The Unluckiest Player In The NBA
Sports |  Source: L. Smith, D210.tv

The Unluckiest Player In The NBA

Some players just get the short end of the stick.

In the offseason between the 2015-2016 NBA season and this past NBA season, small forward Kevin Durant jumped ship from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the 73-win Golden State Warriors dominated NBA news. What made far fewer news stories was what happened to Warriors' small forward Harrison Barnes, who needed to leave to make the Durant move possible. What happened next makes him perhaps the most unfortunate player... star, really... in the NBA.

Yes, he's still making $95 million over four years, which is not exactly unlucky. But what makes him the unluckiest player in the league is rather subtle compared to what some players have gone through. Take recent #1 overall draft picks like Anthony Bennett or Greg Oden. Not only were they atrocious on the basketball court in the NBA, but they were under the microscope created by the hype surrounding them as #1 overall picks coming into the league.

Barnes isn't a bad player. But embarrassing and unlucky things don't only happen to bad players. Take former Shaqtin' a Fool Lifetime Achievement Award winners Dwight Howard and Brandon Knight. They have both been solid throughout their NBA careers. But Knight has been embarrassed quite frequently for a player who has only been in the NBA for six seasons, and Howard has been embarrassed far more than an eight-time NBA All-Star should be.

And perhaps no player in NBA history has committed more stupid actions during games than 2015 Shaqtin' a Fool Lifetime Achievement Award winner JaVale McGee, who is now a Warrior. You'll see what I mean about five seconds into the video.


But it was JaVale McGee ultimately getting the last laugh and winning the 2017 NBA championship to give him more rings than Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor, Patrick Ewing, Steven Nash and Allen Iverson combined. Who's unlucky now?

Harrison Barnes is.
Now that we have a number of other situations to compare to, let's get into why Barnes' situation is, in fact, worse. In the his final season with Golden State, he averaged 11.7 points per game with a 46.6 percent FG percent and a 38.3 percent 3-PT percent. Those are all respectable statistics for a starter who played alongside three NBA All-Stars and did not get the ball as much as he would have on a weaker team such as the Dallas Mavericks, the team he plays for now. In the 2015-2016 season with Oklahoma City, Durant had much better stats than Barnes did with the Warriors, in part because he played with only one other All-Star in Oklahoma City, point guard Russell Westbrook. He averaged 28.2 points per game with a 50.5 percent FG percent and a 38.3 percent 3-PT percent.

Durant only played a little bit less than five minutes more than Barnes each game in the 2015-2016 season. However, he averaged twice as many shots than Barnes, putting up an average of 19.2 shots per game as opposed to 9.6. By taking the same number of two-point FG, three-point FG and FT as Barnes took during his final season with Golden State, Durant would have averaged roughly 12.8 points per game, a total that is only slightly higher than what Barnes' total (11.7) was! And Durant is one of the best scorers in NBA history.

How does this make Barnes unlucky? Based on these numbers, he was certainly pulling his weight for the Golden State team that won a record a record 73 games in his final season despite not putting up superstar-like numbers that Durant has been known for throughout his career. Yet, because Durant was available for the Warriors to sign, Barnes had to move on. Well, he moved on, and his statistical improvement in Dallas shows that he is a great player that was unfortunate enough to get the boot from a great team.

With Dallas, Barnes has had his chance to shine, as he went from being the Warriors' fourth option to being the Mavericks' star, and he did just that. He wasn't on Durant's level, but he did average a team-high and a career-high 19.2 points with a 46.8 percent FG percent and a 35.1 percent 3-PT percent. Yet the Mavericks this past season with Barnes could not win half the amount of games the Warriors won in their final season with him, as they won just 33 games.

Imagine how Barnes must feel. He pulled his weight for one of the greatest teams in NBA history and was signed by a team that has no chance at being relevant in the near future, despite the fact that he has taken on a much larger role and excelled in it. Sure, other players such as Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights left the Warriors last summer as well to make room for Durant. But none of those players are as good as Barnes is, and none were directly replaced by the future Hall of Famer Durant.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: nba.com

All's Quiet at the Finals

There were no fireworks to be had in Game 1.

The opening game of the Finals proceeded as if it was a midseason contest, not the start of a series that features the sport's ultimate prize. Warrior's coach Steve Kerr felt the indifference. When asked how he could spark his team he responded, "Remind them it's June" during his courtside interview. Remind them he did.

