2015-2016 Basketball Season Preview

The wait is almost over. It was a good ass off-season, but it is time to start cranking it back up. Hoops season is back, and I couldn’t be happier. Let’s skip the foreplay and talk about the upcoming season– my favorite story lines A to Z.

ADIDAS

You could put Damien Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, and James Khardasian Harden on a barnstorming tour with 2 scrubs and they’d run shit……that is until they ran into the top 3 Nike ballers and their 2 scrubs.

If you were ever thinking about buying some Adidas stock, now would be the time to do it before the season starts (It has risen 10 points since I first checked it in September). But before you do that, ask Ray J, Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, Bruce Jenner, and Lamar Odom, how much better their lives are after getting involved with that family. 

BILLY DONOVAN

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I was a little skeptical about the Billy Donovan hire. A year before KD’s free agency seems like bad timing to try and shake things up. But after reading a couple of interviews, and after Monty Williams and Mo Cheeks were hired as assistant coaches, I feel a lot more optimistic about the Thunder’s upcoming season, and their chances of re-signing Kevin Durant. There will be a learning curve, but not nearly as steep as most first year head coaches.

He has all the tools (assuming his star players are healthy) to make the Western Conference Finals. Only a fool however; would try and compare his rookie season to Steve Kerr’s first year as coach. Kerr has been a GM, an announcer, and played for Lute Olson, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich.  This is Donovan’s first season IN THE LEAGUE. It will take a series of fortunate bounces for Donovan to make it out of the West, and beat Lebron in the NBA Finals.

C. J. McCOLLUM

This is the year my man shows the world he was the player I thought he was way back when he was saucing up Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

 The dude can get buckets, and he will be asked to help out with the scoring load for the Trailblazers. When they let Wes Matthews go, I think the front office was banking on C.J. staying healthy (he hasn’t played a full season in 3 years counting his senior year at Lehigh) and taking his game to a higher level. This could be a fun backcourt to watch in years to come.

DURANT

That is right. KD is back and he says he is feeling fine. The playoffs are not the playoffs without KD playing involved. I had gotten so used to the Thunder making the post season, that it felt odd to not have them around. It shows how fast six years can go by.

The EASTERN CONFERENCE

Not quite as wack as last year, but still kind of an eye sore for the basketball purists. Fred Hoiberg will be a breath of fresh air in the Chicago locker room. The Heat will be competitive again (more on them later I promise) and the Celtics will look to improve on their season by actually being .500 again. Lebron will have to work for it a little bit more; meaning they may lose 3 more games in the post season than last year. Unless there is a catastrophic injury to LBJ, you can pretty much pencil them in for the Finals. You cannot say that about ANY team in the west.

FEAR THE DEER

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J-Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks will push the Cavs to 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Mark it! They are long, young, fast, and Jason Kidd, who was already a head coach on the court as a player, will be worth at least ten regular season wins alone.

The man is brilliant, and if you’ve ever wondered why people complain about Chris Paul as a leader, then go watch some old game footage of Kidd. Everyone who has ever played with Kidd talks about how great of a teammate and leader he was. As great of a player as Paul is, I’ve never once heard a teammate describe him as supportive. 

GRAYSON ALLEN

Yep. If you were worried that there wouldn’t be a white Duke player to root against this year, I just served you one up on a platter. Grayson kept the Dukies in last year’s national title game, with some tremendous energy off the bench. If you took Steve Wojciechowski’s antics and gave Ron Paulus hops, then you would have this guy. I actually like this cat. He plays hard. He works hard. He can bang on you if you sleep on him, and from every interview I’ve seen he seems like a great teammate. 

He does not strike me as someone who takes anything for granted. But yeah, fuck Duke. I’d be shocked if they won it all this year. Tyus Jones is in the pro’s now, and that guy was the best PG they’ve had since Jay Williams. Go ahead and pencil in another early round exit for the Blue Devils. Nothing makes me happier than typing those words.

HASSAN WHITESIDE

This cat is like Andrew Bynum without the knee injuries. Homie can ball, but dude is a little “Goof Troop.” His 2K rating will surely go up this year, because he when he is in the lineup, you can expect bro to put up a double double—and that is just in rebounds and blocks. He doesn’t even need to score to affect the game. That being said, he can just easily do something stupid to get himself taken out of the game. But if rebounding and defense get you aroused, then grab a Kleenex and tune in to Miami Heat games.

