Category Archives: NBA

Ridiculous NBA Highlights

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

The Celtics may have lost in Houston tonight, but we were still treated to some incredible highlights.

First, Victor Oladipo may have destroyed Dwight Howard’s will to live after this dunk. I mean he double-clutched and still dunked over the 7 foot Howard.

In Golden State, Klay scored 40 in the first half, and the Golden State Warriors are just out here doing Golden State Warrior things, this is just ridiculous.

 

Cavs Capture Elusive Title, DJ wins US Open

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

I figure what better place than the Auburn University library, a place I will spend a lot of time in over the next four years, to get SantoSports back up and running this summer.

Well, a lot has happened since I last published an article. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers ended 52 years of frustration by defeating the Golden State Warriors for the NBA title. Dustin Johnson overcame a pathetic rules decision by the USGA to win his first major championship. Oh, and the Pittsburgh Penguins rode a rookie goaltender to the Stanley Cup title.

We will start with Cleveland, a city that has been tortured by its sports teams since the Cleveland Browns captured the NFL Championship (before the Super Bowl was even a thing) in 1964. When LeBron James returned home two years ago, he promised to deliver Cleveland the championship that had eluded them for so long.

And deliver he did, but it did not come without some drama. After seeing the 2015 season end in a heartbreaking loss to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, the Cavs were out for revenge. Both James and his teammates certainly had their fair share of doubters. To win the title, they would have to defeat the team that finished with the best regular season record in NBA history.

To make matters worse, they lost 3 of the first 4 games of the Finals to fall behind 3-1. Most thought it was over, they were ready to crown the Warriors NBA champions once again, anoint the Dubs the best team in the history of the NBA. But LeBron James had other ideas. James and teammate Kyrie Irving went on a tear for the ages in games 5, 6 and 7, handing the Warriors their first three game losing streak of the season, and seizing the title for Cleveland.

To win the title, they needed to win a game 7 on the road. Kyrie Irving hit a game winning three pointer, and LeBron James somehow rejected Andre Iguodala at the rim to seal the deal.

I don’t care how much you hate LeBron James, Cleveland winning this title was good for basketball, and good for sports as a whole.

While James and company were preparing for game 7, Dustin Johnson was busy exasperating his own demons. DJ had come so close in majors so many times, but had always come up short. There was the final round collapse at Pebble Beach in the 2010 US Open, the bunker incident at Whistling Straits in the 2010 PGA, the drive OB at Royal St. Georges in the 2011 Open Championship, the three putt at Chambers Bay.

People rightfully began to wonder if Johnson, one of the most talented and athletic golfers the game has ever seen, was simply destined to never win a major championship.

Shane Lowry entered the final round with a four shot lead, perhaps this helped DJ in his quest for that elusive first major, as the pressure was squarely on Lowry to close the deal. However Lowry struggled from the get go en route to a final round 76 and T2 finish, and the ball was in Dustin’s court.

Well DJ began putting together a flawless final round, the USGA did everything in their power to get in his head, and keep him from winning our National Championship. It all started on the 5th hole, when it was questioned whether or not Johnson caused his ball to move as he addressed a 3 foot par putt. Johnson conferred with playing partner Lee Westwood and the rules official walking with his group, and together they determined that Johnson had not caused the ball to move, and that his par would stand.

According to USGA rules, this should’ve been the end of it, however Mike Davis and company felt like drawing things out for some reason. They called rules officials in off the golf course to re-watch the video footage and when Johnson reached the 12th tee, he was informed that they were still reviewing footage, and they had yet to determine whether or not he would be penalized.

How on Earth could Dustin, or any golfer, attempt to win a major championship under these circumstances? Superstars such as Rickie Fowler, Rory Mcilroy, and Jordan Spieth ripped the USGA on Twitter, and no one could quite believe this was happening.

Give credit to Johnson, he refused to let it get to him, striped his drive on the 12th, and went on to win by three, eliminating any doubt. In the end, Johnson was penalized a stroke, but it didn’t matter.

They tried to take it away from him, but Dustin Johnson is, and will forever be, a US Open champion.

Unappreciated Greatness

By Jackson Posnik

Staff Writer

There are some things that are just unfathomable to the human mind. How small an atom is, how incredibly hot the face of the sun is, how vast and endless the universe is. As humans we know all these things as fact, but cannot fully wrap our minds around any of them.

I propose we add something else to that list. How unbelievable, mind boggling, super-human Steph Curry is at shooting a basketball. It is simply incomprehensible.

Last season NBA analysts and experts would talk about how Steph Curry was possibly the best shooter of all time. Now, is there even a doubt?

Most athletes regress to a mean, or a more average performance level after their best season. It is why the Madden curse is not a curse, but more probability. It is why James Harden is having such a worse season this year than last, probability wise, it is that hard to sustain such a high level of performance.

Steph Curry has decided to take that theory and blow it up. I thought that Steph was having an otherworldly season last year; but it was just too good for him to continue doing, he would have to regress.

Well it turns out Steph was just getting started. He has made more three pointers this season than last, and is shooting a higher percentage. He tied the NBA record for three’s made in a single game last night (12), and earlier this week broke Kyle Korver’s record for most consecutive games with a three pointer made (128).

