NBA 2K 15: Teams 2 Watch (West)

While the Eastern Conference is vastly improved, make no mistake, the West is, and will always be– TOP DAWG!!!  And the NBA’s biggest money maker. Last time I checked, most of your foreign born players play out West; talk about going global!! Bottom line, watching East games can be a little ho-hum at times; better grab you a front row seat if there’s a West game on display. My West teams’ are as follows:

SPURS:  The term ”EVISCERATED” was used to describe what the Spurs did to not only the “2DayBA’s” (today’s NBA) best team, but certainly the NBA’s “Best on the Planet”, in one said LeBron James; the term eviscerated should not be synonomous with the 2DayBA’s best player, if in fact he is what most people think he is. It is because of this I believe the “Medieval” Spurs will once again hoist the gold ball. Coupled with the fact that Duncan says he’s out to get the one thing he has not accomplished throughout his entire run – A REPEAT.

MAVERICKS: This is the one team that gives me cause for trepidation when it comes to the Spurs. All the talk was centered around the additions of Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler (rightfully so), but it’s the not so mentioned Jameer Nelson  that may turn out to be just what the doctor ordered for these Mavs. The only possible weak spot I see is the bench; Devin Harris is too much the lose cannon. If Carlisle decides to move Harris to the 2-spot (shooting guard) and let Felton run the second unit, this is the only squad truly capable of dethroning the Spurs.

WARRIORS: As great a talent as he is (like Kyrie Irving),  Steph Curry is a turnover waitin to happen. And that can’t happen if the Warriors are to make some real noise come playoff time. New coach Steve Kerr undid what was former coach Mark Jackson’s undoing (I believe), and put Harrison Barnes back in the starting lineup. These cats can flat-out score with ANYBODY IN THE LEAGUE, BAR NONE!  Can they play D is the question.

BLAZERS: Have all the tools to win it all, but do they have the toughness? What will Thomas Robinson bring? Blazers will be in the thick of it because of the household names, but title contention this year may be askin a bit much.

CLIPPERS: Doc Rivers is a throwback coach if there ever was one, but not even he can fix DeAndre Jordan’s free-throw woes. Jordan was first in just about every defensive statistical category last season, and yet, is a major liability in the fourth quarter of games; How can one of the games best not be on the floor when it matters most??  I can’t put my finger on it right now, but something is missing from the Clippers. And it may turn out to be the thing that keeps them from gettin to the Finals – again.

ROCKETS: McHale is praying that the addition of Trevor Ariza can somehow make up for the loss of – star in the making – Chandler Parsons. Youth, and lack of defense could be the ultimate cause of their undoing; despite being fun to watch.

PELICANS: Monty Williams may now have the pieces necessary to make a significant run in the battle tested West. Unfortunately, injuries are still a major concern. Anderson, Davis, Gordon, and Holiday missed a combined 141 games last season!!  Can’t expect to contend if the core is broken. Still, I think there is enough here that the Pelicans will be a tough out, and no longer  NBA “Welcome” mats.

NUGGETS: These boys are gon’  get straight up medicinal on cats this season. Jusuf Nurkic and the return of Gallinari to go along with Mozgov, Lawson, Gary Harris (Mich St.), Chandler, McGee, Robinson, Faried,… Get the idea? Brian Shaw will have time to take a nap during games because these dudes will be that in control. Come playoff time, inexperience will tell the story.

Honorable Mention: Timberwolves – Rubio found a jumper, and newcomers Bennett, Lavine, Robinson the 3rd, Wiggins, and Gorgui Deng will have a big time impact.

Can’t wait to hear what ya’ll think!!  www.theshopreport.com

NBA 2K 15: Teams 2 Watch ( East)

When most NBA writers preview an upcoming season, they do so by covering all 30 teams. Not me.  If you watch NBA basketball like I do, you know who the bottom-feeders are, and why it can be rather boring spending time discussing the teams who’s only shot at contention -of any kind- is that of who gets first pick in next seasons’ draft!

No disrespect to the unfortunate “less thans”, but because today’s sports’ culture is all about  ” instant mashed potatoes”, I’ve decided to get right to the point and give my take on which teams’  will matter in the 2014-15 NBA season.

Starting with the East, here are the ‘Teams’ 2 Watch’ this season:

BULLS:  Every time I watch the Bulls, it is clear to see in Thibodeau the Spurs/Popovich pedigree. Despite the abscence of Rose and Deng last season, Thib’s still managed to get  48 wins out of a depleted “MASH UNIT.”  Add to this mix former Laker Pau Gasol, fifth ranked NCAA all-time Division I scorer Doug McDermott, and 6′ 10″  ‘Inside-Out’  Nikola Mirotic, and it’s no tellin’ just how much havoc Thib’s and co. will wreck this season; provided Rose can stay healthy the entire season.

RAPTORS:  DeMar DeRozan,  Kyle Lowery,  Amir Johnson,  Terrence Ross,  Jonas Valanciunas, and  Lou Williams are, and will be, a headache for whomever they play. Coach Casey has no excuse for this squad not to improve on last year’s success; need to get away from so many overtime games (1-6) last season.

