Weekly Clicks to Pick Week of 10/23/17

Working on bringing weekly audio to augment the Clicks to Picks. I’m still shaking off the pre-season cobwebs but each week its going to get better.

Monday

Golden State at Dallas

 

Tuesday

New York at Boston

New Orleans at Portland

 

Wednesday

Houston at Philadelphia

San Antonio at Miami

Washington at Los Angeles

 

Thursday

Boston at Milwaukee

Clippers at Portland

 

Friday

Oklahoma City at Minnesota

Washington at Golden State (Good Ass Game of the Week)

 

Saturday

No Good Ass Games Scheduled

 

Sunday

Washington at Sacramento

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

2017-2018 NBA Season Preview L-Z

For Part 1 of the 2017-2018 Season preview : A to tha K, click here.

 

Lonzo Ball Era in Lakerland

lonzo-ball

After having to endure a full season of hype and speculation, basketball fans finally get to see Lonzo Ball step onto the court as a professional. Ball had a pretty solid Summer League against his peers and other young prospects. Although I think Lonzo will be at times brilliant, he is going to take more L’s this season than he has in his entire life. This is a really young team, but they have a lot of talent.

They also have a great young coach in Luke Walton, and I like the combination of Andrew Bogut, Corey Brewer, Brook Lopez and Luol Deng acting as the vets in the locker room. With former legends like James Worthy and Magic Johnson only a phone call away, these young bucks for the Lakers have a chance to soak up some real game. I’m really excited to see highlights Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. trailing alongside a fastbreaking Lonzo Ball. Things are looking up in Lakerland–hell, maybe they’ll even hit .500 this season……….. Nahhhhhhhhh! That shit ain’t happening. 

 

 

My Dark Twisted Fantasy Point Guard

 

Mike Conley has been silently carving up defenses for years now, a largely unheralded hero who has achieved a cult status among NBA geeks. Conley would have already gotten his proper due as an elite point guard if he played in the Eastern Conference (still hoping to see this when Seattle gets a team again and the Pelicans move to Vancouver). He has never been chosen as an All-Star is because of the imbalance of superlative players at his position out west. After playing a perfect playoff series against the Spurs, Conley has proven that his skills can no longer be ignored.

Take a look at the Memphis roster going into this season. They are thin. Besides Gasol, there is no one else on this team that they can count on to consistently chip in with scoring. The front office is banking on Chandler Parsons to be healthy this year (HUGE GAMBLE) and hoping that Ben McLemore’s game will rise after being freed of his situation in Sacramento. This is the youngest the Grizzlies have been in a long time, and this time not for the better. The only way I see the Grizzlies making the playoffs this year is if Conley and Gasol stay healthy, and both have MVP level seasons–and even that may not be enough.

New York’s Next Chapter

 

With the departures of Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are content to look forward on their road back to national relevance. The air will be fresher for the franchise as a whole, as New Yorkers endured one of its most dysfunctional seasons of all time (which is saying a lot). This year’s team won’t be significantly better, but this season promises to be relatively drama free (outside of the Charles Oakley/James Dolan legal standoff).

Jeff Hornacek gets to enjoy the freedom of working without a 6’10 micro-managing geriatric looking over his shoulder at every practice. Also, any locker room with the combination of Michael Beasley, Joakim Noah, Enes Kanter, Nigel Hayes, Ron Baker, and Kristaps Porzingis promises to be an interesting mix of personalities. Jarrett Jack and Courtney Lee will be great locker room influences, and I really like what Kyle O’Quinn has to offer under the boards.

Sorry Knicks fans, your boys will be lucky to win more than 35 games. But I think you are going to be proud of this year’s team. I think you will a ton of hustle plays that receive standing ovations from the Garden faithful and the team will fight until the very end of each and every loss. I just don’t think they had to pay Tim Hardaway Jr. 71 million dollars to accomplish this level of play from the Knicks.

One Tough Lottery Bound Squad

 

No one is going to be looking forward to playing the New Orleans Pelicans. This is another example of one of those “they’d be a playoff team if they were an Eastern Conference” teams. Rajon Rondo’s playoff performance against the Celtics made skeptics think twice about calling him washed, but it is hard to put money on a team to make that is relying on a full healthy season from Rondo. The Pelicans are an imbalanced team going into this season. Their starting front line with Boogie “down” Cousins and Anthony Davis is powerful, but their backcourt is thin and suspect. The biggest question concerning the Pels is “will they trade Cousins before he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent next season and if not, where does Boogie end up? “

Is it crazy to imagine Cousins and John Wall teaming up in a Washington uniform in the 2018-2019 season? If I’m New Orleans management I’m taking calls from other teams the minute we go 10 games below .500. Demarcus Cousins might be one of those linchpin championship pieces (a la 2008 Pau Gasol or 2004 Rasheed Wallace) come February. Stay tuned folks.

Portland Keeps it Pushing

 

Paul Allen and Neil Olshey stay pulling the Okey Doke on the Portland locals–this is one of the luxuries of being the only professional sports team within 200 miles. Blazer management continue the formula of trotting out a couple of players good enough to get butts in the seats, then signing ill-fitting role players to high handcuffing salaries.

Are they good enough to make the playoffs? Certainly. Damian Lillard (who has worked himself into becoming an elite player) continues to show us something different every season and C. J. McCollum looks like he intends to light up the league this year. We”ll see how much of a difference a full season of Jusuf Nurkic makes. They are still a player or two away from being a title contending team (how many times since 2001 has someone written this sentence about the Blazers?), but the right kind of trade package for Demarcus Cousins could make very things interesting up there.

