2 Up! 2 Down! Report (February)

By:Tyrone Montgomery Jr.

Up

Raptors Rising High

Don’t look now but they Raptors are heading for that number 1 spot. In years past, Toronto has always been a team that you just can’t trust. Have you ever had an associate that you didn’t know much about? You always seen him or her in passing, rather at a party, at the mall, the grocery store, or even randomly downtown walking the streets. However, there has always been that gut feeling of shadiness around the individual, a feeling that you just can’t trust. That is who The Toronto Raptors have been over the years. But in life, sometimes crooked people can change their lives in live life the correct way. I now believe the Raptors can be trusted. Not only do I think they can be trusted, I also believe they’re in perfect position to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers are wounded, so the time is now in Toronto. They have home court advantage over Cleveland at the moment. That alone is huge! The Raptors are 19-4 when playing in Toronto. Another major key is the development of DeMar DeRozan. He was good last season, but he’s even better this season, and truly deserves MVP considerations. The 9 year pro is averaging 24 Points/Game, 4 Rebounds/Game, & 5 Assist/Game (Career High). Kyle Lowry has been quiet this season. He isn’t as young as he used to be to be honest. I feel as if they’re saving him for the playoffs. They definitely have put the ball in Derozan’s hands as the offense is completely centered around him. Another reason why I like this team is because of maturity and growth. When looking for a job, theres something alot of jobs desire and require called Work Experience. The addition of Serge Ibake last season is a very underrated and quiet addition. Their bench has been huge for them this season as well. Look for The Raptors to finally make some noise in the playoffs this season.

The Mighty Warrior

This team is projected to win it all every season. I mean they do have 4 All-Stars, with 2 of them being Top 5 NBA Players. The Warriors have battled through injuries all season, from Kevin Durant to Steph Curry, and even to the player who completes this puzzle, Draymond Green. However, somehow, someway, they still find themselves comfortably with the best record in the NBA. The Warriors were looking up at a few teams early into the season. The Houston Rockets looked like a team that will be able to contend and maybe even beat the Warriors. The Spurs battled through trials and tribulations with the Injury of their best player, Kawhi Leonard. They still managed to remain in the top 3 in the West. Then there’s OKC. A team who is still trying to find themselves and figure things out. But at the end of the day, they have 3 All-Star Olympian Players. Well the fact of the matter is this. The Golden State Warriors have 4. They also have experience and chemistry. They’ve been successful despite injuries and despite having a major roster shakeup. To be honest, a lot of people haven’t realized this. But this year’s Golden State Warriors team is the best 1 they have ever had, despite the 72 win season. After a year of having Kevin Durant, they now have a championship. Durant handled his business, and despite his rocky decision to leave OKC, it all worked out for him in the end. They now have chemistry that is at its best. Along with that, they secured the contracts of 2 significant pieces off their bench, Andre Iguodala (2015 Finals MVP) and Shaun Livingston. The center position has always been a sticky situation for them. However, their center by committee has worked wonders for them. Who would have thought that Javale McGee would be an NBA Champion? Along with him is a center they basically stole in the 2017 NBA Draft, Jordan Bell. Graduated and draft from The University of Oregon, he averaged 11 Points/Game, 9 Rebounds/Game, along with 2 Blocks/Game in his final season with The Ducks. That has translated perfectly for this team as he has been a key reason of success in many games this season with his high energy and ferocious defense too. Pat McCaw proved he was a high worthy rookie last season. He has no where to go but up. But two additional role players they just acquired are really important as well, Omri Caspi and Nick Young. Caspi is shooting 50% from beyond the ark this season for The Warriors. That is huge for this Warriors team who love to stretch the floor and shoot you out of the building. Nick Young aka Swaggy P is a human microwave. Once he gets hot, its game over for the opposers. There isn’t a shot on the floor that he’s not going to take. Every shot is considered a good look for Swaggy P! Don’t be surprised if they are to make another move at the deadline. Bob Myers told us himself last year, this team is lightyears ahead of the league.

