Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gilbert Arenas Trade and the Washington WIZARDS

The roots of the 'We Believe' Warriors (Look at how young Gil
looks, and how J-Rich hasn't aged a millisecond).

It's been over a month since I've written. Oops.

First the trade. Obviously I'm a huge Arenas fan and will take that fanhood to the grave. And, obviously, he was not happy in the shithole that is the present-moment Washington Wizards organization. He was as good as gone the instant he fired off his finger gunz (really, sooner, but you get the point) so this was essentially a formality, especially considering Otis Smith was the only GM in the league willing to take him on.

So now we have Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark in Orlando, Rashard Lewis in DC, and Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus in Phoenix. First, Steve Nash might've got the worst of this deal. He re-ups with the Suns in the hopes that they'll make one last legitimate push for a title before his career is done - laughable as that might be. Instead, they trade their next-best player for "the best backup center in the NBA" and a Vince Carter who makes you think Drake's debut album was titled for his career. Considering I was holding out hope that Dirk would join Nash in Phoenix this past offseason, this is awful. At least Pietrus might have a career year...

I'm excited to see how the Magic come away from all of this. Losing Gortat will hurt a little, but they still have the best center in the NBA and finding bodies to fill Gortat's 15 minutes won't be all that difficult. And what they got in return? First, they upgrade from the eggshell of Vince Carter to a Jason Richardson who's not only playing some of the best basketball of his career, but his shooting makes him a much better fit for their offense. And speaking of upgrades, going from Rashard Lewis to Hedo Turkoglu certainly qualifies. Turkoglu gives them another playmaker, a guy who can create his own shot, and still someone who can knock down the three. It also opens up more minutes for Brandon Bass, a guy with real Paul Millsap potential (better shooting touch, not quite the rebounder). Hell, this could even be a nice landing spot for Earl Clark, who actually has a similar skill-set to Turkoglu and could wind up blossoming - though don't hold your breath.

And of course, there's Gilbert. I'm gonna hold off on predictions, instead offering up a bit of a hypothetical scenario. He was miserable in DC, we all know this. I even noted on several occasions that he passed on those long buzzer-beating threes that he was known (and loved) for taking, when he'd instead do the "right thing" and draw the defense, kick to the open man blah blah blah. This whole season he's made a point to do the "right thing." And he played pretty well. The explosiveness wasn't there (can't expect it to be) but there were times where he really looked like Agent Zero again, except this time with quite a bit more maturity. But he was a truly great player when he was in his zone, comfortable. And he was not comfortable in DC. Now, he's essentially wearing his favorite player's jersey in Orlando (#1, for Penny) and he's joining forces with fellow jokester-turned-"down to business" guy, Dwight Howard. In sports - in life - it's impossible to deny the importance of (mind)set and setting. Now all he needs to do is "find out where to put [his] dominance." (Yes, that's a real quote. Agent One has arrived.)

As for the WIZARDS... kill me now. Beginning of the season, when the Arenas-to-Orlando rumors began, the question was "should we buy out Vince's last year of his deal, or just let him walk after the season." Now we're dealing with, "we traded the second worst contract in the NBA (Arenas) for the absolute worst (Lewis)." Of course our fearless GM Ernie Grunfeld (the same one who opted to pass on an Al Jefferson-for-Etan Thomas trade - I'm never, ever, letting that go) can't even contain his jubilation at booting Gil out the door. But not for VC and his expiring deal, noooo, we get Rashard Lewis and the rest of his guaranteed SIXTY-SIX MILLION DOLLARS over the next three seasons. It's cool though, 'cause he's a former all-star. It's not like he's already 31 years old (three years older than Arenas), or has numbers that are steadily declining since he signed one of the worst contracts in NBA history. It's not like he's a 6'10" power forward averaging 12 points and 4 rebounds per game. It's not like he's shooting a paltry 36% from beyond the arc, perimeter shooting being is one redeeming attribute.

Wait, it is?


Hey, at least he fits right in with Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee to make up the softest frontcourt in the history of organized basketball. Nice to see where the team's - not even the franchize's, the team's - priorities lie. Like I said, kill me now.