But it is not even the stats that are so stupendous. It is how Curry creates shots and seemingly never misses. Conventional wisdom says dribbling and pulling up for a shot, is much harder to do than come of a screen and catch, then shoot. But not only does Curry do ridiculous dribbling moves to free himself up for a nanosecond and then shoot, he does so on any and all players. Just watch this Vine, courtesy of Barstool’s Clem .

What we are witnessing is something at the peak of a greatness never seen before. It is truly unfathomable, but we should all do our best to try and see and understand how truly great Steph Curry is. Finally, some statistics to back up all this talk. 

 

Uneventful Trade Deadline Leaves Similar Picture

By Jackson Posnik

Staff Writer

The trade deadline had its rumors, it had the potential to be exciting, but at the end of the day no major deals went down.

The Celtics looked to make a big splash, with rumors swirling of a possible deal for Demarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, Al Horford, or Kevin Love in exchange for their Brooklyn pick. But GM Danny Ainge did not make any moves despite saying he was close to reaching a deal.

As for the deals that did go down, Channing Frye was dealt to the Cavaliers for Anderson Varejao who was then sent to the Trailblazers along with a conditional first round pick; while the Magic received Jared Cunningham and a second round pick. The Magic are expected to waive Cunningham while Varejao has already been waived, so this deal really just improved the Cavs three point shooting and gave the other teams some picks.

Another trade that was completed was Markieff Morris to the Wizards in exchange for Dejuan Blair, Kris Humphries, and a protected first round pick. I personally would call this the most interesting trade of the day, because of Markieff Morris. Though he is having a poor season on the court because of locker room issues in Phoenix, Morris has the potential to score 18 or so points a game and grab 10 boards. He was angry with the Suns for trading away his twin brother Marcus so a change of scenery is exactly what this guy needs.

Another notable trade was the acquisition of Jeff Green by the Clippers for Lance Stephenson and a future first round pick. Though inconsistent, Green can be a good impact player with size and an ability to score from the wing and the post. Lance Stephenson is a complete and total mystery. He was great on the Pacers but has been unable to find his footing anywhere else, so Memphis, who needs wing scoring, could be a good destination.

The final trade of the day was Randy Foye to the Thunder while the Nuggets received Steve Novak, DJ Augustin, and two second round picks. The move saves the Thunder a large amount in luxury tax penalties as well as freeing up a $3.8 million trade exception. Foye is a good three point shooter who will give the Thunder another reliable shooter/ball handler; and the Nuggets will get a veteran point guard who can teach Emmanuel Mudiay more about the game of basketball.

 

The changing talents of the NBA

By Zach Miller

Staff Writer

Dwight Howard is not the player he once was. He will never be that player again. He still holds value; a center who can average a 15-12 with 1.5 blocks always will. This is not an article on how centers are dying; they aren’t. They are simply evolving. By looking at the case of Dwight Howard, we can see why that evolution is so crucial.

The reason Dwight is an important piece of this puzzle has three parts: his age; his injuries; and his shooting. He recently turned 30, an age at which most centers begin to decline. He has dealt with a slew of back injuries that turned him from a perennial Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate into simply an above average center and a guarantee to miss a large chunk of each regular season. He is also a career 57% foul shooter and someone who has never, ever been able to score outside of the paint. That was fine when he was 24 and flying around like Gerald Green trapped in Nikola Pekovic’s body, but now it means he cannot be on the floor for large stretches of games.

The new pace-and-space version of the NBA isn’t threatening players like Dwight, but it is marginalizing them to an extent. Instead of being hailed as a star, he is now a liability. Talk of ‘unloading’ a player like him never would have occurred 20 years ago, when centers ruled the landscape and, most importantly, were valued above all other positions. Now, centers aren’t necessarily expendable, but they are considerably less crucial than other positions, because the ‘modern big man’ prototype is nearly impossible to find. Teams want Karl-Anthony Towns now, guys that can shoot and run and protect the rim, all at above-average levels.

While the ideal is great, the practice is less realistic. There are far more raw athletes that can run pick-and-rolls and block a few shots than bigs who can step out and hit threes while not getting killed on defense. This abundance of Clint Capela and Festus Ezeli types, cheap young non-lottery picks who take a year or two of seasoning, is pushing out the Dwight Howards of the NBA. These young athletes don’t need to suck in unnecessary post-ups, and they provide basically everything the older guys do minus the ball-magnetism and veteran savvy.

So, who is replacing the behemoths as the superstars of the NBA? Wings. This may be the single most loaded year the NBA has ever had at the wing positions. Why? Because as the centers are being asked to do less, the wings shoulder their load. The best wings today must defend multiple positions, rebound, and shoot, as well as playing in the pick and roll more than ever before. This pace-and-space era is putting more and more wings on the court in smallball lineups and in turn we are seeing the biggest positional glut since, ironically, the centers of the mid-90’s.

Think about it. Out of the best 15 or so players in the league right now, about half play either shooting guard or small forward: LeBron, Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Carmelo Anthony, and Jimmy Butler all are either perennial MVP candidates or All-Stars at the top of their games for playoff teams. Beyond the top eight, there is still Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Nic Batum, Khris Middleton, and J.J. Redick as guys that are playing out of their minds right now and deserve at least a shout-out when it comes to All-Star consideration.

The NBA has already figured this out. Nearly all of the best teams in the league currently are built around wings that can generate offenses and defenses by themselves, and as they get more skilled, the more their value goes up. We are witnessing a revolution in the talent distribution of the NBA. Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the beautiful basketball it produces.

« Older Entries