint. However, as soon as Walton started coaching, things went downhill. The season before Walton arrived (2018-19), the Kings won 39 games and missed out on the playoffs. Since Walton arrived, they have sported identical 31 win seasons in both 2020 and 2021. Player development, the thing Walton was supposed to be good at, was stifled, as Fox had not yet made the leap to All-Star, Hield’s stats, efficiency, effectiveness, and minutes went down, and Bagley was misused, injured, and ultimately felt as though he was given up on. Many think the Kings are cursed, or have really bad luck, and I can’t say I disagree1.

Did you know that the Kings have not had a winning season since 2006? It has been over a decade since they were last in the playoffs! The franchise needs to fire Walton ASAP so that they can have a chance at undoing the damage he did and acquiring more assets to contend for the playoffs in the near future. Maybe they would be best served hiring this next coach if he gets fired, because something he’s been known for is player development…

#3: Scott Brooks, Washington Wizards

Credit to District Sports Report for Video. Go check out their YouTube Channel!

Ah yes, Scott Brooks… where to begin? I don’t know a single Wizards fan that still wants him D.C. From countless, countless, articles to videos (above) to petitions about why he should be fired, they all have good points: the Wizards can’t come through in the clutch, he has had the job several years and they haven’t gone anywhere, and he doesn’t have a go-to rotation; instead, he is just throwing out lineups and hoping one works. Young player’s development, which Brooks is supposed to be known for, isn’t going anywhere, and he has misused Deni Avdija, the Wizards 2020 lottery pick in different situations. The problem is, there are two factors that may end up keeping Brooks his job:

  • He led the Wizards through the play-in and to the playoffs, even though they are likely going to lose in the first round
  • Despite an injury-riddled season, the Wizards had a storybook turnaround
  • Russell Westbrook was coached under Brooks during part of his time in Oklahoma City, so they have bonded and Westbrook does not want him gone

These three facts are going to make it difficult to fire Brooks, but it’s the right thing to be done. The Wizards need a fresh start.

#2: Terry Stots, Portland Trail Blazers

This picture is used under a Creative Commons License

Stots has been the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers since 2012, the longest a current coach in the NBA has been with one team. During his first season with the Blazers, they went 33-49 and lost 13 consecutive games to end the season. In the following years, they would make the playoffs multiple times, but could never get past the second round. Damian Lillard has been the star of the Trail Blazers, though aside from backcourt addition C.J. McCollum, he has never gotten any key pieces and stars that have helped him propel the Trail Blazers to the next level. The farthest Stots and Lillard have gone in the playoffs was the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019, where they were swept by a Kevin Durant-less Golden State Warriors juggernaut that would go on to lose the Finals after their All-Stars were injured and reinjured. In 2020, Stots and the Blazers found themselves kicked out of the first round in five games by the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

All in all, the Blazers have made some playoff appearances and one deep run, but have never reached or won the NBA Finals. Stots will have been with the Blazers for nearly a decade after this season, and if Stots doesn’t make another deep playoff run this season, beating teams like the Denver Nuggets and the winner of the Phoenix Suns/Los Angeles Lakers series, then I see no good reason why Portland would keep him around any longer. Lillard has been loyal to the franchise his entire career, and to repay him, they need to get him a better supporting cast and coach who can take him places.

#1: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks

Credit to Brian Sevald of Getty Images for Picture

A former Coach of the Year, Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks has done a great job developing Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well as All-Star wing player Khris Middleton. However, post-season success may lead to the former Coach of the Year’s demise. In the 2018 playoffs, the Bucks lost to the Boston Celtics in the first round; in 2019 (Antetokounmpo’s first MVP season) they lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors, and in 2020, they lost to the Miami Heat in the second round. The Eastern Conference is not at its strongest, and the Bucks are simply not able to capitalize on the situation. When you have two All-Stars (including an MVP) on your roster and you aren’t able to make it to the NBA Finals (which has been the expectation for Antetokounmpo), that does seem to be a problem.

After Antetokounmpo signed a five-year extension and made it clear he is not leaving the franchise in the near future, the most removable piece of the team would be Budenholzer. The Bucks already got revenge by sweeping the Miami Heat in the 2021 NBA playoffs (the team that beat them in the prior playoffs), and if they can beat the winner of the Philadelphia 76ers/Washington Wizards series, then they will be back in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s difficult to say if making it there alone will let Budenholzer keep his job, but it’s very unlikely that if the Bucks can beat (most likely it will be) the Brooklyn Nets and make the NBA Finals that Budenholzer will lose his job. I like Budenholzer, and I think he is a great coach for this Bucks team, so personally, I’m rooting for them to make a deep run in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

What coach do you think will get fired first (if any)? Let me know your thoughts, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

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1: Then again, couldn’t you make an argument that lots of small market teams are cursed? For example, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, and of course, our beloved Sacramento Kings. While I doubt the NBA is rigging games, if they were, it’s not going in the small-market team’s favor. Maybe we should call it, “The Small Market Curse.”

