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NBA Season Preview

The 2014-2015 Lakers and the Quest for 20

Several years ago, Boston College’s favorite son, Jared “The Junkyard Dog” Dudley (though by opposing ACC crowds, he was often called “Jared Ugly”) came to the Phoenix Suns in package with Jason Richardson. Dudley never should have made it even that far in the NBA.
A first round pick by the Charlotte Bobcats, the San Diego, CA native was actually projected to be a second round draft pick. The reigning 2006-2007 ACC Player of the Year had decent size at 6’7″ and 220 lbs, lacked the explosive athleticism that many other small forwards carried at that position. Critics claimed that Dudley’s lack of lateral movement and vertical lift would limit his NBA career, making him a League also-ran rather than the, I daresay dominant swingman he was during his college days.
What many didn’t consider was while Dudley was limited in athleticism, he was not at all limited in his work ethic. Through his endless hustle, grit and an unfathomably improved three-point stroke, JYD morphed into a phenomenal NBA role player with the Bobcats and then with the Phoenix Suns. More than that, he morphed himself into a man who has made over $30 million dollars in his NBA career.
Still, his athleticism, or lack thereof, has still partially defined his career. Throughout the 2010-2011 NBA season, Dudley’s teammates on the Phoenix Suns derided the baby-faced small forward his almost complete inability to dunk the basketball during in-game play. Even during his college career, Dudley was never known as a powerful player that could take it to the rack, but rather as a guy who relied on a solid mid-range game and contact at the hoop to get his points. Dunking–i.e., jumping off the ground with explosion–was simply not in the cards. Apparently, this was the case during his professional career.
And thus came the Quest for 10. Please see this article.
In the spring of 2011, Jared Dudley completed his seemingly impossible quest to complete ten dunks during the season. This man–an unlikely NBA player from the outset–defied the critics, his teammates, the very laws of physics and the constraints of his own human vessel to conquer this very personal journey.
As we reflect on the Quest for 10, can YOUR….Los Angeles Lakers complete their Quest for 20?… Read more...

MAMBINO’S NBA Team-by-Team Season Preview Series

The 2013-2014 NBA season is underway kiddos, and we’re like kids on Christmas morning over here. Christian kids. But even if we were Jewish, we’d be really excited for all the Chinese food to later on tonight! Like, REAL excited.
Thanks to the collective collaborative efforts of the superb MAMBINO crew, we’ve previewed every NBA team in an exhaustive series of previews. Formatted with a very key “FACT OR FICTION” question, each post tackles the most relevant issues facing every single NBA squad this year. You missed out on free agency? Can’t remember the draft? Don’t know which team Marcus Camby is on? This is your simple, easy to read, one-stop shop for all things NBA this season.
Special thanks to BockerKnocker, Thunderstolt, El Miz, AO, The CDP, El Mariachi (no relation to Miz) and Paul (yes, just Paul) for their efforts in writing a fantastic set of posts. Below are all 30 previews, as well as the MAMBINO aggregate prediction standings for the year.
Eastern Conference
1. Miami Heat
2. Indiana Pacers
3. Brooklyn Nets
4. Chicago Bulls
5. New York Knicks
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Detroit Pistons
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
9. Washington Wizards
10. Toronto Raptors
11. Milwaukee Bucks
12. Charlotte Bobcats
13. Boston Celtics
14. Orlando Magic
15. Philadelphia 76ers
Western Conference
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Houston Rockets
4. San Antonio Spurs
5. Golden State Warriors
6. Memphis Grizzlies
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Dallas Mavericks
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
10. Portland Trailblazers
11. Los Angeles Lakers
12. New Orleans Pelicans
13. Sacramento Kings
14. Phoenix Suns
15. Utah Jazz

 …

A humbling year to come: Los Angeles Lakers Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Steve Nash, SG Steve Blake, SF Nick Young, PF Shawne Williams, C Pau Gasol
Key Bench Players: PG Jordan Farmar, SG Jodie Meeks, G/F Xavier Henry, F Wesley Johnson, PF/C Jordan Hill, C Chris Kaman
Offseason Additions: Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Shawne Williams, PF Ryan Kelly (48th overall pick)
Offseason Subtractions: C Dwight Howard, SF Metta World Peace, PF Antawn Jamison, F Earl Clark, PG Darius Morris, PG Chris Duhon
FACT OR FICTION: The Lakers will have a bottom-10 defense.

