September 17, 2008 - Dr. Dime
The Hoop Doctors know we must have hit a bit of a dead spot in the NBA off-season for intriguing news, as we have started to get mail already asking us: “Where are your 2008-09 season previews?”. Our response is always something along the lines of “easy tiger, they’re coming…”
If you want my somewhat satirical point of view on the off-season transactions, player news, and team’s hopes for next season here they are. Take everything with a grain of salt. And I apologize in advance if I offend anyone’s role models. He he he, Ahem. In order of worst to best record last season:
The Heat got a lot of help talent wise on draft day with Beasley. Unfortunately Beasley is already becoming a bit of a Diva before he has even played in one NBA game. Loads of talent, even more ego.
DWade on the other hand has loads of talent, loads of ego, but most importantly loads of drive and work ethic. With a solid showing in the Olympics being a key factor in the USA Gold medal run, he appears to be ‘all the way back’ from his injury. I expect the Heat to challenge for a playoff spot this season.
New York Knicks
There is a new sheriff in town. Except this one happens to be highly qualified to coach, unlike the last. Being a great player, does not necessarily make you a great coach. And if you like offense and live in the New York area, buy your season’s package now. This team has loads of youth, loads of athleticism, and the green light to run and gun.
The only problem: Mike D’Antoni teams historically couldn’t stop a 6th grade girls basketball team from scoring on them. I honestly believe I personally could drop 40 on a D’Antoni team (Not implying here that i’m a Grade 6 female basketball player). Call me crazy, but I think the New York Knicks fans will have to endure at least one more year with more losses than wins.
Milwaukee made some interesting moves. They cleared up their front line log jam by moving Yi LianLian and bringing in the athletic, high scoring swingman, Richard Jefferson. With new coach Scott Skiles at the helm, I would look for the Bucks to challenge for the playoffs this year. That’s if Andrew Bogut’s ankle injury from the Olympics wasn’t as serious as the Australian team made it sound. Don’t worry too much Bucks fans, given how handily the USA “Redeem Team” beat them that game, even my ankles were sore…just from watching.
Charlie Villaneuva might be the key to this team’s success this season. That’s gotta scare the bejesus out of a blue-collar, hard nosed coach like Scott Skiles. He’s known for loving his hard working hustle players. Could be trouble for Charlie V.
Larry Brown loves to turn rocks into diamonds, huh? Take frogs and make them into a prince? Well it didn’t work out so well in New York. Hey Larry, you thought Isiah didn’t give you enough time or space to operate because of his competitive nature? Let me introduce you to Mister Competitive Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Your new boss.
Here’s the good news Larry: If the numerous “Mr. Glass” impersonators on your team decide to stay healthy and play ball, you might just shock the world and make the playoffs. Hell your team may have a shot at the Most Improved Team honor huh? Adam ‘Shave your Stache‘ Morrison, Sean ‘gonna try and play till, May‘ May, Gerald ‘I wear hockey shoulder pads‘ Wallace, and Emeka ‘I fooled you into paying me lots‘ Okafor, should be the keys to success. Lucky for Larry, the young bloods are hard working soldiers that should fit in nicely to the Larry Brown regime.
Anyone notice during the Olympics this year just how much better Andres Nocioni plays when he’s representing his country? Maybe the Bulls should forget Noce coming to training camp and send him to a hypnotist instead that teaches him the correct spelling of Bulls is: A-R-G-E-N-T-I-N-A.
The Bulls made some big moves last season, and have done their due diligence this off-season. However….the most asked question in Chicaaaago this off-season: What about Ben Gordon? Personally, Derrick Rose didn’t impress me much in Summer League. Maybe it was a fluke, but I don’t know if I would want Rose steering the ship just yet. Hell, maybe Hinrich might be ready to get his career back on track and earn that big pay day. Either way, unless the Bulls get someone significant in return for a Gordon sign and trade, I can’t see the Bulls making the post-season this year.
New Jersey Nets
Put the Kenyon Martin knee injuries while in Denver aside for a second. I don’t think the Nets have made a good organizational move since their back to back NBA Finals appearances. Getting rid of Byron Scott (mistake), Not resigning Kenyon Martin (mistake), Building a team around a player notoriously lacking drive and motivation, Vince Carter (speaking of glass), and now moving Richard Jefferson in his prime? What about Jason Kidd?…hmmm….well given his desire to leave, and since his career is on the decline…we can let that one slide.
Yi Lian Lian didn’t impress me playing for China in the Olympics. I have a feeling he won’t impress many folks this season in New Jersey either. Devin Harris is super fast and a great young talent but without Disco Dirk or Josh Howard to make him look good, I don’t see him being a big impact player. New Jersey will likely be taking a dip in the Eastern Conference rankings this year.
TJ Ford seems like a proud man to me. I’m not so sure he’s super impressed with losing out on the point guard battle in Toronto to the spanish wonder Jose Calderon. I have a sneaking suspicion he is working on his game religiously this summer to have another break out season. And by ‘break-out’ I mean possible ‘all-star’. I doubt Tinsley will put up much of a fight.
