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Don’t Blame Boogie – NBA Created The Golden State Warriors

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The Golden State Warriors were already heavy favorites to win their third consecutive NBA championship. When DeMarcus Cousins agreed to join the Warriors for the 2018-19 season, many players and fans groaned at the prospect of a non-competitive scenario.

When Cousins heals, the Warriors will appear next to unbeatable. NBA futures now rate the Golden State Warriors as -175 favorites to win another ring, according to odds from BeABetterBettor.com, which translates to a 63.64% chance to win the 2019 NBA Finals.

Some will blame Boogie and Durant for chasing a ring with an established champion, but that opinion ignores the unique free agent market scenario which created the current dearth of parity – and a strange lack of demand for the services of DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins Career Straddles The Three-Point Era

Before DeMarcus Cousins broke out under the tutelage of coach Mike Malone, Boogie was already one of the most exciting young talents in the association. Over his first three seasons, Cousins averaged 16.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG and 2.3 APG, along with 1.3 steals and 0.9 blocks.

When coach Malone served as bench boss for the Kings, DeMarcus responded by turning into an all-star. Cousins lifted his game into elite territory, averaging 22.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 2.9 APG. Perhaps more impressive, he leveraged his impressive frame and athleticism as a rim protector and defensive menace, with 1.3 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.

After a 9-5 start to the 2015 season, DeMarcus went down with an injury, which triggered a Kings losing streak and the departure of coach Malone, who established an excellent rapport with Cousins. Boogie balled out anyway, with 24.5 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.5 steals and

1.5 blocks per game during his next three seasons. DeMarcus even added a three-point shot to his arsenal, hitting treys at a .356 rate during his last campaign with the Kings.

Sacramento attempted to build winner around DeMarcus, but things didn’t work out for either party in the constantly shifting competitive landscape of the NBA. When Cousins entered the association during the 2010-11 season, the rise of the three pointer was just beginning and the value of a traditional big man had yet to fall.

Cousins career happened to begin at the end of an era while his prime years took place in the beginning of another basketball milieu – a strange situation for any talented athlete.

Is Boogie The Least Wanted NBA All-Star?

A trade from Sacramento to New Orleans was best for everyone, giving Cousins a chance to make the playoffs while stocking the Kings with vital draft picks and prospects. Despite concerns that Boogie and the Brow wouldn’t mesh well as towering, ball-centric big men, DeMarcus Cousins altered his game to compensate for the interior dominance of Anthony Davis.

In 2017-18, Cousins posted personal highs of 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game, along with 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Statistically, DeMarcus distributed more than ever alongside Davis while absorbing more physical punishment in the paint than any other point in his career.

A blown Achilles during a hustle play would prevent Cousins from completing his first full season with a playoff contender. This forced him to watch from the sidelines as Playoff Rondo and Davis swept Portland, before the Warriors eliminated the Pelicans in five games. After playoff

success without DeMarcus, New Orleans decided to focus more on the perimeter shooting of Nikola Mirotić.

Incredibly, zero teams offered Cousins a contract offer for the 2018-19 season, despite the fact that he would immediately boost the championship hopes of any contender when his Achilles heals. DeMarcus and his agent obviously planned for this contingency, because they didn’t wait long before joining the Warriors for a ludicrously low $5.3 million single-year contract.

NBA Parity And The Salary Cap Can’t Stop Warriors

On paper, the Golden State Warriors have the greatest starting lineup in NBA history for the 2018-19 season. Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Cousins should be able to completely decimate any opposition. A few years ago, no one would dare believe that this group could play together outside of an all-star or summer Olympics squad.

When the news spread over basketball Twitter, players and fans lined up to express their displeasure with Cousins and the Warriors organization. Some even hinted at forgoing the next season, implying that Golden State cannot be beat unless injury strikes. Even then, the Warriors would probably win a championship minus two all-stars.

The current labor agreement, Boogie’s injury and the three-point era created the conditions necessary to undervalue the services of DeMarcus Cousins. Signing Kevin Durant became possible with the rapid rise of the salary cap due to a rich television and media deal.

Some blame players or teams for the lack of parity, but the revenue increase of the new contract with TNT and ESPN injected the NBA with a dose of healthy chaos.

Parity’s never been the end goal of the NBA – and that’s fine. Superpowers have almost always ruled over the association, including the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Pistons, Spurs and whatever team employs LeBron.

Overall, the sport continues to thrive worldwide. The current narrative of “the Warriors versus the world” doesn’t damage pro basketball. If anything, witnessing unprecedented greatness drives interest in the sport, and Boogie’s presence will add to the legend of the Golden State Warriors.

