Golden State Warriors Betting: Was Klay Thompson’s Max Contract a Good Idea?

klay-thompson-max-contractOn the surface, it appears that Klay Thompson is worth every penny of the 4-year, $70 million max contract that he just signed with the Golden State Warriors. After all, the 6’7″ shooting guard is just 24, he’s leading the league with 29.7 PPG, and he’s nailing almost 54% of his shots from the field. So if there’s somebody who deserves a max contract it’s this guy, right?

Purely in terms of scoring and shooting the basketball, yes, Thompson’s contract is totally justified. But from a winning perspective, this move has to be questioned by anybody who looks closely at the matter.

First off, consider that noted champions like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade had already won NBA Championships by the time that they signed a major contract. Sure many free agents also get max deals without truly proving they’re winners. However, the teams that sign/re-sign them out of desperation are often relegated to mediocrity for years in the aftermath.

Now consider Thompson, who’s being paid like the centerpiece of a championship caliber team that includes Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala. So far in Thompson’s young career, the team has missed the playoffs once (2012), lost to the Spurs in the conference semifinals (2013), and lost to the LA Clippers in the first round. And while they won 51 games last year, legacies are made through the playoffs, where Golden State had a regression.

Thompson’s playoff legacy right now is of a guy whose game fades when the competition level is increased. For evidence of this, look at how his numbers dipped against the Clippers:

2013-14 Regular Season – 44% shooting, 41.7% three-point, 18.4 PPG
2014 Playoffs (7 Games) – 40.8% shooting, 36.4% three-point, 16.4 PPG

klay-thompson-max-contract-1Assuming the Warriors make the playoffs again this season, one could argue that Thompson’s scoring and shooting will pick up. But the flipside is that there’s no guarantee his game will rise to the level of NBA postseason competition.

What’s more is that Thompson doesn’t turn in big numbers on the defensive end either. Last season he averaged 0.9 SPG and 0.5 BPG through 81 contests. These aren’t exactly stats that would impress Bryant, Wade, Michael Jordan, Jerry West or any other championship shooting guard who cared just as much on the other end of the floor.

Let’s face it…the Warriors overpaid for a one-dimensional shooter who’s won one playoff series in his career. Granted he’s a great shooter who will get better over the years. Furthermore, somebody was going to pay this guy the big bucks – definitely Minnesota if they could landed him through the failed Kevin Love trade.

But now Thompson becomes one more huge contract on a team that has too many of them. And while he may provide much more than the oft-injured Andrew Bogut and his $13 million contract, we don’t see Thompson becoming the type of max-contract player who carries his club deep into the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers Betting: Top Rookie Julius Randle Breaks Leg

julius-randle-injuryThe Los Angeles Lakers’ slim postseason chances may be over before the 2014-15 NBA season is even a week old. As we discussed last weekend, Steve Nash will miss the entire season with a chronic back injury. And just last night, rookie Julius Randle broke his leg in the Lakers’ season debut against Houston.

Randle, the 2014 NBA Draft’s seventh-overall pick, was driving to the basket midway through the fourth quarter of a 108-90 loss to the Houston Rockets. His right foot buckled and he went down to the floor. He had to be carried off the court and the diagnosis was a broken tibula. The 6’9″ power forward will likely miss the rest of the season with his broken leg.

“It is heartbreaking, because I saw him all summer,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott. “I saw the work that he was putting in. I saw the progression that he was making, the steps that he was taking to get better. And his first game, he goes down. I don’t think anybody in that locker room is happy about the way we played, but we’re even more saddened about the fact that we lost one of our young guys.”

julius-randle-injury-1The scene inside the Staples Center was very quiet as Randle lay on the floor for several minutes. Teammates said they heard a “pop,” and the worst was confirmed by team officials. The 19-year-old rookie had to be carried off the court on a stretcher after scoring 2 points on 1-of-3 shooting.

