30 Teams 30 Questions
Basketball is back!!! The NBA season officially kicked off with the Miami Heat receiving their championship rings and then going on to clobber the Chicago Bulls 107-95. This game also marked the return of Derrick Rose. The former MVP, against a great Miami defense, scored 12 points on 15 shots and had 5 turnovers. After missing an entire year it’s obviously going to take some time for D. Rose to get back to doing this on the regular.
The other marquee game featured the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. In what is supposed to be a waaaay down year for the Lakers (no Kobe Bryant until maybe Christmas, Nick Young in the starting lineup, defense) they actually managed to defeat the Clippers 116-103. The Clippers defense looked really bad (coming from the KG led Celtics defenses, i’m sure new Clippers coach Doc Rivers was disgusted) and the Clippers missed 10 out of their 23 free throws. Luckily for the Clippers it was just the 1st game of the season so they can’t go anywhere but up.
We’re going to get our first look at a bunch of teams who think they’re championship contenders, some other teams that are stuck in mediocrity, and teams that are going to be absolutely terrible. So before this all kicks off let’s take some time to ask some questions about all 30 teams.
1. Brooklyn Nets: How are Deron Williams and Brook Lopez going to adapt to playing with KG and Paul Pierce?
Even though the big splash trade of the summer was Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry going to the Nets, this Brooklyn team isn’t about those guys. KG will add the defensive intensity, and Pierce will give them another scoring option down the stretch, but in the end it will come down to D-Will and Brook Lopez and if they can play at a high level.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Is this the year that
Uncle Drew Kyrie Irving becomes the best PG in the league?
In a recent survey done by NBA.com the polled all 30 general managers they were asked what NBA player would they choose to start an NBA franchise with. Obviously the top 2 picks were LeBron James and Kevin Durant but in a surprise twist it was Kyrie Irving that got the 3rd most votes. For the past few years Chris Paul has had a lock on the ‘Point God’ title, but he’s 28 and kind of got outplayed by Jordan Farmar last night in the 4th quarter. Kyrie Irving is ONLY 21! With a team around him that on paper looks like it could make the playoffs, if he can stay healthy this might be the year that Kyrie makes the leap into the superstar category.
3. Los Angeles Lakers: How many shots is Nick Young going to take?
Last night Nick Young was 3-10 from the field and finished with 13 points. He had a terrible 1st quarter, and actually kept the Lakers in the game in the 2nd quarter with some nice jumpshots. This will most likely be what Lakers fans are going to get from Swaggy P all season (if Kobe doesn’t murder him first)
4. Golden State Warriors: Are they going to miss Jarrett Jack?
In order to acquire Andre Iguodala the Warriors had to let go of scoring machine Jarrett Jack. Jack was incredibly valuable to the Warriors last year, especially down the stretch when they played small and put him in the backcourt with Steph Curry. Now that he’s not there it is up to guys like Harrison Barnes to raise their level of play.
5. Philadelphia 76ers: How bad are they going to be?
The best player on this team is either Evan Turner or Thaddeus Young….. Their #1 draft pick Nerlens Noel probably won’t play this year and Spencer Hawes is probably the best outside shooter they have….Hawes is a center by the way…So yes…They’re going to suck.
6. Miami Heat: Will all the minutes catch up to the Big 3?
Since being assembled 3 years ago, the Miami Heat’s big 3 (LeBron, Bosh and Wade) have in 3 straight NBA Finals and got the best shot from every team they played every night. We saw in last years playoffs that Dwyane Wade is clearly on the downside of his career and with everyone other major contender in Eastern conference getting better it will be interesting to see if their bodies can keep up with the long NBA grind.
7. Boston Celtics: Will the Brad Stevens experiment work?
Hiring former Butler head coach Brad Stevens was a surprising move by Danny Ainge and the Celtics management. But the young charismatic Stevens seems to be adjusting pretty well to the job so far. But we know the track record of college coaches going into the NBA and without Rondo available at the beginning of the season we’ll see how long the good vibes last.
