Major injuries to key players change the outlook for the 2014-15 NBA season

Kevin Durant will be forced to sit and watch his team as the NBA season begins thanks to a foot injury sustained during  the preseason.

Reigning MVP Kevin Durant will be forced to sit and watch his team when as the NBA season begins, due to a foot injury he sustained during the preseason. He will be sidelined for 6 to eight weeks.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the beginning of the 2014-15 NBA season approaches, there are more injury concerns that will have an impact on teams which reached last season’s playoffs. General managers and coaches will be challenged to fill large voids left by injured stars.

Chicago Bulls fans are tired of seeing Derrick Rose in a suit like they have for much of the past two seasons. Hopefully, Rose can put his injury woes behind him for good.

Chicago Bulls fans are tired of seeing Derrick Rose in a suit like they have for much of the past two seasons. Hopefully, Rose can put his injury woes behind him for good.

Last year, the Chicago Bulls had their hopes of a deep playoff run dashed again when Derrick Rose went down with a season-ending injury for the second straight season. Brook Lopez’s season-ending injury changed the expectations for the veteran Brooklyn Nets team to do well. Both teams were able to make the playoffs but neither had a deep playoff run.

Pacers fans will likely have to wait until next season before seeing Paul George in uniform again.

Pacers fans will likely have to wait until next season before seeing Paul George in uniform again.

There has already been key injuries to big NBA stars before the season has begun. The Indiana Pacers will be scrambling to replace Paul George, who went down with a gruesome injury this summer while playing with Team USA.

Young guard Bradley Beal has helped the Wizards become a playoff team. They will need him healthy if they plan on improving from last year.

Young guard Bradley Beal has helped the Wizards become a playoff team. They will need him healthy if they plan on improving from last year.

Bradley Beal has been ruled out for the next several weeks which could also change the season outlook for a Washington Wizards team that is looking to build on its playoff success from last year.

The Thunder general manager and coaches will have to make changes to endure Durant's preseason injury.

The Thunder general manager and coaches will have to make changes to endure Durant’s preseason injury.

Perhaps no injury will impact the NBA more than the foot injury sustained by reigning MVP Kevin Durant. Durant is expected to miss the next 6 to 8 weeks as he recovers from the injury he sustained during the preseason. The Thunder are fortunate enough to have another superstar in Russell Westbrook to help the team adapt but there will definitely be a change in the team’s production this season.

Thunder fans are hoping the team responds to Durant's injury the way they did last season when Westbrook missed numerous games.

Thunder fans are hoping the team responds to Durant’s injury the way they did last season when Westbrook missed numerous games.

Time will tell if these general managers and coaches can help thees teams cope with these drastic changes. The Thunder faced a similar challenge when Westbrook started the season injured last year, but there are no assurances the team will have the same kind of success this year. While teams with injured stars can still make the playoffs, there are no guarantees as the league becomes more competitive due to huge player and personnel changes. Read OnPointPress.net for new developments.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a training/benefits consultant and a sports aficionado. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

The NBA learned from ‘Malice at the Palace,’ Will the NFL learn from its woes?

Before the brawl headed into the crowd, there was a dustup between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest.

Before the brawl headed into the crowd, there was a dustup between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest.

By Charles Glover Jr.

On November 19, 2004 the NBA was turned upside down with a brawl that eventually changed the view of players and the league itself. Dubbed the “Malice at the Palace,” the brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons erupted into the stands and earned recognition by the Associated Press as “the most infamous brawl in NBA history.”

The brawl spilled into the crowd as things escalated during the infamous night in Detroit.

The brawl spilled into the crowd as things escalated during the infamous night in Detroit.

Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) was at the center of the brawl that started after Artest and Pistons center Ben Wallace got into a minor altercation. Artest then threw a drink at a fan from the crowd. Artest then charged into the stands and attacked the person that thought was the assailant. Other Pacers like Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’neal were fierce in their support of their teammate during the melee that spread from the crowd onto the court.

The result was a prolonged stain on the image of the NBA as the fight with fans seemed to justify the concerns by some that the NBA had become too boorish and abrasive to accommodate the upscale portion of their fan-base. NBA’s commissioner at the time, David Stern, decided to institute sweeping changes to bridge the gap between NBA fans and its players. Several players received stiff penalties, highlighted by Artest’s 73-game suspension, which was the equivalent to all games remaining in the season.

