Its been a busy week for ya boi Bmick: Went to Austin to record a podcast with my Craig on fullsass.com, threw up a couple of blog posts (big ups to my boys Jordan and Alex for blessin’ the game), and last night worked my first private gig as a standup comic (also did my first clean set ever–who knew I had it in me?).
Out of all that activity, the most important thing I did was get that NBA League Pass. Its a game changer no doubt. Now I’m ready for “Tip-off Tuesday” So let’s get it:
New Orleans-Golden State
Three good ass games that night. I’m curious how my boy Stanley Johnson plays. I was so hype on Justice Winslow this season that I forgot all about Stanley Johnson being on the Pistons. Detroit has interesting squad. If they were playing out West they’d be trash, but they benefit greatly from being out east. Later on in the season, I will tell you to avoid this game. But its “TIP OFF TUESDAY DAWG!!!!” We ain’t had no basketball in months. You gotta get it in!
Unless you napping, or peeping game 1 of the World Series, you should at least watch the second half of this game. Don’t get too up or down on either team for Cleveland-Chicago game. Media gonna be overreacting the next day no matter who wins. ESPN will have some bullshit narrative to run into the ground, as Bill Plaschke and other talking heads talk about early warning signs for the losing team. GUYS!! GUYS!! GUYS!!! Calm the fuck down. It’s only game 1 of an 82 season.
You best believe I’ll be up late watching that Golden State-New Orleans game. Coach Gentry getting his ring will be a nice thing to witness for the Pelicans players, but minus Anthony Davis, they really don’t have anything. That is how good “Lil Brow Wow” is. He’s my MVP pick for the year.
Spurs-Thunder (Good Ass Game of the Week)
I was supposed to work my second job this night, but I can already feel this developing cough coming on. [COUGH COUGH WINK WINK ELBOW NUDGE]
Battle for the eighth seed begins.
I’m not saying Cleveland is going to punk out, but this going to be a physical game on the 2nd of back-to-backs for the Lebrons. Go ahead and get that ice bath ready fellas. You’re going to need it. Speaking of physical:
Will be a game chock full of testosterone. If I were a groupie trying to get a meal ticket, this game would be circled on my calendar. There’s some young entrepreneurs holed now in some Sacramento hotel right now, poking holes in condoms and vacuum sealing the packaging.
This game will be full of cool highlights, but will also have loads of stupid turnovers. This may as well be a Rookies vs. Sophomores game with KG and Kobe as the head coaches. I’ll fight off sleep just long enough to watch the first half. I like to leave the betting to Alex Knapp, but I’ll say that there will be at least 3 insane dunks that makes Sportscenter from this one.
“Tap that Vein Thursday”
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch the Pacers play, so unless you really need to see them unveil the
Hickory High uniforms, use the Memphis-Indiana game to be productive.
Side note: Am I the only one who thinks Memphis would be better off playing in the Eastern Conference? They would be beastin’ if they were over there (and they probably should be, they are no longer from Vancouver–also, how many Grizzlies are really in Tennessee?). If they were in the east they’d easily be a top 3 contender.
Dallas-Los Angeles Clippers
I don’t know about this one either. Use Thursday night to build up cache with your loved one. Its early in the season, but every little bit counts. Unless you and your wife are hardcore Mavs fans, and you want to brainwash your infant into being a Mavs fan too, I’d say do something else. Its only the first week. This matchup will mean a lot more as the season moves along.
Its going to be a busy night for the Mickster. The World Series will have moved to what is currently my favorite American city (Queens representin’), I’ll be showing my face at a Halloween party that night (dressed as you guessed it, an NBA ref), and there are a ton of games.
Houston-Golden State and Miami-Cleveland will be the main attractions, but with NBA League PASS, I can go home and watch the Portland-Phoenix, Lakers-Kings, and Bulls-Pistons games after the fact. #GAMECHANGER
Its Halloween. Don’t bother. Golden State-New Orleans play again for the 2nd night in one week, and on the 2nd night of a back-to-back.In fact, everybody plays back to back on Halloween. Do yourself a favor and go get liquored up and make a bad decision or two (nothing that you can’t videotape or that will get you thrown in jail).
Sunday (First of tha month)
Can you think of a better way to nurse a hangover than to watch the Spurs beat the Celtics?
Houston-Miami won’t be a bad watch either, and you could do worse things than tune in to Milwaukee-Toronto.
Runner-up to the Good Ass Game of the Week.
Portland-Minnesota and Suns-Clippers
are worth checking out during timeouts and commercials, but honestly the highlights will be better than the games themselves. No disrespect to the fan base of either franchises, but you know what it is.
