Rising Big Men: Nurkic vs. Gobert

Every NBA season, we see a few obscure names emerge from the depths of anonymity.  Some players explode for a stretch when a teammate goes down with an injury.  Others find their niche and role on a new team with a different system.  There are also those who just haven’t been given a chance until now.

This year, a plethora of young big men have been able to rise to the occasion, but a few names separate themselves from the rest: Hassan Whiteside, Donatas Motiejunas, Rudy Gobert and Jusuf Nurkic.  While none of these four players are even close to becoming household names, their performances have been noteworthy and their futures look bright.  

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Russell Westbrook: the ScapeG.O.A.T.

While the top athletes in their respective sports garner the most fame, popularity, and wealth, they must also deal with the most criticism and scrutiny from the media.  Superstars are held to the highest of expectations, making it essentially impossible to satisfy the masses.  A prime example of this is LeBron James, one of the most consistent and dominant basketball players ever.  In his first stint in Cleveland, James, who was then 25-years old, won back-to-back MVPs and led the Cavaliers to the best record in both seasons.  Yet, he was criticized for failing to overcome the Celtics’ Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen despite carrying a weak supporting cast.  LeBron was quickly labeled as “unclutch” and mocked for failing to deliver on the big stage.

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Opening Week: NBA Roundtable

The NBA Season is barely a week old, but so much has already transpired. Among other news, Westbrook and D-Rose have both already gotten hurt, Klay Thompson got paid, and the King made his return. There's clearly too much to talk about, but we'll try to cover some of the NBA's hottest issues in the infant stages of the season.  So without further ado...

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Griffin, Love & Aldridge: On the Outside

Three of the NBA’s best power forwards couldn’t be more different.  Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge all have legitimate cases for claiming the title of top dog, (so does Anthony Davis, who has had two incredible games thus far) and each for completely different reasons:

Kevin Love might be the best rebounder in the NBA despite never being the biggest nor most athletic player on the court.  While he is a defensive liability, Love has an incredible basketball IQ, a plethora of moves in the post, a nice stroke from the outside, and one of the greatest outlet passes in recent memory. 

 

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Trouble Buzzing in Charlotte

The Charlotte Hornets are looking to take another step forward.  Last year, they made the playoffs for the second time under the reign of Michael Jordan, but were swept out by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.  So the team went to work this offseason, quickly signing the gifted-but-combustible Lance Stephenson away from the Indiana Pacers.  They also added Marvin Williams to replace Josh McRoberts as the starting power forward and drafted a physical specimen in Noah Vonleh and a knockdown shooter in P.J. Hairston.

Charlotte has most of its core returning from last season and is looking to grow into a legitimate contender.  But will these moves be enough to make the Charlotte Hornets one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this year?  ESPN’s Forecast Panel has them projected to finish 5th in the East, but there are some signs that indicate it won’t be quite so easy to duplicate a trip to the playoffs.

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Who Are You, Scotty Hopson?

You’re probably unfamiliar with a name that has quietly emerged in NBA headlines recently: Scotty Hopson. 

In the past week, Hopson was traded THREE times in TWO days. 

Yes, you read that correctly.  The 6’7” shooting guard found his fourth home in the NBA, all in just 48 hours.  He was originally sent from Cleveland to Charlotte in exchange for Brendan Haywood and the draft rights to Dwight Powell.  Shortly after, the Hornets shipped him to the New Orleans Pelicans for cash considerations (let the name change confusion begin).  Finally, he was sent to the Rockets as part of one of the biggest deals of the offseason, a three team trade that landed Omer Asik and Trevor Ariza with their new franchises, New Orleans and Houston respectively.

I have so many questions!  Why is this guy so popular?!  What could teams possibly see in a player who has appeared in only two NBA games, posting a staggering 1 point, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 7 minutes of action?  But really… Who is Scotty Hopson and how the hell did we end up talking about him?

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For Every Decision, There’s a Reaction

July 11, 2014. 

It may seem like just another date on the calendar, but LeBron James changed that in a flash.  James turned the sports world upside down with the Decision 2.0, opting to return to the place he calls home: Cleveland.

James has been dealing with the burden and stress that comes along with simultaneously being the face of the league and a free agent.  The media has had the King under a magnifying glass, watching his every move and updating the world on his agent’s meetings with other teams, his travel plans to Brazil, and what time he tucked his kids into bed last night (okay, okay, maybe the last one is a joke).

But now that James has made his move, the pressure has shifted to others to respond to his choice to return to Cleveland.  So let’s break down the situations of the people and teams most affected by the Decision 2.0:

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LeBron Awaits His Kingdom in Cleveland

Before analyzing Cleveland’s imminent dynasty after the Homecoming, the Return of the King, the Decision 2.0, or whatever else you want to call LeBron’s move back to Cleveland, I want to quickly say something to the dying breed of hardcore LeBron haters still out there: 

One thing is clear about LeBron James’ public perception at this point: no matter what he does, there will always be those who shamelessly deride and treat him as a villain. LeBron has coped with the pressure of becoming the greatest NBA player of all time, ever since he was in high school.

Such a subjective expectation inevitably leads to constant controversy and scrutiny of every press conference, headband placement, cramp, and decision James has made throughout his young adulthood and tumultuous twenties. Most fans willing to exercise empathy can hardly blame LeBron for some of his missteps given his circumstances, but unfortunately, empathy tends to yield to sensationalism among sports fans.

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