The Jimmy Butler Affect

We sit here in an NBA hiatus missing the game and wondering when it’s going to come back. What we don’t realize is that players are built differently. Think about this for a second … If everyone shared the same mind set and outlook on the game like Jimmy Butler, chills would run down my spine.

Butler is known for his “tell it like it is” attitude and many disagree. Why? Because he’s outspoken? Wants the best for himself and his team? Everyone views him as an “asshole“, but all I see is a player who wants to be the best he can be and be of value to his team and organization. After spending six years in Chicago made a lot of people think that Butler was the next franchise centerpiece when Rose left and ultimately thought the Bulls would prevail with offense centered around Butler, but they chose a different direction as the Bulls traded Butler and their 16th pick for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick. 

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Butler was comfortable in Chicago and loved the system under Tom Thibodeau who coached the Bulls from 2010-2015. Needless to say after he was dealt to Minnesota he experienced some growing pains. Butler’s been used to a “work hard” type of environment where there’s no excuses for a poor work ethic but he didn’t get that with Minnesota. A bunch of young arrogant talent in his eyes and when he spoke up people didn’t agree.

One thing many fail to understand is that Butler isn’t afraid to call out people. That’s what happened in Minnesota where he called out The majority of the team which led to total chaos.

I can understand where he’s coming from because of the way everything ended. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone on doing the right thing, but at the end of the day all he wanted to do is win and work hard. Something you would dream of in a player.

USATSI

On the contrary, the same issues followed him to Philly. Via the JJ Redick Podcast, Butler explains how nothing was ever done behind the scenes in Philly. Where people were scared to step up and be that “bad guy” as Butler mentioned many times. This opens up a much bigger issue. Is Butler looked at as a radical these days because it isn’t the norm to speak your mind behind closed doors? I mean many people do in front of cameras, but how much of that is actually true?

Even though he made a deeper run with Philly he still expressed the same conflicts, but in a different light. Minnesota was more of an arrogant, young core who never knew what the playoffs tasted like and Philly is more of a young, inexperienced, and immature group who can’t get over that hump. Essentially the 76ers are the modern day Clippers without the slogans.

AP Images

For me, Philly needed Butler. Especially in the locker room. His mindset, attention to detail, and the overall willingness to better himself on and off the court are qualities I think every player in the NBA should mirror. After the shot by Leonard (that eliminated the Sixers from the playoffs) the first question that popped in my mind was, “ will Butler return next season”? 

When Butler got to Miami it was the perfect fit. Miami has always been a beautifully run franchise and Pat Riley puts a lot of emphasis on winning now and ability to get out and work hard everyday. Butler fell right in line. The Heat have the fourth best record in the East (41-24) and Butler is averaging 20.2 ppg 6.6 rpg and 6.1 apg his best season he’s had in awhile and career highs in assists and rebounds. 

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Eight guys averaging double digits, a solid core of well-rounded players, and a seasoned vet in Andre Iguodala; their deep playoff run doesn’t seem like a reach. Before Butler got there the Heat finished with a 39-43 record, the ball wasn’t moving around, and the uncertainty of where Whiteside would go wasn’t helping. Since then the Heat have surpassed last year’s win total (41), gutted nearly their whole roster, brought in Butler, Herro, Iggy, Nunn, Crowder, and Meyers, and have been on a tear up until the hiatus. 

The Heat needed a leader and they found one in Butler 

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2020 NBA Trade Deadline: Andre Iguodala Traded to the Miami Heat

Finally, Iggy has been traded. The Saga ends, and he ends up in Miami. Here is how the trade played out:

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Miami Gets
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Memphis Gets
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Minnesota Gets
Andre Igoudala
Jae Crowder
Solomon Hill
Justice Winslow
Dion Waiters
Gorgius Gjieng
James Johnson

Here is how this deal impacted each team


The Miami Heat

Pat Riley does it again. Somehow, a what seemed like an impossible trade was completed. At face value, Iggy may seem to be the most influential player in this deal, and that is just plain wrong. The fact that the heat were able to add Jae Crowder in this deal speaks volumes on the talent of their front office. Crowder is one of the better 3 and D guys in the league, and though he is shooting a career worst from 3 this year, he still has been a valuable contributor off the Grizzlies bench. At times we even saw Crowder taking crunch time shots for the Grizz. The Heat got back one elite helpful piece in this deal, and it is Jae Crowder.

Switching gears to Igoudala; it isn’t the fact that Iggy doesn’t bring some value to the Heat, it is the fact that the sentiment around the league is that Iggy is going to help the Heat so much that they are elevated into the upper echelon of the eastern Conference, and that simply is not the case. The last time we saw Andre Iguodala play basketball was in the 2019 NBA Finals, roughly 8 months ago. We have no clue what Iggy we will get the last few months of the season. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Iggys 2nd year of the extension he signed gets voided his off-season, due to it being non-guaranteed. Iguodala at his best is a solid 10 PPG scorer and an above average defender, so was that really worth Dion Waiters and Justice Winslow?