 

Quicken Loans Last Hurrah

 

Enjoy this last run Cleveland fans. Lebron is doing his hometown one last solid before he heads off to finish his career in Hollywood. The Cavaliers were already one of the oldest teams in the NBA going into the off-season. Now they’ve added Derrick Rose’s broke jumper and bad knees, Dwyane Wade’s bad knees and decent mid range jumper, and Isaiah Thomas’ busted hip to their payroll.

Wade and Lebron both know that the regular season is just for show, and the real money is made during the playoffs. Barring a major injury to Lebron, it is hard to imagine them finishing anything lower than a three seed out east before getting yet another eastern conference title and NBA Finals loss. Then its back to years of undetermined mediocrity for a mediocre sports city. Well Cleveland, at least Lebron got you one title. Some cities don’t ever get one. 

 

Reunited (and it feels so good)

 

Boston fans haven’t had a legitimate reason to be this excited about the Celtics since the 2012-2013 season. The C’s got younger, and even though they lost two of their best defensive players in Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, they managed to upgrade their point guard position, (Kyrie Irving is a slightly better defender than Isaiah Thomas) and picked up some badly needed scoring in Brad Stevens’ former apt pupil, Gordon Hayward.

I’m still not sold on the Celtics beating any team with a healthy Lebron on it. They are well stocked at the wing position, but their backcourt is suddenly thin. Outside of Kyrie and Hayward, there really isn’t anyone to bring the ball up the court. I still think they are a trade away from being a serious threat to the Warriors or Cavs. Perhaps, the city reunites with Rajon Rondo, if the Pelicans’ season goes belly up?

 

Sixers Sniff the Playoffs?

 

I don’t know if the Sixers have enough vets to get into the playoffs, but they will certainly show more offensive firepower this season. Washington Huskies phenom point guard Markelle Fultz  joins up with a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and don’t forget the Sixers added the sharpshooting (at least until the playoffs) J.J. Redick. They have an extremely young team, but much like the Lakers, they are talented.

However, it takes more than talent to win NBA games, and Brett Brown has shown he is a good coach and teacher. Win or lose, they will be a fun team to watch, and the combination of Embiid, Fultz, Saric and Simmons could be promising. There is still a good chance that trading Jahlil Okafor will tilt the Sixers in a favorable direction, depending on who they can net for him.

 

Thibs the GM >Thibs the Coach?

 

Minnesota jump started their rebuilding efforts with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler, and on paper, the Timberwolves finally have a playoff team. Years from now, you’re going to be reading think pieces in Sports Illustrated and ESPN about how Andrew Wiggins career trajectory took off when he became teammates with Jimmy Butler. This is the alpha dog the Teenwolves needed to help push Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns into playoff contention. That signing alone would’ve given Minnesota an A+ for the off-season, but then Tom Thibodeau went and grabbed Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford.

Now we get to see what Thibs the coach will do. His “win at all costs” attitude has been known to shorten player’s careers 2 years for every one season they play for him (I bet Thibodeau has snapped more than his share of pencils doing his weekly crossword puzzles).  Outside of Jamal Crawford, there are still question marks concerning the T-wolves backcourt. Aaron Brooks is old, and didn’t exactly make his name with his rugged defense; while Tyus Jones still hasn’t proved himself to be a consistently viable option.

The biggest question is can Thibs utilize his role players. It only takes a 8-9 player rotation in the playoffs, but it takes all 15 players to get through the regular season and still have something left in the tank. Thibs’ biggest problem is that he has always coached each game as if it were game 7 of the Finals. This intensity, while admirable, is stupidly short-sighted and might cost the Timberwolves their best players down the stretches that they are needed the most. Do you really want to see Minnesota begin their first playoffs in over a decade with Cole Aldrich and Shabazz Muhammad in the starting lineup, while Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony Towns cheering the team on in tailored suits? Me neither. Let’s hope this is the season that  Thibodeau figures it out. 

 

Utah Takes a Step Back

 

I found it strange that Boris Diaw couldn’t get on with any playoff contenders (If Emeka Okafor can get a job, I don’t see why Boris couldn’t get signed somewhere). I’m sure he’d have fit in well up in Portland or down in Memphis. He’ll be playing in France this season with an opt-out clause if any NBA teams want to take a flyer on him. 

Moving on, Utah lost their other biggest star, scoring forward Gordon Hayward and now are hoping Joe Ingles can take over the scoring duties at the small forward position. I was excited about backcourt of Rodney Hood and Ricky Rubio until I remembered that basketball is a two-way sport.

Rudy Gobert is going to have plenty of chances to swat shots because their perimeter defense looks a little suspect on paper. The good news is they will get another lottery pick, because they will not be in the playoffs this year.

 

Veteran Locker Rooms

 

You can count the number of veterans on any NBA roster and figure out what direction the franchise is going. The Dallas Mavericks for example are in the middle of a quiet  rebuild. On paper, they are a veteran team, but this year they will lean heavily on the production of Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews, and Dennis Smith Jr.–all three players who are still relatively young for their positions. Dirk will still be the guy who takes the final shot, but at least this season he knows the young guys can carry him until money time, late in the 4th quarter. No one quite expects the Mavericks to win more than 45 games, but it also wouldn’t surprise anyone if they got 50. Rick Carlisle is too good of a coach for Dallas not to compete.

Minnesota, has been perpetually rebuilding ever since before the Kevin Garnett trade. They went young in 2007 and stayed young. If you went and looked at any game footage from ’07 to the present and you won’t count more than three or four veterans on the roster. In just one off-season, the Timberwolves have gone from just hoping to win every night, to expecting to a playoff berth in April.

Of course, the most extreme example of a veteran locker room was the 2015 San Antonio Spurs who were one of the oldest teams in NBA playoff history and they got their shit rocked by a younger, more physical Oklahoma City Thunder team. The point is that a championship team has to have a perfect balance of superstar players in their prime flanked with role players around the same age or slightly older. This is why I can’t convince myself that Boston can beat Cleveland in a 7 game series–I think their key role players are just too young.

