Duke vs. Kentucky

Duke and Kentucky are currently saturating the league with top players. What would happen if the 12 best players from Duke played the 12 best players from Kentucky? I used a website called whatifsports.com to simulate that matchup.

Duke Depth Chart

  1. Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, Tyus Jones
  2. JJ Redick, Rodney Hood
  3. Rodney Hood, Justise Winslow, Luol Deng, Mike Dunleavy
  4. Jabari Parker, Luol Deng
  5. Jahlil Okafor, Mason Plumlee

Kentucky Depth Chart

  1. John Wall, Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe
  2. Devin Booker, Brandon Knight
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Trey Lyles
  4. Anthony Davis, Enes Kanter, Julius Randle
  5. Demarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns

1st Quarter

Both teams struggle to put points on the board, but Duke is energized by JJ Redick, who drills two 3 point jumpshots to put Duke up 13-11. Kentucky’s big men aren’t too happy with this, as Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Karl-Anthony Towns lead Kentucky on a 11-0 run in 3 minutes to put Kentucky up by 9. Kyrie Irving and Justise Winslow are able to scrape a few points together, each scoring 2 points, but Enes Kanter and Rajon Rondo quickly nullify their points with skillful paint scoring.

The quarter ends with Kentucky leading Duke 26-17

2nd Quarter

Kentucky stays hot to start off the second quarter, as John Wall and Devin Booker lead the Wildcats on a 15-6 run, with Wall scoring 9 of those points. Kentucky Just can’t seem to be stopped and continue their hot shooting and end the half up 19 points with a score of 63-44.

3rd Quarter

The third quarter was all about Duke’s shooters. Rodney Hood and JJ Redick sparked a 20-6 run for the Blue Devils with Hood hitting two 3 pointers, a driving layup, and a pair of free throws while Redick contributes with a three pointer and an assisted field goal of his own. Duke continues to dominate the third quarter, as they outscore Kentucky 35-12 to take a 79-75 lead.

4th Quarter

The excitement continues as the scoring goes back and forth into the late minutes of the game. There was nothing new as Kentucky’s big’s exploited the lack of depth in Duke’s frontcourt by pounding away in the paint. In the end, it was all about JJ Redick, who scored 7 points in the last 3 minutes of the game to secure a Duke come-from-behind victory.

Final Score: Duke 111-105 Kentucky

Big Performers

Duke: JJ Redick finished the game with 28 points. He shot a solid 9/17 from the field, but the difference came from beyond the arc where he shot 7/12. Jahlil Okafor and Kyrie Irving were key in Duke’s victory as well. Okafor had 19 points and 8 rebounds while Irving had 16 points and 7 assists.

Kentucky: Demarcus Cousins had a stellar performance despite his side falling short in the end. He contributed 25 points and 14 rebounds with 6 of those rebounds coming on the offensive side. John Wall had his teams other double-double with 16 points and 15 assists.

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NBA All Star Line

The NBA All Star Game is still 2 months away, but there are already standouts for who the starters for each team should be. Although the NBA does their selection by backcourt (guards) and frontcourt (forwards/centers). I’m going to go traditional and give the two players in each position that I feel most deserve to be NBA All Stars

East

  1.  Isaiah Thomas (26.0 ppg/2.6 rpg/6.1 apg) and Kyrie Irving (24.5 ppg/3.0 rpg/4.7 apg)
  2. Demar Derozan (27.8 ppg/5.3 rpg/4.3 apg) and Dwyane Wade (19.9 ppg/4.3 rpg/3.4 apg)
  3. Lebron James (24.7 ppg/7.7 rpg/9.1 apg) and Carmelo Anthony (26.8 ppg/6.0 rpg/2.6 apg)
  4. Kevin Love (21.7 ppg/10.5 rpg/1.6 apg) and Kristaps Porzingis (19.7 ppg/7.5 rpg/1.3 apg)
  5. Hassan Whiteside (17.2 ppg/14.6 rpg) and Andre Drummond (15.0 ppg/ 13.6 rpg)

West

  1. Russell Westbrook (30.9 ppg/10.8 rpg/11.3 apg) and Damian Lillard (27.6 ppg/2.6 rpg/ 4.8 rpg)
  2. James Harden (28.2 ppg/7.6 rpg/11.4 apg) and Klay Thompson (22.0 ppg/3.6 rpg/2.1 apg)
  3. Kawhi Leonard (24.4 ppg/6.0 rpg/3.0 apg) and Gordon Heyward (23.1 ppg/6.4 rpg/3.9 apg)
  4. Anthony Davis (31.4 ppg/11.4 rpg/2.2 apg) and Blake Griffin (20.7 ppg/9.0 rpg/4.6 apg)
  5. Demarcus Cousins (28.8 ppg/10.7 rpg) and Karl-Anthony Towns (21.4 ppg/10.4 rpg)

 

I know that these will never be the lineups and that each starting lineup will probably consist of a Point Guard, a Shooting Guard, and three Small Forwards for the East. The West will probably have two Point Guards, a Small Forward, and a Power Forward and a Center, which is a little more traditional, but I still don’t like it.

