Author: chrisdellapiana

What We Learned About the Celtics and Warriors

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After last night’s heavyweight matchup between the 13-2 Boston Celtics and the 11-3 Golden State Warriors, the NBA Universe was overcome with shock and awe. With Boston’s 13 game win streak on the line, many fans did not expect the performance that was to follow. Here are my quick hitting points from the game, and what we truly learned:

The Boston Celtics are the Realest of Real

Six minutes into the NBA season, and his Celtics career, Gordon Hayward, the recipient of a 4 year, $128million contract this past offseason, broke his ankle, and to most fans, effectively ended the Celtics’ title chances. Since that game, a loss, 110-107 to the reigning Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and a subsequent loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics are 14-0. Kyrie Irving has turned into the leader all of Celtics nation wanted him to be, even with his porous shooting through the early stages of the season. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been more than impressive, with the latter having his best season yet, averaging 15PPG and 7RPG. The competition for these first 16 games has not been the best, I will say that, with wins against a non-Kawhi Leonard San Antonio Spurs, the lowly Lakers, and the even lower Brooklyn Nets. However, with wins against Oklahoma City, Toronto, and now Golden State, this team doesn’t only look like a team of the future (@ Steve Kerr), this team looks like a team of the present.

Stephen Curry is Truly the MVP of the Golden State Warriors

Preface: I am a Steph Curry hater. I don’t like the way he plays; he honestly just irks me to my inner soul. But real recognize real, Steph Curry is the most important player on that team, hands down. Curry finished last night with a line of 9-6-5, and his shooting looks plain off, going only 2-9 from the three-point arc, and committing 4 turnovers. Obviously the Warriors have four unbelievable players on their team, four Hall of Fame caliber players in my opinion, but to say that someone is more valuable to the team than Stephen Curry? Asinine. Curry is the engine that makes the train run, the floor general, the vocal leader on and off the court. A team is only as good as its best player, and its best player is not Kevin Durant, its best player is Wardell Stephen Curry.

 

Marcus Smart is Expendable

“With the 6th overall pick, in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select…Marcus Smart, Point Guard, Oklahoma State University” GOD HELP MY SOUL. Smart’s lackluster effort on the offensive end last night, (0-7 FG, 0-3 3PT, 1-2 FT, along with 3TOs) leads me to finally call him an expendable asset for the Boston Celtics. Smart’s jump shot is less than inconsistent, it’s unreliable. His passing ability and rebounding skills are more than competent, but his jump shot and offensive promise just isn’t there. Obviously, Smart’s defenders will say that his defense makes up for his awful offensive game, which it does, to an extent. But there’s no such thing as just defensive basketball. Scoring points wins games, and with the ball in Marcus Smart’s hands, at least when he’s shooting, yea, I’ll pass. Moreover, the emergence of Terry Rozier as a rising talent for this team leads Smart to become expendable, especially while his contract his up at the end of this season, and he will become a Restricted Free Agent.

 

Brad Stevens is the Coach of the Year

Already? Yes, already. Stevens has coached the Celtics to a 14-2 record through 16 games, all without Hayward, 2 without Al Horford, and 1 without Kyrie Irving. Stevens has engineered two 18-point comebacks, one on the road at Oklahoma City, and the other at home against the Charlotte Hornets, not to mention the 17-point comeback last night (TWICE) against the reigning champs. Somehow it will go to Steve Kerr though *shrugs*.

-Del

The Complicated Yet Simple Case for MLB Most Valuable Player Awards

MVP, Most Valuable Player, the ultimate honor for any athlete to receive in his or her sport. This year, Major League Baseball has not one, but two insane races for the American League and National League MVP Awards.

In the American League, it’s really a two-horse race, with Jose Ramirez just kind of hanging behind. Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge are arguably the two best players in the Majors, so giving the award to just one person is almost impossible. Altuve’s year this year was second to none, slashing .346, and leading the league in hits, while stealing 32 bases, and contributing his 2nd 20HR, 30SB season in a row. Altuve went on to win his fourth silver slugger in a row, and appear in his fifth all star game. Oh, and by the way, he also led the Astros to their first World Series Title. And then there’s Aaron Judge. Coming off of a unanimous Rookie of the Year campaign, Judge led the American League in runs, home runs, walks, and also strikeouts, while slashing a solid .284. After Judge’s scolding hot first half, he tapered off until late August, hitting only .185 in August with 41 strikeouts. In September and October, he came back to his original form, hitting 15 home runs over 27 games, and absolutely raking the ball, hitting .311.

Obviously this decision is not easy, but (even as a Red Sox fan) I would have to give the edge to Aaron Judge. To be frank, Altuve is sheltered in the Astros lineup. With Springer at the top of the lineup, Correa batting behind Altuve, and big bats such as Brian McCann and Evan Gattis lurking deeper in the order, pitchers are almost forced to pitch to Altuve. However, in Judge’s case, the only protection he truly has in his lineup is his counterpart, Gary Sanchez, and SS Didi Gregorius. Judge’s defensive promise and offensive star power lead this to be a complicated, yet simple decision for me.

However, in the National League, things get a lot more difficult. Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton, and Paul Goldschmidt basically all deserve the award. Stanton’s league leading 59 HRs and 132 RBIs make it tough not to choose him to win this, but I don’t see him winning it. Paul Goldschmidt is honestly the most consistent player in the major leagues. He is a five tool player with tons of power and contact to all fields. Moreover, Goldschmidt’s base stealing ability and speed are very different from a normal first baseman. A five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and three-time Silver Slugger winner, Goldschmidt may deserve this award, but still, I don’t think he gets it this year. My winner is none other than Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Appearing in all 162 games this year, Votto hit a solid .320, with 36 HRs (same as Goldschmidt) and 100 RBIs (20 less than Goldschmidt, and 32 less than Stanton). Votto led the league in On Base Percentage (OBP) and OPS, but perhaps his most eye-popping stat is his strikeout/walk (K/BB) ratio. Votto walked 134 times this year, and only struck out 83 times. That K/BB ratio, .576, is good for the highest since 2011, and ranks among the highest all time. Again, the one difference that separates Votto from Stanton and Goldschmidt is that Votto has no help in that lineup. Stanton has Ozuna, Yelich, and Dee Gordon, Goldschmidt has Jake Lamb, J.D. Martinez, and AJ Pollock, but in reality, who does Joey Votto have? Adam Duvall? Eugenio Suarez? C’mon MLB, this one should be obvious.

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