Tuesday, December 20, 2005

An NBA Carol

The television flickered in the dim twilight of my living room. Another evening at home, denying the wintery forces at work outside my window. An empty Styrofoam container on the coffee table, the remains of my Jamaican takeout, and the sports page, tattered and read over multiple times, were the only signs of life on this particular night.

The droning of the television made me sleepy and I could hardly keep my eyes open as Reggie Miller tried to make a December matchup between the Raptors and Bucks bearable. His voice seemed to hypnotize me as I sat slouched on the sofa with a scowl and drooping eyelids.

Rafael Araujo foul…..T.J. Ford missed shot….Jamaal Magloire offensive board….T.J. Ford misses again…..Calderon on the break dishes to Mo Pete…..turnover…..Michael Redd feeds Bogut in the post…..another Araujo foul….zzzzzzzzzzzzzz


I suddenly awoke to a horrible caterwauling. My head on a swivel, and my eyes darting around the room, I shook in terror. What was that awful racket? I grimaced and shrank where I sat as I realized the horrible din of Stephen A. Smith’s mighty and idiotic ranting. Click. Off with the television. I mumbled to myself, “The NBA sucks….bah, humbug.”

The clock struck twelve and I stirred slightly in my sleep. Several hours of contorted sleep had left me twisted and even grumpier than before. I rubbed my eyes and forced myself upright on the couch again. Half asleep and foul as filth, I stared bitterly at the now silent television. All that remained of my unpleasant night of NBA “entertainment” was a haunting flashback of Bill Walton’s face smirking and babbling unintelligibly.


The television suddenly came to life. After a brief hum and a dull blue glow, a blurred and ghostly image emerged. I pinched myself to see if I was completely awake. Seemed to be. A face appeared, giving shape to the apparition. In my confusion I initially mistook this countenance as the likeness of former Bulls GM Jerry Krause, but soon realized that it was a far ghastlier and sinister visage. It was none other than the ghost of David Stern!

“What’s your problem with my league?”, he uttered cheerfully, with a slight sense of condescension in his voice.

I sat dumbfounded.

“What’s not to like about an internationally popular product? The finest athletes in the world competing in some of the most exciting cities in the United States.”

Was he speaking to me?

“Yes. Mr. East. It’s to you that I’m posing this inquiry. What’s not to like about highlight reel plays, and great musical acts, all under the same roof, and in your living room every night?”

“Are you fucking kidding me?”, I retorted, “You call those guys the finest athletes in the world? You call Charlotte, North Carolina, Salt Lake City, and Milwaukee some of the most exciting cities in the world? You’re on something, man.”

“Hmmmm. You can please all of the people all of the time.”

“You know what Sterny-boy? That’s your problem.” I added, “ You are trying to please all the people, all the time. No one who loves this sport could give two shits about Nelly at halftime, or what the players are wearing entering and leaving the arena. Most of all, no one cares about half the so-called teams you trot out there passing for competitive franchises. Your game plain sucks. Bah humbug.”

Stern’s forehead wrinkled and he paused for a moment shaking his head. “You are a lost soul, Mr. East. You ask for too much. The start of the NBA season is a time to appreciate what you have. You have lost your sense of what this league means to millions of people all over the world. What would your winter be like without the glorious NBA? You shall soon find out….You will find new hope and a chance for redemption tonight.”

I guffawed. Yeah, right.

"You will be haunted," resumed the ghost of Stern, "by Three Spirits."

My countenance fell almost as low as the ghost's had done.

"Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Davey Boy?" I demanded, in a faltering voice.

"It is."

"I -- I think I'd rather not," I said.

"Without their visits," said the ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path of apathy. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls one."

"Couldn't I take `em all at once, and have it over, Sterno?" I hinted.

"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!"

A horrible day of waiting followed. Coffee tasted bland and stale. All the newsstands seemed sold out of the new edition, and a bitter wind burned my face, taunting me. I could swear that it spoke…..”Yes! And it counts!!”, and “Oh….a spectacular move by Michael Jordan.” Could I be hallucinating?

As the moments drew near to one, I sleepily settled into my favorite armchair. “Ha. There are no ghosts and there was definitely something funny in that Jamaican takeout yesterday.” I said to myself.

The clock struck one and a mist rose from the floor at my feet. I shuddered and begged for forgiveness as a full bodied spirit sprang from the mist. My terror was instantly replaced by a feeling of whimsy. I don’t often get “whimsy” but I can’t explain it any differently, so live with it.

A man stood before me, in monochrome black and white. He wore leather kneepads and extremely short shorts. Clearly he was something out of the “cager” era of basketball and a living monument to the set shot and the three-man weave.

“Hey. What’s with the Nancy-boy outfit.”, I offered mockingly.

BLOW!!!! A solid punch to the jaw sent me reeling. CRASH!!! Another elbow to the chin had me seeing stars.

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. East. I’m the Ghost of NBA Past. A member of the “Original Celtics” club. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about, or has you mind been so rotted by MTV and Miller Lite that your are unable to recall anything beyond 10 minutes of your most recent history.”

Fearing another violent reprisal I remained seated on the floor rubbing my jaw. “I follow you well enough tough guy. What are you here for?”

“Well, you long for a better brand of basketball, and I’m here to bring it to you, lad. Let’s take a look at basketball in my day, and you’ll learn a thing or two about the real meaning of the NBA.”

The television came to life with a sepia glow and I watched transfixed as barnstorming white guys in hot pants bobbed and weaved like chickens. Underhanded free throws and bountiful chest passes abounded and I grew dizzy from watching.

“What the fuck do you call that mess?”, I asked.

POW!!! Another solid shot to the nose. I reeled, but I saw that one coming and managed to take the punch like a man. A little blood trickled from my nose and I sneered at the ghost for a moment.

“You’re trying to tell me that I should appreciate that crap?”, I asked. “I’m sorry. No disrespect intended, but I was thinking a little more about the Clyde Frazier Knicks when I pined for an era of basketball lost in the past. Not you lot of dinosaurs and your shorts with belts. Begone! Bah humbug!”, I shouted.

“Very well”, said the ghost, “perhaps the next ghost will snap you out of your stupor”

And with that, he was gone.

The next night, the mist rose again, and I wondered what horror awaited me. The sight of hoop-themed ghouls was becoming old hat and it was going to take more than a dusty old cager to rattle me tonight.

“YO!!! Don’t you eyeball me mother fucker!!!”

I fell to the ground shivering as a full 7 foot terror loomed above me. It’s face was turned into a horrible screw and darts shot from it’s eyes pinning me to the floor.

“Yeah, boy. Stay down there and show me some mother fuckin’ respect.”

My eyes peeked upward to take a closer look at the giant. I noticed a terri cloth headband around the beast’s head, and realized that I was being visited by a foul and wretched likeness of Clifford Robinson. Yup, Uncle Cliffy was in the house.

Fear having been replaced by admiration and respect I stood.

“Wow. Uncle Cliffy in my living room. The NBA is fantastic after all!” I beamed.

“Glad to see your sorry ass is coming around.”, he answered.

“Well, I wouldn’t say I’m coming around, but I am wondering what you of all people are doing here.”

Cliff reared back and laughed maniacally. He rubbed his chin and answered, “ I am the last living player from the 1980’s, Mr. East. I am all that’s left of Showtime.”

With that, the two of us shared some wicked Jamaican takeout and watched highlights of the 1987 Finals between the Lakers and the Celtics. I had started to come around to the league a bit, when Cliffy chimed in, “Y’know what, man? I’m getting’ real tired of hearing your pissing and moaning about watered down leagues and expansion crazy commissioners. Can’t you let more of us get ours, man?”

I thought for a moment before saying, “You have a point Uncle C, but here’s the thing. I’d rather see Chris Paul paired with Paul Pierce and Dwight Howard than divided between a bunch of shit ass teams. If it means that you are out of a job a few years earlier so be it.”

Cliff frowned and rose up again. He scowled and shook. “You are a jaded and spiteful fan, Mr. East. What have we done over all these years to have you treat us so unappreciatively? Perhaps Commissioner Stern is right. It’s too late for you. Only the last ghost will have a chance to redeem you.”

With that he was gone.

I spent the next 24 hours contemplating my stance on the league. Uncle Cliffy had a point. The weird old cager also showed me that the current game is far more watchable than whatever that game was they used to call basketball when Dr. Naismith hung the peach basket on the wall.

Time flew and the mist once again rose……the final ghost was a face I didn’t recognize and I swiftly introduced myself.

“I’m Mr. East. Who the Hell are you?”

“Heh. You don’t know me yet son, but you’d better watch your tongue or I’ll make sure this NBA experience is your last. I am the final ghost after all. Your last chance. The ghost of NBA future. You can call me O.J. Mayo, point guard of the future.”

“Ooooh.”, I actually said out loud. I have a weakness for a good point guard. “Tell me O.J., what is in store for the league in the future that I should be all excited about?”

The apparition paused and smirked. He laughed to himself a bit and finally replied, “Me. You should be excited about me you punk ass bitch. I’m the future. Like it or leave it. I run, shoot, pass, and play defense. The league is filled with guys like me and the game is producing ballers from all corners of the world. Stick with this game, or miss out on all the fun.”

I had to ask one more time, “What about the teams in all the shitty towns around the US? What about the halftime shows and the corporate sell out shit? What about the guys that only come to play in their contract years? What does it all mean O.J.”

The ghost again smirked and then shrugged his shoulders. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. The thing is, isn’t it all worth it? All the circus shit? Isn’t that what sells papers and keeps you writing your blog? Think about a future without all that….”

And with that, he was gone.

Dawn came and I still had no answer. Unlike Scrooge, I was not transformed. Would I be damned to an eternity of apathy? Perhaps not. I managed to pick up the remote and catch the pre-game show on TNT. Why not? I hear the Nets are on and Uncle Cliffy just might get some burn.

Merry Christmas and God Bless Us All……Everyone…..

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Check out the gams on Kobe!

