I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to write an NBA preview article. Actually I can. 28 years. This might be the number one reason for starting this blog. When Mr. Stern (Happy Chanukah) almost kabashed the NBA season I was freaking out. What the hell was I going to write about all winter? Talking about Tebow is too mainstream and will get religious. He’s a Tailback with a decent arm. Defenses will make adjustments. Get over it.
So I wasn’t sure the best way to structure my NBA Preview. I decided to research and report on every team in the league (even you, Charlotte Bobcats), highlighting a few points about each team. It will be broken up into two posts. One for each conference. So here goes the Eastern Conference. HELL YEAH!
(5) Toronto Raptors
Big Off-Season Move: they acquired Jamal Magloire, the first Canadian born Raptor ever! How abooot that, eh?
Why They Are Worth Watching: DeMar DeRozan (what a name) is capable of taking a huge step forward this season. Or it might just be a a case of “good player on a really shitty team” syndrome. I’m not sure.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Andrew Bargnani…so I can tell him how bad it looks for a 7-footer to average 4.9 rebounds per game. C’mon maaaaaaaaaan (I hate Keyshawn for that).
On A Serious Note: They clearly are stuck in re-building mode. They have a smart GM in Bryan Colangelo. But they don’t play defense at all and I’m not sure the young nucleus they are forming (Bargnani, DeRozan, Valanciunas) are tough enough to win in the NBA. Only time will tell.
(4) New Jersey Nets
Big Off-Season Move: Not landing Superman. But they did just sign *Kris
* Kris Humphries Sidebar Theory – The Nets just signed Humphries to a one-year deal for around $8 million…which is the exact same deal KWAME BROWN just got.
Kim’s Ex is 26 years old. Averaged 10.4 rebounds/game last year. A potential double-double machine. But nobody locked him up for a multi-year deal. Why is that you ask? The only explanation can be negative press. Other than Halloween, I’m not sure wearing a Kris Humphries jersey would be a smooth move.
Why They Are Worth Watching: Deron Williams. He is the 3rd best point guard in the league. He makes everybody around him better.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Andrei Kirilenko. Just read this article and you will understand.
On A Serious Note: The Nets have a world-class player in Williams, a borderline star Center in Lopez…and that’s about it. They are way too thin at the wings to really match up against any of the elite teams. Obviously this all changes if/when they land DH12.
(3) Philadelphia 76ers
Big Off-Season Move: Lottery Pick Nikola Vucevic.
Why They Are Worth Watching: They are young. They are deep. They play hard under Coach Collins. In a condensed season that is mucho importante. If Elton Brand can duplicate last year, this team could make some noise.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Coach Doug Collins. He has seen it all. It would be fun to pick his brain.
On A Serious Note: Until somebody steps up as the #1 Alpha Dog, this team will go nowhere in the playoffs.
(2) Boston Celtics
Big Off-Season Move: Brandon Bass? Really?
Why They Are Worth Watching: The Big 3 now take a backseat to Mr. Rondo. He is one of the most electrifying players to watch. There is at least one play a game where you go “holy shit, how did he get up from that?”
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Kevin Garnett. I wonder if he is super intense 24/7. That can’t be healthy.
On A Serious Note: Jesus Allen is 36. Pierce is 34. Garnett is 35. This is most likely their last shot at a ring. I just don’t think they will last playing 5 games in 7 days. And I don’t know if Rondo has the confidence to be the go-to player during the stretch run of games. They will need some help in the form of a mid-season trade.
(1) New York Knickerbockers
Big Off-Season Move: Tyson Chandler.
Why They Are Worth Watching: I’m biased. As a life long Knick fan I’ve seen some really shitty basketball the past 8 years. But then we got Amare. I’ll admit it…I fell in love. It was a youthful, puppy-ish love. And we got Ray Felton. And Will Chandler got inked up and realized he is a beast. And Gallinari got healthy and confident, while still looking goofy and confused at the same time. And we drafted Landry Fields, my basketball role model (even though I’m 5 years his senior). And Toney Douglas came up as the scrappy, inconsistent youngin. We were dishin’ & swishin’ (Clyde even seem rejuvenated in the booth).
And then we traded for Melo. It was the right move, from a basketball perspective. But romantically, it stung.
So now here we are. It’s Mike D’Antoni’s last shot to really bring this new nucleus together. For Amare & Melo to co-exist. For Chandler and Assistant Coach Mike Woodson to infuse defense into this defensively challenged squad.
Personally, I’m slightly pessimistic about it all, while being stupidly excited at the same time. God I can’t wait.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: It’s insulting to Amare for me to acknowledge this, let alone answer it.
On A Serious Note: If Baron Davis can be healthy & motivated by mid-March and one of the rookies (Shumpert, Harrellson) exceeds expections…the Knicks should be fighting for the 3 seed in the East. Excuse me will I go change my boxers.
(5) Cleveland Cavaliers
Big Off-Season Move: Omri Casspi. He’s my NBA doppelganger.
Why They Are Worth Watching: …..You just have to feel bad for them. I hope Kyrie Irving makes a big impact in his rookie year. I’m just not sure he has enough talent around him to keep defenses from zoning in on him.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Antawn Jamison…only to buy him a few tequila shots and give him a hug. I wonder how many times he hits the snooze button in the morning (sidebar – I would give a kidney to play for the Cavs).