Solomon Hill will be the 11th or 12th man off of the bench for Miami, he simply was just in the deal to make salaries meet.


The Memphis Grizzlies

There is something brewing in Memphis, NBA fans watch out. Over the last calendar year, the best front office in the NBA has been the Memphis Grizzlies. Move after move, NBA fans questioned their sanity and decision making, and once again they proved us all wrong. The Memphis Grizzlies somehow turned Andre Iguodala into one of the more promising forwards in the NBA, Justice Winslow. Though Winslow has only dressed for 11 games this season, his progression for his career should not be ignored.

Justice has improved his game every season he has been in the league. He went from an athletic wing defender, and transformed his game into a play making-shooting forward. Winslow has shot above 38% from 3 each of the last 3 season, and even had a 10 game stretch where he shot 43% from 3 last season. If he continues to grow in Memphis, they will have found their missing piece for thier young core.

Dion Waiters isn’t a slouch either. Though Dion has had issues with suspensions in the past, we have to give him the benefit of the doubt now. In games where Dion Waiters plays 15 or more minutes, he averages 14.5 PPG on 44% shooting, what team wouldn’t want that. Essentually, he is a chubby J.R. Smith, and the type of guy you want on your team when fighting for the 8 seed. Memphis got a great haul for two average players.


Minnesota

For my thoughts on the Timberwolves, please visit my piece on the DLO/Wiggins deal.


@aiden_hawkins_sports

NBA Mid-Season Awards 2020

It’s officially the second half of the NBA season! Every team has played over 41 games, the trade deadline is coming to a close, and NBA All-Star Weekend is right around the corner. Thinking back to last summer, this NBA season was looking to be one of the greatest seasons ever. So far, it has lived up to the excitement. New exciting faces, an explosion of scoring, records being shattered, the list goes on and on. Since it’s the halfway point of the season, it’s only right to give out the NoLimitJumper NBA Mid-Season Awards.

Sixth Man of the Year: Norman Powell (Raptors)

Runner Ups: Montrzel Harrell (Clippers), Lou Williams (Clippers), Dennis Schroder (Thunder)

After losing Kawhi Leonard to free agency last season, the Raptors were expected to revert back into mediocrity and become a seven or eight seed in the Eastern Conference. As of January 27, 2020, they are second place in the East behind the Bucks, and are tied with the Denver Nuggets for the 4th best record in the entire league. They are in the same spot that they were in last year. Although he is not the sole reason for their success, Norman Powell has shown immense improvement in nearly every statistical category, which has led the Raptors to success over the past few months. The most significant increase that Powell has made is to his efficiency. A man who was once a 28.5% shooter from deep now has the opportunity to be apart of the 50/40/90 club, as he is shooting 51% from the field, 41% from deep, and 84% from the free throw line. He is also second in the league in True Shooting Percentage amongst all shooting guards (14th amongst all players) with a TS% of 63.7. Norman Powell, a man only known for his high flying ability, is now a prolific shooter and overall efficient specimen.

Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra (Heat)

Runner Ups: Mike Budenholzer (Bucks), Rick Carlisle (Mavericks), Quinn Synder (Jazz)

What more is there to be said about Coach Spoelstra that already hasn’t been said? He’s one of the greatest coaches in the modern era and may go down as one of the best to ever do it. He has turned a team that has defined “middle of the pack” in the NBA since 2014, into a potential title contender. One factor that separates himself from his adversaries is his ability to develop talent. He has developed no-name players like Duncan Robinson and Derrick Jones Jr. into solid role players, as well as developing rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn into potential ROY candidates. Lastly, the development of Bam Adebayo has been huge for the Heat. Spoelstra has developed a 9 ppg, 7 rpg, player into an all star. Bam now averages 16 ppg, and 10 rpg, tremendous numbers for him given where he started. Due to his keen ability to develop players, and his leadership on and off the court, Coach Spoelstra has what it takes to lead South Beach to a high playoff birth, and possibly a run for the championship.

Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)

Runner Ups: Devonte Graham (Hornets), Bam Adebayo (Heat),

After being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans last season in a blockbuster deal, Brandon Ingram has grown into an all-star caliber player. Although he has improved on all levels of the spectrum, BI has shown the greatest growth in his offensive ability. Recently, he has been virtually unguardable. He has been averaging 25 ppg on 59% True Shooting Percentage, which is remarkable given the amount of weight he has to carry in order to win games for his team. We all know about the comparisons to Kevin Durant because of his body type and what not, but Ingram has really been playing like the Slim Reaper himself. He scores on all three levels: inside the paint, mid range, and from deep, he’s a walking mismatch one on one, and he has shown great strides in becoming a leader on and off the court. Even at the ripe age of 22, Brandon Ingram is showing us flashes of Hall of Fame potential, and I’m very excited to see what he has in store for us moving forward.

Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant (Grizzlies)

Runner Ups: Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets), Kendrick Nunn (Heat), Tyler Herro (Heat)

The Grizzlies are having their best season in recent memory and it is largely due to the production from Ja Morant. He’s an electric point guard with elite court vision, crafty moves around the rim, and inhumane bounce. Morant has separated himself from his fellow rookies has proven to be the most promising prospect of his class. He has been averaging 17 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 7 apg on 30 mpg. What impresses me the most about Morant is his ability to control the offense. He is seventh in the league in team assist percentage, holding 35% of his teams assists. Ja’s game is very mature and poise, yet flashy and creative. It’s only a matter of time before Ja Morant grows into a superstar talent in this league.

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert (Jazz)

Runner Ups: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Anthony Davis (Lakers), Jonathan Isaac (Magic)

The Stifle Tower is the best shot blocker in basketball, period. Although he only averages 2 blocks per game, (fifth in league), he leads the league in block percentage with 67.6%, that means he blocks more than two thirds of the shots taken on him, that’s insane. He is also top five in the league in defensive field goal percentage with 40%. Rudy Gobert is a hustler, a shot-stuffer, and one of the smartest help-defenders in the league today. At the mid-point of the season, there is nobody who deserves this award more than the Stifle Tower himself.

The Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)

Runner Ups: Lebron James (Lakers), Anthony Davis (Lakers), Luka Doncic (Mavericks)

The Greek Freak is having another MVP season, leading his team to the best record in the NBA… again. Giannis is dominating from all angles of the game. Giannis has become one of the most efficient players in the entire legaue amongst both sides of the ball. He is second in defensive win shares, top five in defensive rating at 98, and he’s leading the Bucks to the best defensive rating in the entire league at 101.7. On top of his tremendous numbers on defense, he does just as well on offense. He averages 30 ppg, 12 rpg, and 6 apg on an exceptional 55% from the field. The scariest part about this season for the Freak, is his shot from deep. Once a 25% shooter from behind the three-point line, Giannis has improved his 3p% to 32%, an impressive jump in such a short amount of time. Giannis is the most unstoppable player in the league, and this season he’s proving that. He is unguardable on offense, especially with the new improvements made to his jump shot, and he is a versatile specimen on defense. There is truly no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he’s only going to improve going forward.

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The NBA’s Most Iconic Moments of the 2010’s

A lot has changed since the beginning of the new millennium. From an NBA standpoint as well as basketball in general. For example, versatility and position-less basketball has made it’s way to the front page of every coaches game-plan on both sides of the floor. Another example is the rapid ascension of the value of a three-point-shot. The three pointer is now the main focal point to nearly every team in the league, as well as college and even high school hoops. The 2010’s has also been a great decade for NBA basketball. Records being broken, super teams being formed, demi-god athletes, 7 foot centers shooting from the logo, I can go on and on. In memory of the end of this spectacular decade, let us look back on the most legendary moments of the 2010’s.


Ray Allen’s “The Shot to Save Miami”

circa June 18, 2013

Being quite young at the time, this shot is one of my earliest memories watching the NBA. This shot is so iconic that you wonder to yourself, “What if he missed? What if the Spurs ended the series right there?” People don’t think about how much weight that shot holds in NBA history. Sure it was a good shot, a game winner to keep the Heat’s finals dreams alive, it was fantastic, but think about all that could’ve been if he missed. Would Lebron still be considered a G.O.A.T? Would Ray Allen still be considered one of the greatest shooters to ever play? Would that Heat team still be considered one of the greatest teams to grace the hardwood? So many questions, so little answers. All we can do is appreciate the talent of the Ray Allen and that Miami Heat team. One of the most clutch shots in NBA history and one of my personal favorite moments as well.


The Warriors Blow a 3-1 Lead in the Finals

circa June 19, 2016

Possibly the greatest Finals series in the history of the league. One of the greatest story lines in NBA history as well. The Warriors break the regular season wins record set by Micheal Jordan, they come back from a 3-1 lead themselves vs. Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder, Stephen Curry is the league’s first unanimous MVP, etc. The Warriors seem like the best team in basketball, by far. But by some miracle, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers comeback from a 3-1 game deficit to win the 2016 NBA finals and King James himself is named Finals MVP. In game 7 alone we got NBA gems such as Kyrie Irving’s fade-away 3 point shot over Stephen Curry and Lebron James’s superhuman block on Andre Iguodala. This Finals series solidified Lebron James as one of the greatest to ever do it. Another reason this event is so iconic is because it is possibly the reason why the Warriors recruited the former MVP, Kevin Durant. We all know how that went. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the rest of the Dubs went on to win the next two championships in pure domination over the rest of the league. If the Warriors capitalized on their 3-1 lead in 2016, would they have had a need to recruit KD? When Lebron James hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2016, he changed history, and proved to all of his doubters that he’s one of the best to ever do it.


