Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Biggest Eastern Conference Threat To Cavs?

While oddsmakers – and most NBA fans – still expect to see a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals this June, there’s no guarantee that the Warriors and Cavaliers will come out of their respective conferences once again. The Cavs, in particular, looked ordinary in January, finishing one game below .500 for the month, with a 7-8 record.

Last spring, it was the Raptors who battled the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, pushing LeBron James and company to six games before eventually losing the series. And for most of the first half of this season, Toronto appeared to be Cleveland’s top challenger in the conference once again.

However, the Raptors’ January struggles (8-9) mirrored the Cavs’, and Toronto has already compiled an 0-3 record this year against the defending champions. Injuries to Patrick Patterson and DeMar DeRozan have played a part in the Raptors’ swoon, but there’s still reason to question whether they’ll be the biggest threat out of the East to the Cavs in the postseason.

Led by Eastern Conference Player of the Month Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have moved into second place in the East, pulling within just two and a half games of the Cavs. The Wizards have also surged in recent weeks — the team is 26-12 since its 2-8 start, and has matched the Celtics’ current five-game winning streak.

Behind those top four teams in the standings, the Hawks have continued to play well even after trading Kyle Korver, and the Pacers have looked very impressive at times, including on their current four-game winning streak.

The Cavs may ultimately make it out of the East once again, but these clubs – and others – will look to give the champs all they can handle in the series leading up to the Finals. Teams like the Raptors and Celtics also have plenty of assets available to potentially fortify their rosters in the coming weeks, making them even more dangerous.

What do you think? Which of the Eastern Conference contenders has the best chance to knock off the Cavs this spring?

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Poll: Should The All-Star Voting Process Change?

The NBA unveiled a brand new voting platform for the 2016/17 All-Star Game, giving fans 50% of the vote while players and a media panel accounted for 25% each. This was regarded as a breath of fresh air in some respects, as fans previously held a unanimous vote for All-Star Game starters.

The process had its shortcomings, however. As the league’s player voting results reveal, several players appear to have used the opportunity to exclusively vote for their teammates. What’s more, over 100 players neglected to cast a ballot. Warriors coach Steve Kerr used his platform to sound off, chastising certain players for not taking their vote seriously.

“I am very disappointed in the players,” Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Bay Area News Group. “They asked for the vote and a lot of them just made a mockery of it…I saw the list. I saw all the guys who got votes. Were you allowed to vote for yourself? I don’t know. Were guys voting for themselves? There were 50 guys on there that had no business getting votes. But a lot of guys wrote in their buddies for the presidential campaign. So maybe that was their own way of making a statement. But I think if you give the players a vote, they should take it serious.”

While the league’s #NBAVote strategy was a success on social media, some work needs to be done in revitalizing the voting process. So what do you think: should the league continue fan voting in 2017/18? Give the media a higher percentage of the vote? Or do you have a different idea entirely?

Vote below, and share your ideas in the comments section!

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Poll: Will You Watch New BIG3 League?

A new professional basketball league is set to debut this summer. Starting on June 24, former NBA players like Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin, Rashard Lewis, Mike Bibby, Chauncey Billups, Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, and Jason Williams will play in the new BIG3 league, created by rapper and actor Ice Cube, along with former NBA guard Roger Mason.

The league will feature eight teams made up five players apiece. The half-court, three-on-three games won’t be timed — the first team to 60 points will win, and teams will have the opportunity to get to 60 even faster with new wrinkles like a designated “four-point circle.” TNT’s David Aldridge has several details on the BIG3 in his latest NBA.com piece, and spoke to some of the players and organizers about the new league.

[RELATED: Allen Iverson commits to new BIG3 league as player/coach]

“This (bleep) isn’t any kind of gimmick,” said Mason, who will serve as the league’s president. “JO was like, ‘There’s nobody who can guard me in halfcourt.’ Gilbert Arenas is in the gym every day; he doesn’t even want anybody to know he’s playing.

“This is going to last beyond Cube, me, Jeff (Kwatinetz). This is the new thing. Every year there’s new players that still have some gas still in the tank. Maybe they can’t play back-to-backs. Maybe they can’t do the full wear and tear of an 82-game season. But it’s not like, after 10 to 12 years in the NBA, that their fans forget about them. And it’s not like their game goes to (bleep). They don’t have the athleticism. But in a halfcourt game, one game a week? They still have something to offer. We’re just the landing spot for those guys.”

