NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

Now that Summer League has passed, rosters are being filled out and roles are being competed for as we get closer to training camp. How will each rookie drafted in June produce and who has the potential to become a star in the NBA?

 

 

60Kostas Antetokounmpo – Dallas Mavericks

Kostas playing for Dallas in the NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/theundefeated.com

 

The younger brother of NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was Mr. Irrelevant in this year’s draft after he was taken 60th overall and acquired by the Dallas Mavericks. The 20-year old has length and athleticism giving him some defensive potential, but he’s far from ready to contribute very much for the Mavs. While it seems like a long shot, his older brother came in with the same build and skillset, which could be an encouraging sign for Dallas.

PPG: 2.2   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.5   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

 

59. George King – Phoenix Suns 

King being introduced as a Sun.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.com

 

59th pick King just recently signed a two-way deal with Phoenix. The G/F out of Colorado is a little older, already being 24 years old, but he’s well developed defensively and could potentially be a solid 3 and D option for the Suns soon. His skillset is similar to two other young forwards on the team, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges, so King may not see much playing time with Phoenix, however he could carve out a career on another team if he shows well in the G-League and in small stints with the Suns early in his career.

PPG: 3.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: P.J. Tucker

 

 

58. Thomas Welsh – Denver Nuggets

Welsh after making a play for UCLA.

Photo Credit/bruinsnation.com

 

Welsh is another one of the late picks that will spend most of their first pro season in the G-League. The 22-year old out of UCLA has a solid mid-range game and interior defensive ability, but he’ll be a career bench player if he makes it in the league. His lack of athleticism lowers his potential quite a bit and it’d be hard for him to keep up with the strength and quickness of other centers in the NBA.

PPG: 2.7   RPG. 2.2   APG: 0.3   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

 

 

57. Kevin Hervey – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hervey dribbling up the court in college.

Photo Credit/midmajormadness.com

 

Coming out of a less prestigious university in Arlington, Texas, Hervey joins an OKC team currently contending in the West after resigning Paul George. After losing Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder need someone to come in and be an offensive option at the 4, which is exactly what they get with Hervey. He’s got size at 6’8″ and is a great spot up shooter having been a top scorer in college. His shot creation and defense are sub-par but a less ball-dominant, younger Melo-Type player could be what OKC needs to get home court advantage in the Western Conference again. While he may not be the most talented or youngest in the draft, Hervey is a great fit for the Thunder.

PPG: 6.2   RPG: 2.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: T.J. Warren

 

 

56. Ray Spalding – Dallas Mavericks

Spalding hyping up the crowd after a play.

Photo Credit/thecardinalconnect.com

 

Out of troubled Louisville, Spalding comes to Dallas in the Philadelphia trade involving Kostas Antetokounmpo. Both players have similar builds as Spalding is 6’11” with a reported weight of 215 ibs. The 21-year old will have to put on weight and get stronger to get substantial minutes with the Mavs. He should get some playing time in rebuilding Dallas but he’s not one of the focal young Mavericks just yet.

PPG: 4.6   RPG: 2.1. APG: 0.4   SPG: 0.2   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Deyonta Davis

 

 

55. Arnoldas Kulboka – Charlotte Hornets

Kulboka dribbling up the court.

Photo Credit/therunsports.com

 

Kulboka is a Lithuanian small forward with size at 6’10” who’s rights are currently to the Charlotte Hornets. He’s a talent overseas and is still young at 20 years old, however he’s a prototypical draft and stash and won’t be coming over to the states this year.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Mindaugas Kuzminskas

 

 

54. Shake Milton – Philadelphia 76ers

Milton still with SMU.

Photo Credit/denverstiffs.com

 

Milton has also signed a two-way deal with Philly and the point guard should see almost all season in the G-League with T.J. McConnell coming back to back up Ben Simmons. Where the SMU product separates himself from other PG’s in the draft is his size. Only Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander can compete with his height. If Milton has good year in the G-League it wouldn’t be surprising to see Milton behind Ben Simmons on the depth chart in a few years to back up size with shooting and size.

PPG: 2.1   RPG: 1.3   APG: 1.7   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Isaiah Whitehead

 

 

53. Devon Hall – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hall on offense at Virginia.

Photo Credit/streakingthelawn.com

 

Out of Virginia, 23-year old Hall is in an interesting situation to start out his career. With OKC starting 2 Andre Roberson going down for the year last season, his recovery and shooting struggles could open up playing time at the position. The versatile 6’6″ rookie Hall will likely compete with Terrance Ferguson for minutes at shooting guard and should win out as he’s currently more developed defensively and as a shooter. If things fall his way, Hall could see several opportunities in his rookie year with the Thunder.