Big Ups of the Week to:
Jerry Colangelo USA basketball committee for finally doing what is right. Gregg Popovich has done as much for the game of basketball as anyone not named James Naismith. This is a win for everyone involved, but most of all this is a win for the game of basketball. I’m getting choked up just writing about this. Big ups!
So that’s it. The NBA season starts on Tuesday, and I couldn’t be happier. Basketball season is finally here. GOOD NEWS. GOOD NEEEEWWWWWWWWHHHHHHOOOOOOSSSSSSS.
Shout out to the Mets and the Royals for what will be a classic World Series. I think the Royals will take it in 7. I’ll be happy for either fan base no matter who wins. Although,I’ll just be more happier Mets fans. Kansas City is in Missouri after all. And we all know how I feel about that state.
[Editor’s Note: Although I don’t agree with ANY of the assertions posted below, I did find the piece to be funny and well written. It’s also the perfect counterpoint to today’s earlier post on RUN-OKC.]
Kevin Durant is a six-time All Star, five time All-NBA First Teamer, Rookie of the Year in 2008, and NBA MVP in 2014. He also has the honor of being my least favorite player in the NBA.
Our star crossed hate stems from a place of honest and sincere love. Growing up in Portland, OR (Go Blazers, I guess), I remember being one of two kids in my high school that has hoping our home team Trail Blazers would draft Kevin Durant over Greg Oden (shoutout to David Skolnik, being on Team Durant with me).
As it became more and more clear that the Blazers would be drafting Greg Oden, the more I, a noted contrarian, doubled down on the Durant love. I would tell my classmates that Durant would be twice the player Oden was within two years of the draft.
Greg Oden famously missed more games than he played in Portland, and the rest was history on his end. When Kevin Durant was a lowly Seattle SuperSonic (R.I.P.) he was likable. He could light up the Clippers for 40 one night and torch the 15-67 Miami Heat on a back to back. The SuperSonics sucked in 2008, but Durant was fun to watch, even if no one was paying attention.
In the offseason of 2008, something changed. I remember it pretty clearly too. People were getting over their love of Kobe, LeBron was too popular, and Bill Simmons declared Durant to be his favorite player in the league. Durant started to become the hip and in vogue player to declare your favorite when pressed by inquiring and basketball loving minds.
I let my love of Durant dwindle as the populace started taking notice. By the time 2010-2011 rolled around and Durant was named to his first All-Star game, won his first scoring title, and would be the FIBA World Championship MVP if not for the NBA player who casual fans never appreciated as much as they should (for no real reason other than people suck), decided he was tired of his home team and decided to link up with the greatest Toronto Raptor of all time, and a former Finals MVP. I of course am speaking of LeBron James.
Yes, my hatred of Durant stems from my love of LeBron. Look, I admit it. I love LeBron, and now that a lot of NBA fans hate LeBron for doing something that we all would do (look for championships when we already had more money than we’d ever need), I loved LeBron even more. The select group of “smart” NBA fans (aka the ones who didn’t care that LeBron left Cleveland) took umbrage with Derrick “No Knees” Rose winning the 2011 MVP over the clearly superior James.
King James did not make it easy on himself that year though. “The Decision” was poorly planned, his desire to be the bad guy in front of booing fans, and his ever-growing headband all made him look like the kind of guy who didn’t really understand what he was doing to his public image, which he clearly cared very deeply about.
Once the 2011 playoffs kicked off, LeBron went to a level of play as an individual and as a teammate that I’d not seen since Michael Jordan. King James averaged (rounding up) 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game in a 4-1 trouncing of the Chicago Bulls (perennial underachievers since the departure of Jordan).
Rose scored less, shot worse, and turned the ball over more than LeBron, for those keeping score at home. Miami was ready for the Mavericks in the Finals, and should have won in no more than 6 games.
But LeBron lost his first trip to the Finals with the Heat in one of the most bizarre and un-starlike performances I’ve seen in my years of watching basketball. Dwyane Wade was Miami’s best player, by a mile, and LeBron played almost as poorly as Derrick Rose (yeah, I don’t like Derrick Rose at all) in the Conference Finals the round before. I was sad. LeBron’s stock had never been lower, and Durant’s had never been higher. Something had to come to a head.
The 2011-2012 NBA season wasn’t of great note, other than the fact that LeBron won the MVP, Durant lead Oklahoma City past the, at the time, best team I’d ever seen San Antonio Spurs, and Derrick Rose blew out his knee in the first playoff game he played in that postseason. Finally, I had what I wanted. I had my guy playing against my least favorite guy.
LeBron wiped the floor with Durant (who cried when they lost) and Russell Westbrook was the best player on OKC. I couldn’t have been happier. The 2012-2013 season came and went, with LeBron winning another MVP and another NBA Championship, and Durant being boring and uncool.
