When I coached an 11th grade AAU boys basketball team, we went 26-1 and won 5 out of 6 tournaments. My philosophy was simple… make the practices so hard that the games were fun. There was not one thing I asked my team to do during a game, that we didn’t go over in practice at least 10 times. When we watch teams that are consistent game in and game out, it is because they pay attention to details in practice, so it is no secret why they are the cream of the crop in the NBA.
Below is the Sports Whisperer’s Top 7 NBA Power Rankings:
#7 (3-1) Toronto Raptors: I have been very impressed with the Raptors 1-2 punch of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan is averaging 36 points per game and Lowry is averaging 18. This is not a very deep team, both guards are averaging 37 minutes per contest. Center Jonas Valanciunas, is providing a double/double every night. He is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds. Unfortunately for the Raptors, they have no real scoring threat other than the players mentioned above. If they stay healthy they can win 50 games.
#6 (3-1) LA Clippers: In the 1988 movie, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Lieutenant Frank Drebin says, “ Nothing to see here.” This is how I feel about the LA Clippers. They will win 50 games but does anyone think they are a legitimate threat to come out of the west? I would have broken up the team last season. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are still a very good duo but this is not an elite team by any stretch of the imagination.
#5 (3-1) Boston Celtics: There is always 1 guy when you play pick-up basketball at a park or at a local gym that plays hard every play. He crashes the boards every shot, sprints the floor and never lets up. He is not the most skilled guy on the court, but he is beyond annoying to cover. That is the Boston Celtics. They are a very well-coached and talented team. The problem with Boston, however, is that they don’t have a legitimate A+ player. They have a bunch of B- and B-rated players. PG Isaiah Thomas is averaging 24.3 points per game and Avery Bradley has stepped up his offensive output averaging 19.3. Al Horford signed with the Celtics in the off-season. He has been somewhat of a disappointment. He is only averaging 12 point and 5.3 rebounds per game. The Celtics will probably win over 50 games and be a force in the Eastern Conference.
#4 (3-1) Golden State Warriors: It is going to take a while for the Warriors to click on all cylinders. Free Agent Kevin Durant doesn’t seem to be missing a beat. He is leading the team in points 28.5, steals 3.0 and blocks 1.5. Leading the team in blocks is a huge problem for this team. After losing 3 significant frontcourt players last year, the “Dubs” are now soft in the middle. What is going on with Klay Thompson? He is shooting .107 from behind the three-point line.
#3 (4-0) Oklahoma State Thunder: Russell Westbrook is averaging 37.5 points. 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game. He has been doing it all for this young Thunder team. Free agent signing Victor Oladipo, is averaging 15 points per game. The twin towers of Steven Adams and Enes Kantar are averaging 20 points and 17. 5 rebounds per game. In order for this team to make a deep run in the playoffs, these two centers have got to be consistent. Other than the Cavaliers, no one can beat the Golden State Warriors by going “small” Maybe the solution for the Thunder would be to constantly play both Kanter and Adams together and impose their size. This team is very intriguing and should get better as the season goes on.
#2 (4-1) San Antonio Spurs: It is time for Gregg Popovich to put Tony Parker on the bench. Parker is no longer a legitimate scoring option and he has become an absolute liability on defense. In order to maximize Parker’s skill- set he should be playing 18-20 minutes per game. The Spurs second unit is young and athletic and Parker would be a perfect fit to run that offense. Patty Mills, Kawhi Leonard and LeMarcus Aldridge have all been very consistent in their first 5 games. Leonard is averaging 28 points and 3 steals per game. He will be in the conversation for MVP all year long.
#1 (4-0) Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers are looking to go 5-0 for the first time since the 1976-77 season. This team looks better than the last year’s NBA Championship. The Cavs have one player in their rotation of 9 that can’t shoot the three point shot (Center Tristan Thompson). Cleveland was the best 3-point shooting team in their playoff run in 2016 and are 2nd in attempts behind the arc with 34 attempts per game and 7th shooting 38.2%. LeBron James is taking a secondary role to scoring. He is averaging 20 points, 9.5 rebound and 9 assists per game. Kyrie Irving is becoming the best PG in the NBA, he is averaging 26.8 PPG and shooting 53.6% from downtown. Kevin Love is averaging 21 points and 8 rebounds per contest. The Cavs are the deepest team and top to bottom the best shooting team in the league. They will coast to 60 wins.
Remember: Life is a competition act accordingly…
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