In a shocking turn of events, the NCAA has decided to amend one of their recent rule changes govern agents. A bachelor’s degree will no longer be a requirement for an agent to represent underclassmen testing the draft process. As long as the agent is certified by the NBPA.
Sometimes in life perception can be a reality, and this concept can be applied to Carmelo Anthony. The 10x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, has scored over 25,000 points and is a bonafide Hall of Famer.
Now, this future Hall of Famer finds without a team as he looks to close out his career on his terms. Anthony has been working out vigorously in hopes that a team will sign him. Skill-wise it looks like Anthony can still score and contribute to an NBA team.
The NCAA announced for no foreseen reason that it will be changing the criteria that an agent must possess to represent an underclassman who wants to test the draft waters.
In 2018 the NCAA already changed the rule allowing for underclassmen to hire an agent and test the waters without ruining their eligibility.
One takeaway that stood out is how bitter and jealous a lot of former players are of this generation of NBA players. Charles Barkley is at the top of this list. Known as the “round mound of rebound” during his playing days Barkley has to turn into the “loud mouth from Leeds”. Spouting off opinions that are often viewed as honest, real, and straightforward, oftentimes lack depth, knowledge, and are just plain ignorant.
Little Caesars Arena in Detroit was the site for the opening night of the Ice Cube’s Big 3 three on three basketball league. The league is starting to really gain momentum, and Season 3 is touted to be the best so far. Several big-name former NBA players will be joining the league this year. Gilbert Arenas, Jason Terry, Lamar Odom, Josh Smith, Will Bynum, Anthony Morrow, and Mario Chalmers just to name a few.
When Kevin Durant made his finals debut Monday night you could not have asked for a better start. The “Hamptons 5” was reunited and the Warriors appeared to be back to their dominant self. Durant made his first three shots and it seemed that Golden State was going to win the game and officially find themselves back in the series. Nine minutes into the second quarter every basketball fans worst fear happened, and Warriors nation collective heart stopped.
Five Star recruit R.J. Hampton appeared on the ESPN morning show “Get Up” to discuss his basketball future, but what came next shocked the basketball world. Hampton announced that he would bypass college and would be signing a professional contract with the New Zealand Breakers, of the NBL. The Australian league has become a well respected league in recent years with players like Andrew Bogut of the Warriors, Terrance Ferguson of the Oklahoma City Thunder both playing in the league. Ferguson passed on college as well and elected to play in the league.
Thursday marked the day that many NBA stars had circled on their calendars. The All-NBA teams were named, and for stars like Klay Thompson who will be free agents this summer $30 million dollars were at stake. During a press conference after the Warriors morning practice, Thompson received the news that he did not make one of the three All-NBA teams.
With 2:05 left in the third quarter of a highly contested game 5 Kevin Durant drove baseline right an elevated for a mid-range jumper. The shot bounces off the rim and he turns to run back on defense. In the process he stops looks back as if somebody kicked them, but nobody was there.
Durant immediately starts limping and at that moment a dark cloud covered Oracle Arena. You could hear a pin drop as everyone held their collective breath. Reggie Miller stated what everyone feared that KD may have suffered one of the most devastating injuries a player could suffer, and that is a torn Achilles. Durant limps back to the locker room and just like that Steph Curry steps up and reminds us of his greatness.
Prior to Durant’s injury, Curry was struggling mightily on the offensive end. Mentally he was not there he did not Look focus and he was not sharp. He was 5-15 from the field for 11 points and was a dismal 1-8 from three. Without knowing the extent of Durant’s injury the Warriors needed Curry to shake out of his series shooting slump, and summon the swagger that made him a back to back MVP.
Curry was able to do just that as he scored 16 points on nine shots in Durant’s absence with several coming in classic Steph fashion. On one play, in particular, Clint Capela was switched off on him, and he was able to shake him and side step him creating enough space to knock a deep three-pointer.
One thing that was painfully obvious during this series is that Curry is struggling while Durant is thriving. According to the Ringers’, Kevin O’Connor Curry with KD was 25 points on 17.5 shots per 75 possessions. Without KD, Curry was 30.7 points on 24 shots per 75 possessions these number date back to the 2016-2017 playoffs. According to these numbers Curry’s production increases greatly when KD is off the floor which allows Curry to be his old self. The question now becomes are the Warriors better without Durant? Of course not you are never better without the best player in the NBA not playing, but if there is a silver lining to Durant getting injured is that Curry for a quarter was back to himself.
