Article by: Harrison Weaver
Alright NBA Fans. We did it. We made it through a wild offseason, and the NBA landscape looks absolutely nothing like it has the past four or five years. We saw the craziest free agency of all time with numerous superstars going to new teams. You know what that means then? This upcoming season is going to be full of new rivalries, revenge games, and all new superstar combinations. The NBA just released the 2019-2020 schedule on Monday, and so we finally get a look at when we’ll get to see all these intriguing matchups. Opening Night is coming up on Tuesday night, October 22nd. So with that in mind, I’m going to highlight a lot of the fun matchups you can look forward to this upcoming NBA season.
Opening Night (October 22nd)
Opening Night we get two awesome matchups. The first is New Orleans at Toronto, in which Zion will finally be on full display for the NBA world to see and we’ll also get to see the Raptors lift their championship banner. Everyone has been waiting to see Zion in real NBA action after a minor injury to his knee in Summer League which led to the Pelicans benching him for the remainder of summer league play. It will be very intriguing to see how this young New Orleans team plays together. On the other side of the matchup, it will be our first look at the Kawhi Leonard-less Raptors and how the rest of the guys can step up to try to be a contender again this year. The other matchup on opening night is the first chapter in perhaps what is now the NBA’s best rivalry. After sharing a city and an arena since the birth of the LA Clippers, the Clippers and Lakers are finally both two of the best teams in the league at the same time. LeBron and AD versus Kawhi and Paul George will be on showcase for the first time on Opening Night, and you can expect this to be a fun one as these two teams will be battling it out all season long.
I want each of you readers to imagine this (if you’re a reader who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, I apologize, but for the sake of this exercise, imagine you have the day from school or work, and you have a full day to relax with friends and family). Alright, now close your eyes and imagine. You wake up on Christmas morning, snow is falling. You’re sitting around the Christmas tree with your loved ones, exchanging gifts while you sip on some hot chocolate. You spend the morning watching your favorite classic Christmas movies and relaxing until it’s time to go about your Christmas day plans. Then all the sudden, its noon, and the best part of Christmas has finally arrived…. it’s time for tip-off between the Celtics and Raptors.
You tell your family you’re sick from drinking too much egg nog and you need to stay home, when in fact, you’ve really just been counting down the hours until you can watch Boston versus Toronto, Philly versus Milwaukee, Rockets versus Warriors, Clippers versus Lakers, and Pelicans versus Nuggets. That’s right! We get every one of those matchups on Christmas Day. For you sports bettors out there, those are a lot of almost even lines which will make for an exciting day. The Sixers versus Bucks matchup will be the first matchup between the top two teams in the East, and a likely preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Clippers and Lakers will be another installment in the LA rivalry. The old rivalry of the former two best teams in the West between the Rockets and Warriors will be sure to offer lots of fun offensive explosion. All-in-all NBA fans, Christmas Day will offer five excellent matchups for you tune into.
Article by: Harrison Weaver
Everybody loves a good retirement tour. They bring out some of the most nostalgic, powerful sporting moments you will ever see. Remember back in 2016 when Kobe Bryant dropped 60 points against the Jazz in the final game of his career? In a jam-packed Staples Center, Kobe brought the Lakers back from a late 8-point deficit with some of his magical Kobe shots to win the game, just like we used to see in his prime. Last season, we got to witness the Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki send-off tours. In a truly special final game at American Airlines Arena for Dwayne Wade, he managed to blow the game wide open with a trio of back to back to back three-point shots as he finished with one last 30-point game. In Dirk’s final game, we got to witness a few of his trademark fade-away shots to send him riding off into the sunset. The former all-time leader in three-pointers made, Reggie Miller, had an incredible but less joyous final game as his final game was Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in which his Pacers lost to the Pistons despite Miller scoring 27 points with 4 three-pointers. There’s nothing like that standing crowd ovation as a retiring superstar is substituted for a final time out of the game. Whether they’re a home or away player, receiving that appreciation for everything they have provided the league with over the span of their career is something else.
