NBA Second Round Playoff Preview

As promised, myself and the guys here at Standing Room Only give our picks and I break down the second round match-ups. But first, what a first round, am I right? The most game 7’s in first round playoff history with FIVE. Five series out of eight had to use every game to decide the winner. And who would’ve thought? For a lot of these teams some weaknesses were exposed to teams that should have been beaten in six at the most (cough* cough* ATLANTA). Now for the second round we have a little more understanding of certain things teams do well in a playoff setting. With that said let’s get this thing going!

1st round prediction records- Matt: 6-2. Ashton: 6-2. Aaron: 7-1.

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2014 NBA Playoff Preview

It’s finally here. After an exciting year, we’ve got our 16 playoff teams. Despite the fact that we are going to miss out on seeing good teams play (Suns) and instead be forced into seeing some mediocre teams (Hawks), it’s still going to be fun to watch. For every round I’ll look at each matchup and break them down. Then Ashton, Matt, and I will make our picks. Here we go!

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Mark Cuban’s D-League Proposal Conceivable?

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is probably the most outspoken owner in the NBA. Over the years he has openly expressed his views on all matters on the NBA and rightfully so, has a considerable amount of influence in the front offices of many Association executives. His latest idea? Rather than spend a year playing in college (or presumably overseas), allow top players to go straight to the D-League.

To grasp this option, people first have to understand how the Development League Draft works. It is not a requirement of the D-League to have actually played a year of college or foreign hoops to be eligible for the draft. The requirements are:

A)  Be at least 18 years old

B)  Not be a part of a college or professional foreign team at the time of the draft (this rule is not applicable in the NBA draft)

This one’s the kicker…

C)  Players must wait a year after graduating high school- or if they did not graduate high school, a year after their projected graduation- to become eligible. (Also unlike the former high school NBA Draft rule)

For the elite players whose sole goal is to play in the NBA, this type of ruling can be frustrating and some would call it unfair. To start, the sole purpose of the D-League is to turn athletes into NBA contributors in comparison to college ball where players are made to be put in a system to win a conference title or national championship. Because of this we all too often see players who aren’t ready for the big leagues. This generation more than ever we see college freshmen come in and dominate every game (Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins). The fact is their competition is limited. The NCAA neither has the talent nor the system to develop certain athletes. The D-League provides NBA systems, rules, coaching, talent, and relations with their Association counterparts all in the purpose of making players NBA ready.

It is a rigorous system that pressures all participants to show NBA level skill. Coaches, players, trainers, refs, you name it; everyone is working hard to get a call from the league. Since its creation in 2001, 164 players have gotten the call.

The NCAA regulations as far as finances don’t help their case either. This has been a long debated argument but as it currently stands, college athletes cannot be compensated. Say what you will, but the fact of the matter is in most cases if you are a one and done guy, you are not a student-athlete. You are an ATHLETE. Not a lot of people want to admit that. From the moment those kids step on campus their life is dedicated to basketball. They spend countless hours in practice and in games to win and to be quite frank, to make the school money. The school, and business industry, can do whatever they want with their names and likenesses and punish the individual for taking as much as a penny. The Development League offers an alternative. It is not perfect, but realize that the D-League is still a minor league industry. Depending on a player’s classification, their salary will be $13,000, $19,000, or $25,500. These numbers however, do not include the housing, travel, and medical expenses which are all league provided in addition to a per diem. If the ultimate goal is to get to the NBA anyway, this is a more than reasonable salary.

The last case in point and one unbeknownst to many, is that if a player would want to focus on his individual development as well as get an education that is not currently an option. The (other) fundamental flaw. Yes, this is different than in the NBA (no matter how supplemental that education is), but this comes with the territory of operating with a minor and relatively new league.

However, new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has recognized Development President Dan Reed and already seems to be more interested in the focus of the D-League as well as the incentives for its participants. He sympathizes with Cuban, saying the NCAA rule book ‘just seems ridiculous’. In addition to possible educational implements, Silver’s ultimate goal for expansion includes becoming the primary medium to nurture raw talent. This would hypothetically include a more active presence at the High School and AAU levels.

