Thursday, November 25, 2010

Finals and Favorite Teams Predictions

16 days since the last post... I think that's a record. I still check out the pads virtually everyday and I figured it's about time I post something.

So far this season has been interesting. The most notable surprise has to be the mediocre performance by the Heat. Are they even better than last years team featuring Jermaine O'neal's corpse, Michael Beasley smoking too much weed and D-Wade? And how about those Raptors? I just have to mention that so far so good on my preseason prediction. They definitely are not the worst team in the league. In fact, they may wind up in the hunt for the 8th playoff spot... that race in the east might be between 8 teams, but still. Plus, if Andrea Bargnani continues on his tear of 28 pts/gm over the last 5 games.. I will officially admitt I was wrong about the guy. Last night against the Sixers and Sunday against the Celtics Bargnani quite honestly looked like a young Dirk Nowitzky and I wouldn't be surprised if Bargs made the allstar team this year.

I figure that we have seen enough basketball to make educated predictions on who will make the finals as well as predict where our favorite teams will end up. If we wait any longer to make these predictions then they won't be as exciting because usually by January predictions are easy to make (except for the West playoff positions).

Here's how I see it. The Finals: Lakers vs. Bulls Lakers in 5

Why?: I almost put the Jazz vs bulls because one, it would be hilarious seeing the jazz vs jazz 2.0 in the finals and two, I realized recently that if the Lakers lose Gasol to injury, they don't have a chance.. they are deep everywhere but in their bigs and Bynum is already out. I think the Jazz are the second best team in the West (mainly because I can never support, cheer for or predict good things for the spurs).

Also, The bulls are my favorite in the East because the combination of Rose, Boozer and Noah seems seems awesome to me and good enough for second best in the east. Second to the Celtics, but the Celtics seem to be having a bad stretch of injury problems and due to their age, I'm betting on a key player or two being out for the playoffs.

And for my favorite team prediction?.. The Raptors will be 38-44, 9th in the East. Not to shabby considering everyone wrote them off to start the season. But the raptors beat the Celtics for the first time in 12 meetings on sunday and they have a couple of really good trade assests. Reggie evans is an expiring contract and a league leader in rebounds and Peja Stojakovic is also an expiring contract worth 15 million who is a great player for a contender or a team looking to free up cap space for next year. Together that's 20 million in expiring deals plus they are two players of value who teams have to take a look at.

Well, that's it for my predictions... for all of you Pads followers, I wanna know what your predictions are. Who's gonna be in the finals and why? And how is your favorite team going to do this year?

I'm Miller Regent... The end.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Things I've Learned So Far

So since no one else seems to be posting anything new, I'll do a T-wah and write a second column in a row. I've been thinking about the early season and a few of the things that I've learned so far in the few games that have happened. I tend not to get too worked up about the early part of the season, but since all of these games do eventually count (unlike the preseason), we should try to take stock of what's going on every once in a while. So here are the 5 things that I've learned so far from the 2010-2011 NBA season.

1) The Lakers are the team to beat (again)

Everyone thought that the Heat were such a stacked team, but somehow forgot to look at the two-time defending champs. They have one of the best players ever (Kobe, who also happens to be one of the biggest douche bags ever, but that's another story!), the best power forward in the game (Gasol), a plethora of talented big guys, and a great bench. The additions of Matt Barnes and Steve Blake seem to be working out, and even with Kobe's numbers taking a bit of a dip (22.9 ppg, which is pretty low for him), the rest of the team is picking up the slack. After the first couple of weeks, it seems like the Lakers are going to be headed for their 4th straight Finals appearance.

2) The Celtics aren't too old yet

I figured this out after watching their beat down of the Heat on the opening night of the season. Paul Pierce is incredible (something that's taken me a long time to figure out. I can see him easily going to the Hall of Fame after his career, which is not somthing I would have thought a couple of years ago), their Big 3 are still putting up good stats, and Rondo has become arguably the league's best point guard. Add on top of that a very good supporting role (with Big Baby, the O'Neals, Robinson and Daniels) and so far it looks like we could be heading towards another Lakers-Celtics Finals, which seems great, even though I'm not a huge fan of either team.

3) The Raptors and the Timberwolves are terrible!

Sorry Grey and Miller, but your Raptors are going to have a rough year. They have no real closer, and really seem to be struggling to find some kind of identity. Most of their starters would be bench guys on other teams, which doesn't say too much for their bench guys! Yes, there is some hope for the future with DeRozen, Weems and possibly Davis, but they are far from ready to carry a team. The problem is that they have no recogonizable player, which even other terrible teams like the Nets, the Warriors and even the Timberwolves have. I'm pretty sure that unless you're a huge Raptors or NBA fan, you would have no idea who was actually on the Raptors. As for the Wolves, they've got their own problems. They have guys that are recogonizable, and even one, Love, that's pretty good, but they also don't seem to have an identity, other than sucky. I'm afraid that these are the two teams that will be fighting for last place in the league this year (which will hopefully bring them some good draft picks and turn their situations around).