And speaking of good news, I had the pleasure of attending last nights Bulls-Wizards game. NOT FOUR MINUTES IN and we are treated to this:

SWEET FUCKING JESUS. But hey, it provided a nice laugh. We actually jumped out to an early lead and took it in to half time as Kirk Hinrich did his best John Wall impression. (Obscure reference, I know; he's this former first-round pick that used to play basketball....) This team is an abomination. Nick Young is so good that even though he's been our best scorer in the last three games (...), he gets substituted out on defensive possessions in lieu of LESTER HUDSON. Hinrich is just good enough to warrant playing time and never good enough to run an offense. I like McGee, I think maybe he could one day grow a pair and become a really good center, though I realize how much of a homer that makes me. Blatche... I could fight speechlessness and go on for days, but I'll save everyone the headache. And big Rashard Lewis... missing all five of his threes, BADLY... maybe Wall can make something of this mess if he ever gets healthy (something I'm seriously doubting at this moment) but if we win another 20 games all year it'll be a miracle.

A Christmas miracle? Anyway, happy holidays.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and the Warshington Redskins

I think I can speak for every sane Redskins fan when I say the last 24 hours have felt like being on the other end of a Mike Tyson first round knockout. Two huge haymakers to the chin. First, Donovan McNabb's five-year extension that makes him the FIFTH HIGHEST PAID quarterback in the NFL. Then, of course, the electrifying performance Vick put on, choking the life out of the 'Skins season. I'm still a little speechless because what happened last night was why Vick was placed on this planet. Otherworldly doesn't even begin to describe what viewers were witness to.

(Something should be made very clear, however: the Redskins are not a good football team. At all. And we've historically been killed by athletes like Vick; Brian Westbrook comes to mind. Let's wait until next week's Giants game before we crown his ass.)

Anywho... great job by the Skins for not signing him when we had the chance. I know there are roughly 31 other teams and fanbases who are probably thinking some form of the same thing, but it still hurts. Jason Campbell was obviously never getting a fair shot at success and there was no risk in bringing him in. And I WANTED VICK. Damn. But it's cool though. We got Donovan McNabb!

Donovan McNabb!

Lets be clear here. As much as I despise the Eagles, I've always been a fan of Donovan. He's a great player and he's good peoples. But he's been visibly declining for a couple years, finding new ways to put passes just out of receivers' hands each week. But I was OK with the trade. I wanted to keep Campbell and trade for Brandon Marshall, but hey, Mike Shanahan has Super Bowl rings (remember the last coach we had with rings? That turned out pretty swell).

*Fast forward to November 15th.*

The team is 4-4 coming off a bye week, and McNabb just got benched at the end of a tough loss to the LIONS for REX GROSSMAN because, essentially, he's too dumb and fat to be a better option than REX GROSSMAN. And he's is still finding new ways to put balls frustratingly out of reach of his targets, and we just passed on signing the only player in NFL history who might give McNabb trouble in his quest to overthrow and underthrow every single target he sees. So what's the best plan of action? GIVE THAT MAN A FIVE YEAR DEAL WORTH UPWARDS OF $90 MILLION.


Now look at this, taken from the link:

  1. Sam Bradford: Six years, $78 million, $50 million guaranteed
  2. Tom Brady: Five years, $78.5 million, $48.5 million guaranteed.
  3. Matthew Stafford: Six years, $72 million, $41.75 million guaranteed.
  4. Carson Palmer: Six years, $118.75 million. 
  5. Donovan McNabb: Five years, $78 million, $40 million guaranteed.
  6. Phillip Rivers: Seven years, $98.25 million, $38.15 million guaranteed.
  7. Peyton Manning: Seven years, $98 million, $35.5 million guaranteed
  8. Eli Manning: Seven years, $106.9 million, $35 million guaranteed
  9. Ben Roethlisberger: Eight years, $102 million, $33.2 million guaranteed
  10. Tony Romo: Six years, $67.4 million, $30 million guaranteed.
  11. Matt Ryan: Six years, $66 million, $34.75 million guaranteed.
  12. Mark Sanchez: Five years, $44 million, $28 million guaranteed.
  13. Vince Young: Six years, $58 million, $25.74 million guaranteed.
  14. Matt Schaub: Six years, $48 million, $24.3 guaranteed.
  15. Matt Cassell: Six years, $63 million, $23 million guaranteed.
  16. Jay Cutler: Five years, $49.7 million, $20 million guaranteed. 
  17. Aaron Rodgers: Six years, $65 million, $20 million guaranteed.
  18. Drew Brees: Six years, $60 million, $20 million guaranteed.
  19. David Garrard: Six years, $60 million, $18 million guaranteed.
  20. Brett Favre, One year, $16 million, $4.4 million guaranteed.
Brady is probably the best comparison for McNabb right now. Two months ago, Brady received a new five-year, $78.5 million contract with $48.5 million guaranteed. Brady is 33 years old and has 17 touchdowns and four interceptions this year, with a 64.5 percent completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 98.8, for a 7-2 team. McNabb is 34 years old and has seven touchdowns and eight interceptions this year, with a 57.4 percent completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 76, for a 4-4 team.
However, I almost feel like Buster Douglas after finding out that we could cut or trade him at the end of the year and only be on the hook for $3.75 mil. Hopefully this was just a token apology for the Detroit benching and we let him go, and head into a draft with a few quality QB prospects.

