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

fullsizerender-2

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

image1-1

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 

image1

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  

fullsizerender-6

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

fullsizerender-3

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Analyze This: NBA Power RAnkings 2/2

Part 2 of Bmick’s NBA Power Rankings. For Part 1 click here.

 

400px-maslows_hierarchy_of_needs

 

Now we can actually talk about teams heading in the right direction. There are still some pretenders among these contenders, who are “faking it til they make it.” Most teams in this next tier could actually make some noise with the right moves.

Some are only an impact player away from being legit contenders, while others are straight “busters” getting by with smoke and mirrors. As you’ll come to find out though, right now there are really only 3 teams whose current rosters warrant serious consideration for NBA Finals. The rest of the teams need a lot of help, or a lot of luck.

 

The Esteem Group- Confident, achieving, respected by other teams in the league.

Celtics, Raptors, Hawks, Heat, Bulls, Grizzlies, Clippers, Thunder, Pacers, Cavaliers

The Boston Celtics are two games over .500 and Danny Ainge has tons of bargaining chips in the form of draft picks. Yet…..nothing moves for the Celtics.  They have tons of decent players, a really good player in Isiah Thomas, and no superstars. If you ask most Celtics fans, they’ll probably just be happy with a first round knockout, as long as they don’t get embarrassed. I feel like C’s fans are in the same boat as those perverts who marked their calendars for when the Olson twins were turning 18. They be like “any day now……..we’ll make our move…..”

Toronto is a good squad. They almost beat the Warriors twice during their winning streak. They remind me a little of those Rick Adelman coached Rockets teams. Competitive lineups that are good enough to qualify for the playoffs, but still without the pieces to make a deep postseason push.

The Pacers may secretly be the second best team in the East. Frank Vogel is one of the best 5 coaches in the league. Without Vogel, this team would be in the next bottom tier. They compete, and if they can finally get some players there (through draft or free agency), they can be the Butler Bulldogs of the NBA.

The Atlanta Hawks remind me of some of the really nice girls that I dated in college, but ultimately left because it was unfair to stay with them. They are a good team with good players, and they are fundamentally sound. But then you look across the league and see there are teams playing a more exciting brand of ball.

Deep down you know that you would much rather be watching the Warriors or Spurs play than a hum-drum Atlanta vs. Charlotte game. But its always nice to start a Wednesday evening out with 6:00 Hawks game, then switch to something that you know you won’t have you looking down at your phone every minute and thirty seconds.

The Heat may very well give the Cavaliers their best run in the East. The Heat are a legit backup point guard away from scaring some people. Hassan Whiteside is an All-Star in my book, and Dwyane Wade is putting the team on his back when he needs to. We’ll see how they hold up as the season progresses, they are kind of an old team. They will need a lot of luck to be healthy during the stretch run.

The Bulls have problems, and I think the best solution is to shake up the locker room. I think it is time for Derrick Rose to get a fresh start. Where do chronically injured players go to get fresh starts? Ummmm Phoenix????? Yup. I think Mr. Rose needs to let go all of the pressures, and distractions that playing at home has inflicted upon him. Part of me wonders if his injuries aren’t psychosomatic related.

Based on salaries of both teams, I found a package that could possibly work for both teams, P.J. Tucker, Eric Bledsoe, and Markieff Morris, for Mike Dunleavy, Aaron Brooks, and Derrick Rose. Now I’m not sure if I would take this if I’m Phoenix, but if I’m Chicago and I find a way to hustle some team out of players or draft picks (ahem Danny Ainge), then I do so. Bulls need something to jumpstart this team back to its role as a menacing challenger; otherwise this season (and possibly their championship window) is over.

Speaking of championship windows slamming shut, its over for Memphis. They sit at 16-14 in the West,  but no one is afraid to face Memphis anymore. They used to be the team that if they didn’t beat you, then they would just beat you up. Now they aren’t doing much of either–well maybe Matt Barnes, but Derek Fisher isn’t the first person I would look to help me in a bar brawl.

You talk about a team born in the wrong era, too bad they didn’t have this roster in the mid 90’s. If there were a time period made for them, that was it. Can you imagine Jeff Van Gundy desperately hanging onto Zach Randolph’s leg in the middle of a melee? Pure insanity.

Speaking of insanity…….let’s talk about this Clippers team. Actually let’s not. All I need to say is I can’t take your team seriously if Austin Rivers is your backup point guard.

