Pistons Release Stan Van-Gundy As Head Coach

After four seasons and one playoff appearance, the Detroit Pistons have decided to release Coach Stan Van-Gundy from all coaching duties, but his current position as general manager is unknown as of now.

Many experts and fans believe that due to his resume as a coach who has led a team to the NBA Finals, he should have only had the coaching role instead of handling GM operations.

Since arriving in Detroit during the 2014-2015 NBA campaign, the Pistons have a record of 152-176 with only one playoff appearance in 2016, which ended in a sweep to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons’ failures during his tenure isn’t all his fault. Although one of his first acquisitions was signing Reggie Jackson to 80-million dollars worth 5-years, the Pistons have dealt with multiple injuries from key players throughout the years. During the only year that the team was fully healthy, the Pistons made the playoffs and played well in all four games against the eventual champs Cleveland Cavaliers.

Van-Gundy’s 4-year tenure with the Pistons marked the longest tenture by a Pistons head coach since Chuck Daly from 1983-1992.


Local Superstar Rapper Lil Lonnie Murdered In Hometown

On April 29, 2018 around 10:00 in Jackson, Miss, Jackson Police Department responded to a shooting in West Jackson. The body would soon be revealed as 22-year-old, local rap artist, and Jackson State student Lonnie Montrel Taylor.

Lil Lonnie was beloved by the city of Jackson, where he was born, raised, and regarded as one of the rising rap artists in the state of Mississippi. Taylor loved his family and friends. In an interview in December, Taylor was asked what he would do with his first mega check. Taylor responded, “I’d buy a house for my family.”

Taylor’s 2015 song “colors” put him on the map nationally. When asked who influenced him, he said Baton Rouge rapper Lil Boosie. Taylor also said that 50 cent gave similar advice which was to stay consistent with his music. Lil Lonnie wasn’t only a local figure, he was a national figure in the hip hop game, gaining attention by some of the legendary rappers. After finding out about his death, LL Cool J tweeted, “Rest in power Lil Lonnie.. may your music live on…. may the almighty lift up and bless your family.”

Lil Lonnie gained the attention by many, and even more are devastated by his death. Now the question is, how far could he have gone if his career had continued for 15-plus years. He might have been one of the greatest of all-time.

Isaiah Thomas Targeting First Week In Jan. To Make Season Debut

Coming off of an MVP caliber season registering in career-highs at 28.9ppg and 90.9% shooting from the free-throw line, former Celtics’ point guard Isaiah Thomas is targeting to make his season debut during the first week of Jan. Thomas suffered a hip injury that caused for surgery back in May, 2017, sidelining him from all contact activities.

Aug. 21, 2017 Isaiah Thomas was traded along with Jae Crowder to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchanged for Kyrie Irving only weeks after Irving made it public that he no longer wanted to to play alongside LeBron James. For Irving it was a dream come true, but for Thomas there were mixed emotions.

Despite being a career 19ppg scorer, in 7 years in the NBA this is Thomas’ 4th stop. All coming via trade. Thomas started his career with the Sacramento Kings as the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft, went on to average 20.3ppg in his 3rd season before he was traded to the Phoenix Suns and asked to be a 6th man for a guard heavy back-court that featured Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. After averaging 15.2ppg and a career-high 39% from three-point range in 25.7mpg, Thomas was traded to the Boston Celtics where he made his playoff berth for a young gritty team. As Thomas said, “I gave my heart and soul to this city.” after being traded to Cleveland years later. With the Celtics, Thomas led them to the playoffs every season as the best player, including a trip to the conference finals in 2017.

Thomas is currently in the last year of his contract, and is seeking to get paid max money. The talent has never been an issue for the critics, only his miniature 5’9 frame and defensive deficiencies. Thomas ranked last in the NBA among qualified players for defensive ratings. During the playoffs the Celtics struggled in each series while Isaiah was on the floor. His lack of size created a game-plan to where teams made switches and forced whoever Thomas was guarding to attack.

Without question playing alongside LeBron James, perhaps a top 10 player in NBA history will make his life easier on the basketball court, but it’s going to take some time for the chemistry to be there.

Gordon Hayward Dislocates Ankle, Fractures Leg In Celtics Debut!

gordon-hayward_v8boy2ho50i1jrf8acows1khShortly under the seven minute mark in the first quarter, the 27-year old Celtics’ star Gordon Hayward landed awkwardly as he was going up for an alley-oop. According to Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps, Hayward’s leg looked to be at a 90 degree angle from his foot.

