NBA Preview: The ‘Concise’ Version
The 2012 NBA Training Camps started earlier this week, and the season is just a few weeks away. Over this past offseason, some teams got better, as expected, and some teams had some surprising changes that few predicted. The Steve Nash Era in Phoenix ended, Mark Cuban kept getting screwed by big-name free agents and the Dwightmarefinally ended. As fans in LA cling on to some hope with DirectStarTV, we, Bacardi and Pirozzi preview the season with a quick thought or two about each team.
Pirozzi: My sources seem to be thinking that this is finally the year that Josh Smith stops shooting long 2s. Psh. Same old story.
Bacardi: Hawks get rid of Joe Johnson, suddenly Josh Smith wants to resign? Maybe a happier squad, now they can have Smith as their focal point on O.
Pirozzi: Darko said he’ll do anything necessary to win, even “kill”. Hey Darko, how about just playing some good basketball? As far as the team goes, I like their depth a lot. Biggest threat to MIA in the East.
Bacardi: OK with losing Jesus, we have adequately replaced him and added much needed guard depth, but size is an issue. Sully could be relied on. Could challenge Heat in the East, I expect them in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Pirozzi: Expensive but solid off-season. Now that he has some talent around him, look for Deron Williams to compete for “best PG” title.
Bacardi: More story lines than the Knicks, but have way more depth and potential superior talent. Battles for the 3rd seed, but I can see them as a 5 or 6 easily.
Pirozzi: I wonder if NBA 2k13 has empty stands for when you play in Charlotte …
Bacardi: At least Jordan did something right in drafting MKG. Still putting out a horrendous product on the court unless Kemba actually is decent.
Pirozzi: These guys (minus Rose due to injury) just need to stay in the playoff race long enough to sneak in. Imagine Rose coming back near the end of the season for the No. 8 Bulls just as they’re gearing up to face the No. 1 Heat.
Bacardi: They have to hold on until Rose can return, but they would have to rely on Luol Deng and Boozer on offense. Expect Boozer to be amnestied because of his ridiculous contract and his gross attempt at hiding his hairline.
Pirozzi: Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters … solid backcourt in the making, but lack of talent elsewhere makes it tough for the Cavs to compete.
Bacardi: Irving & Waiters should be a fun combo to watch, I have lots of hope for this squad in the future.
Pirozzi: I’m noticing too many season previews that leave Dallas out of the playoff picture. Nowitzki has led the Mavs to 12 consecutive NBA Playoffs (2001–2012), and it’ll be the same story this upcoming season.
Bacardi: Lots of replacement players, but they at least added some decent youth in Collison & Mayo. Two LA alums playing in Dallas now.
Pirozzi: NBA League Pass alert! Who doesn’t want to watch this potential lineup: Lawson, Iggy, Gallo, Faried, McGee.
Bacardi: Who wouldn’t want to watch this team? … Early word is that they’ll bring McGee off the bench to play with passing wizard Andre Miller.
Pirozzi: On the one hand, I’m excited for Monroe andDrummond. On the other hand, it’s practically torture for someone like Tayshaun Prince to still be on that squad.
Bacardi: Lots of youth with Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and C Andre Drummond. Could be a sneaky good team in a year or two, but they’ll still rack up the losses until they can finally cut dead weight contracts like Charlie Villeanueva, Corey Maggette, and perhaps Rodney Stuckey?
Golden State Warriors
Pirozzi: With some health issues finally being taken care of (for now), the Bay Area is once again hopeful for a playoff spot. They Believe!
Bacardi: Main question heading into the season will be who starts at SF? I like their depth, definitely a team of concern for high seeds if Golden State makes the playoffs.
Pirozzi: With international voting allowed for All-Star Weekend, I won’t be surprised one bit when Lin becomes the starting PG for the Western Conference.
Bacardi: Most unproven team in the league. Wouldn’t surprise me if they contend for a playoff spot, but they definitely could have a low ceiling if things go south.
Pirozzi: Paul George and Granger make the Pacers one of my favorite teams in the league. They’ve got to use Hibbert better, mostly because of the lack of size in the East now. Get Hibbert going each and every game, watch how the floor opens up for everybody.
Bacardi: Lost some depth, but they retained Hibbert and need to make him a bigger part of their game plan. Granger is now overrated, interested to see how Augustin, Hill and George workout.
Pirozzi: Blah blah deepest team in the league blah blah more chemistry than the Lakers blah blah … too bad the West is stacked and the coach is Del Negro. Solid squad, sure, but Griffin and Jordan need to develop some post-moves.
Bacardi: I think the Clips are gonna come into the season with a chip on their shoulder, too bad they still have Negro as the coach.
Pirozzi: Last season, Kobe was first in player usage and Dwight was no. 44. If Lakers want to win it all in Year 1, Dwight needs to be used much more, and Kobe much less.
Bacardi: More to come … [Bacardi is working on a piece re: Kobe.]
Pirozzi: With Bayless coming in, they finally get some depth behind Conley, and even behind Tony Allen at the 2. I doubt the loss of Mayo hurts them too much, but Gay needs to be a lot more aggressive offensively to help this team reach another level.