FACT. And therein lies the keys to this upcoming Lakers season. Inescapably, we are about to witness what should be one of the very worst defenses in the NBA. Looking at this team up, down and sideways, there is almost no feasible way that this squad has a reliable method of stopping oppositions from scoring. Right there without further need for an explanation, is a perfectly legitimate reason why this Lakers team won’t be sniffing realistic playoff goals within the last two months of the regular season.
Need further convincing? Well, you’ve come to the right place. … Read more...

Finally, some good news: Sacramento Kings Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Greivis Vasquez, SG Ben McLemore, SF John Salmons, PF Jason Thompson, C DeMarcus Cousins
Key Bench Contributors: PG Isaiah Thomas, SG Marcus Thornton, SG Jimmer Freddette, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF Patrick Patterson, C Chuck Hayes
Offseason Additions: Greivis Vasquez, Ben McLemore (7th overall pick), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF Carl Landry (out 3-4 months)
Offseason Subtractions: G/F Tyreke Evans
FACT OR FICTION: After an offseason of big changes in the roster and on the business side, the refocused Kings have a shot at the playoffs.

FICTION. Right away, fiction. Definite, best-selling fiction. But it might not be that way for long.
The Sacramento Kings are finally out of the thrall of the Maloof ownership and into the skinny, yet loving arms of new majority owner Vivek Ranadive. The franchise cleared out nearly it’s entire infrastructure this summer, dismissing longtime GM Geoff Petrie and head coach Keith Smart, who no doubt did their parts in the organization’s seven year layoff from the postseason. In their places Ranadive hired away personnel from franchises with recent success: Pete D’Allessandro, a former Denver Nuggets assistant GM, and Mike Malone, former Golden State Warriors assistant coach.… Read more...

Can Dragic and Bledsoe work? Phoenix Suns Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Goran Dragic, SG Eric Bledsoe, SF Gerald Green, PF A Morris brother, C Alex Len
Key Bench Players: F The other Morris brother, F/C Channing Frye, C Emeka Okafor, G/F Gerald Green
Offseason Additions: Gerald Green, Eric Bledsoe
Offseason Subtractions:  C Marcin Gortat, SF Jared Dudley, SG Shannon Brown, PG Kendall Marshall, PF Luis Scola, C Jermaine O’Neal, PF Michael Beasley, PG Sebastian Telfair
FACT OR FICTION: Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic will work as two starting point guards.
FICTION. And I think everyone knows that. Including the Phoenix Suns.
It seems like writing “the Phoenix Suns have invested their future in Dragic and Bledsoe” is the easiest and most natural discourse to write for this preview. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.… Read more...

The Final Piece: Golden State Warriors Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Andre Iguodala, PF David Lee, C Andrew Bogut
Key Bench Players: SF Harrison Barnes, G Toney Douglas, F Draymond Green, PF Mareese Speights, C Festus Ezeli, C Jermaine O’Neal
Offseason Additions: Andre Iguodala, Toney Douglas, Jermaine O’Neal
Offseason Subtractions: PG Jarrett Jack, PF Carl Landry, C Andris Biedrins, SF Richard Jefferson, SG Brandon Rush,
FACT OR FICTION: The final piece to the Warriors’ championship puzzle was Andre Iguodala. 
FACT. But his simple addition doesn’t make them into a title contender. If that makes any sense.
So why then would our glorious FACT OR FICTION breed such a strong statement? Because with Iguodala, the Warriors have found a perfect fit for their style of play, not to mention plug some holes in their very obviously weaknesses.
Offensively, it’s not exactly three-dimensional chess here: AI is a nightmare in transition, whether he’s starting the break with his killer handle and passing, or finishing with deadly propulsive efficiency. He’s just as effective in the half court set, creating plays from the elbow or wing, as well as setting up as a willing streak shooter. He’s now just another weapon that diversifies an already dynamic Golden State scoring blitzkrieg, which also harbors young developing stars like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. Iguodala will be key with them as well, taking up the slack on both ends of the floor which effectively buys Golden State time while those two blue chippers blossom from the delicate flower buds they are into a full blown bouquet of basketball dominance.… Read more...

