Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Okay kids, second verse, same as the first. What follows is my random thoughts on the Western Conference and where its teams will find themselves by year’s end. I’ve got it as something of a changing of the guard, with a lot of the old familiar faces dropping down a few seeds.
All records were predicted using my patented “Win, Lose, or Huh?” technique, where I went down each teams schedule line by line predicting wins and losses, and logging a “Huh?” anytime I wasn’t quite sure. At the end of it all, I split the ones I wasn’t sure about 50/50, with a little give and take depending on other factors I thought may influence the final total.
Or maybe I did none of these things, and had my pet monkey draw numbers out of a hat. You decide.
42-24, 3rd seed
The big question mark for the defending champions obviously has to be who fills that huge hole in the middle where Tyson Chandler used to be. Brendan Haywood is nice and everything, but Tyson Chandler completely transformed the team into a top defensive unit last year, and with him and Deshawn Stevenson gone (very underrated defender, and one of the only rotation players who wasn’t on the decline), I fear there may be issues there.
Then again, they did steal Lamar Odom for next to nothing. And last time I checked there still isn’t anyone prepared to defend a 7 footer whose preferred shot is a one-legged ostrich fadeaway, so I’m not all that worried.
Sure, I guess that these Rockets could look to get hot and grab an eighth seed, but when I look at this roster, it’s like I said in my Clipperland piece, your core is full of third wheels. The Sam Dalembert signing smacks of “win now,” when I think that the team would be best served by dealing Martin and Scola for picks and expiring contracts, and starting fresh in a year where the first several draft picks should be pretty great.
42-24, 4th seed
I may be higher than most on the Grizz here, but you do have to remember Rudy Gay is returning, and they still have one of the scariest front court duos in the league. The only problem I see is that once you have to sub out someone from that frontcourt things start looking dicey. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing OJ Mayo trade rumors again real soon…
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Yes, we know Eric Gordon is good and only getting better, but realistically this season is about being an awful basketball team and evaluating young talent. So if Hornets fans want to take this as an opportunity to jump onto a nice bandwagon, we understand.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
37-29, 7th seed
I know they are a year older and there is no way Duncan has enough left for another serious title run. I also know we said similar things last year and they proceeded to change their entire style of play and took the one seed. As far as I’m concerned, Gregg Popovich+Tim Duncan+Manu Ginobili+Tony Parker=Playoff team, no matter how condensed the season. And can’t you just see Pop managing minutes to sneak in to the playoffs on a low seed and try to rattle some cages?
Hit the jump for the rest of Jordan’s Western Conference previews…
The probable winners of the vaunted “Awful Team You Will Love To Watch” award. Could the basketball gods have assembled a team featuring Spanish Justin Bieber (Ricky Rubio), Kevin Love, and Michael Beasley for any reason other than our amusement? And just think, if Rubio develops well, they might be dangerous in a year or two.
40-26, 5th seed
I see Nene, Al Harrington, Andre Miller, Ty Lawson, and a glut of good young players. This team will run, shoot, and be a blast to watch. I feel like the Nuggets have “surprise contender in a short season” written all over them. I’m also wishing for a THUNDERNUGGETS rematch for Christmas.
35-31, 8th seed
If LaMarcus Aldridge continues his progression, then the Blazers may well find themselves better prepared than they figured for life after Roy. Gerald Wallace played wonderfully after the trade last season, and the acquisitions of Jamal Crawford and Kurt Thomas address scoring and frontline depth. All adds up for a tough out for a higher seed, methinks.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
46-20, 1st seed
Can you name any team in the NBA you wouldn’t like your chances with if you had the starting five of Westbrook-Harden-Durant-Ibaka-Perkins? Practically complete continuity, a Perkins that isn’t just coming off of an injury, and the rest of the team still improving. Has to be a number one seed, right? Hell, Harden’s beard is worth 5 wins on its own. Then there is Eric Maynor, Nick Collison, Nate Robinson, and Thabo Sefolosha sitting on the bench. Definitely a number one seed.
Looking at Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Devin Harris, I could be selling this team a little short, but I doubt it. No reason not to play as hard as they can and see what happens in a shortened season. Maybe some of the younger players catch fire and they make some noise.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
42-24, 2nd seed
So they got Chris Paul, who is likely to turn Blake Griffin into a legend and DeAndre Jordan into Tyson Chandler. Acquired a veteran backup in Billups. They have Caron Butler looking to fill a role similar to what he filled with the Mavs before he went down last year. What they don’t have is anyone reliable to spell Griffin and Jordan, or a consistent 2 guard.
However this is still the best team that Chris Paul has ever had. The pieces fit. And if you watched the first round of the playoffs last year, you know that Chris Paul and any random group of players is dangerous. So I’m drinking the Kool-Aid here. 2 seed. Book it.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
On the one hand, I like the Kwame Brown signing. On the other, Steph is already having more ankle problems, Monta is getting involved in some odd sexual harassment suit, and the new coach Mark Jackson is preaching defense when his team is full of sub-par defenders. One of those hands is definitely heavier than the other. I’ll let you guess.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
38-28, 6th seed
Can I be honest for a second? I hate the Lakers with pretty much every part of my being, and the thought of this team imploding brings a gigantic smile to my face. And it could happen. Kobe’s making trips to Germany to get vampire blood or something shot into his high-mileage knees. Lamar Odom got huffy and left town. Bynum on a condensed schedule is a scary thought. Mike Brown is installing whole new systems. And Ron Artest is Metta World Peace now. HAS to equal meltdown, right?
Then why is it that when I go down this roster, I can’t get the thought of Kobe Bryant jutting his jaw out after hitting some impossible shot out of my head? Like I said, I HATE the Lakers. But that doesn’t make them any less scary.
Did you hear that noise? It was Steve Nash calling point-guard-for-life on the “Team of Players Jordan Akin Would Give a Kidney to See Traded to a Contender.” Oh, wait, if you listen hard enough you can hear Grant Hill calling a forward spot.
The closer Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins get to realizing their potential, the more scard the league should become. But this year is not the year, I think. Also, I just realized that this team features two captains younger than I am. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cry now.