The season begins this coming Tuesday and I couldn't be a bit happier.
I do not claim to be some clairvoyant individual able to predict the future, but I do lay claims to being several things.
- An asshole
- A Laker fan
- A connoisseur of all fine things related to titties and professional basketball, one of these things will be expounded upon in this post.
- Articulate enough to talk/write about it.
That said, what happens here are not necessarily predictions, rather just my opinion of how things will play out.
You know what? I am getting my boldest statement out of the way right at the outset…
The Los Angeles Clippers will make the playoffs this season.
There, I said it… Card-carrying lifelong Lakers fan just told the both of you that the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs will NOT leave the Staples Center this year. It felt weird typing it, but I really mean it. With a presumed-to-be-healthy Blake Griffin, no Elton Brand on board, Eric Gordon further finding his jump shot this summer and an already (though low-level) All-Star center in place, Baron Davis will not hoist as many stupid shots as he might have without other options installed – lest he have his leash cut.
That being said, I will get on with the next, strikingly less-controversial opinions…
Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin.
Why, you ask? (based on his college numbers, of course)
- Field goal percentage? Got it!
- Uncanny-for-his-size shooting range? Check!
- Rebounding? Damn straight!
- Post moves? Sheeeit, he may even steal some time at center.
looks kinda white, even if he is mixed-raceFresh non-thuggish face? Steve Nash was gifted an MVP that Kobe should have won once.
6th man of the year…
wake me up when something matters!
Most improved player…
Defensive player of the year…
Dwight Howard, so long as he continues to make what happens to be questionable defensive habits highlight-worthy.
[Phlip note – I am STILL waiting on an “elite” big man defender who can PROPERLY mind the pick and roll. This is where I miss old-school basketball]
Kevin Durant will repeat.
- In the wake of their own maximum effectiveness, the Miami guys will cancel one another out of MVP-level performance, thusly making so that no one of them will be MVP-able in my opinion, even though they will win a ton of games. Split that bitch 2 ways and it will go to Wade and LeBaron
- Kobe Bryant, while effective enough to drive something we will discuss later, will not be league MVP this year.
- No one else has done anything to warrant inclusion in the conversation yet.
“Hustlin’ Backwards” award…
[Phlip note – this is one I will give to a team that used to be a contender, but due to their own buffoonery, be it self-created or otherwise, are not to be any more. For example, this would have gone to the New Orleans Hornets last year at the end of the season]
Why? 2 years ago, Denver was a 2-seed and a legitimate threat to LA in the west. This past year, they digressed to a 4-seed and lost in a barely-an-upset series to The Jazz. After an offseason of turmoil surrounding the extension/non-extension trade/non-trade of Carmelo Anthony, continued health concerns of their head coach and the “bully who can’t fight” aesthetic of their style in general, I see the Nuggets NOT getting any better. Everyone else worked on getting better, while they have added NOTHING. That said, this ends one of two ways for them…
- They KEEP Carmelo, but the lack of ANY other moves, combined with the circus that has commenced, will leave them distracted, they will be a 5 or 6 seed.
- They TRADE ‘Melo, getting not much more than draft picks and expiring contracts to begin their rebuild and miss the playoffs altogether.
Either way, this situation will NOT end pretty for Denver, compared to what they WERE 2 seasons ago and COULD have been last year.
- New York
I really do believe that this will be how it will be. The top 4 will be the top 4, but shuffle 2-4 as you please… The bottom 4 will likely be shuffled as well.
- LA Lakers
[Phlip note – notice how you now NEED to differentiate which LA team you speak of when it is time to say who will make the playoffs?]
- Oklahoma City
- San Antonio
- Denver (see above “Hustlin’ Backwards for more on this)
- LA Clippers
To my knowledge, this will present the first time in the history of ever that one playoff series has been played entirely in a manner where the involved players will not be able to attend to their jumpoffs in another city.
As stated as well, the Nuggets are only in if Melo plays for them for the whole of the season. Without him, toss a coin with the Hornets, Rockets (if Yao doesn’t break) and move Portland to 5 with Utah at 6.
To not complicate things too much, both of those lists are barring catastrophic injuries or player arrests/suspensions.
Eastern Conference Finals will see the Celtics giving it one last go against the newly-minted champions-on-paper Heat. The combination of the Celtics’ swarming and VERY cohesive team defense combined with the exposing of Chris Bosh as NOT a max-contract player and the lack of a great center will be too much for the Heat. Boston in 7.
Western Conference Finals will be a shocker; San Antonio will play the “I ain’t dead yet, motherfucker” card. They will meet The Lakers, but Tiago Splitter will still be an NBA Rookie, even at like 37 years of age (<--joke) and Pau Gasol will show the changing of the guard as it relates to the “best Power Forward in the league (based on current play)” tag. Too mobile, too versatile and not soft anymore... Tim Duncan will have a great series, but not like the ones that made him a first-ballot hall of fame player.
NBA Finals will play out JUST like last years’ Lakers/Celtics. Shaq will be the non-issue he has been since leaving Miami. Hell, he was largely a non issue IN Miami, otherwise he might have been invited back! Coaching will be the deciding factor in this one, as it has been in past years. The Lakers should again be able to handle the Boston defense with shooting and their 14-foot frontline.
Again, this assumes health and clear arrest records.
Pau Gasol… Kobe will be too pissed over that fact to give a properly candid and funny post-game conference over this fact.
[Phlip note – and I am a Kobe FAN, I know he is a dick. He just happens to be a talented and successful enough dick to justify said dicketry]
It is easy for the legions of new fans the Heat now have to write my opinion off as that of a smug Laker fan, but I find their own newfound smugness to be based on nothing tangible until a game has been played.
As with anything of this nature, I am more than willing to eat my share of crow when/if I am proven wrong in my opinions. I happen to be more than pleased in the position that when you season crow properly then it tastes just like chicken.
And black people love us some chicken and basketball.