The role players showed respect for Kerr's wrath and it was reflected in buckets. Barbosa's magic potion was in full effect tonight as he pitched in with 11 points. The max money version of Harrison Barnes came to play notching double digits in the scoring column. The Cavaliers were once again acquainted with Iguodala's soon to be patented swipe block.

Quick question, what are the odds on Shaun Livingston winning the Finals MVP? The answer is a rather resounding Not Available for most venues. After his performance in Game 1, expect that to change. It felt like every single of his 20 points came off a lackadaisical (in appearance only) pull-up.

The Dub's big three weren't the forefront tonight. Draymond Green was a presence again after ghosting through the last series. His shenanigans are one thing that carried over from the conference semifinals with a nice bicycle kick to Kyrie Irving early in the fourth.

The splash brothers took a backseat to the role players, scoring the fewest combined points during any game this season with just 20 on 8-for-27 shooting. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will be back, but it was nice to see some wily vets shoulder the burden to take home the victory.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: sbnation.com

The Most Meaningless Event In The NBA Season Is Over

The NBA draft took around five hours to complete this season, longer than any NBA game. And for what?

Now more than ever, there is one event during the NBA season that stands out not above but below the rest. No, it's not the 82-game regular season, which has produced a similar-looking playoff field over the past three seasons, which has in turn produced the same Eastern and Western Conference champion over the past three seasons.

Instead, it's the NBA draft, which literally has not had, still does not have and likely will not for a long time have an impact on who the championship contenders in the near future of the league are.

Sure, the draft is great for the players and their families when the players walk across the stage with their new team cap on their head to pose for pictures with the league commissioner, Adam Silver. But beyond that, it is the most meaningless event of the year in the NBA world. Here's why.

Let's face it. When the Boston Celtics traded away the top pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, the chance that was a slight one to begin with of this year's draft drastically changing the league went completely out the window. Even with the two teams who have been in the past three NBA Finals matchups, the Cleveland Cavaliers of the Eastern Conference and the Golden State Warriors of the Western Conference, having no draft picks coming into draft night, this players drafted in this year's draft had and have roughly a 0 percent chance to change which teams are contending for NBA championships in the near future.

The Chicago Bulls, who traded Jimmy Butler, one of the best players in the NBA, to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the draft changed that narrative. No, not by the Butler trade, and no, they didn't change THAT narrative, not the one about the draft not changing the complexion of the league. They changed the narrative about the NBA Finals teams of the past three seasons not having any draft picks.

yupYep, the Bulls sold...SOLD...that's right, for $3.5 million...the 38th overall pick in the draft to this year's NBA champion, the Warriors, who went on to select the player who experts are already calling the steal of the draft, Jordan Bell. Bell, a defensive nightmare for opponents, averaged 12.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in five NCAA tournament games for the Oregon Ducks this past season.

Let me fill you in here. Assuming no injuries, the Golden State Warriors will be 2018 NBA champions. You heard it here first...okay, I probably wasn't first, but that only adds to my point. I was first in the Jordan Bell era at least. Don't get me wrong, they'd have won it without Bell, but Bell won't hurt them either.

Finally, freshmen have now been the first overall pick in every NBA draft since 2010, with Markelle Fultz being added to that list this season with the Philadelphia 76ers' first overall selection. In fact, this season, 11 of the 14 lottery pick players drafted were freshmen, the highest total in NBA history. Also, 16 of the 30 players drafted in the first round were freshman, also the highest total in NBA history.

Only two first round picks were seniors, the lowest total ever, with the first of which coming at the 29th pick, the latest ever for the first senior selection of a draft. And finally, for the first time ever, freshmen took up the top five spots on the draft board, and they didn't stop there, taking up the first seven spots of the draft, a new record.

Don't be surprised if all of these records continue to be broken year after year, either. The one-and-done NCAA player trend has really taken off over the past few seasons, and it has shown no signs of slowing down. These freshmen are 18 and 19 year old teenage kids that are hyped up and drafted as the top NBA prospects. But none of them have any chance to compete on the same level as the best of the best in the NBA today like Kevin Durant, LeBron James or Stephen Curry.

Despite what one LaVar Ball-abbermouth may tell you, his son Lonzo Ball isn't even half as good as any of those players. And he was the 2nd overall pick in the draft!