Do you remember the ad Joe Namath did wearing pantyhose? Well...

Can any one of you tell me what the f&^% is up with the tights Kobe is wearing this year? And what's with the wacky acid trip kicks he's sporting? Has he lost his f*%^&ing mind? He looks like one of those guys you see out on Melrose or at the Promenade near Santa Monica pier. His shoes look like roller blades and those tights are like crazy man pants. He should be selling oranges and shouting incoherently at people passing by......

Basically, he's the NBA's fashion equivalent of "The Dude" from The Big Lebowski.

Mr. East

I'm not sure what Mr. East's fucking problem with Kobe's sassy leggings is, but I suspect it has to do with a traumatic experience he had with an 8th grade field trip to see Cats.

Growing up in the 70's and 80's, if some dude was sporting tights like this you'd basically figure him to be slightly retarded or running late to ballet. At some point in the early 90's, around the time dudes started to shave all their body hair and put mousse in their hair on a regular basis, athletes started rocking tights now and then as a sign of sports excellence. But this was mainly runners and fringe sports. Soon, though, as mainstream sports athletes started to adopt the workouts and styles of cutting edge sports, they embraced the tights. But basketball? That shit is fucked up.

Kobe is a bitch, we all agree on that, right? A psychologist could most likely easily diagnose his marriage at age 21 rather than playing the field as any man in his right mind would do in that situation, rape/assault/dirty fuck of a girl in Colorado, and now sporting tights as obvious sexuality issues as he struggles to be a "man." He wants so badly to be Jordan but just does not get it-- Kobe is an unlikable asshole.

How the hell one can ball in tights is beyond me. I suspect the real reasons why Kobe sports the spandex look are two-fold: 1) he played well in them once and players believe they will keep playing well if they adhere to sticking to the same routine; and 2) he wants to draw attention to himself and hopefully spark a new trend that he can claim he started. Uh, not gonna happen, Kobe.

I just wonder how the NBA dress code fines Kyle Korver tons of $$$ but lets Kobe wear tights? I guess that’s corporate bureaucracy for ya’.

Mr. West

Saturday, November 26, 2005

UNLV Memories

In college, my best friend and I used to stay up nights talking about general bullshit all the time. You know...stuff like, "What ever happened to Dwayne "Pearl" Washington?" We found out he was a UPS deliveryman after bouncing out of the NBA. At least that was the rumor. Looking for him on the internet now, all you find is fat jokes.

It's easy to pick those former NCAA stars, who seemed so great in their salad days, and wonder what went wrong? Some of them made the NBA and others simply faded into obscurity. I always thought Billy Owens should have been an NBA All-Star. I guess he just didn't care enough.

This article was inspired by the kind of thinking I just described. I was sitting at home, looking at an NBA box score when the name Stacey Augmon appeared. I thought to myself, "Stacey Augmon is still in the league? I haven't seen an Augmon highlight, or read his name in any game recap for years. I'll have to look into this..."

Sure enough Stacey Augmon is still an NBA player. Unlike the Billy Owens and Todd Days of the world, Augmon has stuck with it. Ironically, Stacey Orlando Augmon is now a member of the Orlando Magic. After spending his first 5 seasons with Atlanta, averaging double figures, he plummetted to average about 4.5 points per game over the next 11 seasons. For a man that was on top of the NCAA world, and a promising athletic small forward playing 30 minutes a night, how did he fall off so far, so fast? Why did he decide to hang around for 11 seasons as a shadow of his younger self?

Honestly, I don't understand it...but I admire it. What could possibly be better than playing on an NBA team? Yeah, he warms the bench most nights. He's a regular DNP-Coach's Decision, but I bet he busts his ass in practice. As I ponder the strange story of Stacey Augmon, I think about the great UNLV Runnin' Rebels team of the early 90's. Jerry Tarkanian's boys. That swaggering, point-shaving, cast of colorful characters that played on top of the world in Sin City, USA. Where are they now?

The man on that squad was none other than Grandmama himself, Larry Johnson. He was a ferocious power player that could drain the college three, and scramble across the court terrorizing oppents in the "amoeba defense"...Tarkanian's punishing pressure defense. LJ's story is famous. He was the most successful pro to emerge from the bunch and there's no need to get into his accomplishments. I'm more interested in the other guys....

The starting 5 on that team, in addition to LJ and Augmon, rounded out with Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt, and a combination of George Ackles and David Butler at center. Greg Anthony was a draft pick of the New York Knicks, and played a solid NBA career for a number of teams. He's an intelligent guy by all accounts and I enjoy his commentary on the league for ESPN. For all the fame he achieved as a member of the Runnin' Rebs, and for all the games he played in the league, my favorite moment by far was his sucker punch on Kevin Johnson while wearing his pajamas.

Anderson Hunt is a sad story. The guy was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player in 1990 and went on to have another solid season in 1991, when the team lost one game all season...to Duke in the semi-final game. Someone told him he could be an NBA player and he went early-entry. That's the last we heard of Anderson Hunt from a basketball standpoint. He went undrafted by the NBA, and went in the CBA's 2nd round to the LaCrosse franchise as the 25th overall pick. Ouch. I tried to see if Hunt played in Europe or got into coaching, but the only thing I can find about him on the net is his 1993 arrest for marijuana possession at a traffic stop, and a 2002 attempted embezzlement arrest for which he was subsequently senteced to probation.

George Butler was drafted by the CBA in 1990 and played for the Rapid City franchise. Ackles was drafted by the Miami Heat in the 2nd Round of the same season, but never played a game in the show. Instead, Ackles played in Lebanon for the Beirut franchise, but returned home after a bombing scared some sense into him. He has spent a number of years playing for the Las Vegas Silver Bandits of the International League.

The other player of note on that club was Moses Scurry. He was an energizing sixth man for the Rebs that never missed a chance to scream bloody murder after grabbing a rebound. He was like a banshee. Along with Anderson Hunt and Butler he was also caught in a hot tub with notorious cheat Richard "Richie the Fixer" Perry. Ah, the good old days.....Scurry signed on with the Las Vegas Silver Bullets in the late 90's to play alongside Ackles. I don't know where he is now, but I bet he's noisy as hell.

There are others that I looked up, but honestly none of them are all that interesting. They had no pro prospects and most of them ended up in business or working for hotels and casinos in Vegas....imagine that. The legacy of that team will continue, and I won't forget the run they had over 2 years while I, too, was a college student.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


What's the over/under on how many games Marcus Camby plays this year?

I think 62 is a good number. Him playing in 75% of the games for Kiki's Nuggets sounds like a good year for the Candyman. Of course, him already outlasting Nene and K-Mart in terms of games played is a major psychological victory for Camby. Man, are the Nuggets gonna be hurting when (not if) he goes down.

Here is a bet for Mr. East: An old school Sonics hoops card says that I can predict Camby's number of played games better than you. I think he will appear in 62 games.

Somehow this whole thing is too good to be true. How does that trade for Antonio McDyess look now? Actually, it looks good for both guys. McDyess got a championship in Detroit eventually, and Camby is the best player in the league this year. Ugh.

The Nuggets are a pretty good team so far. If Camby goes down they will die. In light of that very delicate proposition, Kiki should be feeding Camby beer and massaging him like Kobe Beef.

I'll go out on a limb and predict that somehow the guy will play in 76 games this year and surprise everyone. He can't possibly keep up the pace he's at now, but he could be a 2nd Team All-NBAer if he stays healthy.

Mr. West: If I'm right you owe me an old school Charles Oakley Knicks card....(by the way....you're getting a Michael Cage with Jerry Curl card if you're right).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Will Choke for Food

Latrell Sprewell . Poor Spree, my heart goes out to him. Granted, my heart is stuck in the Knick season when they made it to the Finals and he appeared in And 1 ads as an “American Hero,” but I like the guy. Until Mr. East proposed we explore Latrell’s options, the last I had thought him was this summer when someone offered my the spinning rim version of his sneaker to use in a pick0up game….I shed a tear that day.

Good options for Spree and the team he plays for:

Phoenix Suns- Hell, the Suns were ideal for Spree of 8 years ago. So why not take a 2005 version anyway as a bench player who can score? He can pull up and hit better than James “I’m no Q Richardson” Jones. The Suns need scorers who can do a little everything and Spree has that in him. Plus, he can now pretend to play defense and that is accepted by everyone since it’s the Suns system. Plus Phoenix fans are ambivalent about everything so no bad local press.

Sacramento Kings- Sacto used to be deep but now they are rail thin. Go ahead and name their bench, please. Good luck. Enter Spree. The Kings need to score and Spree can kinda do that. Plus he has some savvy vet skills the youngsters on the pine need to know. And if they took Bonzi they can tolerate Spree. Finally, Sacto fans live on an island where they love the Kings no matter what they will embrace his ass.

Real bad options for Spree and the team he plays for:

Houston Rockets- Oh, I think I’ve read some rumors of Van Gundy reaching out to Spree and his cornrow mullet. Someone better cap that shit before it makes us all look silly. The Rockets already have too many shooters with limited extras who fill holes when McGrady is hurt. Spree would make them all cringe in horror. Plus he very well might offend Yao 1,800 ways to Sunday … wait, maybe it is a good idea for the Rockets to get Spree to bring out the monster in Yao.

Atlanta Hawks- So supposedly Latrell said he’d like to play in Atlanta. I bet that just warmed Joe Johnson’s heart. Plus about 6 other young dudes on that squad looking for PT. Atlanta may ballsuck their way through this season but at least no useless veterans are spinning their wheels. Our main man Latrell sees a crappy team and thinks “hey, they suck, I can get some run there,” a la Kendall Gill in NJ in the late 90’s. No thanks, Latrell, they suck enough on their own.

I have to agree with Mr. West on the Phoenix thing. Spree has lost a step and can’t play for a team that spends it’s offensive minutes in the half court. He also can’t defend the half court as well as he once did. On Phoenix that doesn’t matter. But, I won’t ride the coattails on this pick. Instead I’ll try my hand at a couple of other teams.

