Merry Xmas everyone! The NBA is back today, and with that, so is DSS! Us NBA jags have been dreaming about today for a while now because this season is going to be FANTASTIC! I rounded up some of the usual suspects in Suman, Amar, and RP, and we have put together our yearly 2011-2012 Season Preview, so please check it out. Let us know what you think in the comments section too! It's time for tip-off! LEGGO!!!
Central - by Suman V
1. Chicago Bulls
In: Richard Hamilton, Jimmy Butler
Out: Keith Bogans, Jennero Pargo
The Bulls have the benefit of having the best player on the court 99% of the time they play a game. Last year they turned the corner from playoff minion to title contender. You can make a strong case that they are the second best team in the league. Statistically, they had the best and most efficient defense in the league. They are also maybe the deepest team that exists, but none of that depth is an explosive scorer. But what we (re)learned last year is the best regular season team isn't always the best playoff team. This team relied too much on Derrick Rose to create for others and for himself. And for the second straight year a LeBron- James-led team proved too difficult to beat. When the Heat stuck LeBron or Wade on Rose, the Bulls needed a reliable second superstar that could create his own shot. Enter Richard Hamilton. He may be 108 years old, but he is also one of the few guys who consistently gives Dwayne Wade fits. And lets be honest, they probably need to beat the Heat to get out of the East. If the combination of Rip and Boozer can give D-Rose the support he needs when the chips are down, then this team can take down the Heat.
Breakout Player: Luol Deng is entering the prime of his career, and with the addition of RIP Hamilton there isn't as much pressure on him.
Hunny: Emmy Rossum from 'Shameless.' The show takes place on the southside of Chicago so it fits. She's a hood girl in the show that is actually gorgeous.
2. Indiana Pacers
In: David West, Louis Amundson, and a bunch of players nobody cares about
Out: Brandon Rush, Mike Dunleavy
The Pacers gave the Bulls all they could handle last year in the playoffs, and it took some Derrick Rose heroics for the Bulls to advance. This year the Pacers have one of the most versatile and intriguing starting lineups in the league, and will fight the Bulls again until the end of the season. The addition of David West, provided he has recovered from his ACL injury, is perfect compliment to bangers like Hansbrough and Hibbert. The recent of trade of Brandon Rush for Louis Amundson went under the radar, but the depth he provides in the front court will be huge. Darren Collison and AJ Price provide solid point guard play. But this team only go as far as Danny Granger and Paul George take them. Can George make that transition from promising rookie to superstar? The Internet says he is 6'10'' and if that's true a Pacers starting 5 of Collison, George, Granger, West, and Hibbert will be long and scary. In an abbreviated season who knows...this team may have the depth to overtake the Bulls in the regular season.
Breakout Player: Paul George showed explosiveness his rookie year, but needs to be more consistent to be considered a star.
Hunny: Zooey Deschanel ...hey I'm just saying in the right light and in the right role this girl is very intriguing...
3. Milwaukee Bucks
In: S-Jax, Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer, Mike Dunleavy
Out: Corey Maggette, John Salmons
The Bucks seemed to take a step back last year after Jennings and Bogut stoked a "Fear the Deer" campaign the year before. Part of that is that injuries wrecked their season. The other part is that their offense was atrocious. They averaged a league worst 91.9 ppg. Brandon Jennings seemingly regressed especially with his jump shot. Their defense remained one of the league's best, but they needed firepower. The addition of Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy should help in that category. It'll be interesting to see how S-Jax's personality blends with Scott Skiles'. I can definitely see this turning into an odd couple type love affair, as it seems S-Jax usually has a good relationship with his coach. The Bucks will stay afloat thanks to being in this terrible division, but don't expect them to go very far.
Breakout Player: Brandon Jennings...someone has to score right? I feel like people kind of forgot about him after the brilliant start to his rookie year. I expect him to fulfill the promise he showed early on.
Hunny: Ellie Kemper from "The Office." ....I dunno she's just kind of there
4. Detroit Pistons
In: Brandon Knight, Vernon Macklin
Out: Richard Hamilton
The Pistons are stuck in a very unenviable position thanks to the wizardry of Joe Dumars. They aren't good enough to compete with the big boys, but they aren't quite bad enough to be in line for a high draft pick. They need a high pick because this team lacks any superstars. What they do have is about 1,000,000 combo/tweeners: Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Ben Gordon, Will Bynum, Charlie Villanueva, and Rodney Stuckey all fill this definition. They don't have much cap flexibility thanks to some atrocious contracts. However, there is some talent here. Brandon Knight should allow Rodney Stuckey to shift over to the shooting guard position. And Greg Monroe could put up huge numbers now that he is the primary option. This team quit on John Kuester last year, so it should be interesting to see how Lawrence Frank turns this around.