These young players won't drastically affect the outcome of each NBA season, which makes the NBA draft itself kind of a waste of time. In the near future anyway, don't expect the NBA draft to become more meaningful. The amount of implications it has carried, carries and will continue to carry in regard to the outcome of each NBA season is at its lowest, and it may just keep getting lower.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: L. Smith, San Francisco Chronicle

Why GSW Will Win The Next 2 NBA Championships, Guaranteed

It isn't far fetched by any means.

Let me just start by stating some facts:

  • LeBron James had an absolutely incredible performance during this year's final - he averaged a triple-double. Still, the Cavaliers weren't even close to winning the series.
  • Kevin Durant is arguably the second greatest player in the league right now and will only continue to get better (Kawhi Leonard comes very close).
  • The Warriors core 4 (Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green) are all in their prime and will be for the next 2+ years.
  • The Western Conference is much tougher than the Eastern Conference. Even so, no other team in the West can truly compete with the Warriors in a 7 Game series.
  • The Eastern Conference just went from weak to even weaker with all the recent trades (although there have been some pretty solid draft pickups).

Let's be honest here. There is no current team that can genuinely compete with the Warriors. While the league as a whole is getting much stronger, the Warriors are at their highest level. In fact, they haven't even reached their true potential yet. Kevin Durant had a tremendous season this year but he's been on the Warriors for only a year. Team chemistry only improves over time and I am sure that KD's performance for the 2018 season will even be better than last years (I know, it's crazy). Curry has proven that he can perform well in the finals and Draymond will facilitate the ball and continue being the foundation of the team.

The Doubters: "Oh, but what about Klay? Klay doesn't like it with the Warriors because KD has taken his spotlight!"

Uhhh, I don't think so. Klay knows his role. His role is to make the other team design plays to contain him. Because if you allow Klay to get hot and get in his shooting rhythm, it's over.

Klay is a winner and he wants to continue winning. In fact, Klay played an underrated yet incredibly important role for this year's finals - DEFENSE. You got to give credit where its due. Kyrie went off but he had to work, and he had to work hard. And when you work real hard, you get tired.

The dominance of the Warriors has completely changed the landscape of the NBA. You can't just play smart basketball and expect to win (look what happened to the Spurs). Now, you need to play smart basketball and also have multiple all-star caliber players to even think of winning a championship. Teams across the league are trying to create their own super-teams to hopefully compete with the Warriors. Well, as of now, the Warriors have 4 future Hall of Famers in their starting lineup and it doesn't look like their performance will diminish for at least a minimum of two years.

Sorry guys, the facts are the facts. No team is going to beat the Warriors any time soon.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: thecommittedgeneration.com

You Need To Put Money On Russell Westbrook Right Now

Go on bovada, take a screenshot, text your bookie, and win money.

On that fateful summer day when Kevin Durant made his decision to team up with the Golden State Warriors the NBA went into shock. At first we were like, "Woah, I can't believe the best regular season team of all time just added a seven-foot sniper who is probably a top-10 scorer of all time".

And then we were like, "Lmao, I wonder which team is going to overspend on Harrison Barnes now" (I don't actually feel this way but I thought it was funny, big Harrison Barnes fan).

And then we were like, "Woah, is Russell Westbrook going to average a triple-double next year?"

source: espn.com

Well, fast forward nine months and here we are. Kevin Durant did join the Warriors and they are indeed amazing. The Mavs overspent on Harrison Barnes and they are ass. And, oh yeah, Russell Westbrook is going to average a triple-double. A triple fucking double.

Those things that Jason Kidd used to get sometimes. Those things that used to be featured for 20 minutes at the beginning of SportsCenter (back when SportsCenter was cool).

He has 41 triple-doubles with four games remaining, which has him tied with Oscar Roberston for the most in one season. That is a triple-double every other game. That is INSANE. He turned the triple-double from something you strive for to something you expect. If I get an ESPN alert telling me that Russ had 38, 17, and nine I am surprised as to why he didn't grab one more board.

I think we all came to terms with the fact that he was actually going to do it around the time of the All-Star break, but now that it is actually her I am freaking out. The fact that Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1971 is one of the most known statistics in sports. Everyone knows it.

Now, Russ is about to join him. You are going to remember this Russell Westbrook season more than any other single season of any player that you have ever watched.

