Something something Lin something something Lin Lin.
If there’s anything Jeremy Lin has taught us about this year’s abbreviated NBA season, aside from the implicit Asian-American bigotry that’s percolated to the surface since his coronation as King of New York, it’s that anything is Linpossible.
With that in mind, its time someone went out on a Lin, and made some predictions that fit this helterskelter season. So here we go.
The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks will face each other in the 2012 NBA Finals.
This feels pretty ridiculous while writing, but hear me out. The last time the NBA had a shortened season, in 1998-1999–but really just in 1999, since they started the season in early February–the top two defensive teams in the league during the season, met in the NBA Finals.
The Knicks and Spurs ranked 2nd and 1st, respectively, in points allowed per game. Who leads the league in points allowed per game this year? Well, Chicago and Philly are in the mix for that right now, but only a week ago it was the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, and they’re 1 and 2 in opponents field goal percentage still.
Even though the Celtics are doing a great job on the defensive end, they’ve had such a hard time scoring points they’re under .500 for the year and on the brink of not even making the playoffs. Danny Ainge is shopping every player on the roster not named Paul Pierce, and you have to think he’s mulling offers for Pierce too.
He should stop. An abbreviated season is filled with twists and turns and if there’s any time a lower seed can channel the magic of the New York Knicks run through the 1999 playoffs, its the aging Celtics of 2012. They’ve been there before, and they play defense like an easy basket is a personal insult. It’s just that Rajon Rondo can’t shoot, and other teams know this. They pack the paint and make it impossible for the Celtics to spread the floor for Pierce and Allen. The Celtics do not score very many points. If they do find a way to score some points, this prognostication will lose its Linsanity and become reality.
The Mavericks basically personified post-championship hangover earlier this year. Dirk Nowitzki especially, was burned out enough after the title run last June and the Euro Championships with Germany, he basically sat out a week getting back into shape and trying to get the hunger back. Now, it’s back.
Over the last month, the Mavericks are on a tear, and so is Nowitzki. They’re poised to peak at exactly the right time, and that can only mean bad things for the rest of the West. Dirk and Co. will glide through the playoffs on the strength of his late-game heroics and hard-nosed defense usually reserved for a team out East.
The problem with this prediction is it fails to take into account the hectic schedule this season. With virtually no time to practice, winning is taking a back seat to teams just surviving. If the regular season is any indication, the playoffs will feature vastly improved conditioning. This could mean an offensive explosion, or it could mimic the last shortened season and every other playoff run in between, and defense will intensify in the playoffs as scoring drops I’m of the opinion it will be the latter, and defensive stalwarts like Boston and Dallas will excel.
LeBron James will not win the MVP Award.
Right now, the King of Miami is the frontrunner, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. The best player on the best team through the NBA’s first half has everyone writing about LeBron as MVP. Right now, he’s 3/1 favorite to win this year’s award. Despite all indications saying otherwise, he will not win the award.
Remember Dirk Nowitzki’s MVP in 2007, and the shudder of shock voters felt when his Mavericks were eliminated by the Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs? Yeah, writers don’t like handing out awards in the second round to a player in his street clothes, which is what happened to poor Nowitzki. Maybe, voters will be scared off LeBron as the pick because of the Celtics-Heat match-up in the first round and the looming prospect of LeBron picking up his award dressed in a 3-piece suit instead of his Heat uniform. Regardless of how LeBron will lose out on his 3rd MVP, he will. Someone else will Lin it.
The someone that will come out from under LeBron’s 6’8” 260 lb. shadow and win the 2011-2012 NBA MVP, could be: Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Kevin Love or Kevin Durant. My money is on Durant or Paul, but it should be Parker after what he’s done for the Spurs this season with Ginobli hurt and a geriatric Duncan.
Shane Battier will win the Defensive Player of the Year Award Retroactively
Dwight Howard has this locked up, but Shane Battier has always been left out of the NBA’s DPOY awards. Big men have dominated the award since the artist formerly known as Ron Artest won it for the ’03-04 season. Not so during this LinSane year. With the NBA becoming more offensively oriented (except during the playoffs: see above), it makes sense a backcourt defender should take home the award, even though he can’t hand-check anymore.
Shane Battier, averaging only 22 mpg will take the award both for his defense on this year’s Heat juggernaut, and for excellence in prior seasons. Hey, if NBA scribes can do it for the MVP award (hello Karl Malone and Dirk Nowitzki), then why not the DPOY award? If you’re wondering about the selection of Shane Battier, read this 2009 New York Times article from Moneyball author Michael Lewis on The No-Stats All-Star.
Some other backcourt alternatives to my retroactive selection of Shane Battier include: Andre Iguodala, Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo.
A 3rd player from the 2009 NBA Draft will win the Rookie of the Year Award.
After Tyreke Evans won ROY for the 2010 season, Blake Griffin took last season’s award. Now, we’ve got the mop-topped Spaniard suddenly making blustery, Minnesota a fun place to play.
The only real problem Ricky Rubio must face comes in the form of one Kyrie Irving (remember Jeremy Lin is not a rookie). Irving, if you aren’t from Cleveland, is single-handedly making people forget about The Decision. That’s not to say Scott Raab isn’t busily jotting down notes for his next book about Irving’s decision to move to LA, but for the time being, Irving has given Cavaliers fans something to cheer for, and that’s saying something.
The Spaniard, though, is the most exciting thing about the NBA not named Jeremy Lin. His lean jawline and baby countenance combined with the flowing tresses make him not only a ROY candidate, but an almost sure bet to get a spread in GQ before next season begins. Maybe, that spread will be talking about his ROY award.
More LinSane things have happened.
—Frank Franklin II/AP Photo