LeBron and Blake Griffin go on a Booze Cruise.
by Shannon Booher
Thanks to the readers that contributed. Looks like the job crunch has finally led to attrition at the L.O.N. offices as only the Mailroom Supervisor, Legal Counsel and Potato Peeler managed to contribute. That’s alright, because as Professor Phipps (okay, really Frederick Douglass) once said, “Without struggle, there is no progress.” Or was that, “Pepper-mint, Mr. Williams?”. Whatever.
No. 2 — Miami Heat.
No. 3 — Miami Heat.
Forget all that other off-season razzmatazz, we want to see them ball. Will they run off an 81-1 season, or struggle to make it all work and lose the division to Orlando? Or even third in the division behind the A-T-Liens as well? People have not really been talking about the toughness of this division. However it goes down, we are ready to see it. And we think LeBron is going to be in 1000 percent beast mode all year so it’s going to be something to see.
No. 4 — OKC Thunder — Kevin. Durant. We aren’t even all that high on Westbrook, but KD gets them must-watch status.
No. 5 — Clip Joint — BLAKE GRIFFIN. Year after year, we fall for the trick intrigue of the Clippers… but reports of Griffin in training camp have us falling right back in line.
No. 6 — Boston — Come on. The Shaqtue? We fell in love all over again with the Ceatles in last year’s Playoffs and we want more. Shaq, Shrek and Donkey will make things interesting enough in the regular season, but with this team, it’s about May and June. And you hear it every year about various players, but if Kevin Garnett really “has his spring back”…
No. 7 — San Antonio Spurs — You know what it is. Bias. We ain’t trying to lie. Hide your wife, hide your kids.
No. 8 — New York Knicks — It’s time to see basketball that matters again in the Garden. We are not even sure that will happen, but if it blows up, the train wreck might be just as entertaining. And we have a soft spot for Ray Felton. And the Legend Of Timofey Mozgov. And Anthony Randolph.
No. 9 — Milwaukee Bucks — Can they keep it going from last year? Will Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette drive Scott Skiles absolutely insane? Mostly, we have not yet gotten our fill of Brandon Jennings, and there’s something about how well Maggette gets to the line and converts that we love to appreciate.
No. 10 — Houston — The collegiate-like chemistry of this team always makes it fun, and we want to see if this Yao 24-minutes-per-game limit is going to work. We understand the minute limit, but the whole attitude and outlook towards him seems a bit on the fragilly side. At some point you have to throw dude to the wolves. Hopefully it works out like Big Z, who had similar surgery years ago and hasn’t had problems since.
Last of all, we must pay respects to two teams that are usually a staple in this list — the Don Nelson-led Warriors and the Melo/J.R.Smith Nuggets. Nellie left us for Maui, and there’s just a pall over the whole situation in Denver that sucks out all of the fun. Let’s throw on that T.R.O.Y. vinyl, replay this dunk over-and-over, and shed a couple tears.
2) How sick are you of the Lakers?
Sicker than the sickest. As sick as sick can get. Sicker than than a Columbus Small Pox blanket. Sicker than the mannequin in Ferris Bueller’s bed. We do have to say, though, they keep adding secondary players that we love. First it was the Official Player Of L.O.N. — Lamar Odom. Then it was Ron Artest, and now it’s Matt Barnes and Steve Blake — the NBA incarnation of the L.O.N. C.E.O. if he had devoted his life to ball and grown three more inches.
3) Are the Bulls going to be awesome or just great? Is Carlos Boozer to the Bulls the most underrated off-season move?
Second things first… how about the most overrated? Iditarod has never done it for us. He looks like Mr. Clean, but plays like Mr. Soft, taking a bunch of fade-away 10-12 footers. Then he comes in with a shady pinkie injury that he supposedly hurt while running to answer his door and tripping over a bag… hmmm. Overall, we have mixed emotions. Aside from the Booze Cruise, there is Derrick Rose, who is that dude and might be ready to make a leap into the upper echelon (his ad count certainly has), and new coach Tom Thibodeaux who has promise as a great defensive mind, but seems like he’ll succeed more in his second go ’round as head coach, ala Bill Belichick, Scott Skiles, etc.. Call us skeptics.
4) If Dwyane Wade were a creature at the Aquarium of the Pacific, which would he be?
Wow. We cannot explain it, but the biggest eel you can find is all that comes to mind.
5) What do you think of the new technical foul policy?
Wake us in December. If it’s still being enforced similarly, then we will get involved. All we know is that Ben Franklin would hope that BOTH sides would act a little more rationally, and that harsher and harsher penalties do not always do much good.
6) With Rasheed Wallace now retired, who will take his place as the most “T’d up” player in the league?
A lot of the big guns are out to start the season, too, including Kenyon Martin and Kendrick Perkins. We were surprised to see Dwight Howard came in second place last year behind ‘Sheed. We are going to go with Kobe, though. In the first month, alone, while they are still being extra strict, all his looks and air punches are going to get him ahead of the game in the race for ‘Sheed’s belt.
7) How effective can John Wall be as a rookie PG for the Wizards with Arenas still in the picture and an otherwise weak supporting cast?
BLAKE GRIFFIN. Sorry, we are little obsessed… We think Wall will be very effective. The ball is going to be in his hands and we feel like Arenas might have a so-so, disinterested season in which he misses some games here and there, and sort of takes a backseat to Wall on the court. Wall’s raw athleticism will get him by until he figures out the nuances of the L.
Who will win Rookie Of The Year?
It’s between these two guys, and our vote is Griffin. And yeah, we also said that last year.
The best rookie on a contender?
There won’t be one? At least not a big name, unless you are a Gordon Hayward believer, and we are not yet. The answer to this is probably an obscure undrafted free agent, or possibly, a rookie on a team that no one is expecting to compete.
The most invisible rookie?
The rest of them? With a couple injuries to guys taken in the Lottery and some underwhelming pre-season play, there is not a lot to get excited about with this rookie class.
8 ) Is Kevin Durant the odds-on favorite for MVP?
For the media masses? Yeah. For us? LeBron. AGAIN. LeBron’s gonna have an undeniable year on the team with the No. 1 record.
9) Which Western Conference team has the best chance to challenge the Lakers this year?
That might be the hardest question to answer so far. The popular pick is the Thunder, but we think a bit of a backslide is just as likely, if not more likely, than a 2 seed in the West. Denver is a mess, but they are crazy enough where, if they keep Melo, they might be winning mess. The Mavs will be their usual “fold like a chair” in the Playoffs selves. That points to the Spurs or the Jazz (who barely missed the LeaguePass Top 10… we want to see the new Deron Williams/Al Jefferson combo). We will resist the homer pick and say Jazz. Maybe with Boozer leaving, Deron will figure out it’s really his team now and it’s okay for him to try to take over in the clutch.
10) 10 seconds left, Heat down by one, who gets the ball?
We don’t know, but neither will the Heat’s opponents, and that’s the point. They are going to be so ridiculous on offense with so many options, and with LeBron as playmaker they will simply take whatever the defense gives them.