Sunday, October 29, 2006

NBA Starting Up

This is a really interesting season in the NBA, because there isn't as much separation among the NBA's better teams as there usually is. This is going to be an important season I think as far as establishing which teams are going to be good over the next few. I'm not as sold on the Suns as some. I don't expect much from Stoudemire, Joe Johnson's long gone, and I think they overachieved last year. Obviously Steve Nash can make any team, and Shawn Marion's one of the very best in the game. But I don't know about the Suns from there, and the pushing style usually doesn't cut it in the playoffs. I also don't like the Nets. I don't trust Jason Kidd to stay consistently healthy, and without Kidd Vince Carter could very well become a liability rather than an asset again. Even if they have a good year this year, they are going to have real trouble going forward because they're aging and injury prone. I'm also not sold on the Cavs, who will be good but not that good. LeBron can only do so much himself. Neither Hughes nor Gooden is going to be LeBron's Pippen, and Ilgauskas always struck me as an odd fit with LeBron.

So who do I like? Four teams, no big surprises. Heat, Bulls, Mavs, Spurs. The Heat remain an odd mix of name players not playing at their peaks, but that didn't stop them last year. D-Wade may be the best player in the league, and even slightly washed up Shaq is dangerous. I believe in the two superstars mold (Bulls) of building NBA teams over the ensemble mold (Pistons), and that's still a really strong 1-2. I like Haslem and Posey the best of the supporting cast. I really do think the departure of Ben Wallace is going to shift the balance of power in the Central Division of the East. I've liked the Bulls' core for a while, and Ben Wallace fits in great with their attitude. They have a bunch of players on the rise, and don't even need all of them to fully develop. I think Ben Gordon's the real deal, I like Hinrich, and Deng and Nocioni are good pieces. I think the Bulls will challenge the Heat for the Eastern Title. The Mavs changed their identity last year, and it's for the best. Dirk is incredible, and they have quality players surrounding him. I've always liked Jason Terry and Josh Howard is really important for them. I'm not sold all the way on Devin Harris, but I guess we will see. Then we have the Spurs, who it seems everyone is overlooking. I don't buy that they are on the decline at all. Manu had an off year last year, but I think he'll step it right back up. Tim Duncan is healthy and motivated, and it's like people have forgotten how good he is. Parker, Finley and Bowen aren't bad guys to have either. So give me the Heat over the Bulls in the East, the Spurs over the Mavs in the West, and the Spurs over the Heat in the finals.


Anonymous Steve Khan said...

I think the Suns will be as good as they were last year, which means they won't be going to the Finals. The Nets will be fine as long as Kidd stays healthy (which may not happen). VC will play well as long as he wants to. They shouldn't have a problem winning that division, unless something totally unpredictable happens with one of the other teams. I'm not sold on the Cavs either. They might've been better off trading Gooden (who I do like as an Orlando fan) since his value is as high as its ever going to be. I guess witha lack of depth, they will get more out of keeping him.

I really like the Mavs. I wanted them to win it all last year. Dirk is great, maybe the league's best player, and I wanted to see Darrell Armstrong win a title. Now he's in IND, and the Pacers aren't going anywhere.

I'm hoping for a turnaround in Houston as well. Too many injuries last year. They still need a PF...does anybody want Juwan Howard?

BTW, how 'bout those Penguins.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Penguins? Booooooo!

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there's one thing all basketball fans can agree upon: No one wears a scowl and a towel better than the Knicks' Stephon Marbury.

--Denis Gorman

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Charlie Kane said...

I'd say that this NBA season will be another 'status quo' type of affair, with the teams everybody expects (Mavs, Spurs, Suns, Pistons and Heat) doing pretty much what is expected of them. I'd agree that the fashionable pick of the Suns for the title is likely a mistake (unless Amare is 100% and there's not a soul alive who thinks he will be--that surgery he had really seems to have a long recovery time, as Kenyon Martin, Terrel Davis and others have shown). I honestly can't buy into the Heat this season, because the majority of their lineup is aging and, for many of those players, the carrot of a long-awaited title is no longer a motivator (see GP, Antoine Walker, et al). Wade is a joy to watch, and a great talent, but that's a lot of dead weight to put on a kid's back. Shaq just is not the same fella as he used to be and the other options on the team are none too exciting, either. I'm inclined to believe that the title they won last year was an aberration of sorts, much like the Cardinals recent Series win, in that matchups and motives were able to elevate decent talent past an opponent with arguably more ability. Still, the East is not all that impressive this year, outside of Detroit and Chicago, so I could easily be eating crow on this in six months' time. Cavs are still a one-man show, Pistons are aging and missing any prowess on the glass (that Darko trade will come back to bite 'em--he was the whipping boy, but when a young guy never gets to play, what's to be expected of him? Watch out for Orlando, which will be running the East in another year or two.)so I think it's the Bulls in the East this year and....probably the Spurs, who had the Mavs dead in the water in the last game of the conference finals before Dirk was able to will Dallas to the win. I do think the West will be a helluva lot of fun to watch this year, as the regulars are joined by a confident Clipper team, an improved (in theory) Rockets club, a running Nuggets squad with a much improved Carmelo, a solid Utah team, and the Lakers always a threat. It's been a long time since I enjoyed the NBA as much as I do now. I credit the Suns, and while you may not agree, the Wiz for that, for convinving the rest of the league that great athletes should be allowed to actually use their skills to play ball instead of the old grind, shoot and foul game which just about killed the league for good. But, as you say, until that style wins out in the playoffs over yer Pistons/Spurs type of plodding, it's all just eye candy. We shall see.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous dan said...

As a Suns fan, I can't wait. Diaw really stepped up his game against Dallas. He looks like a keeper. Is there anything scarier for a coach than seeing Nash-Barbosa-Marion-Diaw-Amare step on the court? I predict a '93 rematch, Suns over Bulls in 6.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

I can't even imagine how badly you are going to pan Raw. That was the worst episode they've put on in quite awhile. It was boring, stupid, and hard-sold a ppv show that absolutely nobody cares about.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous dan said...

Amen, Dave. Amen.

9:23 PM  

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