Is Kevin Durant a legitimate MVP candidate?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

At the halfway point in every NBA regular season, the MVP talk starts the heat up as all the legitimate candidates for the NBA award start to narrow down to a small few. This season is no different as we have at least three players right now are playing at such high level that it looks to become a three man race in the second half of the season.

The first of these three players that are legitimate candidates for the MVP award this season could be champion Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant who is arguably playing the best clutch basketball of his Hall of fame caliber career in the NBA.

Along with having arguably the best team in the Western Conference, Kobe Bryant has been held to lead his Lakers through his own injuries and the injuries of Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum. During the time without these key players for the Lakers, Kobe has altered his game to more the low post presence and instead of being a perimeter player and made the transition seamlessly.

Not only has Kobe five game-winning shots this season, which is extremely impressive to say the least, but please played through injuries like broken finger on his shooting hand, painful back spasms and the most recent was an ankle sprain that kept him out of five games and the All-Star game in front of a record 108,713 people at the billion-dollar Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

So with five game winners, the best record in the Western Conference and battling through injuries that no one dare try, I believe Kobe Bryant will be one of the players in contention for the MVP award at season’s end.
The second player I believe that should give some serious consideration for the MVP award this season is the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James.

Along with being arguably the best player in the league today with some unbelievable athletic ability that has never been seen in the NBA before, LeBron has outdone himself this season alongside Shaquille O’Neal as he’s played brilliantly in the first half of the NBA regular season by lighting up scoreboards with his point production, getting teammates involved with his passing ability and driving opposing defenses crazy.

As of right now, the Cleveland Cavaliers have the best record in the NBA and could quite possibly keep that for the rest of the season and go into the playoffs with home court advantage of who play a big part of they get to the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers who they have beaten twice this season already.

At this point in time, LeBron is the front runner for the NBA MVP, but there is one more player that is quickly getting some serious consideration for the award as he’s come virtually out of nowhere this season and turned from a just a great score to one of the best leaders in the NBA today.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been arguably the surprising team in the NBA this season as they have just been red hot coming into the second half of the regular season and look like a legitimate playoff team for the first time since moving to Seattle.

At 29 points per game, Kevin Durant has turned into one of the best scores in the league just behind LeBron James and 30 points a game. At just three years in the NBA, Durant has gone from college phenom to NBA superstar and quite possibly NBA MVP.

Is Carlos Boozer going to stay in Utah?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

With past couple of seasons has been a lot of speculation on whether or not former All-Star forward Carlos Boozer was going to stay with the Utah Jazz. It wasn’t really a matter of money poor choice Carlos
Boozer, but the fact that the team looking to get younger with the likes of youngster power forward Paul Milsap taking his place.

Boozer’s name has been mentioned many trade scenarios over the past couple of seasons and just recently when the trade deadline ended on February 18th, the Utah Jazz supposedly shopping him to the Miami Heat were looking to upgrade before the deadline ended.

Rumors had to go around that the Miami Heat are looking at getting All-Star forward/center Amare Stoudemire in a trade which was and would have involved Miami sending second-year man Michael Beasley and veteran center Jermaine O’Neal to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Stoudemire.

Unfortunately, the deal didn’t go down as the Phoenix Suns for filling trade offers from all sorts teams including the Cleveland Cavaliers who are in desperate need of surrounding superstar Lebron James before that the NBA trade deadline ended.

Despite Amare Stoudemire’s name getting mentioned on a daily basis on Wednesday might land before the NBA trade deadline, he was the one superstar that stay put is all said and done in the dust settled.

Apparently though, Miami Heat were really trying to pry away Carlos Boozer from the Utah Jazz in their attempt to keep going Dwyane Wade in Miami after this summer when he becomes a free agent.

Unfortunately for the Heat, Utah Jazz may only one move by setting Ronnie Brewer to the Memphis grizzlies in exchange for draft picks which didn’t settle well with All-Star point guard Deron Williams who is good friends with Brewer. Not only was Williams on Brewer, the entire team felt almost betrayed when it jazz decided to trade him for something as little as draft picks.
Even though the trade which sent Ronnie Brewer to the Memphis grizzlies as no one that went down well with all the Utah Jazz teammates, the jazz are still a team in the Western Conference that will be a force to be reckoned with in all said and done in playoff time comes around.

The big question now is on the Utah Jazz and Carlos Boozer going to be up to come to an agreement when the time comes to keep the former All-Star forward in Utah the long-term.

The one player on the Utah Jazz as of right now that is untouchable, supposedly, is All-Star point guard Deron Williams, but if the jazz the collector some Boozer when the time comes or if he decides to move on the team to sign him to fairly big contract, could mean the end of Williams in Utah as well.