Breakout Player: Greg Monroe...the offense will go through him so its on him to produce
Hunny: Jane Krakowski from 30 Rock ...she's talented but she's not a star that is going to carry a show.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
In: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Omri Casspi
Out: Baron Davis
The Cavs endured one of the most horrific and brutal seasons in NBA history last year going from the belle-of-the-ball to the janitor in the time it takes to make one "Decision." However they ended up essentially buying the #1 pick in the draft which turned out to be Kyrie Irving. By amnestying Baron Davis, they are basically giving Irving the keys to the car right away. With the additions of high energy guys like Tristan Thompson in the draft and Omri Casspi via trade, this team should give more effort on defense this year and show more fight in general. The Cavs are still very far from being a good team, but it can't get much worse than last year right? The return of Anderson Varejao from injury will shore up the front line. And I'm sure the team will dangle Varejao and journeyman Antawn Jamison as trade bait the entire year. The Cavs will show promise this year, but don't kid yourselves .... at the first sign that they are a decent team CavsDan will sell off parts....they are still gunning for that #1 pick after all.
Breakout Player: Kyrie Irving should have the reigns to do whatever he wants, and that means a likely ROY award
Hunny: Selena Gomez...in like 3 years we'll be able to officially gawk
Atlantic - by RP
1. New York Knicks
In: Tyson Chandler - Will be huge in giving them a defensive presence and mentality.
Baron Davis - B-Diddy will come back from his injury motivated and ready to work.
Mike Bibby - Don't know about this signing, but he'll have to hold it down for a bit.
Out: Chauncey Billups - Was turning into a salty old man, but lucky he landed in a nice spot.
With about a half-year under their belt with Stat & Melo-Stat & Melo together, they should be able to build on the chemistry. Barring injuries, in a relatively weak division, they have too much firepower. Celts are always a threat, but my guess is the compacted schedule might have Boston resting their guys for the playoffs - allowing the Knicks to run away with the Atlantic. It'll be interesting to see how things pan out in the playoffs. Will we get to see the life-altering Heat-Knicks series we're all hoping for?
Breakout Player: Toney Douglas - He's gonna get a lot of burn, so it's his world.
Hunny: Lindsay Lohan - Sexy and talented, but will either of them put it together for real?
2. Boston Celtics
In: Brandon Bass - Nice upgrade over Big Baby.
Sasha Pavlovic - I hope there are enough Euro Clubs in Boston to keep my boy happy.
Out: Jeff Green - Best wishes in his recovery.
Glen Davis - Bad trade for the Magic
Another year older. Will Rondo cry about being included in off-season trade talks or use it as motivation? That will be the difference. Due to their continuity, I expect to Celts to rack up wins and finish in a decent spot. Look for the Celts to make one last stab at the chip before things need to be blown up.
Breakout Player: Brandon Bass - The aforementioned should really get a chance to shine playing with a PG like Rondo.
Hunny: Demi Moore - Old, but manages to stay young at heart (Demi:Big Three::Ashton:Rondo). Uhh.
In: Nikola Vucevic - Don't know enough about this Euro, but JaVale McGee did dunk on his head and give him the ice grill in the preseason.
Tony Battie - Don't know how he's still in the league.
Plenty of young talent on this team. Nice young backcourt with Jrue and ET. Look for big things from them on the perimeter, alongside Iguodala. They will be competitive in the playoffs, as they were last year, if Brand can give them some solid production. Alas, at the end of the day, they are a first round out. Nice team for the future though.
Breakout Player: Evan Turner - He's really worked on his game and has a smooth J after working with Herb Macgee, Philly Legend, this offseason.
Hunny: Elizabeth Olsen - Lots of promise
4. New Jersey Nets
In: DeShawn Stevenson - The LeBron Stopper.
Mehmet Okur - Nice add, bringing in Deron's old teammate.
Like Hov said, "The Nets can go 0-82 and I look at you like this shit gravy". It's gravy because the prospects of D-Ho coming to BK. Dwight & Deron? That shit cray, ain't it Jay? Alas, there isn't much to get excited about with the current roster - especially with the Brook Lopez injury. Hey, at least they came to terms with the homey Kris K. Whoops, I mean Kris H. They did add a couple more real pros, in DeShawn and Memo, so they should be competitive.
Breakout Player: Kris Humphries - Look for himself to channel his anger from being played like a guitar by Kim K.
Hunny: Candace Parker - Since her husband is on the squad and the fact that she could probably play for them.
In: Jamaal Magloire - The Canadian comes home.
Ed Davis - Should put up big numbers in his second year.
I really don't know what to say about this team. They are pretty hopeless. They do have a few young studs though, in Davis, Jerryd Bayless and DeMar DeRozan. Maybe they'll bring some excitement. Too bad they'll all leave when they grow up.
