2014-15 Cards Released: Teams Receive UpGrades and New Players

Phil Graham has released his 2014-15 Statis Pro Basketball cards, and as you would expect, Golden St. is something to behold. Cleveland fans can also enjoy playing “what if” with a healthy Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

With the release of the cards, I will go through and upgrade or add players as needed for the replay. The first cut won’t happen for a several days, so there’s no limit yet. I also picked up the 1978-79 set to cover a gap I had of about 5 years in my replay.

Below are each time, their additions, and the impact on the team.

Atlanta Hawks

Upgrades: Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, John Drew, Dan Roundfield

New Additions: DeMarre Carroll, Armond Hill

Grade: A-  The 2014-15 regular season was good to Atlanta. Players that’ll get minutes see significant upgrades. Korver hits 50% of the time on 6-three point attempts. Teague is all around better. The 1978-79 season also gives the Hawks a major upgrade at PF where Roundfield becomes more effective.

Boston Celtics

Upgrades:

New Additions: Chris Ford, Isaiah Thomas

Grade: D-  Not much here. Neither Ford nor Thomas are liable to make the final 15.

Buffalo Braves

Upgrades: J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan

New Additions: Matt Barnes

Grade: C-  Redick is a better shooter and not as big a liability on defense. Jordan improves an already imposing rebounding core. Barnes adds forward depth.

Charlotte Hornets

Upgrades: Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans

New Additions: Eric Gordon, Omer Asik

Grade: B  The upgrades to Davis, Holiday, and Evans may be small but these are all guys that get major minutes for the Hornets so it’s a good tradeoff. Gordon and Asik add offensive and rebounding power respectively.

Chicago Bulls

Upgrades: Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol

New Additions: Reggie Theus

Grade: B  Gasol and Butler are great additions to the rotation. This team has struggled early, but these two will surely help.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Upgrades: Austin Carr, Tristan Thompson

New Additions: Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith

Grade: B  Love is an instant boost to the offense and the subtle upgrade in Thompson will pay some dividends. Smith’s three point shooting got him on the team while Carr, here mostly for his meaning to the franchise, received enough of an upgrade to warrant at least a look for the rotation.

Dallas Mavericks

Upgrades:

New Additions: Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons

Grade: C+  Chandler helps one of the league’s weakest front courts. Parsons is yet another underpowered small forward in the rotation. At least he can shoot.

Denver Nuggets

Upgrades: Bobby Wilkerson

New Additons: Tom Boswell, George McGinnis

Grade: C-   McGinnis is a nice addition, but Wilkerson and Boswell are low level rotation guys. Today’s Nuggets were not worth a consideration.

Detroit Pistons

Upgrades:

New Additions: M.L. Carr, Leon Douglas, Reggie Jackson, Brandon Jennings

Grade: C  Carr and Douglas are nice addition but go into a crowded rotation. Jackson and Jennings are help but the backcourt quality is still subpar.

Golden St. Warriors

Upgrades: Phil Smith, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson

New Additions: John Lucas, Sonny Parker, Clifford Ray, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green

Grade: A  Curry and Thompson get the shooting upgrades you’d expect, but Curry is better in every statistical category. Thompson received a major shooting upgrade. Even the 1978-79 Warriors added some significant depth. Lots of help coming for the currently struggling Warriors.

Houston Rockets

Upgrades: Moses Malone

New Additions: Trevor Ariza

Grade: A-  Despite the fact that James Harden’s great season didn’t equate to a better card, the Rockets get a fine grade off the power of Moses Malone’s upgrade alone. He suddenly becomes a scorer, as 1978-79 was the beginning of some very powerful Malone years. One of the league’s scariest front courts just got scarier.

Indiana Pacers

Upgrades: George Hill

New Additions: Johnny Davis, James Edwards, Alex English, Ricky Sobers, C.J. Watson

Grade: B  The Pacers got help where they needed it the most. Hill’s solid, albeit shortened, season gave him a significant upgrade. Sobers and Davis give the Pacers must needed guard depth.

Kansas City Kings

Upgrades:

New Additions: Bill Robinzine, Darren Collison, Rudy Gay

Grade: D+    Not a lot to get excited about here, but some nice rotational guys.

Kentucky Colonels

Upgrades:

New Additions: Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins

Grade: D  Wiggins’ can’t shoot but plays decent defense and rebound. Martin can shoot threes but can’t play defense. Oh well…

LA Lakers

Upgrades: Norm Nixon

New Additions: Adrian Dantley

Grade: D+  If it weren’t for Magic, Norm Nixon would be a great starter. As it is, the additions will see minimal but valuable minutes. The current Lakers were too horrible to include anything.

Memphis Tams

Upgrades: Tony Allen, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph

New Additions: Jeff Green

Grade: B-  Allen is a nice upgrade due to his top defensive stats. Gasol and Randolph both improve slightly offensively, Gasol is still a rebounding nightmare. Green adds a solid offensive punch.

