Archive for the ‘2012-13 NBA Previews’ Category

Finally, the NBA is back. Have a great night.

You asked for ‘em; you got ‘em.

Here’s a quick rundown of the 101 questions we tackled, in order, on The Basketball Jones’ four-part NBA season preview podcast. Specific time cues also included. (Thanks, Matty O!)

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On today’s final episode of TBJ’s 2012-13 NBA preview podcast — CLICK FOR PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3 — the guys finish answering 101 questions about the upcoming season. Who won the James Harden deal? Is Dwight the league’s biggest villain? Who should be invited to the 2013 Dunk Contest? Is Hibbert the funniest player in the league? Which is the most difficult team to forecast? And just who will win the 2012-13 title?

All that, plus fantasy sleepers, “pun-tastic” N.Y. Post headlines, Halloween costumes, social media, Tracy McGrady’s NBA future, knuckleheads, the Van Gundy Bros., and much, much more.

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The great thing about sports prognostication is that nobody really remembers when you’re wrong about stuff. I mean, occasionally, if you say something really, really stupid, or if you say something marginally stupid really, really loudly, it might come back to haunt you. But otherwise, your basic prediction stuff never really lingers in the public memory. Unless, of course, you remind people about it later. So it’s super-easy to take credit for the stuff you get right, and equally easy to dodge the stuff you get wrong.

A little too easy, if you ask me. It sets up a system that encourages consequence-free, shot-in-the-dark prediction making, since as long as nobody remembers the unlikely predictions you make that never come through, why not make as many as you can until you strike gold with one of them? It’s a system without accountability. In sports journalism, without accountability, you can’t have any kind of credibility.

Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to comb through most of the major NBA preseason forecasts from various publications, and pick out some of the boldest predictions, some of which seem really pretty unlikely on the surface. I’ll revisit them later in the year, and if they come true, I’ll give all credit to their respective writers for having the guts to make such bold calls that were nonetheless evidently based in some sort of fact. However, if they’re wrong — especially if they’re really wrong — you better believe I’m gonna make sure people are reminded that said really wrong predictions were originally made.

Now, before we get started, I do want to at least credit all the below publications for at least having the courage to make their controversial prognostications. Easy as it is to cover up a bold prediction gone awry, it’s easier still to just not make them in the first place. And while I certainly don’t encourage making outlandish predictions you don’t actually believe in, if you don’t believe in at least a couple against-the-grain opinions … why are you doing a season preview column in the first place, anyway?

Sports Illustrated (print only)
: Knicks in Conference Finals

Sports Illustrated mostly takes it easy with their standings predictions. If you took the aggregate of every such amateur and professional preseason prediction, it’d probably look pretty close to SI’s standings, minus some nips and tucks — Pacers over Celtics for 2nd in the East, Mavs and Jazz over Wolves for the final playoff spots in the West — here and there. The only really bold prediction in their NBA issue comes in their brief playoff forecast, in which they have the New York Knicks — who have had decreasingly few believers as their off-season got more and more dysfunctional — making it all the way to the East finals, albeit losing to the Heat once there. Not a huge reach, but a notable one, and one they’ll certainly get to enjoy a couple ounces of dap for should it pan out.

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Join me as I count down my predictions of the regular season finishes for the 2012-13 NBA season, at a rate of three teams per day. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.

3. Denver Nuggets
Hey, it’s everybody’s second-favorite team, the Denver Nuggets! Like many of you, I really, really like this team. They’re extremely fun to watch, they’ve got a bunch of diverse scoring, rebounding and defensive talent, and they’re incredibly deep. In fact, they’re so deep that I was inspired to write a song about them…

Sung to the tune of “How Deep is Your Love” by the Bee Gees:

I see Iggy playing lockdown D
I feel Danilo shooting many threes
And the moment that Kosta Koufos posts up
I know the Nugz are gonna win again
Dre Miller is fat but his oops are sweet
As long as Timofey doesn’t make me heave
Yet you’re asking me to show

How deep are the Nugz?
(How deep are the Nugz? How deep are the Nugz?)
Y’all really need to learn
Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking them down
In spite of Kenneth Faried
We should love JaVale McGee

I believe in Ty
He knows the door to my very soul
He leads a fast break right into my heart
‘Til Wilson Chandler’s shot falls
And you may not think Corey Brewer rules
But he’s great for steals in your fantasy pool
And this year the Nugz will show
How deep are the Nugz?

2. Oklahoma City Thunder
We all know this team is good, and if they finish any lower than second-best in the West, that would be a major shock. The question is: How much better will they be compared to last season? Their four best players (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka) are all under 25 so you would think they haven’t hit their peak yet. But it’s incredibly rare for a player to get to the level Durant and Westbrook have reached and then raise his game another notch beyond that. It seems to me that the odds are that they’re probably pretty close to their peak already, but I won’t mind in the least if they prove me wrong.

In terms of personnel upgrades, the Thunder will welcome back Eric Maynor as their backup point guard after he missed all but nine games with an ACL tear last season. He’s a good playmaker, defender and outside shooter — but most importantly, he’s not Derek Fisher. I lost a little bit of respect for Thunder GM Sam Presti when he thought adding Fisher as a “veteran presence” was a good idea. Maybe as a coach, but the guy couldn’t play, and Maynor’s a huge improvement in that bench role.

1. Miami Heat
They’re the defending champions, and with the additional shooting prowess provided by Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, they definitely have a stronger roster compared to last season. They also no longer have to prove anything to the haters, so they can just ball like they own this sport.

Anything can happen, but you’re trippin’ if you don’t consider the Miami Heat the prohibitive favorite to finish with the best regular season record. Some of you might try to create a imaginary narrative where LeBron goes “soft” or whatever, but that’s like looking for flaws in Kate Upton’s appearance. You need to stop trying so hard and simply accept greatness when it’s presented to you.

Previously in the countdown: 30-28 | 27-25 | 24-22 | 21-19 | 18-16 | 15-13 | 12-10 | 9-7 | 6-4

Yesterday, we took a look at the Western Conference players that will help shape their respective teams’ destinies. Today, we look at the East. Remember, the term “success” here is all relative. *cough*Bobcats*cough*.

Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague

Teague had a coming out party of sorts last season when he was given the reins at the starting point guard position, starting all 66 games and posting career-highs across the board. Will he be able to improve on his 12.6 points, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals from a year ago? His continued development and increased scoring opportunities following the trade of Joe Johnsonwill be key to the Hawks remaining in the playoff picture, where they’ll surely lose in the first or second round.

Boston Celtics: Jeff Green

The Celtics just paid Green a lot of money during the offseason after he didn’t play a lick at all last season. It’s an obvious investment for the future, but with Paul Pierce getting old and with retirement rumors having surfaced previously, how Green develops will not only shape the fortunes of the team this season, but for the next few. He likely may not get enough minutes, but if he can show he can produce like his career-highs of 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds, the Celtics will breathe easier. Almost went with Jason Terry here replacing Ray Allen, but Jet should be able to handle it. Avery Bradley was another option. Man, the Celtics are really deep at the guard position now, huh?

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Join me as I count down my predictions of the regular season finishes for the 2012-13 NBA season, at a rate of three teams per day. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.

6. San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio: Where the past (Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili), the present (Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter) and the future (Kawhi Leonard) combine to keep the Spurs relevant in the championship discussion for the 15th straight season. I learned long ago to never count this team out as long as Gregg Popovich is still their coach.

In case you forgot, the Spurs were ridiculously dominant during the 2011-12 regular season — they outscored their opponents by 7.7 points per 100 possessions. Tim Duncan used to anchor the stingiest team defense in the NBA for about a decade, but now they’re all about the run-and-gun. Last season, they had the league’s best offense and three-point percentage, and they were seventh in pace. They have a seemingly unlimited number of deadly long bombers — Danny Green, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal and Ginobili each shot at least 125 trey attempts and made at least 41.3 percent of them. This team likes to make it rain on them pros.

5. Los Angeles Lakers
I despise this team. They’re eminently more unlikable than the 2010-11 Miami Heat were. Kobe Bryant’s a sociopath, Dwight Howard is a two-faced, narcissistic liar, Metta World Peace is a borderline psychopath, and Steve Nash turned down more money and broke the hearts of millions of Canadians by spurning my Raptors. I have no beef with Pau Gasol, though. He’s cool.

Before the preseason, I was prepared to put this team at the very top of this list, but there appears to be some issues. Kobe and Nash will probably both have to sit out some games this season, and the Lakers’ bench frankly looks like hot garbage. That doesn’t change the fact that they should be considered the favorite to represent the Western Conference in the 2013 NBA finals. Also, Nash looks ridiculous in a Lakers uniform and his haircut looks stupid and he’s stupid and he should feel bad.

4. Boston Celtics
Hey, how about all this Rajon Rondo MVP buzz! Wanna know what I think about it? I think it’s ridiculous. The only way Rondo wins MVP this season is if the Celtics finish with the best record in the NBA. Can you say that has a realistic chance of happening with a straight face?

The Celtics are still very, very strong. They’re a virtual lock to be the best defensive squad in the league, they’re highly motivated (as usual) and they’ve got some nice depth with the return of Jeff Green and the additions of Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa. Plus, you know that no team hates the Heat and Lakers as much as these guys do. Every Celtics-Lakers and Celtics-Heat game is going to be absolutely epic.

Previously in the countdown: 30-28 | 27-25 | 24-22 | 21-19 | 18-16 | 15-13 | 12-10 | 9-7