Grizzlies owner Robert Pera may sell the team to the minority owners

Not only did star big man Marc Gasol have tension with former head coach Dave Fizdale but the owners are reportedly in a dispute as well.

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Watch LeBron James get ejected for the first time in his career (VIDEO)

LeBron James had never been rung from an NBA game until Tuesday night. Then, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were throttling the Miami Heat on NBATV, that all changed.

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Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

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NBA Award Predictions: Defensive Player Of The Year

My personal favorite of all the NBA awards, the Defensive Player Of The Year award honors the players who do the dirty work on their respective teams and go the extra mile to secure a win. 

Winners of this award include some of the greatest players this game has ever seen in Dennis Rodman, Kevin Garnett, Michael Jordan, Dikembe Mutombo, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Eventually, we will be able to include Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green on that list, but for now, they haven’t yet earned their stripes. So let’s take a look at who has a chance at winning this award in the 2017-18 season:

Kawhi Leonard

Already a 2x winner of this award, Kawhi Leonard has quickly become the poster boy for this award. Not only is Leonard a magician on the defensive end, but he is by far the best in the league at turning defense into offense. Last season, Leonard averaged nearly two steals a game along with 0.7 blocks a game and was tasked with guarding the NBA’s best players each and every night.

Leonard even won the 2014 NBA Finals MVP due to his preposterous defense on Lebron James, the greatest basketball player on the planet today. In the past, Leonard has also led the league in steals and has been in the running for this award the past 4-5 years. It also helps that Leonard plays within the most stable organization in this league for the past decade. However, it looked as if the Spurs were going to be forced into tank mode once Tim Duncan retired before Leonard made an amazing breakthrough and proved himself as the air to the Spurs throne.

Leonard’s prowess defensively has gotten to such a high level that teams are purposely avoiding him and hoping that their other contributors can step up and give the team a win. Having Kawhi Leonard guard you has become the highest level of respect you can reach as an NBA player. Once you see that serious, straight face stare you down, you know that although you may not reach double digits that night, you are a top 30 NBA player. That kind of impact defensively is unmatched as Leonard has only been in the league for six years and could stack up to five of these awards on his way to Springfield.

Predicted Defensive Stats: 2.1 Steals Per Game, 0.9 Blocks Per Game, 4.8 Defensive Rebounds Per Game

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Rudy Gobert

The best rim protector in the NBA, Rudy Gobert nearly edged out Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard for this award last season. Coming in third last season for this award, Rudy Gobert will now be the focal point for both the Jazz’s offense and defensive with Gordon Hayward out of the picture. Last season, Gobert led the league in blocks, averaging 2.64 a game along with 8.9 defensive rebounds per game.

Already proven as one of the leagues best rim alterers this game has seen, Gobert has steadily been proving himself and nearly came out on top for this award last season. However, the loss of Gordon Hayward could prove costly as surely the Jazz will fall in terms of the standings which could deter the voters. But if Gobert can play great offensively and earn his first all-star appearance, it will indeed increase his chances at winning the Defensive Player Of The Year award. If Gobert does want to have a chance at winning the award, he will need to be even more efficient than last year and really carry the Jazz organization on his back.

If Gobert happens to see any sort of drop in numbers, his chances at this award will drop to below slim. However, that possibility is highly unlikely as Gobert, at age 25, is still a few years away from reaching his prime leaving him much room for improvement. So if a young star such as Gobert a momentous award such as this one to his mantle, it go would go a long way for his Hall Of Fame credentials.

Predicted Defensive Stats: 0.5 Steals Per Game, 3.0 Blocks Per Game, 9.2 Defensive Rebounds Per Game

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Giannis Antetokounmpo

Wildly overlooked on the defensive side of the ball, Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most athletic specimens on the planet. Standing at six foot, eleven inches, Giannis has a seven-foot, four-inch wingspan with over a twelve-foot vertical leap. These statistics just add more proof to his nickname, the “Greek Freak.” However, despite his athleticism, people still don’t see Antetokounmpo as a force on the defensive side of the ball.

Last season, Giannis averaged 1.6 steals a game to pair with 1.9 blocks and 7.0 defensive rebound. An all-around great defensive season, Giannis was put on the all-defensive second team and an All-NBA team as well. However, his presence was still overlooked and many don’t see any possible way he prevails as the front-runner for this award. But if the Bucks continue to develop their young talent, and Giannis continues to take the next steps in his development, it will be hard for the voters to leave him off of the short list.

Now I’m not saying he is for sure going to win it, as he will be facing players such as Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, and Rudy Gobert, who are seen as some of the best defenders of all time. But Giannis does have two “X” factors in his favor. For one thing, he is a foreign player which means he will get the overwhelming support from his country which does influence the voters. And two, he is an offensive superstar, and let’s face it if two players have nearly identical defensive numbers, voters are far more likely to pick the one who is considered a superstar and dominates both sides of the ball. However, with that said, only time can tell which defensive power, can sustain their excellence for another full year.

