Wesley Matthews Returns To Line-Up vs OKC

By Darreck Kirby
Dallas Mavericks Beat Writer

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves

After missing the past two games with a hip injury, Wesley Matthewws is finally ready to return to the Mavericks lineup tonight vs Oklahoma City. The timing couldn’t be much better as OKC, even without explosive two-guard Victor Oladipo, still boasts the triple-double machine that is Russell Westbrook. And given Yogi Ferrell’s disadvantage in size and athleticism, don’t be surprised if Wes draws the proverbial short stick. Furthermore, with this being the second game of a five-game homestand, Dallas needs a win if it’s going to remain in the hunt for the Western Conference’s 8 seed. Wes Matthews returning, even if not immediately into the starting lineup, should help that cause. [Read more…]

Project Shanks NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

By Matthew Carpenter
PSDC Writer

The AT&T Center cut the lights. Planes were boarded. Somewhere Gregg Popovich cracked a nice bottle of wine. The 2013-14 NBA season was put to bed. While there wasn’t much drama to close the season, the San Antonio Spurs gave us something to watch. The Spurs playoff point differential (214) was an NBA record and not a fluke. I sat in awe, not only of San Antonio’s domination of a Heat squad that was playing 1-on-5 for much of the series, but of the swathe of destruction they carved through a hellacious western conference. Watching the Spurs defend pick and roll, and then use it on the offensive end to set up secondary action was pure beauty. The 2013-14 Spurs were a champion of champions. This isn’t hyperbole. I’m talking 90s Bulls level of excellence.

Much of the drama was saved for the offseason and that didn’t disappoint either. LeBron, Melo, Jimmer, Love. There is no shortage of storylines as we embark on the 2014-15 season.

I count six teams with legitimate NBA title hopes and a few others on the fringe. That’s a big number for professional basketball. This season should be a lot of fun and filled with intrigue.

And then there’s this group…

Atlantic Division – We’ll start with the “Sad Clown” of NBA divisions. Big markets. Storied franchises. Lots of bad.

Order of Finish

1. Raptors – Toronto won 48 games last season and mostly retain the status quo for 2014-15. As a team with a history of hemorrhaging promising players, the re-signing of Kyle Lowry should be viewed as a huge win for general manager Masai Ujiri. The underrated backcourt of Lowry and Demar DeRozan are a “plus” tandem on both sides of the floor. For 4 years/48 million, the Raptors landed a very reasonable contract for a 27-year-old coming off a career season in which he posted 17ppg and a 20+ PER. [Read more…]

2014 NBA Draft Tank Rank

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC NFL/NBA Editor

The NBA season is finally here. This is my favorite time of the year. I love football, but my heart belongs to basketball. With football and basketball going on at the same time, I look forward to many late nights of watching replays and highlights. This NBA season will be like none other we have known. Not because of Houston getting Dwight Howard, or Brooklyn getting Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, or Miami going for a three-peat. No, this year is different because we have so many teams already tanking for a better draft pick before the season has even started. There are anywhere from 4-7 projected All-Stars in the 2014 draft, and everyone wants a piece of the top half of this draft. It doesn’t matter who wins the championship this year, all that matters is who will pick first.

I will keep track of the Tank Rank for you all season long, and let you know who has the inside track on the No. 1 pick this season as well as the right to draft Andrew Wiggins among others. 

1. Philadelphia 76ers

I know that the Suns traded for an injured Marin Gortat, but the Sixers traded away their only All-Star caliber player for an injured rookie who might not play this year, Nerlens Noel. At this point they are the leaders in the Tank Rank, but the reason why I believe they are most likely to keep the top spot is they have cheap assets they can dump in the coming months if they win some games they shouldn’t, or some of the other tanking teams loses more than expected. Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are two players that would fit in well with almost every team that has thoughts of a deep playoff run. Keep an eye on the rumor mill for Young and Turner, but keep your eyes off the Sixers.

