WNBA Playoff Chase 2017

Teams fighting for positions in close race as season expires.

By Steve Samek

It’s the heat of the WNBA season. Eight teams enter the playoffs and spots are still up for grabs. Not many though as five of eight teams have punched a ticket to the Tournament.

The 2016 champions LA Sparks sit in the two seed with a mark of 21-8 so far. Ahead of them is their nemesis from the championship series last year the Minnesota Lynx at 22-6.

The Conneticut Sun have the bronze medal seed after a 19-10 record to date. Following them at number four is the League’s hottest team with five wins in a row, The New York Liberty.
In fifth it’s the off-season sighing winners the Washington Mystics. Though both the Liberty and Mystics sport identical 17-12 records.

Phoenix, Seattle and Dallas would round out the eight if the season where over. Chicago and Atlanta are chasing spots, but it doesn’t look good for either team. Atlanta has to be the coldest team in the league, having lost nine in a row.

San Antonio and Indiana have been eliminated from playoff contention. Both teams have won fewer than ten games. Atlanta has ten wins, but with the landslide at which they are headed I see their elimination coming swiftly.
The Sky have a bit of a challenge to get in as well. With a tough final five game slate. The Sky has to play all teams ahead of them in the standings, including Minnesota. They sit three games out of a playoff spot so, they may have to win out with help to get in.
The last three in at the moment should have a leg up on getting in. Seattle and Dallas sit just a game behind Phoenix. Though they each have a three-game lead up on Chicago. Lucky for these teams with the new playoff system in place, it won’t be a don’t finish eighth and get smashed by one last season’s finalists in the first-round situation. Though they still have to win four series to win it all as a five through eight seed.
Look for any head to head matchups down the stretch to settle seeding. The most intriguing of which would be the 1-2 rematch between LA and Minnesota. On August 27,2017. With LA a game behind the Lynx, who have a game an extra game left to play, this is a can’t miss matchup.
Be sure to check out the rest of the season’s sure to be clutch action. See you in the playoffs.

 

Breaking up a Dynamic Duo

By Steve Samek

The Cleveland Cavilers have it set. You have an NBA championship and a finals appreances the past two years. You have Lebron James, the potential greatest player of all-time. Kyrie Irving a high-level lottery pick and dynamic player compliments James. Then they went and signed former MVP Derrick Rose. http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20163596/lebron-james-derrick-rose-work-together-las-vegas. Life looks good if you’re the Cavs.

Conversely, Irving decides he wants a trade. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/07/26/kyrie-irving-trade-request-no-surprise-to-chauncey-billups-after-due-diligence-on-cavs/?utm_term=.f4d65cc31175 . He seems most interested in going to New York. http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nba/report-irving-wants-trade-to-knicks-very-badly/ar-AAoVKg1?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

Not what you’re looking for if you want another championship.

I figure why in the world would he want to leave Cleveland.  In less you went to Golden State. There Irving would have to contend with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant as far as being the number one player on the floor. Why not just stick with being the number two guy behind Lebron.

Especially if you want to win championships. Golden State and Cleveland look to have the edge for years to come as far as having talent in place that laps the field.

Maybe adding a piece like Irving could transcend a team, but no guarantees. http://www.espn.com/nba/player/_/id/6442/kyrie-irving.

 The question is though does a team have enough assets to trade for him. This would be for a team that wants to win now. Numerous teams have been mentioned looking to acquire him.

I don’t see this trade happening in less a king’s ransom is in it for Cleveland.  Kyrie stays and contends with the Lebron and hits free agency in a couple years and can bolt then.

 

 

Ball vs. Social Media

By Steve Samek

Social Media strikes again. This time it’s 2017 2nd overall pick Lonzo Ball against 2013 WNBA 2nd overall pick in Elena Delle Donne. The two are matched up in a twitter battle over what seems to be a misunderstanding.

Ball wore a pair of $495 Big Baller brand shoes in a summer league game on Friday. Delle Donne tweeted that it would be something to see the shoe get blown out. A joke was then thrown in that Ball should have just signed with Nike for a designer shoe. Delle Donne is sponsored by Nike and has her own shoe. http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/basketball/elena-delle-donne.

Social media responded in the negative, as people thought that she wanted Ball injured. http://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/19919252/elena-delle-donne-says-lonzo-ball-sneaker-tweet-was-joke. She then apologized in another tweet, saying she is a fan of Ball, just not his shoes.

Lavar Ball fired back at Delle Donne and her choice of Nike, but the tweets seemed to have calmed down. Delle Donne wasn’t happy with fans twisting her words though. This is rightfully so. It would have been rude to wish injury on another player. Having them break equipment, isn’t ideal, but it’s just a harmful bit of teasing. The fans overreacted on this one.