This year, we will be getting another extra-special retirement tour. The 2019-2020 NBA season will be Vinsanity’s turn. The timeless wonder, 42-year-old Vince Carter is set to play his final season as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. In case you were wondering how effective he can still be for this young Hawks team, let me fill you in on some of his numbers for last season, his 21st. He averaged 7.4 points per game on almost 39% shooting from deep. He played in 76 games and started 9 of them while averaging 17.5 minutes in those games. Oh, and he threw down 15 dunks last season too. That’s all at 41 years old, sometimes playing against competition literally HALF his age. It’s a true testament to the graceful shapeshifting career that Vince Carter has led.
Coming into the league out of the University of North Carolina, Carter was a vicious attacker of the rim. He would charge into the paint and destroy anyone in his way, producing some of the most jaw-dropping dunks the league has ever seen. Upon being drafted by the Golden State Warriors and then being traded to the Toronto Raptors, he went on to win Rookie of the Year in 1999 and then won the crown of Slam Dunk Champion in 2000 with his memorable between the legs high-flying windmill jam and a whole handful of other superhuman slams. He continued on this superstar path all the way through his prime, consistently putting up PPG in the mid-20’s with his killer mix of his rim-attacking ferocity and three-point shooting. After 7 and a half years of mildly successful seasons with the Raptors, Vinsanity was traded to the New Jersey Nets to be paired with Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson.
His tenure with the Nets marked the beginning of Vince Carter’s playoff misfortune. In his first season in New Jersey, Jason Kidd was returning from surgery and Richard Jefferson had to get a season-ending surgery, which ultimately led to a playoff sweep at the hands of the Heat. That Nets team would never be the same again, but that doesn’t mean Carter stopped balling out. On December 12th, 2005, he tied his career high scoring performance with 51 points against the rival Heat, who the Nets would eventually lose to again in the playoffs the same season. The unraveling would only get worse for the Nets, and Vince would be traded to the Orlando Magic on draft night after the 2008-2009 season in which the Magic lost to the LA Lakers in the Finals.
Of course, this would once again highlight the missed timing with Vince Carter and playoff success. Missing out on the Nets back to back Finals appearances, and again missing out on the Magic’s Finals appearance. By this point VC was 33 years old and no longer the same rim-attacker he used to be. However, he transformed himself into a new brand of player, just as he has in every phase of his career. He focused on really honing in his perimeter game and used it as a tool to preserve his status as an elite player. It’s something Vince has done so elegantly and is such a big part of why he is still in the league today at 42 years old. In February of 2010, his first season with the Magic, he dropped 48 points against the Hornets to prove that he still had the ability to flip the switch when need be. The Magic made it the whole way back to the Conference Finals, Vince Carter’s first, with a chance to earn another spot in the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, they were matched up against the Big 3 from Boston and fell short in six games. The very next season, the Magic got off to a slow 12-9 start and traded Carter the Phoenix Suns, which also did not pan out despite the presence of Steve Nash as the Suns missed out on the playoffs. Take a wild guess what happened the season before? The previous season, the Suns still had Amar’e Stoudemire and made the Western Conference Finals.
It was time for another new scene for Vinsanity, so he took his talents to the Dallas Mavericks on a 3-year deal to join an aging core, but a team that was still a playoff threat. By this point, Carter was 35 years old and no longer much of a rim-attacker. Instead, he was now deadly from behind the arc and had really mastered his savvy perimeter game. His first year in Dallas featured a first-round elimination at the hands of OKC, and it was the 2012 lockout season. It was his third season in Dallas in which VC was able to conjure up a little magic. The Mavs won 49 games, enough for an 8-seed in the West. They then faced the San Antonio Spurs dynasty. The Mavericks were able to send the series back to Dallas tied up 1-1, which was relatively unexpected. Game 3 was a nail-biter. With the Mavs down 108-106 with 1.7 seconds left, inbounding from their own wing, guess who came sneaking out of an inbound set to flash himself open in the corner? Vince Freaking Carter. He pulled up the shot from the corner with Manu Ginobili right in his face and fading away he absolutely splashed the three to win the game 109-108 and send the crowd into a frenzy. Instead of a game-winning drive to the paint, or electrifying dunk, this time it was a finely aged Vince Carter flexing his perimeter game to give the NBA another jaw-dropping, memorable Vince Carter moment. The Mavs would go on to lose the series in 7 games, but it was yet another spectacle provided by Vinsanity.
