3 Reason why its Lebron’s fault If the Lakers don’t make playoffs.

The Lakers pulled off a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans behind Lebron James and Brandon Ingram.  The playoffs are still a long shot for the historic franchise.  If they do not make it to one of the top eight teams in the West the blame should lie on the supposed “GOAT”.  Here is why.

Lebron’s a destructive locker room presence.

It’s really not a great idea to openly tell the world that you don’t think your team is good enough.  It’s even worse to basically tell them you hope they are traded.  James has always manipulated management based on his needs but the Lakers front office has allowed him to unwillingly be their mouthpiece. 

The Lakers are a young core that have spent most of their young lives watching Lebron James dominate the league.  They strived to be Lebron, they played him on video games, wore his jersey, pretended to be him when playing pickup games in the park.  When you get the once in a lifetime chance to be on his team you hope that it is everything you dreamed.  Instead you are told you are not good enough and openly disrespected.  While he is the one that takes the criticism in the media they are the ones that the blamed is cast upon. 

Lebron and Luke Walton were never going to work.

Luke Walton was a hot commodity when he was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers.  The fill in for Steve Kerr for a handful of games in 2015 impressing may around the league leading the Warriors to a historic 39-4 start.  Walton had a team that was built around multiple players that were willing to work hard as a unite.  All they needed was a string leader to set the course and they would execute to the highest level. 

Lebron James is not the type of player that wants to be lead.  He is the type of player that wants you to fall in line, that is the same with his coach.  To many times we have seen Lebron run a coach out of town.  David Blatt made it to the finals and was fired the next year because of Lebron. It’s his way or the highway.  Luke Walton is young enough and bold enough to step up to Lebron, which is not a good thing for his career.

Lebron is more worried about the summer then the team.

I love the set-up of the All-Star game over the last two years.  This year especially showed why it can be very interesting.  If you checked the roster of team Lebron it featured Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  There is no coincidence that the core of his roster was comprised of potential running mates for next season.  Lebron knows that his team his not good enough to beat the Warriors right now so why should he give max effort, he can just wait until the summer so that the excuse can be that he needs help.  Lebron always needs help.  If Lebron loses it’s because the players around were not good enough. 

Telling the world “playoff” Lebron is kicking hasn’t seemed to help his effort on the defensive end.  What about “playoff” Lakers?  Shouldn’t that be what he is focused on.  The King is the greatest player of my generation.  I was never able to watch Jordan in his prime while I was old enough to appreciate it, so sadly I am stuck with Lebron, a selfish player that thinks about excuses rather than taking ownership.  It’s cool though this summer the Lakers will probably sign someone to play alongside him and become the new scape goat.

Jayson Tatum- Make Basketball Great Again in the STL

The last time the city of St. Louis had a professional basketball team was in 1976.  The ABA’s St. Louis Spirits did not make it into the NBA when the two leagues merged.  As the Spirits left so did the spirit of professional basketball in the Gateway City.  It is time for the city to recapture its passion for the sport by watching one of its native sons emerge on the grandest stage professional basketball has to show.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge made a controversial move when he traded away the #1 overall pick to the 76ers. Washinton’s Markelle Fultz was looked at as the can’t miss star of the draft.  His length and athleticism was thought to be elite on all levels.  Ainge took the gamble moving down to draft Duke Freshman  and St. Louis native Jayson Tatum. Jayson Tatum has emerged as an underrated rookie star for the Boston Celtics. If you are not sure who Jayson Tatum is, he is the guy  from the Imo’s commercials.

While flashier rookies  like Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell have been getting the headlines Tatum has quietly brought his team to the verge of the the Eastern Conference finals. Tatum, a graduate of Chaminade Preparatory School in Creve Coeur, Missouri, has given St. Louis sports fans a reason to watch the NBA playoffs.  With key stars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward going do with season ending injuries Tatum was forced to take a more prominent role on a team that finished  with the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. His scoring and defense have transitioned perfectly into the professional level.  Unlike most lottery draft picks Tatum has not been forced to be the savior of the organization.  Instead he was put in a position that allowed him to play a role, he was able to develop throughout rather then burden himself with the weight of the organization.  The regular season went well for Tatum averaging 13.9 PPG, 5 RB, shooting 43% from three and an astounding 53% shooting overall.  Tatum’s production has been taken to the next level for the Celtics in the playoffs.