I understand that LeBron James is a better basketball player and I could debate for hours about why he impacts the game more than Russ, but this guy is averaging a freaking triple-double. Our obsession with the term "triple-double" and having two digit numbers in the stat line where we usually see one digit numbers, makes this just absolutely bonkers.

And oh yeah, there is an MVP race that Russell Westbrook has been an underdog in all season. He started as the favorite, but James Harden, who is averaging 29.2 points, 11.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, took over as the favorite as he has led the Rockets to the third best record in the NBA without another all-star on his team. He has played out of his mind as he has switched positions to point guard and has dominated all season compiling 20 triple-doubles of his own.

source: twitter.com

But at the end of the day, averaging a triple-double is averaging a triple-double. And if you can do so while leading your team of scrubs to a playoff birth in the harder conference like Russell Westbrook has done, you deserve to win MVP.

Odds have been updating every day so I encourage you to stay locked to your Bovada accounts and send your bookie a bet slip as soon as possible. The latest odds had Russell Westbrook at -180 (or 18 to win 10), and they are only getting worse. You're welcome.

Image Alt
Sports |  Source: csnbayarea.com

Would A Perfect Warriors Playoffs Prompt Changes To The NBA?

People complaining about a boring NBA should be rooting for a sweep. Here's why.

Simply because the last three NBA Finals have been between the Cleveland Cavs and the Golden State Warriors, people have complained about a boring and predictable NBA. I recently touched on this subject with one key point to back up my argument that despite that predictability, the NBA really has been awesome.

The point was that we've had two great NBA Finals matchups featuring the Warriors and the Cavaliers despite the predictability of the regular season, the championship is what really matters. The Warriors won in 6 games in 2015, winning Game 6 on the road in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win Game 7 on Golden State's home floor at Oracle Arena.

But both of those seasons were without one key piece in this year's NBA Finals. That piece was, is and will likely continue to be likely future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant, who the Warriors claimed in FREE AGENCY, not via trade, this past offseason.

I'm not a Warriors fan, but I've been openly rooting for them to win the championship over the past few seasons because I, unlike many, can appreciate greatness without spending all my waking hours bickering on social media trying to push an anti-greatness agenda that will never, ever work. So naturally, I'm enjoying the fact that they're up 2-0 on the Cavaliers and in the process of getting redemption from last year's epic collapse and currently quieting all of the haters. I'm not complaining about that whatsoever.

But most people would rather have a great competitive championship than one that is lopsided from the get-go, which this one has been with 22-point and 19-point wins by the Warriors in games 1 and 2, respectively. Sure, that may change, just as it did last season when the Warriors got up 2-0, but like I said, that key piece the Warriors added, Kevin Durant, has probably been the best player in the series thus far. So if you've been bashing the NBA for how predictable and boring it is, listen up.

Here's the good part. Here's why everyone who's been complaining about how boring the NBA is should actually be rooting FOR a Golden State sweep and a perfect 16-0 NBA playoffs instead of against it.

In 2011, a three-team trade that would have sent point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers to form a "super team" and give the Lakers a future much brighter than theirs currently appears was flat-out rejected by then-commissioner David Stern.

Yes, that's a trade, and Durant was added in free agency. And yes, there's currently a salary cap. But with how relatively little the Warriors' stars are currently making compared to some of the other stars of the NBA, that salary cap didn't matter much when they signed Durant this past offseason. With that trade having been rejected due to "basketball reasons", is there absolutely no way to implement a rule similar to this in the future for free agency?

I'm not taking sides; I think Durant going to the Warriors was done in a fair and traditional manner and it should be respected as such. But millions of people out there who know and love the NBA will have to adjust to a new era of basketball because of how stacked the Warriors are and how stacked future teams could potentially be if players can just play for whichever team they want to play for.

The Cavaliers winning any games this series would show the NBA that there is still a sliver of parity, both among teams and conferences, and there would likely be no action taken by the NBA as a result of it. So if you REALLY want to get that point across about how boring the NBA is, you better make sure you root for the Warriors to sweep the Cavaliers in the coming days in blowout games.

Otherwise, you better pray that the Cavaliers somehow come back to win the series, which they have just a three percent chance to do according to FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, who actually has been WAY wrong about the NBA Finals, World Series and Presidential Election all within the past year, but that's beyond the point.