Hello there! For the second consecutive year, I am putting entirely too much effort into previewing the NBA season. Last year, I tried to cram everything into two parts — three, actually, if you include the preview for just the Bulls — but that was impractical and not particularly well organized. This year, we here at Bulls 101 are having a not-very-creatively-named Preview Week. We'll be posting a segment of my ridiculously long preview every morning, starting on Monday with the Bulls-centric portion and then going division by division from there. So far, we've covered the Northwestern division. We'll also continue covering the preseason in between, so don't worry about that.
I'm borrowing a premise that Bill Simmons has used in the past in that I'm attaching each team's preview to a quote that I think conveys something interesting about them. However, to the best of my knowledge, Simmons has never used song lyrics in this format, and he DEFINITELY has never used Gavin DeGraw lyrics. So I guess I'm breaking new ground here. If you don't know who Gavin DeGraw is, he's my favorite musical artist ever, and hopefully you won't hate him at the end of this. His Wikipedia page is here, in case you want more background. Enjoy.
(For reference, all lyric attributions will be of the form "Song title, Album title." Also, teams are ordered by predicted finish in the division.)
Last Year: 46-20, 2nd in Eastern Conference. NBA Champions.
We belong together, like the open seas and shores.
Well, it's finally over. Everyone who said LeBron James and Dwyane Wade couldn't play together has been silenced. Everyone who questioned LeBron has been emphatically told to sit down and shut up — more on that in a minute — and Mario Chalmers is now a champion at both the NCAA and NBA levels. Sigh.
The fact is that LeBron, Wade and Chris Bosh make a formidable trio, even if Wade struggled mightily at times in the playoffs. And now that LeBron has embraced power forward, the rest of the league is in for a rough time of it. I, for one, am very pleased that I don't have to listen to people talk about how the Heat are inherently flawed and can't win a championship. That got old real quick.
Don't get me wrong, I still think LeBron's a jackass and can't stand him or the Heat in general. But I think the pendulum of public opinion swung too far away from him and the rest and it's time to acknowledge how good they are. Especially now that Ray Allen is on board. That's just not fair. But my guess is they coast through the regular season without really worrying about it.
Why don't you just back off of us before we go crazy?
This is mostly about LeBron, but it applies to the rest of the team too. I don't think people understand how scrutinized LeBron — and the Heat, by extension — have been these last two years. It's enough to drive anyone insane, and it's a testament to LeBron's mental toughness that he didn't completely self-destruct. Well, aside from the 2011 Finals, I suppose. BOOOM!
So I am asking now, since I am technically a member of "the media," that we all lay off of LeBron James. You just sound jealous and petty at this point.
Bonus Bonus Lyric:
If you miss me, don't. If I never wanna see you again, I won't.
Seriously, Boston? You're really going to drag Ray Allen through the muck now? After everything he did for you? You're ridiculous. Ray Allen should really just disavow Boston completely and move on with his life. It's not worth it if they're going to act like this.
And really, would you pass up a shot to play for the defending champs and with the best player alive? Ray only has a few years left and I have a feeling he'd rather spend those years shooting wide open corner threes in South Beach than running off of screens for days at a time in Boston.
Final Prediction: 56-26, second in East.
Last Year: 40-26, 4th in Eastern Conference. Lost to Boston Celtics in first round of NBA Playoffs, 4-2.
Maybe what you had was broke.
The Hawks spent this past offseason doing what many thought was impossible: Trading Joe Johnson. As you probably know — unless you've been living under a rock or something — there's an NBA team in Brooklyn now, and their owner is very, very rich. But more on him Friday.
The Hawks have a whole new identity now. Gone is Iso-Joe and now we'll finally get to see Atlanta actually run a real offense. They have inside players in Al Horford and Josh Smith. They have a couple of above-average point guards in Devin Harris and Jeff Teague. They have excellent shooters in Anthony Morrow and Kyle Korver. Now they just have to put it together.
I think it will be pretty solid. A Teague/Korver/Morrow/Smith/Horford lineup might struggle a bit defensively, but there's a lot of flexibility on offense. I'm excited for this team, especially because they've managed to avoid being mired in mediocrity for the rest of time. Now hopefully the Bulls will figure out something similar.
My aim is so true. I want to show you. I'll try forever. I'm never gonna say surrender.
Soon enough I'm taking my shot… Bang! Once I get 'em locked in my sights.
I love Kyle Korver so much, he gets two lyrics devoted to him. I've been saying it all summer: The Bulls are going to miss Korver desperately. Marco Belinelli is simply not as good. I'm hoping Korver gets serious playing time in Atlanta so he can show them what they're missing out on.
Final Prediction: 43-39, seventh in East.
Last Year: 20-46, 14th in Eastern Conference.
I just wanna give it all to you, I wanna share this with you. Make you mine and mine would be all yours, whatever you want and more. But I'm anticipating that everything else will be overrated. Baby it's for you, it's all for you.
The Wizards seem very invested in making Washington seem as attractive as possible for John Wall, and rightfully so. He's their centerpiece and they need him to stick around. But I don't know that trading for Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza and their oversized contracts is the way to go about it. If Wall comes back on a max or near-max deal, they're basically capped out for the foreseeable future. They may make the playoffs over the next few years, but that's it. That's their ceiling.
Also, with Wall currently injured, this could be rough sledding early on. Lots of Trevor Ariza and Jordan Crawford handling the ball, which is never good anyway, goes against the strengths of this team and they could and probably will crash and burn. But I'll be relatively optimistic here.
Final Prediction: 38-44, tenth in East.
Last Year: 7-59, 15th in Eastern Conference.
What you want and what you need, ain't never the same. All's fair when you're out there playing the game.
Never The Same, Free
After earning the worst winning percentage in the history of the NBA last year, it's safe to call the Bobcats a rebuilding team. And, for better or worse, they need to continue to commit to that.
I wholeheartedly sympathize with Bobcats fans who want sweeping changes immediately and would like to win games now. But, if you recall, that's what happened under Larry Brown, and…now here we are. The best move right now is to stay the course, keep adding assets as they become available and figure you can contend down the road after the Heat finally break up. It sucks, but there you are.
Final Prediction: 22-60, fourteenth in East.
Last Year: 37-29, 6th in Eastern Conference. Lost to Indiana Pacers in first round of NBA Playoffs, 4-1.
Well, I got troubles that I can't hide. So many and it's turning all my insides out.
Run Every Time, Sweeter
They turned Courtney Lee into Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis stopped being at all good at basketball, and got beaten down by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. The next season they fell off even more, with Marcin Gortat, Lewis and Carter becoming Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson. That led to their former whipping boy, Atlanta, rising up to punch them in the gut in the first round. By the time the lockout ended, the Dwight Howard era in Orlando was all but over.
Now Dwight is gone and in his place are Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and Mo Harkless. Ryan Anderson has also departed, with Gustavo Ayon in his place. Let's just say that the games are going to be ugly this year. But then again, I guess that was the point.
The words you say to me are unlike anything that's ever been said. Oh, what you do to me is unlike anything that's ever been.
Follow Through, Chariot
Our long, national Dwightmare was very much unlike anything that's ever been. Dwight couldn't seem to make up his mind on what he wanted to do, the organization didn't know what it was doing…the whole thing was awful. But now Dwight's in LA, and I can't wait for him to get raked through the coals like LeBron did.
What's that? They aren't? Oh. I see.
Final Prediction: 15-67, fifteenth in East.
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