MVS: Most Valuable Star

Three NBA superstars are injured or aren’t really sure if they’re injured or not. One star is Dwight Howard, who is suffering from a herniated disc. Kobe Bryant suffering from a bruised left shin. And Derrick Rose who seems to miss every other game with an ankle sprain. Without these stars these teams have varied in success. The Chicago Bulls; arguably the deepest team in the NBA are 16-7 without Derrick Rose. The Lakers are 4-1 without Kobe Bryant and the Orlando Magic are 1-4 without Dwight. Although these records show the depth and balance (or lack there of… Magic) of these marquee teams, they mean nothing come playoff time regarding the most valuable superstar. Each star has a case, so let’s weigh through them.

Bulls without Derrick Rose:

The Bulls are arguably the deepest team in the league, and surprisingly nobody saw this coming. We knew what Gibson, Asik and Korver could do. But did we ever think CJ Watson, Mike James, or John Lucas III would provide the Bulls with a reliable bench. Nope. That’s the nice thing about the Bulls bench, they are mysterious, and we never really know which player will show up and step up.  Even in their starting line-up they have players who can step up at any time. Players like Rip Hamilton, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng. The problem with this team without Rose is the lack of a closer. Boozer can’t create his own shot, Noah can’t…. play offense. Rip may be limited in his attacks to the basket, so the team looks upon the British shoulders of the unsung all star Luol Deng.  He’s not a consistent closer, but he’ll do in the regular season. When the playoffs come around, Chicago can forget it. In a playoff series without Rose this team could grab 1 or 2 wins based solely on defense and hustle points, but that’s as far as their journey would take them.

Lakers without Kobe Bryant:

This team is quite interesting without Kobe. They’re 4-1 and it almost seems like Kobe is just as effective as a coach then he is on the floor. Even off the court, his wisdom and IQ of the game have an impact on his teammates. Another aspect of this team is that they have a budding superstar in Bynum and an all-star in Pau Gasol. Without Kobe on the floor, the offense flows solely through their twin towers. There is more space for Bynum to isolate and attack other bigs. Remember the league right now isn’t known for it’s big centers. Besides Howard, Hibbert and Chandler the NBA lacks tall centers who could stop Bynum. They differ from the Bulls and Magic because the supporting cast has two stars and have players with more experience to the playoffs and to the finals. Without Bryant their depth does plummet though, Matt Barnes has to start and then the bench isn’t as consistent. Kobe Bryant’s input is incomparable, and the Lakers have the challenge of making up 28 points every game, but without Kobe the Lakers are an interesting team and can be an upset type of team. That can jump out of nobody and become a threat in the West.

Magic without Howard:

Effortless. Lackluster. I invite anybody reading this to come up with some more negative comments about this team without Howard. Honestly, comment with APPROPRIATE criticisms and you’ll probably be right. The only reason this team is successful season in and season out is a mixture of two things. One, the influence Dwight Howard has on the defensive end and on the boards. And two, the three point shooting percentage of the inconsistent shooters surrounding Howard. Other then those factors this team is no better then Milwaukee, or Sacramento. They don’t hustle, there just doesn’t seem to be any energy, any excitement to be playing basketball on this team. And now that Dwight isn’t in the middle, and Hedo is out for the rest of the season, the Magic are frankly terrible. Nobody in that line-up likes to play defense, and the only reason they are such a good defensive team with Howard is because when the offense beats the perimeter defenders they choke when they see Howard awaiting his umpteenth block. So yeah, I think without Howard the Magic are nothing magical. (Get what I did there?)

So to round of this discussion, we can conclude with the Magic are atrocious without Howard, the Lakers can still be a semi-threat and the Bulls can still win a game here and there off of their suffocating defense. If your ideas differ, then comment with who you think is the Most Valuable Star. And hey, when you’re at it, subscribe. Just hit that button, you know. Never hurt anyone, I won’t let ya down. Until next time…

Top 7 Players in the NBA

After Rick Bucher gave one of the most atrocious top 7 NBA rankings I’ve ever seen, I figured it be appropriate for me to give my rankings. Around 10 games into the season my top 7 players are as follows.

1. Kobe Bryant:

Maybe not overall is he the best, but right now, Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA. He has two back to back 40 point nights. He is playing with a hurt wrist, he is in his mid thirties and he is carrying a team that everyone was doubting earlier in the season to a 7-3 record. 4 games remember were without Bynum on the court.

2.

