It’s about that time.
No, not Christmas time. As college students, we are no longer reserved the right to enjoy Christmas time. Instead, professors beat our heads into the ground with loads of studying and force us to stay on campus until a couple of days before ol St. Nick rolls through town. How am I supposed to feel the Christmas spirit with my head stuffed in a book entitled “Systems Analysis & Design” for hours on end? I’ve tried everything. I tried listening to Christmas tunes while studying, but that only made me think about how faint the light at the end of the tunnel was becoming. I tried falling asleep to Elf every night which felt nice, but it got old after the 7th consecutive night. I tried going for a walk and observing the Christmas decor that the Dinkytown community has to offer, but this isn’t suburbia. The strings of houses filled with lights that had me enamored as a child are nowhere to be found here. Did I mention there is ABSOLUTELY NO SNOW ON THE GROUND? I blame all of you for wishing against it for so many years. Ugh.
Well, one of the few things I can get excited about because it won’t end two days after I get home from school is…you guessed it, the NBA.
While you are all listening to songs about figgy pudding, we are listening to this:
While you are looking at the Christmas lights around town, we are watching this:
Yes, we here at the A(bro)ciation are extremely excited for the NBA season. This is the first time we have had the chance to publish a preview. There are lots of ways to do it, but we want you to have fun. Less text, enough analysis, but plenty of music, video, and bad humor. Let’s get started, shall we?
Ranking the Western Conference
The West is, surprisingly, down this year. Usually strong top to bottom (well almost all the way to the bottom), the West is going to look a lot more like the East last year. There will be some dominant teams, as always, but at least one or two teams that make the playoffs will be sure to exit quickly (think Pacers and Sixers last year in the East). Let’s rank these bitches:
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
One word: progression. We saw growth last year, we will see dominance this year. Harden taking on that true third man role will be key, but he proved after the Jeff Green trade that he is ready.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
They’re old, but people are going too far with the hate. Kobe always finds a way to get it done. I think the main reason people are down on them is because of Pau Gasol’s poor play last year in the playoffs. Don’t forget he was the reason that the Lakers won two championships.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
I hate to say it but the tandem of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin is going to be scary this year. For some reason, people are pushing CP3 so far into the spotlight that Griffin seems to have moved into the passenger’s seat. His credit will come after 25 and 12 on opening night. This team also has underrated role players. You know I love me some Randy Foye!
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Follow Tony Allen on Twitter? You should. You get gems like these:
Dude might be on X more often than we originally thought. Thanks Twitter. As for his team, I love when a young core grows together. Gay, Gasol, Conley is a great core and they have one of the deepest rosters in the West.
5. Dallas Mavericks
This is the conversation I had in my head about the Dallas Mavericks:
Me: I despise Vince Carter, rank them 10th.
Me: I love Lamar Odom, rank them 1st.
Me: 5th seems right.
6. Portland Trailblazers
Ugh. I would almost rather be a Timberwolves fan than Trailblazers. They are stuck in this rut of mediocrity that isn’t going to change for a loooong time. LaMarcus Aldridge is great. I love Gerald Wallace. Nic Batum is a great role player. Still, these names aren’t winning any championships together anytime soon.
7. San Antonio Spurs
Somehow, Mr. Popovich always gets it done. I like the Kawhi Leonard pick in the draft, but other than that, can we expect any new value from an aging roster? They are old, but good, at least in the regular season.
8. Denver Nuggets
Wilson Chandler is a dumbass for signing in China. Still, Nene is back (my boy!), Danilo is the new Italian Stallion of the NBA, and Ty Lawson finally gets to be “the guy.” They’ll sneak into the playoffs.
9. Houston Rockets
Kevin McFail could bring some success to Houston, but as a devout Timberwolves fan we all know he will set back the franchise a decade or so. Still, I love Kevin Martin and Luis Scola enough to project them 9th.
10. Golden State Warriors
Love this backcourt. Everyone does. Monta Ellis is a killer on the offensive end and Stephen Curry makes me ache on the inside as a Timberwolves fan (Kahn passed on him twice). Still, Andris Biedrins has been overpaid and under-performing his entire career. Kwame Brown is not the solution. Still, the backcourt gets them near the playoffs.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
I’m goin there…say it loud Jim!
Yes, Basketball Prospectus pegged the TimberPups as a contender for the playoffs. A contender!!! What?!? Rubio Fever babbbbbyyyyy!!! But seriously, the roster looks really good. Lots of talent. Let’s see how it pieces together. I say they’re not there yet, but finally out of the Western Conference cellar.
12. Phoenix Suns
This team is poop. Steve Nash and a bunch of role players. But still, Steve Nash. Fine I won’t put them last.
13. Sacramento Kings
My love for Tyreke Evans may be skewing this ranking a little bit. This team is really as talentless as they come. The sound of Jimmer and DeMarcus Cousins on the court at the same time makes sick. Why? I’m a Carlson student and they preach efficiency. These guys don’t know what that word means.
14. Utah Jazz
Rebuilding 101. Jazz will do it well, but it is just beginning. Prepare yourselves Jazz fans.
15. New Orleans Hornets
I love you, Eric Gordon. Get well soon my man.
I think he scores 25+ a game while not even thinking about the team’s score. Just sayin…how is he going to care about that team when he’s leaving after his rookie contract ends and its pretty clear they don’t have a chance at the playoffs.
