Monday, December 30, 2013

2013-14 NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 10

Heading into the 10th week of the 2013-14 NBA season, the Oklahoma City Thunder currently have the league's best record (25-5).

The Thunder are on a three-game winning streak, but they have been nearly unbeatable since the middle of November.

Since their win over the lowly Bucks on Nov. 16th, the Thunder have compiled a 20-2 record.

The best player in the league not named LeBron James, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant is having another dominant season.  Durant is currently averaging a league-best 28.5 points per game and is shooting nearly 50 percent from the field despite taking 4.5 three-pointers per game.

In addition, Durant is averaging 8.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game, all of which are career highs, plus 0.9 blocks per game.

While Durant is playing extremely well, they will need other players to step up as Russell Westbrook will be out through the All-Star Game due to his knee.  Westbrook was averaging 21.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 7.0 APG and currently leads the team in assists and steals (1.8 SPG).

The Thunder have three others that are currently averaging double-digits: Serge Ibaka (14.1 PPG), Reggie Jackson (12.6) and Jeremy Lamb (10.0).

The Thunder are currently third in our consensus NBA power rankings heading into Week 10 behind the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.

- See our full 2013-14 NBA Power Rankings for Week 10 here

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Monday, December 23, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 9

Less than two months into the new season, the Portland Trail Blazers are only 10 wins from tying their 2012-13 win total.

One year after finishing 16 games below .500 (33-49), the Blazers are 18 games above .500 and have the league's best record at 23-5.

The Blazers have yet to lose back-to-back games and they have a few matchups against the league's best clubs between Christmas and New Year's.

Portland will face the Clippers, Heat and Thunder, all of whom are in the top six of our power rankings, over their next four games.  They will also face the Pelicans during that stretch.

After that, however, they will face several below-mediocre squads to start the year: CHA (13-15), PHI (8-20), SAC (8-18), ORL (8-19), BOS (12-17) and CLE (10-16).  Those six clubs all have losing records and are collectively 46 games under .500.

Although they rank in the bottom third in defense (102.1 points allowed per game), Portland is primarily winning with their offense as they lead the NBA in scoring (108.4 points per game).  They also rank fourth in the league in rebounding (45.9 per game) and fifth in assists (23.5 per game).

Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is currently having the best season of his seven-year career.  Aldridge is averaging 23.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game, all of which are career highs.

In addition to Aldridge, Damian Lillard (21.5 PPG) is also scoring more than 20 points per game.  Both Wesley Matthews (16.3) and Nicolas Batum (14.0) are also scoring in double-digits as well.

Compared to the previous week, the Blazers edged up by just one-quarter point in our Consensus NBA Power Rankings heading into Week 9.

Despite compiling the best record in the NBA up to this point, the Blazers are currently third in our power rankings behind both the Heat and Pacers.  In fact, this is the first week since Week 1 that the Heat are atop our power rankings.

- See our full power rankings here

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Monday, December 16, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 8

The Eastern Conference — and even more specifically the Atlantic Division — has been incredibly weak with the exception of the top two teams.

It's too bad we couldn't move some Western Conference teams east or fast forward to a likely Pacers-versus-Heat Eastern Conference Championship.

The good news about the Pacers and Heat is they are clearly the two best teams in the entire assocation with the league's best player (LeBron James) and one of the league's most underrated superstars (Paul George).

Roundtable question: Will any team(s) in the Atlantic Division finish the season with a winning record?

John Trifone (follow on Twitter):

As pathetic as the Eastern conference as a whole has been, and specifically the Atlantic Division, I do think at least one team, and probably two teams, will finish over .500.

The Nets have a good team on paper, and have showed some signs of putting something together.  The Knicks also are not as bad as they've played.  Prior to moving Rudy Gay and now possibly unloading Kyle Lowry, I thought that Toronto had a chance to be decent as well, although I would now take them out of the mix.

And finally, Boston has been substantially better than predicted.  Brad Stevens may just be a great coach, but I think between the Celts, Knicks, and Nets, at least one of them will end the year with a winning record.

Sean Beazley (follow on Twitter):
Yes, I believe Brooklyn will make a run and finish above .500 and win the Atlantic division this year.   I think the Eastern Conference playoffs will have at least three teams in it that are under .500 in the playoffs.  NBA action; it's Fantastic!

Dan Yanotchko (follow on Twitter):
I would have to say that this year's Atlantic Division of the NBA has to be the worst possible division in the history of sports.  Right now, we are past the quarter point of the season, and not one team is over .500.  The Celtics lead the way with a lofty 11-14 record, good enough to be three games clear of the .500 mark.

This division will have a .500 finisher though, and the only team that will finish over 41 wins, will be the Brooklyn Nets. Although the Nets have one of the worst coaches in the league, they have way too much talent, and of course, they play in the Atlantic division of the Eastern conference, so they can stockpile wins.  The Nets will eventually get to, and finish over, the .500 mark.

Kevin Hanson (follow on Twitter):
For a couple of reasons, I'd like to see all five of the teams in the division lose all of their games.  As a Sixers fan, I'm rooting for more ping pong balls leading to a (very) high lottery pick.  For the rest of the division, I root for them to lose, as always.

That said, I think we see the Nets finishing above .500.

Over the long haul of the NBA season, there will be plenty of games against the other teams in the division.  The trio of Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will eventually get healthy and gel and finish with around 45 wins on the season.  Adding Pierce and KG, however, I'm sure that the organization and its fan base was hoping for more than a 45-37 regular-season record.

- See full power rankings here

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Monday, December 9, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 7

After missing eight months due to his ruptured Achilles, Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant had nine points and eight rebounds in his season debut.

Things did not go as planned for Kobe as the team loss to the Raptors and Kobe was only two of nine from the field with eight turnovers.

"There's a bunch of things I messed up on," he said. "I can't wait to watch the film and start criticizing every little thing,' Bryant said, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

The best quote of the night from Bryant: "I think the last time I had eight months off I was still in the womb."

The Lakers are now 10-10 and would miss the playoffs as the 10th seed in the Western Conference playoffs if the season were to end now. They are the 11th-ranked team in consensus NBA power rankings heading into the seventh week of the season.

