The Press Box Opinions Cynical NBA Preview

It’s just about time for the NBA season to start up again. Yay?

I’ve made no bones about it in the past that I’m not a big fan of the NBA. I’m a Bulls fan through and through, but the NBA as a whole? Not so much. But the league deserves a preview, even if it doesn’t escape my cynicism.

LeBron James is a Cleveland Cavalier once again, and he’s joined by Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving this time. Huh, LeBron as a part of a Big Three, sound familiar? As disgusted as I frankly am by his return to Cleveland (and no, Cleveland, just because you have a shitty sports history doesn’t give you clearance to by hypocritical now that LeBron is back), this is going to be a really good team, even if they start out slowly. They are already the class of the Eastern Conference. The only team, in my assumption, that has a shot at taking down the Cavs is the Chicago Bulls, and this is likely the only year in which they have that chance. LeBron, Love and Irving will only get better together over time, and the Bulls need to strike while the iron is hot. Chicago is a good team, they really are. If Derrick Rose is legitimately back to form, it is going to be devastating to the rest of the East. Joakim Noah is a beast in the paint, Jimmy Butler is getting better every day, Pau Gasol adds some much-needed fire power, and if Doug McDermott pans out? That is a great defensive team still and a solid offensive team too (finally). In fact, King James even said that the Bulls are a better team than the Cavs are right now. You know what I say to that?

Shut your mouth, LeBron.

It’s a calculated move by LeBron, try to push a little bit of the media attention and pressure off of the Cavs and on to the Bulls. It will be truly comical if LeBron tries to echo that statement later on into the season, unless the Cavs absolutely bust (highly unlikely). I get why he said it, but that doesn’t anger me any less. Both team will win around 60 games this season and will be the top 2 seeds, in some order. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cavs still make it to the NBA Finals, frankly. It’s just a shame that this entire season is essentially going to revolve around whether or not the Cavs will win it all, because there are plenty of teams deserving more attention.

The Washington Wizards are one of those teams. With arguably the best backcourt tandem in the East in Bradley Beal and John Wall, the Wizards really exploded on to the scene in the playoffs last year when they upset the Bulls in five games in the first round of the playoffs. They will not be winning the East (I’ll be more rational than last spring when I said after the first round that the Finals would be Wizards versus Clippers), but they are going to be a thorn in the side of each team they face this year. In the West, the Portland Trailblazers are in a similar situation. A young, exciting, explosive team that is on the rise. Damian Lillard is one of the most underrated players in the league, easily a top five point guard. LaMarcus Aldridge is a phenomenal player in his prime. This duo can lead Portland to great things this season, including what I believe will be a berth in the Western Conference Finals. The one thing is that they will need to improve defensively. Their series with the Houston Rockets in the playoffs last year was a defense-optional series to say the least. But if Portland improves their defense, they will make it to the conference finals. Otherwise, we’ll end up with another season that, while exciting to watch, would make James Naismith turn over in his grave.

That of course leaves one other spot open in the conference finals. This one will be taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder. I don’t actually like OKC that much as a team. Maybe I’m ignorant to the truth, but as long as Russell Westbrook thinks he’s a combination of MJ, John Stockton and Reggie Miller in the fourth quarter, this team will never win the big one, even with Kevin Durant. But, I will concede that they are good enough to make it to the Western Conference Finals and eventually the NBA Finals. The Spurs aren’t going to make it back. That franchise is incredible though, I won’t lie about that. They play fundamentally, they get it done when they need to, Gregg Popovich is a fantastic coach. They are also an old team that has proven in the past that they will crash and burn if they get a bad match-up (the Memphis Grizzlies say hello). Manu and Duncan should have ridden off into the sunset this offseason. Kawhi Leonard is great and is going to be great for many years to come, but he won’t be able to save San Antonio this season. The Clippers are also a good team and they are going to be contenders this year for sure, but I still think they fall short. They’re still a piece away from being the best in the West.

I’ve so far predicted Bulls/Cavs and Trailblazers/Thunder as the conference finals match-ups. I’ll take the Bulls in seven games over Cleveland, because if they don’t get to the Finals this year it will be extremely hard for them too as long as the Big Three is alive in Cleveland. In the West, I’ll take the Thunder in six. Even with an improved defense, Durant will torch Portland for 35 a game in that series. In a completely non-homer pick, I’ll take the Bulls as the NBA champs in six games. The curse of Lil B will continue to haunt Kevin Durant (yes, the Based God hates Durant; he even has a diss track about him) and Hero-Ball Westbrook will directly cost OKC two games in the series. If this was a real possibility, the NBA may actually hold a little but more of my attention (God knows it doesn’t hold much right now).

Lastly, just a few brief notes on some other teams to watch in the league this year. Despite the Heatles breaking up, Miami is still going to be a competitive team, and Chris Bosh will prove this season why he is a hall of fame-caliber player, despite the overplayed dinosaur jokes. Normally I’d say that Carmelo is going to regret staying New York since his team will suck yet again, but he got paid so what does he care? Houston is going to falter this yer, considering everyone hates James Harden and Dwight Howard, and they hate everyone right back, plus I think losing Chandler Parsons will really effect the team negatively. Houston will be the seventh seed in the West. Try to catch a few Timberwolves and Bucks games, because even though they’ll be terrible, watching Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker will be a treat. Finally, I’d like to point out that Kobe Bryant is a hall of fame player, one of the best of all-time, and watching his Lakers crash and burn miserably will be hilarious to watch. Kobe doesn’t have it any longer and the fact that Steve Nash can still move on his own is a medical miracle, and don’t forget the human turnover factory Jeremy Lin has arrived in Los Angeles. That backcourt is going to have a bad year. Add on to the fact that Swaggy-fucking-P Nick Young will be starting still as a forward, with the other forward being Carlos Boozer and the frontcourt will struggle too. Why Lakers fans are actually excited to have Boozer is beyond me and is laughable to say the least. Enjoy another top lottery pick, LA.

I’m excited to see what my Bulls can do this season. The rest of the league? Eh. At least I can fall back on this bad boy for some entertainment, right?

 

For more of my sports takes, follow me on Twitter. You can also read more of my work on my other blog, Per audacua ad astra.

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