After coming off of a career season where he earned his first All-Star berth and averaged career-highs with 21.9 points and 5.4 assists per game while shooting a efficient 53.6 percent from the field, a stretcher had to be brought out to take Hayward off of the court during his Celtics’ debut, noted by Jay King of MassLive.com.

This offseason the Celtics signed him to a four-year $128 million, so it’s not a secret this injury will be devastating for Boston if Hayward is forced to missed extensive amounts of time.

Will Hayward sidelined, the Celtics will turn to the young lottery picks, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to fill the void.

Who Will Win Most Improved Player In 2018?

Whether if it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo leaping from 16.9 points per game and being all hype to 22.9 points per game and a legit borderline superstar in 2017, or Jimmy Butler at one point being a 2.6 points per game scorer and now one of the NBA best players, the Most Improved Player award generally goes to the player that has the most significant increase in production from the previous year.

  1. The award is usually awarded to a young player in his early 20’s. Potential and opportunity has played a huge role in each of the past winners. The most impressive winner to me was when C.J. McCollum leaped from averaging 6.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.0  assist per game to 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game in 2016. The biggest note was the 15.7 minutes per game compared to the 34.8.
  2. When Kevin Love won it in 2011 his production leaped from 14.0 points and 11.0 rebounds to 20.2 points and a league leading 15.2 rebounds per game. All of these players were under the age of 27.
  3. Here are a few players who are in changing situations that may give them the opportunity to win the award in 2018, all under the age of 25:
  4.  Devin Booker, at only 20 years old is already one of the best scorers in all of basketball. Only in year two he became 1 of 4 players in NBA history to record at least 70 points in an NBA game. From year 1 to year 2 Booker leaped from 13.8 points to 22.1 per game.
  5.  Joel Embiid missed the first two seasons of his career. In year three, he only played in 31 games, and in those games Joel Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds in only 24 minutes per game. When healthy, Embiid is one of the best centers in the NBA. He’s never healthy though, so that’s the only question mark. Hopefully playing with the potentially great young core of Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and Dario Saric, Embiid can stay on the floor.
  6.  In three years, Andrew Wiggins is a career 20.4 points per game scorer. In 2017, Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game on a sub .500 win Timberwolves team. In order for Wiggins to win the award, he would have to lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs. Even with the addition of Jimmy Butler and keeping Karl Anthony-Towns, Wiggins should still be a more focused offensive player.
  7.  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been one of the more consistent 2-way shooting guards in the league since he was drafted back in 2013, but he has pretty much hang his hat on potential. The former Detroit guard was the defensive ace for a young Pistons squad and has been amongst the league leaders in minutes player over the last 2 years. He’s one of the more consistent defensive players, but his career 40% shooting from the field and 33.4 from 3-point range while averaging 11.7 points for his career is why Detroit was hesitate on making Pope a max contract player. Pope has had explosive games, he scored 38 points including 8 3-pointers, then scored 2 points the next game. Playing in the open court with the Lakers should give him more freedom and more of a consistent green light.
  8.  After the departure of Carmelo Anthony, the weight of the New York Knicks franchise is now in the hands of the 3rd year budding star, power forward Kristaps Porzingis. In 2016-2017 he averaged 18.1 points with 7.2 rebounds per game in the dysfunctional Knicks offense. He’s only 21 years old, but in 2 years he’s been one of the 10 players at his position. The offense will clearly be built around him, so I expect for him to average in the mid 20’s points per game and be an all-star in the star-less Eastern Conference.

Who Will Be The Lakers Best Player In 2017-2018?

After a miserable ending to the Kobe Bryant led Lakers’ era and a 26-56 season for 2016-2017, the Lakers will look to reclaim the Los Angeles city as the premier NBA team.
The Lakers finished at the bottom of the west each of the last several years and are expecting a major increase in excitement in the area, and most importantly the win column. Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss started the process by naming hall of fame player and Laker great Magic Johnson as the president of basketball operations, along with former Lakers’ small forward and former Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton as the head coach. The first question of the “New Era” is, who is the best player in year #1?