I loved LeBron as much as any NBA player I ever have and hated Durant as much as any professional athlete I have ever hated (except for athletes who beat women or commit murders). Durant started to buy in to his “I’m the second best, and i’m tired of it, bruh!” narrative.
The more that Durant lived life in the spotlight the more I started to hate him. He had the lamest coach in the NBA (Scott Brooks), the coolest teammate in the NBA (Russell Westbrook), and still had acne. Durant was caught using homophobic slurs, cheering on battle rappers, and beefing with the Based God (Lil B).
Surely this was enough to get people to start hating Durant, right? Wrong! He could do no wrong! It wasn’t his fault he played for a bad coach, it wasn’t his fault that Russ shot too much, it wasn’t his fault their GM traded away James Harden. Why were excuses being made for Durant that weren’t being made for LeBron?
Why was LeBron clowned for losing his hair when Durant is balding himself? People like Durant because he doesn’t have tattoos (he does). They like him because he’s a nice young man (if using gay slurs and calling out the media makes you a nice young man… so be it).
People cried when Durant thanked his mother “You the real MVP” at his MVP press conference, and I’ll admit I thought it was very heartfelt, but then I remembered Kevin Durant has never won a Finals ring and beefed with Lil B.
Now when people ask me my favorite players in the NBA I answer before the question is out of their mouth. LeBron. Second favorite? Russ. Who do I think will be the MVP of the 2015-2016 season? Harden. Coincidence? No.
“Fuck Kevin Durant” – Lil B
Jordan Paladino is a Portland comedian, rapper, and writer for the show “Who’s the Ross?” He is a staunch defender of all things Lebron James, Drake and Kanye West. He is also a KD hater. I try not to hold these things against him.
Watching the 2012 playoffs made me feel like I was witnessing the ascension of one franchise and their franchise player. I’d been keeping tabs on Kevin Durant since the year his Freshman year at UT and my time in Austin coincided. There was nothing that could convince me he wasn’t going to be a star in the NBA. By his third year, I’d concluded that not only was he my favorite NBA player, but my favorite NBA player of all time.
His first year in Oklahoma City was a rough one, the team lost often, but you could see the progress. Tickets were still cheap then, and there were still people in the city that had no idea there was a permanent NBA team.
When Pau Gasol’s put back bucket ended the 2010 season, there was no denying that the team and the city had embraced each other. 2011 brought more expectations, and the team did not disappoint. RUN OKC was born.
Even though the Dallas Mavericks dismantled the Thunder during key 4th quarter stretches in the Western Conference Finals, there was reason to be optimistic for the OKC boys. 2012 did not disappoint, and despite the beat down that was handed to the Thunder, it was still fun to watch what I thought was only the beginning of a budding dynasty in the west.
Little did we know that James Harden would force his way out of town by grabbing 80 Million to ball for Houston, and the following three seasons would be compromised by injuries to key players. But things were still innocent in 2012. It was one thing to hope for a trip to the NBA Finals. It was another thing altogether to watch it happen.
Once a team gets that close to winning it all, nothing is the same. Expectations change because the ceiling has been raised. Its like the first time you drink organic milk out of a glass bottle, or smoke really good weed after only trying Mexican dirt swag.
I feel like this year’s roster is on paper the most balanced squad that Sam Presti has ever assembled, but the 2012 was special to me for sentimental reasons. Three of my favorite college players of all time were on the same team in Royal Ivey (one of the nicest Longhorns on campus when he played there), Kevin Durant, and Nick Collison, and I’d seen Kendrick Perkins in his “Baby Shaq” days at Beaumont Ozen High School. James Harden wasn’t annoying yet, and Russell Westbrook was just coming into his own. They were a fun to team to watch.
The Starters on that team were:
C Kendrick Perkins
PF Serge Ibaka
SF Kevin Durant
SG Thabo Sefelosha
PG Russell Westbrook
The Key reserves:
SG James Harden
PG Eric Maynor
SG Daequan Cook
PG Derek Fisher
PF Nick Collison
Head Coach : Scotty Brooks
Regular Season Record: 47-19 Northwest Division Champions
After posting 47 wins in a lockout shortened regular season, expectations were tempered, but hopeful, that somehow the Thunder would at least make the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs were steamrolling opponents in the first 2 rounds of play, and it seemed inevitable that Oklahoma City was only cannon fodder for San Antonio on the way to their next championship parade (isn’t it crazy that there were almost 3 Spurs-Heat Finals Series?).
Kevin Durant and company had other plans however. Game 1 of the first round series foretold that the Thunder’s playoff run would be the revenge plot out of a basketball movie.
