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Letter From The Editor Emeritus What you're about to read... is fucking awesome. It really is. If you love basketball, and you do, because if you didn't, why would you be reading this, it's got the stuff you crave. Stats, analysis, philosophy, meanderings, fictional renderings, it is everything Hardwood Paroxysm has been over five years, condensed into one publication. This season in the NBA has somehow raised the bar. 2011 was a phenomenal year, with the Heat in their first run, the Lakers’ entering as a champion and leaving in shambles, the Spurs' transition to speedball, the Thunder's rise to relevance, and the Mavericks' phenomenal validation of so many careers. 2012 was under the shadow of the lockout, a scorched-earth reality in which only the strongest, the Heat, survived. But this season? You have Durant entering his zenith, Rose returning from injury, the Heat looking to repeat with LeBron in Shiva mode. You have the Lakers as an unstoppable battleship and Boston as the kind of savvy team that fans fall in love with. And yet, at Paroxysm, we always want to talk about the lesser teams. Andre Drummond living up to potential in Detroit. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hustlejunking his way to rebounds and stat-filling on a terrible Charlotte team. Klay Thompson from the perimeter, Ilyasova in the post. Lillard on the break. We're about youth and about upside and about basketball, always, always, always. I hope you enjoy this publication as much as we've enjoyed writing it. So, like, kind of. I want to thank Eric Maroun for his help in organizing the publication of this document and Maddison Bond for his illustrations to bring the spirit of the site to life. I want to thank Jared Dubin and Amin Vafa, co-Editors-in-Chief for helping with keeping this thing on a timeline and solving logistical issues. But mostly I want to thank our extremely talented and hardworking staff for committing to this project. I never thought we'd be able to pull off something like this, and it's a testament to their work ethic that you're reading it now. With that, enjoy the 2012 Hardwood Paroxysm Season Preview. Best, Matt Moore Editor Emeritus Hardwood Paroxysm


Table of Contents Guide to the Preview .............................................................................................................................................................. 4 Atlanta Hawks ......................................................................................................................................................................... 5 Boston Celtics .......................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Brooklyn Nets ........................................................................................................................................................................ 13 Charlotte Bobcats.................................................................................................................................................................. 17 Chicago Bulls ......................................................................................................................................................................... 21 Cleveland Cavaliers ............................................................................................................................................................... 24 Dallas Mavericks ................................................................................................................................................................... 29 Denver Nuggets..................................................................................................................................................................... 33 Detroit Pistons ...................................................................................................................................................................... 38 Golden State Warriors .......................................................................................................................................................... 43 Roundtable Intermission – Rookie Edition ........................................................................................................................... 46 Houston Rockets ................................................................................................................................................................... 49 Indiana Pacers ....................................................................................................................................................................... 53 Los Angeles Clippers.............................................................................................................................................................. 57 Los Angeles Lakers ................................................................................................................................................................ 60 Memphis Grizzlies ................................................................................................................................................................. 64 Miami Heat............................................................................................................................................................................ 68 Milwaukee Bucks .................................................................................................................................................................. 72 Minnesota Timberwolves ..................................................................................................................................................... 75 New Orleans Hornets ............................................................................................................................................................ 79 New York Knicks .................................................................................................................................................................... 82 Roundtable Intermission....................................................................................................................................................... 86 Oklahoma City Thunder ........................................................................................................................................................ 89 Orlando Magic....................................................................................................................................................................... 93 Philadelphia 76ers ................................................................................................................................................................. 96 Phoenix Suns ....................................................................................................................................................................... 100 Portland Trail Blazers .......................................................................................................................................................... 104 Sacramento Kings................................................................................................................................................................ 107 San Antonio Spurs ............................................................................................................................................................... 112 Toronto Raptors .................................................................................................................................................................. 115 Utah Jazz ............................................................................................................................................................................. 118 Washington Wizards ........................................................................................................................................................... 124 HP Season Predictions - Team ............................................................................................................................................ 128 HP Season Predictions – Individual ..................................................................................................................................... 129 Contributors ........................................................................................................................................................................ 130


Guide to the Preview 1. Each team’s final 2011-12 record and division finish. 2. Each team’s current owner, general manager, and coach. 3. Each team’s stats and league rankings for the 201112 season. Ranks of 1-10 in a statistical category are colored green, 11-20 are colored black, and 21-30 are colored red. Stats preceded by “Own” reflect a team’s offensive possessions. Stats preceded by “Opp” reflect a team’s opponents’ possessions. All numbers are courtesy of HoopData.com. Stat definitions: a. Offensive Efficiency: Points scored per 100 possessions. b. Defensive Efficiency: Points allowed per 100 possessions. c. eFG: Effective Field Goal Percentage; a weighted efficiency metric adjusted for three pointers. d. FTR: Free Throw Rate; Calculated as free throws attempted/field goals attempted. e. TOR: Turnover Rate; Percentage of possessions ending in a turnover. f. ORR: Offensive Rebound Rate; Percentage of offensive rebounds grabbed by a team. 4. “Free Agents – Signed” includes the player’s previous team in parentheses. “Free Agents – Lost” includes the player’s new team for 2012-13. “Draft Picks” includes a player’s draft position. 5. Each team’s salary obligations through the 2016-17 season. All salary figures are courtesy of HoopsHype.com and StorytellersContracts.info, and players are listed at each position in order of the team’s projected depth chart. Note: Salaries and depth chart information is accurate as of posting, but may change when roster cuts are made on 10/29. Additionally, each team will have a section titled Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball which addresses an overarching question surrounding the team along with a selection of three of the following ten sections: Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? – A description of hurdles facing the team Freakish Numbers And I Don't Mean That Dirty Number 8 – An odd or interesting stat about the team Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven – Each team’s best case and worst case scenarios for the upcoming year Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It's Trollin' For... – A rant about a player or coach who may be SOL Mystery Statistics Theater – A blind statistical comparison between a player on the team and another NBA player Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks – A highlighting of the worst aspect about a team I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream – A bizarre occurrence that would change the team Listen All Y'all This Is Sabotage - We’re not saying this player/coach/exec. is a double-agent, but if he were... MVM: Most Valuable Meme – Anything that the team or a player on the team does which could become a meme The Transcendent and Wonderful – A highlighting of a certain player on a team in a unique way We hope that you enjoy the preview, and please let any of us on the staff know if you have any corrections to it.


Atlanta Hawks (40-26, 2nd in Southeast)

MANAGEMENT Owner Michael Gearon

GM Danny Ferry

Coach Larry Drew

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 102.4 14th

Own eFG 98.6 6th

Own FTR 50.02 8th

Own TOR 48.00 10th

Own ORR 25.9 21st

Def Eff 24.7 6th

Opp eFG 13.39 12th

Opp FTR 14.38 6th

Opp TOR 23.87 26th

Opp ORR 25.63 7th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Lou Williams (PHI)

Free Agents –Lost Jason Collins (BOS) Kirk Hinrich (CHI) Jannero Pargo (WAS) Vladimir Radmanovic (CHI) Jerry Stackhouse (BRK)

Player Jeff Teague Devin Harris

2012-13 $2,433,077 $8,500,000

Anthony Morrow Lou Williams John Jenkins James Anderson

$4,000,000 $5,000,000 $1,204,560 $854,389

Kyle Korver DeShawn Stevenson

$5,000,000 $2,240,450

Josh Smith Jordan Williams

$13,200,000 $762,195

Al Horford $12,000,000 Zaza Pachulia $5,248,750 Johan Petro $3,500,000 2012-2013 Salary: $61,524,831

Draft Picks John Jenkins (23rd) Mike Scott (43rd)

  

Trades Acquired Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro, and a 2017 second-round pick from Brooklyn for Joe Johnson. Acquired Devin Harris from Utah for Marvin Williams. Acquired the rights to Sofoklis Schortsanitis from LA Clippers for Willie Green. Acquired Kyle Korver from Chicago for a trade exception and cash considerations.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $0 $0 $3,469,568 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES

2016-17 $0 $0

Total $2,433,077 $8,500,000 $4,000,000 $15,675,000 $6,004,305 $854,389

$5,225,000 $5,450,000 $0 $0 $1,258,800 $1,312,920 $2,228,025 $3,241,776 $0 $0 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $5,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $7,621,350 $2,240,450 $2,240,450 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $13,200,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $884,293 $0 $0 $0 $1,646,488 CENTER - SALARIES $48,000,000 $12,000,000 $12,000,000 $12,000,000 $0 $5,248,750 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,500,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $3,480,831


Atlanta Hawks 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Amin Vafa The Hawks underwent a HUMONGOUS change this summer. Joe Johnson wasn't just the iconic face of the franchise for the past seven years, but he was also the proud recipient of the second-largest contract in the NBA (#1 belongs to Mr. Bean, of course). And look, I like Joe. I really do. But he embodied the thing that was off with this Hawks team for so many years: they were good, but they weren't good enough. They plateaued at 4th-best in the East, and a lot of that (good and bad) was due to Joe Johnson. Danny Ferry came in as the new GM this summer and, after 5 years hanging around in the middle of the Eastern conference, Ferry decided to go for it: trade Johnson, get worse, make the team more flexible so it could get better and form a more cohesive core. Except that didn't exactly happen. You see, Danny Ferry made a few more trades. He traded Marvin Williams for Devin Harris, and he traded (sort of) Kirk Hinrich for Kyle Korver, signed Lou Williams to be a great 6th man, and he managed to turn Joe Johnson into (as it stands now) DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow, and Johan Petro. Doesn't sound like much, but it was some greatly needed cap relief for JJ. But the rest of the pickups kind of make the Hawks an exciting team. I mean, at least one with potential. They've been without a promising point guard forever, essentially. They had Mike Bibby for a spell, but that didn't work out as well as they'd wanted it to. Jeff Teague did a nice job last year, but he's still young and needs to find his bearings coming off the bench for a little while longer. Devin Harris is different. He's been an intriguing talent since he went 5th overall to the Wizards (traded to the Mavericks) in the 2004 draft, but he's turned into something of a journeyman. But pairing him with shooters like Korver and Morrow on the wings, with smallball-before-it-was-cool-to-be-smallball bruisers like Josh Smith and Al Horford in the frontcourt? Plus DeShawn Stevenson, a decent shooter and a dogged defender coming off the bench, along with the aforementioned Sweet Lou Williams? I was totally prepared for this team to be terrible. Now I'm prepared for it to blow me away. Come on, Hawks. Let's see what you got.

Listen All Y’all This Is Sabotage by Noam Schiller If you were a double agent trying to subtly destroy the 2009-2012 Hawks from within, how would you do that? You would have to play very well. You can’t gain control without first gaining trust. Perhaps by acting as an incredibly effective defender, since that’s the sort of acumen that often gets lost in mainstream analysis but endears those who frequent your half-empty arena. You would score a lot so you would win ball-handling duties, and then you’d keep the ball for long possessions, ensuring that you have total control over who else gets a turn. You would threaten to leave the team for no compensation once you became a free agent. You would remind them – extremely politely, of course, because you “love the franchise” – that you will only stay for a max deal. You will get it, and cripple the team’s cap situation. You will leverage the legitimacy gained by your income into more control over the offense.


You would ensure that Jeff Teague doesn’t get enough of an opportunity to claim his own control over the fortunes of the offense, and that Al Horford – an elite player that depends on your passes because of what his position dictates – gets just enough touches for you to escape critique, but not enough to lift the team above where you deem fit. You would teach Josh Smith to shoot more jumpers. You would conveniently disappear in the playoffs, because, hey, “we just played a better team.” I’m not saying Joe Johnson was a double agent. But if he were, he would do everything exactly the same. Right down to making sure the Hawks acquire Johan Petro and DeShawn Stevenson as he left.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Matt Moore In the earliest cave drawings, Josh Smith was depicted with a spear in one hand and a can of motor oil in the other. Egyptian hieroglyphs illustrated the Hawks power forward with two heads, one of the serpent and one of the ass. Roman tablets would later reference a figure known only as the Emperor's Hunter, who could chase down any man or beast throughout the Empire, but who fell out of favor for routinely getting distracted with other selfish pursuits. And 16th century London folktales tell of a man who would snatch robbers from the night, but in the act of returning the goods, destroy the victim's homes. Josh Smith can save the Hawks. Josh Smith can destroy the Hawks. So it goes, so it has gone, so it shall go. I find that people's opinion of Josh Smith is dependent more heavily than other players on what precise moment you catch him in, and the duration. Too much exposure, like radiation, or the stylings of the Black Keys, turns you into a despondent and downhearted individual. Brief exposure under the right setting, though, and it's like sunlight for your soul, a veritable cornucopia of post play and devastating cuts. He can dominate in the post as well as LeBron, slice on and off ball like young Vince Carter, and fill up a stat sheet like his long lost brother in FreeDarkodom Gerald Wallace. But the jumper. That Goddamn mid-range 18-foot jumper. If Carmelo Anthony's game is wounded by his penchant for that shot, Smith's is poisoned by it. Its temptation and inefficiency surging through his blood like a toxin mixed in with the radioactive hulk blood that fuels the rest of his game. If he is able to expunge it, if Jeff Teague is able to bring out the good in him like Luke Skywalker to Smith's Vader, then the Hawks could be something entirely different. But he won't though. And in the end, the same will be written of Smith that is always written of him. Josh Smith made the Hawks. Josh Smith destroyed the Hawks.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Sean Highkin The Hawks’ biggest hurdle to reaching true relevance isn’t their own fault. They just happen to play in the same division as the Miami Heat. They play in the same conference as the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, too, but it’s mostly the Heat. This year’s Hawks team has the same ceiling as every Hawks team of the last half-decade—a seed between four and six and a first or second-round exit, which is a shame because it doesn’t do justice to the moves made this summer by new GM Danny Ferry. It also doesn’t do justice to the how much more fun to watch these Hawks will be than the Iso-Joe bunch. This is a team that boasts a more liberated Jeff Teague with license to run the offense, a healthy Al Horford down low, Josh Smith in a contract year (REPEAT: Josh Smith in a contract year!!!!!), and arguably the two best three-point shooters in the NBA in


Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow. For the first time in a long time, the phrases “This Hawks team is really intriguing” and “I’m going to be watching a lot of Atlanta games on League Pass” are not asking for nervous laughs or blank stares. But none of it matters, because there’s no way this team will give the Heat a scare. It’s not a fair standard to hold the Hawks (or anyone) to, but it’s the simple, grim reality of the new NBA. By virtue of not having LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on their team, the Hawks are right back where they started: in the middle of the pack. At least this time, the march to mediocrity will be enjoyable.


Boston Celtics (39-27, 1st in Atlantic)

MANAGEMENT Owner Irving Grousbeck

GM Danny Ainge

Coach Doc Rivers

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 98.9 24th

Own eFG 95.5 2nd

Own FTR 49.60 10th

Own TOR 45.21 2nd

Own ORR 25.7 22nd

Def Eff 28.5 20th

Opp eFG 14.74 25th

Opp FTR 14.88 4th

Opp TOR 19.74 30th

Opp ORR 27.58 20th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Leandro Barbosa (IND) Jason Collins (ATL) Darko Milicic (MIN) Jason Terry (DAL)

Free Agents –Lost

Draft Picks

Ray Allen (MIA)

Jared Sullinger (21st)

Marquis Daniels (MIL) Ryan Hollins (LAC) Jermaine O’Neal (PHX) Greg Stiemsma (MIN)

Fab Melo (22nd) Kris Joseph (51st)

Trades

Acquired Courtney Lee from Houston for JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, and a 2013 second-round draft pick.

Player Rajon Rondo Avery Bradley

2012-13 $11,000,000 $1,630,000

Courtney Lee Jason Terry Leandro Barbosa

$5,000,000 $5,000,000

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $11,954,545 $12,909,091 $0 $2,511,432 $3,581,302 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $5,225,000 $5,450,000 $5,675,000 $5,225,000 $5,450,000 $0

Paul Pierce Jeff Green Kris Joseph

2016-17 $0 $0

Total $35,863,636 $4,141,432

$0 $0

$21,350,000 $15,675,000

$16,790,345 $8,375,000 $473,604

SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $15,333,334 $0 $0 $8,791,667 $9,208,333 $9,625,000 $788,872 $0 $0

$0 $0 $0

$32,123,679 $36,000,000 $1,262,476

Brandon Bass Jared Sullinger

$6,000,000

POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $6,450,000 $6,900,000 $0

$0

$1,306,920

$1,365,720

$19,350,000 $6,356,420

Chris Wilcox

$1,352,181

Kevin Garnett $11,566,265 Fab Melo $1,254,270 Darko Milicic $1,229,255 2012-2013 Salary: $72,030,593

$1,414,520

$2,269,260

$3,270,003

$1,352,181 $0 $0 $0 CENTER – SALARIES $36,010,000 $12,443,735 $12,000,000 $0 $0 $6,182,828 $1,311,240 $1,367,640 $2,249,768 $3,257,662 $1,229,255 $0 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $13,986,593 $0


Boston Celtics 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Scott Leedy Absent of any connotation or descriptions of their play, the Celtics have had a good thing going for the last 4 seasons. Sure, the last two years have ended in losses to the Heat, but neither defeat is something to be ashamed of. They were beaten by better, younger, more talented teams. Besides, the 2012 season was supposed to be the last push. The final gasp. The farewell tour for a short-lived but powerful, gritty, and always compelling “super team”. After the year was over, many expected something of a reboot. Yes, Garnett had been reborn over the second half of the season, but it seemed time to answer the ever present question: could Boston’s acerbic, temperamental point guard carry the franchise? Was it time to let Garnett walk, bring in younger, more athletic players that could meet Rondo’s pace, allow him to flourish with personnel better suited to a freer more open style of play. Of course, Danny Ainge rarely does the expected. He brought back Garnett, let Ray Allen leave for South Beach, re-signed Jeff Green and brought on Jason Terry (who is OLD). There would be no reboot, no revolution, and no upheaval. Just a redesign, a shift, an adjustment here and there. It’s easy to criticize the decision making, to call into question commitment to a team that is old, fragile, and not likely to contend. I wrote on Twitter that maybe the overarching question for the Celtics’ season is, “REALLY? AGAIN?” But I think that’s too simplistic. The Celtics weren’t going to truly compete with or without Garnett. And for all the questions we have about Rajon Rondo, maybe the Celtics are confident they know what they have. Yes, they will play ugly. Yes, most of you are bound to complain, and whine about how “awful they are”. But we still get Rajon Rondo’s dismissive, idiosyncratic, pterodactyl-armed brilliance. We still have Doc Rivers’ steady, strategic and emotional mastery of a basketball team. Maybe you’re annoyed by Garnett’s antics at this point; maybe you can’t stand Paul Pierce’s style of play. Maybe Rajon Rondo’s “coasting” through some games bothers you .But for better or worse they’re still around, and they still have a chance to be relevant. So for this season at least, maybe the only question for the Celtics is, “AGAIN??? Why not?”

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Eric Maroun Few players in the NBA are as polarizing as Kevin Garnett. For 12 long years, he toiled in the frigid state known as Minnesota playing for a Timberwolves team which you could set your watch to nearly every spring for a first round playoff exit. For seven consecutive years – from 1997-2003 – this was the case. While Tracy McGrady has seemingly long reigned as the poster child for the player unable to venture into the second round, the Celtics’ playoff success since he was traded to Boston prior to the 2007-08 season has obscured the fact that Garnett carried the same stigma. As a result of his stint in the North Star State, Garnett became a sympathetic figure in many NBA circles. All we wanted was to see KG on a bigger stage. Following the Celtics championship win in 2008 over the Lakers, Garnett further endeared himself to fans as his raw emotion was on full display when he belted out the primal scream of “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLLE” and gave Bill Russell a bear hug while saying, “I hope we made you proud.” For many, this was the culmination of both years of losing and years of frustration. Kevin Garnett had finally gotten his. Fast forward to 2012, and the public opinion on KG has largely swung the other way. Now he is portrayed as a dog whose bark is far worse than his bite, someone who an anonymous NBA player in an April 2011 ESPN The Magazine


piece described by saying, “You can learn a lot about him by watching his eyes. If he's talking to you, and he's always talking, he avoids eye contact. My advice to other guys in the league: Stare him down, and he'll retreat. From what I've seen, he'll never mix it up with a player who's bigger than he is. Personally, I think he's scared to fight.” His act of swatting the ball heading for the rim following a foul call is seen by some as trifling, many as annoying, and practically everyone as played out. Then, this summer provided us with the pièce de résistance of Garnett’s – to borrow a professional wrestling term – heel ways. At the Celtics media day in late September, Garnett revealed that following Ray Allen’s decision to sign as a free agent with Miami, he had deleted Allen’s number from his cell phone. When I first heard this story, I racked my brain trying to think of my 18 years of schooling from kindergarten through my Master’s program if I had ever heard anything as petty as this; to the shock of no one, I came up empty. Seriously Boston; this is your vocal leader? This is the guy that you’re going to war with this year? A guy who more and more is akin to Mean Girls than Mean Green? Good luck with that. All I’m saying is that if that’s the centerpiece of your alleged title contending team, well, that sucks.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Danny Chau I had a dream that Jeff Green was James Worthy and the Celtics won a bunch of championships because he was James Worthy. Oh, wait. That wasn’t my dream. Folks speak of Jeff Green like they do of socialism. And it’s always a bit disappointing when theories don’t quite work out in practice – and is Jeff Green much more than a theory? Something about Jeff Green elicits a very specific reaction from fans. He inspires hope in the many things he can do on the court. He’s also critically panned for the many things he can’t do well. There is a bit of a gulf between expectation and reality, though you can hardly blame Celtics fans for keeping the faith. Green’s versatility is his calling card, and if the coaching staff is serious in its assertions that he can play some point guard, acquiring all three of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Leandro Barbosa makes a bit more sense. On a team (still) full of aging veterans, Green’s athleticism – which is good, but a bit overblown by commentators around the league – will make Rajon Rondo’s job a little easier. The dunks he will inevitably get on the run will be a welcome respite from all the midrange jumpers the team will continue to take. But if they wanted a versatile athlete with everything to prove, they could have drafted Perry Jones III instead of Fab Melo. And really, what is Green but a shorter, way less athletic Jones with a much fatter contract? PJ3 learning from Kevin Garnett. Jones catching lobs from Rondo. Jones quickly gaining the adoration of the Boston fan base being the team’s most freakish athlete since Ricky Davis. Jones sharing the mantle with Rondo as the future of the Celtics’ storied franchise. OK, now we’re in my dream.

Listen All Y’all This Is Sabotage by Steve McPherson Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry is dating a woman named Ellen (played by Ben Stiller’s future wife, Christine Taylor) who seems genuinely great at first, but is mysteriously pegged as a loser by all of Jerry’s friends? We can’t see it, and Jerry can’t see it, and so he starts trying to figure out why her friends say things like, “It is so sweet


of you to take her out.” Basically, in this equation, Jerry is the Boston Celtics and everyone else is every fan of every team that’s had Darko Milicic on it. It seems oddly fitting that Darko has threatened to kill someone if necessary to make an impact on the game because so far, to paraphrase Ned Flanders’s father, he’s tried nothing and he’s all out of ideas. Celtics fans look at this signing as inconsequential, a guy to hold down the end of the bench; and I pray to all that is holy they’re right, for their sakes. Maybe it’s possible that if Darko doesn’t play a minute this year and he won’t have an effect on the team, but I doubt it. He’s a walking, talking (well, slouching, grumbling) black hole of enthusiasm death. He’s a concentrated poison, and here’s the thing about poison: you don’t have to take a big honking dose, just a couple parts per million. Nothing craters team belief like one guy who just won’t buy in. I’ve worked with people like that, and you probably have, too. That one guy who’s always having the worst day and carrying it into work? The girl who does nothing but complain? You laugh it off. Hell, most of the time they’re not even complaining about work and it doesn’t affect you, right? Except for all that time you spend talking about them instead of working. Except for that. And then suddenly you’re fighting for home court advantage in the playoffs and there’s Darko looking glum, saying “I told you so.” Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.