PPG: 5.1   RPG: 2.3   APG: 1.6   SPG: 1.0   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Josh Hart

 

 

52. Vince Edwards – Houston Rockets

Edwards driving to the rim in college.

Photo Credit/purduesports.com

 

Acquired by the Rockets from Utah on draft night, Purdue product Edwards may see a bigger role this year than previously expected. After Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute moved on to different teams in free agency, Houston is looking grim on the wing, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Edwards is 6’8″ with a wingspan upwards of 7’0″ who can guard multiple positions. With the addition of Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets will need some defensive relief from Melo and could bring in Edwards for Anthony to provide for that. If Melo isn’t shooting well to start the season, don’t be surprised to see Vince Edwards take over the minutes for Anthony, barring a James Johnson trade.

PPG: 4.1   RPG: 2.2   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

51. Tony Carr – New Orleans Pelicans

Carr dribbling up the court for Penn State.

Photo Credit/yardbarker.com

 

After New Orleans took Penn State guard Tony Carr with the 51st pick, the raw 20-year old has signed a contract to play overseas in Italy to begin his career. He won’t be playing for the Pelicans this season.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A    APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Jordan Crawford

 

 

50. Alize Johnson – Indiana Pacers

Johnson in NBA Summer League for the Pacers.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

The Pacers take Missouri State forward Alize Johnson with the 50th pick in the draft. Jimmy Butler look-alike-Johnson is a big energy guy with potential to be versatile and tough on defense which is perfect for Indiana right now. With a scorer in a Oladipo and rim protector in Myles Turner, the team needed a strong, defense wing to complement the two. Johnson could be a steal for the Pacers and possible replacement for the aging Thaddeus Young.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 4.0   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: JaMychal Green

 

 

49. Chimezie Metu – San Antonio Spurs

Metu after a play.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Out of Los Angeles, Metu has explosive athleticism for a big man which San Antonio is lacking greatly. At 6’10”, Metu could develop into a solid defender with a good, energetic inside game. He’ll begin his career behind Aldridge and Bertans for the Spurs. He’ll contrast the older, less athletic big men on the roster well.

PPG: 3.3   RPG: 2.7   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 1.1

NBA Comparison: Noah Vonleh

 

48. Keita Bates-Diop – Minnesota Timberwolves

Bates-Diop for Ohio State.

Photo Credit/landof10.com

 

After entering the draft post-huge year at Ohio State, Bates-Diop had a monster Summer League, starring for the Wolves. The 22-year old could be the backup small forward for Minnesota this year. As Andrew Wiggins continues to struggle shooting the ball, it’ll be interesting to see what the Timberwolves can do with Bates-Diop’s defensive potential and 7’3″ wingspan.

PPG: 7.1   RPG: 3.4   APG: 1.2   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

47. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Los Angeles Lakers

Mykhailiuk during NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/silverscreenandroll.com

 

Mykhailiuk had a great summer league with the Lakers after being taken 47th out of Kansas. The 21-year old Ukrainian can play the 2 or 3 and could challenge KCP and Josh Hart for minutes. Mykhailiuk will surely get an opportunity as the beginning of the season will be a feeling out period for LeBron and the Lakers.

PPG: 3.7   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Tony Snell

 

 

46. De’Anthony Melton – Houston Rockets

Melton shooting a layup for USC.

Photo Credit/247sports.com

 

Melton is a raw point guard out of USC at 20 years old. With Houston currently chasing Golden State in the West, it’s likely we won’t see too much of Melton to start out his career as he’ll be behind Chris Paul on the depth chart, however the young guard has loads of potential and is a rare young piece on the Rockets roster.

PPG: 2.4   RPG: 1.1   APG: 1.6   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Tyus Jones

 

 

 

Click Here: The Raptors Need To Blow it Up

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NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

With the 2018 NBA playoffs set to start today, what are the first round matchups and who will be moving on to the conference semifinals?

 

 

Durant and Curry after last year's playoffs.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

 

Eastern Conference:

(1) Toronto Raptors vs. (8) Washington Wizards

Derozan and Wall during a free throw.

Photo Credit/raptorshq.com

 

The first place Raptors will take on Washington in the first round this year. Toronto, who’ve never been the number one seed in the postseason, will be looking for more than just a first round win this year. The story here is the matchup of the two elite guards for each team. The experienced and talented backcourt tandems will look to better the other. While Toronto is much deeper than Washington, the Wizards may find a spark in their team with John Wall’s return. Still though, despite their postseason troubles, the Raptors will take this one.

