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2016/2017 NBA Season Preview-Western Conference

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Northwest Division

Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard doesn’t just get buckets…he gets bars too. If you wanted find a baller who really raps look no further. But his backcourt partner C.J. McCollum is more than just a hypeman. One of the leagues rising superstars is a journalism major on the side too. And he is the one writing his career future. But can he rewrite the Blazers one? The City of Roses is no longer mourning the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge, but we’re going to need a little more from the PDX to keep Portland in it.

Denver Nuggets

Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay remain some of the newest and best stars the NBA has under its radar. Whilst household names like Mike Miller and Jameer Nelson keep a veteran sense of presence in the locker room. This baby blue Denver squad has a lot of Nuggets, but this team still searching for a post Carmelo identities biggest x-factor and match-up problem is still that mile-high Colorado air. Other than that this team that has been through a lot of thick is a little thin.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Scream Timber and howl like Wolves all you want but there are no more tickets left when it comes to big Minnesota legend Kevin Garnett. But even after his short return resulted in retirement Da Kids are more than alright. His protegee Karl Anthony-Townes runs this one now. And the SLAM cover star is joined by repeat Slam Dunk champ Zach Lavine, European phenom Ricky Rubio and of course Canada’s very own Andrew Wiggins, who we’re sure even the champion Cleveland Cavaliers wish they kept now in this Golden State age of Kevin. Show these pup some love, because when these Teen-Wolfs become a pack you’ll no longer have to worry about just one man.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant has gone. Lets move on. Serge Ibaka too. Just like James. But Westbrook stayed. Russell re-upped even when he had another year and couple of millions of contract worth to wait. Now that’s commitment. That’s loyalty. Lightening may have struck this Oklahoma home, but Russ West Thunder-clapped back. And now he’s free to roam the whole damn floor this dynamo without the dynamic duo will be dynamite. He has plenty of underrated support in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. And the Magic may have tricked them for Ibaka, but the Victor Oladipo trade will prove a real treat, making for the scariest, speediest backcourt outside of more than just the wild West. Don’t put the umbrellas up just yet. OKC is O.K.

Utah Jazz

Timetables will turn and tell how well the Jazz will play this year once their child of Mike Dunleavy and Matt Harping, superstar Gordon Haywood returns to the Salt of Lake City. Still the Jazz have more notes with new court compositions Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and George Hill to sing from the playbook sheet. If these vets can work in-sync with the potential of Derrik Favours, Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert then the Jazz will be miles ahead.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors

73 wins may be enough to beat Michael Jordan’s greatest six-peating Chicago Bulls, but not enough to beat LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games, even at a never beaten before 3-1 advantage. Perhaps it was losing Andrew Bogut in the middle, which has happened again (sometimes people never learn). But as he leaves in free agency, the Dubs have picked up former San Antonio ring bandwagon-er David West to fill the hole and space on his finger. As for the small ball, death line-up changing of the guard don’t worry. Steve Kerr is still leading this unit with the blessings of fellow retired point Steve Nash on board. Steph Curry still has the shot. And he has more than a big-three with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and former Finals MVP and LeBron stopper, come own shot swatter Andre Igudola. And that’s the Fantastic Four that has ignited the league with the decision made by Kevin Durant. But will this superteam be how the West has won? Or another Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton experiment come death of a dynasty undone?

Phoenix Suns

The LeBron strong Eric Bledsoe. His running mate Brandon Knight. The quick impact Devin Booker. The Nash days Leonardo Barbosa. Yeah the Suns know how to run. Just like your electricity. They know to have as much fun, fun, fun as the Beach Boys. But if Phoenix want to rise from the desserts of Arizona and find the same kind of Californian sun that those in Golden State seem to shine then it’s time to get serious. Seriously good. No matter how talented or thrilling thy are. These bright youngsters don’t want to burn out too quick and become ash.

Sacramento Kings

Sacramento want to be king like LeBron. But they are a long way from those Laker rivalling days of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie and Mike Bibby/Jason Williams. Still thanks to two of those international owners they’re not as close to a Royal move to L.A. or Seattle yet. The cowbells are still ringing…even if it’s not quite as Blue Oyster Cult deafening. Sacramento still seem to be holding most of the cards…no matter how many Kings they lose. Veteran Rudy Gay is joined by the talented teammate likes of Darren Collison, Ty Lawson and former Lakers Jordan Farmar and ‘Mad Dog’, Matt Barnes. Losing members of the Stockton and Curry family hurt, but the future is Wiley Cauley-Stein. Still it’s still all about DeMarcus and Boggie’s down low productions. Without Cousins it just doesn’t relate.

