Editor’s note: Kyle Mangelson is a sophomore at St. Helena High School and a diehard basketball fan. His love for the NBA sparked an idea to create an Instagram account, @the.hoops.wire, which features original content and has gained more than 23,000 followers. “The Hoops Wire” will feature his commentary on the Warriors and the NBA, as a whole, as the season takes shape in the new year.
The Golden State Warriors have announced the long-awaited return of big man DeMarcus Cousins, also known as “Boogie.” The Warriors are planning for Boogie’s return on Friday, Jan. 18 when the Warriors play the Los Angeles Clippers.
This will be his season debut after rupturing his Achilles tendon a year ago. Since his injury, Boogie decided to take a drastic pay cut to sign with the Warriors. His current contract is a one-year deal for $5.3 million. Comparing this to his former contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, $18 million, his decreased pay to play for the Warriors team was due to an almost guaranteed spot in the NBA Finals. Boogie will add an aspect to the Warriors roster that they haven’t had in years: A low-post game. The Warriors play-style has heavily relied on elite guards rather than big men. Although adding an All-Star caliber player like Boogie will offer huge benefits to the Warriors squad, it is proven that post-Achilles injuries have made it nearly impossible for players to perform as well as they once did. Overall, I see Boogie taking a lesser role with the Warriors than previously in New Orleans, but I don’t see that affecting him much. He will only make the Warriors better, which is very hard to imagine.
With LeBron James out for at least a few more weeks with a groin injury, the Lakers have been heavily struggling as of late. Without LeBron, the Lakers seemingly have nobody willing to step up in that leader role. The Lakers are slipping out of the playoff picture. As of Tuesday, they are the nine seed in the Western Conference with a season record of 23-21. They have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games, including a loss to the Cavs, who at the time were on a 12-game losing streak. While LeBron does return in a matter of weeks, if they continued at this current rate the Lakers will be very far from the eight seed. I truly expected the Lakers young core of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram would step up and look like the players they were projected to be. But to be frank, they just look lost. Of course, I knew they wouldn’t be as good as a team without LeBron, but this is just pathetic. If the Lakers want a shot at the playoffs, they’ll have to make some changes. Whether that is via trade or simply doing something different with the current roster, something has to be done.
One topic I would like to touch on is the ongoing struggles of the Boston Celtics. I fully expected them to be a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference at the very least, but they are currently at the fifth seed, and it’s already mid-way through the season. My theory is that they have too much talent on one roster – specifically too much young talent. It’s very hard for Kyrie to be the leader he has always dreamed of being when their game plan is to give the ball to their young players. It’s very clear that they are trying very hard to develop their young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier into stars. I do understand what they are trying to do with their young players, but that isn’t winning basketball in my eyes. Gordon Hayward and Tatum both haven’t lived up to their expectations and it isn’t entirely their fault. I feel that in order to make it to the NBA Finals this season, they’ll have to switch up their game plan on the offensive end and put the ball in the hands of their veterans like Hayward, Irving or even Al Horford.
Lastly, James Harden has completely taken the league by storm, breaking Kobe Bryant’s consecutive 30+ point game streak with 17 straight games. This has been by far the most impressive stretch of Harden’s career, as he has even pushed his team to the fifth seed in the West. Now, this is still not as high as they should be right now in the standings, but keep in mind Chris Paul and Eric Gordon have been out for the majority of the season. And now, their star defensive center, Clint Capela, will be out for four to six weeks. Harden has single-handedly brought this team back into the playoff race. A prime example of Harden’s recent dominance was the Rocket’s 112-94 win over the Grizzlies last Monday night, (this was also the game Harden broke Kobe Bryant’s consecutive 30+ point game streak record with 17 straight games.) Harden recorded 57 points on an efficient 51.5 percent shooting. The Rockets second-leading scorer in that game was Danuel House Jr. with 15 points. Ever heard of him before? Me neither. What Harden is doing is the definition of carrying. He has put this team on his back and succeeded. I fully expect that when Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Clint Capela return, this team will be nothing short of elite.