This is all in its very early stages, but this conversation is the starting point. It is difficult to not recognize that this would greatly improve quality of play at the professional level. Look for the D-League to make strides in the right direction in the coming years, starting with the eligibility rules.

Carmelo Anthony’s Outburst and what it means for the Knicks

Coming into the beginning of the season the Knicks had high hopes. After last year’s more than expected short playoff run New York entered opening day with a high caliber line up. Tyson Chandler in the middle, Iman Shumpert on the wing, Andrea Bargnani to spread the floor, Raymond Felton at the point, and of course All-Star scorer Carmelo Anthony gluing it all together. That goes without mentioning a solid bench, which happens to include former sixth-man of the year J.R. Smith.

So much potential, and yet the Knicks are 16 and 27 and are sitting at 11th place in the east. Team basketball is scarce and defense is just plain terrible. They are on SportsCenter so much that I’ve deemed my favorite club (yes, true fans still exist) the new highlight factory. It’s the fancy dunks and flashy passes. It’s the amazing crossovers and breath taking buzzer beaters. Madison Square Garden sees it all, it just happens to be coming from the other team. Except for, of course, when Andrea Bargnani tries to jam one in; this is just plain embarrassing. Face palm as needed.

Well friends, Melo has had enough. He’s publicly talked about the morale of the team and how discontent he is with losing. The past 2 games he made a statement. The 7 time NBA All-star and reigning scoring champ put up 35 against the Lakers Sunday and a record breaking 62 against the Bobcats on Friday, the latter coming in just 3 and a half quarters. What does this mean for the future of the Knicks? More importantly, what does it mean for the future of Carmelo Anthony come free agency?

For the team, it could go two ways. The first of the two, the positive outlook, is that this scoring outburst will motivate his teammates back in to the competitive squad New York fans loved last year. It’s been clear that morale is low and players aren’t having fun. When that happens, the little things that hold a team together get torn apart. Anthony will look to use these past two games to change the environment in his locker room and hopefully get more energy on the floor. That being said, it could take a completely different direction. Isolation is the plague of New York. While yes, Melo could win a select few games on his own, it might as well be a historic fact that teams cannot win with this type of play. With half a season left and no sign of a coaching change (despite threats from owner Dolan), isolation basketball is likely to continue to haunt Knicks fans everywhere. Melo will touch the ball even more now coming off of this outburst (i.e. L.A. on Sunday, Durant over last 9) and that will more than likely hinder the other 70% of the New York offense. He is one of the best scorers around, but he needs help. Players don’t need to get excited only about this outburst, but about the progression of this team as a whole. If they can do that, maybe the Knicks will gain back some respect and make some noise in the east.

As for the future of the scoring champ and his relationship with the Knicks, a break-up is likely. As much as I would like to deny it, there is little reason for him to stay in the orange and blue given what is projected to happen this season. There are no 1st round picks coming until 2018 and the chances of landing a game changing player are slim. There is a chance to land a quality coach, possibly Tom Thibodeau, whose relationship with operations in Chicago has been shaky since the Luol Deng move. Other than that, there isn’t much to hope for in New York. The Bulls have cleared a lot of cap space for a blockbuster sign. Kobe Bryant is also ‘willing to advise’ Anthony during free agency. The Lakers have a ton of upcoming free agents, including Pau Gasol and Nick Young. There would definitely be room for an Anthony deal there and getting him there while the Kobe era is coming to an end may satisfy Bryant’s thirst for one last ring. But that of course, is only speculation.

It’s not looking good for the Knicks, but it’s the NBA. The good thing about this league is you honestly can never know for sure what is going to happen. I mean, who knows? Maybe Anthony stays in New York and works with the pieces he has. Maybe New York will make it to the playoffs and dare I say it…..make it out the first round! Only time will tell.