Kevin Durant will go at number 2 not number (8) like Rick would’ve wanted. I had Lebron at this spot a few games ago but his recent troubles in the 4th quarter have left a sour taste in my mouth. Kevin Durant is dropping 26 points a game as always and is bulldozing through the Western Conference with a record of 10-2 See the difference between him and Westbrook is that if Westbrook left the Thunder, they would still be contenders. If KD left the Thunder, well….

3.

Lebron James: He seemed like the early MVP candidate a few games ago, unfortunately he slid down my rankings with his 3-6 performance from the free throw line last night. Including a missed free throw that could’ve won the game. However, he is dominating every game he plays. Not only with 29 points a game but with about 8 assists per game as well. He probably has the most overall game in the NBA, he can do everything on the floor.

4.

Dwight Howard: He and Dwyane Wade are really irreversable at this spot but I think the way Dwight has been able to carry his team to a very surprising and fast start in the midst of all the trade drama is truly exceptional. He is dominating the big men in the league with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Look at Dwight’s supporting cast and then look at what he has been able to turn their team into this season.

5.

Dwyane Wade: Dwyane Wade is playing great this season and I had him as a surprise Defensive Player of the Year. His numbers are a bit lower than last year but that’s thanks to Lebron’s dominance this season. Dwyane Wade has most impressed me in the way he was able to close out games in the beginning of the season. Look @Charlotte and @Minnesota

6.

Derrick Rose: The Former MVP had to be here somewhere. I don’t think he could be any higher on this list. He is still carrying his semi-weak offensive crew through the season and he is still making unbelievable athletic plays. However, he isn’t putting up numbers like any of the guys on this list, and thanks to his team’s lockdown defense he isn’t having to make clutch plays. I don’t think he has a chance of MVP this year, to be honest the only reason he won last year was because Boozer and Noah missed a ton of games and he had to carry the team alone. He wasn’t any more explosive then Lebron but it’s what his play was doing for his team, if they had been there last season he wouldn’t have won MVP.

7.

Carmelo Anthony: I am very impressed with Melo this season. He is doing his job on the offensive end, scoring around 27 points a night and grabbing 7 rebounds a game. He is extremely clutch, and has been this whole season. Look @Washington or opening day vs Boston. But what’s really stood out is his extra effort on his defensive game. The area of his game that has been criticized the most. He is clearly getting into players on defense and he’s averaging around 1.5 steals per game.

Players that didn’t make the cut were Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook. I didn’t include Dirk because he hasn’t been having the best season this year, and neither has his team. Chris Paul is just starting to make a serious impact on the Clippers and I think it’s too soon to judge him as a top 7 player. And Russell Westbrook just isn’t a top 7 player because he has too many flaws in his game. For example, his turnovers, jump shot, and decision making. He is too young and I cannot believe Rick Bucher had him ahead of Durant.

NBA Predictions

After the first week of the NBA season, I have developed some bold predictions about the season. Here we go!

Rookie Of The Year:

Report: Iman Shumpert made a speedy recovery and is expected to make his return tonight at MSG. Could be a tight race between these two guys.

I had Iman Shumpert as the surprise rookie of the year this season, based on his sheer confidence in the games he played. He is extremely athletic and plays very good defense, unfortunately he sprained his MCL on Christmas Day and will miss 2-4 weeks. In this compressed season 2-4 weeks could be everything. He will miss potentially 8-16 games in a 66 game season. Therefore, I think that will effect his case for rookie of the year. So, I will go with Kemba Walker. I was shocked to see him go so late in the draft. He may be a bit short, but he can do everything at the point guard position. In my opinion, he showed the most leadership for a college level player. He also proved he can be the go-to-guy in late game situations. Like this play right here….

Not only did he hit that buzzer beater but he completely crossed up Gary Mcgee. He can score, he is a leader already at such a young age. And he can defend. Not only in college, but he translated his whole game to the NBA style and is doing nothing differently in the NBA. He’ll win rookie of the year. There is no doubt in my mind.

MVP:

The candidate is Kevin Durant. The young scoring champion playing on the best team in the West. He has waisted no time this year putting up unbelievable numbers and carrying his team. Take a look….

His stats are as follows: 27 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. He obviously scores but his rebounding numbers are up from last year as well, proof of a developing overall game. Kevin Durant is that rare superstar besides Derrick Rose that is naturally modest. He includes his teammates in all of his success and while Lebron participated in the Decision, Kevin Durant signed a quiet deal and announced on twitter. He works incredibly hard, and is the best scorer we’ve seen in years. When people guard him the question they ask is not how do I stop him, but how do I make it hard for him to score. This may be the year that he takes that giant step from scorer to MVP.

