The panel is back with another round of questions in this weeks edition of the NBA Roundtable. This week, we discuss Kevin Durant’s outburst on the media, Our second half predictions, and of course we have to touch on Kobe Bryant.
Here are the questions.
Kevin Durant said in GQ magazine. “When Im on the court, I’m a total ass-hole.” He says that he plays the game like it is a war. With these comments, and his recent bash on the media. Has this changed your perception of Durant?
Steve: Yes! I actually respect Durant even more than I did before. The media will always put words in players mouths, so I have no problem with what Durant said. The fact that he came out and said how he plays on the court, is really no surprise. Most players do play that way, Durant just made it vocal.
Joao: Not really, I think he is just being honest. Is it so bad that he is a fiery competitor? Some of the game’s greatest stars are arrogant (Gary Payton) or trash talkers (Kevin Garnett) and if Durant considers himself an a-hole while on the court that does not mean he really is one. His recent media bash was perhaps uncalled for, but he essentially was being direct and honest.
Bill: No. I’m not the least bit surprised that he’s developed a somewhat negative attitude as it relates to the media. In most respects, I agree with him; however, I do believe he could have and should have gone about things somewhat differently. There’s a way to insult someone without them catching on until later and that’s the course of action I feel may have been best for him. Coming out and dropping expletives solves nothing. As for his comments about treating the game as if it’s a war, I see no problem with that at all. Players should have the same mentality as he does but seeing how stacked some teams are (like OKC) and how little is at stake (regular season), many of them coast through and don’t really make any attempt to turn it on until there’s something to lose. That’s disappointing. Just think of how good games would be if each one was treated like a game seven?
Chad: My impression of Kevin Durant hasn’t changed with his comments I believe that all of the greats over time have had a spice of that a-hole attitude that have helped the be (Jordan, Kobe, Lebron) all have fire which has helped them become champions which is where Durant wants to be
Joao: My pre-season pick to win it all was the Cleveland Cavaliers. I have to confess that my pick looked shaky during several parts of the first half of the season, as the Cavaliers alternated winning streaks and losing streaks while coach Blatt seemed to be on the hot seat on occasions.
But they finally seem to have hit their stride through a combination of important factors: LeBron being healthy, Kyrie Irving playing lights out, Kevin Love finding his groove as of late and, perhaps above everything else, improved defense. The acquisitions of Mozgov, JR Smith and Iman Shumpert have also provided a boost, especially, again, on the defensive side of the ball.
I do not think either the Hawks or the Bulls can beat the Cavaliers on a best of 7-game series. The Cavaliers have an easier road to the NBA Finals, than any team in the West and that will also play a big factor.
Bill: That’s such a loaded question. Out west, Golden State has been the clear favorite despite a supremely strong showing by Memphis and Houston. Is there anyone who can really contain them or put them down? If it’s anyone, it’s Memphis. HOU, while great under James Harden, just doesn’t have the same strength without Dwight Howard in the middle. They’ve got loads of weapons on the perimeter, but the playoffs are largely fought and one down on the block. Again, MEM has strength there in spades with Z-Bo and Gasol. HOU has DoMo and who else? As for the L-Eastern Conference, it’s a three team race: CHI, CLE, and ATL. I expect it to come down to either CHI or CLE and it’s all in who can remain healthy. If Rose drops again, Chicago is finished. Cleveland is loaded and playing well despite what appears to be some chemistry issues. Said issues aren’t all that surprising seeing how many vets are on the roster. While I’d like to put confidence in ATL and say they finally break through, I just don’t see it happening. They’ve managed to surprise a lot of teams with their depth and well rounded play, but I just don’t know if they’ve got enough to put down either of the other two aforementioned titans.
I’m calling it here: MEM / CHI with CHI ending on top.
Chad: Simple Question…Simple Answer…I can not see any team in the league beating Golden State in a 7 game series. They are my pick.
Kobe Bryant (yes I know you love this name) recently said on NBA TV that he is hoping for a revival of sorts of his career. What are your thoughts on this, and can he make the Lakers playoff contenders next year at 39 years old?
Steve: The Lakers can always be contenders with their rich history. But it will not be because of Kobe Bryant. I can see the Lakers competing next year if they are able to pick up some key free agents. Kobe making a revival? Not a chance, he will make what he has left count, and will do what he has to do to win…..unless that is take less money. The Lakers can make it happen, but first, Jeannie Buss needs to take control and get her brother out of power. That is the only way they can compete.
Joao: Kobe is one of those players who just does not quit. He rehabbed for 9 months and now he has to do it all over again. He mentioned the Spurs’ success as an inspiration but he also has 25 million reasons to come back next season.
I do not think he can turn the Lakers into playoff contenders next season, unless they make a big splash during the offseason and Julius Randle comes back strong. Plus there is also the question of Kobe’s own health and ability to play for an entire season at a high level. Too many ifs, I just do not see it.