Good options for Spree and the team he plays for:

Washington Bullets- Yeah. I know. But Mr. West has me on the “Bullets” kick. Good call. Spree fits here to me. The Bullets are a team without a half court heavy offense, a thin rotation, and a need at shooting guard. Caron Butler is a 3, Antonio Daniels is a point guard, and the rest of the guys are bench material. The team isn’t so young that you need to worry about Latrell stealing time from a developing player, and he may actually bring you the extra toughness to get into the playoffs and win a round. Not that he’s going to do it by himself, but he’s kind of an electric enforcer personality that knows how to get to the rim, run the floor, and compliment Gilbert Arenas. How about a reunion of former Golden State players? Gil, Spree, and Antawn together in DC.

Dallas Mavericks- This is a team on a slow decline. I think they’re still good, but they are clearly the 3rd team in Texas now. No Nash. No Finley. Howard and Daniels are still inconsistent and incomplete players. Terry runs hot and cold. Enter Sprewell. Can’t you just see him chest-bumping Mark Cuban after big wins? That’s a match made in heaven. Cuban would probably think it was cool if Spree choked him. Toughness to go alongside Dirk, and a lot of pressure to produce would be lifted from the young guys. I think they’d actually thrive without the spotlight and responsibility on their shoulders.

Real bad options for Spree and the team he plays for:

Utah Jazz- At first I thought this was a great match. I almost made it one of my “good match” teams until I sobered up. Spree would get choked by Sloan, or he’d choke Carlos Boozer before he played 10 games. Sloan would call him out for dogging it, or dominating the ball and Spree would say, “Fuck you.” Sloan would beat him into the floor and all that would be left would be a bloody mess topped by cornrows. The other scenario would be Boozer in street clothes catching the ire of Spree. Spree would call Boozer a pussy, Boozer would say, “Fuck you.”, and all that would be left would be a bloody mess topped by chest hair. Forget Utah.

Toronto Raptors- As much as I’d like to see a starting 5 of Calderon, Spree, Rose, Villanueva, and Bosh re-enacting the 1991 Denver Nuggets, I think it would be too much to bear seeing Spree’s cornrows flowing in the breeze as he streaked down court wearing a purple dinosaur on his chest. Kind of a Bone, Thugs, and Harmony acid trip featuring Barney. By the way, do you remember the Paul Westhead Nuggets? Michael Adams with 26 and 11 assists per game? Orlando Woolridge dropping 25 night in and night out. Not pretty.

Good luck Latrell.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Phil Jackson's a Bum

As if there weren't enough reasons to hate the Lakers. As if Kobe Bryant's arrogant, rapist, poser, ball hog persona didn't do in the Lakers all by itself. Phil Jackson's egomaniacal, holier than thou, poser, over the hill attitude just adds fuel to the fire.

Scoop Jackson wrote an amazing piece the other day about Phil "McCrackin" Jackson on ESPN.com's Page 2. The comments that the Lakers' coach has made in recent years about hip hop and prison mentality have gone largely unchallenged by the mainstream press. Scoop rips Jackson a new asshole. Read and enjoy!

Mr. East

Fantasy Dicks

I was browsing the "new" NBA website recently and they've definitely stepped up their fantasy section this season. They almost ignored fantasy for a long time, but with the Yahoo league success it seems like they couldn't afford to get scooped on their own league anymore.

They imported a lot of blog guys to be their "experts" and there are more than a few names floating around at NBA.com from the small-ish fantasy blogs that I used to read. Looks like they get their 15 minutes of broadband fame after anonymously hacking out fantasy opinions for a few years.
The biggest dicks by far, that MUST be mocked hard at East versus West, are NBA.com's Rick Kamla and formerly respectable Matthew Berry of The Talented Mr. Roto. If you click here and look in the right hand margin, you'll see a section called "Resource Center". In that section there's a link to "NBA TV Previews". Watch all four 10 minute segments when you get a chance and tell me that you don't want to kill both of these guys.

Berry is actually smart. He has an idea. The PGs and PFs strategy that Mr. West employs is his mainstay and he actually knows his shit. He's just a regular slob that is way too into Fantasy Basketball like us. Too bad he's trying to polish his turd ass image to fit into the NBA "thing". He sounds like every other "too clever for his own good" SportsCenter host without the suit and the bad haircut.

The 1st person I will feed to alligators in life will be Rick Kamla. First, he doesn't know shit about fantasy hoops. He's the dickhead that picks Steve Francis with the 6th pick because he was a student at U of Maryland when Francis was playing there.....you know what I mean. He also fake laughs at everything Berry says, AND at everything he says himself. He puts on that SportsCenter voice like he's a legit broadcaster and like his opinion is worth two shits. He's the annoying guy that shows up once a month at the weekly hoops game and argues about everything. As I said, I will make him reptile bait.

Anyway, watch the segments. The info that Mr. Roto gives is decent, if annoying (He LOVES every player).

Mr. East

Sunday, October 30, 2005

NBA Season Preview

For all you NBA Fans out there, this is the final word. We're setting this blog in motion with our team by team comments for the season to come. We don't care if you agree or disagree, we simply want your worship. Bow down before East and West.

Our playoff picks are found just below, and the team by team stuff is broken down by division, in no particular order, and can be read by scrolling down or clicking the link in the left hand column.


1. Miami Heat
2. Indiana Pacers
3. Detroit Pistons
4. New Jersey Nets
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Chicago Bulls
7. Philadelphia 76ers
8. New York Knickerbockers

Conf Finals: Heat over Pacers

1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Houston Rockets
3. Dallas Mavericks
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
6. Denver Nuggets
7. Seattle SuperSonics
8. Golden State Warriors

Conf Finals: Spurs over Rockets

Champ: Heat over Spurs


1. Indiana Pacers
2. Detroit Pistons
3. Miami Heat
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. New Jersey Nets
6. Philadelphia 76ers
7. Milwaukee Bucks
8. New York Knickerbockers

Conf Finals: Pacers over Pistons

1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Houston Rockets
3. Sacramento Kings
4. Denver Nuggets
5. Phoenix Suns
6. Dallas Mavericks
7. Seattle Supersonics
8. Memphis Grizzlies

Conf Finals: Rockets over Spurs

Champ: Pacers over Rockets

NBA Season Preview: Pacific

Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Elton Brand
LVP: Elgin Baylor

Mr.EAST: The Clips ain’t all that bad. That’s saying a lot for a team which is generally considered the baby left on the Staples Center doorstep in the middle of the night. “Not that bad” for the Clippers is kind of like “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs”. They’ll take “not that bad’ any chance they can get it….sugar coated.

Elton Brand has exceeded a lot of people’s expectations in his career, with only injuries and poor support from his rotating group of teammates keeping him from earning a bigger place on the All-Star stage. The field of players around him has thinned considerably, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing to me. When Brand found himself surrounded with teammates like Quentin Richardson, Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Michael Olowokandi, Bobby Simmons, and Marko Jaric he was often lost in the mix. He was clearly the best player of the bunch, but not the strongest ego by any stretch.

The cast in LA now features legendary ball hogs Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley to go along with Corey Maggette, but unlike the other players, Cassell and Mobley have been winners in other cities. It’s a different breed of greed that we’re talking about now. Brand should benefit from their support, and finally be able to focus on rebounding like a monster and dominating the low block.

The downside of all this is that Elgin Baylor (my LVP) has sacrificed the future of the franchise for some short term success. It’s not to say that the young players on the roster that have departed would have made the miraculous leap to championship contender any time soon, but the aging Cassell isn’t an investment in the future and Cuttino Mobley doesn’t figure to be around when things get good for the Clips. Yeah, they have Shaun Livingston, but he’s already a physical wreck. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but I’m taking bets that this team will look like the 2005-2006 Hornets in about 2 or 3 years.

Mr.WEST: Boy are the Clippers cock teases! Well, I’m not gay but you get the point. Their roster, yet again, looks somewhat filled with talent. And, yet again, they will quietly stink it up. I believe in Elton Brand. I believe in Sammy Cassell (unlike many). I believe in role players like Wilcox and Kaman. Corey Maggete, eh, no so much. But I also believe in reality, and reality says the Clippers win some games and earn some respect but lose far many more, then have the roster altered again next year.

Phoenix Suns
MVP: Steve Nash
LVP: Amare Stoudemire's knee

Mr.WEST: Just win the Suns were starting to convince other ball clubs to actually enjoy the game and score some points, Amare goes under the knife. Lets cut him slack and not oint out that he waited until pre-season to actually get is knee checked rather than take are of it in the summer. Or let's just point that out. But without Amare people are going to wonder if the Suns can really perform another minor miracle this year. I say yes.

In what likely will turn out to be a bad move for all involved, Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson are no longer Suns. Maybe those guys should've realized that Steve Nash and the Suns basically made their NBA careers in one season. But now they are gone and instead we have James "Who?" Jones and Raja Bell. I think those two jokers will fill the empty shoes quite nicely. Why? Because the Suns system works. They run and gun. And there are TONS of players in the NBA with incredible talent who can thrive in the right system. Just give those two a chance and watch them score points and fill the stat sheet.

Nash and the Matrix will be scoring as much as they can. The role of Kurt Thomas is now even more important. Can he keep up while hitting shots and rebounding? Yes. Kurt will need to be a rock for Phoenix and will deliver. I'm not sure the Suns will even see Amare this year at all but only a jackass would doubt a playoff appearance so once Amare emerges on the court come Spring, it's gonna get real interesting for opponents.

Mr.EAST: This is still a good ballclub, and you have to want them to succeed. There are too many teams that are unbearable to watch. At least you know you’re going to get some good hoops when the Suns show up. I actually wish that there were only 2 teams in the NBA. Suns versus Kings for 82 games. Make it 83. The extra game assures that one team is guaranteed to win the season series. The Suns will make the playoffs, and Amare shouldn’t come back even if he thinks he’s healthy. It’s not about this year anyway. Take the time to rehab and make sure you don’t pull an Antonio McDyess. The league needs you Amare.

