Couldn't get the actual Roundtable back under full sail in time, so this will have to do: The Bloggers Footstool, or something like that. Put your feet up. Relax.
The usual crew has convened: Scott Carefoot from Raptorblog; Ryan McNeill from Hoopsaddict; Skeets and Tas from The Basketball Jones; the three-headed Raptors HQ of Jeff, Adam and Dave; and JABS (Lifetime record, 997 right, none wrong, as the late great Scott Young used to note). Ladies and gennulmen, let the Bloggers' Footstool begin right after the jump...
This season's champ
RYAN: Mavs did a great job of keeping all of their key free agents while tweaking their roster when they added Maurice Ager through the draft and brought role players like Austin Croshere and Devean George into the fold. Plus, you can't rule out the current champs from Miami when they have Flash and Shaq Diesel.
|NAM Y. HUH/ASSOCIATED PRESS|
|Bulls and Nocioni: Consensus east pick.|
SCOTT: I think Dallas was the best team in the NBA last season and I think they'll prove that with a championship this season. My pick for a darkhorse would be the Bulls, who have young players blossoming at the perfect time to complement the major free agent signing of Ben Wallace.
JABS: San Antonio. Timmy back in good health for one last hurrah. A bit worried about Tony missing Eva, though.
TBJ: Phoenix. A fantastic coach, the return of Amare and Kurt, Marion, Diaw, Raja, The Gorilla, and a point guard who could turn me into a 15 ppg scorer.
RAPTORS HQ: Well the two of us have debated back and forth and thrown around Dallas, San Antonio and well – no one from the East. At the end of the day though we feel like going with a sleeper. The Clippers (ed. note - !).
RYAN: Trendy pick is the Bulls, but I don’t think they have enough proven scorers. I’m sticking with the Heat, Shaq and Flash the best duo in the league.
JABS: Chicago. Ben Wallace AND Tyrus Thomas. *Shudder*.
TBJ: Chicago. They look built for regular season success.
RAPTORS HQ: Detroit. Losing Wallace will hurt, but adding a more versatile C in Nazr and a more run-and-gun offence will help compensate.
RYAN: New Jersey, Detroit, Miami, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix
SCOTT: New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix
JABS: New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, Denver, San Antonio, Phoenix
TBJ: New Jersey, Chicago, Washington, Utah, San Antonio, Phoenix
RAPTORS HQ: New Jersey, Cleveland, Miami, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix
Dumbest coach (otherwise known as the first to be fired)
RYAN: Doc Rivers should be on the hot seat but he’s buddies with Danny Ainge and he’ll survive. Dwane Casey in Minnesota could get canned before the all-star break.
SCOTT: Isiah Thomas
JABS: Doc Rivers already seems to be planning his exit
TBJ: Isiah Thomas
RAPTORS HQ: Doc Rivers. If this team starts to dwell at the bottom you know Ainge won't be afraid to pull the trigger.
Go-to NBA blogger
RYAN: Henry Abbott (is there even any discussion?) Sloppy seconds to either the Nugg Doctor or Need4Sheed.
SCOTT: True Hoop (Chaunceybillups.blogspot.com was the best ever but he stopped updating).
JABS: True Hoop. Nets Blast another must-read.
TBJ: True Hoop for updates, Free Darko for dreams, WizzNutzz for tears.
RAPTORS HQ: Ryan is the man at hoopsaddict.com. News, rumours, podcasts, even cartoons.
|RIC FRANCIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS|
|Sam Cassell: Much love from the Footstool.|
RYAN: Dick Bavetta. He wears extra socks.
SCOTT: Bob Delaney.
JABS: Joey Crawford. Hope he doesn’t shave his head this year.
TBJ: Lee-Anne. (She (wo)-mans my Rec League basketball game.)
RAPTORS HQ: David Stern. You know those little black boxes attached to the backs of each ref is a device that sends electric shocks through a ref when Stern wants a particular call made. How else do you explain Dwyane Wade in last year’s finals?
MUP (Most underappreciated/underrated player)
RYAN: Kirk Hinrich.
SCOTT: Tim Duncan. Best ever at his position.
JABS: Shane Battier. Not really underrated, not anymore, but does things most GMs seem uninterested in at draft time – play defence, guard bigger guys, play consistently and intelligently.
TBJ: Sam Cassell.
RAPTORS HQ: Sam Cassell. All this guy ever did was win. Slightly behind the alien man - Cassell's backcourt mate Shaun Livingston, if healthy poised for a break-out season.
SCOTT: Kobe Bryant last season, probably LeBron going forward.
JABS: LeBron. Once I figure out what this award goes to. Failing that, the new ball. So far, T.J. Ford and Steve Nash say its influence overwhelms them.
TBJ: LeBron James.
RAPTORS HQ: I’m picking a hungry and healthy Tim Duncan, while Franchise is going with King James who wills his overrated supporting cast into the playoffs.
MOP (Most overrated player)
RYAN: Richard Jefferson.
SCOTT: Ray Allen.
JABS: Vince Carter.
TBJ: Vincent Lamar. (No, I will not let go...)
RAPTORS HQ: The easy answer to this question for us would be Kobe Bryant simply because he's the player we detest the most in the league. Kobe's performance against the Suns in last year's playoffs (when he wouldn't take a shot just to make a point) only reinforced this bias but really, the real recipient of this award should be Vince Carter. Unlike Kobe, Carter doesn’t have the drive or will to carry a club.
Surprise team (good and/or bad)
|JEFF ROBERSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS|
|Gilbert Arenas: He's everywhere.|
RYAN: Atlanta (good); Indiana (bad).
SCOTT: Orlando Magic (good).
JABS: Bad – Lottery-bound Lakers. Good – Up-the-charts Rockets.
TBJ: Magic (Good), 76ers (Bad. Real bad.)
RAPTORS HQ: Charlotte in the East, Golden State out west (both good).
Raptors win total
JABS: 32. Modest improvements, and better than my pre-preseason sentiments, but too many new faces and not enough defence. P.J. Tucker and Fred Jones a big help, though.
TBJ: Um... 39
RAPTORS HQ: 37
Raptors' defensive FG percentage
SCOTT: 47 per cent (a 2 per cent improvement, but still awful).
JABS: Somewhere well below last year's .491, or Sam Mitchell won't last the season. Stat: 37 times last year opponents shot over 50 per cent on the Raps. Awful isn’t the word.
TBJ: 99.9% (Antoine Walker's bound to miss one, right?)
RAPTORS HQ: 47.5 per cent.
Your NBA binkie
SCOTT: Nobody. I don't catch feelings for people I don't even know.
JABS: Jerry Sloan. Any guy who drives a tractor is okay by me.
TBJ: Gilbert Arenas. Agent Zero's my hero.
RAPTORS HQ: How could you go with anyone other than Nash? He is what a pro player should be, and being from Canada puts him over the top.