2010-11 NBA Preview
The Fanalysts give the news!
Kevin Durant’s rise has dudes creaming in their pants. Pause .. The Thunder is a popular pick to overtake the Lakers. OK-City gave Kobe’s Kids the business in last year’s Playoffs, before falling in seven games. The world got to see Baby Ice and his special scoring ability. His supporting cast, led by rising point guard Russell Westbrook, and guys like Collison and Kristic, is also improving. Experience is all this squad lacks. Interior play is another question. OK-City hopes that 2010 draft pick, center Cole Aldrich will answer the call. The Thunder, younger and faster than any other team in the West, should be shoo-ins for a first-round playoff win. After that, anything is possible when you got Durant.
Chauncey Billups believed the Nuggets were good enough to win it all at last season. He was probably sipping that codeine syrup and smoking some of that piff T.I. and Tiny were caught with a few months back. When Billups sobered up, he and his Denver team were reeling from a first-round, playoff stinker to the Utah Jazz.
Denver should still win its usual 50 games. But with the same ole cast of under-thinking (JR Smith) unhealthy (Kenyon Martin, Nene) characters, those 50 wins are no better than an empty promise. It does not take the creator of Facebook to tell you that Denver’s season will end in playoff disappointment. So will Carmelo Anthony’s career as a Nugget.
How much longer will Carmelo even be a Nugget? His newly crowned wife La La Vasquez is an ambitious TV personality from Brooklyn. She is not too keen on living up in the mountains of Colorado.
3. Utah Jazz
Jerry Sloan is a Hall of Famer and one of the best in the business. He is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team. The Utah Jazz is a well-oiled machine, which thrives on the outdated philosophies of team defense, passing and fundamentally sound basketball. The Jazz can be compared to a Stevie Wonder. Genius, yet old school in approach. Consistent. Always good.
Adding Al Jefferson could make Utah a serious threat. Jefferson is a plush talent. His 35 double-doubles was fifth among NBA centers. He doesn’t spread the floor like Carlos Boozer did, but Jefferson has other gifts. Easing the uncertainty of that situation is the return of Deron Williams. In a recent ‘10-11 NBA.com GM survey, DWill was voted best point guard in the League, taking 50 percent of the vote.
Portland has been trying to break into the League’s elite teams for a few years. Problem is, it’s hard to get far in the Playoffs when three other teams in your division also won 50-plus games. Injuries have cursed the Trailblazers. Portland had a remarkable 13 players miss 331 games due to injury. The potential of this team is endless if they can keep their big men on the floor. They seem to have all of the pieces in top-15 player Brandon Roy (missed 17 games. knee injury), a veteran big man in Marcus Camby and another go-to guy in LaMarcus Aldridge. Maybe Portland rises this season from The Pretenders to The Contenders list.
The Timberwolves have been crippled since losing Kevin Garnett. They have nine new players, which is understandable, coming off of a 15-win season. The Al Jefferson trade speaks volumes as to the state of the franchise. He is a legit 20 and 10 guy who was traded for a bag of peanuts. Minnesota’s view of success, however, differs from the rest. Twenty-five wins and a potential first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft will be considered a good season.
Kevin Love has the four to himself, and should improve even more. Michael Beasley has talent like rapper Drake. But Sir Smoke-a-Lot is going to stay Jimmy Jones if he doesn’t mature. Playing in obscurity is probably the best thing for Beasley. No more pressure. No one will even be watching the games.
1. L.A. Lakers
The Lakers go as Kobe Bryant goes. And as Kobe’s career enters its twilight, now is the time to marvel in his vast accomplishments. Time to watch in reverence, as he battles a worn down body and aged knees. Time to ponder the mortality that seems to have touched him as he attempts to will his Lakers team to a third-straight title. Marvel at a basketball God as he stretches out his chest in the last leg of his prolific basketball marathon, in an attempt to edge out a sixth championship and pull even with the incomparable Jordan.
L.A. is bracing for another shot at greatness. The way the Miami Heat and LBJ have stolen all the headlines has to bother Kobe. Maybe a third-straight title will quench his thirst. Ron Artest seems as calm and mature as ever. Lamar Odom has the stability of marriage. Pau Gasol can be even better. Just keep Shannon Brown’s R&B chick Monica out of the locker room. She is a jinx.
The additions of tough-nosed Matt Barnes, Theo Ratcliff and steady Steve Blake, should provide some depth. For The Lakers, it’s all about getting prepared to face the seemingly unbeatable Miami Heat. A healthy Kobe and Andre Bynum is imperative. The 7-footer is the key to L.A. being able to hang with teams like Boston, Orlando and Miami.
2. Phoenix Suns
Phoenix finished strong last year and snatched up the Playoff’s third seed. That was with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire pick-n-rolling teams to death. Amar’e has taken his game to the The Big Apple. The versatile Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress should fill in admirably. The Suns run-n-gun style will benefit both players. Robin Lopez and Channing Frye will also get more burn. Steve Nash is still a top performer and when he is dishing it doesn’t matter who’s finishing.
New coach Keith Smart says this Warriors team is different from the run and gun Don Nelson teams of the past. He insists they will play a more traditional style of basketball. This team was 24 games out of first place last year. I don’t see much improvement. They are still softer than a baby’s ass on defense. They gave up 112.4 points per game last year. They don’t have anyone that can defend or cares too. We’ll give Smart some time. Maybe 30 wins.
Sac-Town has Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. Despite missing the Playoffs for the fourth-straight season, The Kings are positive and have a young nucleus with potential. When you have a player like Evans who puts up numbers like dudes named Big “O’, MJ, Kobe and LBJ, there is reason for optimism. Evans and Cousins are a potentially historic 1-2 combination. The Kings seem to have a bright future. Veteran coach Paul Westphal has been through the wars. He is a good choice to try and navigate these cats past 25 wins.
The good news is Blake Griffin is back and he looks ready to get busy. The bad news is, they are still the Clippers. Living in The Lakers shadow has become an acceptable way of life. The Clippers are the Jermaine Jacksons, The Nikki Hiltons, and The Ashley Simpsons of NBA basketball in L.A. Griffin’s game should complement Baron Davis, as the Clippers try to break the 30-win plateau this season. Vinny Del Negro is a new coach with new ideas. He will stress defense and hard work.