Man. It is disappointing to say this, but Cleveland and Oklahoma City have second tier teams. Their matchup against each other last week had the makings of a “Good Ass Game.” For the most part it was entertaining, but only when the starters were playing. Their benches are suspect at best. Cleveland has some depth issues because of injuries, but even with Irving and SHumpert back at full strength, they are still giving heavy minutes to J. R. “You even listening to me?” Smith. Richard Jefferson is a broke man’s Vince Carter, and “Don’t shoot that shot no” Mo Williams can’t be logging heavy minutes for your squad if you trying to get a chip.

Something is slightly off in Oklahoma City, and part of the problem rhymes with the word “peon” as in a poor man’s Nick Young. You remember how multiple All Star selection, Chris Bosh took a lesser role (and less money) with the Miami Heat, but still consistently put up numbers when they needed him to? Well that is the opposite of what James Harden did.

The Thunder haven’t been able to find a consistent third scorer since he left. Dion is not that dude. I think they believed Serge would be that guy, but he is pretty ineffective if a shot isn’t created for him. I don’t know if David Lee would be the answer, but the dude can get buckets. Who is going to score other than KD and Russ?

 

The Self-Actualization Tier: Morality, Creativity, Spontaneity, Problem solving, Lack of prejudice, Acceptance of facts

Spurs, Warriors

It is no coincidence that the two organizations known for being the most creative, and accepting of all nationalitites, cultures, and genders, are the two teams in the top tier.

In life, people only reach this tier after navigating the bottom tiers of everyday existence. When a person is in survival mode, it is difficult for them to deal with the more existential problems that plague man. When a person is worried about their safety, where they will sleep, or where their next meal is going to appear, they cannot waste their energy on the abstract.

It is only when a person feels safe, and then comfortable, and socially and mentally secure, that this other aspect of life appears in abundance. What you are seeing with the Spurs and the Warriors is not an accident. These two organizations are in the midst of revolutionizing the game of basketball.

The reasons that these two teams play such spirited basketball are because they are healthy organizations from top to bottom. They are the epitome of functionality. Everyone getting a paycheck feels invested, and everyone knows their roles. This is teamwork at its highest level. It is amazing how well you can perform your job when you feel secure.

Watching the Warriors is fun, because winnign at this level is so new, and pure. They are young and having fun; experiencing it all as it occurs. They are owning the moment (much like those early 2000 A’s teams except they actually win).

The Spurs are a different kind of beast. They are a veteran squad that expects to win because everyone does their jobs. They methodically take away a team’s strength and beat you with fundamentals (with a little creativity and razzle-dazzle sprinkled in). They are so god at what they do that they make the ordinary plays look extraordinary.

The Spurs of course are the model franchise for all of sports, and it was no surprise that a dude like David West, and a player like Lamarcus Aldridge would want to eschew larger markets (and more money) to play in San Antonio. It almost seems unfair how deep the Spurs are right now. They never let up, not even during garbage time.

Kawhi Leonard is playing out of his mind. He held Paul George to 1/14 shooting the other night while scoring 24 points on 10/19 shooting. Every game I watch of his justifies why he is my favorite player in the NBA. The dude is unreal.

Here is something that will scare the fans of other teams: the Spurs haven’t even come close to reaching their peak.Danny Green hasn’t really shot like we’re used to seeing him play, and the Spurs don’t miss a beat.

Lamarcus is playing excellent defense, but he still isn’t quite in sync with the offense. He isn’t getting the ball in the places he likes to shoot, and he seems to be out of rhythm half the time he shoots it–usually because he is getting the ball about half a second later than he is used to.

For all the health concerns dogging other teams in the league, the Warriors have dealt with their own. Harrison Barnes will not be available for the Christmas game against Cleveland. That really bums me out. Barnes will play at a moderate tempo the whole game, and then during a key stretch can take over on both ends of the floor. I love watching him play.

The Warriors have not even begun to play their best ball yet either. They have been turnover prone, and sloppy. This Friday will be the first real test for the Cavaliers. You’ll see just how far apart the teams are on Christmas Day. The Cavs bench will let them down again, and they will show replays of the Lebron looking down at his sneakers during the final minutes of the game.

I’m not a particularly religious man, but I’m praying for a Western Conference Finals between the Warriors and Spurs. #highlevelbasketball

 

Peace,

BM

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

fullsass.com

 

Finallly!!!!!!