Los Angeles Lakers
MVP: Lamar Odom
LVP: Came Brown

Mr.EAST: At first glance, you may wonder why Kobe Bryant isn’t the MVP of this team. Answer: ‘Cause he’s a beeotch. Sorry, but it’s true. Nothing personal, but the guy just reeks of beeotch. His ridiculous off court persona spills directly into his equally ridiculous on court persona, and poisons the immense talent he possesses. He’s clearly one of the top 5 talents in the league, but he’s not a top 10 player. He’s got the skill, but his head isn’t screwed on straight. Lamar Odom is the key to anything and everything that the Lakers want to do with Phil Jackson back at the helm. Kobe’s talent will win games for the Lakers, but Odom’s presence will have to carry them to the playoffs, if indeed he has it in him. The offense will be better for having the ball in Odom’s hands, because Kobe is a more valuable player when he’s off the ball. He dominates the shot clock too much when he’s in iso mode.

Phil Jackson gets a lot of credit for his teams’ success between Chicago and LA. He’s unquestionably a Hall of Fame coach who can manage egos with the best of them. The triangle was Tex Winters’ brainchild, but he had the foresight to go with it for MJ and Pip, and then Shaq and Kobe. Having said all that, this is a lost cause. He will never win another championship in Los Angeles, and I’m quite sure he’s back for the big payday. Money is his motivator now, and I’d be shocked into a coma if he were the coach in 2 years. Hate to say it LA fans, but your coach is kind of mailing this one in….

My LVP is Kwame Brown. It’s easy to pick Brown because he bragged, after he moved 3000 miles away, that he wanted to slap Gilbert Arenas but was still too scared to stand by his comments and reportedly called Gil to explain that he was taken out of context. Yeah. What he meant to say was, “I almost slapped the shit outta Gilbert Arenas, but they changed the locks on the Washington practice facility and didn’t give me a key.” Now that’s a guy I want on my team. A 5 rebound a game big man that talks out his ass at every turn. Good luck Zen Master.

Mr.WEST: Good, it’s official. We can all hate the Lakers now., even you Lakers fans. Admit it, Kobe is a bitch. He is the Wannabe Jordan but without the appeal,. He just does not get it—people do not like assholes. Kwame Brown and the big men are stiffs. They have no dribblers. Poor Lamar Odom. Maybe Phil Jackson will give you a nice book for reading on the plane.

Golden State Warriors
MVP: Baron Davis
LVP: Mike Dunleavy

Mr.WEST: Rumor has it that the Bay Area hoops fans are stroking their manhoods over the Warriors chances this year. They swear that Baron Davis is gonna keep the team on the tear that they finished last season with. They say they got talent to go with their depth. They say they have built role players now primed to step up. Sigh.

Golden State has been locked in a limbo for, oh, 10 years now and this squad has a ways to go to prove they are set to ascend into heaven. Baron Davis is an incredible talent who looks set to take over that team to lead it—good. A guy like J-Richardson needs to be bitchslapped into reality, a soldier in Troy Murphy needs a general and a wimp like Dunleavy needs to be manhandled. What this team needs to develop is a winning formula—what that formula is. Perhaps they run when the ycan, perhaps they grind it out. But they better get that persona set and ride it out. The West has been opned up by the Suns, so the style of play the Warriros may play will help them.

The thing Bay Area hippies should fear is lack of patience and a haphazard approiach to the game that these players have at times. None of these guys know how to win as a team. It is hard to breed winning the NBA.

Mr.EAST: First, the Warriors need to go back to the uniforms they wore when Run TMC were playing with Chris Gatling, Billy Owens, Tree Rollins, and Terry Teagle. Then, they need to get rid of the pussies and get some real serious ballers to represent them every night. Dunleavy = floating pussy. Foyle = shot blocking pussy. Calbert Cheaney = still in the league? pussy. Derek Fisher = Laker retread pussy. Where’s the Ben Wallace on this team? Where’s the Bill Laimbeer? Is there a single guy with guts on this team? Davis and Richardson are a tough backcourt, and Murphy is a nice player, but I need an ass-kicker to scare opposing teams into respecting the Warriors again. They are called the Warriors after all…..

Sacramento Kings
MVP: Mike Bibby
LVP: Ronnie Price

Mr.EAST: I’ll start with my LVP. Ronnie Price gets the unfortunate distinction of being the Least Valuable Player in a system where every player seems to be valuable. He’s a rookie from Utah Valley State that will start the season behind team MVP Mike Bobby and the newly acquired Jason Hart. By default he loses this race for lack of minutes. Sorry kid.

I love the Kings. I’ve been a fan since they brought in Pete Carril and installed the Princeton offense. I would pay the current going rate on NBA season tickets to watch this club play 41 home games if I lived in the farmlands of California. A prettier brand of basketball has not been so consistently played in the Association since Magic ran “Showtime”. They will plug SAR and Bonzi into the system and they will succeed too. Mark my words. There are plenty of naysayers out there that want to write this team off for too many changes and the wrong personnel moves. Bull. As long as Bibby runs the show, Peja spots up behind the arc, and Brad Miller is holding down the high-low post this team will be a contender.

Mike Bibby went through his growing pains in Vancouver, when there was a ballclub still playing up there, and was granted the NBA equivalent of a gubernatorial stay of execution when he was traded to Sactown. He’s made the most of his time in California, and seems to get better every year. I expect the Kings to be there in the end and the Western Conference Final Four should be quite a bloodbath with the Kings deep in the mix.

Mr.WEST: Mike smokes too much wasabi. Are you done sucking Bobby’s dick, Mike? Good, because maybe he forgot to tell you about his shooting against the Sonics in the playoffs last year as Seattle took him apart. Sacto will be fun to watch but their slide after not making the Finals against the Lakers years ago continues. Webber was shipped out of town as his career collapses in front him. The Four Horsemen of Bibby, Peja, Miller and Bonzi gets you wins but not overall quality. I personally more teams were like Sacto. That is, until playoff time.

NBA Season Preview: Southeast

Atlanta Hawks
MVP: Josh Childress
LVP: Tyron Lue

Mr.WEST: Clippers East. Well, at least Joe Johnson got his. The floundering Hawks have been a perennial NBA joke for years now, and the laughing continues this season after the team stockpiled dudes 6’6”-6’9” in hopes of winning the title for most small forwards. I suppose the decision to give Joe Johnson crazy money and sacrifice 2 first round picks, another player and cash is because he had one good year in Phoenix. But who really doubts the JJ should give half his money to Steve Nash?

The Hawks actually have a nice little nucleus of young talent like JJ, Childress, Josh Smith and Baby ?Al Harrington. Of course, this is the NBA so expecting these guys to play and develop together for a few years is a pipe dream only dimwits like Isiah Thomas can conjure up. With no point guard (Lue Who?) and no center (RIP Collier, hello Zaza!), the Hawks are lacking at key positions that provide a stability no amount of talented swingmen can match.

If you can name the coach of this team, I’ll buy you a drink. If you have ever actually bought a ticket to see the Hawks, I’d buy you two but you must be drunk already.

Mr.EAST: Yeah. I bought tickets for a game down there once. Knicks vs. Hawks. Y’know what happened? The Knicks sleep-walked through the game and roared back from a double digit deficit with seconds remaining. Allan Houston got fouled and missed the free throw that would have tied it and sent it to overtime. That’s the most interesting story you’ll hear about Atlanta this year. This is just one of the many franchises that should be either merged or dissolved. The players aren’t all that bad this year, but they’d all seem a lot better if they were shipped to other teams that actually matter.

MVP: Dwight Howard
LVP: Grant Hill

Mr.EAST: Dwight Howard is a stud. How many times have I heard that word used in association with the young man’s name this offseason? It’s almost as if he’s poised to appear in a series of Jenna Jamison flicks instead of manning the post for the Orlando Magic in 2005-2006. The fact is, it’s true. This kid is a stud, and he’s actually slightly ahead of the Amare Stoudemire curve, if you can imagine that. Brian Hill’s commitment to inside-out basketball worked with Shaq and Penny, and now he’s hoping to revive his past success with a combination of Howard and Francis. Suffice it to say that the Magic will compete every night and while the playoffs may be a bit of a stretch, they will show a bright future as the young man in the middle becomes an All-Star.

I was tempted to make Stevie “Franchise” my LVP, but upon further review that’s bullshit. Everyone likes to pile on Francis for his decision making at the point and his inability to make anyone but Cuttino Mobley better. Steve Francis is not a point guard and really he should never have been expected to be one. He’s a scorer, and a damn good one. He’s not the #1 star you need to run your team, and the moniker “Franchise” is unfortunate and unfair. It stuck, and so he gets dumped on by the press. He can be a part of Orlando’s future success if Jameer Nelson steps up and handles the point position. I believe Nelson is a super talent and if Brian Hill recognizes it and pairs the two in the backcourt, something special may emerge.

My LVP is actually one of my favorites. Grant Hill can’t seem to get his body together to match his ability. If he could ever stay on the court for 75 games and go all out, he’d be the difference in pushing Orlando into the playoffs. There’s still the off chance that he could do it, but good logic suggests he won’t. For a guy brought in to be McGrady’s Pippen, Grant Hill has seen the fortunes of the Magic fold like his surgically repaired ankle.

Mr.WEST: Wow, Mike again makes sense. At this rate I will only think you are a dork not a moron. Dwight Howard is here. Maybe someone should tell that to Stevie Franchise. The shooting guard position for Orlando is a mess, and the patchwork small forward spot is messy because Grant Hill keeps bringing his Frankenstein ass back. Uh, Grant, hang it up. Orlando could maybe get to 40 wins but I think their coach is the typical recycled old dumb bastard who bores players and myself. The Magic are one swingman away from getting my attention.