- See full power rankings here

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Monday, December 2, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 6

Going into the season, it seemed that the teams in the Central Division would pose the biggest threat to LeBron James' and the Heat's hopes of three-peating.

With one of the league's most underrated superstars in Paul George, the Pacers are off to a league-best 17-1 start this season.  Before losing the Central Division's other superstar, Derrick Rose, for the season, the Bulls were expected to be a legitimate contender to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Now the Eastern Conference is clearly the Heat, Pacers and everybody else.  In fact, the Heat (14-3) and Pacers (16-1) are the only teams in the Eastern Conference with a winning record through Sunday's games.

Things are especially bad in the Atlantic Division as the Raptors (6-10, .375) have a half-game lead over the Celtics (7-12, .368) in the division.

Fueled by the great start of rookie Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers were a surprise 3-0 to begin the season, but they have since lost 12 of their past 15 games.  That said, they are middle of the pack in the division.

The biggest surprises are the Nets (5-12) and Knicks (3-13).

With a Coke-spilling first-year head coach in Jason Kidd and veteran additions like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, it's understandable if it takes longer for them to gel.  In addition, Deron Williams has played in only nine games this season and now the Nets will be without Pierce (hand) for a few weeks.

The Knicks have lost nine consecutive games, which includes a franchise-worst seven straight games at home.  Interestingly enough, it will be the Nets that host Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks on Thursday for a chance to extend their losing streak to 10 games.  Glass-half-full view: One of these two teams has to win the game.

The Nets and Knicks are the 23rd-ranked and 27th-ranked teams, respectively, in our updated power rankings.

- See full power rankings here

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Monday, November 25, 2013

2013-14 NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 5

This morning, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and he will miss the remainder of this season.

After tearing his right ACL in the 2012 playoffs, Rose missed all of last season.

"Sometimes with athletes in sports, luck has a lot to do with it," Luol Deng said (via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. "It’s just bad luck. It’s not going to change anything. He’s still going to be Derrick. He still is going to work hard and come back even better. I really believe that he was better coming back from that ACL. It’s unfortunate that it happened. I have no doubt he’s going to come back and play great."

Based on odds from, the Bulls (20/1) still have the third-lowest odds to win the NBA Championship among teams in the Eastern Conference behind the Heat (2/1) and Pacers (9/2).

With a .500 record one month into the season, the odds of a championship in Chicago seem much longer than that without Rose.

The Bulls are currently the 13th-ranked team in our consensus NBA power rankings for Week 5.

- See our full power rankings here

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lance Stephenson has triple-double vs. Celtics

Before the 2013-14 season, Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson never had double-digit assists in a game.  In addition, he had 10 rebounds only twice in his career.

That said, Stephenson had a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists tonight against the Celtics and added a season-high four steals as well.

With a triple-double in 34 minutes on Nov. 11th against the Grizzlies as well, Stephenson now has two triple-doubles, the first two of his career, in his past five games.

Stephenson is averaging 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists this season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 4

With roughly three weeks of the NBA season complete, there is one player that ia averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and two three-pointers per game.

Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love is averaging 26.8 points per game, 13.6 rebounds and 2.3 three's per game this season.

Love ranks third in scoring behind OKC's Kevin Durant (28.7 PPG) and Miami's LeBron James (27.3 PPG) and second in rebounding behind only Houston's Dwight Howard (14.2 RPG).

In addition, Love is averaging 4.5 assists per game, which ties him for 37th in the league, although only five of the players ahead of him aren't guards.  Plus, four of the five forwards are small forwards with Josh McRoberts (4.7 APG) being the only exception.

With teammate Ricky Rubio (9.6 APG) trailing only Clippers point guard Chris Paul (12.8 APG), Love's high assist total is more impressive.  In other words, it's not as though the team lacks a capable distributor of the basketball at the point yet he's still getting his teammates plenty involved while ranking third in the league in scoring.

Although they are currently seventh in the Western Conference, their .636 winning percentage ranks eighth in the NBA and the T'Wolves are 10th in our latest power rankings.

Provided the duo of Love and Rubio can stay healthy, the T'Wolves should have their best season in roughly a decade.  Their last winning season was in the Kevin Garnett era: 2004-05 (44-38, .537).

See our full Week 4 NBA Consensus Power Rankings.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013-14 NBA Power Rankings, Week 3

The Indiana Pacers have continued their hot start and are now the sole remaining unbeaten team this season.

Therefore, it's shouldn't be much of a surprise that they are the No. 1 team in our Week 3 Consensus NBA Power Rankings.

Just as impressive as winning their first seven games to open the season, the Pacers had to win four of those games during a five-day stretch.

After their run in the postseason last year, the goal is obviously not to "win" the regular season.  One of the things that will certainly help prolong their playoff run in 2014, however, would be to host more home games.

The Pacers won eight of nine of their home playoff games last year and having home-court advantage in each series could potentially help them go deeper in the playoffs this season.

That said, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat are still the team to beat as two-time defending champions, but the Pacers are arguably the most complete team in the league.

Pacers small forward Paul George is one of the most complete players in the league.  George is currently averaging 25.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game.  In addition, he's shooting 42.9 percent from behind the arc and 84.8 percent from the line.

With George, Roy Hibbert and David West plus Luis Scola off the bench, the Pacers also have one of the league's best front courts.  Hibbert currently ranks second in the NBA in blocks (4.29 per game).

Although the Pacers rank in the bottom 10 in the league in scoring offense (94.9 points per game), they will soon get back Danny Granger from his strained calf.  With a career average of 18.1 points per game and as much as 25.8 PPG (2008-09), Granger will help the team's offense when he returns.

That said, the Pacers are holding teams to just 85.3 points per game, which leads the NBA by a wide margin.  The Bulls and Spurs rank second at 93.0 PPG allowed.  In addition, their opponents are only shooting 38.9 percent from the field, which is an NBA low as well.

The Pacers will host the Grizzlies and Bucks on Nov. 11 and 15, respectively, as they look to extend their winning streak.

- View our full 2013-14 NBA Consensus Power Rankings heading into Week 3

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Monday, November 4, 2013

2013-14 Consensus NBA Power Rankings, Week 2

Perhaps the biggest surprise in through the first week of the NBA season is the perfect start for the Philadelphia 76ers.

