Bold Predictions Update

Before the season began, I wrote a Bold Prediction article outlining 5 Bold Predictions and 5 (Not So) Bold Predictions. With the All-Star break in New Orleans this weekend, I thought it would be an appropriate time to revisit that article and point out how dumb I am.

(Not so) Bold Predictions

1. Kevin Durant will win both the scoring title and MVP this season.
Well whattya know, maybe I’m not so dumb after all. Durant is averaging 31.5 points per game this season, and sports a healthy 4.2 point per game lead over Carmelo Anthony for the scoring title. Durant is also the favorite to win the MVP award, barring something drastic. There seems to be some sentiment that Durant has exploded this season, but I don’t get that. He has improved, namely his passing, but Durant has been the second best player in the world for about three years now. Also, can we please stop with the “Durant is better than LeBron” talk? Yeah he’s scoring in bunches, but you have to win games in June to knock off The King, not January.

2. The Knicks will not win a playoff series.
Obviously we won’t know this till the playoffs happen but the Knicks are currently two and a half games out of the 8th spot in the Leastern Conference. That 8th place team? The Charlotte Bobcats. Let me repeat that. The CHARLOTTE BOBCATS. But yeah, please keep trying to convince Carmelo Anthony is a superstar.

3. Stephen Curry will solidify himself as the best shooter the league has ever seen.
While Curry has had a “down” year as far as 3-point percentage (his 41.5% would be a career worst) his degree of difficulty on those shots is incredible. I have never seen a player more capable of making 30-foot, on-one-leg, defender-in-his-face, off-the-dribble, three-pointers in my life. I stand by this statement wholeheartedly. Also, that 41.5% is higher than Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Larry Bird’s career averages.

4. The team with the worst record will not land the first overall draft pick.
The Milwaukee Bucks seem to have figured out this whole tanking thing and have won a league-low 9 games. The next fewest are 15 wins from the 76ers. I believe it could be a blessing in disguise for Milwaukee however, because if they are not first, they will not be suckered into taking Joel Embiid. Not that Embiid will be awful, but I do not think he will be worthy of the first overall pick. I get that 7-footers who actually have skills are incredibly rare, but I just believe anyone who passes on Jabrari Parker (if he comes out) will be making a huge mistake.

5. The Miami Heat will win their third consecutive championship and LeBron James will stay in Miami.
The Heat have coasted through the first part of the season and find themselves second in the Least with a 37-14 record (they were 36-14 at last season’s All-Star break). Miami’s talents are nearly impossible to gauge by their regular seasons, as they seem to have another level of play, especially on defense, once the postseason begins. That said, the Pacers are a much improved team this season as Paul George has blossomed into a full-blown superstar and Lance Stephenson has transformed from unreliable head-case to awesome-to-watch-and-terrifying-in-transition-head-case. Miami will not beat this team in the playoffs without a healthy Dwayne Wade, and I’m just not sure Wade will ever be fully healthy again.

Side note: Although I have not seen it written anywhere or even talked about, if the Heat do manage to win a third consecutive title, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wade retire. His knees are giving him genuine problems, and with a new wife, two young sons, and his reputation as one of the greatest two-guards to ever play safe, it might make sense not to harm his body any more.

Bold Predictions

1. The Detroit Pistons will win more games than the New York Knicks.
The Pistons (22-30) currently have two more wins than New York (20-32). However, I almost consider this one a loss because of how wrong I was about Detroit. I thought before the year they would have spacing issues with the Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith trio, none of whom are competent outside shooters, but even I underestimated the black holes that are Smith and Brandon Jennings. Smith shoots just 42% and Jennings throws up bricks on a regular basis, shooting just 38%. Despite their poor shooting, both take more than 15 shots a game. Not exactly a recipe for success. This team will not have a chance unless they jettison either Smith, which will be almost impossible with his contract, or Monroe, who is more likely to be traded as he will be a restricted free agent after this season. The only positive for the Pistons has been the faster-than-expected rise of Andre Drummond. The second year player out of UConn has averaged 13.1 points along with a robust 13.0 rebounds. He’s still extremely raw on both sides of the ball, which shows how ridiculous his upside is.