Los Angeles Lakers

So the Lakers are done right? Right? WRONG! With the second pick in the last two drafts the Lakers have more than just a dynamic duo. They have a Golden State like death line-up that could be a revolution in this small ball league. Formed by former top ten picks and late round steals. Big-men Draymond strong Julius Randle and dunking hard Larry Nance Jr. and Swag Brodie guards Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell with ice in his veins (time for Loading to stop being Hakeem Lyon and make Lakerland his Empire). All lead by future franchise face and probable Rookie of the Year Brandon Ingram…and maybe even the Gasol like Zubac, learning the sky-hook off Kareem as we speak. And lets not to neglect the underrated, X-factor Anthony Brown and the Knick 90’s Mason tough throwback Tarik Black. And if the kids on the best young team (and we aren’t talking about Nick) in the L aren’t alright there’s a veteran back-up lead by All-Star Luol Deng, Olympic standout Yi Jianlin, Cavalier champion in the middle Mozgov (Timofey…every Key & Peele substitute teachers dream) speedy, skillful guards Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas (who had quite the home 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil) and of course World Peace himself for another match-up option to run. Not to mention two Six Men in Lou Will and Swaggy P. All lead by former Laker and last years inspired interim, unbeatable Warrior coach Luke Walton. All this and we didn’t even have to mention Kobe. It’s time for a new 24.

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Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers believe they have a superteam. With lob leader Chris Paul, dunk finisher Blake Griffin (working on his post passion problem career with retired kid Kevin Garnett), Olympic gold shiner DeAndre Jordan, retiring legend and that’s the truth Paul Pierce, ‘Sixth Man Of The Decade’ Jordan Crawford, Duke gun draw dual for hire J.J. Reddick and coach Doc Rivers kid Austin we agree. Now it’s time for the “Super” to become “team” before they go from newspaper clippings to barbershop ones.

Southwest Division

Houston Rockets

Howard’s end is no problem for Houston. James Harden has plenty of Rockets to take off. You’ll find them all like food in his beard. There’s Nene, fresh off his home hosting the Rio Olympics. Bruce Bowen like defensive legend Trevor Ariza.  Young vets like Eric Gordon and Corey Brewer. Patrick Beverly and a youthful movement of Sam Dekker, Tyler Ennis and Ryan Anderson. And arguably the best undrafted rookie in Gary Payton II. The glove has been handed down, time to pass and euro-step in the name of history. Names like James win championships…if they come with defence.

San Antonio Spurs

Fundamentally the best Power Forward of all-time Tim Duncan may have joined the Admiral David Robinson in the port of retirement. But just as much as the game will miss him, just like when the T-Bot was brought in to replace D-Rob, LaMarcus Aldridge has been ready to keep number 21’s legacy alive with the reflection of his dozen jersey. Alongside former Finals MVP, Most Improved and Defensive Player Of The Year, Kawhi Leonard who will still be carrying the torch once Olympic internationals Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can no longer keep the flame lit. The Spurs will keep striking their match-ups thanks to free agent Pau Gasol joining David Lee, Kevin Martin, Danny Green, Andre Miller and Patty Mills for a team as deep as future Team USA coach Greg Poppovich’s knowledge of the game. Which is far from Riverwalk shallow. A Gondola trip worthy of another parade.

New Orleans Pelicans

Hornets don’t sting. Bobcats don’t claw. New Orleans basketball looks to finally be catching a break like fish in a Pelicans bill. Anthony Davis has MVP wrote all over the rest of his career. And now big bruiser Kendrick Perkins has his back in the post paint. Whilst Barbados born Buddy Hield is considered by some to be the most ready to go player in the draft…he has been working out with Kobe Bryant after all. Now if Tyreke Evans regains his rookie form or Lance Stephenson becomes the player the last few teams that bet on him expected him to be then you’ll be in for something formidable. But you really want to see something? Something special. Then just look why Jrue Holliday is on indefintie leave from the team. This season is for Lauren.

Memphis Grizzlies

Grit your teeth through this one Grizzlies. They say if it aint broke don’t fix it. But there’s nothing wrong with a little tinkering if nothings changing. After all this is a team that left Vancouver to get out of the “Canadain cold” (yeah tell that to the Raps). Offering Chandler Parsons a big contract like Nike did Mike Conley Jr may just about do it. Besides with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Sixth Man who can still get up off the pine and to the rim Vince Carter Memphis have rocked one of the best starting five out of all rosters for many a roll-call now. But if this Tennessee team wants to really become a Titan then it’s time to grind.

