Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt thinks that championship expectations for his club are unfair, a notion that Adam calls “ridiculous.”
Find out who our panel thinks will miss the playoffs that made it last year, and which teams will replace them.
Every season, there are only a handful of teams that affect the championship landscape. Find out which teams matter for 2014-15.
I am pleased to announce that, along with the debut of the 2014-15 NBA season, The Peoples Court has a new format! You’ll still get to enjoy the views and opinions of Adam, Lamont, myself, and our guests, but rather than waiting until the end of the week to get those to you, we’ll be sharing them in shorter clips throughout the week. That means more TPC in smaller doses. Don’t worry, we’ll still bring you longer episodes when the situation calls for it, but we wanted to give you more consistent content. Hope you enjoy!
The 2014-15 NBA season is just around the corner. There are a lot of things to be excited about this season even if you’re team doesn’t matter. For the record, if a team doesn’t have a realistic chance of advancing past the second round of the playoffs they don’t matter. Last year, I gave a list of 5 ways you can still enjoy the season if your favorite team doesn’t matter. Here are 4 more:
- Practice your announcing – There are a few teams around that employ bad announcers to call their games. Clyde Drexler with the Houston Rockets, Sean Elliott with the San Antonio Spurs and Mike Smith with the Los Angeles Clippers are a few those bad announcers. They all either engage in homerism to the extreme, laugh at an unfunny joke they just made or utter some statement that befuddles the mind. Drexler manages to do all three. I’ve learned to mute the TV whenever I’m watching a game these guys are calling. Instead of playing music this season when the TV sound is off, I’m going to try calling the games myself. You should too. We can’t do worse than these guys.
- Keep stats – Stat keepers are probably the unsung heroes of the NBA. Whether it’s the basic stats or the more advanced ones, someone has to keep track of them. There’s plenty of stat keeping software available for download. Pick one and test it out for a few games. You’ll probably gain a much better appreciation for how hard the official stat keepers have.
- Tour the NBA – This is admittedly expensive and most of won’t be able to do it. Wouldn’t it be great visit all 28 cities that have an NBA franchise and see a game in all 28 arenas? It’s a basketball junkie’s dream.
- Gamble, gamble – Having a rooting interest in games only adds to the fun. When your favorite team doesn’t matter the games are somewhat less fun to watch. Another way to have fun is to get involved in sports betting. There are a variety of things you can bet on for a particular game – the winner, total score, over/under, etc. Putting money on a game will definitely give you something to root for.
Watching Philidelphia’s Nerlen’s Noel in summer league and remembering how well Blake Griffin did in his first year playing in the league I think that the NBA should offer talented high schoolers the ability to ‘red shirt’ their first year in the league: be drafted and paid by an NBA team, but not suit up for games until they’re at least a year out of high school.
- Salary – Young players start getting paid earlier without having the stigma of the D-League attached to them.
- Adjustment – Young players get psychologically adjusted to a grueling 82 game season before they’re asked to preform
- Maturity – Gives the kids a chance to mature in an actual working NBA environment, let them learn from the veterans on their teams
- Practice – We talking about practice? Let them learn the sets, get much closer to NBA strength
- Pricing – How do you structure the red shirt contract? Which contract is considered the “rookie” contract? Does the draft order still count for that first “real” NBA contract?
- Injury – What if the red shirt is injured during their first year in the league? There would need to be some sort of insurance or compensation given for any injury during the red shirt year.
- Negative Influence – Not all locker rooms are great incubators for emotional and moral development. Then again, neither are all college campuses.
- The Player Doesn’t Perform – Essentially, what if the draft pick doesn’t wow in the red shirt year like the team that drafted him thought he would? Would he become a free agent? Would he hurt his salary chances? The fear of damaging their draft value (and ultimately earning compensation) might lead many high schoolers to opt for college rather than the red shirt route.
But wait, isn’t this what the D-League is for?
Absolutely. I realize that having an actual Development League would go a long way to ameliorating this situation, which I fully advocate for. I’d love to see a tiered basketball league system similar to what the UK has for soccer, but right now the D-League until there’s some money or enthusiasm behind it, the ‘red shirt’ idea might be a good stop gap for ambitious players who want to forego the college route and get right into being pros.