For all intents and purposes, the playoffs started on Wednesday when Oklahoma City needed a win over the Teen Wolves, and a loss by New Orleans to sneak into the playoffs. For as much hype (and deservedly so) as the Russell Westbrook show was generating, the Thunder were still losing–despite Westbrook’s Herculean numbers during this past month (He was named the Western Conference Player of the month for his efforts). He was getting 54 points and the team was still putting up L’s.

I’m actually happy that the Pellies got in this year(thanks to this shot of course). I just couldn’t bear the thought of watching OKC in the playoffs without my boy KD.

For all those people who are sad about not getting to watch Russ in the playoffs, imagine an NBA where all of the playoff teams get to borrow one player from each lottery bound team for the first round in exchange for their first round pick. It’d be like the waiver wire in order of worst team seeding. How crazy would that be? just a drunken thought I had late one night.

Speaking of playoff seeding, what about that crock of shit brewing out in the Eastern Conference? Cleveland’s Bitch asses would be a 7th seed in the West. With Thabo Sefelosha’s leg injury affecting what will be Atlanta’s perimeter defense, the Cavs have a relatively easier path to the NBA Finals. It’s crap. This is like the winner of the NIT tournament getting to play the winner of the Final Four for the National championship. It’s bollocks.

With the playoff series being a best of 7, this column becomes almost obsolete this time of year. I’ll cut it short and give you the clicks to pick for the first round.

This Round’s Good Ass Series of Good ASS Games:

Houston vs. Dallas

The I-45 beatdown. Houston has Harden (probably the Leagues’ MVP–though I agree with J.R. Smith that Lebron should probably win every year) and they finally got D-12 healthy, but Dallas has the 2nd best coach in the NBA. I’m going to say the Mavericks take this in 7 games.

Portland vs. Memphis

Both teams are pretty banged up right now. I think this will be a series of close games–albeit ulgy ones. I’ll probably watch every game this series, but only in the 4th quarter, unless I get some kind of Good Ass Game alert telling me to tune in for an early edition of “Illard Time.”

Grizzlebees in 6 games.

New Orleans vs. Golden State

This might be the quickest ending of the series, but I firmly believe that every game will be hotly contested, except for that last home game in Oakland, that will just get out of hand. It will be the most entertaining series north of Clippers-Spurs–but we’ll get to that later.

Golden State in five games.

Los Angeles vs. San Antonio [Good Ass Games of the week]

People are talking about the mine field that the Spurs have ahead of them just because they did not get the 2nd seed. It is as if they haven’t seen the pitfalls that await every team in the second round. the only team San Antonio should have been worried about facing in the first round was Memphis–who will beat teams up even if they don’t beat them. Otherwise its evenly matched. No one has an easy path to finals, no matter where they are seeded.

Besides, I think the Clippers are vastly ovverated. J.J. Redick is having the best season of his career, and the big three for LAC is formidable, but who is going to come off the bench for them besides Jamal Crawford?

I’ve got the Spurs in 6, and it may not even that close. I think every game will be competitive though. This kind of reminds me of that series back in the day when Spurs played against Chris Paul when he was a Hornet. I don’t know why. It just does.

“Tap that Vein” Series

Bucks vs. Bulls

I know my boy Mikey will be watching his C’s play, but if I’m going to spend any of my free time watching an Eastern Conference game, it will probably be this Bulls-Bucks series. It’s kind of like when you are walking down the street and you see two homeless people arguing in an alley. You should probably be doing something better with your life, but curiosity got the best of you for a moment. Then the reality of the ugliness becomes too much to bear, and you remember that list of unfulfilled goals you still have remaining. Fuck the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Buster of the Week Award goes to:

Aaron Hernandez. Mr. Husky himself got life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder of Odin Lloyd.
He was accused of some other filthy shit, but wasn’t on trial for those other grizzly acts. The dude pissed away millions of dollars on some bullshit. If you ask me, all they had to do was pull out the tape of his touchdown celebrations to convince me that he did it.

Look at it. It is almost as if he is snitching on himself. And they say Richard Sherman is a thug. For the record, Ray Lewis was convicted of obstruction of justice, not MURDER. There is a difference, as Aaron Hernandez can attest to.

Big Ups of the Week goes to:

Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans for giving the nation of taste of what is in store for the next few years. Someday this may be Lil Brow Wow’s league.