Ball isn’t in the clear yet though. Joel Embiid made a video in which he used vulgar directed toward another player. This player was Lonzo. Jabs were also made at Lavar. This is the second time Embiid has directed comments at Ball. In June Embiid and Ben Simmons took to social media to express displeasure with comments Lonzo made about the Lakers making the playoffs. http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19921313/joel-embiid-philadelphia-76ers-fined-10000-nba-inappropriate-language-social-media.

Embiid received a $10,000 fine for his posts. The league called it inappriate use of language on social media. This could be the first case of fines for this season. The NBA is committing itself to stopping Twitter wars and promoting responsible use of social media by the franchises and players in the league. http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19921313/joel-embiid-philadelphia-76ers-fined-10000-nba-inappropriate-language-social-media.  This was the subject of a memo sent to all teams in February.  Play nice children, use social media responsibly.

 

Mystics Moves Working

By Steve Samek

The Washington Mystic made a splash in the offseason. http://bit.ly/2n3UnnM. So now that the season is about half over how are those moves working out?

Elena Delle Donne was the Center piece of a big trade.  This season she is averaging almost 20 points per game in 15 starts. http://www.wnba.com/player/elena-delle-donne/#/career.  Not career bests, but steady.  Though Delle Donne is ranked fourth in the league in scoring. http://www.wnba.com/league-leaders/#?StatCategory=PTS&sort=PTS&dir=1

 Delle Donne is currently leading the Eastern Conference in All-Star voting. http://www.wnba.com/news/moore-delle-donne-lead-early-returns-wnba-star-voting-2017/.

Kristi Toliver was added in free agency. Toliver is averaging 10 points per game and that is down from 13 last season. http://www.wnba.com/player/kristi-toliver/#/career. Her three-point percentage, a prime reason for her acquisition is down as well. Toliver hit threes at 42 percent last season, but is only at 35 percent this year. http://www.wnba.com/player/kristi-toliver/#/career.

The Mystics are doing ok this season. In the most recent power rankings they were ranked third. This came in behind the current champs LA and a Minnesota team fresh off a finals appearance. http://www.wnba.com/news/week-8-power-rankings-champs-keep-rolling/.  The Mystics own a 10-6 overall record, including a 7-2 mark at home, while being highly ranked in several statistical categories. http://www.wnba.com/news/week-8-power-rankings-champs-keep-rolling/.

Stefanie Dolson, who was acquired by Chicago for Delle Donne is playing well. Dolson is averaging a career high 12.9 points per game. http://www.wnba.com/player/stefanie-dolson/#/career. She has also seen her minutes increased significantly playing over 28 per game against 22.5 last season. http://www.wnba.com/player/stefanie-dolson/#/career.

The number two overall pick was spent on Alaina Coats of South Carolina. Coats doesn’t have any statistical data to report. http://www.wnba.com/player/alaina-coates/#/about.

The Sky have struggled mighty this season. The team has three wins this year and 12 losses. They were recently defeated by the San Antonio Stars, which came into the game winless. The sit at number 11 of 12 in this week’s power rankings. http://www.wnba.com/news/week-8-power-rankings-champs-keep-rolling/.

Mystic’s moves looking like the right ones.

 

Summer Jams

NBA Summer happenings.

By Steve Samek

The NBA has named a champion. The draft is coming to a close and its, not quite time for training camp and summer league. Still need a basketball fix check this out.

Ice Cube has started a 3 on 3 league called Big3. Each team features former NBA players as captains and coaches.  Each team as a full roster and unique logo and uniform. http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19706016/ice-cube-gone-all-details-new-basketball-league. Eight teams make up the league. http://www.big3.com/league-philosophy/teams.

 

To make things more interesting the league also offers a fantasy option for fans. http://fantasy.big3.com/web/. A bit ridiculous why not. Though a positive note is the format is set up like a tour. Numerous cities get to host games, leading up to the championship in Vegas. http://www.big3.com/tickets. Kids under 13 can get in free with an adult ticket purchase as another nice gesture of the league. http://www.big3.com/tickets.

Games are competitive too. In the opening weekend, all three games were under 10 points in differential. With two games having a margin of victory under five. http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19734396/jason-williams-injures-leg-big3-league-begins.

Another option for hoops this summer is the Champions League.  This league has 16 entrants. The league also emphasizes fans and celebrates and former NBA players. For example, Snoop Dog serving as an owner and commissioner in the league. http://www.champshoops.com/welcome-snoop-dogg/.  Which is super cool, seeing that Snoop has experience running his own football youth league and is being active in this new league. LA fans can also try their hand at being an owner in this league as stated here. http://www.champshoops.com/seeing-stars-in-la-fans-can-now-be-owners/.