Predicted Defensive Stats: 1.9 Steals Per Game, 2.2 Blocks Per Game, 7.3 Defensive Rebounds Per Game

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Other Notable Players: Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverly, Andre Roberson

3 for 3: Top NBA Long Range Shooters

Now considered one of the most important skills an NBA player should possess, three-point shooting has taken over the NBA. While many are still working to perfect the craft, others have already done so to certain degrees. Here are your top three NBA three point shooters:

3. Kyle Korver

Despite his Finals slump, Kyle Korver is still a top 3 shooter in this league. Over the course of his career, Korver has shot over 43% from behind the arc and 88% from the charity stripe. Last season, however, Kyle Korver hit threes at a 45.1% mark and was knocking down over 90% of his free throws. Korver also averaged 10.1 points per game, which although isn’t great, for nearly half of the year, Kyle was on a Cleveland Cavaliers team that didn’t need him to play the same kind of starter role that he was a part of in Atlanta. A tribute to Korver’s unique ability is his 1x all-star appearance which is basically because of his 49% three-point field goal percentage and over 12 points per game scoring. When you can earn an all-star appearance just from one ability that you do so well, you have to be considered one of the best in the league at that ability.

Korver also averaged 10.1 points per game, which although isn’t great, for nearly half of the year, Kyle was on a Cleveland Cavaliers team that didn’t need him to play the same kind of starter role that he was a part of in Atlanta. A tribute to Korver’s unique ability is his 1x all-star appearance which is basically because of his 49% three-point field goal percentage and over 12 points per game scoring. When you can earn an all-star appearance just from one ability that you do so well, you have to be considered one of the best in the league at that ability.

Over the course of his career, Korver has played for six different teams, with his longest and the best stint of his career coming with the Atlanta Hawks. During his time with Atlanta, Korver had begun the teams most energetic player to watch. Although not the greatest of NBA fan bases, when Kyle Korver pulled up for his trademark transition three, the energy in the arena was like no other. With all of that said, Korver’s career is winding down, and he may become less efficient as time goes on. But for now, Kyle Korver is still the third best shooter on the planet.

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2. Klay Thompson

When Klay Thompson gets going, there is no creature on this earth that can stop him. This is a man who scored an NBA record, 37 points in a quarter, not to mention his incredible 60 points in less than 30 minutes played. One-half of the best backcourt in the NBA, Thompson is a 3x all-star and 2x NBA champion.

Last season, Klay averaged 22.3 points per game while shooting 41.4% from behind the arc and 85.2% on free throws. Clearly a deadeye shooter, Thompson is also an elite defender who has locked up some the greatest offensive talents in the league. To summarize Thompson’s game in one sentence, I would say he is a “glorified three and d player”. He’s much, much better than you Andre Roberson’s, but at the end of the day, he is still running off screens for catch and shoot opportunities while playing lockdown on the other end of the court.

Over the course of his career, Thomspon has shot nearly 42% from downtown while averaging 2.9 three-point field goals per game. However, the past several seasons, Klay has been averaging well over 3.0 three-point field goals a game. Another advantage for Thompson is that his short NBA career has seen just seven full seasons as at 27 years old, Klay should be getting ready to enter his prime in the coming years. However, due to the overwhelming amount of success he has already seen, it seems crazy to think that he hasn’t even entered the best years of his career. Then again, there is no true way of knowing that you’re in the best years of your career until you’re out of them. With that being said, if we already have seen the best years of Klay’s career, then it was one hell of a peak.

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1. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry has revolutionized the modern NBA game. A couple years ago, you were being pulled out of the game for taking a 27-foot jumper. Then came Stephen Curry. Curry routinely knocks down 26-30 foot jumpers as they have become a key component of his game. This ability has made it nearly impossible to stop him as he will either knock down a deep three or if you choose to play up, he can just blow past you for an easy layup.

Stephen Curry has not broken the season record for three-pointers once, twice, but three different times. It was just two years ago when Curry broke the record for what can only be assumed the last time for his career, as he hit a stunning 402 three-pointers. This left just a few three-pointer records Steph hadn’t held. One of those was the single game three-point record which at the time he shared with a couple other players. But then, just a few weeks into the season, Stephen Curry hit 13 three-pointers in a fall game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Already 10th on the all-time list for three-pointers made, it is just a matter of time before Steph breaks that record as well.