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2018 NBA Opening Day Preview & Predictions

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Mark your Google Calendars and set it to notify you on your smartphones. Oct. 16th is the date we are all waiting for; tip-off of the 2018 NBA season.  Handicappers have already put our early lines out for games the two Tuesday games and a odds on a slew of the Wednesday, Oct. 17th matchups that should be a fairly accurate reflection of what the main books in Vegas are soon to release. If you are in an area where it is legal to bet on sports, research the reviews on different sites to make sure you are getting the most out of your sportsbook. Here is a comprehensive look at Bovada.

Let’s have a look at the two games on opening day.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics

We get to start the season off with a possible playoff matchup between the Sixers and Celtics. Boston is at home in TD Garden and are likely to be listed as a 6-point favorite over the young, but potent 76ers squad.

The 76ers didn’t feel the need to chase a big free agent this offseason. But they did secure JJ Reddick and Amir Johnson, and they added a little bit of depth to their bench by adding Wilson Chandler and Nemanja Bjelica. Some Philly fans might be upset that they didn’t add more fire-power to the roster, but their strategy is sound. They made the playoffs with an extremely young and inexperienced team last campaign. Now that same corps of players is a little more mature and has a lot more experience. So, don’t throw a potential wrench into the mix and mess with a chemistry that is working.

Gordon Hayward had an unlucky break last season, but he and Kyrie are both expected to be on the court for opening night. Speaking of young talent, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are going to continue to grow as well and with Aron Baynes back to back up Al Horford; the Celtics will be tough in the paint all night long.

Six points seem fair, given the fact that Celtics are at home. But the 76ers could definitely cover six given the fact that the last time they played the Celtics won with a score of 112-114, on May 7th of 2018 the Sixers won 103-92, and on the May 5th, the Celtics squeaked out a three-point victory of 101-98. In fact, if you average out the last ten games between these teams, the score would be 100 to 103 for Boston. So look for this game to be closer than the projected line of six points.

Golden State Warriors vs. OKC Thunder

The juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors gets to open their season at home against their Western Conference rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The projected point spread is four buckets in favor of the Warriors.

Eight points at home doesn’t seem like a whole lot given this GSW roster, but OKC has improved significantly over the offseason … at least theoretically. Carmelo has been shipped off to Houston, and the Thunder signed/resigned eight players over the offseason. They hung on to Paul George who was inconsistent last season, but maybe now that he is focused on a four-year deal and isn’t looking to bounce out to LA next summer, OKC will see a different PG13.

The Warriors are scarier than ever … They picked up on of the best big men in the league in DeMarcus Cousins and have Jordan Bell, the young Power Forward/Center out of Oregon to back him up. The Warriors starting line up should be Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins. Then when the stars sit, it doesn’t get much easier because they have guys like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala coming off the bench.

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Boston Celtics Ready To Rule NBA East For A Decade

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Boston Celtics Ready To Rule NBA East For A Decade

As the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors experienced massive offseason change, the Boston Celtics proceeded into summer 2018 with calm confidence. After an incredible run to the eastern conference finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics didn’t need to wheel and deal. Instead, Danny Ainge remained rightfully confident with the personnel and prospects of Boston basketball.

The NBA east was shook with the news of Kawhi Leonard joining The North, but the Celtics remain favorites in the east. Toronto’s odds to win a championship are listed at +2000 while Boston has a +650 line, according to CanadaSportsBetting.ca.

Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks will also challenge Boston – now and in the future – but all signs point to an extended period of eastern conference dominance for the Celtics. The Bill Russell era will never repeat, but Boston’s stockpile of youthful stars, future picks and organizational wisdom could set the pace for the next decade.

Jayson Tatum – Franchise Player

Fellow rookies Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons received the lion’s share of attention for their superb inaugural season, but Jayson Tatum might be the finest baller of the 2017-18 class.
Ben Simmons possesses the more dominant, LeBron-style physicality while Donovan Mitchell could be the best pure scorer of the 2017 NBA draft. As such, both deserved votes received for best regular season rookie. In the playoffs, Tatum left both freshman in the wake of his historic performance.

Post season work crowns any achievement during the regular campaign – just ask King James, who declared Tatum “built for stardom” after the 2018 Eastern Conference finals. Jayson lead the Celtics deep into the eastern bracket despite the absence of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, scoring 18.5 PPG over 19 games.

