Tag Archives: Kevin Durant

Villainy V: The Reaper

Photo credit: Connor Ernst

https://www.behance.net/gallery/82949351/SLIM-REAPER?tracking_source=search_projects_published_date

By: Opinionated MJ (Michael Tolliver Jr)

For some reason, everyone hates you. You really could’ve been a Blazer but that wouldn’t have resulted in Lillard being a sure thing for your team. Everything would’ve been different. It is what it is. You could’ve stayed in OKC, only to still have to worry about being trusted in moments that decide games, albeit, by your own teammate. Burner account? So what. What they fail to realize is that you’re all basketball. That is the very thing that I respect the most.

They decided that your path to prominence wasn’t the path usually traveled. Everyone is upset because you lost after being up 3-1 and going to the team that beat yours. Well, Ray Allen cried on the podium and wanted to be coddled by management in order to return. Then, HE WENT TO MIAMI! You left. You allowed Russell Westbrook to spread his wings. The team traded away Harden and Serge anyway. Cheap perspective, if you ask me. The funny thing is, they thought less was more but those two players were key when fighting against the Spurs, Mavericks, Lakers, and Warriors. Even the Clippers and Grizzlies at the time as well. Hell, the entire conference. No way that it would’ve been an easy road to stay while the team kept sending away the very assets that swung a series.

You set out with direct sights on taking out LeBron. That’s a road that’s not traveled at all. Only you. Your desire to win was burning blue and you didn’t see Golden State as a legacy busting move, but a legacy setting one. You were right in your decision, at least to me. It will only be magnified as the years continue to pass. Everyone only looks at you and that team with ultimate fear. Haven’t really felt that since Jordan played. Even had people not wanting to think about playing you. IYKYK

They wanted you to stick it out alone or with Russ. That’s cool. I see it differently. Especially as a Kobe fan who endured going through the Achilles injury with him as well. I’m happy as hell you made the decision you did. To win. To dominate. You worked for those rings by approaching the finals with one goal in sight. You could see it in your eyes and body language. I seen it. Meanwhile, it seems everyone was caught up in saying to went to a 73 win team. The roster was not the same. That statement is not accurate. Also, you were up against LeBron. You WON! Was it fair when Bron, Wade, and Bosh teamed up and beat you for their first championship? Let me not get the trolls riled up by hitting them with facts.

I could only imagine what you were feeling when the general wouldn’t crown you as the best player in the world. I watched you instill fear in many. I watched you give an interview and go from 25 to damn near 50. You had a switch. I hope you still got it. It’s time to shut everyone up once and for all.

The most recent noise has been around your podcast. Kyrie this, Kyrie that. Everyone knows that you two are lock step. They’re now unloading pressure onto you two. For me, simply making it to the finals would be enough. You decided to come to the east thats full of fully grown players entering their primes, some still just outside of it by a year or so. Giannis, Ben Simmons, Embiid, Siakam, the Heat, Celtics, and I’ll throw the Magic in there because I think they’re a superstar away from truly fighting in the east. Right now, you’re the villain of the league. You’re the main attraction. I hope that you come back at least 85-90% of what you wre before you left. 100% would just simply be unfair. It’s time to take the NBA back to the morgue and remind them that you are the Slim Reaper. Rather you like that name or not. Embrace it.

The Tragedy of Kevin Durant

By: Opinionated Reezy (Ronald Stovall Jr)

Two-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist, six-time All-NBA First Team, eventual first ballot Hall of Famer and still seeking happiness. This is Kevin Durant and his tale is a tragic one as we watch it unfold in the NBA.

This is not a post discussing all the reasons why I believe Kevin Durant should be happy. I believe one should pursue happiness, but not that things and/or accomplishments cause or create it. Despite the recent moves over the past three years, Kevin Durant began to really be critical of his past landing spots and how, in some ways, he truly felt about his situation and those commenting on it.
The latest occurrence was the response to Magic Johnson who questioned where Kevin Durant would find happiness if he didn’t get it at Golden State. To quote, Horrible take. Just regurgitated bull—“, but was it really?

For starters, KD is not wrong in some of his assessments, especially when it comes to the fan base and media overall. The culture that fosters itself on memes, jokey-jokes, and reactionary analysis would make anyone believe they aren’t as good or in position for greatness as they should be. That said, he was relatively shielded by the bulk of the responsibility and criticism until he brought the attention to himself as the fan base provided conceivable justifications for his actions and even noticed his skillset enough to place him the greatest in the league category.