Prediction: Toronto Raptors; 4-1

 

 

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers

James backing down Oladipo.

Photo Credit/zimbio.com

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had their regular season struggles yet again this season, barely hanging on to a home playoff spot in the East. Right behind them, the revamped Indiana Pacers stunned the whole league as Victor Oladipo came home and turned in his first All-Star year in the league. While it’s tempting to pick the Pacers to make the upset and defeat the defending conference champions, the Cavs still have LeBron James and it’d be surprising to see a young team take down The King still in his prime. Cleveland may struggle but they should be fine here.

Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers; 4-1

 

 

(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Miami Heat

Simmons chasing down a ball in front of Whiteside.

Photo Credit/nbcsports.com

 

Finally back in the playoffs, Philly will need Ben Simmons to carry them through the first round without Joel Embiid. The team recently reinforced their back court by getting Markelle Fultz back from injury who could even start beside Simmons against the Heat. If Simmons stays on the roll he’s on, they’re gonna be hard for Miami to stop. While the Heat are again in the postseason, they have no real star expect for possibly Goran Dragic but that’s a stretch. While Whiteside may be a top NBA center, Erik Spoelstra doesn’t play him like one. Although, without Embiid this round, he could be a factor. Either way, the Sixers should handle this easily.

Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers; 4-0

 

 

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis and Horford fighting over a rebound.

Photo Credit/celticsblog.com

 

This will be one of the more interesting matchups of the playoffs. Though Boston again looked elite this year, they’re now without their two All-Stars, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Though they’re still one of the deepest teams in the playoffs, Giannis and the Bucks have a talented enough offensive lineup to take down the Celtics. Al Horford now becomes the best player on Boston’s available team and several young stars will have to step up for the Celtics to have a chance. Never doubt Brad Stevens but with Antetokounmpo playing like an MVP along with Middleton and Bledsoe, Milwaukee is the favorite here.

Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks; 4-2

 


 

Western Conference:

(1) Houston Rockets vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves

Butler driving on Harden.

Photo Credit/cbsaustin.com

 

After getting Jimmy Butler back just a few games ago, Minnesota downed the Nuggets Wednesday to clinch a postseason birth for the first time since KG was there. While making it is an accomplishment in the West, they’ll be running into a buzzsaw in Houston in the first round. With likely MVP James Harden and future hall of famer Chris Paul, It’ll be a tough series for the Wolves. Karl- Anthony Towns will need to show he has an ability to excel against Clint Capela down low and Andrew Wiggins will have to shoot above 40% from 3 for the Timberwolves to have a chance. Even then, it’s unlikely they get past The Beard.

Prediction: Houston Rockets; 4-1

 

 

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Utah Jazz

Mitchell guarding Westbrook.

Photo Credit/thehoopdoctors.com

 

After OKC barely grabbed a home postseason spot at the four seed, they’ll attempt to take down rookie standout Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. While the Thunder have the big names and star power, Utah has quietly crept up the Western Conference standings in the toughest division in basketball and has the shooting, defense and chemistry to make some noise in the postseason. If Mitchell catches fire and Gobert continues his dominance on the defensive end, winning the matchup with Steven Adams, look for the Jazz to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Utah Jazz; 4-3

 

 

(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans

Lillard shooting a layup over Davis.

Photo Credit/oregonlive.com

 

After MVP caliber seasons from both these team’s stars, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard, the two will duke it out in the first round of the playoffs. With the loss of Boogie Cousins earlier in the year, Davis will have to do it all for the Pelicans and hope Jrue Holiday can handle backcourt duties. For Portland, they’ll rely on their two offensive weapons in the backcourt, Lillard and McCollum, to carry the load. With the roll the Blazers have been on, it’s tough to see New Orleans having enough on offense or being able to stop Portland’s explosive guards.

Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers; 4-2

 

 

(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs

Durant driving to the basket against the Spurs.

Photo Credit/cbssports.com

 

With no Curry or Leonard, the excitement that would’ve come with this series after last year’s controversial matchup isn’t as strong. San Antonio always seems to have a shot in every series they play, but they don’t have the offensive firepower to compete with Golden State. Lamarcus Aldridge is by far their best scorer but he isn’t versatile enough to concern Warriors defenders. As long as KD and Klay can catch fire at times and Golden State can prevent sneaky runs by the Spurs they should breeze through this one.

