Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

NBA Preview: (L)Eastern Conference

I'll be honest. I'm not a big NBA fan. In fact, before the Sonics went off last year, my NBA love had reached an all-time low. I had enough of the selfish play, the boring one-on-one matchups, and the reluctance to shoot the ball with any consistency.

Last year, however, was the best NBA year I could remember since MJ inhabited the league. Phoenix almost singlehandedly revitalized the game with their run-and-gun style, shooting the ball well and, with Nash, passing the ball with magical accuracy, finding Amare down low for the slam or Joe Johnson driving down the lane.

Sure, San Antonio ended up winning with the new anti-Christ, Manu Ginobli, and the NBA Finals were terrible, but everything leading up to that in the Western Conference was awesome.

So why in the world do I get stuck writing about the Eastern Conference?

I don't know, but I blame..... global warming.

I mean, what was remarkable about the East last year? You had the brawl to end all brawls, the brilliant combo or Shaq and Wade, Vince Carter rediscovering himself as a superstar once he was traded from Toronto to New Jersey (cementing the NBA stereotype of uncaring players who only want money), LeBron missing the playoffs again, and the nice resurgance in Chicago and Washington.

Miami and Detroit might have been the only teams in the East that would have made the playoffs in the West, which is horrible. For all the talk about the Padres making the playoffs this year, no one complains about the NBA playoffs, which routinely allows sub .500 teams to make the playoffs from the East.

With that in mind, I simply can't take the effort to write in-depth analyses of each team. Plus, I'm horribly unqualified for that task. Reading my analysis of each team would make you dumber for having read them.

So here are MY Eastern Conference Pre-Season Rankings:

1. Miami - Simply based on Shaquille O'Neal and Dwayne Wade. In fact, this team should have gotten to the NBA Finals last year, and would have if Wade hadn't gotten injured. I'm a little wary, though, about whether they will end the season on top simply because of the overabundance of superstars now on the roster. In this day and age, NBA teams are built around 2-3 stars and a bunch of role players. For Miami, where will the ball go? Payton? Antoine? Jason Williams? Or where it SHOULD go, Shaq and Wade?

2. Detroit - I've seen some experts vaulting Indiana to this position, but I don't think that Detroit should be discounted. This is still the best overall team in the conference. They still have Big Ben, Billups, Prince, Rasheed, etc., etc. Meanwhile, Darko has actually shown some signs of life in the post-Brown world. By the way, the Brown loss has been overstated as well. They basically played without him most of last season as he dealt with health problems and disgust with Detroit fans after the brawl.

3. Indiana - This is only true if Jermaine O'Neal remains healthy and Ron Artest keeps it together. They know what it means to play with adversity, and Rick Carlisle is one of the best NBA coaches out there. Besides that, this will be a very, very boring team to watch. Like most of this conference.

4. Cleveland - Why not? LeBron is here, and one year older. He now has help in the form of Larry Hughes and Damon Jones (who, by the way, Miami should have kept). He still has the big Z, letting himself have the big man down low. They might not make it this high, but a playoff miss this year would be a devestating blow.

5. Washington - Give it to Gilbert, who is well on his way to becoming a super-superstar. He could easily average 30 points this year. Jamison is back, and the loss of Hughes will be made up for one year by Daniels (who is still not worth the money, by the way).

6. New Jersey - Prepare for a full year of Jason Kidd, a full year of Richard Jefferson, and a full year of Vince Carter actually caring. This team only has a window of one or two years to make it, so expect these players to really push for home-court advantage.

7. Chicago - The loss of Eddy Curry might be a blow, but this team seemed to get better and better as the year went along under the patient tutelage of Scott Skiles. I like Luol Deng, and I definitely like Ben Gordon, who was just clutch as a rookie. Chandler will provide some bang down low, making this team pretty fun to watch.

8. Philadelphia - This is entirely based on Allen Iverson, who will never have the tag on him that he doesn't care about winning. Igoudala had a great first year, and Samuel Dalembert continues to make great strides in his professional career. The big question will be Kyle Korver, who had a pretty good year but fell apart in the postseason.

The dregs.....

9. Boston - I remember when people put Paul Pierce on a pedestal for coming back from getting stabbed. I thought he was a terrific story. Not anymore. This is a rebuilding team, one that continues to change the plan every month. I won't write on them anymore, but I'm sure that the Sports Guy will more then make up for that.

10. New York - They are the worst team in the East without Larry Brown, who will make a difference. Not a postseason-worthy difference, but a difference. I'm cheering for little-Nate to make a huge splash. I'm jeering for Jerome James to become worthy of that immense contract. He still gets my vote for the all-time laziest Sonics player.

11. Orlando - Is anyone else excited to see what Dwight Howard does this year? I know I am, but there is nothing much else here to watch. Sure, Steve Francis will be good for a new great wins, and Grant Hill will be good for absolutely nothing (if he hasn't retired, I forget), but I'm certainly glad I don't have to pay attention to this team at all.

12. Toronto - Same with this team, who made the absolutely idiotic move of drafting Charlie V. at a position that they already had one Chris Bosh, the only reason to watch this team. Ever. Canada, I'm truly sorry for this team. You deserve better.

13. Milwaukee - This team will be worth watching just to watch the Andrew Bogut show, which, I'm sure, will be an absolute stitch. Unfortunately, the good citizens of Wisconsin won't even have the Packers to distract them from this team.

14. Charlotte - Well, Emeka is there. He's a class act.

15. Atlanta - Joe Johnson will spend his days wandering about muttering the name "Nash". NBA in name only.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:41 PM  0 comments

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