What To Watch For: College Football Week 10

This is gonna be a fun one.  This weekend, we have four Top 25 match ups, one really interesting game that is going to end close, and a one big time upset.  We’re hitting the homestretch, as the newest ranking system has been released.  It’s getting nutty now.

No.3 Auburn vs. No.4 Ole Miss

What a game this will be.  Ole Miss is coming off a big loss to LSU, and is looking to redeem themselves, even though the committee sneaked them in.  The LSU loss was really bad.  The real problem is, this isn’t the game to redeem themselves.  Auburn deserves to ranked No.3.  Their offense is unstoppable.  They put up close to 40 points a game, as this game will most likely be a shootout.  Ole Miss has a great defense, but it’s going to come down to if the Rebels can keep up with Auburn.  Prediction: Auburn-45 Ole Miss-32

No.12 Arizona vs. No.22 UCLA

(Homerism Possible)

The Wildcats are one of this year’s surprise teams.  After a huge upset over Oregon, all they’ve done is continue to impress.  Now, they face the sliding Bruins, who seem like they can’t win a big game.  Their slide has been awful, as I thought this year they could have been a New Year’s Six team.  This game is one they’re gonna have trouble with.  Arizona’s defense has been stellar, which isn’t great news for the Bruins.  This is the main matchup.  Anu Solomon has been like the kid in your math class who gets awful grades, but then gets a A a certain test.  He’s super sketchy.  His accuracy his awful, and personally I don’t like him, but he’s getting the job done.  Prediction: Arizona-35 UCLA-17

No.17 Utah vs. No.14 Arizona State

(Homerism Possible)

What time to be a fan of Arizona football teams!  (Like me!)

Anyways, I know nothing about this Utah team.  I can’t believe they’re this high.

They do like to score, however.  Utah has been a excellent passing team this year, with their QB throwing no picks yet.  Neither team’s defense is great, but their not bad.  This game should be higher scoring.

Taylor Kelly is finally back.  He did play last week againist Washington, but this is his first big game back, so it will be interesting to see how he does.  I’m not nervous for the Sun Devils, but giving I don’t know a whole lot about the Utes, it does kind of scare me.  Prediction: Arizona State-32 Utah-30

No.7 TCU vs. No.20 West Virginia

Wait, West Virginia is ranked because they pulled only one upset?

Yea, just another reason how these rankings are becoming more like power than best.

Anyways, TCU has completely taken the nation by storm.  They’ve played great behind their incredible offense, and will probably do the same here.  However, the Mountaineers have different ideas, and want to snag another big upset.  West Virginia has to play good defense against the Horned Frogs, or else they’ll get burned.  Prediction: TCU-49 West Virginia-24

Other Interesting Games

No.9 Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State

(Homerism Possible)

This game has absolutely massive potential, and is sure to deliver.  The Wildcats have a unstoppable offense that takes a great defense to shut down.  Oklahoma State’s defense has a large task ahead.  The Cowboys have had a good offense season itself, but in no way is as good as K-State’s.  We could have shoot out on our hands, but the Wildcats will pull it off.  Prediction: Kansas State-35 Oklahoma State-17

Upset Alert

Stanford vs. No.6 Oregon

Oregon, like UCLA, has slipped heavily in the past weeks.  Marcus Mariota has done great, but his surrounding cast hasn’t been great so far.  Oregon only has one loss (to Arizona), but they’ve played a lot worse than that.  Stanford has a great defense, while their offense and QB Kevin Hogan hasn’t been great this year.  Oregon needs to play a good game if they want to win, because I see this ending in the Cardinal favor.  If the Ducks play better than past weeks, they win.  If this downward trend continues, Stanford wins.

 

Three Crazy, Insane Trades That Should’ve Happened At The NFL’s Deadline

As usual, nothing happened at this year’s NFL Trade Deadline.  All of the anticipation and rumors are never true; something doesn’t happen that we expected to.  It never lives up to the hype.

But what if it did?

What if it ended up like the MLB’s Trade Deadline?

Well, I’m going to make it that way.

The two trades that occurred on Tuesday both involved the Buccaneers, and the players who were moved I had never heard of.  That’s all you need to know how boring it is.

These trades are crazy ideas.  No need to tell me I’m dumb.  This is a fun column.  None of these should ever happen, and trust me, they won’t.

Oakland Gets: Christian Ponder, 6th round pick

Minnesota Gets: Darren McFadden

Without Adrian Peterson, we all expected this Vikings running game to collapse.  It’s really stepped up.  Jerick McKinnon has done great, with 392 yards rushing and an average of 5.2 yards a run.  Matt Asiata is the power guy, and has scored three TD’s this year.  With only 254 yards, it’s respectable because he hasn’t been featured.

McFadden would have boosted this running game so much.  Even though he wouldn’t of been going to a good team, anything is better than Oakland, currently.  McFadden would get to re-boot his career, because it’s been pretty sketchy so far.  He’s constantly hurt, which plays into it, but he’s had bad coaches who don’t know how to use him.  If you trade him, and he gets a new and better chance.