2. Kevin Love will get serious MVP consideration.
This one looked good early on as Love came out guns blazing. However, he has cooled off as the season has gone on and the Timberwolves haven’t won enough to keep him in the MVP conversation. However, he is still averaging 25.8 points (fourth in the league) and 13.2 rebounds (second in the league) so he has still had a tremendous season. He is also third in the NBA in PER this season, after only Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

3. DeMarcus Cousins will become a top-15 player in the NBA.
“Boogie” as he is known has certainly picked up his game this season. He’s still a negative on the defensive end, as his effort ebbs and flows, but he is an absolute force on offense. Cousins is impossible to guard with just one player when he gets on the block and he is a much improved passer as well. While he is still not the vocal leader the Kings would like him to be, Cousins is averaging 22.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and more than a block and a steal per game, all career-highs. Those numbers place him sixth in the NBA in PER, making a strong case that he should be considered a top-15 player.

4. James Harden will win an NBA title before Kevin Durant does.
I’m going to go ahead and say I missed on this one. Durant looks poised to return to the finals this season, and once Westbrook returns the Thunder will be even more dangerous. The Rockets are currently third in the Western Conference, but Harden has somewhat disappointed me this season. Offensively, he has averaged about 24 points per game, but his is an absolute sieve on defense. I don’t think the Rockets have much of a chance against top teams in the playoffs if their best player can’t play any defense.

5. The Los Angeles Lakers will have a better record without Kobe Bryant than with him this season.
Another close one, as I said the Lakers would scrap their way to .500 without Bryant and then they started the season 10-9 before Bryant returned. However, the injuries piled up quickly. The Lakers went just 2-4 in the games Bryant played and then saw him injure his knee. Since then, the Lakers have also lost Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Xavier Henry and Jodie Meeks for extended periods of time. They now sit at 18-35 and are at the bottom of the Western conference.

10 Bold (and not so bold) Predictions about the NBA Season

 (Not so) Bold Predictions

1. Kevin Durant will win both the scoring title and MVP this season.
The Thunder will be playing without Russell Westbrook for at least the first few weeks of the season, placing more of the scoring load on Durant. Combined with the fact that this team already lacks a consistent third scoring option due to the departure of Kevin Martin and Durant should post the highest scoring average of his career this season. Also, due to voter apathy, Lebron James would need a truly remarkable season in order to win his fifth award in six seasons. With Durant doing more, he will be in line to win his first regular season MVP.

2. The Knicks will not win a playoff series
The Knicks have won exactly one playoff series since acquiring Carmelo Anthony. With the top four teams in the East (Miami, Chicago, Indiana, New Jersey Brooklyn) a clear cut above the rest, it is looking like Carmelo will be facing yet another first round exit.

3. Stephen Curry will solidify himself as the best shooter the league has ever seen
Seems bold right? But if you take a look at the numbers it’s really not. You’re too lazy to look? Okay then I’ll show you why. Right now, Ray Allen and Reggie Miller are probably considered the greatest shooters of all time. Maybe even Larry Bird for any old timers out there. But take a look at this chart.
Career 3FG %
3-Point Attemps/Game
Ray Allen
Reggie Miller
Larry Bird
Stephen Curry

Curry not only shoots as many, or more, three’s than the game’s greatest players but he makes a significantly higher percentage of them. And he’s only getting better. In the three seasons where he has played at least 74 games (he played just 26 in his only other season) he shot 43.7%, 44.2% and 45.3% from three point range. He shot 45.3% while taking almost 8 three’s a game last season. Neither Bird nor Reggie Miller’s best seasons were as a good as Curry’s worst and Allen has only shot at that well once in his career (2011 with the Celtics).

4. The team with the worst record will not land the first overall draft pick
The team with the worst record only has a 25 percent chance of winning it anyway, and they have actually only won it 3 times in 24 years. Maybe NBA teams have forgotten this since about half the league seems to be tanking. This draft is great and all, but teams better be damn sure they are getting a franchise player if they are throwing away an entire season.

5. The Miami Heat will win their third consecutive championship and Lebron James will stay in Miami
The East has gotten considerably tougher this season, but I still don’t see the Heat losing. Remember, they beat the Bulls with Rose coming off his MVP season in 5 games in 2010, before this team had really come together. The Heat have a dangerous on/off switch that could doom them and Dwayne Wade already looks old, but I see another ring in the King’s future.