In Game 1 of the second round series against the third seed Philadelphia 76ers, Tatum had a career-high 28 points in a 117–101 win, becoming the first Celtics rookie to score 25 or more points in a playoff game since Larry Bird (Maybe you have heard of him) during the 1980 NBA Playoffs, also against the 76ers. Tatum continued his strong play in Game 2 of the series scoring 21 points, those points would be the fourth game in a row Tatum reached the 20 point mark, making him the youngest player ever to accomplish that surpassing a guy by the name of Kobe Bryant (Maybe you have heard of him).  Brad Stevens has been called the best coach in the NBA for his ability to develop players, having them exceed expectations by putting them in a place the helps them excel.  The best example of the Stevens approach has been the production of Jayson Tatum.

St. Louis has had its fair share of NBA talent over the last few years.  Players like Larry Hughes, Darius Miles, and Bradley Beal have made an impact at the NBA level but Tatum is showing that he may end up being the best of the bunch.  He goes about his business quietly and professionally.  He plays in a major market and will be put in the spotlight as he develops and he will develop under the leadership of Brad Stevens.  Next season the Celtics may be the favorite in the Eastern Conference when their injured stars return but for now Tatum is the guy leading the charge of the dynamic Boston offense.  Tatum is the star that the St. Louis fan base needs, giving the fanbase a player and a team to follow.

Tatum is becoming the face of St. Louis basketball.

 

 

Warriors vs. Pelicans Preview and Pick

The first matchup of the Western Conference Semifinals has one team that is supposed to be there and one that seemed to mature over night.  The Pelicans were two losses aways from potentially not making the playoffs. It felt like New Orleans might be left for dead when DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season ending rupture of achilles tendon, but the Pelicans persevered and found a new identity over the season’s final two-plus months. They have adjusted to their personal, finding success with their upbeat fast style.

The Pelicans were able to jump out on the Blazers each game of the first round, immediately taking control of each game allowing them to dictate the pace.  The Blazers did not possess the depth of scoring that could overcome early deficits.  That will not be the case with the Warriors, even without Steph Curry they have more then one asset that can carry the load of the scoring.  Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant carried the load in the first round averaging 22.6 PPG and 28 PPG in the first round versus a tough but undermanned San Antonio Spurs team.

Jrue Holiday will be a key for the Pelicans without Steph Curry, he will likely be forced to handle Kay Thompson.  If Holiday can continue to defend the opposing teams best guard as well as keep up his offensive production from the first round then the Pelicans will have a great chance to make this a series.  Holiday was sensational in the first round averaging 27.8 point and 6.5 assists per game during the entire series. The difference in this series will be Klay Thompson.  Thompson will be tasked with handling the dynamic Pelican guard. Holiday stands 6’4″, but it will be the 6’7″ Thompson with the height and length advantage in the series ahead. If Thompson can shoot the ball effectively while using his length to force Holiday into disadvantageous positions, it could significantly hamper New Orleans’ ability to score.

Anthony Davis is going to get his numbers, he will give the Pelicans a chance to win a few games in this series.  I worry that he Zaza Pachulia effect may become a factor in this series, he could be the Warriors version of Lance Stephenson.  If he can annoy and effect Davis getting under his skin enough to disrupt him at any point during the series it will cost the young Pelicans any chance to pull off the upset.  Kevin Durant will be a problem for the Pelicans.  Durant played 3 of 4 games vs the Pelicans in 2018, averaging 27 points and 8 rebounds per game, shooting over 50% against them. The Pelicans have now answer for Durant.  Their roster s not equipped to handle the length and ability that Durant brings to the table. Etwan Moore is to small and Nikola Mirotic is not fast enough to handle Durant. The Pelicans may try and take away other Warrior stars similar to the way the Utah Jazz handled the OKC Thunder, shutting down Paul George an Carmelo Antony.

The Pelicans, along with the Warriors, were the only teams in the league to rank in the top three in both points scored and assists per game during the regular season, but that’s not the only tie that binds them. Former Golden State associate head coach Alvin Gentry is now in his third season as Head Coach of the Pelicans, and this upcoming series will offer the first chance for he and Steve Kerr to go head-to-head in that time. The in season series was won by the Warriors 3-1 but the three Warrior wins came before Christmas when Boogie Cousins was still a part of the Pelican rotation.  The Pelicans have become a different team since that injury.  Alvin Gentry will have his team ready to compete but right now the young Pel’s do not have the depth to handled the high powered an experienced Warriors. These games are going to be full of offense and fun to watch but I just think that the Warriors will be to much especially if Steph Curry is able to play at any point during this series.  New Orleans is very close to be a real contender in the West and they have already proved me wrong once.  I won’t be wrong about them twice.

Warriors in 5

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