Even those who have been critical of Kevin Durant moves still hold respect for him as a player. That is more than can be said for other players in the league. There is no doubt that KD is a rare talent, so what could be the problem?

We haven’t seen this public display of vitriol in the player movement era from the actual player making the moves. This leads me think that KD may be dealing with a mild form of depression. I am not a doctor nor am I pretending to be one, but the signs are there, such as:

– Constantly switching positions on issues from an emotional perspective

– Going through the motions of how he perceives happy or satisfied people would respond to situations

– Never feeling connected or a part of the group

– Establishing multiple disconnected reasons why decisions are made

Therefore, after some thought, getting out of the limelight of Golden State and going to Brooklyn was the right move for him. While the definitive expectation at Golden State was to win no matter what, the expectation of Brooklyn fans would primarily be to contend. They are going to embrace him for the fact that he is there.

I have been specifically critical of Kevin Durant’s actions, but go back and look at the first paragraph. I am not harping on his failures, only his success. Like Kawhi, I have no need to continue past criticism unless pushed to do so and I hope the NBA community follows suit.

We know that mental illness is a part of the NBA, despite their ability to detect it, and while I would never call for soft glove treatment on an athlete, I believe we need to be mindful that these players are people and some are not in position for the thoughtless ridicule and comparisons that we heap on them. Its probably time that we chill and appreciate the game for what it is.

In Defense Of Kevin ….. Sometimes You Must Trust Your Instincts

By: Ronald Stovall Jr (Opinionated Reezy)

We all are coming off an emotional game, what should have been a close out game for some, the triumphant return game for others, but nonetheless a dynamic game!

I am an observer of people, I watch trends and behaviors and while there was prolonged timeline in this finals drama there was no excitement for the Warriors, no change of momentum, no concern for the Raptors. What was as a matter of fact was a necessary win, but for the wrong reasons! A hail Mary win to save the respect of the player who is Kevin Durant.

I have gone on record for not being a fan of Golden State, but I have gone on record for emphatically stating that I still respect what they do, but not today, at least not last night.

I heard the “..put your body on the line” comment from Steph Curry and it felt empty to me. I know with every fiber of my being he is concerned for Kevin Durant and he must be the Elder Stateman, but sometimes you need to tell the people how it is.

KD SHOULD NOT HAVE SET FOOT ON THAT COURT

This entire series the Golden State organization played the will he, won’t he game like this is the WWE and I grew disheartened, first at the disrespect being thrown at the Toronto Raptors with the long standing (L)Eastern Conference narrative, but then at Kevin Durant as I could imagine if there was a chance he could play he would have played early, pushed it, locked it up and moved on to pop the bubbly. Not all injuries are equal, not all bodies are equal and sometimes you must trust your instincts!

Yes, I was on record for going hard on Kawhi Leonard for the exact opposite, but that was after a year of therapy, a couple of attempts on the court during the regular season, multiple doctor visits, etc, etc. I stand by that and I stand by this, the Golden State Warriors as an organization screwed Kevin Durant because their pride wouldn’t let them go down.

I still stand by my stance on the way in which KD went to Golden State. It was a weak move that is unmatched and incomparable to anything else that has been done, despite the revisionist that are out there; however, he is a multi-time champion and I hate seeing anyone go down like that!

They may win in 7, although I doubt it. I don’t see the energy in them to push the Raptors to the brink, but if they do, this will be the one ring I, if no one else, will put an asterisk on. This is the one win that will be a pyrrhic victory if they are lucky enough to get it. It didn’t happen in the heat of battle like Isaiah Thomas and the Bad Boys where he was healthy going in and suffered the injury where you can rally behind his toughness, even in a loss.

This one was avoidable!

This one was unnecessary!

Y’all don’t need Kevin to win right?! Prove it then! Win or lose put it all on the table for your tarnished legacy, KD just literally gave you everything for it.

Photo Credit: European Press Photo Association

Will the Rockets Dethrone the Warriors?

By: Opinionated MJ (Michael Tolliver Jr)

Rematch set.
Rockets healthy? ☑
Warriors hobbling? ☑
Warriors without rest? ☑
Rockets focused? ☑

Game 1 will go to Houston unless KD has another big game in him. Of course he does. Then it will be about limiting the others. I watch plays. It’s something hard to do but easy to do when their rotation players are in the game. I hope Kerr is gameplanning cause the Rockets will be a threat to take the first 2 games, easy. Especially if Klay isn’t ready to go.