Bold Predictions

1. The Detroit Pistons will win more games than the New York Knicks
Maybe I’ve just listened to my brother talk about this team too much and I’ve been brainwashed, but I’m actually excited about the Pistons this year (heads up Chris – I was excited about the Buccaneers season too and look where that went. I’m gonna go cry now).  But Greg Monroe is legit, Josh Smith is a Swiss-army-knife-type talent and Andre Drummond will be a beast. I also think Chauncey Billups will help this team a TON, although more as a locker room presence than as a player. As for the Knicks, the deal for Andrea Bargniani was awful. He plays zero defense and hasn’t shot better than 35 percent from 3 point range since 2009. Plus, I think the playoff version of J.R. Smith (14 points, 33% from the field) will rear his ugly head more than the regular season version (18 points, 42% from the field). They’ll both make the playoffs, but the Pistons will be the higher seed.

2. Kevin Love will get serious MVP consideration
Did everyone forget how good this guy was? He averaged 26 and 13 two seasons ago, before missing almost all of last year with a wrist injury. The Wolves will grab one of the last playoff spots in the West, and it will be because Love has a monster year.

3. DeMarcus Cousins will become a top 15 player in the NBA
Currently ranked No. 40 on ESPN NBA Rank (although, to be fair, those rankings are mostly bogus. In what world is Tony Parker the 12th best player in the league? He’s top 3 or 4 no questions asked. But that’s an article for another day) Cousins has always had the potential to be great. Due to maturity issues and inconsistency he hasn’t quite put it all together. However, I think this is the year he turns it around. I’m not sure how many games the Kings will win, but expect Cousins to have a monster year. 

4. James Harden will win an NBA title before Kevin Durant does
Neither may happen for a while because of a certain South Beach star, but I love what the Houston Rockets are building. They have a legitimate superstar (Harden) an overqualified wingman (Howard) and an underrated third scorer (Chandler Parsons). Add in a decent backcourt duo in Patrick Beverly and Jeremy Lin, as well as a valuable trade chip (Omer Asik) and this team could be very dangerous come playoff time. If the Rockets can flip Asik for a stretch four (Ryan Anderson maybe) they will be title contenders. As much as I love Durant and Westbrook’s talent, they gave away the piece to a potential dynasty in order to avoid amnestying Kendrick Perkins and cut costs. Ouch.

5. The Los Angeles Lakers will have a better record without Kobe Bryant than with him this season
Probably my boldest statement, and maybe I shouldn’t underestimate the Mamba, but this guy has played like 123,610,592 minutes in the NBA (unofficial statistic) and just tore his Achilles. I could see the Lakers scraping their way to a .500 record until he returns and then have things go south when he’s still trying to take 25 shots a night and just can’t do it.


The UConn Huskies will reach the Final Four
Call me a homer but really, on the homer scale of 1 to Tommy Heinson, I’m only like a 4. This team is very good. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will form the best backcourt duo in college basketball and DeAndre Daniels will take the next step to becoming a superstar. He’s like Kevin Durant lite. Okay, so the extremely lite version. Like if Kevin Durant were an app, he’d cost $9.99 and Daniels would be the free version that offered about 1/100th of the same stuff but gave you a tiny glimpse of what the real version was like. This team also has some serious depth and if any one of their centers can step up and become a real low post defensive presence, they’ll be very good.

By: Nicholas Danforth

The Sandy Hook Memorial 3v3 Charity Basketball Tournament will be held in the Woodstock Academy Fieldhouse on June 8, 2013 at 12 p.m. Hosted by Nick and Mike Radio, the tournament has a $25 team fee with 100% of the proceeds being donated to the University of Connecticut Sandy Hook Memorial Scholarship Fund.

With a maximum of five players per team, the tournament will have two age groups of teams (Middle School and younger and High School and older)*. A prize to be announced at a later date will be awarded to the winning teams from each age group.

To register and pay, click on the "register" tab at the top of the page

*Age groups are subject to change based upon number of teams signed up.

