Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Talk Around the Hardwood

The NBA is back and man am I excited! Let's link!
  • Into Mobile. NBA Live 10 is out for the iPhone, with the price tag of $9.99. NBA 2k10 is the better console game, but this is the only option for iPhone users, pretty solid looking also.
  • Larry Brown Sports. The story behind Ron Artest's nice new hair design (picture also).
  • Busted Coverage. Bill Simmons and swimsuit models? Lucky man.
  • YouTube. Here's a quick video of the important scenes from the Lakers championship ring ceremony.
  • Fear The Sword. In case you forgot over the summer, LeBron can block shots.
  • Bullets Forever. People are taking notice that the Wizards are going to make some noise this year. They've got a chance for homecourt in the playoffs, for sure.
  • Fox Sports. Things aren't sounding great for Glen "Big Baby" Davis.

Southeast Divison Previews Recap

Atlanta Hawks: Peachtree Hoops

Charlotte Bobcats: Rufus on Fire | QueenCityHoops

Miami Heat: Peninsula Is Mightier |

Orlando Magic: Third Quarter Collapse

Washington Wizards: Bullets Forever | Hoops Addict | Truth About It

Bonus Links: See full schedule here | Also see SBNation preview storystream

2009/10 Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview

Our thanks to Celtics Blog for working us into this huge season preview bonanza.

Team Name: Los Angeles Lakers
Last Year’s Record: 65-17
Key Losses: Trevor Ariza
Key Additions: Ron Artest

1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
The only real significant move was Ariza out, Artest in. Retaining LO and Shannon Brown was important, but I predicted that would happen. I think the Lakers front office is being bold. They had a nice, relatively young core and decided to take a risk and bring in Artest. They tweaked what was already very solid.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
  • Starting Five. Whoever they decide to start, the Lakers have one of the best starting units in the league. Kobe as the leader, Gasol as a great guy to throw down to in the post, defensive-minded Artest and Odom or Bynum.
  • Length. The Lakers are a tall team. Bynum, Gasol, Odom, don't forget that Kobe is 6-6. They've got seven guys that are 6-8 or taller. Tell me that won't cause teams with slim front lines problems.
  • Best closer in the game. Kobe Bryant is still the best closer in the game. I still strongly believe that and of course, when LA needs a basket, he's the guy to go to make it happen. I have a feeling that this year someone else besides Kobe will be the one to make an important shot. The defenses will be more prepared than ever for late game heroics from Kobe, so expect more clutch shots from Derek Fisher and others.
  • Young Bench that isn't too young. I love the age of the Lakers' bench. You've got semi-young backup PG's in Farmar or Brown, a 25-year-old Adam Morrison who needs to prove himself, and a great triangle guy who's in his prime, Luke Walton. They're not so young that they'll be inconsistent, but aged enough to contribute throughout the entire year.

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
  • Bynum's Health. As healthy as Bynum may say he is now, his health will always be in question. Can he maintain a full healthy year? If so, then bring it on, Drew. If not, then the Lakers are a little slim up front. That won't be good enough to win the Larry O'Brien trophy.
  • Stars have lots of mileage. Kobe and Pau have racked up tons of mileage over the last two years. Kobe had a summer to recover, which was much needed, but he's still logged a ton of minutes and he's 31. Pau played in Eurobasket with Spain this summer and played in the Olympics two summers ago, not to mention trips to the finals the last two seasons. A big part of Phil Jackson's early season duties will be to make sure Kobe and Pau get their rest. Save them a bit for the playoffs.
  • Not as many vets as Celtics. The Celtics have done a great job of assembling a group of experienced players. The Lakers are close to that level, but aren't at that spot. Their talent levels are very comparable and the Lakers can still beat them, but the C's are a deeper team overall.

4. What are the goals for this team?

The goals are to win the title, or the season will be a failure. Nothing less will suffice. The Lakers are a team that should contend for a title and my mentality is similar to Kobe's, if we win it, let's live it up, if not, it's back to the drawing board real soon.

5. Who do you feel happier for, Sasha for his new hair, or Odom's marriage to Khloe Kardashian?

While I'm very happy for Lamar, I gotta say, Sasha got a much needed new look. It's cleaner, different and he better hit more jumpers because of it. If so, I will begin to advocate shorter hair for all inconsistent jump shooters.

Projected Finish: 67-15

A note on this projection: this is assuming the Lakers are as close to 100% health-wise as possible. If Kobe, Bynum, Gasol, or Odom miss lots of games, they won't win 67 games.

(Photo By: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America, from here)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Video: NBA Anticipation Ad

I am so ready for this season and the NBA really out did themselves with this ad that makes me even more ready:

Are you ready?

Video: Top 10 Plays of the Pre-Season

The pre-season was exciting, but now it's time for the real season.