Brooklyn Nets (22-44, 5th in Atlantic)

MANAGEMENT Owner Mikhail Prokhorov

GM Billy King

Coach Avery Johnson

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 99.7 23rd

Own eFG 106.9 29th

Own FTR 47.28 24th

Own TOR 51.31 29th

Own ORR 26.9 17th

Def Eff 28.2 19th

Opp eFG 14.33 22nd

Opp FTR 13.68 17th

Opp TOR 27.82 10th

Opp ORR 29.33 28th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed

Free Agents –Lost

Andray Blatche (WAS)

Sundiata Gaines (IND)

Jerry Stackhouse (ATL) Mirza Teletovic (Europe) C.J. Watson (CHI)

Gerald Green (IND) DeShawn Stevenson (ATL)

Player Deron Williams C.J. Watson Tyshawn Taylor

2012-13 $17,177,795 $992,860 $473,604

Joe Johnson MarShon Brooks Keith Bogans

$19,752,645 $1,160,040 $1,229,255

Gerald Wallace Jerry Stackhouse Tornike Shengelia

$9,682,435 $1,352,191 $473,604

Kris Humphries Mirza Teletovic

$12,000,000 $3,090,000

Brook Lopez $13,668,570 Reggie Evans $1,622,617 2012-2013 Salary: $82,675,606

Draft Picks Tyshawn Taylor (41st via trade) Tornike Shengelia (54th via trade) Ilkan Karaman (57th)

Trades Acquired Joe Johnson from Atlanta for Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro and a 2017 second-round pick. Acquired Reggie Evans from LA Clippers for the right to swap 2016 second-round draft picks.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $98,772,325 $18,754,465 $19,754,465 $21,042,800 $22,331,135 $2,099,801 $1,106,941 $0 $0 $0 $1,262,476 $788,872 $1,115,243 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $89,295,016 $21,466,718 $23,180,790 $24,894,863 $0 $4,318,773 $1,210,080 $1,768,653 $3,377,354 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,229,255 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $40,000,000 $10,105,855 $10,105,855 $10,105,855 $0 $1,352,191 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,262,476 $788,872 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $24,000,000 $12,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $3,229,050 $3,368,100 $4,210,125 $0 $9,687,150 CENTER – SALARIES $60,825,938 $14,963,906 $15,719,063 $16,744,219 $0 $5,086,905 $1,695,635 $1,768,653 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $24,631,606


Brooklyn Nets 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Sean Highkin Get ready to get really, really sick of the "Which team rules New York?" storyline this season. That this is even a factor is astounding given the Nets' historic futility, but the Mikhail Prokhorov/Jay-Z regime isn't the New Jersey Nets of old anymore. They're in Brooklyn now, with a state-of-the-art arena, sweet new uniforms, and an elite point guard finally surrounded with real talent. The mere fact that Deron Williams chose to re-up with the Nets rather than play with Dirk Nowitzki in his native Dallas, as well as the badly-kept secret that Brooklyn was Dwight Howard's preferred landing spot, says everything that needs to be said about the position this franchise now occupies in NBA culture. As for that new talent: Joe Johnson gets a lot of flak for having probably the worst contract in the league, but he is by a considerable distance the best backcourt partner D-Will has ever played with. Gerald Wallace, acquired at last year's trade deadline and re-signed in July, was also overpaid but can still contribute at a high level, especially on defense. Brook Lopez can also basically be viewed as an offseason addition, as he missed all but five games last season. He can't rebound, but he's one of the most offensively gifted centers in the game. The caveat here is the sheer amount of money the Nets committed to players this summer. Between Williams' five-year max deal, Lopez' hefty rookie extension, Wallace's $40 million new deal, and the trade for Johnson, the Nets have zero breathing room for the next half decade. This is their team, for now and for later. Luckily, it's a pretty good one, and should compete for home-court advantage in the East for the foreseeable future.

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Jared Dubin You are no longer the New Jersey Nets. You will not play your games in a decrepit stadium in the middle of a swamp that has basically no access through public transportation. You have exited NBA purgatory. You play in Brooklyn now. You have a fancy new arena in an up-and-coming area of New York City (even if you had to demolish residential housing to get it, and have yet build the replacement residential housing you promised). Your uniforms are no longer a splish-splash of red, white and blue, but rather a sleek and simplistic black and white. Your fresh new gear is flying off the shelves of every Modell’s in the city. Your team is massively improved. Your point guard is elite. Your shooting guard is one of the best in the league. Your small forward is as solid as they come. Your power forward is a terrific rebounder. Your center scores with the best of them. Your bench is no longer a laughingstock. You have cache. You’ll be on national TV. Your rapper/part-owner will probably even show up to some of his own team’s games this year. But… you’re still the Nets. You’ll never truly own the city that has had Knickerbocker-blue blood since 1946. Like the Mets, Jets and Islanders, you’ve always come second, and probably always will. Brooklyn’s hip and all, but it ain’t Broadway (to be fair, neither are the Knicks, but this is my section, damn it). Your elite point guard hasn’t really been elite since he came to your team a year and a half ago. Your shooting guard is hilariously overpaid, on the wrong side of 30, and isn’t Dwight Howard, the guy you really wanted this offseason. Your small forward is also overpaid, is in decline, and used to be a Bobcat. Your power forward is basically a Kardashian. And your center grabs more comic books than rebounds, and is so bad at defense that he can’t even defend himself from that terrible joke. Your bench consists of


vaguely valuable cast-offs, an unknown Euro-dude and Jerry Stackhouse. And Avery Johnson still has a really annoying voice. You're capped out from now until eternity with a team that isn't quite a contender. Prokhorov can needle Jimmy Dolan and the team across town all he wants. You can strike up rivalries from now until forever. It won’t matter. You’re still the Nets.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Amin Vafa NEW ARENAAAAAAA! NEW LOCATIONNNNNNNN! NEW ROSTERRRRRR! NEW JERSEYYYYYYSSSS (oh, not that kind. Sorry for the reminder, people from the Jerz)! It’s a new season with a lot of changes for the Nets. Did you know they moved from Newark to Brooklyn? To someone who doesn’t live in the NY/NJ vicinity, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But apparently that’s like a whole different place. And they have a whole different roster now, too. A new and improved and tech-savvy Deron Williams, a Gerald Wallace that was traded for Dame Lillard, and Joe “I make more money than HOVA, but I’ll probably commute from Patterson” Johnson. Oh, and did you know they got Dwight Howard? Wait, they didn’t get him? After all that hubbub? And they just re-signed Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez instead? Oh, I guess that’s cool too. Totally the same. Well, that’ll all probably be OK. I mean, Sir Charles thinks they’re much better than the star-studded Knicks And he thinks the Humphries/Lopez signings were underrated. Like, as underrated as a no-other-option-but-to-overpay pair of singings could be. First team in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left? That’s a big deal. I mean, when has New York City ever caught a break? Jay-Z has likened their move to Brooklyn as part of his personal fulfillment of the American Dream. And their manager Billy King thinks they’re title contenders. I mean, not like title title contenders, right? Oh no, he does. Never mind. As easy as it would have been to write this entire section about Kris Humphries (look at that title! It was staring me in the face!), the Nets’ hubris could make things in Brooklyn uglier than they anticipate. It’s almost as if expectations are being heightened this season.

The Transcendent and Wonderful by Connor Huchton So you’re Brook Lopez, and everyone knows you can’t rebound. You were an acceptable rebounder for two seasons, but after an awful season on the glass and a year mostly lost to injury, your weaknesses have moved to the forefront. You’re Brook Lopez, and everyone knows you can’t rebound. But maybe you can rebound. Maybe those first two seasons were indicative of the rebounder you’ll be over the course of your career. Maybe you’ll even improve as a rebounder, progressing from questionably passable to good and maybe all the way to great. But probably not. You’re Brook Lopez, and everyone knows you can’t rebound. It’s worth noting that you can score, and score very well. Everyone knows you can score, though not quite efficiently enough to eradicate the elephant standing and screaming elephant noises in the proverbial room of rebounding. Scoring is useful, but you’re a center. You should be rebounding, and then defending, and then maybe scoring, if you’re up to it. Oh, and we haven’t even talked about your defense yet. It’s anywhere from bad to fine, depending on which metric the person deciding espouses. But it’s firmly not in the positive camp, so let’s focus on it. If you can’t improve your defense,


how can you be considered highly in the ordering of centers on a traditional basis? Your weaknesses don’t fit the mold, and that’s a problem. Everyone knows you play like a guard. So you’re a great scorer who can’t rebound or defend well enough to deflect attention. You’re an object of scrutiny and widely considered overpaid. Every moment of this season will scream with fateful impact for you and your team. You will likely struggle to replace the negative with the positive. Because you’re Brook Lopez, and everyone knows you can’t rebound or defend quite well enough. You can’t be placed in a ‘top tier’ without these attributes. Or can you?

Source: Basketball-Reference.com


Charlotte Bobcats (7-59, 5th in Southeast)

MANAGEMENT Owner Michael Jordan

GM Rich Cho

Coach Mike Dunlap

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 92.3 30th

Own eFG 107.8 30th

Own FTR 43.92 30th

Own TOR 51.21 28th

Own ORR 27.6 14th

Def Eff 27.5 15th

Opp eFG 13.88 16th

Opp FTR 12.80 27th

Opp TOR 23.59 27th

Opp ORR 29.12 27th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Brendan Haywood (DAL) Ramon Sessions (LAL)

Free Agents –Lost D.J. Augustin (IND)

Player Ramon Sessions Kemba Walker

2012-13 $5,000,000 $2,532,060

Gerald Henderson Ben Gordon Reggie Williams Matt Carroll

$3,101,326 $12,400,000 $2,500,000 $3,500,000

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Jeffery Taylor

$4,602,720 $550,000

Byron Mullens Tyrus Thomas

$2,253,061 $8,000,000

Bismack Biyombo $3,007,920 Brendan Haywood $2,000,000 DeSagana Diop $7,372,200 2012-2013 Salary: $56,703,129

Draft Picks Michael Kidd-Gilchrist  (2nd) Jeffery Taylor (31st)

Trades Acquired Ben Gordon and a future firstround draft choice from Detroit for Corey Maggette.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $10,000,000 $5,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $2,709,720 $3,452,183 $4,677,708 $0 $8,693,963 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $3,101,326 $4,267,424 $0 $0 $0 $25,600,000 $13,200,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,500,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,500,000 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $20,760,924 $4,809,840 $5,016,960 $6,331,404 $8,262,481 $2,254,115 $788,872 $915,243 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $2,253,061 $3,293,975 $0 $0 $0 $8,694,215 $9,388,430 $0 $0 $26,082,465 CENTER – SALARIES $10,312,053 $3,217,680 $4,086,453 $5,479,933 $0 $6,000,000 $2,000,000 $2,000,000 $0 $0 $7,372,200 $0 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 UNDER Salary Cap By: $1,340,871


Charlotte Bobcats 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Connor Huchton Every Bobcats preview you’ll read will begin and likely end with a rightfully bleak outlook; sprinkled with glimmers of hope but ultimately nebulous and depressing. And that’s fine. The 2012-2013 Bobcats will not be a good team, just as most Bobcats squads have not been good teams in the franchise’s short, troubled history. But a bleak past and an – at best – uncertain future are not enough to erase what makes this Bobcat team interesting and dynamic enough to receive the average fan’s momentary attention. Unlike last year’s team, which rode unceasing hopelessness and ineptitude towards the saving grace of a high-lottery pick, these Bobcats are in many areas competent and fun. Bismack Biyombo is one of the league’s foremost emerging shot blockers and help defenders. Kemba Walker’s potential as a scorer remains sizable if not vast. Michael KiddGilchrist can pass, defend, and rebound with the aplomb of a veteran, which gives him a positive distinction apart from nearly every other rookie in his class. Ramon Sessions is an acceptable distributor and scorer, Brendan Haywood still possesses enough defending prowess to occasionally anchor the team, Ben Gordon can provide scoring for a team that’s desperately needed it, and Gerald Henderson’s particular brand of underrated defense and mid-range shooting is an enjoyable change-of-pace to the Bobcats’ myriad collection of players. And so there are reasons to watch this Bobcats’ team and wait for another high-lottery pick or some other untold basketball hero to arrive in Charlotte. A bad team can grow while it waits, slowly improving until the time comes when a player arrives who can transform the franchise. That transformative player may already be in Charlotte, under the acronym MKG, or he may arrive at a later time. But with clever management, principled coaching, and an everadvancing supporting cast in tow, the Bobcats are changing now, and for the better.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by James Herbert Had the strangest dream. Kemba Walker was on TV accepting his Most Improved Player award. I know. It really shouldn’t go to second-year guys. But apparently he led all point guards in scoring thanks to Derrick Rose’s injury and Russell Westbrook’s decision to go all Wilt Chamberlain on everybody and lead the league in assists. Apparently Walker was so good that the Bobcats traded Ramon Sessions to the Knicks for Rasheed Wallace, who became fast friends with Bismack Biyombo. Anyway, what’s weirder than Walker winning is who he thanked at the podium: his hypnotist. Walker said that he didn’t want to say anything about his secret weapon until he knew the NBA world was focused on him, and it was finally time to give credit where it was due. He said that, with a hypnotist’s help, he never once saw a Charlotte Bobcats jersey in his sophomore season, despite playing all 82 games and averaging 36 minutes a night. All he saw were UConn jerseys. The hypnotist came recommended by Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap, who wanted Walker to go back to the fearless, attacking leader he was as a senior in college. Walker initially resisted any kind of hypnosis, citing an incident at student orientation as a freshman, but when teammate Ben Gordon was leading the NBA in scoring two weeks into November the point guard could no longer ignore his coach’s plea.


The transformation was absolute. No longer did Walker have trouble with decision-making. No longer did he secondguess himself about attacking the basket and thus, when he got there, he finished around bigger players with confidence and ease. I guess Walker wasn’t too small or too shoot-first. I guess Walker’s game was NBA-ready. I guess his problems were all in his head.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It’s Trollin’ For Thee by Steve McPherson I have a sad confession to make. I wrote a lovely little chunk of words about what I thought would be the dominant meme for Charlotte’s season this year: Anthony Davis’ unibrow. I honestly think it was pretty funny, a good fluffy tongue-in-cheek piece that involved batsigns and marketing tie-ins with the Canadian beermaker Unibroue. And then the other HP writers helpfully pointed out that I had written about the Hornets, who had left Charlotte ten years ago. I was incredulous. What were they going to tell me next? That the Royals are leaving Rochester? Beaten but unbowed, I popped open Wikipedia to learn something about these Charlotte Bobcats, but of course, like many others on Wikipedia, the page was riddled with errors. Take the first sentence: ‘The Charlotte Bobcats are a professional basketball team based in Charlotte, North Carolina.” Plus it says here they’re owned by the greatest player to ever play the game and yet posted a winning percentage last year of .119. Doesn’t seem possible. Oh wait: so being terribly awful was all part of the plan to secure the number one pick in the NBA Draft? Well, I don’t know if that’s a great plan, but at least it’s a plan. So who’d they get with the number one pick? Oh, I see. Voltaire said, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” I think I’d say, “If God did not exist, the 2012-13 Charlotte Bobcats.”

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Eric Maroun Seven. Seven wins in 66 games. One for every day of the week. And honestly, with a 0-3 record in Sunday games and no Thursday primetime games scheduled last year (because let’s be honest, we all know TNT wasn’t touching this team with a ten foot pole), even that may be a tad misleading. Yes, the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats were often catastrophic, occasionally hilarious, and consistently unwatchable. Michael Jordan’s competitiveness is well documented, and you couldn’t help but get the feeling that if anyone wanted to be the best at being the worst, it was him. Well, mission accomplished, MJ. Despite zero teams with the worst record in league actually landing the number one draft pick in the NBA Lottery from 2005-2011, Bobcats fans – both of them – dreamed of landing prized one-and-done star Anthony Davis. When the ping pong balls bounced New Orleans’s way, it marked the Bobcats’ 60th loss of the season. Instead, they landed Davis’s college teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a perfectly fine young player who comes into the league with the reputation as “a guy that just wins at every level.” Definitely not a bad reputation to have, but there are a lot of guys who would look great and develop the same reputation playing alongside the likes of Kyrie Irving in high school and a record five other draft picks from the same class like MKG did at Kentucky. To his credit, Kidd-Gilchrist is a terrific wing defender and is able to score the ball well in transition and off of cuts when being fed by good point guard play. Luckily for him, he landed with Charlotte who boasts…*looks at depth chart* *wipes eyes* *looks at depth chart again* Ramon Sessions as a starter. Yes, Charlotte will begin the season with Ramon Sessions, a player who opted out of a $4.55 million deal with the title contending Lakers to test the free agent waters before landing with the worst team in the history of the NBA, as


their primary decision maker on offense. Sessions will take the reins of an offense that finished dead last in the league in field goals made, field goal percentage, three point shooting, points scored, overall +/-, offensive rating, efficient field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage last year. It’s going to be another long year in Charlotte because let’s face it, this team sucks.


Chicago Bulls (50-16, 1st in Central)

MANAGEMENT Owner Jerry Reinsdorf

GM Gar Forman

Coach Tom Thibodeau

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 104.5 5th

Own eFG 95.3 1st

Own FTR 49.00 14th

Own TOR 44.95 1st

Own ORR 25.5 24th

Def Eff 23.6 3rd

Opp eFG 13.19 8th

Opp FTR 12.77 28th

Opp TOR 32.63 1st

Opp ORR 25.73 8th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents – Signed Marco Belinelli (NOH) Kirk Hinrich (ATL) Nazr Mohammed (OKC) Vladimir Radmanovic (ATL) Nate Robinson (GSW)

Free Agents –Lost Omer Asik (HOU) Ronnie Brewer (NYK) John Lucas III (TOR) C.J. Watson (BKN)

Player Derrick Rose Kirk Hinrich Marquis Teague

2012-13 $16,402,552 $3,941,000 $857,000

Richard Hamilton Marco Belinelli Nate Robinson

$5,000,000 $1,957,000 $1,146,337

Luol Deng Jimmy Butler

$13,305,000

Carlos Boozer Taj Gibson

$15,000,000 $2,155,811

Vladimir Radmanovic

$1,352,181

$1,097,520

Joakim Noah $11,300,000 Nazr Mohammed $1,352,181 2012-2013 Salary: $74,693,445

Draft Picks Marquis Teague (29th)

Trades

Acquired a trade exception and cash considerations from Atlanta for Kyle Korver.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $17,632,743 $18,862,935 $20,093,126 $4,059,000 $0 $0 $1,074,720 $1,120,920 $2,023,260 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $5,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $14,275,000 $0 $0 $1,174,080 $2,119,214 $3,178,821 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $15,300,000 $16,800,000 $0 $3,181,977 $0 $0 $0

2016-17 $21,323,318 $0 $3,034,890

Total $94,314,674 $8,000,000 $5,075,900

$0 $0 $0

$10,000,000 $1,957,000 $1,146,337

$0

$27,580,000 $4,390,814

$0 $0 $0

$47,100,000 $2,155,811 $1,352,181

$0 $0 $0 CENTER – SALARIES $48,000,000 $11,100,000 $12,000,000 $13,400,000 $0 $1,352,181 $0 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $16,649,445


Chicago Bulls 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Sean Highkin The Bulls couldn’t have won no matter what they did to prepare for this season. You can sign veterans to short-term deals as a stopgap and try to stem the bleeding, but there’s really no recovering from losing a player like Derrick Rose for the majority of the season. Before he went down, Chicago was the one team with a legitimate shot at unseating Miami as Eastern Conference champs. That’s not happening this year. The Bulls have gone a variety of routes to attempt to replace Rose. They brought back Kirk Hinrich, who’s still competent and all, but unmistakably on the downside of his career. They signed Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli to replace sharpshooter Kyle Korver and hopefully give them a little of what they thought they were getting from Rip Hamilton last season. This team is a patchwork construction, and a pretty ugly one at that. Besides Rose, the biggest loss they’ve suffered is Omer Asik. Not matching his offer sheet from Houston made some sense given the Bulls’ financial “strain” and Daryl Morey’s poison-pill structuring of the contract, but Tom Thibodeau’s vaunted defense is going to feel his absence. The Turkish big man averaged 13 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes last season, with an unreal defensive rating of 92 points allowed per 100 possessions. The loss of Asik will only add to the pressure to perform on defense for Luol Deng (already one of the most overworked players in the league), Carlos Boozer (lol), and Joakim Noah. The only exciting player on this roster besides Rose is Taj Gibson, who’s morphed into a defensive monster and is angling for a contract extension. If Rose is back for the playoffs, they could be a threat. But who’s to say where he’ll be physically when he does return? It’s hard not to see this as a lost year in the development of a would-be juggernaut.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Jordan White As I lay awake in bed at night, my eyes slowly giving in to my body’s demand for rest, one question lingered in my mind: what do the Bulls need the most? I mean, besides a Delorean with a flux capacitor or a blue police box to go back in time to tell Tom Thibodeau to TAKE DERRICK ROSE OUT OF THE GAME? They need a shooting guard. And not just any shooting guard. They need one who can stretch the floor with his shooting, create his own offense off the dribble, and, in true Thibodeau style, defend like the dickens. This guard should also be able to slide over to the small forward position for when the Bulls go small or when Luol Deng leaves the game from Thibs-induced exhaustion. This guard would be the needed other perimeter player to take some of the scoring load from Derrick Rose. If only the Bulls had such a player. This last thought echoes through my head as sleep washes over me. But wait! Who is this I see in my dreams? Why, it’s Jimmy Butler, Chicago’s first round pick last year. Of course! He can cure what ails the Bulls. His 6’7 muscular frame allows him to play both the two and the three. His handle is tight enough for him to break down defenders and create offense for himself, while his shooting will give the Bulls a much needed threat in terms of stretching a defense. Speaking of defense, Butler, when given the opportunity last season, displayed the defensive intensity that makes Thibodeau salivate. Suddenly, my dream fast forwards to the middle of the season.


Lo and behold, Jimmy Butler is averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds per game, and he’s starting! Bulls faithful are hailing him as the Pippen to Rose’s Jordan, and there is rejoicing in the streets! Would that I could invite Tom Thibodeau into my dream, that he could see all Jimmy is capable of becoming. Yet I can't, so this dream will remain just that...for now.

Most Valuable Meme by Noam Schiller Chicago Bulls fans hate Carlos Boozer. They dislike many things. ACLs, for example. The Knicks or Celtics, depending on the decade. Jerry Reinsdorf’s pennypinching ways. But Carlos Boozer? His idea of contesting on defense is to yell a lot. His idea of drawing a foul on offense is to yell a lot. He gets injured all the time, at which point he yells. A lot. He paints his hair on. He disappears in the playoffs. They don’t dislike him. They hate him. Carlos Boozer freaking sucks, man. Why can’t Thibs just play Taj? Well, with Omer Asik gone there is going to be more of Taj regardless, but the answer is pretty similar to what it was last season – Taj can’t score. Boozer can. He’s not nearly the machine he was in Utah, he struggles against length, his beard is stupid – whatever your complaint and however valid it may be, Boozer is a gifted scorer. Nearly ambidextrous, money from mid-range, and capable of getting to the line. With Derrick Rose out for a while, Boozer is by far the best remaining offensive player on the Bulls, and will be asked to work as something of a focal point for an offense that may struggle to keep its head above water. And Bulls fans are not pleased with this, because there’s something inherently wrong with Carlos Boozer. On a team that has squeezed every ounce of every player for 2 straight seasons, he coasts. On a team that fanatically avoids mistakes, he gaffes. Even if he’s good. Even if he’s borderline irreplaceable. He can be the best and the worst player on the roster, and stand out in both roles. He’s the best worst player, and the worst best player, we’ve ever seen.

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Sean Highkin The obvious thing to write about here is the way the Bulls are attempting to replace Derrick Rose's production through some combination of Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, and Marco Belinelli. That's scary enough. I hate piling on Rose, though. His injury sucks for all of us, not just Bulls fans. But then I remembered the only truly important case to be made against the Bulls: The Bulls still have Carlos Boozer. Carlos Boozer is the worst. Everyone knows this, but it can't be repeated enough. His stupid painted-on hair is the worst. His contract is the worst. (Seriously, the amnesty clause has existed for two off-seasons and Chicago still hasn't taken advantage of the opportunity to rid themselves of him. This is also the worst.) The way he yells "AND ONE!!!!!!" every time he goes up for a shot, regardless of whether it goes in or not, is definitely the worst. Carlos Boozer's son even thinks he's the worst—he was caught on camera chanting "Let's go Heat!" at a Heat-Bulls game last season, and nobody felt bad for him. That's how much the worst he is. He's the worst because his name and the size of his contract keep Taj Gibson, the one player on this roster besides Rose whom I actually enjoy watching, out of the starting lineup. And since the Bulls opted not to match Omer Asik's offer sheet from Houston (probably the right call for financial reasons, even if Asik is an underrated defensive monster...oh, wait, you know how they could have cleared money to keep him? By using the amnesty on Boozer!), their frontcourt will be even more reliant on Boozer not to be the worst. And asking Carlos Boozer not to be the worst is a tall order. Because Carlos Boozer is the worst.