Woodstock Academy's Strong Start

        Woodstock Academy has not been known for their strong basketball team. This year, however, players like Ian Converse and Chris Lowry are trying to bring about change to the culture of Woodstock Academy basketball. They seem to be doing just that as it is obvious to those that have followed the team throughout the years, that there is a new demeanor to the players this year, and the results have been phenomenal. Currently the Woodstock Academy Centaurs are 7-0 for the first time since anyone that I have talked to can remember. They have also received votes in the New Haven Register boys basketball top 10 poll [1]. Maxpreps has them listed as number 22 in the state [2]. Coach Greg Smith has always been a big proponent of defense and this year's team exemplifies that. The most points given up to a team this season was 59 to Ellington; the first game of the season without Ian Converse, one of the teams key players. Offensively this team can put up points scoring 85 against Fitch and 75 against Lyman. What's changed this year is how the team scores points. In the past Woodstock Academy has been known for shooting lots of 3's. This year the team has looked to get the ball inside mainly due to the fact that leading scorer, Ian Converse, gets most of his points in the paint or driving to the basket. This team still has the players to do damage from behind the arc such as Tristan Welch, as well as Trent Peters who comes off the bench. Point Guard Chris Lowry has done a great job of finding open teammates for easy buckets near the hoop. What makes Chris one of the best point guards in the ECC is his deadly passing, ability to run the offense, but most importantly the fact that he turns the ball over rarely. Opposing teams have a tough time scoring because there are not many opportunities for easy fast break points off of turnovers.
        Adversity has recently hit this Woodstock Academy team in the game against Lyman. After an incredible spin move for a lay up starter Will Bourgeois stayed on the ground clearly in pain. After walking off the court and being looked at by the trainer he was back on the court after just a few minutes. However, after making a simple pass Will found himself on the ground again in pain. Because of his toughness, everyone in the crowd, including myself, knew this had a good chance of being something serious. Will was helped off by the trainer and did not return to the game. The team has since come to find out that Will has suffered a probable ACL and MCL tear [3]. Will brings an added element of intensity that no one else on the team has. Other players will need to step up in order to fill the void that is left by Wills injury. Sully Gardner got the start in place of Will and played very well, scoring 11 points and making an impact with his rebounds and blocks. If Sully continues to play that well it will make the loss of Will a little less painful for the Centaurs. Junior guard Trent Peters and senior forward Jake Almquist will also likely find themselves with more playing time. Trent is undersized, but has probably the nicest shot of anyone on the team and is an incredibly smart player who has no problem running the offense and directing others. Jake is able to bring athleticism and rebounding to the court for the Centaurs. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the rotation of an already short bench.
        An area of improvement for Woodstock needs to be their free-throw shooting. According to MaxPreps they are shooting 55% on the season [4]. Free-throw shooting nearly cost Woodstock the game against Suffield. They shot only 30% (3-10) from the line, but their defense won the game for them as they gave up only 13 points in the entire second half and only 4 in the fourth quarter. While the free-throw shooting needs to be improved the season is looking promising for the Woodstock Academy Centaurs. If the team can gel together and play up to their potential there is no telling how far this team can go on the way to Mohegan Sun, where the state finals will be played.



[3] MRI test results have not confirmed as of yet, but this is the report supposedly given by a respected doctor.


2012 NBA Draft Preview

     The obvious winner in this year's draft will be The New Orleans Hornets. Anthony Davis is the consensus. overall number one pick. However, there does seem to be some depth to this year's draft. It appears that NBA executives are satisfied with the level of talent that is going to be in this year's draft [1]. I will go through a few of the top picks and discuss options the team has, as well as who I think they should take with their respected pick in the draft.

1. New Orleans Hornets:
     Anthony Davis is the obvious pick. This kid has skill and it is evident to anyone who has seen him play the game of basketball. He is listed at 6'11" and has a 7'6" wingspan [2]. One of the huge upsides to Davis is that he is a smart basketball player. This comes from the fact that Davis used to play guard because he had a late growth spurt [3]. Anthony Davis has the talent to become a dominant center in the NBA within in the next few years, but he needs to do one critical thing. He needs to get stronger. If he hits the weights and puts on some pounds, this will be one scary player for every other team in the league to fear.

2. Charlotte Bobcats:
      I believe that Bradley Beal is the second best player in this year's draft. However, I do not see the Bobcats taking him with the second overall pick. The Bobcats have too many young guards to be drafting another one. That is why, if they do not trade this pick, I see them taking Thomas Robinson, the power forward from Kansas. has reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers are offering their #4 and #24 pick for the Bobcats 2nd overall pick [4]. I see this trade happening because, if in fact the Cavs are making this offer, the Bobcats can probably get Thomas Robinson with the 4th pick. I expect the Cavs to try and get Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The only reason the Bobcats would not pull this trade is if they were planning on taking MKG. 

3. Washington Wizards:
     Bradley Beal seems to be a great fit in Washington. Him playing alongside John Wall could be a deadly combination. Beal is not as fast as Wall (Then again who is?) but he does have a high basketball I.Q. (Something that many, including myself, believe John Wall lacks.) Beal is a shooter, no doubt about it. Beal is within range as soon as he steps on the court. Listed at 6'5", some say he is too small to be a true shooting guard [5]. That being said, the possibility of Beal and Wall playing together is too much to pass up.