On A Serious Note: They are stockpiling youth and draft picks. If the front office makes some good drafting decisions they could turn things around. It’s going to take a few years though.
(4) Detroit Pistons
Big Off-Season Move: Head Coach Lawrence Frank.
Why They Are Worth Watching: The emergence of Greg Monroe (that might be a stretch).
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Greg Monroe – so I can emphasis how important it is that he emerges.
On A Serious Note: What is Joe Dumars doing up there in Detroit? He is spending $19 million this year on Charlie Villanueva & Ben Gordon (role players). He resigned Tayshaun Prince for a 4-year deal, even though he drafted the exact same player in Austin Daye last year. I don’t get it.
(3) Milwaukee Bucks
Big Off-Season Move: Stephen Jackson.
Why They Are Worth Watching: Andrew Bogut and Squad 6.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Stephen Jackson. I’d like to wrap my head around his incessant demands for a contract extension. He is 33yrs old. He’s making $9.25 million this year. He’s guaranteed $10 million next year. And yet he is saying it’s mandatory that he gets a contract extension ASAP. Why is he so desperate for the money? Did he invest everything into Netflix? Does he have 11 children with 7 different women?
On A Serious Note: The Bucks will push for the playoffs…but ultimately Brandon Jennings will determine their future. If he matures into an efficient play-maker then this team can be dangerous.
(2) Indiana Pacers
Big Off-Season Move: David West
Why They Are Worth Watching: Larry Bird has built a playoff-caliber team with smart, prudent signings and drafting players that fit the system. This how a small-market team can contend in the NBA.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Jeff Foster. Jeff, a solid defensive big man & a good locker room guy, had many teams express interest in signing him this year. He passed up the money to resign with the Pacers. Love those stories.
On A Serious Note: The Pacers have the best Power Forward combo (West & Hansbrough) in the league. They are athletic, deep & young. They might surprise some people this year.
(1) Chicago Bulls
Big Off-Season Move: Richard Hamilton (this might end up being the best off-season move of the year)
Why They Are Worth Watching: They have the most complete starting 5 in the league. And Derrick Rose is crazy, stupid fast.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Joakim Noah. I’m so curious how his childhood was, with a tennis star/musician father and a Swedish supermodel mother.
On A Serious Note: If the Bulls front-court (Deng, Noah & Boozer) can stay healthy the sky is the limit.
(5) Charlotte Bobcats
Big Off-Season Move: Corey Maggette. Rumor has it he has never seen a shot he doesn’t like.
Why They Are Worth Watching: To see if Kemba Walker will have an impact in the NBA.
BTW – Is Michael Jordan aware that his starting center is Boris Diaw? I’m not sure I see his logic with this one. I’m also questioning his facial hair decision making.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Corey Maggette. To see if there really hasn’t been a shot he doesn’t like.
On A Serious Note: This team is FUBAR.
(4) Washington Wizards
Big Off-Season Move: Three solid draft picks (Shelvin Mack, Chris Singleton & Jan Vesely)
Why They Are Worth Watching: This team should be fun to watch this year. John Wall is going to explode. JaVale McGee is a freak. Adray Blatche is the laziest good player in the league. All three rookies could make instant impacts. But most importantly, they are going back to old school uniforms!
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: JaVale McGee. Could you imagine if your mom played in the WNBA?
On A Serious Note: New owner, Ted Leonsis has made it his mission to make basketball relevant in DC. They are investing in the future by not locking up aging free-agents to long-term contracts. I expect them to be a playoff caliber team next year.
(3) Atlanta Hawks
Big Off-Season Move: Tracy McGrady
Why They Are Worth Watching: Josh Smith lost 30 pounds this summer and finally looks motivated. Of course this might just be a mirage, but if he stops jacking up 3s and attacks the rim, look out Orlando.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Zaza Pachulia…and then throw my beer in his face. I have this inexplicable hatred towards Zaza. Just writing his name makes me want to bitch slap somebody. Weird.
On A Serious Note: The Hawks could very easily finish with the 4 seed, however I don’t see them getting out of the second round.
(2) Orlando Magic
Big Off-Season Move: Not trading Dwight Howard.
Why They Are Worth Watching: Why leave Orlando? I don’t get it. Dwight is really good friends with PG Jameer Nelson. If they somehow acquire a versatile wing player (they should have gotten Aaron Afflalo or Matt Barnes) the Magic become a legit contender.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Dwight Howard. I would then proceed to talk shit to the largest man at the bar.
On A Serious Note: Who knows how this whole “trade” situation will shake out. It could change the landscape of the division.
(1) Miami Heat
Big Off-Season Move: Shane Battier
Why They Are Worth Watching: I don’t really need to address this one.
Which Player I Would Like To Have A Beer With: Chris Bosh. Mainly because Predator was one of my favorite movies growing up. And Chris Bosh is the reincarnation of the large, sapient and sentient humanoid creature in the movie.
On A Serious Note: Anything less than a championship ring is a disappointment for this team. In order to do that, the following three things must happen:
- Udonis Haslem & Mike Miller need to play like it’s 2008.
- An upgrade at the PG position. Whether that’s Mario Chalmers playing with more confidence, rookie Norris Cole surprising the world, or bringing somebody in.
- Lebron goes HAM. No more 4th-quarter disappearances. No more wanting to be the villain. I’m ready to “witness”.
To Be Continued…