KNICKS:  Phil Jackson is the only person I’ve seen to ever get NBA-ego’s to come together just long enough to win an NBA Title. So, excuse me for not understanding all the doubt folks had surrounding his return to basketball because he decided to claim a front office position (with the Knicks) instead of his customary seat on the bench, saying, ” Phil can’t be the difference for the Knicks unless he’s the coach!”  I say those folks don’t understand just how much damage an over-inflated NBA ego can cause. For a man of his stature to win multiple NBA Titles with some of the most volatile personalities the game has ever seen, it wouldn’t matter the capacity Phil chose, just so long as he’s somewhere in the building!

PISTONS: Recently acquired Stan Van Gundy will get the motor going in this city once again. Like him or not, Gundy understands how to get his players to play to their strengths. With a front-court every team in the NBA would dream of in Monroe and Drummond, the Pistons only need for Josh Smith to stop jackin’ so many trey’s and become the complete player he should be, and Jennings to understand the difference between point-guard and facilitator. Once that happens, Van Gundy’s version of the Pistons’ ain’t gon’ be nothin’ nice.

HAWKS:  Coach Budenholzer’s Hawks made unwanted press with the admission of co-owner Bruce Levenson’s, and GM Danny Ferry’s racist remarks regading Hawks fans. Sometimes, thing’s of this nature can unravel not only a franchise (regardless of sport) off the court, but on the court as well. Al Horford’s return, combined with Milsaps relentless play and Budenholzer’s  San Antonio pedigree, the Hawks will use the fallout from management’s ” brainlock” moment to re-establish the cohesiveness necessary  to make them contenders.

WIZARDS:  The Wizards are a ” round robin” lock simply because of their front-court of  Gortat and Nene. Beal’s wrist injury is not so serious that the wiz’ will falter in his abscence. Wall, Gortat, and Nene will keep the ship afloat til Beal gets back in the fold. There is one thing that I question; can Paul Pierce make more of a difference than Trevor Ariza?  We’ll see. If so, the capitol could be in for a big time celebration.

NETS: After Kidd’s exodus, Brooklyn went out and got one of the NBA’s best in Lionel Hollins. That said, the clock is ticking on Deron Williams and his band of merry men to finally put to good use all the money  Prokorov has dished out over the last few seasons. This team’s ticket to a Finals appearance is solely tied to their ability to rebound, which was second worst (38.1) in the NBA last season.

CAVS:  With all the “ready made” off-season moves, don’t talk to me about what this team does in the regular season or playoffs. With Love, Irving, and James, the only talk surrounding the new “Big-3” should be not 1… not 2… not 3…  CHAMPIONSHIP(s)! PERIOD.

Honorable Mention: Heat – Wade and Bosh will be out to prove something.  Hornets – Al  Jefferson is coming; forget the plantar this go round!

As always, let us know what you think: http://www.theshopreport.com

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: New York Knicks

After the first third of the 2013 NBA campaign was complete, the New York Knicks were blazing a trail that not only put the entire NBA on notice, there was serious talk about maybe this being Melo’s shot at winning his first ever MVP trophy. My oh my how quickly thing’s change. If nothing else, watching this season is a constant reminder that an NBA season is not a sprint, but indeed a marathon. I know the Knicks are second in the East behind Miami with a 42-26 overall record, but as the season winds down and the playoff contenders continue to jockey for position, the brand of basketball on display at the Garden from the beginning of this season to now is like night and day.

Melo being the leader on this team was giving effort on the defensive end of the floor never before seen his entire career up til now, and in turn, his teammates were following his lead until -it seems- Amare came back. Once Amare got back in the lineup it was back to the free for all on offense and to hell with it all on defense. Everything just vanished; no more ball movement, no more unselfishness, and no more listening to Mike Woodson.

The Knicks went from being a viable threat for winning it all, to a sure enough first round fall. As much as I like Melo’s tenacity and flat out scorer’s mentality, taking 65 shots to get 42 points is absurd!!! I don’t care who you are. Whatever offensive efficency the Knicks were utilizing at the beginning of this season is now gone and as a result (in my opinion), so to is Tyson Chandler and Amare. Playing out of sync has lead to unecessary injuries and Amare and Chandler get in each other’s way; when both are on the floor at the same time, Chandler is no more than a garbage man asked to pick up everbody else’s trash. The Knicks are most effective when Chandler is involved with the offense as a pick-n-roll player if nothing else. Right now the Knicks are 11th in total offense at 98.8 per/gm. If the season ended today, the Knicks would face off against the Celtics; do you think the Knicks win a series against Doc & co. playing free for all ball? I don’t either. The Knicks may be a number 2 seed, but they sure ain’t playin’ like one.

In order for the Knicks to avoid an early exit from this year’s playoffs, Amare must come off the bench, J.R. Smith needs to have a “governor” put on his v-8 type jump shot, and Melo needs to get back to his early season understanding of being a “table setter” first, and a scorer when the time calls for him to do so. It’s not how many shots you take that make the difference between winning and losing, it’s when you take em’. Another first round exit on his resume and Melo will be another forgotten scoring statistic.