James Harden, defending MVP. Will he be able to be effective and get his teammates involved while also scoring big and in bunches? He’s still the player who gets the most calls. Imagine Draymond or Kevin getting 2 early fouls. It’ll be like the 2016 finals all over again.

Is Steph healthy enough to help Kevin force wins at home? That’s what this will be all about. The Warriors MUST protect home court or they will be in trouble. No other way to put it. If they drop any game and give away momentum, then we will see an upset. That will open up the entire league to a new champion. It doesn’t guarantee the Rockets anything. Just revenge. The Rockets need to control their emotions in this series. That’s the only thing I see as a problem. It won’t be easy.

Can’t wait to see it all unfold. I expect 7 games unless Durant has about 4 40 point games in him, ready to go. That could actually be Kerr’s plan with Steph hobbled a bit and Klay hurt to begin the series. Not a bad plan.

Stats vs. Effect: The Best Debate With the Poorest Examples (Part 1)

By: Opinionated Reezy (Ronald Stovall Jr.)

Before we begin, I know when people say effect, they mean impact, but for the purpose of the conversation I am going to stick with effect.

So the emerging debate in the basketball world is stats versus effect and I understand why that is, but we are using extremely poor examples on either side. I’ve seen posts on YouTube attacking NBA FG% Twitter, which I completely agree with, but when I saw my favorite station, ESPN, weigh in on the argument I couldn’t take it anymore. Here they go again trying to own both sides of the argument.

ESPN is notorious for using stats like crystal balls, which has diluted the impact of its usefulness and in turn most people rely on effect as a mystical means of determining success. Here is the reality:

Stats can not and will never be a sole predictor of future wins or success.

Effect does not always transfer between games and in all scenarios, it is a predictor of behavior and response.

Here is the secret – You can use stats to measure effect, but you must use the right ones and frame the narrative you are trying to tell.

Why are we getting this argument wrong?

We have been conditioned to see the game as efforts of individuals who all just happen to be on a team.

We have been conditioned to look at basic stats and not the full picture.

We haven’t been told what the stats are used for or how to properly use them.

We sensationalize certain player types and only look at one side of the ball.

We have been conditioned to believe that if our superstars did more, the results would be different.

We have been conditioned to only look at key aspects of a game and not the entire game.

How should we use stats?

If you are using stats it must be framed properly to explain a specific situation. Here is a bad example using the most improperly used stat ever the +/- rating.

What is the stat telling us? +/- rating tells us the point differential in the game while a player is on the court. That stat is useless in the moment as there are so many variables as to why a team is scoring or not scoring.

There was a segment on Undisputed where Skip Bayless was concluding that LeBron James just wasn’t good enough because his +/- rating was negative for a stretch of games. That is an empty narrative because it does not take into account what is happening on the floor.

The +/- rating is better used over a large segment of games, i.e. season or possessions to gain an understanding of tempo and scoring flow. It, however, cannot tell you if a team will be successful.

The next stat is P.E.R, Player efficiency Rating.

What is the stat telling us? P.E.R is an attempt at measuring a player’s efficiency on the court. That is it. John Hollinger even says so himself:

“Bear in mind that PER is not the final, once-and-for-all evaluation of a player’s accomplishments during the season”

I think we all know the infamous segment on first take where Skip Bayless tried to infer that Kobe Bryant wasn’t the Black Mamba because his P.E.R rating was in the 90’s and then Stephen A. went off. Stephen A. was 100% correct although he was arguing the point from an effect standpoint, a statistician will tell you:

You haven’t factored in the number of games Kobe played (or didn’t play) in comparison to everyone else on the list.

You haven’t factored in the number of shots Kobe took or overall production Kobe needed to create for the same level of success.

You haven’t factored in the previous success of the team Kobe is on.

In other words, P.E.R can absolutely tell you that Kobe Bryant at that time was less efficient than others, but P.E.R can not tell you that Kobe Bryant was less effective than others.

This is definitely a multi-part topic and both areas of discussion are absolutely valid, but years of poor use of stats has eroded its usefulness.

I’ll conclude part one with this – I said effect or effectiveness can be measured. Here is how:

Set the frame of reference for which you are making your statement, i.e. number of games, seasons, shots, possessions, etc.