 INJURIES

Fuck Injuries. Let’s pray for a year without any major injuries to the superstar players. We already know the score concerning Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving, but last season was just ridiculous.  Can we at least have every team playing in the post season relatively healthy? I’ll sacrifice a bucket of chicken to the injury gods. I suggest that you all do the same.

JUSTICE WINSLOW

What the fuck? I started out writing a basketball preview column and it has turned into 2014 Duke Blue Devils tribute. I cannot believe that Winslow fell to the number 10 pick. Every team that had the 4-9 picks are going to be kicking themselves. Winslow is fast, he plays defense, and he is athletic. You want to know why Duke won it all last year? It was because of this guy.

Winslow should have been playing in New York or Charlotte. He is my preseason pick for Rookie Of the Year. As my mother used to say to me whenever I was one strike away from an epic ass whupping , “If you don’t believe me then just hide and watch.”

KRZYZEWSKI KANSAS BASKETBALL  

As in the state of Kansas. This year there will be three Kansas teams in the top 25, and two of them, Wichita State and University of Kansas, have legitimate chances of being in the Final Four (if they can somehow avoid being put in the same bracket). The Shockers bring back the best backcourt in the country with Fred VanFleet and Ron Baker (Baker played in the PanAm games up in Toronto this summer with my boy Keith “K-Freeze” Langford). They are also bringing on Connor Frankamp to help out with the ball handling duties (he can shoot too). They are poised for a deep run into the tourney this year.

As for the Jayhawks, well this is finally the year I’ve been waiting for when Frank Mason and Wayne Selden came onto the campus as freshmen.  They are finally mature enough to take the helm, and you know Perry Ellis is going to quietly get his 20 points and 8 rebounds during his senior campaign.

Devonte Graham has one more year of experience under his belt, and Svi Mykhailiuk will be ready to contribute more on the court as a super sophomore. Self has a rotation of big men (Chieck please!!!!) in the front court, and they have the depth to wear a team down.

With Hoiberg coaching the Bulls now, Self will have even less competition this year en route to his 13th straight Big 12 championship. Self’s stranglehold on the conference will end soon, now that UT has made a major upgrade, with Shaka Smart taking over for Rick Barnes.

 As for K-State? No one gives a shit about them. Although I’ll give them props for almost beating TCU the other night in football.

LEAGUE PASS

This is the year I finally get it. Fuck this streaming shit. “Ain’t nobody got time for dat”

METTA WORLD PEACE

The Panda King is back on the LOL Lakers who may not be so LOL this year. It is still a rebuilding year, but did you ever think you’d see the day where you’d feel less hatred for the Lakers locker room than the Clippers? More on those busters later. If you ever want to take a trip to the twilight zone, follow Ron –ahem Metta on Twitter. Dude is out there. He elbowed Harden in the head way before it was fashionable to even feel that way. Maybe homie is Meta.

NEW FACES, NEW LACES, BUT NOTHING REALLY CHANGES

Other than Oklahoma City, the same teams will be in the playoffs. It was much harder to talk myself into Utah and Quinn Snyder (fuck Mizzou), and Phoenix,than it was to talk myself out of Memphis’ old ass roster.

ONE LAST DANCE

We are on the cusp of a new age in San Antonio. The new big three for the Spurs going forward will be “Lamarcus!!!!”,  Kyle “Slo-Mo” Anderson, and Kawhi Leonard. I think this is the year where the Spurs may actually be “too old” to win the NBA title.  I’m not sure how much Parker has left in the tank, Duncan will be fine, but this is certainly Manu’s last year to play in the NBA. I still think the Spurs would have beaten the Clippers last year had they played Patty Mills more. They may need Patty and every other guard to chip in and lighten the load for Monsieur Parker.

PAUL PIERCE RETURNS HOME.

Jalen Rose correctly points out that this is the best roster that the LOL Clippers have ever had in the history of the franchise. 

You have a locker room filled with so many strong personalities that I think that this will be Doc Rivers finest job as a head coach, if he somehow gets this team to the NBA Finals (An NBA Finals that I will have no choice but to root for Lebron if the Clippers win the West–kind of like when I had to root for Chicago back in the late 90’s vs. Utah). I am extremely curious how things play out with Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson,Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and Austin Rivers.

