2019 Western Conference Playoffs predictions

 

I feel like I say this every year, but the 2019 NBA off-Season may be the wildest off-season in the history of the league. Has there ever been a summer where we’ve seen so many stars move around and make so many different teams legitimate contenders like this? For the first time in years I genuinely have no idea who is going to hoist the Larry O’ Brien trophy at the end of June and as a fan, I’ve never been more excited for a new season to start in my life.

With Anthony Davis joining the Lakers, Russ being sent to Houston, and Kawhi joining forces with PG in LA, the western conference has received the bulk of the shakeup in the league and it’s made predicting the seeding for this year harder than ever. But without further ado, here’s my prediction for the following season in the wild wild west.

 

russell westbrook rockets

Number one seed: Houston Rockets

Watching Russell Westbrook & James Harden on the same team again (This time they’re both in their primes) is going to be FUN. The Rockets were able to snag 53 wins last year and that’s with CP3 only playing in 58 games last season.

They’re going to be a great regular season team for sure, but my concerns with this group is strictly with their postseason performance. Especially considering that both Harden & Russ both have very recent playoff meltdowns on their resume.

denver nuggets

Number two seed: Denver Nuggets

The young Nuggets were a pleasant surprise for the league last season finishing as the #2 seed behind Golden State led by their two young stars in Jokic & Murray.

The Nuggets are young and they’re only going to progressively get better. Knocking off Pop & the Spurs was no small feat and going seven games against arguably the best back-court in the league vs CJ/Dame was highly impressive and I expect the Nuggets to continue their ascension that could even result in a WCF berth this year.

kawhi-paul

Number three seed: Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are going to be a DAMN good team this year. This roster won 48 games last season and added two of the best two way players in the league to their roster. The only reason I’m not predicting them to finish higher as a one or two seed is because I’m accounting for PG healing from his shoulder injury and Kawhi undoubtedly sitting out at least 10 games due to load management.

utah jazz

Number four seed: Utah Jazz

The 2nd ranked defense in the league added Mike Conley, one of the most impressive defensive guards of this decade to their roster and also added sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic who shot 42% from the 3pt line last season while also averaging 18 points a night. The Jazz are just as good as any team in the league and if Donovan Mitchell takes that leap (which I fully expect him to do) into being one of the elite two guards in the league this year, Jazz fans could see a title in Utah for the first time in team history.

Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

Number five seed: Golden State Warriors

I would have the Warriors higher on this list but missing Klay Thompson for most of the season, if not all of the season is going to be a huge hit for them. For the first time in years I expect this team to struggle on the defensive end of the ball. Steph’s struggles are well documented at this point and D’Lo was one of the worst defensive guards in the league last season. Nonetheless when Klay makes his return I expect them to turn the corner and make an appearance in the conference finals no matter their seeding.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers-Press Conference

Number six seed: Los Angeles Lakers

Like the Warriors, I have the Lakers listed as a lower seed but behind Lebron & AD I could very well see this team making run into the conference finals. The Demarcus Cousins injury just makes their depth at the 4 and 5 spots…. yeah. If Boogie were healthy and ready to go it would likely be another story but with him going down I just don’t foresee a scenario where they finish higher than a four seed at the very max.

spurs lol

Number seven seed: San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are probably the most slept on team in the league. I’m not sure if just because of their quiet nature or people dismissing them because they’re led by Demar Derozan but the Spurs have a damn good roster with arguably the best collection of guards in the league. With a healthy Murray back along with young studs like White, Johnson, and Lonnie Walker don’t be surprised if the Spurs upset one of the higher seeds on this list.

trailblazers

Number eight seed: Portland Trailblazers

I know having the Blazers finish this low may be an eyebrow raiser for most people but keep in mind that I think that the first and eight seed in the west will finish no more than 8-10 games apart from each other. Just as the spurs have the best collection of guards of any team in the west, the Blazers arguably have the best collection of big men in the west with the addition of veteran rim protector Hassan Whiteside.