Vick still hasn't gotten his extension either.

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Individual Awards

All-Star teams, sixth man, all-rookie team and rookie of the year, MVP. These aren't predictions on how the voters decide, these are the players who will be most deserving.

Eastern Conference All Stars


Rajon Rondo - The man is unreal.
Derrick Rose - It'll be Wade, but Rose is... kinda good.
LeBron James - There are a lot of good forwards in the East, and not many of them really stand out. I think 'Bron certainly will have figured his role out by February.
Josh Smith - Like I said... but Smith needs more recognition for his impact on that team.
Dwight Howard - Come on.


Dwyane Wade - Should still be Miami's leading scorer.
John Wall - Go ahead. Call me a homer. BALL DON'T LIE.
Brandon Jennings - Tough call on the 3rd guard. I think Jennings will get his act together.
Danny Granger - Well deserving.
Amar'e Stoudemire - Could he really not make it?
Joakim Noah - I can't decide if he's the perfect all-star or the antithesis. No, I'm kidding, definitely the latter. Still will earn it.

Western Conference All Stars


Chris Paul - *Copy/paste Rondo's description*
Monta Ellis - Yep.
Kevin Durant - No explanation needed.
Dirk Nowitzki - Same old, same old.
Pau Gasol - Not really sure where he is on the ballot, but this is MY team.


Kobe Bryant - He just isn't needed to put up all star numbers. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Steve Nash - Who knows how many he has left? I'm securing him a spot based on lifetime achievement merits alone.
Deron Williams - There are a bunch of deserving guards out West. Deron has to make it, though.
Rudy Gay - I'm telling you, there's going to be times where you'll stop and think, "maybe he is a max player."
Carmelo Anthony - Assuming he's still in Denver.
Blake Griffin - He's a manchild. Though he'll be in plenty of these, so maybe hold off on this one.
Al Jefferson - I'm gonna hang on to my preseason thoughts and say he'll warrant this.

Sixth Man

*Jamal Crawford - He's in a contract year and considering his role on that team is similar to Adam Dunn's, in that all he needs to do is swing for the fences, he should have another worthy season.

Lamar Odom - Depending on when Bynum comes back (and if he doesn't just come off the bench as he probably should) Odom would make for a worthy adversary to Crawford.

Wilson Chandler - He's going to put up some numbers in 'Antoni's offense, so he could be a dark horse if he continues to come off the bench.

All-Rookie Team (*Rookie of the Year)

*John Wall - The game against Philly is one of the most amazing rookie performances I've ever seen. Ever. Regardless of sport. Sorry, Blake Griffin fans. It's impossible for me to hyperbolize with this kid, unless I declare him the second coming of Christ....
Eric Bledsoe - This is contingent on the Clippers doing the right thing and either trading Baron Davis or giving him the TO treatment. It's also a reflection on A) how few rookie guards there are and B) how little I like Evan Turner. Turner is going to make a career out of putting up inconsequential numbers. But I digress... Bledsoe isn't a prototypical point guard, but he's definitely a player, and he's the best option the Clippers have at the position.
Evan Turner - It was hard to keep him off this list. I tried, believe me. But I'm not going overboard on my assessment of him. He can play basketball. And he'll get the minutes. Wes Johnson, Derrick Favors, Greg Monroe were just behind him for the other forward spot.
Blake Griffin - He would've beat Tyreke Evans out for last year's award. He probably would've beat out every ROY winner since LeBron (other than Chris Paul). At the least he'd very much be in the running. And there've been some good ones (Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Derrick Rose...). Too bad he's up against Wall this year.
DeMarcus Cousins - He's gonna have an up-and-down year, but when the dust settles his numbers will place him here. And he'll have some monster games scattered throughout the season.


