NBA Season Preview
Fall is in the air, is there anything better than a crisp autumn day? The answer to that question is of course, a seat inside an air-conditioned NBA arena. You are their with your friends just enjoying the BBQ quesadillas and a soda for the reasonable price of $20. The NBA season has officially begun. Sam and I are excited to make this a 4th and 10 topic and give our take on the biggest question marks headed into the season. As always, we encourage commenting, sharing, and providing us with feedback. Follow us on Twitter: @4_DownTerritory.
By Levi Dunagan and Sam Pouncey
1. Will the Miami Heat 3-peat?
Sam: I know the Miami Heat are the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA again this season, and for good reason. I am going to say this is the year they do not win, and I will take the field against the Heat.
Levi: I will go with the Miami Heat to win another championship. That makes three consecutive titles, as well as playing in the NBA finals four straight times. I do not believe any team can beat them in a seven game series. That’s the bottom line.
1. Will LeBron James win another Most Valuable Player award?
Sam: I may not be picking the Heat to win, however LeBron James is the best player in basketball and an absolute freak of nature. He wins the MVP, yet again.
Levi: Lebron James will win another MVP. I don’t even feel the need to explain why the best player on Earth will win the award.
2. What should we expect from Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant, both of which are returning from injury?
Sam: Derrick Rose took a whole year off to come back from his torn ACL in the playoffs the previous season, as long as he is mentally comfortable cutting on that knee (which all indications point to yes) he will be back to the D-Rose of old. Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, is 35 and coming off of an Achilles’ injury that is a serious career threat. His work ethic and motivation will permit him to play effectively and “get his”, but I’m afraid the days of an elite Kobe are behind us.
Levi: Derrick Rose will be fine; he has looked great in preseason action. However, Kobe Bryant is going to struggle. He has not been an “elite” player in several years. He is a volume scorer at this point in his career. He has lacked the athleticism to get to the basket against defenders in the last few seasons. Bryant suffered a devastating injury, and now he is supposed to be okay? He was overly reliant on his jump shot before and now it seems that he will be totally reliant upon his ability to score from the perimeter.
3. Which team will win the West?
Sam: I have a hunch that this may be Golden State’s year. If star point guard Steph Curry stays healthy they have one of the most formidable backcourts in basketball, and an excellent offensive mind coaching in Mark Jackson.
Levi: I think that the Memphis Grizzlies have a great opportunity to win the West. They have a dominating frontcourt, underrated bench, and a physical playing style. I think they have a matchup advantage over the more finesse teams that will be expected to win the West. (Looking at you G.S. Warriors and L.A. Clippers)
4. Who will win Rookie of the Year?
Sam: Trey Burke is expected to return around Thanksgiving from a broken finger. After that, expect him to fill it up with an underrated Jazz roster that features Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter all as very underrated pieces.
Levi: Ben McLemore has the best chance at ROY. He plays in Sacramento, a team that will allow him to take shots. McLemore has a top-notch shooting stroke and will likely score just enough points to edge out the other contenders.
5. Which team will debut the best new uniform?
Sam: The Clippers light blue uniforms that will debut this season are the best new uniforms in basketball, with a nice blend of “retro” and “cutting edge”. However, the real uniform news is next season when the Hornets name returns to Charlotte and we better see these teal and purple gems return to the NBA, along with Muggsy Bogues.
Levi: The New York Knicks are going to debut an orange alternate uniform this season. The look provides a nice change of pace to their current uniform rotation. If only it could help them pay their luxury tax.
6. Which NBA player is the best dressed?
Sam: Chris Paul is not only one of the best point guards in the NBA, he’s also the most stylish. Everything about him from his sleek suits to his immaculate facial hair to his full Windsor knots and tie clips just screams future CEO.
Levi: Dwyane Wade is the most stylish player in the NBA. How does he keep his facial hair so immaculate? His shirts are never wrinkled, his tie is never out of place, and he pushes limits without drifting into the wacky world of Russell Westbrook fashion. Wade has been featured in GQ Magazine several times and is routinely mentioned as one of the best dressed athletes in all of sports.
7. Which team is the most underrated?
Sam: The Oklahoma City Thunder are barely cracking the top 10 in both CBS’s and ESPN’s power rankings. I know Russell Westbrook will miss some time, but in the words of Stephen A. Smith, “That is just so disrespectful.”
Levi: The Indiana Pacers are flying under the radar, again. They will return Danny Granger to a roster loaded to the brim with talent. They could feature an enormous starting lineup of: George Hill, Danny Granger, Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert. They will remain the Eastern Conference’s team with the best chance to defeat Miami.
7. Which team is the most overrated?
Sam: The Brooklyn Nets are ranked 8th and 7th in CBS’s and ESPN’s power polls respectively. They have a seriously overrated and aging roster. Call me when Joe Johnson plays hard three consecutive possessions and then we’ll talk.
Levi: The Los Angeles Clippers are vastly overrated. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan make up the most overrated frontcourt in the NBA. I know people love watching their dunks on the highlight reels, but that is not going to help them win the Western Conference.
10. Who is the player to look out for this season?
Sam: Bradley Beal has been lighting it up this preseason, and the Florida product is my player to look out for this year. He and John Wall have the potential to be one of the most exciting backcourts in the NBA.
Levi: Eric Bledsoe is a player to watch this season. Bledsoe was legitimate threat when Chris Paul was injured last season. Bledsoe will have the opportunity to be a starter for the first time in his career in Phoenix and I expect him to capitalize on the opportunity.