Breakout Player: DeMar DeRozan - It's time for Lil' Romeo's boy to make the leap.
Hunny: Taylor Swift - Has some talent, but pretty lame and boring.
Southeast - by VC
1. Miami Heat
In: Shane Battier, Eddy Curry, Norris Cole
Out: Eddie house
As you all know, I'm a huge Heat hater. I hate everything about the Heat, including Queen James. But with that being said, I have to actually give them credit for what they did last year. With a new squad, no depth, and some hobbled players in the playoffs, they came within 2 games of winning the NBA title. I know they lost, but that is pretty impressive. This year they have actually added some quality players to their roster, and imo, are the favorites to win the title. Battier is a perfect fit for this squad. He gives them veteran leadership, a shooter that can space the floor, and an excellent defender. This is a huge, huge pickup by them, and one I think that will be the one that puts them over the top. I also liked the Cole pickup. I've watched him play a ton at CSTATE (betting purposes), and the kid is a player. He can handle the rock, create his own shot, and wants to take the big shots. He's another guy that I was hoping the Bulls would be able to get instead of the Heat. The last addition the Heat picked up, is honestly a toss up. Eddy Curry was a Chicago HS legend, and used to be a beast in the post when he wanted to be. But he's also been known as lazy, and "fat". It will be interesting to see which Curry plays for the Heat. I still remember when a Chicago reporter asked Coach Skiles at the time what else Eddy Curry could do to get rebounds, since his numbers were so low for a 7 footer. Skiles without smiling or blinking said "jump". That right there told me all I needed to know about Curry at the time. It was sad. For the Heat, it's a low risk move though, because if he pans out, he pans out. If he doesn't, then that's probably what they were expecting from him anyways. Ultimately this squad comes down to Lebron. I think we pretty much know what you are going to get from DWADE and BOSH. But with Lebron, who knows? Lebron was simply amazing in the playoffs, especially vs the Celts and the Bulls. But then he had a disappearing act in the Finals, which was mind boggling to watch. I honestly have no clue what happened to him in the Finals, especially when he was playing hot potato with the ball and passing to Chalmers instead of taking and making the usual shots he can hit in crunch time. If Lebron can just do his thing and play like he did vs the Celts and the Bulls in the playoffs, there isn't a team in the NBA that can beat this squad. But if he plays hot potato in the Playoffs/Finals again, then who honestly knows. That would open the doors up for a Chicago/NYK/OKC team to beat them then...
Breakout Player: I'm going to go with Shane Battier. Battier's a pretty underrated player. I think people will finally get to see just how valuable he is at what he does. He'll space the floor perfectly for this Heat squad and hit wide open shots all day. He'll also be a monster on the defensive side of the ball and give other team's guards and small forwards fits, especially in the playoffs.
Hunny: Paula Patton. She's one of the hottest chicks on the planet right now. She is soooo tight foo. If you don't believe me, just rent that movie called Just Wright. The movie is broke, so just forward to the parts she is in and enjoy. You will thank me later. Damn, I hate giving her to the Heat, but since the Heat are the favorites to win the title this year, I had to do it.
2. Orlando Magic
In: Big Baby, Q, JRICH
I honestly don't know what to think about this Magic squad. While they have some talent, I think all the bs surrounding Dwight is going to definitely affect this squad. Dwight will either be gone by the trade deadline, or just finish the year off not caring. Either way, they'll finish somewhere in their usual 4/5 spot in the East, and probably be out in the first/ second round of the playoffs. Jameer and Dwight are sweet, but who else do they have? I just don't see Big Baby, Q, and JRICH helping this squad out that much. Big Baby is a solid role player, but is he a game changer? Same goes for Q. JRich is not the JRich of old, and I just don't see him taking over games or putting up huge numbers like he used to. Ryan Anderson is a pretty nice player, but in the end, I just don't see the Magic beating the Heat, Bulls, or the Knicks even. Dwight will literally have to be Superman if he wants to take this squad to the Finals.
Breakout Player: Ryan Anderson. One, because there is no other breakout player candidate on the Magic, and two, because I really like Anderson's game as a stretch 4. I think he'll improve his PPG and RPG this year. Look for him to finish with around a 13/8 in those categories.
Hunny: Evangeline Lilly. I love her, I truly do. And just like I love her, I love Dwight Howard (nh) and wish he would come to the Bulls. The real question is, will either Lilly, or Dwight make it big again? Lilly was at her best in LOST, and now that's over because the smoke monster killed everyone. Dwight took the Magic to the Finals just a couple of years ago, but now he's stuck in limbo (also like LOST) with the Magic.
3. Atlanta Hawks
In: Radman, TMac, Pargo.