Ponder would give the Raiders a experienced QB not named Matt Schuab on the roster.  Ponder isn’t great, but unless Derek Carr completely collapsed, they could put him in.

Miami Gets: CJ Spiller

Buffalo Gets: Dion Jordan, 5th round pick

Now this is nuts.

The Miami running game has struggled since before I can remember.  No matter who’s on this team, they’ve never been able to run.  Lamar Miller has 469 yards this season and 4 TD’s.  He’s decent, but not great.

If your QB is second on your team in rushing, that’s not great.  Given Ryan Tannehill is your QB though.  He’s a mobile guy, so, it’s okay.

Spiller would’ve exploded this running game.  The Dolphins might’ve been entered into playoff consideration if it had occurred.

I’m not even sure a return like this is something the Bills would even consider.  They would’ve wanted way more than this.  Dion Jordan has had a disappointing career so far, filled with bad seasons and suspensions.  I haven’t gave up on him, but I’m biased since I’ve met him.  Good guy, by the way.  I’m throwing in the 5th round pick just to make the Bills happy.

St. Louis Gets: Matt Ryan

Atlanta Gets: Jake Long, two 1st round picks

Ain’t this perfect?

Sam Bradford is highly unlikely to be a Ram after this season, so why couldn’t they have swinged this.  Matt Ryan is wasting years with the Falcons.  They are going nowhere, and their GM needs to go as soon as possible.  The Falcons have no one on the offensive line, and haven’t for a while.  Even thigh Long was hurt, it would have solidified them help in the future.

The Rams could get Matt Ryan, who is a great QB, and surround with what they already have and add.  He’s got experience in the Playoffs, and can lead a team.  They wouldn’t of been relevant for awhile, but it’s not like Ryan would’ve had to develop.

See, these trades would’ve been great, right?

This won’t ever happen.  The NFL’s trade deadline will never be like the MLB’s.  NFL players are impossible to trade.  You build your team through the draft and free agency.   Again, this column was a fun one.

 

2014-2015 NBA Prediction Column

My previous columns lead to this, where surprise and excitement fill the air.  The prediction column is here.  We know how this works, now that I’ve written three (NBA, NHL NFL).

So, let’s tip it off!

East

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

2. Chicago Bulls

3. Washington Wizards

4. Miami Heat

5. Toronto Raptors

6. Charlotte Hornets

7. Atlanta Hawks

8. Brooklyn Nets

9. Detroit Pistons

10. New York Knicks

11. Indiana Pacers

12. Orlando Magic

13. Boston Celtics

14. Milwaukee Bucks

15. Philadelphia 76ers

Again, as I reiterated in my previous columns, the Eastern Conference has a major shakeup this year.  A lot of teams are jumping in, and a couple are falling back.  I believe the Heat are going to slip back only a bit.  They’re still a very good team, even with the loss of Lebron James.  Chris Bosh is pretty good at basketball, and he’ll be leading this team.  I’m not sure their Summer additions are that great though.  Toronto slips back a spot due to Cleveland’s ascent, and Charlotte moves up.  Brooklyn isn’t as good as last year, which why the Hornets will gain the extra spot.  However, Atlanta and Brooklyn are still getting in.  I don’t see the Knicks or Pistons making a playoff push yet.  Orlando is a really tricky team.  They aren’t playoff worthy, but could make some kind of push in the standings.  This Orlando team is kind of like Denver, though Denver has better playoff odds.  The bottom three teams I already covered, but Milwaukee is probably the most interesting in that tier.

West

1. San Antonio Spurs

2. Los Angeles Clippers

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

4. Golden State Warriors

5. Houston Rockets

6. Dallas Mavericks

7. Portland Trail Blazers

8. Phoenix Suns

9. Memphis Grizzlies

10. Denver Nuggets

11. New Orleans Pelicans

12. Sacramento Kings

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

14. Los Angeles Lakers

15. Utah Jazz

Look, the Spurs have it figured out: no matter how old they are or whatever.  Their gonna get it done.  End of story.  The Clippers, as I noted yesterday, have a massive opportunity with Kevin Durant’s injury.  The Thunder are going to be okay, giving a serious setback with KD.  Golden State has a big opportunity here.  They can really show the league who they are.  Steve Kerr is going to figure out how to use people besides Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.  They’re going to surprise you this year.  A lot of people believe Houston is going to take a step back.  I’m not totally sold, but I do see where it’s coming from.  The Chandler Parson loss is big, but they still have people there.  They’ll be fine, but they need to play some defense.  No.6,7,8, are a crapshoot.  I could see any of these teams get No.6.  Memphis, I think, is going to slip.  I’m worried about their front-court depth, even though they have Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.  Denver is a really sneaky team.  They may be able to rumble some things.  They have to execute properly.  Now, we hit the bottom tier.  I don’t expect any of these teams to do anything.  The Timberwolves and Pelicans have bright, distant futures, but as for the rest: Do yourself a favor and don’t watch them.

Let the season begin!