What is the over/under on how many times Paul Pierce utters the phrase  “Ya’ll childish” as he exits the locker room while shaking his head? Who will be the guy who gets cut by the team for breaking Austin Rivers’ jaw? Remember when the Wizards had Javale McGhee, Javaris Critendon, Deshawn Stevenson, and Gilbert Arenas on the same team? If managing that team was like handling nitro glycerin, this Clipper roster is like juggling grenades.

QUICKEN LOANS ARENA

I think the Cavs go at least 37-4 at home this year. There is talk about them being “angry”, more focused and all that nonsense. They can do all that, but it’s a long season. They should focus more on being healthy. It isn’t a matter of if Kyrie will hurt himself again, but when. They will be a more cohesive unit than they were last year heading into the playoffs, and I can’t expect Kevin Love to lay another egg this season (I mean for him at least—he still put up decent numbers).  They will figure it out. They would have to try to not make the Finals in that conference.

RICK CARLISLE

He is reason enough that the Mavericks will make the playoffs.  He is poised to win Coach of the Year honors for the roster he is working with this season. Like I said before, he is the second best coach in the league behind “Pops.”

SIDELINE REPORTING

Just isn’t the same without Craig Sager and those goofy ass suits. I miss that dude.  I hope he gets well soon.

sager

TY LAWSON

Ty

If the Spurs would have somehow gotten Lawson, this season would have been a wrap. Ty finally has something to work with, and he has a lot to prove to all his doubters. The Rockets are going to get up and down the court and will average at least 110 points a game. Rockets games will be easier to digest—well that is until the 4th quarter where Harden starts initiating the free throw contests. But the first 3 quarters will be good. Give me a Rockets vs. OKC/Golden State/ San Antonio any night of the week though.

UNDER ARMOUR

Check the stocks. Under Armour is killing the game right now. Shares are like 102 points the last time I checked. Steph Curry is winning on the court and off of it. Homie got a little piece of the action and has bought stake in the company (Getting a little bit of everything in today’s preview at zero to little cost).

Speaking of winners, can we give props to Dell Curry? The guy had a very solid NBA career, married a beautiful and smart woman, and has two sons in the NBA. One of them is coming off of an NBA title, and the other played 4 years at Duke and just got a legit contract with the Kings. #Winning.

VUJACIC

Yes Sasha Vujacic is still in the league, and may be playing with the New York Knicks this season. Need I say more?

WILLIE CAULEY STEIN

The best player to come out of the state of Kansas in a very, very long time. He has height, lateral quickness, defense, and ups. He will get 8 points a game just from Rondo throwing him oops all season. Imagine if you could  let  Tyson Chandler play defense out on the perimeter. Exactly!!!

 

XAVIER (As in David West’s alma mater)

 I’ve always thought D. West would be the perfect Spur, and he will prove his worth on this roster. He is a true professional. After seeing him beat up on San Antonio throughout the years, it is cool to see him on the side of the good guys. I want so badly to pencil them in for the Finals. I just don’t know if they enough backcourt depth to make it happen. 

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YOUNG GUNS

New stars are good for the league. I’ve already talked about some of this year’s rookies, but the Teen Wolves will be the most fun 20 win team you’ve ever seen. They will compete, but they still not quite there yet. Kevin Garnett in that locker room will be nothing but an asset.

He’s already teaching those Youngbloods what it means to be a professional. They would make a great NBA Jam team. Wiggins, Lavine, and Shabazz Mahummud would be a fun trio to run with (Rubio as the alternate). They are not too far away from being where OKC was back in ’08-10. They just have to be smart (don’t laugh its possible—anything is possible) with personnel moves the next 3 years.

Utah has a decent core coming back. Going up to Salt Lake City is no longer an easy W. They are going to make teams earn it. I like Heyward. Trey Burke still has yet to hit his full potential, Rudy Gobert aint no punk, and we still don’t know where Dante Exum will be as a player. If they were in the Eastern Conference, I could be talked into them making the playoffs.

ZAZA PACHULIA, DERON WILLIAMS and WESLEY MATTHEWS

The three biggest additions to the Dallas Mavericks, and they will still make the playoffs. I rest my case.

