NBA Week Twenty Fantasy Predictions

916kingscourt.wordpress.com

Big shout out to maleopold15 over at Sports Thoughts for his help in the help of creating a new series. He reports on the NBA, MLB, and the NFL. We are each helping each other out on our new fantasy series, mine for the NBA, and his for the NFL. Go check out the full blog at Sports Thoughts.

This is a weekly series that will be published every Sunday, previewing who will be the best fantasy players of the next week. Maleopold15 and I will select our ideal fantasy starting fives heading into the week.

Last Week

Last week, Maleopold selected Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Andre Drummond who averaged a combined: 26.8 Points, 10.9 Rebounds, 5.7 Assists, 1.2 Steals, and 1.5 Blocks.

I selected Damian Lillard, James Harden, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Andre Drummond who averaged a combined: 26.7 Points, 9.2 Rebounds, 6…

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NBA Second Half Predictions

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After a brief hiatus, Sports Thoughts is back to get you ready for the second half of the NBA season. There is a ton to discuss, from the tangle at the top of the West, to the Cavaliers’ rise and fall and rise again. Certainly nothing is decided, but we’re about to separate the men from the tankers. Let’s take a look at what we can expect for the rest of Spring in the NBA.

East Preseason Predictions:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Washington Wizards
  4. Toronto Raptors
  5. Milwaukee Bucks
  6. Charlotte Hornets
  7. Miami Heat
  8. Philadelphia 76ers

Hey, so far it’s not too shabby. I’m not quite sure why I picked the Hornets at the time, but everyone else is currently holding a playoff spot. The Pacers are really surprising me this year with Victor Oladipo taking the team to new heights even with the departure of Paul George. After Oladipo’s average years in OKC, I guess the change of scenery and new need for leadership really helped his development as a point guard.  

The sleeper will be the Pistons. Just outside the rankings for now, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin are going to have a very similar dynamic to a healthy Pelicans team. While neither are top contenders for the NBA Finals, they can certainly be staples in the playoffs.

As for the top contenders, it’s a three horse race with the Wizards to likely stay firm as the perennial 4-seed. Unlike in previous years, the Cavs are not at the top. The well-documented platoon swap has so far proved effective for the disappointing Cavs team that finds themselves all the way down in third place.. awh..

Since LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, I’ve lost faith in the regular season. The thing is, everyone knows it comes down to a 7-game stretch for the top 5 or 6 teams in each conference, and most of the other teams have no chance at the title. So, you have 12 teams going through the motions, 12 teams tanking, and that leaves roughly 6 teams actually trying for the majority of the season to claim a low-seeded playoff spot.

Now, I have developed a situation to fix tanking, the player rest situation, and to attract international fans, but that is an article for another day…

Anyway, my point is I don’t care that the Cavs are only at a 3 seed. They are going to play the Celtics and Raptors regardless. Maybe home court advantage plays a big factor in the playoffs and that made the Cavs panic, but any talk about the title contenders in the regular season is just wasting time in my opinion.

That said, I do like some of the moves. Jordan Crawford and Larry Nance are young and give Cleveland some contract control. Letting Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder go seems like a waste after they just got them for Kyrie Irving, but they are both free agents soon and I doubt they will want to stay in Cleveland without James.

Yeah, James is leaving.. again, an article for another time.

I’m happy to see Dwyane Wade back in that Heat jersey too, but I certainly think splitting up the James-Wade combo was a bit excessive, especially for just a “heavily-protected” 2nd round pick. But what’s done is done. The Cavs just lost their first game with their new team on Thursday, and I think there is a lot of renewed confidence in a locker room that needs it down the stretch.

I know I talked a lot about the Cavaliers in the East recap, but the bottom line is that everyone revolves around the Cavs. The Raptors are having a phenomenal season behind DeMar DeRozan, the Celtics are playing exactly as expected, and the bottom half of the league don’t fit into the big equation at this moment. The only thing we are wondering for the rest of Spring is what kind of team they have in Cleveland. They can be way better than the Raptors, or they can see a first-round exit as the James-in-Cleveland Era ends for good.

As for my updated predictions, I don’t want to change much. I still think the Celtics are the most dangerous team in the East, and my playoff bracket is going to stay the same. The only thing I want to update is bumping the Pistons in. I’m keeping the Heat at the 8-spot, especially with Wade back home. So yes, I’m still not on board the Pacers Train.

Updated East Predictions:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Milwaukee Bucks
  6. Philadelphia 76ers
  7. Detroit Pistons
  8. Miami Heat

Cavaliers vs. Celtics; Celtics move on to the NBA Finals

West Preseason Predictions:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder
  6. Portland Trailblazers
  7. Denver Nuggets
  8. New Orleans Pelicans

The West is where it gets interesting. Just about everyone is going to have a shot at the Warriors, but at the end of the day, GSW’s postseason play is the end-all be-all. The Rockets’ addition of CP3 has paid dividends so far, and they find themselves in 1st place in the West 10 games above the next best team besides Golden State.