Cleveland Cavaliers (21-45, 5th in Central)

MANAGEMENT Owner Dan Gilbert

GM Chris Grant

Coach Byron Scott

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 98.1 27th

Own eFG 106.0 26th

Own FTR 46.29 29th

Own TOR 50.82 27th

Own ORR 30.7 4th

Def Eff 27.0 14th

Opp eFG 14.32 21st

Opp FTR 13.11 22nd

Opp TOR 28.86 8th

Opp ORR 27.84 22nd

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Jon Leuer (HOU)

Free Agents –Lost Semih Erden (Europe)

C.J. Miles (UTA)

Antawn Jamison (LAL)

Draft Picks Dion Waiters (4th) Tyler Zeller (17th via trade)

Anthony Parker (Retired)

Player Kyrie Irving Donald Sloan Jeremy Pargo

2012-13 $5,530,080 $762,195 $1,000,000

Dion Waiters Daniel Gibson

$3,726,600 $4,792,332

Alonzo Gee C.J. Miles Omri Casspi Luke Walton

$2,695,391 $2,225,000 $2,277,306 $6,091,363

Tristan Thompson Samardo Samuels

$4,006,080

Luke Harangody

$1,054,389

$854,389

Anderson Varejao $8,400,000 Tyler Zeller $1,563,120 Jon Leuer $762,195 2012-2013 Salary: $42,637,801

Trades 

Acquired Jeremy Pargo, a 2014 secondround pick, and cash considerations from Memphis for D.J. Kennedy

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $5,915,880 $7,459,924 $9,697,901 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $3,894,240 $4,062,000 $5,138,430 $0 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $2,225,000 $0 $0 $3,313,480 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $4,285,560 $5,421,233 $7,150,606 $0

$0

$0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $18,905,884 $762,195 $1,000,000

$6,777,589 $0

$16,821,270 $4,792,332

$0 $0 $0 $0

$2,695,391 $4,500,000 $2,277,306 $6,091,363

$0

$13,712,873 $854,389

$0

$1,054,389 $0 $0 $0 CENTER – SALARIES $27,300,000 $9,100,000 $9,800,000 $0 $0 $7,517,295 $1,633,440 $1,703,760 $2,616,975 $3,695,168 $1,059,293 $0 $0 $0 $762,195 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 UNDER Salary Cap By: $15,406,199 $0


Cleveland Cavaliers 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Noam Schiller The Cavs are back. 2010-11 wasn’t pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but it netted Kyrie Irving, and after one (admittedly shortened) season that ranks as the best rookie campaigns out there, and some insane summer highlights, that looks like more than enough. We still don’t know where Irving lands between fantastic and transcendent, but even at this early stage, he is enough to complete the transition from “the house that LeBron built and wrecked” to “Kyrie’s playhouse”. Of course, even though the sunlight is no longer obstructed by LeBron’s figure, the lessons from the LeBron James era remain, and putting them into practice is the next phase. The last time Cleveland tried to surround a franchise player with supportive talent, there was too big an emphasis on crippling long term contracts (Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas) and veteran help (Donyell Marshall, Damon Jones), while draft picks were wasted on the likes of Luke Jackson or trades for Wesley Person in 1997. No more. Cleveland has kept the free agency gunpowder dry, spending sparingly and only on low-risk youngsters such as C.J. Miles and Jon Leuer. The focus instead has been on hoarding high upside draft picks to surround Irving. It remains to be seen if Dion Waiters’ slashing indeed complements Irving’s shooting, if Tristan Thompson can develop the skill level to accentuate just how fast he runs and how high he jumps, and if Tyler Zeller can compete with NBA level big men. But even if those choices fail, they were done with the correct overarching philosophy, one that leverages the current structure of the NBA to turn losses and present incompetence into talent and future wins. And if the intermediate losses are too much for you to handle – look how good Kyrie is. He's like a baby seal that crosses you over if you try to club him. Forget the rest of the roster, that's your season right there.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Eric Maroun It’s April 17, 2013. The Cavaliers are playing the final game of the regular season in which they have stunned many socalled experts and are desperately clinging to a half-game lead over the Wizards for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Having won the season series 2-1 over the Cavs, the Wizards hold the tiebreaker over Cleveland; however, a win over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, currently an unfathomable 10-71, is all that separates the Cavs from making the postseason for the first time since Zydrunas Ilgauskas left for a team in Florida. As expected, Kyrie Irving solidifies his near unanimous MVP campaign by posting his eighth triple double of the year with a sensational 27 points, 12 assists, and 10 steals performance by taking advantage of a completely overmatched and checked out Ramon Sessions. Cleveland’s Rookie of the Year candidate Dion Waiters contributes 21 points, all coming from beyond the arc, as the Cavs crush Charlotte 123-77. Locking up the 8 seed leads to the playoff match-up that NBA fans have dreamed of since July 8, 2010: Cleveland vs. Miami. Two weeks later, after absolutely heroic performances in the first six games by the potent duo of Irving and Waiters getting to the rim at will against Mario Chalmers and a broken down Dwyane Wade coupled with a rip in the space-time continuum which has made this all possible, the Cavs and Heat find themselves in a do-or-die Game 7 in South Beach. In identical circumstances to the Cavs-Heat game on March 29, 2011, the Cavs build a 23 point advantage on Miami in the second half before LeBron James realizes he is better at the game of basketball than Alonzo Gee and Chris Bosh pump


fakes Tristan Thompson out of his sneakers 12 times in a row. In the blink of an eye, there are 15 seconds left, and the Heat have taken a one point advantage thanks to a suspicious foul drawn by Dwyane Wade who knocked down both the free throws. After a brief, and downright bizarre, check to ensure that Bill Kennedy is really just that bad at his job as a referee and not Tim Donaghy in disguise, Cleveland inbounds the ball and puts the rock in the hands of their creator, their star, their knight in shining wine and gold: Kyrie Irving. 10…9…8…Irving surveys the floor assessing his options. Though four other teammates are ready for the moment, Irving knows this game rests on his six-foot, three-inch frame. He orders Waiters, Gee, Thompson, and Anderson Varejao to clear out. The Cavs may go down, but they’re going down firing the best bullet they have in their chamber. 7...6…5…Suddenly, he goes for it. A lethal, Iverson-esque crossover literally separates Wade from his shoes leaving Dwyane to question why he left Jordan Brand to sign with Li-Ning in the off-season. LeBron slides over to cut off Irving but he is a split second too late; Irving pulls off a spin move that will cause “Barry Sanders” to trend on Twitter in less than five minutes. 4…3…2…Irving reaches the last level of defense. Chris Bosh, the only one of the Miami Triad to not get torched thus far in the final seconds, stands between Irving and the rim. Having dreamed of this moment since entering the league, Irving knows exactly what to do. Bosh and Irving leap at the same time, both teams’ seasons in the balance. Irving gets the shot off, a floater which he relentlessly worked on and developed in the off-season. Bosh makes a valiant effort at swatting it away, but misses it by a fraction of an inch. It clears his arms. 1…The ball hangs in the air of American Airlines Arena, seemingly forever. In these tenths of a second, a lifetime worth of feelings run through the minds of fans everywhere. For Miami fans, it’s a stunned silence; could this super team really fall short of a title for the second time in three years? Thunder and Lakers fans instantly realize that the ball falling softly through the net provides a golden opportunity for one of them to step in and win the title. In Boston, the seemingly impossible thought of beating this Miami team which has eliminated them in back-to-back postseasons now suddenly seems possible. And meanwhile, Cleveland fans are already mentally preparing themselves for yet another close, but no cigar moment; a familiar every Northeast Ohioan is familiar with, unfortunately. These shots don’t fall for us; never have, never will. But then, something strange happens. The orange sphere with Spalding written on the side falls out of the sky. Slowly, agonizingly for everyone watching, the unthinkable becomes reality. The ball touches nothing but silky nylon on the way down. AAA falls deathly silent, a stunned crowd trying to process in their minds what they just saw. Simultaneously, bars in downtown Cleveland celebrate like they have just won the title. Friends kissing friends. Strangers hugging strangers. And an electricity the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the mid-90’s Indians. A new era has begun in Cleveland. 0: The percent chance that this will happen. But hey, we can all dream, right?

Listen All Y’all This Is Sabotage by Jared Dubin Now, I’m not implying that this is true, but if Dion Waiters was a double agent plotting to take down the Cleveland Cavaliers, this is probably how the story would go… First, Dion Waiters, Double Agent would have decent but not great numbers at powerhouse basketball school, probably in the Big East. Dion Waiters, Double Agent would compile those numbers mostly coming off the bench, which would mean Dion Waiters, Double Agent would at least spend a bunch more time playing against backups than most top college prospects.


Then, Dion Waiters, Double Agent’s agent would let slip to some top draft evaluators that some anonymous general managers are comparing his client - Dion Waiters, Double Agent – to Dwyane Wade. These anonymous comments would fuel an inexplicable draft rise for Dion Waiters, Double Agent in the days and weeks leading up to the pre-draft workouts. After that, Dion Waiters, Double Agent’s agent would cancel all of his workouts after receiving a “promise” from a mystery team, and all the likely candidates would deny that they are in fact the promisors. None of this would make any sense. This would culminate with Dion Waiters, Double Agent, inexplicably shooting all the way up from the late-teens, mid-20s to the top five, eventually landing him in Cleveland with the 4th pick in the Draft. Then, Dion Waiters, Double Agent would show up to Summer League out of shape and bloggers would make tons of jokes about him. Cleveland fans would then all swear it would be okay, that Dion Waiters, Double Agent would be fine by the time the regular season rolled around. But it wouldn’t, because Dion Waiters, Double Agent was a Double Agent sent to destroy the Cleveland Cavaliers once and for all, all along.

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Amin Vafa 4. In back to back drafts, the Cleveland Cavaliers have selected the 4th pick. Last year, it wasn't as big of a deal because they also got the 1st pick (oh hey Kyrie!), but it was still important. In both years, from the draft lottery until draft night, rumors swirled round and round that Cleveland was up to something to package these number 4 picks to trade up or down or sideways or beyond just so they could make a decision. You see, in each of these past two seasons, the 4th pick in the draft has been really difficult to make. There are types of players Cleveland has needed (Generally, they need good ones. Specifically, they need players that complement Kyrie Irving.), but these players haven't been available at the 4th pick. Well, they have been available, but picking them 4th would be too high or picking 4th would be too late to get the best fitting player. So the Cavaliers front office has been tested in back to back seasons: reach for a guy that you like but doesn't fit perfectly, trade down to get the guy you want but not get a good deal for him because you reek of desperation, or trade up and pay out your nose because you reek of desperation. In both years, Cleveland chose to stand pat. In 2011, they drafted the Canuck from the University of Texas, Tristan Thompson. He was a raw athlete they wanted to play at Power Forward, alongside a wily and quick-footed Anderson Varejao. Thompson wasn't the immediate force on offense or defense that Cleveland needed--especially in comparison to his cohort-leading teammate Irving--but when the dust settled at season's end, it was pretty much agreed that Thompson was an athletic big who was more than just a tweener, and exhibited a great upside. He had a decent summer league (when he played), and he's had a decent preseason as well. In 2012, the Cavs stunned everyone and drafted Dion Waiters. The team apparently had Waiters very high on their draft board, but the assumption was that they were going to draft a shooter on the wing to complement Irving and their bigs. Instead, they took an undersized slasher 6th-man from Syracuse with a history of ego and attitude problems that refused workouts with every team and until recently was out of shape. Hardly the second impression Cleveland wanted to make at the 4th spot. However, the jury's still out on Waiters as well. He, too, has a tremendous upside. After all, the Cavs don't have anyone who can get to the basket at will like Waiters. He's got great on-the-ball skills, and when he feels


like it, he can shoot from multiple areas on the floor. Will he and Irving be the backcourt duo of the future (John Wall and Bradley Beal might have something to say about that), or will Cleveland see that his natural fit is leading the second unit? It's difficult to know just yet if Cleveland hit homeruns on back-to-back 4th picks, if they've struck out, or if they've done any number of permutations of ill-fitting baseball analogies. But we do know that Cleveland's fans and management have shown patience in the past three seasons, and the Cavs are flexible enough now that if they have made any mistakes, it's early enough in the process that no permanent damage has been done.


Dallas Mavericks (36-30, 3rd in Southwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Mark Cuban

GM Donnie Nelson

Coach Rick Carlisle

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 101.0 20th

Own eFG 99.7 8th

Own FTR 48.90 15th

Own TOR 47.93 8th

Own ORR 24.6 27th

Def Eff 27.0 13th

Opp eFG 13.37 11th

Opp FTR 13.87 14th

Opp TOR 23.43 28th

Opp ORR 25.17 5th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Elton Brand (PHI)

Free Agents –Lost Brendan Haywood (CHA)

Chris Kaman (NOH)

Jason Kidd (NYK)

O.J. Mayo (MEM)

Jason Terry (BOS)

Player Darren Collison Delonte West Rodrigue Beaubois Jared Cunningham

2012-13 $2,319,344 $1,223,166 $2,227,332 $1,156,320

O.J. Mayo Dahntay Jones Dominique Jones

$4,020,000 $2,900,000 $1,276,560

Shawn Marion Vince Carter Jae Crowder

$8,646,364 $3,120,000 $600,941

Dirk Nowitzki Elton Brand Brandan Wright

$20,907,128 $2,100,000 $992,680

Chris Kaman $8,000,000 Bernard James $473,604 2012-2013 Salary: $60,534,290

Draft Picks Jared Cunningham (24th via trade) Bernard James (33rd via trade) Jae Crowder (34th via trade)

Trades

Acquired Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones from Indiana for Ian Mahinmi.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $3,342,174 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,271,951 $0 $0 $1,208,400 $1,260,360 $2,204,369 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $4,200,900 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,299,084 $3,377,354 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $9,316,796 $0 $0 $3,180,000 $0 $0 $788,872 $915,243 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $22,721,381 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

$0 CENTER - SALARIES $0 $0 $788,872 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000

$0 $0 $0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0 $3,222,787

Total $2,319,344 $1,223,166 $2,227,332 $5,829,449

$0 $0 $0

$8,220,900 $2,900,000 $3,575,644

$0 $0 $0

$17,963,160 $6,300,000 $2,305,056

$0 $0

$43,628,509 $2,100,000 $992,680

$0

$8,000,000 $0 $1,262,476 $0 OVER Salary Cap By: $2,490,290


Dallas Mavericks 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Connor Huchton Thought 1: That Atmospheric Ambiance Limbo, limbo, limbo. We float and struggle through an unknown space, unsure and hopeful and pessimistic all at once. The 2012-2013 Mavericks are similar to the 2011-2012 team in one facet most of all: mystery. Thought 2: We Continue And not in the fun, noir type of way. Mysterious in the way that makes you feel vaguely misplaced and eager for anything tangible to appear. Thought 3: The Plea Oh Elton Brand, please tell me you still have that mid-range jumper. Oh Roddy Beaubois, you can still grow. Oh Darren Collison, 2010 is not so long ago. Oh O.J. Mayo, the three-pointer is not a nearby straw to make use of with no regard for the disappearing liquid. Thought 4: Goodbye, And Thanks Your timely threes are already missed, Jason Kidd. Your brilliantly slow defensive surprises are not forgotten. Your dependably average play is moderately missed, Ian Mahinmi. It is unlikely that a single Mavericks fan truly disliked you, and that in itself is an achievement. We wish you well on those beautiful Indiana beaches. And most of all, we miss you, Jason Terry. The brilliance of unaffected movement and unalterable, prideful release remains in our collective unconsciousness, forever more. Thought 5: A Rock To Build This Unbalanced Team Dirk Nowitzki, a seven-foot tower of a man, with a heart and one-footed jumper to match his size, waits and prepares, as always, to carry a team that breathes with his direction. The Mavericks offense gasped and grew winded without its leader at full force last season, and the return of rhythmic respiration and one superstar, the aforementioned Dirk Nowitzki, will be welcomed like the sun to a freeze. Thought 6: Prologue The 2012-2013 Mavericks are a good team. They are an enigma. They will ride on winds generated by undersized point guards, talented but stagnant shooting guards, a testament to NBA greatness and weirdness at small forward, an aging once-in-a-generation offensive stalwart at power forward, and two limited once-greats, still-goods at center. It'll be a wild season. And we'll watch.


Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Amin Vafa Two numbers: 50 and 11. For 11 consecutive seasons, the Dallas Mavericks won 50 or more games. This streak ended in 2011--the year Dallas finally won a championship. The following year, they won 36 games (adjusts to about 45 in a full 82-game season). Last season's team lacked a lot of what it had just a season before. Let's be real: the team let Tyson Chandler walk because it wanted to put itself in a position to get Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams, the former who claimed he didn't really want to come to Dallas and the latter who claimed that the reason he didn't come was because owner Marc Cuban didn't show up to the meeting to sweet talk him (I'm sure being in New York and getting paid more money had nothing to do with it). Cuban--not one to shy away from a fight--fired back at Williams saying that he threw his own team under the bus. It's funny to contrast the eleven 50-win seasons against Deron Williams declining an opportunity to play in Big D. Both of these things perfectly describe what Marc Cuban's tenure as Mavericks' owner has been like. Extremely successful in terms of wins and attendance. A lightning rod of criticism by players, other owners, and the league office. Fans like to see wins, and if their owner is engaged: all the better! So what if he spends a season or two getting fined a million dollars by the league office. The guy wasn't afraid to spend to make the team competitive, and the team ultimately won a championship. Oh, and it beat the best player and the best team in the league to win it. Not too shabby. 50+ wins over 11 seasons. Yeah, I'd be OK with a loudmouth-hothead-hubristic-antagonistic-hands-on owner if he could bring me that.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Jared Dubin Dallas whiffed on their big play for Deron Williams this offseason because their owner had to tape a reality TV show, apparently. The Fighting Cubans responded with smaller roster tweaks, saving their dollars to make another big play in the summer of 2013. They shipped out Ian Mahinmi for Darren Collison. They signed OJ Mayo on a cheap-ish one-year deal. They won the amnesty waiver bid for Elton Brand and they signed Chris Kaman. In a perfect world, Collison injects speed and life into their offense, teaming with Roddy Buckets to form one of the faster back courts in the league (I’m pretending Vince Carter doesn’t exist), and gets Dirk the ball in all the right spots (when he comes back from his knee thing). In a perfect world, Mayo delivers on the promise he’s always had by combining the ability to defend both guard spots with good outside shooting, along with pick-and-rolls with Dirk and the other bigs. In a perfect world, Brand, Kaman and Brandan Wright provide a good offense/defense center rotation next to Dirk (when he comes back from his knee thing), and even spend some time on the court together as well. In a perfect world, this Mavs team jumps back into title contention, based only on small offseason moves. In a not-so-different world, Collison never returns to the level of play he flashed in New Orleans when Chris Paul was hurt – a level he never really hit in Indiana either. In a not-so-different world, Mayo continues to underachieve relative to expectations, and Dallas proves just as ill a fit for his skill set as Memphis. In a not-so-different world, Brand’s improved defense was more a result of systemic things in Philly and it slips now that he’s in Big D. In a not-so-perfect world, Kaman is who we thought he was, and not who Cubes thinks he is. In a not-so-different world, Dirk’s knee thing lingers and Dallas narrowly misses the playoffs, as improving teams like Utah, Minnesota and Golden State leapfrog this aging bunch. In a not-so-different world, the Mavs go back to the drawing board next summer.


Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Matt Moore Let's just put away Dirk and the knee that apparently had to be sacrificed in 2011 for the Larry O'Brien. Let's put away how Shark Tank resulted in them not landing Deron Williams. Let's put away whiffing on Steve Nash who went to the Lakers, in part because of the draft pick that Dallas sent LA for Lamar Odom which looked like a coup at the time and instead was the biggest Sabotage job in the history of the league. Seriously, Odom might as well have been hidden in a gigantic wooden horse. No, no, let's just look at the fact that this team is dependent on: An undersized point guard who couldn't beat out George Hill for the Pacers despite Hill having approximately zero chemistry with any of the offensive weapons on a team with no offense. A shooting guard whose fall from grace has made Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans look like Hope Diamonds. A power forward who may or may not have voted for Gerald Ford. And a center that is undergoing his ninth "You know this guy's really underrated!" surge which inevitably ends with the subsequent "You know, this guy is really overrated!" surge. A bench of players they have been waiting to develop since before Jersey Shore existed. Rookies who even Draft Express is like "who?" And Vince Carter. Seriously? I'm supposed to buy into this team? The Mavericks pretty much went to Dollar General, got the knock off brands, went home, threw a bunch of stuff in a box, duct taped it and called it a playoff team. The amazing part? They're still the best franchise in Dallas.


Denver Nuggets (38-28, 2nd in Northwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Stan Kroenke

GM Masai Ujiri

Coach George Karl

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 106.5 3rd

Own eFG 103.4 19th

Own FTR 51.62 2nd

Own TOR 50.75 26th

Own ORR 32.6 2nd

Def Eff 24.3 4th

Opp eFG 14.11 18th

Opp FTR 14.29 7th

Opp TOR 27.68 13th

Opp ORR 25.75 9th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Anthony Randolph (MIN)

Free Agents –Lost

Draft Picks Evan Fournier (20th) Quincy Miller (38th) Izzet Turkyilmaz (50th)

Player Ty Lawson Andre Miller Julyan Stone

2012-13 $2,544,528 $5,000,000 $762,195

Andre Igoudala Corey Brewer Evan Fournier

$14,718,250 $3,243,000 $1,361,400

Danilo Gallinari Wilson Chandler Jordan Hamilton

$9,439,000 $5,930,414 $1,153,800

Quincy Miller

$473,604

Kenneth Faried Anthony Randolph

$1,348,800 $1,674,641

JaVale McGee $10,000,000 Timofey Mozgov $3,140,429 Kosta Koufos $3,000,000 2012-2013 Salary: $63,208,027

Trades Acquired Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia for Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a 2013 second-round pick, and a 2014 first-round protected pick.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $3,610,685 $0 $0 $5,000,000 $4,625,000 $0 $1,084,293 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $15,904,750 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,422,720 $1,483,920 $2,288,204 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $10,146,925 $10,854,850 $11,559,225 $6,344,164 $6,757,813 $7,171,663 $1,234,320 $2,225,478 $3,284,805

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $2,544,528 $14,625,000 $762,195

$0 $0 $3,278,996

$30,623,000 $3,243,000 $6,496,244

$0 $0 $0

$42,000,000 $21,032,491 $4,613,598

$2,177,719 $788,872 $915,243 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $5,165,217 $1,442,880 $2,373,537 $3,346,881 $0 $5,250,000 $1,750,000 $1,824,205 $0 $0 CENTER - SALARIES $44,000,000 $10,750,000 $11,250,000 $12,000,000 $0 $3,140,429 $0 $0 $0 $0 $6,000,000 $3,000,000 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $5,164,027


Denver Nuggets 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Scott Leedy “I don’t check bags, I just carry on. Leave that BS in the past” – Curren$y You can’t knock the hustle. Sure you might point out that the Nuggets don’t have a true “superstar.” Yes, they gave JaVale McGee a pretty large sum of money. Maybe you’re worried about George Karl’s ability to competently coach during the playoffs. Sure, you could argue the West is too deep and too talented to allow the Nuggets to truly succeed. Okay, so Kenneth Faried doesn’t have a ton of offensive ability, and he’s undersized. Andre Miller is old. Ty Lawson is small. They don’t have enough shooting. Andre Igoudala won’t solve their “go to guy” problem. Still, despite any criticism, Denver and Masai Uriji stay winning (in the metaphorical, and literal sense). The Nuggets have left the BS in the past. They turned the painful, potentially franchise-crippling Carmelo Anthony saga into a boatload of assets and talented young players. When Nene started sitting out games with a chipped toenail, they shipped his possible albatross of a contract out of town. No need to change anything in hindsight. No need to live in the past; The Nuggets are too busy staying a step ahead. The Nuggets probably won’t finish with a top 4 record in the Western Conference. They might not make it out of the first round. Javale McGee might disappoint, and the Andre Iguodala trade may not work out as envisioned. This will probably upset many Nuggets fans. They’ll question the direction of a franchise that feels stuck in “good but not great” territory. But no matter what happens they should have faith in their franchise. This is a gifted management team. They know how to survive. They understand that it’s all about the process. Don’t get attached. Stay focused, stay cool, and stay on your grind. Be patient, be shrewd and results are sure to follow.

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Amin Vafa JaVale McGee and the art of the Retweet. Several months ago, JaVale McGee decided that he'd had enough of tweeting, but he didn't seem to have enough of Twitter. He only retweets. As in, he only tweets the tweets of others or he retweets things he said previously or he puts RT @JaValeMcGee34 in front of all of his tweets. Why the hell would anyone do that? Because they're funny? Because they're insane? Because 140 characters is too many? You know what, though? It doesn't matter. He has been doing it FOR MONTHS. This is commitment to the bit at its finest. Never wavering. Never slipping. Wait, I take it back. It does matter. It's brilliant. JaVale's tweets are all of our tweets. It's a broad societal commentary about how what we all say is recycled from the ether; we're all connected, and nothing we say is original. But it's okay that nothing we say is original, because people will like it, and the familiarity of what we say is comforting to others. So when JaVale tweets, RT @JaValeMcGee34 RT @JaValeMcGee34 INSTAGAM MY NEW TWITTER FOLLOW @JavaleMcgee_34 PICS WORTH 1000 WORDS!


