The 2019 NBA Finals tip off on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC). Everyone on the planet is familiar with the Golden State Warriors at this point. Entering their fifth straight championship series, they have added only a few new faces (DeMarcus Cousins, some fringe roster players). The stars and role players are well-established. Not so for the challengers, the Toronto Raptors. Among the 15, only Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Serge Ibaka have been to the NBA Finals before, with Leonard winning the 2014 Finals MVP trophy. The Raptors have been really good for several years now, but a few trades have shuffled most of the roster. Only Kyle Lowry and Ibaka are long-standing Raptors, really. Plus, Toronto has a number of important players (Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell) who might be unfamiliar to more casual basketball fans. If you’re one of those: you’re going to love these guys. As is now annual tradition, let’s rank all 30 players on both Finals rosters in terms … [Read more...] about Every player in the NBA Finals, ranked by importance
Best players in the nba right now
23. Blake Griffin Blake Griffin is really good, the best player the Pistons have had since Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace’s heyday. Griffin is also 10 times more serious than he appeared in Los Angeles, and has really seemed to take the mantle of a team leader seriously. There’s little question that as long as he is healthy enough to play near his usual level, he’s the only player that can scare the Bucks in the first round. But of course, because the world is cruel, Griffin is banged up. So perhaps Detroit won’t even have that going for them. Still, a gallant effort by one of the best players in the East would be fun to watch as the Pistons figure out where to go from here. 22. Jonathan Isaac The Magic defense has been extraordinary for the back half of the NBA season — best in the league since the end of January. There’s no one single factor that deserves credit, but in looking at the long-term future of Orlando and its potential to rise into … [Read more...] about The 23 most interesting players in the NBA playoffs
The Denver Nuggets lost the most important regular-season game in franchise history on April 11, 2018. It was Game 82 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. If the Nuggets won, they’d make the postseason for the first time since 2013; if Minnesota did, it would be the T-wolves' first playoff appearance since 2004. At the end of regulation, the game was tied. In overtime, the Nuggets let a lead slip with just over a minute to go, and ended up losing 112-106. They’d be going home for good. How do you respond after a loss like that? Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, decided on continuity. Despite pressure from fans, he kept coach Mike Malone, even giving him a two-year extension. He re-signed center Nikola Jokic to the biggest deal in franchise history: five years, $147 million. He kept microwave scorer Will Barton on a four-year, $53 million contract. Connelly dumped a couple of bad salaries and bad fits in Wilson Chandler and Kenneth … [Read more...] about The Denver Nuggets have emerged as one of the best teams in the NBA. How did that happen?
Sports LeBron James might be the best basketball player of his generation but he’s also the Los Angeles Lakers’ biggest problem, at least according to Stephen A. Smith. The ESPN Radio host and television personality suggested age, attrition and the lingering effect of the longest injury layoff of his career were taking their toll on the 15-time All-Star. “The biggest problem with the Los Angeles Lakers is LeBron James,” Smith said on Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take. “We have got to stop calling LeBron James the best player in the world. We’ve got to stop that right now.” The four-time MVP missed 17 consecutive games after suffering a groin injury on Christmas Day in a road win against the Warriors and there are concerns he might not be fully fit yet. The Lakers won just six games with LeBron and have lost six out of nine since his return. Smith indicated the 34-year-old was clearly still feeling the impact of his injury. “LeBron … [Read more...] about ‘LeBron Is the Lakers’ Biggest Problem’: Stephen A. Smith Believes James Might No Longer Be the Best Player in the World
While Lopez makes his bold claim about Giannis, the Bucks star only cares about getting better and 'helping my team win' by DJ Siddiqi 26m ago • 2 min read The Milwaukee Bucks sure as heck aren't hiding their confidence in their franchise player. Following the Bucks' 116-109 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, there was no doubt it was perhaps their most impactful win of the season. While Milwaukee has defeated better teams this season, convincingly blowing out the Golden State Warriors and sweeping the season series against the West-leading Denver Nuggets, it made a statement in its win over a team led by James Harden that had won seven of their past eight games. Perhaps most importantly, Giannis Antetokounmpo (27 points, 21 rebounds and five assists) managed to outduel Harden (42 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and nine turnovers) in a showdown between two of the top MVP candidates for this season. While the Greek Freak has been … [Read more...] about Brook Lopez calls Giannis Antetokounmpo ‘the best player in the game;’ Bucks star offers a more humble take