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Monday, November 25, 2013

NBA Divisional Re-Alignment Proposal



Several basketball pundits, including Grantland's Zach Lowe have suggested the abolishment of the NBA's current divisions. This is in reaction to the recent collapse of the Nets and Knicks, and the ascension of the Toronto Raptors to the top of the NBA's Titanic (err... Atlantic) division. Additionally, the imbalance between the NBA's Eastern and Western Conferences have led to a desire for change in the way the league's 16 playoff teams are selected.


Perhaps this is the year, then, that the NBA will finally have to confront the reality that divisions are stupid and should be abolished. 
Grantland: Abolish (Useless) NBA Divisions: Step 1 of a Radical Plan

Here, I intend to present an idea that involves neither the destruction of the league's Eastern and Western Conference systems, nor the removal of the NBA's divisions. Rather, I believe the NBA should adopt a format similar to those of the NFL and MLB.

The league should keep the two conference/four divisions per conference system but rename them the NBC (National Basketball Conference - containing the NBC East, Central and West) and the ABC (American Basketball Conference - containing the ABC East, Central and West). Here's what the league could potentially look like:

American Basketball Conference (ABC)

National Basketball Conference (NBC)

ABC East

NBC East

Boston Celtics
Charlotte Hornets
New York Knicks
Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors
Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets
Miami Heat
Philadelphia 76ers
Washington Wizards

ABC Central

NBC Central

Milwaukee Bucks
Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder
San Antonio Spurs
Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons
Indiana Pacers
Memphis Grizzlies

ABC West

NBC West

Denver Nuggets
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento Kings
Utah Jazz
Dallas Mavericks
Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns
Portland Trailblazers


This would drastically increase competitive balance within the NBA. Each division has at least one current contending team (with the exception of the ABC East, but considering the market sizes of three of those franchises that would not be a long-term issue), with both conferences each having their fair share of championship contenders.
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NBA Draft Lottery Tonight at 8 EST



Expect a scene similar to this one for tonight's draft lottery, as fourteen teams look to win the __________ sweepstakes. There's a blank because there isn't really any prize player in this draft and the race to the #1 pick is wide open for this year's prospects (although Ben McLemore and Nerlens Noel are clear favourites right now). Orlando has the best chance of securing the top pick in this year's lottery at 25%, but it's important to note that since the switch from the original coin-toss to lottery system, only three teams that finished with the league's worst record picked number one in the draft: the 1990 New Jersey Nets, the 2003 Cleveland Cavaliers and coincidentally the 2004 Orlando Magic. The odds for each team in this year's lottery to select first in the 2013 NBA Draft are as follows:

Orlando Magic - 25%
Charlotte Bobcats - 19.9%
Cleveland Cavaliers - 15.6%
Phoenix Suns - 11.9%
New Orleans Pelicans - 8.8%
Sacramento Kings - 6.3%
Detroit Pistons - 4.3%
Washington Wizards - 2.8%
Minnesota Timberwolves - 1.7%
Portland Trailblazers* - 1.1%
Philadelphia 76ers - 0.8%
Toronto Raptors** - 0.7%
Dallas Mavericks - 0.6%
Utah Jazz - 0.5%

* Portland's pick goes to Charlotte if it's outside the top-12 (unlikely, since three teams below them would have to move up)
** Toronto's pick goes to Oklahoma City if it's outside the top-3 (97.5% chance that this happens)
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Andrew Wiggins Commits to Kansas

2013-05-14-wiggins-scene

Andrew Wiggins will go from being the American Family Insurance USA TODAY Sports Player of the Year to being go-to guy on the 2013-14 Jayhawks team, the star of an already highly touted incoming freshman class. Wiggins, a 6-8 forward from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep who scored 23.4 points and grabbed 11.2 rebounds per game this season, passed up a chance to be part of what's being hailed as the greatest recruiting class since the Fab Five, Kentucky's. Instead of being one star among two handfuls, he'll be the guy at Kansas.

"Obviously, everyone in Jayhawk-land is overwhelmed and excited today," Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement. "This was a pleasant surprise because we never had an idea which way he was leading. Andrew did this the exact way he said he was going to. He played his cards very close to his vest as did his mother and father. I knew we were one of four. The competition was very stiff and we were fortunate that we were able to ink him today. He's a tremendous talent and a terrific kid. Probably an even better kid than he is a talent. We think he has a chance to be about as good a prospect as we've ever had."

"He brings athleticism, length, scoring ability and he's also an assassin, an alpha dog and we definitely need that when you have a whole bunch of young kids," Self said. "I think he's going to be not just a good player, but have the chance to be a great one. I know the people that support our program are going to be pleasantly surprised when they see him run and play the very first time he gets the opportunity."
Read More: USA Today - Analysis: What Andrew Wiggins means for Kansas


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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Could Phil Jackson Become the Raptors President?


The Toronto Raptors, emboldened by the news that the Sacramento Kings apparently won't be moving to Seattle, have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson to be their new team president, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Raptors -- now being run by former Los Angeles-based sports mogul Tim Leiweke -- regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.

But now that the Kings appear poised to stay in Sacramento instead of being sold to the consortium led by Jackson fan Chris Hansen, sources say that the Raptors will be pursuing Jackson aggressively this week, believing that they rank as Jackson's most attractive current option for a new career in management now that he can reunite with Leiweke.

