NBA Super Teams: Luck or Strategy?

Ryan C Heffernan Super Teams NBA

The term “super team” is a relatively new phrase in the NBA that describes the concept of adding superstar players to one roster in an attempt to dominate the league. Though this may be every team’s overall goal year after year, it is rarely achieved.

The phrase itself can be considered somewhat belittling due to the fact that many fans today consider it a cheap strategy in order to claim an NBA title as quickly as possible. However, there are countless behind-the-scenes factors that occur in order to build that team over time. General Managers and teams’ front offices work tirelessly to obtain the best players possible, and give their respective organizations the best chance of success.

One of the first instances of a super team breaking out into the league was the 2010 Miami Heat. With an enormous cap space of $48 million, the Heat were able to create the “Big Three.” It all began when Miami drafted Dwyane Wade in 2003. The team saw immediate success with the young player, eventually winning the franchise’s first ever championship in 2006. Following that success however, the Heat were plagued with consecutive losing seasons. Enter LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

In 2010, the first year with James and Bosh playing alongside Wade, the Heat finished with an impressive record of 58-24, clinching the number 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Though they would go on to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals that year, the trio eventually won the championship title the next year in 2012, and again in 2013. Their reign came to an end after losing to the Spurs in the Finals in 2014, though their legacy remained well intact.

The Big Three sparked a movement across the NBA. Front offices around the league have always understood the value of having such immense talent, but few were gifted it. The idea of developing a “super team” then became even more alluring. Combining star players on a single roster seems like the perfect way to immediately become a championship contender, but GM’s understand that this is much easier said than done.

The Golden State Warriors, for example, have been what many consider to be the greatest super team of all time for a few years now. The combined talents of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, to name a few, were enough to claim two NBA titles in 2015 and 2017. The addition of Durant however, sparked controversy around the league. Critics and fans accused him of joining the Warriors due to the almost guaranteed chance of winning a championship, leaving behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. But, General Manager Bob Myers would disagree, saying that this dynasty was created over time, which is true.

As if NBA teams understood the threat that Golden State posed, it seemed as though a few scrambled to compete. The new-era Cleveland Cavaliers (LeBron James’ homecoming) were able to defeat them in the 2016 Finals, but were stopped abruptly in 2017 after the addition of Durant.

Today, the concept of super teams is prominent throughout the league. Here are a few of those teams (excluding the Warriors) with star players and notable additions to their rosters in recent years:

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Russell Westbrook
  • Paul George
  • Carmelo Anthony

Boston Celtics

  • Kyrie Irving
  • Gordon Hayward
  • Al Horford

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • LeBron James
  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Derrick Rose
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Kevin Love

Houston Rockets

  • James Harden
  • Chris Paul
  • Nenê

All of these teams have added another star player quite recently in the wake of the Warriors’ dominance, though to say they’ve done so because of that specifically would be unfair. Dynasties often come from years of building. While flashes of success do occur in super teams, the most successful seem to be from devotion on the front offices’ parts (see San Antonio Spurs).

It is exciting to imagine that a super team is currently in the works that has yet to manifest. Should one come about in the coming years, it would further prove the notion that these super teams are built through dedication, intelligence, and most importantly, patience.

2018 NBA Prospects Every Team Should Consider

Ryan C Heffernan NBA 2018

It may seem too early to begin predicting who the most highly sought after draft picks will be in 2018, but general managers all over the NBA have been diligently studying next season’s upcoming prospects, and a few names clearly stand out in front of the rest.

Considering how much talent was packed into this past year’s draft class, following up with one of equal or even more talent seems impossible. But, that is not the case in the eyes of GMs and analysts all across the league. The following players are some of the many talented prospects that will all, more than likely, make an NBA roster in 2018.

Marvin Bagley III

Transitioning between a power forward and a center, Bagley is an athletic 6’11” player with a style similar to that of Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. Aside from his size allowing him to be dominant in the paint, Bagley’s shooting and handling skills are unlike most other centers his age.

