KD & Steph Talk About Troll Videos, Joy, And What Will Define This Season’s Championship Run (Video)Read Now
The Golden State Warriors are the NBA's resident rock stars, whether at home or on the road they pack arenas to the gills. Fans come from far and wide to see the offensive exploits of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. So far this early season, they are in a groove and appear to be dead set on playing with the effervescence, and fluidity that started this run back in 2015. Head coach Steve Kerr often refers to the way the team plays when things are going well, as joy. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. This aptly describes the Warriors right now. The two time defending champions are attempting to become only the fourth franchise in NBA history to three-peat, joining the Bulls, Celtics, and Lakers. A monumental task, as consecutive trips to the Finals and winning, takes a tremendous toll both physically and mentally. But, the Dubs are keenly aware that basketball immortality is within their grasp and they are determined to finish this ride with a title, as it may well be the last title for this current version of the squad. With KD and Klay's free agency looming in the summer of 2019, the Warriors know what many people are saying and speculating, but the team is blocking out all of that outside noise and focused on the present and playing this season the way they want.
This past weekend the champs were in New York City and took over like invading conquerors. On Friday night, they beat the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, 128-100. KD finished with 41, including outscoring the Knicks by himself 25-16 in the fourth quarter. On Sunday evening, KD and Steph were ruthlessly efficient scoring a combined for 69 points on 46 shots, in a 120-114 win over the Nets in Brooklyn. On the court, the team was full of smiles and played with an ease and comfort that was missing during last season's championship run. No doubt, familiarity, and cohesion between the team's two best players are at their highest points right now. This is year three of the KD experience. Steph and KD know how the other likes to play and when to push and pull. There is still some stylistic tension and there will always be a little when you have two dynamic offensive talents, that score in different ways. But neither seems bothered by the tension, at least outwardly. Both men, want to win that third title and have fun while doing it.
Should the Warriors advance to the NBA Finals as many predict, this will be their fifth consecutive trip. Look back through the history of this league and the only team to advance to more consecutive Finals were Bill Russell's Celtics. They went to ten straight and won eight in a row from 1959-1966. That was another era and a very different league. Given the amount of talent and teams in today's NBA, replicating that feat is highly unlikely. Even if this Warriors team wins more titles and becomes the dominant team of this era, there will likely be a lot of retooling and rebuilding of the roster. Being around the team and talking to some of the players this past weekend, you get the sense that they know this and understand the importance of seizing this moment and having fun while doing it. Interestingly enough, it's what is happening with the team off the court that is providing the fuel for their success on the court so far this season.
After the win over the Knicks on Friday evening, the Warriors wrapped their media obligations and Steph tuned on the DJ Suede remix of Fergie's national anthem. This is significant because last year Fergie sang the anthem at the all-star game, and her rendition was not received well, to say the least. Several players and fans in the arena were seen chuckling. The camera cut to Draymond Green and he couldn't hold it in and you see him smirking. Fergie's ex-husband Josh Duhamel, was on FS1 last week talking about the incident and said:
I thought he was kind of a prick. If he would have been a real man, he would have at least called her and said, 'Listen, I'm sorry that I caused all this.' That's what a real man would have done, in my opinion.
Steph is no dummy. Duhamel's comments made their way back to the Warriors, and while there is no direct evidence Curry and Draymond or the team discussed this beforehand, Curry knew what playing the song would do. Apparently once the song came on Draymond said, "lets dance to it." Because it never gets old, check out the Warriors and their next level troll game. Video courtesy of @CountonVic
The video has since gone viral and is the talk of this early NBA season. Before he came on the court for his warmup on Sunday against the Nets, I asked Steph about the video and he just started laughing and said, "Bro, you have no idea how hilarious that was." This is the Warriors at their best. Enjoying life off the floor, but letting that looseness and fun carry over on the floor, unlocking basketball nirvana.
During media availability following their win over the Nets, Steph spoke to BSO about what allows this team to have so much fun and why that is key to their success.
We are only about two and a half weeks into the season and the wins haven't been against the elite NBA teams, but these were often games the Warriors would sleepwalk through last year, and sometimes lose. It's not quite the ruthlessness of vanquishing all of their opponents on the way to an NBA record 73 wins in 2016, but if possible the start to this season is almost with less of a burden, even though immortality is at stake. It's almost as if the criticisms that they ruined the game by amassing so much talent has allowed them to play freer and better, and that's a scary proposition for the rest of the league. Nobody feels that more than KD, at least on the court. You can see his increased comfort level and in year three the ease he has on the with his teammates is palpable.