 

 

NBA MVP

The MVP race has long to go, but it’s looking like it’s going to be close at the top. NBA.com has posted their “power rankings” for the MVP race, and I have some things to say about their predictions.

NBA.com’s Predictions

  1. Russell Westbrook
  2. James Harden
  3. Kevin Durant
  4. Lebron James
  5. Kawhi Leonard
  6. Stephen Curry
  7. Jimmy Butler
  8. Kemba Walker
  9. Anthony Davis
  10. Giannis Antetokounmpo

My Thoughts

  1. If you don’t already know how I feel about Russell Westbrook, just go back and read my first post, and my previous post. He’s an animal, but I don’t think he’ll win the MVP award.  The reason for this is that the Thunder are currently sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference. The last player to win the NBA MVP who’s team did not finish in 1st or 2nd in their conference was Michael Jordan, and the Bulls finished in 3rd. I think that Westbrook is performing at a level that is MVP-caliber, but the MVP means most valuable player, and you can not be the most valuable player if your team is fighting for a playoff spot.
  2. The Rockets are the 4th seed in the West, so slightly better than the Thunder, but Westbrook is still putting up better numbers than Harden so if it’s between Harden and Westbrook, Russ gets it every time in my book.
  3. Here’s where things get interesting. Kevin Durant is amazing at basketball. There is no question about that. He’s putting up numbers that are slightly inferior to that of Westbrook and Harden, but he’s playing on the Golden State Warriors, who have the best record in the league (20-3). He has everything that an MVP candidate needs. My issue is that he is playing alongside 3 other Allstars. This will likely hurt his likelihood of being voted the NBA MVP because we may see a lot of “He’s only putting up those numbers alongside that record because of his surrounding cast.”
  4. King James, what more can I say? I think they’ve put him too low on this list. He’s the best player on the best team in the East, who…if anyone has forgotten, WON THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP LAST YEAR.
  5. Kawhi Leonard is a valuable player undoubtedly, but he’s not an exciting player. He doesn’t get a lot of hype because he is on potentially the most boring franchise in NBA history. The Spurs are phenomenal and may be the best NBA franchise of the 21st century, but nobody (other than Spurs fans) really cares about them because they’ve been so annoyingly consistently good over the past 16 years. Leonard is great, but he’s not putting up the numbers that Durant is, and Leonard is surrounded by a team that is almost as strong as the Warriors, but slightly more well rounded (Aldridge, Gasol, Parker, Ginobili, Mills).
  6. The reigning MVP of the league and the player that has had the most hype around him for the past 2 seasons. Curry lead the Warriors to a title 2 seasons ago and the best record in NBA history last year, but he won’t win the MVP. The last person to win 3 straight NBA MVP awards was Larry Bird (1983-86). Since then Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, and Steve Nash have won the MVP award twice in a row. For Curry to win, it would mean that his season would have to be more impressive than the seasons of Johnson, Jordan, Duncan, and Nash, which I can assure you it won’t be.
  7. Butler won’t get it. He’s on a middle-seeded playoff team in the weak Eastern Conference. Give him and the Bulls a few seasons and we’ll see what happens, but for now leave the MVP race to the big boys.
  8.  If Kemba Walker wins the NBA MVP I’ll eat my shoe while streaking down the middle of the Spectrum Center.
  9.  Anthony Davis will win the MVP in the next 3 seasons. He’s the next superstar of the NBA  and will surely leave the Pelicans after his contract comes to an end. He’ll go to a title contender and the league will never be the same. No player on a 13 seeded team will ever win the MVP award.
  10. “Greek Freak” is an exciting player but he’s still developing. In 5 to 6 years he’ll be higher up on this list.

My Rankings

  1. Lebron James
  2. Kevin Durant
  3. Russell Westbrook
  4. James Harden
  5. Stephen Curry
  6. Kawhi Leonard
  7. Damian Lillard
  8. Kyrie Irving
  9. Anthony Davis
  10. Karl-Anthony Towns

 

Update on Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook recorded his 7th straight triple-double last night. No you don’t need to get your eyes checked. No that wasn’t a typo. Russell Westbrook is now tied with Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson for the second longest streak of consecutive games with a triple-double. The only person to have more consecutive games with a triple-double is Wilt Chamberlain, who had nine.

