Early Candidates for MVP

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Russell Westbrook (left), Kevin Durant (right)

The NBA season has officially finished its first week, all teams having played 3 to 4 games. Now, obviously it is way too early to be considering the candidates for MVP at this point of the season, but there have been way too many great performances so far that cannot be ignored. In just the first week of action, 50+ points have been scored, triple doubles have occurred, and overtime madness including some amazing buzzer beaters.

A lot of things can happen during an 82-game season, from injuries to shooting slumps. As of right now though, these players in my candidacy list just seem unbeatable. There are 5 players in my list who should deserve some recognition for their performances this season:

  1. Stephen Curry
    1. 37.0 pts, 5.0 reb, 6.3 ast
  2. Russell Westbrook
    1. 30.3 pts, 7.5 reb, 9.3 ast
  3. Blake Griffin
    lebron griffin
    LeBron James (left), Blake Griffin (right)
    1. 29.5 pts, 9.3 reb, 3.5 ast
  4. LeBron James
    1. 22.0 pts, 7.8 reb, 6.3 ast
  5. Kevin Durant
    1. 29.8 pts, 6.0 reb, 1.8 ast

Now, obviously these monster numbers are not likely to hold up throughout the course of the entire season, but that does not mean they will stop playing at such a high level. These numbers, though very impressive, would not mean as much if their teams weren’t winning. They are my candidates for that exact reason, their teams are in the top 3 amongst their conferences, which means they are leading them to victories.

In my previous posts I mentioned that most of the league’s superstars were playing for something to prove. Some to get that ring at the end of the season, while others want to prove they are one of the greatest, and deserve recognition. Stephen Curry is playing to prove his steph curry slam coverdoubters wrong, that his team was not lucky, but rather extremely talented. Westbrook and Durant want to prove that this dynamic duo, when healthy, can take on whoever and come out on top. Blake Griffin is in his prime right now, and
seems to be willing to play his heart out every night alongside his talented teammates to prove he can carry them to the finals. And as for LeBron, he is always playing to prove he is the best in the world, and so far, though he has played better, is doing a great job. His mission is to take Cleveland to their first NBA title, and seems to be on the right track.

I know these incredible stat lines won’t last long, but while they do, I plan on enjoying them as much as possible.

***These stats were taken from: http://www.espn.com as of November 3rd, 2015.

***ALL IMAGES IN THIS POST CAME FROM: http://www.slamonline.com and http://www.fansided.com

LeBron James, the man of the hour

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Stephen Curry (left), LeBron James (right)

Once again, LeBron James came up short in the Finals for the 4th time in his career. That makes his all time record a putrid two out of four wins in the NBA Finals. People think he is unbeatable, the best to have ever laced them up, but the numbers say otherwise.

How can you call yourself the greatest player but keep losing when it matters most? By giving excuses, of course. “He had no help”; “His teammates were injured”; “He was too young”. These are some of the arguments LeBron fans will give you if you mention his finals record. It’s like they’re shooting themselves in the foot by trying to debate that he simply is not the best.

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Head Coach David Blatt (left), LeBron James (right)

Obviously no player will win on his own in the NBA Finals, but that honestly has not been the case, except in his first time there in 2007 when the Cleveland Cavaliers were practically carried by LeBron. But he left that team to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and still lost twice. Then he decided to come back to Cleveland with two other superstars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, and lost yet again.

Yes, Irving and Love were out, but role players stepped in and gave great performances. There are no excuses to losing so many times. He simply does not deserve to be called the best.

***ALL IMAGES IN THIS POST COME FROM: http://www.slamonline.com

Will the Clippers Succeed Under Pressure?

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Blake Griffin (left), DeAndre Jordan (center), Chris Paul (right)

Out of all of the teams contending for a championship this year, the Los Angeles Clippers are the ones with the most pressure. Mostly because they have brought it on themselves due to some offseason drama, but also because talent-wise their team is the best looking one on paper. Almost everyone is expecting them to at the very least get past the 2nd round of the playoffs, something they have never been able to do.

