Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Business Time For the NBA

The NBA regular season begins tonight, and I for one couldn’t be more excited. Here are a few story lines for the season that have me excited:


Of course the Nuggets. For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Nuggets enter a season with a legitimate shot at contending for a championship. We’ve got all the ingredients... star power, good supporting cast, ability to score running or in the half court set. We’ve got strong post play, good perimeter shooting, an excellent returning core and have added some very good role players via free agency... now if we only played in the Eastern Conference.

The way I see it, there are a few keys to the success of this years squad.

1.) Can Melo and AI play together the way they did during the last month of the season last year?

The Nuggets were 22-16 last season with both Melo and AI in the lineup. However, they finished the season winning 10 out of 11 heading into the playoffs and were the hottest team in the NBA. If the Nuggets can transfer that type of play over to this season than they’ll be in great shape, which means that AI is going to have to learn how to defer to Melo.

Carmelo proved once again this summer that his ability to score is greater than anyone on this planet, with the possible exception of Kobe Bryant. He's comfortable in a running game or a half court set, he can score on the block, take his man one on one, and his outside jumper is getting better each season. Iverson is going to have to realize both this and the fact that he is now 32 years old. It may be time for him to give the rock up occasionally. This is a lesson that he seemed to have learned by the end of last season, but then forgot in the playoff series against the Spurs. With the scorers around him on this team, Iverson has the potential to lead the league in assists, hopefully he’s ready to move on to the next phase in his career for the sake of the team’s success.

2.) Can the Nuggets stay healthy and out of trouble?

If the pre-season is any judge, than this looks like it will once again be a problem for the Nuggets. JR Smith has already been suspended for 3 games for his part in a night club altercation (he allegedly poured Moet on a woman, then allegedly apologized only to allegedly change his mind then allegedly spit on her, pull her hair, and tear her dress.... allegedly), and Chucky Atkins will reportedly miss 6-8 weeks to start the season with a severe right groin strain. Atkins was set to replace Steve Blake as the starting PG for the Nuggets. As a result of these two incidents it looks like we are going to be seeing a lot of Yakhouba to start the season! Nothing is more exciting than a defensive stopper who doesn’t stop people. Personally I’d rather see Von Wafer get some PT. At least he showed the ability to put the ball in the hole, hitting 10-25 threes in the pre-season (Yakhouba shot a scorching 3-22!), plus we’d get to say “Von Wafer” a lot, and that certainly isn’t a bad thing.

As for the rest of the squad, our front-court has been notoriously injury prone. But if we can end up with 25 or less DNP’s from Camby, Nene, Melo and K-Mart we will finish in the top four in the Western Conference. That means home-court advantage in the first round and, more importantly, no Spurs, Suns or Mavericks in the first round.

3.) How much of the old K-Mart is left in Kenyon Martin?

After missing the better part of two seasons with micro-fracture surgeries, K-Mart is reportedly healthy again and ready to play. With Marcus Camby and Nene in the lineup, K-Mart will be the first big off the bench and probably only see about 20 minutes per game. I see this as a positive for K-Mart. First of all, it will control his minutes. Even if he is completely healed, it is better to bring him back slowly than to throw him in playing 30 minutes / game. If we can keep him healthy all season, he can provide great defense and a huge amount of toughness that was missing for most of the Spurs series.

If K-Mart and the rest of the frontcourt can stay healthy for the entire season, we will be in pretty good shape.

4.) Can JR Smith mature and become a consistent player?

The only thing consistent about JR in his first season as a Nugget was that he was inconsistent... and that he was immature. He’s had a rough off-season. But if JR can somohow figure it all out, he is a legit NBA player. He has an outstanding (albeit streaky) jumper, and when he is on he completely opens up the offense. Now if he can just refrain from spitting on girls at clubs, wrecking cars, and fighting with tiny former dunk champions than he can really help us win some games.

2006 - 2007 Denver Nuggets

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Everyone thinks the Celtics are now the favorites in the East. Why is that? Because they have three all-stars? I don’t buy it. And yes, I’m carrying a considerable amount of hatred for Boston sports right now, but that isn’t entirely why I feel this way. First of all, their three all-stars have never won anything in their lives. No one will argue that the new big three in Boston aren’t talented. They have individual accolades out the ass. But how many championships do they have? One. Ray Allen won a state championship in High School in South Carolina.

This is the least of their problems though. Because of the amount of salary cap space devoured by the contracts of the big three, the supporting cast is just a little suspect. Who do the Celtics start at the other forward? Kendrick Perkins and his 4 / 4 he’ll give you every night? Rookie Big Baby Davis? Maybe 2nd year man Brian Powe, who’s shown some talent. Or possibly the ginger assassin Brian Scalabrine (or as he’s more popularly known, Michael Rappaport)? I don’t think any of these fellas will inspire confidence in the Celtic faithful. And how about PG? It’s a position considered by many to be a fairly important. The C’s employ the combination of Rojan Rando who’s talented and has positives, but is small, can’t shoot, and a bad teammate, or Eddie House who’s kind of like a crackhead version of Vinnie “Microwave” Johnson.

