Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Which Team Will Earn No. 1 Seed In West?

Before the All-Star break began last week, the Rockets won their 10th straight game while the Warriors lost for the fourth time in their last eight contests. Houston’s hot streak, combined with Golden State’s (relative) cold streak, moved the 44-13 Rockets into the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference by a half-game over the 44-14 Warriors.

It’s not the first time the Rockets have sat atop the West this season. Houston opened the season on a 25-4 run and had a leg up on Golden State until about Christmas Day. Now, Mike D’Antoni‘s squad has reclaimed the No. 1 seed.

The Rockets and Warriors have each been about as successful on the road as they’ve been at home, so the two teams may not go all-out down the stretch to claim the No. 1 seed. Still, with the Warriors looking to come out of the West for a fourth consecutive season, the Rockets appear to be the biggest threat to knock them off since Kevin Durant arrived in the Bay Area. If the Western Conference Finals come down to these two clubs, home-court advantage could be a factor.

No other Western Conference team is within nine games of either the Rockets or Warriors in the standings, so this looks like a two-team race, and we want to know what you think.

Will the Warriors, who haven’t lost more than 15 games in a regular season since 2013/14, finish the season on a hot streak and claim the No. 1 seed? Or will, the Rockets, who are 28-1 when James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela are all in their lineup, hang onto their lead in the West and grab the top spot heading into the postseason?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts — including whether or not home-court advantage will make a difference for these two clubs.

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Poll: Who Will Win Slam Dunk Contest?

After focusing on this weekend’s Three-Point Contest on Thursday, we’re turning our attention today to Saturday night’s main event: The Slam Dunk Contest.

While 2018’s Three-Point Contest will be headlined by Klay Thompson and Eric Gordon, the two most recent winners of the event, this year’s Dunk Contest features a group made up almost entirely of first-time participants — and no former winners.

Rookies Donovan Mitchell and Dennis Smith Jr. are, of course, participating for the first time, as is Larry Nance Jr., who had campaigned for his inclusion in the past. The only contestant who has any previous Dunk Contest experience is Victor Oladipo, who was the runner-up to Zach LaVine in 2015.

Despite his experience in the contest, Oladipo is currently viewed as the underdog in this year’s event. Gambling site Bovada.lv gives the Pacers guard the longest odds to win, and only one of ESPN’s 17 experts picked him in the site’s All-Star Saturday predictions.

Smith Jr., the Mavericks’ point guard, is considered the favorite by Bovada, and Ben Golliver of SI.com also tabbed the rookie to take home the crown on Saturday night. However, he’ll have his work cut out for him.

Mitchell, who has the second-best odds from Bovada, is viewed as a strong candidate to win the event, despite being a late addition after Aaron Gordon had to pull out. Mitchell was picked by eight ESPN experts — only five members of ESPN’s panel chose Smith Jr.

Nance Jr., who received three votes from ESPN’s panel, also shouldn’t be ruled out. As Golliver observes, the new Cavaliers big man will be looking to live up to the legacy of his father, Larry Nance Sr., who won the league’s first ever Dunk Contest back in 1984. A longtime Laker, Nance Jr. may also have something of a home-court advantage in Los Angeles, despite being traded last week.

What do you think? Who do you expect to win this year’s Slam Dunk Contest? Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section below to share your two cents!

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Poll: Who Will Win Three-Point Contest?

Stephen Curry, the NBA’s most renowned long-distance shooter, won’t be participating in this Saturday’s three-point contest in Los Angeles, but the last two winners of the event will be looking to bring home another three-point title.

Curry’s teammate Klay Thompson (.455 3PT%), the 2015/16 champion, is the favorite to come out on top in this year’s event, according to betting site Bovada.lv. Right behind him is Rockets guard Eric Gordon (.334), who will be looking to defend his three-point title after winning last year in New Orleans.

While Thompson and Gordon are the only former three-point contest winners in this year’s field, the group includes several noteworthy challengers. According to Bovada’s odds, Devin Booker (.383) and Paul George (.432) are the next most likely to take home the crown, followed by Southeast sharpshooters Wayne Ellington (.387) and Bradley Beal (.370).

Bovada gives the longest odds to Kyle Lowry (.389), who will be participating in the event for a third straight year, and to Tobias Harris (.402), a first-time participant.

Although Thompson, a former three-point champion who is currently the NBA’s leader in three-point percentage, looks like the best bet, the contest generally comes down to which players gets hot at the right time — and which one can sink his moneyballs.