Nobody took the loss harder than long-time Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who shook his head in disbelief after seeing his teammate carried away. Bryant had the following to say about Randle’s devastating injury:

Even for myself, being a veteran and dealing with something like this, it’s tough. For him being a 19-year-old kid, it’s tough. That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to pick him up and take it day by day. It’s a fluke injury. There’s nothing you can do about that. He worked extremely hard, he trained extremely hard. Then something like this happens, so you’ve kind of got to give yourself up to that and control what you can control, and what happens, happens. And now it’s on him to control how he handles this.

I think what this franchise has always been good about doing is surrounding young players with players who have come before,” he said. “He has a great cast around him — myself and James (Worthy) and AC Green and Magic [Johnson]. We’re all here. We’ll help him through this. He’ll come back a basketball player. That’s the goal, is to try to find a silver lining within anything.

James Worthy is an interesting mention here because he also broke his leg in his rookie season. But Worthy rebounded by becoming a 7-time NBA All-Star, 3-time NBA champion and 1988 NBA Finals MVP. At just 19 years old, Randle still has a long career ahead of him. So he can look towards Worthy’s story as motivation to come back strong.

But this injury leaves Los Angeles without their promising rookie for an entire season. Carlos Boozer is the starting power forward while starting center Jordan Hill and backup Ed Davis can also man the position. However, Randle had the potential to develop into very good player, even in his first year. LA also lost some backcourt depth as well with the previously mentioned Nash injury.

This leaves Bryant, Boozer, Hill and PG Jeremy Hill having to carry more of the load. And in what figures to be another grueling season in the Western Conference, depth is key. So if you’re into Los Angeles Lakers betting, keep in mind that injuries are really piling up for this LA team.

Kevin Durant on Kobe Bryant: “He’s the Greatest of All-Time”

kobe-bryantMany fans and players alike agree that Michael Jordan was the greatest NBA player of all-time. His stats and achievements definitely don’t do anything to dissuade this argument either:

– 6-time NBA champion
– 6-time NBA Finals MVP
– 5-time MVP
– 10-time NBA scoring champion
– 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG

Above all, Jordan was regarded as a fierce competitor who refused to back down or lose. But even with everything that MJ has going for him in the greatest player department, there are some other players who could lay claim to this prestigious billing too. Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant are some of the first names that come up in this debate.

Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant recently cast his vote for which of these players he thinks is the best. Durant, who’s definitely our favorite for this year’s MVP award, told Los Angeles Daily Times reporter Mark Medina why he tabs the Black Mamba as the best in a recent interview. Here’s one excerpt from the conversation:

Of course. He’s the greatest of all time. His skill is second to none. Him and [Michael Jordan] are neck and neck as far as skill. You can put in athleticism and be the best passer and strongest and quickest. But it’s about skill. I think that’s how his game is played. That’s why Kobe is the top two best ever in just having skill, footwork, shooting the three, shooting the pull up, posting up, dunking on guys and ball handling. It’s flat out skill. Him and Jordan are 1 and 1A. They’re neck and neck as far as the skills are concerned.”

kevin-durantKobe plays his game no matter what with his intensity and focus and he will play to win. He also will do what he needs to do to get ready to play. If he sees a mismatch, he’ll take it down low and demand the ball. He’s one of those guys who will always bring the same intensity every time no matter who’s on the court.

In another answer, Durant said that he and Bryant have a mutual respect for each other’s games, though there’s a lot of on-court trash talking going on. “We’re going to talk (junk) to each other,” he told Medina. “I think he appreciates that’s how I play. I may be wrong. But I can sense when a guy has that mutual respect. I don’t give a damn who he is. He don’t give a damn who I am. We’re going to go at it. You can throw the names out the door. The guy in front of me, I will try to kick his (butt). He’ll do the same with me.”

Durant obviously looks to Bryant as something of a mentor too since he rehashed calling Bryant at 3 am during the Olympics one night. Stating that Kobe’s a night owl, Durant said he was “picking his (Bryant’s) brain a little bit” about how he should handle certain situations and his teammates during games.

Bryant is definitely a good guy to talk to about anything that’s basketball-related. The 35-year-old has won 5 NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards and two scoring titles. He also boasts career stats of 25.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 4.8 APG. Comparing these numbers to Jordan’s, it’s a little hard to give Kobe the nod as the NBA’s all-time greatest player. But he’s done enough to win Durant’s vote and respect as well.