Enjoy the first round. See you in a week or two.

Peace.

BM
@clickpicka79
#thisagoodassgame

Stretch Run

We’re down to the endgame of the regular season. The teams in the bottom half of each conference are jockeying for position. If the playoffs were to start today, the first round would look like this:

Boston vs. Atlanta

Cleveland vs. Miami

Toronto vs. Milwaukee

Chicago vs. Washington

Portland vs. Los Angeles

Houston vs. San Antonio

Golden State vs. Oklahoma City

Memphis vs. Dallas

Charlotte, Indiana, and Brooklyn are fighting it out with Boston, Milwaukee, and Miami for those last three spots. A well timed winning/losing streak will certainly affect which team will get knocked out in the first round, and which team will be opening envelopes at this year’s Lottery telecast.

The Western Conference teams are scrapping for spots as well. Dallas seems to be trending downward, while Phoenix and New Orleans can’t seem to get out of their own way. I personally haven’t enjoyed watching the Mavericks as much during the second half of the season. Something is wrong, and I’m not astute enough to figure it out.

If they don’t get it together though they won’t have to worry about facing Memphis in the first round, it will be Oklahoma City or New Orleans in their place. Speaking of Memphis, I think the key to anyone’s sustained playoff run is to avoid the Grizzlies in the first round. They are the kind of team where even if they don’t beat you, they will beat you up enough to where the next round is that much tougher on teams’ bodies. I like the Spurs chances of a deep run if they can maintain a 6 seed or higher.

From what I have heard, last week’s Good Ass Game of the Week was the ATLiens vs. the Thunder. This is exactly why I MUST get NBA League Pass next year.

Monday: Night off for “National Puppy Day”

Tuesday: Golden State-Portland Lamenting the fact that I can no longer send “Wesley!!!!” texts to my Portland homies.

San Antonio-Dallas [note: already played. Dallas won 101-94]

As opposed to the Mavs who are trending downward, the Spurs seem to be gelling at the perfect time. It is no accident that their success has been tied to Kawhi being healthy. I hear they have all kinds of nicknames for him down in San Antonio. “Kingslayer” is one of them. The “Claw” is another one. I was thinking Dr. Kawhi would be ill (because you know with hands that big he should be a doctor—or a masseuse). If you wanted to get on that Inspector Gadget tip, he could be “Dr. Claw.”

Wednesday

Houston-New Orleans M-V-P M-V-P M-V-P!!!!

Oklahoma City-San Antonio The playoffs won’t feel the same without my favorite NBA player in it. It’ll be interesting to see what the Thunder do without Durant.I hope this isn’t a sneak peek of what is to come for the franchise.

Cavaliers-Grizzlies Probably the Good Ass Game of the Week.

Thursday

NCAA sweet sixteen. I know I bag on the NCAA games this year, but if you were to watch, this is the round to do so—especially Thursday night.

Wichita State-Notre Dame

Wisconsin-UNC

Arizona-Xavier

Kentucky-West Virginia

Friday

Dallas-San Antonio

Run it back.

Memphis-Golden State Can there be a Better Good Ass Game of the Week?

Portland-Phoenix

Saturday NCAA’s Elite Eight?

Sunday

Oklahoma City vs. Phoenix
Memphis vs. San Antonio

Starting to feel like the playoffs.

Big Ups Of the Week to the Wichita State Shockers for proving me right about them. I been saying for a minute that they had the best backcourt in the country. I also remember saying that they would have beaten KU last year (when both teams had even bigger star power), and that if Fred Van Fleet were running point for them last year they’d have won it all (they’d be final four if they had both Van Fleet and Ron Baker). Most Jayhawk fans were shocked about the outcome, but this guy was not.

Buster of the Week Award goes to my little brother for picking the Iowa State Cyclones to win it all in one of his brackets. Even though it would be sweet to see the Shockers turn the tables on the Kentucky Wildcats, I don’t see anyone ending this historic run for “Cadillac” Calipari.

See you next week.

BM
@clickpicka79
#thisagoodassgame

A Brief Intermission

I skipped All-Star Break to heal my bones and mind, and to catch my breath. While some of you were oohing and ahhing over Zach Lavine, and Victor Oladipo, I was drinking Brass Monkeys in the warm air of the Big Easy. The time off gave me a time to reflect on the first half of the season, and look ahead to the trade deadline and rest of the regular season. The playoffs start in less than two months, and the line between the contenders and pretenders is quite blurry.

