2010-11 NBA Preview
The Fanalysts give the news!
1. Miami Heat
This team will have a “Bull’s-eye” on its back from first tip-off. You’d think the Heat were the defending “WORLD CHAMPS.” They certainly have cooked themselves up a championship-caliber squad. The wildest offseason in NBA history resulted in the formation of the first free-agent “Dream Team.” The recipe includes the post play of Bosh, all-around play of LeBron and the clutch play of Miami’s favorite son DWade!
While the Olympic team of South Beach looks invincible on paper, some questions remain. How well will Chalmers and Arroyo run the point? Phifey’s main concern is the role players. How will the supporting cast, like (sharpshooter) Mike Miller and Ilgauskas, fit in? The X-Factors on this team are 6-1 Patrick Beverly (rookie from Arkansas) and the 6-9 Mississippi State standout Jarvis Varnado. Don’t sleep! Udonis Haslem brings grit and hustle and knows the Miami system. The Heat should roll through the East with ease. They will see some comp from the Celts, Magic and Bucks. Roles have to be defined by playoff time. Will LeBron James be able to hit or even take the last shot? Let’s just say that this is still “WADE COUNTY.” Don’t be silly!
The window is slowly closing on Stan Van Gundy and Florida’s other NBA Franchise. Stan should end the bitterness towards former mentor and friend Pat Riley. Pat Riley is all about Pat Riley. It was evident and clear back when he let Stan go. It may have been a shady move, but in the end, Pat & Co. hoisted that elusive trophy, and in the immortal words of Kanye West: “You can’t tell Riles Nothing!”
Let it go Stan. Stop writing Eminem letters, and tell asst coach Pat Ewing to teach Howard some other post moves. Get Vince Carter to be clutch in the Playoffs. Ask Rashard Lewis to find the real Rashard Lewis. Make JJ Redick play some “D”!?
OK, I’m pushing it with JJ, but with a point guard like Jameer Nelson and a low-post beast like Howard, the Magic have no more excuses. It’s now or never!
I truly thought this team was on the rise after watching them battle the eventual world champion Boston Celtics back in ‘08! Since then, the Hawks wings have been clipped. They played lackluster ball against The Bucks in last season’s Playoffs, which cost Coach Woody his job. They literally quit on him. They got their “PEACHTREE” tails handed to them, by a team that was down Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut!
Bibby’s lost a step. Will Josh Smith get better? Will Horford re-sign with the team? Did Joe Johnson deserve all that money? Will he continue to flop in the Playoffs? Only time will tell under new coach Larry Drew. A recent poll showed that 83 percent of Atlanta residents would rather see a Young Jeezy concert than a Hawks game. That’s got to change. Hell. Doc Rivers, Kevin Willis and “The Human Highlight film,” had the Omni Center rockin’ in the mid-‘80s. Handle ya’ business HAWKS!
MJ must see something in Kwame Brown that 99.9 percent of basketball fans can’t. I feel Brown is the equivalent to NFL bust JaMarcus Russell. At the end of the day, however, I refuse to argue with any legendary Tar Heels (I love that program). A break out year by Brown would be shocking. Still, the success of the Bobcats lies heavily on the growth of point man DJ Augustin. Why else would a steady Raymond Felton (Tarheel alum and all), be expendable? Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace should make DJ’s life easy. A full season of Tyrus Thomas and his energy should benefit Boris Diaw. The Playoffs are possible depending on the guard play. The backcourt should be the steadiest of all positions since a former PG Larry Brown is at the helm!
For the third year in a row, the NBA Rookie of the year will come from the John Calipari stable of horses (Memphis’ Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and more than likely, Kentucky Wildcat/Wizards first overall pick John Wall). If Calipari were a music exec, his forte would be signing mega-stars. He has the shady demeanor, cutthroat etiquette and charisma of a top record exec. No time for gold and platinum albums. He is diamond every time out. Not only is John Wall’s b-ball IQ two million, but he has sick physical gifts. The gun-slinging Arenas (now Agent Nueva) will have to learn to coexist with Wall. His contract is too hefty to move. “Flip” Saunders has to make these two mesh and coach some “D.”
Is Redd just a shell of his former self? Well, even without his pre-injury mobility, this Ohio State Buckeye can still shoot! Brandon Jennings proved that he belonged. Andrew Bogut had the best season of his short career, before injuring himself. Add NBA journeyman Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette to the mix and you got something. The Bucks bring a cast full of role players with huge chips on their shoulders to the arena every night. They are dangerous because they have nothing to lose. Scott Skiles is looking to top last year’s playoff run. The antlers are out! Be afraid. Be very afraid!
One of the reasons why the Bucks seem to be the cream of the central division crop is because of the Carlos Boozer fiasco. What’s true? What’s false? Either way, John Paxson has to feel salty being that the Bulls cleared a good $30 million to make some moves via free agency, only to have this freak accident sidetrack Boozer. The curse of MJ still looms in Chi-Town. Once Boozer gets healthy, I see the Bulls making a huge run. It should be fun with new coach Tom “Defensive Dynamo” Thibodeau at the helm. Offensively, the speed of Derrick Rose, shooting of Kyle Korver, and all-out hustle of Joakim Noah (spotted at a Recent Rock the Bells Tour stop in NY) keeps the Bulls in contention.
LeBron James set the city of Cleveland back almost 40 years.
OK, maybe not that long, but you have to feel for a city that hasn’t won a chip since the 1964 Cleveland Browns. He single-handedly doubled the worth of the franchise. You couldn’t get a seat when The King and His Court was strutting, slamming and winning each night. Now, Dan Gilbert is just another owner. Cleveland returns to just another NBA town.
Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild! The Pistons look more like the UConn Huskies than an NBA team. Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon and “Rip” Hamilton are all UConn alum. They may as well ask Jim Calhoun to come coach. That’s the only way the chants of DEEEEETROIT BASKETBALL will have the Palace Of Auburn Hills rocking again. If anyone can put this team back on the map, it’s GM Joe Dumars. Be patient “Motor City” faithful. Be patient!
It’s hard to figure this team. The good news is the acquisition of Darren Collison. Surround him with some hard-working, dynamic players and the sky is the limit. Danny Granger should return to ’08-09 form. I hope Mike Dunleavy can stay healthy, along with Tyler Hansbrough. Not sure how far Coach Jim O’Brien can take the Pacers, but something will have to be done to preserve the state of Indiana’s rich basketball tradition. Until then, there’s always Peyton and the Colts!