Welcome to the first Roundtable of the New Year!
This week, we have EJ, Joao, Dan and as Always, I am the quizmaster, David! If you have questions, place them on the comments below for next week. Thanks for reading.
EJ: LeBron is having a fine season, but this feels like a year he won’t win the MVP despite putting up MVP type numbers. As of right now you can make arguments for Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, or Carmelo Anthony winning the MVP because of the seasons they and their teams are having. I’m inclined to give the award to Paul, especially if the Clips win their division and finish with one of the top two seeds in the West.
Joao: So far I would give it to Kevin Durant, with LeBron as a close 2nd. It can still obviously change between now and the end of the regular season, but Durant has being doing it all this year; he has become a complete player, rather than “just” a scorer. He is averaging more steals and assists, while posting better shooting percentages. It seems like losing to the Heat in the finals last year has helped fuel his growth.
If LeBron James would be my second pick, Chris Paul would be my third.
Dan: No, I’d give it to Kevin Durant. He is averaging more points per game, a worse shooting percentage, but a better free throw percentage and a better 3-point percentage. Plus, he’s leading the Thunder to the top spot in the west.
David: So Far? Like the rest, I’m looking at Durant. The way he’s moved past losing the Beard, and still dominating games, he has to be the MVP, LeBron is just going to have to be happy with Finals MVP
2. If CP3 is 100% this time in June, are you scared of the Clippers?
EJ: Yes I am scared of the Clippers. As a Lakers fan, I have to admit I’m envious of the season they are having so far. The Clippers are athletic and deep and they still are awaiting the full returns of Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups. The straw that stirs the drink is Chris Paul, and he’s having a fine season leading the Clips to the second best record (based off of win percentage) in the NBA. The Clippers have the type of team that would make any playoff series difficult. The only concern is their relative lack of deep playoff experience. That might be the only worry with the Clips.
Joao: All signs point to that. If the entire team, and that obviously includes their best player in Chris Paul, is healthy come playoff time, then this is a team that can beat any other team. This seems like a strange sentence, but the Los Angeles Clippers are title contenders. I still like the Thunder to win the West, but the Clippers are right up there with them and the Spurs. And seeing as though the Spurs are an older team, more prone to injuries, the Clippers’ future is looking bright.
Chris Paul is the best PG in the game and Blake Griffin is quickly becoming one of the elite PFs. On top of that, this is a team that can hurt you with Jamal Crawford’s scoring and DeAndre Jordan’s interior presence. Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes give the team depth, Odom is trying to get his career back on track, and when Billups and Grant Hill are back they will have as much depth as any team in the league.
Dan: Yes, I am. They’re a very good team right now sitting at #2 in the NBA and once CP3 gets 100%, they’re just going to get more dangerous to face.
David: Nope. If Vinny is still the coach, I’m not really scared. They are where they are due to reduced minutes for CP3 and a tight rotation. Once the playoff start, CP3 is going to be throwing up extra shifts and thats going to doom them in the 4th Q. Plus I don’t trust their rebounding.
3. Have the Thunder made up for Harden yet?
EJ: I’m probably one of the few people who really believed that losing James Harden was not a big concern for the Thunder and so far I’m right. The Thunder still have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who have more than picked up the slack, and Kevin Martin is doing a fine job of replicating Harden’s scoring off of the bench. The Thunder are 26-7, best record in the NBA (based off of win percentage) and have not missed a beat since Harden was bounced off to Houston.
Joao: Their record seems to indicate so. They haven’t lost a step.
While Kevin Martin is obviously a different player, his chemistry with the rest of team has been smooth from the beginning of the season. His current overall numbers are a bit below what Harden did for the Rockets last year, but his contribution is undeniable. He is a clear 6th man of the year candidate.
The other thing that the Thunder have had going their way so far, in order to offset Harden’s departure, is the continued growth of Serge Ibaka. To complement his blocks and all-around defensive game, he is now able to produce a reliable mid-range jumper which gives more versatility to the OKC offense.
Dan: Yes, they have. They’re #1 in the NBA and the west and are still the favorites to win the west and make it to the NBA Championship. I predicted them to win the Championship too so they’re fine without Harden.
David: I said they would, and they have. Westbrook is still a killer though.
EJ: I like DeMarcus Cousins the player but he likely wouldn’t be a good fit for the Lakers based off of his style of play. So, now that I’ve ruled out my favorite team, I do think Cousins definitely has a future as one of the best big men in the League but he needs to get the hell out of Sacramento. You don’t have to cater to the big man, but DeMarcus clearly needs a veteran that can get in his ear and motivate him to clean up his mess. That’s why I hope he gets dealt to the Celtics. Learning from Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett in particular, is exactly what he needs. Those guys will definiltely hold him to be accountable for his actions.
Joao: He is clearly very talented and with tremendous growth potential. That having been said, his personality is volatile to say the least. He might, or might not, get along with a particular coach. And there is always the feeling that he can just lose his mind at any given moment. Too high maintenance in the worse sense.
To make it clear, I would not want my favorite team to trade for DeMarcus Cousins. My favorite team are the Pistons, by the way (we do need all the help we can get, but not like that).
Dan: No, I’m fine with what the Bucks have. Plus, I think if Milwaukee would trade for Cousins, they’d have to give up too much and I’m not a fan of them doing such a thing.
David: I don’t have a team, (thanks MJ) but I think it comes down to respected veterans, If you have a guy that he respects in your locker-room, say KG or Duncan, then he can be first-team all-NBA, but without a coach or a big that can show him how to play, he’s a head case. Some get out of it on their own (Z-Bo) but most never do.
5. Is it time to stick a fork in the Celtics?
EJ: As they are currently constructed it is time to count out the Celtics. However, I never put anything past Danny Ainge. There is still enough time for Danny to work his magic and inject some youth and talent into this current Celtics bunch. There have been some rumblings of a deal with the Kings to bring in Cousins and that would be a fine start. He doesn’t have to blow up the team, but he does need to use some of the excess parts to bring in a young talent to keep the roster fresh.
Joao: Yes. Implode the team, make something happen to rejuvenate around Rajon Rondo. To be radical, I would try to unload the two veteran stars (Garnett and Pierce) before the trade deadline; there are top contenders who would certainly welcome those players onboard. Get younger and try to build things for next season.
The way things are right now, it seems like the Celtics will be fighting to get into the playoffs this year, and that is a shame if one looks at their roster. Rejuvenate and let Doc Rivers lead a rebuilding effort for this storied franchise.
Dan: I don’t think so. I think they’re just off to a slow start and will regain themselves. There’s still a long season ahead of them.
David: All depends on Rondo. If he wants to play, then they can go with anyone. If Not, then they are done. If this was the NFL or MLB, then yes, but in the NHL or NBA, all you need is a 500 record to make the playoffs, then anything can happen.
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