I’m curious as to where Amar’e Stoudemire ends up after his buyout with the Knicks. Sometime last week I had a dream that he was in talks with the Golden State Warriors (to the point of even hearing the over the phone negotiations between Steve Kerr and Amar’e–a little weird to say the least).

What will the Thunder do to nail down a rotation to get them through this stretch run. They haven’t had a consistent starting nine all season, and the backup point guard has yet to play well enough to justify his demands to be a starter for a contending team.

Phoenix is not better this year much to my chagrin–I’m not ever sure if they are as fun as last year’s squad. Will their penchant for losing close games come back to haunt them down the stretch? Do the Pelicans have enough help for Anthony Davis to get New Orleans to the playoffs?

Before we get to the second half of the season’s Good Ass games, let us reexamine the season preview where I made some bold, and not so smart predictions.

First thing off the bet, I was incredibly wrong about the Atlanta Hawks. Not only did I not think they would be worth watching this year, I didn’t even think they would be legitimately good. Big ups to Al Horford, who made his team a contender instead of going elsewhere in pursuit of that “Chip.”

I also did not think Memphis was going to be as lucky with health as they have been. Besides Vince Carter (who is 63 and still suiting up occasionally) there have not been any lingering injuries to this team. I thought for sure Zak Randolph would miss some significant time. How could I have known they’d finally trade Tayshuan Prince for Jeff Green?

I was also wrong about the Timberwolves being a fun team to watch this year. I should have said they would be a fun team to play with on NBA2k15. Shabazz Muhammad is better this year, and Zach Lavine gives Wolves’ fans something to talk about near the water cooler.

Andrew Wiggins is making me look somewhat respectable by pretty much locking up the ROY award. Other than that, things are still as bleak in the “land of 1,000 lakes” as ever. I was expecting this year to finally be the year Ricky Rubio stayed healthy. WRONG!!!!

I knew that Steve Kerr would be great for the Dub’s, but I’d have had to been smoking some super-duper headbanger boogie herb to have foreseen what is going down in Oaksterdam.

Here is what I had for the standings during the season’s preview:

Eastern Conference
1. Cleveland
2. Wizards
3. Raptors
4. Chicago
5. Miami
6. Charlotte
7. Milwaukee
8. Atlanta

Western Conference

1. Clippers
2. OKC
3. Spurs
4. Mavericks
5. Warriors
6. Phoenix
7. Portland
8. Houston

Here is what the standings really look like as of today February 15, 2015

Western Conference

1. Golden State
2. Memphis
3. Portland
4. Houston
5. Dallas
6. Los Angeles Clippers
7. San Antonio
8. Phoenix

Eastern Conference

1. Atlanta
2. Toronto
3. Chicago
4. Washington
5. Cleveland
6. Milwaukee
7. Charlotte
8. Miami

With the right stroke of luck, Detroit could easily steal a spot from Miami or Charlotte. Other than that, I feel pretty good about my early assessment of the East, although based on the way Cleveland and Atlanta are playing, I think those are the two teams most likely to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals.

As for the West, I don’t think the standings matter. There are no cupcakes to face in any round for a team to face.

So about these Good Ass Games:

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

NO GAMES SCHEDULED

Thursday

Starting the second half off right with two Marquee games

Oklahoma City-Dallas, and San Antonio-Los Angeles. After a whole week of not watching any hoop, I’ll be well rested and chomping at the bit. As my boy Busta used to say, “Gimme some MORE”

Friday

Toronto vs. Atlanta for the “tap that vein opener” and Golden State vs. San Antonio. Remember that time “Pops” rested his starters and the Warriors still got beat? Yeah I’m sure Golden State remembers that too.

Saturday

Don’t plan your night around this, but Chicago-Phoenix will be a fun watch. If its between watching this and having some “relations”, I wouldn’t begrudge you missing this one. Especially if that someone looks half as good as this young lady. Klay be getting buckets!!!

Sunday

You got all day to clean house, cut the yard, do laundry, or whatever. Get that stuff done so you can watch the Portland-Memphis game. If you miss it, you’ll feel like the guy I saw down at Mardi Gras wearing an Austin Rivers jersey. He certainly would have gotten the Buster of The Week Award had it not been for the Penn State Student section.