Here's what to remember from the pre-season though:

Very nice (Borat voice)!

Talk Around the Hardwood

We're getting back in a linking mood! It's almost Tuesday!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Poll: Who Has Worst Facial Hair In The NBA?

Birdman, Davis and Stevenson... could it get worse? Vote!

Sorry about the Stevenson pic. He's not bald! I will get my Photoshop skills better next time..

Leave a comment on why you chose who! I'm picking Davis, because even though he may be focused only on basketball, he could give us all some relief by shaving that mess!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Northwest Previews Recap

Denver Nuggets - Denver Stiffs | The Nugg Doctor

Minnesota Timberwolves - Canis Hoopus | Empty the Bench | TWolvesBlog

Oklahoma City Thunder - Blue Blitz | Daily Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers - Blazersedge | A Stern Warning | The Rip City Project | Blaze of Love | BustaBucket | Trail Post

Utah Jazz - SLC Dunk | True Blue Jazz

Bonus Links: See full schedule here | Also see SBNation preview storystream

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shoe of The Week: Nike Zoom Skyposite Yi Jianlian PE

For the most part, I haven't been impressed with the Nike Zoom Skyposite PE's. The ugly Amar'e version comes to mind, but Nike got it right with this colorway. Though I might question whether Yi has come into his own enough to get his own shoes, I gotta say these are nice.

Some info on the avaliability of these from Kix and the City:
No specific release date yet but, expect them to hit select retailers, like the House of Hoops, in time for the upcoming 2009/2010 NBA season.

That's kind of a bummer, but hey, if you really wanna go out and get these now you know. Got a message to Yi from Nets fans: now that you've got your own personalized Nike's, play like you should get a signature shoe!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Central Division Previews Recap

Chicago Bulls | Give Me The Rock

Cleveland Cavaliers

Fear The Sword | WaitingForNextYear | Cavalier Attitude

Detroit Pistons

Motown String Music | Empty the Bench | Pistons Nation |

Indiana Pacers

Indy Cornrows

Milwaukee Bucks


Bonus Links:

See full schedule here | Also see SBNation Central Division Storystream

Also, in a totally non Central Division note, check out my latest post on Lake Show Life.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Talking About a Young Italian Knickerbocker

Danilo Gallinari is going into an important sophomore season. The Rooster's (his nickname, if you didn't know) got to show New York that he's got game enough to make things bearable for them this season. He's got some talent and some tools and I'm eager to see how he does. Hopefully he'll actually play the whole year.

He didn't really get his feet wet last season. Playing only 28 games, he showed a very nice shooting touch (Mike D'Antoni called him the best shooter he's seen), solid one on one moves and he still wasn't 100%. He's closer now, though D'Antoni says he's still not in NBA shape. I'd bet that he'll be up to coach's standards a quarter of the way through the season. The issue is probably more about his endurance not measuring up to the demands of D'Antoni's run and gun system yet.

I haven't seen much of him in the pre-season yet, but looking at his stats, he's been solid, yet inefficient (seven PPG, on 26% shooting and about four boards a game). I would expect his numbers in the regular season to be a little higher, but it might be tough getting him solid minutes with Wilson Chandler being the one who I presume will start. Gallinari produced somewhat well in a bench role last year, but I want to see him begin to challenge Chandler for his spot. Make the coach think twice about who's starting at least.

To sum it up, watch out for that Italian dude in a Knicks jersey. If he stays healthy, he should have a real solid year.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Southwest Division Previews Recap

Here's the full list of the Southwest Division previews.

Dallas Mavericks

Mavs Moneyball | The Two Man Game | NBA Mate

Houston Rockets

The Dream Shake | Ballerblogger

Memphis Grizzlies

3 Shades of Blue

New Orleans Hornets

At The Hive | Hornets Hype

San Antonio Spurs

Pounding The Rock | Project Spurs

Bonus Links

See full schedule here | Also see SBNation preview storystream

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Can The Season Start Before We Think of 70+ Wins?

The NBA season is now just 15 days away. It's pre-season and while I love speculating about how teams will do, can't we just show a little constraint and not mention the Bulls historic 72 win season (or 70 wins period)?

It's not like I don't want players to be confident, it's just the simple fact that you haven't even play a single game yet that mattered. 70 wins is plausible only with an almost perfect season by a very well constructed team these days. There are really only two, maybe three teams I'd even think about saying that about.

Rasheed Wallace said the Celtics could do it and TNT broadcaster and former player Reggie Miller said the Lakers could do it. Is it possible that LA and Boston could have injury free seasons? Yes, but I seriously doubt it. Additionally, the new additions on these teams look good on paper, but haven't meshed completely yet.

Some teams that look great or better on paper could actually end up being worse. Allow some time for evaluation before you make such a bold prediction.

Does a great regular season mean anything? Besides homecourt in the playoffs and maybe something for commentators to point out? It doesn't put a championship ring on your finger and it doesn't raise a banner to the rafters. Set goals for the second season before you set goals for the first season.

I Can Feel Excitement in Toronto Again

Demar Derozan sticks a nasty put back dunk, Amir Johnson blocks a Nick Young dunk attempt and it's only October. I got my first taste of the 2009-10 Raptors squad in a game against the Wizards and I have to say I'm excited for their season. While I have some serious questions about the team, I know that they're going to be very fun to watch and will score the ball with ease.

Even without Hedo playing yet, I can tell this team is back to playoff contention. Bosh put on weight, Derozan will be an impact player this year and additions like Jarrett Jack and Johnson will help off the bench.

Remembering back to last year, it seemed like the Raps tanked a little. They were a team that fired it's coach early in the season, made trades that would give them salary relief in the off-season and weren't exactly putting winning first.

Now they're back. You can question the signing of 30 year old Hedo Turkoglu and the defensive abilities of this squad. But you cannot question whether they are moving in the right direction. They're closer to a title now than they were last year.

If you can go to a game, kick back with friends and jump out of your seat once or twice, it's not a bad thing. I'm glad you're getting your dignity back, Raptors fans. Also, here's a great preview of the Raptors season on Ball Don't Lie.

Here's some of that excitement I was talking about (via @jeskeets):

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Brandon Jennings Gets His Own Shoes

Under Armour really must believe in Brandon Jennings. He's already got a rocky reputation, mostly based on this, but now he is getting his own shoe.

Here is what the Under Armour BB Proto 3 “Young Buck” look like:

They are OK shoes. Nothing much is going on with them, but they are probably not very expensive and look good enough.

Is anyone else surprised at Under Armour's willingness to make Jennings a big entity in their basketball department? It should work out in the long run, but it's a huge risk-reward situation. Jennings will either captivate fans with his offense first mentality or fall on his face because of his inability to be mature and play solid defense.

Should be fun to see how Jennings does.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bulls vs. Jazz: Very Solid Pre-Season Basketball

The Bulls and the Jazz played a pre-season game in London yesterday. Going in, I was expecting a solid, but sloppy game. When the game started and I found out that Derrick Rose was out, my expectations lowered. But, for a pre-season game, the execution on both sides was better than I thought it would be. The Bulls young big men caught my eye and the game was pretty close from start to finish.

The finish of the game was action packed: Bulls rookie James Johnson was denied an inbounds pass by Andrei Kirilenko, but got the offensive rebound off a missed shot by Derrick Byars and quickly hit a jumper to win the game. It was a great way for Johnson to start his NBA career. The Bulls were of course going nuts and rightfully so.

I was pretty impressed with Johnson, Byars and Taj Gibson. They are all solid rookies for the Bulls. They will all provide energy off the bench. The frontline in Chicago has so much promise, I just wonder if the starter, Tyrus Thomas can live up the that potential. I'd predict the Bulls frontline to be known as active, but sometimes so active that it's a detriment.

Luol Deng shined and looks to have recovered from a season where injury severely derailed him. I'm sure he was trying to impress his British fans (he grew up in London), but he did it efficiently, shooting 8-12 from the field. Expect him to be the guy that fills in most of Ben Gordon's scoring.

The Jazz are still suffering from injuries. CJ Miles is out for likely a third of the season (ruptured left thumb) and Kyle Korver was out with an inflamed left knee, which I haven't the severity of yet. Right now the Jazz are depleted at the wing position. They should be healthy come playoff time, but that will be a concern in the early part of the season.

Sloan did use his big guns a lot less than usual, the starters were out in crunch time and didn't get too much burn anyway. I liked how he juggled the minutes.

Video of the end of this game:

It's so great to have NBA basketball back!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Today is the first day of official 2009-10 action. Sure it's the pre-season and it's not on TV, but hell, it's something. Two pretty damn good teams too. The Jazz, with D Will, Boozer and crew battling Denver with Melo and Chauncey. Just feels good to be talking about two teams facing each other again!

I hope Sloan doesn't push his team too hard. The Jazz had way too many injuries last year and I want to see how good they can be at full strength. At full strength, the Jazz are going to have much more firepower to work with. Even though the pre-season rotation will differ from the regular season rotation, I want to see how the minutes will be toggled between Boozer and Millsap. Also, just want to point out that JR Smith, who is suspended for the first seven games of the season, will be in action in the pre-season. Thanks, @TheMileHighFan, check their blog too.

Rejoice NBA fans, it's October. We no longer have to deal with Aaron Grey headlines as the top story of the day!