 BM

 

West Standings (in no particular order)

Oklahoma City (if healthy)

Houston

Golden State

San Antonio

Memphis

Los Angeles Clippers

Dallas

New Orleans

 

East standings (in no particular)

Cleveland

Indiana

Heat

Atlanta

Boston

Chicago

Milwaukee

Detroit

 

Eastern Conference Finals

Cleveland vs. Milwaukee (Cleveland wins 4-2)

 

Western Conference Finals

Golden State vs. Oklahoma City (if healthy)

NBA FINALS

Oklahoma City (if healthy) vs. Cleveland (Cleveland wins 4-3)

#THISAGOODASSGAME

@CLICKPICKA79

bobbymickey@gmail.com

Run That Shit Back!

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We back! The NBA pre-season is upon us, which means we are only 2 and a half weeks away from the ball being thrown up for realsssssssss.

I can sum up this upcoming season by grouping the teams into four categories of watchability:

a) “Don’t Waste my Time”

b) “I’ll watch depending on they are playing”

c) “Oooh they playing tonight? Let me see what I got going on.”

d) “Cancel all my plans. I’m staying in tonight.”

Basically teams fall into these categories by whether they got better, got worse, or stayed the same. Some teams were so wack last year they couldn’t help but improve. Others thought (rightly or wrongly) that no changes needed to be made. Let’s get to it, this thing is already going to be long enough.

As much as I love hoop, I will not spend too much time in front of the tube watching the following teams:

Celtics, Lakers, Pacers, Nets, Utah and the Atlanta Hawks.

As a certain social philosopher likes to say, “NOT GONNA BE ABLE TO DO IT!” Not interested, not even a little bit.

How many uncontested layups will the Los Angeles Lakers give up this year? I’m willing to bet anyone that the Lakers will finish in the bottom five in defensive field goal percentage.
Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, Swaggy P………if Jordan hill is your best option on defense…should I even continue?

Let’s just hope Jack Nicholson has low expectations this year, because I’d hate to see the old man blow a gasket after seeing his beloved Lake show give up bucket after 4th quarter bucket. Good luck Byron Scott. Lakers need to be in rebuild mode. Talk about being in denial. The Lakers will be right back in the lottery. Mark my words.
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With the loss of Lance Stephenson, I had Indiana being in the lottery even BEFORE Paul George got himself fucked up during the FIBA scrimmages.

I like what Danny Ainge is doing out in Boston, but it will be a couple more years before I can be excited about sitting down to a Celtics game. We’re just not there yet.

Even if the Nets were good, it would be hard for me to support anything Russian owned while that shit is going on in the Ukraine.

UTAH???psssttttttt just change your team mascot already. Saying there is Jazz in Utah is like saying there are good looking women in Maine. I’m sure at one time or another both have existed in each state, but neither are home grown products. If I knew anything about Utah other than Mormons, reformed Mormons, the X-games, and weed, I could come up with something clever–but I can’t. Let’s just move on.

I HAVE A DREAM…….that someday Al Horford will play for a legitimate NBA contender. Go to Chicago Al!!! Team back up with Joakim Noah, I swear I won’t root against you two this time.

DEPENDS ON WHO THEY PLAY

Memphis, Houston, Pelicans, Pistons, Bulls (without D. Rose), Orlando, Denver, Milwaukee, Philly, Knicks, Miami

After a couple of years of squeaking into the playoffs, I think this is the year Memphis finally misses the cut. Phoenix is better, and the Grizzlies are older. I think the injury bug will hit a couple of key veterans. The Grindhouse will not be rocking next April if my suspicions are correct.

I don’t find James Harden or Dwight Howard the least bit of entertaining to watch. I can’t stand Patrick Beverly, and if I wanted to watch someone shoot 30 free throws I’d go to the YMCA and volunteer.

Other than Kid Rock, Jalen Rose, and Eminem, no one outside of the state of Michigan is interested in watching Detroit basketball.

The “Brow” is almost intriguing enough to tune in, but the rest of his team is garbage. Next!

Orlando almost has enough pieces to warrant more than a peek in at their games. One more year of the lottery should get them in position to contend for a playoff spot next year.

Denver has the “Manimal”, and a nasty backcourt of Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson. But really that is about it. But props to Brian Shaw for smashing on Madonna (a remarkable feat that doesn’t get enough attention) in her prime.

