Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NBA Preview 2007

With baseball behind us and any significant football games way ahead, it is a perfect time for the start of the 2007 NBA season. Most of the preseason headlines revolved around Kobe Bryant and his quest to lose in the first round of the playoffs in a different city. As I've mentioned over and over, going to Chicago would be horrible for both parties, as the Lakers wouldn't get near the same value and Kobe would be on yet again another talentless team. And now with Phil Jackson publicly criticizing Kobe and his lack of commitment, and seems like a trade has to happen, though nothing is on the table that Jerry Buss could possibly want to sign. As far as fantasy in concerned, the idea that Kobe might not play until he's traded, or at least not play up to his abilities, has got to have owners shaking in their moonboots. Same goes for Dwayne Wade and Kevin Durant owners, who are fearing injury. So, while we're talking about fantasy, let me show you my lineup before we get to the actual NBA.

PG Chauncey Billups
SG Ray Allen
G Tony Parker
SF Kevin Garnett
PF Jermaine O'Neal
F Rasheed Wallace
C LaMarcus Aldridge
Util Stephen Jackson
BN David Lee
BN Darko Milicic
BN Raja Bell
BN Jason Williams

Yeah, as much as I want to root against Boston teams, I have Garnett and Allen, so not only do I have to become a Celtics fan this year, but I also have to root for KU alum Paul Pierce to be unproductive, forcing my two guys to add more stats. Oh well. We'll see how this year goes. Now, let's talk basketball.

We'll start at the top, with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Most of the crap that is being referred to as "conversation" about the Spurs revolves around the fact that they've won their championships in alternate years (2003, 2005, 2007) and that's why they won't repeat. This is about as scientific as Noah's Ark, and is believed by roughly the same amount of people. It's not like the Spurs have mailed it in during even years. They were one overtime win away from reaching the finals in 2006, you might remember. However, they are not my pick for the 2007-08 champs, but it's not their fault.

It's Dallas' fault. They just got unlucky last year, facing a bad matchup against their former coach who had Avery Johnson's number. What makes me confident in the Mavs is that I believe that Johnson knows that he got out-coached, realizes that he should have never changed lineups, and has learned from his mistakes. They were clearly the best team last year, and if it wasn't for landing Golden State in Round 1, they probably would have won it all. I don't like the Suns against Dallas because of an unhappy Shawn Marion and an aging Steve Nash going up against Dirk Nowitzki, who is going to go on a blitzkrieg this year. Dallas also has a nice mix of role players, who won't exactly light it up, but know what they have to do to make this team successful. Another reason I like them is because of Avery Johnson making this a good defensive team, which is critical in the playoffs. No other teams in the West can really compete, with the possible exception of Houston, who have the ability finally win a playoff series this year, but probably not much else.

The team to watch has got to be Seattle. I'm going to be glued to all three of their games I'll get to watch this year, watching Kevin Durant every minute, even when he's on the bench. I'm absolutely amazed by his talents, not to mention his Garnett-like intensity and love for the game. And while the SuperSonics might not be the most talented team, they are surprising deep. Their offseason moves were a desperate attempt to keep the team in Seattle, but regardless of the motive, the Sonics have acquired a plethora of role players. They could be a surprise team this year.

The reason I'm picking the Celtics in the East isn't because I have two of their top three players on my team, rather, I have two of their top three players on my team because I'm picking the Celtics. I'm sorry, but look at the East. You have Detroit, who is aging and lost to the LeBron 5 in last year's conference finals. You have Chicago, who is still too inexperienced and might be the Kobe 5 by the end of the year. They have two more superstars than the Cavs. There isn't one team in the East that could possibly play good enough defense against Boston to stop the three-headed monster. And here's the X-factor: NBA teams routinely take games off, as it is a long season, but Kevin Garnett never takes a minute off. He is the most intense player on the court during every game, an attitude that will rub off on hungry Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and it has already rubbed off on their coach. Now add the fact that this team was practicing before everybody else, they're already appearing in commercials together, and the crazy African ubuntu "unity" thing that they're making up, and you got three all-star players who are hungry, determined and who are coming together like a band of brothers, and you got the Eastern Conference champions.
What, did you think I was going to pick the Knicks?


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