How's a team that always finishes around 4/5 in the East year in and year out and is usually out by the 2nd round of the playoffs, going to get past the teams above them when their major acquisitions were Radman, TMac, and Pargo in the off season? Unless Teague has a monster year, this team isn't really going anywhere but down. They have some solid players, but no real game changers. Nowadays in the NBA, with the talent level being where it's at, you need some game changers, even 1, to make a run. They overpaid JJ, and now they will be stuck with this roster for another year. Look for a run similar to last years, and even that's stretching it.
Breakout Player: Jeff Teague. The kid was a stud in college, and he really had his coming out party late in the year, and vs the Bulls in the playoffs. He averaged 15/4 vs the Bulls in the playoffs, so there's no reason he can't avg around 15/6 this year, when he gets the keys to the team and runs the show.
Hunny: Vida Guerra. Remember when everyone used to sweat Vida Guerra? Unfortunately she's become old news now, because there are some bigger and better video girls out there now. Now compare her to the Hawks. Remember when everyone used to sweat the Hawks a couple of years ago? They were the next up and coming squad with some nice pieces, and were going to compete for the title soon?!?!? After this year, the Hawks will become old news as well. V S F (very sad foo)...
4. Washington Wizards
In: Turiof, Vesely, Seraphin, Mack
This squad has some young talent, and a stud PG in John Wall, so I am putting them above the Bobcats to finish fourth instead of in the cellar. John Wall, when he isn't injured, is pretty electrifying to watch. He put up 16,8, 4 as a rookie, and I definitely see those numbers going up again this year. And all the other young cats they have put together from Jordan Crawford, Nick Young, Mack, Vesely, Seraphin, to McGee, definitely have high ceilings. Either way, this squad still needs some time to do their thing, but I do like some of the pieces that they have put together for the future.
Breakout Player: This is a toss up for me between Nick Young and Jordan Crawford, so I'm going to go with the both of them. I don't even know if I can do that, but F it, it's my blog, so let's do it. I know McGee and Wall are going to put up their numbers, but I truly like both Young and Crawford to put up some big games this year. I've seen both of them hoop since College, and they can both put up buckets in bunches. Look for them to rotate turns in having huge scoring numbers this year.
Hunny: Emma Watson. She went from nerdy little girl, to slowly turning into a beauty before our eyes in the Harry Potter series. Like her, the Wiz are still young and blooming, and have their best years in front of them.
5. Charlotte Bobcats
In: Kemba Walker, Biyombo
Let me start this blurb out by saying, I love Kemba Walker. I see him as a BGEEZY lite, and he should be able to light up the scoreboard from the jump. But when you look at the rest of this roster, the cupboard is pretty bare. Tyrus will be his usual inconsistent self. Augustin will get buckets, but can he guard anyone? I remember last year when DROSE literally got him benched because he scored on him 7 times in a row. Whoe else do they have? Henderson and Reggie Williams are decent, but this team is going to need a lot more help if they want to get out of the cellar. Which leads me to my next question? Where is the help going to come from? Even their draft pick rights are owned by the Bulls next year (there is some protection there for next year, but not the year after). And in the end, MJ still runs this team right? I think this Biyombo pick will be another bust again for MJ! Hopefully for Bobcats fans, MJ stops clubbing/ playing golf and starts caring about this squad. Best case, Kemba and maybe Tyrus can blow up and at least give Bobcats fans something to cheer for.
Breakout Player: Kemba Walker. I want to say Tyrus Thomas so badly, I really do. I saw him play all his games as a Bull. He showed such raw athletic ability in some of those games, it was amazing to watch. He'd get nasty dunks, boards, and swats, and could be a monster at times. But in the end, he'd have his 4pt, 3 board, 0 block games far too often to be considered a real baller. Coming back to Kemba, I think he can come into the league and score right away. Can he defend though? Can he run a team? Will he play alongside with Augustine and form a midget backcourt like the Bulls tried with BGeezy and Hinrich for years? GWS (guess we'll see)...
Hunny: Heidi Klum. I didn't want to put someone broke, so this definitely took me a while. In the end, I just went with Heidi Klum. She used to be the G.O.A.T. of all models, just like MJ used to be the G.O.A.T. of the NBA. Now MJ has literally become a GOAT of a Owner/GM/or whatever he does for the Bobcats.
Northwest - Amar P
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
In: Vik's boy Lazar Hayward (trade with Minnesota), Reggie Jackson (draft, Boston College)
Out: Byron Mullens (trade with Charlotte)
Everybody has been on Oklahoma City's nuts since they played the eventual 2010 champion Lakers extremely tough in the first round. There is absolutely no reason to get off of them now, especially since they have the league's two-time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant. KD just now turned 23 and is already going into his fifth year in the league. But they're no longer a young up-and-coming team. OKC is one of the big boys, and with that comes big boy problems -- none of which is larger than the issues we saw in the Western Conference Finals between Durant and Russell Westbrook.