NFL Week 8 Roundup

Denver-35 San Diego-21

The Broncos really dominated this game.  Peyton Manning threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, all three of those to Emmanuel Sanders, who had a ridiculous game.  Sanders had 120 yards to go with those TD’s, also.  Denver jumped out to an early  lead, and the Chargers couldn’t catch up with it.  Philip Rivers threw two interceptions which left a big impact on the game.  Brandon Oliver and rushing game couldn’t get going.  The Broncos, on the other hand, ran for 139 yards as team in the dominating win.

Buffalo-43 New York Jets-23

This was such a ugly game.  So ugly.

After three 1st quarter interceptions, the Jets benched Geno Smith.  A guy who I had defended in the past completely collapsed, and really let me down.  He only threw for 5 yards and went 2/8.  It was just a complete disaster.

Michael Vick came into play for the Jets, but I’m not thrilled with him, whatsoever.

Reasons are related to NFL and Ray Rice scandal/story.

The Bills passed for four TD, all from Kyle Orton.  Orton only threw 17 passes, but had a great day.  Sammy Watkins had only three receptions, but HAD 157 YARDS.

157 YARDS!

The dude went off today, and looks well worth the hefty cost the Bills payed for him.  After catching the game-winning TD last week, he had another today in the Bills win.

This Bills team has played great with Orton at the helm, but again, this team probably isn’t going  anywhere far.

New England-51 Chicago-23

Talk about domination.

Tom Brady threw 5 TD passes as Rob Gronkowski caught three.  The Pats were up 38-7 at halftime and never looked back.  The Bears defense completely collapsed for I don’t know how many times this year, and 487 yards to New England.  Jay Cutler had a pretty decent game.  Really, the Bears offense had a pretty decent game, but the defense just couldn’t get a stop.  The Bears are looking worse and worse each week, which is not what anyone had in mind.

Miami-27 Jacksonville-13

(Boring game alert)

One team’s stat line was great, the other wasn’t.

Guess who lost.

The team with the better stat line.

Blake Bortles two picks cost the Jaguars big time in the loss.  Jacksonville ran for 186 yards as team, with Denard Robinson leading the team.  He looks great.  With 108 yards today, he seems like he could be the featured back for them.

Ryan Tannehill threw for only 196 yards and a touchdown, but the team scored two defensive TD’s which contributed largely to the win.  The Dolphins won a game they should have, that’s as simple as t gets.  The Jags are now 1-7, but their young and have shown flashes.  Again, it’s growing pains, as every young team will expirence.

Cincinnati-27 Baltimore-24

In classic AFC North grudge match, the Bengals ended up on top, but just barely.

With under four minutes left, Andy Dalton and the Bengals drove down the field, and scored the game-winning TD with :57 seconds left.  The Ravens had a chance to get back at them, and did, but it just slipped away.

The Ravens wer pinned inside their own territory deep.  To get out, the Ravens threw a heave to Steve Smith.  He caught it and took it into score, Ravens win right?

The play took place with :47 seconds left.

Apparently, Smith pushed off, and the 80 yard TD catch was taken back.  In a way devastating loss for the Ravens, who came oh-so close to winning, they definitely remained competitive.   The Bengals though, got away with one, and should feel lucky being atop the AFC North, currently.

Stat wise, Andy Dalton had a decent game, with 266 yards passing.  He did throw a pick, but Joe Flacco doubled him on that.  Mohammed Sanu had a great game, and with AJ Green still out, I’m not surprised.  With 129 yards, Sanu lead the team.  Not much left to say….

Seattle-13 Carolina-9

I defended Seattle all week, saying how they’re going to be fine and everything.  That was saying a lot coming from me, a rival fan.

Well, Seattle barely defended me.

Russell Wilson threw a TD pass with 47 seconds left to win the game in Carolina, which broke the hearts of fans who were looking for a upset.  Marshawn Lynch ran for only 62 yards, which is interesting giving the reports that swirling around right now.

Cam Newton had a pretty bad game, and with two turnovers, it didn’t help much.  The Panthers running game had a decent game, especially going up against Seattle’s defense, you have to give them credit.  Kelvin Benjamin proved to us he isn’t human, making a ridiculous catch.kelvin-benjamin-catch-against-richard-sherman-c

That catch was made in between Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, some of the best at their position in the league.

Minnesota-19 Tampa Bay-13 (OT)

Could this game have ended in a more Tampa way?

First play of overtime, and the Bucs fumble.  You know what the Vikings do with it?

Scoop it up, and take it into the end zone.  TD, game over.

The rookie, Anthony Barr was the one to take it in.  Pretty awesome way to score a first TD.  Welcome to the league, kid.

Teddy Bridgewater threw for 241 yards and TD in the win, that TD coming earlier in the game.  Minnesota’s running game has down well without Adrian Peterson, and continued that trend today.

After a couple games where he went MIA, Cordarrelle Patterson showed up and did something.  He caught six balls for 86 yards, and actually had 12 targets.  The Vikings need to work on him getting more involved.

I’m pretty sure none of these two teams are good, so lets not get to excited.