At 38 years old, VC signed with the Grit N’ Grind Memphis Grizzlies on the back end of the run with the core of Conley, Gasol, and Randolph. Still able to average about 16 minutes per game, Vince was able to provide a high-IQ veteran presence to add to the excellent Memphis chemistry. No longer much of a scoring threat, Carter was still able to conjure up some clutch shots and hit three’s where need be. In his first year with Memphis, the Grizzlies made it to the second round where they forced the eventual NBA Champion Golden State Warriors to 6 games and lost after a hard effort. The following season, the Grizzlies went 42-40 and got swept in the first round by the Spurs. The following season at 40 years old, Carter averaged 24.6 minutes and 8 PPG for the Grizzlies, an extremely impressive load for a player of that age. He even provided for 10 dunks that season. Truly defying age, Carter continued to find ways to contribute on the floor.
Fast forward two seasons, one season in Sacramento and one season in Atlanta, VC will be returning for a 22nd season, the only player to ever do that. The Hawks offered to have him back, and he has taken that offer. He will turn 43 in January, which will make him the 3rd oldest player in modern NBA history behind Kevin Willis, who played until he was 44 years and 224 days old and Robert Parish who played until he was 43 years and 254 days old. It’s unlikely that Vinsanity will be much of a scoring threat this season for the Hawks, but he has proven throughout the course of his career that no matter what his age is, he deserves a spot on the floor. His ability to transform his game to the condition of his body, his basketball IQ, his team-first attitude, are all qualities that have preserved him as a valuable player. Especially on a young Hawks roster with a lot of talented players who could use the knowledge, teaching, and veteran presence Vince brings to an organization.
However, don’t be surprised if VC gets up and slams down a few dunks this year. Don’t be surprised if he hits a buzzer beater three, in fact don’t be surprised by anything. He may be the oldest player in the league, and his body may limit him, but he still has that magic. It’s in his basketball DNA. This will be one of the most fun retirement tours we have seen in the NBA. After all, he is Vinsanity. Expect the unexpected.
Article by: Zach Henley
Free Agent Jeremy Lin is having a very difficult off-season. Coming fresh off winning a championship with Toronto, the point guard expected to find a new team by now. In his career, Lin has averaged 11.6 points, with 4.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
“Linsanity” started in 2012, when Lin played for the New York Knicks. In may be the biggest game of his NBA timeline, Lin tallied 38 points against one of the best players of all time, Kobe Bryant. Alongside with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire, Lin was helping the Knicks turn their season into a playoff season. The Knicks went 36-30 and clinched the number 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Knicks and the city of New York were very excited headed into the playoffs, but they knew it wasn’t an easy road. Their first challenge was the Lebron-led Miami Heat. The Knicks would end up losing the series 4-2 and have a first-round exit.
After the 2012 season, the Knicks did not bring Lin back and the point guard found a home with the Houston Rockets. After 2 years and an average of 12.9 PPG, Lin moved on to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Lin played in 74 games and averaged 11 points. Over the next 5 years, Lin would play for 4 different teams and average around 12 points per game. After “Linsanity” in New York, Lin couldn’t find a consistent home for more than 2 years.
Although being the first Asian born player to win a championship, Lin feels like the league has given up on him as a key player. In an interview, Lin stated “Every year it gets harder…. In some ways the NBA has given up on me.” The 30-year-old point guard will continue to work hard for a mew NBA home, but until then, do you think Lin has more to give?