He is set to enter his first season with Duke at just 18 years old, and is expected to have a profound impact almost immediately. This comes just after his announcement that he will forego his senior year at high school to join the Blue Devils for the 2017-18 season. While considering Bagley such an enormous progress seems like jumping the gun, his size and skills are already near NBA-level. If he performs as expected at Duke and declares for the draft following an impressive first season, he very well could be 2018’s first overall pick depending on what team holds that position.

Miles Bridges

With a style of play similar to Russell Westbrook, Bridges possesses the athleticism to play either small forward or power forward at a height of 6’6”. His freshman year at Michigan State showed that his three-point shooting abilities are on par with most NBA players today, but team scouts and his combine performance will judge whether or not it is just a flash.

A problem for Bridges in his college career has been turning the ball over. He averages a decent number of turnovers per game, but that should not be a defining factor in his play. The recently drafted Jayson Tatum struggled with the same issue and was still taken no. 3 overall by the Boston Celtics in last year’s draft. Bridges should prove to be an asset for any team looking to add both speed and size.

DeAndre Ayton

A recent commit to Arizona, 19-year-old DeAndre Ayton has been turning heads throughout the basketball world as a center with the athletic abilities of a strong forward (reminiscent of one Joel Embiid). At 7’0”, he is primed to dominate in the paint, but actually prefers to stay on the perimeter.

His shooting skills are well defined, and he has impressive speed for his size. Team scouts will want to see just how well he plays in his first year at Arizona. Should he have a season as successful as many people expect him to have however, he could easily be the first overall pick in the 2018 draft for a team yearning for a center.

Michael Porter Jr.

Another player entering his first year in the NCAA, Porter has committed to Missouri, and will undoubtedly make an impact almost immediately. Standing at 6’10”, he has the size and skills that may remind one of Kevin Durant. The question is, can he be as dominant in the NBA?

If Porter is able to prove that his passing is on par with his shooting, teams looking for another big man should not hesitate in drafting him, so long as he is still on the board. It will be worth watching how he handles defenders at a college level as well. This may provide insight as to how he deals with much more aggressive NBA defenders. Regardless, Porter is poised to be a standout player in his 1 year at the collegiate level.

What’s Up with the NBA? You’re Not the Only One Asking These Questions

Ryan C Heffernan NBA FAQ

There’s more to basketball than the March madness brackets and NBA junkies. Basketball is a high-competitive sport that provides opportunities, engagement, scholarships, sponsorships and more to any players out there on the court. The NBA is a professional league that makes news and ESPN headlines frequently. Maybe you’re all about the sport or maybe you just want to know more. Whether you’re a fan of basketball or not, here are some frequently asked questions answered just for you.

What is the NBA?

The NBA stands for the “National Basketball Association” and serves as America’s professional basketball league with 30 teams spread out over North America. There are two conferences; the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference.

Together, they have 6 divisions: North West, Pacific, Southwest, Atlantic, Central, and Southeast.

What are the names of all 30 teams in the NBA?

To keep this list organized, let’s split this up by regions.

North West Teams: Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz
Pacific Teams: Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings
Southwest Teams: Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs
Atlantic Teams: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors
Central Teams: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks
South East Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards

In recent basketball news, the NBA has launched a global apparel partnership with Nike, and just released the new uniforms for numerous teams in the league.

When is basketball season?

The NBA season begins in late October and finished mid April. The 2016-17 season began on October 25th and wrapped up on April 12th. This doesn’t include pre-season or any other leagues in basketball.

How many players are on each team?

In the NBA, each team can have 15 total players, which 13 of can be active during a game.

How big is the basketball court?

The NBA regulation basketball court measures 50 ft. wide and 94 ft. long. The rims on the basketball court hang 10 ft above the ground and the basketball measures 9 inches in diameter.

What team is the most recent season’s champion?

The winner of the 2016-17 NBA season are the Golden State Warriors as they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 4-1 win.


How to Play Basketball and Have More Fun

Ryan C Heffernan Basketball Fun

A good basketball player has a love for the game, natural skill and knows their way around the court. Often, baskeball players can also have a competitive nature, the drive to win. Although this is all fun and games, literally, here are a few tips to playing basket without the aspect of competition, and how to simply enjoy your time on the court!