The Pacers snapped up some good young talent in Jarrett Jack and Brandon Rush. If Danny Granger stays the course to become a leader for this team, they may surprise some people. Now if only David Harrison could stay sober huh…..
Well the Hawks this summer were the first of many teams to lose rotation players to enticing offers from European ball clubs…bye bye Josh C, we’ll miss the fro. Now even though this team didn’t make any blockbuster moves in the off-season, they took care of business signing their talent. Think about it like this, the team of young bucks that took the champion Celtics to Game 7 are just one year older, one year more experienced. You figure it out. Atlanta should cruise into the playoffs.
Well, well, well. I don’t know what shady tactics the 76ers employed to lure Elton Brand away from Los Angeles, but who cares (unless you are one of the handful of remaining Clippers fans)! A big question this summer was concerning Iguodala being a ‘max’ contract guy or not. Once again, “who cares.” Bottom line: now that Iguodala and Brand are locked in, Dre Miller is runnin’ the point, Dalembeast is protectin’ the paint, and loads of blue-collar guys are in place to surround them, the Sixers will not only make the playoffs again, but this season they could challenge for the Eastern crown. No joke.
Aside from your friendly neighborhood Raptors Bloggers (Altraps, Cuzoogle, Raptorstalk, Dino Nation) are The Hoop Doctors, including myself, the only folks thinking the Raptors are going to be mighty strong in the East this season? I mean c’mon, take a team that was inconsistent but on any given night could beat the elite in the NBA. A team who’s main knock was their lack of an interior presence defensively, and poor rebounding. Now make those two weaknesses some of your biggest strengths with one business move to acquire the services of Jermaine O’Neal. Watch what happens folks. This year with Bosh and O’Neal side-by-side in the paint, the Raps will be mighty good on both ends of the floor.
Now if only Bargnani could grow a pair, and play with some intensity. Hmmm, Jamario Moon might end up coming off the bench, but if he does i’m thinking potential 6th man of the year award if the Raps are as successful as they should be.
The biggest problem with the Washington Wizards this year will be Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. Huh, say what?? You heard me right, Arenas and Butler will not play well together. Arenas requires too many touches to allow Butler to flourish like he did this season. Arenas is the better player, but when Butler is on his game the Wizards are much better as a squad. If Jamison and Jordan can’t get these two stars pulling in the same direction, the Wiz management may have some serious decisions to make come the trading deadline.
One of the most underrated moves of the off-season involved one of the most underrated point guards in the league. Then again it also involved one of the most underrated teams in the league. I’m talkin’ about the Mo’ Williams deal and the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Mo’ Williams running the point and the L-Train full steam ahead as usual, the Cavaliers will once again be considered contenders.
I predict the Cavaliers will once again play mediocre the majority of the season, settle into the playoffs in a comfortable 3rd-5th position, then if and when they do actually lose in the playoffs they will have pushed their opponent to the brink in a 7 game series. Wow, after the last couple seasons i’m really going out on a limb with this prediction, huh?
For the love of GOD, Give JJ Redick some burn!! The guy is a stone cold gunner. I just don’t get it. Every basketball mind knows that when you take an interior beast like Dwight Howard and you surround them with strong perimeter shooters you have a recipe for success. Just about everyone knows you cannot play single coverage on Dwight Howard when he gets the ball on the block. Just about everyone knows if JJ Redick gets an open look from downtown he’s the best in the business. But for some reason a certain someone, ahem SVG, won’t experiment with a little Redick-Howard high-low.
Now that I let that out….as far as predictions for the Magic, they will be strong again in the East this year. But they will eventually buckle at the hands of the contenders. By contenders i’m thinking Celtics, Pistons, Cavaliers, Sixers, and Raptors.
After the season ended with another deep yet unsuccessful post-season run by Detroit, there was a lot of speculation that Joe Dumars might hold a fire sale with the Pistons roster to blow this thing up and start rebuilding for the future. Well that day never came, the sale never occurred, and what remains is once again a veteran squad with a couple of high energy young athletes. I’m thinking the Pistons will once again win somewhere between 45-55 games, and be considered a contender to win the East. I highly doubt they win the East. Although they are still a rightful contender, the East is no longer a two or three horse race, teams are comin’ up and the Pistons are on the wrong end of things.
The defending champions took a big hit with the loss of James Posey. His leadership, defense, and three point sparks in the playoffs are priceless to a team making a championship run. Fortunately for Posey his new team, the New Orleans Hornets, may be the ones making the championship run next year.
When it’s all said and done, I still like the Celtics to win the East next year, but it may be a little more difficult for them to beat a team as balanced as the New Orleans Hornets. One of they’re likely Finals opponents for next year.
So there you go, I ended that with a little preview of my thoughts on the Western Conference for next year. Stay tuned for my Western Conference breakdown