 

 

 

Fever is the official album for Summer 2k19 & Album of the Year already

First of all, let me to say this…. this album fucking SLAPS. Thee Stallion capitalized off her growing popularity beautifully giving stallions and hot girls everywhere an album they can let ride from beginning to end at every single function this summer and summers years after 2019.

This was Megan’s coming out party. This is her Invasion of Privacy, her Pink Friday, this was her moment to drop 63 in the Garden like MJ in 86′ and she delivered fourteen straight times. Maybe it’s just the initial shock and the initial feelings that the album gave me, but Fever is the greatest debut album I’ve heard from not just a female rapper but from any rapper period (#FREEJT).

rapper-Megan-Thee-Stallion

Hot Girl Meg’s intelligent lyrics are matched with great production and two awesome features from Da Baby and Juicy J. The Juicy J feature on Simon Says will have hotties from all across the world throwing it back from now until homecoming season and Cash Shit featuring Da Baby will be on the radio every hour on the hour.

Fever is a love letter to Houston, to Houston hip hop. She pays homage to Pimp C and Three Six Mafia on Big Drank and its clear from the very beginning that the Hot Girl will never forget her roots.

Megan Thee Stallion is here to stay and shes prepared to take everything this industry owes her. She’s doing this not only for Houston, for Ms. Holly, but most importantly herself. Megan has the talent, the sex appeal, the charisma, and now the debut album that is going to make her a superstar in hip hop for years and years to come.

Russ’s legacy is on the line, and it needs to be discussed

Russell Westbrook is one of the most electrifying players I’ve ever seen pick up a basketball. His intensity, out of this world athleticism, and sheer brute strength is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from a point guard. Russ has already earned his place among the ten greatest point guards ever, and it is for that reason that we cannot allow another potential first round exit to slide so easily.

Last year I wrote an article on the ten greatest point guards ever and I put Russ at the number nine spot on that list. As a MVP winner, multiple All-NBA team member, and perennial all-star he deserved that spot but I couldn’t put him higher for the simple fact that I haven’t seen him do more as the number one option on his own team. Not only has he not lead his team to enough, but as a superstar MVP caliber player I would go as far as to say he has underachieved as well.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors - Game One

Let’s just compare Russ to a few of his contemporaries that I had on the list, I’ll be fair I wont even use the multiple time champions like Magic, Zeke, Curry, etc. Steve Nash never won a championship in his career but he had enough impact on his team to where you can still give him all the respect in the world cause he at least led them to something. Nash led the Suns to multiple 50 win seasons, two 60 win seasons, and three conference finals appearances.

Lets look at Jason Kidd. Jason Kidd won a championship as a older veteran player for the Mavericks in 2011 but that’s not whats important here. Kidd led the Nets to back to back finals appearances and granted they loss but again, he led them to something. 

My point here is that Russ hasn’t led the Thunder to anything. In 2015 when KD missed the entire season due to injury Russ and the Thunder missed the playoffs despite Russ playing most of the season and since KD left to Golden State three years ago the Thunder have lost in the first round two years in a row, haven’t won 50 games yet despite having a MVP, two all defensive first team players, Steven Adams, and now (I’m not panicking yet) are down in this series against the Blazers.

I’m a fair NBA fan, I’m not hyper critical of guys who haven’t won a championship and that isn’t the end all be all for me. What I tend to pay attention to (And I hold Russ to a higher standard than this)  is can you at least get your team to the playoffs consistently? Can you get your team out of the first round consistently? Can you lead them to at least one conference finals?

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks

That is to me why Russ’s legacy is on the line. I’ve never been hyper critical of his triple-doubles cause I’ve always felt his triple doubles were vital to the success of the Thunder. I’ve only ever been critical of Russ and how he plays with other stars, especially stars who are better than him. And Russ deserves all the credit in the world for how he has played this season. He’s deferred to PG for most of the season and it shows as the Thunder were better (until PG’s shoulder injury) this season than last year, and he’s been excellent on the defensive end for the first time in years.

