I’m not going to bore you with a typical basketball preview, I want to promote discussion and thoughtful discourse on social media. With the NBA season upon us there are so many story lines and interesting changes that have taken place since we last saw the Spurs and Heat do battle last June. Enough of the small talk, lets jump right in.
1.)The Boston Celtics & Los Angeles Lakers are both TERRIBLE and will both miss the playoffs this year. The Celtics Might as well hold Rondo out for the entire year and the Lakers might as well let Kobe jack up 30 shots a night when he comes back, in order to bring him closer and closer to Kareem’s scoring record.
2.) There are a lot of interesting teams to watch this year but I will be keeping my eye on the Detroit Pistons. With the additions of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith they should be interesting to watch for the amount of bad 20- footers that will be launched by those two and the potential that they can strangle teams defensively with a front line of Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith. However, Spacing on offense will a HUGE issue, huge.
3.) Omer Asik for Jeff Green? Hmmmmmmm
4.) Speaking of the Rockets, will there be chemistry issues between Dwight Howard and James Harden? I’m not sure, but Dwight is very thin-skinned and what space will he be in mentally if he doesn’t get off to a great start?
5.) As a Lakers fan, how long until we get Russell Westbrook, Melo and Kevin Love? I’m ready for another championship run.
6.) The Golden State Warriors will be a fun team to watch this year, especially with the addition of Andre Iguodola, but what will happen to their rotation? They now have Iggy, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, which is a great problem to have, but who’s minutes will get taken this year? Hmmmmmmm…. Sorry Klay. However the key for the Warriors this year will be Andrew Bogut and his health, his presence on defense can lift the Warriors to a deep playoff run this year.
7.) D-Rose BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Screaming out no new friends!!!!!!!!!! That boy is a creature, a monster, with a mean, nasty, competitive streak who brings a certain tenacity that a lot of these BFF’s in the NBA don’t. I love that he’s back, the NBA needs him to break up this babysitter’s club mentality. You can see the anger and nastiness oozing out of his pores during the games, get psyched.
8.) Broooooooooklyn! Don’t look now but there is a new team that is T.O.N.Y. The addition of KG, PP34 & the jet were tremendous additions but having the 6-11 Russian Andrei Kirilenko, who will be like a defensive Swiss Army Knife, especially in the playoffs vs the Miami Heat.
9.) The Pacers have added Luis Scola, CJ Watson and Chris Copeland to bolster their horrid bench, as well as get Danny Granger back from injury, but something still seems a little off about this team. Is Roy Hibbert from the playoffs going to show up, or are we going to get the guy that averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds during the regular season? Getting Granger back is HUGE, but they still don’t have a player that can create shots consistently on the perimeter.
10.) The Knicks are an interesting team. On one hand they added Andrea Bargnani, who will help them on offense, where they are badly in need of another scorer. But what about their defense? Hopefully Tyson Chandler can return to form, but at age 32, in his 12th year in the NBA, will he? Iman Shumpert will be a key player for the Knicks assuming that he has improved enough to where his lack of shooting won’t clog up the Knicks offense. Carmelo Anthony’s scoring is a given, even though you would wish that someone who is 6-8 245 would shoot higher than 45% from the field. The Knicks might back slide to 5th place in the East behind Miami, Chicago, Indiana and the Brooklyn Nets.
11.) So let me get this straight: The OKC Thunder Traded Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins even though Green would have been the perfect “small ball 4” to go against the Miami Heat? Not to mention that Jeff Green and Kendrick Perkins both make $9 Million Dollars a year. The James Harden trade is a fireable offense because not only did you trade the best shooting guard in the NBA, but you let the guy that you got for him, Kevin Martin, walk away, you also helped create another super power in the western conference, the Houston Rockets.
12.) Back to the Houston Rockets, they are looking very dangerous, assuming that Dwight Howard’s back is fully healed. They have the best backup center in the NBA, Omer Asik, assuming they don’t trade him for a power forward( Ryan Anderson for Omer Asik, who says no?). The only hang-up with this team is who is their Power Forward? Greg Smith? Terrence Jones? Two VERY underwhelming options.
13.) Chris Paul or James Harden? Although I think Chris Paul is a very good player but James Harden is a bigger stronger player who will be able to score and get to the free throw line a lot easier in the playoffs than the smaller CP3. Size DOES matter, don’t forget ladies and gentleman, its basketball . This is why I favor guards such as Rose and westbrook over the smaller Paul, because they put so much pressure on a defense do to their size, strength and freakish athletic ability.
14.) That brings us to the LA Clippers, who with Doc Rivers as their new coach have high hopes of raising an NBA Championship trophy this June. On one hand you look at their team and say, “Whoa they have a TON of talent.” But the more you pare their roster down you see that they don’t have a lot of depth when it comes to big men, and they still don’t have a true third scoring option. Not to mention the relationship between Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan has deteriorated to the point where they weren’t speaking the last two months of the season, can Doc ease those tensions? I could see this team making a run to the NBA Finals and I could also see them stubbing their toe in the 2nd round again. Chances are if your best player is under six feet tall…… you can’t win the NBA championship.
15.) The NBA is ever changing, fore nothing shall stay the same at the height of competition, but there is an even greater emphasis being placed on defense in 2014. A player like Paul George who averaged 17.4 PPG last year is looked upon more highly by NBA coaches, GM’s and writers than Carmelo Anthony, who led the league in scoring. Why? Defense. Paul George might not be able to go out and get you thirty points but he can lock his man up, make superstars work HARD to get their points and also be a vital cog in a great team defense.
