We’re back with a brand new episode and preview of the 2013-14 NBA season. We talk about the best and worst acquisitions of the off season, our five teams to watch on League Pass, who will be in and who will be out of this season’s playoffs, the teams that matter in each conference, and ultimately our NBA Finals predictions.
Glenn “Doc” Rivers is more than just a husband, father and head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. The man is a visionary, a progressive and ahead of his time. Apparently it was him who came up with the novel idea to cover up all 16 championship banners and retired jerseys hung by the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Instead banners of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and others will be used as cover whenever it’s a Clippers’ home game. This news didn’t sit well with many Lakers’ fans and guard Nick Young. Many mocked the idea and Young called it “disrespectful“. Continue reading →
Watching the Lakers’ two preseason games against the Denver Nuggets I realized that I really like their team: a scrappy underdog squad with an aging veteran core and unproven role players with something to prove. From a narrative perspective it’s an easy sell. Even better, they’ve got two of the most likable players in the league in Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, with Gasol on a mission to quiet his critics after a mediocre season last year spent trying (and failing) to find a way to fit into coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Gasol already looks more aggressive and more productive in his early court time than he did at any point in the season last year. Back to crisp 16-footers, agile rebounding, and dizzying post moves.
Add journeyman center Chris Kaman, retread Jodie Meeks and Nick Young, the shot-aholic guard you love to hate, and you’ve got yourself a team with enough talent and grit to fight their way to a playoff berth, then use their veteran savvy to make it tough on whatever first or second seed they face once they get there. That’s a team I’m interested in watching. That’s a team I want to win. Nash looking for his first ring to justify joining a long time nemesis, Gasol looking to prove he’s still the player that tore up the US in the Olympics, D’Antoni looking to show the world he’s the kind of coach who CAN mesh superstars into a winning team, and Nick Young looking to prove he can hit contested 18 footers as well as anyone in the league. Continue reading →
Dwight Howard’s exodus (or cowardly flight, depending on who you ask) to Houston has instantly made the Rockets a playoff staple for the next few years. Houston’s assembly of stars starting with James Harden and most recently D12, has turned a scrappy feel-good squad into a Western Conference title contender.
Yes, I said title contender. I believe that the Western Conference is a realistic ceiling for this team. It’s not just the arrival of Howard, as we’ll see, there are a number of other factors that give Houston an edge on their Western conference foes. Continue reading →
There’s no question that since Michael Jordan the league has been transformed into a perimeter players’ league. With the exceptions of Hakeem, Shaq and perhaps Yao Ming, the most influential players of the last 20 years have all played on the perimeter: Jordan, Kobe, TMac, Vince Carter, Grant Hill, AI, DWade, Carmelo, and LeBron James. Even 7 footers who might previously have played with their backs to the basket now move more like George Gervin than they do like Patrick Ewing. Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, and Kevin Durant are three great examples of the way perception of the 7 footer has evolved over the last decade.
But the dominance of the perimeter player doesn’t mean that the center position is without value. Despite the faddish popularity of “small ball”, the traditional style of basketball with a dominant center is still incredibly effective. Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert play more traditional center roles and are highly successful at it. So here are five up-and-coming centers to keep an eye on as they use the ’13-’14 season as they springboard into success. Continue reading →