Prediction: Golden State Warriors; 4-0

 

 

 

Luka Doncic Scouting Report Here:

Marvin Bagley III Scouting Report Here:

DeAndre Ayton Scouting Report Here:

With Boogie Out, do the Pelicans Move Davis?

Due to the DeMarcus Cousins recent achilles injury, it’s possible the Pelicans are considering finding a trade partner for Anthony Davis. While the move would be drastic for the franchise, what are some packages New Orleans should look at if they do prefer to deal their superstar?

 

 

Davis running up the court.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

 

Anthony Davis is still 24 years young and is capable of dominating a game at the power forward position, but with upcoming FA DeMarcus Cousins out for the year, coupled with Davis’ notorious injury history, the Pelicans should at least field offers from interested teams. AD is obviously a generational player and even with the current circumstances in New Orleans, he’ll be tough to pry from the Big Easy. Here’s a look at some possible trade packages  for Davis.

 

 

Ainge Finally Unloads the Boston Draft Picks:

Davis dunking; Tatum looking on. (split picture)

Photo Credit/cbsboston.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, Darius Miller

Celtics Give: Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Al Horford, 2018 1st round pick (Lakers)/2019 1st round pick (Kings)

 

In this trade, the Celtics gather one of the best big 3s in NBA history which will consist of Irving, Hayward, and Davis by next year, also welcoming home Rajon Rondo to come off the bench. In return for their superstar, the Pelicans begin a rebuild around young star Jayson Tatum, also acquiring 23-year old guard Terry Rozier. Al Horford makes this trade possible financially but can also mentor some of the younger guys that’ll be the focus of a more youthful New Orleans team.

 

 

Phoenix Gets Booker Some Help:

Booker celebrating after a shot.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Darius Miller

Suns Give: T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, 2018 1st round pick (Heat), 2018 1st round pick (Bucks), 2021 1st round pick (Heat)

 

Here, the Suns ensure Devin Booker stays in Phoenix for a bit by getting him another star player to make a run at the playoffs with. Phoenix gives up on their two young small forwards Warren and Jackson and move PF Chriss with AD coming to town. The Suns will have to dish out several draft picks to New Orleans as they don’t have a surefire cornerstone prospect like Boston that they’d be willing to trade.

 

 

AD to NYC:

Davis being guarded by 3 Nets.

Photo Credit/zimbio.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Jameer Nelson, Ian Clark, Darius Miller

Nets Give: Jahlil Okafor, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, 2018 1st round pick (Raptors), 2018 2nd round pick (Pacers), 2019 2nd round pick (Knicks)

 

In this one, the Pelicans will have to put their trust in some of the young guys from Brooklyn and hope they can develop into the players they look like they have a chance be. Dinwiddie excelled with Russell out and could be a solid backcourt player for the future in New Orleans. RHJ and LeVert are the real gems here besides the draft picks as they have outside chances of being above average starters in the league. A combo of Russell and Davis in the East would be dangerous and speed up the rebuild in Brooklyn.

 

 

Sixers Create a Frontcourt for the Ages; Give up on Fultz:

Davis and Embiid fighting over the ball.

Photo Credit/thebirdwrites.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Tony Allen

Sixers Give: Amir Johnson, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, 2018 2nd round pick (Rockets), 2019 1st round pick, 2020 1st round pick, 2020 2nd round pick (Mavs), 2021 2nd round pick (Knicks)

 

This trade would create one of the most dominant frontcourts in NBA history with Davis and Embiid. The Sixers would rocket themselves up to title contention here, though giving up a few young prospects and several draft picks. The disappointing start to Markelle Fultz’s career in Philly comes to a close as he’s shipped to New Orleans with rookie standout Dario Saric.

 

 

Davis Comes Home:

Davis dunking on Markannen.

Photo Credit/thebirdsaves.com

 

Pelicans give: Anthony Davis, Omer Asik

Bulls Give: Nikola Mirotic, Lauri Markannen, Justin Holiday, 2018 1st round pick, 2019 1st round pick

 

If the Bulls were to get involved in the AD sweepstakes, they’d likely need to unload their promising young forward Lauri Markannen, giving the Pelicans a new big man to center the team around. This also gives Nikola Mirotic a chance to get away from the Bulls while Justin Holiday will join his brother in the New Orleans backcourt. The big story here is AD heading back to his hometown Chicago and becoming a part of the high-flying Bulls with Zach LaVine.