Dallas Mavericks

The Texas Triangle is nothing without Dallas. But if the Mavs really want to have a maverick season than they need to be more obtuse than acutely equilateral. Dirk is just about done, but Nowitzki can still get it so. As can All-Star point Deron Williams who seems to have lost his former co-best Point Guard in the league with Chris Paul identity in Utah. These Mavericks are still fighting, but if the Texas horsemen want to be in a state more Golden then a few former Warriors wouldn’t hurt. From big Finals difference maker Andrew Bogut to forgotten star Harrison Barnes who is eager to show why he made the Rio Olympic team this Summer and deserves more minutes. Even Steph Curry’s little brother Seth has a shot…but right now the Mavs would probably take Riley too.

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La La Lakerland Played Host To A City Of All-Stars At The Weekend

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Verizon Slam Dunk Contest 2018
Like Father, Like Slam,

Los Angeles, it doesn’t get much more Hollywood than this. Even if Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Chris Tucker and even the other Michael (B) Jordan were taking in all the lights, camera action court-side.

After the 2017 mardi gras in New Orleans last year and two calenders after our native Toronto held the All Star Weekend in Canada, the sixth A.S.G. in the Clipper and Lakerland of the downtown STAPLES of L.A. was the first of it’s kind. As two of the best players in the association and reigning finalists decided to draft their own pool of players against the wall for the ultimate black and white pick-up game between ‘Team Stephen’ and ‘Team LeBron’, for all the marbles of which of the last two champions would be King.

Well it certainly helps if James picks his rivals reigning MVP teammate Kevin Durant and his own former partner in pine championship crime Kyrie Irving for the big shots first.

But before all that it was down to regular festivities to begin the weekend of All-Star. Basketball’s equivalent of music’s Grammys or movies Oscars in Superbowl February. Opening these ceremonials Team World beat down Team USA 155-124 in the Rising Stars game that should really tell you something. Despite home court advantage rookie steal, Kyle Kuzma notching 20, fellow Californian franchise face Buddy Hield was king as the Sacramento star hit 29 as the two sides wore Clipper and Laker interlopated Buffalo and MPLS throwbacks for the Hollywood script. And after Quavo of hit duo Migous took home the Celebrity Game MVP as Team Clippers beat Team Lakers 79-66, Spencer Dinwiddie paid the bills in a superior skills comp. Before scorching Sun in California Devin Booker showed his career high 70 was no one-hit wonder as he burnt down all the nets and the money-ball rack. Winning the three-point contest showdown from reigning winner and sixth man Eric Gordon. Grounding the Rocket as this Phoenix rose. Book it!

But after the most therapeutic competition of All-Star weekend it was time for the most exciting one just as compelling. And in honoring his father Larry Nance, the 1984 winner of the inaugural Slam-Dunk contest, Larry Nance Jr. rocked the baby cradle, like father, like dunk. As he even rocked the old-school Phoenix Suns jersey, short shorts and high-socks for an inspired imitation. But under the magicians cloak, those Los Angeles natives in attendance draped in gold wish he had turned into someone turning back the clock and wearing a Lakers jersey (those Lonzo assists with the ball would have helped). As what would have been a long awaited, eagerly anticipated home-team representation turned into an Akron homecoming for the Ohio hometown hero like LeBron in the Kings land once the trade deadline passed.

Pops Nance loved it though after he himself played the lions share of his career in Cleveland as a Cavalier. Even assisting his boy on his second slam, before he blew the house down with a windmill that even rocked Chris Rock and then double tapped an Instagram worthy picture perfect dunk that if your phone blinked, you’d have had to instant replay it to not miss it and believe it. But all this court creativity wasn’t enough like Maverick rookie Dennis Smith Jr.’s 360 reverse, through the legs 50. Or All-Star Victor Oladipo getting an assist off King T’Challa himself Chadwick Boseman, suiting up in the Black Panther mask and clawing a tomahawk. And if you think that was special, if only you were a fly on the wall for the moment entertainment megastar Jamie Foxx told Vic he loved his album and started singing ‘A Song For You’ with him in the parking lot (as told by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins). As Utah’s jazz man Donovan Mitchell won by jumping over Kevin Hart and his family (Come on! How hard is that? The comedian was even crouched down. Seriously?! He could have even been sat on his shoulders and Mitch would have been good), and then breaking out the classic Vince Carter Raptor jersey and doing you know what.

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The whole weekend turned out to be a testament to a throwback tribute despite Nike’s brand new Team LeBron and Steph duds. Last years All-Star representative, Pelican Anthony Davis paying tribute to his injury fallen teammate brother Cousins by wearing what would have been his numero zero jersey. Free agent suitors beware, DeMarcus is going nowhere now this summer after this. You see he saw on I.G. but look at the shot. How s### was his seat for a would be player?