This is Durant's team, and although that's for mostly Westbrook to learn, it's something that Durant has to remind Westbrook of as well. Being a more assertive leader is the next step in KD's evolution as an NBA superstar. In a superstar-driven league, a team with Durant as their best player definitely has a shot at winning it all. At 23, it's KD's time to show everyone -- especially his boy Westbrook -- who's boss.
Breakout Player: Serge Ibaka. People forget this fool was only in his second year last year. Ibaka himself just turned 22 and has already been a defensive anchor for playoff teams in his first two season. Look for Ibaka, who posted 9.9 and 7.6 in 27 minutes of burn a game, to average close to a double-double this year.
Hunny: Nicole Scherzinger. She made a huge leap last year, especially jumping up into the top 10 of FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World. She says she's traditional with good family values, kind of like this homegrown OKC team. But will the bright lights bring out the best in them, or lead them astray?
2. Portland Trail Blazers
In: Raymond Felton (trade with Denver), Jamal Crawford (free agency), Nolan Smith (draft, Duke), Kurt Thomas (free agency)
Out: Brandon Roy (retirement), Greg Oden (recurring vagina injury, out for the year), Andre Miller (trade with Denver)
Talk about the very definition of a star-crossed franchise. Just two years ago, the Blazers were an embarrassment of riches. Brandon Roy made the drafting of Kevin freaking Durant "unnecessary," Oden gave them the supposedly transcendent big man to help build around, LaMarcus Aldridge was their third best player, and guys like Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez were just rookies.
Fast forward two years. Roy's career has met a tragic end due to torn meniscus in his knees, Oden literally hasn't played a game in two years, and Aldridge is suddenly their best player. Scooping Gerald Wallace (G FORCE) at the deadline last year really helped them stay on track, seeing that Wallace himself is an All-Star and can fit into any role. Swapping Miller for Felton makes them younger and a more up-tempo team, so expect them to run a whole hell of a lot more this year. And that makes the addition of Crawford even more perfect. JC ain't B-Rabbit, but he's definitely going to give them more than B-Rabbit gave them last year (save for that sick Game 4 at the Rose Garden in the playoffs).
Breakout Player: Nicolas Batum. He's in a contract year, and Wallace has been taking a lot of his playing time. The team was close to trading Wallace to Orlando in what would have sent Dwight Howard to New Jersey, so obviously they see Batum as their franchise small forward.
Hunny: Jessica Alba. What a fall from grace for both Alba and the Blazers. Both had bright futures ravaged by herpes and injuries (respectively). Sad.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
In: Rick Adelman (coach), Ricky Rubio (overseas), Derrick Williams (draft, Arizona), JJ Barea (free agency), Brad Miller (trade with Houston), Bonzi Wells (out of nowhere)
Out: Lazar Hayward, Sebastian Telfair
The Timberwolves are not going to suck. I promise you that. There is way too much talent on this team and now a proven head coach with a more-than-satisfactory track record. It's a young team oozing with talent, and Minnesota fans (all 14 of them) should be thanking their lucky stars that their team didn't end up with the first pick. David Kahn wouldn't have been able to help himself from taking Kyrie Irving as his 9th point guard.
Instead, the TWolves ended up with Derrick Williams, who I think will make the most impact as a rookie this year. Williams and Kevin Love have the versatility to be the two forwards or even let Love slide to center while DW plays the four. Ricky Rubio has been dubbed the future of the franchise (but that future may be for like the next two weeks, considering Kahn's sick and twisted obsession with point guards). It will be interesting to see what he does with this talent, which also includes former second overall pick Michael Beasley. It's a team loaded with talent.
Breakout Player: Wesley Johnson. I'm going to go ahead and assume that this dude plays the majority of the minutes at the two with the logjam at the 3 between Williams and Beasley. The guess here is that he'll hold it down and make a huge jump from last year, when he averaged 9.0 ppg on sub-40 percent shooting.
Hunny: Kristen Wiig. I always knew there was something about her when I first saw her on Saturday Night Live a few years back. She'll be going places in a few years after laying a good foundation (uhh) at SNL. The Wolves are doing the same.
4. Denver Nuggets
In: Andre Miller (trade with Portland), Kenneth Faried (draft, Morehead State), Jordan Hamilton (draft, Texas), Rudy Fernandez (trade with Dallas), Corey Brewer (trade with Dallas)
Out: Raymond Felton (trade with Portland), Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, and Wilson Chandler (stuck in China...idiots).
