As silly as it may sound to some, I’m excited for the NBA season to begin. I think we could all use a little distraction in our lives, and the NBA can provide that distraction in spades. NBA basketball is one of the few sporting platforms that is exciting no matter what team is playing; constant floor pounding action and fan cheering fun. Now that I’ve gotten my inner-childlike sports fan out, let’s take a look at how the NBA East is shaping up for the start of this season.
Old. This team is fucking old. They’ve got great talent, but they’re as old as the dirt on the Appalachian Trail. Ray Allen is 36, Kevin Garnett is 35, and Paul Pierce is 34. All making over 10 Million; all three potentially worth the money, but are also season ending injuries waiting to happen.
That being said, it’s likely Celtics fan’s can still expect a fairly decent season out of the aging big three (the shortened NBA season might be just what the doctor ordered for this team). Garnett will likely still average 16 and 10, Ray Allen will score somewhere around the same and hit every clutch three and free throw he gets, and Paul Pierce will still lead the team in scoring, and make last second stutter-step, turn-around, step-back, midrange jumpers like he does year after year. All of that is still dependent on whether or not they can stay on the court.
That brings me to Rondo. Rondo has proven year after year that he is one of purest, and toughest, point men in the NBA. The man is an assist machine and a defensive nightmare for other teams, not to mention that he is a brick wall defender. He has shown that he can be a leader for years to come.
One of the big stories of this offseason was the possible trade of Rondo and Chris Paul. There was much talk about how the trade rumors might affect Rondo. I would say it’s unlikely to have any affect on him. The man has proven himself to be a true competitor in the biggest moments (Exhibit A: averaging just a hair under a triple-double during the Celtics 2009 playoff campaign). Now, I’m not saying that Chris Paul is not a great player, certainly he is great (he hovers somewhere around the top 5 NBA player) but there is something to be said for team cohesion and an organization being loyal to their players.
The Celtics backup cast, while certainly not as strong as the bench of the 2008 Championship team, is adequate enough for the Celtics to make a late season push. Brandon Bass is an appropriate backup to Kevin Garnett. He has the ability to shoot the midrange jumper with relative consistency, and he can rebound and score around the basket. Certainly he is not as fiery as the veteran, but hopefully some of Garnett’s passion and competitive edge will rub off onto Bass.
Bass has the potential to be a great starter in the future, and at worst an adequate starter. He showed flashes of amazing talent last season when he got minutes in Orlando, and if given proper minutes in Boston, he will do well.
I was hoping to see if Jeff Green could find his role on Celtics this season, but sadly that will not happen. The Celtics have just announced that Jeff Green will miss the season due to surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.
As for the rest of the team, what you see is what you get; some solid backup play and not much more. Keep an eye out for the emergence of the two Celtics rookies, Et’waun Moore and Jajuan Johnson. Both showed flashes of NBA ready talent in their college careers.
NEW JERSEY NETS:
Let’s be honest here, they've got no shot. They’ve got decent talent, but no shot at making a Playoff run. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible that they sneak into the playoffs at the 8th seed (anything is possible with those lower seeds) and with talents like Brooke Lopez and Deron Williams, who knows. Even still, they have no legitimate shot at a playoff run.
Deron Williams is a beast. The man can absolutely light it up and has the ability to consistently put up 19 and 10. AND he already has his jersey retired…for a team that he played only 15 games for…IN TURKEY. He dropped 50 in a game during his time with Besiktas, and while that certainly doesn’t mean anything for what he’ll do this season, 50 points in a game is still 50 points in a game, and it’s a good sign that he’s ready for the season to begin.
Brooke Lopez should be interesting to watch this year. It’s obvious that he is one of the best centers in the league; great post scoring ability, improving midrange shooting ability, and decent defensive presence. The real thing to watch out for this season is his rebounding numbers. Lopez grabbed a dismal 6 rebounds a game, which is appalling for a man of his stature and ability.
There is some talk about a possible trade between Orlando and New Jersey that would swap the home cities of Brooke Lopez and Dwight Howard. Certainly if the Nets can acquire Howard, it makes them better, but I don’t see them making any real noise with Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, and Anthony Marrow as their third best player.
As for the rest of the Nets team, there’s not much one can say about them by way of expectation. They are all NBA players, so if given the time, could be decently productive, but you simply do not know what you are going to get out of the rest of the guys.
The real excitement for the Nets this offseason is the potential move of the Nets from Jersey to Brooklyn. At the very least, the move would signify that the Nets are ready to be a relevant organization in the NBA, and hopefully would be an indication that they are ready to spend the money required to put together a competitive franchise.
NEW YORK KNICKERBOCKERS:
I should probably say that, because I grew up in the Greater Boston Area (and most of my fan allegiance is focused on Boston teams), you might notice a slight negative bias towards anything New York related. I’ll try to keep my observations on the New York teams as objective as possible, but just know that I despise New York teams.