Shoot Without Expectation


Life is about making shots. There’s nothing like the pure adrenalin rush you get when the ball leaves your hands and swishes through the next. However, many players are disappointed when they shoot and miss. Removing the expectation of making the ball in the net will allow you to let loose and have fun. Instead of practicing under pressure, this allows you to practice for fun.


Another way to practice shooting without pressure is by playing basketball games. There are plenty of basketball side games that are much different than the actual standard game we watch the professionals play. Try pickup games like H-O-R-S-E and Knockout. These are just two of many fun games you can play involving the hoop and the basketball, but neither involve traveling, just shooting!


Don’t Compare Yourself


There’s a wise saying and it goes “Comparison kills contentment”. This quote is accurate to basketball players. With so many elements to the game, basketball players take to specific skills. Some players are better at blocking while others are great at making it in the basket. When you focus on how you play the game and what you’re skilled in rather than comparing yourself to others, you’ll have more fun. Each skilled member is what makes a great team player.


Change the Game


Basketball is a widely popular sport that you can play both indoors and outdoors. When the weather’s in favor, take your games outside. The fresh air is great and will be a nice break from playing inside a gym.


Other than changing where you play the game, you can also change how you play the game. Change the rules, make them your own. As long as everyone playing agrees, you’ll notice it might be more fun.


You can ensure you’ll have fun playing basketball without the pressure of competition and comparison. Next time you’re on the court, try these tips for a fun game!

How to Stay Cool on the Court


Summer is right around the corner and the temperatures are slowly rising. This time of year poses heat on the court, especially for pickup games on the court. When playing basketball you and your friends will need to make sure you’re staying cool in the heat while you’re outside on the basketball court. As you and your buddies plan, or even spontaneously, partake in pickup games, here’s how you can beat the heat on the court all summer long.


Your body loses a large portion of water and sodium on hot summer days. Sweat is a natural bodily function that occurs when you play in a pickup game. Because of this, your body needs to hydrate and rehydrate. As an athlete, personally or professionally, you need to ensure you’re staying hydrated. Drink water before, during and after any game you play.


Hard courts, especially asphalt, retain heat and release it through your shoes and into your feet. This can cause your body temperature to be higher than necessary. You want the best basketball kicks for outdoors. Be sure you have good traction, durability and most importantly make sure they’re affordable. Having the right type of footwear for the summer can help you stay cool on the court.


You definitely don’t need a sweatshirt for the court in the summer. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate apparel for the temperature as you play. Try to find activewear that’s lightweight and is made from fabric that dries fast to reduce the amount of sweat. Stretchy or loose material are also good as you’re active on the court. Wearing the right clothing can help reduce the heat.


Although most courts aren’t covered by shade, look around for a place to get out of the sun that’s near your court. If there’s a tree nearby, stand in the shade for a few minutes whenever you’re not playing the game. Give your body a break from the sun whenever you get the chance.


Don’t forget to break between each quarter of the game. Use this time to relax and allow your body to rest. Drink water and go to the shaded area if it exists. A break will give your body the time to get ready for the next quarter, as you allow for a cool-down time.

Summer can be a fun time with a few friends and pickup games. Beat the heat this summer as you play hoops!

An Overview of Basketball History


Ryan C Heffernan: Life Lessons from Basketball

Did you know that the very first type of basketball hoop was repurposed peach baskets? In 1892, that’s how basketball got its named. In Springfield, Massachusetts, a Canadian Doctor by the name of James Naismith instructed the first official game of basketball. Naismith wrote the original rules of Basketball, with 9 of them still implemented today with slight moderation. The final score of the very first basketball game was 1-0, and only played for 30 minutes as the players didn’t quite grasp the concept. The first person to ever score in Basketball was William R. Chase. Because Naismith didn’t have money to invent a new ball, the teams played with a soccer ball and Chase managed to shoot in the peach basket and score. By 1983, new basketball hoops were created out of iron basket and chain.


