Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox – USA Today
1. Of the last undefeated teams- Houston, Memphis and Golden State who will have the best year? (editor’s note, all three teams got their first loss over the weekend)
Coldiron: Golden State looks like they have the potential to be the best. With Curry, Thompson, and a competent coach in Steve Kerr, etc. they should be awesome. That said, last year the Spurs won with the strength of their system and with their continuity. By that model, Memphis should be a serious contender. They have a core that’s been together for a few years and they have a strong (and boring) system.
DiSturco: Golden State is the team to beat in this trio. They have the most talented point guard of the three to go along with a great supporting cast. With new coach, Steve Kerr, everything seems to be working out for the Warriors.
Hargis: Golden State looks amazing. Houston has not had as much competition and Dwight Howard is always bad for chemistry and winning. Memphis will falter but will make the playoffs.
Andrews: Golden State will end up having the best season out of all of those teams. They have the most talent and are by far the most explosive. Yes, James Harden and Dwight Howard are a solid and exciting duo, but the Warriors are just more complete.
Shaw: Memphis. They have the Lakers, Kings (Interesting game), and then Pistons coming up which all are very winnable games. Golden State is also prone to occasional sloppy basketball such as committing turnovers and ill-advised fouls that can cost them a game. Nevertheless, the Grizz look really solid right now.
2. The Sacramento Kings have started hot, at 5-2 as of this writing. Are they for real and how long will this last?
Coldiron: Well, I literally ‘wrote the book’ on the Kings (shameless plug- go buy my book, “Saving Sacramento” here). Seriously though, I think they are for semi-real. Are they a championship contender? Absolutely not. Are they a playoff contender that could be this year’s Phoenix Suns?…. As a fan I am nervous to say this but… yes they are.
DiSturco: The Kings are real, but at the same time, they are not. They are very talented and have a young squad that have been maturing; they will do solid in the West, but they are a borderline playoff team. But, don’t be surprised if the Kings snag an eighth seed at the end of the season.
Hargis: No they have simply started hot but will not continue to win. Their bench is simply not strong enough to continue and contend in the west.
Andrews: No, they are not for real, at least, not yet. They are a young team with a good amount of potential, but their success so far this season can be attributed to the fact that some teams are simply not warmed up yet. Not only that, but two of their wins came from wins against a less than stellar Nuggets squad. Now, I don’t want to take away from them, they are a good team that will make huge strides from last season. In terms of playoff hopefuls though, they are not the real deal.
Shaw: The Sacramento Kings are somewhat for real. The Kings defense has been top 10 so far and DeMarcus Cousins is putting Shaq-like numbers. What makes them intriguing is they are winning in many different ways. Close games, or blow-outs and different players contributing in each win. The West is a tough conference to make the playoffs but I can see teams like the Thunder or TrailBlazers possibly slipping. There is a good possibility that Sacramento will be fighting for that 8th spot for most of the season.
3. Character is on trial. On Friday, Mark Cuban said, “We need to demand that colleges and minor leagues and high schools and summer travel programs identify and report issues. By not reporting abuse or other issues with their players, they could be costing them a shot at the pros.” Is he right?
Coldiron: Of course he is right, but that doesn’t mean anything will change. The bigger problem for the NBA is that it has desperately needed a quality minor league system sincethe fall of the CBA in the 90’s (the CBA wasn’t great either). The D-League has come a long way, but has a long way to go still. With the efforts of Cuban and others, I believe they will eventually make the D-League very valuable to the NBA.
DiSturco: Yes, he is right in saying that. Everything should be known about prospects and issues like abuse should be stopped.
Hargis: He has a valid point. These owners are the ones that are looking to pay them in the future and they deserve to know everything about them. Problems like this shouldn’t be an issue
Andrews: Yes, all sports organizations need to do a better job of noticing these things before they happen. It simply isn’t safe and isn’t fair to the people that look up to that person every day only to be let down. However, I don’t think this is a realistic expectation yet. Teams are too focused on money to really dive deep into these things. If they see a good player, they want him regardless of what’s going on off the court. So, I believe that he has the right idea, but I don’t see it happening, at least not at a professional, large scale level yet.
Shaw: It’s a slippery slope but Cuban is right, these kids are treated as professionals once they start playing varsity basketball so why not teach them how to be a professional and have good character. There aren’t too many careers in America where you can have questionable character in still be able to work and be successful. You also have to keep in mind that some of these kids come from backgrounds where character isn’t taught or held to a certain standard. Some kids are just simply products of their environment. In that case, the NCAA athletic programs treat these kids like hard working professionals, (that’s a whole another topic because they don’t even get paid) the least they can do is have programs on how they can hold their character to a higher standard.
