Human Pinata time.
Take your shots.
And the winners are:
Really, why wait until May? Inscribe the trophies now:
MVP: Kevin Durant.
Why not go with the sexy pick and be like all the other cool kids.
Seriously, if he keeps the Thunder on the same track they were on last year, why wouldn’t he have a shot?
Sixth Man: Steve Blake
No, seriously. Steve Blake. You figure he’s going to get all kinds of time behind the aging Derek Fisher on a pretty darn good team and the kid’s got some game. You want another longshot? If the Magic is outstanding, I can see JJ Redick getting some love.
Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin
I haven’t seen the Clips at all this pre-season except in highlights but I’m told the quasi-rookie has been crazy good. And since I think the Clips might actually do something this season, he gets the nod over John Wall, who is on a worse team.
Defensive Player of the Year: Thabo Sefolosha
All right, so maybe he doesn’t play an awful lot because the Thunder really like James Harden but this dude guards all kinds of positions and I’m tired of giving it to Dwight Howard every year. Think KG’s got one kick at the can left in him? I don’t.
Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan
Look, the guy has to win it once, doesn’t he? I don’t care if it’s a Career Achievement Award, he’s got to get it. Besides, I don’t see a sexy pick out there at the moment although I can see Vinny Del Negro making a move if the Clips are any good. And wouldn’t that just frost the cake of the folks in Chicago?
Most Improved Player of the Year: No clue.
Really, I don’t. Some guys vote for guys who have better numbers because they play more minutes; some guys for vote for guys whose teams are vastly improved. Some of us wait and ask around in April and cast ballots accordingly. Count me in the latter group at the moment. But the early pick would be Minnesota’s Kevin Love, although the Timberwolves will still suck.
All right, so I’ve checked with the Poo Bahs at the Mother Ship and we’re all set for a question-and-answer session on Wednesday to kick off the season.
Trouble is, we have to go at 1 p.m. instead of our traditional noon start so everyone book late lunches, okay?
The Divisions? In Order? Why not? EASTERN CONFERENCE
Atlantic: Boston, New York, Toronto, New Jersey, Philadelphia
Look, someone has to finish second, third, fourth, fifth and it’s a very, very, very, very shallow pool we’re talking about here. Who knows, 32 wins might finish behind Boston and ahead of the rest of ‘em. There are huge questions about every team not called the Celtics and it’s a crapshoot, I can see none of the other four teams getting to 32 wins, actually.
Southeast: Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington.
Gutsy pick, eh? Heat to win? Well, you know, you could make the case that a slow start in Miami while they work things out and a blistering start by the Magic might make this a neck-and-neck race for the final three months of the season and that’d be cool. I’m more interested in how long it takes for the inevitable Agent Zero meltdown.
Central: Chicago, Milwaukee, Indiana, Detroit, Cleveland.
Another one of those “shallow pool” thingies but I kind of think Milwaukee’s still a playoff team, although I do see some kind of “bounce” off an over-achieving year. The bottom two teams are going to rival the worst in the NBA, methinks.
Northwest: Oklahoma City, Utah, Portland, Denver, Minnesota
This might be the most competitive division in the league. But can you see Denver imploding after a Carmelo trade and a Kenyon outburst and George Karl finally strangling JR Smith? I can and except for the presence of Old Friend Chauncey Billups, I think it’d be cool to see.
Southwest: San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Memphis.
Just shined up the crystal ball and Tony Parker has a huge contract year, Tiago Splitter helps ease Tim Duncan’s load and Matt Bonner lights it up. I love the Spurs. And if there’s one guy in the league I’m rooting for more than any other it’s Yao Ming.
Pacific: LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Golden State, Phoenix, Sacramento
Yes, I am on the Clipper bandwagon and I know Despicable Donald Sterling will do something to screw it up but I don’t care. And maybe Baron Davis will try for 60 games? And, yes, I fear for Phoenix’s playoff hopes and I cannot wait for the “can the Raptors trade Bargnani, Jose, Julian Wright, Solomon Alabi and the Smith Kid for Nash?” questions. Really. I cannot wait.
Playoffs? Who’s in?
East: Miami, Orlando, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee and two other teams. Really, it’s impossible to say, isn’t it? Health, chemistry, schedule, stuff all play a huge factor. But if you held a gun to my head, and I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t, I’d probably go with Charlotte and one of Indiana-New York-Toronto-Washington. And I have no clue who that’ll be. You guys and gals fight over it.
West: Lakers, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Utah, Portland, Houston, Dallas, Clippers. Told ya I have some love for the Clips but I know they’ll screw it up somehow. The fallback is Phoenix and their Gang Of Small Forwards and I suppose you have to think that Denver at least hangs around until the last couple of weeks.
You know what, someone has to beat the Lakers ‘cause they’re No. 1 going in. I’d expect them to get off to a slow start with Kobe coming back from surgery and the predictable ennui setting in, but who cares? It’s all about May and June to that team and they have more than enough experience to win it all even if they don’t have home court advantage.
The East? Well, it’s easy to pick Miami and you couldn’t argue too hard against it. But, what the heck, I’ve liked Orlando for a couple of years and no sense pulling back now, is there?
So buckle up for the Lakers-Magic next June.
Tomorrow? The Heroes of the Hardcourt.