Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Top 5 Small Forwards in the NBA Right Now

The small forward position in the NBA continues to evolve, and many of today's 3's are capable of playing multiple roles on the court. Here are the top five small forwards in the NBA right now:

1. LeBron James
"King James" isn't just the most skilled small forward in the NBA; he's also the best player in the league. He consistently puts up unreal numbers every season, and he took away all doubts about his clutch abilities during the 2012 postseason, leading the Miami Heat to their second NBA title in franchise history. The Heat are currently poised to become one of the great dynasties in NBA history, and I expect LeBron to take his game to an even higher level next season.

2. Kevin Durant
Durant consistently puts up impressive numbers, and he took the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals earlier in the year. At only 23 years-old, Durant will only get better as time progresses, and it's only a matter of time before he secures an NBA title.

3. Carmelo Anthony
"Melo" hasn't been as consistent lately, but he's still spectacular to watch when he's on. Unlike LeBron and Durant, Anthony isn't 100 percent committed on the defensive end, making him a liability at times.

4. Rudy Gay
Rudy is certainly one of the rising stars in the NBA, and he seems to improve every year. The Baltimore native has already proven that he's a reliable scorer, and he pulls down his share of rebounds as well. The 26 year-old still has a few things to learn in terms of getting his teammates involved, but time is on his side.

5. Paul Pierce
Pierce might be in the final chapter of his NBA career, but he's still one of the best small forwards in the league right now. The 34 year-old averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game last season, and the 10-time NBA All-Star still has a little bit left in his tank.

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter.
 

Top 5 Defenders in the NBA Right Now

While many NBA players would rather put points on the board, some remain committed to the art of defending. Here are the top five defenders in the NBA right now:

1. Dwight Howard
Howard had his share of problems last season, but he's still the best defender in the NBA when he's 100 percent focused on basketball. Howard -- who's still recovering from back surgery -- is expected to miss the first couple of months in the 2012/13 NBA season, but I expect him to put up serious numbers when he eventually suits up for the Los Angeles Lakers.

2. Tyson Chandler
Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry might get the credit for the Dallas Mavericks' 2011 Finals victory against the Miami Heat, but they wouldn't have been able to get past LeBron and company without Chandler. The 2011/12 NBA Defensive Player of the Year's aggressive, high-energy personality rubs off on his teammates, and I was impressed with the way he impacted the New York Knicks last season, instantly turning them into one of the top defensive teams in the NBA.

3. LeBron James
Most people associate LeBron with spectacular dunks and shots, but he's also one of the best defenders in the league right now. He's capable of guarding virtually every position on the court, and he never seems to take a play off.

4. Serge Ibaka
Some NBA fans might be surprised to find Ibaka on my list, but the 23 year-old has already established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end. He averaged 3.6 blocks per game during the 2011/12 NBA season (league high), and his best days are still ahead of him.

5. Andre Iguodala
There so many players in the NBA deserving of the fifth spot, but I had to give it to Iguodala. He's one of the best perimeter defenders in the league right now, and I'm sure he'll have an instant impact on the Denver Nuggets' defensive mentality.

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter.
 

LeBron James Isn't Satisfied with His Accomplishments so Far

The basketball gods have been very kind to LeBron James in the past year, and the Miami Heat forward seems confident heading into the 2012/13 NBA season.

LeBron led the Heat to their second NBA title in franchise history during the 2012 Finals, and he followed that up by leading Team USA to a gold medal during the Summer Olympics.

Many criticized LeBron for his decision to take his talents to South Beach, but it was clearly one of the best moves the Ohio native has made during his career, making it all the way to the NBA Finals in his first two seasons with the Heat.

James' multiple clutch performances during the 2012 Playoffs proved once and for all he is indeed one of the greatest players in NBA history, and many basketball fans now recognize him as the best player in the league right now.

LeBron seems hungry heading into the 2012/13 NBA season, and he won't be satisfied with anything less than a second title.

"I'm not satisfied with my career or what I've done so far," LeBron said during a media session. "I've accomplished a lot of things, a lot of goals, but I'm not satisfied with that. … I don't think about what the other greats have done. I know the history of the game, I know what's been accomplished in this league throughout the years, but I'm my own man and I have to make my own mark."

The Heat picked up Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis during the offseason, and they'll need all the extra help they can get in their quest to repeat. The Heat shouldn't have any problems dominating their Eastern Conference counterparts next season, but they'll get some stiff opposition from the west.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs have retained most of their talent, and the Los Angeles Lakers have turned themselves into title contenders by adding Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to their lineup.

Miami's road to a second consecutive NBA title certainly won't be easy, but they do have all tools needed to get the job done.

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter.
 
Sources:
Ethan J. Skolnick, "Miami Heat Media Day 2012: The title defense begins"

Sounders FC Secure Playoff Berth with Draw Against Whitecaps

The Seattle Sounders weren't able to get three points on Sept. 29, but they did clinch their fourth consecutive playoff berth with their 0-0 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Unfortunately for the Sounders, their chances of ending the season with the top spot in the Western Conference are slim to none, and they're now looking at finishing with the second seed at best.

The Sounders had a few chances to score goals, but they just couldn't get anything past Vancouver goalkeeper, Brad Knighton. Fortunately for the Sounders, their defense held up, allowing them to hold on to the third spot in the west.

"Obviously we've done a lot of work all season, so it's great to finally have that officially secured, but our goal is still to get second place so we're disappointed in not getting three points today," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters after the match. "At the end of the game they had a fantastic chance with Camilo [Sanvezzo] so we can be fortunate that we didn't walk out down. We had some chances as well, the deflected shot by [Steve] Zakuani could easily have gone in as well, we had a couple of other shots as well but [Brad] Knighton came up with some saves."

The Sounders have played four matches in the past two weeks, and they'll now get some much deserved rest. They won't have to suit up until Oct. 7, when they host the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field.

With only four MLS games left for Seattle this season, they'll need to make the most of their remaining matches. The Los Angeles Galaxy are currently tied with the Sounders in the Western Conference standings with 49 points, and any mistakes at this point in the season might end up sending the Sounders to the postseason with the fourth seed in the west.

David has been a fan of the Seattle Sounders for the past 3 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter.
 
Sources:
Joshua Mayers, "Mauro Rosales: 'We know that we are in the playoffs with that point…'"