Washington, D.C. belongs to John Wall

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John Wall passed his “Point God” audition last playoffs with flying colors. He was the only reason to even check in on the games out east. Had he had even a little bit of help with the ball handling duties, we’d probably have been treated to a more competitive Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately for Wall, the Wizards didn’t get any better, and they will be lucky to get to the 2nd round. The Wizards can’t expect to get far with such thin backcourt reserves.

 

X Marks the Spot

 

One of the downsides to teams like the Warriors playing with pace and space, is that the rest of the league tries to copy that formula, and it messes with the product. Sure it works for the Warriors because they have three of the best 3 point shooters in NBA history. That doesn’t mean I want to watch the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers just chuck 3 pointers up for 48 minutes a night. It doesn’t look good even when they are going in. Expect more three-point shots attempted, which of course means more three point shots missed this season. We’re going to see a lot of bricks this year.

 

Yesterday’s New Quintet

 

People are sleeping on the Clippers, but a couple of things happened this summer that makes me take them seriously:

1) They finally relieved Doc Rivers of his front office duties and

2) They hired Jerry West as a team consultant.

The media narrative is that the locker room is a lot looser now that Chris Paul has been traded. I thought their biggest problem was replacing him, but the team looks like theya re having more fun playing with Milos Teodisic at the point. Lou Williams only steps on the court to get buckets. Austin Rivers is better than he was three seasons ago, and has managed to go from being laughable to playing like a dark-skinned Steve Blake. The Clippers are going to be a real pain in the ass to play with Patrick Beverley on the perimeter and DeAndre Jordan in the paint. 

We can only be so lucky to see another  Rockets-Clippers matchup come April. I could be talked into watching any of the series swinging games with the right company. I like what the Clippers have done this off-season and think they will make the playoffs.

 

Z-Bo Making M’s, smoking  Taking L’s

 

Zac Randolph has been the OG around the block for a while. He, George Hill,  and Vince Carter are teaming up to be the big homies of reason for the Sacramento Kings this season. The mixture of players on that roster has the feel of a bad basketball movie , and not because Randolph looks like the dude from Family Matters.

It is a shame to see Randolph ending his career on a rebuilding team, but I guess Sacramento isn’t a bad place to spend your late 30’s–especially as a multi-millionaire. It wasn’t that long ago when Randolph was one of the scariest black dudes in the NBA. Remember when he would just mush Blake Griffith’s face into the court floor and Blake wouldn’t even look Z-Bo in the eyes? If there is any justice from the basketball gods this season, Randolph will get bought out of his contract and end up a key bench contributor for a title contender.

Fans of rebuilding franchises like Philadelphia, New York, Sacramento, Dallas, and Minnesota should feel optimism going into this NBA season. There is a lot to look forward to throughout the league and you won’t have to watch the Warriors or Spurs to be spiritually fulfilled. For the first time in a long time, the NBA has enough good basketball to go around for everyone.

 

 

Other Predictions:

East Standings

1)Boston 2)Cleveland 3)Washington 4)Milwaukee 

5)Miami 6)Charlotte 7)Toronto 8)Philadelphia

 

West Standings

1) Golden State 2) Houston 3) Oklahoma City 4) Minnesota

5) San Antonio 6) Los Angeles Clippers 7) Portland 8) Denver

 

Regular Season MVP Kawhi Leonard

Defensive Player Of Year Draymond Green

Most Improved Player Zach Lavine

Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams

Co-Rookies of the Year Ben Simmons/Lonzo Ball

Coach of the Year: Brett Brown

Western Conference Finals Golden State vs. Oklahoma City

Eastern Conference Finals Boston vs. Cleveland

NBA Finals Golden State over Cleveland in six games

Finals MVP Kevin Durant

 

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @goodassgame. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

Everything is All Love With Kool Bob: My Run at the Full Court 21 NYC

You don’t have to be a basketball aficionado to have heard of the renaissance man Bobbito Garcia, AKA Kool Bob Love, AKA Bobbito the Barber. Sneakerhead, hip hop journalist and Radio DJ, the man has starred in many a documentary, and by the way, was also a B-Boy in the Rock Steady Crew.

Bobbito is a New York legend, whose imprint is on many things, but the basketball world was where I had first heard of him. I first did my Googles on him about ten years ago, after watching the Gunnin’ For that No.1 Spot documentary where he emceed the first “Elite24” basketball game at Rucker Park. 

Earlier this year I came across the Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives documentary and it blew my mind to learn that Garcia played a pivotal role in breaking many of the hip hop acts that I still listen to today. Not too long after that I find out that he is DJ Cucumber Slice from the NBA Streets video games. Basically every hobby I’ve ever thought of having, this guy has been paid to do professionally.

Needless to say I rock with him and DJ Stretch Armstrong pretty heavy. I spent a great deal of time digging up old uploaded You Tube audio recordings of their WKCR show  from back in the day (one of the best is an episode from June of 1994 where they say that “Rockets fans can feel balls”), and of course I follow them both on Twitter.

I’d heard good things about Bobbito’s latest basketball documentary, Doin’ It in the Park and watching it got me so gassed up about hooping, that I signed myself up for his annual Full Court 21 tournament– even though I’ve been threatening to retire from playground ball for the last year or so. The dates of the tournament lined up perfectly with my visit to New York City, and though I doubted my chances of winning, I knew I had to at least compete in it. 

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Better late then never: Top 8 Over/Under’s & Award Predictions

[Editor’s note: After a full NBA Season, 2 blown 3-1 series leads, and an east coast west coast podcast beef, our hero Alex Knapp returns with another series of wild predictions and theories for the 2016-2017 season. Betting with Vegas has closed for the season, but we at Fullsass will gladly take bets with anyone willing to fork over some cash.]