*Kevin Durant - Once he gets going it'll be his award to lose. Last year he was a 21-year old averaging 30 points per, to go along with almost 8 rebounds a 3 assists, on a 50-win team. I have OKC winning 59 this year, and even if KD merely equals those individual numbers, he wins.

Chris Paul - This award was made for CP3. If he doesn't win multiple MVPs before his time is up it'll be due to injuries or just God-awful teams.

Derrick Rose - I have never seen someone cover so much ground in the half-court offense in so little time. Nobody has a quicker first step. He's a lot like Chris Johnson (of NFL fame), in that if he gets by the first defender, it's over. He's getting the basket or he's getting to the line. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I saw someone make the case that because it is so damn easy for him to get to the basket he really has no need to do anything else, and his playmaking skills will suffer for it. I respect the concern, and I respectfully disagree. His career path to date has been similar to the model of development he showed in his year at Memphis, when he started off as the supremely physically gifted kid who relied solely on those gifts and transformed into the all-around superstar everyone remembers.

Oh yea, and he's got a jumper now, too.

Dwight Howard - LeBron and Wade teaming up opens the door for all these other guys to take a step up. If Howard's offensive game really has developed, he'll be a viable contender to Durant. Though my issue with Dwight's candidacy hasn't been his scoring as much as his inexcusably low assist numbers.

LeBron James - Wade's hope of ever winning one of these went out the window (he should've won a couple years ago) when LeBron took his talents down to South Beach. If James takes that Magic role I've talked about and averages the double-digit assists that he can, he's right back up here.

Monta Ellis - Unfortunately I think I jinxed Ellis. Just as I've been talking him up, as I'm typing this he's in the Warriors' locker room having x-rays done on his back. SPINAL. I really hope he's gonna be fine because he alone has made League Pass worth every penny. He's just so much more in tune with the flow of the game than he's ever been. Maybe it's 'cause he got married in the offseason..?

Rajon Rondo - There are two main forces conspiring against Rondo's candidacy, and I'm not sure which is bigger. For one thing, that Celtics team is STACKED. The Old Three, plus every other player on that team would crack just about every rotation in the league. Rondo also can't shoot or score. Like, at all. Dallas just left him WIDE OPEN with a two point lead (guess what happened). To his credit his shot does seem to pick up in opportune times, especially in the playoffs, but that doesn't really help him here. But if he somehow averages 15+ assists on a top-seeded Boston Celtics team he'd at least have to be mentioned.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Playoffs and Champion

Obviously based on my projected records. One thing is for certain: the title is the Lakers' to lose. They are far and away the most perfectly constructed team in the league. Something would have to go drastically wrong for Phil to not get his 12th ring. Anywho...

Eastern Conference
1. Miami Heat (62-20)
2. Orlando Magic (60-22)
3. Boston Celtics (56-26)
4. Chicago Bulls (53-29)
5. Atlanta Hawks (54-28)
6. Milwaukee Bucks (52-30)
7. Charlotte Bobcats (40-42)
8. Washington Bullets (39-43)

9.  New York Knicks (38-44)
10. Indiana Pacers (38-44)
11. New Jersey Nets (35-47)
12. Philadelphia 76ers (30-52)
13. Detroit Pistons (29-53)
14. Toronto Raptors (23-59)
15. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-60)

(All five Southeast teams made it. Yikes.)

Round 1

Miami Heat over Washington Bullets 4-0
C'mon son.

Orlando Magic over Charlotte Bobcats 4-1
Don't think Charlotte has the same magic as last year, pardon the pun.