But still, this isn’t the real problem with this team. I’ve watched them play three pre-season games and I’ve seen the biggest problem starting to develop. It’s Paul Pierce. Paul’s individual talent is amazing, but he has spent too long on a team who’s entire offense revolved around him getting the ball, and watching him dribble for 15 seconds trying to get a shot off. Now that he has other players who are first options, you can see him start to get selfish at points during the game and stop the offense completely while he tries to score (for reference, just think of every game you’ve ever seen featurning Antoine Walker). Maybe Garnett’s will and desire to win can get Pierce to move past this and buy in, but I can’t see it happening. And that will eventually be where this team will fail.

I just can’t see them getting by the Pistons or a healthy Heat team with all these problems.


I don’t know if anything in the NBA has me more excited than the opportunity of seeing Swifty finally playing some ball. For those of you unfamiliar with Robert Swift, he was drafted out of High School three years ago by the Seattle SuperSonics as a tall, skinny, gangly, nerdy white kid. Over the past few years he has transformed into a 275 lbs, fiery red-haired, tattoo infested Viking God. Take a look at the transformation:

Year 1:

Year 2:


It's probably the greatest personal transformation in the NBA since Dennis Rodman. I could absolutely care less if he's good at basketball or not. I just want to see him running up and down that floor, setting vicious picks, randomly screaming out to the Gods, maybe slapping opponents in the face with his glorious red ponytail.... I can't wait!


I’m so excited to see how this one plays out. With all of the animosity building between Kobe and the Lakers, nothing that happens with this will surprise me. I can picture Kobe playing an entire game in which he only shoots left handed. I can see him going through an entire game without shooting or passing. He might just dribble the ball until the shot clock runs out and hand it to the ref for an entire game. Or he could do just the opposite and take every single Laker shot in an entire game. Maybe he'll play a whole game in flip-flops, or jeans. He might wear opposing teams hats to the game, or drop 50 on someone while listening to his IPod, with Boys II Men's "Motownphilly" on repeat .... The possibilities are endless.

I love the rumor that the Lakers had worked out a trade with the Bulls involving Kobe for Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas, only to have Kobe nix it because he wouldn’t play for the Bulls if they didn’t have those players. So basically, Kobe wants to be traded, but doesn’t want the team he’s being traded to to give up anyone good for him. He is single handedly trying to destroy the Lakers franchise.



Kevin Garnett - Everyone is on the Garnett bandwagon right now. There’s no doubt that he is a great player, but I don’t see this happening. You have to win to be MVP.

Steve Nash - Nash could get rewarded for the MVP he should have had last season.
Tim Duncan - Same as Nash
Lebron James - The crown jewel of the NBA needs his MVP sometime.

Carmelo Anthony - If the Nuggets play well, he’ll get consideration
Dwanye Wade - When healthy he’s always a contender.
Kobe Bryant - Only if he gets traded.


Kevin Durant - Best player drafted should run away with it.

Kevin Durant - Especially with Oden out for the year.

Marco Bellinelli - He’s a perfect fit for Golden State if he can get some PT.
Al Horford - Best player from FLA will have the best rookie year.
Al Thornton - With Elton Brand out, he’ll get plenty of PT.


Bruce Bowen - For some reason, people think he's a good defender. More on that later.

Tim Duncan - By far the best defensive player on the Spurs, and top 2 in the league.
Marcus Camby - Last year's winner is the best shot blocker in the NBA when healthy.

Kevin Garnett - He's a popular guy this season.
Ben Wallace - Will always get considered on reputation alone.

Now more about Bruce Bowen; I will never understand why he is considered such a great defender. He's not actually a good one on one cover guy. He just fouls people. All the time. He grabs, pulls jerseys, scratches, kicks, trips people, etc. and he's constantly allowed to get away with it. It's mind boggling. Then, on the rare occasion when a foul is called on him, he bitches and compains more than the entire cast of the Real World. If he didn't play for the Spurs he would just be considered a below average, dirty player who fouls out all the time. Because he wouldn't get away with everything he does now if he played for the Charlotte Bobcats. But he plays for the Spurs, so people claim he is a great defender. I don't get it.


Grant Hill - If he can stay healthy all year and score 18 ppg he'll win easily.

Who knows? - There's always some dude like Monta Ellis or Kevin Martin that come out of nowhere. But if I had to pick someone I think it would probably be LaMarcus Aldridge from the Trail Blazers. No Greg Oden and no Zach Randolph means he'll get plenty of opportunities.

Robert Swift - Missed all of last season with a torn ACL. He'll start at center and if he can average a double double he'll have a shot.
Kenyon Martin - Missed all but two games last year. If he stays healthy and the Nuggets go far he'll be a contender.
Andre Kirilenko - Was an all-star once upon a time. If he can return to that form he will have a great shot at winning this award.


Division Champs:

Atlantic - Boston Celtics
Central - Chicago Bulls
Southeast - Miami Heat

Conference Champs:

Detroit Pistons over Chicago Bulls.


Division Champs:

Northwest - Denver Nuggets
Pacific - Phoenix Suns
Southwest - San Antonio Spurs

Conference Champs:

Denver Nuggets over Phoenix Suns. (The Spurs never win in even years)


Denver Nuggets over Detroit Pistons.

Who'd you think I'd pick to win it all?