Will Jason Kidd be the first NBA player-coach to suit up since Dave Cowens? I think they the pieces to grab that 8th playoff spot. The Eastern conference is wack as hell, and both New York teams will be in the toilet (more on the Knicks in a second) this year. Someone has to grab that last spot–it may as well be them. Peep the roster if you don’t believe me.
Gonna see a lot of this this year
I’m not even remotely interested in Philadelphia until they get completely healthy.

All the players on the Knicks I wanna see play are deep on the bench. I just don’t see how that roster can make the playoffs–even in the East. I’m not entirely sold on D-Fish as a head coach–at least right now. I believe he will have a pretty big learning curve. I think they will miss the playoffs, but just barely. Also Amar’e Stoudemire makes the most money on the team this year, and may actually play the least amount of minutes.

Do you remember when Chris Bosh was the best player on his team in Toronto? Well if you don’t, then this Heat team will remind you of what that was like. Chris Bosh is going to put up some numbers this year, and the Heat will not be as bad as you think. Don’t be surprised if they play Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.

OOOOOHHHH THEY PLAYING?

Clippers, Bulls (with a healthy D. Rose), Raptors, Cleveland, Mavericks, Wizards, Hornets

These teams I wouldn’t exactly drop everything I’m doing, but I could be talked into meeting someone at the bar to watch any combination of these teams playing each other.

The Clippers were one of those teams that didn’t do much to get better or worse, but besides Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul, there aren’t any other guys who can create their own shot. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be better this year, but barring a mid-season trade (and injuries to OKC and San Antonio), I don’t see how they make it out of the west. I do think they will have the best regular season record and will get home court in the playoffs, but that guarantees little against the Spurs and Thunder.

Bulls are deep this year. I’m salivating on watching Noah and Gasol run that Hi-Lo in the post. The Bulls have Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson, Aaron Brooks, Doug McDermott and Kirk Hinrich as good role players. I would pencil them as Eastern Conference champs were it not for a few lingering questions.

1) Is the Curse of Michael Jordan real?

Ever since the Jerry’s ran off Phil, Scottie and MJ, the Bulls have had nothing but bad luck. Eddie Curry…..trading Lamarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas, the Jay Williams motorcycle accident, Derrick Rose getting hurt during garbage time of a playoff game—-oh wait that isn’t bad luck— those are the result of bad decisions aren’t they?

2) Will Tom Thibadeau finally learn from the Spurs model and figure out a way to spell his starters so the team can be fresh for the playoffs? Thibs just has a way of grinding his players down. I feel like this is an under reported item concerning his coaching style.

3) The big question of course is will Derrick Rose make it to the All-Star break? He is the difference between them getting knocked out in the first round, and them losing to the Spurs in the finals.

Raptors made no significant changes, which was a good decision. They re-signed Kyle Lowry, which is almost like getting a big name free agent. They could should easily win Atlantic division this year.

People are hype about Cleveland, (and the should be), but why aren’t people also acknowledging that besides their “Big 3”, Cleveland still has a number of questions. Just how much better is Lebron’s supporting cast in Cleveland than the one he left in South Beach? Was James Jones ever that good?
He old and Cleveland is COLD.

I could write that sentence again in regards to Mike Miller and Shawn Marion. All three of these guys are in their mid thirties and have had the luxury of playing in warmer climates for most of their careers. Sure the game is played indoors, but that has to have some affect on your psyche–especially in a shit hole town like Cleveland. It aint ‘Zona or Texas or Florida.

How many games will Kyrie Irving play this year? He hasn’t played a full season of basketball since he was in high school. I’m not saying he’s bad, I’m just suggesting he might be a little frail. I’m not judging (I’m someone who gets hurt playing everything). But we can’t pretend like Irving is a guy you can pencil in to be healthy at the end of the year. Perhaps this wouldn’t be that big of an issue had Cleveland not wasted that pick on Anthony Bennett.

They opted instead for Victor Oladipo, but who is to say they wouldn’t have had to trade him for Kevin Love (imagine what an addition that would have been for Minnesota)? regardless Lebron not only has his consistently monster numbers, but will earn the MVP because everyone else’s stats will inflate because of his presence on the court (especially the Wins column).

Dallas as a team that would drop in the west, but I took a look at the roster and realized that Raymond Felton was indeed NOT the starting point guard for the Mavericks (the Jeopardy answer would be “Who is Jameer Nelson?”). I like their squad, and as I have said before, Rick Carlisle is the 2nd best coach in the NBA. Nothing could surprise me concerning the Mavericks–including another Finals run.