It figures that the ultimate thug team has guys that just didn't care if the lockout ended in time before taking off for China, then being blindsided with the CBA resolution. But here's the deal: the NBA is a superstar league. Carmelo Anthony may have been the best player in this franchise's history (and that's saying a whole hell of a lot more than you would think, seeing that Alex English and David Thompson once donned the ultra-ugly and unflattering depiction of the Denver skyline across their respective chests...and not to mention Dikembe). He doesn't have a lot of the franchise records, but that's because he was lucky enough to have the option in this day and age to not spend his entire career in Denver.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, it's going to be hard to replace him. This cast of Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, Nene, Arron Afflalo, and WIlson Chandler (he'll be back by February but he'll be a restricted free agent) would be an exceptional supporting cast to put around a superstar. But in the NBA, you're only as good as your best player. Who's Denver's best dude? Gallo? Nene? Any All-Stars in this bunch? Nope.
Breakout Player: Timofey Mozgov. The Knicks were reluctant to part with this young Russian center in the Melo deal last February, and they had good reason. In the end, he's not enough to say no to Melo, but he'll realize his potential playing on a young team with a myriad of so-so stars. (Honorable mention: Kenneth Faried)
Hunny: Angelina Jolie. Hot once upon a time. Thinks she's still got it with those thick massive lips, but she doesn't. Sorry. Melo's gone to greener pastures.
5. Utah Jazz
In: Jamaal Tinsley (D-league), Josh Howard (free agency), Enes Kanter (draft, *Kentucky), Alec Burks (draft, Colorado),
Out: Ronnie Price (free agency)
What has traditionally been one of the whitest -- if not the whitest -- franchises in NBA history has officially started going the mav route. There is a lot of young talent on this team after the squad committed highway robbery on the New Jersey Nets in the Deron Williams trade. Despite what will be an uphill season in a tough division, they're still much better off than the very Nets team they sent D-Will to.
Think about it: Derrick Favors was last year's #3 pick. Enes Kanter is this year's #3 pick. Both came from Jersey. Devin Harris is still in the prime of his career. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will help this franchise keep its long-standing reputation as being one of the most physical teams in the league, but they're going through the same thing as the aforementioned Nuggets. Who is their best player? Who is their All-Star? All these toys would be nice to put around a franchise player like Williams, but they're just a bunch of scattered parts without a nucleus. I'm sure Jerry Sloan will find a way to make it all work out though. Oh, wait.
Breakout Player: Derrick Favors. I loved this fool when he was coming out of Georgia Tech in 2010. Give the cat some burn this year, please. Especially since they will suck and suck bad.
Hunny: Brittney Spears. Her best days are clearly behind her. But a newer approach now that she's officially in her 30s (damn I feel old as FUCK) could help her bring back that past glory.
Pacific - by RP
1. Los Angeles Clippers
In: Chris Paul - This is gonna be fun.
Chauncey Billups - Nice to have a veteran who's won around all the youth.
Caron Butler - Looks like he'll be a nice fit.
Out: Eric Gordon - Great player, but the Clips had to make the move.
Al-Farouq Aminu - Collateral damage.
Did they give up too much? Only time will tell, but this just may be the most exciting team our league has ever seen. Lob City may need one more big for depth. Reggie Evans hasn't quite signed yet, but he'd be a nice add. Another need is a big guard. With CP3, Billups, @MoGotti25, Randy Foye and Eric Bledsoe, that's 5 small guards. Look for somebody to be moved. Hopefully not my boy, Mo. The great equalizer will be on the defensive end. Will they be able to compete at the highest level come playoff time?
Breakout Player: DeAndre Jordan - CP3 might turn him into an All-Star.
Hunny: Rosie Huntington-Whitely - Has everything you could ever want. Youth, talent, curb appeal...
2. Los Angeles Lakers
In: Josh McRoberts?!?
Out: Lamar Odom - What a shame?
They really got screwed over by the vetoed trade. Talk about salt in the wounds with CP3 ending up in the locker room next door AND losing Odom for nothing. On the bright side, Bynum looked really good in the second preseason game and was pretty much destroying DeAndre Jordan with an array of post moves. Hopefully this is the season he can stay healthy. Realistically, it'll be a rough season for the Lake Show.
Breakout Player: Andrew Bynum - Staying healthy is half the battle.
Hunny: Jennifer Anniston - Old and battered, but they'll always have the past to look back on.
3. Golden State Warriors
In: Klay Thompson - The better son of Mychal.
Kwame Brown - Must be nice to be 6'11" and built like a house.
Dominic McGuire - One of the more nondescript dudes in the league.
Out: Jeremy Lin - At least he'll have his Harvard education to fall back on.