Coach Of The Year:

I will go with Mike Brown. He has the hardest job for a coach out of everyone in the league. Since he’s replacing arguably the best coach in the world, the amount of pressure riding on his shoulders is not measurable in comparison to any other coach. The expectations are high. I mean very high. However, I think he’ll be able to do it. He’s transformed the way the Lakers play basketball and his emphasis on defense is visible in the games. They’ve held the Nuggets to 89. (their first game below 100 points), they’ve held the Knicks to 82 points (without Bynum), and they’ve held the Jazz to 71 points. Not only has he rubbed off his defensive strategies but he’s turned Metta World Peace from a declining veteran last year to one of this years best 6th men by giving him the freedom and confidence to play his game. The way he is coaching the Lakers will pay off, he’s stressing an outside in game, which could let Bynum develop as a player and give Kobe the rest he needs. I think he’ll rise to the challenge.

Most Improved Player:

I think I’ll have to have two picks for the Most Improved Player. First, I’ll go with Ryan Anderson on the Magic. He’s helped Dwight Howard a lot during this season carry the load. His numbers have improved from last year to this. 10 points to 19, and 5 rebounds to 6. He’s also shooting 91% from the stripe and 44% from long range. That’s a big improvement and could persuade Dwight to stay if keeps consistent. His play is important for his own game, but especially important considering he plays for the Magic who have been waiting for one of the role players to step up and help Dwight carry the load.

If not him, then Kyle Lowry from Houston. His scoring hasn’t improved much, but who needs scoring when you’re playing alongside Kevin Martin and Luis Scola. He is transforming into a point guard that every team would want. He’s still putting up solid scoring numbers with 13 a game, but he’s improved his assists per game from around 7 last year to lead the league with around 12 this year. He is distributing and is one of those players who can see the floor from every angle.  He’s also improved his defense on a team that otherwise doesn’t emphasize defense too much. He’s grabbing around 2 and a half steals per game. Tied for first place in that category as well. Then there is his rebounding. He leads the league in rebounding for guards with about 6 per game. This is a 6’0 ft guy grabbing 6 rebounds per game. That’s almost unheard of.

Defensive Player of the Year:

This one’s kind of obvious. Dwight Howard’s going to win this one again. Without any dominant centers in the league Dwight kind of has this one in the bag for years to come. He protects the paint like it’s his house. He’s got about 3 blocks per game as well as around 2 steals per game.

NBA Champion:

For me, this one is easy. The Miami Heat will win the NBA championship. I’ll tell you why. Last year the Heat didn’t have a bench since Udonis Haslem was gone, and they didn’t have any rookies to step up. This year, Udonis Haslem is healthier then ever, they added a gritty defender and a knockdown shooter in Shane Battier and they got lucky with Norris Cole a rookie point guard flaring with confidence. They lack a true center but when you have one of the best defenses in the league a center becomes less and less essential. Last year they also struggled with continuity and gelling on the court. After a year of playing together, they know their roles. Especially the Big three who understand how to play alongside one another. This season should be easy for them. 5-1 in the first 6 games is a sneak peak of their future domination. And finally they have determined who their go to guy is. They made the right choice when they decided Dwyane Wade would take the last shot. Take a look….

Oh, and don’t forget this one. 
. With roles determined, some dependent role players and the two of the best three players in the NBA, the Heat should steamroll through the season and win the championship with ease. I predict this will be the year where their 1st ring of not two, not three, not four, not five and so on rings will arrive.

Christmas Day Predictions

As the clock hits 12 tomorrow the NBA season officially begins. Let’s take a look at the Christmas day match-ups. The winners and the losers.

Knicks vs. Celtics:

A repeat of the first round of the playoffs from last year. The Celtics swept the Knicks, however this year the Knicks are back with a vengeance. They drastically improved their roster this off season with additions like Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis among many others. This match-up should be very interesting. Or it should’ve been interesting, however recent changes in the Celtic roster have made this game a no brainer. Losing Jeff Green was a huge blow to their depth, and the injury of Paul Pierce just gives Melo more room to score. That means Marquis Daniels will start and that leaves the bench with…. Brandon Bass? That won’t be enough to hold off the Knicks, especially when the Celtics core are all in the mid 30’s and need breaks often. Tyson Chandler will also have whatever he wants in this game. He will most likely be guarded by Jermaine O’neal, a slower and shorter center. Tyson will have his way in the paint, and since Jermain O’neal isn’t an offensive weapon he will be able to play lots of help. Furthermore, Amar’e Stoudemire will play along the elbow and the perimeter causing Kevin Garnett to come out as well. Leaving Jermaine O’neal all alone. The guard play will be vital for the Celtics in order for them to win. Rajon Rondo has a large advantage over Toney Douglas, however Iman Shumpert has shown defensive capabilities as well as quickness and a 6’5 frame. He will need to step up this game, as well as Ray Allen. He will need to do more then just shoot, due to the absence of Paul Pierce. If I had to predict right now, I’d give it to the Knicks.