8.Toronto Raptors: Will they trade Rudy Gay?
The question should probably be when. With GM wiz Masai Uriji coming over from Denver expect the Raptors to move Gay sometime this year.
9. Washington Wizards: Will John Wall finally make the leap?
Down the stretch last year John Wall was playing the best basketball of his career. Now with a roster around him that could possibly make a playoff run in the East, does John Wall finally become the guy we all thought he was going to be coming out of Kentucky?
10. Detroit Pistons: Is something great quietly brewing in Detroit?
Ok so with a frontcourt of Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, a plethora of good scoring guards in Will Bynum, Brandon Jennings, and Rodney Stuckey, and some leadership qualities from old man Chauncey Billups it seems like the Pistons might have a bright future ahead of them.
11. Milwaukee Bucks: What exactly are they doing in Milwaukee?
The one thing you can’t do in the NBA is be a mediocre team. The Bucks seem to be perennially a guarantee to get the 6, 7 or 8 seed in the East and lose in the 1st round. This offseason they got rid of Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and JJ Reddick which gave the perception that they were going to try and rebuild. But then they picked up OJ Mayo, Brandon Knight and Caron Butler…So yea…Come on Milwaukee
12. New York Knicks: Is the window shut for the Knicks?
It would appear so. The best opportunity for the Knicks was probably last year with Chicago without Derrick Rose. Although the signing of Metta World Peace will add a physical, capable defender to their perimeter, and the pickup of Andrea Bargnani gave them another guy tot space the floor. But to me unless we see significant improvements from guys like Iman Shumpert and no self-destructions from JR Smith, the Knicks will be back where they were last year.
13. Houston Rockets: How far can Dwight Howard actually take them?
No matter how many times he says it, Dwight Howard is better served trying to play more like Tyson Chandler than he is Hakeem Olajuwon. This is his 10th season and his post game still only consists of 2 MAYBE 3 moves that he can use. Playing like that will more than likely slow this Rockets team down. Dwight should focus on becoming the most dominant pick and roll man with James Harden and getting back to becoming the great defensive player that he was 2 years ago.
14. Charlotte Bobcats: Is this the year that they start building something?
Just looking at guys on the roster that Charlotte is going to rely on you have to be at least kind of encouraged. Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions and whatever they can get from Cody Zeller….At least this organization is showing signs of doing something right
15. Minnesota Timberwolves: Can they keep Kevin Love happy?
David Kahn is no longer making personnel decisions for this team and i’m sure that is a step in the right direction. Kevin Love has made no qualms about publicly saying that he will leave if he doesn’t think the Wolves are going anywhere. Last year this team was projected to make the playoffs until injuries ran through their team. Hopefully Love, Rubio and other key contributors can spend more time on the court and less time in the training roo,
16. Orlando Magic: Remember when this team was in the Finals a few years ago?
17. Indiana Pacers: Do they have a bench?
The biggest problem they ran into last year in the Eastern Conference Finals was that if Paul George and the rest of the starting 5 wasn’t scoring, then they weren’t winning. During the offseason they picked up Luis Scola and CJ Watson, two guys that can come in off the bench and be viable offensive threats. Whenever Danny Granger comes back he should be able to boost them their as well.
18. New Orleans Pelicans: What’s up with all the guards?
I know this is a guard dominated league by jeez. Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans all are going to play big minutes for this team. All 3 of those guys need the ball to be effective. It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out.
19. Dallas Mavericks: Could Monta Ellis lead the team in scoring?
Dirk is still Dirk…But Dirk is getting older and while he showed flashes of being the German destroyer that wrecked the playoffs in 2010 those moments were rare. Monta Ellis on the other hand is only 28 is the teams best backcourt player (no matter how inefficient he can be) and certainly has no problems jacking up shots.