The Knicks actually look pretty promising this year. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Staudamire are, by themselves, enough to lead a team to the playoffs. The addition of Tyson Chandler at the Center spot will do wonders for team defense and will add an extra spark. The Knicks real problem is their coach. It should be clear by now that Mike D’Antoni’s coaching style has not been a success in the NBA. NBA players have long salivated over the chance to play against Mike D’Antoni’s defenses, and D’Antoni gets burned year after year. What the Knicks really need to do is find another coach.
For now D’Antoni is there, so the matter of immediate concern is the point guard position. It is well known that the team had wanted Chris Paul, but now that Paul has gone to LA, the Knicks are left scrambling. Toney Douglas has shown flashes of great scoring ability; but does he have what it takes to lead a team from the point? He seems a natural two-guard more than a point-guard, but has done well, at times, in both positions. It will be interesting to see how the point guard position plays out in New York, but if the Knicks fail to acquire another point guard, Douglas certainly has the potential to excel in the role.
At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, but what about Mike Bibby? Yeah…what ABOUT Mike Bibby? Perhaps the real question is, what about Mike Bibby makes anyone think that he still has NBA game?
As for the supporting cast of the Knicks, it’s fairly decent. Landry Fields showed some promise last year, and Bill Walker can definitely shoot the lights out at times. Hopefully, the Knicks will be able to pull it all together this season and at least make their games against the Celtics competitive.
I just don’t know about teams like the Philadelphia 76’ers. It’s one thing to have a bad team because you don’t have the money to throw at big name players, but its quite another to have a player like Elton Brand on your books for 17 Million a year; it’s like you’re trying to lose. Brand CANNOT lead a team anywhere other than the buffet, so why is he the highest paid player on the team?
The heart of the team is probably Andre Iguodala. Iggy can really do amazing things… sometimes…but is not a great shooter and has a tendency to disappear from games. He could really benefit from a great point guard, something the 76er’s have not had since Allen Iverson. The young guards in Philadelphia, Jrue Holliday and Lou Williams, can do some things, but are certainly not fully developed NBA players yet.
The player that I most like to watch on this team is, without a doubt, Thaddeus Young. He does everything fairly well on a very consistent basis, and has shown flashes of greatness. Overall, you know what you’re going to get from him game in and game out, and I think he will be an All-Star caliber player within the next five years.
Does it seem to anyone else like when great players go to Toronto, it’s like they’re playing in a vacuum. No one notices them, no one cares about them; they’re always considered overvalued because no one else on the team is good enough to eat up their minutes or points. It happened to Chris Bosh; everyone knew he was a great player in Toronto but no one really knew how good, same thing with Vince Carter. So my message to Andrea Bargnani, get out of Toronto while you still can. The Raptors will never put together a decent team because the market is simply not there for a Canadian basketball team. Raptors ownership will never pay for a championship caliber team, and Toronto won’t build a serious fan base until they win a championship. It’s a catch-22.
For all I’ve just said, the Raptors do have some good players that could develop if given the right minutes. Demar Derozan is a fuckin’ baller. The man can fly. I would say that he is one of the most exciting young players in the NBA. No one else on the team has much of an upside. Jose Calderon is decent, but you know what you’re going to get. Jerryd Bayless has some upside, but hasn’t really shown very much. The Raptors are one of those teams that could possibly sneak into the playoffs, but would get swept in the first round.
In spite of having Brian Scalabrine on their roster, the Bulls look poised to make another playoff run. Do I even need to give my thoughts on Derrick Rose? Do I need to say anything other than, MVP? His play speaks for itself. I rank him number one in basketball right now, above Lebron, above D-wade, above Carmelo. With the numbers he puts up and the amount of highlights he has, it’s easy to forget that the man has only been in the league for 3 years, and he has gotten consistently better each year. As you can probably tell, I’m a big D-Rose fan.
The Chicago big men will likely continue to do their big men thing. Joakim Noah will snag as many rebounds as humanly possible, Carlos Boozer will shoot 20% from the field and score 10 points for three straight games, then he’ll have two 20+ games in a row.
The real story in Chicago for this season is: can the Bulls find a championship caliber two guard. Defense is likely what they need out of their starting two guard, with Loul Deng providing great scoring punch behind Derrick Rose (Side Note: As soon as Ray Allen retires, Luol Deng will compete with Kevin Durant for the best pure shooter in the NBA. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCKQfLGeTNY). Richard Hamilton is an interesting addition to the team, but is he really that much of an upgrade over Ronnie Brewer? I question how much Hamilton has left in the tank.
Plus, Scal will be there every night, doin’ his Jackie Moon thing.
Do me a favor, go onto espn.com and check the Cavaliers roster… I’ll wait… I think that's really all I need to say.