Heat vs. Mavericks:

A finals rematch, probably the most anticipated game of the Christmas match-ups. After winning the finals, the Mavericks made substantial changes to their roster. Letting Tyson Chandler, Deshawn Stevenson and J.J Barea go made the team softer. However, they added veterans Lamar Odom and Vince Carter. This game will be a test to see if the Mavericks still have the toughness and defense they had last year. Nobody will be able to guard Dirk in this game, because frankly, it’s impossible. He will get his share of points, no doubt. Lamar Odom will also be a threat on the floor, he and Bosh will be a great match-up considering they’re almost the same type of player. Then you have D-Wade and Lebron. It’s very rare that players can guard them. And this game will be no different. There is no way, an older Vince Carter can guard Lebron James. He’s slow, and he’s not interested in playing defense. At the shooting guard position there really is nobody to guard D-Wade except for Jason Terry. Although, the Dallas bench can still out battle the Miami bench, I will give this game to Miami. The loss of Tyson Chandler is bigger then they think, they lost toughness and a defensive anchor. Who’s really going to stop D-Wade and Lebron in the paint? Nobody.

Lakers vs. Bulls:

This game features the Bulls and the second best team in Los Angeles. The Lakers are out to prove that they can still win games, doubt has surrounded this team for weeks. Kobe’s injured, Bynum’s out, Lamars gone, the triangle offense is gone. Everything seems to have gone wrong, well unfortunately tomorrow won’t be the light at the end of the tunnel. I predict a Laker loss. Let me explain. The former MVP is going to destroy this whole team. It’s as simple as that. Derrick Fisher can’t guard him, neither can Kobe. He will get by the first man and Bynum will block him. Oh, wait Bynum is out. Pau isn’t a shot blocker and isn’t as intimidating as a Bynum. I forsee a Derrick Rose takeover tomorrow. Another strength of the Bulls is their bench. Taj Gibson…. 

Ya, remember him? Omer Asik and Kyle Korver are other names among the young bench who averaged around 27 points a game last season. Another weakness of the Lakers is their bench. They lost the 6th man of the year in Lamar Odom, and they lost Shannon Brown. Now that Bynum is out for 5 games, they have to move Josh McRoberts into the starting lineup, which leaves the Laker bench with…. Matt Barnes? Steve Blake? That won’t get the job done. Among all this doubt, there is a strength that the Lakers have. An angry Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the type of player to go off when he is mad, and oh boy does he have things to be mad about. His wife left him, he tore ligaments in his wrist, the front office traded Lamar Odom, and Mike Brown was appointed without any discussion. Even though he might go crazy tomorrow, that won’t be enough to get past Derrick Rose, the Bulls defense and their bench. I’ll give this one to the Bulls.

Thunder vs Magic:

The Magic fans will be happy to see Dwight Howard on the floor in an official game as a member of the Orlando Magic. They won’t be happy to watch their team get beat by the Thunder. The Thunder pride themselves in their defense and their energy. Their young talent and their scoring champion in Kevin Durant. I bet Kevin Durant is smiling somewhere right now as he thinks about the poor perimeter defense he will match up against tomorrow night. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson. What a joke. Kevin Durant will rip them up from all over the floor. As well as his partner in crime Russell Westbrook. Who has no problem being guarded by Jameer Nelson. I bet James Harden is even looking forward to the loose defense of the Magic. However, getting to the basket will be harder then ever. Whenever you’re up against Dwight Howard you know points in the paint won’t come easy. He should have his way in the middle, nobody on the Thunder can really out muscle him. They do have a good chance of constraining him though, considering the depth at the power forward/center position. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collinson and Cole Aldrich are all very defensive minded players and will try keep Dwight Howard under control, but we all know that’s close to impossible. The depth is also a huge problem with the Magic. Besides Big Baby Davis and Quentin Richardson the bench is pretty empty. Everyone else is inconsistent and won’t be a match for the young and energetic  bench who scored around 30 points a game last season. This game will go to the Thunder. I will also predict that this win against the Magic will be the beginning of their finals run. A win in the finals? Possibly but this could be the beginning of something special.