I’m not giving up on the Thunder just yet in this post-season. I believe they’re going to win this series and I’ve even gone as far as to pick them to go to the conference finals. But Russ has to lead this team out of the first round at least and he should be able to lead this team to the conference finals. They’re a better group than both of their potential opponents in the semi finals (Spurs/Nuggets).

Russell Westbrook is a top ten all time player, a MVP winner, and his career stat line will be among the 30 greatest career stat lines ever… and it is for that reason that he can’t lose this series, it is for that reason that he must lead this team to the conference finals. Every single player of his caliber has been able to lead a team to the conference finals at least and there should be no excuse for a player who is now 30 years old and still in the prime of his career.

LeBron and his failed feat of chasing the “ghost” of Chicago

After leading the Cavs to a game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors in 2016, LeBron James owned the basketball world. He captured his 3rd championship, his 3rd finals MVP, and he (with the help of Kyrie) ended Cleveland’s 52-year drought without a professional sports championship.

Continue reading “LeBron and his failed feat of chasing the “ghost” of Chicago”

Greatest Players in NBA History

hakeem

10. Hakeem Olajuwon

Career Stats: 21.8 PPG, 11.1 REB, 3.1 BPG

Career Accomplishments: 2x Champ, 2x Finals MVP, 1x MVP, 12x All-NBA, 9x All-Defense

Hakeem Olajuwon doubled as not only the greatest defensive center the NBA has ever seen, but also, the most skilled big man the league has ever seen. His footwork for his size was unreal, he had a deadly midrange game that wreaked havoc against big guys who couldn’t defend outside 10–15 ft (*cough cough* Shaq), and the Dream shake is the greatest go-to move the league has ever seen.

bill russell

9. Bill Russell

Career Stats: 15.1 PPG, 22.5 REB, 4.3 BPG

Career Accomplishments: 12x All-Star, 11x Champ, 5x MVP, 4x REB Champ

Bill Russell was the NBA’s first “GOAT.” Before there was Kareem, Michael, or Lebron, there was the undersized center from the University of San Francisco, drafted by the most storied franchise in NBA history.

Sure, you could argue that his era was the weakest time period in NBA history, and that’s absolutely fair. The ’50s and ’60s are easily the weakest time periods the league has ever seen, but it’s unfair to hold that against Bill or any other legend from those time periods as they obviously can’t help the eras in which they played. That argument only matters when you’re comparing legends from that time period to legends of later years. That’s it.

Bill was the ultimate teammate, the definition of unselfishness, and the polar opposite of Wilt Chamberlain. Yes, it is true that Bill played with multiple hall-of-famers, but the Celtics wouldn’t be the Celtics without the big guy in the middle. Period.

kobe

8. Kobe Bryant

Career Stats: 25.0 PPG, 5.2 REB, 4.7 AST

Career Accomplishments: 5x Champ, 12x All-Defense, 1x MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 15x All-NBA

Kobe Bean Bryant — one of the guys who made me fall in love with the NBA, and also, one of the guys who made me fall in love with debate. The Kobe/Lebron debates from 2008–2013 were just as legendary as the player who inspired them. Kobe wasn’t always politically correct, he wasn’t always a great teammate, he wasn’t always the most likable guy, but there’s no arguing with his very likable resume.

The second greatest shooting guard who ever lived and the second greatest player from my generation, Kobe is a basketball icon whose talents were only eclipsed by the likes of a few other players.

Shaq

7. Shaq

Career Stats: 23.7 PPG, 10.9 REB, 58 FG%

Career Accomplishments: 15x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 4x Champ, 3x Finals MVP

The most dominant force the league has ever seen, Shaq from the late ’90s to the early 2000s was the most unstoppable player in NBA history. Brute force and strength powered his way to number seven on this list.