Miami Heat

Upgrades:

New Additions: Luol Deng, Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside

Grade: C+ Nothing too significant, but all three are liable to get some rotation time and provide some support.

Milwaukee Bucks

Upgrade: Giannis Antetokounmpo

New Additions: Ernie Grunfeld, George Johnson, Michael Carter-Williams, Jabari Parker

Grade: C+  The Greek Freak is a huge matchup problem at guard. He can rebound, defend, and although he can’t shoot a ton, he does it well when he can. The other three add depth to the Bucks weakest area, the back court. Johnson is a defensive pro.

New Jersey Nets

Upgrades: Brook Lopez

New Additions: John Williamson, George Johnson, Bernard King

Grade: C  King is a nice backup to Erving, Johnson is a rebounding and defensive force. The others are marginal additions.

New Orleans Jazz

Upgrades: Gordon Hayward

New Additions: James McElroy, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Spencer Haywood, Trey Burke

Grade: B+  The Jazz definitely needed help for Karl Malone. Hayward goes from 12th man to instant rotation fixture with his all around upgrade. The additions may not be starter material, but many are sure to help improve the Jazz’s current play.

New York Knicks

Upgrades: Toby Knight

New Additions: Marvin Webster

Grade: F   Webster is an okay front line guy and the only thing about Knight’s upgrade is that Carmelo Anthony may never see time on the floor now.

Philadelphia 76ers

Upgrades: Darryl Dawkins, Caldwell Jones

New Additions: Eric Money, Tony Wroten

Grade: B-  This grade comes from the nice upgrades of Chocolate Thunder and Jones. The 76ers are great, but really only go 6 deep. This upgrades gives them needed front court depth. Wroten and Money can at least provide some minutes in the back court.

Phoenix Suns

Upgrades: Alvan Adams, Truck Robinson, Eric Bledsoe

New Additions: Markieff Morris

Grade: C+ Adams and Robinson are nice upgrades to a weak front court. Bledsoe is solid but part of a crowded point guard group.

Portland Trailblazers

Upgrades: Tom Owens, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews

New Additions: Lionel Hollins

Grade: B  Owens will demand time on the floor with his shooting and defense but Alridge will keep his starting spot with solid scoring/rebounding. Matthews becomes a great backup to Drexler and Lillard is much more effective. Hollins adds point guard depth.

San Antonio Spurs

Upgrades: Kawhi Leonard

New Additions:

Grade: C  The Spurs basically had the best versions of all their greats, but the Leonard upgrade is nice. Much more stamina means he’s not just a quarter or half player now. Better rebounding, defense, and steal rates mean he’s an all around force on what may be the league’s best team.

San Diego Conquistadors

Upgrades: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

New Additions: Cody Zeller

Grade: F  Hard to get much help from a 33-49 team. Kidd-Gilchrist might see some minutes, but Zeller is only here because of his (and my) alma mater. He’s not liable to see anytime.

Seattle Supersonics

Upgrades: Russell Westbrook

New Additions: Tom LaGarde, Enes Kanter

Grade: C  You’d think the 78-79 champions would add more than a backup center, but all the stars from that team had better individual seasons elsewhere. However, Westbrook’s monster season to try to carry the Thunder to the playoffs results in a monster card. It’s a huge upgrade. Kanter also is a surprisingly effective center rotational guy.

Spirits of St. Louis

Upgrades: Victor Oladipo

New Additions: Tobias Harris

Grade C-  Unlike Zeller, Oladipo is not here just because of his alma mater. Instead, he has a pretty good overall card for an off-guard. Harris is a solid scorer, though a defensive liability.

Virginia Squires

Upgrades: Jonas Valaciunas

New Additions:

Grade: D-  At least their lone upgrade was in a position of need.

Washington Bullets

Upgrades: Mitch Kupchak, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat

New Additions: Bob Danridge, Paul Pierce

Grade: A-  Much like Seattle, the Bullets gained more from the current squad than the one that lost the 78-79 Finals. The back court gets a much needed upgrade, and the front court depth is bolstered. A nice boost to to the struggling Bullets.

Day 4: Spurs Trump Lakers; Trailblazers Stop Slump, Conquistadors Shock

Game of the Day:

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San Antonio Spurs 123 at LA Lakers 121

Kawhi Leonard stole the ball from Kobe Bryant to set up Swen Nater’s buzzer beater as the Spurs left Los Angeles with a big win. Magic Johnson did all he could to lead Los Angeles with his remarkable 30 point, 7 assist, and 5 rebound performance, but it was the Spurs bench, led by Artis Gilmore’s 20 points, that led the way. The Spurs subs outscored the Lakers subs 72-39. The heralded Laker front court was stymied all night by the Spurs. Both Jabbar and O’Neal both fouled out trying to contain Gilmore and David Robinson and failed to score 20 points between them.