Clippers vs. Warriors:

The world is buzzing about the Los Angeles Clippers. The most exciting team in sports right now. The “Lob Angeles Clippers,” they’ve been dubbed. The talents of Blake Griffin and CP3 combined seems like something out of a video game. I would say they scored the biggest this off season with the additions of Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Chris Paul. They’ve proved they’re no fluke, while beating the Lakers in both preseason games. I could see this game being more of a challenge for the Clippers. The Warriors actually have players who can stay with CP3. Stephen Curry has shown defensive aptitude in his career and although Monta Ellis isn’t a defensive minded guy he can still keep with CP3.  The Warriors bench is also very young and talented. Ekpe Udoh, Klay Thompson, and Brandon Rush are among the bench. They will provide a boost of energy for the Warriors if they need it. Unlike the Lakers, the Warriors are a very young team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they really give the Clippers a run for their money. This match-up is especially interesting because  neither team really plays too much defense. This should be a score-a-thon. Both teams somwhere in the 100’s. The X-factor in this game for me is DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin will pound David Lee down low, he isn’t quick or strong enough to guard him. DeAndre Jordan is the key to a Clippers loss or win. It is yet to be seen if he can be a defensive anchor in the middle, if he can man the paint and provide an intimidation factor, then Monta Ellis and Steph Curry will have a harder time scoring. If he ignores the defensive end, then this game will come down to who can outscore the other. We’ll see. I’m going to be spontaneous and give this one to the Warriors. I have to have at least one surprise. I think the Clipper mania will come to a halt when the Warriors come out of nowhere and beat the Clippers.

What do you think? Comment who you have to win each game. Only 13  hours until tip-off. Here we go!

Chris Paul + Clips

Finally, David Stern and the rest of the owners gave in to a trade involving Chris Paul. The Clippers traded Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and the 1st pick of the 2012 draft. All for CP3 and two second round draft picks. Now that CP3 is with the Clippers, the first question that needs addressing is an extension. Did the Clippers trade young talent for a guy who will dash out when he gets the chance? Also, who is the better team in Los Angeles? Questions need answers, so here we go.

If I was Chris Paul, I would sign an extension with the Clippers. It’s actually a no brainer. You’d be playing with the rookie of the year and one of the best big men in the league. You’d be playing in the best city in america. Hollywood. Where the opportunities are endless. Don’t forget being mentored by 2004 finals MVP Chauncey Billups. And playing with a developing Tyson Chandler type of player in Deandre Jordan. He won’t get anything better in the offseason. This team can take him far in the short term but also in the longterm.

The other question under discussion is the rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers. Who is better? The Lakers have ruled the city of Los Angeles for as long as the NBA has been around. The Clippers are like the disappointing son who is stuck in their father’s shadow. Kobe has been the king of Los Angeles and only until Blake Griffin came along did people even consider the Clippers as a legitimate team.

Now it seems like the Clippers are the better team in Los Angeles. The Lakers have the experience point. They have Kobe one of the best players in the league, and along with him, Pau, Metta World Peace, Andrew Bynum and Derrick Fisher who all know what it takes to win a championship. However, the Clippers have the fresh legs. They have the developing stars and two all stars who are both under 30. The point guard competition between the two teams isn’t even a comparison. Chris Paul almost single handedly beat the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs last year. The Lakers only won 4-2 in what was an expected blow out. Chris Paul will take Derrick Fisher to town all day long. The shooting guard position isn’t a comparison either. Kobe will burn Eric Bledsoe every time down the floor. He has the moves even at 33, he can still score 40 if he wants to. The small forward position is pretty equal to me. Ron Artest is clearly the better defender, and is the tougher and stronger player. However, last season he scored a career low 8 points a game. He is an offensive liability and won’t be too hard to defend for Caron Butler. The Power Forward position goes to the Clippers. Everyone may be a bit surprised by the last statement. However, last postseason I couldn’t stand watching Pau Gasol play basketball. A ‘7 footer playing soft actually agitates me. If you have the size, strength and agility then use it. He didn’t at all. He also won’t be able to keep up with the speedy, and strong Blake Griffin who will jump over him any time he wants. The center position however, has to go to the Lakers. DeAndre Jordan is becoming a force in the paint but Andrew Bynum has the experience and more of a developed game on both sides of the floor.The bench goes to the Clippers. After the Lakers losing Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown their bench is pretty empty. They signed Josh McRoberts however, there is a limit to his game. The Clippers bench has Chauncey Billups the 2004 finals MVP and one of the smartest players in the game, who will mentor every young player on the team.The coaching competition is the easiest of all. Vinny Del Negro needs to go. Mike Brown is a defensive mastermind, and has been to the finals before with James and the 2007 Cavaliers.