4. Doc Rivers recently called his L.A Clippers out for lack of effort: “Why are we complacent?” Rivers said. “What have we done? If that’s the issue, that’s really alarming. I don’t know if that is or isn’t [the issue] but there’s a reason why we’re not playing as hard as we should and we’re not as focused. I don’t know the reason and as a coach that’s troubling and I want to find out the reason.” Should Rivers be saying this publicly? Is he right about his team?
Coldiron: Rivers is lying. He knows exactly what the reason is and he wanted to make sure his team knew it by saying it publicly. The problem is simply that it is early in the season and his guys aren’t fully committed yet. They need a kick in the a^^ and this was Rivers giving it to them.
DiSturco: Rivers is trying to help the team play with more ‘fire’, he is doing nothing wrong by saying this. Some of the players do need a motivation boost and that is exactly what Rivers is doing.
Hargis: He is dead on. What do the Clippers have to be boastful about? They have just recently become good at basketball. They haven’t even made the WCF yet. Rivers could have this piss off the players and make them play better…. or piss them off and lose their support.
Andrews: No, Doc Rivers should not be saying that publicly. That is something to discuss in the locker room with your team. I feel that it could be demoralizing to them when said to the public and not right to their faces. He is right though, the Clippers are better than they have shown and need to get their butts in gear. They have a tremendous amount of talent, led by one of the best if not the best floor general in the NBA. So he certainly had the right to be disappointed in his team, but he shouldn’t have expressed it publicly.
Shaw: Rivers is trying to light a fire under his team, as he should. If Rivers says it publicly then the Clipper players are now held to more accountability because the media is keeping close eyes on their play. Coach is right anyways, the Clippers have played uninspired basketball so far, the Warriors torched them easily and when the Kings played the Clippers, Demarcus Cousins had 34 points and 17 rebounds to Blake Griffin’s and Deandre Jordans’ combined 21 & 17. Aren’t those two supposed to be All-Star level players?
5. This year’s ticket prices have been released. The average price of an NBA ticket increased 3.4 percent this season to $53.98. Are NBA tickets overpriced, under-priced, or priced just right?
Coldiron: While I wish tickets were cheaper, I think they are priced just right. The closer you get to the court, the more you pay- but it is absolutely worth it. Springing for the better seats and seeing an NBA game live in the lower bowl of any arena is is a special experience and one that everyone needs to do at least once.
DiSturco: The tickets are rightly priced. The experience is well worth the $54 dollars and are pretty cheap, especially when you compare it to a league like the NFL.
Hargis: Ive paid a lot more for NFL tickets in the nose bleed seats. Prices will continue to go up as the demand does. Simple as that.
Andrews: They are overpriced, but it’s all relative. Compared to other pro sports businesses such as the NFL and NHL, it is on the cheaper end, but if you think about it, it shouldn’t cost $54 to go watch people play basketball for an hour regardless of how good they are. It’s become a normal thing and we’re used to it. I guess what I’m trying to say is, for the business they’re in and compared to what we’re used to, the ticket prices are just fine, but they are still overpriced.
Shaw: Well due to the new $24 billion TV media deal coming into effect in 2016 and with the salary cap expected to increase dramatically in a few years as well I would say just about right. The NBA is growing and getting even bigger, so it may look pricey but it’s very well justified.
Is it time to panic in Cleveland yet?
Coldiron: Not by a long shot. They are going through some growing pains. They will still win at least 50 games and be a contender by the time the playoffs come around.
DiSturco: The Cavaliers need some time to settle in like the Heat did when their big three formed. It may take longer, but within the next few weeks, the Cavaliers will look like the dominant team we all saw them as entering the year.
Hargis: Not yet, but Lebron is looking, dare we say it, washed up? Kyrie is still taking way to many shots and the team doesn’t look like a team. Love still looks good though. The head coach is showing he is new to the NBA/
Andrews: Not at all, the season has just begun and their three best players have barely played together. Give them time, let Lebron lead and things will work out. Lebron is still the best player in the world despite what we’ve seen from him so far.
Shaw: Not at all. Don’t get me wrong the Cavs have looked very bad, no organized rotation with the bench, Kyrie and Dion not facilitating, LeBron on passive mode, and the horrifying defensive duo of Varejao and Love are all things they need to fix to be relevant later on. But then again you have to realize the Cavs are still playing in a less competitive Eastern Conference and only maybe the Grizzlies look like they have it all together right now (Houston and Golden State have injuries) so if you want to panic about the Cavs you might want to panic about most of the contenders in the NBA right now.