Down

Are The LA Lakers Tanking?

It seems like the best way to improve your team in the NBA is by building through the draft. Look at The Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid is now an All-Star. A healthy one at that! Ben Simmons looks like a safe bet to become a transcending player in the league. Who knows, 10 years from now, Ben Simmons may even be the best player in the league. Before all of the hoopla, OKC was on their way to having a super team. James Harden is a top 5 player in the league who has now been a MVP snub for the last 2 and maybe even 3 seasons after this year. Russell Westbrook has an award to account for, and so does Kevin Durant, along with a nice shiny ring he got by his diva like qualities. If that team was to stay together, they would have been the Warriors. The Splash Brothers of Golden State would have been a thing still, but OKC would have brought Thunder to the league. The Lakers started off the season kind of strong early on. Many people thought they could possibly be a playoff team. I on the other hand, see the big picture. When I go to the movies, I can care less about the opening scenes. The best parts of movies are the climax scenes, and of coarse the ending. You could have an amazing film all through out the beginning and even the middle, but if the end is terrible, chances are high that Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t too kind with their reviews. There’s no other player in the league that gets criticized more than Lonzo Ball. We don’t talk about Lebron anymore. We no longer complain about Durant. All the talk is centered around Lonzo Ball. A lot of that is because of his father. The best way to lose the hate mail is by winning. The Lakers aren’t ready for that. Their time table will begin 4 years from now. That’s when Steph Curry’s dominance will be slowing down. That’s when The Warriors will be struggling to keep everyone around. The greatest coach to ever coach in the NBA, Greg Popovich probably will be retired by then. Russell Westbrook’s knees can only take so much. He probably will be slowing down by that time too. Its unsure if The Lakers are tanking. But it wouldn’t hurt and it would put them in position to draft and develop some stars of their own.

Washington Wizards – Pretenders or Contenders?

Sometimes, it’s good to keep expectations low. By no means am I saying not to give 100% effort. However, once expectations become high, and you don’t quite get over the hump, jobs will be lost for some individuals. The Washington Wizards are experiencing some identity crisis. This team has been to the Eastern Conference Semi Finals 3 of the last 4 seasons. Playing well with an allstar backcourt, they can’t seem to get out of the second round. That makes alot of people scratch their heads and begin to wonder is this team overrated? To answer that question, the direct answer is Yes. Over the years, The Wizards struggled with production from their bench. Last season, they ranked 2nd to last (29th) in bench scoring with 26 Bench Points/Game. This year, there’s slight improvement as they currently rank 18th with 34 Bench Points/Game. This team has a potential to be great, but there just isn’t enough depth here. The Wizards depend too much upon their backcourt. Also, There isn’t ANY post play at all for this team. There is way too much Iso play in Washington. Marcin Gortat isn’t an Allstar, however he is a quality center when given the opportunity. He rarely even touches the ball. He’s in his 5th season with the Wizards and he’s taking a career low 7 shot attempts/game within his Washington career. If I was running this organization, I would be willing to make some deals. I know Wizards fans are going to kill me, but this team is overrated and so is Otto Porter. Especially Otto Porter to say the least. Otto Porter is currently the starting forward for this team. He’s on a fat contract worth $106 Million for over 4 years. He averages 13 Points/Game along with 6 Rebounds/Game. Coming off the bench, is a player that plays the same position and basically offers the same production. Kelly Oubre, who played in Kansas in college, is averaging 12 Points/Game and 5 Rebounds/Game. Numbers are nearly identical but reputations are not. Porter is coveted heavily upon the league. You can get a lot back in return for him. Why not trade Porter for a good post player that can score and give you some production on the defensive side of the ball as well. Perhaps that can be something they could address in the draft. But another problem of this franchise has been health. Wall and Beal have missed significant time over the last few seasons. Things haven’t gotten any better as John Wall will miss the next 2 months with a knee injury. This team may find themselves rebuilding sooner than expected, because they haven’t met expectations in Washington and they may find themselves in the lottery this summer.

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