Sneaker Culture in the Association - Fresh Heat!
The NBA is experiencing a seismic shift in the landscape of power. The East boasts three of the best teams within the same division. Toronto, Boston, and Philadelphia each vie for the top spot in in the conference. The West remains dominated by the Warriors, but a look at the top five may surprise you.
The balance of power shifts while competitive nature intensifies. The only constant throughout the league are the kicks that hit the floor every night. OTG Basketball has you covered with the latest heat and breakdown.
Nike LeBron 16
The Narrative: The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves above .500. The purple and gold have strung together a three-game winning streak. Tyson Chandler has made an early impact, imposing his defensive savvy. He secured the win for the Lakers via the game-winning block against Trae Young. They've allowed 96 points in the last two games compared to the 119.1 in the previous eleven.
For good measure, they played against the Kings and Hawks. Regardless, they are valuable wins. Moral victories don't allow to play late into the spring. These are early season must-win scenarios a young team has to learn - trial by fire. It doesn't matter how flashy the offense is, there has to be greater commitment to the defensive end to win games.
Sneaker Talk: LeBron James opened the I Promise School in his hometown Akron, Ohio to help support at-risk youth. Nike continues their excellent storytelling by bringing his philanthropic endeavors onto the court. He donned the special color-way recently. The kaleidoscopic gold swoosh shimmers against the dark-of-night black silhouette, accentuated by a colorful outsole. Something light for kid from Akron.
The Narrative: The Portland Trail Blazers are currently second in the west behind the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Despite the west's competitive nature, the Blazers have snuck their way into the top of the conference each of the last few seasons. After a slow start, CJ McColloum picked up his play earning him Western Conference Player of the Week honors.
He led the Blazers in scoring with 25.7 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, along with 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. The Blazers very quietly won four straight games. A 40-point outburst ousted the Milwaukee Bucks, along with a victory over the Boston Celtics. The Blazers front-office have curated a roster built for the playoffs, after being swept two consecutive seasons. Sustainability is key for this squad, we'll see if they can hold the fort.
Farther south there's great dysfunction in Houston. Who is to blame for the madness? Carmelo Anthony is finding himself on the outside looking in once again, likely to be placed on waivers forcing him to find a more suitable match this season.
After the rough start, it's likely the Rockets will not lead the league in the win column once again. They've gotten worse defensively, botched a Jimmy Butler trade, faced suspensions, and early injury to James Harden. The perfect storm for the front office to use Melo as a scapegoat. All parties involved knew what they were signing up for. A sour relationship with D'Antoni, weakened defensive, and subpar shooting. The Rockets offense targets the long ball, dunks, and free throws. Carmelo targets long two's, rarely puts it on the floor, and lives in the mid-post.
Albeit a relatively small sample size, the writing was on the wall. A commitment competing on both ends has to start with Anthony. He hasn't seen the ball drop much in over a year. He'll need to find a roster and system that will amplify his strengths and help build a shooting rhythm. Gotta Stay Melo.
Sneaker Talk: Images of the Dame 5 have surfaced and with some fiery color-ways too. They are set to release in February 2019. For now, he's lighting up the league in special Dame 4 player exclusives. Adidas athletes around the league lace them up regularly, now a staple among his peers. The Beard's Harden Vol. 3 has made waves around the league, but not nearly as popular as the Dame's kicks. His most recent design honor the brave who fight for our freedom, a Veteran's Day "Desert Camo" edition of the Dame 4.
Nike Kobe Series
The Narrative: The Sixers have acquired Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the end to a drama-filled saga. He'll be playing for much more than a winning record. Butler wants to get paid and the 76ers are expected to agree to a long-term contract at the end of this season.
There has to be some shifting involved to make all the pieces fit. A long-term contract with Butler puts Fultz future in question. Despite the unfathomable malfunctioning (no seriously, you have to see this ), there will be teams that see value, willing to make the play.
Philly will be able to offer Butler a five-year, $190 million contract extension. Jousting for position in the same conference as the Boston Celtics, their present and future sit more comfortably. They have enough assets to bring in big talent for the future. Philly has to set themselves apart now. They already paid RoCo, traded him and weren't going to pay Saric. They can reconfigure the tab to secure talent.
The Wolves are a bit more frugal, not looking to add to their tab. With the addition of RoCo they've secured a reliable 3-and-D player. Saric remains on his rookie deal, with promising upside. They scored new assets who can serve tradable pieces. The newly acquired skillsets allow KAT and wiWiggins to flourish, accentuating their play. This is an opportune moment for both sides to reinvent themselves and solidify their future on the court.
Sneaker Talk: Short and sweet, the Nike Kobe series remains the most popular in the league. Players continue to unleash vintage kicks and classic color-ways. Mamba reigns supreme for another week.
Don't Sleep On This!
Zach Lavine is the fifth leading scorer in the NBA this season. He's put together 27.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 13 games so far throughout his Bulls campaign.
The Los Angeles Lakers are above .500! After putting together a three-game win streak and doing so in exciting fashion, the Lakers are in a good groove. Tyson Chandler has noticeably heighten their defensive prowess and their schedule favors the win column. They face a scorching Blazers team for the third time this season, ready to eclipse them once more. Following Wednesday night, they're set to play the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Cleveland Cavaliers - an opportune stretch to climb the standings in the west. Embracing his free throw shooting woes, LeBron James remains a triple-double threat on any given night. He leads the Lakers with 26.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.1 assists at a 50 percent clip from the field.
The Golden State Warriors will be without their flamethrower in Stephen Curry tonight, out with a left abductor strain. A new injury for Curry, the Warriors are being cautious with his return. Off to an MVP-caliber season, the focus remains on competing in June. Draymond Green will return against the Clippers from his toe injury. Upset he missed the Greek Freak match-up in the Bucks' impressive victory over the defending champs, he's fired up to get back onto the floor.
Kawhi Leonard has elevated the level of play in the east, holding the Raptors atop the conference 12-1. They've won 6 straight and Pascal Siakam scored the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. For the week he averaged a team-high 20 points on 72 percent shooting from the field. Despite rumblings of the Clippers preparing to woo Leonard, he's transitioned nicely in the north. They have a solid rotation, shooters, defenders, post play, and Lowry has even meshed well on the court with the new superstar. Leonard is off to a great start with 24.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and shooting over 40 percent from three. He's still the best two-way player in the league.
🔥 Heavy Heat 🔥
Photo Courtesy: brkicks - Nike Shox BB4 - Vince Carter
Photo Courtesy: brkicks - Puma Clyde Court Disrupt PE - Kevin Knox
Photo Courtesy: brkicks - Nike KD 4 Special PE - PJ Tucker
Photo Courtesy: brkicks - Reebok Iverson Legacy - Montrezl Harrell
Photo Courtesy: brkicks - Air Jordan IV "Cactus Jack" - PJ Tucker
Photo Courtesy: solecollector - Nike Kobe A.D. PE - DeMar DeRozan
Photo Courtesy: brkicks - Air Jordan XII "Gym Red" - Lance Stephenson
The OTG family has you covered with the latest breakdown, Xs and Os, and of course the best heat on the hardwood.
To our veterans, we salute you! Forever grateful for your service, we marvel at your bravery and commitment to freedom. Thank you & Happy Veteran's Day.
Olivier is a lifestyle NBA writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter for more insight into hoops, music, and culture we love