Establish the direct statement you are looking at. Words like ‘better’ or ‘worse’ are relative so those are no good, efficient, effective, productive are better words.

Never use basic stats as the foundation of your argument and while you can speculate wins, stats, especially individual stats, are not to be used.

Taking everything into account. Using the stats of players this year between Golden State, Houston, and the Lakers who have taken more than 15 shot attempts per game here are your effective players in order

Steph Curry – by far

LeBron James

Kevin Durrant

James Harden – tie

Klay Thompson – tie

Kyle Kuzma

If I tighten my statement to include that the players must have played at least 80% (41) of games this year. I take LeBron James off the list. Prove me wrong.

KDNYC?

By: Opinionated MJ

Let’s say KD wins another championship this upcoming year? I think he’d stay with the Warriors for another year. That’s what makes logical sense, right? If he’s actually trying to compete to surpass LeBron. There’s also the chance that he matches LeBron and then goes to LA and teams up with him. Whoa, watch out league! There’s also another scenario. One that’s not talked about as much as others. Especially since the media has Kyrie in the spotlight in regards to what I’m about to say… Going to The Big Apple to play for the New York Knicks.

This alone could restore KD back to good graces in the eyes of many. Then again, what if those same Knicks became a superteam with him arriving? What if Kyrie joined a few days before? Would that still make KD look like he wants an easy road? It’s not the Golden State Warriors. So it can’t be that he’s chasing rings at that point. He’d also have new rivals. I’m sure the Celtics would still be strong. Maybe Kawhi stays a Raptor. The Sixers, Bucks, Pistons, and Wizards continue to be mainstays that continue to develop their youth and become much stiffer competition knowing that KD could come dominate the conference. They will fight to alter that. It could result in some battles that we’ve not seen in the east since the late 80s and 1990s.

This move would immediately disarm the Warriors. It may also allow for their competition to knock them off the throne. They’ll be fine knowing that they made it to the top before KD came which gives them hope if he was to leave. There’s a part of me that thinks DeMarcus Cousins is insurance for KD in case he leaves anyway.

The real question is this. New York City! Mecca! Are you all willing to accept KD coming from his situation in Oakland and coming to your team and taking you back to the playoffs? Does his past choices matter? Does his personality matter? Dumb questions? Well. What if KD comes there and fails? Will you boo him? Call him a snake? Say that he’s garbage and can only win with a superteam? Will you bury him just as quick as you would embrace him? We know NYC is tough as they come. If KD didn’t win in year 1, would you still love him? I’m only asking this cause Porzingis got booed when he was drafted. Personally, I think KD would be a great fit for the Knicks, with Fizdale, Porzingis, Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and the looming opportunity to also acquire Kyrie Irving. The culture has indeed changed.

Things are finally looking good again for New York. We need NYC back amongst the NBA’s elite team. I expect to see the Knicks progress towards that, this year! Good luck in the KD sweepstakes!

Kevin Durant To the Lakers 2019? Hear Me Out

I think Kevin Durant Matches LeBron’s Ring Total, Then Decides To Play Alongside Him.

By: Opinionated MJ

In the famous words of his ex-teammate Russell Westbrook, “Why Not”? I think that once we learned about the failed phone call LeBron made to KD, I believed that it potentially still had the makings of some type of team up down the road. We seen them hanging out shortly after. Let’s play in fantasy land a bit. We didn’t hear real news about KD just slamming him with a thunderous “NO”, so why not believe that maybe he told him he’d team up after he matched him? Food for thought!

KD could leave the Warriors, go to the Lakers and still maintain focus towards the following season once he becomes a Laker. The motivation will be simple: “Steph, Klay, Dray… They have 4 rings. I have to surpass them and take LeBron with me”. This could set KD up to usurp LeBron and the Warriors all at once. You defeat LeBron in the finals 3-1 individually. Then, you defeat the team you beat LeBron with, but this time you do it WITH LeBron. At least to the tune of 1 Championship more than them for all-time. LeBron’s ring count is elevated because of you after you eviscerate whoever is on the opposite team and you become the reason why LeBron got closer to Kobe and Jordan in ring total. Maybe even surpassing them both.

This really could be the only way Durant receives the level of acceptance that could keep him from continuously taking shots at random people on Twitter. Laker fans could defend him if he brought titles to LA. This could also go down as one of the greatest stories in NBA history. Beat the mighty Warriors and potentially have another showdown with their bitter rival, the Boston Celtics. This would be great theater, great history, and great for basketball.