Jayson became the first rookie since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to notch ten consecutive 20-point games in the playoffs. Tatum was within a single point of breaking Kareem’s freshman record of 352 total points in a single postseason campaign. Sure, Abdul-Jabbar required nine fewer games to amass his total, but this takes nothing away from Jayson’s remarkable introduction to high-stakes pro basketball.

Tatum’s ability to score when points are most scarce reflects the type of skill, mental fortitude, and dedication to fundamentals that transforms top athletes into NBA superstars. This doesn’t include Tatum’s already sound defense, which prevents the opposition from playing him off the floor like Enes Kanter.

“He can get a lot better,“ Celtics coach Stevens said after the conference finals. “I think there are so many little things that he’ll continue to improve upon.”

“Wait ‘till you see him in two years,” Al Horford praised. “He’s way ahead of the game.”

Perhaps the most stunning compliment would be the tacit vote of confidence from GM Danny Ainge over the 2018 offseason. The Celtics refused to part with Tatum for Kawhi Leonard when given the opportunity. Leonard would’ve all but guaranteed an NBA Finals appearance for the Celtics over the next five years after re-upping for the max.

Instead, Boston believes Tatum contains the potential of a generational franchise player, capable of powering a dynasty.

Celtics Stockpile Of Picks & Elite Youth

A half-decade of swindling opposing GMs defines the tenure of GM Danny Ainge. Hoarding first-round picks hasn’t always been popular with Celtics faithful, but a surprise run to the eastern conference finals represents the first wave of success for this strategy. Unlike Philly’s “process”, which involved an historic volume of losing, Boston required only a brief teardown for the picks necessary to reboot.

Boston’s already been richly rewarded for their first wave of first round lottery picks, selecting Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in 2016 and 2017. These two picks alone would be considered a success, but talent like Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart have proven themselves as strong playoff competitors too, selected in the first round during years prior. Rozier’s fantastic performance during the 2018 playoffs, which included ice-cold shotmaking, sparked discussion of Kyrie Irving’s redundancy – previously unthinkable before Irving went under the knife.

Danny Ainge has been so crafty that he stole a lottery pick in 2019 by picking Jayson Tatum – the player they wanted all along – while bluffing Philly into trading up for Markelle Fultz. Over the next three years, the Celtics have their own pick, along with a 2019 first round selection from the 76ers or Kings, and a pick from Memphis and the Clippers over the next few years, depending on conditional protections.

These six picks give the Celtics an absurd amount of leverage and options when pursuing talent. Boston can outbid any team in the NBA in a trade war. Worst case scenario, one or two of these picks develop into stars, eventually replacing aging or injured contributors.

Most teams buckle under the injury pressure experienced by the Celtics during the 2017-18 campaign. Instead, Boston discovered a substantial silver lining of youthful, resilient talent, envied by the rest of the association.

Boston’s Somewhat Fungible Superstars

There’s no insult in referring to Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as somewhat fungible after Boston’s amazing run through the eastern conference. The Celtics were one game away from the NBA finals without Irving and Hayward, which hints at their replaceability in the grand scheme of basketball.

He may not be a plus defender, but Kyrie Irving remains an elite scoring point guard, capable of getting his own bucket under any circumstances. Gordon Hayward will be the star Boston lured from Utah, combining elite shooting and sneaky athleticism which coach Stevens will leverage to great success.

Ideally, the Celtics would love to keep all their talent together, but the reality of the salary cap will force Danny Ainge’s hand at some point. On paper, losing Irving because of severe luxury tax problems becomes less of an issue with Terry Rozier turning into a star guard. Hayward’s role as a small forward will be scrutinized if Jaylen and Jayson fulfill their promise.

In an NBA which features the highest rate of star turnover in pro sports, Boston’s ability to replace their superstars with young, elite talent improves their immediate outlook while ensuing a bright future during the 2020s.

The Wisdom Of Horford & Stevens

Youthful talent fuels the upcoming dominance of the Celtics over the eastern conference. However, without veteran leadership, the potential remains unfulfilled. Cue the on-court intelligence and leadership of Al Horford, who helped Boston remain calm and organized throughout the chaos of the 2017-18 season. Kyrie should also receive acclaim for helping Rozier and other young scorers fill Irving’s shoes.

Coach Stevens seems to be the rare bench boss who combines outstanding personnel and play calling strategy with motivational skills which speak to rookies and veterans alike. At the age of 41, Stevens isn’t a generation removed from the 32-year-old Horford. Both will remain for at least a couple of seasons to mold the Celtics into a long-term favorite. Al’s only human, but he might decide to remain with Boston if the current atmosphere of winning continues.

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