Archive for October, 2015

It’s that time of year.  Costumes, masks, intrigue, going through the motions, plentiful candy and prizes in the distance.

The NBA preseason is upon us.

With the possible exception of the Sixers, every NBA team is out to convince their fans that things are different this time around.

That this will be a better year, maybe THE year. (I’m looking at you, Clippers and Bulls fans).

With this in mind, here are my picks for the best tricksters of the 2015-16 NBA season.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers – The signing of star guard Damian Lillard to a huge contract was meant to distract from the pending losses of the other 4 starters, plus Arron Afflalo.  The new supporting cast is largely unproven.  And the Western Conference is only getting better.  Portland won’t drop to the bottom of the conference, but a 31 win season is likely.
  2. Sacramento Kings – We have a new stadium! (Okay, in a few years).  We have an All-Star point guard! (Okay, he’s past his prime).  At least we have Boogie! (And he’s about a month away from going off on George Karl).  The Kings are still the Kings, despite illusions to the contrary.
  3. Indiana Pacers – The return of Paul George, combined with the losses of David West and Roy Hibbert, brings a lot of questions to Indianapolis.  Playing George at the 4 is almost an admission that he won’t be what he was, and the lack of interior defense will kill the Pacers, even in the weakened Eastern Conference.  Expect 35 wins and a near-miss for the 8 seed, along with a lot of 3 point attempts.
  4. Brooklyn Nets – Subtraction, plain and simple.  The Nets have lost Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams, and have had 4 coaches in 5 seasons.  It’s safe to say nobody knows who the Nets are underneath their ever-changing masks.
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder – With the ultimate free agent to be in Kevin Durant, the Thunder did some nice costuming this off-season, keeping mid-season addition Enes Kanter on a $70 million deal to provide the needed 3rd option to Westbrook and Durant.  The question remains: Is Kanter the happy, dominant scorer who played in OKC last year, or the petulant, pouting failure that forced his way out of Utah in the dead of winter after several seasons?  And the second question – Will Billy Donovan make it mesh?
  6. Los Angeles Lakers – We have Kobe!  He’s healthy again!  (Almost).  We have new players with talent!  (That are hurt or struggling).  We have the next great Lakers center! (Okay, I made that one up, sue me).  The Lakers aren’t nearly good enough to earn the 8 seed, which means they will almost certainly give a treat to the Philadelphia 76ers in June (a Top 10 pick).  A late Halloween treat, but the Sixers are willing to be patient.
  7. To the guy wearing the Dirk Nowitzki costume – Hey, didn’t you used to be a 25 point scorer?
  8. For the guy coaching the Miami Heat – Weren’t you a genius a few years ago?  Stop laughing, Phil.
  9. And for LeBron James – put that MVP costume away, aren’t you a bit old to be trick-or-treating?
  10. That’s it.  Next time we’ll look at the treats of the upcoming season!
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