 

 

 

Click: Why Paul George Would Ruin the Lakers

Report Cards for Every Team Halfway Through the NBA Season (Eastern Conference)

Report Cards for Every Team Halfway Through the NBA Season (Eastern Conference)

We have reached the halfway point of the NBA season. LeBron James continues to put up MVP numbers, the Golden State Warriors sit atop the Western Conference, and most of the same bottom-feeding teams already find themselves fighting for the top pick. With that being said, SFE is here to break down the opening stanza of the NBA season and grade each team’s performance heading into the second half starting with the Eastern Conference.

 

Atlanta Hawks

The expectations were not very high for the 2017-2018 Atlanta Hawks as this season was the beginning of a rebuild. Top players Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap departed in the offseason leaving behind Dennis Schroder and an unproven supporting cast. Schroder has put up decent numbers as well as Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince providing serviceable production on the wing. John Collins has also been very impressive in his first year in the NBA averaging 11 PPG and 7 RPG thus far. Still, this Hawks team sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and will look to grab one of the many talented players at the top of the draft.

1st Half Grade: D+

 

Image Credit: nba.com

 

Boston Celtics

So far, Kyrie Irving has looked pretty comfortable being the franchise player on a contending team. He’s averaging 24 PPG and 5 APG and with help from a good supporting cast including Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics sit at 33-10 atop the East. Tatum has really stepped up his game in his rookie season, Brown has improved his outside his shot, and Boston has some nice pieces off the bench with Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Morris. While LeBron James’ Cavaliers look to reach the NBA Finals yet again, the young core of Irving-Tatum-Brown will make things very interesting for years to come.

1st Half Grade: A

 

Brooklyn Nets

The story of the 2017-2018 Brooklyn Nets changed after the first game of the NBA season. After finishing with the worst record in the NBA last season, Brooklyn looked to lean on veteran Jeremy Lin as well as the talented youngster D’Angelo Russell. Well, it turned out that these two would not be the story as both have spent their seasons on the sidelines. Lin is out for the season and Russell has played in only 12 games. With these injuries becoming a factor, it forced some young players to take on bigger roles. Point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have grown into some pretty good NBA players. Brooklyn will look to Dinwiddie, RHJ, and the rest of their young players to keep improving as the rebuild continues.

1st Half Grade: C

 

Charlotte Hornets

This Hornets team has to be one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season. Kemba Walker has been doing his thing once again (22 PPG, 6 APG) and Dwight Howard is averaging a double-double in his first season in Charlotte. All the signs would point to this Hornets team as a trendy playoff team in a weak Eastern Conference but it hasn’t worked out. This isn’t a very good passing team and they can’t let the ball get stuck in Walker or Howard’s hands every possession. Charlotte’s role players will need to gel with Howard and be much more consistent in the second half to compete for a playoff spot.

1st Half Grade: D

 

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are one of the very few teams that sit just about where we thought they would be midway through the season. Albeit not in a good position, but it was clear to see this team is in a rebuild. Chicago looks like one of the more underrated young cores with an improved Kris Dunn, Justin Holiday, and rookie Lauri Markkanen. With Nikola Mirotic back from his injury (punched in the face) and Zach LaVine about to return, the new-look Bulls will be both fun to watch and have a top ten pick.

1st Half Grade: C+

 

Image Credit: thesource.com

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

For the last seven years, the Eastern Conference has been LeBron James’ playground, reaching an unprecedented seven straight NBA Finals. Now at age 33, he is still at his career averages of 27 PPG, 8 RPG, and 9 APG and even playing point guard until Isaiah Thomas’ recent return. Kevin Love looks to have found his All-Star form and Dwyane Wade has resurged playing with LeBron again. Currently, James and the Cleveland Cavaliers sit in the third seed behind the surprising Toronto Raptors and former Cavalier Kyrie Irving’s Boston Celtics. We do know their so-so record doesn’t reflect their place in the Eastern Conference and Cleveland is using this stretch to gel with Thomas and prepare for the playoffs.

1st Half Grade: B

 

Detroit Pistons

Off of a hot start, Detroit found themselves in a seven game losing streak which stopped their early momentum. Still, this Pistons team is sitting in the 7 seed and has to be content with their 1st half. The starting five has been tremendous most of the season, led by Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond, and trade acquisition Avery Bradley. The X-Factor will be if Detroit can get consistency from their bench down the stretch. Should this team make the playoffs, they would not be a tough out. The Avery Bradley move could prove to be very important as he brings great perimeter defense. Drummond will need to make his free throws though.