THE UNDERS

OKLAHOMA CITY 45.5: UNDER (lock)

This team will be trash. I don’t believe in Westbrook to WIN, yes maybe he puts up crazy numbers (except any of the efficiency stats), but none of that will translate to wins – in fact by the end of the season it will be known that his wild ball-hog dominate-everything style of play will translate to a lot of their losses. This team won’t make the playoffs.[UPDATE* – They will make the playoffs if they trade for Rudy Gay, he would become a great addition to their squad and surprise a lot of people with how he can help a team win.]

UTAH 47.5: Under

I don’t necessarily believe the hype. Adding “Iso” Joe, Boris Diaw, and George Hill doesn’t translate to 8 more wins,as I think Joe and Boris are both washed up at this point. This team is solid, but unless Gobert becomes Dikembe (which could happen), I don’t see this team being as good as everyone wants them to be. They could win 45 games though. I just think the difference between being good to being great is a big leap in the NBA. Plus Hayward is slated to miss some time with a finger injury. He is more important than people realize.

PORTLAND 46.5: (Under….I know…sorry)

With Ezili still sidelined (until possibly February–yikes!) we still have yet to fix our interior defense (Statistically Plumlee was the worst interior defender out of all 30 starting centers). The jury is still out on whether Evan Turner can actually fit in and impact games, or if he is destined to land in Stotts 3/4 merry-go-round rotation. Crabbe isn’t worth 17 million. Dame and C.J. are the same turnstiles on defense. We don’t have a consistent 3rd best offensive option – in a league that demands one. Basically we are the same team we were last year –a team that overachieved last year –and will regress to the mean this year, at right about 42 wins. I’m pessimistically taking the under.

MINNESOTA 41.5: Under

This is an all time hype line set by Vegas. People want this team to be so good so fast that they would probably be willing to bet the over no matter what it was set at.
Yes, this team is exciting. Yes, a bunch of young athletes just got the coach they desperately needed. BUT NO – Tibs is not worth 13 games this season, just not this season.
This team will get to 38 or 39, contend for the 8th seed – and then, next season…Explode for to a top 4 team in the West. I don’t know why people still hate on LaVine, guy is an athletic freak with a motor and near perfect form on his JUMP shot.

THE OVERS

HOUSTON 41.5: Over

Can they score? YES. Can they defend, TBD. I like the additions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon letting it fly from deep. I think Clint Capela will and can anchor their interior defense – whether they let teams bomb from 3 may not be something he can control. I think they secretly have a very competent and fun, deep bench with guys like Montrezl Harrel, K.J McDaniels,  Tyler Ennis, and Portland-native NBA-underdog Kyle Wiltjer (dude won’t play, but he can score).
With Hybrid PG Harden running the show, what could go wrong?

INDIANA 43.5: Over

Eastern Conference Finals dark horse winner right here:
Competent PG’s, top 5 player in the game, Myles Turner is a beast just needs to get more consistent every night, Thad Young is a professional starting NBA PF, and a decent enough bench. They need to find a way to rebound and guard the 3pt shot (ultimately that’s just effort). Nate McMillan doesn’t add any wins to this team – but the addition of Thad and emergence of Turner does.

DALLAS 39.5: OVER (lock)

In the last 15 seasons (Dirk/Cuban era) the Mavericks have missed the playoffs ONCE, in ’12-13 with a record of 41-41. That was also their lowest winning percentage in the last 15 seasons.
This team wins more than 40 games and makes the playoffs every year, and this year will be no different. Lock of the century.[UPDATE* They started 0-3 and I still don’t care. This team will make the playoffs. ]

NEW ORLEANS 36.5: Over

When you read my individual award selections below, this “over” will make more sense to you:
Another year of Gentry to install a faster paced offense, a handful of decent/hungry FA role player signings to help build out around Davis, hopefully Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday come back sooner rather than later to give Ant more offensive options to play with. My boy Tim Frazier finally gets the burn he deserves (ghost handshake). Davis is a fucking beast, so if he can get even a tiny bit more help than last year and stay healthy, this team should clear this over/under.

2016-2017 Individual Award Predictions. 

The predictions below take into account the Las Vegas betting odds, specifically the “Moneyline odds”, the number in parenthesis is how much money you make for every $100 you spent betting on this specific thing. These can also be translated into more standard fractional odds (+1300 = 13/1).
My picks are what I think the pre-season “best bets” would be. Where you can make the most money for something that actually has a chance of happening.

MVP

My Pick: Anthony Davis (+1300) – I think the Pelicans have a bounce back season under Gentry and with a restock of roll players, and Buddy Hield firing from deep (see below), I think they make the playoffs. Davis’s 25ppg, 13rpg, 2 blkpg could make a strong case for him. [UPDATE* – Dude averaged 42 points through the first 3 games. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?]
More likely to happen: Kawhi Leonard (+1100) – The best bet if the Spurs have the best record in the NBA–which I think they could. Kawhi is going to be all over the floor, on every end, and with Tony Parker’s decline in production, and Duncan doing laps in a pool somewhere – Pop will lean on Kawhi to shoulder the offensive load a lot of nights. I’m excited to see it. 
Long Shot: Paul George (+2200) – A bit more of a long shot bet, but he is the 2nd (maybe 3rd) best two-way player in the league. I think he is going to put up super dope numbers and Indiana is a top 4 team in the East (see above). PG for 3!!!!

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

My Pick: DeAndre Jordan (+800) – DeAndre could possibly just beast shit up this season. He’s consistently averaging around 15rbs and 2.5 blocks the last couple seasons. He anchors the Clippers D and yet is athletic enough to chase stretch 4’s and 5’s to the perimeter when necessary. Watching him defend the Pick and Poll during the last playoffs was pretty devastating. He impacts EVERY shot at the rim. This could be his Dwight year.
 