As the nearly unanimous choice as the worst team in the league in our initial Power Rankings going into the season, the Sixers have begun the season 3-0.

And not only have they started the season with a perfect record, but they have knocked off a couple of the elite Eastern Conference teams including the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.

Small forward Evan Turner leads the team in scoring with 23.0 points per game and the team currently ranks fifth in the league in scoring.

In addition, rookie Michael Carter-Williams is off to an incredible start.  MCW is averaging 20.3 points and 9.0 assists per game in addition to leading the NBA in steals with 4.33 per game.

In his first ever regular-season game, he missed a triple-double by just one steal: 22 points, 12 assists and nine steals.

As we head into Week 2 of the NBA season, the Sixers have moved up to No. 11 into our NBA Power Rankings.

In addition to the 76ers moving up, the Heat have dropped out of the top spot after getting off to a 2-2 start although two of our rankers (including me) still have them at the top spot.

See our full Week 2 NBA Power Rankings here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Miles Plumlee now 2-for-2 in double-doubles

In 14 games with the Pacers last season, Suns center Miles Plumlee scored a total of 13 points in just 54 total minutes.

For the second time (in two games), Plumlee has scored at least 13 points for the Suns.

On Friday night, Plumlee scored 13 points and added 13 rebounds to notch his second consecutive double-double of the season. He also added three blocks again.

Through two games, Plumlee is averaging 15.5 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks per game while also shooting 56.0 percent from the field. Not only is he second on the team in scoring behind Eric Bledsoe, but he ranks fourth in the NBA in rebounding and is tied for fifth in the league in blocks.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013-14 Consensus NBA Power Rankings, Week 1

Earlier this offseason, Kyle Baillargeon, one of our NBA contributors, made his preseason prediction for which team will win the NBA Finals next June.

It should come as little surprise that Kyle predicted that LeBron James and the Miami Heat will win their third NBA title in as many seasons.

After all, the Heat are prohibitive favorites to win the title. has the odds set for the Heat at 12/5. The next closest are the Thunder and Clippers, who have 7/1 and 8/1 odds, respectively.

Among Eastern Conference teams, the Bulls are next at 9/1 followed by the Nets (12/1) and Pacers (14/1). The Spurs and Rockets also have 12/1 odds.

There are only three other franchises that have won three consecutive championships: Celtics, Lakers and Bulls. So pulling off a "three-peat" would put LeBron and the franchise in rarified company.

Regardless of conference, which team poses the greatest threat to a Miami Heat "three-peat" this season?

John (follow on Twitter): Chicago Bulls

I'll buy into the hype and say that the Chicago Bulls pose the greatest threat to the Heat's chances to "three-peat."

The physical play that the Bulls are notorious for is something with which Miami struggles, and getting Derrick Rose back healthy is an obvious game-changer for Chicago. They are a good young team with enough size and depth to be legit championship contender.

Heading into the start of the season, I'd give the Bulls the best chance to knock off the Heat.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): Chicago Bulls

While Kevin Durant is the second-best player in the league and the Thunder have the second-lowest odds to win it all, I think the Heat's stiffest competition resides in the East. Deciding between the Pacers and Bulls is tough, however.

The Bulls get back Derrick Rose, who is the only player not named LeBron to win the MVP award in the past five years. Coach Tom Thibodeau has the team playing tough hard-nosed defense and they hung tough last year despite injuries.

On the other hand, the Pacers have one of the league's best defenses as well and Paul George is one of the best players and defenders in the league and should be more of a household name than he is. In addition, they get back Danny Granger, who led them in scoring two seasons ago, and added Luis Scola.

For the purpose of answering this (technically my own) question, I will say it's the Bulls since they will get one of the top three to five players in the league back.

[On a side note, I love the fact that there appears to be some real animosity brewing within the Eastern Conference.]

Dan (follow on Twitter): Indiana Pacers

To me, the "Heatles" are on the inside track to have a three-peat, (trademarked by Pat Riley, funny enough), but they still do have one obstacle standing in their way. The Indiana Pacers pose the biggest threat to the Heat, as they have the best possible matchup against LeBron and crew.

The Pacers have the most effective big man in Roy Hibbert that counters the Heat's small-ball lineup, and also they will benefit from having their best scorer in Danny Granger back this year. If any team has learned to beat Miami, it will be the Pacers, as hopefully they will keep Dwyane Wade from referring to himself as four, as he calls himself "three" right now.

Sean (follow on Twitter): Houston Rockets

While I do think the Heat are the favorites to win another championship this year, if I had to bet the Hear or the field, I would take the field all day.

I think any team that is ranked in my top 10 has a legit chance at winning a title. I am going to go with Houston. I know a lot of people don't like Dwight Howard, but he is the missing piece that the Rockets needed. Howard is still the best defensive player in the game, and a matchup nightmare in particular vs. the Heat.

The Rockets also have the ability to win games draining three's. Houston was second in the NBA last year in both scoring, and three pointers made.

To view where all 30 NBA teams appear in our initial 2013-14 NBA Consensus Power Rankings, click here.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NBA Predictions for the 2013-14 Season

With NBA preseason under way and the start of the regular season only a few weeks away, Kyle Baillargeon makes his predictions for NBA awards and playoffs below:

2013-14 NBA Postseason Award Winners

MVP - LeBron James, Miami Heat

I wouldn't be surprised to see Derrick Rose here if he leads the Bulls to one of the best records in the league, if only because MVP voters have shown that they tend to grow tired of giving the award to the same person over and over again.  That said, LeBron is the clear frontrunner for MVP.  The Heat will be in the championship hunt once more, but Dwyane Wade isn't getting any younger, and this team still looks pretty thin outside of LeBron.  I expect James to have the best statistical season of his career, with his fith MVP to boot.

Most Improved Player - Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Leonard already started to make the leap last year, especially in the playoffs.  With the Duncan/Manu/Parker era winding down in San Antonio, Leonard stands to become the face of the franchise's next era of basketball.  Entering his third year in the league, he has plenty of room for improvement and could very well become a household name before the season is over.