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Mark Cuban

Offseason drama involving DeAndre Jordan and Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has put the spotlight on DeAndre himself, and on his team. After agreeing to a verbal agreement with Cuban, Jordan backed out in the last minute and opted instead to remain a Clipper. Betrayal! Sports fans, and athletes themselves take loyalty very seriously.

This adds to the pressure Chris Paul and Blake Griffin already felt by not being able to get past the 2nd round, and having choked last year against the Rockets after having a 3-1 lead. Will they overcome all of this drama? Probably not, the spotlight will be too much for them, and they will come up short once again.

***ALL IMAGES IN THIS POST COME FROM: http://www.slamonline.com

Kevin Durant MVP

kevin durant slam coverKevin Durant is one of the players in a long list that is coming from a season ending injury. After having received an MVP Award, he broke his foot in the following season. With him out, Russell Westbrook could not carry the load by himself for the entire season, as he also had some nagging injuries of his own that caused him to miss some games.

After reaching the NBA finals in 2011, the Oklahoma City Thunder seem to have gone downward. Either because of injuries, or simply because they have not been able to take on the competitive Western Conference as well as in previous years. But this year is different, injuries aren’t an excuse anymore, and talent-wise they’re as good as ever.

Kevin Durant is back, and has shown it so far this season. But will it be enough to win it all? I believe so; he will redeem himself, and with the help of Russell Westbrook this dynamic duo have what it takes to lift the trophy at the end of this season.

***ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS POST COME FROM: http://www.slamonline.com

The Return of the Black Mamba

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Kobe Bryant #24

The NBA is back and so is Kobe Bryant! One of the most hated players ever, and one of the most loved as well. There is no happy-medium with this guy, you have to go all in. Some people consider him one of the greatest of all time, some even consider him the best. Others would argue that Michael Jordan and LeBron James are way better. I am one of those who consider him one of the greatest, alongside Jordan, and better than James.

Entering his 20th season in the NBA, at age 37, Kobe is back and healthy. For those of you that are not aware, he is coming from two career ending injuries, a Torn Achilles in his right foot and a fractured knee in the right leg one right after the other. Causing him to miss basically most of the 2013-2014 season, and all of the 2014-2015 season. Former players of the league thought he would have and maybe should have retired, for he has nothing left to prove, and should not put his body through so much at his age. But this is Kobe we are talking about, he has been known to be stubborn, but I think that is what makes him so great. Even when all odds are against him, he loves to prove people wrong, so of course he has come back this season to do just that!

He has shown some rust during his first week back after a whole year of rehab. There was no doubt there was going to be some, but unfortunately for him he plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, a city home of 17 titles, 5 of which belong to him. The fans have been spoiled and accustomed to winning, and the fact that their neighbours the LA Clippers are one of the favorites to win the title, have made Laker fans even more desperate. They want to win, by any means necessary. Some of these fans are even willing to move on from the Kobe era who have brought so much glory to the city and the team. They want to get rid of him and move on to someone who will keep winning them titles. They are spoiled and ungrateful, but rightfully so I suppose. To this franchise winning is the only thing that matters, so why should the fans be any different?

I feel bad for Kobe, who has sacrificed his body to win at all costs. Maybe he should have retired, but going out because of injury is not something someone as stubborn as him was going to do. He wants to go out on his own terms, but that means adapting to the team’s needs instead of the team adapting to him like in previous years. He no longer has his athleticism, and because he has been forced out of the game due to injuries, that itself makes him an injury risk at any point of the game or season.

It has not started off well by Laker standards. But that’s because they are used to his greatness, so they can’t appreciate when is just good instead of great. They expect him to become the playmaker the team needs, but someone who has played his whole career carrying the team by scoring 25+ points every night cannot possibly make that change overnight. Laker fans need to be patient, either he adapts or keeps forcing his game as he always has. Regardless of what ends up happening, I hope Kobe can maintain his health this season, as he is entering the twilight of his career, and we should appreciate him while he is still playing his heart out, as there will never be another Black Mamba.

***ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS POST CAME FROM: http://www.slamonline.com

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose is coming strong this year, but not for the same reasons as other players. While other players are coming to prove they are capable of winning the ultimate prize, Rose is on a mission to show everyone he can still play at a high level despite all of the major and nagging injuries he’s had since 2011. Torn ACL in his left knee, torn meniscus in his right knee, sprained ankles, and another tear to his right meniscus again. I for one am not a believer in luck, but if there is such a thing, this has to be the prime example of what bad luck should look like.

Before all of these injuries, Derrick Rose had become the youngest person at age 22 to win the MVP Award in 2011 over LeBron James. That same year, this kid that reached superstardom after just 3 years in the league made it to the conference finals against LeBron himself. Unfortunately the lack of experience was shown, as he was not ready to handle a proven superstar like James and failed to win it all. But he played his heart out all year long, and left everyone in the city of Chicago, where greatness had not come since Michael Jordan, that this team was finally ready to contend for a title.

Derrick Rose was to bring them to the promised land, to overthrow King James, and become everyone’s hero. Injury after injury the people have lost hope. They no longer think he can play at the same level of his MVP season, much less take on LeBron and finally give his city what they have longed for since Jordan left. Before this current 2015-2016 season started, it seemed like Rose was ready to go, but another injury has slowed down the process a bit. This time though, unlike previous years when he would have rather rest, he is tired of the criticism and wants to play.

Now, playing with a mask because of a swollen eye, he has shown that he is willing to put his body through whatever is necessary to carry this team to what they desire. He is nowhere near close to his MVP season, but the fact that he is playing through this injury should say a lot to those who have lost hope. A new Derrick Rose has emerged, and he is going to prove that the Bulls are ready to contend for a title once again.

NBA Opening Week

After 4 months of rest for most of these athletes, some offseason trades and signings from the front office of each team, the NBA season has finally begun. It’s off to the races, with plenty of guys trying to prove themselves who the better one is, while others look to redeem themselves from their performance last year. It’s no question that there are many doubters as to why the Golden State Warriors won the title last year; those who were not convince by this team’s talent attribute this achievement to sheer luck. Those same people are out to prove that this year… They are out for a vendetta.

Stephen Curry did not deserve to win the title, for he did not have to face the Los Angeles Clippers or the reigning champs San Antonio Spurs. His team was lucky they were all healthy while also facing a Cleveland Cavaliers team plagued with injuries to two of their star players. Curry did not deserve the MVP Award, he played for the best team in the league and they would still be good without him… These are some of the arguments fans of the game (and obviously not fans of the Warriors), and even from other players in the league. It was all luck; the stars aligned themselves to help this team to such achievements. Rival players, coaches, and fans are out this year to make sure everyone knows they didn’t really earn that trophy.

Players like James Harden, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James are coming for Curry and the Warriors. They all feel robbed of the glory the Warrior’s team has received all year long, and they all have something in common; injuries. LeBron lost Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, and though he had the help of various role players who stepped up when it mattered most, and he put up spectacular numbers, it was just not enough. Kevin Durant broke his foot and his team was not able to make the playoffs, which meant one less team was able to challenge the Warriors in their road to the finals. Chris Paul and Griffin lost a 3-1 lead over the Rockets in the 2nd round of the playoffs after being less than 10 minutes away with an 18 point lead to close it out; another team that was robbed of their chance to challenge the Warriors. James Harden lost point guard Patrick Beverley, there was no elite player defending Curry and that obviously was not fair for them. And lets not forget the Spurs who were eliminated in the first round by the Clippers, robbing them of the chance to face the Warriors as well. So much luck was involved.

If you have not yet been able to tell, these previous paragraphs have been pure satire. Do I believe any of these excuses? Of course not, but I will not continue with further arguments as to why that team DID deserve everything that came to them. That’s not to say luck played no part in their success, because it did, but it always does. You don’t get to win a title after playing for about 8 months at such a high level. Avoiding injuries is something the players have not much control over, but who they get to face is. They all follow the same rules, win the most games in the regular season and you’ll have an easier time in the playoffs. Who they faced was a result of their talent.

Stephen Curry and the Warriors will come out with a bang to start off this season, and will prove the doubters wrong, while the excuse filled opponents will try to redeem themselves in their quest for a vendetta…