I have nothing but respect for a man that can point at society right in the face and say "Hey, you. Yeah, you, society. I'm talking to you. Look at how vain you are, talking about yourself. Telling people to pay attention to you in words and pictures. How dare you? This is what society has become: self-congratulation on both an individual and global level." RT @AminVafaNBA: RT @AminVafaNBA: Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront of our public consciousness, JaVale.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It's Trollin' For JaVale McGee by Jordan White Or rather, JaVale is trolling all of us. He is the ultimate troll. One night, he looks as if he’s figured it all out. He’s flying up and down the court, blocking shots on one end and finishing strong with a dunk on the other. He’s engaged in the half court, locking down his man, not giving him an inch and bothering and/or swatting every basketball that dares come within his territory. On offense, he’s aggressive without killing ball movement, using his athleticism to get past slower centers and slamming down lob after lob after lob. On nights like these, he’s a terror. Just ask the Los Angeles Lakers. But the next night, we’ll see the other JaVale. The one who looks completely lost on offense, showing minimal awareness and basketball IQ. It gets worse on the defensive end, where McGee (or perhaps it’s Pierre on these nights, which would then bring to light an interesting Jekyll/Hyde theory for McGee’s performances, but this isn’t the time for that), like a kid with ADHD who forgot to take his Ritalin, can’t maintain his focus for more than two seconds at a time, and completely forgets the rules regarding goaltending. I could go on, or you could just watch this. McGee is never more joyful than when he swats a ball that was clearly on the way down. Which leads back to my theory that JaVale is the greatest of trolls. He knows what he’s doing with his Jekyll and Hyde performances, knows that it infuriates his coaches yet oddly endears himself to basketball fans (except those in Denver or Washington). Sure, he could stop, take the game more seriously, adopt the KG mentality of focusing on the game and nothing else. But that’s not McGee, and troll’s gonna troll.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Steve McPherson Last season, the Nuggets were second in the league in pace and effective FG% and third in offensive rating, plus pushed the Lakers to seven games in the opening round of the playoffs before falling to them. But as much fun as they were in the open floor, they were also 20th in defensive rating. So what did everybody’s favorite superstar-less team do in the offseason? They went and got the league’s premier wing defender in Andre Iguodala, the guy who was supposed to be the next big thing in Philly after the last A.I. but never really got to superstar status. Seems fitting. The real question this season is: Do they evolve into some kind of new age version of the 7 Seconds or Less Suns, minus even the floor general prowess of a player like Steve Nash, or does their entire lighter-than-air offense collapse in the oven like a doomed soufflé? Here are the factors. They’ve either recently acquired two stupid athletic or stupid, athletic big men in JaVale McGee and Anthony Randolph. If they evolve into the players they could be (keep in mind Randolph is actually younger than McGee at 23), then they go into the 7SOL column. Throw a fully actualized and blocking, ooping McGee into a lineup with the tireless Faried, the long Gallinari, the tenacious Iguodala, and the havoc-wreaking Lawson and the team should be able to score like last year but defend a whole lot better.


But although Iguodala is a premier defender, he’s not a center or power forward who can change the entire game with his defensive presence. He will help, but he’s hardly a panacea. Also, it’s more likely McGee stays McGee and Randolph stays Randolph. If this superstarless recipe has thrown a few too many nuts in there, soufflé city.


Detroit Pistons (25-41, 4th in Central)

MANAGEMENT Owner Tom Gores

GM Joe Dumars

Coach Lawrence Frank

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 97.8 28th

Own eFG 104.0 25th

Own FTR 46.82 28th

Own TOR 50.04 24th

Own ORR 27.9 12th

Def Eff 29.5 22nd

Opp eFG 14.95 28th

Opp FTR 14.16 10th

Opp TOR 28.08 9th

Opp ORR 27.20 17th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed

Free Agents –Lost

Jonny Flynn (POR) Kyle Singler (Europe)

Player Brandon Knight Will Bynum

2012-13 $2,755,560 $3,500,000

Rodney Stuckey Kim English

$8,500,000 $473,604

Tayshaun Prince Austin Daye Corey Maggette

$6,764,045 $2,958,444 $10,924,138

Khris Middleton

$473,604

Jonas Jerebko Jason Maxiell Charlie Villanueva Kyle Singler

$4,500,000 $5,000,000 $8,080,000 $1,000,000

Greg Monroe $3,217,680 Andre Drummond $2,356,320 Viacheslav Kravstov $1,500,000 2012-2013 Salary: $67,725,875

Draft Picks Andre Drummond  (9th) th Khris Middleton (39 ) Kim English (44th)

Trades Acquired Corey Maggette from Charlotte for Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft choice.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $2,947,800 $3,749,090 $5,054,462 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $8,500,000 $0 $0 $788,872 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $7,235,955 $7,707,865 $0 $4,135,905 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $788,872 $915,243 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $4,500,000 $4,500,000 $0 $0 $8,580,000 $0

2016-17 $0 $0

Total $9,452,450 $3,500,000

$0 $0

$17,000,000 $1,262,476

$0 $0 $0

$21,707,865 $2,958,444 $10,924,138

$0

$0

$2,177,719

$0 $0 $0

$0 $0 $0

$13,500,000 $5,000,000 $16,660,000 $3,135,000

$1,045,000 $1,090,000 $0 $0 CENTER – SALARIES $7,304,133 $4,086,453 $5,054,462 $0 $0 $10,659,170 $2,462,400 $2,568,360 $3,272,090 $4,433,682 $4,500,000 $1,500,000 $1,500,000 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $9,681,875


Detroit Pistons 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Danny Chau I find it a bit strange that the Pistons player written most about this summer wasn’t Greg Monroe, one of last season’s breakout performers. Nor was it Andre Drummond, the freak of nature sent in to be Monroe’s ideal counterpart. The player I found myself reading most about was Brandon Knight. Now, Knight is no slouch as a prospect, and a huge part of the Pistons’ future in his own right, but it’s odd that his story trumps that of the franchise’s twin towers project, clearly the most promising aspect of the team. Or that it outnumbered the many different “will he or won’t he” features that could’ve been written for at least half of the roster. It says a lot about Knight and how the team and the city views him as a team leader, but even more about how much their discordant roster needs some semblance of stability. Recent mainstays Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, and Charlie Villanueva are all seemingly waiting for an alarm clock to wake them. The Pistons have a stable of multitalented forwards who just haven’t found the kind of success they’d envisioned. While they’d all hope to jumpstart their personal reclamation projects, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint where most of them belong in the system. Jason Maxiell and Slava Kravtsov will be enlisted to take on much of the defensive burden in the post, but how much time will they have to bide until Drummond makes his mark? It’ll be on Knight’s shoulders to make sense of the clutter on the court. His improvement in a half-court offense is crucial; so is the need for any of their forwards to overachieve enough to gain a solidified slot in the rotation. Detroit’s story might be a bit of a mess, but it can be salvaged of Knight proves to be an adequate narrator.

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Noam Schiller The Pistons kinda sorta maybe have hope for the first time in forever, because Greg Monroe is really good. But you don’t even have to stop looking at Greg Monroe to be scared – you just need to look one position away. Tell me: who’s starting next to Monroe in the frontcourt? The most likely options are Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko. Maxiell is the incumbent, but a depressingly uninspiring one – once a high-energy, high-athleticism bench contributor, Maxiell is now 28, noticeably heavier, and he takes and makes less of his shots at the rim. He’s decent enough to hang onto a rotation spot, but it’s hard to envision him as part of the future, let alone a bright one. Jerebko is a legitimately good to Maxiell’s veteran and passable, and is young and exciting to watch. But he’s undersized for a defensive big man at 6’10”, 230 lbs. Monroe’s defense is the reason a second big is needed in the first place, and it’s hard to see Jerebko aptly compensating in this regard. Then we move into unknown territory. Andre Drummond? Insanely talented, humongously present, and 18 years old with no clue how to play basketball. Slava Kravtsov? Supposedly both big and mobile, and not your typical rookie at 25, but a completely unknown commodity even for an international import, who usually require ample adjustment time as is. Kyle Singler? A fringe NBA prospect to begin with whose redeeming quality is his offense. Charlie Villanueva? He’s Charlie Villanueva.


The Pistons are rebuilding, and finding Monroe a frontcourt comrade will be part of a long-term process. But as they wait for one of their prospects to develop, the Pistons still need to play the games. Right now, that power forward spot looks to be a disgusting proposition.

Listen All Y’all This Is Sabotage by Amin Vafa The following is completely fictional. "Listen, Rich," said his Airness. "We need to figure out how to make me look less bad. I know this team is terrible, but we need to make another team look worse. You know, so people forget about this terribleness. I can't have stink on me. "Michael, I'm not su--" "Ah ah, that's 'Mr. Jordan.'" "I'm sorry. Mr. Jordan." "Proceed." "Well, Mr. Jordan. The Bobcats were historically terrible last year, not just regular terrible." "What does that mean, Rich?" boomed his Airness, as he meticulously cut the tip off his Cohiba and placed the severed end into a large porcelain jar that said "SEVERED ENDS" on the side--along with Bryon Russell's face. "It means we had the lowest winning percentage of all time, and that's going to be difficult to change. It's kind of hard to lose as badly as we did last season. It's almost like we tried to lose that badly," said Rich. "We did try to lose that badly, but we assumed we'd get the first pick. Stern owed me!" His fist boomed against the mahogany desk. "We need to fix this. Who's that guy on this team who went to that school I hate? Get that guy the hell out of here. I know he's the reason. You know what? I've got a better idea. Bring him into my office. I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." *** When Corey awoke the following morning, there was a boarding pass to Detroit on his nightstand and a severed MONSTAR head at the foot of his bed.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Sean Highkin No player in the top of this year’s draft class singlehandedly embodies the concept of “Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven” quite like Andre Drummond. He has the highest ceiling and the lowest floor of any big man prospect in recent memory, and as his career goes, so probably will the fortunes of the Detroit Pistons, at least in the short term. Between nagging questions about his work ethic and an astonishingly bad 29 percent free-throw shooting clip (NBA-caliber players aren’t usually that bad from the line simply because of mechanics, right?), it’s easy to see why he’s giving people flashbacks to Hasheem Thabeet and Kwame Brown. He’s looked phenomenal in the preseason, for whatever that’s worth. But what Drummond himself takes that to be worth will be instructive. It can be tempting to overreact to a couple of solid exhibition performances and just assume


he’ll be fine, that he’s got everything figured out. If he falls into the trap of complacency, things could go downhill quickly. He needs the right people in his ear, reminding him that preseason doesn’t matter but also allowing him to build on his success. But if he figures it out, a Drummond/Greg Monroe frontcourt could be a force for years. The two young bigs complement each other. Drummond is a potential shot-blocking force and a huge presence in the paint, while Monroe is more defensively challenged. But Monroe’s more diverse offensive game takes some of the pressure off Drummond to develop as a scorer right away—he can live off putbacks to start out. The Pistons have a lot of questions still to answer before they can be penciled back into the playoff race, but much hinges on the way the Drummond gamble plays out.


Golden State Warriors (23-43, 4th in Pacific)

MANAGEMENT Owner Peter Gruber

GM Bob Myers

Coach Mark Jackson

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 103.1 11th

Own eFG 106.0 26th

Own FTR 50.54 5th

Own TOR 49.62 23rd

Own ORR 22.7 29th

Def Eff 31.8 27th

Opp eFG 13.26 9th

Opp FTR 13.64 18th

Opp TOR 22.88 29th

Opp ORR 30.86 30th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Carl Landry (NOH)

Free Agents –Lost Nate Robinson (CHI)

Player Stephen Curry Jarrett Jack Charles Jenkins

2012-13 $3,958,742 $5,580,000 $762,195

Klay Thompson Brandon Rush

$2,286,000 $4,000,000

Harrison Barnes Richard Jefferson Kent Bazemore

$2,978,040 $10,164,000 $473,604

David Lee Draymond Green

$12,744,000 $850,000

Andrew Bogut Andris Biedrins Jeremy Tyler Festus Ezeli

$13,000,000 $9,000,000 $762,195 $1,020,960

2012-2013 Salary: $70,370,097

Draft Picks Harrison Barnes (7th) Festus Ezeli (30th) Draymond Green (35th) Ognjen Kuzmic (52nd)

Trades 

Acquired the rights to Edin Bavcic from Philadelphia for Dorell Wright.

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $5,308,673 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $3,345,151 $4,469,547 $6,118,809 $4,000,000 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $2,923,920 $3,049,920 $3,873,398 $11,046,000 $0 $0 $788,872 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $13,878,000 $15,012,000 $15,493,680 $875,500 $915,243 $0 CENTER – SALARIES $14,000,000 $0 $0 $9,000,000 $0 $0 $884,293 $0 $0 $1,066,920 $1,112,880 $2,008,748 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $3,958,742 $5,580,000 $762,195

$0 $0

$10,100,698 $8,000,000

$5,194,226 $0 $0

$12,825,278 $21,210,000 $1,262,476

$0 $0

$57,127,680 $2,640,743

$0 $0 $0 $3,013,122

$27,000,000 $18,000,000 $1,646,488 $5,209,428

OVER Salary Cap By: $12,326,097


Golden State Warriors 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Connor Huchton The notion of a 'role player' is spotty and difficult to define. Some role players, like Jason Terry, hardly belong to the idea at all, and are instead specified stars with a peculiar style. Others are known for an isolated, concentrated strength, like Reggie Evans and his incessant need to rebound. But the base skills that the basketball collective trumps when it comes to role players are simple: shooting and defending. If we accept that those two core skills represent the average role player's repertoire, Brandon Rush is part of a select elite tier of NBA role players. Rush shot 50.1% last season from the field, coupled with 45.2% from three on 3.4 attempts and a 62.8% true shooting percentage. Across the board, Rush posted career bests in nearly every significant shooting category, and provided one of the few consistent avenues for the Warriors to turn to over the course of an unwieldy season. The mastery of the corner three yields weighty improvements for those who successfully pursue it, something evident in the far and away best season of Rush's career. Rush also possesses the rare combination of defense in conjunction with three-pointing shooting, or as it's also known, the J.J. Redick game. The defensive choice between the always-improving Redick and Rush defensively is essentially a wash, which speaks greatly to Rush's effectiveness. Perhaps no ability is more rare than perimeter defense in this highscoring era of NBA basketball, and on a Warriors' team with little help in that regard, Rush was competent enough to use that attribute as a playing-time commodity. All of this is to say that Rush may have been one of the league's most well-rounded role players last season, however the word is defined. Though last season's play clearly warranted the two-year, $8 million contract Rush received from the Warriors this offseason, it remains a lone season. Rush's career before last season was far from impressive, and thus worry seeps into this glowing affirmation. But if the majority of Rush's production transfers to this season, he'll be exactly what the tilting and hoping Warriors need: a solid piece that adds positively to a convoluted puzzle.

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Jared Dubin There isn’t a number than better symbolizes the Golden State Warriors than the number three. Last season, they finished third in the league in 3-pointers per game, with 7.9. Three players on the team shot over 40% from 3-point territory. They won 23 games… and lost 43. Their overall Net-Rating, according the NBA.com’s fancy new stats tool, was exactly -3.0. They made three trades at last year’s trade deadline. Once the offseason hit, they picked three players in the 2012 Draft that will actually appear in the NBA this year (Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli; their fourth pick was a Euro-stash guy), signed three players in free agency and took part in a three-team trade and acquired Jarrett Jack, who will now play for his third team in the past three seasons. The team is in their third stint in Oracle Arena. They’ve had three players in franchise history be named All-Star Game MVP (Paul Arizin, Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry). If you count the BAA (the NBA’s predecessor, word to Curtis Harris), then they’ve won three championships in franchise history. The team has gone by three different names (Philadelphia, San Francisco and Golden State Warriors). After a bunch of research, I discovered the team has been sold three times. Since moving to Golden State, they’ve changed their logo three times. And their head coach, Mark Jackson, had three


meme-ified catch-phrases during his time as an announcer. (Hand down, man down; Mama there goes that man; You’re better than that.) I don’t know what it is about this team and that number, but it’s downright creepy.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven… by James Herbert It’s too easy to envision the worst-case scenario: Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut missing games, David Lee missing rotations and Mark Jackson and Andris Biedrins sporting I-don’t-want-to-be-here facial expressions. It’s more broken playoff promises, opposing role players going off and, eventually, another mid-lottery pick. It’s why, despite this being everybody’s favorite League Pass team, most in the Bay Area remain somewhere between pessimistic and apathetic. Let’s pretend these aren’t the Warriors, though. Let’s forget about what we’re used to. Let’s say this same roster played for the Oakland Based Gods. The Based Gods have an all-world defensive center, the man his frontcourt partner has needed his entire career. They have a second year wing who can score from anywhere on the court right now, a rookie wing who might be able to do the same soon and a bench that looks stronger than it has in years. They also have an impossibly prolific 23-year-old rapper trying out for their D-League team, but that’s neither here nor there. Jumping on this bandwagon feels like a dangerous proposition, but it might be because of past failures more than anything concerning the current crop. Imagine for a moment the Cavaliers collectively crying over Harrison Barnes’ stat lines. Picture the Mavericks and Timberwolves dropping out of the playoff race due to injuries and the Jazz’ season unraveling when their bigs convince Ty Corbin to try a no-guard lineup. The Warriors/Based Gods will be there, with a bevy of scoring options, a presumably improved defense and the catch phrasiest damn head coach in the world. The best-case scenario: Oracle gets a taste of playoff basketball again and we all try to make a road trip out of it. Do you believe?

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It's Trollin' For Mark Jackson by Jordan White Why will this season be different for Warriors head coach Mark Jackson? In a word: experience! When Jackson was first hired, he had it all: charisma, an ability to relate to players, a storied playing career and catchphrases. The one thing he didn’t have was coaching experience of any sort. But hey, the Warriors are a young, inexperienced team, so why not give them a young, inexperienced coach to grow with them? It’s a genius plan, and I’m not sure why more teams aren’t following it. After all, coaching experience isn’t all that important, is it? Jackson had so many other assets, like charisma, the ability to relate to players and a storied playing career. He even has catchphrases. You can’t teach those things or simply acquire those things. You can, however, acquire experience, which is exactly what Mark Jackson did last year. He gained a whole season of head coaching experience. Well, it was actually 66 games worth, but still, experience! How many other head coaches can say they have one* season of head coaching experience? Now, armed with experience, Jackson and the Golden State Warriors are ready to take the NBA by storm. He can put that experience to use with his new, retooled roster featuring the criminally underrated Andrew Bogut and a finally healthy Stephen Curry, who will never hurt his ankles again (/cries). Best of all, if at any time Jackson feels unsure of what to do, unlikely because he now has a full* season of experience, he can turn to his trusted assistant Mike Malone, who in no way, shape or form is more qualified to be the head coach than Mark Jackson, he of the one year* experience.


Roundtable Intermission – Rookie Edition 1. Which rookie are you most excited to watch on a nightly basis? Sean Highkin: Damian Lillard. Out of necessity, he's the one I will be watching almost every night, and I'm really excited about what I've seen from him so far. He's a scoring point guard, but he doesn't pass only as a last resort. His shot selection is good. He gets to the rim better than I expected. I think he's going to be special. Amin Vafa: Beal. I watched him in a preseason game, and he was crazy good. Shooter. Slasher. Creates contact. Sinks free throws. Runs the pick and roll. I'm pretty sure he helped deliver a baby at center court. Basically, the kid said he wanted to play like Ray Allen, but he plays more like Dwyane Wade with a high 3pt%. Noam Schiller: Jonas Valanciunas. I've spent more time waiting for Jonas to arrive than any other incoming rookie - ever since I saw him dominate the world under-19 championships (it was during the lockout, I needed basketball, don't judge me). Over there, he towered over terrified children and displayed a seemingly never ending passion for the game. I can't wait to find out if his athleticism still stands out against a world-class field, if Andrea Bargnani can finally thrive as an actual power forward, and if we get the next great international center. Eric Maroun: Jared Sullinger. I say this as an Ohio State fan who swore up and down that Sullinger would be an absolute bust in the NBA. Every once in a while, there will come along a player on my favorite team that I just hate cheering for, and there’s not really a particular reason for it. Maybe it was number of times I saw him attempt his baseline baby hook shot which I felt like only went in 20% of the time. I don’t know. But by all accounts, he’s looked terrific thus far in the preseason so I’m excited to see what happens when the lights go on and the real season tips off. Danny Chau: Perry Jones III. He won't get the consistent burn ROY candidates Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard will, but he's too talented not to crack Scott Brooks' rotation. He's already made a name for himself with some incredible dunks in the preseason. Playing in the shadow of the team's elites will be good for him, and with several bigs on the roster hoping to prove their worth, Jones will get a chance to show if can play at the wing full time. And be sure to pay attention to the chemistry that is already starting to form between PJ3 and Eric Maynor. 2. Draw a comparison between any rookie and your favorite shape. Explain. Sean: Bradley Beal is a block—not the heaviest, but a crucial one in the stabilization of one of the most disjointed organizations in the league. Amin: Tyler Zeller is a rhombus. Dude is totally a square, but he can run the floor, bang down low, and hit his free throws. Wait, sorry. That's a parallelogram. Noam: Will Barton is a septagon. Hipster rookie playing in a hipster city gets a hipster shape. I even made a point of calling it a septagon instead of a heptagon, because that's how it's supposed to be called, even if you mainstream wannabe geometers don't get it. Eric: John Jenkins is an octagon. An octagon has very limited uses. Think about it. Where do you see an octagon? A stop sign. A UFC match. Is there even a third answer here? Similarly, John Jenkins has very limited uses. He may turn out to be the best pure three point shooter in the draft, but what else is he going to do? He’s not going to rebound the ball especially well. Or pass it well. Or play defense well. Or make breathtaking plays. Nope, you’re basically going to get


nothing but three balls from Octagon Jenkins. Hey actually that’s a pretty great name for a UFC fighter come to think of it. Danny: A rhomboid's opposite sides are equal, but it's not equilateral and has no right angles. Sounds like Austin Rivers to me. 3. If you could sponsor any rookie's Basketball-Reference page, whose would it be? Sean: Is it already a cliché to sponsor Kendall Marshall's page and just write "btb"? Amin: Evan Fournier. I need any excuse to practice French, so it's a win-win. BBR gets money, et je peux ecrire quelque chose amusant sur l'internet pour tout le monde. Noam: Quincy Acy. Always sponsor bearded pages. The beard community is a money maker. Eric: Perry Jones III. Isn’t the goal of investing to buy low and sell high? When Jones tumbled in the draft to 28th due to injury concerns, that represented the lowest that I think his stock is going to reach. You’re telling me that Jones is going to play out his rookie contract and be exposed and challenged by Kevin Durant every day and he’s not going to get better? Please. I want in on the ground floor of the Perry Jones Experience, and I’m not afraid to put my money where my mouth is on this one. Danny: Robert Sacre's, because I can probably convince him to pay me $40 for the rights to his page. 4. Which under-the-radar rookie will have the biggest impact on his team's season? Sean: John Jenkins. Trading Joe Johnson should open up the Hawks' offense for other wing players to contribute. Adding Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow makes Atlanta an elite three-point shooting team, and I have every expectation that Jenkins, one of the best shooters in the draft, will play a role in their new perimeter attack. Amin: Perry Jones, if he counts. He's really talented, and he's on a contender already. If he is able to get big minutes in the rotation, it'll allow OKC to be more flexible with its roster. They could play more small ball, they could play their big 3 fewer minutes. Hell, if he's REALLY good, trading away Harden might be more palatable. #trolltrolltroll Noam: Tony Wroten. There might not have been a worse bench position in the league last year than Memphis' point guards. Jeremy Pargo just couldn't carry over his strong Euroleague performances, Josh Selby looked much more like the guy picked 49th than the guy who was at some point a potential lottery pick, and Gilbert Arenas' knees have ruined everything that his off-court issues left. Wroten could get a chance to be the 4th guard right off the bat, and his size offers some tantalizing possibilities that we just haven't seen from young point guards since that thing happened to Shaun Livingston. Eric: Robert Sacre. If Isaiah Thomas could break out of the last draft spot in 2011 as a surprise star for the Kings, why can’t Sacre do the same in 2012 for the Lakers? OK but for real, I’m taking Tyler Zeller. There is a very good chance that Anderson Varejao does not finish the year in a Cavaliers uniform; I just have this sneaking suspicion that either he will be traded for assets around the trade deadline or suffer yet another injury that keeps him out an extended period of time. When he went down last year, the Cavs turned to the likes of an offensively raw, slightly undersized Tristan Thompson and professional basketball impersonator Ryan Hollins to fill in at center. Now, with a competent big man on the bench who can spell Varejao for stretches or start if needed, the Cavs are in much better shape at the 5 spot.