Following the Nets game, he talked to BSO about the comfort level, looseness, and the attitude and energy the team plays with. He talks about the core players all knowing one another and accepting each other for who they are. Something, that if you know anything about KD, is very important to him.
Nobody knows what the summer of 2019 holds for the Warriors, and trying to read tea leaves and body language, while fun, is a fool's errand. The Warriors know they want to be holding the Larry O'Brien trophy in June. Let the chips fall where they may after that. But this season and a potential run at a three-peat will be defined by the joy, cohesion, and fun that is the purest form of basketball and where this run began.
Nets Take Round 1 in The Battle For NYC Beating The Knicks; 5 Things I Liked And 5 Things I Didn’t Like, Plus Caris LeVert on Getting Revenge on The Knicks (Video)Read Now
The Brooklyn Nets defeated the New York Knicks 107-105 Friday evening in their home opener. It was an important game for the Nets, despite it only being their second game of the season. The Knicks swept the Nets in the regular season last year, and it left a bad taste in the collective mouths of the Nets players and coaches. Before the season began, Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said his squad is better than the Knicks. After the win, D'Angelo Russell said the Nets are supposed to beat the Knicks. Is this matchup now a rivalry?
A few more things need to happen before we start calling this a rivalry, but Friday night's game was compelling. The Nets led by seven at halftime and then appeared to have one of their patented third quarter collapses. But, the team fought through some rough stretches, played defense, and in the end third-year guard Caris LeVert attacked the rim in an iso situation on Tim Hardaway Jr. and scored the game winner.
Barclays Center was filled with a lot of emotion and at best a split crowd. You could feel the excitement and hope that both franchises are poised to turn things around very soon.
GM Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have toiled through the lean years and poor decisions of previous regimes and are preparing for winning basketball in Brooklyn. It's early, but this is the kind of game, the Nets would lose last season.
Here are 5 things I liked and 5 things I didn't like about the Nets on Friday.
In two games this season, LeVert matched and set a new career high in points. He's averaging 27, 5, and 4. Yes, it's a small sample size, but he has shown flashes of this type of play since his rookie season. LeVert is a 6'7" guard who is bouncy and has improved his three-point shooting since he entered the league. If he can stay healthy, and manage the ups and downs of the season, he can be the starting two guard on a very good playoff team. He has the moxie and ability to take and make big shots. He botched the opportunity on opening night in Detroit but came back Friday night and delivered.
The Nets played really good defense against the Knicks, holding them to 40% shooting from the field and 32% from three. This isn't rocket science, but defense will be key for this squad. There will be nights where their offense will be nowhere to be found and they'll have to lock in on that side of the floor. LeVert and Jarrett Allen led the way their, all good signs and they'll be getting back one of their better defenders in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who is away due to the birth of his son.
The second-year big man from Texas showed tremendous promise last year and so far is showing improvement early in year two. He led all players in rebounds on Friday with 11, also added 15 points. Last season when we spoke, he said he'd like to have a game like the Rockets Clint Capela. He's certainly on his way, his defense is improving and he's even stepping out to show some three-point range. His development along with LeVert's will be key in determining what free agents the team can sign in 2019.
With Jarrett Allen and the return of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets should be a decent rebounding team this season. Plus penetrating guards like Caris LeVert are always in the right spot at the right time to capitalize.
Kenny Atkinson has built a real culture in Brooklyn. This team hustles plays hard and is prepared. Now, that's all well and good, but you don't win in this league without talent. The Nets roster isn't overflowing with talent, but Atkinson and his staff's continued development of LeVert and Allen will be very important going forward. During the game, you can see the way Atkinson designs plays to get Allen the ball in different spots to capitalize on his versatility. He has a good mind for the game and the players respect him and like how he positions them throughout the course of the game.
D'Angelo Russell's play...
Just going off pure talent, he's probably the most talented player on the roster. But, there appears to be a disconnect somewhere. For every big shot or play, he follows it up with a head-scratcher. He's a young guy, but he needs to start limiting those and showing improvement. For a lead guard, he doesn't see the floor very well and he turns the ball over entirely too much.
