Having to have computer parts replaced has delayed the NBA watchability preview, but with three sections left to do I will release this on today, and the final two tomorrow as a prelude to opening day euphoria. For all of you podcast listener’s go back and listen to mine and Levi’s preview podcasts here and here. This preview will go through those teams who entertain us through a high-octane offensive attack that is great for those of you who love high-scoring affairs.
Wins may not come aplenty in the Mile High City this season, but points should. Denver is an environment conducive to fastbreak basketball. Emmanuel Mudiay might also be one of the most exciting members of the 2015 rookie class. His size, speed and athleticism make him the ideal point guard for the thin Denver air. Adding the spot-up abilities of Danilo Gallinari and forever young Mike Miller and the low-post bullying of Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic around Mudiay gives this team a variety of scoring methods. Nurkic and Faried are also great from an entertainment with Kenneth’s dreadlocks and ferocious dunks and Nurkic’s Bosnian cursing rants and general disregard for human life on a basketball court.
It’s fitting that a team nicknamed the “Raptors” would have two starters that fit into a category of player widely considered a “dying breed” in NBA circles. DeMar Derozan fits into that young-Kobe mold of player who scores from everywhere on the court. That particular aspect is not dying, but the reliance on tough two-point jump shots is. Two-point jumpers are low efficiency shots, and as NBA coaches and players have gotten smarter they have increasingly gone away from attempting and encouraging such shots, but there are a few talents out there who can effectively use “the lost art of the mid-range jump shot”, and Derozan is one of those chosen few. The other “dying breed” player is Jonas Valanciunas, a massive, back-to-the-basket scoring presence in the low post. Today’s big men are primarily either “stretch” players who can shoot or pick-and-roll divers to the basket, but Valanciunas fits into the old school Shaq category of “give it to me on the block and get the **** out of the way!” Aside from these two, a slimmed down Kyle Lowry has looked fantastic in the preseason, and Pat Patterson adds the outside shooting presence from the post that Valanciunas doesn’t.
Atlanta currently shares the title with Golden State and San Antonio as the “poster children” of the modern NBA. The constantly moving, passing and cutting offense employed by these three teams makes for beautiful and efficient basketball. The Hawks utilize one of the best shooting frontcourts in the NBA, Al Horford and Paul Millsap, to go with a backcourt of quick slashing point guards like Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder. Kyle Korver was one of the first true role players to ever make an All-Star game last season, even if it was as an alternate, thanks to one of the greatest shooting half-seasons of all-time. The motion and the creative ways coach Mike Budenholzer works to incorporate all of those talents is the primary reason last season’s Atlanta Hawks were the best Hawks team of the last few decades, at least.
John Wall and Bradley Beal might make the transition from being the most exciting young backcourt in the Eastern Conference to flat-out being the best backcourt in the Eastern Conference this season. Watching a little bit of Washington’s preseason game against Toronto the other night it was evident that this team is looking to parlay the success and changes made to the offense last postseason into a full season of more explosive offensive play now. Washington finally starting going small and trying to run more in space in the playoffs last year, and it paid dividends. This year Wall and Beal are tearing up the court offensively with Westbrookian abandon. Plus, they have the benefit of Marcin “The Polish Hammer” Gortat to work with on pick-and-rolls and the emergence of Otto Porter as a serviceable NBA player.
This section could easily have just been titled, “James Harden”. Not because Harden is the only offensively gifted player on the team, but he alone is worth watching on the offensive end of the court. He is also the maestro of the Daryl Morey, new-age, analytics-driven Rockets scheme. Harden is the most unique player in the game and is the craftiest driver in basketball, as well as a good shooter from outside. If Ty Lawson can get his personal life in order and get to basketball, then this will be one of the most dangerous backcourts in the NBA. Plus, the shooting abilities around those two of Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones make this team all the more dangerous. Dwight Howard is more commonly thought of on the defensive end, and rightfully so, but his dunks are ferocious. The only ugly part of watching the Rockets play basketball on the offensive end remains the errant Dwight Howard free throw shooting.