One source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Hansen and Jackson have "hit it off," sparking league-wide speculation that Jackson would be offered the chance to run the new Sonics in Seattle in the Pat Riley-style role he craves. But with a 12-owner committee recommending Monday that the Kings' move to Seattle be blocked, Toronto's seemingly long-shot odds of winning the Jackson sweepstakes would figure to have received a boost.

That's largely because of Jackson's longstanding friendship with Leiweke, who was introduced Friday as the new CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which oversees the NBA's Raptors, NHL's Maple Leafs and Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.

One source said that Leiweke's "vision and energy" and history of shared success at Staples Center with the 11-time championship coach ensures that Jackson will give the pitch strong consideration despite skepticism around the league about his willingness to relocate to Canada.

Amid its pursuit of Jackson in the wake of Leiweke's arrival, Raptors president Bryan Colangelo is scheduled to meet with the MLSE board next week in hopes of convincing his bosses to pick up the option year on his contract. The 2013-14 option in coach Dwane Casey's contract was picked up by Colangelo before this season, but Leiweke's arrival has thrown both of their futures into some immediate doubt.

In an interview last week with the San Francisco Chronicle, Jackson said "three or four teams" have already expressed interest and that "none of it involves coaching."

"There are some interesting situations that are presenting themselves, but I really haven't made up my mind yet what I'm going to do," Jackson told the Chronicle.

Jackson also confirmed to the newspaper he's interested in a developing team "where you'd have the influence in [selecting the] coaching staff and the kind of culture that goes along with it."

A large segment of Lakers fans have been holding out hope that Jackson could be lured back to the bench for a third stint in L.A., but Lakers officials have been adamant for weeks that Mike D'Antoni will be back next season as head coach after beating Jackson out for the job in November when Mike Brown was fired and then enduring a season of non-stop injury woe involving all of the Lakers' key players.

That hasn't stopped persistent speculation that Jackson and fiancee Jeanie Buss are destined to assume control of the franchise, but to date there has been no firm evidence to suggest that such a shift is looming. The Lakers don't appear to have much of a role to offer Jackson with Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak running basketball operations in tandem and D'Antoni on the bench, giving Toronto further encouragement that it can tempt Jackson.

Although Jackson's willingness to take on the sort of challenge Toronto would present as a franchise after just five trips to the playoffs in its 18-season existence remains unclear -- as does the amount of money it would cost Toronto to pull off such a coup -- sources continue to stress to ESPN.com that the overwhelming likelihood remains that the 11-ringed coaching legend will be back in the league next season in some capacity.

ESPN.com reported earlier this month that Jackson, after two seasons in retirement, is itching to return to the NBA next season, preferably in a role similar to Riley's in Miami that allows him to oversee both the basketball department and the coaching staff or perhaps as a high-level consultant such as Jerry West in Golden State.

One source, while not specifically referring to the Raptors, said Jackson is approaching his future with far more of an open mind than has been portrayed and would listen to a pitch from just about anyone because he feels he still has a lot to offer the basketball world at age 67.

Among the bigger challenges Jackson would appear to face as he plots his return is the prospect of getting offers from teams, such as Toronto and Charlotte, that are well shy of title contention after coaching nothing but high-profile, big-market powerhouses in Chicago and Los Angeles once he graduated to the Bulls' bench from the Continental Basketball Association.

Another likely issue is the possibility that interested teams will inevitably want him as a coach, given that he's the most successful coach in NBA history with those 11 rings and has never held a prominent NBA personnel job. Earlier this season, Jackson resisted coaching overtures from the Brooklyn Nets in the wake of Avery Johnson's firing and told longtime confidant Charley Rosen in January in a SheridanHoops.com story that he "has no intention of ever coaching again."

Colangelo won the NBA's Executive of the Year trophy after his first full season in Toronto in 2007, giving the franchise a major boost in credibility after he left Phoenix to join the Raptors. As for Casey, it's not yet clear how a GM change would affect his status -- contract or not -- given that Toronto finished 34-48 after coming into the season with playoff aspirations and after acquiring Rudy Gay in January.

Leiweke was known as a big-idea man during his time in Los Angeles who wasn't dissuaded by the naysayers who said he'd never succeed in luring David Beckham to Major League Soccer. Less than a week into Leiweke's Toronto tenure, it appears that Jackson is his new Beckham.
Sources - Raptors Want Phil Jackson as President --- ESPN

I really like this Leiweke guy, he's results oriented. All Colangelo wanted to talk about in the postseason presser is how we played .500 basketball after our 4-19 start... what kind of standard is that? I'd love to bring Phil in as the president of basketball operations and I think Leiweke can pull it off. He's good friends with Phil and is also a proven winner (Kings stanley cup, Beckham to Galaxy and back to back titles, partially involved in Lakers ownership). Just having Phil there would put a totally different perspective on this team and get people to start taking us seriously. The problem with Toronto isn't the city itself, in fact that's a bonus contrary to popular belief. The only teams in the NBA with bigger city markets than Toronto are the Knicks, Lakers, Nets and Bulls. Technically, since Toronto has access to the ENTIRE Canadian market it is actually the biggest market in the league. It's time for this team to stop being a joke and develop a winning culture with Phil at the helm. He'd most likely hire a new staff as well, which means Brian Shaw would be almost guaranteed to coach the team. Additionally, free agents might be more inclined to come here when it's clear we're dedicated to winning and getting the pieces required to be successful.

Phil wants a job as the head of a front office where he can implement his own vision for a team, and this is it. Now that the Kings are no longer moving to Seattle, I don't think we'll have much competition and should be able to get him to come in and take over.
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