The Dynasty That Never Was? NBA Rivals See Cracks in Warriors’ Armor

Remember when the Golden State Warriors were destined to rule the NBA for the foreseeable future and win, to borrow a phrase, “not five, not six, not seven…” championships?

Ahh, such good times.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Forgive the past tense on that, uh, golden visage, but the injury machete that has lopped off the Warriors’ four All-Stars—Steph Curry (sprained knee), Kevin Durant (cracked ribs), Klay Thompson (fractured thumb) and Draymond Green (sore shoulder, china nike nfl jerseys cheap contused pelvis)—has opposing coaches and executives revising their projections for just how long the franchise’s current run of three NBA Finals’ appearances will go. While the majority still consider them the favorite to repeat as champions and win their third title in four years this year, they all included a big if—as in if they’re healthy, including their two-time league MVP, Curry.hi-res-d21a62f6fb7a4198fdadbe78cbcc52a1_crop_north

“This may be the edge Houston needs,” one Western Conference scout said. “If [Curry] is not 100 percent, I mean.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

While Durant and Green returned Thursday night, and Thompson is expected back sometime in the next week or so, the length of Curry’s absence has yet to be determined—and considering how he wasn’t quite the same two years ago when he resumed playing after a less severely sprained knee ligament, it’s fair to question if he can come anywhere close to that 100 percent mark this spring.

“I would still favor Golden State, but their depth will be challenged,”cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping  said an Eastern Conference executive with a championship on his resume. “I don’t care what era you’re talking about, it requires a certain amount of luck when it comes to health. They’ve had that over the last few years. The law of averages has reared its head a little right now.”

As for how long they will remain the team to beat moving forward, the same executive believes what we’ve seen this season—stretches of indifferent effort along with the injuries—indicates they are beginning their inexorable slide, at least as presently constituted.nfl cheap jerseys nike If they manage to snare another championship this season, he sees them capturing, at most, one more beyond that.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: I’m Still the NBA’s MVP Favorite

Everything was in place. It was going to be the year of Giannis.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

Through his first 10 games, Giannis Antetokounmpo was on a tear and the prohibitive favorite to win MVP. Averaging roughly 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while shooting 60 percent from the field, the Greek Freak was stuffing the stat sheet and one-upping himself with highlight after never-before-seen highlight on a nightly basis.765411d17725169d71089726a3114703_crop_north

After a 32-point effort on 14-of-18 shooting in the Milwaukee Bucks’ 116-107 win over the Golden State Warriors, buy nike nfl jerseys cheap there’s no doubt that Antetokounmpo remains one of the league’s most dominant and valuable players. James Harden and LeBron James may have overtaken him in the public narrative, but he certainly doesn’t think things have changed.

“I still am,” Antetokounmpo told Bleacher Report when asked if he is still the MVP favorite. To be sure, that’s his opinion, yet he acknowledges the public narrative. “I’m one of the best players in the league. We’re going to the playoffs. I’m still in the discussion. I might not be the favorite anymore, but I’m still in the discussion. That’s how I feel.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Bucks forward Jabari Parker added: “He’s the MVP in all our books. nfl nike jersey cheap He’s a great teammate, and we love what he does for us.”

Things have leveled out a little bit. His season numbers normalized to a cool 27-10-5, and his field-goal percentage dipped to 53. He was bearing a Westbrookian load at 34.7 percent usage through his first 10 games, and it might have been difficult to keep up,cheap nike nfl jersey  but that’s hardly reason enough to kill off his MVP case.

“I thought he was too, s–t,” Warriors forward Jordan Bell said when asked if he thought Antetokounmpo would be the MVP. “I don’t think the hype died down. I guess it did, but he’s still killing it. His numbers are the exact same.”

Teams are lining up for Odell Beckham Jr., the contract that could nfl cheap jerseys nike change everything and the NFL’s next great rivalry. All of this and more in this week’s 10-Point Stance.