Sixth Man of the Year - Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Pelicans

Evans could certainly start in New Orleans, but a backourt rotation of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, and Evans could be devastating.  The big question would be if Evans is willing to sit to start each game. But if he can get over that, then he would be a huge contributor off the bench.

Don't be surprised, however, if a member of the Brooklyn Nets winds up with this award.  The expectation is that one of either Paul Pierce or Andrei Kirilenko will come off the bench this year.  If it turns out to be Pierce, then the award will be his.

Rookie of the Year - Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings

McLemore will have plenty of opportunity to light it up on the court, and that's what he does best.  Greivis Vasquez will be looking his way often.  The Kings still have work to do to become a contender, but McLemore will prove himself to be a great piece to the puzzle.

Defensive Player of the Year - LeBron James, Miami Heat

James is so good at everything, that it seems easy to overlook how dominant he is on the defensive end.  One of his personal goals has been to win the award, and hopefully voters will finally recognize what many smart observers in the league already know: LeBron James is unquestionably THE best defender in the league.

NBA Finals Predictions

Eastern Conference Finals - Miami over Chicago in 7 games

As long as LeBron James is at the height of his powers, there is no reason to believe that anyone will stop Miami.  This Chicago team will have an overwhelming defense, and combined with a returning Derrick Rose could very well go on to a number one seed in the East.  I fully expect both teams to pummel their competition all the way to one of the biggest heavyweight battles the NBA has seen in years.  This one could go either way, but ultimately the tie-breaker goes to the team with the greatest player of the last 25 years.

Western Conference Finals - San Antonio over Los Angeles Clippers in 6 games

It might be a little overzealous to send the Clippers to the WCF in Doc Rivers' first year at the helm, but this team does have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, along with a good bench.  Once Doc figures out his rotation, and as long as the team buys in to playing legitimate defense, the Clippers could knock on the door of the title.  That said, the Spurs will not go down without a fight.  Greg Popovich is smart enough to understand exactly what his team needs and when, and his team should be healthy and well-rested leading into the playoffs.  He knows he needs to save the firepower for the playoffs, and they should be able to make it through the tough Western Conference one more time in their Big Three era.  Once these two squads meet, Popovich's knowledge of his own team, combined with Tim Duncan's front-court dominance and Tony Parker's ability to go toe-to-toe with Chris Paul, will lead the Spurs to victory.

NBA Finals - Miami over San Antonio in 7 games

It may seem like a cop-out to go with the repeat in the Finals, but after last year's amazing seven-game set, is anyone going to complain about seeing it again?  As stated before, it wouldn't make sense to pick against LeBron James.  He is the best in the world and will lead the Heat to victory again.

Soon, we will release our 2013-14 fantasy basketball rankings.

Visit our NBA home or follow us on Twitter (@HitTheBoards) for updates.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Jarrett Jack, Cavs agree to 4-year deal

The Cleveland Cavaliers and point guard Jarrett Jack agreed to a four-year deal worth $25 million, according to Warriors beat writer Marcus Thompson.

With Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters as the team's starting backcourt, Jack provides some depth behind the duo and some insurance in the event one, especially Irving, misses time.

Missing double-digit games in each of his first two seasons as a pro, Irving has missed a total of 38 games in his first two seasons combined.

In 12 postseason games last year, Jack averaged 17.2 points, 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in addition to shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 89.6 percent from the line.

Josh Smith agrees to 4-year deal with Pistons

The Detroit Pistons and free-agent forward Josh Smith have agreed to a four-year deal worth $56 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

Smith, who has played all nine of his NBA seasons with the Hawks, averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.  In addition, Smith averaged 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

Only two players averaged a line of 17/8/4/1/1 per game last season: Smith and LeBron James.

Interestingly enough, Smith made a career-high 61 three-pointers last season while also shooting a career-low 51.7 percent from the free-throw line.

With the addition of Smith, the team's starting front court will likely be Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, which means Smith will spend a lot of time at small forward.

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 NBA Mock Draft Updated (Baillargeon)

With the 2013 NBA Draft only three days away, Kyle Baillargeon has updated his mock draft.

Here is his updated mock:  

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

No signs of a trade by Cleveland, so expect Noel to go No. 1 as we have all expected.  

2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

If the Magic trade Afflalo for Bledsoe, McLemore can slide in as the starting SG and the Magic will suddenly have their backcourt of the future.  

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

High upside and potential superstar ability for a team that can afford to wait.  

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len, C, Maryland

Len gives the Bobcats the size that they desperately need.  

5. Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

Some consider Porter the best player in the draft. He'd be a great building block for the Suns.  

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

Could instead go with Burke if the Pelicans feel Rivers isn't their man at the point.  

7. Sacramento Kings: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

Fills a hole at PF for the Kings.  

8. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

National Player of the Year will let the Pistons slide Knight to two-guard.

 9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

Excellent shooter from long range goes to a team that desperately needs it.  

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

Great compliment to LaMarcus Aldridge's skills in the front court.

See rest of his first-round projection

More mocks: Kevin Hanson - Brendan Donahue - Mock Database

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NBA Finals Prediction: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs (Trifone)

I had both winners of the Conference Finals, picking the Spurs and Heat to advance, but I had the quality of the series' flip-flopped.  San Antonio was the better team in all four games against the Grizz, a series I expected to be much tighter than it was.  The Heat, on the other hand, struggled much more than expected; not because the Pacers aren't a good team, but because the Heat had just been on another level.  Not only did they rattle of 27 wins in a row earlier in the year, but they were 8-1 in the playoffs going into the series, and seemed poised for another championship run.  Roy Hibbert, Paul George, and David West proved to be a pretty formidable Big Three, but ultimately, the Heat were able to dispatch of them in a lopsided Game Seven in Miami.

Much has been made of the long layoff that San Antonio has had between sweeping Memphis, and Game 1 of the NBA Finals coming up on June 6th.  Personally, I think the Spurs are a team that the rest will greatly benefit.  Last year, the Spurs were playing tremendous basketball, and I still have no idea what happened for them to lose four consecutive games to Oklahoma City.  This year, the Spurs did not have the same steam coming in to the playoffs, but they have clearly been the best in the West, and earned their trip to the Finals.  Tim Duncan seems to have found the fountain of youth, and at 37 is playing just about as well as he ever has, which is certainly saying something, considering he is thought of by most to be the best power forward in NBA history.  Tony Parker is also back to the MVP form from early in the year.  For the Spurs, this will be their fifth Finals appearance in the Duncan-Poppovich era.  They won all four previous trips, with the most recent title coming against LeBron James and the Cavs.