Danny: The Mavericks seem to love them some Jae Crowder. There's a lot of uncertainty with the new-new-look Mavs, so the knowledge that Crowder will be all toughness and effort on a nightly basis is reassuring. 5. If you had to describe this year's rookie class in one word, what would it be and why? Sean: Dynamic. There's a lot of athleticism in this draft class, much of it raw and unrefined. But there should be at least a half-dozen, and probably more, incredibly exciting players to emerge. Amin: Bastards. Not in the bad way. In the cool, John Snow way. They were all "born" (aka the draft was held) in the Prudential Center where the Nets used to play. Born in an arena that houses no parent team? Sounds bastardy to me. Noam: Throwback. We've been hearing a lot about the death of the center position lately, and while that talk has been overblown, it's hard to deny that today's big men have been coming further and further from the paint. Well, this class has 5 big men in Valanciunas, Drummond, Leonard, Zeller and Melo whose best case scenario envisions a mobile big man who alters games from the inside. One reasonably projects some, if not most of them, to fail, but it does remind us that even after an NBA finals with Chris Bosh and Shane Battier forming a "frontcourt", the basket is still high in the air, and being closer to it helps with the put-the-ball-in thing. Eric: Intriguing. We think we know that we’re getting a superstar talent in Anthony Davis, but after that, who knows? Will MKG’s talent be wasted in Charlotte? Will Brad Beal’s sweet shooting stroke actually translate into points? Did the Cavs really reach for two years in a row picking out of the fourth slot? Will the guy that everyone thinks the Cavs should have taken, Jonas Valanciunas, live up to the Lithuanian hype? There are a lot of questions that I cannot wait to see answered over the course of 82 games. Danny: Undefined. Part of the NBA rookie experience is learning how to play among players much better than you. It's about learning what your team and the league expect of you, and learning how to be what you never had to be at the lower levels. There are a lot of players in this draft that will have a serious adjustment period -- to the athleticism, to the rigors of a new position, to the skill level needed to succeed at this level. There are many raw athletes and many players without a definite position. Watching them try to figure it all out should be fun and infuriating.


Houston Rockets (34-32, 4th in Southwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Leslie Alexander

GM Daryl Morey

Coach Kevin McHale

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 102.8 12th

Own eFG 102.1 15th

Own FTR 49.22 11th

Own TOR 48.99 17th

Own ORR 23.5 28th

Def Eff 27.5 15th

Opp eFG 13.51 14th

Opp FTR 13.78 15th

Opp TOR 27.52 15th

Opp ORR 26.58 13th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Omer Asik (CHI) Carlos Delfino (MIL) Jeremy Lin (NYK)

Free Agents –Lost Marcus Camby (NYK) Goran Dragic (PHX) Courtney Lee (BOS) Jon Leuer (CLE) Luis Scola (PHX)

Draft Picks Jeremy Lamb (12th) Royce White (16th) Terrence Jones (18th)

Trades   

Player Jeremy Lin Toney Douglas Shaun Livingston

2012-13 $8,374,646 $2,067,880

Kevin Martin Jeremy Lamb Gary Forbes

$12,439,657 $2,020,200 $1,500,000

Chandler Parsons Carlos Delfino Terrence Jones

$888,250 $3,000,000 $1,485,000

Patrick Patterson Royce White Marcus Morris

$2,096,760 $1,645,440 $1,959,960

Omer Asik

$3,500,000

$8,374,646 Donatas Motiejunas $1,361,400 Jon Brockman $1,000,000 2012-2013 Salary: $51,273,600

th

Acquired 18 pick in 2012 Draft for Chase Budinger Acquired Gary Forbes and a first-round draft pick from Toronto for Kyle Lowry. Acquired Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and two unspecified second-round draft picks from New York for Marcus Camby. Acquired JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, and a 2013 second-round draft pick from Boston for Courtney Lee. Acquired the rights to Jon Diebler from Portland while Boston sent Sasha Pavlovic to Portland.

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $8,374,646 $3,874,646 $0 $3,101,820 $0 $0

2016-17 $0 $0

Total $25,123,938 $2,067,880 $3,500,000

$0 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $12,439,657 $0 $0 $0 $0 $9,367,716 $2,111,160 $2,202,000 $3,034,356 $4,175,273 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,500,000 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $2,779,500 $926,500 $964,750 $0 $0 $6,000,000 $3,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $7,319,890 $1,551,840 $1,793,520 $2,489,530 $3,728,996 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $5,202,061 $3,105,301 $4,319,473 $0 $0 $7,909,699 $1,719,480 $1,793,520 $2,751,259 $3,865,519 $2,096,760 $3,105,301 $4,319,472 $0 $7,162,021 CENTER – SALARIES $25,123,938 $8,374,646 $3,874,646 $0 $0 $6,556,244 $1,422,720 $1,483,920 $2,288,204 $3,352,642 $1,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 UNDER Salary Cap By: $6,770,400


Houston Rockets 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Connor Huchton I dare you to find a more fun team than this year’s Houston Rockets. There’s no doubt you could find a better team, or a more cohesive team. You could certainly find countless older teams. But none exist that capture the imagination of a fan quite like this Rockets team does. No matter what expectations exist for his production, Jeremy Lin is an undeniably fun player. He scores with flair, finishing at the basket through a myriad of unlikely angles and has a precise, lightning-quick first step. He finds cutting teammates with relative ease, and passes in crowded lanes like Monet created landscapes. Donatas Motiejunas brings his own brand of odd excitement. He’s a near-seven footer with incredible touch, range, and a polished post game. Though his defense isn’t quite as fun to process, he comes to the NBA with enough skill to generate hope about the offensive player he could become. Chandler Parsons is fun, with all of his putback dunks and glory. But you already knew that. Shaun Livingston is a point guard whose primary skill is posting up his counterparts. He’s a testament to every comparably small player who dreams of displaying an array of post moves, if only they were larger. Livingston provides hope to undersized post players everywhere, in his own way. Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Jones are more moderate-sized fun, in their own solid, hyper-athletic fashion. If you enjoy smooth jumpers and the correct use of screens, you’ll love Lamb. His movements scream out with polish and fluidity. If you enjoy dependable hooks, strength, and the occasional, questionable long mid-range jumper, you’ll love Jones. And oh, Omer Asik. He adds stellar rebounding and impressive defense at every turn, coupled with an interesting hairstyle and endlessly interesting body movements. Beyond these highlighted players, the Rockets are still a haven of burgeoning basketball enjoyment. Scott Machado is the type of young distributor who could lead fans to be reinvigorated by the power of passing, and the list continues beyond him. So even as the Rockets lose most of their games, and trudge slowly through a crowded Western Conference, there will be exclamations of joy and sharp intakes of breath for those who choose to watch them.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It’s Trollin’ For… by Sean Highkin Daryl Morey has been fooling us this entire time. The roster he has created is actually the final stage in one of the greatest social experiments/art projects in modern sports history. He's hosted MIT conferences by espousing the philosophy of collecting assets in order to swing a trade for a superstar while keeping the team competitive in the meantime. But in reality, Morey just likes collecting picks and players with "upside" who don't fit together to test the limits of how much people are willing to buy into his genius. The experiment was almost ruined a year ago, when he was roped into taking Pau Gasol as part of the Chris Paul-to-theLakers trade. But it ended up working in his favor—he simply called in a favor from Dan Gilbert, convincing him to write


a Comic Sans letter to David Stern explaining that the trade would destroy the NBA as he knew it. Gilbert didn't need much convincing, because he's insane. When the trade was vetoed, Morey was able to have his cake and eat it too: the perception that he was willing to trade his precious assets for a star like Gasol was left intact, but his bizarre creation was not derailed. Dwight Howard was just the final piece Morey needed, but not in the way people thought. Once it became clear Chocolate Shoulders wanted no part of an extension in Orlando, Morey frantically began stockpiling picks, which he used to load his roster with combo forwards with a fervor not seen since David Kahn went all-in on point guards in 2009. All he had to do was have Dwight's agent "leak" that he wouldn't sign in Houston, and he had an out. But now the project is complete. Now we see whether Metal Machine Music works as a roster-building doctrine.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by James Herbert It’s February 21, 2013 and Daryl Morey finally has his superstar. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship hopes have been Smushed. Yes, the years of asset accumulation have finally paid off for the Houston Rockets. They have traded Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, Royce White and Donatas Motiejunas to the Lakers for Dwight Howard. No one expected Howard to play fewer games for the Lakers than Mike Penberthy, but given last year’s drama in Orlando, perhaps we should have seen it coming. It started with Steve Nash’s ankle injury a week ago and it spiraled out of control quicker than you can say “Soumalia Samake”. With Steve Blake and Chris Duhon both traded in the preseason, Los Angeles needed some depth behind Darius Morris. Howard, having connected with Smush Parker through a mutual friend, urged management to give the ex-Laker point guard another chance. Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak refused, citing the fact that Parker went on a podcast in October and stated that he’d stopped passing Kobe Bryant the ball toward the end of his second season there. This led to a public falling out between Howard and the Lakers, with the center incredulously saying, “Orlando gave Big Baby for $26 million for me, these guys won’t even give my guy a 10-day.” Howard’s ensuing trade demand opened the door for Houston, the only team with enough young talent to give the Los Angeles a modicum of hope for post-Kobe, post-Dwight success. The deal came down to the final hour of the trade deadline, with Los Angeles initially refusing to commit to the swap without the inclusion of Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Lamb. Unable to find a better offer elsewhere, the Lakers eventually relented, giving Houston a promising young core of Lamb, Jeremy Lin and Terrence Jones next to Howard. The Rockets are expected to sign Parker to fill one of their newly-open roster spots.

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Jordan White As far as centers go, Omer Asik isn’t exactly “sexy”. He runs with his thumbs up and an awkward, plodding gait. If you did a highlight reel of his offensive footwork around the rim, it would most likely be set to the “Benny Hill” theme. But the Rockets didn’t sign Asik to what was perhaps the most divisive contract of the offseason to be a star on offense. They signed him to anchor the defense. Asik’s stellar defense isn’t as glamorous as, say Dwight Howard’s, blocking everything in sight. Rather, opponents just don’t score against the towering Serbian. Last season, with Asik on the bench, the Bulls


had a defensive rating of 97.6, according to NBA.com’s stats tool. When Asik entered the game, the rating dropped to 89.7. Opponents shot 43.5% against the Bulls with Asik off the court, but shot only 38.9% with him on the court. He was a defensive nuke, eradicating all evidence of his opponents’ offensive existence. In Houston, Asik’s mission on the defensive end will be more of the same: seek and destroy. Or rather, should I say:


Indiana Pacers (42-24, 2nd in Central)

MANAGEMENT Owner Herb Simon

GM Kevin Pritchard

Coach Frank Vogel

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 103.5 8th

Own eFG 100.4 10th

Own FTR 47.44 23rd

Own TOR 47.62 7th

Own ORR 32.1 3rd

Def Eff 30.5 26th

Opp eFG 13.10 7th

Opp FTR 14.07 12th

Opp TOR 29.25 5th

Opp ORR 27.72 21st

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed D.J. Augustin (CHA) Gerald Green (BKN) Sam Young (PHI)

Free Agents –Lost Lou Amundson (MIN) Leandro Barbosa (BOS) A.J. Price (WAS)

Player George Hill D.J. Augustin

2012-13 $8,000,000 $3,500,000

Paul George Lance Stephenson Orlando Johnson

$2,574,120 $915,243 $550,000

Danny Granger Gerald Green Sam Young

$13,058,606 $3,500,000 $854,389

David West Tyler Hansbrough Jeff Pendergraph

$10,000,000 $3,055,259 $854,389

Roy Hibbert $13,668,750 Ian Mahinmi $4,000,000 Miles Plumlee $1,073,280 2012-2013 Salary: $65,350,015

Draft Picks Miles Plumlee (26th) Orlando Johnson (36th via trade)

Trades 

Acquired Ian Mahinmi from Dallas for Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $8,000,000 $8,000,000 $8,000,000 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $3,282,003 $4,470,088 $0 $981,349 $0 $0 $788,872 $915,243 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $14,021,788 $0 $0 $3,500,000 $3,500,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $4,225,423 $0 $0 $0

2016-17 $8,000,000 $0

Total $40,000,000 $3,500,000

$0 $0 $0

$5,856,223 $1,896,632 $2,254,115

$0 $0 $0

$27,080,394 $10,500,000 $354,389

$0 $0

$10,000,000 $3,055,259 $854,389

$0 $0 $0 CENTER – SALARIES $58,065,563 $14,283,844 $14,898,938 $15,514,031 $0 $16,000,000 $4,000,000 $4,000,000 $4,000,000 $0 $5,473,974 $1,121,520 $1,169,880 $2,109,294 $3,113,316 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $7,306,015


Indiana Pacers 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Clint Peterson While on paper this may feel like something of a lateral move at point guard, Collison has been a bad fit for the Pacers, his numbers steadily declining, with Collison dishing a career low assists last season, at 4.8, and a mere 24.9 AST%, very low for a point. On the other hand, Augustin was poised for a breakout season before nagging, minor injuries were blamed for a prolonged shooting slump. Nevertheless, Augustin managed to continue distributing at a career rate with new highs in assists, 6.4, and AST%, 38.9, a prospect likely to suit both his role and the Pacers’ plan more smoothly, and overall, Augustin in four years has shot .374 from 3 to Collison’s .363 in three years. Oddly enough, I feel like David West should benefit more from Augustin than he did with Collison, despite former team ties on the New Orleans Hornets. “Hey, look! We don’t need Chris Paul after all!” was fun in 2010 and all, but the snickers were quickly turning to groans in Indiana. The Pacers’ roster just feels right now. Balanced. -Clint Peterson, Hardwood Paroxysm After Kevin Pritchard locked up Roy Hibbert, and added size to the frontcourt with Ian Mahinmi, if there's a soft spot on the Indiana Pacers' roster it's at shooting guard. Not in the sense that Paul George isn't poised to break out as possibly the biggest basketball draw in Indy, but in depth. Currently, George Hill, a combo-guard, is listed as the starting point guard, with offseason acquisition DJ Augustin slated to come in behind either guard. But Augustin's assist percentage is a full 20% higher than George Hill's, making him a natural fit at the starting one-spot for Frank Vogel, able to feed Hibbert on penetration or kicking out to David West, who's one of the deadlier shots from midrange in the game. However, the fantasy projections disagree. Augustin has a lot going against him as a fantasy option with his new squad, the Pacers. They already have George Hill slated to start at the point, and it's going to be difficult for Augustin to unseat Hill due to his terrible field goal shooting (40.7 percent career) and defense (undersized at 6 feet, plus poor fundamentals). He may be a better passer than Hill, but that will only take him so far. Odds are that Augustin will be the backup point guard with a steady enough role in the rotation to contribute in deeper leagues, especially during stretches when Hill or Paul George are in the infirmary. -ESPN Fantasy Projection What they failed to mention, or notice, is that Augustin not only shoots as well as Hill from the floor, but also gets to the line slightly more often, in addition to making 7% more of them than Hill. Hill also doesn't rebound any better to speak of, nor does he steal the ball any better nor more often. We already know who George Hill the Pacer is. It's time to see who DJ Augustin the Pacer is. I'll go ahead and say what everyone who isn't should be thinking: 20 games in at the latest, Augustin should be starting. 30 games in he'll be making waves. By the halfway mark everyone will wonder why he wasn't the starter from day one.


Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Eric Maroun 985.97. Is it an obscure number? Yes. However, 985.97 was a crucial number to the Pacers season last year. 985.97 was partially responsible for the run that Indiana made in the playoffs which died out shortly following them taking a 2-1 series lead on the Chris Bosh-less Miami Heat. Most importantly, it’s a number that is most likely not repeatable in the 2012-13 season. So what does it represent? Per BasketballValue.com, The Pacers main starting lineup of Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, and Roy Hibbert were on the floor together for 985.97 regular season minutes last year, by far the most common lineup put out on the court by any team in the league. For comparison’s sake, here are the next four most common lineups:    

PHX: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat – 744.88 minutes LAC: Chris Paul, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan – 648.20 minutes OKC: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins – 610.27 minutes MIA: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony – 516.95 minutes

What does it mean? It means that the Pacers were ridiculously, unbelievably, unfathomably healthy last season. All five players mentioned played in at least 60 regular season games with George and West appearing in all 66 regular season contests and Hibbert checking in for 65 of them. While the Pacers are the sexy pick to win the Central Division due to competing with young Pistons and Cavs teams, a still-at-least-a-year-away Bucks team, and Derrick Rose-less for half the year Bulls squad, wondering if they can match last year’s success is a valid concern. Darren Collison was traded away for Ian Mahinmi, leaving George Hill as the starting point guard on the team. Hill played in 50 games last year, with most of the games he missed coming due to a stress fracture he suffered in his ankle. David West is still less than two years removed from a devastating ACL tear in his left knee that he sustained while in New Orleans, which is always a concern. And Roy Hibbert, despite a clean bill of health thus far during his four year career, did not get any smaller in the offseason meaning he will once again be putting about 280 pounds of stress on that 7’2” frame of his. While this is obviously not a guarantee of an injury for the big man, it’s at the very least a recipe for one in the future. Basketball, maybe more than any other sport, is a game built on familiarity with those on your team. Being able to anticipate where a teammate’s shot is going to miss so you can be in position for the rebound, knowing when someone is going to make a backdoor cut so you can time your pass correctly, and consistently feeding a three-point shooter in the perfect spot to allow him to catch and shoot in one fluid motion is what separates the average teams from the good teams and the good from the great. While duplicating their healthy 2011-12 campaign is unlikely, I suppose it’s possible. The Pacers better hope so; the success of their season may be riding on it.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Eric Maroun Popular opinion around NBA circles has the Pacers as the second best team in the Eastern Conference, and it’s hard to disagree. Boston is yet another year older and lost Ray Allen. Chicago will likely be without Derrick Rose for the first 4-5 months of the season. The Pacers first round opponent, the Orlando Magic, figure to be one of the worst teams in the Association after gifting Dwight Howard to the Lakers. The Knicks’ last playoff series win came only five months after people breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing that the Y2K bug was nothing to be worried about. And while the Nets


turned their franchise around 180 degrees in the offseason, no one has a clue how all of their new pieces will gel. Realistically, anything less than a two seed for Indiana could be viewed as a disappointment. The biggest problem that Indiana has is that they are simply not a better basketball team than Miami. They had the chance to wreak havoc on the team from South Beach last year after taking a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but their Game 3 victory would be the last one of the season. And even that brief series lead was fool’s gold. It came against a Miami team that was missing Chris Bosh, and when LeBron decided to turn his amplifier up to 11, the Pacers were toast. Unfortunately for the Pacers, the Heat added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in the offseason while the Pacers countered by drafting Miles Plumlee, signing D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green, and trading Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones away for Ian Mahinmi. Advantage: Miami. This presents a serious problem. In the NFL and NBA, you either want to be bottoming out or competing for a title. The former lands you high draft picks; the latter is obvious. Though the Pacers may very well finish second in the East, there is a chasm between the Heat and Pacers currently. Barring a monster trade pulled off by Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers are in prime position for a 55 win season and second or third round exit. While there are many fans and teams that would be satisfied with this outcome, it is essentially a doomsday scenario for Indiana.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Connor Huchton A man walks into a store, and quickly grabs a bag of chips. He shifts carefully towards the cashier, and soon reaches the counter. He makes brief eye contact with the person behind the register, pays in nearly exact change, mutters a brief thank you, and exits the store. He begins his short walk home, striding along the sidewalk and staring downwards in a deep focus. He opens his bag of [brand name here], and shoves multiple chips into his mouth over the course of many five-second intervals. He enjoys the taste, but chip remnants remain in his teeth after every bite. Still, he continues eating and makes his way home. A realization strikes this man: He has been walking slightly leftwards of his destination throughout the entire journey, and is now a few houses of horizontal distance away from his own. He sighs, but determinedly moves towards the correct location. Eventually, he reaches his door, struggles to find the correct key, and finally manages to do so. He enters his home, watches TV for two to three hours while drinking a lukewarm soda, and then goes to sleep for seven comfortable hours. It is an acceptable sleep. This man is the Indiana Pacers, and every day is an era.


Los Angeles Clippers (40-26, 2nd in Pacific)

MANAGEMENT Owner Donald Sterling

GM Gary Sacks

Coach Vinny Del Negro

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 105.2 4th

Own eFG 102.9 18th

Own FTR 50.24 7th

Own TOR 49.22 20th

Own ORR 28.7 11th

Def Eff 32.9 29th

Opp eFG 12.70 2nd

Opp FTR 14.20 9th

Opp TOR 29.48 4th

Opp ORR 26.82 14th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Matt Barnes (LAL) Jamal Crawford (POR) Grant Hill (PHX) Ryan Hollins (BOS) Ronny Turiaf (MIA)

Free Agents –Lost Randy Foye (UTA) Mo Williams (UTA) Nick Young (PHI)

Player Chris Paul Eric Bledsoe

2012-13 $17,779,458 $1,707,720

Chauncey Billups Jamal Crawford Willie Green

$3,000,000 $5,000,000 $1,375,000

Caron Butler Grant Hill Travis Leslie

$8,000,000 $1,957,000 $782,195

Blake Griffin Lamar Odom Trey Tompkins

$7,226,892 $8,200,000 $782,195

DeAndre Jordan $10,532,977 Ronny Turiaf $854,389 Ryan Hollins $854,389 2012-2013 Salary: $69,007,088

Draft Picks Furkan Aldemir (53rd)

 

Trades Acquired Willie Green from Atlanta for the rights to Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Acquired the right to swap 2016 secondround draft picks from Brooklyn for Reggie Evans.

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $0 $0 $0 $2,626,473 $3,726,965 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $5,225,000 $5,450,000 $5,675,000 $1,399,000 $1,488,490 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $8,000,000 $0 $0 $2,045,065 $0 $0 $882,293 $1,123,163 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $13,668,750 $14,693,906 $15,719,063 $0 $0 $0 $882,293

$1,123,163 CENTER – SALARIES $10,986,550 $11,440,124 $0 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000

$0 $0 $0 $0

2016-17 $0 $0

Total $17,779,458 $4,334,193

$0 $0 $0

$3,000,000 $21,350,000 $4,262,890

$0 $0 $0

$16,000,000 $4,002,065 $1,664,488

$16,744,219 $0

$85,822,205 $8,200,000 $1,664,488

$0

$32,959,651 $0 $854,389 $0 $854,389 $0 OVER Salary Cap By: $10,963,088


Los Angeles Clippers 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Conrad Kaczmarek Everybody has an opinion about the Clippers, but nobody really knows which opinion is the most accurate. Some will tell you that the Clippers are all flash and no substance – that Lob City is more focused on dunks than winning basketball games. Some will tell you that the Clippers are just LA’s “other” team – that they’ll never be able to topple the Lakers. Some will tell you that any team that employs Ryan Hollins is basically just a lost cause. While all of these things may be true, they also ignore the more important fact that the Clippers are a really freaking good basketball team. There are fans that will focus on the idea that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin tend to – ahem – exaggerate contact sometimes. And then there are fans that will focus on the fact that HOLY SHIT HOW DID HE JUST DO THAT? There’s no doubt that the Clippers are a flawed team. Their coach is… well, he’s not good. Two of their most important players cannot hit free throws. They have Ryan Hollins on their roster. I’m not denying any of these things, but simply choose to focus on the more fun aspects of OH MY GOODNESS CHRIS PAUL JUST MURDERED HIS ANKLES. The Clippers were fourth in overall offensive efficiency in 2011-12. They took down a Grizzlies team with a ridiculous fourth quarter comeback and won Game 7 on the road. That’s pretty nice for a team that only cares about dunks and flopping, huh? There are teams that get undeserved hype year after year (*glances towards New York Knicks*), but this team ain’t one of them. With a legitimate super-duper star on hand in CP3 and the most explosive dunking humanoid in the planet in Blake Griffin, this team has plenty of room for improvement and the talent to take that next step. With some key improvements to young players, this Clippers team could get real scary, real fast.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Sean Highkin For the Clippers, this season is about one thing: convincing Chris Paul that this is where he wants to be for the long haul. Signing such venerated vets as Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill was done largely with CP3 in mind. Stars due for free agency treat veteran acquisitions as a show of commitment to fostering a winning atmosphere by management. Or something. Problem is, it doesn't always work—ask the Cavs how the Shaq and Antawn Jamison trades worked out for the purposes of keeping LeBron interested. There's serious potential for the Clips' offseason moves to backfire similarly. Crawford is coming off the worst season of his career, and while CP3 is certain to get him better looks than he got in Portland, he's still an inconsistent, inefficient gunner who can singlehandedly take you out of a game if he's not feeling it. Hill is no longer under the care of the voodoo magicians on the Suns' training staff, and it remains to be seen whether he's capable of playing 82 games a year without them. And I'm still not convinced that a return to LA will magically transform Lamar Odom back into Lakers Lamar Odom from the train wreck he was in Dallas. So that's your Doomsday scenario. But it's entirely possible these three signings pan out, and Paul stays happy. Another wild card is DeAndre Jordan, who didn't really get better last season the way people expected him to after signing a big contract. If this is the year he makes strides, the Clippers' pyrotechnic frontcourt will become even deadlier. They already locked up Blake Griffin, ensuring continued relevance as long as his knees hold up. This season is about holding onto the other half of Lob City. The Clippers are still the Clippers, but they could buck the trend.