Could Happen: Rudy Gobert (+550) – IF the Stifle Tower becomes Dikembe Mutumbo this season, then Utah will be a serious team to deal with, and all the Jazz hype will be vindicated. This goes contrary to my Utah under 47.5 pick (see above), but for those of you inclined to agree with the likes of Zach Lowe – then this might be the pick for you.
 
Long Shot: Jimmy Butler (+330) – I consider this one more of a long shot, but if the Bulls are going to be any good this year, somebody is going to have to play lockdown D and it seems like Butler is the only one we can turn to. If some crazy sport tracking data comes out where Butler is the best on-ball wing defender in the NBA (opponent shoots lowest FG% against him, opponent takes less shots, opponent is forced into higher degree of difficulty shots, etc), then Jimmy may have an outside chance.
 

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

My Pick: Buddy Hield (+1400) – Buddy is the Jimmer we always needed. The guy can flat-out score and with Jrue Holliday away from the team, Tyreke still injured, and a cast of new characters – Buddy will crack the starting lineup, play at least 20 minutes a game and lead rookies in scoring, while helping Anthony Davis get back to the playoffs (see above).
Could Happen: Buddy Hield (+1400) – I’m all in on Buddy.
Long Shot: Joel Embiid (+900) – Let’s say Ben Simmons misses the entire year with his foot injury. Let’s say one of Okafor or Nerlens gets moved for a competent wing/guard. Let’s say somehow the 76ers are halfway decent, even just winning somewhere around 25 games. Let’s say Embiid doesn’t get seriously injured this season and plays 70+ games. This would be your rookie of the year – he’s that talented….but only if all those other things I said happen.
 

COACH OF THE YEAR

My Pick: Stan Van Gundy (+2000) – If the Pistons win 55 games this year (oh baby watch out), that’s an 11 game upgrade over last season – Then SVG will be the COY. Or maybe I’ve just become brainwashed from JJ Redick saying he is the best coach in the NBA over and over on his podcast. GET OUT OF MY HEAD JJ! 
More Likely to Happen: Brad Stevens (+700) – People love this dude, and for good reason. He is probably the best coach at drawing up after-timeout plays (ATO’s), and it seems like Boston is primed to make a serious push for the best record in the East (they added Al Horford and I think Lebron will chill during the regular season).
Long Shot: Rick Carlisle (+5000) –  This Mavericks team WILL make the playoffs this year, just like they have 15 of the last 16 years since Cuban bought the team. AND, they will win more than 40 games, just like they have 15 out of the last 16 years (The shortened lock out year they went 36-30, and lost in the 1st round of the playoffs). AND if they compete for the 4th seed (it could happen), then Carlisle WILL be your Coach of the year. All he does is win.

FINALS

Western Conference Finals

Golden State Warriors vs San Antonio Spurs
That’s right, we are going to get the matchup everyone wanted last year – and this one is going to be a doozy. The Warriors are going to be the best offensive team we have ever seen in the history of the NBA by several metrics. And this Spurs team is going to fare better in the playoffs then they did last season with the addition of Pau Gasol. They still have a solid bench with Patty, Manu, Simmons, Kyle Anderson, and I like the additions of David Lee, Dewayne Dedmon, and Dejounte Murray.

Eastern Conference Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics 
I really want to pick my sleepers of Indiana or Detroit here, and I actually think the Eastern playoffs are going to be chalk full of awesome series. But you just can’t bet against Lebron, the guy is just the GOOG (Greatest Of Our Generation) and Boston is primed to take the leap after adding Al Horford and Brad Stevens in his 4th season.

Championship Series

Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers
I have never done this in my life. I have never EVER picked a repeat title series. It’s just not something I do, it’s completely the opposite of my personality. VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE! I’m the kind of guy who can’t order the same thing twice in a row when visiting a restaurant, even months apart. “I had the burger last time…so I HAVE to get the chicken…” But this is different, I just see it in my head – the epic climax to the three-part series. Curry and new best friend KD try to prove they are the best tandem in the history of the game, while Lebron and his Frien-emies, Kyrie and KLove try to work together to repeat for the title. Dubs in 7.

  f16fe4_33a1706de82a46a9b053723415da08dc  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. You can check out his podcast with Anthony Levy, PDXPATS on Itunes. 

Finally Some Games That Count

Being the hoops junkie that I am, many people are surprised when I tell them that I don’t watch preseason NBA basketball. Sure it’s an early peek at the rookies and NBA retreads who are fighting to make the rosters, but I just (metaphorically) can’t get it up for games that don’t count for anything.

What does surprise me is how little I missed the NBA this off-season. Opinionated hot takes of Kevin Durant’s departure aside, there was little to glean from checking the web everyday for NBA news. I watched nearly 300 games last season, and by the time Golden State choked away the NBA Finals, I needed a break from watching basketball. I thoroughly enjoyed living like a normal person this summer.

I did a little bit of traveling, read a few (basketball) books, moved cities, found a new full-time job, and spent some time with my non-basketball friends and family. But all that shit is over come Tuesday night. The season is starting, and despite the inevitable Dubs-Cavs Finals on the horizon, it will be an enjoyable one to watch. While most people were chomping at the bit, I’m of the belief that the season is starting at EXACTLY the right time. In fact, it was only a couple of days ago that I realized that opening night was on Tuesday–the off-season just flew by.

The reason I watch so much basketball is so that you don’t have to. There are tons of games to comb through, but I’m willing to step on any potential land mines so you can live the normal life that I can only dream about. I could have used maybe one more week to get my life together, but no matter; the time has come for us to admire dunks, emit loud shrieks and weird squeals. So without further exposition, I give you the first Good Ass Games of the 2016-2017 NBA season. Buen Provecho.