Bill: There’s little to no chance at Bryant suddenly having a resurgence and being the player he was even three years ago. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now: Bryant and his contract are killing the Lakers. The sooner he retires and relinquishes control, the better. However, given the enormity of his ego and his passion for little else beyond basketball, it’s going to probably someone locking the doors on him and not letting him back into the gym. The only way I see Bryant winning again is if he goes to another team that’s close and takes a complementary role as a 1a/b guy. His legacy is certain, but another championship is most certainly not.
Chad: Depending on the lottery pick they get that can get a top talent in the draft to go with Randle and Bryant; they can be intriguing next year; But in the west with that depth and Kobe’s health issues I can’t see it
Amar’e Stoudemire to the Mavericks. Does adding them to the roster make them a more complete team? Or will his presence hurt the teams chemistry?
Steve: Bring Amar’e in can only help the Mavericks. With the pick ups that they have done during the season, with Stoudemire, and Rondo. They put themselves in a great position. They are my pick to face Golden State in the Western Conference Finals.
Joao: The Mavericks are gearing themselves for a serious run at the title, unafraid to pull the trigger on trades and signings. Acquiring Rajon Rondo was a huge move, even if the team is still adapting to his presence. And their next priority was landing a big man – seeing as though Jermaine O’Neal was unable to make a comeback, Stoudemire became a very feasible option to boost their bench.
Stoudemire is going to come off the bench, helping to fill minutes for Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki. They needed a big man, they have acquired a big man. I see this move turning them into a deeper team and I see no chemistry disruption whatsoever, also because he thrives on the pick ‘n roll and that is what the Mavericks are all about.
Two points worth mentioning though: 1) Let us see if Amar’e can actually stay healthy to make the desired contribution, and 2) let us also be on the lookout to see if the Mavericks pull off other moves before the trade deadline.
Bill: Stoudemire’s addition clearly gives them some additional strength in the low post. If he’s able to put in a solid 18-20 minutes a night and give Nowitzki some much needed rest, they have as good a chance as any team in the hunt to win it all. They’ve got depth and they’ve got size. Do they have the cohesion? Do they have the grit? Time will certainly tell, but picking him up on the cheap was a killer move. So long as everyone can peacefully co-exist and knows their specific roles, I see no reason to doubt them making it to the conference finals at least.
Chad: Amare gives them another body for the post and as long as the Mavericks and Amare agree on what is role in the rotation I believe that this can only help the Mavericks and with Rondo, and Dirk make them a sleeper in the West
What were your overall thoughts of the All Star Game and the All Star game festivities?
Steve: It was fun. Great 3 point contest, Curry, in my mind solidified his greatness in his win. As far as the game itself goes. It was a defensive nightmare, but I suppose that is what the fans paid to see. Good game, alot of scoring. My hat goes off to Russell Westbrook in an amazing performance. Proved to the world that he is a true player. This would make any top team very weary about playing the Thunder in the playoffs, as they have the talent to knock off a team like the Warriors, or Grizzlies.
Joao: I think the All-Star weekend as a whole was very entertaining, an upgrade from the couple of previous years. Having an extended weekend makes perfect sense and my overall top festivities were the 3-point shootout (what a stacked field!) and the Team USA vs Team World game (gave everyone a chance to see some young talent up and close. The dunk contest was also entertaining but it was not exactly competitive as Zach LaVine easily dominated from start to finish.
The All-Star Game was also a good one, even if we consider that some important and spectacular players had to sit out due to injury (who does not like to see Blake Griffin dunking in this type of games?). It was a fast-paced game with a final score that went through the roof, to cap off a successful weekend.
Bill: I’ve become somewhat disillusioned with the whole spectacle of the ASG and as such, I didn’t bother watching it. Last year’s other events outside the game itself were a huge failure and I’m glad to see they had enough sense to do it up right. My only issue is the lack of numbers and truly top flight talent when it comes to the dunk contest. I remember the days of yore when it was comprised of at least six guys, all of which could bring the house down at any given time. They had all the time they needed and no gimmicks to limit them. When you missed, you missed and that was that. No do-overs, no running clock, no silly props or what have you. Just the man, the ball, and the hoop. That’s it. If they’d return that contest to that format, I’d be more than happy to tune in. The three point shootout was pretty stellar from what Ive heard and it’s little surprise that Steph Curry walked away with the crown despite having one of the deepest fields of contestants in quite some time. The skills competition is, well, meh. It’s entertaining and does showcase some good players, but I can take it or leave it. I do like the format change to the Rookie/Sophomore game. Looks like I missed out on that one. Finally, as for the ASG itself, I just don’t have much interest seeing as there’s little to no defense played, there’s no true incentive to want to win, and the players themselves aren’t always deserving of being there. it’s disappointing but it’s the league we now have. Man, I sure do miss the late 80’s to late 90’s. THOSE were some All Star weekends!
Chad: The All-Star game was a glorified game of pick up basketball with no defense; I am impressed with Westbrook getting 41 in the game. The overall festivities to me the Dunk Contest lacked the star power to hold my attention; and I was a little surprised that the 3 point contest didn’t have more people get hot but props to Steph Curry for winning
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