16.) Kyrie Irving is a true basketball treasure and we should all marvel at his talent. But…..Can he stay healthy? Does he have the competitive nastiness required to lift his team a level? His talent and confidence make him a must watch and a star in the NBA, but now that the honeymoon phase is over, can he get the Cavs to the playoffs? With Bynum, Jarrett jack, Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Varejo in toe, can coach Mike Brown get Irving and this unit to play league-average defense? If he can, they’ll be in the playoffs.
17.) If Rajon Rondo was smart he would sit out for as long as he possibly can, because as a player that is almost completely reliant on his athleticism, no need to risk further injury or to ruin his trade value. Just sit down, the Celtics are trying to take anyway.
18.) How can we mention tanking without talking about the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns? My god….. Philly told their prized rookie Nerlens Noel to sit out the entire 2013-2014 and looking to trade their “veteran” players like Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner. But not to be outdone, the Suns have traded their starting center Marcin Gortat for slop and you have to wonder what they are trying to get accomplished? What is the point of drafting an elite player if the rest of the cupboard is bare and there is now veteran players on the team for him to lean on and show him the way? Are Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle that good?
19. The Minnesota Timberwolves have cobbled together a VERY nice roster, if they can stay healthy. They could use a little more shooting on the perimeter and their defense will be a sieve, but they have Love and Pekovic on the block and the exciting Ricky Rubio. It would be great if they could reach the playoffs this season and provide an entertaining 1st round series. I think basketball fans will Really going to enjoy watching this team play.
20.) So…….There’s this basketball team in Miami….and they’re pretty freaking good LOL. The 2-time defending NBA champions have gotten better, on paper, with the additions of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. However here is my opinion on championship caliber teams: One your superstars are no longer able to carry you it’s OVER. There is no amount of tweaking or additions you can make that will get you back into the winners circle. The only questions for the Miami Heat are can they stay healthy, what will Dwayne Wade look like May, Does LeBron James have anymore left to give, and do the Heat as a 15 man unit have the interest in digging in for another finals run? The last team to make the NBA finals 4 years in a row were the 83’-87’ Boston Celtics. Kobe Bryant once said that a playoff game feels like you just played 2 regular season games and a Finals game feels like you just played 3. Can they do it? Hmmmmmmmmm I’m not sure.
21.)Speaking of LeBron James, he is solidifying himself as a top 10 player all time and is far and away the best player currently in the NBA. But I feel that the Miami Heat ask him to do too much. They want him to score, facilitate the offense, gauge Dwayne Wade’s mood and get him more involved when the situation necessitates itself, be the physical presence in the post, guard the other team’s best player regardless of position, and drag us to the finish line because our 2nd option is only averaging 15.9 PPG in the playoffs. It’s too much. He’s going into his 11th NBA season, with 30,374 regular season minutes, 5,594 Playoff minutes, and not to mention playing in the 2004,2008, 2012 Olympics and the 2006 and 2007 FIBA world championships. That’s a lot of wear and tear but I don’t expect any significant signs of decline this season and he should notch his 5th MVP.
22.) This season I am hoping that fans become a lot smarter. For example there were arguments that the Knicks were a good defensive team last year, because they were 6th in the NBA in opponents PPG. But, in reality the only reason they ranked that highly is because they played at the 28th slowest pace in the NBA, averaging only 92 Possessions per game. They actually ranked 17th in the NBA in points per 100 possessions, which eliminates pace as a factor and only focuses on the actual points they are giving up. Advanced stats are here to stay, the sports world is changing.
23.) Lamar Odom, SMH. I hope he finds a home and some peace of mind, miss this guy in the NBA.
24.) I have a feeling that the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio will take a step BACK this season. I feel like Zach Randolph is coming to the tail end of his prime and the Grizzlies lack of shooting will continue to become a problem. On the other hand with the Spurs, with Manu Ginobli looking like he is point shaving out there half the time, Khwai Leanord’s development will continue to be their tipping point. If he makes “The Leap” then all bets are off and the Spurs are right back in the driver’s seat.
25.) The New Orleans Pelicans are a very interesting team, because of all the young talent on their roster. But, do Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon really fit? They might be looking to make a trade to bring on some pieces that fit better or a veteran player but having Jrue Holliday on this team brings them some legitimacy and they will be in the fight for the 7th and 8th spots in the Western Confrence.
26.) Looking at the Boston Celtics Roster and laughing. Laughing even harder, knowing that Boston has never landed a marquee Free Agent in their storied history.
27.) The Washington Wizards are looking to make a playoff push, and it seems like they have the pieces to make it happen. John Wall seems to be figuring it out and with the addition of Marcin Gortat they should be poised to make a run at a playoff spot. The big question for them is can Bradley Beal make a leap and can Otto Porter Jr. fit his unique skillset with this oddly put together roster?
28. The NBA is placing a big emphasis on “3 and D” players, individuals who can shoot the three point shot a high clip, have size and can be “plus defenders”. Think of players on good teams such as Jimmy Butler, Thabo Sefolosha, Jared Dudley, Shane Battier, Quincy Pondexter, Francisco Garcia, and Jeff Green, Khwai Leonard and Chandler Parsons being at the higher end of the spectrum. If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could develop a corner three point shot……man listen.
29.) The Blazers offer Lamarcus Aldrigde to OKC for Serge Ibaka and OKC’s 1st round pick, who says no? Let’s make this happen.
30.) We here at the #TTO love basketball, so please be on the lookout for a bevy of basketball related content this season, as well as continued NFL and NCAA football coverage.
31.) Let’s go Rick….We’re all rooting for you.
Images credit: Grantland.com