This league is standard five on five action. Tickets are very fan friendly. A $25-dollar seat also includes a meet and greet and a youth shoot around with the pros. The league is also dedicated to charitable endeavors throughout the year. http://www.champshoops.com/about-champions/. A very fan friendly experience that I hope really takes off. It always seems like players are inaccessible to fans. This is paying the fans back for their loyalty and support I fully approve of these leagues.

Lakers and the Super Team

Could LA be the Next Golden State.

by Steve Samek

Lots of shock coming from the days leading up to the NBA draft. No team seems to be getting hit like The La Lakers. The Lakers hold the number two pick in the daft for the third year in a row. Last year the Lakers went with Brandon Ingram and the year before that D’Angelo Russell. The intent to use them as corner stones of the rebuild. http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/LAL/draft.html.

This will not be the case Russell has been shipped to the Brooklyn Nets along with Timofey Mozgov. The return Brook Lopez and pick number 27 for 2017. The move looks to be for salary cap room as the Lakers have been trying to get Paul George from Indiana. http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-trade-20170620-story.html. Lebron James and Russell Westbrook are also big name free agents on the Lakers radar for 2018. http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-trade-20170620-story.html. Letting Mozgov and Russell go saves LA around 22 Million for next summer. http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-trade-20170620-story.html

The Lakers also lost Nick Young to free agency. Young elected not to sign and test the market after four seasons with LA. Young averaged about 13 points a game for the Purple and Yellow and made 71 starts. http://www.nba.com/lakers/releases/170621-nick-young-declines-option. Though by not picking up the option the Lakers save $5.7 million.
The popular pick for the Lakers at number two is Lonzo Ball from UCLA. Though the Lakers have also worked out possible number one pick Markelle Fultz. http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/170615-draft-workout-markelle-fultz.

According to recent mock drafts that is the case. It would play well for the Lakers to take ball, as he is a local guy from UCLA and a great talent. With a swagger to match. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2017/06/21/nba-mock-draft-markelle-fultz-lonzo-ball-deaaron-fox-trades/417590001/. Even going so far as to try and recruit James to join him in LA, before he has been officially drafted by the Lakers. http://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/lonzo-ball-makes-sales-pitch-for-lebron-james-to-join-him-with-lakers/. Bold move, premature, but bold.

The other pick at number 27 seems to be expendable for George and has played out in numerous scenarios for him. http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakers/la-sp-lakers-trade-20170620-story.html. So, the Lakers may not have made all their moves yet. Stay tuned, but the plan is  to contend for serious in 2018.

 

WNBA Records

By Steve Samek

Everyone loves a winner. So why not love these winners in what is looking to be a year of records for the WNBA.

Sue Bird is entering the top 10 in all time points scored. Bird scored 10 against San Antonio on June 6 to become the 10th best point scorer. Bird has tallied at least 5,565 career points. Bird isn’t just happy to score point either. She is the league runner up in all time assists.  With 146 more helpers, she can pass the mark of 2,599 held by Ticha Penicheiro. http://www.wnba.com/news/sue-bird-enters-wnba-time-top-10-scoring/

Bird is also among the league’s best in three-pointers and steels, ranking in the top 10 in both stats. Though most notable is Bird’s four Olympic gold medals for the United States of America, most by any player male, or female. http://www.wnba.com/news/sue-bird-enters-wnba-time-top-10-scoring/

Speaking of three pointers, its Diana Taurasi. The Phoenix Guard broke the all-time three-point record on June 1,2017. Taurasi is also chasing the all-time scoring record sitting in second place. The all-time points mark is 7,488 and is owned by Tina Thompson. 29 points is all the separate the two. http://www.wnba.com/stats/alltime-leaders/#?stattype=points&stype=02&sort=pts&permode=tot&dir=1 Taurasi’s next shot at the record is Friday when Phoenix plays Chicago. http://www.wnba.com/

http://www.wnba.com/news/whats-trending-taurasi-re-writes-record-books-charles-hits-career-numbers-minnesota-stays-hot/

The next record to fall was all time wins by an individual. This mark now belongs to Lindsay Whalen. Whalen has amassed 295 victories and counting in 14 seasons in the WNBA. Swain Cash was the former record holder for wins with 294. http://www.wnba.com/news/lindsay-whalen-becomes-winningest-player-wnba-history/. The historic win is coming during a strong winning streak for last season’s runner up Minnesota. http://lynx.wnba.com/news/three-observations-sundays-lynx-win-wings/

The final record is for collecting awards. Tina Charles snags this honor for winning WNBA player of the week 23 times. This comes after Charles was awarded this week’s player of the week award. The mark bests Tamika Catchings’ 22 awards. http://www.wnba.com/news/tina-charles-sylvia-fowles-named-wnba-players-week/.

Lots of winner’s here with lots more to come during this young season.