The Nets turned the ball over 22 times Friday night against the Knicks. That's entirely too many. They were offset by 22 assists and the pace of play was relatively high, but still. Your main ball handlers (LeVert, Russell, Dinwiddie) all had 4 turnovers. It didn't matter against the Knicks, but against better teams, they'll get blown out.
Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe didn't shoot particularly well, that didn't help the bench mobs overall contribution. As a unit, they were a collective minus. Crabbe is working his way back and a couple guys are injured. This unit will improve when Hollis-Jefferson returns to the starting lineup. Ed Davis grabbed 10 rebounds, which was a bright spot.
Last season the Nets played well against a lot of the better teams in the league and would often fall off the rails in the second half. Particularly in the third quarter. It looked as if they were falling back into bad habits on Friday night. They gave up 26 points, not bad on the surface, but they only scored 17. This wasn't due to the Knicks great defense. The Nets were careless with the ball and allowed too many easy looks.
Defense Through Screens
Every team sets picks and screens in the league. It's part of the action and how you get players open. Too often, in that third quarter, the Nets defenders would fight through the initial screen, but get hung up on a secondary screener, leading to wide open shots.
After the game Caris LeVert talked about his excellent start to the season, hitting the game-winner on his ex-Wolverines teammate Tim Hardaway Jr, and the importance of beating the Knicks.
The 2018-2019 NBA season is here! The best professional sports league (that's right I said it) in the world is back and the BSO staff is here for it. So many storylines. Will the Warriors be the first team since the 2000s Lakers to three-peat? Are we sure the Celtics are going to be that good? Familiar faces in new places. Rookies looking to prove themselves. Players poised for new contracts and extensions, trades, and the looming summer of 2019 free agency.
There are some major storylines that we will be keeping our eye on, so let's get to it!
Jimmy Butler and The Minnesota Timberpuppies
Yo. What the hell is going on in the Twin Cities? For those of you that have been living under a rock. Jimmy Butler was brought in last season by head coach/gm Tom Thibodeau, to help teach the franchises young stars (Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins) how to compete at a higher level on a nightly basis. By all accounts, there were chemistry issues fairly early on as KAT and Wiggins didn't seem to respond to Thib's and Jimmy's tough love approach.
Despite the apparent chemistry issues, Jimmy and the young pups were looking like a lock to be the #4 seed in last season's playoffs. Then Jimmy got hurt and the team slid all the way to the last playoff spot and nearly missed them entirely. After a first-round exit, rumors and rumbling began and Jimmy demanded to be traded, with two years and roughly $36 million remaining on his deal. Jimmy's belief was, KAT and Wiggins didn't want to do the work necessary to compete at the highest level and move the franchise forward into a deep playoff run and ultimately championship contention.
There was talk of a potential trade with the Miami Heat and the Houston Rockets were mentioned as a long shot, but nothing got done as training camp and preseason began. Then last week, Jimmy (still under contract) shows up to his first practice of the season - he had been away from the team all summer - an hour late during team scrimmages. He grabs the third string players and guys who likely won't be on the final roster, and according to multiple reports gave the starters (which include KAT and Wiggins), the business. Routinely beating them and when matched up with KAT, didn't allow the talented big man to score. It was reported that whenever KAT received the ball on offense with Jimmy guarding him, he immediately passed the ball back out. Jimmy was also said to be berating KAT and Wiggins, calling them soft.
The chemistry on this team is toxic right now. The Timberwolves and owner Glen Taylor have made the decision that the cornerstones of the franchise are KAT and Wiggins. KAT just signed a 5 year $158M extension and Wiggins is in the second year of his 5 year $150M extension. Suffice to say, those two aren't going anywhere.
Jimmy's practice stunt, may have been the wrong way for a veteran to lead a team, but KAT and Wiggins' inability to go back at him, kind of proved his point about their level of toughness. If you are a member of the Timberwolves and Jimmy is eventually traded and during a close game KAT is in the huddle urging everyone to be tough and battle and stay together, won't that message ring a little hollow?