20. Atlanta Hawks: Where are they going?
The Atlanta Hawks have pretty much stenciled themselves into the 4 or 5 seed in the playoffs the last few years and have been out of the tournament in 2nd round most of those years. They let Josh Smith walk to Detroit, and while you can say that this team should make the playoffs again this year, is that really a good thing?
21. San Antonio Spurs: Does the Duncan/Popovich/Ginobil/Parker well finally run dry?
Probably not…Pop will manage their minutes well, sit them out of some games and rely on guys like Kawhi Leonard (who could be a guy who makes THE LEAP this year), Marco Bellinelli and Danny Green to get through the regular season. They’ll probably get a 1,2, or 3 seed and be right back in the Finals again this year, and we’ll all be shocked and surprised that they’re still doing it after all these years.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Are the Grizzlies to big to win?
The time where you needed a dominant big man to win a title are long gone. The Miami Heat have won the past 2 NBA titles without a real center on the roster. The Grizzlies don’t have a guy on the perimeter who can shoot the outside shot (other than Jerryd Bayless and Mike Conley) in a time where you need guys who can shoot the 3. They have two great players in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the frontcourt but when those guys get double teamed who do they pass it to to hit the outside shot? Tony Allen? Yea…..Probably not
23.Utah Jazz: They traded for Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins…Awesome right?
Yes….Yes it is….
24. Oklahoma City Thunder: So the James Harden trade was pretty bad right?
The main centerpiece of that trade for the Thunder, Kevin Martin, is gone to Minnesota, Kendrick Perkins is still on your roster, even when Russell Westbrook comes back who knows if he will be 100%, other than KD and Russell you still have no scary offensive threats, and KENDRICK PERKINS IS STILL ON YOUR ROSTER!!! Meanwhile James Harden is in Houston playing on one of the most exciting teams in the league, and oh yea they signed Dwight Howard over the summer to get even better
25. Portland Trailblazers: Will the Blazers stop underachieving?
Damien Lillard came out of nowhere last year and should now be considered one of the better point guards in the western conference. Lamarcus Aldridge is still one of the better PF’s in the league. Nic Batum is a great perimeter defender, and solid 3 point shooter. The signing of Dorrell Wright should give them a capable shooter from 3. When CJ McCollum gets healthy he should make their terrible bench better. This team has the pieces to make the playoffs….Can they do it though?
26. Phoenix Suns: Will this team actually be competitive?
27. Denver Nuggets: Will they drop off?
They lost Andre Iguodala to the Warriors, they fired George Karl (the guy who molded that team through the Carmelo Anthony years) and Danilo Gallinari won’t be ready to return until the end of November. They definitely have an uphill battle.
28. Sacramento Kings: Does Demarcus Cousins get it right this year?
Boogie Cousins has had the talent since the day he was drafted from Kentucky. The only thing holding him back has been his attitude on the court. He gets into with coaches, has been banned from the team several times, and makes dumb decisions on the court. But when he is focused he can dominate almost anybody. With a plethora of young players around him (the oldest guy on the team is 33 year old John Salmons) he needs mature pretty quickly if he wants to make something out of his career.
29. Chicago Bulls: Yea so Derrick Rose is playing, but how long until he is actually ‘back’?
In the NFL Robert Griffin III was able to start at QB for the Washington Redskins in Week 1 after tearing his ACL. But it too until Week 5 until he actually looked like the RG3 of last year. Derrick Rose started in game 1 for the Bulls and while he definitely looked like he had his explosion back he was extremely rusty. While D.Rose has never been the poster child for efficient scoring, I would expect better than needing 15 shots to get 12 points from him.
30. Los Angeles Clippers: Is the honeymoon over for Blake Griffin?
Yes. This is Blake’s 3rd year in the league. The high flying act got old really quick and now people want to see him develop more in the post, get a reliable outside shot and for the love god be able to shoot free throws!!