4) Other than the top teams (Lakers, Celtics, Heat and Magic) and the bottom teams (Raptors, Wizards and Timberwolves), the rest of the league is pretty wide open right now.

I don't take too much stock in standings this early in the season (see the next point), as things change dramatically after 30-40 games have been played. Only then can you see real trends of who is going to be contending and fighting for the playoffs. Other than the top few teams, the rest of the top 8 who will be going to the playoffs is wide open for now, which I guess is the great thing about the early season. Pretty much every team has a chance to do well (sorry Raptors and Wolves!).

5) Don't count on the early success of the Hawks and the Hornets

I'm not sold on either of these teams yet. I'm pretty sure that the Hawks will make the playoffs, but are they among the elite of the East? I'm not so sure! And the Hornets? Yes Chris Paul is great, but the rest of their lineup is pretty thin (when David West is your second best player, I don't think you'll be competing for a championship). I find that ever year there are a few teams that start off really well, but begin to fade as the season wears on (last year it was the Kings and the Grizzlies who were in this position). I guess we'll just have to wait a few months to really see where they're at.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fitness and Business

I just figured that I would begin November with some thoughts that I've had over the past few days about different aspects of the NBA that I didn't really think about that much before.

So this past week I was bored and decided that I would go lane swimming for the first time in over 3 years. I spent about 40 minutes in the pool and swam 70 lengths (just over 1.5 km for those of you keeping track). I felt good, but was pretty tired, owing to the fact that I now suck at swimming! However, as all of us who don't exercise all that often know, when you go from no exercise to any kind of exercise, you generally pay with a whole lot of soreness. The next morning I had trouble getting out of bed, as my arms, legs, shoulders, and even lower back hurt like the dickens (which hurt quite bad). I've been a couple of more times, and each time I generally feel like spending the rest of the day sprawled out in my bed recovering.

During this I thought of all the work NBA players put into staying in shape and realized how incredible it really is, especially for the guys playing big minutes every game. On top of the 25-40 minutes they play in the most competitive and physical basketball games each night, they also spend the days working out, running drills, lifting weights and taking countless numbers of shots. I have no idea how some of those guys are even standing at the end of it all. Now add on top of that those guys who are having troubles with injuries and yet continue to play. I hate Kobe Bryant, but I think I've found some more respect for him after playing through the entire 2009-10 season with multiple injuries. Then their's Yao Ming, who has had serious injuries that could affect the rest of his life, and yet continues to come back and fight through it.

I guess I've never really given that much thought to how amazing many of the NBA players are, and especially the top players. I always just thought they got up and played basketball games, but I'm beginning to realize just how much more there is to it. Ray Allen is an amazing shooter, and yet he continues to work on his shot. From what I've heard he comes in hours before every game to just shoot. I guess what I'm just trying to say is that I have a lot more respect for the physical side of the game.

That leads me into the other aspect of this article. As I'm nearing the end of my schooling, I'm starting to feel more and more stress in regards to finding a full time career type job. It's kinda scarry going out into the work world without any direct job to just flow into. It's making me realize that the NBA, along with being the place for super in-shape athletes, is also a huge business. I used to always think that when a coach got fired (which happens a lot) that he would just automatically move on to another team who would be welcoming him with open arms. I'm pretty sure that's not the case. It's also not the case for the players who aren't the superstars, and who have to work for new contracts every few years. The case of guys like Darius Miles is kind of a scarry one. He was one of the leading players on a somewhat hyped young Clippers team, and is now a perennial roster cut in the preseason. What happened? Now, that may be a bad example, as I'm sure Miles is a dink or something like that, but there really isn't that great job security in the NBA, unless your name is LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.

I know that guys like Bill Simmons has a huge problem with players playing for their contracts, but I'm starting to not be so critical of them. I am also starting to understand why a guy who had played a role on championship teams whole accept a contract with a team like the Clippers or the Nets. For a lot of guys, it's really about the money. Winning a championship would probably be nice, but when it comes down to it, how many guys can turn down contracts worth millions of dollars, just to try to win a giant gold ring that they'll probably never wear? Now before you start arguing with me, just think about your own job, and how much you work at it. Are you always trying to be the best, or do you sometimes accept positions because they'd be easy and pay well? If I had the option to take a job doing something I loved for lots of money but with no chance of glory, I'd probably take it! I'm not sure if my examples make sense (I went swimming earlier and the craving to shut my brain off is kicking in!), but you'll just have to deal with it, as they make sense to me.

What is the point of all this? I'm not sure. I guess it's just a place where I can express some of the ideas that I've been thinking about, and since not much has happened in the early season, you'll just have to deal with my sometimes random thought process.