Mavericks got swept and the ghosts from the previous Western Conference Finals were exorcised.
Round 2 gave RUN OKC a chance to enact revenge against the soon to be LOL Lakers and Metta World Peace. Their recent run-ins had become testy at best, as the upstart Thunder had been giving the Lakers fits during the last couple of years. It was the young pups vs. the old dogs, and the biting had become less playful.
The Thunder were clearly faster, stronger, and better. The Lakers were just coasting on a dubious championship run (Denver and Orlando were talented enough to knock them out but they nutted up–and the refs had conveniently swallowed their whistles in the Lakers favor during a crucial stretch in game 7 of the 2010 Finals).
It was basketball justice to watch the LOL’s get that ass whupped–much like seeing a bully finally get what they deserve.
Round 3 against the Spurs was some of the best and worst basketball I’d seen during a WCF. There were stretches of incredible basketball, and there were times when I wanted to throw a shoe at the television.
Game 1 was probably the best game of that entire series from a pure basketball standpoint. There were so many OMFG plays that I went back and downloaded the game for whenever I needed to scratch that itch for “Hoops Porn”
The Spurs won that game and the next one, and with a 2-0 lead, the question wasn’t whether the Spurs were going to win it all, but were they even going to lose on their way to a title. The Spurs were 10-0 during the playoffs at that point, and had won 20 straight games going back to the regular season.
But RUN OKC had something to say about that and won 4 straight games, leaving San Antonio befuddled and confused, something I rarely saw from a Gregg Popovich coached team.
I was there when the Thunder clinched the West in game 6, and that was the loudest venue I’d ever been in at that point (Game 2 of the Finals’ volume would eclipse that night–and I hadn’t been to a Warriors game yet).
Game 4 of this series was the apex in my opinion, with KD scoring 36 in the game–18 of them in the final quarter. That shit was unreal to watch live.
This was the point where it was clear that my man was going to be a SUPER DUPER STAR, and everyone finally had to acknowledge it. It made for good cinema. Unfortunately in every good revenge movie, there is a foil, and the Thunder were about to face them.
Side Note: Is it just me, or does Lebron seem remarkably younger in this clips? He seems to have aged in the same ways that U.S. presidents age after a full 8 year term. I’m sure as great as those feelings were winning those chips, I can’t even imagine the stress he has faced in taking on that challenge.
I was very happy for Dallas Mavericks fans when they were able to deny the Miami “Lebrons” a title in their first year together. If you enjoy schadenfreude, then watching Jason Kidd whip the ball around to Dirk who whipped the ball to Jason Terry for open shots was enough to make a person giddy–or if you like watching grown men cry. The Heat losing that finals was their reward for doing everything the “wrong way”.
They were the perfect foil to the OKC Thunder and their (rightly or wrongly) choir boy personas.
As much as I wanted to see KD get that ring, they were just outmatched. Scotty Brooks was outcoached (not for the last time) and when Harden wasn’t on the court, it was a 2 on 5 offensive game, with way too much isolation play. This played right into the Heat’s hands who were smothering on defense.
Oklahoma City wasn’t ready for what the Heat had for them. Brooks had no adjustments for the series, and after game 2, it was clear that the moment was a little too big for OKC (especially Harden who had a terrible Finals).
Game 1 was a misleading blowout in the Thunder’s favor, and although Game 2 could have easily been won (terrible no call in the final seconds on a foul by Lebron), OKC had trouble achieving any sort of offensive flow. I was in the stands that night, and what should have been an enjoyable experience, only left me frustrated and hoarse from screaming so loudly.
3 games later, the series was over. The Thunder had their best chance to reverse their fortunes in game 4, but the person keeping them in the game, also contributed to the most devastating play in crunch time.
It was over just like that. Grown men were once again crying.
Others were basking in their redemption.
But everyone knew that this wasn’t the end. There was still another run for RUN OKC right? This only seemed like the part of the basketball movie where the team bonds during off-season workouts and then come back to face the villainous bad boys in a rematch and take the title from them.
But we know what happened next don’t we? No reason to go into all that again. There are countless columns by former ESPN employees that do this ad nauseum. I will say that I feel like I got robbed of my Hollywood ending–kinda like watching a movie for 2 hours at the theater and the projector craps out right before the climax.
It is hard to call a team that makes the NBA Finals losers. OKC got a taste of the good life. People started visiting Oklahoma City for reasons other than seeing the Bombing Memorial.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the most marketable players in the NBA (and let’s not forget that Harden is at least 280 million dollars richer since missing that crucial breakaway dunk in game 4 of that finals).
Yes, it is hard to call a team that has had such success for the past five years, losers, but each season preceding 2012 has been increasingly frustrating.
