Well, look who it is. Hey guys! How was your summer? Did you enjoy watching those really exciting baseball games? Haha, me either! Well, at least the Olympics were fun…gotcha again! I’m not even going to mention golf, who cares?
But fear not. Fall is here, basketball season has arrived and your favorite Sports Dump writer is back! I spent the off-season working on my blogging game and am ready for a break-out year! Trust me, I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m totally committed to my team! At least that’s what Raymond Felton told me I should say – Hey oh!
Follow me after the jump and we’ll get things started with some of the major stories to follow this year.
(First thing I learned this summer, you can never go wrong with lists and bullet points. Let’s do this!)
- The Traveling Circus that will be this year’s LA Lakers – The Lakers had the most noteworthy off-season as they signed Steve Nash and traded for the ever likable Dwight Howard. The Howard trade sent Andrew Bynum to Philly, Andre Iguodola to the Nuggets. There were some other guys involved, but no one really cares about them. The moves immediately puts the Lakers back in the conversation of best team in the West, but the chemistry of this team is what I’m interested in. You’ve got Kobe and Nash trying to figure out how to play together, Paussy Cat Gasol trying to stop Kobe from hating him, Crazy ‘ol Metta World Peace, and oh yeah, Dwight Howard. You remember, the guy who changes his mind more than a pubescent teenager, lies to everyone, quits on his team, holds a city hostage all while crying he’s being treated unfairly. Oh yeah, he still hasn’t committed to playing more than one year in LA so yeah, the Lakers are going to be real fun to watch.
- Don’t tell anyone, but the Champs got better too – Fresh off their first title, Miami was also active this off-season. They went out and signed Ray Allen for half of what the Celtics offered him (seriously, the guy took a 50% pay cut so he wouldn’t have to play with Rondo anymore. Do you hate anyone at your job that much?) and Rashard Lewis for the veteran minimum. After several years as Captain of the Ski-Mask All Star team, Rashard Lewis is now playing for the Veteran Minimum. It’s not every day a guy goes from the most overpaid player in the league to maybe it’s best bargain. These signings show that Miami is completely embracing their small ball philosophy, meaning we can all look forward to Lebron James playing more in the post. 28, 10 and 8 are completely reachable numbers for James this year as is a 4th MVP award. The big concern with the Heat is the health of Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh (can he really play the 5 for a full season without dying?).
- Brooklyn! Stand up! – After decades of misery in New Jersey, the Nets are no longer 2nd class citizens. They’ve moved to the City, built a sweet arena and should field a very competitive team. That sound you hear is thirsty Knicks fans in a full on sprint uptown. After Miami and Boston, the East is up for grabs and I think the Nets have a serious chance to contend for the 3rd spot. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez is a really good top 4 and I think this will be a really fun to watch.
- New York’s Other Team – The Knicks have a chance to make history this year. No, not win a title. They have a chance to be the oldest team in the history of the NBA! Rasheed Wallace hasn’t officially signed, but when he does the average age of this team will be 32 years and 4 months. The good news is that the old guys won’t be starting, so everything should work out just fine. I mean, who wouldn’t want Jason Kidd (38), Kurt Thomas (39), Marcus Camby (38) and Rasheed Wallace (38) coming off their bench to stop other team’s energy guys? How can this possibly go wrong? They also let Jeremy Lin leave for Houston and replaced him with Sean May’s favorite late-night eating buddy, Ray Felton. During media day a reporter asked Felton about his weight while playing in Portland last season. Felton responded by saying he didn’t get in shape last summer because he didn’t think there would be a season. Now THAT sounds like a guy who the Knicks will be able to count on this season! This train wreck will be almost as fun as the one in LA.
- Don’t let the large markets fool you, Oklahoma City is still really good – The great thing about going to the NBA Finals with a young, athletic team is that they keep getting better. Most of the noise this off-season has come out of Los Angeles and New York. In case you forgot, Kevin Durant is only 24 years old and has a NBA Finals appearance and an Olympic Gold medal under his belt this year. He’s actually still getting better folks, watch out. Russell Westbrook might be the most polarizing player in the NBA, but he can get buckets and has improved his game every year. This duo will continue to wreak havoc on the Western Conference. All of their other major parts are back, including Kendrick Perkins who will be crucial to matching up with the Lakers bigs in the playoffs. The Thunder hope to get James Harden re-signed before the season, eliminating a possible distraction. This team has not reached it’s potential, which is why I still think they are the team to beat out West despite the Lakers additions.
- How the league deals with flopping – This has become a serious problem for the league’s image. You can blame whoever you want: Coach K, Europeans, Lebron – the fact remains that fans and players (seriously) hate it. However, I am skeptical as to how best to do this. The charge/block call is the most difficult to make in basketball. Putting it on the referees to add in a 3rd dimension to such a bang-bang play is probably too much to ask. Retroactively fining players is a possibility, but still won’t address the immediate, in game, problem. Whatever happens, will probably make people made so Twitter should be even more fun.
These are just a few of the stories I’m keeping my eye on this year. I’ll be back for more as the season approaches, including predictions and previews. Oh, and a lot more bullet points!
Follow me on Twitter: @DLAGPrez