The Heat have been the team with a target on their backs the entire year.  They are the defending NBA Champions, and have had to take everyone's best shot all year long.  Although they have had lingering injuries, specifically Dwyane Wade, for much of the year, and an aging cast of shooters who did not really show up in the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami found a way to get back for the third consecutive year.  Since joining the Heat, LeBron is 3/3 in Finals appearances, and could become a champion for the second year in a row.

In many ways, this series is a referendum on LeBron's place in history.  Many analyst's have defended LeBron, saying that his supporting cast has been as bad, if not worse, than the one he had in Cleveland.  History, however, is not going to remember that supporting cast in the same way.  As good as Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, etc. have been, none of them are going to be compared to the elite of the elite, and talked about in the discussion for the GOAT.  For LeBron, however, not getting a ring, for ANY reason, is going to be in paragraph one of his bio when all is said and done for him.

I think this has the makings of a fantastic series, and it's a matchup we really haven't seen.  In the two games that the Spurs and Heat played this year, San Antonio rested all their big guns in Miami, and the Heat did the same thing on the road at San Antonio.  I'm expecting a back-and-forth series, but I think that ultimately, LeBron and Miami will be up to "not two" as far as championships go.  The Pacers defense exposed some of the Heat's flaws, but they were still able to make adjustments and advance.  I don't see the role players like Allen and Battier to be as bad as they were against Indiana, and D-Wade showed us in Game 7 that he still has something left in the tank.  Bosh was mentally defeated by West and Hibbert, but will get a fresh start against Duncan and the Spurs.  It is going to be another tall task, but I think he will fare better.

And at the end of the day, the Heat have a weapon that no team in the league has.  LeBron is as intelligent of a player as there is in the league, and his ability to  be either Magic or Michael, depending on what the team needs, gives them an advantage that is tough to counter.  If anyone can figure out a way to stop him, it's Pop, and I'm looking forward to the coaching matchup as much as anything else.  But at the end of the day, I'll take LeBron and the Heat in 6.

Prediction: Miami Heat in 6 Games

[Note: This post is from John Trifone.  See his other basketball posts here and/or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyT0122.]

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Baillargeon)

We are less than four weeks away from the 2013 NBA Draft, which will be held on June 27th in Brooklyn.

From now until the draft, our contributors will either post their initial mock draft and then make updates, as necessary.

Here is the first-round projection from Kyle Baillargeon:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Kentucky

It really looks like the Cavaliers are looking to trade this pick.  But, we don't do trades in mock drafts, so the pick is Noel.  Ultimately, he's the best choice for the Cavs, assuming his knee injury doesn't limit him once he's fully healed.  The Cavaliers won't push Noel to come back until he's ready.  In a few years, he could anchor the defense, much like Marc Gasol does in Memphis.

And there's a good chance the Cavaliers will be just as bad next year, giving them the opportunity at Andrew Wiggins or one of the other potential studs in a loaded 2014 draft.

2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

The Magic need help everywhere, and though they have 31 year-old Jameer Nelson as the incumbent PG, it's expected that he'll be phased out of the Magic's long-term plans.  Other players in the draft may look like they have higher upside, but with a draft class as questionable as this one, it would make the most sense to go with the National Player of the Year.

3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

With his scoring ability, Bennett has the chance to be the best player in the draft.  His position is undefined due to his size, but he could slide to the three or play the four in smaller lineups.  The Wizards aren't expected to contend next year, so they should take a shot on the player that has possibly the highest upside, with the hopes that in a few years they'll have a superstar on their hands.

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

McLemore does one thing in the draft better than just about anyone else: Shoot.  He's also a great athlete who can run the floor.  Considering the dearth of top-tier shooting guards in the league, we could be talking about him as a top five or six two-guard if he expands his game over the next few years.  He's the smart pick.

5. Phoenix Suns: Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

The Suns would have a steal if Porter falls to them.  He doesn't necessarily have the upside of those taken before him, but he can contribute right away and would be a good young piece for the organization to build off of as they try to start fresh.

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Alex Len, C, Maryland

Len is a tough call, as he has all the tangibles but needs to put it all together.  It would give New Orleans a potentially great young front court, not unlike Utah and Detroit. If the Pelicans think that they can trade Eric Gordon (with they may want to), Victor Oladipo could be the pick instead.

7. Sacramento Kings: Cody Zeller, PF/C, Indiana

The Kings have a hole at power forward.  Zeller is very athletic and doesn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact on the court.  Sacramento doesn't have enough players like that.  He could be a good compliment to Boogie Cousins.

8. Detroit Pistons: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

Oladipo is an excellent defender and would help the Pistons right away. He's also shown himself to have the makings of a tremendous leader. There's a good chance that he won't slip this far, but if he does, Detroit will have found themselves another good young player at value. 

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

One of the reasons Kevin Love gets so many rebounds is because the Wolves throw up a ton of bricks.  McCollum is an excellent shooter from long range. He was a point guard in college, but some guy named Rubio will push him to shooting guard.  This is one of the most obvious picks in the draft, but also one of the smartest.

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

Adams is a name that's become hot of late, with his great showing at the combine.  He's definitely raw, however.  However, he wouldn't be called on to contribute much offensively if he goes to Portland.  Let him bang down-low, play defense and rebound, and he could be a good compliment to LaMarcus Aldridge.

11. Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia

Saric is considered the top foreign player in the draft.  Is he more Dirk Nowitzki or Jan Vesely?  That's the risk.  But the 76ers have shown that they're willing to take risks (see: Andrew Bynum trade) if they think it will make them a better team.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

Trading James Harden was a terrible move.  And Kevin Martin really isn't good anymore.  Caldwell-Pope falls somewhere in the middle of these two on the basketball spectrum.  He's a good shooter and a smart ball player.  

