Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012-2013 NBA Season: Eastern Conference Pretenders & Contenders

By Adam Maher (@ArtoMar1)

As my trusted partner in NBA coverage crime, Spencer Pyke, proclaimed earlier today in his Western Conference Pretenders and Contenders post, this offseason has been insane. It seems ever since Danny Ainge crafted the Big 3 in Boston and went on to win the Championship, all the major market teams have been trying to emulate. The Knicks and Heat in 2010-2011, and now the Lakers and Nets in 2012. And believe you me, if Pierce, Garnett and Allen were able to take the championship at the combined age of 90-something, Dwight, Kobe and Nash will be able to as well. Especially when you add in Jamison, who is my call for 2013 6th Man of the Year, Metta WP and some Spanish seven footer bro named Pau. Brooklyn will likely have a situation akin to when the Knicks tried to work Carmelo in with Stat and their crew - Brooke Lopez is not a championship center, and I don't care what anyone says, Kris Humphries will not win an NBA title unless he's a supporting cast member. 

But before I unveil anymore of my juicy thoughts, let's get into it. Here are the Eastern Conference Pretenders and Contenders...


Charlotte Bobcats

The word "pretender" is overkill with these broz. I feel even worse for their "fans" who only saw four wins at home all season last year.  Is Michael Jordan kidding? He doesn't really own the Bobcats. Serious thought: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker will be stars in this league...but if they stay with Charlotte, it could be nine, 10 years before they even see a glimmer of hope for going to the finals. Gerald Henderson hasn't accomplished anything of importance since he broke Tyler Hansbrough's face in college. The one cool thing this franchise has going for NBA fans is the fact that tickets are starting at ten bucks a pop. That's only four dollars more than lockout-driven AHL Albany Devils tickets

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have made some sweet pick-ups this offseason (lispy nerd voice): Landry Fields, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunus, Kyle Lowry, Quincy Acy and John Lucas III should help the Raptors do absolutely nothing different than what they did last season en route to a 23-43 record. Especially with their divisional "rival" Nets and Knicks doing what they've done this offseason. And remember when an overrated bro named Jeremy Lin dropped 40 points last year? That was in the Raptors arena. Yeah, exactly.

Orlando Magic

I remember calling that the Magic wouldn't make the playoffs last season because I thought Dwight Howard would man up and stop being such a cry baby and get out of town while he still had some dignity. Alas, I was wrong. Dwight stayed just long enough to help Orlando make the playoffs and then wimped out and didn't play against the Pacers. The Magic eventually lost 4-1 to the Pacers with Big Baby Davis as their main threat. Now that Dwight's gone, Hedo Turkolu is back, Jameer Nelson is paid (aka will not play as hard anymore), Aaron Afflalo is hanging out, and Big Baby is still the marquee bro on the squad. I find it hilarious that through all the BS, J.J. Reddick still is not a starter. I feel sorry for Magic beat writers country-wide. It's going to be a boring year, with no postseason in sight.

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons are in a similar sinking boat as the Magic, the only difference being they've been sinking for several seasons now. With the only scrap left from their championship/playoff run of the early 2000s being Tyshawn Prince, who has been slowly but surely making his way into the media side of things, they do have some young talent. Kyle Singler, Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond, Rodney Stuckey and Co. will have a lot of losses to dwell on this season, but come three years, if they can continue to draft well, we could be seeing this team making playoff noise. As for now, no, not at all.

Washington Wizards

The Wiz kids are just that: a bunch of kids trying to compete with grown ass men. John Wall is pretty legit, and when he returns from rehab a month from now, who knows, he might not suck. Their big offseason acquisition, Nene, is also hurt, and by no means is a type of player you can build a championship around. It will be cool to watch Beal, the rookie, put in work this year though, and I'm a huge fan of the D.C. area having gone down there for SneakerBall 2012 last month.  Trevor Booker, Ariza and those broz are in for a world of hurt when playing the top NBA teams though. Playoffs are out of the question. 