Houston-30 Tenessee-16

Arian Foster had a 151 yards rushing and two TD’s as he lead the Texans to victory.  Or as I should say, the franchise’s 200th victory.  He, with help from Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeAndre Hopkins, dominated the Titans.

The Titans started this guy, so… yea.

He looks like Sid from Ice Age.
He looks like Sid from Ice Age.

Zach Mettenberger threw for 299 yards and two TD’s in his NFL debut.  Though he couldn’t get the win, he did play very well.  The Titans couldn’t run the ball, either.  It was a sloppy game for the Titans, which is why they lost.

Also, Mettenberger got sacked by JJ Watt in his debut, so that didn’t help.

Kansas City-31 St.Louis-7

(Homerism Possible)

The first points of the game were scored by St.Louis.

7-0.

They never scored again.

Jamaal Charles helped lead the way to victory with 73 yards rushing and 2 TD’s.  Knile Davis, back up running back, also scored rushing TD.  But that wasn’t all for him.

Davis returned the opening 2nd half kickoff for TD which, which really darkened the mood on the Rams side.  it didn’t get any better, as the Chiefs purely dominated the game.

Austin Davis didn’t have a great game, but I’m not sure how much he really contributes to this team.. They’re pretty talented around him.  The running game wouldn’t work, as it hasn’t been able to recently.  Zac Stacy’s name has oddly appeared in trade talks, which is strange to me.

It wasn’t a good day for the Rams, but they were playing a better team than them, so it’s okay.

Detroit-22 Atlanta-21

I only saw the first 10 minutes of this game, so I’m not writing about it.  However, I was pretty shocked to see the final score, because when I last saw a score, it was 21-0 Falcons.

I’m glad the London fans got a great game; it’s what they deserve.  However, I’m wondering who had a higher attendance.  The Tottenham game or this one?

Arizona-24 Philidelphia-20

(Homerism Possible)

What a game.

This game was back&forth the whole way.  Nick Foles threw the ball 62 times, and completed just over 50% of them.  He had 411 yards and 2 TD’s, but threw 2 costly picks.  Lesean McCoy had a decent game, but watching this whole thing, he really didn’t make a huge impact.

The Eagles defense didn’t have a pretty game, especially the secondary.  They gave up two 75+ yard passes, one I’ll get into later.  Carson Palmer threw for 329 yards and 2 TD’s, in a solid game for him.

The game came down to the wire, with the Cardinals down 20-17 with under two minutes left.  It didn’t take a game-winning drive, however.

My whole family was sitting at the dinner table watching the game.  Including the dog, almost everyone had some kind of Cardinals gear on.  When Carson Palmer heaved the ball downfield to John Brown, I screamed in my head “Please don’t throw a pick, please don’t throw a pick”.

He didn’t.  instead, a 75 yards game-winning TD pass.  It was so surreal.  The whole thing was incredible.  it was a incredible football game to watch.  Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown both had over 100 yards receiving, both hauling in a TD.

The Cardinals might have pulled that one out of their butt, but this team has something going for them.  I’m starting to believe this hype.  However, a tough game awaits this Sunday.

I tweeted rapidly during that game, because it was just so exciting.

Cleveland-23 Oakland-13 

This was a thriller, wasn’t it?

So look, the Raiders are 0-7, and the Browns should have won this game and did, right?

(Is that all I need?)

Talk about a game someone pulling out of their butt.  The Browns, lead by Billy Cundiff (look at the box score), beat the Raiders behind no one really.  The Browns had no one on their team have any kind of good stats.  Brian Hoyer had 278 yards and TD, and that’s about it.  This offense sucks, big time.  But hey, look at who they were playing.

The Raiders haven’t won a game, and looking at the schedule, they may not win another.  Their maximum win total this year is two.  They play St. Louis and Buffalo; those are the only games they even have chance in.

I’m totally driving the Raiders 0-16/LA move/fire Reggie McKenzie movement.  If the whole thing goes down this season, I’m taking the credit.  I bet you one of those happens.

Anyways, this team needs a re-boot, no matter what.  Something needs to change, because angry Raiders fans and friends (who know who you are) don’t deserve it.

Pittsburgh-51 Indianpolis-34

Another crazy, entertaining game took place on the banks of the Three River Sunday.

Ben Rothlisberger came within 22 yards of breaking the all-time mark of most passing yards in game, held by Norm Van Brocklin at 544.  Rothlisbeger had 522 yards passing and 6 TD passes in the route against Indy.  The Steelers also ran the ball quite well, rushing for 117 yards as a team.  Antonio Brown and Heath Miller had massive games, both over 100 yards.

Andrew Luck had a decent but shaky game.  It wasn’t necessarily his fault.  His defense did him no good, and that does have a effect.  The Colts could’t run the ball whatsoever.  Though, they did answer on the receiving side, with two receivers over 100 yards.

The Colts had a bad game.  The real shock isn’t that they lost, but more about how they lost.  Giving up 51 to ANY team is awful.  The only reasons it’s okay is if your offense answers.  The Colts didn’t.  They have to be able to that, because that’s what playoff teams do.