The most amazing thing to think about with Shaq is that it’s very possible that he didn’t truly live up to his potential, which is scary when you think he’s still unanimously considered a top ten all-time player.

larry bird

6. Larry Bird

Career Stats: 24.3 PPG, 10 REB, 6.3 AST

Career Accomplishments: 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 3x Champ, 3x MVP, 2x Finals MVP

Larry Bird (along with Magic) saved the NBA in the 1980s. Larry doubled as not only one of the two greatest small forwards ever (hint hint), but also, as the most skilled small forward who ever lived. He could pass the ball just as well any point guard, he could rebound as well as any big man, and he could shoot lights out before 3-point shooting was the cool thing to do.

Larry is considered one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, and he only attempted two three-pointers per game for his career. Just imagine if he played during an era when 3-point shooting was favored more. Scary.

tim duncan

5. Tim Duncan

Career Stats: 19 PPG, 10.8 REB, 2.2 BLK

Career Accomplishments: 15x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 5x Champ, 15x All-Defense, 3x Finals MVP, 2x MVP

There is no player in NBA history more important to the success of their team than Tim Duncan was with the Spurs. Not only was Tim the best player on the Spurs (obviously), but he was the entire system that Coach Pop so effortlessly implemented. Easily, the greatest defensive forward in NBA history, Tim is also the oldest player in NBA history to make an All-Defensive team, making it in his 15th season. That’s insane.

The highlight of Duncan’s career has to be the 2003 Finals when he averaged 24 PPG, 17 REBs, 5 AST, and 5 BLKs. I’m willing to bet that we will never see a statistical performance like that ever again. Incredible.

Magic-Johnson-640x420

4. Magic Johnson

Career Stats: 19.5 PPG, 7.2 REB, 11.2 AST

Career Accomplishments: 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 3x MVP, 4x AST, 5x Champ, 3x Finals MVP

Magic is the greatest point guard in the history of basketball. He was as flamboyant and flashy as he was great, and that’s part of why he’s so amazing. There wasn’t a player more fit to run the showtime Lakers than Magic, and honestly I don’t care how great Steph Curry’s résumé will be; he will never be better than Magic.

Los Angeles Lakers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

3. Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Career Stats: 24.6 PPG, 11.2 REB, 2.6 BLK

Career Accomplishments: 19x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 4x BLK Champ, 6x Champ

The greatest big man the league has ever laid eyes on, Kareem is #1 all time in career points for a reason. His sky hook is one of the greatest go-to moves in NBA history, and his résumé is right up there with my number one and two players on this list. I’m open to any arguments for Kareem being number one or number two, but for now, he has to take a backseat to a GOAT and a King.

lebron james

2. LeBron James

Career Stats: 27.2 PPG, 7.4 REB, 7.2 AST

Career Accomplishments: 4x MVP, 3x Champ, 3x Finals MVP, 6x All-Defense, 14x All-NBA

Damn, LeBron. You caused this list to have way too much purple and gold on it, but I’d be crazy to leave you off. The greatest player from my generation, the greatest small forward who ever picked up a basketball, and the most polarizing athlete that the world has seen over the last 20 years, LeBron is the only athlete I can remember who not only lived up to the expectations he had as a teen, but exceeded them as well.

Now, as LeBron enters the twilight years of his career, we’re going to see if he can do enough in these final four years or so to finally claim GOAT status, but considering how great this #1 guy is, I don’t think that’s possible.

michael jordan

  1. Michael Jordan

Career Stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 REB, 5.3 AST

Career Accomplishments: 14x All-Star, 10x Scoring Champ, 6x Champ, 6x Finals MVP, 5x MVP

Michael Jeffery Jordan is #1. I mean, was there really much surprise here? His title as the GOAT hasn’t changed since ’97, and it likely won’t change unless LeBron captures about two more titles, two more finals MVPs, about nine more scoring titles, and wins another MVP or two.

Michael isn’t just the greatest player ever, though. There’s much more to it than that. He’s also the greatest perimeter defender ever, the greatest scorer ever, the greatest competitor the NBA has ever seen, and quite possibly the greatest athlete the world has ever seen as well.