Boston Celtics over Milwaukee Bucks 4-3
Jennings vs Rondo will be very interesting. And the Bucks can compete with Boston's depth, and they're younger. A 50-win Bucks team is probably the last matchup Boston wants to see.

Chicago Bulls over Atlanta Hawks 4-2
Derrick Rose averages 30 and 15.

Round 2

Chicago Bulls over Miami Heat 4-3
Rose and Noah are infinitely better than Miami's counterparts at the 1 and 5. Miami would get more calls than the '06 Finals, though, so this wouldn't ever happen. Still...

Boston Celtics over Orlando Magic 4-2
Pretty easy, unless Dwight really does become an offensive juggernaut.

Conference Finals

Boston Celtics over Chicago Bulls 4-3
Remember that opening round series a couple years ago, when Rondo and Rose (and BG) battled for seven games and it was awesome? Me too.

Western Conference
1. Los Angeles Lakers (60-22)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23)
3. Dallas Mavericks (58-24)
4. Utah Jazz (55-27)
5. San Antonio Spurs (52-30)
6. Portland Trail Blazers (51-31)
7. Denver Nuggets (47-35)
8. Memphis Grizzlies (45-37)

9. Golden State Warriors (44-38)
10. Houston Rockets (42-40)
11. New Orleans Hornets (42-40)
12. Phoenix Suns (41-41)
13. Sacramento Kings (36-46)
14. Los Angeles Clippers (35-47)
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-58)

Round 1

Los Angeles Lakers over Memphis Grizzlies 4-0
Battle of the Gasols. While that matchup is a lot closer than people realize right now, this wouldn't be a series AT ALL. Though the Grizz do have one of the best starting fives in the league.

Oklahoma City Thunder over Denver Nuggets 4-2
Assuming Denver's roster is intact and healthy, this'll be a good series. Durant vs 'Melo will always be a treat.

Dallas Mavericks over Portland Trail Blazers 4-2
Slow vs fast. If Oden is somehow healthy for the playoffs, watch out. This would be verrrrry interesting.

San Antonio Spurs vs Utah Jazz (7 games)
Utah FINALLY gets to host a playoff series... against a Spurs team that knows this could very well be their final shot at a title. Easily would make for the best series of the first round.

Round 2

Los Angeles Lakers over Spurs/Jazz 4-3
The Spurs would be a great opponent, and if the Jazz are, in fact, good enough get past San Antonio they would be as well. Lakers still win, but another great series.

Oklahoma City Thunder over Dallas Mavericks 4-2
Dallas is too old to compete with OKC in a seven game series. I think Rodrigue Beaubois will have a big impact for them (if he really is getting an expanded role once he's healthy), but not enough to beat Durant, Westbrook and co.

Conference Finals

Los Angeles Lakers over Oklahoma City Thunder 4-3
You want it to happen. I want it to happen. The gods want it to happen. Most importantly, David Stern wants it to happen. Hopefully everyone gets what they want.

NBA Finals

Los Angeles Lakers over Boston Celtics 4-3
What a way to send us all off into the lockout. Why will there be a lockout? Because the owners are complaining about losing money and in the same breath giving MIKE CONLEY 45 MILLION DOLLARS. Rajon Rondo "only" got 55.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks
This division is the toughest to handicap. Dallas and San Antonio are old, Houston is just strange (and might have a little Ewing Theory in effect with Yao), New Orleans lives and dies with Chris Paul, and the Grizzlies are the Grizzlies. I'm giving the nod to Dallas because they're the deepest team and there's a promise of Rodrigue Beaubois in the starting lineup (when he gets healthy). Kidd is an ageless wonder (for now) and Dirk is Dirk. Final Prediction: 58-24

San Antonio Spurs
Last hurrah for these guys, I'm afraid. But they'll be strong this year. No need to go into further detail. Final Prediction: 52-30

Memphis Grizzlies
Rudy Gay has always been a world-class talent. But he's always seemed to be content with being a B-level player. One theory: he never really had that talent validated (and the confidence that comes with it). On draft night he watched the likes of Adam Morrison, Sheldon Williams and Tyrus Thomas get selected in front of him. Then he got drafted by the Grizzlies, aka The Franchise Where Talent Goes To Die. But then last year happened. The team wins 40 games, and Gay is rewarded with a quick max-dollars extension (and a spot on a gold-medal winning Team USA). In other words, validation. I don't think Gay becomes an MVP candidate, but signing that deal may have meant as much for his continued development as anything. Final Prediction: 45-37