13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

Darren Collison is a nice player, but Carter-Williams could be the Mavericks' Rajon Rondo.  He has the chance to make an impact right away. 

14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany

Another player who brings Rondo comparisons, rumors are that Schroeder has an early-round promise from someone.  The Jazz have a need at point guard and may very well be that team. 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas

The depth of the draft shows with this pick, as Mitchell could go here, or he could fall out of the first round.  With so many players having roughly the same risk, the Bucks should go with the athletic Mitchell whom some (including Mitchell himself) compare to Kenneth Faried.

- Continue to Picks 16-30

- 2013 NBA Mock Draft from Kevin Hanson
- Our NBA Mock Draft Database

- Also, check out: 2014 NFL Mock Draft | NFL Mock Draft Database

To keep track of our NBA updates, please follow @HitTheBoards on Twitter.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eastern Conference Finals Prediction: Heat vs. Pacers (Trifone)

The Miami Heat are playing as well as anybody right now, and were able to close out the Bulls in four consecutive games, after Chicago's Game 1 upset.  Dwyane Wade has been awful for the most part, although he came on and had a few key plays in the close-out game of the Semi-Final round.  Chris Bosh has picked up the slack , and Norris Cole, among others, has also been a big contributor.

The Pacers fell off everyone's radar, closing the regular season in very mediocre fashion.  They came to play in the playoffs, though, and were clearly the better team against the Knicks.  Paul George and Roy Hibbert have been key factors in Indiana's success, but I think David West may be the toughest matchup in the upcoming series against Miami.

Indiana can, and likely will, win the rebounding matchup, but I don't think they're going to have enough to win the series.
LeBron James had a tough series against Chicago, a team that usually gives him some trouble.  Still, he managed to put up solid numbers, and put his team in a position to win each game.  I expect LeBron to be great in the Conference Finals, and Miami to advance to the NBA Finals in a series that is not as interesting as the Spurs/Grizzlies (see my prediction for that series here).  The Pacers are a tough team, but they're not on the same level as the Heat.  I like Miami in five.

Series Prediction: Heat in 5 Games

[Note: This post is from John Trifone.  See his other basketball posts here and/or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyT0122.]

Western Conference Finals Prediction: Spurs vs. Grizzlies (Trifone)

I have absolutely no idea who is going to come out of the West.  I typically have a pretty strong opinion on who I feel is going to come out of a given matchup, but these two teams are as evenly matched as they come.  Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been dominant in the playoffs, exposing a flawed Oklahoma City Thunder team.  Clearly, Russell Westbrook has meant more to that team than people may have thought, because when asked to carry the load on his own, Kevin Durant fell short of where we had become accustomed to seeing him succeed.

As for the Spurs, they are a tough team to predict.  Last year, they were playing close to perfect basketball, and rolling through the playoffs, only to go cold and lose four straight games to OKC.  This year, they steam-rolled the Lakers in four, and then looked like the inferior team in their first two games at home against the Warriors.  Personally, I thought that they weren't going to get past that series after Golden State left San Antonio with a 1-1 series tie, thoroughly outplaying them in each of the first two games.  The Spurs bounced back, though, and were the better team the rest of the way.

Now, the Spurs face another younger team, but one with a drastically different style than they played in last year's Conference Finals, or this year's Semi-Final matchup.  Memphis has a strong inside game and plays very tough defense.  It promises to be a much lower-scoring series with less transition offense and more fundamental basketball.

Since I have to make a pick, I'm going to take San Antonio.  Both teams have been very impressive, but the Spurs may have just a slight edge.  They have more experience, they have guys who have already won multiple championships, and they have home court advantage.  It's a series that is likely to go seven games, and I'd be surprised if we see any real blowouts.  I'll take Tony Parker and the Big Fundamental to help lead the Spurs to the NBA Finals.

Series Prediction: Spurs in 7 Games 

[Note: This post is from John Trifone.  See his other basketball posts here and/or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyT0122.]

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Video: SNL parody of OTL - Sheila Kelly worse than Mike Rice

If you missed it, Saturday Night Live took a situation that is disturbing and not funny (Mike Rice's treatment of his players) and turned it into a skit that is funny.

Here is SNL's parody of Outside the Lines on "Sheila Kelly," coach of Middle Delaware State:

Friday, March 15, 2013

John Wall scores season-high 29 points

After posting back-to-back games with 20-plus points and double-digit assists, Wizards point guard John Wall missed repeating that feat by just one assist.

In tonight's win over the Hornets, Wall finished with a season-high 29 points and nine assists.

Over his past three games, Wall is averaging 26.3 points, 11.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.  In addition, it's only the third time in his career that he has scored 20-plus points in three consecutive games.

Without Wall for the first 33 games of the season, the Wizards were 5-28 during that stretch.  Since Wall has returned, the Wizards are three games above .500 (17-14).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Enes Kanter has career-high 23 points, 22 rebounds

Before tonight, Utah's Enes Kanter had only one double-double in his brief two-year NBA career.  And it happened last season.

Not only did Kanter score a career-high 23 points in the 30-point win over the Bobcats, who managed only 68 points, Kanter added a career-high 22 rebounds tonight.

Kanter, the third-overall pick in 2011, played 44 minutes in the blowout.  Other than tonight, however, he has played 20-plus minutes in only five other games this season.

From a fantasy perspective, Kanter is a much better option in dynasty leagues than re-draft formats, but he is currently owned in only four percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tobias Harris scores a career-high 27 points

Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris scored a career-high 27 points and had a double-double off the bench in tonight's loss to the Rockets.  Harris had 10 rebounds as well.

It was his fourth game with the Magic and he now has scored in double-digits in all four of those games and is averaging 20 points per contest.

With the Bucks, Harris was averaging only 4.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game.

In addition to averaging 20 points per game with the Magic so far, Harris is also averaging 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block per game.  Even more amazing, Harris is shooting nearly 70 percent from the field (32-of-46).

If Harris is available in your league (and he's only owned in 24 percent of Yahoo! leagues), he's worth adding in all league formats now.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Steph Curry scores career-high 54 points

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored a career-high 54 points in a loss to the New York Knicks last night.

Not only did he make 18 of his 28 shots, but Curry knocked down 11 of his 13 three-point attempts.  In addition, Curry added six rebounds, seven assists and three steals to his stellar shooting.