I’d also like to say that I’m thrilled to have currently predicted the exact standings to this point. The only scary part will be whether the Pelicans can hang on to the #8 seed without DeMarcus Cousins, but as long as Anthony Davis continues to excel in his absence, I don’t see many threats for their spot.

If I had to pick a potential sleeper, I’ll go ahead and roll with the Jazz who are in the midst of an 11-game winning streak. However, the West is pretty top-heavy, so I don’t expect much to change. If they sneak in, and it’s not at the expense of New Orleans, I think Denver might be in trouble. I love Paul Millsap as much as the next guy, but the Nuggets have never been able to close out a regular season with authority. Honestly, whether or not they do this year, they would still be facing one of the 2 best teams in the NBA in the very first round.

Moving upwards, the Blazers could easily find themselves stuck at the 6 seed despite having a pretty solid shooting team. They sit behind a Thunder team that I knew would be a huge disappointment, but they are churning out wins as of late all thanks to Russell Westbrook. The Timberwolves are in the mix in the mid-tier too, but I’m picking the Blazers as the worst of the three.

It’s tough to judge the Spurs without Kawhi Leonard, but even without the superstar’s presence all season, coach Gregg Popovich has San Antonio amongst the best in the NBA. I’m convinced there’s nothing Pop can’t do to keep the Spurs in constant title contention, and this year is no different. Despite the cloud of uncertainty for the remainder of the season, I’m confident the Spurs will be making some noise this summer.

That leaves us with the Houston Rockets. One of my favorite point guards in the entire NBA, CP3 has gelled as perfectly with James Harden as I anticipated. It’s no wonder the Rockets lead the NBA with Chris Paul’s court vision and with Harden’s sweet shot. However, defense has been an issue at times, and Paul’s health has become an issue as of late.

The Rockets definitely have the best shot to dethrone the champs, but they have to keep hitting their stride through April and May and stay at 100% to have a chance. Even with shooting as good as theirs, nobody wins a shootout against GSW. If head coach Mike D’Antoni has a goal for the rest of Spring, it’s to solidify the Rockets as a more well-rounded powerhouse.

The Warriors are still playing with that huge target on their back, so I give a lot of credit to them for being on top of the dog pile for this long. That said, it’s pretty easy when you have 4 perennial All-Stars in your starting lineup. But nonetheless, Golden State proves every night why they are the class of the NBA.

Now, are they going to repeat? I’m not so sure. I’m a big believer in a need for hunger for a championship in order to reach it. It’s so hard to repeat as champions because you have nothing to fight for. The Warriors already reached all of their dreams. What’s another trophy to them? All I’m saying is it would mean a lot more to the Cavs, Celtics, Rockets, and many others.

I’m not changing my standings for the West. I’m picking the Warriors over the Rockets to reach the Finals.. but the Celtics are going to take it from them.

Let’s get ready for an awesome second half of basketball.

NBA Week Eighteen Fantasy Predictions

916kingscourt.wordpress.com

Big shout out to maleopold15 over at Sports Thoughts for his help in the help of creating a new series. He reports on the NBA, MLB, and the NFL. We are each helping each other out on our new fantasy series, mine for the NBA, and his for the NFL. Go check out the full blog at Sports Thoughts.

This is a weekly series that will be published every Sunday, previewing who will be the best fantasy players of the next week. Maleopold15 and I will select our ideal fantasy starting fives heading into the week.

Last Week

Last week, Maleopold selected Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Andre Drummond who averaged a combined: 21.1 Points, 9.6 Rebounds, 3.6 Assists, 1.2 Steals, and 1.4 Blocks.

I selected James Harden, Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Anthony Davis who averaged a combined: 23.5 Points, 6.7 Rebounds, 4.3…

View original post 582 more words

NBA Week Seventeen Fantasy Predictions

916kingscourt.wordpress.com

Big shout out to maleopold15 over at Sports Thoughts for his help in the help of creating a new series. He reports on the NBA, MLB, and the NFL. We are each helping each other out on our new fantasy series, mine for the NBA, and his for the NFL. Go check out the full blog at Sports Thoughts.

This is a weekly series that will be published every Sunday, previewing who will be the best fantasy players of the next week. Maleopold15 and I will select our ideal fantasy starting fives heading into the week.

Last Week

Last week, Maleopold selected Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetkounmpo, and Joel Embiid, who averaged a combined: 22.7 Points, 8.2 Rebounds, 7.1 Assists, 1.2 Steals, and 0.8 Blocks.