Houston Rockets
I don't really see any improvement on last year. I know, I know... Yao. Right. But they always seem to be better without Yao than with. I may be severely underrating them, but I really don't think so. Final Prediction: 42-40

New Orleans Hornets
Another team I might be severely underrating, only because Chris Paul seemingly can win 50 games with any semi-competent roster. Still, I don't like 'em. Paul wants out, and that might weigh on the team, at least in some way. Final Prediction: 42-40

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers
Duh. Final Prediction: 60-22

Golden State Warriors
Would I have had them second in the division before the season started? If I said yes, would you believe me? Steph Curry (when healthy) and Monta Ellis make up the #1 must-see backcourt in the league (except for maybe Wall-Gil). Ellis is playing like an MVP right now, he's much more in tune with the flow of the game and I don't see any reason for that to change. Final Prediction: 44-38

Phoenix Suns
They really miss Amar'e. Hakim Warrick has been nice, but let's be real for a minute. Unless Hedo can play like he's back in Orlando, this team is gonna struggle. Final Prediction: 41-41

Sacramento Kings
They're really not that much better than last year. DeMarcus Cousins is cool, and really they have a bunch of talented guys up and down the roster (Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi - who's a bigger chucker than 'Reke is, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Sam Dalembert, Donte Greene)... I'm just still a little on the fence about Tyreke Evans. And they still don't play defense. Final Prediction: 36-46

Los Angeles Clippers
Baron Davis will torpedo this team. There's no way around it. I'm a big Boom Dizzle fan but this team goes nowhere with him running the show. I'm not saying Eric Bledsoe is the answer... though he might be. Eric Gordon is a beast, by the way. And Blake Griffin is a MANIMAL. But B-Diddy... Final Prediction: 35-47

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant has to get hurt not to win MVP. This team won 50 games last year and all these other young guys (Westbrook, Ibaka, Harden, Maynor, etc.) will be better. It's pretty simple, really. Final Prediction: 59-23

Utah Jazz
This is a team I almost want to devalue a little after the first couple games. Al Jefferson is the best post scorer in the league but he isn't a pick-and-role player. But still, he's better than Carlos Boozer, and I think he'll figure it out. Deron Williams is still a beast, and Paul Milsap now has a starting position of his own which will put him in more of a comfort zone. I like this team a lot. But I always do. Final Prediction: 55-27

Portland Trailblazers
Nicolas Batum is wasted on this slow offense. WASTED. He would be a star in an uptempo offense. Still, this team is stacked, as usual. Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla aren't even back yet and they're 4-1 already. Final Prediction: 51-31

Denver Nuggets
The 'Melo situation needs to be resolved. And by resolved, I mean they have to trade him. I don't care about how well he's able to table his desire to leave Denver, he still doesn't want to be there. How can that be a good thing for the team? It can't. I feel bad for George Karl, I'm sure he lives for basketball but he's gonna be under a ton of stress... Final Prediction: 47-35

Minnesota Timberwolves
This team is gonna give up a TON of points, and they're not gonna score all too many. Final Prediction: 24-58

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Southeast Division

Miami Heat
Wade, Bosh and 'Bron are all adjusting to brand new roles and I don't think the Heat will hit their stride until Thanksgiving. Bosh's transition should be the easiest, all he has to do is accept that 3rd fiddle. Wade's is really quite simple as well; cyclone on both ends of the court/primary scorer. Just has accept that, naturally, he's getting fewer shots. The King's transition, however, is a tough one. He's not the first-last-and-only scoring option anymore. He has to take the Magic role. That's not to say he should waste his scoring ability trying to mimic Magic's game - which he probably could do, if he so chose. But he does have to primarily be the point guard/facilitator. Once all three are acclimated to their new settings, they will be a scary team.