MVP: Artis Gilmore: 20 points, 3 rebound, 1 block

Buffalo Braves 164 at Atlanta Hawks 172 (OT)

The Braves and Hawks combined for the highest scoring game by far, an exciting overtime game that ended with the Hawks climbing to 2-0. The Braves, despite the 0-2 start, have reason to be optimistic as Blake Griffin rebounded from a horrible game 1 to score 35 points. The Hawks stole the win thanks to 10 points from Eddie Johnson in the extra period.

MVP: Eddie Johnson: 33 points (10 in OT), 3 rebound, 5 assists

Milwaukee Bucks 132 at Boston Celtics 134

The Celtics had to fight a little harder for their second win as the surprising Bucks held a seven point lead going into the fourth. But the Celtics’ Big Three from the 80s lead the comeback, combining for 62 points. The Celtics 23 for 25 free throw shooting sealed the win.

MVP: Larry Bird: 28 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 1 steal

Miami Heat 147 at New Jersey Nets 143

Julius Ervin’s 41 wasn’t enough to give the Nets their first win. Instead, it was the visiting Heat, rebounding from a disastrous game against the 76ers, scoring a crucial road win. Miami never trailed in the second half and the closest the Nets could get was the final score.

MVP: LeBron James: 38 points, 3 rebound, 4 assists, 1 block, 1 steal

Cleveland Cavaliers 147 at Charlotte Hornets 145

Charlotte has been the bearer of bad luck so far. Two losses by a combined five points have put Charlotte in an early hole. This time it was a comeback that came up just short, despite a remarkable 42 point effort by Alonzo Mourning. His great performance was overshadowed by LeBron James who recorded the first triple double of the season. Mike Mitchell continued to excel off the bench for the Cavs as well, scoring over 20 in his second great game.

MVP: Lebron James: 31 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 steal

Spirits of St. Louis 108 at Kansas City Kings 125

The Kings starting backcourt scored 51 while the Spirits’ starting front court combined for an atrocious 11 for 32. Those two factors lead to the Kings to a comfortable first win. The Spirits, who has looked so good in their shocker at Portland, looked lost in the wave of scoring from the Kings impressive guard rotation.

MVP: Colin Rhys: 33 points, 3 rebound, 7 assists, 1 block, 2 steals

Dallas Mavericks 117 at Houston Rockets 133

The Rockets raced out to a 12 point lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 16 point victory over the winless Mavericks. The Mavs continued to get good performances from Rolando Blackman and Mark Aguirre. The two combined for 60 points. But Roy Tarpley and Dirk Nowitski were more than doubled up by Hakeem Olajuwon. The Dream outscored the two Mavs 32-13.

MVP: Hakeem Olajuwon: 32 points, 10 rebouds, 1 assist, 1 block

Detroit Pistons 120 at Phoenix Sun 129

The Suns’ offense continued to impress, even against a strong Pistons’ defense. The Suns scored 41 in the first quarter in route to an 18 point lead. Detroit could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

MVP: Walter Davis: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists

Memphis Tams 104 at Kentucky Colonels 126

The Colonels played more like the division favorites in their second go around. It helped they finally got solid production from Kevin Love. Love scored 21 before fouling out, finally giving help to Artis Gilmore would didn’t have to carry the load himself. The Colonels also got valuable bench minutes from Kevin Garnett (18) and Chuck Person (15).

MVP: Artis Gilmore: 26 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks

Denver Nuggets 132 at Virginia Squires 114

Denver got an important if unspectacular win over the up-and-down Squires. Not a single Nugget scored 20 points though Spencer Haywood and Fats Lever provided valuable minutes. Kyle Lowry continued to be one of the surprises of the season, leading all scorers with 20. Lowry leads the league with 14 made three point shots.

MVP: Fats Lever 12 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals

New Orleans Jazz 123 at Portland Trailblazers 152

After two straight losses, the Trailblazers took their frustrations out on the hapless Jazz, scoring 81 first half points in route to a lopsided win. Eight different Portland players scored in double figures. For the Jazz, their second loss was much like the first. Karl Malone scored a ton of points, 26, but got little help from his supporting cast.

MVP: Clyde Drexler: 20 points, 5 rebound, 6 assists, 1 steal

Seattle Supersonics 135 at San Diego Conquistadors 138

The Supersonics are suddenly 1-2 after being shocked by the Conquistadors. The Conquistadors, nearly completely made up of ABA Players, scored the last six points of the game. Shawn Kemp’s three at the buzzer missed and San Diego escaped with a win and a surprising 2-0 start.

MVP: Chuck Williams: 23 points, 2 rebounds, 13 assists, 2 steals

Philadelphia 76ers 130 at Washington Bullets 125

The Sixers used a 40 points fourth quarter to overcome a small deficit to gain a major road win over an East rival. The Bullets lost despite the heroics of Jeff Ruland. Ruland scored 34, 10 in the final quarter, but he was trumped by Andrew Toney’s 35, 12 of which came in the final period. The Sixers strength continues to be their top six. 113 of their 130 come from just six players.

MVP: Andrew Toney: 35 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal