(gif via SB Nation)
2010-2011 Bold Statements: Western Conference Standings
I doubt anyone will agree with these standings.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be amazing this year. All of their main players will be back: Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Perkins, Sefolosha, Maynor, Collison, and Cook. A full year and training camp with Perkins will also be really beneficial to their success. There won’t be a problem with Westbrook taking too many shots this season and Durant will be a top consideration for MVP. This team has it.
I almost didn’t put the Dallas Mavericks this high because they are getting older and Jason Kidd will not be playing all 66 games this season. They also lost great pieces in JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, and defensive cornerstone Tyson Chandler. The main reason why I have them this high is because they replaced those players with a lot of talent. Delonte West, Vince Carter, and Lamar Odom are all great talents that will contribute a lot to this team. Beaubois should also be back for a full season. I have high hopes for this team.
The Los Angeles Lakers at the 3nd seed is a stretch to me. They lost a lot of chemistry with the losses of Lamar Odom and Phil Jackson. How Mike Brown’s system will work with this team is a total coin-flip. With that said, this team still has too much talent that you cannot ignore. Kobe is still Kobe and will score a lot of points. Bynum will be really good this season (once he’s back from his suspension). Josh McRoberts isn’t Lamar, but he will be a great player off the bench. Devin Ebanks looks like he will break out this season. The Lakers will still be really good.
This is probably my most ridiculous prediction. Yes, I think the Memphis Grizzlies will be good enough to take the #4 spot in the Western Conference. Their young core of Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Mike Conley, and OJ Mayo is still in tact. I actually had this team up at #2 (huge stretch, but I believe), but once Darrell Arthur went down with an Achilles injury, my hopes dropped a bit.
I’m surprised I don’t have this Los Angeles Clippers team higher. I’ve given in to “Lob City” but you also have to remember that it’s only their first year together; they haven’t even had a full training camp together. Their starting line-up is deadly, though, with CP3, Billups, Butler, Blake, and DeAndre, with a solid bench of Mo Williams, Foye, Gomes, and Reggie Evans. If I’m so high on them, then why are they only the 5th seed? Vinny Del Negro.
Like the Pacers, I’m probably a lot higher on this Portland Trailblazers team than many others. Brandon Roy and Greg Oden being out will be a big blow, but you also have to take into account how neither of them were around a lot last season, and they still got the 6th seed. They still need another big man to make up for Camby’s absence in the beginning of the season, but LaMarcus Aldridge’s due for a huge All-Star season. Plus, with the addition of Jamal Crawford, they have a nice back court with Wesley Matthews and Raymond Felton.
The San Antonio Spurs are in the same situation as the Boston Celtics: win enough games to make the playoffs. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili definitely won’t be playing 66 games each. Antonio McDyess just retired and George Hill is now a Pacer. That means players like Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard are going to have to step up more, but only to a low playoff seed. The Spurs’ championship window is closing and sadly, this doesn’t look like their year.
There is no team more confusing than the Denver Nuggets this year. They lost JR Smith, Wilson Chandler, and Kenyon Martin to the Chinese Basketball Association until March; two out of those three more than likely would have returned to Denver. Nonetheless, they still have enough on their team to make the playoffs. Both Nene and Arron Afflalo will be back and will have more touches. Gallinari is due to step up his game, and Andre Miller and Ty Lawson will be a great point guard tandem. Rudy Fernandez is also a really good pick-up from the Mavericks, and Kenneth Faried will be a really good rookie. Now it’s just about George Karl putting this all together cohesively.
The Unfortunate Ones
I feel bad for the Houston Rockets. They are always stuck fighting for that 8th seed in the playoffs, but eventually falling just short. Kevin McHale will be a good coach for this team (even Jordan Hill looked good during the preseason), but with a roster like this, one can only do so much.
10th seed seems a little high for the Phoenix Suns, but Steve Nash and Grant Hill have had a taste from the fountain of youth. Nash is the kind of point guard that makes everyone around him better, and they’ll keep fighting to make that last playoff spot.
The Golden State Warriors’ success all depends on how the team responds to Mark Jackson’s devotion to team defense. Also: Stephen Curry’s ankle. With this roster, though, realistically I only see them around the 9th-12th seed. That means that they don’t make the playoffs and they lose their top-7 protected 2012 draft pick that the Utah Jazz have. Luck of the Warriors.
I am buying into the Minnesota Timberwolves this year. They are no longer the worst team in the Western Conference with Kevin Love getting even better and the additions of Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, and JJ Barea. Granted, they still won’t be good enough, mostly because Rubio and Williams have still yet to prove their worth.
I’m not nearly as high on the Utah Jazz as anyone else. They lost too much talent with Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan. Though they have a great front line with Favors, Jefferson, Millsap, and Kanter, I just don’t see enough talent to push them back to relevance. They can easily go up to 10th, though, but I doubt it.
What can I say about the New Orleans Hornets… I think Aminu’s, Gordon’s, and Kaman’s faces say it all. At least Gordon can let loose and have an All-Star worthy year!
And that leaves the Sacramento Kings. At first I didn’t want to put this team so low, but I couldn’t put myself to write them any higher. They have a lot of solid players in Tyreke, Jimmer, Thornton, Salmons, Garcia, Honeycutt, Hickson, Cousins, Thompson, and Hayes… but honestly, how is Paul Westphal going to implement these players cohesively?
NBA Preseason: Judging the Warriors against the Kings
I may only be the preseason, but we can all agree on one thing: thank God that the NBA is back. Normally at mid-December, we would be through the first quarter of the regular season, but thanks to the lockout we will have to settle for a couple preseason games. I’m a Warrior fan from the Bay, so obviously the first full game I would catch is the Warriors hosting the Kings.
If you have been following the Warriors during this shortened offseason, then you have undoubtably heard rookie coach Mark Jackson constantly pushing that the Warriors will be a defensive-minded team. It should be noted that this game was missing Kings F/C DeMarcus Cousins, meaning there was no low-post threat that the Warriors had to worry about. In spite of this, the Warriors defense looked good. Golden State was able to hold the Kings to 36% shooting in the first half, leading to a 59-40 lead into break. The guards were cutting into passing lanes and forced turnovers while rotating across the court. The Kings made adjustments after the half and the Warriors fell back to old habits, but overall if the Warriors can continue to play pesky defense, they have a fair chance to succeed.
The Latvian center’s two past seasons were pretty dreadful. He averaged 5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 25% free throw shooting in 92 games between 2009-2011 after a stellar campaign just the season prior. This preseason game gave hope to Warrior fans that the old Biedrins can be back this season. He only played 16 minutes in the game, so his box score doesn’t say a lot, but he was a bit aggressive and looked more confident on both the offensive and defensive ends. Physically, he looks even bigger and stronger than ever before, showing signs for another breakout year. Let’s just hope he can stay healthy.
The Warriors’ 2011 draft picks Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler, and Charles Jenkins did not look bad during their “first” NBA game.
Klay started a little shaky with his offense (shooting 4-10 from the field by the end), but showed a couple nice plays, including a running jumper in the key, drawing the foul. He also showed some craftiness with his hands, going for some steals, though he should be careful after drawing an early 5th foul during the 3rd quarter.
Jeremy Tyler had an up and down game. He did a good job sealing the paint and getting the boards, but overall he didn’t stand out very much. He has a chance to grow into a decent role player off the bench, though.
Charles Jenkins surprised me the most out out of all the rookies. With a 6’3” height and 220 pound frame, he definitely showcased his speed and strength on the court with an impressive block and work on the fastbreak. You can definitely expect him to be the main point guard off the bench for both Steph and Monta (barring the chance that Ish Smith blows up during practice).
The Warriors also had a handful of un-drafted rookies from the NBA D-League, as well as from overseas. With six rookies on non-guaranteed contracts, we will most likely only expect one to make it onto the roster by opening night, so who is my pick? Edwin Ubiles, the swingman out of the Dakota Wizards. He only played 3 and a half minutes in the game, but he showed that he can hustle and produce in limited minutes.
I can’t have a post talking about this year’s Sacramento Kings without a little blurb about Jimmer Fredette. If there one one thing that’s completely clear about this rookie, it’s that this guy can SHOOT. He scored 21 points off of 7-11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3 point range. He had trouble scoring around the rim and keeping up on the defense, but I see him being successful in this league, especially with a stroke like his.
With this game being Mark Jackson’s first taste of head coaching an NBA game and the Warriors trying to change their whole playing culture, this team has a lot to prove, and it showed during this game. It may only be the pre-season (and it may only be the Sacramento Kings), but the Warriors were playing hard and they were hustling. It was very refreshing to see; now I’m just curious to see how this will translate in a real game against contending teams.
I’m not taking jabs at anybody or anything like that, but to me, that’s all part of being a competitor, of being a part of this sport. If you’re the star player of that team, you should want to continue.
I mean, trying to join another - I mean, I’m not taking jabs at anybody - but to me that’s kind of like taking the coward’s way out. At the same time I respect you because you want to be a winner. But, me, being the type of person I am, I am wanting to lead my team. I want to stay with the group of guys I came in (into the league) with. I’m going to do what I gotta do to help my team win.
I mean, that’s how most of them (superstars) came up. They stuck with their teams til they got their chance. That’s how I feel about it. Magic. Isiah Thomas .. I mean all those guys. They stuck with their teams.
- Sacramento Kings F/C DeMarcus Cousins on players wanting to change teams (via The Sacramento Bee)
2011 Sacramento King Draft Picks Jimmer Fredette and and Isaiah Thomas Dance-Off at the Goon Squad Classic charity game at UC Davis
There was a(nother) charity game up in UC Davis last Sunday night, and at halftime they got the Kings’ rookies to go for a dance-off, which I’m assuming was for funsies. And my first though: JIMMER!!! Surprised he can get it like that, even if the song is already a year removed from being relevant. The crowd cheers for John Wall to join in, but he wasn’t having it for whatever reason.
Hey, at least it’s nice to see some players have fun in spite of the lockout, right?
*sigh* I miss my NBA.
video via @ScottMizuno
Day 21 of Lost NBA Games
I think I’ll try to mention every single game now, to be fair for every team. Fans of all 30 teams are missing their games and no one’s happy with the lockout right now (maybe except the NHL; I wonder if their ratings have gotten any higher…). Monday, November 21st. Seven games slated. Kind of a meh day.
Portland Trailblazers vs. Charlotte Bobcats - I don’t think I’ve mentioned the Bobcats yet. Honestly, though, ever since they let Tyson Chandler go, there hasn’t been much to be excited about when it comes to the Bobcats (and apparently the city knows it too with their low attendance… how do you like THAT Michael “sell your team if you aren’t making a profit” Jordan). However, Gerald Henderson has grown into a very capable starting 2, who has room now with Jackson being traded for Maggette. They have a tough assignment when LMA and the Blazers come to town.
Golden State Warriors vs. New Jersey Nets - It’s kind of hard to be excited about the Nets when they don’t have much outside of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, barring the chance they get a solid player through Free Agency (like David West). I would say that the Warriors have a great chance of winning this, but with the addition of Deron, the Nets beat them last year, so you never know. This is a Nets team on the rise.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets - I would actually watch this to see how well of a job Chuck Hayes would’ve done defending Kevin Love. Lowry vs. Rubio is also an intriguing matchup.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs - Definitely what would have been the highlight of the day. If it weren’t for the Memphis Grizzlies, they would’ve met up in the Western Conference Semis. Besides that, you got two contenders. One young, one old. The Spurs actually swept the Thunder during the regular season, but hopefully a full year implementation of Kendrick Perkins along with Serge Ibaka’s growth can solve some problems down low. It would have been gooooooood.
Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz - Any game with Derrick Rose is a must see.
New York Knicks vs. Sacramento Kings - If anyone in the Kings can slow down either Carmelo or Amar’e, then they have a chance. Small chance, but there’s still a chance. I could try and argue that J.J. Hickson could do work, but then this happened last season.
Denver Nuggets vs.
Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers - Any game with Blake Griffin is a must see.
Aww Shit Vlad Rad, just when you were reaching the “forever hate” threshold…
After all of your mistakes (like that cross-court pass leading to a Kings steal and fastbreak), you challenge Cousins for that rebound off of Williams’ intentional miss, causing it to go out of bounds. Then you get that inbound pass from Dorell for the game tying shot from 28 feet away, and then an easy steal in overtime sealing the deal. The Warriors really needed this win, especially to the 5-win Kings, to ride this momentum into the Christmas day game against the Blazers at home.
You know what, thanks Vlad Rad, thanks.