Tons of fun to watch, but not sure how much substance in the Curry/Ellis combo. They just don't guard anybody. It'll be interesting to see how long the charade continues. I know new coach, Mark Jackson, wants them to play defense. It just really isn't a team constructed to do so. Look for more games in the 120s and a sub-.500 record.
Breakout Player: Stephen Curry - Can he make the leap to the next echelon of stars?
Hunny: Megan Fox - Easy on the eyes, but little substance.
4. Sacramento Kings
In: Jimmer Fredette - Look for him to prove the haters wrong all season long.
JJ Hickson - The former cornerstone of the Cavaliers franchise is a nice add.
John Salmons - Gives them a proven scorer at the 3.
Out:Omri Casspi - Nice player, but the trade should help both teams.
Key ingredient they are missing is experience. Loads of talent at every position and depth, to boot. It'll be interesting to see the dynamic between Tyreke and Jimmer, as they may be the most opposite backcourt tandem in the league. Boogie and Heezy up front are going to be a force. One of the better young combos around. Another fun team, but they'll need to learn how to win.
Breakout Player - DeMarcus Cousins - Force of nature. Just has to keep his head on right.
Hunny: Sarah Hyland - Love her. Like the Kings, she is on the cusp.
5. Phoenix Suns
In: Markieff Morris - How will be fare without his bro? Maybe he and Robin Lopez can bond as orphaned twins.
Sebastian Telfair - Shout out to Coney Island.
Out:Mickael Pietrus - Nice player, but not a difference maker.
Vince Carter - Eh.
I think we can all agree in hoping that Nash is freed from his personal purgatory. Too great of a player and nce gy to end his career in a losing situation. There really isn't much to say about this team. They need to be blown up, plain and simple. Deprssn.
Breakout Player: Jared Dudley - Got in phenomenal shape during the lockout.
Hunny: Cindy Crawford - Well past their respective primes.
Southwest - by Amar P
1. Memphis Grizzlies
In: Nobody really, but the huge re-signing of Marc Gasol (four years, $57 million) and the return from injury for Rudy Gay are definitely worth mentioning
Out: Shane Battier (free agency, Miami)
In a league dominated by big cities, big markets, bright lights, and stars fleeing for a larger metropolis, the Grizzlies are definitely the little engine that could. Like Oklahoma City, Memphis has stockpiled a TON of talent through the draft lottery and shrewd trades. Nobody saw the rebirth of Zach Randolph's career coming the way it did, but this guy is suddenly playing the best basketball of his career -- by far. Forget Rudy Gay or O.J. Mayo. This is clearly ZBo's team, and he and Gasol complement each other perfectly up front.
The one question lingering around this team is the future of O.J. Mayo. They all but had him sent to Indiana in a trade deadline deal, but the fact that the paperwork didn't get to the league office in time kept Mayo in Memphis. Talk about counting your lucky stars; without Mayo, the Grizz don't pull off a massive upset of San Antonio in the first round and then push OKC to seven games in the most entertaining series of the entire Western Conference playoffs. The Grizzlies can't have those kinds of distractions this season if they plan on building off of a great 2011 postseason run.
Breakout Player: Sam Young. I really wanted my Cavs to draft this guy with the 30th pick in 2009 (but ahhh let's get Christian Eyenga instead...brilliant). He hasn't disappointed in Memphis, and his development as a great "glue" guy off the bench may have been what made the 33-year old Battier expendable. A lot of veteran savvy for a guy only entering his third year.
Hunny: Carrie Underwood. From unknown to American Idol (Spurs series) to now the spotlight. Are they capable of topping the extremely high standards they have each set for themselves?
2. San Antonio Spurs
In: Kawhi Leonard (draft, San Diego State), T.J. Ford (free agency)
Out: Antonio McDyess (retirement), George Hill (trade, Indiana)
It looks like the Spurs have arrived at the end of the road in their tenure as perennial title contenders. Now, they will be the team that is "just there." You know they'll be in the playoffs, but they won't make any noise whatsoever. Credit their blue chip front office for trying to infuse some young talent into this roster (such as Leonard, who was projected as a top five pick by some in last June's draft), but that embarrassing first round loss to the Grizzlies after posting 61 wins really sealed the end of their title-contending days in the Tim Duncan era.
Not that you should be feeling sorry for them. They raised four banners over a nine-year period with Duncan as their franchise player, one of the best runs by any one franchise in NBA history (and maybe the best ever by any not named the "Bulls," "Lakers," or "Celtics"). The Spurs needed to bottom out as a 60-loss team in '97 when Robinson got hurt in order to land Duncan, and unfortunately for R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich, that's what it will take to transition into a new era of Spurs basketball.
Breakout Player: Tiago Splitter. After being stashed away overseas for a few years, Splitter -- a 2007 late first-rounder from Brazil -- finally got some burn last year. The 26-year old should do nothing but improve, and look for him to become a key rotational player for the Spurs this year.