This new sport spread in popularity through YMCA’s in northeastern states as well as southern Canada. However, due to the roughness of this game, some YMCAs and other facilities banned the game. Originally, a similar game to basketball was played with a rubber ball in mesoamerica. However, much more gruesome, the game was played with the loose team being decapitated by their winning foes. Because of the popularity of the basketball game we know and love today, other facilities picked up the game and that’s how competitive basketball became a sport.


Local leagues started to form among large east coast cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Just four years after the very first basketball game was played, professional basketball as we know it came into the picture. In Trenton, New Jersey two teams formed at the Trenton Masonic temple. Chicken wire was used around the iron, creating cuts and scrapes during this game which embarked the hoop as we know made out of net and still used today.


In 1898, six teams formed the very first National Basketball League (NBL) between New Jersey and Philadelphia. During this time, players were paid $12 per game as they traveled around the country playing with local teams. Colleges joined in forming the collegiate sport of college basketball, with Yale winning the first ever national college league championship going 10-4.


The early 1900’s established a firm foundation of the sport. The first ever African American, Harry “Buck” Lew joined a professional team in 1902. The original formation of contracts came from the Celtics, then known as the New York Celtics who discontinued the allowance of players to switch teams depending on what team paid players more.


After the 1929 stock market crash, teams began to disintegrate due to low attendance and funding. As the economy grew, the game of Basketball did too. Towards the end of the 30s and early 40s, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) grew into two of America’s most followed Basketball competitions.
The first NBA game was played between Toronto and New York on November 1, 1947. Following the rapid growth from the NBA, Basketball made its way through the years to its current state. With salaries rising, rules and regulations adapting and the way of the game evolving into how it’s played today, basketball is now a professional competitive sport followed by Americans all over the nation.

March Madness 2017: A Look Back

Following a dramatic ending to the 2016 tournament with Villanova taking down North Carolina on a buzzer-beating three-pointer, expectations for this year’s NCAA March Madness were high. To say the 2017 tournament was exciting would be an understatement.


Villanova was poised to be another strong contender following their remarkable championship win last season, and for those who filled out brackets beforehand, many had the Wildcats doing the same this year. Unsurprisingly, another favorite to win it all was North Carolina, along with Duke following close behind, as well as Gonzaga, Kansas, and UCLA. Respectively, all of these teams did extremely well as expected. However, that is not to say that 2017 was void of upsets.


The first round of the tournament was full of little surprises. Almost every top-seeded team won with ease in the first weekend, and those anticipated to fall did just that. However, the next round was an entirely different story. After Villanova defeated Mount St. Mary’s in their first tournament win, they moved on to no. 8 seed Wisconsin. Seeing as the Wildcats were a no. 1 seed, very few could have correctly picked the outcome of this game. Wisconsin would hold off Villanova’s explosive offense on their way to a 65-62 victory, effectively dismantling most of the country’s March Madness brackets.


The upsets did not end there. No. 2 seed Duke, another favorite to claim the NCAA title, would be stopped in their tracks by an impressively formidable South Carolina team, whose reign would not end there. The Gamecocks moved onto the next round to face Baylor; the Bears were seeded at no. 3, and were considered favorites in the matchup. South Carolina won by 20 points, moving on again to face an intimidating Florida team, who they also defeated until finally falling to no. 1 Gonzaga. Their extraordinary win streak was something that was certainly unexpected by many.


Another underdog to defy the odds was Xavier, who won their first three games of the tournament against Maryland, Florida State, and Arizona who were all considered serious contenders. However, like many, they too were stopped by Gonzaga’s strong offense and defense. With all of their wins, the Bulldogs would unsurprisingly make it to the championship game, where they met North Carolina; two no. 1 seeds who were contenders from the start.


The title game was very evenly matched throughout, with both teams shooting around a 34% field goal average. What seemed to plague Gonzaga however, was turnovers. The Bulldogs would turn the ball over 14 times total in the game, and the Tar Heels would take advantage. Joel Berry II would lead his North Carolina team in points with 22, making all four of the team’s only three-pointers. His efforts and that of his teammates would secure the 71-65 victory, redeeming themselves from the heartbreaking loss against Villanova just a year ago.