The Thunder lost to the Rockets last night by a score of 99-102. Westbrook recorded 27 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds. The Thunder (14-9) next face the Celtics (13-10) tomorrow night, who are currently 14th in opponent points per game in the NBA. Hopefully Russell Westbrook can exploit Celtics Point Guard Isaiah Thomas on the offensive end of the court and continue his streak of triple-doubles. Thomas is 5’9″ as oppose to Westbrook who is 6’3″ which is a height difference that is usually seen between one or two positions (Point Guard to Shooting Guard/Small Forward). Although I am not a Thunder fan, I’m a fan of good basketball and records being broken, and we’ve already got some incredible basketball.

Single Game Feats

Last night Klay Thompson, star Shooting Guard for the Golden State Warriors, scored 60 points on 21-33 from the field. That is the most amount of points for a Warrior since Rick Barry scored 64 in 1974. The most impressive part of Thompson’s feat? Warriors Coach Steve Kerr elected to bench Thompson for the entire 4th quarter! I understand wanting to be cautious of your starters health, especially in an absolute blowout, but when one of your players is on pace for 80…I say you make an exception. Since Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game in 1962, Kobe Bryant is the only player to have seriously come close to breaking that record. Saying that he was close is somewhat of an overstatement because he was actually 19 points off, having scored 81 in a game in 2006, but his performance holds the record for the second most amount of points scored by a single player in a game. Thompson was on pace for 80 points flat, but could have easily scored an extra bucket or two to potentially break Bryant’s record and become the first person to score at least 80 points in almost 11 years.

Chamberlain’s 100 is just one of many impressive stats that have left the NBA with a seemingly unbreakable record. Here are some more incredible single game stats:

  • Most Rebounds in a single game: Wilt Chamberlain (55, November 24, 1960)
  • Most Assists in a single game: Scott Skiles (30, December 30, 1990)
  • Most Steals in a single game: Larry Kenon/Kendall Gill (11, December 26, 1976/April 3, 1999)
  • Most Blocks in a single game: Elmore Smith (17, October 28, 1973)

Thompson already holds the record for the most points in a quarter, which is 37, so the 2 time NBA All-Star has proven himself to be a truly electric and explosive scorer. Klay Thompson WILL win an NBA MVP in his career.

NBA’s Biggest Bust?

The 2007 NBA Draft will always be remembered for one thing: Greg Oden was selected with the first overall pick. This was such a big deal, because Kevin Durant was selected with the second overall pick. This is such a substantial point because since that draft, Oden started 66 games, and played in 114 during his 6 years under contract in the NBA, and is no longer in the league. Since that draft Kevin Durant was named the NBA MVP (2014), selected as an All-Star 7 times (2010-16)  and has appeared in the NBA finals once. Oden was plagued by injuries throughout his short-lived career, but he was average at best during his best season, in which he only played 21 games before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury. Even in his worst season in the league, in reference to scoring, Durant averaged more than 20 points per game…and that was during his rookie season.

There has been a debate regarding who is the biggest bust in NBA history. Here are the top contenders:

  • Sam Bowie (Drafted before Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton)
  • Greg Oden (Drafted before Kevin Durant and Al Horford)
  • Darko Milicic (Drafted before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade)

Oden recently spoke out, stating “I’ll be remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history, but I can’t do nothing about that.”

What’s up with the Clippers?

The Los Angeles Clippers have an incredible team. With the likes of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, there are very few teams that should be able to stop them. After a 12-2 start to the season, the Clippers have since gone 2-4. Their first 2 losses were to the respectable Grizzlies and Thunder, who are 5th and 6th in the strong Western Conference. Their last 4 losses have come to the Pistons, Pacers, Nets, and then the Pacers again. Those teams are 26-36 this season, so for a team as strong as the Clippers there is no excuse to lose to those teams, especially the Brooklyn Nets (5-15). The Clippers have shown that they are a contender in the NBA by beating the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers in their only games against the two teams this season. Those two teams are 30-9 this season.  Small Forward Paul Pierce stated his frustration after beating the Cavaliers : “I was a little upset, because this game shows me how good we can be, and how we keep playing to the level of our opponents,” Pierce said. “You can’t look at this game and the game we had against the Spurs, and then see how we played against the Nets and some of the other teams, and not see that. We have to stop playing to the level of the opponent.”

Pierce is right. The Clippers need to sort out what is going on with their team. The Western Conference is STACKED, so a few losses in the regular season could be the deciding factor between playing the Spurs (who they beat by 24 this season) or the Warriors (who are 17-3 this season).