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Article by: Pete Caceci
As time moves on with the NBA, players that helped shape the game become nothing more than a distant memory. It truly is a shame, since without these key influences, such all-stars like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, or even Joel Embiid would not be as prevalent as they currently are. With the ignorance comes the thought that such players back in the day would never be as successful with newer rules and regulations. One legend that is a part of those conversations is the great Wilt Chamberlain.
Wilt Chamberlain was the cornerstone of what a dominant athlete should be. His 7’1” stature did not stop him from accomplishing nearly everything that he set himself to. For example, aside from playing basketball, he heavily participated in track and field. While attending the University of Kansas, he was reported to have high jumped 6’6” and obtaining such ridiculous broad jump numbers like 22 feet. Almost all high school athletes, even if they are remotely close to the same build as Chamberlain, cannot replicate this achievement. As a center for the Jayhawks team, he scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds, breaking both all-time records in his very first game. Teammates would admire his ability to move through the opposition like a hot knife through butter. He was so strong that while he was dunking a shot, he broke an opposing player’s toe when the ball went through the basket.
Although Wilt would not spend his entire college career in Kansas, he would continue to change the game by going to the esteemed Harlem Globetrotters for a large sum of $50,000 (equal to about $434,000 in today’s economy). He would conduct several amazing acts like throwing a fellow 210-pound teammate and catching him with little to no effort. Acts like this even gained the attention of the Soviet Union, where the team was invited to play in 1959. The NBA was blown away by this, as he would later be recruited by the Philadelphia Warriors that same year. America was waiting for a super-star, and Wilt was ready and willing to change everything.
In his first six years with the Warriors, Chamberlain would put up record numbers as a center, like the famous 100-point game in Hershey against the New York Knicks. In the 1962 season, he averaged 50.4 points and grabbed 25.7 rebounds a game. He became the first player to break the 4,000-point barrier, which would not be done until by Michael Jordan in the 86-87 NBA season. He was known to rebuild the team in his own way, as he was able to take the losing 31-49 Warriors and push them to the Finals the following year. By now, Wilt Chamberlain was a household name, and many wanted to play because of him.
Wilt would later be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1965 with a promising supporting cast like Hall-of-Famers Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham, as well as other talented players Larry Costello, Chet Walker, and Lucious Jackson. In a new environment, Wilt would continue to dominate the game by posting 34.7 PPG and 22.9 RPG for the second half of the season. As the team would struggle with internal problems, he would instill confidence with his success and would earn a rightfully deserved MVP. In the 1966-67 NBA season, Chamberlain and the Sixers would defeat the 11-time Champion Boston Celtics, where Chamberlain posted an unofficial quadruple double. In a six-game series against his former team, the now-San Francisco Warriors, Wilt would finally obtain his first NBA Championship title, solidifying his status to the world as a playing-legend.
In the year following his great achievement, Chamberlain continued his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Again the centerpiece of a new up-and-coming contender, he found it increasingly difficult to adapt to his new coach and supporting cast. Nevertheless, he found himself still scoring over 20.5 PPG and 21.1 RPG in the 1969-70 NBA season. Fellow teammate and Hall-of-Famer Jerry West considered Wilt as “The unstoppable force that kept pushing us to newer limits”. The following seasons saw Chamberlain lead the Lakers to several Finals appearances, an act the Lakers organization had never seen before. Finally in the 1971-72 season, Wilt led his team to a 33-game win streak en route to a record 69 wins in the regular season. Deep in the playoffs, Wilt would come across Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a player whom he mentored since he was 17. After a debilitating six games, Wilt would yet again prove his worth by scoring 24 points and 22 rebounds, while playing all 48 minutes of the game. Facing the New York Knicks super team, Chamberlain would destroy the opposition in five games, while scoring 24 points and 29 rebounds in the game 5 finish, earning him a second Finals title.