Washington Bullets [never say Wizards!]
MVP: Gilbert Arenas
LVP: Brendan Haywood

Mr.WEST: Eddie Jordan was gonna make this team a winner. The Larry Hughes defection hurts but Hughes was no all-star anyway. What truly makes this team go is a model after the NJ Nets recent run to the NBA Finals—motion offense that runs when it can and also lets talent dictate who wins rather than taking talent away. Gilbert Arenas is the focal point on offense for Washington and the dude can light it up. His game may not benefit teammates a bunch but I do not buy this ballhog bullshit.

As the East has gotten stronger, the Bullets have kept relative pace with a telanted group such as Antawn, Caron Butler, and Antonio Daniels. What they need is some size that can go from basline to baseline in less than 20 seconds; Brendan Haywood can’t just be a semi-talented fat ass anymore if the Bullets wanna make Round 2 again.

DC could use a fun, good hoops team. These guys are definitely a tier-3 NBA squad capable of winning games but also capable of dicking around, too. They better stay healthy because that bench is real thin bu guy #7.

Mr.EAST: Good call on the “Bullets” name. This is one hard luck franchise that shouldn’t be merged or dissolved. DC needs a team, and there should be a law that makes it a Federal offense for the team to be under .500. Hughes leaving hurts, whatever you think of his individual value. He fit, and sometimes that’s all that matters. Caron Butler blows. He ain’t no Larry Hughes. What’s happening to Jared Jeffries? Wasn’t he supposed to be good? The only hope this squad has for the future is that Andre Blatche can pull a Paul Pierce are turn a point blank gunshot wound to the chest into 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists a night.

MVP: Emeka Okafor
LVP: Kareem Rush

Mr.EAST: I’ll come clean. I’ve never seen this team play. The thing is neither have you. Don’t bullshit me. All I know about the Bobcats is that they played their first year in the league last season and that they sucked. Sure, I know the players names and I’ve looked at the boxscores, desperately searching for anyone of fantasy value in the basketball badlands of expansiondom. I know that Emeka Okafor has a bright future and that they drafted a couple of NCAA champion Tar Heels. I know that they have the kind of uniforms that appear in generic basketball video games which don’t have NBA licensing permission.

The pieces seem to fit on paper though. That’s the thing that interests me. They started with a big man, and have followed up with a good point guard prospect. There’s not much else filling in the gaps in Charlotte, but they can work it all out over the course of the next 5 years. Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor, and Sean May against the world. I hear Melvin Ely has shed 20 pounds and is ready to play. Primos Brezec has another year under his belt and should improve. Gerald Wallace is still 22 or 23 years old and supremely talented. Yadda, yadda, yadda……

Okay. Enough idle chatter. My LVP is Kareem Rush, because I don’t know what the Bobcats see in the guy. He seems like an undersized shooting guard with poor ball handling skills. Kind of a Gerald Wilkins without the smooth in his game. The team seems to think he’ll turn into a player in the future, but I’ll bet he’s playing with Gerald Wilkins and Harold Miner in a couple of years.

Mr.WEST: No love for the Bobcats. Why the NBA insists on a team in this busted city is beyond me—a bunch of scared crackers engaged in white flight as the city of Charlotte sits stagnant as past racial practices are quickly forgotten. Ha! Why would anyone care about this squad? Oh yeah you play fantasy hoops and you have one of these dudes on your squad. Yawn. 20 win? That’s about right.

Miami Heat

Mr.WEST: Pat Riley saw an opening and took it: this team was one game away form the Finals but he took a chance to rebuild his entire supporting cast for super combo Shaq and Wade. Hello ‘Toine, Jason Williams, James Posey and Gary Payton. On paper, this team has a chance to win 70 games.

But they will win low 60’s. And wisely so. Assuming that Coach Van Gundy continues his tough ways and Riley lets no punk ass player think he is better than the team, then the Heat will look to coast for much of the season. Listen, people, the NBA is all about the playoffs, OK ? So a deep rotation will be used here to ensure that Shaq is not hobbled in the playoffs like the past few years. Big Daddy is an utter force so he must be protected. Same goes for Wade. Look for the Heat to let fatso ‘Toine shine early on and then bench his ass in the 4th quarter as the season progresses.

We all know only the Pistons and Pacers can challenge the Heat in the East. It’s as if 3 tough kids all live in the same area and we KNOW they’re gonna throw down soon. The Heat have the biggest fists around but just have to learn to throw them right. We’ll see.

Mr.EAST: Shaq, Wade, and a big steaming pile of crap. That’s the Miami Heat. They fucked up when they dumped Eddie and Damon Jones. Then, they fucked up again by picking up a couple of total losers in Antoine “The Bride of Chucky” Walker and White Chuck-late. Yeah, Eddie and Damon were, at best, role players balancing on the edge of obscurity with the Heat, but every team needs specialists when they have MVP types like Diesel and D-Wade. They’ll win plenty of games this year, but not as many as people think. They’ll also get bounced in the playoffs because both the Pistons and the Pacers’ lineups make more sense than theirs.

NBA Season Preview: Atlantic

New Jersey
MVP: Jason Kidd
LVP: The Bench

Mr.EAST: This squad will fool you. On paper the skill players are as good as they come at their positions, and the bigs are not among the names you’d consider when listing standout NBA players. The thing is, Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson have all missed a lot of time with injuries in recent years and may have a hard time staying on the floor together all season. The bigs, Krstic and Collins, will have to pick up the slack to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

The way I see it, the Nets can afford to see either Carter or Jefferson miss time, but if Kidd is out the Nets lose. That’s how fragile their season is to me. Krstic and Collins are made better by the league’s top point guard, but without him they become spectators for the Carter and Jefferson show and that’s never a good thing for a team.

The LVP on the Nets is the bench. I can’t single out a particular player that crushes the Nets, but I have no love for their collection of bench players. Cliff Robinson, Lamond Murray, Jeff McGinnis, Marc Jackson, and Jacque Vaughn do not a successful bench make. The only guy I like on the bench is Scott Padgett, and maybe only because he’s a wild man.

Mr.WEST: You bring up a great point, Mike, literally: Jason Kidd makes his teammates much better than they really are, or at least better than they can be on their own. He is so much better than people realize. True fans need to watch him play. Honestly, does anyone think Richard Jefferson is an all-star and Olympic team member is j-Kidd did not make him to seem as such? Please! If Kidd is healthy, this team will fight hard and prevail more often than not. Sheesh, Kidd for Marbury … what a sucker Phoenix was!

MVP: Paul Pierce
LVP: Mark Blount

Mr.WEST: The Celtics have created quite an interesting dilemma for themselves as they have adopted the league trends of drafting real young yet have too many veterans to give the kids playing time. This year it looks like the Celtics can only go in one direction: backwards. While Antoine Walker and Gary Payton leaving may seem like Boston just solved their illness, it is more like bloodletting. Those two assholes filled box scores and, ultimately, would win games. Paul Pierce may now take on even more burdens- not good.

Pierce is a stud. He gets stabbed like he was bayonet practice and still kills you. But the kids like Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Gerald “The Dunk” Green are gonna get abused by NBA ballers. Coach Doc Rivers is not gonna get these guys over the hump.
For the Celtics to make the playoffs means a few key things: no forced outside jumpers from way too deep by Pierce, no injuries to Ricky Davis or Pierce, and a running style that needs Mark Blount and his cap-eating salary off the floor so that LaFrentz t can spread the floor.

The Celtics got 99 problems but Pierce ain't one.

Mr.EAST: I would ask you to stop sucking Pierce’s dick, but you already used that line. Plus, any guy that gets stabbed 400 times and suits up the next night deserves good oral. I’m confused about this franchise. I used to like the idea of Doc Rivers as a coach. I used to think that the Celtics were about to get it right after 20 years of shit luck and stupid roster moves. Now I just don’t know what they’re trying to do. It seems like the only thing they have going for them is the best uniforms in the sport. They should just take a temporary leave of absence, send everyone to the Developmental League, and vacation in Hawaii for 3 years. Hang a sign on the arena door….Gone Fishin’….

MVP: Allen Iverson
LVP: Chris Webber

Mr.EAST: I’m a Chris Webber fan. Have been since his Fab Five days. My buddy used to call him “Glass Webber” to piss me off, but I can’t front….this guy is made of the same stuff that double-insulates my house. Tough when it’s standing between me and the wind, but a good hard bump from a 200+ pound adult will end it’s season real quick. The Sixers don’t really need Chris Webber to be honest, but a decent year from him will make the difference between a 6th seed and a 3rd seed. In the playoffs that’s huge.

Iverson is too damn good for this team to miss the playoffs and a strong supporting cast of specialists assures a fun team to watch. Dress code be damned, Iverson will kick your ass in a suit and tie quick fast. He could be wearing a full tuxedo and tails and still drop 40 on you. He’s already beat up in the pre-season and one of these years he’s going to leave it all out on the court with nothing left to give the next day. Not this year. He may miss a handful of games, but the Sixers have a better cast of characters to absorb that blow now.

Dalembert should finally do something with guaranteed minutes ahead of him, and the only question mark is health. Korver is a marksman that is showing an improved all around game, and Iguodala is an athletic revelation that will have Sixer fans jumping out of their seats. The best part of this season in Philadelphia is having Mo Cheeks back at the point….er….on the bench. Where are Andrew Toney and Moses Malone when you need them?

Mr.WEST: Forget Moses, where’s Bobby Jones? Iverson is god in my book. He is Alexander the Great in Philly. I’m not sure why they even have a coach, truth be told. Webber is a joke who needs to play soft west coast ball to get his stats up. He is a broke-ass Larry Johnson at this stage in his career. Dudes like Dalembert, Korver, Iguodala should not be main men on your squad. This team is all AI.

MVP: Mikes James
LVP: Raphael Arajuao

Mr.WEST: The Maple Leafs suck. Or the Barneys. Or whatever the hell you call this team. After Vince Carter pulled an inarguably bitch-ass move to get traded, Toronto became the new Hawks of the NBA. “Oh yeah, I forgot there was a team in Toronto” will be uttered by many a casual fan.

Toronto may have assembled a somewhat respectable starting five in new PG Mike James, Jalen Rose, Mo Peterson, Chris Bosh and some dumb fuck in the middle. Of course, they have no idea how to win ballgames. And they have no bench. And they have no fighting spirit as found in other less-than-talented squads such as Seattle and Chicago. Mike James creates order to the chaos that is a team with Rose on it but people are talking about Bosh as the second coming of Garnett need to remember that the underrated tag fits guys like Charles Smith when he was a Clipper better than it does an all-star. Expect Bosh to blossom but he is like a flower in the desert.

If you watch a Toronto game on TV you are either: A) a fantasy nerd with Jalen Rose on your team; or B) one sad motherfucker who has already seen that JAG re-run 3 times.

Mr.EAST: No team that starts Mike James or Mo Peterson is respectable. James is a nice player that plays back up on the big kids team. Mo Pete is just a big waste of a roster space. He’s the kind of guy that fits perfectly on a shit team, ‘cause nobody cares when he jacks up shots that make no sense. He must have naked pictures of you to mention his name and the word “respectable” in the same sentence. No one is watching anyway. The fans in the Air Canada Center keep wondering when the giant stone and brooms are gonna come out so the curling main event can start. They should merge this team with the Clippers and move them to the Turkish League.

New York
MVP: Stephon Marbury
LVP: Starbury

Mr.EAST: Yeah. The MVP of this team is Stephon Marbury, and the LVP is the character known as “Starbury”. The fact is, Steph is the most talented guy on the roster. It’s also a fact, however, that his head is gassed up like a hot air balloon. Steph never quite understood that a star is born from a great player, and not vice versa. His AAU coaches, boosters, entourage, and even his family had him convinced at an early age that he deserved to be a huge star. He never went through the difficult rise to fame that many truly great players have endured. I think if the unheralded Dwayne Wade as an example. He’s humble and great. That comes from being an underdog that went to Marquette, and worked hard before bursting onto the NBA stage.

If Larry Brown can tap into his head and get him to play the right way……stop. How many times have you heard that? It’s got to be the biggest “if” in the league, and it really should be stopped before it gets even bigger. Steph will never catch onto Larry Brown’s philosophy. It’s too late for him. I’m a fan, but honestly I don’t expect Marbury to be the man to save New York. In fact, I expect the team to challenge for a playoff spot this year despite Marbury, Crawford, and Q.

The future appears to be now. I’m expecting Nate Robinson, Channing Frye, Trevor Ariza, David Lee, and Eddy Curry to see big minutes for the Knicks this season. I also expect Antonio Davis to log more time than Jerome James. New York fans will be surprised to see the best runs of the season come when the young guns get more minutes, and the lethargic play that starts games will be reversed when a cast of super subs ignites defensive runs that save games. It’s an uphill battle for the playoffs, but stay tuned.

Mr.WEST: The Knicks hand Larry Brown $10 million/year in the most polite form of robbery I have seen since Thelma & Louise. That old bastard is getting paid to basically be an old jerk and make the game of basketball more like the NFL each day: slow, plodding and each play called out in advance. On paper NY has some ballers but too many of them are mentally fragile or physically slow. Isiah Thomas is like Damien in the Omen II.

NBA Season Preview: Southwest

Phoenix Suns
MVP: Steve Nash
LVP: Amare Stoudemire's knee

Mr.WEST: Just win the Suns were starting to convince other ball clubs to actually enjoy the game and score some points, Amare goes under the knife. Lets cut him slack and not oint out that he waited until pre-season to actually get is knee checked rather than take are of it in the summer. Or let's just point that out. But without Amare people are going to wonder if the Suns can really perform another minor miracle this year. I say yes.

In what likely will turn out to be a bad move for all involved, Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson are no longer Suns. Maybe those guys should've realized that Steve Nash and the Suns basically made their NBA careers in one season. But now they are gone and instead we have James "Who?" Jones and Raja Bell. I think those two jokers will fill the empty shoes quite nicely. Why? Because the Suns system works. They run and gun. And there are TONS of players in the NBA with incredible talent who can thrive in the right system. Just give those two a chance and watch them score points and fill the stat sheet.

Nash and the Matrix will be scoring as much as they can. The role of Kurt Thomas is now even more important. Can he keep up while hitting shots and rebounding? Yes. Kurt will need to be a rock for Phoenix and will deliver. I'm not sure the Suns will even see Amare this year at all but only a jackass would doubt a playoff appearance so once Amare emerges on the court come Spring, it's gonna get real interesting for opponents.

Mr.EAST: This is still a good ballclub, and you have to want them to succeed. There are too many teams that are unbearable to watch. At least you know you’re going to get some good hoops when the Suns show up. I actually wish that there were only 2 teams in the NBA. Suns versus Kings for 82 games. Make it 83. The extra game assures that one team is guaranteed to win the season series. The Suns will make the playoffs, and Amare shouldn’t come back even if he thinks he’s healthy. It’s not about this year anyway. Take the time to rehab and make sure you don’t pull an Antonio McDyess. The league needs you Amare.

MVP: Tracy McGrady
LVP: Rafer Alston/Bob Sura

Mr.EAST: I like this team to challenge San Antonio in the West this year. I’m not sure they have the power to bump the champs out of the top spot, but they will surely compete. The pieces seem to fit in Houston and I think McGrady is ready to shoulder the load on a real contender. It wasn’t so long ago that McGrady was the subject of MVP talk, and although we tend to think of Shaq, KG, LeBron, and a handful of others before T-Mac now, don’t sleep on the sleepy-eyed kid from Mount Zion Academy.

Yao Ming is the most famous person in China. That’s impressive for a nation of 2 billion. He’s probably also the only other Chinese object visible from space. See: Great Wall. He’s been kind of like Chinese food in his first couple of years in the NBA, despite great expectations. Tastes good, but you feel hungry for more after 20 minutes. This year may be different. Stromile Swift picks up some of the defensive slack that Yao seems reluctant to take, and provides awe-inspiring weak side help on anyone that beats the big man off the dribble. Likewise on offense, his athletic ability helps him run the floor and finish with authority, adding another dimension to the club that they sorely needed.

The weak spot is the point, where co-LVPs Rafer Alston and Bob Sura don’t seem to have a complete game between them. They both do a few things well, but nothing truly outstanding. The fortunate part of the Rockets problem here is that T-Mac handles the ball so much that the weakness at the point is minimized. You really need these guys to D-up and hit the open shot more than run the offense. If neither of them can defend the Rockets will have issues.

Mr.WEST: Maybe I dislike Coach Van Gundy too much to realize this team is the #2 team out West. His overcontrolling style and playcalling are more suited for football than hoops. Sad. The Rockets have the pieces in McGrady and Yao. They may even have the tools in Alston and Co. to make the pieces fit. But their coach cannot make these passive types turn on the switch—they must do it themselves. I do not see this team being hungry, savvy or determined enough to beat the Spurs. But I do see them taking it to the next level.

Memphis Grizzlies

Mr.WEST: I’m not quite sure what Jerry West is doing in Memphis but I get the feeling he is bored at his job. The Grizz (that’s the Grixxzzlies to you) were a 10-deep rotation last year which worked to a degree many did not think it could. Perhaps it was good ol’ Hubie Brown or Mr. NBA West himself, but the players seemed to have been instilled with sense for winning games as a team. With many contributors. And to a large degree, their recent facelift keeps that spirit alive. Except now there are fewer players.

A starting 5 of Might Mouse, Pau Gasol, Lorenzen Wright, Eddie Jones and Shane Battier will keep you in games 9 out of 10 nights. Yes, that lineup may not impress casual fans, the merchandise lady or Sports Center but it will keep teams honest. What may pose the problem is a thinner bench that will struggle to score buckets outside of gunner Mike Miller. What will drive this team is its acceptance that Pau Gasol has the chance to be a top NBA player if they push him properly. They should feed him the ball, set him up in the correct spots, and minimize his banging with larger dudes nightly.

Fratello is overrated, no debating it, but he took the typical tour of ex-coach in the TV booth turned new coach. What makes Memphis better than Seattle, Denver, LA and others? Not much. Perhaps their hustle, defense and competitiveness will make the difference. But at some point you gotta put that high school shit away and outplay the other guys.

Mr.EAST: Fratello can win these guys some games, but at what cost? Doesn’t anyone remember when he was the coach of the Cavs? Remember that “pull your own eyeballs out of your head” style of play that produced nightly scores in the 60s? He’ll do alright with a smarter team on the court than he had last year, but isn’t the point to try to get to the Finals at least. This franchise seems content with a little playoff taste, and then go quietly into the night. Why should Memphis have a team anyway. That’s the question we should be asking ourselves. Forget everything else I said.

MVP: Dirk Nowitzki
LVP: Erick Dampier

Mr.EAST: I was tempted to make Mark Cuban my LVP (Least Valuable Person) for his Jeckyl and Hyde management strategy, but he may just yet have something up his sleeve and I’ll wait it out. He runs the Mavs like his own personal fantasy team, and he’s the knee-jerk owner in your league that dumps an All-Star player 3 weeks into the season for a guy he thinks has star potential. He wants to look smart and has hurt the franchise with his impulsiveness. How do let Steve Nash go, and then Michael Finley in successive seasons? Dallas didn’t play defense and got hurt against teams like San Antonio, but they’ve plugged a lot of question marks into the roles once filled by top NBA players.

Nowitzki can still will this team into the playoffs and his presence should lift guys like Jason Terry and Josh Howard. Marquis Daniels is an intriguing talent, but hardly the caliber player at this stage that the Mavs will need to make a real run at a playoff series. This team has taken a major slide recently, and only a shrewd addition will give them what they need to ascend the Western Conference again. I predict they will eventually trade Dirk and start again. Sad, really.