Obviously the Utah Jazz probably do everything in their power to keep these two superstars in the jazz uniform, but if they keep making decisions like they did with Ronnie Brewer the jazz could quickly turn into a mediocre team in the Western Conference.

Are the Blazers big men cursed?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

There a lot of teams in the NBA that are injury prone or have players that sustain a lot of injuries throughout an NBA season, but regardless of how bad injuries can be, NBA teams always have to get through the regular season with what they’re given.

There quite a few teams in the NBA today that have to deal with constant injuries to some of their best players, but the one team that seems to be plagued with injuries year in and year out is the Portland Trail Blazers who have been without their promising young center Greg Oden the last three seasons as he has dealt with a knee and ankle injuries throughout his short career in the NBA.

A couple of seasons ago, the Blazers took a gamble on an injury prone center out of Ohio State instead of drafting scoring machine in Kevin Durant from Texas. As a result, the Blazers have had an off again on again problem with keeping Greg Oden healthy and on the floor. When Oden is on the floor he’s as good as anybody at the center position, but that he hasn’t been able to stand the test of time so far in only three short years with the Portland Trail Blazers.

When the Blazers started this NBA regular season, Greg Oden was healthy and looking to prove that he is still can be a dominant center in this league, but like the two previous seasons, including his rookie season, Oden went down early and has yet to get back on the floor for his team. There is still a slight possibility that he might get back healthy, but it’s doubtful his history of injuries.

This didn’t worry Blazers too much this season, besides the fact they wasted a number one overall pick couple of years ago because they had backup center Joel Przybilla to play in place of the injured Greg Oden, but unfortunately, Przybilla went down as well with a season ending injury.

This left the Portland trailblazers and one hell of a dilemma as they really needed someone to fill the void left in the paint after both Oden and Przybilla went down for the year.

Fortunately, the Blazers were able to make a trade before the deadline on February 18 by sending point guard Steve Blake and forward Travis Outlaw to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for center Marcus Camby and his expiring contract.

We a few seasons ago, Camby was one of the best defensive players in the league with the Denver Nuggets. The seven footer out of the University of Massachusetts was a shot blocking and rebounding beast in the paint for the Nuggets which hasn’t exactly carried over to the Clippers, but at times he is still one of the best centers in the league, especially the defensive end of the floor.

Not only was can be a great addition to an already hurting defense, he also brings veteran leadership and an expiring contract that will be great for the Blazers come this summer when they try and sign a free agent in what is thought to be one of the most talented free agent markets in NBA history.

Even though getting Marcus Camby was a good move for the Blazers, for some reason Portland is just cursed when it comes to big men as he has also gone down with an ankle sprain that could give out considerable amount of time.

It is uncertain how serious Marcus Camby’s ankle injury is, but one thing is for certain, the Blazers just have no luck this season when it comes to staying healthy as All-Star shooting guard Brandon Roy has also struggled trying to stay healthy this season.

Despite all their injury problems of the past couple of seasons, the Blazers have been as resilient as any other team in the NBA and will still probably make a run for the playoffs in the second half of the regular season, but they will need Marcus Camby in the paint in order for them to make it out of the first round of playoffs was it were able to do last season against the Houston Rockets.

Watch out for the Nuggets

Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap

The Nuggets believe that they can outplay the best teams in the league – no one’s arguing since they’re only five games behind the conference leading Lakers. Ever since Chauncey Billups was traded for Allen Iverson, the Denver Nuggets went from second round fodder to championship contender. Billups brought an attitude of professionalism to a team riddled with talented but misguided players. Iverson was not the leader – or any sort of leader for that matter – that Carmelo Anthony needed. Anthony needed someone with grizzled playoff experience and the initiative to lead by example.

Anthony proved that he belongs as one of the elite players in the NBA. He dueled with LeBron James this past Thursday and finished the game making seven of his last eight shots. He also played incredible defense on the reigning MVP down the stretch. Anthony is only finally realizing his enormous potential as his game continues to mature. They overcame a spectacular 43-point, 15-assist and 13-rebound performance by James. Anthony scored 40 points of his own in a battle of superstars – the best thing about the memorable duel between the two 2003 draft picks? The actually guarded each other.

The Nuggets also whipped the defending champs Los Angeles Lakers in two games earlier this season. Anthony destroyed Ron Artest’s defense in their first meeting and Billups dissected the Lakers in the second. The Nuggets beat the Lakers by a total of 39 points. Kobe Bryant played in both games and was unable to find any sort of rhythm.

Denver is loaded in every position. They have a clutch point guard in Chauncey Billups, defensive minded two-guard in Arron Afflalo, superstar Carmelo Anthony, athletic Kenyon Martin and the underrated Nene. Not to mention volatile but a very talented sixth man in J.R. Smith.