Speaking of Durant again, if he continues at the current rate, we may one day be throwing his name into the best all-time player debate. After six years in the league, the 25-year-old is really beginning to take flight, averaging 31.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 5.6 APG. Durant looks like the front-runner to win the 2014 MVP award, especially since his Thunder are 48-17 and looking like a serious title contender.

Getting through a crowded Western Conference playoffs bracket won’t be any picnic. But if Durant can guide his team to a championship, he’ll move a lot closer to cementing his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest players.

2014 NBA All-Star Rosters set – 7 First-Time Players make Cut

lamarcus-aldridge-all-star-gameThe 2014 NBA All-Star reserves were recently announced, which means that we now have complete teams to discuss. In all, seven players received their first ever All-Star selection, with Stephen Curry both getting his first nod and a starting role thanks to the fan vote.

Other first-time players who’ll be joining Curry on the Western Conference team include LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis. The latter will be taking Kobe Bryant’s place on the team since he’s injured and can’t play. Lillard is not only playing in his first All-Star game, but also competing in four other contests over the weekend. As for Aldridge, he’s not only a first-time All-Star, but also a legitimate MVP candidate this year.

Moving to the Eastern Conference, first-time selections include DeMar DeRozan, Paul Millsap and John Wall. Now in his fifth year, DeRozan really seems to have stepped his game up while averaging 22 PPG and leading Toronto to the top of the Atlantic Division. Millsap, who’s spent most of his career in the West, seems to be enjoying his change of scenery in Atlanta. And Wall has now reached the potential that everybody predicted for him coming out of Kentucky.

Now that we’ve covered the first-timers in the 2014 NBA All-Star game, let’s take a quick look at the complete rosters, with stats included.

* = Starter
+ = Injured player

Eastern Conference All-Stars

* F Carmelo Anthony, New York – 27.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.0 APG
* F Paul George, Indiana – 22.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.4 APG
* F LeBron James, Miami – 26.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.6 APG
* G Kyrie Irving, Cleveland – 21.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.4 APG
* G Dwayne Wade, Miami – 18.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.7 APG
F/C Chris Bosh, Miami – 16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
G DeMar DeRozan, Toronto – 22.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.8 APG
C Roy Hibbert, Indiana – 12.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
G Joe Johnson, Nets – 15.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.7 APG
F Paul Millsap, Atlanta – 17.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.9 APG
C Joakim Noah, Chicago – 11.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 4.2 APG
G John Wall, Washington – 20.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.5 APG

Western Conference

* F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City – 31.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.3 APG
* F Blake Griffin, LA Clippers – 23.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
* F Kevin Love, Minnesota – 25.6 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 4.0 APG
*+ G Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers – 13.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.3 APG
* Stephen Curry, Golden State – 24.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 9.1 APG
F/C LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland – 24.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.8 APG
F/C Anthony Davis, New Orleans – 20.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
G James Harden, Houston – 23.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG
C Dwight Howard, Houston – 18.6 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.7 APG
G Damian Lillard, Portland – 20.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.8 APG
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas – 21.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG
G Tony Parker, San Antonio – 18.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 6.3 APG
G Chris Paul, LA Clippers – 19.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 11.2 APG

2014 NBA All-Star Game to feature 4 First-Time Starters

paul-george-pacersThere’s not normally a lot of turnover when it comes to NBA All-Star game starters. Fans usually vote big-name veterans in as starters, whether they’re injured or healthy. Case in point, Kobe Bryant has played all of six games this season, but he was still voted into the All-Star contest.

Speaking of which, Bryant had previously said that the game needs to feature some younger players. And he’ll get his wish because four first-time All-Stars were also voted in as starters too. Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Stephen Curry all garnered enough fan votes to start in their first All-Star contest.