Now that we’ve established the better team in Los Angeles, we have to take the Clippers to the whole conference and see how they compare. I can see them winning the Pacific Division. It will be close but they can get it over the Lakers. When playoffs come around they will definitely be in contention. They will come in the top 4 in the West but that’s when their run might end. They have talent, they have fresh legs, they have superstars but they don’t have too much experience. That is the key when a game 7 comes around in the playoffs. The smart players, and the players used to pressure will prevail. The Clippers only weakness is their experience. If they could add another veteran on the bench that could do wonders.

Exciting Moments Ahead

Only 22 more days till the most anticipated NBA tip-off in recent memory. The excitement is indescribable, already rumours are beginning, teams are practicing and fans are biting their nails, anxiously awaiting Christmas day. Exciting moments are on their way. In the spirit of Christmas I bring to you the 12 most exciting things to look forward to this season.

12. NBA Tip-Off

Although, the NBA tip-off is only one day of a 66 game season. It will begin the domino effect of exciting games. The match-ups all consist of star players and exciting teams. Boston’s Big Three takes their talents to New York to match up against the Knicks Big Three.  A finals rematch in Dallas. Former MVP’s match up as the Bulls take on the Lakers. Superman is flying to Oklahoma as the Magic take on the Thunder. And Bad Blake will begin the hundreds of mind-blowing dunks as the Clippers take on the Golden State Warriors. Merry Christmas indeed.

11. Celtics Too Old?

After the Celtics lost to Miami’s Big Three in the conference semi-finals last year, a lot of people said they didn’t have the young talent to compete with the upcoming teams in the league. Such as, Miami, Oklahoma, Chicago and so on. The Big Three in Boston have a title and know how to win and what it takes to win. Something that is taken for granted through the eyes of fans. Garnett still has his toughness, and maybe he isn’t as quick as he used to be but he still has a killer shot and knows when to step up. Ray Allen, hasn’t aged at all. His three is still lights out, as well as his mid range jumper. And people can say nothing about Paul Pierce, after all his exciting plays this season. This play in particular….

There is no need to even watch past 0:24. I’m just saying, the Celtics still got it and although they may be looked upon as the old timers in a new generation they have some tricks up their sleeves. The Celtics may play with a chip on their shoulder and that means terror for other teams in the league.

10. KD Not Kidding Anymore

After barely beating the Grizzlies last year and losing to the Mavericks in the conference finals, KD knew he could never go through anything like that again. He was done losing, after getting his heart broken by the Lakers in the 1st round in ’10 and losing to Dallas in ’11 he knew he had to change. This summer he has wasted no time improving his game. Here is proof…..

I cannot wait to see Kevin Durant develop more as a player and as a scorer and bring Oklahoma City their much deserved ring.

9. Grizzlies Back on Their Grizzly

When the Grizzlies defeated the number 1 seeded Spurs in the west I was shocked. Heck, the whole world was shocked. The Spurs had been having a picture perfect season. 60 wins and the 1st seed in the West. They thought they had a legitimate chance at a title. Then the young, scrappy, Grizzlies came along and silenced San-Antonio and the NBA world. Then when they forced a game 7 against KD and the Thunder we began to really take them seriously. Unfortunately, they couldn’t push past the Thunder. However, they exited the playoffs with nothing to be ashamed of. They gave two of the best teams in the West a run for their money. They may have failed in the playoffs but succeeded in imprinting their game in everyone’s mind. Now that Mike Conley, Z-Bo, and Rudy Gay are back, the Grizzlies will enter this season as legitimate competition. I can’t wait to see more of their electrifying game.

8. Rookie Class

This year’s rookie class is nothing special. There are no Lebron’s, no Kobe’s, nobody that is an obvious star. However, that’s what makes it interesting. Anyone of the  rookies can jump out and surprise us, almost like Blake Griffin did with his first  NBA dunk. The favourites for Rookie of The Year are Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. However, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette and Ricky Rubio may want a piece of the spotlight. Maybe this rookie class isn’t filled with future stars but they are filled with exciting players.

7. Knicks Gelling

The new look Knicks played 42 games together last season, Melo and Amar’e brought  a glimmer of hope to the one city that needed it most. Now they hope to develop upon that and expand that glimmer of hope into a championship.  Due to Amar’e’s back injury during the 1st round of the playoff’s last year the Knicks didn’t have a chance. I believe if Amar’e had been fully healthy they would’ve played Miami in the 2nd round. The big question heading into this season, is how will Amar’e, Melo and Billups work together. Last season there was definitely some miscommunication on the court, but when these guys learn how to work together. Miami better watch their back.