Despite the impressive wins over the Lakers and Cavaliers, the Nuggets are susceptible to relaxing on bottom-feeding teams. They recently lost to the new-look Washington Wizards. Anthony was tight-guarded by newly acquired Al Thornton.

Last year, Denver made it all the way to the Western conference finals only to lose to the eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers. Sasha Vujacic and Trevor Ariza easily frustrated Anthony – he still lacks the necessary composure in big game situations. If Anthony develops a killer instinct and isn’t easily rattled the NBA better watch out. He already owns a versatile post game and an excellent mid-range game. Plus, his combination of size and speed make it difficult for opponents to hold him down. The greatest enemy Anthony has is himself – the Nuggets will only go as far as he takes them.

Weekly MVP rankings

Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap

1. LeBron James

James may pick-up his second MVP award this season. He led the Cavaliers to a thirteen game winning streak before losing a close game to fellow 2003 draftee Carmelo Anthony. He currently leads the league in scoring. With the acquisition of Antawn Jamison, James has enough weapons around him to lead Cleveland to its first ever NBA championship.

2. Carmelo Anthony

Anthony showed why he belongs in the conversation of the league’s elite after hitting the go-ahead bucket in the face of LeBron James during the final seconds of the Nuggets win in Cleveland. Many doubted that the Nuggets could win a championship with Anthony as the No. 1 guy – until he effectively defended James and hit seven of his last eight shots in regulation.

3. Kevin Durant

The second leading scorer has the Oklahoma City Thunder riding an eight-game winning streak. He has developed into a reliable clutch player and capable defender. The Thunder are currently fifth in Western conference and have a fairly easy schedule ahead of them. It is hard to believe that Durant is just 21 years old.

4. Dwight Howard

Howard still hasn’t learned any post moves during the offseason and remains one of the worst free throw shooters in the league. But despite all of these shortcomings, he is Orlando’s most important piece. He leads the league in blocks and rebounds.

5. Kobe Bryant

A sore ankle has forced the 2008 MVP to miss the Lakers’ five last games. He was a strong candidate early in the season with his string of game-winning shots. But what hurts Bryant’s chances the most is that the Lake Show has won four of their last five games without him in the line-up.

6. Tim Duncan

Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have lost much of their magic. Despite averaging only 32 minutes a game, Duncan’s presence sets the tone for the Spurs offense. His great positional defense also helps his teammates out on the perimeter. In a season full of inconsistencies for the Spurs, Duncan is the only constant.

NBA Trade Rundown

Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap

Three team trade involving the Knicks, Kings and Rockets

The New York Knicks get: Tracy McGrady and Segio Rodriguez

McGrady will get the opportunity to showcase his skills for a new team in the summer. He does not fit in the future plans of the Knicks and his $23 million-plus contract will come off the shelf after the season. McGrady’s arrival in New York works both ways.

The Knicks will save enough money in the summer to sign two high-priced free agents to max contracts. Let me drop a hint: one of them wears no. 23 for the Cavaliers. The Knicks are so far under the salary cap that they can wave huge loads of cash in the face of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudamire. Whoever they plan to pair with LeBron James, the Knicks will be contenders. That’s if they coax James into signing with them.

Sergio Rodriguez is a slight upgrade over Chris Duhon. He has better court vision and a consistent shooter. Rodriguez rarely makes mistakes. He is a great addition to the Knicks.

The Sacramento Kings get: Carl Landry, Larry Hughes and Joey Dorsey

Carl Landry is a more than capable basketball player that can play above average defense and has nifty moves around the basket. He is averaging a career-high 16 points a game. Landry can play the third or fourth spot, but can’t really be used as a full time starter for either position because he is too short to play the power forward and too slow to play the small forward position. Other than that, Landry is a great role-player coming of the bench.

Larry Hughes belongs at the end of the bench. He is a streaky shooter and an overrated defender. Kings’ head coach Paul Westphal has to limit his minutes to the point that he doesn’t sulk and destroy the young chemistry in Sacramento.

Dorsey may contribute to the team but will be buried under Donte Greene and Jason Thompson’s minutes.

The Houston Rockets get: Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Hilton Armstrong, Jared Jeffries and draft picks

Kevin Martin is a young scorer that needs the ball in his hands to be effective in the half-court. Imagine the trouble the backcourt of Martin and point guard Aaron Brooks will cause against opponents. Both guards have superior speed and quickness but their smallish frames can be a problem on the defensive end. He is a young version of Tracy McGrady – great scorer but injury prone.

Jordan Hill is a rookie that does not fit his 8th pick draft status.

Jared Jeffries is a role-player that can occasionally hit 15 footers and can play above-average defense.

