The 2014-2015 NBA season has started and the world feels like a better place. There are so many interesting team- and player-based storylines going into the new season. The RPadTV NBA preview is more about the teams and players that I’m excited to watch, rather than a league-wide preview. Naturally, I want to hear about all the teams and players you’re excited to watch as well, so kindly post your own NBA preview in the comments section. Since I expect this article to run long, let’s jump right into it!
Los Angeles Lakers — The vast majority of basketball fans I know in LA are diehard Lakers fans. With that in mind, it’s going to be lots of fun hate-watching Los Angeles’ glamour team and teasing my friends about their sucktitude. A month prior to the season, I felt that the Lakers would be mediocre at best, with one of the most porous defenses in league history. Then…Steve Nash was forced into retirement due to a back injury…and promising rookie Julius Randle broke his leg in his NBA debut. The Lakers had a slim chance making the playoffs this season. Barring a blockbuster trade, the Lakers will probably be a lottery team.
As pathetic as I expect the Lakers to be, there are some genuinely interesting facets to the team. I’m intrigued by Kobe Bryant’s return and I wonder how much of a load he can carry on his 36-year old (damaged) legs. Bryant is the most ruthlessly competitive player I’ve seen since Michael Jordan and it’s fun watching him go full “eff you” mode on the opposing team. I’m also excited about Jeremy Lin playing in Los Angeles and being mentored by Bryant. While I doubt it will happen, I’d love to see Linsanity 2.0 in LA.
In a possibly prophetic quote, New Lakers coach and former Lakers great Byron Scott recently addressed three-pointers by saying, “I don’t believe it wins championships. (It) gets you to the playoffs.” Unfortunately for Laker Nation, it was pointed out that seven of the last eight NBA champions led all playoff teams in three-point attempts and makes. It’s going to be a grand year for the purple-and-gold faithful. *snicker*
New York Knicks — Growing up in New York, I know a ton of Knicks fans as well. Similar to the Lakers, it’s going to be fun hate-watching the team and teasing my pals. I’ve never been high on Carmelo Anthony. While he’s a spectacular scoring machine, I’ve never seen him as a player that a championship team is built around. To me, he’s the most talented loser in the NBA and many Knicks fans greatly overestimate Carmelo’s worth. (Knicks apologists are, perhaps, the most unreasonable NBA fans.) It’s possible that he could lead the Knicks to a low seed in the Eastern Conference, but I suspect that the Knicks will be a lottery team.
I’m tremendously intrigued about NY’s use of the triangle offense. With its reliance on mid-range jumpers and post-up play, I’m not sure that the triangle works in today’s game. The majority of the league plays the way most of us played NBA Jam — it’s all about three-pointers and driving to the paint. While the triangle was undeniably successful in the ’90s, it could be antiquated in today’s NBA — kind of like that time Bjorn Borg attempted a comeback with a wooden tennis racquet when everyone else was using graphite.
New Orleans Pelicans — Ah, the pride and joy of RPadholic smartguy, the New Orleans
Hornets Pelicans. Anthony Davis is the future of the NBA. Everyone knew he’d be a terror on defense, but many of us were surprised by his (relatively) mature offense. He’s already a star and will be a superstar shortly. It’s an absolute pleasure watching his game develop. Many pundits believe that as LeBron James and Kevin Durant get older, the league will belong to Davis. It’s hard to disagree.
This year’s Pelicans will be fantastic fun to watch on defense. The addition of Omer Asik is awesome, if you’re a fan of bone-crunching D. Between Asik and Davis, it will take phenomenal efforts to score points in the paint against the Pelicans. The duo will terrorize guards that dare to drive to the bucket. Davis is tall and wildly athletic for his size. Asik is tall, strong, and bulky, with superior defensive instincts. They protect the paint in different ways. Having one of these players on a team would improve its interior defense greatly. Having two…almost isn’t fair.
Detroit Pistons — Ah, my favorite NBA team since the ’80s…will probably lead the league in mediocrity. On the plus side, Andre Drummond is one of the most exciting young players in the league and has a shockingly entertaining Twitter account. Stan Van Gundy is a huge coaching upgrade and owns the second-best winning percentage of NBA coaches that have never won a championship (yes, that’s a glass half-full stat). Unfortunately, the roster doesn’t make any sense. Greg Monroe is a nice player, but often overlaps with Drummond. Josh Smith played last season out of position and will do so again this year. Playing Drummond, Monroe, and Smith together doesn’t work, even though the Pistons tried it for hundreds of minutes last season. On the unintentionally comedic side, I’m looking forward to Van Gundy glaring holes into Smith for his unbelievably poor shot selection.
The good news is that the Eastern Conference is bad enough that Detroit has a good shot of netting a low seed in the playoffs. The bad news is that the Eastern Conference is bad enough that Detroit has a good shot of netting a low seed in the playoffs. The Pistons would be better off with a nice draft pick rather than a first round loss in the playoffs.
Utah Jazz — My excellent friend Justin is a longtime Jazz fan and I always keep an eye on the team’s box scores out of friendship. This year, I’m genuinely excited to watch the Utah Jazz play and there’s one reason — Dante Exum. The Aussie rookie put together some nice games in NBA Summer League and had several jaw-dropping moments. More importantly, I’m fascinated by Australians of African descent. Even though I’ve watched several Exum interviews, in my head he sounds like Paul Hogan. Any NBA player that sounds like Paul Hogan is must-see television.