Unlike the 2013 Spurs who redeemed themselves after a heartbreaking Finals loss, with an even better roster that demolished the Heat (and destroying any need to write a requiem for that team),each season since 2012 has been increasingly frustrating for the Thunder.
Russ got hurt the very next season to a team that wouldn’t have made the playoffs if not for James Harden. Ibaka was hurt the year after that and they watched the Spurs advance. And of course KD broke his foot twice last year. Is this the “Curse of Daniel Plainview“–the Sonicsgate Curse?
Or is it just a series of increasingly bad decisions?
OKC should be odds on favorite to come out of west if they are healthy and all of this may be forgotten. The bottom could fall out just as easily though, if KD and Westbrook split for greener pastures. Then again, they could just as easily compete for championships for the next few years, while James Harden becomes the first player to play through being cursed two years in a row (the Khardashian curse is real).
Are we approaching an era where we see Oklahoma City-Cleveland series 3 years in a row (Golden State may have something to say about that)? I think this season will be the big fork in the road for Russ, Kevin Durant, and the Thunder franchise. If both KD and Russ end up leaving, people will point to this season as the fork in the road for everyone, but history might show that 2012 was the real turning point. We are only a week away from finding out.
This is it guys. This is the NBA season that ruins my life. I have finally decided to put my money where my mouth is, and bet on sports…
Is this a good idea? No! It’s a fucking horrible idea. Is that going to stop me? No! I fucking love horrible ideas.
Because sometimes in life a man decides he has to do something with the useless knowledge that he has accrued. Why do guys salivate at the idea of a having a wood-shop in their basement? Why did your step-dad buy that beat up 1970’s charger? They picked up a few tidbits about building large pictures frames, or how to properly oil a carburetor and god-dammit that’s knowledge they want to use!
Here’s my plan:
I work a ten minute walk away from The Barclays center. My plan is to go to a game every other week for the entire season. I’m shooting for 10-15 games.
This way I can have in-person 1st hand knowledge of over 1/3rd of the league, which will come in handy down the road.
Also, I have league pass. My plan here is to watch at least half of the Blazers games (around 40) over the course of the season, and keep notes on all the teams they play.
In conjunction with both of these, obviously I’m going to watch a marquee game or two each week on TNT and ESPN.
Needless to say, this NBA season is going to packed!
My hope is that if I watch about 10-15 games in person, 40-60 games on TV, and continue to read and listen to copious amount of analysis on a daily basis, that I will be educated enough come playoff times to make some seriously smart and decisive bets.
How this could work:
Milwaukee plays the Bulls in the 1st round?
I’ve watched both teams in-person and on TV 3 times that season.
Bulls favored to win the series 4-2?–even though the eye test tells me the Bucks speed and versatility could out-match the Bulls lumbering offense and Tib-less Defense.
Did Derrick Rose look like he was gonna quit on Froi-berg 1/2 way through the season, and does he sulk on the bench anytime he gets subbed out and Jimmy Butler starts to go off without him on the floor?
I’ll take the Bucks in 7.
THIS COULD MAKE ME MONEY!!!!!
*Shakes head and extends hands as if to say “come on guys!”*
To get us started, and to have things to talk about as the season progresses – Here are a list of some over/unders and prop bets that I like before the season has begun. Not just based on who I think will win it – but also where the betting value is.
Rookie of the year – Mudiay probably wins, BUT – Stanley Johnson (+1000), Mario Hezonja (+1400)
Atlanta Hawks (49.5) – Over : DeMarre Carroll was not worth 10 games.
Brooklyn Nets (27.5) – Under : God I hope they win more games than that, but this team is trash. It’s gonna be a long season at Barclays.
Charlotte Hornets (33.5) – Under : No MKG, adding Batum is a wash. Other teams in the east are getting better = more hard games for the Hornets.
Dallas Mavericks (37.5) – Over: Won 50 games last year and swapped Tyson & Monte, for Wes, D-will, and Zaza. They have won more than 37 games in 15 out of the last 16 seasons and this isn’t their worst team. I’d bet my life on this.
Detroit Pistons (36.5) – Over: Won 32 games last year, and added Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson (*See Rookie of the Year*), Aron Baynes, and a full season of Reggie Jackson. Losing Greg Monroe might be a wash, and another year of Stan is worth at least 4 wins.
LA Lakers (28.5) – Over : Pains me to say it, but young/talented guards with Roy Hibbert and Kobe is a recipe for 30 wins. They won 21 games last year with no Kobe and no Roy. Together they are worth 10-15 wins.
Miami Heat (45.5) – Over: If the Heat can stay healthy I think this is the 2nd seed in the East, which history would show as 50-55 wins.