What do you think? Who’s your pick for this year’s three-point contest winner?

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Poll: All-NBA First Team Race

Perhaps one of the more underrated metrics in evaluating an NBA player’s legacy, an All-NBA First Team selection is generally reserved for the best of the best the NBA has to offer. Among current players, LeBron James is tied for first all-time with 11 All-NBA First Team selections, while Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard are tied for 19th all-time with five, and Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul are tied for 26th all-time with four.

Other current stars such as Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Dwyane Wade, and Russell Westbrook have two such selections, while MVP front-runner James Harden has three. Barring an injury, it sure looks like Harden will get his fourth this season to tie him with Nowitzki and new teammate Paul, as Harden is putting up 31.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game on a .449/.385/.866 shooting line, while leading the Rockets to a 44-13 record into the All-Star break.

Other prime candidates this season include the aforementioned James, Durant, Curry, Westbrook, and Davis, plus potential first-timers Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, and Joel Embiid. Ultimately, the first team spot for center will probably come down to Embiid, Davis – who has made it once as a center and once as a forward – and Karl-Anthony Towns, while the forward position will likely come down to a choice of two amongst three candidates – James, Durant, and Antetokounmpo.

Meanwhile, in what generally has become the most difficult spot to make, only two guards can be selected to the All-NBA First Team. As mentioned previously, it is difficult to envision Harden being left off this season, leaving one spot for Curry, Westbrook, or Irving.

So what do you think? Is Harden a lock to make his fourth All-NBA First Team? Will a newcomer like Antetokounmpo receive a spot or will perennial stalwarts James and Durant lock him out? Vote in our poll below, and remember that you must vote for two guards, two forwards, and one center, and Davis can be voted as a forward or center.

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Poll: Which Team Will Finish Last In NBA?

While the NBA’s trade deadline and buyout season have given several contending teams a chance to load up for the stretch run, they’ve also given a number of teams at the bottom of the NBA’s standings to prepare for a run of their own — with two months left in the 2017/18 season, the race for the league’s worst record is on.

It’s not unusual for lottery-bound teams to be incorporating young players into their lineups and positioning themselves for a run at the No. 1 pick in the draft at this point in the season. But the sheer number of clubs in contention for that top spot in our reverse standings this year is a little out of the ordinary.

Currently, the Kings (17-38) are in pole position in the race to the bottom, but the Suns (18-40), Hawks (18-39), Mavericks (18-39), Magic (18-38), Grizzlies (18-37), and Nets (19-39) are all within one game of them in the standings. The Bulls (20-36) and Knicks (23-35) aren’t currently part of that logjam, but both teams have essentially given up their playoff hopes and wouldn’t mind getting into the conversation for that No. 1 pick down the stretch too.

Those teams all have between 24 and 27 games left in the regular season, which means that any victory from here on out could have a legitimate impact on a team’s lottery odds. It’s hard to imagine any team with more than six or seven wins the rest of the way having a real shot at finishing the season with the NBA’s worst record.

The playoff push from the top teams in each conference over the next two months is probably the race more worthy of attention, but the race to the bottom will be fascinating, and the stakes are significant — barring some major changes on lottery night, the teams that finish with the NBA’s worst records will have a shot to draft a potential star like Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, or Marvin Bagley III. Whereas a team that goes on a hot streak the rest of the way might end up with the eighth or ninth pick, missing out on that group of possible franchise-changers.

Of course, one team whose end-of-season results will be especially fascinating is Brooklyn. The Nets are the only club of those listed above who won’t have their own pick available in this year’s draft — Cavaliers fans figure to be monitoring Brooklyn games almost as closely as Nets fans in the coming weeks.

What do you think? Which team will finish with the NBA’s worst record? Which teams will come closest? And which of the clubs above do you expect to ultimately miss out on a top-five pick? Vote below and join our discussion in the comment section!

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Poll: Team LeBron Vs. Team Steph

The NBA changed its All-Star format this year, naming the top two vote-getters as team captains and then letting them select their rosters in a fantasy draft format, rather than simply pitting the East against the West. LeBron James and Stephen Curry picked their All-Star rosters on Thursday, drafting in a private conference call rather than in a televised event.