Many were surprised that Curry wasn’t selected as a starter or reserve last year. But he won’t have to worry about that this season after garnering lots of fan votes. Love is another interesting story because he passed Dwight Howard just before the voting closed. “Hey, I’m popular now,” Love said jokingly. “It’s very humbling to me to be starting in the All-Star game. I tip my hat to the fans in the Twin Cities and all over Minnesota and beyond.”

stephen-curryIt’s little surprise that George was voted in as a starter. He’s led Indiana to the league’s best record so far and is averaging 23.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 3.4 APG. Kyrie Irving has also put up some very solid numbers, with 21.7 PPG, 6.1 APG and 3.0 RPG. Amidst a weak crop of Eastern Conference point guards, Irving definitely stands out, even with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles.

The 2014 NBA All-Star reserves will be announced on January 30th, two weeks before the game takes place on February 16th in New Orleans. We’ll cover the entire All-Star game rosters when they’re released, but for now, here’s a look at the starters.

Eastern Conference

Kyrie Irving, PG Cleveland Cavaliers – 21.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.0 RPG
Dwayne Wade, SG Miami Heat – 18.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.7 APG
Paul George, SF Indiana Pacers – 23.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG
LeBron James, SF Miami Heat – 26.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.5 APG
Carmelo Anthony, SF New York Knicks – 26.1 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.1 APG

Western Conference

Stephen Curry, PG Golden State Warriors – 23.5 PPG, 9.2 APG, 4.6 RPG
Kobe Bryant, SG Los Angeles Lakers – 13.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG
Kevin Durant, SF Oklahoma City Thunder – 31.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.1 APG
Blake Griffin, PF Los Angeles Clippers – 22.6 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.5 APG
Kevin Love, PF Minnesota Timberwolves – 25.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 4.1 APG

Lakers Betting Odds to take Hit with Bryant out for 6 Weeks

kobe-bryantDon’t count on the Los Angeles Lakers being favored in too many betting lines for the next several weeks. After all, their star shooting guard, Kobe Bryant, is going to miss significant time once again with a major injury.

As many will recall, Bryant suffered an Achilles tear at the end of last year, which required 7 and a half months of rehabilitation. Earlier today, he learned that he’ll miss the next six weeks with a fractured left knee. The injury first surfaced in the Lakers’ Tuesday night win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Bryant complained about stiffness in his left knee following an awkward move. We now know that this is more than just some stiffness, as the knee injury will force him out until early February.

Bryant has only been back in the Lakers blue and gold for six games this year. During his short stint back from last season’s injury, he hasn’t exactly been the same old Kobe. His stats thus far are 13.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG, 42.5% shooting, and a very ugly 5.67 TPG. Most people expected Number 24 to continue rounding into form as he got more games under his belt. But now he’ll have to start the process all over again, as he should miss around 20 more games or so.

kobe-bryantSo what are the Lakers’ postseason chances looking like with Bryant now set to miss a significant chunk of time? Well they were already looking shaky in the stacked Western Conference, where the current eighth seed, Denver, boasts a 14-10 record. Los Angeles is currently just 12-13, which is 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. A healthy and in-shape Bryant could’ve helped close this gap, but now it’s up to the supporting cast.

Unfortunately, this cast hasn’t offered up much support, with Steve Nash having sat all but 6 games and Pau Gasol ailing right now. The top scorer on the team has been Nick Young, who’s averaging 14.9 PPG on 43.5% shooting. Gasol is not far behind him with 14.7 PPG, but the big man is shooting a similar 43.9% from the field. The team is missing much-needed production from Steve Blake (9.8PPG, 7.7APG) and Jordan Farmar (9.2PPG, 4.4APG), both of whom are out with injuries.

So this leaves the team without any guards who can really distribute the ball. In turn, this has created a situation where big men Gasol and Chris Kaman (8.3PPG, 5.1RPG) are becoming frustrated with their lack of good low-post looks.

Jodie Meeks (12.4PPG, 0.9APG) and Xavier Henry (9.6PPG, 1.0APG) are likely to see significant time at the point position. Of course, this isn’t exactly a good thing because both players have less than a 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. All in all, it looks like the Lakers’ injury issues could kill their playoff chances before the season even reaches the All-Star break.