The league, which will travel to a different city each week, has yet to announce a broadcasting deal, but games are expected to be televised or streamed somewhere. So today’s poll question is this: Will you check out the BIG3 when it gets underway? Will the big-name former players be enough to draw you in, or do you prefer to stick to watching current NBA players?

Vote below, and jump into the comments section to weigh in with your thoughts!

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Poll: How Long Will Derrick Rose Remain A Knick?

Although Derrick Rose spoke optimistically earlier in the season about a possible contract extension with the Knicks, and the team was said to be open to the idea, there were already questions about the long-term outlook of the relationship even before Rose went AWOL on Monday, missing the team’s game against New Orleans.

The Knicks and Rose patched things up following his unexpected absence, with the team accepting the point guard’s explanation and choosing to fine him rather than suspend him. Rose was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday night, and had a solid game, though the Knicks blew a big fourth-quarter lead to the Sixers.

Still, there were reports this week suggesting that the relationship between Rose and head coach Jeff Hornacek is frayed, along with reports that indicated the former MVP’s future in New York looks increasingly uncertain.

Rose is a free agent at season’s end, and while there are rumblings that he could seek a maximum-salary contract, he’s unlikely to land a deal in that neighborhood. His ability to slash and create on offense provides the Knicks with a skill set that their other guards don’t possess, but based on the way the first half has played out, there’s a good chance the team looks elsewhere to fill that point guard position.

If things continue to go south in New York, it’s possible Rose won’t even finish the season with the club — if the Knicks fall out of the playoff race and know they won’t re-sign Rose, there would be little reason to keep him, so a trade or buyout could be in play.

What do you think? Will Rose finish the season in New York? Will he leave in the offseason? Or are the two sides capable of turning things around and making their marriage a long-term one? Vote in our poll below, and jump into the comments section to weigh in with your thoughts!

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Poll: Cavaliers Vs. Warriors

More than six months after the two teams last met, the Cavaliers and Warriors essentially recreated Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, with Kyrie Irving the game-winning shot to give Cleveland a dramatic victory over Golden State. The two teams look a little different now – both short a few role players, though the Warriors have added one notable star in Kevin Durant – but the result in the first 2016/17 rematch between the two finalists was the same as it was in June.

Although there has been some grumbling among NBA fans and observers about the apparent inevitability of another Cavaliers/Warriors matchup in the 2017 NBA Finals, the Christmas Day game served as an excellent reminder that a rematch between the two things would certainly be entertaining, if not surprising. There’s no guarantee that one of the two powerhouses won’t get knocked off along the way, but for now the 23-6 Cavs and the 27-5 Warriors sit atop their respective conferences, and look like the odds-on favorites to vie for a championship.

So, in the wake of Sunday’s result, today’s poll question is a simple one. If the Cavs and Warriors meet again in the Finals, who do you like? Health could play a big part in the outcome, and each team could have a midseason transaction or two up its sleeve, but for now, let’s assume that both teams remain relatively healthy and intact, with Cleveland getting J.R. Smith back for the playoffs.

What do you think?

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Poll: Biggest Threat To Warriors In West?

The Warriors entered the 2016/17 season as significant favorites to come out of the Western Conference and win the NBA Finals, and little has changed during the first couple months of the season. Golden State isn’t quite on a 73-win pace again this season, but the team is 23-4 and its offense is producing at a historic pace.

Although the Warriors haven’t looked invincible, they also haven’t had to endure many growing pains as they’ve incorporated prized offseason signee Kevin Durant into their rotation. It will be an extremely tall order for any Western Conference team to beat Golden State four times in a seven-game playoff series, but a handful of teams in the conference have looked good so far.

The Spurs have the West’s second-best record, at 21-5, though advanced statistics suggest that pace is probably unsustainable, as Mika Honkasalo of HoopsHype writes. The Clippers got off to a hot start and briefly looked like they belonged in the discussion with the Warriors, but a cool stretch starting in late November brought them back down to earth, and they’ve struggled against Golden State in recent years. L.A. has lost its last seven games to the Warriors, and was blown out in the only meeting between the two teams so far this season.