I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Conrad Kaczmarek The Los Angeles Clippers were 4th in offensive efficiency last season. They have Chris Paul. Offense is not the problem. The Los Angeles Clippers were also 18th in defensive efficiency last season. Defense is the problem. I closed my eyes and I have seen the future. I guess you could say it was a dream, but for every team in the Western Conference – it is a nightmare. In this dream, the Clippers are finally rewarded for their faith in project big man, DeAndre Jordan. Before you ask – no, DeAndre cannot hit free throws in this vision either. But that’s not what is important. That’s not why the Clippers pay him roughly $10 million a year. Instead, DeAndre Jordan works with Hakeem Olajuwon not to master offensive post moves, but to become a rock solid post defender and 7-foot tall shot-blocking death monster. With Chris Paul tossing alley-oops, Jordan need not worry about expanding his offensive arsenal. Catching lobs and taking out all of his anger on the rim is plenty. On the other end of the court, DeAndre can change everything. Becoming more disciplined and biting on fewer pump fakes allows him to evolve into an effective post defender. Continuing to cut down on fouls and mastering rotations helps him stay on the court and cover up for the mistakes of others. Graced with an absurd 7-foot-6 wingspan and freakish hops, Jordan has to potential to be a dominant defender. By harnessing even a small fraction of this potential, Jordan is able to fix many of the Clippers’ problems. Picture a world where Pau Gasol cruises past Blake Griffin in the post, only to have his shot pinned against the backboard two feet above the rim. Luckily for the Western Conference, that world is still just a dream.

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Conrad Kaczmarek You know who is a floppy McCry baby? That’s right: Blake Griffin. If you’ve ever seen a basketball game –even ones that don’t involve the Clippers – you know that Blake Griffin is the only player to ever flop and is super awful. Furthermore, for whatever reason, he only likes to score when he just places the ball violently through the basket. It’s like… brah, we get it, you can dunk; you don’t need to do it every time the girls yoga class finishes and they all walk through the gym. Griffin can only dunk, flops on every play (even when he’s not in the game), and his post moves are worse than mine. When you take all of these things into consideration, it’s no wonder that he’s a virtually useless player. Wait, wait…I’m being told that that’s not actually true. I apologize. I wrote the first portion of this by only reading the comments of Lakers fans on Twitter and old school journalists who mourn the death of the mid-range game. Blake Griffin was a fan favorite and must-see TV during his rookie campaign. In his second season, everybody hated the guy. Does he preen and glare after his monstrously ridiculous dunks? Yeah, sometimes. Does he flop a bit too much and expect superstar calls? You bet. And I understand why fans don’t like that. But there’s a different between not liking how the guy plays and somehow trying to undermine his inherent value as a basketball player. Since Blake Griffin entered the NBA at the beginning of the 2010-11 season, his 73 games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds are the second most in the league (Kevin Love has 82). If you add in 5 assists to those criteria, only LeBron James (32) has more than Blake Griffin’s 23. For all of his flaws (free throw shooting, lack of consistent jumper, poor defense, semi-obnoxious floppitude), two things are undeniable: 1) in his first two NBA seasons, Blake Griffin has been one of the most productive big men in the league; and 2) he’s 23 years old with plenty of room to fix some of those problem areas. But yeah, he sucks because he flops – or something.


Los Angeles Lakers (41-25, 1st in Pacific)

MANAGEMENT Owner Jerry Buss

GM Mitch Kupchak

Coach Mike Brown

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 103.3 10th

Own eFG 101.7 13th

Own FTR 49.07 13th

Own TOR 47.58 6th

Own ORR 29.9 9th

Def Eff 21.3 1st

Opp eFG 14.21 19th

Opp FTR 10.67 30th

Opp TOR 29.11 6th

Opp ORR 25.19 6th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Antawn Jamison (CLE) Jodie Meeks (PHI)

Free Agents –Lost Matt Barnes (LAC) Ramon Sessions (CHA)

Draft Picks Robert Sacre (60th)

Player Steve Nash Steve Blake Darius Morris Chris Duhon

2012-13 $8,700,000 $4,000,000 $962,195 $3,500,000

Kobe Bryant Jodie Meeks

$27,849,149 $1,500,000 $762,195

Andrew Goudelock Metta World Peace

Devin Ebanks Pau Gasol Antawn Jamison Earl Clark

$7,258,960 $1,054,389 $19,000,000 $1,352,181 $1,240,000

Dwight Howard $19,536,360 Jordan Hill $3,563,600 2012-2013 Salary: $99,716,834

Trades Acquired Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark from Orlando for Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, and a 2017 first-round protected pick (Bynum to PHI). Acquired Steve Nash from Phoenix for 2013 and 2015 first-round draft picks and 2013 and 2014 second-round draft picks.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $9,300,500 $9,701,000 $0 $4,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,750,000 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $30,453,805 $0 $0 $1,500,000 $0 $00 $0 $) $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $7,727,280 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $19,285,850 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

$0 CENTER – SALARIES $0 $0 $3,563,600 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000

$0 $0 $0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0 $0

Total $27,901,500 $8,000,000 $962,195 $5,250,000

$0 $0 $0

$58,302,954 $3,000,000 $762,195

$0 $0

$14,986,240 $1,054,389

$0 $0

$38,285,850 $1,352,181 $1,240,000

$0

$19,536,360 $0 $3,563,600 $0 OVER Salary Cap By: $41,672,834


Los Angeles Lakers 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Scott Leedy “I live on borrowed time my expiration date I’m past it, So lock me up forever but this s*** is everlasting” - Freddie Gibbs The Lakers are past their expiration date. The combination of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant has reached its limit; their days as a dominant pair are coming to an end. Kobe has 1 million miles on his basketball odometer and is playing on the finest knees German engineering can muster. Meanwhile, Gasol’s play has quietly declined over the past couple years. The younger, more talented trios touted by both the Thunder and the Heat have seemingly left them irrelevant. Sure they added Steve Nash, but he has a bad back and is even older than Kobe. This is where the Lakers fade away into the sunset. This is the end of their reign. The Lakers shit is everlasting. Yes, Nash is “old,” but that assumes you actually ascribe to the idea that the man pays any mind to things like “age” or years. He’s one year removed from the best shooting season of his career, and that was with little to no offensive support. Yes, Kobe is old. Yes, his NBA rank is maybe a little too high – but he’s still a great player, and if you don’t think bringing in Nash will help reduce his workload and improve his efficiency you’re fooling yourself. Oh, and then there’s that whole thing where they brought in Dwight Howard. He’s only the best defensive player in the league, and when healthy a strong contender for best player in the world that doesn’t have a “Chosen 1” back tattoo. There are no questions when it comes to the Lakers, only statements. This is a return to form, a reminder that the despite the resentment, despite all the hate, the Lakers dominance is eternal. It might wax and wane, but it’s ever present. The Lakers are always lurking. The Lakers never take no for answer. The Lakers will put your franchise on its knees. The Lakers are back on top.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Eric Maroun On paper, the Lakers look like the favorite to unseat the Oklahoma City Thunder as the team to beat in the Western Conference. If the upgrade from Andrew Bynum to Dwight Howard is the equivalent of going from a Benz to a Bentley, then the transition from Derek Fisher/Ramon Sessions to Steve Nash at the point is like going from a rusted out Pinto to a Ferrari. The free agent acquisition of Antawn Jamison, a volume scorer in every sense of the word, theoretically will provide a needed scoring punch off the bench for the Lakers. Oh, and they still have a couple of guys named Pau Gasol and Kobe Bean Bryant. Again, this team looks stacked. On paper. However, for a franchise that always seems to have breaks go its way (16 NBA championships, attracting three defining centers of their respective generations, being gifted Steve Nash for a handful of draft picks, and countless other examples), at some point the luck has to run out, right? While it’s easy to imagine Kobe hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy for the sixth time come June, it’s just as simple to see this completely blowing up. No one has a clue how Dwight Howard’s back is going to hold up over the course of an 82 game schedule where centers will be continuously banging bodies with him down on the blocks. Kobe’s German vampire knees will pass the 60,000 minute mark for his career (regular season and playoffs) by the end of November. Pau Gasol will have to adjust mentally to getting his touches reduced as Nash elects to run the pick and roll over and over with Dwight. Antawn Jamison is liable to come off the bench and launch five shots from beyond the arc which clang off the rim while he continues to play matador defense on


the other side of the floor. All of these issues, while not likely to all occur this season, are most definitely in play. And we haven’t even mentioned the unpredictability that Metta World Peace brings to the table. The best part is that in charge of it all will be Mike Brown, a coach that, despite a Coach of the Year award under his belt, has never inspired the greatest confidence among fans or players throughout his head coaching career. Is it possible that it all comes together, LA avoids all the pitfalls mentioned above, and we are finally treated to the Kobe v. LeBron Finals matchup that we all thought we would eventually be getting from 2008-2010? Absolutely. And knowing the Lakers history, the smart money is on this scenario occurring and everything working out for them, as always. But there also exists to chance that this turns into a flaming disaster, ending with Dwight facing a choice at the end of the season to stick around or pursue a title elsewhere, Nash considering retirement, and Metta World Peace heading to the county court clerk to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol a la Prince. Honestly, everything is in play here. No matter the outcome, we all know that we’ll be watching the Lake Show unfold over the next seven months.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It’s Trollin’ For Kobe Bryant by Jared Dubin Is anyone in the league in a more interesting position this season than Kobe Bryant? I honestly can’t figure out whether he’s in a win-win situation or a lose-lose one. On the one hand, he’s playing with more talented players than at any other point in his career. He should be able to ease back and keep himself rested. On the other hand, he’s likely going to be asked to play a drastically different role, and that may not be something he’s ready or willing to accept. If the Lakers win the Finals, he’ll have finally equaled Jordan in RINGZZZ counting, but there will also be cries of, “Of course they won the Finals. They replaced Bynum with Dwight and added Steve Freaking Nash. And by the way, Kobe was the best player on, what, two of those Finals teams?” And then there will be other people, just screaming “SIX RINGZZZZ. SIX. COUNT EM. SUCK IT, EDDY CURRY, AND YOUR STOOPID ONE CHAMPIONSHIP.” Granted, Kobe is likely to play a huge role in any potential Laker championship run, but I don’t think there’s anyone in their right mind who would deny that he won’t be L.A.’s best player this year. That honor belongs to Dwight, or maybe Pau, or maybe Nash, or maybe it’s still Kobe. We really don’t know. But if the Lakers don’t win the championship, or heaven forbid don’t even win the West… look out. ‘Cause them Kobe haters gon’ come out the woodwork. The narrative has pretty much already been predetermined, so it won’t even matter if it’s true or not. “Kobe couldn’t learn to share the load. He had to be the center of attention, the focal point of everything. He hijacked the offense, took a ton of terrible shots, and generally caused him some ruckus, because that’s just what Kobe does.” So is it a win-win or a lose-lose? Will he be better, more rested and more efficient because of the talent around him, or will he succumb to his inner me-ness and mess it all up? I don’t know, neither do you, and I don’t think anyone who isn’t named Kobe Bean Bryant does either.

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Steve McPherson I’m sitting here, staring at the title for this section and wondering if maybe my whole life has been building up to this moment: writing 250 words on why the Lakers are totally sucky. The problem, of course, is that they are not remotely sucky right now, the season laid out before them like a patient etherized upon a table.


I mean, they suck in the usual Laker way, at least in that every fan of every team that is not the Lakers is like, “The Lakers suck.” But that’s perennial. All those fans feel a certain primal rage when they see the Lakers get Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Arguments about whether they’re actually going to be effective are secondary. Hatred of the Lakers is a bonefeeling. But let’s try to hold the dogs at bay for a moment and remember that there was a time in the not too distant past when the Lakers reloaded with veteran talent. A year after being bounced by the Spurs from the Conference Semifinals, the Lakers brought in Gary Payton (who was three years younger than Nash is now at the time) and Karl Malone (who at 40 was well past his prime) to help them at their weakest positions, PG and PF. Sound somewhat familiar? Now we look back at that team and see it as futile ring-chasing, but before the season, a lot of people considered that Laker team to be the favorite for the championship. Then they lost to the Pistons in the Finals. And the average age of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton in 2004? 32.75. The average age of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash right now? 32.75. I’ll just leave that right here.


Memphis Grizzlies (41-25, 2nd in Southwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Michael Heisley

GM Chris Wallace

Coach Lionel Hollins

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 101.0 20th

Own eFG 98.9 7th

Own FTR 47.28 24th

Own TOR 48.45 11th

Own ORR 27.7 13th

Def Eff 29.7 23rd

Opp eFG 13.57 15th

Opp FTR 16.30 1st

Opp TOR 29.84 3rd

Opp ORR 27.27 19th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Jerryd Bayless (TOR)

Free Agents –Lost O.J. Mayo (DAL)

Draft Picks Tony Wroten Jr. (25th)  

Player Mike Conley, Jr. Jerryd Bayless Tony Wroten

2012-13 $7,305,786 $3,000,000 $1,110,120

Tony Allen Josh Selby Wayne Ellington

$3,300,000 $762,195 $2,083,042

Rudy Gay Quincy Pondexter D.J. Kennedy

$16,460,538 $1,234,320 $762,195

Zach Randolph Marreese Speights Darrell Arthur

$16,500,000 $4,200,000 $3,006,217

Marc Gasol $13,891,359 Hamed Haddadi $1,300,000 2012-2013 Salary: $74,153,577

Trades Acquired D.J. Kennedy from Cleveland for Jeremy Pargo, a 2014 second-round pick, and cash considerations. Acquired Wayne Ellington from Minnesota for Dante Cunningham.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $$8,000,001 $8,694,216 $9,388,426 $3,135,000 $0 $0 $1,160,040 $1,210,080 $2,179,354 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $884,293 $1,123,163 $0 $3,284,805 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $17,888,931 $19,317,325 $0 $2,225,478 $3,284,805 $0 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $17,800,000 $16,500,000 $0 $4,515,000 $0 $0 $3,231,683 $3,457,149 CENTER - SALARIES $14,860,523 $15,829,688 $1,397,500 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000

$0 $0 $0

2016-17 $0 $0 $3,201,471

Total $33,388,429 $6,135,000 $5,659,594

$0 $0 $0

$3,300,000 $1,646,488 $2,083,042

$0 $0 $0

$53,666,794 $3,459,798 $762,195

$0 $0

$50,800,000 $8,715,000 $11,695,049

$0

$44,581,870 $0 $2,697,500 $0 OVER Salary Cap By: $16,109,577


Memphis Grizzlies 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Jordan White What are we to make of a team as peculiar as the Memphis Grizzlies? They’re not in the throes of a rebuilding project like the Magic, and they’re not the Knicks, a team doomed to toil in the purgatory of decent despite their collection of supposedly elite talent. They aren’t the Thunder, built almost strictly through the draft. They aren’t the Heat, either, constructed with heaps of cash and perhaps just a bit of collusion. The Grizzlies are the enigma of the NBA, a band of misfits, castoffs and afterthoughts that have found a home in Memphis. Zach Randolph, branded a waste of talent and a locker room cancer, is now an unquestioned leader in Memphis and playing the best individual and team basketball of his career. Marc Gasol was the laughable throw-in of the equally laughable Pau Gasol trade. Few thought he’d ever become a rotation player in the NBA, much less one of the best two-way centers in the league. Even their draft picks carry with them the castoff feel, like Darrell Arthur, the victim of a draft day phantom medical red flag. Randolph, Gasol and the rest of the rag-tag group are all too aware of their “throw away” perception. What’s more, they thrive off it, using it as the fuel of Grit n’ Grind. Still, on paper, the Grizzlies shouldn’t work. They look like a team put together through a fantasy basketball draft, and a lousy one at that. And yet they do work, very well in fact. Call it chemistry, call it "Grit n' Grind," call it whatever, the Grizzlies, as a team, are far greater than the sum of its parts. But how far can this mindset take them? Can they Grit n' Grind their way to a championship, or will their lack of a true star prevent them from being anything more than a consistent high-seed playoff team?

Mystery Statistics Theater by Jared Dubin

If a player on my team is going to be jacking more than five 3-pointers per 36 minutes, I would definitely rather he be a 42.3% shooter than a 36.4% shooter. If a player on my team is going to be taking over 14 shots per 36 minutes, I’d rather he shoot a slightly-better-than-dreadful-but-still-pretty-poor 42.4% than a dreadful 40.8%. If a player on my team is


going to use nearly a quarter of the team’s possessions when he’s on the court, I would definitely rather him have a .561 TS% than a .513 TS%. I’d rather a guy who gets to the line 4.5 times per 36 minutes and hits at an 85% clip than one who gets there only 3.5 times per 36 and hits at just 77%. I’ll certainly take a significant edge in passing over a slight edge in rebounding, especially from a guard. And though PER isn’t nearly a perfect stat (it favors volume shooters and misses nearly everything that goes into defense, by John Hollinger’s own admission), I’d rather have a guy with a slightly-below-All Star PER than a guy with a slightly-below-average PER, probably. Well, what if I told you that both of these players were free agents this offseason, each coming off their 4th NBA season? What if I told you that they both got one year guaranteed deals? What if I told you that despite looking like the inferior player, Player B received a larger contract than Player A? What if I told you that Player A signed with Memphis and Player B left Memphis? What if I told you that Player A was Jerryd Bayless last season and Player B was O.J. Mayo last season? You'd think Grizz made a pretty slick move, right? Yeah. That's what I thought too.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Scott Leedy At this point we can all agree that the Memphis Grizzlies are a very good basketball team (Wait what? I feel weird). Marc Gasol has rendered the previously mocked Lakers trade a success, and Grizzlies management has put together a really impressive group of tough, gritty, grind-y(?) players that are both formidable and incredibly entertaining. Yes, they lost in the first round last year, but their circumstance wasn’t ideal (Z-Bo’s health, Rudy Gay decaying faster than radioactive polonium, Chris Paul, etc.) and they got a little unlucky( Reggie Evans, giving up a 1 million point lead in the 4th, Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans). Entering the season Grizzlies fans are probably wondering about Zach Randolph’s health, hoping he can return to 2011 playoff form. They are probably concerned about Rudy Gay’s poor playoff performance. They are probably obsessing over the lack of shooting, or worried about the backup point guard situation. Maybe they are getting excited about Jerryd Bayless, or pining for Marc Gasol to take another step forward. All these self-contained questions amount to small mounds when compared with the mountains that exist outside of team Grit and Grind. The Grizzlies major problem lies with the ridiculous strength and depth that exists in the rest of the Western Conference. The Thunder are seemingly getting better by the minute, the Clippers aren’t likely to regress, Denver is always intriguing, The Spurs are still The Spurs. Oh and the Lakers added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash this off-season. Ho-hum (I didn’t even mention Dallas. Jesus, the West is deep). The downside of having all these great teams is some of them have to lose. There’s nothing all that wrong with Memphis. They are a very talented, deserving team. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies are just good enough to be judged by goals that are likely unattainable. Furthermore their ability to attain those goals has less to do with their growth or performance, and more to do with their surroundings and circumstance .The Grizzlies problem isn’t the Grizzlies, it’s everybody else.


MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Noam Schiller Tony Allen’s twitter feed has become something of a shrine for the basketball blognescenti. He’s hilarious, he’s unfiltered, he talks about actual basketball to go with mundane everyday activities – it’s refreshing in a setting where most basketball players stick to tweets about “workin out” and promoting their own websites. But where Tony really separates himself from the pack is his punctuation. Allen doesn’t adhere to your mainstream rules about how to end your sentence – one rarely encounters a singular period, and if one does, it’s a misplaced one, as in “Just. Dropped my Lil daughter off at school!!” Instead, Allen concludes his thoughts with a variety of marks that evolve over time – from quotation marks to multiple exclamation marks to backslashes. Still, this is 2012, and one can’t afford to stagnate for long periods on the social media scene. So with the 2012-13 season set to tip off, here are the next logical steps for Tony in his punctuation domination. November: use & signs instead of the letter W. December: walk around the streets of Memphis wearing a semicolon as a hat. January 14th vs. Clippers: when matched up with Willie Green, draw multiple asterisks on his face. When asked why, say it’s because there’s no way Willie Green occupies a real roster spot. February 5th vs. Phoenix: just stand in the corner shaped like the @ sign instead of guarding Wes Johnson. It’s all right, he won’t score anyway. March 27th, @ New York: trap J.R. Smith inside parentheses. April 17th, vs. Utah: last game of the regular season. Tweet 140 hash signs every hour on the hour to symbolize the team’s climb up into the playoffs. Tony Allen has become a premier tweeter and an all-NBA defender with grit and grind. It’s hardly time to rest now. Get a move on it, Tony.


Miami Heat (46-20, 1st in Southeast)

MANAGEMENT Owner Micky Arison

GM Pat Riley

Coach Erik Spoelstra

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 104.3 6th

Own eFG 97.1 4th

Own FTR 50.48 6th

Own TOR 47.93 8th

Own ORR 30.7 4th

Def Eff 27.7 17th

Opp eFG 14.49 24th

Opp FTR 15.78 3rd

Opp TOR 26.56 19th

Opp ORR 26.09 10th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed

Free Agents –Lost

Ray Allen (BOS)

Ronny Turiaf (LAC)

Draft Picks Justin Hamilton (45th via trade)

Trades 

None

Rashard Lewis (NOH)

Player Mario Chalmers Norris Cole

2012-13 $4,000,000 $1,113,600

Dwyane Wade Ray Allen Mike Miller

$17,024,000 $3,090,000 $5,800,000

LeBron James Rashard Lewis James Jones

$17,545,000 $1,352,181 $3,350,000

Shane Battier Udonis Haslem

$3,135,000 $4,060,000

Chris Bosh $17,545,000 Joel Anthony $3,750,000 Dexter Pittman $854,389 2012-2013 Salary: $82,653,251

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $8,000,000 $4,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $1,191,240 $2,150,188 $3,203,780 $0 $7,658,808 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $77,168,000 $18,536,000 $20,048,000 $21,560,000 $0 $6,319,050 $3,229,050 $0 $0 $0 $6,200,000 $6,600,000 $0 $0 $18,600,000 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $79,315,000 $19,067,500 $20,590,000 $22,112,500 $0 $2,751,688 $1,399,507 $0 $0 $0 $4,850,000 $1,500,000 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $6,405,000 $3,270,000 $0 $0 $0 $4,340,000 $4,620,000 $0 $0 $13,020,000 CENTER – SALARIES $79,315,000 $19,067,500 $20,590,000 $22,112,500 $0 $11,350,000 $3,800,000 $3,800,000 $0 $0 $1,969,488 $1,115,099 $0 $0 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $24,609,251


Miami Heat 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Steve McPherson I can pretty easily boil down the Heat to a simple mathematical equation that you all learned in junior high school. mo’ money = mo’ problems For years, the team associated with LeBron James, whether the Cavs or the Heat, has had to contend with having what should be the best player in the game and not winning the title. But no more. That monkey is off James’ back, but in shrugging it off, he’s dropped it onto the Heat. When James was on the Cavs, we could go around in circles arguing about whether their failures were primarily the fault of James or the fault of his supporting cast. The Heat’s meltdown against the Mavs in the Finals was placed squarely on James’ shoulders, but now the pressure points have shifted. The Heat appear to have only improved this offseason. Despite their championship pedigrees, the team let Eddy Curry and Ronny Turiaf go. To compensate, they only signed the league’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made in Ray Allen and got a hell of a deal on Rashard Lewis. But getting better will mean nothing without another ring. If winning a championship puts a target on any regular team’s back, the Heat’s championship has given other team’s missile lock on them. And there are concerns: they’re still thin in the frontcourt (in spite of Dexter Pittman); Wade has shoved aside injury woes for years now, but there’s a real possibility he will suddenly just fall apart bringing the ball up court one of these times; and the real injury threat: although LeBron has been an ironman in the NBA, a significant injury to him would completely derail this team and quick. Still, you could do a lot worse than live by the James, die by the James.