This doesn’t seem like a terribly radical idea, and it’s likely to prepare younger players for the NBA far, far better than a 28-45 game college season does now. The NBA should offer a red shirt first year at decent compensation to talented high schoolers to help them adjust to the game without the pressure of having to perform and ultimately provide its audience with a better product
Last season’s epic NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs got a remix and is currently tied at one game a piece with a critical. This year’s rematch between the league’s top two teams is shaping up to be as good or better than last season’s 7 game masterpiece. Both games in San Antonio were mirroring images of each other. Game 1 saw the Heat more in control throughout most of the game with the Spurs using a bit of luck (LeBron James’ muscle cramps) to propel them to victory1. Roles were reversed in Game 2 as the Spurs lead most of the way and luck coming the Heat’s way (Tony Parker and Tim Duncan missing 4 free throws).
These teams are evenly matched2 and it is a privilege to watch them battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Based on the first two games it’s nearly impossible to say which team has the advantage for the remainder of the series, though someone has been predicting the Spurs since the season started. Instead here a few quick takeaways from Games 1 & 2:
- The King is still the King – Yes, Kevin Durant was a deserving MVP for the regular season and, yes, James is still the world’s best player. We covered “crampgate” and the ensuing fallout in our last episode. In case you were paying attention, he was the best player on the court until he was forced to sit out the last 4 minutes of Game 1. It’s not a small coincidence that the Spurs late 4th quarter surge came after James was carried off the court. James responded to the ridiculous criticism by being transcendent yet again in Game 2. As if for shits and giggles he did it in a variety of ways. From attacking the lane in the 1st quarter, hero ball jump shots in the 3rd and, finally his likely favorite, making the right play by finding an open Chris Bosh for the go ahead 3 pt shot. I can’t wait to see what LeBron has in store for us next.
- The Claw – Kawhi Leonard was brilliant in last season’s Finals and many believe he will be the face of the Spurs once Duncan retires. These two games have been somewhat rough the stone faced wingman. Leonard’s been plagued by foul trouble in both games and gets the tough task of being the primary defender on James. Having to expend an enormous amount of energy defending James has probably lead to his underwhelming performance on the offensive end. Leonard has totaled 18 pts on 6-14 FGs and 2 rebounds thus far. Those numbers don’t exactly shout out at you. He’s still, at worst, the Spurs’ second best two-way player and they’ll need him to have a bigger impact to be successful.
- Gray Haired Contributors – Chris pointed out that during their Finals’ fun, Miami always seems to find a way to get older, seemingly washed up players to contribute in major ways. Whether it was Ray Allen, Shane Battier or Mike Miller, the veteran players that have filled out the Heat’s lineup have always come through. This year it’s looking like that player will be Rashard Lewis. Lewis is far from the player he used to be and his role has been so small that sometimes I forgot he was still in the league let alone on the Heat roster. However, since being dusted off and inserted in the starting lineup in the Eastern Conference finals he’s made an impact. He’s totaled 24 pts on 5-13 3PT’s and is on his way to being the Heat’s unsung hero should they go on to win the title.
- Return of the Catch Phrase – Mark Jackson didn’t take a break after being fired by the Golden State Warriors. Instead, he immediately reached a multiyear agreement with ESPN and rejoined the broadcasting team of Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. The back and forth banter between Jackson and his former head coach is enjoyable and even funny at times. Jackson also dusted off his familiar catch phrases such as “Hand down, man down” even if he hasn’t always used them at the appropriate times. Even after a 3 year absence from the broadcasting table Jackson’s catch phrases are in danger of growing stale. He might want to get together with Dwayne Johnson and come up with some new ones
- Every NBA Champion has had good fortune, luck or things going their way.
- In the 9 Finals games played thus far, a grand total of 18 points separate the two teams.
This week special guest host Jason McAdams joined us to discuss our reactions from Game 1 of the NBA Finals, our predictions on how the rest of the series will play out, and the fall out from LeBron James’ muscle cramps in the 4th quarter. Enjoy.
This week we took a look at the many questions facing the Indiana Pacers following their playoff exit, the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, and a potential Finals rematch between the Heat and Spurs.
Previewing the Conference Finals, calling into question Chris Paul’s leadership ability and #pointgod status, and discussing how race impacts coaching in the NBA.
- Tom Ziller on the NBA’s race problem for coaches (SB Nation)
- Scott Ostler: Is there a different standard for black coaches? (SFGate)
- Marcus Thompson: Warriors, Mark Jackson and the question of race (Mercury News)