New Orleans-44 Green Bay-23

This game was like the shootout that was a blow out.  Both teams made incredible plays, and the game somewhat lived up to the hype.  Drew Brees had 319 yards passing and 3 TD’s, and Mark Ingram went off for 172 yards rushing.  The Saints dominated the game.  I had a feeling they would take this one.  Their season needs to get back on track.  This is the way you do it.

Aaron Rodgers had a good game, but his defense couldn’t stop New Orleans, which led to the loss.  Rodgers had 419 yards, but threw two picks.  More receivers had a good day, like Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy.  Surprising, right?

This was a game where I wouldn’t have been surprised no matter who won.  Both teams are going to be fine, no matter their record.

 

 

 

 

NBA Preview: Who’s Going To End Up On Top?

Well, we’ve made it to here.  The NBA’s finest teams end up here.  When were ready for the Playoffs in April, these will be our top three teams, in each conference.

As you can imagine, the Eastern Conference will look drastically different at the top.  The Cleveland Cavaliers are a sure bet to be a great team.  Indiana, who lost two of their best players from last year, shouldn’t even be in the Playoffs, unfortunately.  It was a really tough summer for them.

The Western Conference, also has a shakeup at the top.  Just over two weeks ago, Kevin Durant broke a bone in his foot, and will be out at least the first 20 games of the season.  The consequences of that, I will get into later.

East

Cleveland Cavaliers

Again, this is pretty obvious.  The Cavaliers had a huge summer, with the return of the kindg and their savior, Lebron James.  Once he landed in Cleveland, he became GM, and demanded that the Cavs go get Kevin Love, to help add some leadership and more pure talent to the team.  The team traded Andrew Wiggins, and Anthony Bennet to Minnesota to get him.

I wasn’t a fan of trading Wiggins.  I believed that, if Wiggins lived up to expectations, they could win a title with him.  However, LeBron doesn’t have the time for Wiggins to develop.  He wants and really needs to win now.  That’s why they made the move.

Anyways, Cleveland is the favorite in this conference.  Their my pick to win it.  There is no way you can tell this team isn’t going to finish outside of the top two in this conference.  They’re going to dominated close to everyone their conference.  That’s a fact!  This conference still sucks!  Someone is going to win 40 games and get in!

Once Cleveland finds their rhythm, it’s possible they start streaking.  Like winning 20 games at a time.  This is a monster team.  They’ve got a offense that looked incredible in dress rehearsal (pre-season) and a front-court which nobody will get passed.  Really, I’ve got no concern with them.

Chicago Bulls

No, I’m not jumping on the Cleveland bandwagon.  I feel that the Cavs are the better team, right now.

Honestly, I don’t even want to judge this Bulls team until we see how Derrick Rose preforms.  The Bulls are going to be lucky if he is 75% of what he was his MVP year.  After two knee surgeries on both knees, it’s highly unlikely he’s going to 2011 Derrick Rose.  He has looked good this Summer, in the World cup and pre-season for example.

Here’s the thing though: This team is still a lot better than last year’s, even if Rose were to go down again.

They added Pau Gasol from the Lakers.   This gives them even more rim protection, and good luck getting past him and Jokiam Noah.  Chicago also signed the foreigner Nikola Mirotic.  Mirotic was a hot commodity this summer, as multiple teams tried to sign him.  The 23 year old is super promising, and after spending six years with Real Madrid, he’s experienced with the game.

However, it may not be all smiles at first.  He’s got some serious adjustments to make.  It will take time, but the Bulls feel he can contribute during that process.

This Bulls team will be competitive this season.  With or without Rose.

Getting carried away again.

This team got the 4th seed without him last year.  They did fine during the season, but lost to the Wizards in the first round.

Rose isn’t a Jenga piece, but is a x-factor when it comes to where this team ends up.  If he’s 80% of 2011, they’ll get the 2nd seed, at least.

Washington Wizards

Another team where a injury may majorly affect their final seeding, the Wizards are looking to advance even farther this year.

I fell in love with them last year.  When Indiana collapsed, I put them in the Eastern Finals.

This year, Bradley Beal will miss around the same time as KD, and they lost Trevor Ariza to Houston.  They took hits, but like other teams, they play in the Eastern Conference.

I’m sorry that I keep bringing up the Eastern Conference thing, but it’s leaves such a huge impact.  

The Wizards have pure talent on their team, featuring John Wall and Marcin Gortat.  Gortat got PAID this summer, possibly a little too much.  He’s great player who scores and defends the rim.  He may not have been worth everything, but he’s definitely close.

Washington added Paul Pierce from Brooklyn, to solidify the wing, and replace Ariza.  Pierce may be older and won’t play many minutes, but he will contribute and will do anything you ask him to.

The front-court is pretty dang good.  With Gortat, Nene provides scoring and rebounding also, but will block shots.  He’s a pain to get around.  Teams should be scared of driving against them, but the defense along the wing is a little concerning.  John Wall is solid defender himself, but isn’t a wing guy.