When you are resting all your hope on Charlie Villaneuva, you’ve got problems. Sure, the guy has shown himself to be a great scorer at times, that much is true, but when you really need him, is he going to show up? Maybe a better question is: should the Detroit Pistons be comfortable with saying that he is their best player? It’s a rhetorical question.
Tayshaun Princes’ best days are behind him, Ben Wallace is no longer the defensive force he once was. What is this teams identity? There is nothing about the team that makes me think their season will go any different than last season.
I don’t quite know how to explain this, but there is something about the combination of players on this team that I like. We can start at Danny Granger, who is one of the NBA’s best relatively unknown talents. If you are an NBA fanatic, you’re probably cursing me out, saying something like “DANNY GRANGER ISN’T UNKNOWN! EVERYONE KNOWS HOW GOOD HE IS!” First of all, take the caps lock off and calm down; second: NOT everyone knows who this guy is and what he can do. He is not a household name yet, but should be, and will be soon enough.
The acquisition of David West might push this team into a middle-seed playoff team. West can be a force around the hoop and has a streaky midrange game. He can do fantastic things, IF he has a point guard that can feed him the ball where he needs it. Darren Collison might be a guy who can do that (major emphasis on might). He’s had some good moments, and some bad ones, but he’s still fairly early in his NBA career, and could develop into a great scoring point guard.
I’m not exactly sure what to say about Roy Hibbert. I’m not entirely convinced yet that he will be a great NBA center, but his production last season certainly was proof that he can be a good, solid NBA player. Watch out for this team to make some noise in the East this season.
Milwauke has a shot to make the playoffs. It depends on how well Brandon Jennings plays this season, whether or not he can consistently score 20 points a game and dish out 10 assists. Andrew Bogut is a decent center, but won’t do anything more than he’s done in the past. Carlos Delfino can be a good scorer if given the minutes, but he has been fairly inconsistent over his NBA career. There were stretches last season, though, when he was absolutely killing it from the perimeter. He was hampered by injuries a bit, so it might be interesting to see how he does with a full season of starter minutes, IF he gets starter minutes.
OH SHIT, Stephen Jackson is on the Bucks? Well that changes everything. Just kidding. Jackson certainly improves the Bucks chances of getting into the playoffs, but let’s be real, they still won’t make it through Boston, New York, Miami, or even Atlanta.
I feel bad for Atlanta fans, I really do. The team really handicapped themselves when they signed Joe Johnson to a max salary. Not that Johnson isn’t a great player; he IS a great player; he’s just not THAT guy. He’s not the guy you want to rest your championship hopes on.
Josh Smith will likely continue to tear through NBA power forwards like a cokehead tears through an eight ball, as long as he doesn’t shoot it from the outside. He can soar with the best of ‘em, but he shoots like Charles Barkley. He and Al Horford can contend with most of the league’s big man combinations.
The Hawks won the Tracy McGrady lottery! Hopefully, if his knees don’t shatter like glass, he can give them good scoring punch off the bench.
HEY! Michael Jordan owns this team!
It pains me to admit it, but Miami looks really good this year. Like really good. Like better than they were last year when everyone was buzzing about how they were going to break the single seasons win record. The addition of Shane Battier might just prove to be the key for a late season run. He defends like an animal, and can hit the three with some consistency, the two things that the Heat needed last year from Mike Miller and didn't get. Also, Mike Miller may be able to return to the form that was expected of him last season. He was injured for most of last season, so I guess I can give him a pass, and he certainly has proven himself in other years to be very good NBA player, but let’s be honest, he sucked last year.
I could do an extensive analysis of the big three telling you all about how I feel about Lebron and Chris Bosh, but I’m tired of thinking about them. They’re really fucking good and that’s all I care to say.
Will Dwight Howard stay with the Magic this season, or will he be traded? It should be obvious by now that he will be leaving the Magic in free agency either way. If the Magic lose Howard this season, their championship hopes don’t look great. Even if they get Brooke Lopez from the Nets, they’ll likely still be shit out of luck.
Jameer Nelson is a good player, but will he be able to lead a Howard-less franchise? Likely not. Jason Richardson can be an explosive scorer but he’s aging. Hedo Turkoglu is looking more and more like a one-year wonder (what happened to you hedo? you used to be so cool).
The rest of the team is a veritable who’s who of high priced, mid-level NBA talent. Not the kind of team that contend for a championship without Dwight Howard.
They need a center. A real center. Not the hybrid, power forward-center combination that is Javalee McGee. Until they get a big, wide body down low, they won’t make any noise. That’s really all they need. They have a decent, true power forward in Andray Blatche; an amazingly talented point guard in John Wall; decent scoring depth at the two guard; and if Rashard Lewis can get is act together, they might have a halfway decent team.
Still, not decent enough to make a playoff run though.
KV SART POWER RANKINGS:
1 - Heat
KV SART POWER RANKINGS:
1 - Heat