Now we must patiently wait for the full diagnosis of Durant’s injury as he will be re-evaluated, after having an MRI. The good news he was initially diagnosed with a strained right calf. So he might be able to return for the rest of the series. The Warriors may have to finish this grueling series without Durant, which will be the biggest challenge during their rein. If they are going to defeat the Rockets and move on to the western conference finals they are going to need Curry at the peak of his powers. And at least for a quarter, it seemed like we got just that.
Despite the absence of LeBron James, the 2019 playoffs have not disappointed. The last time James missed the playoffs the year was 2005 and Steve Nash won his first MVP. The San Antonio Spurs won their third championship, and Tim Duncan was named Finals MVP. Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Allen Iverson were still in their primes. The 2005 draft would produce Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Lou Williams, and the number one pick was Andrew Bogut. Needless to say, a lot has changed.
This year's playoffs have produced a plethora of clutch moments, plays, and headlines. Damion Lillard’s sidestep three-pointer from 30 plus feet on Paul George to send the Thunder home and advance the Trailblazers to the second round. Kevin Durant’s offensive onslaught in the first round of the Clippers was one of the best scoring performances we have ever seen.
The reemergence of Kawhi Leonard as the best two-way player in the game has drawn comparisons to the great Michal Jordan. Nikola Jokic is basically averaging a triple-double and has the Nuggets one game from the western conference finals. Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden have had teams scratching their heads all season on how to stop them. The playoffs have been no different sparking discussions and debates on what’s a foul and what is not a foul while trying to defend these two superstars.
Round two of the Rockets vs Warriors has met all expectations and has not disappointed. Durant and Harden are having one of the best duels in recent history. They a both putting up astronomical numbers KD is averaging 36 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. On 46% shooting from the field and 48% from three, while playing a whopping 45 minutes per game. Harden has been equally impressive and up to the task averaging 35.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He’s shooting 41% from the field and 34% from 3.
The majority of his makes have been the step back variety. This go to move by Harden has been unguardable and demoralizing to the Warriors defenders, and has been the centerpiece of “landing gate”. The story dominated the headlines after game one and drew much debate. The debate was over where a defender can land on closeout in relationship to the jump shooter and not be called for a foul. The Rockets provide video evidence to the league office showing how frequent Harden was fouled while attempting a three in game one. With the series tied at 2-2 games, apiece the stage has been set for an incredible ending to one of the best playoff series in league history.
With LeBron aging and coming out of his prime three players have taken center stage in the debate of who is the best player in the league. Kawhi, KD, and Giannis have used the stage of the playoffs to stake their claim to being the best player in the league. Giannis is averaging 28.4 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 4 assists on 51% shooting from the field. His brilliant, aggressive play has the Bucks on the precipice of make their first eastern conference finals since the Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Glen Robinson days. He has followed up an MVP type regular season with a high level of play fueled with determination and grit in the playoffs.
Kawhi Leonard’s elevated play as stated earlier has drawn comparisons to the great Michael Jordan. Leonard is averaging 31.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 57% from the field and 46% from three my goodness! During the game last night the announcer stated that he is currently shooting 75% at the rim, 63% in the mid-range, and 46% from three. These type numbers along with his great defensive play show why he has been getting compared to “His Airness”. Leonard looks healthy and more explosive after missing last season due to an injured quad muscle. With his health concerns now behind him, when this playoffs are over you would not be wrong in saying he is now the best player in the league.
That brings us to Mr. Durant who many have argued has taken the title as best in the league from James two years ago. Some feel until he leaves a loaded Warriors team he can not be seen as the best in the league. With the playoffs, Durant is having whichever aisle of the argument you fall on you can no longer deny the fact that KD is the best player in the world. Kevin Durant is averaging 35.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists on 51% shooting from the field and 42% from three.
In the last four games of the Clippers series, he averaged 38.7 points and put up 50 points in the closeout win. In the Rockets series with Steph Curry struggling and Klay Thompson unable to get on track KD has had to shoulder the offensive burden. Durant has become a great distributor and playmaker for the Warriors so much so that, Steve Kerr has made him the primary ball handler in the fourth quarter of games. Whether Durant wins his third straight title and finals MVP, or the Rockets eliminate the Warriors KD has solidified himself as the best player in the NBA.
LeBron James has spoiled all of us with an impressive all-time great career. He made eight straight finals winning 3 championships and three finals MVPs. He has four league MVP’s to his name and has been named to the All-NBA team a total of 14 times and 12 to the first team. At some point, Father Time catches up with you, and someone has to take your place. The game continues to go on, and all you can ask of yourself is did you elevate the game? Did you give it your best? Did I leave the game in good hands? The answers to all three questions is a resounding yes. The league has the most talent it has ever had, and this playoffs have demonstrated just that. Even though we all want to see King James compete in the playoffs, the 2019 playoffs have still given us a feeling of enjoyment despite the King’s absence.