Ranking the Eastern Conference
1. Miami Heat
I’m scared. I have finally sort of maybe come around on LeBron. Whether he has changed or I have I can’t tell, but the guy is too good. I have to admire him when he’s on the court. It’s apparent (i.e. Tiger Woods) that there is no great athlete that is normal off the playing field. I just don’t like when LeBron is a tool on the court. So, stop that LeBron, and I will support you when you tear the league a new one this year. Oh yea, Dwyane Wade is pretty good too.
2. Chicago Bulls
Chicago beat writer tweeted this:
I love you D-Rose.
3. New York Knicks
Melo is pissed. Watch out. Love the Tyson Chandler signing.
4. Boston Celtics
5. New Jersey Nets
I’m still pissed at Deron Williams for being the first star to simply run away from the problems between the NBPA and the owners. You accomplish NOTHING by leaving the country and leaving it to other, Deron. I am no longer cheering for you.
6. Indiana Pacers
This team is making strides. The roster is ugly. Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Foster, Darren Collison, Louis Amundson, and on and on. They are bright spots though and I love Paul George’s chances of breaking out this year. Also, George Hill acquisition was quiet but could make major noise this year.
7. Atlanta Hawks
The TrailBlazers of the East…with a little more talent. I love watching this team, but I don’t think the change to Jeff Teague from Mike Bibby for a full season makes that much of a difference.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
The new Atlanta Hawks of the East! Wait, so by transitive property, they are also like the Blazers of the East. Some young talent, some decent vets, but at the end of the day, they can’t match up with the elite teams in the Eats.
9. Orlando Magic
I am assuming a Dwight Howard trade. He doesn’t get enough credit for how bad his team truly is. Plus, a disgruntled Dwight will not play very well, meaning that an already poor team will turn horrid when Mr. Howard leaves.
10. Washington Wizards
This is my new second favorite team. I have come to love John Wall. He seems to love the game. It doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the most exciting players to watch. It also doesn’t hurt that he has JaVale McGee to throw alley-oops to. Still, this roster is full of immature youth (Nick Young, Jordan Crawford, Andray Blatche) that even my boy Flip Saunders can’t turn into a playoff team yet.
11. Milwaukee Bucks
I went to Milwaukee in October to see J. Cole. That city is a dump (sorry). But, had a great time at the show. So, thanks for that Milwaukee.
As for the basketball team, Brandon Jennings is overrated, Andrew Bogut is above average, and Mike Dunleavy isn’t the most earth-shattering of signings. They just aren’t a playoff team.
12. Charlotte Bobcats
This roster is horrible. How did they do that well last year (34-48)? Well, now Stephen Jackson is gone and they legitimately do not have a go-to scorer. Still, I love MJ so I will be nice in my rankings.
13. Detroit Pistons
Remember when Detroit reigned as one of the premier defensive squads that boasted the best starting 5 in the NBA? Ha. Those days are over, say hello to Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, and Greg Monroe. At least they added Ben Wallace for the nostalgic touch (part of those dominant teams when he was in his prime).
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
Based on Kyrie’s limited preseason playing time thus far, I feel comfortable simply calling him “Kyrie.” Too soon? How about “Irv”? Okay, I’m getting carried away but this guy appears to be everything we had hoped. Still, it will take a long time to rebuild that roster completely. Have fun, Kyrie!
15. Toronto Raptors
I can’t believe that there is a question as to who the worst team in the NBA will be in 2011-12. I don’t even care about records. This team will NOT fill seats, make it on SportsCenter, or even provide the ladies with some eye candy. Rough times in Toronto right now.
I’m not going to predict awards that nobody cares about. That means go somewhere else for Coach of the Year predictions.
MVP: Kevin Durant
It’s the obvious pick, but it’s the right one. The Chris Paul talk is ridiculous. He will be good, but his impact will be over-measured. I hope the voters can see through that. LeBron and Wade understand their predicament and they will be content with a ring.
Durant took over the summer circuit and captured the eyes of even casual basketball fans without the NBA platform (he even met a college kid through twitter and played flag football with him). The Thunder are going to take over the league this season much like Bill Simmons predicted for last year. The Lakers and Spurs are declining, the Clippers will need time to mold together, and the rest of the West lacks talent compared to OKC. Durant will be the face of this attack on the league. Expect normal (approaching 30 per game) scoring numbers and an improved mental game from Durant in 2011-12. BIG things are coming (as the league says) from Durant and an MVP award will ice the cake.
Rookie of the Year: Kyrie
Yea, that’s right, I’m goin’ for it. We can call him by one name.
Derrick Williams is the popular pick here. The problem is, Rick Adelman sees him exclusively playing power forward for now. You’re probably thinking “Wait, isn’t Kevin Love a power forward?” Yes, he is, and that’s why Williams will not win ROY. They will find ways to use him and he will have a solid year, but he won’t be in the position to put up stats that match up to Kyrie’s (this one name thing just feels right now after using it a few times).
Kyrie appears to have all of the explosiveness, ability to get to the rim, and jumper we all wanted him to have. He was making plays all over the court in his first preseason game. The best part is, Dan Gilbert has put together another team worthy of losing 26 in a row. So, Kyrie should be able to take the reigns right away (plus, Baron Davis is gone!) and put in big minutes. I still think his assist numbers will take time to rise, but he should score right away. I love his game, but the opportunity he has is the main reason he is my Rookie of the Year.
Let’s Get it Started
I can’t wait for this season to start. Even though I missed out on my Mom’s Christmas cookies and helping my Dad put up the lights on our suburban home, I guess four months of Ricky Rubio alley-oops (coined “Rubi-oops”) and LeBron no-look dimes will have to do.
Shit, I just realized I haven’t done any Christmas shopping.
Look for predictions from all of us before Christmas!