While the behind-closed-doors nature of the draft left many fans disappointed, some fun storylines were still created as a result of the picks themselves. James’ team is headlined by Kevin Durant, with LeBron believed to have snatched up the reigning Finals MVP before Curry had a chance to select his Warriors teammate. Elsewhere on the roster, Kyrie Irving will reunite with LeBron, while Russell Westbrook will once again team up with Durant. James also kept multiple current teammates together, adding the Pelicans frontcourt and the Wizards backcourt to his roster.

On paper, James’ team looks like the more talented squad, particularly when comparing frontcourt players. However, Curry is pleased with his roster, suggesting that he had a particular strategy in mind entering Thursday’s draft, as Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group relays.

“I got something different, a different style,” Curry said. “Just trying to find some scorers and some guys who can spread the floor and all that. I’m pretty sure [Mike] D’Antoni will be the coach. So next-level thinking. I got to give him a lineup that he can coach and play up tempo and spread the floor and shoot a lot of threes.”

Here are the full rosters:

Team LeBron:

Team Steph:

What do you think? Which team will pull out the victory on All-Star weekend? Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts on the game, the format, or the draft.

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Poll: Which Team Will Win Eastern Conference?

The Cavaliers’ recent problems – both on the court and off it – have been well documented, but the focus on Cleveland’s issues has overshadowed the fact that several of the other teams expected to contend in the East have been dealing with problems of their own.

Heading into the season, the Cavs, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards, and Bucks were widely viewed as the top five teams in the Eastern Conference. As of today though, the Bucks (24-22) find themselves holding the No. 7 seed in the East, and they’re still reeling from the front office’s decision to fire head coach Jason Kidd. While it’s possible that Kidd’s ouster will lead to a second-half run that puts Milwaukee in good position to win a playoff series or two, the team’s performance to date has been disappointing, particularly on the defensive end.

The Wizards (26-21), meanwhile, are hanging onto the No. 5 seed out East, but their results have been underwhelming too. John Wall admitted that a recent team meeting didn’t have the desire effect, and Washington has suffered some bad losses this season. The club has been defeated twice by both the Nets and Hornets, and dropped games to the Hawks and Mavericks too — three of those losses were by 23 or more points.

Boston, Toronto, and Cleveland currently hold the top three spots in the East, but the Celtics (34-14) have lost four in a row and are leaning heavily on All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. An injury to either player could spell trouble for the C’s. As for the Cavs (27-19), they’ve lost six of seven, and Cleveland players have questioned whether this year’s team has the ability to pull its usual feat of flipping a switch for the postseason.

The Raptors (31-14) aren’t dealing with an identity crisis at the moment, but they have a history of struggling in the playoffs. Even taking into account their new, modernized style of play on offense, there’s some skepticism among league observers that the Raps are capable of finally getting over the hump and winning the East.

The Heat (27-20), Pacers (25-22), and Sixers (22-21) round out the East’s current playoff teams, with the Pistons (22-23) looking to enter that picture. It’s hard to imagine any of those clubs winning three postseason series, however.

So what do you think? Which team will represent the Eastern Conference in this year’s NBA Finals? Will the Cavaliers get it together eventually, or will this be the year that LeBron James‘ streak of Finals appearances comes to an end?

Vote below and jump into the comment section to share your two cents!

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Poll: Which Team Will Miss Playoffs In West?

We’re past the halfway mark of the 2017/18 NBA season, and the teams at the top of the standings in the Western Conference come as no surprise to most league observers. The Warriors (37-10) and Rockets (32-12) lead the way, followed by the Spurs (30-18) and Timberwolves (30-18), with the Thunder (26-20) rounding out the top five.

After that though, four teams are currently jockeying for the remaining three playoff spots in the West. As of today, the Trail Blazers (25-21) and Pelicans (24-21) are in control of the sixth and seventh seeds, with the Clippers (23-23) holding a narrow lead on the Nuggets (23-23) for No. 8.

Although Portland and New Orleans are in playoff position now, their rosters are somewhat imbalanced — the Blazers are led by their backcourt duo of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, while the Pelicans’ star-studded frontcourt of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis has carried them. Neither team has a ton of flexibility to make upgrades at the trade deadline, so it will be interesting to see if their stars can get them into the postseason without any real roster changes.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have been up and down all season, but they’ve been trending in the right direction lately. With the February 8 deadline fast approaching, the club will have to decide whether it makes sense to continue pushing for a playoff spot, even if it means hanging onto DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams and risking losing them for nothing in free agency this summer.