The team has some great depth.  With Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries to back up the big men and the dicey guards, it’s not a concern.

This team is set.  They have a great opportunity this year to do something that they haven’t, in a long time.

West

San Antonio Spurs

The reigning champions come into this season the favorites again.  After dominating the Heat in the Finals, the Spurs didn’t add or minus anyone, expect the draft.  They’re a team who keeps their guys.  They all fit together.

This year, there is no doubt they’re going to be up here again.  San Antonio’s style of play is just unbeatable, and with a coach who has figured it out in Gregg Popovich, it’s not inconceivable they win over 60 games again.

Though, Pop is reluctant about starting guys in certain games.  Late in the year, he’ll rest his older guys, for example Tim Duncan, because he’s so confident they’ll get the job done, without their stars.  It’s a great example of how deep they are.

It takes a darn good team to be able to do that.

Honestly, there isn’t much to talk about with them.  Their the defending champions.  Nothing should change with this team.

Los Angeles Clippers

Another team that didn’t do a whole lot in the offseason (on the court, at least), the Clippers have one of the biggest opportunities a team could ask for.  KD’s injury affects the Thunder greatly, and could open up this spot for Clippers.

 LA has their dynamic front-court with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.  They are dominate.  Absolutely dominate.  Jordan, the rebounder and bruiser, is the complement to Griffin.

People have suggested that Griffin had been working on his jump shot more, and possibly three point shooting.  He’s an animal.  Nobody can really stop him, because he does everything. you could ask.

Maybe that why everyone hates him so much.

If Griffin’s game has improved drastically, then maybe trading Jordan could be thought about.  It’s a contract year for Jordan, and the Clippers wouldn’t want to lose him for nothing.  He’s not a max guy, but would get a decent sized contract.

The counter to that, would be if Griffin’s game didn’t really improve.  You keep him, then negotiate after the season.  Blake is a great player.  No matter what.  It’s matter though, of how it affects your future.

The Clippers would have to have something go terribly wrong for them not to grab this spot.  Chris Paul was injured for part of last year, and it did have a affect, but the team still did fine without him.  A fall this year would be the result of a Blake Griffin injury, for example.  There would be no reason this them to not grab a 4th seed, at least.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Let’s put it this way:

If KD is out more than 20 games, the Thunder may be in bigger trouble.  If he returns around 17-20 games in, they will be fine.

The Thunder concern me without Durant.  I’m not sure Russell Westbrook is a kind of player who can lead a team, literally all by himself.  The Thunder don’t really have anyone besides Durant and Westbrook. Serge Ibaka is a good player, but he’s not someone you build around, or rely on.

I highly doubt that Westbrook is going to be allowed to take how many shots he wants during KD’s absence.  He’s a good shooter, but is still learning the differences between high and low percentage shots.  However, his shots might be better than other people’s shots on this team.

Jeremy Lamb I’m staring right at you.

Coach Scott Brooks is know for his funky plays and offensive strategies.  Nobody really knows what he’s going to let Westbrook do or not.  It’s going to be a wait and see.

The Thunder’s placing this year won’t be altered by more than two spots.  That’s the farthest they could possibly fall.  As you’ll see tomorrow, in the prediction column, there is really only one team that could surpass them.  The KD injury sucks for him and the team, but won’t have a massive impact if he returns in time.

Prediction Column coming tomorrow, right before season tip-off!

NBA Preview: Who’s Going To Be On The Edge?

This is always the hardest thing to predict and write about. With these type of teams, they could go either way.  They could win 25 games or 50.  It depends on who shows up, what kind of moves they make, and what injuries they sustain.

I’m taking two teams in each conference.

East

Brooklyn Nets

I wrote a big column in July about the Nets.  It being one of my first columns, it wasn’t great, but I feel like I made some good points in it.  The Jason Kidd trade had just happened, and a report of their revenue loss had been filed.  It was a mess.

You can find that column here.

The Nets lost Paul Pierce to Wizards as he chases one more ring.  It was a big blow, considering they have Kevin Garnett.  Garnett’s days are limited, and having wasted multiple years in Minnesota, I bet he wants to make up for it.  However, the Nets aren’t in the greatest situation.

When your paying Deron Williams and Joe Johnson $20 million a year, your cap can’t be pretty.  Instead of paying old, ran down guys that money, get some young, more athletic players on your squad, Youth is key in the league.  The older guys are going to wear down.  It’s likely that Garnett only plays 60 games this year, just from rest and possible injuries.

The Nets though, play in the Eastern Conference, which is huge in their favor.  The Nets grabbed the 6th seed last year, and in the column posted above, I put them 7th.  Indiana is unlikely to make the Playoffs this year, but Cleveland is a team that will jump in.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks won 38 games last year.  They made the Playoffs.  38!!!! In the West, my Suns won 48 games, and didn’t even make it!

Anyways, this Hawks team would’ve been a lot better if it wasn’t for the Al Horford injury.  Horford, in December, tore his pectoral muscle, and had surgery soon after.  It kept him out for the season, as the Hawks sat in 3rd place in the East.  Atlanta collapsed, however, and barely made it, grabbing the 8th seed.