Chicago Bulls — I loved watching the Bulls last year. Coach Tom Thibodeau eked out more victories from his demolished roster than anyone thought possible. Joakim Noah elevated his game and became something of a point-center. Between Coach Thib’s awesome sideline expressions and the nostalgia of watching Yannick Noah’s son thrive at professional sports, I truly enjoy watching the Bulls succeed.
The big question, of course, is how healthy Derrick Rose will be. I sincerely doubt that he’ll be the same player that won the league’s MVP award in 2011. His game was based on lightning-fast movement and explosiveness. Surgeries on both knees will force Rose to adjust his game. The good news is that Rose is talented enough to make the necessary adjustments and the Bulls’ 2014-2015 roster is arguably the best he’s ever played with. Noah has improved, Pau Gasol gives the team a legit scoring threat, and Nikola Mirotic could emerge as a true NBA scorer (though he’s likely a year or two away).
While some Bulls fans are concerned about the player Rose will be in 2014-2015, there are some that are worried about how long he can even stay on the court. Will we get a few solid years of Rose’s dynamic game? Or will he go down for an extended stretch with another knee injury?
Indiana Pacers — I’m excited to watch the team’s drop-off from losing Paul George to injury and losing Lance Stephenson to free agency.
Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers — I’m curious to see how bad a team that’s
trying to lose not trying to win can be.
Los Angeles Clippers — It’s quite possibly now or never for the Clippers. The Donald Sterling drama is behind them. Blake Griffin is in the middle of his prime, while Chris Paul is at the tail end of his. If you’re a tech nerd then you know how insane new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer can be. At the very least, the Clippers will play an entertaining style of basketball and have a good playoff run, all while the owner makes an ass out of himself. That’s good stuff…
…but it might not be enough for Clippers critics. Some fans feel that the Clippers are overrated, while some experts are picking the team to make the finals. Personally, I hope the latter happens for several reasons. First of all, it will give me more ammo to fire at my friends that love the Lakers. Secondly, Chris Paul is my favorite player in the league. He’s a true point guard (I hate score-first point guards) that reminds me of Pistons great Isiah Thomas. Paul excels at distributing the ball, plays much better defense than a player his height should be capable of, and often goes into eff-you mode during the last four minutes of the game to seal a win. Between his athleticism and attitude, he’s the most Isiah-like player in the league and I love watching him play.
I think there’s a good chance the Clippers will make the finals. If so, I suspect it’ll be due to the addition of Spencer Hawes. He gives the team a legitimate shooting threat that will space out the floor, allowing both Paul to control the perimeter and Griffin to control the paint. More importantly, playing Hawes at the end of tight games will cover up DeAndre Jordan’s unimaginative offense and dreadful foul shooting.
San Antonio Spurs — As a middle-aged person, I like watching other middle-aged people succeed. Manu Ginobili’s receding hairline makes me feel better about my own. There’s a good chance that I’ll die before Tim Duncan retires from the NBA. Tony Parker is…well, he’s French, so it’s hard to root for him, with all the wife stealing, wine drinking, and beret wearing antics that French men enjoy. The Spurs aren’t just a bunch of glorious old guys. Kawhi Leonard is a youthful force, while Coach Gregg Popovich is the best in the league and deceptively hilarious.
Oklahoma City Thunder — Kevin Durant is an undeniably glorious player, but I’m more excited about the Thunder games that he’ll miss while recuperating from a broken foot. I want to see some Russell Westbrook insanity! A lot of fans have made jokes about Westbrook launching 50 shots a game while Durant is out. Yes, it’s a glib comment to make, but it’s also within the realm of possibility.
When Durant comes back, I expect the Thunder to dominate. I also suspect Coach Scott Brooks to blow the team’s playoff run. If the Thunder do win it all, it’ll have everything to do with roster talent and nothing to do with Brooks’ coaching.
Houston Rockets — I used to really enjoy James Harden’s game, but he has become somewhat unlikable as a Rocket. Part of it is calling his teammates not named James Harden or Dwight Howard “role players. Part of it is transitive effects from spending so much time with the unlikable Dwight Howard. You get the sense that the team — from the front office to the ball boys — thinks it’s much better than it actually is, and that’s just unappealing. I’ve never been a fan of lovable losers (professional athletes, anyway), so it’s impossible for me to root for Howard. Harden…I guess I’ll still watch for his sick Euro-step and uncanny resemblance to Will.i.am.
Miami Heat — I’m not at all interested in LeBron’s new team (Kevin Love is overrated), but I’m curious about his old one. As a nerd, I’m high on Chris Bosh. As far as I know, he’s the only NBA player that can write code. That’s some huge nerd cred right there. Bosh should be every nerd’s favorite basketball player. Plus, dinosaurs and humans that look like dinosaurs are cool.
As a Filipino-American, I hope that Coach Erik Spoelstra has a great season. I hope that the young Pinoy can thrive in his post-LeBron world and show basketball fans that he’s a boy genius.
That’s a Wrap — That’s it for the RPadTV 2014-2015 NBA Preview Spectacular. Please share your thoughts on the new season in the comments section.