Trade between the Mavericks and Wizards

The Dallas Mavericks get: Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood

Butler is virtually the same player Josh Howard is without the attitude. Butler is a professional and Dallas hopes that the move will re-energize him. He will take the scoring load of Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki. Jason Kidd will provide him with plenty of scoring opportunities.

Haywood is a tad better than Erick Dampier. He plays hard, rebounds well and can get you around two blocks a game.

The Washington Wizards get: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden (sent to the Clippers for Al Thornton), Quinton Ross and James Singleton

The Wizards are hoping that the change of scenery will also change Howard’s attitude. Howard is a versatile player that can slash and shoot when motivated. Although his last two seasons with the Mavericks have been marred with injury.

Gooden is an average defender and passable scorer. He demands the ball more then he really needs to.

Quinton Ross and James Singleton are bench players that were added to clear salary cap.

Trade between the Clippers and Trail Blazers

The Los Angeles Clippers get: Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw

Steve Blake will be a great back up to Baron Davis. Blake is a great shooter, but lacks the speed to play up-tempo.

Outlaw will provide another clutch scorer besides Baron Davis. He has been injured for most of the season, but is one of the most athletic players in the league when healthy.

The Portland Trail Blazers get: Marcus Camby

Great. The Blazers lose two injury prone centers early in the season only to acquire another injury prone center. When healthy, Camby can intimidate and block shots. But he is not a great positional defender and can get burned on single coverage. His thin frame will not help him against the likes of Pau Gasol and Nene in the Western conference.

Trade between the Timberwolves and Knicks

The Minnesota Timberwolves get: Darko Milicic

The Wolves get one of the biggest busts in NBA history. Milicic can’t wait for his contract to expire so he can return to Europe and never come back.

The New York Knicks get: Brian Cardinal

Traded to clear cap room.

Trade between the Cavaliers and Wizards

The Cleveland Cavaliers get: Antawn Jamison

Jamison is a much better fit for the Cavs than if they acquired Amar’e Stoudemire. His debut for the Cavs was a dud; he went 0 for 12 and failed to make any significant impact.

He will improve the Cavs once he gets to know his teammates and plays better. His shooting will take loads of LeBron James and Mo Williams. Jamison is comfortable with being the third option.

The Washington Wizards get: Zydrunas Ilgauskus

It will only be a matter of time before Ilgauskus will find himself in the Cavs roster before the playoffs starts. Cleveland needs Ilgauskus as insurance just in case Shaq gets injured – or decides to take the playoffs off.

Trade between the Wizards and Clippers

The Washington Wizards get: Al Thornton

Thornton showed a lot of promise during his stay with the Clippers. In his first game in a Wizards jersey, Thornton scored 21 points in a win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers for nothing

Telfair will be buried on the bench. The Cavs don’t need his services.

Trade between the Bobcats and Bulls

The Charlotte Bobcats get: Tyrus Thomas

Thomas is an underachiever. If Bobcats’ head coach Larry Brown can inject any sort of motivation in him, then Charlotte can finally move Gerald Wallace to his more natural small-forward position.

The Chicago Bulls get: Acie Law and Flip Murray

Acie Law is destined to be a bench player. He has had opportunities to show his talent but failed to display any sort of usefulness on the court. Murray will provide the Bulls with instant offense off the bench. But Bulls’ head coach Vinny Del Negro needs to limit his minutes to minimize his mistakes.

Trade between the Bulls and Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks get: John Salmons
Salmons is a temporary replacement for sharpshooter Michael Redd. He will be given the license to shoot at all times since opposing defenses have zoned in on rookie Brandon Jennings. He scored 18 points in his debut for the Bucks.

The Chicago Bulls get: Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick

The Bucks have given up on Joe Aelxander and his potential. In his limited minutes, he wasn’t able to show any sign of being able to play at the NBA level –great NBDL player though.

Hakim Warrick is an athletic player that can occasionally shoot and can rarely play defense. He is a slight upgrade over Tyrus Thomas.

The Charlotte Bobcats acquired Theo Ratliff from the Spurs for a second-round draft pick

Ratliff will provide veteran leadership but his minutes will be limited. If he plays around 10-15 solid minutes a game, then the Bobcats are winners of this exchange.

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired Ronnie Brewer from the Jazz for a draft pick

Brewer will help take minutes off Rudy Gay. His athleticism is welcome but his lack of skills will keep him from playing big minutes.

Trade between the Knicks and Celtics

The Boston Celtics get: Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry

Robinson is an explosive scorer but it’s his ball handling that the Celtics need. Eddie House doesn’t know how to set up an offense. Robinson is definitely an upgrade over House.

The New York Knicks get: Eddie House, J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker

The Knicks will add another shooter in House. JR Giddens and Bill walker are destined to finish their NBA careers on the bench.