Hunny: Catherine Zeta-Jones. Both had glorious runs over the last decade. Purists definitely appreciate both to this day.
3. Dallas Mavericks
In: Lamar Odom (trade, Lakers), Vince Carter (free agency)
Out: Tyson Chandler (free agency, New York), J.J. Barea (free agency, Minnesota), Caron Butler (free agency, Clippers)
It's commonplace for these previews to always push for a repeat of the previous year's champ. Not only is that the easy way out, but it's a cop out. You won't find that here of course, but that's not the reason these Mavs are not being given a legitimate shot at even getting back to the Finals. Dirk Nowitzki is 33, Mark Cuban is making a push to clear cap space for 2012, Jason Kidd is on the brink of receiving Social Security checks, and this team is a shell of the team that took Miami to the woodshed last June.
Chandler's absence alone will make this team a good five games worse (at least) than it was last year. It can be argued that TC was the second best player on the Mavericks behind Dirk in last year's Finals, and he still may have a starring role to this day in LeBron James' nightmares. Without Chandler, and with most of their nucleus on the wrong side of 30 (Nowitzki, Kidd, Terry, Odom, Marion, Carter, Haywood all geezers), I don't expect Dallas to make any noise whatsoever when the chips are down come April and May. And don't even mention June...the 2012 Mavericks will have no business even dreaming about that month anymore.
Breakout Player: Ian Mahinmi. Tough to choose a "breakout" player on a team that's as old as Dallas, but Mahinmi really had a presence in the Finals last year. The 25-year old center from France should get some more burn with Chandler out. But those will be very large shoes to fill.
Hunny: Brandi Chastain. She had her one moment in the sun that we will all remember her for, and she did the country a great public service just like the 2011 Mavericks did. Alas, those days are done, and now it is what it is.
4. Houston Rockets
In: Kevin McHale (coach), Jonny Flynn (trade, Minnesota), Jeremy Lin (free agency), couple of mid-round draft picks in a very draft pick that nobody cares about
Out: Yao Ming (retirement), Rick Adelman (coach, Minnesota), Chuck Hayes (free agency, Sacramento)
Another star-crossed franchise in the mold of the Portland Trail Blazers (ok, fine: at least the Rox have 'chips that we can actually remember them winning). But this was supposed to be a team built around the dynamic duo of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Oh, what could have been. Now, in 2011, Yao is retired for good because of injury issues while injuries have made T-Mac a shell of what he used to be.
These Rockets were on the fast track to relevancy when they thought they had scooped Pau Gasol in a trade that should have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. Alas, that fell through, and the strong, physical group that pushed the 65-win Lakers to seven games in 2009 is a distant memory. Chucker Kevin Martin may be their best player, and the team may have a diamond in the rough with former 2009 draft bust Hasheem Thabeet in the mix. Still, this is a team that should be gunning to acquire a new franchise cornerstone in what will be a loaded 2012 draft class.
Breakout Player: Chase Budinger. Has improved slightly over his first two years, but getting big minutes at the three should allow him to average double digit points and shoulder the scoring load on many nights. (Yes, this is the plight of your 2011-12 Houston Rockets. Chase Budinger shouldering the scoring load -- on any night).
Hunny: Mariska Hargitay. I don't know, I thought she was headed for huge things back in the day with Law and Order SVU. Now that the show is on the verge of jumping the shark, I don't know. She's just...there.
5. New Orleans Hornets
In: Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, and Al-Farouq Aminu (trade, Clippers),
Out: Chris Paul (trade, Clippers), David West (free agency, Indiana), Peja Stojakovic (retirement),
Just look at the guys New Orleans has lost this offseason, and you'll realize why they're a prime candidate for the first pick in next June's draft. You just don't replace a guy like CP3. You just don't. You can trade for like 3-4 guys to replace the scoring of a Carmelo Anthony, but CP3 is a different story. Not only that, but the Hornets also lost David West, who combined with Paul to form a dangerous 1-2 punch.
Now, all that's left is Emeka Okafor a scoring machine Eric Gordon from L.A. Hey, that MAY be enough to jump to fourth in this division and dump Houston to the basement, but when that's your ceiling, that's just SAD, fo.
Breakout Player: Eric Gordon. The prize compensation of the CP3 trade is only entering his third season out of Indiana, and he should be a good piece to rebuild around along with Okafor. Look for him to be one of the trademark "stat padders on a horrific team" in 2011-12.
Hunny: Christina Aguilera. I don't know, she wasn't really that great even in her hey day. Now she's kind of trying to make a come back but she still doesn't matter.
Thanks for checking this out. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will all be giving our predictions/ awards on the upcoming season. It will be posted tomorrow.