Who is the Best NBA Coach Ever?

The question is simple: Who is the greatest coach in the NBA ever? This answer certainly varies as we all have a bias toward certain teams we like. But even with this bias, we can still agree that there are certain coaches that are better than others. So today, we are going to find out who the best coach ever was.

In my mind, the top four coaches of all time are Gregg Poppovich, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, and Red Auerbach. Pat Riley coached the Showtime Lakers, Phil Jackson was a part of the 2000 Lakers Dynasty and the Michael Jordan Era, Gregg Poppovich and Tim Duncan led the Spurs to 5 titles, and Red Auerbach, who was the coach for the Boston Celtics 60s dynasty. These are the 4 coaches I am going to rank, and at the end, I will give my reasoning for who I think is the best coach of all time. Make sure to comment down below if you think I left out a coach.

#4: Greg Poppovich

Greg Poppovich is an incredible coach, and led the Spurs to nearly 2 decades of playoff appearances, winning 5 championships with the organization. He has coached many hall-of-famers, and many soon-to-be Hall of Famers, including Tim Duncan, Manu Gnobili (soon-to-be), Kawhi Leonard (after career to be), Tony Parker (soon-to-be), David Robinson, and Dennis Rodman (for two years). During the Spurs dynasty, he made draft steals and coached second round picks and late first round picks to NBA greatness. Their dynasty is often overlooked in NBA history. Gregg is still a coach in the NBA today, though the Spurs aren’t doing to well right now, so his career could potentially end on a sour note. But as great as he is, he couldn’t match these next three coaches.

#3: Red Auerbach

Now I know that big Celtics fans aren’t going to like Red Auerbach being #3, but hear me out. Auerbach won 9 titles with the Boston Celtics as a head coach(and 7 others as an executive), but when the dynasty started in the 60s, there were 15 teams in the NBA! 15! That’s half of the teams that are in the NBA now. Not to mention, Bill Russell was one of the first of his kind, being a 7’0″ shot blocking center. He had no competition on either end, and dominated his way to 11 championships, with Wilt Chamberlain being the only obstacle. Aside from that, the 1962-1963 championship one by the Celtics had 9 Hall-Of-Famers on the roster! 9! So yes, Red Auerbach was an incredible coach, but I don’t think he would be considered quite the coach he is if he didn’t have multiple Hall-Of-Famers on a team that only had 14 others to compete with. I rest my case.

#2: Pat Riley

Pat Riley won 5 championships as a head coach, and 1 as an assistant coach. He coached the “Showtime Lakers,” that featured Hall-Of-Famers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and James Worthy. He helped revolutionize the game of basketball with the incredible pace of the Lakers, and pushed them to their limits. Now this may sound somewhat impressive on the surface, but how hard Pat Riley truly made his players work is unbelievable. Byron Scott, a member of the Showtime Lakers, was coached by Pat Riley, and reflects upon his time as a head coach with the New Jersey Nets. In his autobiography Slam Dunk Success, he says, “I came in strong, probably a little too strong, but that’s all I knew at the time. I came from the Pat Riley school of coaching, so I went in with an iron fist right away and had guys throwing up and damn near falling out of training camp just doing in LA what we’d called the easy run.” Yeah, Pat Riley made his players work so hard that his version of easy was the Nets (one of the worst teams at the time) version of cruxifixction! And I mean, it clearly worked. Oh, and he also led the Miami Heat to a championship in 2006, giving Dwayne Wade and Gary Payton their first rings, and Shaq his fourth.

#1: Phil Jackson

Yes, Phil Jackson is #1. I think we all saw this coming, but just in case you didn’t, let me give you a little background on him. He’s an 11-time NBA Champion as a head coach, and he is the coach with whom Michael Jordan won 6 championships. He also coached Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal to a three-peat in Los Angeles, and then was with Kobe when he won two championships in 2009 and 2010. Not only did Phil Jackson have an incredible offensive scheme that won multiple championships, he molded All-Star players into Hall-Of-Famers! And the job of a head coach is to coach the team to wins, mold young players and have them live up to the fullest of their potential, and make the game-plan. There is no doubt that he’s a winner, he molded quite a few young players into MVPs, and he created the triangle offense. This is why, in my mind, Phil Jackson is the greatest coach ever.

Let me know if you think I accidentally snubbed any coaches in the comments below, and as always, have an awesome day!

Why Jim Boylen is the Worst Coach in the NBA currently.