My LVP is of course perennial disappointment Erick Dampier. He’s a great backup center, but his ego and reputation precede him now as a veteran and any team who employs him will have to deal with his need to start. Plus, his contract prohibits the signing of another center to play in front of him. Ugh. Any guy who is mentioned in the same breath as Dagsana Diop for playing time is a scrub.

Mr.WEST: Dirk is going to blow up even more his year. Watch. When no one from the states was watching, he single-handedly almost won h Euro championships this past summer. The guy is taking it to another level, watch. MVP candidate. Now, he has the unfortunate possibility of being a great talent on a squad that loses more anymore games each year. They need a true power forward. Bad. Letting Nash go is still embarrassing a full year later. I think this squad is too loose and stupid to win in the playoffs.

San Antonio
MVP: Tim Duncan
LVP: Michael Finley

Mr.EAST: The Argentine people believe that Manu Ginobili is the MVP of this ballclub, and have elevated him to the status of national hero. Good for you Manu. Nice to be loved. It still doesn’t change the fact that Tim Duncan is the MVP of the Spurs and probably the league whenever he wants. Without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili would be playing on the Washington Wizards. Duncan’s presence alone makes this team a favorite in their division, conference, and probably the entire league.

Now that I’m done hyping up the Big Fundamental, I have to say that I don’t think this team is as solid as it was last year. They have too many players. Why the NBA champs felt they needed to add Michael Finley and Nick Van Exel is beyond me. It’s that George Steinbrenner/Mark Cuban mentality that you need an All-Star at every position to win that ends up hurting championship ballclubs. Now Gregg Popovich has to worry about managing minutes for his new toys, and that means splitting time between Van Exel, Finley, Horry, Parker, Ginobili, Brent Barry and Bowen. That may fly on the 2nd night of back to back games, but it makes a mess of his rotation and come playoff time expect some guys to be pouting on the bench.

That leads me to my LVP, Michael Finley. Why the hell did he choose to go to San Antonio? I know every player wants a chance at the title, but you want to play too, right? Finley is going to get 15-20 minutes a night on this club and practically Jack Haley his way to a ring if he gets one. I would have loved to have seen him back on Phoenix where he would have played 30+ minutes and scored 25 points a game next to Steve Nash. What a waste.

NBA Season Preview: Central

MVP: Jermaine O’Neal
LVP: Jamaal Tinsley

Mr.EAST: I think this is Indiana’s year. I’m not alone in this analysis, but it just seems right. They are coming off a very trying year, where the franchise could have split and the team may have been very different entering the 2005-2006 season. Larry Bird held his cards and trusted that Rick Carlisle would put a focused and competitive team on the court again, and it seems he will. Ron Artest is a lunatic, but nothing that the league hasn’t seen before. Rodman was a different kind of lunatic, but he was as much of a disruption to his team as Artest is today. However difficult he is for his own team, his presence on the court is more disruptive to opposing teams and as long as he stays on the court the Pacers will be tough.

As much as Artest means to this squad, it’s still Jermaine’s job to carry the load. He’s injury prone and battles his knee, back, and assorted surprises throughout the year. If he stays healthy, the Pacers’ force down low is poised to vault his club into the top spot in the East and a likely Finals date. Injury is the only thing that will slow this club down. Hold your breath Pacers fans.

I’m picking on Jamaal Tinsley as my LVP for a number of reasons. I actually like his game, but I think he’s expendable. He’s injured so often that the Pacers have learned to play with a variety of subs at the point, and do so quite well. I’m a big fan of newly acquired Sarunas Jasikevicius and I think his championship pedigree and deadly shooting percentages will steal minutes and possibly the starting job from Tinsley by year’s end. With Jasikevicius off the pines, or in the starting lineup the toughness of a champion is added to an already deep club.

Mr.WEST: I agree with this, Mike. For once, you are not a blowhard wasting my precious hoops time. O’Neal is a stud, Artest is crazy cool, and Tinsley just does not have “it” to lead the squad from the point. I do think that Rick Carlisle is over controlling and suffocates his team too much which contributes to a brutish style of play that gets them hurt injury-wise. He needs to let the game flow more. But these new coaches are jerks, so nothing new there.

Detroit Pistons
MVP: Staring Five
LVP: Darko

Mr.WEST: With almost the same squad, man-for—man, as the past two years during which they mad Finals appearances, no one doubts the Pistons are one of the beasts of the East. What they doubt is how far they can go without Larry Brown. Oh, give me a fucking break already.

Larry Brown can coach but he is no hoops god; his style is equally as limiting on players as it is limiting on the opponents. Fact: Give Mike D’Antoni this same team and watch them win 65 games the past two years in a totally different system. Epitomizing the word “team” unlike almost all of their opponents, the Pistons have a starting 5 that covers all the bases from defense to shooting to passing to heady play to guts. It’s hard to pick the MVP of this team—Billups leads on the floor at times but Tayshaun does all the little trhings while Big Ben continues defying convention to dominate in his own way.

This is supposed to be the Year of Darko. Hmmm, I’ll take the Year of the Chicken instead. Brown basically suffocated this kid’s career and now he has learned to act like a prick to demand playing time in good ol’ American fashion. As Darko gets in the rotation (#8 man) all eyes will be on him. Expect not so much.

Mr.EAST: No argument on the Pistons. No holes either. The fight with Indiana that they had last year should translate into some of the best basketball the Eastern Conference has ever seen between two teams this year. There may be some pushing and shoving when they get together, but mostly you will be treated to something special. Who figured that Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton would turn into one of the best backcourts in recent memory? Hey West….if Artest fought Big Ben on pay per view, would you buy it? I would. No contest. Artest in a 3 round knockout. Wasn’t he a NYC junior champ or something?

Chicago Bulls
MVP: Ben Gordon
LVP: Tyson Chandler

Mr.WEST: Scott Skiles has this rag-tag group again ready to fight for a playoff spot. I gotta say the Bulls have my respect and even will get me to tune into their games because they play fucking hard and have many guys who contribute on different nights. Perhaps that is not ideal for a truly successful NBA team (I think having a clear 1 ,2, and 3 top players helps) but the Bulls do not have an all-star in any form.

“Better than everyone thought” is what sums up many of the players. Deng, Nocioni, Ben Gordon, Sweetney, and Hinrich all like to prove the experts wrong. Not so for Tyson Chandler, though. Why this bitch boy was kept in Chicago is more a matter of money invested than an expected return. Chandler has not learned how to become an NBA pro as a big man, instead wishing he could be a Garnett-type. I know Kevin Garnett, Tyson, and you ain’t him. Rather than bulking up, hustling, and becoming a force, he has become Camby-lite as he only rebounds and block shots yet does not disrupt opposing offenses enough.

Special tip for real NBA fans: tune in to gamesvs. The Pacers. Why? Just to see the tough andvicious Nocioni take on Ron Artest in what will surely land someone in suspension land at some point ion the season.

Mr.EAST: I still hate the Bulls. I can’t seem to get that bad taste out of my mouth from the Phil Jackson era. I see Hinrich, Gordon, and Chandler in the uniforms now, but all I can picture is Paxson, Craig Hodges, and Bill Cartwright. After MJ’s retirement anyone who wears a Bulls uni seems like a 13 year old kid trying to be cool on the playground. They ought to revamp the whole look. Somehow I feel like last year was a fluke. I feel like it was a bad dream that I’ll wake up from and find that Jerry Krause is still sitting in his skybox burping and farting and looking all bug eyed. That would make me feel better somehow. The Bulls had their run. They should stick to sucking. I guess they’ll make the playoffs this year. Why not?

MVP: TJ Ford
LVP: Joe Smith

Mr.EAST: All the names that are getting bounced around as keys to the new and improved Bucks are just the leather interior and Alpine system in a sports car powered by TJ Ford, the engine. I know. You’re saying, “The guy played one year and then sat out with a spinal cord injury. How can he possibly be the MVP of the Bucks? He’s just lucky to be on the court again.” You may have a point, but I’m sticking by it. TJ Ford is an assist man with skills on defense and more than anything else he knows how to push tempo. The Bucks are full of players that specialize. There are plenty of players on the team that can hit shots and play without the rock. What they need in order to succeed is a guy who understands how to find them and put them in a position to succeed. That’s TJ.

Michael Redd is a great scorer on his own, but he can’t lift his team to a higher level. Bobby Simmons is an excellent complimentary player, but he needs help. Desmond Mason is a circus high wire act, but he needs a ringleader to play to his potential. Bogut is too young to make an impact, but he should force teams to think twice before doubling up on Redd. When I try to add up the pieces on this team I don’t get anything that knocks my socks off, but TJ Ford can change all that if he can stay healthy and push the tempo. No playoffs for the Bucks this season, but there will be Christmas this year in Milwaukee.

I almost don’t even want to mention him, because he’s such a non-factor, but Joe Smith is my LVP because he doesn’t matter. The former number one pick is simply an afterthought in Milwaukee. He puts up fair rebounding and blocks statlines, and occasionally drops a big number in the scoring column, but I’m not impressed. Give me Dan Gadzuric for 30 minutes and I bet you’ll see a bigger impact on the outcome.

Mr.WEST: The Bucks just don’t have the talent to scare anyone. Michael Redd is basically what Alan Houston could have been at a corral of stiff big men and re-constructed PG with no shot (TJ)) means wins in the 30’s. You gotta like Bobby Simmons and maybe even Bogut but making the Bucks a winner is years away.

LVP: Larry Hughes

Mr.WEST: Oh, LBJ is now the king if you had any doubts. Danny Ferry (former Dukies make good GM’s?) assembled some role players for him that seem to fit: Ilgauskas at center, Gooden and Donyell at PF/SF, Larry Hughes at SG, and Damon Jones as a shooter. The only thing stopping us all from calling them a top team in the East is the great unknown: can LeBron make this team a real winner? Nah. Not 50-games, not beating the Pacers or Pistons. Check back next year or so.

