With the start of the preseason, it’s almost time for real basketball to be played. To assist you through this dark and confusing time, we’ve decided to preview the NBA division by division. We continue with the ancestral home of The Trailer Park Boys, the Atlantic.
Last year: 66-16, NBA Champions
Who’s in: Bill Walker, JR Giddens, Patrick O’Bryant
Who’s out: James Posey
If they were a Lakefront Brewery product, they would be Riverwest Stein
Why to watch: Well, they are the defending champs. In addition to the whole “Do they still have the hunger” question, it will be interesting to see if the kids that came along down the stretch (Geln Davis, Leon Powe) can get better. KG, Paul “Best Player Alive” Pierce and Ray Allen are still there and can still put points on the board for now. Plus, the possibility of only one annoyingly douchetastic Boston championship this sporting year makes them much more tolerable (not really, though.)
Rating (out of a possible 10 self-congratulating Simmons podcasts) 8
Last year: 41-41, lost to Orlando in first round
Who’s in: Jermaine O’Neal,
Who’s out: TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston
If they were a Lakefront Brewery product, they would be Cattail Ale
Why to watch: If Andrea Bargnani isn’t a huge flop this year, Bosh doesn’t have a Beijing hangover and JO stays healthy, this is the best front line in the NBA hands down. Hell, I’d say that if only two of those things happen. Throw in Jose Calderon running the point and Sam Mitchell has a potentially very good team on his hands. If the Raps are going to crack the elite of the Eastern Conference, this has to be the year to do it. The fact that they’re not an American team should help them fit right in with Eastern elites, who all live in The Fake America anyways.
Rating (out of a possible 10 cameos on Corner Gas featuring Canadians I have never heard of) 6.5
Last year: 40-42, lost to Detroit in second round
Who’s in: Elton Brand, Mareese Speights, Theo Ratliff, Donyell Marshall
Who’s out: Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth
If they were a Lakefront Brewery product, they would be Eastside Dark
Why to watch: Because there’s a real buzz about this team for the first time since the AI/Larry Brown years. Elton Brand came over, Andre Igoudala resigned, and the steady hand of Mo Cheeks is on the wheel. Keep an eye on Andre Miller as well. When he came to PHilly from Denver in 2006 it was expected the rebuilding Sixers would move him to help get younger, either with more draft picks or young players. They’ve essentially rebuilt themselves now in this, the final year of Miller’s contract. If they decide to move him, young Lou Williams will be running the point. And of course, Thad Young. Damn he’s gonna be good.
Rating (out of a possible 10 Greenman appearances) 7
New Jersey Nets
Last year: 34-48
Who’s in: Brook Lopez, Bobby Simmons, Yi Jianlian, Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ryan Anderson, Eduardo Najera, Jarvis Hayes
Who’s out: Richard Jefferson, Marcus Williams, Bostjan Nachbar, Desagana Diop, Nenad Kristic
If they were a Lakefront Brewery product, they would be Snake Chaser
Why to watch: To see The Yonce courtside? This team’s going to be not good. Vince Carter didn’t respond too well when Toronto decided to rebuild and get younger, I doubt he’ll do much better here. At least there’s the kids. Devin Harris is turning into a good young point guard, Yi showed potential during the first half of his rookie year in Milwaukee, and Lopez, Anderson and CDR make for a good draft class, if not the most aware. They’re just waiting for Lebron to become a free agent in 2010 so Mr S Dot Carter can woo him to the Nets by offering to kill witnesses if Bron’s beard is sticking out. Except we’re in a New Great Depression, so the $600 zillion arena in Brooklyn will probably never get built and the Nets will be stuck in the swamps of Jersey forever.
Rating (out of a possible 10 Zack and Miri Make a Porno advertisement complaints) 5
New York Knicks
Last year: 23-59
Who’s in: Chris Duhon, Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Ewing Jr, Mike D’antoni
Who’s out: Renaldo Balkman, Randolph Morris, Isiah Thomas
If they were a Lakefront Brewery product, they would be Holiday Spice
Why to watch: To see Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph play D’antoni-ball. If you’re actually a Knicks fan, there’s not much to see, although there is some. Jamal Crawford is still a potent scorer, and Duhon finally gets the chance to run the show Scott Skiles never gave him in Chicago. Nate Robinson and David Lee are both talented, too. But there’s still a lot of dead wood. In addition to Randolph and Curry, Stephon Marbury’s still here in what may be his final season in the NBA. Thomas’ former draft picks like Mardy Collins and Wilson Chandler haven’t shown much, either. The Knicks may be better off in the long term, but for now it’s going to get ugly.
Rating (out of a possible 10 Right things to be Done) 6
Bonus: The JDS Pick for Rookie of the Year
The most talented rookie in this class is also in the best position to have a great season, as there’s already a veteran scorer on his team to take pressure off of him and, unlike #1 overall pick Derrick Rose, he isn’t charged with the responsibility of leading his team’s offense.