Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA Preview

The NBA tips off its 2008-09 season tonight, so I thought I’d offer a preview -- just one post, in four parts:

1. The incredible Free Darko has a preview of every game in the imminent season. Being Free Darko, the previews range from the boldly specific (“Feb 04 Cleveland @ New York - The paparazzi spend all day trying to get shots of LeBron buying pizza-by-the-slice, but Zydrunas ends up dominating the game with 24 points on 10/14 shooting”) to the highly likely (“Feb 08 New Jersey @ Orlando - With the Nets down 15 four minutes into the third quarter, Vince Carter informs Lawrence Frank that his ankle hurts”) to the historically minded (“Mar 11 Dallas@Portland: Cuban realizes that he's facing yet another long, versatile PF from the Dallas metroplex, and begins lobbying Stern to bring back the territorial draft”) to the straight-up koan (“Mar 07 Philadelphia@Memphis: Tell me, who here is the skeptic, who the believer? And who among us knows which side to take?”).

Also, the Free Darko book comes out in a couple of weeks. I strongly suggest pre-ordering a copy, as it’s easily one of the most beautifully designed, proudly fanatical, and imaginatively...imagined books I’ve ever seen.

2. The New York Times looks at the process that led to a major sports franchise in Oklahoma City -- the former Seattle Sonics begin life there this year as the Thunder. (Interesting nugget: “For the fourth time since 1985, the NBA has traded down to a smaller market. That trend risks shrinking its television footprint and stunting the value of its other franchises.” But dear God, I really hate the “footprint” thing. This needs to stop now, before I’m legally required to refer to my traffic in terms of my “blogging footprint.”)

3. Bill Simmons offers his fantasy basketball pointers (his full-fledged league preview will appear on ESPN.com this week, and it’s always worth reading). He’s most entertaining when recommending against a player, like Vince Carter (“There's nothing worse than letting your guard down with Fantasy Vince, then inadvertently catching the ‘SportsCenter’ highlight of him rolling around under the basket as if he has been gunned down by an assassin. No thanks.”), Luke Ridnour (“it all sounds good until you remember that he sucks”), or Marcus Camby (“Stay away. Please. I'm begging you.”).

4. My predictions. Predictions on lightly read blogs are easy, because who the hell is paying attention, and who among those actually cares? Exactly. But obviously, if this turns out to be accurate, I’ll be carting it out at the end of the season and crowing about it. One of my favorite trends for any team is youth and sudden reason for confidence. So my sleeper team this year in the eastern conference is the Atlanta Hawks. They’ve increased their total wins over each of the past three seasons. They took the eventual-champ Celtics to seven games in the first round last year, and looked pretty good doing it. Two of their best players (Al Horford and Josh Smith) are just 22, and Smith’s entering his fifth season as a pro after showing improvement in each of the previous four. They have an experienced point guard (Mike Bibby), their best all-around player (Joe Johnson) is in his prime, and at least two players (Acie Law and Marvin Williams) have the potential to take significant steps forward. Granted, they have no bench. The only area in which they’re deep is their decadelong trend of being severe losers. But no one else is showing any confidence in them -- Sports Illustrated ranks them behind the rebuilding Pacers and the wait-what-city-do-they-play-in-again? Bobcats in the conference -- so I figure I'll stand behind them. Hawks to finish no worse than sixth in the east. You heard it here first (and probably last). On the flip side, as bad as I expect the Knicks to continue to be, it’s hard to imagine a worse team on paper than the Sacramento Kings. Take Kevin Martin off that roster and you could dump it straight into the developmental league.

Oh, and I like the New Orleans Hornets to win it all.

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Anonymous miles doyle said...

Don't sleep on Portland.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

I think Boston repeats. It will be Hornets vs. Celtics in the Finals.

7:30 AM  

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