With the 2016-17 season right around the corner, here are the top five point guards around the league.
1. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder: For years, Westbrook has proven he is an all around point guard. He had a killer 2015-16 season as he averaged 23.5 points, 10.4 assist and 7.8 rebounds per game. If that wasn’t enough he led all guards in double-doubles (54) and triple doubles (18). He also matched Magic Johnson’s 18 triple doubles in one season. In March, Westbrook had a total of seven triple-doubles, which is the most in one month by any player since Michael Jordan. Westbrook doesn’t only produce offensively but also plays very aggressive defense. He is the second player in NBA history to average at least 23 points, 10 assist, and 7 rebounds for a season. Now that Westbrook is the main star in Oklahoma, expect him to have the best year of his career.
2. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors: The Golden State Warriors had a phenomenal season last year and Curry was a big part of it. He was the first Warrior since Rick Barry to average 30.1 points per game and he had a ton of other broken records. These records include: him breaking his own record with a total of 402 threes made in a season, has an active record of 152 consecutive games with a three point shot made, led the NBA with 13 40-point games last season, also led the NBA with three 50-point games, improved his scoring average by a historic 6.3 points per game and became the fourth player in NBA history to average 30 points, six assist, five rebounds, and two steals. With another All-Star on his team, Curry shouldn’t be slowing down anytime soon.
3. Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers: Despite having an inconsistent season last year; Irving’s Finals numbers were better than Stephen Curry. During the season, Irving averaged 19.6 points and 4.7 assists per game, but in the Finals Irving averaged 27.1 points, 3.9 assists, and 2.1 steals. These numbers overshadow the anonymous league MVP Stephen Curry as he averaged 22.6 points, 3.7 assists, and 0.9 steals per game. Having a great team around him has definitely benefited the young guard. If Irving continues this style of play he will be among one of the best point guards in the league.
4. John Wall – Washington Wizards: The former first round pick has made a great name for himself with the Washington Wizards. Since entering the league his points and assist per game have increased each season. He is a flashy player that can go up against the best defenders in the league. Over the offseason, Wall had procedures on both on his knees to help him perform better for this upcoming season. His recovery is going as planned but he has not seen any minutes during preseason games as a precautionary reason. The Wizards want to make sure their point guard is completely healthy before letting him play on the court. Expect him to start at the beginning of the season and have a great season.
5. Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers: Lillard is one of the most underrated players in the league. After losing a star player, LaMarcus Aldridge, Lillard was able to keep the Trail Blazers as a top team in the Western Conference. A very difficult task considering how competitive the Western Conference has become. During the post season, Lillard led the Trail Blazers with a series win against the Los Angeles Clippers and gave the Warriors a scare in the Western Conference Finals. Lillard and the rest of the Trail Blazers should be serious contenders this coming season.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague and D’Angelo Russell
Steph Curry Talks LeBron James Trash Talking During Game 1 of NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry is gearing up, along with his team, to defend their 2018 NBA Championship, their 2nd in a row and 3rd in 4 years, when the 2018-2019 regular season kicks off this fall, but he is still discussing the 2018 NBA Finals.
Curry specifically is discussing his shock as the trash talk from then Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, which threw Curry off.
Curry and James’ relationship is seemingly in an odd place. James was “like a mentor” to Curry when curry was in college playing at Davidson, but things seem a bit icy now as Curry’s Warriors and James’ Cavaliers (James is now on the Los Angeles Lakers) met in some heated battles in the NBA Finals over the past couple of years.
Despite the shift in their relationship, Curry was still caught of guard by James’ approach, particularly in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.
“It was never going to spill over to that” Curry said, during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area’s Drew Shiller).
“But it was an interesting moment …I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn’t see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.
“And I was like, ‘That’s what we’re really on right now? We’re about to win and you’re worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?’ And then the whole Tristan and Draymond thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up? Is this really what we’re about right now?’
“And he was like, ‘I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I’m a mentor’ and it’s a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.’ (laughter). Come on man, that’s messed up.”
The rift goes a bit deeper than that, and a book from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, entitled ‘Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry’, it is elaborated, highlighting a 2016 Halloween Party thrown by James that featured a dummy of Steph Curry that was on the floor, forcing guests to step over it.
Now that the two are in the same division, thanks to James’ signing with the Lakers, betting websites will have a field day this season when the two teams take the court, and James continues his mission to topple the juggernaut Warriors.
Cavs’ Tristan Thompson Allegedly Punched Warriors’ Draymond Green at Night Club
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green apparently took their on-court beef off the court as the two allegedly had an altercation at a Los Angeles night club.
According to online gossip site Bossip, Green had approached Thompson to apologize for what happened after Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but Thompson wasn’t interested.
When Green persisted, Thompson punched Green.
Green and Thompson got into it numerous times throughout the Finals, with Green even insulting Thompson as Thompson attempted to shake his hand following the infamous Game 4.
Here is more from The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre:
Draymond Green was not the aggressor, he was trying to make peace. Tristan felt embarrassed by the end of the Finals diss moment and just unloaded. Couple players i spoke here in LA/on social media went with, “about time”
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) July 31, 2018
Kevin Love Signs Extension With the Cavs
Kevin Love surprised the Twitter GMs and signed a 4 year, $120 million extension to stay in Cleveland. The full value of the deal will wash out to 5 years and about $145 million, around $10 million below his max for an extension. This clearly signals that Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers want to remain competitive in the wake of LeBron James’ exodus.
The initial reaction across the NBA landscape was that Cleveland would look to tear the roster down to the studs and start over. The Cavs owe their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta if it falls outside of the top 10, so trading Kevin Love would’ve not only helped clear their books, but also almost guaranteed that they keep their pick. Bringing him back into the fold makes that much more precarious. The roster now contains a mixed bag of inconsistent youth and holdovers from the most recent LeBron era that won’t take kindly to a middling team not in the championship conversation. The Cavs seem to be split between two paths.
But that’s not forever. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, “Cleveland is still projecting to have close to $70M in cap space during the summer of 2020 to reshape the roster.” The Cavs can get off of George Hill, JR Smith and Kyle Korver for less than $10 million after this season. That leaves only Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson as expiring contracts in the following season to free the Cavs of all their (current) bad money. Cleveland is never going to be a free agent destination without LeBron, but keeping Kevin Love makes them a much more attractive option for free agents, and they’ll have plenty of money to play with.
If that doesn’t pan out, Cleveland can still trade Love in the future. This extension makes him a cost-controlled asset, giving other teams more certainty. Yes, it’s more years and more money but Kevin Love is still an All-Star. Making him the focal point of the offense should allow him to put up big numbers and recoup some of the market value he’s lost while playing a diminished role alongside LeBron. In the coming years, all the ghastly cap-spike deals will be coming off teams’ books, opening lots of cap space around the league. There are only so many stars available and some teams will inevitably strike out. Combine that with some pressure from ownership to win now and Kevin Love can be a very desirable option.
Even with the extension the Cavs are far from a playoff lock. Their second best player may very well be a rookie. So perhaps an injury or a few strategically placed DNPs could allow them to keep their pick. Either way, Love wanted to stay in Cleveland. That’s a nice change for a city that doesn’t have a lot of experience with that. The goalposts for success have changed, but after years of watching this team trudge through the doldrums of the regular season, this young, talented team could be a lot of fun for fans to watch night in and night out.
Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24
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