Coach Silas is going to be strapped to figure out what is the best 4 to put on the floor with LBJ. Certainly Donyell seems like the best NBA pro of the bunch but can Hughes be counted on? Call me a playa hater but what Larry Hughes showed to those who did not watch him actually play was all good, right? He scored, got tons of steals and the Bullets made the 2nd round, right? Well, keep in mind that Larry thinks he is a stud, which he is not. And he takes too many risks to get steals that expose his teammates. Better watch his ass, I’m telling you. No fantasy box scores will tell you why the Cavs lost to the Bucks that night.

Still, the Cavs are all about LBJ. He is worth the price of admission up close.

Mr.EAST: Hey, West…Coach Silas may be wracking his brain about what the best 4 are to play with LBJ, but he’d be making his moves on NBA Live 2006, since Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown gets to play with the real guys. Jackass. The Cavs wasted their money on Damon Jones and Jones blew his only chance to be a relevant NBA player when he left Big Diesel in Miami. You can’t win with Drew Gooden. He’s a moron of a ballplayer. Donyell is on his last legs as good as he is when he’s on the court for 30 minutes a night. Ilgauskas is a very good center that people sleep on for all the injuries he used to have. I just don’t see this team making a deep run in the playoffs anytime soon. LeBron is the man, but the supporting cast doesn’t seem like a good fit. Watch him bolt to the Knicks in 2008.

NBA Season Preview: Northwest

Denver Nuggets

Mr.WEST: Will the real Nuggets please stand up? Is it the squad who went 32-8 (!) to end last season or the squad who floundered under .500 to kick off the season? Logic would dictate some place in between. George Karl is a fun coach who tends to let players play unlike many of his peers. Without a doubt getting Carmelo under control was the big step after his ego and sot selection went in the shitter earl on.

The talented nucleus of starters and bench is undeniable. For the Nuggets, this is the first time they have almost all the same personnel back with the seemingly small but possibly important re-introduction of Voshon Lenard who missed all but 3 games last season with an injury Perhaps a legit shooter is all Denver needed.

The Nuggets have size, athleticism , spirit and even some girth with K-Mart, Nene and Camby guarding the hoop. As any fantasy nerd knows, the injury bug seems to infect big men in Denver often. If this squad stays healthy, look out.

Mr.EAST: I agree about George Karl. He’s a flake, but he’s no Doug Moe. He lets his guys play, but they play with an idea about how to compete. They got problems though. Voshon Lenard is made of paper mache, and Kenyon Martin’s knees are already giving him problems in the pre-season. Camby is made of the same shit they use to make Necco wafers, and Carmelo is overrated. I’m not saying that this team isn’t good, but people are quick to jump on the bandwagon of a bunch of guys that have more question marks hanging all over them than the Riddler. Good squad though. Keep your fingers crossed Kiki.

Portland Trailblazers

Mr.WEST: Does anyone else think that the Jailblazers seem to be treading water when it comes to cleaning up their image? Normally “image” would not mean shit to me but there seems to be a direct correlation between image and the ability to in win Portland. One look at this squad just screams “bitches.”

The players are no one you’d want as teammates: can we all just admit that Darius Miles does not deserve the “underdeveloped special talent!” he gets at this point in his career? Can Zach Randolph become Elton Brand instead oh John Hot Plate Williams? Can Sebastian Telfair refrain from being a lesser Starbury? Coach Nate McMillan took the billionaire’s money and inherited a family of retards along with it.

Perhaps this team will follow the Sonics lead and allow unselfish big men like Ratliff and Pryzbilla do the dirty so others can fill it up. The problem is that the “others” are not Ray Allen here. Bless your harts, Blazers fans, for still going to games. You dumb bastards.

Mr.EAST: Why the fuck did Nate McMillan take over this team? Was he that pissed of at Sonics’ management that he had to go to the “other” Pacific Northwest franchise. I went from liking Zach Randolph when he was a sleeper, to hating his idiotic guts now. He and Ruben Patterson keep whining like bitches about not having enough talent on their team. Hey asswipes, you guys are supposed to be the talent. Earn your ridiculous salaries and take over a few games. This team will never win with this mix of players. They should pull a New Orleans/Oklahoma City/Tuscaloosa/Pittsburgh Hornets and ship out Miles, Randolph, Patterson, and Ratliff to get a few draft picks. Play Telfair, Webster, and Przybilla and take your chances until you find a free agent that is actually a player.

MVP: Andrei Kirilenko
LVP: Gordon Giricek

Mr.EAST: How is it that the Jazz lack a decent player at the one position easiest to fill in the NBA? How many decent shooting guards are floating around in the league, and on various benches, and the Jazz have none of them on their roster? Gordon Giricek is my LVP for the Jazz, but it’s hardly his fault. He sucks, but who ever said he was any good. As far as I’m concerned, the Jazz will not compete without a better player at the two. Where’s the shooting to soften up the post for Boozer and Okur? How will Kirilenko take advantage of his slashing/driving skill if the defense is sagging off Giricek to cut him off?

The MVP is obviously Kirilenko. There isn’t another guy that combines the all around game he features in the league. He’s kind of like Ben Wallace meets Dominique Wilkins. I’m not prepared to put the guy in the Hall of Fame, but he’s a perennial All-Star in the making and Utah needs to continue to build around his defensive fire and athletic ability. Boozer is a good low block scorer and rebounder and although he gets beat up for his handling of the Cleveland situation, he’s a keeper as well. The forward slot in Utah is well taken care of….

The point will be manned by Deron Williams, who is going to be a flat out player…..someday. I’m not all that convinced he can be effective on a consistent basis as a rookie. At first, I thought he might challenge for the ROY award, but after seeing him in the pre-season, I can see the holes in his game. The Jazz will be tough in a year or two, but the guard play just ain’t there. Sorry Utah.

Mr.WEST: Oh just fucking say it already—no one likes Utah! Weird white people and a coach that is old school only other hustling white dudes love his style. AK-47 gets too injured to earn my respect. He is a paper tiger. Boozer is an asshole who played down to expectations. And they got no one under 6’6” who mildly scares you: Deron Williams has the head of J-Kidd and the talent of Jacque Vaughn. Try as they might , this squad can’t over the hump.

MVP: Michael Olowokandi….just kidding. KG, of course.
LVP: Wally Szczerbiak

Mr.EAST: This team is a sad story. I like the T-Wolves so it pains me to write this downer of a commentary, but it must be done. KG is an all-time great and a ferocious competitor, but he is the Lone Ranger without Tonto. He doesn’t even have Silver in Minnesota. Cassell and Spree were such a good mix their first season together and the T-Wolves looked bad ass. The offense was like an Aston Martin and they had some much needed grit in crunch time. Unfortunately that grit got in the crack of their ass, like a bathing suit at the beach, and the team was forced to divorce. An ugly picture.

Now, they have jack shit and may as well start over. Trade KG and give the man a chance at a better NBA life, McHale. Please do us all a favor. Marko Jaric, Trenton Hassell, Michael Olowokandi, Troy Hudson, and Nicolas Tshikitichvoliailioliakialioli aren’t an NBA roster. In fact that whole bunch of bums should get shipped off to the D-League for reprogramming. The only guys on that squad that have any skills at all are Eddie Griffin, who’s a headcase, and Mark Madsen who thinks he’s a crash test dummy.

I’ll save the last word for a decent guy by all accounts, but still my LVP. Wally Szczerbiak is a handsome guy, so he gets his mug plastered all over Timberwolves promotional materials like Thunder Dan did in his Suns’ heyday, but the guy is like Tim Legler 4.0. He shoots well. That’s it. They should revive Baywatch and give Wally a starring role, so he can quit the NBA and open his roster spot for someone who can get KG back into the playoffs.

Mr.WEST: Am I the only thinking that Garnett is finally due for an extended injury? Not because he should be hurt but more because he wants to b hurt, a la Vince Carter before the Nets got him. This team took a total dive in 2004-2005, and things look even worse for this season on paper. Give me Speedwell and Cassell over Rasher McCann’s and Troy Hudson any day. Garnett is all alone here, people. Throw the man a line!

Seattle Supersonics [I know they dropped the “super” but I think that’s lame and putit back for them]
MVP: Ray Allen
LVP: Luke Ridnour

Mr.WEST: I’m sure you, like me, was such an NBA genius that you also picked the Sonics to win 50+ games last year. Yeah, right, and Lindsey Lohan’s nose has never touched a line of blow. But there they were, winning their little division and fighting the Spurs hard in the playoffs by round 2. This year the Sonics will surprise no one as they inevitably have to take a step backwards. Why? Well, how the hell do they keep up thet play with all the same plsyers minus Antonio Daniels and Jerome James? Those guys may be perennial NBA backups but they delivered meaningfully for Seattle last year.

Ray Allen is the best shooter in the league, sorry Peja. And his teammates in Rashard Lewis, Radmonovic and company did what few teams in the NBA have done in recent memory: they actually shot the ball well night in and night out. Plus, they have a 3-headed rebounding goon in Collison, Evans and Fortson who are cool with others scoring. They will win games because they bring it each night.

What holds them back are two key things: coaching and point guard play. Nate McMillan left his Mr. Sonic nametag on the floor, and old Wally Weiss is typical NBA circle bullshit. More importantly, Luke Ridnour is not set to lead this team. He is too frail, too “not there” to do it right. I foresee a struggle for him even with more PT with Daniels gone.

Mr.EAST: The only hustle in the Key Arena this year is the hustle that Coach Weiss put on the Sonics’ front office to give him another job in the league. Without Nate the Great cracking the whip on his guys, and commanding discipline from the sidelines you’ll see Fortson go bonkers and piss someone off, Lewis get preoccupied with the three point line, and Radmonovic milk a turned ankle into a 3 week vacation. They can still win, but the motivation has to come from within and in my experience with the NBA, guys need artificial motivation to compete every night. Whether it’s a great coach, a contract year, or a tough as balls teammate there has to be something to make these guys care about playing the Bobcats in December. I’m not sure it’s there, and I’m not sure you’ll see more than 43-44 wins for the Sonics this year.