          GOOD ASS GAMES OF THE WEEK

Monday

No games scheduled

Tuesday

Utah at Portland (Good Ass Game of The Week)

Expect to see me talk about Utah a lot this season. They have a bunch of interesting players on this year’s roster; including one of my favorites, the infamous Boris Diaw. Portland is already embarking on a Joey Harrington type MVP campaign for Mr. Damien Lillard. This is a late game, but the high I’ll be feeling on Wednesday morning will be worth the lack of sleep. If this don’t turn out to be a Good Ass Game, then my name ain’t Bobby Mickey.

San Antonio at Golden State

This game will be a nice snapshot of what Spurs fans have to look forward to this season. San Antonio will have a great season and will probably grab 50 wins. They will beat the teams they are supposed to, but they will get their asses handed to them by teams with top-tier point guards (they will especially feel the loss of Danny Green in this one). Wins against Cleveland and Golden State will be tough to come by.

Wednesday

Dallas at Indiana

I’m willing to bet any Mavs fan their favorite flavor of Gelato that the Mavs take their first L of the season. Any takers?

Charlotte at Milwaukee

This one is going to be a low-key Good Ass Game. If you miss it, at least watch the highlights. I bet there will be at least 3 top ten plays from this game alone.

Minnesota at Memphis

OOOOWEEEEEE! Teen Wolves go to the grindhouse. Who else is excited for the first appearance of the vein in Tom Thibodeau’s forehead? To quote the great Marv Albert, “YEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

Sacramento at Phoenix 

File this under TAP THAT VEIN GAMES.

Thursday

Boston at Chicago

This game has the potential to be a snoozer, but I gotta know if this has all been an elaborate Machiavellian plan by Rajon Rondo to get close enough to Dwyane Wade for payback for that time Wade dislocated his arm. If you think I’m not hoping that Rondo gets his revenge, then you don’t understand the depths of my pettiness. I hope Rondo makes Wade’s life a living hell for the duration of this season.

San Antonio at Sacramento

One day, we may finally get to see Boogie Cousins play for a stable organization. Sacramento is still a shit show, but they have just enough good players to make you intrigued.

Los Angeles Clippers at Portland 

This is the real pick to click of the evening. It’s a TNT game, and a 9:30 tip-off. I’ll be lucky to  be able to watch any of this game. But you definitely should if you have cable and you like watching beige acrobatic dudes make fake tough guy faces.

Friday

Phoenix at Oklahoma City

Just for funzies, if you have nothing better to do around this time of the evening, I’d suggest watching the first half, hitting the liquor store, calling in a pickup order, and then getting back home in time to watch the 4th quarter.

Charlotte at Miami

There is a faint buzz surrounding the “Me So Hornets” (I’m sorry I had to) this season as they should be the favorites to win the Southeast division with or without a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Holy Shit! I think I’m starting to get excited about the season starting).

Los Angeles Lakers at Utah

In a first for this site, the Salt Lake City Punks have made the Good Ass Games of the Week three times in a week. What better way to spend a Friday night than ingesting legal substances and watching some west coast basketball.

Houston at Dallas

Let’s be honest Dallas fans. This is the year the bottom finally falls out. After years of post 2011 mediocrity, the Mavericks will finally be bad enough to land a lottery pick. Or will they? They are a difference making point guard away from giving teams trouble in April, but for some reason, people don’t like to come to Dallas. Is it because their genius head coach is an asshole? Or is it because the Mavs owner has been piecing together the kind of rosters that NFL Fantasy owners scramble through during bye weeks. Old man Dirk won’t be there for you forever Mark Cuban, the losses are going to come for you, and when they do, they are going to want some cocktail……….FRUIT!!!!!!

Saturday

Minnesota at Sacramento

I’m pretty sure this is an NBATV game so if there is a party or social function you’re getting pressure to attend, do that instead–especially if you have League Pass. This will be one of those games no one talks about, but then you check your Twitter feed, and there will be four or five GIF’s and Vines documenting sick dunks and crazy highlights.

Sunday

Golden State at Phoenix  

I’m curious about how the Suns will play this season. It is weird to see Earl Watson go balling for the UCLA Bruins to coaching an NBA team. It makes me feel old. This probably be the last time I mention the Phoenix Suns this season, unless it is to discuss trade possibilities. They have some young talent on this team, and may be where Utah was 2 seasons ago, unfortunately for Suns fans, ownership can get out of its own way. By February, you may see half of these players playing significant roles for playoff teams.

San Antonio at Miami 

We are finally going to find out if Erik Spoelstra is a good NBA coach. If the Heat win more than 42 games, he may be a candidate for NBA Coach of the Year.

Milwaukee at Detroit

No Reggie, no problem. This game may not get out of the low 90’s, but it should be competitive (in a Princeton-Boston College second round NIT game kind of way). This may be the earliest playoff preview we get this week.

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

2016-2017 Season Preview: Top 26 Storylines Part One

[This preview also appears as a post on fullsass.com. What does Fullsass mean? Well check it out for yourself.] 

All Illustrations by Louis Eastman

We are only a few days away from the beginning of training camp, time to dust off the cobwebs and fire it back up. Although the biggest story of the off-season was the Kevin Durant free agency, there are plenty of other story lines to follow this year. I’ve listed (from A-Z ) the ones that I find the most compelling for the 2016-2017 season.

Amin Elhassan fullsizerender-4

ESPN’s most merciless twitter troll is a must follow this season.

Amin is great not only for his tendency to roast any unlucky soul stupid enough to tweet some dumb shit, but also for his great insight into how things operate behind the NBA scenes. Having worked in both the Knicks and Suns front office before his stop at ESPN, Elhassan is a wealth of insider knowledge.