6. D-Rose 2 Time MVP?

After D-Rose’s breakout season last year and the Bulls surprising success, I’m intrigued by what they will bring to the table this year. Lockdown defense is for sure. But can Derrick Rose match the stellar performance he gave last year.  He clearly has tricks up his sleeve, and if you haven’t seen his highlights from last season then prepare to be astounded….  

 The question is what will he surprise us with this season? A 50 point game? More killer crossovers? Unbelievable hops? D-Rose is unpredictable, but what we do know is that he will be eager to show everyone that last season’s success was no fluke. And that the Bulls and himself are here to stay among the elite.

 5. Lakers Redeem Themselves  

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Conference semi-finals to Dirk and the Mavs. Phil Jackson will try to forget his last series as a coach. He will try to forget Andrew Bynum throwing an elbow of frustration to J.J Barea. He will definitely try to forget being swept by Dallas. Now with a new coach, and a hungry Kobe, the Lakers can start on a clean slate. Everyone knows Kobe is angry and wants back on that throne. NBA fans everywhere, brace yourself for a Kobe overdrive.

4. Miami Back With a Vengeance  

Miami suffered at the hands of greatness last season when losing to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in the finals. Everyone, including themselves called the season a failure. This summer Lebron, and D-Wade didn’t waste time sulking or lowering their heads. They’re focused on greatness and focused on championships so they’ve been hard at work preparing for this season….

 Now that Lebron, D-Wade, and Bosh have additional criticism and motivation from last season it will be interesting to see how they come back this season. I’m predicting full on domination.

  3. Blake Show is Back  

If you ask any fan what team was most exciting to watch last season I bet you more than half would say the Los Angeles Clippers. This young and talented squad showed true potential last year when the Blake Show came along. They even made the Lakers a little nervous about being the top team in Los Angeles. But, Blake Griffin and the rest of his crew are back with more experience and more flavour this year. I’m eager to see them in action and to see Blake throwing down monster jam’s this season.

 2. Dallas 2-Peat

 After winning a title last year, Dirk and the Mavericks must be careful about their throne. The Lakers will be back and ready to redeem themselves, Miami will have more firepower than ever, and every other team in the league wants a seat on top. Dallas are prime targets this season and the fact that Tyson Chandler hasn’t signed an extension should worry them more. They’re veteran roster must be ready for the new guys in town who will do anything to defeat them. I wonder if J-Kidd, Dirk and Jason Terry will have what it takes this year. It will be more than exciting to see them in the finals once again.

 1. CP3 and Superman

 The best center in the league and arguably the best point guard in the league are free agents next summer. CP3’s agent has released statements that he wants a bite out of the Big Apple and there is speculation the Dwight wants out. We know the Magic and Hornets will try to improve their rosters around their stars before it’s too late. We also know they will trade them to get the most out of them if their stars don’t agree to an extension. This will be the most exciting part of the season due to the impact that these players will make on any team. Imagine CP3, Melo and Amar’e in New York. They’d instantly be best in the East. Or if Dwight went to Los Angeles, the Lakers would instantly be best in the West. After the Melo-Drama and the free agent frenzy of 2010-2011 we have all grown to love stars teaming up. It will be exciting to follow the drama that surrounds these players all season.

Here We Go Again

The NBA is on it’s way, which means the trade rumours have already arrived. The curtain has dropped. The spotlight is on. The show has began. And with the show comes the drama.

Dallas Ditching Chandler?

On the first day that free agent contracts could be discussed, Tyson Chandler took away one thing from the day. He was getting traded. “I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” Chandler told ESPN.com on Wednesday. He believes Dallas won’t offer him the long term extension that he deserves. And he does deserve it. For three years in a row the Dallas Mavericks were 1st round dropouts. Disappointments to their city and to the NBA. But when Tyson Chandler came to town he changed the whole team. He brought height, he brought hustle and most of all motivated the team to play defense. It’s no coincidence that last year the Dallas Mavericks were 7th in points allowed per 100 posessions in 2010-2011 and were 12th, 15th and 17th the three years before that. He provided them with an inside presence in the finals and deserves a contract. His biggest worry is that Dallas may sign Nene over him. Nene and him are the two most coveted free agents this year.

Nene Fever:

The big man on the free agent campus this year is Nene. Teams from all over the league have shown interest in him. Dallas, Golden State, New Jersey, Denver, Houston, Indiana, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Portland were all teams who made contact with Nene’s agent on Wednesday. A perfect fit for Nene would be teams lacking an inside presence. Teams like Golden State, Denver and Houston. The Nets have shown interest in Nene due to Deron Williams’ statements that he would be far less inclined to re-sign a long-term deal with the Nets if they don’t immediately improve their roster.