Milwaukee Bucks (44.4) – Over: They won 41 games last year, I think Monroe + Jabari + another year of Kidd = more than 3 wins.
New Orleans Pelicans (48.5) – Over: This is risky, but I think they are a top 6 seed in the West this season which usually means 48+ wins. I think the upgrade in Gentry is worth 4 wins alone, not to mention The Brow – *See PPG leader and MVP*
NY Knicks (29.5) – Under : This team is trash. D-Fish doesn’t know what he is doing. Melo is getting older and fatter. The more Porzingis “The Zinger” plays the more games they will lose, even though they should play him the whole game (the only way he will get better).
Orlando Magic (33.5) – Over: I like this team, they’re fun.
Phoenix Suns (36.5) – Under : I think this thing blows up in Horny-sacks face. T-Chandler on that massive contract was idiotic. And I don’t think this team can score or stop anyone from scoring on the perimeter.
Portland Trailblazers(27.5)…….Under…… : I’m sorry….I can’t….They are going to be fun to watch, a lot of fast breaks and deep 3’s, but ultimately this team is going to suck in most statistical categories and won’t be able to stop anyone from scoring. Their best bet is to try and race to 120 points each game, even though we also don’t have proven scorers…Doh! BUT I HOPE THEY WIN!!!!!
That’s it for now.
Thanks to B-Mick for hosting my guest ramblings.
Keep checking back in to see exactly how stupid of a decision this all is.
Alex Knapp is a Portlander living in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years.
A filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills, Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him.
The wait is almost over. It was a good ass off-season, but it is time to start cranking it back up. Hoops season is back, and I couldn’t be happier. Let’s skip the foreplay and talk about the upcoming season– my favorite story lines A to Z.
You could put Damien Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, and James Khardasian Harden on a barnstorming tour with 2 scrubs and they’d run shit……that is until they ran into the top 3 Nike ballers and their 2 scrubs.
If you were ever thinking about buying some Adidas stock, now would be the time to do it before the season starts (It has risen 10 points since I first checked it in September). But before you do that, ask Ray J, Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, Bruce Jenner, and Lamar Odom, how much better their lives are after getting involved with that family.
I was a little skeptical about the Billy Donovan hire. A year before KD’s free agency seems like bad timing to try and shake things up. But after reading a couple of interviews, and after Monty Williams and Mo Cheeks were hired as assistant coaches, I feel a lot more optimistic about the Thunder’s upcoming season, and their chances of re-signing Kevin Durant. There will be a learning curve, but not nearly as steep as most first year head coaches.
He has all the tools (assuming his star players are healthy) to make the Western Conference Finals. Only a fool however; would try and compare his rookie season to Steve Kerr’s first year as coach. Kerr has been a GM, an announcer, and played for Lute Olson, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich. This is Donovan’s first season IN THE LEAGUE. It will take a series of fortunate bounces for Donovan to make it out of the West, and beat Lebron in the NBA Finals.
C. J. McCOLLUM
This is the year my man shows the world he was the player I thought he was way back when he was saucing up Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The dude can get buckets, and he will be asked to help out with the scoring load for the Trailblazers. When they let Wes Matthews go, I think the front office was banking on C.J. staying healthy (he hasn’t played a full season in 3 years counting his senior year at Lehigh) and taking his game to a higher level. This could be a fun backcourt to watch in years to come.
That is right. KD is back and he says he is feeling fine. The playoffs are not the playoffs without KD playing involved. I had gotten so used to the Thunder making the post season, that it felt odd to not have them around. It shows how fast six years can go by.
The EASTERN CONFERENCE
Not quite as wack as last year, but still kind of an eye sore for the basketball purists. Fred Hoiberg will be a breath of fresh air in the Chicago locker room. The Heat will be competitive again (more on them later I promise) and the Celtics will look to improve on their season by actually being .500 again. Lebron will have to work for it a little bit more; meaning they may lose 3 more games in the post season than last year. Unless there is a catastrophic injury to LBJ, you can pretty much pencil them in for the Finals. You cannot say that about ANY team in the west.
FEAR THE DEER
J-Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks will push the Cavs to 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Mark it! They are long, young, fast, and Jason Kidd, who was already a head coach on the court as a player, will be worth at least ten regular season wins alone.
The man is brilliant, and if you’ve ever wondered why people complain about Chris Paul as a leader, then go watch some old game footage of Kidd. Everyone who has ever played with Kidd talks about how great of a teammate and leader he was. As great of a player as Paul is, I’ve never once heard a teammate describe him as supportive.
Yep. If you were worried that there wouldn’t be a white Duke player to root against this year, I just served you one up on a platter. Grayson kept the Dukies in last year’s national title game, with some tremendous energy off the bench. If you took Steve Wojciechowski’s antics and gave Ron Paulus hops, then you would have this guy. I actually like this cat. He plays hard. He works hard. He can bang on you if you sleep on him, and from every interview I’ve seen he seems like a great teammate.