Last season, Stephen Curry shot 41.1% from downtown and nearly 90% from the free throw line. However, over the course of his career, Curry has shot 43.8% from behind the arc and has averaged 3.3 three-pointers made per game. His revolutionary movement earned him his first all-star appearance, and to a certain extent, his other three all-stars, and his two MVP awards. Stephen Curry’s best season from behind the arc came in 2016, when he averaged over five three-pointers made a game, this also happens to be the season when he became the first player in NBA history to win a unanimous MVP. Coincidence?

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Can D’Angelo Russell Turn Things Around in Brooklyn?

Although a talented scorer with loads of potential, D’Angelo Russell made more than a few mistakes during his time with the Lakers. Whether it was ratting his teammates out, or saying he doesn’t know if he can play with the teams future second overall pick, D’Angelo Russell just wasn’t mature enough to handle the jungle that is Los Angeles. 

However, now he’s on his way to Brooklyn where there is little to no pressure due to the lack of recent success within the organization. However, he is still in New York which may not be the best city for him at the moment. With that said, let’s check out what D’Angelo Russell is capable of doing both on and off the court.

On The Court

Russell is coming off the best season of his very short career. Averaging 15.6 points per game, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds a game on just over 40% shooting from the field. Although his efficiency wasn’t the best, he was playing on a lackluster Lakers team that never had a chance at competing. However, things started to look up last season after the drama-filled first season, but we will get to that later.

Russell began to start to prove himself as an elite NBA point guard last season and should continue to take extensive strides on the court. Especially because now the sole focal point of the team will be D’Angelo Russell rather than in previous seasons where there was no real star and the Lakers were still searching for an identity. I have even seen articles predict that Russell will make his first all-star appearance next season, and I have to say, I don’t totally disagree.

In a weakening Eastern Conference, Russell has a legitimate chance at averaging 20+ points per game which would nearly secure him a spot in the all-star game. In a big market area such as New York, all Russell has to do is prove that he is the future of the Nets organization and that he is willing to do anything to help the team take the next steps in their process. This is possibly the best chance D’Angelo Russell will ever see to prove himself in this league.

Off The Court

Off the court wise, D’Angelo Russell possibly had the worst rookie season you could dream of. He not only somehow took attention away from Kobe Bryants farewell season but alienated all of his teammates after a private conversation with then-teammate Nick Young surfaced exposing that Young was cheating on then fiance, Iggy Azalea. This scandal caused Azalea to split from Young.

Russell was shunned by his teammates the following night at the team’s dinner as he sat a table all by himself. However, Russell, for the most part, was able to lay low and stay his head out of drama outside of the team facility. But his head coach at the time, Byron Scott did not have the greatest relationship with Russell and even came out and said that Russell has “some growing up to.” Scott was fired though and Warriors assistant, Luke Walton was brought in.

Walton and Russell seem to have developed a great relationship both on and off the court as there is even a quote of Russell calling Walton his “dad” after Luke congratulated him on making an appearance at the NBA all-star weekend. However, things began to take a turn for the worst this offseason after Russell began to stir up some controversy about playing with then college standout, Lonzo Ball.

Ball, who was clearly going to be the Lakers first round pick in the upcoming class is a pure point guard, which is also what Russell views himself as. I would hope this incident woke Russell up and showed him just how cruel this league can be if you don’t play by the rules. Then again, time will tell if D’Angelo has finally decided to take on the responsibility required to play in this league.

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Complete NBA Predicted Standings (Based On Division Predictions)

Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors: 68-14

2. Houston Rockets: 58-24

3. San Antonio Spurs: 54-28

4. Los Angeles Clippers: 39-32

5. Oklahoma City Thunder: 48-34

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: 48-34

7. New Orleans Pelicans: 44-38

8. Denver Nuggets: 43-39

9. Memphis Grizzlies: 42-40

10. Portland Trail Blazers: 38-44

11. Sacramento Kings: 37-45

12. Utah Jazz: 36-46

13. Los Angeles Lakers: 34-48

14. Dallas Mavericks: 34-48

15. Phoenix Suns: 32-50

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Eastern Conference

1. Boston Celtics: 57-25 (modified due to Kyrie Irving trade)

2. Cavaliers: 56-26 (modified due to Kyrie Irving Trade)

3. Toronto Raptors: 53-29

4. Washington Wizards: 50-32

5. Milwaukee Bucks: 46-36

6. Philadelphia 76ers: 44-38

7. Detroit Pistons: 44-38

8. Miami Heat: 42-40

9. Charlotte Hornets: 41-41

10. Indiana Pacers: 35-47

11. New York Knicks: 33-49

12. Brooklyn Nets: 30-52

13. Atlanta Hawks: 27-55

14. Chicago Bulls: 26-56

15. Orlando Magic: 22-60

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Sources: NBA Atlantic Division Predictions, NBA Central Division Predictions, NBA Southeast Division Predictions, NBA Northwest Division Predictions, NBA Pacific Division Predictions, NBA Southwest Division Predictions,

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