Kobe Bryant’s Final Game

circa April 13, 2016

What is there to say about the Mamba that hasn’t already been said. Kobe Bryant, a 15x All-NBA player, an MVP, 2x Finals MVP, and of course, 5 rings, Bryant was the definition of a winner. One of the game’s greatest scorers and fiercest competitors. Kobe had one of the greatest work ethics of all time in any sports. From the stories you’d hear about his workout regiment to his development on the court, this kid was the real deal. In Kobe’s last game in the NBA vs. the Utah Jazz in 2016, the Mamba went out in the most gangster, cold-blooded way possible. He scored 60 points on 50 shot attempts, in true, Kobe fashion. This game really didn’t have any weight to it like the other two events, but it was the end of a Hall of Fame legacy. Love him or hate him, you have to respect what he has done for the game.

Mamba Out

Kobe Bryant

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Three NBA Players that have Come Out of Nowhere

The NBA season began and so far it has been what all fans expected it to be, the league is finally balanced, the “duo” era has begun, and the Warriors are 0-2. Even though the 2019-20 season is living up to the expectations that the fans have set, there have been a few pleasant surprises. There has been a handful of players that have blown their expectations out of the water and begun a campaign to make a name for themselves. Players that prior to watching them play, they were nameless to the majority of the league. With that being said, here are four rising NBA players that came out of nowhere.

Thomas Bryant (Washington Wizards)

The 42nd overall pick made by the Los Angles Lakers in 2017, Thomas Bryant has started to build his career in D.C. after being traded there after his rookie season. In his first season with the Wizards, he averaged 10ppg, 6rpg, and nearly 1bpg. While that may be a decent stat line, the Wizards finished at the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 32-50 record, so Bryant has remained nameless. This season however, Bryant has turned on the burners this season and racked up 15ppg, nearly 10rpg, and 1.7bpg. He is a great asset in the pick and roll, he’s hungry on the glass, and he can step out and hit the 3, what more can you ask out of your second scoring option? Even though the Wizards are still a terrible team, Bryant has become one of very few bright spots for this franchise. In his third season, he has set out to make a name for himself and prove to the league that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

2018-19 Season Stats (Via NBA.com) GP-72 MIN-20.8 PPG-10.5 RPG-6.3 BPG-0.9

2019-20 Season Stats (Via NBA.com) GP-3 MIN-20.9 PPG-15.0 RPG-9.7 BPG-1.7

Devonte Graham (Charlotte Hornets)

We all know very well what kind of team the Hornets are. As soon as Kemba packed up and went to Boston, we all knew that the Charlotte Hornets were going to be bottom feeders in this league for a long time. However, there has been a diamond in the rough found by the Hornets, Devonte Graham. The 6’1 sharpshooter taken 34th overall in the 2018 draft has turned out to be an offensive threat as he has shown exponential growth this season. In his rookie season, he averaged 5ppg while shooting 34% from the field and 28% from 3. He has shown insane growth statistically, scoring 23.5ppg at a 62.5% clip from the field and 75% from three on 8 attempts! Graham is a crafty, efficient guard who shoot the rock, as well as make plays for his teammates. On a team that is expected to be the worst in the league, Devonte Graham looks to make a name for himself as one of the best shooters to come out of the 2018 draft class.

2018-19 Season Stats (Via NBA.com) GP-46 MIN-14.7 PPG-4.7 APG-2.6 FG%-34.3 3P%-28.1

2019-20 Season Stats (Via NBA.com) GP-2 MIN-27.6 PPG-23.5 APG-6.0 FG%-62.5 3P%-75

Kendrick Nunn (Miami Heat)

Coming into the league undrafted out of Oakland University, Kendrick Nunn has been the best surprise so far this season. Nunn now holds a franchise record for most points scored in their first three games at 67 points, an amazing feat for an undrafted rookie. Nunn has gotten off to a great start, scoring 22.3 points per game at an efficient 52% from the field. He has the skill set to become an elite scorer in this league with a tough style of play, a silky smooth jumpshot, and an innate ability to finish around the rim. Nunn, along with young stars like Bam Adebayo and Justice Winslow have led this team to a 2-1 start without their superstar Jimmy Butler, an impressive feat given the young age of these players. If you haven’t tuned in already, tune in now because Kendrick Nunn is the real deal.

2019-20 Season Stats (Via NBA.com) GP-3 MIN-31.8 22.3PPG FG%-51.9 3P%-42.1 SPG-2.0

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