Think about it.

MoneYBaLL Episode 8 NBA Podcast: Position-less NBA Future

Position-less NBA Future

LeBron, Giannis, KD, and more!

Featuring NilClassic & Opinionated MJ

https://opbbm.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/moneyball8_1218_omjnc.mp3

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MoneYBaLL Episode 6 NBA Podcast

 

Episode 6 with Opinionated MJ & NilClassic

 

 

LeBron, Kyrie, Celtics and more!

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Terror James (LeBron) Will Win the 2018 MVP Award

By: Opinionated MJ

2018 could be havoc for the NBA, especially the Eastern Conference. I want to start by predicting that LeBron James will win the 2018 NBA MVP award. I also want to add that I handed LeBron the nickname “Terror” while watching him play against the Indiana Pacers during the 2017 playoffs. He’s very imposing to those who easily fold. We seen the teams falter and fold that stands in his way. Only two or three teams out east will be able to compete with him and his Cleveland Cavaliers. Those teams include Boston, Washington and Miami. I don’t think anyone else stands a chance.

Getting back to the MVP talk, let’s take a look at who may stand in his way.

Kevin Durant

I had him as my MVP last year until he got injured. He had fixed all of the shortcomings that were expected of the Golden State Warriors. Everyone expected them to fall apart on the defensive end and for their bench to not be as potent as usual. They expected him to bump heads with Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson on the way to hijacking the team from them. He did the exact opposite and also became a more efficient player on both sides of the floor. This year, I expect the Warriors will play an even more balanced style and this alone will eliminate him from beating LeBron for the MVP award.

Kawhi Leonard

We all expect Kawhi to continue to do what he does on both ends of the floor. He’s already been a defensive player of the year multiple times and has been the engine, body, and wheels for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have added Rudy Gay and I anticipate that this may cause a decrease in scoring for Kawhi, although, it may actually give him easier opportunities on the floor and allow him to be more efficient. What’s truly stopping him from winning. You’ll see why when I get to explaining why LeBron will.

Russell Westbrook

The Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired Paul George and many expect that Russell’s numbers will take a dip. I actually expect him to maintain his numbers. He’ll be able to be more efficient and rely on someone to pick up the load when he burns out as we finally seen in the playoffs. This also gives Russell another player to facilitate to cause this is clearly Russell’s team. I’m still anticipating 30, 8, and 11 assists this year from Russell. Still great nonetheless. Again, I’ll explain how LeBron still still overcome another great year from Russell as well.

James Harden

Two words, Chris Paul. Enough said.

Why LeBron will win

LeBron has new teammates, has a few challenges to face in order to keep Cleveland afloat. They’ll be awaiting Isaiah Thomas to be at full health. They’ll have the injury prone Derrick Rose on the floor alongside him and he’ll most likely start at point guard to begin the season. Both not Kyrie Irving, which adds to how LeBron will be able to win the award.

LeBron does not have another superstar next to him and could actually help every player increase their efficiency and numbers this year playing alongside him. I think Isaiah will take a scoring hit but will still be more efficient with LeBron having most of the attention from opponents to free him up offensively. I’ll also add that LeBron will have to be a defensive anchor for this team now. I know they added Jae Crowder, but he actually declined a bit on defense last year.

The Cavs will now be able to feature Kevin Love in a more prominent role with Kyrie gone and Isaiah out early on. Expect a rise in his numbers courtesy of LeBron. I also believe that LeBron still be hyper motivated considering how Kyrie left, how much social media hate he’s been receiving, how much criticism he’s been receiving from sports analysts, and simply because now, not only do the Warriors stand in his way, but another true rival has arrived. His old rival, the Boston Celtics who now host Kyrie Irving. Hypothetically, LeBron is also in a contract year. He will deliver. You can bet on that.

All factors considered, I expect “Terror” James to land the MVP award for this upcoming season for all the reasons above. I also believe that he will have to be more of a coach on the floor with this new team while developing new chemistry and keeping his team ahead in the win column. Coach Lue will finally be exposed. He’s either a good coach or a LeBron figurehead. LeBron’s numbers should be similar to last year but it’ll be the storyline and the seeding that’ll determine rather he receives the award or not. What better story could there be for this year? My early prediction is that LeBron will win this MVP.