LeBron James and The Lake Show
Bron is entering his 16th season in the league and he's still the best player in the world. Nobody moves the needle quite like he does, both on and off the court. Bron is shifting into the back end of his career. He's still hungry to win titles, but we are witnessing a man who is comfortable with his basketball legacy. When it's all said and done he's either going to be the GOAT or just behind the GOAT. He has many interests and business ventures off the court that will sustain him for the rest of his post-basketball life. But, he's got at least four more years (length of his Lakers contract) to add even more to a pretty bulletproof legacy.
If you watched the Lakers in the preseason, they look good with Bron in the purple and gold. They're playing with tempo and the ball movement that coach Luke Walton - who incidentally was in the same draft class as Bron - implemented last season.
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka brought in veterans Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley to fill out the roster. But these players are all on one year or short-term deals. The key will be how the presence of Bron helps the development of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers are a proud franchise with a history steeped in championships. If Bron, the young guns, and wily veterans are looking like a top-3 seed in the West, don't be surprised if Lakers brass tries to pull off a trade for another superstar by the deadline. While the Lakers certainly want to be players in the upcoming summer free agent market, an open window this season may cause them to make an early move.
How Good Will The Kawhi Leonard Led Raptors Be?
The Toronto Raptors won 59 games last season and were the #1 seed in the eastern conference playoffs. They were summarily bounced out in the conference semis by LeBron and the Cavaliers. GM Masai Ujiri promptly fired the coach of the year Dwane Casey and broke up the BFF backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They traded the latter to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
So, a 59 win team essentially swaps DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi and Danny Green? Sounds like a win to me. New head coach Nick Nurse offers the players a bit more freedom on offense and defense to improvise, with veterans like Kawhi, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry could be a very good thing.
This is also an important season for the Raptors chances of signing Kawhi Leonard to a long-term deal. If the Raptors improve on their record and/or beat out the Celtics for the #1 seed in the east, and they make a conference finals run or an NBA Finals run, Kawhi would be the featured player. That has to go a long way in their chances to keep him in the T-Dot, Uncle Dennis aside...
Speaking of the Celtics
The C's might be the most talented team in the league 1-10. No starting five is better than the Warriors, but 6-10 is where the C's have an edge over most teams and their starting five is pretty damn good too. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward return from injuries, joining Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford in the starting lineup. Brown and Tatum benefited from the injuries to Kyrie and Hayward, as they received a ton of valuable playing time and reps in the conference finals against LeBron James.
The natural inclination is to pencil the Celtics down for 60 wins and a trip to the NBA Finals. After all, they pushed LeBron and the Cavs to seven games in the conference finals without Kyrie and Hayward. Not so fast. Head coach Brad Stevens is an excellent mind and arguably the best coach in the league. But this is the first time he'll have to deal with balancing the egos of star players, and the development of young guys who got a taste of success last season and want to keep pushing forward. Players like Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier will likely see their playing time decrease. How will Stevens manage all of that? Stevens and the Celtics won't catch anyone by surprise, the target is now on their backs.
Will The Warriors Cement Their Place Among The Great NBA Dynasties?
The power in the NBA resides in the Bay Area. The Warriors will be going for a three-peat and their fourth title in five years. This will be the last season in Oakland before the team moves to their fancy new digs in San Francisco. Team leader and 2X MVP Steph Curry has gone on record, saying it would be nice to win one more title for the people and fans in Oakland. The team is also openly embracing the challenge of the three-peat and their fifth consecutive trip to the Finals.
They will also be working in a new player, coming off an injury. Perhaps you've heard of him? DeMarcus Cousins. What an embarrassment of riches for this squad. But, they are getting a year older and the good times don't last forever. Win or lose, the Warriors will be heading into next summer with some uncertainty. Klay Thompson will be a free agent, though he's expressed a desire to remain in the Bay Area for the rest of his career. And, the team's best player and 2X Finals MVP Kevin Durant, will also be a free agent.KD hasn't given any assurances that he will stay and internally the team is bracing for his departure.
With the KD rumors about bolting in free agency, working another all-star into the starting lineup, and the grind of attempting to become legendary, this will be quite the season for the champs.
For what it's worth, my predictions for the upcoming NBA season!
Finals: Raptors vs. Warriors (4-2 Warriors)
Finals MVP: Steph Curry
Hot Take: The Celtics won't make the conference finals
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo
ROY: Luka Doncic
DPOY: Anthony Davis
Coach of Year: Nick Nurse
6th Man: Lou Williams
Most Improved: Myles Turner
All NBA 1st team: