Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Six Surprising Season Suprises

I wanted to stick with the alliteration theme from the previous posts. As this season is quickly coming to a close, I wanted to have a little review of some of the surprising events in what has been a great season. While there have been many things that I didn't really expect, only six things have truly surprised me about this season. Some were examples of excellence, while others were almost baffling. This list is in no specific order, so don't try to read into it too much.

1) How good the Spurs have been

I always expect the Spurs to be in the playoff hunt, but as Duncan and the other main players on the team have been getting older, it just seems natural that they would slowly slip down the Western Conference totem pole. Not so this year. As of today they were 58-19, had clinched the southwest division, and were 2.5 games ahead of the defending champion Lakers. To me, it was completely surprising that they were this good. They did it by basing their attack on their aging stars and by picking up the pace, something which seems contrary to the Spurs organization. I hate the Coach of the Year award, but Popovich really deserves it.

2) How good the Bulls have been

This is pretty similar to my first surprise, but for some very different reasons. I knew the Bulls would be better this year after signing Boozer, but I really didn't think they would be that good. At the start of the year I would have put them in fourth at best, and possibly even 5th (behind Miami, Boston, Orlando and possibly Atlanta). Right now, like the Spurs, they are leading the Eastern Conference by 2.5 games and are very close to a 60 win season. Unlike the Spurs, however, they have gotten there with a brand new coach, a very young set of stars (especially Derrick Rose), and a focus on defense. Rose has really been the key to their success, and my surprise. There was no way I thought he would be a top MVP pick who would be leading his team back to greatness. Crazy!

3) How terrible the Cavs have been

This one is completely opposite to the first two things that surprised me. I knew they would be bad this season. There is no way they could have replaced Lebron after he left, but a league-worst 15-61 season? 26 losses in a row? They didn't win for the whole month of January! If you went back a few games, they went 1-36 for a stretch. That's just crazy to me! They had some pretty decent players, even if the whole team was built to work around Lebron. They also have a pretty good coach, but even that didn't help. Again, don't think that I was picking them to make the playoffs. But I did think they could at least compete for the last spot (not because they were good, but because the other teams sucked too!). You'd think their professional pride would have at least got them a few more wins.

4) The Jazz debacle (or T-wah's nightmare)

If I had to rank these surprises (which I don't because it's my own post) I would probably put this at the top of most surprising. No one could have seen this coming. I actually was thinking they were a darkhorse to get to the finals. They had lost Boozer in the offseason, but did a very good job at replacing him by getting Al Jefferson (could he just be unlucky? He's always been on a loosing team and at the short end of trades). Add that with a hall of fame coach and one of the best point guards in the league, and you had a contender. But then out of no where Jerry Sloan retires, and then even more suddenly Deron Williams gets traded to New Jersey. Wow! What a crazy season for a team that was an example of stability. Now instead of contending in the playoffs, they've been eliminated and are most likely into full rebuilding mode. Now that was a surprise!

5) Kevin Love's breakthrough season

This was probably the least surprising of this list, but I still didn't really see it coming. I thought Love would eventually be a good NBA player, especially after Jefferson was traded and he became the best player on his terrible team (I mean, it had to be him, cause it sure wasn't gonna be Beasley or Darko!). But when he got his 30 point-30 rebound game, something which hadn't happened since Moses Malone did it in the 1970s, I was a little caught off guard. Then he went out and set the record for double-doubles in a season, which really surprised me because of all the good double-double guys that had played in the league recently (Garnett, Duncan, Howard, Shaq, etc.). How did Love get it when none of them had? I don't really have an answer, but the fact remains that he did, and that surprised me.

6) The New York Knicks

This one seems like an obvious choice because of all the stuff that's happened to them recently, but I put it on this list not for the reasons you may be thinking. I have to publicly admit that I thought the Stoudemire signing was not going to turn out. I was wrong, and I will admit that. The start of the Kinicks season was what really surprised me. They were such a good team with Stoudemire playing like an MVP, and the other guys around him really pulling their weight. Then came the Melo trade, which really wasn't that surprising (other than the Knicks gave up half their team for a guy they knew they could have signed in the offseason. I guess they must have really been afraid that he would have signed the extension and been traded to the Nets. Or they were just idiots!). What is surprising now is how bad they are. Everyone knew their defense would suffer, cause Melo doesn't play defense, but how are they so bad that the 76ers could beat them? They really should have been a threat in the first round. What a weird season for the Knicks!

So there's my list. Like I said, many other things were surprising to me, but these six I didn't see coming at all. Now please comment on this! I want to know what you think about these things, whether you agree or disagree, and if you feel that something else deserves to be on this list rather than what I've written. Let's make this website what we've wanted it to be. Fats out!


  1. I just wrote a super long awesome comment, but it got deleted. Now the wind is out of my sails and I can't muster up the strength to do it all over again. I'll post later...

  2. I hate when that happens but I'm excited to see your comment. I actually had the first paragraph written and then it got deleted too. It's so frustrating!

  3. It's just because you have a Mac and Macs suck and PC's are da' bomb that you losst your super long awesome comment (of course I don't think that).

    Anyway, I'm glad you used 2 variations of the word "surprise" to achieve your ultimate alliteration. I agree with everything you said. The only thing I feel like commenting on and starting a debate on is Kevin Love. What do you think of the argument that he cares more about his own stats than his team's record? I believe it; and probably because I think I would do the same thing. TRY some different stuff which may or may not end up in helping your team win OR break records. I choose break records. It's not like you're NBA finals-bound. Might as well rewrite the record books.

    The Jazz debacle was appropriately nicknamed. Sometimes I get sick to the stomach when the Jazz lose to the Kings by 20 points but then I take comfort in the fact that they have 7 guys out with injuries; that has to be close to a record. A few promising rookies...an offseason for the latest roster and coach to mesh...I'm not too worried yet, but this season really sucked.

  4. First off, I believe Fats has rightly captured the most surprising surprises of the season. Well maybe at least until playoffs, 'Cause anything can happy baby' (said with a Dick Vitale-like voice).

    Now that I have paid homage to the writer, I want to comment on T-Wah's comment with my own comment-ridden paragraph.

    Kevin Love is doing what any good player or any potenial franchise player should do. Go out and play your best. He plays on a bad team that doesn't have a hope of making the playoffs so the next best thing is to go out break some records and get some attention for yourself and for your team. Other players/GMs will see that you play well and hard. This makes coming to the team more attractive for free agents in the summer. And if you don't want to stay with your team as they build and get better then all you're doing is improving your stock in the eyes of other GMs who want a guy like you on their team. If I was on the Wolves and I see this guy working hard getting all those boards and working for all the points, it would only make me want to work harder myself. Improve my game, so all this hard work doesn't go to waste.
    Kevin Love's play is purely positive at this point. But if this goes on for 3 or 4 seasons and the team is only marginally better and still missing the playoffs, then something needs to happen. The team's style of play would need to change, including Love's style or the team needs different players because they just don't work together.
    I can't help but think of a parallel in hockey. Well maybe not a parallel per se but I see as a possible parallel just further down the line than the T-Wolves. I seem to care more about hockey these days.
    The Washington Capitals were an up and down team. They would make the playoffs one year then be near the bottom of the conference for the next few years. Then came along Alexander Ovechkin and the Captials have been perennial top dogs in the Eastern Conference thanks to his 100+ points a season. However the Capitals' success in the post season has been lacking. Despite Ovechkin's personal success his team fell short. But this year the Capitals have changed their philosophy to a more defensive style of play which relates to fewer scoring possibilities and fewer points for Ovechkin. But the team is better for the change of style. They aren't just outscoring their opponents any more. They are beating their opponents by limiting them. And now the Capitals are more dangerous than ever.
    So will something similar happen with the T-wolves? Will Love make them good enough to get into the playoffs? Will Love change his style for the good of team? I guess only time will tell how Love and the T-wolves will change and adapt and hopefully break some more records along the way.

  5. I gotta say, some of your surprising surprises weren't surprising to me because a surprise is surprising and I saw some of the surprises coming, making the surprises not surprising and thus not a surprise.
    Now that I got that out in one sentence... Amare Stoudemire... I called it, you can even look back at preseason posts.
    Cavs... called it.
    Bulls... called it, although fats is right.. not quite THIS good. I did have them ranked 3rd or 4th in the East though. I had Orlando ranked above them, but who saw the Arenas/richardson/turkoglu trade coming???? That trade is actually a surprise worth mentioning.

  6. That last sentence should actually say: That trade is ANOTHER surprise worth mentioning.
    I don't intend to undermine fats' post.

  7. I hate this thing. I had a good post ready too and then it deleted it (and I even have a PC!).

    Miller you little underminer! I happen to agree with Razr about Love's season. I think he's had a great one. Even though his team is terrible, I feel like there was little else he could have done to have helped his team other than putting up great stats and getting some records in the process. Now if he keeps getting these gaudy stats over the next few years while his team continues to struggle, then that's a problem. But right now I'm ok with it, because like I said in my post, he really doesn't have any help right now. Maybe the T-wolves can finally catch a break/make a smart move and get some helpe over the offseason. Then we can fairly judge how well Love really helps his team.

    As for the Magic trades, I kind of forgot about those. That was pretty dang surprising. The sucky thing is that I don't think either of the trades really panned out for either team. The Arenas/Lewis trade was a bust both ways, and the Suns trade only seemed to work out for the secondary players in the deal (Gortat was a great pick up for the Suns, who needed help at the center, while Richardson seems to fit in really well with the Magic's style of play).

    I'm going to say this right now, so you can all quote me next year, that I think the Magic/Howard situation is going to play out similar to the situations with Lebron in Cleveland and Bosh in Toronto this past summer. The Magic seem to be getting desperate to put good pieces around Howard to keep him happy and make him want to stay there after 2012, but it doesn't seem to be working. I'm guessing that they'll be very active in the trade/signing scene over the next year, trying everything to see if it will work. Unfortunately for the Magic, I don't see that happening, and I'm gonna call Howard leaving town. I'm not sure where he's gonna go, but he might try to make some other super team with either Williams or Paul somewhere, or head off to create even better teams in Chicago or LA (probably the Lakers, since no one seem to go to the Clippers).

  8. I'm back, trying to recreate the magic of my comment that got lost in oblivion, but most likely failing.
    The surprising surprise that I first commented on was the Knicks. I think they would have been a surprising surprise a couple weeks ago, but they're actually starting to put it together now. I don't think they're going anywhere this year, or probably ever with that team, but I think they're exciting to watch. Maybe they could make some noise by having the best player, and maybe second best player, in the series, but they'd have to get lucky and get really hot. I like Amare, but I think it's bad news that his knees are so bad they can't even get insurance on them. It's also bad news that D'antoni plays him too many minutes. I forget where I first heard that, but it's probably common knowledge now.
    I also commented on the surprising surprise that is Kevin Love. I don't actually really care about him. I like him, and have nothing against him, but I feel like he's kind of one of the "cool" guys of the year. I mean, it's cool for the media to like him. But Lamarcus Aldridge should have been an all-star over him. There's no way to defend that. LMA is leading an injury-depleted team to the playoffs (and probably a win over the Mavs in the first round! haha! suck it Fats but it's probably true) and Love is leading a horrible team in stats. Demar Derozan, Demarcus Cousins, Monta Ellis, Baron Davis and many others also lead bad teams in stats. I'm not saying that team success should or shouldn't be a factor in determining all-stars - that's a completely different issue that I don't want to get into. I'm just saying that there's always the cool thing for the media to say. Another example, Derrick Rose is the cool MVP this year (I'm back and forth as to whether I support that. Right now I do, after I watched his Bulls destroy the Celtics last night...) This year Kevin Love happens to be really cool. I don't think he should matter either way. So I agree with Razr. Wait and see what happens.
    A surprising surprise that should be included is the Celtics-Thunder trade. No one saw that coming. It came out of nowhere. It was unnecessary. And I'll go on record by saying that I think it cost the Celtics the championship this year. After watching them get smashed by the Bulls last night, I had the feeling that that was the best they could do against Chicago. It wasn't like they caught Boston on an off night. They just shut them down. The Bulls are scary, Rose is awesome, but the Celtics are ruined. As my second favorite team they were my only reason for living my life as an NBA fan. I needed playoff hope. Now I'll have to return to having no vested interest in who wins. That's way less fun. I do like OKC, but only as a bandwagon fan. I can't claim any ties to them, except that I loved the old Sonics teams.
    But overall, good surprising surprises. I'm going to make sure to copy this comment before I try to post it.

  9. HA! I outsmarted it! It erased it again, but I made a copy. Let that be a lesson to everyone!