Implications of Paul George Breaking His Leg

Last night, Indiana Pacers superstar swingman Paul George gruesomely broke his leg in a Team USA scrimmage, effectively ending his 2014-2015 NBA season. The injury was reminiscent of the broken leg suffered by former Louisville guard Kevin Ware almost a year and a half ago. The injury immediately raised concerns over how close the stanchion was to the baseline and whether this is the tipping point that ultimately ends superstars playing for Team USA.

The only true concern should be for Paul George. Although George’s max extension is just about to kick in at the start of the upcoming season, it’s disheartening to see such a young, talented player come down that sort of injury. It would be awful, regardless of how talented he is. But with the league just getting Derrick Rose back from his heap of injuries, it’s tough to see another one of the league’s most exciting and likable players to go down. The injury will have far reaching implications. Let’s examine them in order of importance:

Paul George
Everyone is hoping and praying that George returns stronger than ever, but that seems unlikely. Yes, George will recover. There’s no exact timetable for his return, but he’ll probably miss next season. Will he regain his explosiveness? No one knows right now. George is only 24 years old and was just starting to enter his prime. Even though the injury is not similar to those suffered by Derrick Rose, the situation seems eerily similar. An extremely young superstar set to be one of LeBron’s rivals loses an entire season due to injury, coming off of a career year. Everyone will be rooting for George to recover from his injury and continue to be a star. Whether he will be return to the league as a top player is uncertain though. We can only hope.  Continue reading

Eastern Conference Pecking Order With LeBron In Cleveland

With the news of LeBron rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers, the East was shaken to its core. No more was the Heat’s reign over the rest of the conference, a reign that included four straight Eastern Conference titles. No more was the Cavs’ reign of lottery king, getting the top overall pick in three of the last four years. But, are the Cavs going to instantly turn into Title contenders, like Vegas thinks? That seems pretty unlikely, even if the Cavs do manage to get Kevin Love. After all, the Cavs only won 33 games in the depleted East last season. With the addition of LeBron, they should easily flirt with 50+ wins, but expecting them to beat any of the top teams in the West is premature.

But what about the rest of the East? Are the Pacers still going to try and shop Roy Hibbert? Will they make sure to re-sign Lance Stephenson, no matter what, realizing the East is wide open now? What about the Wizards–will they be able to keep Trevor ‘Plan B’ Ariza, and build on last year’s success? And the Bulls: will Derrick Rose be able to stay healthy and be an All-Star caliber player again? What if the Bulls get Carmelo–would they be the favorites in the East then? (Probably, yes.) And will the Raptors take another step forward and win 50+ games next season? Crazy to imagine them seriously contending for a Conference title, but wouldn’t they?

Let’s do a way-too-early power ranking of the top eight spots in the East and sort this mess out:

1. Indiana Pacers
Hard not to laugh at this, given how they finished last season. This team will win a lot of games in the regular season, but right now they just don’t have the mental makeup of a championship team. They have to decide whether they’re going to pay Lance Stephenson, but given the LeBron news, it’s hard to see them letting him walk. And it’s hard to see them trading Roy Hibbert now too. Keep the core together, hope to rejuvenate the bench, and pray that Lance Stephenson can stay motivated after getting paid. The Big 3 is no longer in your way, Pacers. Continue reading

What would it take to Challenge the Heat in the East?

As everyone knows, the Heat are 45-3 in their last 48 games. That’s an unprecedented streak that not even the 72-win 1995 Bulls matched. At this point, it’s hardly likely that anyone will stop the Heat from repeating as the champs. Unless Wade’s knee problems flare up to the extent that he can’t play, there’s no reason to think the Pacers and then Grizzlies/Spurs will beat the Heat four times out of seven. The Pacers won’t be an absolute cakewalk, but they’ll be lucky to end up with more than two wins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Injuries have riddled many teams’ hopes this season, as D-Rose (and just about every other player on the Bulls), Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, and others missed the playoffs. While the Heat probably would have reached the Finals either way, these injuries only further paved an easy path for Heat. Not only are the majority of the teams in the East weaker, but also the Heat are considerably better this season with improved depth, notably the additions of Ray Allen and Chris Anderson. With the current state of the East, would an all star team made up of the Eastern Conference playoff teams be able to beat the Heat? Let’s play a game to find out.paul-george-lebron-james-elite-daily-600x300
Let’s pick one player from each Eastern Conference playoff team to create an all star squad and assess its chances at beating the Heat in a seven game series. The only catch is that we can only pick healthy players, so we can’t select Derrick Rose from the Bulls, for example. Without further ado:

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First Round Playoff Predictions

With the playoffs finally upon us, it’s time to make some predictions. In the East, it seems inevitable that the Heat will come out and get a chance to repeat, but the West isn’t as obvious. Injuries this year have decimated many teams’ chances in both conferences. This might be the year that handed the title to the Heat. In the West, Kobe’s season-ending (and career? just kidding, Kobe) injury has been a hot topic, Manu has been hurt, Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL, and David Lee just injured his hip and is out for the playoffs. In the East, most notably Derrick Rose hasn’t played all season, Danny Granger is out for the playoffs, Rondo tore his ACL, and Amare Stoudemire hasn’t been 100% all year. Injuries happen every year, but this year is worse–key starters and go-to-guys are missing from this year’s playoffs.

In the East…

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