This is exactly why they should have had their football program taken away. It didn’t take them long to get back on their high horses after the whole culture of “Ninny Lions” enabled a monster to repeatedly rape disadvantage little boys.

Pedo State, you guys are the true definition of Busters and the only Busters bigger than the JoePa defenders are the people who believe that taking money and paying players is a ‘crime’ significantly worse than allowing school facilities to be used as a grooming stable to RAPE LITTLE BOYS!!!. Find a mirror and look into it Happy Valley Alum. You guys are suckers! I’m out.

Peace.

BM
@clickpicka79
bobbymickey@gmail.com

“We’re Going Streaking!!!!”

Atlanta tho!!!

The Hawks who I slighted in this year’s preview, have yet to lose in 2015; winning 19 straight and are 40-6 for the season. I tuned in to the watch the Atliens play Portland the other night and was impressed with how krunk it was. I guess I should not have been surprised, since it is the birthplace of Krunk music. What bugged me out though was the arena organ player throwing down some French Montana during a key defensive stand.They beat the Blazers and continued their streak. Hawks are fa’real ya’ll.

Good Ass Games This Week

Monday

Atlanta-New Orleans

This is contingent on the health of “Lil Brow Wow” Anthony Davis. He is supposed to play tonight. We’ll see. Otherwise you’ll have to watch Memphis-Phoenix. If you are trying to watch some college hoops (which I rarely recommend this season), get down on some Iowa State-Kansas on the four letter network. Allen Fieldhouse should be hype, that is if the old people in the building don’t make the young fans sit down so they can see. TURN UP!!

Tuesday

Slim Pickings that night, but you can tap that vein as Golden State takes a trip down I-80 out to “Sactown”. Warriors will be getting it in versus the Kings. We know what happened last time don’t we?

Wednesday

Dallas-Golden State
Oklahoma City-New Orleans
Washington-Atlanta
Chicago-Houston

Bulls-Houston may be the best bet of the night. Oklahoma City has been struggling to get on the same page of late, and I’m convinced it isn’t just health. Their offense is explosive at times, but also highly predictable.

Good teams know how to D up for the Thunder. They don’t do anything fancy, they just try to out run, out shoot, and out jump teams.This strategy has its limits, and when the superstars sit down for any length if time, their offense becomes an eyesore.

I look at Atlanta as if they are a west team these days, so if you can sit through a Wizards game, go ahead and tune in to that game.

Golden State-Dallas would be a lot more sexy if Rondo was playing. Get well soon Rajon.

Thursday

Clippers-Cavaliers

Two really good teams that I really don’t like to watch play. Will I watch? Hell yes. Will I enjoy it? Maybe. I can’t lie though I was impressed with Kyrie Irving’s 55 point game. Bro was relentless against Portland. His game is nice for sure, but I’d much rather watch a certain light skinned brother out of Davidson play ball–but that’s just me.

Speaking of Portland, How did my man “Late Game Dame” get stuck on the outside looking in. Bro is an All Star and a sure fire lock to make first team on Bobby Mickey’s “Non-Kosher All Star Team”. Reserved for the ballers who have been going HAM!

Portland-Phoenix will be an up and down affair (big shout outs to the Jayhawk alumni who’ll be playing that night) with some elite guard play.

Friday

Miami-San Antonio

Should be a good one. I’m liking this Hassan Whiteside kid. He’s been a double-double machine since he got into the league (he even got a triple double one night–posting 12 blocks). After I found out he played high school ball with Iowa State legend, Deandre Kane, he was dope by association alone.

Clippers-Raptors and NOLA-OKC if yoy really wanna tap the vein, but nothing will be ass good as

the Good ASS GAME OF THE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!
Golden State vs. Atlanta If you are a pretty girl who don’t like basketball and you see me at the bar; transfixed to the TV screen, just keep walking. If you ain’t messing wit hoop, I ain’t messing wit YOU.

Saturday

Dallas-Portland and Chicago-New Orleans will be entertaining, but I wouldn’t sacrifice a Saturday night (and your significant other’s wrath) for either of these games. If the only thing you tryna tap that night is them veins……. well this will certainly do.

Sunday

Atlanta-Memphis will overshadow all the other games on Sunday’s slate. Will the Hawks still be soaring by Sunday? Will they get mauled by the Grizzlebees? The only thing that would make this game better is if these teams were playing on Martin Luther King Day.

It is only when the Clippers come to Oklahoma City that I remember that Blake Griffin is a native okie.