Finally, the Nuggets have been struggling recently, but even if Denver doesn’t make a trade at the deadline, the club should have reinforcements coming in February — top offseason acquisition Paul Millsap is expected to get back on the court sometime around the All-Star break after recovering from wrist surgery. The Nuggets were 9-6 in the 15 full games Millsap played at the start of the season, and hope to make a late-season run once they get him in their lineup again.

While the Jazz (19-27), Lakers (17-29), Suns (17-29), and Grizzlies (16-29) aren’t totally out of the running yet, it’s likely that eight of the nine teams discussed above will represent the West in the postseason this year. It’s just a question of which one of those nine clubs will miss out.

Which team do you expect to end up on the outside looking in? Vote in our poll below and jump into the comment section to share your two cents!

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Poll: Should The Hornets Trade Kemba Walker?

All is not well in Charlotte. The team is handcuffed to a core that isn’t yielding much success, they can’t stay healthy to achieve any semblance of consistency and the cost to finance the underwhelming production is about to get a lot more expensive thanks to the luxury tax.

All told, Tim Bontemps of Washington Post thinks it’s time to flip Kemba Walker.

Like many other NBA teams, the Hornets are on pace to fall above the luxury tax line. That’s a palatable burden if a team is in contention for postseason success but not so much when they’re 14-23 and well out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

If nothing changes in Charlotte, the Hornets could pay the luxury tax not only this year but next season as well. In fact, for 2018/19 they already have 10 players on guaranteed deals slated to make $116.4MM.

While the Hornets could theoretically make a push if all of a sudden they were blessed with good fortune in the health department but not even that would change the fact that many of their key rotational pieces are in or passed their prime.

Trading Walker, the team’s lone, true, ascendant star may seem counterintuitive but, as Bontemps writes, it would alleviate part of the team’s financial problems while also giving them a jump-start at a rebuild.

A hypothetical swap with the Knicks could potentially yield something along the lines of Frank Ntilikina, Joakim Noah and New York’s 2018 first-round pick. That’s a plausible package that could simultaneously bring two building blocks and save the team money.

In another scenario, Bontemps offers up the notion of packaging Walker with a costly veteran like Marvin Williams to help clear the books while still netting a building block or two.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Which Team Is Biggest Threat To Warriors?

As the odds at offshore betting site Bovada.lv show, the Warriors remain the overwhelming favorites to win the 2018 NBA Finals. In order to win $100 betting on the Dubs over the field for this season’s championship, you’d have to risk $180. Still, over the first two and a half months of the 2017/18 season, a handful of potential threats to Golden State have emerged.

The first of those threats is no surprise, but the Cavaliers looked re-energized on Tuesday night with Isaiah Thomas in their lineup for the first time. The Cavs will likely still have some problems on defense against the Warriors, and there are a couple rotation spots that could use an upgrade. But if Thomas stays healthy and keeps producing like he did in his Cleveland debut (17 points in 19 minutes), the club’s offense is well-rounded and well-equipped to keep up with Golden State.

Speaking of explosive offenses, the Rockets looked like the team best positioned to compete with the Warriors over the first two months of the season. Even with Chris Paul sidelined, the team was one of the league’s best — with both Paul and James Harden active, the Rockets have been even more unstoppable. Houston has struggled in recent weeks, with Paul, Harden, and Clint Capela all battling injuries, but the club should cruise to a top seed in the West, and if the roster is healthy in the spring, it has as much firepower as just about any team in the NBA.

Of course, it’s not the Cavs or Rockets that currently holds the league’s second-best record behind Golden State — it’s the 30-10 Celtics, who have thrived even without a healthy Gordon Hayward. While Boston has certainly missed its top summer acquisition, Hayward’s absence has allowed young players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to assume larger roles, which may pay off for the team in the long run. The franchise also hasn’t fully closed the door on the possibility of getting Hayward back in the playoffs. That may be a long shot, but it would make the Eastern playoffs a whole lot more interesting.

Elsewhere, the Spurs thrived without Kawhi Leonard to start the season and will be a very tough out in the postseason. The Raptors have overhauled their offense approach and have seen it pay dividends in the first half. And the Timberwolves and Thunder have hit their stride recently after undergoing major roster changes in the offseason.

When we asked back in September which team is the biggest threat to the Warriors, the Cavs received the most votes, followed by Oklahoma City, Boston, San Antonio, and Houston, respectively. I suspect that order may look a little different this time around.

What do you think? Which of the NBA’s 29 non-Warriors teams represents the biggest threat to Golden State’s chances of back-to-back titles?

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