David Stern was the commissioner of the NBA during the Malice at the Palace and was at the forefront of major changes that eventually benefitted the NBA.

David Stern was the commissioner of the NBA during the Malice at the Palace and was at the forefront of major changes that eventually benefitted the NBA.

The league also made changes to security measures and alcohol limits at games. Shortly thereafter, the NBA instituted a dress code, requiring the players to dress in suits when traveling for games. The dress code was geared towards changing the perception that too many players were distancing themselves from fans by embracing hip hop culture in their dress and attitude. The NBA became the first of the major sports to have such a requirement.

The four prominent participants in the Pacers - Pistons  brawl (l - r) Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine  O'neal, Ben Wallace.

The four prominent participants in the Pacers – Pistons brawl (l – r) Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’neal, Ben Wallace.

There were many opponents to some of the changes, specifically the dress code, as the changes seemed to be an overreaction to the “Malice at the Palace.” However, there was no doubt the NBA as facing an image problem. There was also increasing frustration with the NBA as they struggled in their representation of the USA in the 2004 Olympics and 2006 World Cup. These events provided enough of an impetus by Stern to make major changes to the way people view NBA players.

Stern has made a number of questionable decisions but the approach he took to reshape the image of the NBA at that time was a necessary one. The changes were not popular amongst everyone, including many fans. There was also renewed efforts to bring the best players to international competition. This calculated move helped bring national support to the NBA players during their gold medal run in the 2008 Olympics and thereafter.

The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell (c) could learn from the NBA on how to change league perception following scandals involving Ray Rice (r) and Adrian Peterson (l).

The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell (c) could learn from the NBA on how to change league perception following scandals involving Ray Rice (r) and Adrian Peterson (l).

The changes to NBA policies and initiatives were reactions to a number of negative incidents that were highlighted by the “Malice at the Palace.” Stern and NBA executives were wise enough to sense that there was enough of the fan-base that desired noticeable changes to some aspects of how NBA players operate. There are times when it is necessary to make forceful changes to make a lasting impact and the NBA was able to shift the perception in their favor.

However, the shift in perception took years to take effect. The lesson NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can apply to the current dismal state of affairs with the NFL with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson scandal is that it is necessary to make forceful changes that address the problem. There also must be patience that is earned from operating in a matter that demonstrates that the league is as appalled by the troubles of the league and will take exceptional measures to rectify matters.

(l - r) Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James have helped reshape the NBA image with Team USA and by making an impact in their communities as well as for their teams.

(l – r) Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James have helped reshape the NBA image with Team USA and by making an impact in their communities as well as for their teams.

The NBA now has a number of stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul who are noticed for their great play on the court and positive impact away from the game as well. The NBA has also seen increase in viewership and monetary growth in the 10 years since the “Malice at the Palace.” As the next 10 years unfold, the NBA seems to be miles away from the negativity that surrounded the league in 2004.will the NFL be smart enough to emulate the NBA model, which has improved the league’s image and profitability at the same time? Only time will tell.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindoMES on Twitter.com.

3 Players to watch for in the 2014 NBA Draft

This year's draft class features highly touted freshmen  (l - r)  Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

This year’s NBA draft class features highly-touted freshmen (l – r) Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Thursday June 26, 2014, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will hold its annual draft and as usual there is intrigue surrounding the top pick. Even with top prospect Joel Embiid’s foot injury and subsequent surgery, there is great anticipation for the landing spots of other top prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle.

The Philadelphia 76ers would  use their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams would win NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

The Philadelphia 76ers used their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams won NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

However, there are always players that receive less attention heading into the draft and end up becoming valuable players. This past year’s NBA Rookie of the Year winner, Michael Carter-Williams, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Two years ago Damian Lillard won NBA Rookie of the Year after being drafted 6th overall by the Portland Trailblazers. Additionally, this year’s NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 draft by the Indiana Pacers (and traded on draft day to the San Antonio Spurs).