He does not strike me as someone who takes anything for granted. But yeah, fuck Duke. I’d be shocked if they won it all this year. Tyus Jones is in the pro’s now, and that guy was the best PG they’ve had since Jay Williams. Go ahead and pencil in another early round exit for the Blue Devils. Nothing makes me happier than typing those words.
This cat is like Andrew Bynum without the knee injuries. Homie can ball, but dude is a little “Goof Troop.” His 2K rating will surely go up this year, because he when he is in the lineup, you can expect bro to put up a double double—and that is just in rebounds and blocks. He doesn’t even need to score to affect the game. That being said, he can just easily do something stupid to get himself taken out of the game. But if rebounding and defense get you aroused, then grab a Kleenex and tune in to Miami Heat games.
Fuck Injuries. Let’s pray for a year without any major injuries to the superstar players. We already know the score concerning Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving, but last season was just ridiculous. Can we at least have every team playing in the post season relatively healthy? I’ll sacrifice a bucket of chicken to the injury gods. I suggest that you all do the same.
What the fuck? I started out writing a basketball preview column and it has turned into 2014 Duke Blue Devils tribute. I cannot believe that Winslow fell to the number 10 pick. Every team that had the 4-9 picks are going to be kicking themselves. Winslow is fast, he plays defense, and he is athletic. You want to know why Duke won it all last year? It was because of this guy.
Winslow should have been playing in New York or Charlotte. He is my preseason pick for Rookie Of the Year. As my mother used to say to me whenever I was one strike away from an epic ass whupping , “If you don’t believe me then just hide and watch.”
As in the state of Kansas. This year there will be three Kansas teams in the top 25, and two of them, Wichita State and University of Kansas, have legitimate chances of being in the Final Four (if they can somehow avoid being put in the same bracket). The Shockers bring back the best backcourt in the country with Fred VanFleet and Ron Baker (Baker played in the PanAm games up in Toronto this summer with my boy Keith “K-Freeze” Langford). They are also bringing on Connor Frankamp to help out with the ball handling duties (he can shoot too). They are poised for a deep run into the tourney this year.
As for the Jayhawks, well this is finally the year I’ve been waiting for when Frank Mason and Wayne Selden came onto the campus as freshmen. They are finally mature enough to take the helm, and you know Perry Ellis is going to quietly get his 20 points and 8 rebounds during his senior campaign.
Devonte Graham has one more year of experience under his belt, and Svi Mykhailiuk will be ready to contribute more on the court as a super sophomore. Self has a rotation of big men (Chieck please!!!!) in the front court, and they have the depth to wear a team down.
With Hoiberg coaching the Bulls now, Self will have even less competition this year en route to his 13th straight Big 12 championship. Self’s stranglehold on the conference will end soon, now that UT has made a major upgrade, with Shaka Smart taking over for Rick Barnes.
As for K-State? No one gives a shit about them. Although I’ll give them props for almost beating TCU the other night in football.
This is the year I finally get it. Fuck this streaming shit. “Ain’t nobody got time for dat”
METTA WORLD PEACE
The Panda King is back on the LOL Lakers who may not be so LOL this year. It is still a rebuilding year, but did you ever think you’d see the day where you’d feel less hatred for the Lakers locker room than the Clippers? More on those busters later. If you ever want to take a trip to the twilight zone, follow Ron –ahem Metta on Twitter. Dude is out there. He elbowed Harden in the head way before it was fashionable to even feel that way. Maybe homie is Meta.
NEW FACES, NEW LACES, BUT NOTHING REALLY CHANGES
Other than Oklahoma City, the same teams will be in the playoffs. It was much harder to talk myself into Utah and Quinn Snyder (fuck Mizzou), and Phoenix,than it was to talk myself out of Memphis’ old ass roster.
ONE LAST DANCE
We are on the cusp of a new age in San Antonio. The new big three for the Spurs going forward will be “Lamarcus!!!!”, Kyle “Slo-Mo” Anderson, and Kawhi Leonard. I think this is the year where the Spurs may actually be “too old” to win the NBA title. I’m not sure how much Parker has left in the tank, Duncan will be fine, but this is certainly Manu’s last year to play in the NBA. I still think the Spurs would have beaten the Clippers last year had they played Patty Mills more. They may need Patty and every other guard to chip in and lighten the load for Monsieur Parker.
PAUL PIERCE RETURNS HOME.
Jalen Rose correctly points out that this is the best roster that the LOL Clippers have ever had in the history of the franchise.