While San Antonio and Los Angeles were expected to be the Warriors’ top challengers coming into the season, another trio of teams has helped form a strong second tier in the conference. The Rockets, led by MVP candidates James Harden and a record-setting barrage of three-pointers, have won nine games in a row and are tied with the Clips at 20-7. The Grizzlies, who surged without their top player (Mike Conley), are right behind them, and the Jazz, who have battled injuries all year, look like they could be a dangerous club if and when they finally get healthy.

What do you think? Which of these teams should the Warriors be most worried about facing in the Western Conference portion of the postseason? Is there another team in the conference that could create problems for Golden State? Weigh in below with your vote!

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Poll: Should Rockets Match Nets’ Motiejunas Offer?

The Rockets have until the end of the day to decide whether or not they will match the Nets’ four-year, $35MM+ offer sheet for Donatas Motiejunas. And while there have been reports suggesting that Houston would like to keep Motiejunas in the fold, there has been no definitive word yet on whether or not the Rockets will match Brooklyn’s offer and bring back their restricted free agent.

The Nets’ offer reportedly only includes $5MM in guaranteed money, but that figure will increase to $8.5MM in January, and then his 2017/18 salary of $9MM will become guaranteed on March 1. So within three months, about half of Motiejunas’ four-year contract would be fully guaranteed, leaving just the final two seasons non-guaranteed.

Although Motiejunas struggled to stay healthy last season and his production took a significant hit, he looked like a player on the rise in 2014/15, when he averaged 12.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG to go along with a .504 FG% and a .368 3PT%. He has been plagued by back troubles in recent years, creating some long-term uncertainty about his health and limiting his market.

In their negotiations with Motiejunas, the Rockets had reportedly only been willing to offer one guaranteed year, worth about $7-8MM. Team officials reportedly have concerns about how the forward’s back will hold up over multiple years, which could make the Rockets wary about matching an offer sheet that essentially forces them to guarantee him nearly $9MM annually for two years.

The Rockets also would have liked to lock up Motiejunas by November 23, since that would have given the team the option to move him by this year’s February 23 trade deadline. Free agents can’t be dealt for three months after signing their contracts, so Motiejunas will be ineligible to be traded until after the 2016/17 season.

Houston is only barely over the salary cap at the moment, so adding Motiejunas’ contracts to the books wouldn’t put the team in danger of approaching tax territory. And the Rockets could use Motiejunas to provide depth behind frontcourt starters Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela, even if Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell have looked good in part-time roles so far.

What do you think? Will the Rockets match the Nets’ Motiejunas offer sheet? Should they match it? Weigh in on both of those questions in our poll and in the comments section below!

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Poll: Will Westbrook Average Triple-Double For Season?

After averaging 9.5 RPG in his first 15 games of the season, Russell Westbrook has dominated the glass over his last four contests, piling up 54 boards in those games, including 18 on Monday night. The hot streak has increased his rebounds per game average to 10.3, to go along with an incredible 30.9 PPG and 11.3 APG. Yes, Westbrook is averaging a triple-double and 30+ PPG through nearly a quarter of the NBA season.Russell Westbrook

The fact that Westbrook is posting eye-popping numbers so far this season is hardly a surprise. As soon as Kevin Durant departed Oklahoma City and it became clear that Westbrook wasn’t going anywhere, NBA observers – and fantasy basketball players – began speculating about what kind of monster stats the star point guard could rack up as the star of the show for the Thunder.

Still, no player in NBA history has averaged a triple-double since Oscar Robertson did it over 50 years ago, so Westbrook’s current numbers place him in rarefied air. While head coach Billy Donovan says the idea of Westbrook averaging a triple-double for the entire season isn’t a topic of conversation that comes up often within the Thunder locker room, Donovan was willing to entertain the idea, as Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript writes.

Yeah, he could do it. He could do it,” Donovan said. “I’m not gonna say he is or isn’t because I think the more important thing is Russell is winning, but he’s a guy that has great impact on generating assists. He has a great impact on rebounding the basketball, and he can score. So, there’s certainly a possibility that can happen. Obviously what he’s done this point in time has been pretty remarkable.”