Bacardi: Anyone else excited about the point guard position being headed by Conley, Jerryd Bayless and Josh Selby with the occasional appearance by Tony Wroten if pressed?
Pirozzi: The best team in the league adds some (legendary) sharpshooting off the bench, and says bye to Eddy Curry. Well done.
Bacardi: My guess for 2013 NBA Champions.
Pirozzi: Exciting backcourt with Jennings and Monta, but need better production at the SF spot. Delfino is gone, Mbah a Moute is healing from injury and Tobias Harris might be too inexperienced.Dunleavy to the rescue?
Bacardi: Full season of Jennings & Monta! I wonder how the String Bean John Henson will play at the next level. Bucks also have Udoh and Udrih… go figure
Pirozzi: The number of white players on this team distracts me from making a productive statement. (Seriously though, Minny will compete for the seventh spot in West.)
Bacardi: I like all their veteran additions and international flavor. I’m expecting a potential huge comeback campaign from Kirilenko, and they have an interesting character to their team. Hopefully Roy provides some much needed veteran presence.
New Orleans Hornets
Pirozzi: Excited to see what Monty can do with Unibrow, a healthy EGand Rivers.
Bacardi: Has anyone witnessed a faster rebuild than the Hornets? They have a core of Eric Gordon, Eyebrow Davis, and Doc’s kid with great supporting “good fit” backup in Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, Greivis Vasquez, Aminu (if he breaks out?) and “Professor X” Xavier Henry? Add in a few more picks and suddenly this is a better team than what CP3 had.
New York Knicks
Pirozzi: Everything about this team can be summarized by: “Sheed back!”
Bacardi: Ugggh, can’t wait for Sportscenter to go crazy on this squad this season. I’m predicting now they sneak into the playoffs, but like this past season get smashed by the Heat.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Pirozzi: If Perk can contain Dwight Howard one-on-one like he has very well in the past, the Thunder make a repeat trip to the finals.
Bacardi: Three headed monster plus Iblocka. Only legitimate challenger to the Lakers. I just wonder how they’ll pay Harden next offseason.
Pirozzi: The magic has completely vanished from Orlando. To top it all off, Hedo is STILL on the roster.
Bacardi: Glenn Davis recently said that the Magic will miss Dwight breaking wind the most. Their season’s gonna blow.
Pirozzi: For the first time since 1996, there is no “A.I.” in Philadelphia. The “I” became a “B”, and fans are hopeful that Bynum is the answer.
Bacardi: I may have to get a Bynum jersey… too bad the Nets resigned Brooke Lopez, could they have gone after Bynum next offseason? Will Jrue breakout?
Pirozzi: If Dragic turns into the player some think he is, the transition out of the Nash Era might not be as difficult as Phoenicians once thought. But in all honesty, this is not going to be a good season at all for them.
Bacardi: This could be a real ugly squad that has a ceiling of 10th overall in the conference…
Portland Trail Blazers
Pirozzi: Licensed toLillard. Not impressed by the squad in PDX, but Lillard will absolutely be a monster at this level and is my preseason choice for ROY. Him or Anthony Davis, but this is the more fun pick.
Bacardi: This team always looks good on paper in the preseason, but they always seem to get injured or underperform. This is the breaking point.
Pirozzi: I want to see the opposing team’s rebounding numbers vs. the Kings; it’ll be a nightmare to grab a board against a duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson.
Bacardi: The NBA’s traveling road show staring Boogie Cousins, Tyreke, Jimmer, 3 blackholes and not that Isaiah Thomas. Trainwreck potential.
San Antonio Spurs
Pirozzi: Pop deserves a lifetime achievement award if he somehow turns Eddy Curry into even a halfway decent player.
Bacardi: Perennial season studs who always fall short come playoff time. No longer championship material.
Pirozzi: Lowry went under-appreciated last year in Houston, and continues to be underrated. If Jonas Valanciunas is as good as he’s being made out to be, and Bargnani can stay healthy, hoops in Canada would be well on its way to becoming popular again (assuming the NHL stays in a mess).
Bacardi: Too many risks on the roster, a lot of potential but too much youth. Who’s the vet, Kyle Lowry? Landry Fields?
Pirozzi: Is there such a thing as too much talent and potential in the frontcourt for a team? Utah has to trade one of their guys (Jefferson, Millsap, Kanter, Favors) to open up some playing time.
Bacardi: Young, developing team with a high ceiling. Look for them to deal either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap to open playing time for Kanter & Favors. I wanna see Gordon Hayward fulfill his potential as well.
Pirozzi: Assuming Wall’s knee holds up just fine, I’m expecting a breakout season for him. He finally has talent around him (ex. Beal, Nene), and a part of me thinks we could see Washington fight for that last playoff spot in the East.
Bacardi: At least John Wall will get more help in rook Bradley Beal & Nene, this rebuilding project is still another high pick away.
Do you have any bold predictions or thoughts for the upcoming season? Let’s discuss on Twitter.