This year, it’s  a very similar fate.  The East got better, but not by much this Summer.

The Hawks are loaded with guards.  That is no question.  With Jeff Teague, one of the more underrated in the league, Lou Williams, and Shelvin Mack, they have plenty to choose from.  The rim protection is very good, featuring Paul Millsap and Horford.  Even this early, Horford’s name has surfaced in trade talks, but I don’t feel it’s necessary for him to be shipped out.

It’s not like the Hawks are going to tank.  They have solid talent.  They could easily make the Playoffs.  The key is to stay healthy.  With Horford being injury prone, the reserves have to be ready.  Guys like Elton Brand and Pero Antic, who are very capable of it.

Again, they should make the Playoffs.  A older Nets team (above) could collapse mid-late season, which would open up Atlanta’s spot.

West

Memphis Grizzlies

This is debatable.  The Grizzlies have a very nice balance of talent.  Stacked with back-court talent, the real concern with Memphis is the front-court.

Marc Gasol is great.  We all know that.  There is no way you can debate it.  However, he’s injury prone, like Al Horford.  The depth behind Gasol isn’t great.  Kosta Koufos is the only other listed Center on the team.  Now, you could play Zach Randolph at Center, but that’s extreme small ball, and poses many problems when it comes to rebounding.

Randolph is honestly more of a 3 than a 4.  He’s a little short.  That’s all.  Really, he’s Charles Barkley.  Even though Barkley was even shorter, and played 4, their game is very similar.

What I’m getting at is, where are the big men?  There are guys who can rebound, but no one on defense to protect the rim!  It’s not going to be pretty if someone gets hurt.

Anyways, the Grizzlies do have a chance to make a statement this year.  Finishing 7th last year, they barely snuck in, due to a late season battle between Dallas and Phoenix.  In this ridiculously tough conference, it would be hard to do better, but then again, the Thunder can give other teams some chances here.

Overall, Memphis is probably going to end up where they were last year.  The West is so tough, and it’s sure to deliver some late season spot battles.

Denver Nuggets

I’ll say this.  Memphis is more likely to get in than Denver.  But the Nuggets have some really interesting pieces on their team.  Adding Aaron Affalo during the offseason is huge.  It stacks the back-court, paring him with Ty Lawson.

The Nuggets tried to get Kevin Love this Summer, offering a compelling deal, but the Wolves turned it down, obviously.  I praised the offer, saying it was one I would consider.

Alright, I’m getting ahead of myself.  It didn’t happen.

Holy toledo though, I love this team.

Anyways, the Nuggets have a stacked back-court.  Featuring Affalo and Lawson, their going to be dicey.  A ton of speed fills this team.  They have so much depth at guard also, which is only going to help them.

Even when Affalo and/or Lawson are out, they still have a great offense.  Kenneth Faried is one of the more underrated players in the league, and can rebound like no on else.  He also finishes,  and won’t give up on a play.

This team is super interesting.  The problem is, they play in Western Conference, which is so, so tough.  If this team was playing in the East, they would easily be a playoff team.  Denver has a shot to do something this year.  If they play up to their full potential, they can make a impact in the standings.

NBA Preview: Who’s Going To Suck This Year?

You all know I hate talking about bad sports teams.  It’s no fun.  There shoudn’t be any bad sports teams, and I plan to have a column about that, at some point.

Anyways, when I preview any season, I have to write about the bad teams.  In the NBA, the bad teams are talked about a little more, mostly having to do with the draft and lottery system.  The lottery system, which needs to be changed soon, but it didn’t start out on the right path, is going to be brought up as less as possible during this column.

I’m taking the three worst teams in each conference.  

East

Philadelphia 76ers

Well, I’m not going to lie, but in a few years, we could be looking at a playoff team.  The 76ers have “tanked” the past couple of years.  They have tried to lose, on purpose.  It’s a interesting strategy, but the NBA isn’t fond of it.  With Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, both top six picks in the past couple of years, the Sixers have young talent.  The problem is, both are and have been injured.  Embiid fell in the draft due to a back fracture he sustained only weeks before the big night, which led him to fall to No.3.  Noel, another big man who fell in the 2013 draft, due to a injury, is slated to start this year, with no minute restrictions.  It’s a little confusing, just because it’s not like their trying to win.

So that’s why their going to suck.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious.  They aren’t going to try.  But, it is how they get these type of picks.

I should mention Michael Carter Williams, because the situation with him and the Sixers is a little strange.  At the draft, rumors swirled about his trade status.  In a interview during the draft, Williams expected to get traded.  It never happened, which probably means, it was the right thing, or it fell apart, or some drunk in the Sixers front office offered it, then lost his job.

Anyways, this team isn’t one your going to have your eye on.  In a couple years, maybe.

Milwaukee Bucks

Now this team, is a lot more interesting than Sixers, and also a more fun to write about.  The Bucks aren’t a team that’s been “tanking”.  Last year, the expectations were pretty high, and even some people had them in the Playoffs.