Portland-Houston will be fun and the Raptors will give the Spurs a good run that night.

This is the first Sunday in a long time there will be no football to distract me, which brings me to the

BUSTER OF THE WEEK AWARD:

Pete Carroll had a chance to cement the Seahawks dynasty and spare everyone from a bukakke of “Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest coach and QB” headlines. I’ll give the Patriots their due. Sure they cheat, but that had nothing to do win Pete Carroll letting 53 grown ass men down when he decided to pass the ball from the 1 yard line; instead of handing the ball off to the best back in the NFL today. Everyone on that team did their jobs but Pete.

The margin of error is so small during the playoffs, and Pete Carroll had finally convinced me that he’d stop doing Pete Carroll type of things. #Baddecisions. The Seahawks lost that game more than the Patriots won that shit, and the blame starts and stops with Pete Carroll trying to be a rocket scientist instead of a football coach.

I can’t imagine what it feels like to be him, and I don’t want to.That was the most devastatingly bad decision I have seen on such a national stage. Unforgettable. Unbelievable.

People talk about Nelson Cruz’s missed catch in the 2011 World Series, or Bill Buckner’s gaffe. I remember where I was when Scott Norwood missed the game winner against the New York (football) Giants, and the Chris Webber timeout in 1992. This is way worse than any of those events. Never have I seen a coach pluck defeat from the jaws of victory on such a grand and national stage. Pete Carroll, you sir; are the BUSTER OF THE WEEK.

Alright, enough of that nonsense. Football season is over. I’m about to get down on these Good Ass Games.

Peace,

BM

bobbymickey@gmail.com
#thisagoodassgame
@clickpicka79

Basketball is my Girlfriend

It is what it is. I’ve missed my window for finding something warm to curl up with for this winter, but at least basketball season coincides with this time of the year. I’ll never be lonely as long as I got hoop on my mind, though the springtime will be a different issue, as the warm weather and hormones work in tandem to create a need that basketball alone can’t satiate.

In college there was this young lady in my linguistics class that I became acquainted with. She was tall, brunette and besides a little bit of acne, she was gorgeous. She worked as a volleyball coach at a local high school, and she also happened to love basketball. We got along swimmingly despite her being a Duke fan. One particular Thursday night in the midst of the playoffs, we had a date planned. I realized early that afternoon that the Rockets (back when they had T-Mac) were playing and there was no way I could miss it.

She wasn’t old enough to get into the bars, so I had a dilemma on my hands. This wouldn’t be the first (nor the last)time I’d break a date in favor of watching basketball. I called her up about 4:55 and was setting her up to let her down, when she suggested I come to her dorm room and watch the game. Problem solved.

Later that night, while watching what was a blowout game, we made a bet about the 2001 Blue Devils roster. I knew I was right and could have easily bet something a little less innocuous than a back rub, but anything more than that seemed icky (Things that are great independently don’t always mix so well).

So we checked the internet, and of course I was right (I think the bet was if Chris Duhon played on that championship team). I got a fantastic back massage (which is way rarer than good sex), while the Rockets beat down the Mavericks, and then later……well let’s just say it got a little warm in that single dorm room.

I was too young then to know that I was experiencing joy in its purest form, but I knew that moment was a pretty special one. If something like that happened to me now at 35 (soon to be 36) I’d probably lock that down with the quickness. But I was a young cat, and I had a lot of places to visit, and things to do. She had no intention of ever leaving Texas I think– I don’t know it was never that serious–we were on that casual tip. She did hit me up about a year and a half later.

I was living in Austin and was about to leave Texas forever in less than a week. Now that I think about it, I should have hooked up with her one last time before I left the state. She was a fun gal. But most importantly, she understood that basketball was my girlfriend and she was just my mistress. She knew how to give, and she knew how to share. And if you understand those principles in life, then you understand basketball.

Enough reminiscing, let’s talk about these Good Ass Games of the Week:

Monday

Spurs-Portland These aren’t the same fresh faces that got swept in the playoffs last year. The Spurs are a little banged up and Portland has looked pretty good so far this year. If this gets out of hand late int he third or early in the fourth quarter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Popovich pull the starters. San Antonio has a week of tough opponents ahead of them.