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Jared Dubin There are plenty of bad things about the Miami Heat. In fact, there are some straight up awful things about the Miami Heat. It’s really hard to choose just one thing to be the worst. We can start with the way their core group was brought together in 2010; the possible conspiracy, The Decision, the laser-light celebration smoke show before they’d even stepped on the court for a game. We’d then move on to the way they just keep getting reliable veterans to sign up for the cause while taking less money than they’re offered elsewhere. After that, we’d go to the way Erik Spoelstra just absolutely refuses to give a straight answer to press questions. And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that horrid Public Address Announcer and the way he screams “DOS MINUTOS” whenever there are two minutes left in the half and makes everybody on the planet want to claw their eyeballs out of the socket. I could go on all day. I really could keep listing terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things about the Miami Heat. But I won’t.


Because the absolute worst thing about the Miami Heat, without a shadow of a doubt, is Pat F*ing Riley. And we all know it. The stupid Cheshire grin. The slicked-back hair. The perfectly pressed Armani suits. The constant “will-he-orwon’t-he” return to the bench routine. The legendary stories of how he lures players to Miami with his RINGZZZZ and his legendariness. The guy is just the worst. There’s a reason we in New York call him Pat The Rat. Because that stupid hair, and that stupid grin, and that stupid fax, and that stupid, stupid success he’s had in Miami make us hate him so much I can’t even think straight. So yeah, Pat Riley is the worst.

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Danny Chau Since the arrival of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat player introduction videos have had an acute emphasis on style and excessive adornment (best illustrated by Shane Battier, snarling at the camera in last year’s “All Of The Lights” intro with two different polos on and both collars popped – swag!). Of course, the first two years of the “Big 3” era was as much about image as it was about the actual basketball played on the court. This year, with the dust settling and a championship trophy legitimizing the team, the Heat are getting back to the basics, literally stripping down. Judging from the behind-the-scenes footage, the intro video seems to feature the players shirtless and working out. It’s all about being powerful, LeBron says. And nothing screams “power” like James Jones solemnly curling dumbbells. Still, one can’t help but come away a bit disappointed in how bare the video might be. Ever since the championship after party, I’ve been conceptualizing my own (disturbing) version of the 2012-13 intro video. Much was made about LeBron James wearing a shirt with his own face on it during the championship celebration. Yes, the shirt reflected a lot of why a lot of folks despise the man. But the shirt was also undeniably awesome. If I were at the helm, I would have incorporated the idea of having each member of the team wear a shirt with their face on it. The video would begin in almost pitch darkness with cinematic, slightly jarring piano chords playing sporadically. The only thing visible would be a faint outline of LeBron’s face. His eyes are closed. The camera zooms out and a dull light is turned on. That isn’t LeBron. It’s just the design on his shirt. But wait! The camera zooms out further and -- gasp! His body is decapitated! The head design on the shirt begins to squirm and open its eyes. It speaks. “It begins.” The camera zooms further and it’s the rest of the team behind him in a V-formation. They all have their faces on their shirts, too. Yep, and they’re all decapitated. In unison, they all scream “NOW!” in a demonic, pitch-shifted warble. Oh. The Heat don’t play on Halloween. Never mind.

Mystery Statistics Theater by Noam Schiller Dwyane Wade is really good. You know this. He is either the best or the second best shooting guard in the league, depending how you feel about Kobe Bryant and aging. But is he really a shooting guard? Let’s take compare his shot distribution to two other players. In order to adjust for usage, we’ll display the percentage of shots the three players take from each range instead of the actual number of attempts.


Wade creates much more of his own shots than both these players; he also both makes and attempts more from the inside, and less from the outside, than both. But as far as the distribution goes, Wade is much closer to player 2: he tries to get to the rim, pretty much stays away from three pointers, and employs much more of the in-between game. Player 1 is the league average for shooting guards; player 2 is the league average for power forwards. As much as we talk about LeBron moving to the 4, the truth is that both of Miami’s wing players are actually miscast big men; LeBron because of his handle and versatility, Wade because of his size. If he were born in the mid-50s, he easily could have been Adrian Dantley, who Bill Simmons describes as “a low post 6’3” guy”. Instead, he grew up wanting to be Michael. Don’t we all?


Milwaukee Bucks (31-35, 3rd in Central)

MANAGEMENT Owner Herb Kohl

GM John Hammond

Coach Scott Skiles

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 102.4 14th

Own eFG 102.4 17th

Own FTR 48.12 17th

Own TOR 48.93 16th

Own ORR 25.0 26th

Def Eff 28.1 18th

Opp eFG 12.90 4th

Opp FTR 14.62 5th

Opp TOR 27.72 12th

Opp ORR 29.08 25th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Marquis Daniels (BOS) Joel Przybilla (POR)

Free Agents –Lost Kwame Brown (PHI) Carlos Delfino (HOU)

Player Brandon Jennings Beno Udrih

2012-13 $3,179,493 $7,810,000

Monta Ellis Doron Lamb

$11,000,000 $650,000

Mike Dunleavy Tobias Harris

$3,750,000 $4,794,192 $1,524,480

Ersan Ilyasova Drew Gooden John Henson

$7,900,000 $6,680,000 $1,823,280

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Samuel Dalembert $6,700,000 Ekpe Udoh $3,524,880 Larry Sanders $1,991,760 Joel Przybilla $1,352,181 2012-2013 Salary: $62,205,951

Draft Picks John Henson (14th) Doron Lamb (42nd)

Trades 

None

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $4,330,469 $0 $0 $0 $7,509,962 $0 $0 $0 $0 $7,810,000 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $11,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $22,000,000 $788,872 $915,243 $0 $0 $2,354,115 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $0 $375000 $4,588,384 $4,382,576 $0 $0 $13,765,152 $1,630,800 $2,511,432 $3,581,302 $0 $9,248,014 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $7,900,000 $7,900,000 $7,900,000 $8,400,000 $40,000,000 $6,680,000 $6,680,000 $0 $0 $20,040,000 $1,905,360 $1,987,320 $2,943,220 $4,094,019 $12,753,199 CENTER - SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $0 $6,700,000 $4,469,547 $5,962,375 $0 $0 $13,956,802 $3,053,368 $5,962,375 $0 $0 $11,007,503 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,352,181 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $4,161,951


Milwaukee Bucks 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Jared Dubin In last year’s Hardwood Paroxysm season previews (I wasn’t on board yet, but I remember them. Great job, fellas! Okay, now this parenthetical is getting super weird.), there was a section in each called “Quo Vadimus.” For those who didn’t read them, don’t know Latin, or have never seen Sports Night, “quo vadimus” means “Where are we going?” And I can’t think of a more apt theme for the upcoming Milwaukee Bucks season than that. This team has a whole lot of different things to sort out this season. Should they commit long-term money to point guard Brandon Jennings? How much? Is Jennings and Monta Ellis a viable backcourt pairing? Should they move on from Ellis so soon after trading for him? Is rookie second-rounder Doron Lamb really ready to handle the shooting guard role if so? How can they possibly find playing time for Mike Dunleavy, Drew Gooden, Sam Dalembert, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, Epke Udoh, Joel Przybilla and Larry Sanders in their frontcourt? That’s 10 minutes-worthy players (Okay, so it’s really eight if you don’t count Pryz and Sanders, but 10 sounds better) at the forward and center positions. How should those minutes be divided? What are the best front-court combinations? Who plays well together? Who doesn’t? Should the Bucks dedicate themselves to seeing what they have with the young guns, or do they play veterans and try to make a run at the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference? Is Scott Skiles the right coach for this team? Will the players tune him out? Is it time to cut salary and rebuild… again? Lots of questions, and right now, there aren’t a whole lot of answers. Everything is uncertain. So I ask - quo vadimus, Bucks?

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Sean Highkin In terms of its on-court impact, the Bucks' deadline trade of Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis was the boldest move the franchise had made in several years. But its true importance lies with the creation of #monte, and how that exemplifies the immediate, spontaneous nature of meme creation. For presumably no reason other than boredom, a couple Wisconsin-based friends of mine started retweeting any and every tweet reacting to the Bucks' acquisition of "Monte Ellis." Retweeting misspellings of names and words is an old and relatively cheap meme, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune of following @FanSince09 can attest. But if you pick your spots, the results can be glorious. And #monte (and Manta, and Maunteigh) is just one such instance. #Monte has had an enduring relevance on Basketball Twitter because, by nature of Ellis' shot-happy, occasionally devastating game, he is one of social media's most-discussed NBA players. #monte can function as a hashtag both for when he's going off for 40 and when he's shooting 4-for-20, and is equally effective either way. One of those two friends that started it has already named his fantasy team for this season in a league we're all in "Monte's Inferno," and the other one and I are both kicking ourselves for not coming up with it first. A full season of the Bucks' Ellis/Brandon Jennings backcourt promises to be one of the most intriguing storylines of the year, with the potential to be an explosive scoring machine or a monument to excess to rival the Knicks' legendary Marbury/Francis era. Either way, #monte promises to leave its mark on Milwaukee's season, just as it's left its mark on our hearts.


I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Noam Schiller The Bucks have a very weird roster this season. With Andrew Bogut gone, this projects as an offensively oriented team – with nobody who is a bona fide scoring threat both inside and out. It’s a classification that transcends position or role – every player on the roster can score efficiently from only one of the two areas, if any, even if some don’t realize it. But what if Skiles turns this to his advantage? What if the flawed pieces were used to create two different, but complementary units with just the balance between inside and out? I present the dual Bucks lineups: Smalls in, bigs out: Very rarely do we see teams employ this sort of strategy, because it requires Kevin Garnett jumpers or Andre Miller derrieres. Enter Monta Ellis. Better known for jacking up 18 footers, the speedster is one of the best post-up guards in the game, albeit a reluctant one. Tobias Harris, standing 6’8”, posted similar numbers abusing smaller wings in his rookie year. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is usually a liability on the wings because he can’t shoot, but he does well at the rim and is a fantastic cutter. He can feast off the ball while Ellis and Harris post up, enabling him to stay on the outside defensively, where his impact is rivaled by few. And on the outside, two of the best shooting bigs in the land – Ersan Ilyasova, who added 45.5% shooting from 3 to his always steady long two numbers, and Drew Gooden, who has quietly mastered the high post while shockingly going without a trade for two years. Bigs in, smalls out: A more traditional way of looking at things. Beno Udrih’s 3 point shot abandoned him last year, but as he’s remained strong from just inside the arc with one of the best off-screen pull ups in the game, he seems poised for a bounce back. Mike Dunleavy has been a spot up savant the past two seasons, and projects to continue apace if his knees hold up. Doron Lamb shot the lights out at Kentucky and if he sticks in the league, and that projects to be the skill that keeps him in the league. And inside, we have Dalembert, a very good role man and elite offensive rebounder, and the pick of the Udoh-Henson-Sanders triumvirate – who aren’t exactly elite offensively, but sure as hell can’t shoot from a distance (though Henson may prove otherwise in due time). Sprinkle in a healthy dose of Brandon Jennings, mediocre from both ranges, but the Bucks’ best ball handler and creator, into both lineups, and you have a team that can throw two completely different offensive looks that are tailored to their limited pieces. Defense could be a concern – specifically, one of the “inside bigs” might need to switch lineups the Gooden-Ilyasova combo doesn’t get torched – but it’s the sort of versatility that the modern NBA requires.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Clint Peterson Here's a fun little Did You Know. DYK that "injury prone" Carlos Boozer has missed about half as many games as former Milwaukee front-man Andrew Bogut over the last five years, 73 to 141? Remember when David Kahn and Neil Olshey of the Timberwolves and Clippers were collecting point guards like they were Beanie Babies? Well, that's what Bucks GM John Hammond has done with big men. If you think the Lakers or Jazz are log jammed at the bigs spots, check this out: The Bucks have six legitimate big men on the roster, seven if you count Luc Richard Mbah a Moute as a big. And literally no depth at the guard spots. Sure, we all realize that none of these bigs are capable of what a healthy Bogut is -- the key word being "healthy" -- but unless Hammond has some serious wheeling and dealing in mind one injury in the backcourt and Hammond can get in line for the lottery early. And maybe the soup kitchen line too.


Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40, 5th in Northwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Glen Taylor

GM David Kahn

Coach Rick Adelman

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 101.5 18th

Own eFG 103.6 20th

Own FTR 47.69 20th

Own TOR 49.06 18th

Own ORR 30.6 6th

Def Eff 24.8 7th

Opp eFG 13.97 17th

Opp FTR 12.24 29th

Opp TOR 27.55 14th

Opp ORR 26.96 16th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents – Signed Lou Amundson (IND) Andrei Kirilenko (UTA) Brandon Roy (POR)

Free Agents –Lost Michael Beasley (PHX) Darko Milicic (BOS) Anthony Randolph (DEN)

Draft Picks Robbie Hummel (58th)   

Greg Stiemsma (BOS)

Martell Webster (WAS)

Player Ricky Rubio Luke Ridnour Jose Juan Barea

2012-13 $3,741,120 $4,000,000 $4,493,000

Alexey Shved Brandon Roy Malcolm Lee

$3,017,943 $5,100,000 $762,195

Andrei Kirilenko Chase Budinger

$9,779,349

Kevin Love Derrick Williams Dante Cunningham

Trades Acquired Chase Budinger from Houston for 18th pick in the 2012 Draft. Acquired Dante Cunningham from Memphis for Wayne Ellington. Acquired Jerome Dyson, Brad Miller and two undisclosed second-round draft picks from New Orleans for cash and Wesley Johnson (Johnson to PHX).

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $4,4002,120 $5,070,686 $6,723,729 $4,320,000 $0 $0 $4,687,000 $4,519,500 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $3,150,000 $3,282,057 $0 $5,329,500 $0 $0 $854,389 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $10,219,000 $0 $0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $15,535,535 $8,320,000 $13,699,500

$0 $0 $0

$9,450,000 $10,429,500 $1,616,584

$0

$19,998,349

$0

$885,120

$13,668,750

$0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $14,693,906 $15,719,062 $16,744,218

$0

$60,825,936

$4,809,840

$5,016,960

$8,717,225

$0

$24,875,429

$0

$0

$4,270,000

$885,120

$2,090,000

Nikola Pekovic $4,837,200 Greg Stiemsma $2,575,000 2012-2013 Salary: $60,360,017

$6,331,404

$2,180,000 $0 CENTER – SALARIES $0 $0 $2,690,875 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000

$0 $0

$0 $4,837,200 $0 $5,265,875 OVER Salary Cap By: $2,316,017


Minnesota Timberwolves 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Steve McPherson There is nothing not theoretical about the Timberwolves. Roy’s knees; Rubio’s return; Love being over the whole contract thing; Williams’ potential; Shved’s command of the English language; Kirilenko’s readiness for the NBA after a year in Russia. There are teams that have a wealth of talented pieces but can’t seem to make them fit like the Knicks, and teams that have everything in the right place and just need to get over the hump before impending contracts threaten to shake them apart like the Thunder. There are teams that are just screwed and know it, like the Magic and the Bobcats—it’s actually part of the plan for them to be terrible. But who the hell knows how the Timberwolves fit together? To fall back on what is quickly becoming my favorite basketball metaphor, there are really two Timberwolves teams that exist simultaneously right now, like Schrodinger’s cat. There’s the one where Adelman’s system is fully installed and run capably by savvy vets like Kirilenko and Roy, with Ridnour and Barea holding down the point for the first couple months while Love and Pek go bananas from the arc and down low. I mean, the thing just hums. And Shved looks great, adjusting quickly to the NBA game and getting just enough English to produce charmingly goofy quotes that mangle American idioms winningly. And they stick around .500 until Christmas arrives, Rubio returns to face the Thunder on national TV and they trounce the Western Conference Champs. The team lifts Rubio aloft and the shot slows down to a still and then goes sepia. Boom. Credits. That’s all we could hope for. Then there’s the other one, the dead cat one, where things don’t gel, where Roy’s left leg just breaks off below the knee one night, where Shved and Kirilenko get fed up and start selling counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags behind Target Center, where Kevin Love demands a trade by Thanksgiving, where Rubio returns and discovers his hands have been replaced with blocks of soft, smelly cheese. What makes this such a Schrodinger’s cat situation is that because these are the Timberwolves, each of these scenarios is as likely as the other. So in some sense, they’re both happening inside the box and we’re all just standing in a field in a leather jacket waving a gun and asking, “WHAT’S IN THE BOX? WHAT’S IN THE BOX?”

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Jared Dubin Things are looking up in Minnesota these days, for the first time in a long time. Nearly everybody likes the Timberwolves to make a jump this season. They’re on everyone’s list of surprise teams. They’ve become a trendy pick to make the playoffs out West. There’s only one problem: Ricky Rubio is still injured, and he may miss up to half the season. You may know Rubio as the devilishly charming, floppy-haired point-guard (and #FuturePointGod) dynamo who pulls passes out of his… posterior, smiles a wicked smile and smells of #PuppyBreathAndCinnamon. And you’d certainly be right to think of him that way. After all, it’s not every day you come across a player who can do these kinds of things. Where Rubio really shined in his rookie season, though, was on defense. His long arms and quick feet mostly kept opposing point guards in front him, and also allowed him to pilfer a whole bunch of steals. He ranked 2nd in the NBA in


steals per game last season, behind only Chris Paul. His excellent positioning and timing led to his finishing 9th in the NBA in charges drawn per game as well. All told, he finished 9th in the NBA in steals + blocks + charges, despite blocking just 0.2 shots per game. The Wolves’ defensive rating with Rubio on the court was a very respectable 99.6, which would have finished 8th in the league over the course of a full season. When Rubio left the court, that defensive rating skyrocketed to 106.8, which would have tied them with Sacramento for 28th in the league and represented an increase of 7.2 points per 100 possessions, a massive jump. Rubio’s ability to cut off dribble penetration at the point of attack was key to the Wolves remaining respectable on defense, and without it they could struggle in the early portion of the season. Everyone has high hopes for this team, but they’ll have to count on Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea to hold the fort until Ricky gets back.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Jordan White It all starts with Ricky Rubio. Kevin Love may be Minnesota’s best player, but Rubio is arguably the most important. Rubio plays with an infectious that spread throughout the entire Timberwolves locker room. Seriously, Michael Beasley even passed once or twice. The Russian duo of Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko blend in perfectly with the Timberwolves. Kirilenko’s Russian revival is no fluke, and he returns to his place amongst the league’s most versatile and terrifying defenders. Shved, in all of his head banded glory, gives Minnesota a desperately needed outside shooting presence. Brandon Roy, in a stunning defiance of science, returns to All-Star form, bone-on-bone be damned, solving the Timberwolves glaring shooting guard problem. A combination of Luke Ridnour, Roy, Shved and Kirilenko assume interim playmaking duties until Ricky Rubio returns mid-December. The Spanish wonder shows no ill-effects from his ACL injury and once again infects the roster with the contagious energy with which he plays, lifting the entire team’s defensive intensity. As an added bonus, Rubio shows off an improved offensive arsenal, shooting above 40% from three and finishing much better at the rim. Kevin Love continues his stellar play and furthers his claim as the game’s best power forward. Derrick Williams defies nearly every statistical measure and becomes a potent weapon off the bench at the small forward spot. Nikola Pekovic builds upon his revelatory season, his lighter body making him a better defender and finisher. The Timberwolves grab the number six seed in the playoffs, upsetting the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round before bowing out to the Lakers in the Western Conference semi-finals. Of course, it could all go wrong. Rubio takes longer to recover than originally thought, and doesn’t return until after the All-Star break, when the team is already all but assured of another lottery appearance in next summer’s draft. He returns hobbled, still unable to finish at the rim or consistently hit a jump shot. All three of Minnesota’s lauded offseason signings go horribly awry. Brandon Roy’s knees, sans meniscus, once again prove unable to withstand the rigors of the NBA. Worse, Roy refuses to accept his fate and becomes a ball stopper on offense and a sieve on defense. Alexey Shved is overwhelmed athletically, reveals himself to be a turnover machine, and Kirilenko isn’t the elite defensive force he once was. The Timberwolves win only twenty games, and suddenly the whispers of Kevin Love's departure become much, much louder.


I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Sean Highkin When the Timberwolves signed Brandon Roy this summer, they scooped up the broken dreams of their Northwest Division-mates in Portland and decided to turn them into their own dreams. In Roy's heart, the dream of playing in the NBA was not quite dead, even though it had seemed lingering knee problems would cut short a career with Hall of Fame potential. I've written entirely too many words over the past two years about Roy, but my dream is that I'll have an excuse over the next two to write about him even more. I want that to mean the "Kobe surgery" he had on his meniscus-less knees this summer had accomplished what nobody believed it would do. His knees were in such bad condition after the lockout ended that he was essentially forced into retirement by his doctors. For him to come back from that would be nothing short of a medical miracle. As someone who used to live and die by his performances when he was in Portland, I get a little apprehensive whenever I see tweets about his play in the Wolves' preseason contests. Seeing him in a different jersey doesn't even factor in. I've mostly been reading that he looks impressive, but I can't shake the feeling that it won't last. An 82-game season is a grind for someone in perfect health. That Roy's knees are bone-on-bone and he's throwing himself back into this life is a terrifying prospect. But for Roy, the dream outweighs the risk to his body. And for the Wolves, the dream of getting the pre-injury, 2009-10 version of Roy must have existed somewhere in his workouts for the team. For fans, the dream is just to have him back in the league.


New Orleans Hornets (21-45, 5th in Southwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Tom Benson

GM Dell Demps

Coach Monty Williams

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 98.3 26th

Own eFG 102.3 16th

Own FTR 47.61 21st

Own TOR 48.53 13th

Own ORR 27.4 15th

Def Eff 28.7 21st

Opp eFG 15.19 29th

Opp FTR 13.54 19th

Opp TOR 27.49 16th

Opp ORR 26.86 15th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Roger Mason (NYK)

Free Agents –Lost Marco Belinelli (CHI) Chris Kaman (DAL) Carl Landry (GSW) Rashard Lewis (MIA)

Draft Picks Anthony Davis (1st) Austin Rivers (10th) Darius Miller (46th)

 

Player Greivis Vazquez Austin Rivers Brian Roberts

2012-13 $1,191,240 $2,238,360 $473,604

Eric Gordon Xavier Henry Roger Mason, Jr.

$13,668,750 $2,323,200 $1,223,166

Al-Farouq Aminu Hakim Warrick

$2,947,800 $4,000,000

Ryan Anderson Jason Smith Lance Thomas

$8,700,000 $2,500,000 $762,195

Anthony Davis $5,144,280 Robin Lopez $4,899,293 2012-2013 Salary: $63,482,848

Trades Acquired Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick from Phoenix and cash from Minnesota for Jerome Dyson, Brad Miller and two undisclosed second-round draft picks. Acquired Ryan Anderson from Orlando for Gustavo Ayon. Sent Darryl Watkins to Philadelphia.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $2,150,188 $3,203,780 $0 $0 $6,545,208 $2,339,040 $2,439,840 $3,110,796 $4,236,904 $14,364,940 $788,872 $0 $0 $0 $1,262,476 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $14,283,844 $14,898,938 $15,514,031 $0 $58,365,563 $3,201,370 $4,405,083 $0 $0 $9,929,653 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,223,166 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $3,749,602 $5,054,462 $0 $0 $11,751,864 $4,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $8,000,000 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $8,308,500 $8,491,500 $8,500,000 $0 $34,000,000 $2,500,000 $0 $0 $5,000,000 $884,293 $0 $0 $0 $1,646,488 CENTER - SALARIES $5,375,760 $5,607,240 $7,070,730 $9,191,947 $32,389,957 $5,119,761 $5,340,229 $0 $0 $15,359,283 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $5,438,848


New Orleans Hornets 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Jared Dubin The oldest player on the Hornets is Roger Mason (How u), at 32 years old. Hakim Warrick is next, at the ripe, old age of 30 (HOLY SHIT HAKIM WARRICK IS 30!!!!!!!). Their head coach, Monty Williams, is the third youngest in the league, behind only Jacque Vaughn and Frank Vogel. They have 10 players aged 25 or younger, including their entire future core of No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis (19), newly-maxed-out Eric Gordon (23), just-got-paid, sweet-shooting, rebound-corallin’ forward Ryan Anderson (24) and totally-a-point-guard-we-swear Austin Rivers (20). Surrounding them are former first-rounders Al-Farouq Aminu (22), Xavier Henry (21), Robin Lopez (24), Greivis Vazquez (25) and Jason Smith (26), along with Lance Thomas (24) and this year’s second rounder, Darius Miller (22). Everything about this team screams, “WE ARE YOUNG AND YOU BETTER BELIEVE WE ARE UP-AND-COMING.” After trading Chris Paul (twice), getting sold to Saints owner Tom Benson, winning the lottery, drafting Davis and Rivers, matching Gordon’s deal and swinging a trade for Anderson, the Hornets have revamped, rebuilt and reloaded, all in one calendar year. They’re probably not going to the playoffs, but no one can deny that they’re headed in the right direction. And right now, that’s what matters. Monty is one of the best coaches in the league already, and he’ll have this group playing hard and tough and balls-to-the-walls every night. Davis is a game-changing talent on defense, and if his offense catches up (it’s already quite good), look out. Gordon and Anderson are floor-spacer extraordinaires, and EG can put it on the deck too. If Rivers turns into a credible point, and they add a three-and-D type wing, these guys could be a force in the West within two years. Not bad for what looked a year ago to be a hopeless rebuilding project, huh?

