Sure it’s two days late, but come on. We have kids and family obligations. We’re supposed to just sit around and talk about sports all day?
The temperature finally dipped below 80 degrees which can only mean one thing! Basketball is back.
It’s only right that the NBA tipped off on the same day as Game 1 of the World Series. The Land of Misery is now BelieveLand. Earlier this week in Cleveland, they hoisted the first championship banner since 1954 and Game 1 of the World Series was played and won by the hometown WINdians by what can no longer be called the Mistake by the Lake.
That being said, I’m going to start this preview off by giving you my pick right now! That’s right, I’m a Maverick (not the Dallas kind, nor the Palin kind, but one none the less).
The Los Angeles…..Clippers will win the title this year.
Sure, they made no off-season splashes. Sure, their primary goal this summer seemed to re-sign arguably the worst back up point guard in the NBA (Doc Rivers should be named Father of the Year, never Executive of the Year…and yes I said Never. He turned a perennial championship contender to a middling franchise.) Then they signed another back up point guard who plays no defense in Raymond Felton. Basically what Rivers is saying… I don’t know what the hell he’s saying.
But in the Year of Our Demagogue, nothing makes sense. Cleveland has the Larry O’Brien Trophy and is in the World Series, The Minnesota Vikings (on the Mt. Rushmore of tortured sports cities) may be the best team in the NFL, it only makes sense that this should be the Year of The Clippers as well…
Believeland all you want. There are still the Browns. But this isn’t about that – because . . . we’re playyyyinggg bas-ket-ballllll.
As for your bold prediction, I’m hoping you’re the kind of Maverick that’s the gambling/controlling the future kind. Because, by Dirk, the LA Clippers seem like quite the homer pick.
Most likely to have a guy jump over a KIA to dunk a basketball? Maybe. But Championship?? Methinks not.
You are aware that the Golden State Warriors added Kevin Durant to the mix this year, right? There aren’t enough DeAndre Jordan emoji in all of he universe that are going to help defend that.
I mean, you picking the Clippers would be like me picking the Knicks. Like me getting irrationally excited that an older, wiser, share-the-ballier Carmelo will team up with Porzingis to form a Jordan-Pippen 1-2 punch. That our non-rapist point guard Derrick Rose, will play like its 5 years ago when he still had knee cartilage. That our foreign battery of Mindaungus Kuzminskas and Wily Hernangomez will not only be fun to say – but will contribute gritty minutes off the bench. That would be crazy to think that those things would happen, even though the season is fresh and new and filled with promise.
Did I mention Kristaps Porzingis?
Oh wait. Sorry. Max Kellerman of ESPN has determined that the Knicks are the worst franchise in professional sports. Because he is a Talking Head Hot Take Artist and knows a few things about boxing, he must be right. Darn. (And here I thought it was the Cleveland Browns.)
Anyway. It seems we’ve proven that we’re wholly unable to make factually based Championship picks. It’s OK. Post-factual is super-trendy these days.
What about individual players. Who’s in for a big season?
I heard you talk about the Knicks, but all I saw was the final score against the Cavs on opening night, and ouch…Maybe they should have a different Jimmy Dolan running the Knicks or maybe a different Zen Master but this isn’t 2011, and last time I checked Porzingis is not Ivan Drago, so I am offended that you would lump my Clippers with your Knicks. (That’s the pop culture triple threat right there, Kasdan)
Side note: Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders…is this the worst era in New York Sports History?
Speaking of history, I grew up like most people of my age a huge Jordan fan, and it pains me to say this, but LeBron might be number 2 right now and closing in fast on His Airness. He has learned to put it in cruise control in the regular season and take it a gear that only he and maybe one other have ever taken it to. And luckily for him, he’s in the East, where all you need to make the playoffs is one good player and a good mascot. I believe that’s the qualifications written in the bylaws.
If we’re talking players who take the leap. I think Andrew Wiggins is finally putting it all together, both offensively and defensively and could become a more offensively gifted Scottie Pippen. yeah I said it. Now if they could get it get together with the young nucleus they have in Minnesota, oh boy watch out.
Which leads me to my first question…who’s the team to look out for this year besides the big 4 of Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and the Clippers…..
You got me. Fact: The Knicks are not good at basketball.
As for your Is This The Darkest Era In NY Sports Ever side-note (thanks – appreciate that!), I’m going to venture a yes.
I think you’re right about LeBron. He is a clear #2 to MJ. As for closing in fast, I’m not so sure he ever surpasses him. But I think how you feel about them and how they compare will depend when you were born, and if you’re old like us, or if you’ve grown up with King James.
Minnesota is building something special – they have all the pieces. While I like Wiggins, I think the guy to watch there is Karl Anthony Towns. KAT is the real deal. I’m also hoping that with a full year of the Let the 6 foot 11 Greek Freak run the Point Experiment, this will be the Year of Giannis Antetokounpo. As my friend Marty Josephson is fond of saying: “Fear the Deer.”
I am also intrigued by what will become of Boban Marjanovic, the Serbian Andre The Giant of the NBA, now that he has been “freed” from the Spurs and will roam the paint for the Detroit Pistons. Free Boban More!