Tuesday

Golden State vs. Memphis This would be THE GOOD ASS GAME OF THE WEEK if not for Thursday night’s game. With no Bogut, or David Lee, the match up plays into the Grizzlies’ hands. Bogut and Lee are both big men who can force Z-Bo and Gasol out of the paint, and open up the floor. Plus that is more fouls to use against the Memphis big men. Tony Allen vs. the Splash Brothers will be a fun thing to watch too. I hope these two teams face each other in the playoffs with healthy rosters.

OKC-SAC later night. As of tonight, Sacramento is half a game out of eighth place and they just fired their head coach Mike Malone. Maybe Shaq can provide some insight on TNT this week.

Wednesday

Memphis vs. San Antonio Griz on the second end of a back-to back. Don’t read too much into this one, because the Spurs may just run them out the building. San Antonio has been spanking them ever since Memphis knocked them out of the playoffs a couple of years ago.

Milwaukee vs. Phoenix as a backup plan. Phoenix has not looked anywhere as good as last year. The way the roster is set up now, I don’t think they have enough to make a deep run into the playoffs if they somehow sneak in. They may need to make a trade. Ryan Anderson would be a perfect fit on that squad. Brooklyn is also trying to get rid of some salary too, if the Suns are serious about this year, they need to get on the phone and make a move.

Something I heard from Jalen Rose a couple of weeks ago that I totally agree with, is that they don’t seem to have a leader. After watching a few of their games this week, I’m almost completely sure that this is going to have to be Eric Bledsoe’s team. If they go into the playoffs with no one who can take the big shot at the end, this will end up looking like the Blazers of yesteryear (1999-2000 was a fun team but whose team was it?). Stay tuned.

Thursday

Oklahoma City goes to Golden State. This is will probably go down as one of top ten Good Ass Games of the Year. Last year this happened,

Believe me when I say this game will be worth breaking a date for.

Friday

Chicago-Memphis will be a dogfight. The only thing standing between me and this game will be Dave Chappelle at the Brady Theater. I can’t lose! The show starts at 7:00, so maybe I can catch the 4th qtr of this one (unless by chance we catch one of those marathon affairs that he is known for).

Portland-San Antonio also in the early round of games. Two games in one week almost guarantees this game will be a tight affair. I expect a physical game and lots of loud “GO SPURS Go” chants. If I had a mistress, we’d definitely be having a basketball threesome at AT&T Center. If that gal starts actin’ up I’ll just take her friend!

What’s the Word?? LAL? More like LOL!!!!! Oklahoma City goes to Los Angeles to play the Lakers. The Thunder have pretty much owned the Lakers since the days when KD and Russ were just neophytes and were susceptible to Pau Gasol put backs during that 2010 run. Russ loves going back to L.A. and going HAM for his hometown folk. Hustle Westbrook gets no less than 38 points this game because the Lakers have no one who can stop him. If you like Laker beatdowns, and seeing Kobe getting pissed off and barking at his teammates, then this is the game for you.

Saturday

Spurs-Mavericks I was so hype for this game until I realized that the Spurs were also playing the Friday night before. This is a classic “Popovich sits the starters” game. I was even thinking about buying tickets for this one too. WOMP WOMP WOMP!

If you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night, you can peep Bucks-Clippers, or Phoenix-New Orleans, but honestly this may be one of those nights to take one your less interesting chicks on a date. You can even take them to a bar where the game will be on with no sound. You can halfway listen to your date and occasionally glance at the score on the television. Everyone wins!!!

Sunday

Lakers-Kings and Pelicans-Thunder are worth stopping in on if and only if “Lil Brow Wow” and “Boogie Down Productions” are playing for their respective teams. If not, then take Saturday night’s date to brunch, drop her off at her crib and then get some rest for Monday. With the holidays approaching, you can get away with not calling her for a while, but the great weekend you shared will still be fresh in her mind. Hell, keep it on ice til New Year’s and I guarantee the champagne won’t be the only thing to get popped on Dec. 31st. Trust me on this, I’m a doctor.

Before I go, big shout out to “Maple Jordan”, Andrew Wiggins for winning “Rookie of the Month.” Keep it up young man, and you’ll make the both of us look good (forget what I said about the T-cubs–I did say A-Wiggs would get the ROY award or at least share it with Jabari. And don’t say they don’t give it to players on losing teams. The Sixers tanked last year and they still gave the award to Michael Carter-Williams). Until next week, I’m OUT!!!!

BM
@clickpicka79
bobbymickey@gmail.com
#thisagoodassgame