Not to mention they've been in identity crisis mode since they had to change their name from the Bullets. Seriously, this is your logo, D.C.? Whoever designed that logo should be taken out back and shot. (Seriously, did Old Yeller design that logo?) I do however like how the basketball is just out of reach for the hand, very symbolic!

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks actually have a great mix of young broz and veterans. Marquis Daniels, Mike Dunleavy and Samuel Dalembert will all surely be great examples for rookie John Henson out of UNC, who has serious big man defensive potential, and Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings surely will show the way for the promising PG Doron Lamb out of Kentucky. Throw in the mix Drew Gooden, who despite having the worst haircut in NBA history is a solid player on both sides of the court, and the Bucks could very well make the top ten in the Eastern Conference to finish the season. 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Like everyone else in the NBA world, I'm a huge Kyrie Irving fan. In fact, I was with Kyrie in 2011 right before the draft, when he was selected No. 1, to hold down Cleveland after LeBron James decided to leave the country's most decrepit "city." I am also a huge fan of Tristan Thompson, who in fact was with Kyrie Irving as well before the draft. (Yes, they both knew they were getting drafted together hours before the draft went down.) I really like the edition of Tyler Zeller into the mix as well. Tyler is lanky, but I believe he has the skills to have an immediate positive impact on this team. As does Dion Waiters out of 'Cuse. Notice how every player I've mentioned so far is either a rookie or sophomore? That's 'cause the Cavs don't have a single player on their roster whose been in the league for more than nine years. Which is ironic because that's exactly how many years LeBron has been in the league. I can't wait to see where this team is in three years, but this year they could sneak into the playoffs if Irving can avoid a sophomore slump.


Indiana Pacers

The Pacers were awesome to watch last postseason. They really came together to form one of the better teams the NBA had to offer at that time. It seemed that almost everyone on the roster had a purpose as they gave Miami an early scare before bowing out in the second round after smacking up the Dwight Howard-less Magic in the first. But things have changed. Danny Granger is out indefinitely to start the season. And now reports are saying Gerald Green will take his place. Shout out to the Pacers for signing Green to a three-year 10 million dollar deal, but c'mon, the kid is no All-Star - heck, neither is Granger. The Pacers should be good for some insane dunks with him, Paul George and George Hill in the back court to start the season though. And adding the Hansbrough brothers in with Miles Plumlee to the most boring All-Star of all time, Roy Hibbert and an aging David West down low, I see them as a six or seven seed.

Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the league. Too bad he won't be playing basketball until February. We all saw what the Bulls can do without him last season: lose to Philly in the playoffs. Gross! After locking up the one seed with Rose, the Bulls completely fell off. I don't buy that Luol Deng can lead a winning NBA team, nor Boozer, nor Noah, nor Nate Rob, nor Taj Gibson, nor Rip Hamilton, nor Kirk Hinrich. I do like the rookie pick-up in Marquis Teague from Kentucky. And I do think that when Rose comes back, the Bulls will have floated high enough for them to make a late-season push for the top four. God forbid Rose hurts his knee again when he returns...

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks finally rid themselves of the disappearing act that is Joe Johnson in the playoffs. Yep, shipped him up north. They kept Josh Smith and Al Horford, who combine for one of the finer big man combos the league has to offer. And now in the back court Jeff Teague has more experience, and they've added Louis Williams who had a breakout year last season in Philly. Adding Kyle Korver to the mix, Devin Harris and DeShawn Stevenson won't hurt their chances to make a push this season. Look for them to definitely make the playoffs, but as per usual find themselves irrelevant when Finals talk comes around.

