October 22, 2014: Five Things to Know in the NBA
Editor’s Note: This is the first of Blake’s weekly columns on the National Basketball Association. Be sure to look out for Blake’s column every Wednesday for the duration of the 2014-15 season.
#1 – Biweekly NBA Power Rankings
Team [record] (last week’s ranking)
- San Antonio Spurs [0-0] (n/a)
- Los Angeles Clippers [0-0] (n/a)
- Cleveland Cavaliers [0-0] (n/a)
- Chicago Bulls [0-0] (n/a)
- Oklahoma City Thunder [0-0] (n/a)
- Dallas Mavericks [0-0] (n/a)
- Golden State Warriors [0-0] (n/a)
- Portland Trail Blazers [0-0] (n/a)
- Washington Wizards [0-0] (n/a)
- Phoenix Suns [0-0] (n/a)
- Miami Heat [0-0] (n/a)
- Toronto Raptors [0-0] (n/a)
- Charlotte Hornets [0-0] (n/a)
- Houston Rockets [0-0] (n/a)
- New Orleans Pelicans [0-0] (n/a)
- Memphis Grizzlies [0-0] (n/a)
- Atlanta Hawks [0-0] (n/a)
- Denver Nuggets [0-0] (n/a)
- New York Knicks [0-0] (n/a)
- Brooklyn Nets [0-0] (n/a)
- Indiana Pacers [0-0] (n/a)
- Minnesota Timberwolves [0-0] (n/a)
- Orlando Magic [0-0] (n/a)
- Sacramento Kings [0-0] (n/a)
- Boston Celtics [0-0] (n/a)
- Los Angeles Lakers [0-0] (n/a)
- Detroit Pistons [0-0] (n/a)
- Utah Jazz [0-0] (n/a)
- Milwaukee Bucks [0-0] (n/a)
- Philadelphia 76ers [0-0] (n/a)
#2 – Winners of the offseason
San Antonio Spurs
- The media tends to focus on big free agent signings, big name rookies, and guys who are going to drastically affect the style or pace of play for a team. Think Pau Gasol in Chicago, or Milwaukee drafting a perfect fit like Jabari Parker into their super athletic, scoring-challenged, Jason Kidd-coached lineup. These are the stories we see on mainstream sports media, but the winners of the offseason did not make any big trades or free agent pickups. The Spurs win the offseason on this simple notion: If a team wins a championship, brings everybody back, and boasts a strong bench of improving role players, they are hands down the favorite to win another title. It is not possible to have a better offseason than that.
- The Mavs did well for themselves, opening the 2014 offseason with the first big blockbuster trade of the year with the New York Knicks. They lost an efficient starting-caliber point guard, Jose Calderon, but they were able to acquire an elite shot-blocking center (Tyson Chandler), unload the aging Sam Dalembert, and pick up Raymond Felton to back up another new Maverick point guard: Jameer Nelson. Nelson is a solid NBA starter who has not played any meaningful basketball since Dwight Howard left Orlando. This year, he will shine in Rick Carlisle’s fast-paced offense in an underrated backcourt pairing with Monta Ellis. The Mavs also added Chandler Parsons from Houston, a versatile swingman who can run the floor and score. Last, but not least, they re-signed Dirk to a very team-friendly deal. The Mavs could be a top 5 team in the West this year if they stay healthy.
- Of course, I have to mention the Cleveland Cavaliers. They added the best player in the game today, and another top ten player. This new big three of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love has the potential to be even more feared offensively than the Heat big three of the last four years. Defensively, though, this team is going to have problems, particularly in the paint. They will put up points in bunches, but until they add some rim protection, I have a hard time seeing how they can shut down teams like the Bulls, Clippers, and Spurs. Needless to say, this team is worth watching.
#3 – Losers of the offseason
Los Angeles Lakers
- What on earth is this front office doing? Rolling out a starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Wes Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill will get you two things: injuries and blowouts. This team is going to really struggle on the defensive end. Also, their backcourt will make roughly $45 million dollars in salary (Bryant 23, Nash 9, Lin 8, Young 5). That’s just too much money. Hopefully, Kobe will come back strong, Julius Randle will be able to get some minutes, and Jeremy Lin will have a great impact on the team once Steve Nash gets hurt (it will happen). It’s going to be a rough season in Los Angeles, as the Clippers continue to take the Lakers’ city by storm.
- A rookie (Nerlens Noel) and a second year player (Michael Carter-Williams) are the only two players on this team who generate any kind of excitement. These Sixers, led by their extremely tank-happy GM Sam Hinkie, traded away their only two solid contributors with NBA experience (Evan Turner and Thad Young) and they drafted two players (Dario Saric and Joel Embiid) who will not play a minute in a Sixers jersey this year. No need to go into detail on this one, I’d be surprised if this team wins 15 games.
#4 – The LeBron James Saga Continues
This summer, we saw the continuation of LeBron James’ quest for a legacy that includes:
A.) winning championships
B.) being loved by all NBA fans
C.) having his name mentioned every time someone says the words “Michael Jordan”
Yeah, we get it, King James, you care about Northeast Ohio, you needed to get away for a while, you wanted to win, and you wanted to play with some other All Stars. Those four years gave you the ability to jump ship in Miami and come create a championship caliber team in Cleveland, but now you expect everyone to forgive you? As I was a bona fide LeBron hater ever since “The Decision,” I’ll go ahead and say it: LeBron James, we forgive you. I love the move back to Cleveland, I love the Sports Illustrated letter, I love the loyalty, the story, you playing GM and getting Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, and whoever else you wanted. I can’t help but root for the Cavs to succeed.
The saga of LeBron James, who, let’s not kid ourselves, is one of the five greatest basketball players to ever hold a big orange ball, is a story that has polarized people, driven up ratings, and re-energized the entire NBA. The only thing I have to say about it now is that he had better win a ring for Cleveland before he hangs up his shoes, but I think it is safe to say he will make good on that promise.
#5 – Preseason Highlight of the Century
The San Antonio Spurs were beaten by a German club, ALBA Berlin, in a preseason game where all of their starters played normal minutes, on a ridiculous 18 foot floater buzzer beater off of an inbound steal. I could watch it a thousand times.
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scKjYBrypvc