Sprung: What Has Gone Right and Wrong for Eastern Conference Contenders

NBA-Eastern-Conference

For the first time in roughly two decades, the Eastern Conference is better than the Western Conference from top to bottom. Nine East teams are at .500 or better – nearly twice as many teams as last season, when sixth-seeded Milwaukee finished 41-41. And the East actually has a winning record against the West this season at 100-98 What changed so quickly from last season, when articles were written about how there was the greatest disparity in conference strength in recent memory? “I

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Scotto: 2016 NBA New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's Resolution Calendar

The Golden State Warriors’ historic start, led by Stephen Curry’s MVP campaign, and Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour have captured the headlines so far this season. We saw LaMarcus Aldridge become the biggest free agent to change teams and Kevin McHale became the first coach to get fired in Houston. Will Kevin Durant leave the Thunder this summer? Will Jeff Hornacek become the first coach fired in 2016? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. A new calendar year will bring more coaching changes,

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Sprung: Joe Johnson’s Sudden, Precipitous Decline Haunts Nets

Joe Johnson face Game 2

When asked recently about the trade value of Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson, one Western Conference scout summed it up in six brutally painful words: “He makes a lot of money.” After 15 NBA seasons and seven All-Star appearances, the 34-year-old Johnson has turned from a very good basketball player into just another contract a team can’t wait to get off its books. Mercifully for Brooklyn, Johnson’s contract expires at the end of this season. When it’s all said and done in Brooklyn—

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Towns, Porzingis, Okafor lead most impactful rookie class in 5 years

NBADraft

If you’ve noticed that this year’s rookie class is being talked about and praised around the league and in the media, there’s good reason for that.  This year’s top five picks— Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell, Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis and Orlando’s Mario Hezonja— are making a larger early impact than any top-five group in at least a half decade. A detailed statistical analysis of top five picks over the last five years shows that over the first two

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Bernucca: Paul George Isn’t The Same Player Anymore. He’s Way Better

Paul George

Do you remember what Paul George was like before his gruesome injury? Do you remember the 2013 playoffs, when he showed everyone how much better he was than supposed MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony? Do you remember how he accepted and met the challenge of defending LeBron James in those Pacers-Heat playoff wars? And how much respect James had for him? Well, Paul George isn’t that player anymore. He’s better. [Read more…]

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Sprung: Pelicans’ Ish Smith Making Most of Unexpected Opportunity

Ish-Smith

On Saturday, Oct. 24, three days before the start of the NBA regular season, 27-year-old guard Ish Smith was finishing up the Washington Wizards’ final preseason practice as he and his teammates prepared for Wednesday’s season opener in Orlando. Then, like he had five times before in his career, Smith got cut. Smith was one of five players on non-guaranteed contracts waived by Washington that day, an all-too-familiar occurrence for a player who spent his previous five seasons on eight different NBA

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Gibson: Jan Vesely reinventing himself as a center in Turkey

Vesely1

In NBA circles, Jan Vesely is considered a bust. The Wizards took the athletic Czech power forward with the sixth pick in the 2011 NBA draft to catch lobs from John Wall and become part of a young core with tons of potential. It did not go according to plan. He would notoriously airball his first NBA free throw attempt, and that set the tone for a rocky rookie year. He averaged 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 19 minutes per

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Five Things To Watch: Washington Wizards

John Wall Bradley Beal Wizards

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Washington Wizards are entering their second consecutive season with high expectations. Following another exit in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Wizards believe that they are capable of competing against any team in the NBA. With a superstar point guard, a rising star at shooting guard and a veteran supporting cast, the Wizards have all the makings of a team that will compete for a top seed in the East. Believe it or

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