The 2017 NCAA Basketball tournament was nothing short of a drama-filled, sensational showcase of talent. Though many fans’ brackets were deemed incorrect very early on, there’s no denying that the excitement that came with every upset, win or loss, this year’s March Madness surely delivered.

A Crash Course in Defensive Strategy in Basketball

basketball- defense

There are two different types of common defenses in basketball. The types of defenses are person-to-person and zone. There are a number of different ways to execute each defense. Most coaches instruct their team to use the person-to-person defense because it is usually more efficient. When a team uses both methods they are normally ready to guard against any other type of defense.


Person to Person

In the original method of person-to-person, the coach gives each player a specific person to defend. If you are using the full court method of person-to-person, you will start to defend you assigned player when the other team is in possession of the ball. If you are playing a half-court game, you will go to the defensive side of the court and defend your man as soon as he is across the center line.


Variation of the Person to Person

There are two different variations of this method. The first variation includes switching person-to-person. When someone on the offense sets a screen on you, you switch people and pick up whoever has just set the screen. This is done while the person who was guarding that person starts to pick up the person you had. When you switch screens it is more advanced than basic person-to-person guarding. This is normally used when the offense using the pick-and-roll as their main offensive tactic. Sagging person-to-person is the second variation. This can be used when some of the players on the offense are not great shooters from the outside.


Zone Defense

If your team is using zone defense, you will guard a certain area instead of a man. If someone from the offense comes into your zone, it is your job to guard that person. If he leaves your zone, the person who is in that zone then becomes responsible for them. Zone defenses are typically used when the opposite team does not have good shooting from the outside area.


Variations of Zone Defense

There are many different variations of the zone defense method. The classic zone defense variations is a 2-1-2. When this method is used there are two defenders that are responsible for the outside area, as well as one defender who is placed in the middle part of the court, near the foul line. There are also two defenders placed on the inside. A 2-3 zone defense has three defenders on the back line and is great for rebounding. A 1-2-2 zone allows the team to put more pressure on the offense. The zone defense can either be passive or active, depending on how the coach and the team execute the defense. There are many different types of half-court and full-court zone formations that can be used to trap opponents into doing turnovers.


Etiquette to Make You Popular for Pick Up Games


Pick Up EtiquetteBasketball is a great way to make some new friends, relieve stress and get a great workout. We all come out to have a good time and play some ball. However, there’s nothing worse than a fight breaking out over self-esteem tensions amongst each other. Many guys don’t realize that there is proper etiquette to the game, simply for the fact that everyone gets along and has a good time. If you’re new to the weekly pickup games, be sure you apply your etiquette skills for a great game.


Don’t rep your favorite jersey

One of the first rules in the pick up game is to wear your typical workout clothes, not a brand new jersey and Jordan’s. The fact of the matter is that we all love basketball, but repping your matching basketball outfit won’t make you a better basketball player. The matching jersey and sneaks will just catch everyone off guard and make a scene. It also won’t be the most comfortable thing in the world, causing the game to be distracted (which could easily be avoided).  Instead, just wear your normal gym clothes and comfortable basketball sneakers so players can focus on one thing: the court. Again, this isn’t a fashion show, it’s a basketball game. There’s no point in showing off your closet; we’re all fans.


Don’t trash talk

Trash talking on the courts is a no go, especially if you’re new to the game. Look, we’re all just trying to play some basketball, so coming at each other won’t make the game any better. Trash talking the other team will contribute to making matter worse, and possible cause more problems. Remember, we’re all here to have fun and get a good game in. Trash talking won’t help either side of the court win the game.


Play Fair on the Courts

Don’t be a ball hog, pay attention to the game and respect the call. This isn’t third grade anymore. If you don’t want to respect the court or the game, you shouldn’t be here. We’re all here to have fun, so the last thing we want to happen is an argument break out over a called foul. Give it your all. If you don’t agree, just move on. If you’re cocky, that’s great you think so highly of yourself, but the rest of us are just trying to have a good time. That being said, don’t be shy! Try your best and put in your best effort to be a team player. This is a pickup game, not the NBA, so there’s nothing to feel ashamed of.