Following the 1972-73 season, the man whom everyone would travel to see would finally hang up his career. Even though he was not on the court, his legacy still carries on to this day. No one has ever been able to reach the 100-point record, and Chamberlain’s career point statistics are in the top 10. Believe me when I tell you that is only the tip of the iceberg. He still holds the record for most points in a season (4,029), most 50-point games in a season (45), most points by a rookie (58); he never fouled out of and played every single game in his entire career. The list still keeps going after this my fellow readers. His talent has influenced such players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and even Dennis Rodman, who would come in and change the league again as well.
Call me crazy, but in my opinion without Wilt Chamberlain the NBA would not have the entertainment and enjoyment factor as it does today. He is the Babe Ruth of basketball, a man who could set his mind to something and conquer in no time. If the guy wanted to lead the league in assists, rebounds, points or even time played, he would do it. His number 13 should not be retired by just the Warriors, Lakers, and Sixers; it should be retired by all teams present. I also believe that he would still be just as dominant if not more in today’s game just by his sheer strength and ferocity. He was a mountain and most definitely someone who was way before his time, but nonetheless someone who should never be forgotten in basketball.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your opinions on other all time great players!
Article by: Kevin Eagleson
The 2019 NBA offseason has been one of the most entertaining all time. This year, the trend in the NBA has shifted away from superteams and is now centered around dynamic duos. Whether superstars from different teams united in a new city, or old teammates look to continue their chemistry, the NBA appears to be balanced once again. The balance in the league is thanks to the many pairings of superstars spread around the league. The Golden State Warriors are no longer the super-team of the NBA with the departure of Kevin Durant as well as the injury to Klay Thompson. Moving forward, the league appears to be much more up for grabs, as many teams appear capable of winning it all.
Russell Westbrook reuniting with James Harden in Houston should be one of the last major moves this offseason, and all of the new pairings are sparking debates as to what team has the best core of players. Here are the top 5 duos currently in the NBA, in order.
5. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Moving forward, the Warriors will look a lot different, but they were able to retain splash brothers Steph and Klay, who will easily continue to be one of the best duos in the league. As long as these two are together, Golden State will be competitive. The only reason the splash bros are not higher ranked is because it is still unknown how much of the season Klay will miss while recovering from a torn ACL sustained in the finals. Once he is back, the duo will continue to light up opposing teams.
4. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
The KD/Kyrie duo is in a similar situation to Klay and Steph. Durant ruptured his Achilles in the finals and will miss his entire first season with the team. Durant is widely considered to be the best player in the league, and pairing him with such a dynamic point guard in Irving should be enough for the rest of the league to fear this team. Kyrie will have to do his best without Durant next year, but eventually KD will be healthy again and the Nets will be dangerous.
3. Russell Westbrook and James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Westbrook and Harden reunited again is something that NBA fans everywhere are eager to see. Both players are some of the most talented scorers in the league: not just right now, but all time. Russell Westbrook has multiple seasons averaging a triple-double, and James Harden is coming off a season where he lead the league in scoring, averaging 36 points a game. This duo is going to be absolutely electric offensively, and it will be difficult for opposing teams to keep up.
2. LeBron James and Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
At one point, the assets the Lakers gave up to trade for Anthony Davis caused many to question if it was a smart move. But after free agency, the Lakers have actually constructed a fairly deep roster with players such as Danny Green and DeMarcus Cousins. Everything has seemed to work out for the Lakers, who gave LeBron a superstar in AD to compete with.
1. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)
LA is home to two of the most exciting teams in the NBA. The Kawhi PG duo was unexpected to say the least, but they rank as the top pairing in the league. Kawhi is a two-time finals MVP, and has proven himself after a successful year in Toronto, and he is now able to play alongside superstar Paul George, who was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder. These two are some of the most well rounded players in the league, who will not only be All-NBA defenders, but likely All-NBA players too. The Clippers duo just barely rank above their LA rivals Lebron and AD.
Thanks for reading and feel free to give your feedback on who you think the best NBA duo is!