1. The market for OBJ

The Giants probably won’t trade receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but if they did, there would be a massive market for him. Teams would line up to pay both the high-round draft picks to get him and a huge new contract once they did.hi-res-77d46a5a3a473d78e2f46ee64dbd694d_crop_north

That’s according to sources from several teams, who say the league views Beckham far differently than the Giants do. Other teams see him as nfl nike jerseys for cheap  worth the trouble. In fact, they don’t see Beckham as much trouble at all.

The Giants say they intend to keep Beckham, which is likely the case. However, two sources whose teams have been in contact with the Giants told B/R that they weren’t as definitive about keeping Beckham as they have been in public. Without question, the sources say the Giants are open to business when it comes to Beckham.

Editor’s Note: Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday, nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap the Giants are reportedly asking for at least two first round picks in any potential trade.

Few receivers in the past 10 years—perhaps ever—have possessed Beckham’s raw abilities. The NFL’s best receivers today are Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Beckham. His numbers speak for themselves:On the field, the Giants would be far worse witho cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal ut Beckham. His loss would cripple the offense. The Giants are a four- or a five-win team sans Beckham. That’s the biggest reason they probably won’t trade him. Emphasis on probably.

Off the field, Beckham has been a petulant baby. He was suspended for a bad hit and a brawl with Josh Norman. He was fined for pretending to urinate like a dog while celebrating a touchdown. He’s been called a “prima donna.” He punched a net nike cheap nfl jerseys . He punched a wall. He was recently caught in a compromising video.

Robert Kraft on Drafting a QB: ‘Obviously at Some Point We Have To’

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft knows the team will cheap nfl nike jersey have to figure out a long-term answer at quarterback with Tom Brady turning 41 in August.

Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Kraft acknowledged during the NFL’s owners meetings that drafting a quarterback is something the Patriots need to consider:

“I’m going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to. Not just that, but think what happened in the ’08 season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom [Brady] goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale 11-5 season? I put my faith and confidence in Bill [Belichick]. He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in [and is in] tip-top shape.”hi-res-f7df9277c4df0019dd9fea622c9eb7f5_crop_north

The Patriots have not shied away from drafting quarterbacks. Jacoby Brissett (2016), Jimmy Garoppolo (2014) and Ryan Mallett cheap nfl nike jersey (2011) were all selected by the team within the first three rounds.

Mallett appeared in four games during the 2012 season but never started a game before being traded to the Houston Texans in 2014.

Garoppolo and Brissett started four games to begin the 2016 season when Brady was serving a suspension for his role in Deflategate. The Patriots won three of those four games en route to winning Super Bowl LI with Brady back under center. cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Patriots dealt Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts prior to the start of last season, and Garoppolo was traded to the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 30.

New England’s current quarterback depth chart features Brady nike nfl jerseys cheap china and Brian Hoyer. There’s no indication Brady, even at the age of 40, is slowing down. He was named the NFL MVP last season after leading the league with 4,577 passing yards.

Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors

In February, ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton went through a detailed statistical analysis of the Rockets, attempting to determine whether they’d become the biggest threat to the Warriors’ longstanding dominance. Here’s the key takeaway:authentic nfl jerseys cheap

“While the Warriors should probably still be favored in a playoff matchup because of their potential to tighten up their rotation and play harder when necessary, the gap between them and the Rockets no longer looks nearly as large as we expected before the season.nfl jerseys for cheap  By virtue of their success at full strength, the Rockets have played their way into serious championship contention.”

The gap has closed since Pelton posted that article Feb. 27. While the Warriors have suffered numerous key injuries and continued to hemorrhage points on the defensive end, the Rockets have kept rolling toward the NBA’s best record. Since Feb. 28, Houston’s 9.6 net rating literally triples Golden State’s 3.2.38d293d6cecab58641b36fe098fd9581_crop_exact

Could that change when the Dubs are once again at full strength? Sure. Will it matter that they can “tighten up their rotation and play harder” cheap nfl jerseys during the Western Conference Finals? Of course.