Westbrook set career highs last season with 10.4 APG and 7.8 RPG, so averaging double-digits in assists isn’t out of the realm of possibility for him, but averaging double-digits in rebounds would require a substantial leap from his career rate of 5.7 RPG. It’s also worth noting that the 28-year-old has never averaged more than 28.1 PPG in a season, and his current scoring rate easily eclipses that mark as well.

For Westbrook, his final numbers may ultimately depend on his ability to avoid wearing down over the course of the year. Currently, his usage rate (40.7) easily ranks first among NBA players, and it remains to be seen if he can keep up that pace for 82 games.

What do you think? Will Westbrook make history and average a triple-double this season, or is too unrealistic to expect him to keep up this pace for the entire year?

App users, click here to vote in the poll.

Poll: Is Tanking A Non-Issue?

The Sixers set the bar on tanking over the last several seasons, compiling teams that had no shot to be competitive with an eye on landing the No. 1 overall pick. Philadelphia’s bold strategy led to conversations on the topic and even efforts toward lottery reform. However, this season it appears every team is at least trying to put its best foot forward and the topic has become a dead issue, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News argues.

“Nobody is doing it this year,” one general manager said. “You need to get your owner on board if you are going to tank an entire season, and I don’t think any owners have the stomach for it anymore. They gave up on it in Philadelphia, because the owner in the end didn’t want to keep seeing his team be a laughingstock. I think there is a lot of pressure from other owners not to let your team go in that direction. It’s something owners worked out among themselves.”

Commissioner Adam Silver believes that teams have realized the importance of trying to win games.

“You don’t want teams to intentionally be bad,” Silver said. “I think, as I said [back in 2014,] there is invariably a correction in the marketplace as well, regardless of what rules we have on the draft lottery. The fact is, teams don’t want to be bad for a long time. They need to sell tickets, they need to keep their fans engaged, our owners care about their reputations, the players don’t want to be part of losing traditions. If you noticed this season, I think there has been a swing back to the realization that culture is important, building winning traditions is equally important.”

Deveney adds that the topic of tanking hasn’t been part of the discussion during negotiations on the new CBA, which is something that both sides believe could be reached sometime next month.

Do you still consider tanking an issue? Don’t limit yourself to a simple button click. Take to the comments section below and share your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say!

Poll: Who Will Lead NBA In Scoring In 2016/17?

A year ago, Stephen Curry comfortably led the NBA in scoring en route to his second consecutive MVP award, averaging 30.1 PPG for the Warriors. James Harden was the league’s second-best scorer, while Kevin Durant finished third, and DeMarcus Cousins came fourth

All four of those players are expected to be in the running for the NBA’s scoring title again in 2016/17, but there are reasons to believe their averages could drop off slightly. Curry and Durant are now playing together, sharing the scoring responsibilities for the Warriors rather than being relied upon as the clear-cut No. 1 option. Harden has had an increased role as a facilitator in the early going, though so far that hasn’t dampened his scoring numbers. And Cousins’ usage rate – while still very high – has been a little lower this year under new head coach Dave Joerger.

Harden currently ranks fourth in the NBA in points per game, ahead of both Durant (sixth) and Curry (eighth). This year’s new group of leaders so far? Anthony Davis (30.9 PPG), Russell Westbrook (31.1), and DeMar DeRozan (34.1), with Damian Lillard (30.0) rounding out the top five.

Although it’s still early, there’s plenty of reason to believe those newcomers to the top five could have staying power. Davis is the only dangerous scoring option in New Orleans, and his health is the only thing that could stop him from having a monster year. Westbrook was expected to go off in Durant’s absence, and he hasn’t disappointed so far. Westbrook’s usage rate easily leads the NBA, though DeRozan places second, and he has been remarkably efficient so far for a perimeter player who hardly ever shoots threes. Lillard comes in at sixth for usage rate, and an uptick in field goal percentage has resulted in his early spike in points per game — the point guard’s career-best FG% was just .434, but he’s up to .483 so far this season.

What do you think? Are the early returns on this season enough to convince you that one of the league’s new top scorers could still be on top at season’s end? Or do you expect a former MVP like Curry or Durant to eventually reclaim the lead?

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