This might be overly idealistic. Or maybe completely wrong. Or both. Or neither. One thing I know for sure is that all these career role players are going to look better than they ever have, and the Heat will finish with the best record in the conference (barring major injury, of course). Final Prediction: 62-20

Orlando Magic
As I wrote before, I would LOVE if the Magic went after both Agent 9 and AI9. Not because I want to see Orlando do well (I don't) but because it'd be a great team to watch, and a worthy adversary for the Lakers at that. Oh right, the real team... Dwight Howard is great, the play great defense, the make a bunch of threes they win a lot of games. The End. Final Prediction: 60-22

Atlanta Hawks
This is one team I'll give a tiny bit more credit to than I originally planned to before the season started. This team outgrew Mike Woodson (if only they had a point guard - imagine Chris Paul in Atlanta with Josh Smith and Joe Johnson. David Stern's bad karma with the basketball gods has to be at fault.) and are now playing much better basketball. They still need a point guard to really matter... I think.. right? Final Prediction: 54-28

Charlotte Bobcats
I thought of a nice trade for Jordan to pull: Boris Diaw and Shaun Livingston for Baron Davis. Sterling cuts cost and cures (the Clippers') cancer in one fell swoop. But most importantly, Shaun Livingston walking again (let alone in Clippers jersey) would possibly scare of the demonic curse that has been placed on the franchise by Satan himself, Donald Sterling. And the Bobcats get a great scorer to help an aging Stephen Jackson, making them even better than before. Oh right, real team again... I don't trust DJ Augustin but even if he is good, and even a slight improvement over Ray Felton, Jackson is still getting older. Gerald Wallace still plays like he's trying to break his neck. Their second best (after Wallace) frontcourt player is still Tyrus Thomas. Final Prediction: 40-42

Washington Bullets
ALL HAIL JOHN WALL. The kid is still everything I expected. Which was:

Take some Rajon Rondo and some Dwyane Wade, and sprinkle in a little Kevin Durant, and you get John Wall. The Rookie of the Year Award is his to lose to injury, as is a surefire hall of fame career.

(I love jinxing my players.)

And Wall still very much looks like a rookie; he's gonna be incredible by the new year. Problem is, he's not the Chris Paul-type so he can't be expected to necessarily have that level of an immediate impact. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee make up the most talented frontcourt in the NBA. It's really not close at all. But there has never been a softer set of players (together they're averaging an embarrassing 11 rebounds per, DEAR GOD). Blatche manages to have the shot selection of a 6'11" Kobe while McGee plays like the tin man. I love Al Thornton, though, and I'm a fan of Cartier Martin. And did I mention JOHN WALL? Final Prediction: 39-43

I just had a sick thought, though... what if this Arenas ankle issue is a sign that Arenas is, in some capacity, actively sabotaging the season. Like I've stated, I wish him all the best, but if his best is elsewhere then he's gotta go there.

2010-2011 NBA Preview - Central Division

Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose is my MVP dark horse. He tirelessly worked on his jumper in the offseason and has made it a point to be more vocal in the locker room, thus addressing his only two real weaknesses. There were rumors about a Joakim Noah-Carmelo Anthony swap, but I'd like to see a Carlos Boozer-for-'Melo deal happen. Obviously next-to-impossible, but that would make the Bulls MUCH better. Still like this roster a lot, though they really do need someone else who can create shots. Final Record: 53-29

Milwaukee Bucks
Bogut's health worries me. They said he's not gonna be at 100% at all this year. If he were healthy I'd put 'em above Chicago and pretty close to the top of the East. Still, I like this team a lot, for now and especially for the future. People have been trashing the Maggette acquisition but I like it a lot. Brandon Jennings seems to be having ego problems but if he has more games like the one tonight against Boston that'll resolve itself. Final Record: 52-30

Indiana Pacers
Danny Granger is a legit all-star. Now he has Darren Collison running things, which will be a major boost. And ROY HIBBERT. I told people not to laugh last year when I said he was on the rise, and I still have to tell people the same. Not for much longer, though. Final Record: 38-44

Detroit Pistons
Joe Dumars needs to go. The Pistons historically win with grit and toughness. So you go out and spend money on Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon? Don't get me wrong, they're nice players, but neither plays defense and both were overpaid. They should trade Prince and Greg Monroe for Al Jefferson... Final Record: 29-53

Cleveland Cavaliers
How they beat the Celtics, I'll never know. This team is awful. Final Record: 22-60