Ron Artest…. I mean Metta World Peace:

It has been reported that the Los Angeles Lakers may waive Ron Artest….. I mean Metta World Peace’s over-priced contract. Although, the small forward is one of the best defenders in the league and filling the void later with other players is very difficult considering the type of defender he is. On the offensive side, he is in decline. Last season he averaged 8.5 points and it’s clear that his age may be taking a toll on his body and his speed. He doesn’t have the strength he once had (and I might regret this) but he’s become a  liability on offense. Letting go of his 3 year 21.5 million dollar contract would be a relief, causing the Lakers to save up to 27 million dollars in taxes and salary through 2013-2014.

Hollywood Wants Superman:

A minute doesn’t go by when we don’t wonder how many championships Shaq and Kobe could’ve won together had their problems not gotten in the way. Finally, years later Superman may be coming back to Hollywood. Not the one who has the superman logo on his bed. The one who wore the cape during his slam dunk performance. Jim Buss has said that he would trade Andrew Bynum “for the right deal.” The right deal or the deal that involves Dwight Howard? But Andrew Bynum may not be what the Magic are looking for in a replacement for Dwight and rumour has it that Andrew Bogut would be a better fit for them. I disagree but a three team deal has been circling, sending Dwight to the Lakers, Bogut to the Magic and Bynum to the Bucks. The Clippers also seem willing to do whatever it takes for Dwight. The Clippers have tons of young depth with players like Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Al-Farouq Aminu and can provide more assets in a trade with the Magic. Although, Dwight and Kobe together may look like a championship on paper. In reality they wouldn’t gel. Dwight loves the ball down in the post, he takes it in all day. And why wouldn’t you when you’re the most dominant player in the NBA. Then there is Kobe, who loves the ball on the perimeter and taking it to the hole. They are both types of players who demand the spotlight and I can’t see it working out.

Blazers and Brandon Roy:

A source had said that the TrailBlazers had waived Roy but team president Larry Miller firmly stated that, ”We have not, and regardless of what’s been said by John Canzano and others out there, (made a) decision on amnesty as of yet,” On January 17th of last season Brandon Roy underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees. He returned to the lineup on February 25th and scored 18 points off the bench. The rest of the season was a quiet one for Roy, he came off the bench for the whole season and averaged 12.5 points as supposed to his career average of 19 points a game. His future looked grim, until the playoffs came around and  Portland needed someone to step up. Brandon Roy came off the bench in Game 3 against the Mavericks and scored 16 points in 23 minutes. Larry Miller added, ”With everything that Brandon has done for this organization, there’s no way we would make a decision like that without having conversation with him, without evaluating where he is.” I wouldn’t give up on Roy yet, his knees may let him down at times but he showed that in big situations he can shine. He knows how to win and he is a valuable piece on any team.

Celtics Discussing Rondo Trades:

Just to be clear, the Celtics don’t want to get rid of Rondo. He is the future of their organisation and will be their saviour once Pierce, Allen and Garnett are gone. However, the Celtics are exploring options in exchange for Rondo. Danny Ainge said, “I don’t make any comments on trade rumors. I’m just not commenting on any of it. Everybody knows how valuable Rondo is to our team. I’ll talk to Rondo, but I don’t want to talk about it publicly.” I sense insecurity in the Celtics front office. They realise that their Big Three aren’t big news anymore, they are getting older and soon they won’t be able to compete with the up and coming talent in the league. Additionally, they realise Rondo isn’t the best Point Guard out there and it makes sense for them to get better. Rumours have circulated that a Rondo for Paul deal may be developing, although they are very vague rumours.

Grizz and Gasol:

After last years semi-breakout season for Marc Gasol teams are showing more interest in him now that he’s a free agent. He provided Memphis with defense, hustle and a quick inside presence that Tim Duncan and the 1st place Spurs couldn’t handle. The Grizzlies organization have shown interest in keeping him. “Obviously, we want to sit down and try to make a deal with Marc,” Heisley said. “I’m committed to keeping him.” Gasol has made it clear that he would like to return to Memphis this season. However, they may not have enough money to satisfy Gasol after agreeing to contract extensions with Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley. All we know now is that the Grizzlies want Gasol and Gasol wants the Grizzlies. Personally, I would love to see last year’s team come back stronger this year and make it back to the playoffs. Every time they stepped onto the floor, the game was bound to be exciting. They were the most energetic team in the NBA and it was a joy to watch them burst through the playoffs and surprise everybody.