Turning to your question – who will contend along with the Big Three of the Golden State Warriors (who added Durantula to their impossibly good core of Curry-Klay-Draymond), the San Antonio Spurs (the timeless ageless franchise that never tires of winning, with a fresh core of LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, along with The Old Guard Tony Parker and Manu and the Ghost of Tim Duncan still a part of it all), and the Cleveland LeBrons Co-Starring Kyrie Irving (“and Kevin Love,” says Kevin Love)?
Though it pains me to say it, I like the Boston Celtics. They have no superstar, but lots of fun interchangeable parts. They are very well coached. And they play defense. (That’s the part of the game were you try to stop the other team from scoring. It’s so 1990s.). My dream is that Boston gets off to a hot start, feel the need to add a scoring superstar who is just past his prime, and the Knicks get to deal Carmelo there for a pile of picks.
Which leads to my next question for you Wai: Knicks. Celtics. Lakers. Throw in the Bulls and the Rik Smits-Antonio David Pacers, and you have the teams of my youth.
So…How long before the Lakers become relevant again?
How long before the Lakers are relevant again? That’s your question after all that!
In the words of the indomitable 2pac: “They say there ain’t no hope for the youth and the truth is there ain’t no hope for the future.”
The Lakers have a slew of young players, but the problem is they won’t reach their peak in Los Angeles. Simple economics won’t allow it. So it’s almost as if Los Angeles is doing all the dirty work in dealing with the growing pains and someone else is going to get the fruit of their labor. Eight out of the 26 players who either played or were selected for the All-Star game were representing a team that didn’t draft them.
In fact, remember the Oklahoma City Thunder. They had a super young nucleus of James Harden, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook, and the only one still left is Westbrook and no rings to show for it. I’d say that’s the perfect example.
But as an Arizona alum, I will say this, Luke Walton is a helluva coach and if they can hang on to right players and build around those, they can make something happen once they change the culture that has emanated from the sewers of Los Angeles. My choice, Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell, they have stars written all over them. And it’s not a coincidence that many view Ingram as a Durant like player and Russell has the talent to be a great point guard.
Now I have to go wash in a tomato bath. How dare you Kasdan to get me to speak on the Lakers in such a fashion.
Did you hear that…it’s now time for the lightening round…
Rookie of the Year
Oooh, a lightning round. Isn’t every round a lightning round though really?!
I would say Ben Simmons, hands down. Special special player. But…he has that broken ankle (Sixers are cursed for The Hinkie Plan of Lose Forever, Win Someday, Trust Us Really.) Now there is the ominous sounding “no timetable for return.”
My second favorite player? Kris Dunn. But he’s sort of blocked in Minnesota.
So I’ll begrudgingly go with Durant Lite, Brandon Ingram.
(Imma hafta pick it up if this is lightning round)
The Microwave, Vinnie Johnson. Go Pistons! Instant O off the bench!!
Oops. Sorry. I got stuck in the past again.
I don’t even know who’s starting and who isn’t. I’m going Jamal Crawford again, even though he’s got to be 52 years old by now. Love that cross-over step back jumper.
Alternate pick: Victor Oladipo. He’s gonna shine in OKC.
Golden State Warriors. They may go through Heat-like growing pains, like Miami did when they assembled the LeBron-Wade-Bosh Super Team. But this team is going to find itself and it’s gonna wreck people.
Also – side note – did you know that there are like five non-Euro white guys left in The Association? Quick! Name one besides Kevin Love and Chandler Parsons! Where have you gone John Stockton/Jeff Hornacek?
Michael, it’s time to meet us in the 21st century.
The 80s are over, turn in your Z Cavariccis, your Depeche Mode cassette tape and starter cap…come with me.
I know you look back fondly on the 80s and 90s, but the basketball was terrible.
Let me paint a picture: Clyde Drexler slapping at the basketball with his head down because he never learned how to dribble properly. The 90s Knicks and Heat bringing basketball flow to a halt with more grabbing than a Donald Trump cocktail party. The product is so much better now even if the odds of somebody hitting a mid range jumper are as distant as a Supreme Court Justice getting confirmed.
Sorry to go political, but it is written in the contract I signed as an American that I must weave political commentary into any topic up until November 8. I don’t make the rules.
Since we’re talking a lot Americans, I will your answer your question…JJ Redick is a white American male who likes to put the orange round bouncy thing in the ring 10 feet off the ground. Does this mean the white American basketball player is an endangered species? Do we need to create a national wildlife preserve where little white children can play basketball indoors? Oh wait we already have that EVERYWHERE! The sad part is the NBA is 99.99999 percent black but how many executives and head coaches are minorities? Could say the same for the NFL. Reminds me of a comedy bit that there’s player rich and owner rich. The ceiling is still there.
Wow that was a downer…
Lightening round picks!!!
Sixth Man: Iggy
Defense : DeAndre Jordan
Most Improved: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Champs: Golden State
Shaqting a Fool Champion: Javale McGee
Best Hair: Iman Shumpert
Best Chance of Sabotaging His Own Team: JR Smith
Best Dressed: Russell Westbrook
Seriously. Iggy Azalea for Sixth Man. I don’t think so.
But I do second the nominations for Best Hair and Best Chance of Sabotaging His Own Team.
And do you think its any accident that they BOTH played for the NBA Champion, Cleveland Cavaliers last year? Huh?
Actually, I think it kind of was.
But that’s not the point.
The point, my friend, is . . . NBA Action! It’s Faannnntasssticcc!
Photo Credit: reddit.com