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Shaw ’13: The season is here

Contributing Writer
Friday, November 2, 2012

For those of you hungry to boo David Stern, I have one message for you: The season is here. The season is finally here.
I unashamedly skipped the least-watched World Series in history (nothing good ever happens to Detroit, except the auto bailout) to catch some extra NBA preseason coverage, secretly hoping Rajon Rondo would find a reliable three-point touch and lead the Boston Celtics to a 70-win season. After watching Tuesday’s shaming by Miami, I can safely say we won’t be seeing Rondo raining too many Jesus threes this year. Meanwhile, the real Shuttlesworth had one of the best games of his life – and off the pine, no less. On paper and on the court, the Miami Heat is the best team in the NBA. Despite some curious draft day moves (Arnett Moultrie, drafted by the Heat but then shipped out to Philly, would have fit well in Miami’s transition game), Pat Riley somehow managed to bring in more talent to South Beach without losing any significant pieces from the team’s championship campaign. Lebron is going to the playoffs and, barring any significant injuries, will likely win his second championship in June.
Fans in Miami, Boston, Oklahoma, Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Indiana are going to have a great time following their teams through this season. Depending on how their stars recover from their respective injuries, I’d add Dallas and Chicago to that list, too. New York, too, if the Knicks discover a fountain of youth in the basement of the Madison Square Garden and somehow find a way to remove the stench of Isaiah Thomas.
But when you’re looking to add teams 2-5 on your League Pass, I want to make a case for some peripheral teams – the teams mired in mediocrity that will either make the jump or blow up and inevitably tank for the number one pick, playing with the combined team IQ of JaVale McGee.

Running in the Bay
Number one on the “teams that will be great or will suck” list are the Golden State Warriors. Mark Jackson will do his best to take the suckiness out of that equation, but until he replaces the peanut brittle in Stephen Curry’s ankles with actual bones, my friends in the Bay Area will be better off setting cars on fire and pretending October never ended. Their other centerpiece, Andrew Bogut, is a defensive juggernaut who will immediately change the way other teams attack the Warriors in the paint. However, he also has a horrible history of injuries, meaning that for at least part of this season, the Warriors will be pinning their defensive hopes on a guy named Festus Ezeli.
But I promise this team will be fun to watch! They have a guy named Klay Thompson who radiates all-star potential. He’s got a silky jumper that’s already drawing comparisons to Reggie Miller’s, and he’s only 22 entering his second year of pro ball. Jackson might be promising a renewed defensive presence, but this team is going to run, they’re going to shoot, and Harrison Barnes is going to do at least one incredibly dumb thing a game.

Are there even Bucks fans?
Following Golden State is my sleeper for the Eastern conference: the Milwaukee Bucks. Both of their starting guards are looking for new contracts and will undoubtedly elevate their games so that they can get the hell out of Milwaukee. Meanwhile, candidate for best name in the league, Ersan Ilyasova, has already proven he can really play in this league and is also a worthy fantasy draft choice. He shoots, rebounds hard, and forces his way to the charity stripe. Perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch will be second-rounder Doron Lamb. If he can maintain his star-level performance from his two years at Kentucky, he’ll be the steal of the draft. Vegas is giving the Bucks 36.5 wins this year, but this team is surprisingly deep and – possibly – motivated.

This one’s for the stats nerds
Lastly, and the inspiration for this column, is your 2012-2013 Houston LinsaniBeards! After losing the Dwight sweepstakes in calamitous fashion, Daryl Morey (the subject of one fantastic ENGN 0090: “Management of Industrial and Nonprofit Organizations” final paper by yours truly) managed to perfect Sam Presti’s forged signature and land James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder. While he won’t be dropping 37 and 12, his statline from the season opener Wednesday night, for the other 81, Harden is a winner. He’ll be a great big spoon for Jeremy Lin with Landry Fields all the way north in Toronto.
It’ll be interesting to see if Lin lives up to his contract: the infamous poison pill that will pay $15 million in the third year to someone who will either be a superstar or an interesting study in the marketing potential of a mediocre player. Sharing the pill is Omer Asik, who turned out to play like the store-brand version of Dwight Howard during the preseason (with that same inability to hit a clutch free throw like the original!) Obviously, anyone who draws too many conclusions from the preseason is an idiot, but Asik proved to be an iron curtain in Chicago and put up good numbers in his regular season debut as well.
I think a bigger factor in Houston’s “will-they-won’t-they-suck story” this year is rookie Royce White. A power forward that plays like Magic Johnson, he led Iowa State in every statistical category, and I desperately hoped he would fall to Boston. (Instead we got Fab Melo of “Fab Melo vs. the folding chair” YouTube fame.) Of course, White’s also got a crippling fear of modern air travel and will be spending a considerable portion of his rookie contract on Greyhounds. So while he might be an incredible talent on the court, he’ll also be spending countless hours next to a pee-stained serial killer while the rest of the league flies charter. Talk about rookie hazing.
This season might be the most fun to follow in NBA history. We have the best player since Michael Jordan in his prime. We have historic rivals that are legitimate contenders in Boston and L.A. We have teams that will absolutely bottom out but will still have interesting storylines to follow (Will Michael Kidd-Gilchrist emerge? Who will win the inevitable Thomas Robinson, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke “The Black Hole” Evans fistfight? Will the Brow ever love again?). And we have teams that have the potential to finally get over the hump of mediocrity or become the butt of every NBA Jams joke for the next few months.

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  1. Lydia Lee Feng says:

    Great writing! How wonderful to have an articulate, literary, witty jock/writer who really knows his stuff!
    Hope to see more columns from this talented pen.

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