NBA Analysis: LeBron James' Clutchness, Rajon Rondo Trade Prospects and More

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After LeBron James passed up yet another game winning shot last Friday against the Jazz the debate rages on as to whether the King has the killer instinct late in close games to lead the Heat to a championship.

Discussing if James made the right play passing to an open Udonis Haslem is pointless. A superstar should never defer “the moment” to an average power forward even if he has a wide-open 17 footer. If the player on the other end of that pass were Dwayne Wade or even Chris Bosh than James makes the right play. Otherwise he is doing exactly what the Jazz wanted him to do.

There is a reason it was Haslem’s defender, Josh Howard, that Utah decided to use to double team James. The Jazz wanted Haslem taking the last shot. The whole point of the double team was for LeBron to take the bait and pass to Haslem. James is one of the best passers in NBA history, point guard or otherwise, but when the game is on the line he has to look for his own shot. If he doesn’t than Miami’s championship hopes suddenly take a big hit.

Give all the credit for the Kings staying in Sacramento to the city’s mayor, Kevin Johnson. While the owners of the King’s, the Maloofs, were only concerned with paying off their massive debt whether that was in Sacramento or somewhere else, Johnson made it his mission to figure out a way to keep Sacramento’s only professional franchise in town. If only Seattle’s former mayor, Greg Nickels, had even half of Johnson’s desire to keep the Sonics in Seattle four years ago maybe that situation would have also had a happy ending.

The Celtics have to trade Rajon Rondo before the March 15th deadline. Boston is old and has no chance of winning an NBA title this year. They have one asset that can bring back a decent haul and that’s Rondo. While Rondo’s average offensive game doesn’t make him a desirable player to build your team around he is a top 5 point guard with a very reasonable contract that goes for three more years topping out at $13 million in 2014/15.

Trading Rondo for young talent and draft picks may not sit well with Paul Pierce, who is the only member of the Celtic’s big 3 that is under contract for next year. The alternative, however, is a perennial 42-45 win team (under a normal 82 game schedule) led by Rondo and an aging Pierce that loses in the first or second round every year. Not exactly the ideal scenario for a franchise with 17 NBA titles under its belt.

The Memphis Grizzlies have quietly won 9 of their last 11 games and have risen out of the muck of teams competing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The encouraging news for Memphis is that their recent hot streak has occurred without the services of their best player, Zach Randolph, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since the beginning of January. Randolph is expected back sometime this week and if the Grizzlies can get him playing at a high level by the playoffs, they have a decent chance to make it to the NBA Finals.

  • Betting note: the Grizzlies are currently 17 to 1 to win the Western Conference and 40 to 1 to win the NBA Title.

A popular opinion in some circles is that the Oklahoma City Thunder need another scorer to truly be considered a championship contender this season. Personally I don’t see it. Oklahoma City is currently third in the NBA in scoring at 102.1 points per game and they have arguably the premier scorer in the league in Kevin Durant. They also have a point guard in Russell Westbrook that can fill it up and a third offensive weapon in James Harden that is averaging over 16 points per game.

This is more than enough firepower in the playoffs especially since the postseason usually sees games grind into a half court battle. As long as the Thunder can stay healthy they are the best team in the West and a legitimate threat to take down the Heat or Bulls coming out of the East.