Today we are talking about Jim Boylen, who is arguably the worst coach in the NBA. He is the current head coach for the Chicago Bulls. Now, the Chicago Bulls are not a bad team. They are not a playoff team, but they have a young core with a bright future, which stars Zach Lavine and Lauri Markannean. But Jim Boylen might be the primary reason that they haven’t made the playoffs yet. I know those are harsh words, so I’m going to back them up and give you 5 reasons why Jim Boylen is the worst coach in the NBA currently. Well, really 4 with a bonus, but let’s get into it.

#5: Bad relationships with his players

A head coach should have a good relationship with his players, so that they respect each other and have a good relationship on and off court, or at least on. This is far from what the Chicago Bulls have currently. His questionable decisions lead his own players to not trust him or respect him. Zach Lavine recently came out on record and said that he didn’t trust him. This tension between players and coach have led them to a lack of wins. Even worse, the Bulls have been trying to cover up the lack of chemistry, by saying things such as Zach Lavine paid Jim Boylen’s fine he received in-game when he was ejected. But on court and in interviews, you can see the dysfunction, like when the Bulls won a game and ignored their coach in the celebration. These bad relationships have also led to forward Thaddeus Young requesting a trade after less then one season with the team.

#4: Practice goes horribly

The dysfunction between Bulls players and Jim Boylen continues at practice. His first day, he was asking for more enthusiasm from his players, which is somewhat understandable. But having two hour practices happens not too often in the NBA, which Jim Boylen is doing consecutively with his players. Boylen’s practices are questionable, and he has his younger players running wind sprints and doing push-ups. Jim Boylen has deluded himself into thinking that old school practices will reveal the Bulls old school results, and he is horribly wrong. In fact, he is so old school that he makes players check into practice with a punch clock! A punch clock! This is 2020, not 1470! His refusal to transition to modern routines and practices leads to a lack of player respect, and a lack of wins. After his first win as a head coach against the Thunder, he celebrated and the next game they got blown out by 56 points. Oh, and let’s not forget another questionable discussion by Jim Boylen, when he did a 5 man sub in-game; twice. Zach Lavine was not too happy about that, and they are one of the most uncommon occurrences in the league. This clearly isn’t working, because before the season postponed, the Bulls were the 11th seed, and 22-43! Let that sink in for a second. In the weaker conference in the NBA, they’re behind the Hornets and Wizards. Which brings us to …

#3: He makes his team play an outdated version of basketball

Jim Boylen is literally deluding himself when he comes to game plan. He coaches like a coach who doesn’t have a three point line. He said in an interview before the season that the goal for his team was to average 35 assists! 35! That has never been done before, and won’t be done by this Bulls team. The assist average per year record is 27.4, and set by the Phoenix Suns, whose offense was 7 seconds or left. That is certainly not Jim Boylen’s offense, as he wants less threes taken. The Chicago Bulls have the 27th best offense in a league of 30 teams, and this can be pointed to one man: Jim Boylen. He emphasizes points in the paint, and not shooting as many threes. That’s a great strategy; for a 4th grade rec league team! The Bulls were the worst three point shooting team, in terms of attempts and makes before the season was postponed. Personally, this leads me to believe that Zach Lavine’s 13 three point performance against the Hornets was simply an act of defiance.

#2: He calls timeouts at horrible times

One of the weirdest things about Jim Boylen is that he calls timeouts at some of the worst times imaginable. And if you think I’m joking, I’m not, let’s look at some examples. On February 22nd, 2020, Jim Boylen called a timeout with 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter against the Phoenix Suns, and his team down 10. The cameras caught Zach Lavine expressing his frustration, saying to the coach, “Why are we calling a timeout down *expletive* 10?” Or how about March 2nd, 2020, when playing the Mavericks, Ryan Arcidiacono just made a lay-up, but it didn’t count because he called timeout before it? And then there’s the time when his team was down by 8 with 40 seconds left. A sane coach would have had his players shoot a 3 or at least score, and then foul or play tough defense. Instead, he wasted a timeout. And these are just a few examples.

And lastly, even worse, the Bulls management won’t see his flaws. This isn’t really his fault, but that of John Paxson. The man may have played for the Bulls, and been pretty good, but he isn’t the greatest as Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations. There are countless stories to back this up, such as Paxson choking Vinny Del Negro in an argument about how many minutes Joakim Noah played. Or when he fired Scott Skiles on Christmas Day, or when Tom Thibodeau locked himself in the coaches office to get away from him, or when he traded Jimmy Butler, or when he had rising star Spencer Dinwiddie in training camp and didn’t keep him, or the fact he is still, hating on Derrick Rose and his injuries, or… well you get the point.

So I’m really hoping for this young Bulls team, and I hope they can succeed. Even more importantly, I hope that the Bulls management fires him, and that the young core can develop and make the playoffs. What do you guys think? Do you think the Bulls can succeed with Jim Boylen, or do you think they should fire him. Let me know in the comments, and as always, have an awesome day.