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

This year there are three players that are a bit under the radar, but can make a significant impact in the near future if they go to the right team that provides the best situation.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Zach Lavine (Guard) UCLA: Lavine is expected to be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round but has top of the first round talent. The 19-year-old 6’6″ guard has dynamic athleticism as illustrated by his 41.5″ vertical jump at the NBA combine. Additionally, Lavine is a combo guard with good ball-handling skills and shooting ability. His inconsistent performance in his only season in college has scouts unsure of how he will translate to the next level. The best fit for him would be the Charlotte Hornets as the 9th pick. His offensive skills, defensive ability, and athleticism would blend excellently with a Hornets team that needs to improve its perimeter play.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Adreian Payne (Foward/Center) Michigan State: Payne is expected to be drafted towards the end of the lottery and there are 14 lottery picks. The 23-year-old senior is ready to contribute right away and sports an impressive 7’4″ wingspan on his 6’10” frame. He is an excellent shooter, making 42 percent of his three-point attempts his senior year in college. He needs to improve on defense but can immediately help a team that can use frontcourt scoring. An ideal fit would be the Denver Nuggets with the 11th overall pick. Their team suffered numerous injuries last season and could be ready to turn things around quickly with a healthy roster and talented draft pick or two.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Cleanthony Early (Small Forward) Wichita State: Early is expected to be drafted towards the end of the first round. The 23-year- old senior gained notoriety with his fantastic play during the NCAA tournament this year. At 6’8″ Early has good size for his position and has demonstrated an ability to create his own shot while also being able to shoot from the perimeter. He has to show improvement on the defensive side but he will be a great addition for a playoff team looking to add bench scoring immediately. The ideal place for Early would be 21at overall, going to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have struggled to get consistent scoring from players not named Durant or Westbrook. The team can remain in position to contend for a championship next season with the addition of player like Early who can make an impact right away.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Are New York NBA teams doomed by poor management?

 

 

New York Knicks Owner James Dolan (l) and Brooklyn Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov (r) have very little to smile as both teams are struggling right now.

 

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Thursday night the New York Knicks (3 – 13) will travel for a few minutes from Manhattan to Brooklyn to play the Brooklyn Nets (5 – 13), in a game that will feature two of the worst teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) at this time. Both teams’ struggles seem to have caught a number of fans off guard, but there were early clues that this would be a challenging season for the teams. The management structure for both teams leaves a lot to be desired and it will be a challenge for either team to turn things around this season.

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King (l) and head coach Jason Kidd (r) have a lot of challenges to overcome to turn the Nets into championship contenders.

Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King (l) and Head Coach Jason Kidd (r) have a lot of challenges to overcome to turn the Nets into championship contenders.

Both teams have dealt with significant injuries and it is still early in the season. However, both teams came into this season with championship aspirations, which seem highly unattainable at this time. Also, there are specific management issues that hold both of these teams back. If things do not improve, neither team will be able to select a player in the first round of the upcoming, highly touted, draft as both teams have already traded away their first round pick for next season. There is optimism for the faithful fans as the Eastern Conference has so many teams off to dismal starts that playoffs still remain a possibility for both teams.

The Brooklyn Nets hired Jason Kidd as their head coach though he had just retired as a player and has zero coaching experience. The head coaching job is a primary leadership position with responsibility for helping the team cope with the rigors of the lengthy season. The problem for the Nets is that the intricacies that go into leading a team to a championship is unreasonable to  expect a first year head coach to grasp. For historical reference, Hall of Fame coach/player Alex Hannum was the last coach to lead his team to the NBA championship in his first season as a head coach for the St. Louis Hawks in 1958. Nets General Manager Billy King is responsible for hiring Kidd and assembling a team full of veterans hoping to make one last playoff push towards the championship. The current controversy surrounding the demotion of current Nets assistant coach (and former Nets head coach) Lawrence Frank creates more doubt about the decision making process for both King and Kidd. Kidd’s recent drink-spilling stunt and well-deserved $50,000 fine also raise more questions about his coaching judgment.

The problems with the Knicks start at the very top with impatient owner James Dolan.

The problems with the Knicks start at the very top with impatient, and mostly clueless owner James Dolan.

The New York Knicks are in a more dire situation due to their problems being firmly entrenched at the very top of their organization with James Dolan. The Knicks owner appears impetuous, clueless and tone-deaf to reasonable feedback. Dolan has been at the helm of a Knicks team that has seen massive turnover throughout the entire Knicks organization over the past decade. It is difficult to install a system of consistent winning with such regular replacement of personnel in top leadership positions. The Knicks have had 5 different individuals serve as president of team operations since 2000. The Knicks have also had 8 different head coaches over the same time period. The constant turnover is clearly not a recipe for success, and this does not include the revolving door of under-achieving players to don the Knicks uniform over the last 13 years.

