|Sadly, this year, we're doing it Odenless... |
Oh man, where do I start with these guys. Hey, everyone, just FYI, they are still the East, and Garnett and Ray Allen don't change the whole scene too much. Boston, I'm sorry, but you'll be better, just not Championship better. Two over-the-hill superstars joining a third over-the-hill superstar does not an all-star team make. Keep in mind, your starting center is still Kendrick Perkins, or that guy who paints his nails black. But, at least they are a Boston sports franchise that's likeable, and would be more so without Danny Ainge - just saying.
Of course, the East will be pretty darn competitive, even if they are competing over the title of "king of the weiners." The Raptors are going to surprise more than a few teams and end up in the top half of the conference. The Heat are steadily on their way down, and with Ricky "Own Rebound" Davis on board a two-move and one-shouldered Dwyane "I can't spell my name" Wade and Shaquille "I can, sorta" O'Neal, they will be one fun ship to watch sink.
Atlanta is an up-and-comer, but won't fill the seats, even with immediate impact rookies adding to the dynamite man Joe "MFing" Johnson. The Bulls are good - don't forget them - and Tyrus Thomas will get a paycheck and put up some highlights, while the nuts and bolts guys get the rest of it done. And Joakim will still be as ugly as his jumper (I think he automatically wins ugliest jump shot in the NBA). Charlotte will be better, but I will miss 'Stache and "Burrito Wagon" Sean May. Washington still has their players, but still no one in the front court - so expect them to go as far as, oh say, the first round. The Knicks are marginally better, if only because Zach Randolph > Steve Francis, and David Lee is pound-for-pound the best rebounder in the East.
The Magic - well, they got Rashard Lewis. How much better does that make them? Only so far as Dwight continues to dominate the Eastern paint - which he will continue to do. Cleveland is still a factor, but unless my boy Gibson keeps up his playoff sidekick role to LeBron, they will always be known as an also-ran.
Three are other teams in the East, but they aren't worth mentioning.
Yay! The one with eleven viable teams playing for eight playoff spots. This is not going to be easy.
The Southwest conference could put all their teams int he playoffs, if only because they possibly the three best teams in the conference. Luis Scola and the Rockets (even IF they have Francis) are going to by explosive - if McGrady's knee doesn't explode first. The Spurs are always gonna be good, and still play that boring brand of Popo-ball that makes me want to retch. The Mavericks, well, they still have Dirk - and he's still surrounded by a bunch of players I hate, which means they will do everything to piss me off. The Hornets are good, because they have Christopher Paul and the weirdest collection of players ever. Oh, and Peja is there. I think. Okay, Memphis played worse than their talent last year (and the Draft Lottery proved it!), add to that Navarro and Conley (in addition to a healthy Lowry) with up-and-comer Kinsey and that is going to be a fun team to watch. Iavaroni as their coach is going to bring them a Phoenix-like following.
The Pacific will be competitive - for the second place teams anyways. Phoenix owns this division, and Grant Hill adding injury-prone firepower to the second string is going to keep their scoring up. The Warriors will be fun to watch (and root for) again, and Bellinelli will be just the type of player I love - unbelivably hot-headed and egotistical with a money jumpshot (best in the draft with Mo Almond). Lakers suck - we'll see if Kobe lasts the season. Kings, bleh. Oh, and the Clippers - the darkhorse - because it all depends on what that team wants to be - right now, it's losers.
Ah, the Northwest - home of mine. Utah will continue to be good, whether they find a Kirilenko deal or not. Deron Williams is about to be a superstar on par with Jason Kidd - but with a jumpshot. Denver will also make the playoffs, but still need to figure out to play with two balls. Marcus Camby, if he's healthy for the entire season, will be the defensive player of the year. Seattle will be rebuilding, but will be awfully fun to watch. Minnesota, not as fun to watch, and they'll probably win about twenty games, and inevitably Kevin McHale will be fired (probably before the New Year's ball drops). And, last and certainly not least, Portland. Oh, what joy. No Oden, but that's okay. LaMarcus would win (if there were such an award) "Sophomore of the Year" and Brandon will keep himself up. Everyone is much more gelled this year, and it'll be exciting, and P-Town fans should be excited about finishing third in the division and getting another lottery pick to add to Rudy and Oden next year.
Those End-of-Season Dealies...
Okay, so Mr. Williams is a stretch – but so is any of the other Nets’ “big” men becoming a reliable post player. Also, it should be noted, that eventual injuries to both Davis and Ellis will free up some time for the Italian Hot Head (I’m thinking Pancetta is a good nickname for him – to go along with my trend of naming Italian players after cold cuts).
Sorry, a little slow on the surprises here – but that’s what the NBA brings – little surprises. My little surprise here is Mr. Paul, who would score the biggest coup in NBA history by overthrowing perennial All-First Teamer Stevie Nash. Gilbert (aka Agent Zero) could be here too, but he’s a videogame turncoat – and that doesn’t make me want to be on your side – maybe he should change his nickname to “Agent Buncha Zeroes.”
Here’s the fun part, the actual awards and not theoretical teams that would be “tough” to beat. I am still trying to understand what sort of pride these players take in being mentioned in a team – because obviously they are not in the NBA to be part of a team.
Most Improved Player: Joel “The Przydent” Przybilla. He’s coming back in a strong way, Blazer fans. And as a Blazer fan, I would like to go ahead and squelch the rumor that this is a biased homer pick. It’s absolute truth. But, seriously, this is gonna be a good year for the 10. And, if I just jinxed him to all hell – well, we’ll have Oden next year.
Most Valuable Player: Chrysler LeBaron James (Speaking of MVP, it’s a shame they didn’t make a basketball iteration of that loveable chimp movie series – thought up here first,