I selected Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Lebron James, Lauri Markkanen, and Anthony Davis, who averaged a combined: 23.3 Points, 7.1 Rebounds, 7.5…

View original post 605 more words

Super Bowl LII Prediction

Image result for patriots eaglesIt’s what we’ve all been waiting for. Super Bowl LII kicks off tomorrow at 6:30 ET as tens of millions of people turn on their tv to watch the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles square off in the last game of the NFL season. With the action fast approaching, I still have one more prediction to make, and it just might surprise you… Let’s take a look at a breakdown for both of these powerhouses.

New England Patriots

The Patriots’ biggest strength might just be their greatest weakness. They’ve been here before. That comes with all kinds of mental preparedness and experience that the Eagles can’t match. However, after watching some of the Opening Night interviews, the Pats seem really comfortable… too comfortable.

It takes laser focus to make it this far, but now is not the time to lose concentration. The Eagles are certainly worthy competitors for the Patriots, but New England is not acting like it. They are not going to walk onto that field and be given the Lombardi Trophy. They have to earn it against a pretty solid team that wants to shock the world. If the Pats don’t drop the act and wake up, we might experience one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history.

To avoid that, the Patriots will probably like to get out in front early. It’s not something they do often, but a solid start can quiet a raucous Philly crowd. It’s also always good to get on the scoreboard first and settle those nerves in the biggest game in sports. So, I expect Tom Brady to be diligent in his attack of a good Eagles defense that seems to improve with each postseason game.

Baring in mind that the Pats don’t score a touchdown on their opening drive over 50% of the time (despite Bill Belichick always opting to receive first), it might be a question of when New England comes to play. In the Divisional Round, it was the second quarter after giving up an easy touchdown. In the Conference Championships, it took them until midway through the 4th quarter to get a grip on the Jaguars. In the Super Bowl, they can’t afford to fall that far behind again. No one wants to see a 28-3 repeat.

Brady’s offense is only half of the equation. The defense shouldn’t sleep on Nick Foles. Foles is arguably coming off the best game of his career in the Conference Championship, and he is a game away from going down in the record books. The pass rush is certainly there, and the athletic DBs can hang with the likes of Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery, but, again, I wonder if they’re looking ahead to getting another ring.

The Patriots are certainly the better team. I just don’t know if they’re going to play like it. They have the better QB, the better defense, and the better coaching staff. If this game is even remotely close in the 4th quarter, you know Brady is going to do what he does best and orchestrate another game-winning drive as usual. However, they don’t seem to have more motivation than the Eagles… and that could make all the difference.

Philadelphia Eagles

In most people’s opinion, this already has to go down as a successful season. I definitely didn’t have much hope for Philadelphia before the season started, but Carson Wentz showed he is already an elite MVP-caliber quarterback ready to take this franchise to new heights. When he went down in Week 14 and the world thought that the Eagles would plummet, Nick Foles stepped in.

It wasn’t always pretty, but Foles kept the Eagles afloat as they hung on to the #1 seed in the NFC. They dominated their competition in the playoffs, as they prepared to face undoubtedly their toughest test of the season. As they proudly display, they are still the underdogs, but that hasn’t stopped them yet.

As previously mentioned, Foles is coming off one of the best games of his career, and the Eagles are looking to ride the momentum of a 31-point rout of the Vikings to the Lombardi Trophy. What they have is the edge in drive and a nothing-to-lose attitude that they just can’t make up for in talent at the moment. To compensate, I think Philly can benefit from a full team effort that doesn’t rely on any one man.

New England loves to find the best player in the opposing offense and shut him down. Luckily for the Eagles, they don’t have a guy like that. Foles has three talented receivers with unique skill sets to keep the Patriots on their heels. Agholor is a great route runner, Jeffery is the deep threat, and Zach Ertz is a red zone animal. Assuming Foles balances these targets effectively, they should be able to best the Patriots’ athletic defense.

Of course, the biggest challenge is stopping the “G.O.A.T.” Tom Brady. Unfortunately, that’s impossible. However, Philly can do their best to keep the offense quiet with well-timed blitzes and never, ever, ever, dropping into zone coverage. The Eagles thrive in man-to-man situations, so I’m not too worried about them falling into the same trap as the Falcons did last year.

With all of this in mind, the Eagles have more than just a chance to dethrone the Pats. The key will be keeping their focus after the Patriots score. Whether or not they get out to the lead at first, the Eagles are not shutting out New England. Do they respond by buckling down on the next drive, or do they let the floodgates open? The answer determines the Super Bowl LII Champions.

Prediction: Eagles win 27-24.