Jordan Clarkson stealing the ball from Jamal Murray.
Guard, Jordan Clarkson will be entering his 4th season in the league. He was a 2nd round pick by the Lakers in 2014 and once Kobe got hurt and Clarkson received the opportunity, he exploded immediately as the point guard. In 3 years with the Lakers his averages are at 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists,  and 1 steal per game on 44.1 percent shooting from the field. He has become one of the more explosive players in the league, and although he’s an undersized shooting guard, he can play both positions and play off of the ball. He also has a wingspan of 7’0. Clarkson will more than likely serve as a spark off of the bench, and perhaps a future 6th man of the year.

Julius Randle posting up Warriors’ forward Draymond Green.
Julius Randle was the 7th pick of the 2014 draft, but suffered a season ending leg injury during the season opener. He bounced back the following season averaging 11.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game as a power forward. His career averages entering his 4th season are at 12.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. It’s difficult calling him a stretch 4 with that 27.3 percent from 3 point range, but he has displayed some great ball handling skills and the ability to start a fast break for a big man. With Magic Johnson running the show, expect to see many fast breaks ending with a show-time slam-dunk from Randle.

Brandon Ingram at the top of the key.
The 2016-2017 season was a disappointment for the 2016 #2 overall pick Brandon Ingram. After drawing comparisons to Kevin Durant, at 6’9 with a 7’0 wingspan Ingram only averaged 9.4 points, and 4.0 rebounds in  28.8 minutes per game on 40.2 percent shooting from the field. My excuse for him would be he started the season playing behind Luol Deng, who’s a highly respected veteran, but that 72 million dollars guaranteed for 4 years was a head scratcher by the Lakers front office. He’s 32 years old and was never a star player. But back to Ingram. Ingram has a skinny frame that forces him to play the guard positions, which is why he never was truly playing his natural position which is small forward. His weight has been a concern since his college days, so it’s a must that he gets stronger or else it’s going to be very difficult imagining him being able to compete on defense against the best.

Jan 8, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) goes up for a dunk over Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee (24) in the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope just signed a 1-year deal worth 18 million dollars with the Lakers and will be the starting shooting guard. This is a make or break season for the 8th overall pick of the 2013 draft by the Detroit Pistons. Pope spent his first 4 years in Detroit and emerged as the team’s best defensive player and a good outside shooter. The only question about his game is his consistency on offense. Pope has a career average of 11.7 points on 40.5 percent shooting from the field. I personally believe that Stan Van Gundy wasn’t utilizing him correct by forcing him to become a spot up shooter. His highest scoring output was 38 points, hitting 8 3 pointers. Pope is one of those players that stats don’t tell you the entire story. He has improved as an overall basketball player every single year since he entered the draft and became the go-to man in the clutch for Detroit. He has game winners against several teams. Pope is also an underrated passer, tallying a 10 assists game. His best attribute is his defense and energy at 6’5 being able to guard 3 positions. He’s one of the best young 2-way players in the league, and if he breaks out this season he’s due for a major payday.
Lonzo Ball, the hometown kid, the UCLA Bruin, the #2 pick in the 2017 draft is #2. It’s difficult proclaiming a player will be #1 before they play a single game in the NBA. After a miserable first summer league game where he shot 2-15 from the field, Ball averaged a triple double the rest of the way and quickly became the MVP of the summer league, and what it looks like to be the best passer in all of basketball. Whichever comparison you wish to make either if it’s to Jason Kidd or Magic Johnson, the 19-year old kid can ball. At 6’6 he’s already a great passer, rebounder, and athletic. He’s unselfish and has made his teammates better since he started playing basketball. He’s also a winner. He averaged a triple double in high and won, won in college, won in the summer league, and will look to win in LA.

Jan 12, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) is fouled as he moves by New Orleans Pelicans power forward Terrence Jones (9) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brook Lopez, a surprising #1 for most people, but he’s underrated and was playing for a terrible Brooklyn Nets franchise that had traded away all of their draft picks. Lopez was the 10th pick in the 2008 draft and spent his entire career with the Nets while being named to the Eastern Conference all-star squad once in 2013. His career averages are at 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks on 50.6 percent shooting from the field. He averaged 20 or more points during 4 different seasons, and has not averaged less than 17 points since his rookie year. With Lonzo Ball as the point guard wanting to help guys score the basketball, Caldwell-Pope and Randle being the defensive aces, and  Brandon Ingram still developing, there’s no reason Lopez should take a step back in his 9th season.