But the Rockets can rely on their starters for more production, too. They’ll also have the luxury of continuity while Golden State attempts to rejigger the offense upon Stephen Curry’s return to the lineup. Perhaps most importantly, they’ll get to play the decisive Game 7 in front of their hometown cheap nfl authentic jerseys faithful at the Toyota Center, where they’re 30-6 with a 9.0 net rating.

This is Houston’s season. The 2017-18 campaign presents a chance for James Harden to shatter the narrative that his performances decline in the postseason, and he’s never before played better basketball. Chris Paul finally gets to go both to and beyond the Western Conference Finals.nfl jersey cheap

Though it’s worth noting you can easily pull a surplus of statistics that support either of these squads, a feeling can sometimes supersede everything else. And this year, Houston has inspired a lot of positive feelings.

Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers

Talented and dangerous as the 76ers may be, they’re going to nfl online store  run into the same problem that first stopped the Cavaliers in these predictions: The Raptors are just…better.

So much of the analysis of the No. 1 seed centers on the team’s depth. Fred VanVleet has been excellent off the pine. Ditto for Jakob Poeltl, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam and virtually nfl jersys everyone under head coach Dwane Casey’s purview who happens to begin games on the bench. Toronto’s 9.5 net rating from its second-string players easily outpaces the mark earned by the No. 2 Houston Rockets (7.9). The Sixers, meanwhile, are down at No. 18 (minus-2.7).10a7f8913e2ae879252ca4f1c22e0052_crop_exact

But as illuminating as that focus can be, it also prevents the starting lineup from receiving due credit.the nfl store

If you’re worried that the Raptors will have to shrink their rotation in the postseason, as so many teams often do, don’t be. Not only should they be able to keep relying on a bench that’s taken down plenty of opposing outfits comprised solely of starters, but their opening bunch has been deadly in its own right. Take a gander at the top net ratings for starting lineups in the Eastern Conference this season:

Philadelphia 76ers, 7.8
Toronto Raptors, 6.8
Boston Celtics, 6.6
Indiana Pacers, 3.9
Milwaukee Bucks, 3.4

No, it’s not a coincidence that the two top marks belong to cheap nfl merchandise our representatives in this penultimate round of the playoffs.

But Toronto has a number of advantages that allow it to make up for the deficit. nike nfl hats Given its playoff experience, the fact its top players have gone through a full professional season before, the high-powered bench and the ability to win nfl official store games on either end of the floor, it should put an end to the upstart Sixers’ deep run.

Cleveland Browns: Punt at Quarterback—Again

When a team is coming off of an 0-16 season and a 1-31 mark over the last two years, we’ve seen its worst-case scenario play out in real time.

But by eschewing a quarterback atop the draft this year, the Browns will ensure they remain firmly in the AFC North basement.

Despite having a quarterback situation that’s become a tragic comedy, the Browns haven’t spent a top-15 draft pick on a quarterback since selecting Tim Couch first overall in 1999. And even when they have taken a QB in Round 1, the pick has been a disaster (see: cheap nfl nike jerseys from china Weeden, Brandon and Manziel, Johnny).

Rather than draft Carson Wentz in 2016, the Browns traded that No. 2 pick to the Philadelphia Eagles. The same happened at No. 12 in 2017 with Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.

None of this year’s top quarterbacks are can’t-miss prospects, largely because there is no such thing. But one of them needs to be atop cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping Cleveland’s draft board, and the Browns need to take him at No. 1.17fd1be79b177e108b29d7fd2c561428_crop_exact

Whoever they pick there won’t be guaranteed to succeed, but for the first time in a long time, the Browns will be able to say they tried.

Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley thinks the team asked Prescott to do too much last season, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“He was still making plays all the time,” Beasley said. “Last year, we asked him to be Superman and relied on him so much. When things broke down he was making plays scrambling. A lot comes with filling some spots maybe where we were weaker and stuff like that.”

The factors that led to Prescott having to don a proverbial cape in 2017 are still there.

While Ezekiel Elliott won’t have a six-game suspension looming over his head this season, Dallas’ pass-catchers remain a mess. Dez Bryant isn’t the receiver he once was. Jason Witten will turn 36 in May. And the team’s biggest free-agent addition at wideout was Allen Hurns, who is a 50/50 bet to get injured signing his contract.

The Cowboys could add a receiver in the 2018 draft, and Calvin Ridley of Alabama—nfl nike jerseys for cheap the top prospect at the position this season—may still be there at No. 19. But Ridley isn’t exactly an instant-impact player.

Dallas’ opponents are going to stack the line, try to stop Elliott and dare Prescott to beat them using this motley crew.

Chicago Bears: Change Not Well-Received

A year ago, the Chicago Bears aggressively moved up to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No.nfl nike jersey cheap  2 overall pick. While Trubisky had an uneven rookie season, it was a difficult campaign to grade.

Even before losing wideout Cameron Meredith and tight end Zach Miller to season-ending injuries, the Bears already had one of the NFL’s weakest receiving corps in 2017. Heading into the 2018 season, that no longer appears to be the case.

While Meredith may depart this offseason as a restricted free agent, Chicago already added the No. 1 free-agent option at the position in Allen Robinson. The Bears also gave former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton a four-year, $32 million deal to serve as an underneath target for Trubisky.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

However, none of that guarantees improvement by Trubisky in 2018. Robinson tore his ACL in Week 1 and missed the remainder of the 2017 season. Burton may have been one of the heroes of Super Bowl LII, but he has only 629 total receiving yards over his four-year career.bec7671c8e7d0761938a7ef62bc08131_crop_exact

Trubisky will be under pressure to take a big step forward as a sophomore, especially given his improved cadre of pass-catchers.cheap nike nfl jersey  However, the new-and-improved Chicago passing game is anything but a sure bet.

Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line ranked 24th in the NFL in run blocking and 20th in pass protection, per Football Outsiders. Right tackle Jake Fisher missed half the season, and left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi finished as Pro Football Focus’ 70th-ranked tackle.

The Bengals have already started to bolster the line, dealing this year’s 12th overall pick to the Buffalo Bills for No. 22 and tackle Cordy Glenn. The Bengals may also use that No. 22 pick on a tackle like Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey or Connor Williams of Texas.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Problem solved, right? Maybe not.

Glenn can play at a high level when healthy, but that “when healthy” caveat keeps getting bigger and bigger. Glenn missed 10 games last year in Buffalo, and the seventh-year veteran has been sidelined for almost half of the last two seasons.

And while there’s some talent at tackle in this year’s draft, it’s a relatively down year at the position. Whether it’s McGlinchey’s low ceiling, Williams’ injury history and disappointing 2017 season or Orlando Brown’s disastrous combine, there aren’t any sure things in 2018.cheap nfl nike jersey

2001-02 Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

DeMarcus Cousins currently possesses the NBA’s best combination of overwhelming physicality and pirouetting finesse, but he still can’t hold a candle to the exploits of prime Shaquille O’Neal. The Los Angeles Lakers center was an absolute monster around the turn nfl replica jersey of the century, throwing opponents for loops in every manner imaginable.

How important was O’Neal to the Purple and Gold?

Well, the team was loaded with talent, featuring O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Robert Horry leading the charge. It went 58-24 during the regular season, then charged through the playoffs, bookending hard-fought victories over the San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings with sweeps of the Portland Trail Blazers (opening round) and New Jersey Nets (NBA Finals).nfl replica jerseys china hi-res-2a839d64c8fe2fb29297d624a604f2d0_crop_exact

And yet, the team could still only muster a meager 1.4 net rating when its bruising big man was pondering new nicknames on the pine. That number skyrocketed to 11.3 when O’Neal played, and his on/off differential (9.9) was rather easily Los Angeles’ replica nfl jerseys wholesale best mark. Bryant, by contrast, saw the team improve by two points per 100 possessions when he wasn’t playing.