In his past two games, Curry has shot 32-of-48 from the field and has made 18-of-23 three's to score a total of 92 points.

Curry is one of only two players to score 50-plus points in a game this season.  The only other player to reach the mark this year is Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who had a triple-double last night.

Kevin Durant records third triple-double of year

Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant recorded another triple-double, his third of the season.

Durant scored 18 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 10 assists in last night's win over the Hornets.

He now has two triple-doubles in his past four games and three double-doubles during that span.

On the season, Durant is averaging 28.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.  In addition, he is shooting 51.3 percent from the field, 42.6 percent from three-point range and 91.0 percent from the line.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dirk Nowitzki has season-high 20 rebounds in loss

For the first time this season and only the seventh time in his career, Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki had 20 rebounds in a game.

In last night's loss to the Bucks, Nowitzki scored 21 points and grabbed exactly 20 rebounds.

Nowitzki now has double-digit rebounds in back-to-back games, which are also his first two games with double-digit rebounds this season.

The last time Nowitzki grabbed 20-plus rebounds was in December 2007 and that was the only other time he has had as many rebounds since the 2002-03 season.

In the past six games, he has also become a good source of steals for fantasy owners.  During that span, Nowitzki has a steal in every game and a total of 12.

On the year, Nowitzki is averaging 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Marcus Thornton scores season-high 36 off bench

Sacramento Kings reserve shooting guard Marcus Thornton scored a season-high 36 points off the bench in a double-overtime loss to the Heat last night.

Not only did he make 11 of his 18 shots, but eight of those made field goals were three-pointers.

Both LeBron James (40) and Dwyane Wade (39) scored more than Thornton, but he led the Kings in scoring.

Two seasons ago, Thornton averaged 21.3 points per game.  Last year, he averaged 18.7 points per game.  It was only the seventh time this season that Thornton scored at least 20 points in a game.

On the year, he is averaging 12.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kyrie Irving (knee) won't play vs. Bulls on Tuesday

When the Cavaliers face the Bulls tonight in Chicago, they will be without point guard Kyrie Irving, who is dealing with a hyper-extended right knee.

Not only will he miss tonight's game, he is listed as questionable for tomorrow night's game as well, per Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.

"It's one of those things that needs rest," coach Byron Scott said. "The last couple of games, I think it's built up. He hasn't been able to have any rest on it, so when you have a knee that's as sore as his is, you need rest and he needs treatment."

Irving initially sustained the injury prior to the team's three-game road trip and Irving has scored less than 20 points in the first two of those games on 10-of-25 shooting. The second-year guard currently leads the team in scoring (23.3 per game), assists (5.6) and steals (1.64).

With Irving out, Shawn Livingston will get the start.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

James Harden scores career-high 46 vs. Thunder

With the NBA trade deadline fast approaching, the Rockets acquired rookie power forward Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick in last year's draft, from the Kings earlier tonight (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports).

Meanwhile, James Harden, Robinson's new teammate, had a career night against the team that traded him to Houston before the season began.

Despite trailing by 14 points around midway through the fourth quarter, the Rockets mounted a comeback and beat the Thunder by three, 122-119.

In the process, Harden scored a career-high 46 points.  He set his previous career high against the Hawks in his second game as a Rocket.

Not only was he 14 of 19 from the field, Harden made seven of eight three-pointers and 11 of 12 free throws.  On top of his great shooting night, Harden added eight rebounds, six assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nerlens Noel out for year with torn ACL

When Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel left last night's game with a knee injury, it did not look good.

And it wasn't.

The results of Noel's MRI shows that he has a torn ACL and he will miss the remainder of the college season.  He will have surgery in the next two to three weeks and the rehab will take at least six to eight months.

While it's certainly unfortunate that he has suffered the injury, he appears to have the right attitude.

Noel tweeted earlier today,"Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback! I love you all and can't thank y'all enough for the prayers."

Projected as the top pick in my NBA mock draft before the injury, it's less clear if he will enter June's NBA draft.  If he does, however, he won't be able to participate in any of the pre-draft workouts and it's highly unlikely that he would be ready for the start of the 2013 NBA season.

Before last night's game, Noel had three consecutive double-doubles and he finishes the season averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game.

James Harden (ankle) to miss Clippers game?

After stepping on Golden State's David Lee's foot last night, Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (ankle) left the game but later returned.

Harden finished the game with 27 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.  In six games this month, one of which includes a triple-double, Harden is averaging 27.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

Per Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, "Harden will miss Wednesday's game at Clippers with ankle injury but will be ready for Sunday's All-Star Game."

That said, Harden has not yet ruled himself out for Wednesday night's matchup against the Clippers, according to  Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

I’m tough enough,” Harden said. “My main focus is on tomorrow, getting the right treatment, icing as much as possible, try to get my ankle ready and my knee ready. My whole body hurts.”

Houston is hosting this weekend's All-Star game and activities. After tonight's game against the Clippers, the Rockets won't play a regular-season game again until February 20th when they host Harden's former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nerlens Noel left tonight's game with a knee injury

Kentucky freshman power forward Nerlens Noel left tonight's loss to the Florida Gators with a potentially serious knee injury.

Noel landed awkwardly after a blocked shot attempt, screamed in pain and had to be carried off the court by teammates.

Coming into tonight's game, Noel was nearly averaging a double-double (10.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game) in addition to 4.5 blocks per game, which leads the country.

Before tonight's loss, the Wildcats had won five consecutive games and made their way back into the AP Top 25 for the first time since November 26th.

In my latest NBA mock draft, Noel is the top overall pick going to the Bobcats.  While he is not the consensus top choice, he will certainly be a top-five pick depending on the status of his knee injury.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

James Harden gets first triple-double of career

Since James Harden was drafted third overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, 51 players have recorded a triple-double.

Make that 52.

For the first time in his career, Harden finished with a triple-double as the Rockets beat the Bobcats, 109-95.  Harden had 21 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

It was the third time this season that Harden had double-digit assists and the third time he has had double-digit rebounds.