But after Black Eyed Pea Fergie caught flack for her soulful and sultry rendition of the Star Spangled Banner national anthem (hey, you didn’t complain when Marvin did it) the game hit all the high-flying, dunking high-notes. So much so fans needed throat lozenges like Pink! Even if there wasn’t a single Clipper or Laker representative in the game itself. Despite the lobbying for 6 Man, Lou Will and new Laker Isaiah Thomas only recently being LeBron’s actual teammate.

The King took the MVP crown himself as his 29 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists helped turn a 15 point hole into a 148-145 victory. And from the look on his face as he leapt into Kevin Durant’s arms of all people, it looked like he just won the NBA Championship back. And from the look on Steph’s face on the receiving end reply it was hard to disagree.

You may be the champion, but I’m the best in the world those eyes said.

Well it’s up to you to decide when round 2 of the All Star draft is televised next year for all to see in M.J.’s land of the greatest.

Charlotte’s going to be good!

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Is Isaiah Thomas IT For The Lakers?

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IT Came On A Hollywood Night

It’s All-Star break this weekend in Los Angeles, but the Lakers already have a new one since the trade deadline to lead their young core in the heart of the city. Even if Team LeBron didn’t pick him for Sundays pick up.

But how long will IT last?

Right now in the NBA the amount of movers is really putting the shakers on teams. So much so that in regards to loyalty in this league it’s even colder than the Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea right now. But then again it is the Winter after all. Recently Cleveland cleaned house and LeBron’s land for some Cavalier moves. Jettisoning several All-Star points for their changing of the guard. Including former MVP Derrick Rose, ‘Bron brodie Dwyane Wade back to the Heat of Miami, South Beach and even the guy they traded Kyrie for.

Yep that’s right after summer swapping Irving for Isaiah, the Cavs sent Thomas along with versatile big-man vet Channing Frye to Lakerland. In return they got the buckets of ‘Sixth Man’ sure thing Jordan Clarkson and another Akron hometown hero in the form of Larry Nance Jr.

And although the Lakers picked-up a certified All-Star with Iverson kill at will, little man syndrome scoring a lot of fans where left tweeting negative emojis and gifs following the deadline deal. And not because their new number seven seal was a former Boston Celtic great only a season ago. Or that the former tooth chipper is now a befallen superstar by way of injury. More that the Lake Show loved the young Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Randle and Zubac core that has lost it’s first big time players of the future since the de-loading trade of D’Angelo Russell last summer.

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Clarkson was a class act and there from the luck of the late round steal start. Whereas when Nance Jr. ran the floor like his pops all the bleachers snapped shut, tilted up. Lakerland finally thought they would see their own slamming son represent them in the Slam Dunk Contest he should surely win now like father, like dunk today. But now he’ll be doing it all for one and one for all.

But with the fast tracked pace of the Lakers new speedy dynamite dynamo it could still be Showtime again for Magic’s men like when Earvin Johnson was kissing another Isiah Thomas hello in the golden era 80’s. But this Isaiah Thomas-so long as he can ball in the same backcourt as Ball once injury time gives way to the Lavar…excuse me the Lonzo Angeles Lakers-could attract even more free agents like the expected homecoming of Paul George from the Thunder to the purple reign this offseason. Even if rumour has a Black Panther/Killmonger like relationship between this point prince and the King of the Ohio land.

But if it’s between LeBron as a Laker or another one of James’ sidekicks than who do you think will hold the headlines for tomorrows Los Angeles Times? Especially as Isaiah could aim higher than coming off the bench this summer as a free agent without restriction himself. His big contract coming off the books with Channing’s (Frye not Hollywood’s Tatum), another big three big in Brook Lopez and another former All-Star in Luol Deng (yep…he’s still here).

All these multiples of millions would surely make for a kings ransom.

This could be it, so lets enjoy I.T. whilst he lasts.

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Nuggets Jamal Murray breaks Steven Adams Ankles with Filthy Handles

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Nuggets Jamal Murray Breaks Steven Adams Ankles Filthy Handles

Denver Nuggets Guard Jamal Murray breaks OKC Thunder center Steven Adams ankles with his filthy and deadly combination of handles and three-point shooting. Murray was sensational finishing with 33 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in a thrilling 127-124 victory. The Canadian guard (Kitchener, ON) is having the best year of his NBA career and has arguably become best Canadian basketball player in the NBA. The 6’4″, 207 lbs guard is flourishing under Head  Coach Mike Malone’s system and is averaging a respectable 16 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 3 assists per game through 50 regular season games including a career-high 38-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers.

BTW. I can watch this all day!

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