Despite operating on the wrong end of 30, Larry Bird shot 52.7 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from three-point territory and 91.6 percent from the charity stripe for the Boston Celtics in 1987-88. And these marks weren’t coming with limited volume, as he took 3.1 attempts per game from beyond the arc and still found time to average six trips to the stripe.

Bird enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the best shooters in NBA history, but this was his coup de grace. He’d never averaged more points (nor did he again), and that career high was established while he spent every game with an unconscious shooting touch. replica nfl jerseys china

This season couldn’t quite stack up with his MVP-winning efforts in 1984, ’85 and ’86, but that was largely due to declining defense as back injuries started to factor into his game. His scoring was still top-notch—especially when you remember that many of the team’s key pieces were starting to show signs of wear and tear, no longer able to draw quite as much defensive attention away from the Indiana State product.

Bird had four other campaigns that didn’t result in trophy ceremonies but replica nfl jersey still deserve historical credit. None can touch this one.

1960-61 Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles Lakers

This is why it’s important to put numbers in historical context.

Just three seasons removed from Seattle University, Elgin Baylor produced a staggering 34.8 points, 19.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists during his average contest for the Los Angeles Lakers in their nfl youth jerseys first campaign after moving away from Minneapolis. But those per-game marks don’t tell the full story, since the entire league operated at a break-neck pace, sprinting up and down the floor and barely hesitating before launching up attempts.

Baylor’s Lakers used 124.9 possessions per 48 minutes, and that mark topped only youth nfl jerseys the New York Knicks (122.9) and Cincinnati Royals (122.8) in the eight-team Association. For the sake of comparison, the Brooklyn Nets are currently the NBA’s fasted team, making the most least of 101.2 possessions per 48 minutes.

This isn’t to discredit Baylor. The Hall of Fame small forward still produced an all-time great season, even pacing the league in PER while he converted one shot after another. But it’s just not quite the same as averaging even 27 points in today’s landscape, if only from a pace perspective. 9bd875ef7ae2ea40026cb37048aa081b_crop_north

It’s the win shares that doom Westbrook.

And while that’s by no means a perfect metric when analyzed in a vacuum, it does bring to light the one glaring flaw with the dynamic point guard’s resume: His team isn’t winning games at an elite level. No matter how much he does by himself, there’s only so many win shares to divvy out when the nfl youth jerseys cheap Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t working their way toward the top of the Western Conference.

Last year’s 55-win campaign had no such drawbacks, and Westbrook was still operating at a historic level, even if Stephen Curry’s exploits were sucking away all the attention.

When you hear Dirk Nowitzki’s name, you should immediately conjure images of him torturing defenses with jumpers. Whether he’s knocking down spot-up triples, rising and firing over an undersized assignment or kicking out with one limb to complete his patented one-footed fadeaway, he’s always had an uncanny ability to pick apart the opposition without sticking near the hoop.

That was never more true than in 2005-06.

This wasn’t his famed 50/40/90 campaign, which came one season later and led to an actual MVP award. He’s even had five years with superior true shooting percentages.

But Nowitzki coupled volume with efficiency better than ever, cheap nfl youth jerseys which led to career highs in PER, offensive win shares, overall win shares and offensive box plus/minus. He admittedly sacrificed some defensive intensity to bring out his best on the scoring end, but it paid off for a Dallas Mavericks squad that won 60 games and advanced to the NBA Finals before falling victim to Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat. nfl youth jersey

Perhaps more importantly, he succumbed to the efforts of his former teammate in the MVP race, then beat Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals. replica nfl jerseys