Philadelphia 76ers 

The addition of Andrew Bynum and the loss of Andre Iguodala has turned the 76ers into the most transformed team in the East. Anyone who thinks Andrew Bynum will lead Philly to the promise land has a serious case of "what the hell, bro?s." Bynum may be the most immature player in the NBA. Remember what he did to J.J. Barea when things got rough in LA? He tried to decapitate him. And that was how he reacted to losing as a role player. Imagine how he will react as a leader? He won't. Exactly. Bynum may even be good for a few street/bar brawls in South Philly this season. Remember, he did play HS ball in Jersey. I'm sure he has his fare share of haters looming in the area. On the bright side, Thaddeus Young, Nick Young, Evan Turner, Jrue Holliday and Arnette Moultrie are all on the upswing. Perhaps the worker bees can keep the queen bee happy in Phily this season and they just might advance to the second round of the playoffs. Regardless, they will be in the top 8 because of the lack of talent in the bottom half of the East.

Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets like to say they have the best back court in the NBA. They like to say they are better than the Knicks. They like to say a lot of things. And that may be because they're owned by a rapper...but regardless, if there is one thing I've learn from a lifetime of paying attention to sports, it's that talk is cheap. They are still unproven, and their big man, Brooke Lopez, is the most injury prone seven footer in the game. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are both great, D-Will especially, and the new Brooklyn environment is awesome. I myself watched the infrastructure go up in person last year when I was living in Park Slope, but they still have much to prove. If they do find themselves clicking down the stretch with Brooke healthy and Gerald Wallace playing well defensively, with Kris Humphries gravitating to a sixth man player, they could go deep in the playoffs. But again, I've got to see it to believe it.

New York Knicks

The Knicks have been screwing themselves for years now, and I've always been there to remind anyone who was willing to listen. I was in huge opposition against letting Raymond Felton go years back to bring in Carmelo. It was an impulse move and ended up putting a serious halt on Amar'e's career. Now the Knicks finally realize they made a mistake to separate Amar'e and Felton, and they hope to replenish that fire that was there with Carmelo still in the picture. It could work out though. It's been reported that Felton is in great shape, and with the Linsanity out of Carmelo's face, this team has a serious shot at going deep in the playoffs. I still think they have no chance at beating the Heat, but I think they still hold the title for New York's best basketball team.

Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are still legitimate players in this league. Rondo is a triple double machine, Garnett is a fearless leader, and Paul Pierce is a premier scorer getting to the basket, all still with All-Star potential. The loss of Ray Allen is a blessing in disguise. The Celtics have added speed and strength last season and this offseason where Allen was lacking in Brandon Bass, a healthy Avery Bradley, and Leandro Barbosa. And the Celtics have added premier rookie Jared Sullinger. Not to mention the Jet, Jason Terry. Honestly, if you ask me, the Celtics had just as good an offseason as the Nets, if not better. Green 18 will be a chant come playoff time for the Celtics, who I think will have a super showdown with the Heat down the stretch.

Miami Heat

Let's be real. The only "Contenders" in the East are the Heat. Remember all that talk about Big 3s in the NBA at the beginning of this post? Well, as every team has struggled to find their Big 3 in the East, Miami now has a Big 7 (Big 9 if you count LeBron as three players, which you most certainly can). The Miami Heat are by far and away the greatest team in the Eastern Conference. LeBron "The King" James, Dwyane "The Flash" Wade, Chris "The Face Melter" Bosh, Rashard "I finally have a chance to prove my worth" Lewis, Udonis "I Got This" Haslem, Shane "Mr. Perfect" Battier and Ray "Anakin Skywalker aka Jesus Shuttlesworth" Allen will go to the finals again this season. Absolutely no team in the East has a chance at beating them in the playoffs if LeBron is healthy. In the Finals I can see LeBron snapping Steve Nash's head off and eating it like a kid-sized Milky Way bar on Halloween (PS - I just ate a bite size Milky Way bar). The Heat are proven champions. LeBron is on a mission. And every other team in the East is either rebuilding or unproven. It's going to be awesome watching LeBron and Wade go for the repeat.

1 comment:

  1. Between the "a bunch of kids trying to play with grown ass men" line and the symbolism of the ball being just out of reach... The Wiz Kids preview had me dying... Great stuff