4. Cleveland:
     Again, if it is true that they have offered their 4th and 24th pick for the second pick, and the trade goes through, then they have their option of Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I could see them taking Beal at 2 to play alongside Kyrie Irving, but they did recently draft Manny Harris out of Michigan and another guard in last year's draft. Cleveland could go so many ways with this pick, all depending on trades. They could have the option of Beal, MKG, or even Harrison Barnes. In my opinion this pick will set the rest of the draft in motion.

Other Teams Worth Mentioning:

Portland Trailblazers:
     Portland has both the 6th and 11th respected picks in this year's draft. I expect them to take Andre Drummond with the 6th pick. He had a disappointing freshman year at UCONN, but his upside is what will get him a high draft pick. It will be interesting to see if Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, stay teammates. If Lamb is still available at 11, I would not be surprised to see Portland draft him.

New Orleans Hornets (again):
     The Hornets received the 10th pick from the L.A. Clippers in a trade that went on this year involving Chris Paul. (You probably didn't hear anything about it. It was under the radar and there was no controversy surrounding the trade at all.) If Austin Rivers is still available I think he would be a great fit for the Hornets. Having Rivers and Anthony Davis would be a team to build around and a team people would come to watch. Rivers is an explosive scorer with deep range. He is very confident, but sometimes has very iffy shot selection. I would love to see Rivers go to the Hornets.

This draft promises to be a good one. There is talent all throughout the first round, and many players drafted will have immediate impact on their team. The Hornets have two top ten picks and can use those to start rebuilding their team. We are still waiting to see if the Cavs and Bobcats make a trade, and that will undoubtedly affect the draft in a major way. You can see the draft live on Thursday, June 28th. For all the updates concerning the draft follow us on twitter .


David Stern's Inexcusable Comments

     David Stern has been known for protecting the image of the NBA. He has done things such as make it mandatory that players play at least one year of collegiate basketball before putting their name in the NBA draft [1]. He also instituted a dress code in 2005 which did not allow players to wear jerseys, jeans, large jewelry, and other things associated with the hip hop culture [2]. A lot of this was due to the image blow the NBA took following the, "Malice at the Palace." One of David Stern's main goals in being commissioner of the Nation Basketball Association was to keep the image as clean and as professional as possible. Something recently has hurt this image, and this time it is David Sterns own fault.

     Jim Rome's talk show, The Jim Rome Show, can be heard on over 200 radio stations in the United States and in Canada. He has been involved in many controversies, and also holds many controversial opinions which is why he is such a polarizing figure in the sports talk show world. Rome and Stern have had disputes in the past which is why Stern should have been cautious when answering questions from Jim Rome. Rome asked David Stern about the conspiracy theories surrounding the NBA draft lottery [3]. As Jim Rome correctly pointed out, it is his job to ask questions like that. David Stern took offense to the question and asked Jim Rome if he had stopped beating his wife yet and then went on to insult Rome. What surprised me was that Jim Rome was the one that remained calm and cool in the heat of the moment. Jim Rome has been known for getting into controversies and saying things he should not. He calmly told Stern that he did not think the objection was fair. David Stern then went on to criticize Jim Rome and say how he made a living of asking questions for "cheap thrills." Jim Rome asked a legitimate question that many people have been speculating about. Stern followed by barely addressing the question and simply followed with several ad hominem attacks. Stern said that he had to go talk to someone important and mentioned he had to do an interview with Stephen A Smith. It is important to note that the wording about "beating his wife" was not literal. It was an example of a question that has no good answer which is what Stern felt Rome did.

    These are statements that no commissioner of any sports league, or anyone in a position of power, should say. The problem is not exactly what Stern said, but rather the fact that he should not be saying things like that at all. He should not want his reputation to be that he insults talk show host that ask him questions. He does not have to respond perfectly to every question. However, he cannot act like that in any situation. For a man who has tried terribly hard  to help the image of the NBA, he may have greatly hurt his cause just by a few comments in one interview.

Listen to the interview here

[1]Normally speaking, although players like Brandon Jennings have gone overseas to "side-step" this rule.
[2 ]
[3]The New Orleans Hornets won the lottery and they are owned by the NBA (recently sold)