What I love most about him is that he does not hold back in any of his funny–but often wickedly straight forward analysis. His creation of the #Pitino game is one the more underappreciated social media phenomenons you’ll experience during playoff elimination games. #Pitino game is just as a part of the playoff pageantry as TNT’s Gone Fishing segments, but more interactive and way more clever. 

Buddy Hield

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Back in 2015 he simply slid into place. Buddy Buddy Buddy All up in my face.

Is Buddy Hield the Real Deal Holyfield? Inquiring minds want to know. It is a little too early to anoint him as the sidekick to Anthony Davis, but if Hield shoots as well as his reputation suggests, then this could be a good working relationship for the two. Hield wasn’t exactly a defensive stopper in college, but that hasn’t kept James Harden from receiving tons of (mostly deserved) accolades. He could be a nice small ball option for Pelican’s coach, Alvin Gentry, who is looking at a very thin back court-especially with Jrue Holiday absent from the team for personal reasons. 

Celtics Are Legit Contenders

Had the C’s managed to get Horford and Durant this off-season, you could have  penciled them in for the NBA Finals (and I doubt anyone one would have argued with you). As it stands, they only have two reliable scorers, Isiah Thomas and Horford (who has never averaged a 20 and 10 at any point in his career). Isiah Thomas is great at getting his own shot, but he isn’t much of a distributor.

Avery Bradley is an all NBA defender, but anything he gives you on offense is considered icing on the cake (Bruce Bowen 2.0?), and their outside shooting is too reliant upon Kelly Olynk shooting a high percentage. I think they are still two really good players away, or one superstar and a role player (probably a backup pg) away from being in the conversation to knock off the Lebrons for the Eastern Conference crown.

Draymond Green

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Steph Curry may be the league MVP, but I think the team MVP for the Golden State Warriors is Draymond Green. Klay Thompson, Curry, and Green are all irreplaceable, but the intangibles that Dray provide for that team are immeasurable. The league’s decision to suspend him changed the course of that series, as the Warriors were dead in the water after game 5. Regardless, had Dray kept his head, the hometown of Jive Ass Don King would still be without a title today. 

Had we laid money on “Finals player most likely to send pictures of their ding-dong to all their Snapchat followers”, most people would have place their bets on J.R. Smith. I think the public opinion of Draymond Green will be cemented for the rest of his career, according to how he performs both on and off the court this season. The Warriors need his fire, but he has to learn to harness it if they are going to get back to the Finals.

Everybody Eats This Season 

The NBA has never been a better league to play in. Owners are making money hand over fist. The league just signed a lucrative television deal that allows even scrubs *ahem* players like Matthew Dellavedova to cash in a meal ticket. Allen Crabbe made 70 million to stay in Portland.

The Grizzlies’ Mike Conley leveraged his way into a 153 million dollar contract and for a couple of months, was the highest paid player in league history. This year’s 90 million dollar salary cap is only going to get larger (reportedly $118 million next season), so dudes are about to get paid. Now that everybody is eating, let’s start taking bets on who will eat themselves out of the league.

Finals Rematch (Again)

We can just stop this right now huh? No need to even play the season out. Forget preseason. Let’s put it on simulation mode like NBA Live 95? Barring any major injuries, I don’t see how anyone out west beats Golden State, or anyone out east beating Lebron.

I’m looking forward to the rubber match between these two teams. Kevin Durant is going to be the deadliest 4th option you’ve ever seen in the NBA Finals. The running thread all season will be “If Lebron beats the GSW super team will he be the greatest?” or “Will this championship validate KD’s career even though he joined a super team?” I personally don’t blame Durant or the Warriors for signing him. I bet it sucks losing to Lebron, but I bet it sucks even more losing to him after getting spotted a 3-1 series lead. This is the best reoccurring story line since Lakers vs.Celtics last decade. Stay tuned.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Playing The Point 

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I’m not saying the Bucks will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m not saying that I think they will get back in the playoffs. I’m not even saying they will be fun to watch, but there will be at least 20 nights this season where Giannis does something to make Sportscenter top 10 highlights. 

Harrison Barnes: The 94 Million Dollar Man

I personally think Barnes will do well in Dallas. The city has a way of being a decent stop for exorbitantly rich black athletes (if they perform decently ). Of course, you have to wonder what is considered reasonable expectations for a contract like the one Barnes signed. For what it is worth Mavs fans, he will be a better investment than Roy Tarpley, Cherokee Parks, Erick Dampier and Shawn Bradley all put together. He can’t be any worse………right?

Iggy’s back  

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No I am not talking about the Nick Young’s ex fiancee’s booty (although it makes for an interesting google search #therabbithole). If Andre Iguodala is unhealthy, forget about the Warriors getting a chip for Kevin Durant. Iggy is one of their best defenders, and he was the guy who guarded both Durant and Lebron down the stretch of last year’s playoffs. By the time games 6 and 7 of the Finals came around, he was gassed (who is to say that a healthy Iggy doesn’t try and dunk the ball on that infamous Lebron chase down block?). 

Now that Durant is a teammate, there is no one in the west (outside of Kawhi Leonard) to push him defensively. Theoretically, he should be fresh for his Finals dance with Lebron. Then again, 30-year-old backs are more fickle than 23-year-old girlfriends. You never know how things will flare up from night to night. 

 

The 3 J’s (reboot)

My dude Joakim Noah is back in his hometown playing for the Knicks. No matter how he does on the floor, homie is going to be slaying it off the court. It is good to see Jeff Hornacek get another head coaching shot. He got a raw deal in Phoenix. Robert Sarver pulled the old bait and switch with Hornacek. The Suns front office didn’t bring back key players, but kept expecting the same results . It was unfair to everyone involved; Hornacek, the players, the fans, and League Pass subscribers who were unexpectedly treated to a near playoff run in 2014.