2. Phoenix Suns

I see you Phoenix. Giving up your second-best player, Gortat, for and injured Emeka Okafor is the move we needed to get the ball rolling with this tankfest. The Suns are going to be awful, and outside Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic, I don’t see a player that is even worth having on an NBA roster. Maybe Alex Len in a few years, but for now there are only two NBA players on this roster. The problem that Phoenix will have is that they aren’t trading Bledsoe, and the only teams that could utilize Dragic will be teams that need a backup point guard, or teams that have an injury to their starter. But, no one is given up much to get Dragic. Philly can move Turner or Young and command an additional first round pick this year. The secret weapon up Phoenix’s sleeve is the expected “hamstring injury” to Bledsoe. [Read more…]

NBA Draft Winners and Losers

By Ryan Haidinger
PSDC Writer

The 2013 NBA Draft was supposed to be one of the worst ever. While the players it produced may not become hall of famers, the draft itself provided compelling TV and plenty of trade chaos. Here are three teams I feel had good draft nights and three teams that left me scratching my head.

WINNERS:

New Orleans Pelicans- The Pelicans kicked off the trading frenzy of the 2013 draft landing all-star point guard Jrue Holliday in a trade with the 76ers. New Orleans traded the sixth overall pick, Nerlens Noel, and next year’s first-round pick for Holliday, instantly improving their roster. Holliday will slide in next to Eric Gordon to form a very talented backcourt. Paired with last year’s top pick Anthony Davis, the Pelicans have three very good, young players to build around.

Cleveland Cavaliers- The Cavs shocked most people by selecting Anthony Bennett, who was projected to go somewhere between 5-10, No. 1 overall. Cleveland has been criticized by some for reaching to take Bennett over higher rated players. In my mind, there was no sure thing in this draft and if you can’t trade down, which Cleveland tried to do, you should take the player you like. I give the Cavs front office credit for going after the player they wanted and not giving in to the pressure to take Noel. With their second pick, Cleveland got one of the best shooters in the draft in Sergey Karasev, a 6’7 sharpshooter from Russia. Cleveland now has a freak athlete and a great shooter to surround elite point guard Kyrie Irving.

[Read more…]

2013 NBA Draft Lottery: Team-by-Team Needs

By Robbie Marbury
PSDC Big Man

Tonight, the NBA announced the winners of the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery. It goes without saying, if you are in the lottery you need a lot of help, but each team has a different need. This is how the lottery shook out and what needs each team needs to address in the draft this season.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers- SF, PF, C, SG

Cleveland is the only really bad team that already has a superstar, Kyrie Irving, now they need to get him some help. The really need an outside shooter at the two-guard or small forward position. Also, finding a replacement for Anderson Varejao needs to be addressed.

2. Orlando Magic- PG, PF, C, SG

Orlando only has one point-guard under contract and that is overpaid, under-talented, 31-year-old Jameer Nelson. Orlando has several young pieces from the Dwight Howard trade, but they don’t have a go-to scorer or a player that can get in the lane and make plays for others.

3. Washington Wizards- SF, PF, C

With John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards are set in the backcourt. Washington needs to add more rebounding and better interior defense. A small forward that can shoot will help space the floor and open up the lane for Wall and Beal.  [Read more…]

Celtics Down Sixers, Earn Berth in Eastern Conference Finals

By Anthony Wright
PSDC Contributor 

Of the Sixers’ starting five, only Elton Brand had Game 7 experience.  For the Celtics, Brandon Bass was the only player on the starting five to have no Game 7 experience.  This experience paid off in the end.

The Sixers battled throughout the entire game, answering every punch the Celtics threw at them.  The Sixers could never take the lead in the second half, cutting the game to one point on an Iguodala foul from Paul Pierce, sending him to the free throw line.  He missed both of his free throws and on the next possession the Celtics went down and scored.  [Read more…]

Defense Leads Sixers over Celtics, Forces Game Seven

By Anthony Wright
PSDC Contributor 

After watching the Game 6 matchup between the 76ers and the Celtics, I realized two things.  You never know which Celtics team is going to show up to play, and the Sixers defense is really good.

In series closeout road games, the Celtics’ Big Three (Garnett, Pierce and Allen) have only two wins in 13 tries.  The inconsistency of a veteran squad is baffling.  They have too many weapons to be held to only 36 first half points.  Luckily the Sixers were held to 33 first half points or this game would have been over quickly.  [Read more…]