On the season, Harden is averaging 25.8 points, 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game, all of which are career highs.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dirk Nowitzki doubtful for Friday's game vs. Suns

Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki unexpectedly missed last night's game against the Warriors and it's doubtful that he plays tonight against the Suns.

"It's possible but doubtful," coach Rick Carlisle said, per ESPN Dallas. "We don't want to risk anything right now."

"I don't know. I need that good deer antler spray," Nowitzki jokingly added. "I don't know if 24 hours will change it much. Obviously we've got a tough back to back. I'm on the anti-inflammatories and we'll see if they kick in more until tomorrow, but I doubt it. We'll see what happens tomorrow night. We'll see if I even try to go. But hopefully Monday -- we'll see how it responds this weekend."

Nowitzki suffered the injury (right adductor strain) in Tuesday's loss to the Blazers.

In that loss, Nowitzki scored a season-high 26 points and it was his first game with 20-plus since January 7th.  In fact, he has only three games with 20 points or more and is averaging only 14.8 points per game (almost eight points below his career average).

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dwight Howard aggravates shoulder injury

In last night's loss to the Suns, Lakers center Dwight Howard left the game in the fourth quarter after aggravating his torn labrum in his right shoulder.

I'll try [to withstand] as much as I can, but I don't want to cause more damage to my shoulder,” said Howard, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

Whether or not he will need to rest it for a week or two, Howard said "we'll see."

Howard led the Lakers in scoring last night with 24 points and added four rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots.

Last night's game was the first of a seven-game road trip for the Lakers and they face the Timberwolves next on Friday night and then the Pistons on Sunday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nerlens Noel blocks school-record 11 shots

Coming into tonight's matchup against Ole Miss, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel was ranked second in the country in blocked shots with 4.32 per game.  Plus, he was averaging nearly a double-double: 10.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

In tonight's game, Noel took only one shot, and missed it, in addition to converting on only two-of-eight free throws, but he blocked a school-record 11 shots.

As a team, Kentucky had a total of 12 blocked shots.

The previous school record was nine set by both Sam Bowie and Andre Riddick.

Noel should be a top-five pick (at least) and has a shot at being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.  Aside from Noel, freshmen Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein all have a chance to be lottery picks if they declare.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rajon Rondo out for season with torn ACL

The Boston Celtics won a thriller in double overtime over the Miami Heat as Paul Pierce finished the game with a triple-double: 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

Despite winning the game, it was more bad news than good news for the Celtics.

After hyperextending his right knee in last night's loss to the Hawks, Rondo was a late scratch and will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Not only will Rondo miss the remainder of this season, but there is a good chance that he won't be ready for the start of the 2013-14 season in nine months.

Before the injury, Rondo was leading the NBA in assists (11.1 per game) and averaging 13.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game.

After today's win, the Celtics are 21-23 and currently eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kevin Durant scores career-high 52 in OT win over Mavs

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant scored a career-high 52 points to lead the Thunder to an overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Durant shot only 13-of-31 from the field, but he was five-of-nine from behind the arc and 21-of-21 at the line.

It was Durant's fifth game with at least 40 points this season and three of those games with 40-plus have come in his past five games.

No player has more 40-point games than Durant this season.  Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant is second with four.

The Thunder have won six consecutive games and have a league-best 32-8 record.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nikola Pekovic leaves game early with left hip strain

Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic played less than 22 minutes as he left tonight's early due to a left hip strain.

That said, he still finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, both of which were team highs in the loss to the Blazers.

It was only Pek's second double-double in the past five games.

Tristan Thompson has another double-double

Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson had another double-double tonight.

Thompson, the fourth overall pick in 2011, finished with 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds in tonight's loss to the Rockets.

It was Thompson's second consecutive double-double and he has seven of them in his past nine games.

During that nine-game span, Thompson is averaging 13.22 points and 12.89 rebounds per game.

Rajon Rondo has a triple-double vs. Hawks

The only player to have multiple triple-doubles last year was Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (six).

This year, the only player to have multiple triple-doubles was Toronto's Jose Calderon (two).  Until tonight, that is.

Rondo had his second triple-double of the season and finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Hawks tonight.

It was Rondo's 15th career triple-double.

Carmelo Anthony scores 40 points vs. Magic

For the second time in three games, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has scored at least 40 points.

Against the Magic tonight, Melo converted on 14-of-29 shots from the field including four three-pointers and made eight-of-nine free throws to finish with 40 points.  He added six rebounds and a season-high six assists.

It was his third game of the season with 40-plus points.

Anthony is averaging 29.3 points, 6.26 rebounds and 2.27 assists per game this season.

Roy Hibbert: 20 points, 15 boards, 5 blocks vs. MIL

In tonight's win over the Bucks, Pacers center Roy Hibbert had the best game of his season so far.

Hibbert finished with 20 points, which ties his season high, 15 rebounds, which is a season high, and five blocked shots.

It was only Hibbert's eighth double-double in 34 games.  One of those double-doubles was actually a triple-double when he added 11 blocks.  Last year, he had 21 double-doubles in 63 games.

Hibbert is averaging a career-low 9.79 points per game in addition to 8.24 rebounds and a career-high 2.74 blocked shots per game.

Kevin Love has re-fractured third metacarpal in right hand

Timberwolves forward Kevin Love missed another game tonight and he might miss many more.

Love, who broke the third metacarpal in his right hand, missed about a month and made his season debut on November 21st.

Unfortunately for Love, the team and his fantasy owners, he has re-fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand.  Love will visit a hand specialist in NYC later this week and the team will provide more information at that time.

In 18 games played, Love was averaging 18.3 points and 14.0 rebounds per game.

He had been struggling with his shot and was shooting only 35.2 percent from the field and 70.4 percent from the line.  Both are career lows.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lakers center Dwight Howard calls himself a GTD for Sunday vs. Nuggets

When the Lakers face the Nuggets on Sunday night, they may be without center Dwight Howard.

Or they may not.

According to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times, Howard has a sprained rotator cuff and described himself as a "game-time decision" for tomorrow.

That said, coach Mike D'Antoni said the chances of Howard playing are "good."

Howard is averaging 17.4 points per game, an eight-year low, and 12.0 rebounds per game, a nine-year low.  In addition, he's averaging 2.6 blocks per game.