Really, I could see why.  I wasn’t that high on them, but I did feel like they would be up there in the standings.

But it went all wrong.  The Bucks won 15 games, and were really just terrible.  There isn’t much else to it.

Now, they have a new coach, in what was a very odd situation. Jason Kidd comes over from the Nets, and comes to a team that has some talent, but very raw talent.

The Bucks took Jabari Parker with No.2 pick in June.  Parker, I felt, should have gone No.1 overall, but despite needs of the Cavs, he went 2nd.  I believe that Parker and Wiggins are both going to be great, but Parker, when it’s all set and done, will wind up better.

The Bucks don’t only have him, but they have the Greek Freak, in Giannis Antetokounmpo (Your guess is as good as mine on how to pronounce it).  The kid is incredible.  He does everything.  He can shoot, rebound, and play stellar defense.  He makes the highlight reel.  I love the kid, and always have.  He’s the main guy they want to build around in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee has some leadership, however.  Larry Sanders and OJ Mayo are two guys who get it, even with Sanders’s off the court issues.  Both of these guys though, could find themselves on a different team by the end of the year.  The Bucks want all the picks they can get to build this squad.

Like Philly, they aren’t anyone to look forward to this year.  Honestly, they’re a little bit more of a project then Philly.  And that’s a not a great thing if your a Bucks fan.

Boston Celtics 

I’m not sure we’ve seen this in a while.  The Celtics?  At the bottom of the East Conference?

Unfortunately, yea.

The Celtics cleaned house a couple years ago, and aren’t done yet.

Rajon Rondo is going to be on different team by the end of this season.  It’s going to happen.  I’m surprised it didn’t happen last season.

It’s the final piece of the demolition.  Once he’s gone, the real rebuilding project will start.  This season is a throwaway.

The Celtics though, got some really nice pieces in the draft.  Marcus Smart and James Young are two of the more underrated players in the draft, and are just some of the keys to this future team.  The Celtics and their fans don’t have a lot to look forward to right now, and it may be some time before the do, but Danny Ainge knows what he is doing, and that, you have to trust.

West

Utah Jazz

The Jazz finished last in the Western Conference last year, and it’s very likely that’s where they end up this year.  Looking at this Jazz roster, it isn’t great at all.  They re-signed and overpaid Gordon Hayward this summer, but they consider him a cornerstone.  I wasn’t a fan of their draft.  Dante Exum is 18.  He should be in high school, and is coming from another country.

I’m not against foreign guys, at all.  It’s more of the age factor.  It’s quite possible he gets too overwhelmed with everything he’s got going for him, and falls apart.

The Jazz like Exum though, and feel like they can develop him.  That’s why they took him where they did.

The Jazz also took Rodney Hood, the former Duke star.  Hood had a great college career, and was taken at about the right spot.  I’m just not sure he’s fits into what the Jazz are trying to do.

Utah is building this team with young, quick and athletic players.  A lot of speed is what they’re aiming for.  Utah has Trey Burke, someone who I’ve loved as a player, and who fits into what they want to do, but hasn’t really shown a whole lot yet.

I expect him to breakout at some point, but I’m starting to get a little concerned.  I’m already concerned about this Jazz team, and since they’re the worst team in this conference, it would be best for you to avoid them.

Los Angeles Lakers

It’s odd when the Lakers and Celtics are featured in this column.  The Lakers are in one of the odder situations in the league.  Their old superstar, Kobe Bryant, is still playing for another ring, and claims he’s has two years left.  If he wants the ring, then maybe he shouldn’t be asking for $23 million a year.  He’s hogging the Lakers cap room, denying any chance of them signing anyone to help them with a pursuit.

The Lakers aren’t only not going to win a ring, but they aren’t even going to make the playoffs.  Heck, their going to be one of the worst teams in league!  How does Kobe expect them to win?

They did though, add Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer this offseason.  The Lakers have the remnants of last year, like Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson.  Nick Young, one of the younger stars in the league, is out for at least eight weeks after a thumb injury.  That doesn’t help, whatsoever.  But hey, it’s not like they’re going to be good anyways.

Minnesota Timberwolves

This is a team who traded their best player, fired and hired a new coach, who just so happens to be their GM, who’s a bad GM.  The Timberwolves have a rough season ahead of them.  They did acquire some really interesting prospects from Cleveland in the Kevin Love trade, including No.1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins.  Wiggins is going to be good.  There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to be a All-Star, at least once.

The Wolves also got Anthony Bennett, the 2013 No.1 overall pick, who was a total bust his first year.  Now, he will improve, but there’s nothing in concrete saying that him or anyone from that draft is good.  Sorry.

This is a super young team.  They don’t have any leadership, which may cause some issues down the and on the road.  Minnesota is a team that has to build through drafts and trades, because trust me, I’m not sure any millionaire/big time free agent wants to live here.

I live in the Twin Cities.

In a couple of years, the Wolves may have something going for them.  They have the right pieces so far, but it’s going to be a process.

More NBA Preview coming….