1st Half Grade: B

 

Indiana Pacers

Another team that has to like where they sit currently is the Indiana Pacers. The story in Indiana is clearly the emergence of Victor Oladipo. Taking over as the go-to guy for Paul George, Oladipo is averaging 25-5-4 and leading the Pacers to the 8 seed thus far. Oladipo and center Domantas Sabonis playing well, it looks as though the Pacers have won the trade to this point. This team also shows good depth, with six players averaging double figures. The next step for this team is for Myles Turner to take the next step if they want to compete this season.

1st Half Grade: B+

 

Miami Heat

And here’s ANOTHER team that loves where they’re at to this point. In the first half, Miami has taken advantage of some disappointing Eastern Conference teams on their way to the 4 seed. The Heat have used a balanced scoring attack and suffocating defense to fuel a strong first half. Currently with eight double digit scorers, anyone can beat you on any given night. However, heading into a playoff push, Miami will need someone to step up as the go-to guy. This could be Goran Dragic, Hasaan Whiteside, or even Dion Waiters. All in all, Miami has to love where they’re at but they will need to stay consistent to host a playoff series.

1st Half Grade: A-

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has taken the next step we all knew was coming. The Greek Freak is currently averaging 29-10-5 and is a clear-cut MVP candidate. Alongside him are wing Khris Middleton and the super athletic Eric Bledsoe, giving them somewhat of a “Big Three”. The talent hasn’t really translated into a top team in the East leaving them with a 22-18 record. A playoff spot is a near lock, but fans in Milwaukee should be wanting more which starts with consistency. While the Greek Freak deserves an A, the Bucks as a team have been slightly disappointing.

1st Half Grade: C

 

Image Credit: espn.com

 

New York Knicks

The problems in New York were very clear. Aside from the GM/Ownership’s inability to quality players to New York, the Knicks needed to move on from Carmelo Anthony. His ball dominance was stunting Kristaps Porzingis’ growth and not helping win games anyways. Now that this is KP’s team, we have seen glimpses of what this team can become. Porzingis is averaging 24-7 while handling all the publicity in New York while a plethora of role players are helping contribute. Heck, even Michael Beasley looks serviceable. Unlike in previous years, the Knicks have a real future with KP, Frank Ntilikina, and Enes Kanter leading the way. With that being said, they are not ready this year.

1st Half Grade: C+

 

Orlando Magic

Life is difficult for me as an Orlando Magic fan. It just seems like this franchise plays their way to being just outside the top 3 pick in the draft every year. Aaron Gordon when healthy has looked as close to a star as Orlando has (19 PPG, 8 RPG) and free agent acquisition Jonathon Simmons has been a good pickup. Health has been the biggest issue for Orlando as the entire starting five hasn’t played together in months. The Magic look like they need to trade one of Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, or Elfrid Payton and shake this roster up because they still aren’t close.

1st Half Grade: D

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have lived up to the hype and look like perennial All-Stars. Although, first round pick Markelle Fultz hasn’t touched the floor since the first week of the season. The Sixers’ young core (Simmons, Embiid, Saric, Covington, Fultz) appear to be a year away. While “trusting the process” has almost payed its dividends, the Sixers need to learn how to consistently win. Alongside Simmons and Embiid, Philly has some veterans in JJ Redick and Amir Johnson to help the youngsters through the second half. I had them as a borderline playoff team as they are so it will be interesting to see how they play in the second half.

1st Half Grade: B-

 

Image Credit: TSN

 

Toronto Raptors

“The Six” should be very happy with their hometown team’s first half. The Raptors are 28-11 and have a 14-2 record at home this season, a start that Toronto fans had been hoping for for years. DeMar DeRozan could be a darkhorse  MVP candidate, averaging 25-4-5 alongside the core of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Complementing the big three, Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, and CJ Miles have been playing very well and converting close games into wins. The question in Toronto is of course: Can they play at a high level into the postseason?

1st Half Grade: A

 

Washington Wizards

The Nation’s capital has been one of the most unlucky markets in sports with little postseason success in recent years. The Wizards have been no different, representing one of the Eastern Conference teams that can’t get over the hump in the playoffs (somewhat due to LeBron). John Wall is doing what he does averaging 19-9 and Bradley Beal is averaging a career-high 24 PPG. Although, Washington hasn’t made any necessary moves to get over the hump and it is showing in their record. Sitting in the 5 seed, the Wiz have been beating good teams but not taking care of business against sub-.500 teams. Something needs to change if they want to ever get to the Finals.

1st Half Grade: C-