I like the Wizards running the same team back with the addition of Paul Pierce. He will be a great presence for them in the locker room. They are a dangerous team that has a top five backcourt. They could easily be in the Eastern Conference Finals as well.

Lance Stephenson was a great pickup for the Hornets (feels so right doesn’t it? I miss calling them that). Charlotte will be more entertaining to watch this year, but they will still get bounced in the first or second round.

“Alright stop what you doing cuz I’m about to ruin……”

You know what it is….every day I will circle the games these teams are playing and will make damn sure I get to watch them–even if its on replay.

Golden State made a controversial move in ousting Mark Jackson, but they couldn’t have made a less controversial hire in Steve Kerr. I think he will fit in fine with the front office, and will be a breath of fresh air for the franchise, believe it or not. Their season depends on how many games they can squeeze out of their front court players, David Lee and Andrew Bogut.

I’m also curious as to how well Harrison Barnes is integrated into the playing rotation. They need him to play as well as he did during the 2012 playoff run, if the Warriors are to take that next step. Continuity is a huge factor every year, and no major moves were made this off-season. The core remains intact with a couple of key additions in their back court. The Splash Brothers will actually get some rest if Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, and Brandon Rush can contribute off the bench.

Super Bowl champion Head Coach Jimmy Johnson used to say, “If you are not getting better, then you are getting worse.” This adage pretty much sums up what the Thunder did this off-season. They wasted this summer’s draft picks, lost their best perimeter defender in Thabo Sefalosha, and only managed to sign Anthony Morrow. That being said, the still have two of the best five players in the NBA. That alone will be good enough to get them to the Western Conference Finals. Steven Adams will be starting at center no later than the All Star Break.

Portland didn’t do much to improve either. Then again, any off-season moves to be made on that roster would’ve had negligible results (Is the difference between a 7 seed and a 5 seed in the west worth messing up team chemistry?) Portland’s bench is better based on another year’s experience for Thomas Robinson and C.J. McCollum.

Phoenix will for sure be in the playoffs. They re-signed Eric Bledsoe, bringing back the nastiest back court duo west of San Antonio and east of Nevada. They managed to draft Tyler Ennis, T.J Warren, and acquired Isiah Thomas. The Morris twins re-upped and so did P.J. Tucker’s drunk driving ass. They won’t be sneaking up on no one this year. They ready. Fools are gonna get banged on when they play the Suns.

The T-Cubs will be the newest fun team to watch this year. It is too bad Rick Adelman won’t be around to coach this team. I think this is the second coming of the Baby Bulls, and early 2000’s Sacramento Kings. Rubio finally has some guys to run with him. Look at who the Timberwolves have: Zach Levine, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III, Corey Brewer, Mo Williams, and my boy A. WIGGINSSSS!!!

Last year, the Wolves were 3rd ppg, 6th in rpg, 5th assist, 26th in points allowed. If they can even get into the top 20 in team defense, I think they can contend for a playoff spot until the final week of the regular season. I’m excited to see this team play. Andrew Wiggins wins Rookie of the Year award (even if he has to share it with Jabari Parker–I think getting shunned by the Cavs/Lebron will be the best thing to ever happen for his career–this is the chip on the shoulder he needed).

You know who didn’t have to do a damn thing this year? The NBA (World?) champion Spurs re-signed their role players and drafted triple-double machine, 6’9 PG Kyle Anderson from UCLA. I see this being a quiet title defense for the Spurs. Everyone is going bananas over the revamped Cavaliers, when the Spurs dismantled a team that currently looked better than what Cleveland is running out onto the court. I see the Spurs just chilling in the cut until their “Rodeo trip” and then landing a #3 seed in the playoffs. Health is the biggest factor for them. Their bench players will play just as big a role (probably a bigger role) as last year’s title run.

Anyway, enough with all the formalities. Time to put my name on the line.

MVP Lebron (of course)

Co-Rookies of the Year
Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker

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

Western Conference Finals

Spurs over Oklahoma City (again)

Eastern Conference Finals

Cleveland over Washington

NBA Finals

Spurs over Cleveland to defend their title and shut down any remaining naysayers. Cleveland isn’t ready yet. This year will be a toss up in the East, but by 2015, it will be Cleveland and then everyone else. As evidenced by all the hype surrounding his return to Ohio, this is still Lebron’s league.