As for Phil, no one could figure out why the hell he hired Derek Fisher; but he corrected that mistake by firing D-Fish midway through the season. This is his third and most pivotal season as Knicks GM, because if they suck again this year, it will be tough to lure free agents to sign with the club next season. 

Are they going to make the playoffs? Maybe, if 40 wins is enough to get in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Courtney Lee was a good pickup, and Derrick Rose may be able to add some punch if he can find the basketball court, and stay out of the criminal court. Rose thinks they have a super team in New York, but kind of like the word consent,there may be some confusion as to what the definition of a super team is.

40 wins for this roster would be the equivalent of making the Finals. I’d play with them on NBA2K, because you don’t really need subs on a video game, but in real life, their bench is thin. Pencil them in for 30 wins.

Klay “ I’m Not Sacrificing Shit” Thompson

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I’ll fight anyone who says he isn’t the best 2 guard in the league. He may not be able to attack the rim like Demar Derozan (apparently the 46th best player in the NBA), but the man is the best defensive 2 guard; and his shot is wet. He is Ron Harper with a knock down J. Klay Thompson only benefits from the arrival of Kevin Durant.

TO BE CONTINUED:

 

BM

 

 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

Out The Gate

The scheduling gods looked favorably upon me with a pretty weak slate of games for week 2 of the season. This was easily the busiest week I’ve had at school, and I was able to catch up on sleep when I was not at work. I think I only got to watch about 4 or 5 games live this week. The two best games were Thunder-Bulls, and Warriors-Clippers. Both games were awesome, with the Warriors-Clippers game being everything I thought it would be. The game was krunk from tip-off to the final buzzer. #HIGHLEVELBASKETBALL

I was buzzing for hours after the game, and had to stop myself from watching the replay during breakfast. The Warriors look good, and they don’t even have their head coach or starting center right now. The way they hunkered down and took over during winning time (the 6:24 mark during the fourth quarter) was incredible. They played focused team defense and then Harrison Barnes (can’t wait to see him match up against Kawhi Leonard) got hyphy for about 6 possessions in a row–with back to back 3 pointers, a block, and then another basket. Steph Curry started doing Steph Curry things, and then the Clippers had a terrible final possession to end the game. This game was easily the “Good Ass Game of the Week.”

I was tired the next day, but it was a good kind of tired. You’d have thought I had a one night stand they way I was glowing. I was in the teacher’s lounge like “Mannnnnn, I was at the bar, minding my own business, when what’dayaknow? A basketball game comes on the television. You should have seen the point guards in this game man. They were going up and down the court, up and down the court. Running and Gunning. Gunning and Running. I mean, I was tryna play it cool, being in a public place, but eventually I was like GAME ON!!!! So you know, finally I’m like let’s do this. One thing led to another, and yadda yadda yadda, I wake up in the morning still thinking about it. MMMMMMPPPPPPPHHHHHHH!!!!”

This week’s Slate (starting from Tues. 10th)

Tuesday

Dallas-New Orleans 

The fight for the 8th seed continues.

Oklahoma City-Washington

KD comes home to tease Wizards fans of what they can’t have.I just watched the Spurs blow a very winnable game against Washington last week. I hit my boys up with “good ass game” alert texts even before Tony Parker hit a three with 7 seconds left to tie it up. Of course there was a mix up on a defensive switch, and Bradley Beal was left wide open to hit a game winner. Sean Elliot was not a happy color commentator.

The only thing that made me feel better about this loss was that OKC blew two winnable games of their own. Their defense hasn’t impressed me yet, and Dion Waiters may be the most selfish third tier player I’ve ever seen. Dude is a broke man’s Nick Young. I’m not a fan.

Wednesday

San Antonio vs. Portland

I’m looking forward to texting all my PDX homies during this one. This will be a measuring stick game for the Trailblazers. This is the first really good team they’ll face this season.

Detroit-Sacramento

This will be the “pick 2 click”  for the night. Trust me. I’m a doctor.

Thursday

Golden State vs. Minnesota

Most clinics you have to pay for. The Teen Wolves should think of this game as a paid clinic. Still it’ll be a fun watch. Don’t miss this one.

Los Angeles (Clippers)-Phoenix

This will be a “tap that vein’ kind of affair for me. I’ll probably be getting into bed by halftime.And  by the way, the Clippers will remain suspect as long as Austin Rivers is the backup point guard for the Clippers. They may as well have Steve Blake out there.

Friday the 13th

Teen Wolves versus Hickory High

Somewhere in Los Angeles, Bill Simmons is typing up a tweet about his two favorite movies coming to life.

Saturday

Dallas vs. Houston

Loser of this game has to Sit in an hour of traffic afterwards. Oh wait, that’s everybody in the arena.

Cleveland-Milwaukee (Good Ass Game of the Weak????)

Everything I wrote for the Blazers-Spurs game applies here. Even though I picked them to be in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, I’m still not sold on the J-Kidd’s quite yet.

Sunday

Boston-Oklahoma City

If I happened to be a certain Boston Celtics fan from Maine, who happened to be nicknamed after a Falcon, I’d take my significant other to a nice little brunch, put in some serious quality time before sports totally took over my Sunday afternoon and evening. Or I’d avoid this game completely to avoid seeing the hurting that KD and Russ are going to put on the C’s. By the way, Billy Donovan blew this game, and forced the country to endure a Butler-UConn final.

Toronto-Sacramento

I really hope to see “Boogie Down Productions” play in this one. Toronto is trying to make people sorry they slept on them. They aight. I won’t say more than that until we get further in the season. Anyway, this will be a good game, and even if it isn’t I’ll still probably watch. I’m done with football until the playoffs start. Just wake me up when someone is ready to beat the Patriots. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Have a good week. Peace.

BM

@clickpicka79

bobbymickey@gmail.com

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

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