The Larry O'Brien trophy is awarded to the team that wins the NBA Finals. Will a NY team win this award in my lifetime?

The Larry O’Brien trophy is awarded to the team that wins the NBA Finals. Will a New York- based team win this award in my lifetime?

The Knicks and Nets share similar problems. Neither team has done a good job of consistently drafting players and growing their players to become long-term solutions for the team. Both teams have also spent a great deal of money on big-name free agents with noticeable injury histories. The Nets seem to have a better chance of turning their problems around. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov appears to trust the people he has hired to make basketball decisions. Whether the general manager and head coach can lead this Nets team remains to be seen but it appears they will be given a decent chance to prove themselves. The Knicks appear likely to remain in the same cycle of negligible strides and consistent failure because their owner’s impatience and lack of basketball judgment.

The Knicks have struggled with hiring the proper people in leadership positions and this has a trickle-down effect, negatively impacting every facet of the team. Both the Knicks and Nets will be watching the NBA Finals from home for another season, to the dismay and frustration of their long-suffering fans. In the meantime, teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Indiana Pacers demonstrate that strong leadership, smart drafting, and clever free agents signings are the best combinations for success in the NBA.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant.

3 bold predictions for the 2013-14 NBA Season

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) will lead the Houston Rockets to the championship this season.

Dwight Howard (l) and James Harden (r) will lead the Houston Rockets to the championship this season.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) opened the new season on October 29, 2013 and the prevailing question for this new season is: Will the Miami Heat win a third straight title? Many are predicting a third successful title run for the Heat. That is a natural conclusion considering how well the team has played the past few seasons.

These bold predictions for this NBA season are sure to create a stir. Feel free to comment on which of these predictions (if any) you feel may end up coming true.

Kobe Bryant will have the most challenging individual season of his career this year.

Kobe Bryant will have the most challenging individual season of his career this year.

Bold Prediction No.1: Kobe Bryant will not average more than 20 points per game this season. The Achilles tear that Bryant suffered is a devastating injury that would immediately lower expectations of almost every other athlete for at least one year after  sustaining that type of  injury. Bryant’s reputation for playing through pain has fooled many analysts into believing that he will not only resemble his former self, but that he will do so soon. It is hard to envision Bryant playing before December. Additionally, the rigors of the NBA season will make it difficult for Bryant to create the space for his shot or get past defenders. These factors will lead to a sub par season for the Black Mamba.

John Wall will lead the Wizards to a first round upset in the Eastern Conference this season.

John Wall will lead the Wizards to a first round upset in the Eastern Conference this season.

Bolder Prediction No.2: The Washington Wizards will advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs this season. Four teams in the Eastern Conference are heavily favored to advance in this season’s upcoming playoffs: The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Brooklyn Nets. These four teams have players that have had recent postseason success together. The Wizards, on the other hand, have not made the playoffs since the 2007-2008 season and only a couple of the teams’ players have ever been to the playoffs before. It may seem unreasonable to expect a team with such playoff inexperience to advance but just last season we saw a Warriors team in a similar circumstance unexpectedly advance to the second round.

(L-R) Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Jeremy Lin are the players that will lead the Rockets through the playoffs this season.

(L-R) Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Jeremy Lin are the players that will lead the Rockets through the playoffs this season.

Boldest Prediction No.3: The 2013-14 NBA Champions will be the Houston Rockets.(In full disclosure this article is not being written by a Rockets fan. I root for favorite player Russell Westbrook) so this is not wishful thinking because my desire is for the Thunder to win it all. The reasoning for this prediction is about the Miami Heat’s challenge to win a third straight title and the team in the West that seems best equipped to stop the Heat from reaching that goal. The interior presence of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik can present problems for most teams in the league and the Rockets have excellent perimeter players, led by James Harden, who can not only shoot well but get to the basket and finish. This combination of talent and playoff experience of the Rockets’ two best players (Howard and Harden) seems like a familiar mixture (Celtics in 2008 and Mavericks in 2011) that has led to the accomplishment of ultimate postseason goal: The NBA Championship.–OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.