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The Houston Rockets have landed a huge acquisition.
Sports Columnist Adrian Wojnarowski has reported The Los Angeles Clippers have traded Point Guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. In return, the Clippers acquire Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a first round pick next year from the Rockets. Wojnarowski also reports that Paul informed Clippers he’d sign w/ HOU in FA, so that the Clippers would receive something back for Paul departure. Paul will join All Star Shooting Guard James Harden, creating an interesting new Backcourt duo in the NBA.
The Rockets were in the 3rd seed in the Western Conference this past season, with a record of 55-27. Under new Head Coach Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets exceeded preseason expectations and Harden would be in conversation of being MVP. Harden would average a double-double with 29.1 PPG and 11.2 APG. However, the Rockets would be eliminated in the Playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals. Last season with the Clippers, Paul averaged 18.1 PPG and 9.2 APG. With acquiring Paul at age 32, the Rockets will look to give Harden more offensive and defensive help for the next season.
Credit image: NBA.com/thunder/gallery/Knicks
Russell Westbrook will be an MVP candidate at the end of the season, but will he be in contention for the NBA championship?
Westbrook has been impressive so far in the early season. People expected the Oklahoma City Thunder to have some trouble and take a step back from where they were, but nobody could expect Westbrook to play at this level. He had eight triple doubles so far in the season, with people comparing him to the great Oscar Roberson. He is averaging 30.9 PPG, 11.3 APG and 10.3 RPG and have carried the Thunder to an 11-8 record. The question is can he keep this up?
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Last night in a competitive game , Westbrook led the Thunder in a win against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks would control the game and make it a close game in the First and Second Quarter. By the end of the Second Quarter and on, the Thunder would turn the tables and control the lead the rest of the game. Westbrook would finish the game with 27 points, 14 assists and 18 rebounds. He had help from Enes Kanter who provided 27 points and 10 rebounds coming off the bench and Steven Adams with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Westbrook has been impressive and is a superstar in the NBA, but he’s going to need more to make it in the playoffs. The Western Conference is stacked, with teams like the Lakers or the Kings wanting to get into the playoffs this year. Their is also teams like the Trailblazers, Grizzles and the Rockets having a talented roster to compete for the playoff picture as well.
Westbrook is going to have to play at this level consistently, especially if his team is not going to back him up. Last night was a good night for Kanter and Adams, but more players on the team have to step up and become consistent as well. The NBA season is very long and grueling. If the Thunder gets into the playoffs and even become considered championship contenders, Westbrook will have to play at this extraordinary level and players need to continue to step up. On a positive note, NBA fans are witnessing something special watching Westbrook compete at this level.
Can Indiana get back in the playoffs?
The Indiana Pacers are an interesting team in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers have went through some changes in the off season, most notably the coach Frank Vogel. Vogel has been the head coach for the Pacers since 2011 and has helped the team to two Eastern Conference Finals. Even though the Pacers were in the playoffs, President of the Pacers Larry Bird decided to let Vogel go and move in a different direction. The Head Coach of the Pacers will be Nate McMillan, who has coached teams like the Trailblazers and was the Assistant Coach for the Pacers under Frank Vogel. In retrospect this can be a breath of fresh air for this team.
The Pacers have changed their roster as well, as they acquired a veteran Al Jefferson from the Hornets and Jeff Teague. Teague was traded to the Pacers in the offseason in a three team trade, that sent former Pacers Point Guard George Hill to the Jazz. Teague now playing the Point Guard position in Indiana, is a great opportunity for him to show what Atlanta will be missing. Atlanta decided to go a different direction with Dennis Schroeder as their starting Point guard. Teague averaged 15.7 PPG and 5.9 APG last season, which would be an improvement compared to what Hill had done last year for the Pacers.
Al Jefferson is a interesting acquisition for the Pacers, as they get a productive veteran center they have needed for a long time. Jefferson has been in the league for twelve years and is a tough center. Being with the Hornets for three years, he also has the ability to carry the team on several occasions as well. Jefferson at thirty one years old, may have the best talent around him in his career. With Paul George, Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis, it relieves the pressure of Jefferson(who averaged 12 PPG) to score then with the Hornets. Playing for the Pacers gives Jefferson a fresh start, with a team that can make a run in the playoffs.
Paul George is also hungry to be a champion and gain respect as one of the best players in the game. After a horrific injury in 2014, George is fully healthy going into the season and has got back into the flow of his game. Last season felt more like George getting back to the player he was prior to his injury, which he would average 23.1 PPG which is his career high. This upcoming season George has a new array of talent with Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson, while still having likes of Monta Ellis and CJ Miles as well. Expect George to improve and try to take this team to a new level.
Prediction: The Pacers are a wild card in the Eastern Conference. They finally have a legit threat at the Center position in Al Jefferson. They have also improved the Point Guard position by getting Jeff Teague, who is going to have a chip on his shoulder. Paul George is coming into the season hungry and wanting to prove to the world that he should be in the conversation as the best in the NBA. He is also coming off his best scoring season, which was his comeback season as well. This Pacers team has new life and has potential to be a threat in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana Pacers: third Seed in the Eastern Conference