You have a locker room filled with so many strong personalities that I think that this will be Doc Rivers finest job as a head coach, if he somehow gets this team to the NBA Finals (An NBA Finals that I will have no choice but to root for Lebron if the Clippers win the West–kind of like when I had to root for Chicago back in the late 90’s vs. Utah). I am extremely curious how things play out with Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson,Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and Austin Rivers.
What is the over/under on how many times Paul Pierce utters the phrase “Ya’ll childish” as he exits the locker room while shaking his head? Who will be the guy who gets cut by the team for breaking Austin Rivers’ jaw? Remember when the Wizards had Javale McGhee, Javaris Critendon, Deshawn Stevenson, and Gilbert Arenas on the same team? If managing that team was like handling nitro glycerin, this Clipper roster is like juggling grenades.
QUICKEN LOANS ARENA
I think the Cavs go at least 37-4 at home this year. There is talk about them being “angry”, more focused and all that nonsense. They can do all that, but it’s a long season. They should focus more on being healthy. It isn’t a matter of if Kyrie will hurt himself again, but when. They will be a more cohesive unit than they were last year heading into the playoffs, and I can’t expect Kevin Love to lay another egg this season (I mean for him at least—he still put up decent numbers). They will figure it out. They would have to try to not make the Finals in that conference.
He is reason enough that the Mavericks will make the playoffs. He is poised to win Coach of the Year honors for the roster he is working with this season. Like I said before, he is the second best coach in the league behind “Pops.”
Just isn’t the same without Craig Sager and those goofy ass suits. I miss that dude. I hope he gets well soon.
If the Spurs would have somehow gotten Lawson, this season would have been a wrap. Ty finally has something to work with, and he has a lot to prove to all his doubters. The Rockets are going to get up and down the court and will average at least 110 points a game. Rockets games will be easier to digest—well that is until the 4th quarter where Harden starts initiating the free throw contests. But the first 3 quarters will be good. Give me a Rockets vs. OKC/Golden State/ San Antonio any night of the week though.
Check the stocks. Under Armour is killing the game right now. Shares are like 102 points the last time I checked. Steph Curry is winning on the court and off of it. Homie got a little piece of the action and has bought stake in the company (Getting a little bit of everything in today’s preview at zero to little cost).
Speaking of winners, can we give props to Dell Curry? The guy had a very solid NBA career, married a beautiful and smart woman, and has two sons in the NBA. One of them is coming off of an NBA title, and the other played 4 years at Duke and just got a legit contract with the Kings. #Winning.
Yes Sasha Vujacic is still in the league, and may be playing with the New York Knicks this season. Need I say more?
WILLIE CAULEY STEIN
The best player to come out of the state of Kansas in a very, very long time. He has height, lateral quickness, defense, and ups. He will get 8 points a game just from Rondo throwing him oops all season. Imagine if you could let Tyson Chandler play defense out on the perimeter. Exactly!!!
XAVIER (As in David West’s alma mater)
I’ve always thought D. West would be the perfect Spur, and he will prove his worth on this roster. He is a true professional. After seeing him beat up on San Antonio throughout the years, it is cool to see him on the side of the good guys. I want so badly to pencil them in for the Finals. I just don’t know if they enough backcourt depth to make it happen.
New stars are good for the league. I’ve already talked about some of this year’s rookies, but the Teen Wolves will be the most fun 20 win team you’ve ever seen. They will compete, but they still not quite there yet. Kevin Garnett in that locker room will be nothing but an asset.
He’s already teaching those Youngbloods what it means to be a professional. They would make a great NBA Jam team. Wiggins, Lavine, and Shabazz Mahummud would be a fun trio to run with (Rubio as the alternate). They are not too far away from being where OKC was back in ’08-10. They just have to be smart (don’t laugh its possible—anything is possible) with personnel moves the next 3 years.
Utah has a decent core coming back. Going up to Salt Lake City is no longer an easy W. They are going to make teams earn it. I like Heyward. Trey Burke still has yet to hit his full potential, Rudy Gobert aint no punk, and we still don’t know where Dante Exum will be as a player. If they were in the Eastern Conference, I could be talked into them making the playoffs.
ZAZA PACHULIA, DERON WILLIAMS and WESLEY MATTHEWS
The three biggest additions to the Dallas Mavericks, and they will still make the playoffs. I rest my case.
West Standings (in no particular order)
Oklahoma City (if healthy)
Los Angeles Clippers
East standings (in no particular)
Eastern Conference Finals
Cleveland vs. Milwaukee (Cleveland wins 4-2)
Western Conference Finals
Golden State vs. Oklahoma City (if healthy)
Oklahoma City (if healthy) vs. Cleveland (Cleveland wins 4-3)