The Kind of Historic Season You Don’t Want: Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Michael Carter-Williams, SG Evan Turner, PF Thaddeus Young, C Spencer Hawes, and whoever/someone else
Key Bench Players: Royce White (who?), James Anderson (WHO?), Tony Wroten (WHO??!?!!?), Jason Richardson (syke!)
Offseason Additions: C Nerlens Noel, PG Michael Carter-Williams, Head Coach Brett Brown
Offseason Subtractions: C Andrew Bynum, PF Andrew Bynum’s hair, PG Jrue Holiday
FACT OR FICTION: This new 76ers regime that Sam Hinkie has put together will be the team of the future.
FACT. Fiction as hell.
The Sixers are going to be bad this year. Very bad, in fact. Where three years ago they were playing the Heat in the playoffs, they now will be aiming to set a new franchise record by losing more games than the 1972-73 Sixers (who hold the NBA record with 73 losses). This is a franchise that has skipped the weak ass sh*t, went straight for the heavy stuff and nuked this team’s mediocre present, to hopefully solidify an excellent future. Starting when they let Andrew Bynum and his afro walk and/or stumble away into free agency and then continuing with the whirlwind of the 2013-2014 NBA draft where they traded pre-prime/quasi-star Jrue “I-Jraw-Good” Holiday to the newly anointed New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel (effectively ruining the funniest/most clever draft choice the Nerlens’ Pelicans will ever make) and a 2014 first-rounder, the Sixers have poised themselves for a historically terrible season.
But that’s a very good thing.…

Who are they building around? Toronto Raptors Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Kyle Lowry, SG DeMar DeRozan, SF Rudy Gay, PF Amir Johnson, C Jonas Valanciunas
Key Bench Players: G/F Landry Fields, SF Terrence Ross, PF Tyler Hansbrough, F Steve Novak, PG DJ Augustin, C Aaron Gray
Offseason Additions: F Steve Novak
Offseason Subtractions: PF Andrea Bargnani, F Linas Kleiza
FACT OR FICTION: Jonas Valanciunas is more important to this Raptors team’s future than Rudy Gay.
FACT. And it’s not even close.
In Toronto, the name on this Raps team (…if there’s a name at all), it’s Rudy Gay. He’s a career 18 ppg scorer, to go along with 6 boards and a steal every night. Gay can break opponents off the dribble and at any particular moment could shove it down his defender’s throat in a dunk that screams “two million views”. Most importantly, he’s still just 26 years old, despite starting his eighth professional season.
However, with the advent of advanced stats and daily video breakdowns, it’s become apparent (to some) that Rudy Gay is more flash than substance. If you thought he was a franchise building block, I wouldn’t blame you: he looks like the perfect prototypical basketball star. 6’9” with a massive wingspan, jaw dropping athleticism and a stunning mix of speed and explosive quickness. Gay isn’t afraid of being the first option on offense, as evidenced by his career 15.3 FGA per game. On paper, or even quarter to quarter, Rudy looks like a star.… Read more...

Keepsake: Boston Celtics Season Preview

(Posted on behalf of blog brother AO)
Starting Five: TBA (Editor’s note: to begin the season, only F Jeff Green and G Avery Braldey are really assured of starting roles. But in general, it’s all in flux right now)
Key Bench Players: Undetermined
Notable Offseason Additions: PF Kris Humphries’ expiring contract, PF/C Kelly Olynyk, SF Gerald Wallace, G MarShon Brooks, three first round picks from the Brooklyn Nets.
Notable Offseason Subtractions: PF Kevin Garnett, SF Paul Pierce, G Jason Terry’s corpse and head coach Doc Rivers.
FACT OR FICTION: The Celtics are rebuilding.  They have cleaned house of everyone except Rajon Rondo.  To really commit to the rebuild, they must trade Rajon Rondo.
This is a popular yet misguided thought among NBA heads.   I disagree so wholeheartedly that we’re going to rip through the other Celtic summer league headlines in one summary sentence:  Olynyk was the Summer League Jesus, Humphries’ expiring is a huge deadline card to be played, and RIP Ubuntu.  Now, the three reasons why Boston should absolutely not trade Rondo:… Read more...

“One More Run”, Pt. 17: San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Tony Parker, SG Danny Green, SF Kawhi Leonard, PF Tim Duncan, C Thiago Splitter
Key Bench Players: SG Manu Ginobili, PG Cory Joseph, SG Marco Belinelli, PF Boris Diaw, PF Matt Bonner
Offseason Additions: Marco Belinelli
Offseason Subtractions: G Gary Neal
FACT OR FICTION: The Spurs have enough in them for their fifth consecutive “one more run”?

FACT. But that’s not the real question.
FACT OR FICTION: The 2013-2014 Spurs can’t win a title unless Kawhi Leonard takes a leap.
FACT. We saw a little what the Spurs look like with Kawhi Leonard as a borderline All-Star-caliber player in the NBA Finals last season. He dropped 15 points, snatched 11 boards and 2 steals on a .513/.248/.702 slash line in the most pressure packed moments of the season. Leonard did all of this while serving up premium defense, maximum concentration and an eerie robotic calm that belied the fact that he hadn’t even turned 22. He wasn’t the best Spur in the series–that honor goes to the extraordinary Tim Duncan–but he wasn’t that far behind.… Read more...