NBA Season Preview: Part II

Posted: October 29, 2012 in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Knights Who Say. . .Knee

The largest question surrounding one man’s knee in the NBA this year no longer belongs to Kobe Bryant and whatever happened in that dungeon laboratory in Germany last summer.  No.  It now has hoopheads wondering if/when Derek Rose will make a comeback this year.  There are generally two schools of thought on the youngest player ever to win an MVP’s imminent return.  Several former players have come forward saying Rose should wait and his own team owner has been a vocal proponent of “not rushing him back.”  It seems that the balance is shifted toward Rose making a return this season, albeit a delayed one.  Having torn his ACL in late April and getting surgery in early May, it may be a while before Rose is back at full strength.  Perhaps the even bigger question is this: for a player whose game relies so much on his dynamite explosiveness and his Intercontinental Ballistic Missile-speed drives to the hoop, will Rose come back the same player?  For those answers, we’ll just have to wait.

When Ricky Rubio injured his knee last season I was more upset about it than a grown man should so readily admit.  Why?  Because Rubio is phenomenally entertaining.  He’s a Honky Harlem Globetrotter.  He’s the Spanish Jason Williams (*Author’s note: except much better all around),  He looks like he is a stunt double for a member of One Direction, makes everyone around him exponentially better in a very Steve Nashian way, and made the Timberwolves one of the most watchable teams in the league.  Now, with Kevin Love hurt for 6-8 weeks, the recently re-tooled T-Wolves will need to put some of their new pieces into action in order to stay competitive.  But with – for lack of a better term, here – a pretty weird group of guys on one team they Wolves will be must-watch T.V.  They have Lou Amundson (*Author’s note: the Hair up there), JJ Barea, Kevin Love (*Author’s note: when healthy, a legit top-10 player in the league), Chase Budinger (*Author’s note: best white dunker since. . .ever?) Andrei Kirilenko the Magic Dragon, Nikola Pekovic, and Brandon Roy and they picked up the Cleveland Steimsma.  Not since the ’86 Celtics have we seen a team this pasty, with this much potential.  It should be a fascinating season up north and Rubio’s recovery and continued high-level of play should be a gigantic part of that.

Flopping Fines for Panty-Waisted Prima Donnas

Flopping in the NBA is kind of like all the idiotic Facebook game invitations we all get.  Unless we have the sense to block them out – and let’s be honest, here, there’re just too many to keep up with in many regards – the 88 Farmville requests, 39 Schoolstream invitations, and the 14 requests to sign up for the latest game that tells you whether you’re more like Samantha or Carrie from Sex and the City can really be an annoyance.  We all complain about it, but the overall package is so good that we just keep coming back.  What makes the flopping so bad is that some of the league’s biggest stars are some of the worst offenders.

This offseason the NBA showed why it’s the most progressive and innovative league in major sports by adapting on the fly (*Author’s note: enjoy your stodgy, crusty, leatherbound book of rules, baseball).  They saw a problem with the way the game was being played and took a stance to adjust the behavior.  The league put into place mandatory penalties for the other kind of “faking it.”

Violation 1: Warning
Violation 2: $5,000 fine
Violation 3: $10,000 fine
Violation 4: $15,000 fine
Violation 5: $30,000 fine
Violation 6: Player has a mandatory 1-game stint playing for the Bobcats

With these new fines in place, I can only hope that the league follows through.  Hopefully this means no more LeBron collapsing to the floor like the victim of a well-place sniper shot.  No more Kobe flopping in an attempt for a late-game call so hard that Pau reflexively flops, too.  With these new fines in place I’m hoping that the entire roster of the San Antonio Spurs will star in a 30 for 30 of their own next season called Broke II: Flopsome and Jetsam (and Title 1 Bankruptcy).

Harden to Houston

James Harden is now officially a Houston Rocket.  I almost touched on his imminent departure/contract negotiations in part one of this post, but I realized that whatever I wrote could be 180 degrees incorrect by the time anyone read my article.  I’m glad I waited.  Harden was last year’s sixth man of the year.  He averaged nearly 17 points coming off the bench, played above-average defense, and was more than happy to defer the spotlight to either Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook.  The Thunder would have us believe they were tapped out financially and couldn’t go deeper into the luxury tax abyss by giving Harden a fat deal.  They offered him a deal, which Harden allegedly turned down, and then shipped him out to try to get something in return for their third-wheel all-star.

In sending away one of the league’s best Glue Guys, a player good enough to play for the US Team at this year’s Olympics, and a key piece to of an NBA Finals team, the Thunder are risking a lot.  Sure they’re going to save money, sure they still have two of the best players in the league in their starting lineup, and sure they got back a very good scorer in Kevin Martin (*Author’s note: the only proven commodity in the trade, with the Thunder also getting rookie Jeremy Lamb and a heaping pile of draft picks) but at what cost?  Many of the media outlets around are calling this trade a win for the Thunder, but it should be fascinating to see how this team functions without their bearded left-handed right hand man.

Other Fascinating Subplots to a Potential Incredible Season

–  Which team will rule New York?  The Brooklyn Nets?  The New York Knicks?  This suddenly fascinating rivalry will be must-watch.  Does anyone realize that Jay-Z doesn’t actually own the Nets?  It’s that huge Russian guy who has more money than Hova.

–  Will Linsanity continue?  Or will it fade into Bolivia like Mike Tyson once predicted of his career?

–  Will the Clippers overcome the Lakers for the best team in L.A.?

–  How many T’s will Boogie Cousins get?

–  Will Carmelo pass the ball?  Ever?

–  Will Ray Allen’s mother usurp Gloria James as the most talked about/overexposed Mom on the Miami Heat?  Or will JaVale McGee’s mother finally rip that title away from her fellow Moms?

(*Author’s note: I can’t wait to find out. . .)

FIN

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