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Jordan White 79. That's the number of times Austin Rivers turned the ball over during his one season at Duke. How many assists did he have, you ask? 71. He averaged more turnovers per game (2.3) than assists (2.1), and had a higher turnover percentage (16.9) than assist percentage (12.9). Simply put, he was awful when it came to making plays for others. And yet, undeterred by these telling numbers, the New Orleans Hornets selected him with the tenth pick in this year's draft. This puzzled many, as the Hornets already have a star (though disgruntled) shooting guard in Eric Gordon. Perhaps they brought him in as injury insurance, as Gordon has proven to be about as injury prone as he is a potent scorer. No. As it turns out, they drafted Austin Rivers to be the point guard of the future in New Orleans. Rivers is many things: confident...and...um...well he's certainly confident, but a point guard he just as certainly is not. This then raises concerns about Rivers' ability to play alongside Eric Gordon. They're very nearly the same player, except Gordon at his worst is miles better than Rivers at his best. Dell Demps and Monty Williams have addressed this issue by saying they're not worried about who will be the point guard and who will be the shooting guard, and that they will just play their best two guards. That's all well and good, and Gordon has shown the ability to handle the ball and initiate the offense, but he's not a Brandon Roy or James Harden type player that can run the show full-time.


We've seen the "turning a shooting guard into a point guard despite all evidence to the contrary that it will work" before, and it usually ends with the predicted disastrous results (Larry Hughes, anyone?). Though Dell Demps has a solid track record when it comes to the draft, I'm not sure Rivers was the right pick to help them in their rebuilding efforts.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls. It’s Trollin’ For Eric Gordon by Scott Leedy Dear Eric Gordon, I cannot for the life of me understand why you decided to quietly re-sign with New Orleans. Okay, fine, I get it, they have a good group of fun young players and a very smart head coach. They have one of the most heralded rookies in the last 5 years or so in Anthony Davis, and they give you an opportunity to take a lot of shots and do a lot of scoring. Yes, they can pay you a lot of money and ultimately they were always going to match whatever offer you received elsewhere. All this is true. But I fear you have made the wrong choice. As your friend, it pains me that you didn’t at least consider the Phoenix Suns. As we both know you haven’t exactly been a beacon of health during your career and the Suns have magical medical shamans that could’ve solved all of your physical maladies. Not to mention Phoenix is lovely. Sure New Orleans has culture, and is “interesting” but who needs that? I’ll take the 100+ degree dry heat of the barren dessert every day of the week. Let’s also consider the fact that New Orleans drafted Austin Rivers. Have you ever seen him pass? I haven’t; apparently he's going to be your point guard. Finally, who exactly are your “big men” on the Hornets? Whoever they are they pale in comparison to the legendary tandem of Louis Scola and Marcin Gortat. Eric, I respect your choice and to a degree I understand it. Every man must carve his own path, and every player has the right to make his own decisions. Unfortunately, after some sober objective analysis, I think it’s safe to say you dropped the ball. The Phoenix Suns were the team for you. C’est la vie.

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Steve McPherson I’m picturing something Batsignal-esque. A giant winged shape projected against the clouds over New Orleans. Foam cutouts in that same bird-like shape with a little non-toxic adhesive so they stick to the spot just above your nose. White knit beanies with black stitching in a line that sits along the brow. Browbeaten. One team, one brow. This. Marketing tie-ins with Canadian beermaker Unibroue. United we span. Brow factor. The time is brow. You get the idea. The New Orleans Hornets didn’t just draft the consensus best player in the draft in Anthony Davis, but also drafted a cherry of a marketing opportunity. And they’re going to need it. Everyone expects Davis to become a great NBA player, but in a league with a growing dearth of traditional big men, he’ll have his work cut out for him. Blake Griffin aside, the last six Rookie of the Year award winners have been guards or wings. But let’s not quibble about actual basketball here: we’re talking about a guy who has already trademarked his hirsute forehead. "I don't want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it," Davis told CNBC. "Me and my family decided to trademark it because it's very unique." And here I was, thinking he was discouraging kids from trying to grow a unibrow because it might be dangerous.


New York Knicks (36-30, 2nd in Central)

MANAGEMENT Owner James Dolan

GM Glen Grunwald

Coach Mike Woodson

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 101.4 19th

Own eFG 98.4 5th

Own FTR 49.18 12th

Own TOR 48.45 11th

Own ORR 30.6 6th

Def Eff 30.4 25th

Opp eFG 14.85 27th

Opp FTR 15.93 2nd

Opp TOR 26.65 18th

Opp ORR 26.27 12th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed

Free Agents –Lost

Ronnie Brewer (CHI)

Landry Fields (TOR)

Jason Kidd (DAL)

Jeremy Lin (HOU)

Rasheed Wallace (Formerly Retired)

Roger Mason (NOH)

Player Raymond Felton Jason Kidd Pablo Prigioni

2012-13 $3,480,453 $3,090,000 $473,604

J.R. Smith Ronnie Brewer Iman Shumpert

$2,806,452 $1,069,509 $1,633,440

Carmelo Anthony Steve Novak Chris Copeland

$20,463,024 $4,054,054 $473,604

Amar’e Stoudemire

$19,948,799 $1,352,181 $1,352,181

Kurt Thomas Rasheed Wallace

Tyson Chandler $13,604,188 Marcus Camby $4,590,338 2012-2013 Salary: $79,095,431

Draft Picks Kostas Papanilolaou (48th, later traded to POR)

Trades 

Acquired Marcus Camby from Houston for Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan and two unspecified second-round draft picks. Acquired Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas from Portland for Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, draft rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and Giorgos Printezis, and a protected future second-round draft pick.

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $3,637,073 $3,793,693 $3,950,313 $0 $14,861,532 $3,090,000 $3,090,000 $0 $0 $9,270,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $473,604 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $2,932,742 $0 $0 $0 $5,739,194 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,069,509 $1,703,760 $2,616,975 $3,898,691 $0 $9,852,866 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $22,407,474 $24,351,924 $0 $0 $67,222,422 $3,750,000 $3,445,946 $3,750,000 $0 $15,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $473,604 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $21,679,893 $23,410,988 $0 $0 $65,039,680 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,352,181 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,352,181 CENTER - SALARIES $14,100,538 $14,598,888 $0 $0 $42,303,614 $4,383,773 $4,177,208 $0 $0 $13,151,319 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $21,051,431


New York Knicks 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Eric Maroun Theoretically, it’s the perfect movie plot. Nicki Lee goes through most of her adolescent life as the person that all the cool kids pick on. She dreads going to school every day just knowing that her glasses as thick as Coke bottles, braces which cause her to have more metal in her mouth than Lil Wayne, and love for Star Wars figurine collecting are just begging to be made fun of by the jocks in school. She was a late bloomer for her age, cute but not someone that was ever given a second glance when walking down the hall, and thought that high fashion consisted of her 1994 Nirvana In Utero t-shirt. The fact that she went to the largest high school east of the Mississippi didn’t help matters either; she thought that going to such a large school meant that she could just blend into the background, but all her graduating class of over 1000 provided her with was more people to make her life a living hell. There was no hope, no end in sight. She thought that her life would be like this forever. And then, something strange happened. Her orthodontist finally gave her the go ahead to remove her braces after two years. Sick of being ridiculed and realizing that she needed something to talk about in the event someone actually sat down next to her at lunch, she grew out of her Star Wars phase and began watching ESPN rather than SyFy. During the summer, her parents inherited hundreds of thousands of dollars when her grandpa passed away; while Nicki spent nearly a week crying herself to sleep over the fact that she would never see her grandpa again, there was a silver lining. The inheritance paved the way for her parents to pay for Nicki’s LASIK surgery and get her a whole new wardrobe. Not only that, but Nicki started to, how shall I say this, “develop” in all the right places. Suddenly, Nicki was the hottest girl in town, turning heads no matter where she went. This was a new Nicki, and she loved it. Unfortunately, it didn’t last for long. When Nicki returned from Winter Break, there was a new student in her homeroom class. Brook Lynne, the sexy blonde from Nicki’s rival high school, had apparently transferred to Chandler High School. Some of the boys who had only given Nicki the time of day after she became attractive were now hitting on Brook on a constant basis. After all, she was the newest flavor of the week. Just as soon as she had become popular again, Nicki was right back to where she started. Alone, depressed, and wondering where it all went wrong. The New York Knicks are Nicki Lee. Her adolescence period was the Isiah Thomas years for Knicks fans. Year after year after year of bad decisions, awful records, and nary a glimmer of hope in sight defined the Isiah Era (or is it Error?). The Knicks removed their figurative braces and made the conscious decision to turn their life around not by flipping to ESPN, but by signing Amar’e Stoudemire in the summer of 2010. After having spent seemingly a lifetime falling in love with him, the Knicks missed having LeBron play under the lights at Madison Square Garden just as much as Nicki missed her grandpa. But missing out on LeBron provided a silver lining and opened the door for them to acquire Carmelo Anthony a year later. The Knicks were sexy again, and everyone was talking about them. And then, just as the Knicks were turning heads, Brook Lynne/Brooklyn transferred to their territory. The bandwagon fans that were there for the Ewing years, jumped ship during Isiah’s tenure, and came back once Carmelo and Amar'e joined forces, were now rocking Brooklyn hats and gear as fast as you could say “high school prom.” Now, it’s not totally out of the question for the Knicks to miss the playoffs this year thanks to the new influx of talent in Brooklyn and their talented athletes. Damn jocks.


MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Scott Leedy To try and force the “winner” of this award into such a simplistic, boring, uninventive internet word such as “meme” would be insulting to his craft. The man is the owner of the only twitter account that is mindboggling, hilarious, uncomfortable, genius, weird, and scary all at once. Its content impossibly absurd until you consider the source. The account is completely inexplicable, while also making total sense. That’s the beauty of JR Smith, he’s completely predictable in that you know he’s going to do something unexpected. There’s no rooting, watching, or analyzing JR Smith, he can only be experienced. Within that experience there’s a certain authenticity that’s both captivating and refreshing. Smith has little regard for rules, or team basketball, or really anything that lies beyond his tattooed exterior. On the court, JR leads the league in “what the hell was he thinking” shots (seriously, Synergy, HoopData, someone. Please start keeping track of these). Lucky (or unlucky) for us, twitter allows for a window into the sporadic mind of the explosive shooting guard. It’s times like these I wish I’d favorited some of the best JR tweets, but then I remember: All of JR’s tweets are his best tweets. He’ll let you know important facts about his cell phone etiquette: “Ten times out of ten if I tell you to delete my number I deleted urs! #justsayin”. He’s constantly “Vampin”. Oh and he offers sagely life advice : “It’s all fun an games till the truth comes out!! Sometimes he even kicks it all hash tag style: #LastNightWasMadReal #Tonightisgoingtobebetter. Notice the difference in the style of hash tags. Subtle, but brilliant. The best part of JR’s twitter is that it matches perfectly with his style of play. Smith fires off tweets like jump shots. Some are good, some are ill advised, some connect, and some aggravate. But there’s no denying the talent. No denying the fact that the complete and utter lack of filter is both damaging and compelling. Whether the Knicks are terrible, great, or anywhere in between JR will always deliver. Win or lose, we can expect JR to makes us laugh and throw our remote at the TV all in one play. JR Smith isn’t a meme, he’s just JR Smith. So in the words of JR, “you just HAVE to respect the swag”.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Jared Dubin Let’s get the worst out of the way first. In our doomsday scenario, Amar’e is done, both physically and as an emotional leader. His salary is a weight upon the franchise. Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby are washed up and over the hill, their three-year deals looking worse with each passing day. It turns out Ray Felton’s 2010 was the mirage, not the rest of his career. JR Smith continues chucking, his percentages don’t bounce back, and he doesn’t pick up the slack with improved defense. Ronnie Brewer’s injury lingers, and he doesn’t regain his Chicago form. Iman Shumpert has a setback and doesn’t return until late February. When he does, he struggles. Carmelo Anthony continually hijacks the offense and returns to his inefficient gunner-y ways. And Jeremy Lin leads Houston to a surprise playoff berth. The Knicks slump to an 8-seed, and are swept by the Heat in the 1st round. On the brighter side of things… Tyson Chandler once again leads the Knicks to a top-5 defense, helped by Woodson, Brewer, Camby, and the early January return of Shumpert. Felton and Kidd are a massive improvement on New York’s 2010-11 point guard situation, steadying the ship and leading the team to a top-10 offense. Carmelo finally finds his happy medium, getting his full complement of shots within the flow of the system rather than constantly slowing things down. Amar’e has a bounce-back year with the help of Hakeem Olajuwon, even playing passable defense occasionally. JR’s improved D sticks, and his shot returns to form. Novak is discount double-checking everywhere. With D-Rose out half the season, Boston a year older, Philly struggling with an identity transition, Indiana getting belatedly hit with the


injury bug and Brooklyn unable to defend anybody, the Knicks take the East’s 2-seed and head to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It’s Trollin’ For Carmelo Anthony by Noam Schiller Melo has always been smack dab in the middle of the stats vs. eyes dichotomy. Often referred to as the purest scorer in the game, he doesn’t score the most (5th in PPG since he entered the league, behind Kobe, LeBron, Durant, and Wade), and the points come only as purely as you perceive the art of the jab-stepped mid-ranger. His teams have been generally strong, yet between such fixtures as defensive effort and ball movement, they have often performed better with him off the court. He’s deadly in the clutch – the one spot where the numbers actually agree with common perception – but has tasted very little playoff success. The difference between Melo and, say, a Monta Ellis is that there is clearly the capacity for more. Be it Olympic 3 point barrages or when he was leading a legitimately great 09 Nuggets team, we’ve seen Melo up the ante. Quick, crisp decisions overtake meticulous staredowns with his defender, as that seemingly chunky frame flies towards the rim with abandon. Power forwards are too slow, small forwards are too small, and the constant threat of Melo puts a 5 man defensive unit on its heels. It’s there; it’s just not, you know, there. The Knicks are a team built for Melo, and some may even say, by Melo. They won’t win a title, but that’s fine, as this isn’t a title worthy roster. The question is how they miss it. Because if a team led by an offensive superstar loses because it can’t score, questioning the superiority of the star is only natural.


Roundtable Intermission 1. Which player do you expect to take a big step forward (or backward) this season? Sean Highkin: Jeff Teague. He will have the ball in his hands, and full control of a Hawks offense that should be more dynamic and up-tempo than in years past. He's got plenty of shooters to pass to and a healthy Al Horford in the paint. I think he's poised for a breakout year. Amin Vafa: John Wall. This year is his defining year. He's got veterans in the frontcourt (Nene and Okafor), he's got a super-sharp backcourt mate (Beal), and he's finally got shooters (like Webster) who aren't gunners (like everyone else who has ever been on the Wizards). If all of these fall into place, John Wall is going to look fantastic and will finally live up to the hype he had before he entered the league. If not, then I think people will start revising the predictions they'd written about him for his future career. Steve McPherson: Expect? I don’t know, Ty Lawson? That's not how I'm going to answer this question. The player I most WANT to take a big step forward is Wes Johnson. He was so god awful for the Timberwolves—not especially good his first year and then just a smoking crater of terrible his second year—that I want him to find redemption with the Suns even though it will in no way directly benefit the team I pull for. I want people to say to me, "Man, look at Wes Johnson! Bet you're sorry you let him go now!" And I'll nod and stare ruefully into the distance, but a part of me will be happy. Jordan White: Boris Diaw. It may sound odd to say a former Most Improved Player award recipient will take a step forward, but Diaw finds himself in an ideal situation which plays to his every strength and is thus poised for a bounce back year. Despite his wealth of talents (and girth), Diaw is ill-fitted in the role of a team’s primary or even secondary option. As a complementary player, however, Diaw is lethal. Last season in Charlotte, Diaw's had a usage rate of 17.14, and a True Shooting percentage (TS%) of 47.1%, according to Hoopdata. Upon his arrival in San Antonio, Diaw's usage rate dipped to 11.16, but his TS% shot up to 65%. His previous PER of 10.78 rose to 12.14. It seems the less you ask of Diaw, the more you get. His numbers won't be stellar, but Diaw is a perfect fit for the spacing and ball movement emphases of Gregg Popovich's system. Clint Peterson: Marvin Williams, busting out of bust status. Drafted in front of the likes of Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Andrew Bynum in 2005, Williams had been considered basically a lost cause bust in Atlanta after being drafted second overall. He's a perfect fit in Utah on the wing, a team lacking quality swingman defense and perimeter shooting last year. Williams will shine for the Jazz this season. 2. What is your favorite under-the-radar storyline? Sean: The impact Andrew Bogut will have in Golden State if he's healthy. I realize that's a hefty qualifier, as he's missed most of the last three seasons, but the side effect of that is people forgetting just how good he is, especially defensively. He's the ideal frontcourt partner for David Lee, who hasn't played with a real center since signing with the Warriors (and no, Andris Biedrins doesn't count as an "NBA player," let alone an impactful center, at this point). If Bogut and Stephen Curry can stay on the floor, the Warriors have as good a chance as anyone to grab the last playoff spot in the West. Amin: How this Rookie of the Year race is essentially up for grabs. Most years, the number one pick is a shoe-in for the award. I think this year, while Davis has the lead, his style of play isn't traditionally what people see in a ROY. He's a better defender than scorer. He's not an offense initiator. He's not a high-flying dunker. He's not going to get plays run


through him all the time. I think Davis was definitely the no-brainer #1 pick in this draft because of his talent, his ceiling, and all the intangibles he brings to a team in the frontcourt, but none of those necessarily mean he's a lock to win ROY. Steve: You might not have heard of them because they play in the hinterlands of basketball, but I think there's a team out there that's going to make some people sit up and take notice this season. Sure, they've been struggling and had to suffer through a relocation that sapped their fan base and now most of the people at the games—when they even show up—aren't diehard fans of the team itself. When their longtime coach stepped down prior to last season, people wrote them off and sure enough, they stumbled hard. Sometimes it was like there wasn't even a system being run and they just had to rely on a trigger happy guard who kept trying to do it all. So maybe the pieces haven't always fit together smoothly, but mark my words, with some exciting offseason moves, the Los Angeles Lakers are going places. Jordan: James Harden's contract uncertainty. As Oklahoma City's third best player and a soon to be restricted free agent, you'd think there would be endless speculation about whether the Thunder can afford to keep the bearded one, if they should trade him while they can get a good return, and where Harden may go if he isn't re-signed. Seriously, why hasn't this been bigger news? Clint: The long overdue pickup of unemployed GM Kevin Pritchard up Indiana way. Frankly, I'm surprised there hasn't been more buzz about the Pacers coming into this season. They're as likely as any other East team to challenge the Miami Heat deep in the playoffs should the brackets and stars line up. 3. Draw a comparison between any team and a food. Explain. (Ex: The Knicks are moldy bread because they're superold.) Sean: The Brooklyn Nets are coconut water. They're expensive and hipster-friendly, but it's hard to see them actually winning anything despite the hype. Amin: The Hawks are the first time you tried your mom's classic brownie recipe by using regular sugar instead of brown sugar. You think it's going to be OK since you just made a little change, but as it's in the oven you start obsessing over how big that change actually was. I mean, regular sugar doesn't cost as much as brown sugar, so does that mean it's worse? Are you going to have to throw the whole batch out? Is it going to be better than your mom's brownies because all the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and M&M pieces actually mesh together better because the regular sugar doesn't overwhelm as much as the brown sugar? So many questions! Steve: You know peanut butter and jelly. I mean, unless you have a peanut allergy. But if you don't, you probably saw that goddamn sandwich in your lunch bag nearly every stinking day of elementary school. And the jelly had soaked into the bread and kind of crystallized it and bottom line, it sucked. It drained your will to live almost as bad as carrot sticks. And then, one day, maybe in high school, maybe just after you'd gotten off the bus, you made yourself a PB&J and you were all, "Sweet mother of Mary, where have you been all my life?" Because the secret of PB&J is not superstar ingredients, it's balance and timing. It's making you taste the familiar in a new but nostalgia-tinted way. It's the basics, made new by your own rich experience and mature palate. The San Antonio Spurs are peanut butter and jelly. Jordan: The Los Angeles Clippers are a chocolate chip cookie with nuts. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, et. al are the chocolate chip cookie, and Vinny Del Negro is the nut that ruins the entire fucking thing. Clint: The Denver Nuggets are like spaghetti: Long, runny, and rather overrated.


4. Which player is most likely to get traded by the deadline? Sean: Tyreke Evans. The Kings have a glut of high-volume shooters in their backcourt between Reke, Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette, and the newly (and somewhat inexplicably) signed Aaron Brooks. Evans has had a couple of disappointing seasons since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2009-10, but if he bounces back at all this season, he'll likely be seeking a bigger payday next summer than the Kings will be comfortable with. That's why I think he's almost a lock to be traded in February. Amin: James Harden, because I'm a troll. I don't actually think he's going to get traded, but his name is going to be the most-talked about. Oh no! A bunch of billionaires don't want to give him a max contract! I'm so sad for their need to throw away chemistry for financial considerations. Steve: Tyreke Evans. Boom. Jordan: Al Jefferson. Despite a career year last season, it's hard to see how Jefferson, with Favors and Kanter waiting in the wings, figures into Utah's plans for the future. Clint: Jose Calderon. Always under the radar, Calderon puts up solid, top point guard numbers every year he's healthy enough to do so. As a 2013 free agent on a Toronto team not going anywhere, someone somewhere in the league with playoff aspirations will be looking for a point to shore up the position in the hopes of making a deeper run at a ring. 5. If you could create a new nickname for any player in the league, and it was guaranteed to stick forever, who would it be, what would it be and why? Sean: If Adam Morrison makes the Blazers' roster, I will demand the entire blogosphere recognize that the Stache has been reincarnated as Stache Lion. Amin: Mr. Bean for Kobe Bryant. I made it up a few days ago, and I think it's awesome. And frankly, I'm really surprised no one (to my knowledge) has used it before. The Bean part is obvious. Kobe's not as clumsy as Mr. Bean, obviously, but they both keep going and going even if it's to their detriment. Plus, I'm pretty sure Kobe has made this face at many people before (most recently, Smush Parker). Steve: Understand, I'm not saying this one WON'T stick forever, but I'm really hoping Crossover Panda sticks for Alexy Shved, just because it is so completely impossible to explain in a way that doesn't make you sound like a complete weirdo. "You see, his agent tweeted this photo of him sitting at the Starbucks across from the Target Center to let us know he was signing with the Timberwolves and well, he was wearing this LRG shirt that had a picture of a panda with a basketball. And he can do crossovers. Shved, not the panda. I mean, maybe the panda can. What? Why am I following an obscure Russian sports agent on Twitter? No reason." Jordan: We have quite a few West Wing fans in the Paroxyverse, and quite a few more in Basketball Twitter. If you haven't watched it, there was a character in the first season named Mandy. She was the worst. Her voice, role, mannerisms, and overall presence were offensive. She carried herself with an overdeveloped and under-deserved sense of worth. A second of her on screen was a second too long. JJ Barea is Mandy. Clint: Jeremy "Elevator Evans." If I have to explain this one to you, you need to step out from under that mossy rock a little more often.


Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19, 1st in Northwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Clay Bennett

GM Sam Presti

Coach Scott Brooks

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 107.1 2nd

Own eFG 100.0 9th

Own FTR 51.60 3rd

Own TOR 46.46 4th

Own ORR 33.4 1st

Def Eff 27.0 12th

Opp eFG 15.25 30th

Opp FTR 12.95 23rd

Opp TOR 27.76 11th

Opp ORR 27.91 23rd

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Daniel Orton (ORL) Hasheem Thabeet (POR)

Free Agents –Lost Royal Ivey (PHI) Nazr Mohammed (CHI)

Player Russell Westbrook Eric Maynor Reggie Jackson

2012-13 $13,688,750 $2,338,721 $1,208,400

Thabo Sefolosha James Harden Daequan Cook

$3,600,000 $5,820,417 $3,090,942

Kevin Durant Lazar Hayward Hollis Thompson

$16,669,629 $1,174,080 $473,064

Serge Ibaka Nick Collison Perry Jones III

$2,253,062 $2,929,332 $1,035,960

Kendrick Perkins $8,300,531 Cole Aldrich $2,445,480 Hasheem Thabeet $1,200,000 Daniel Orton $854,389 2012-2013 Salary: $65,810,304

Draft Picks Perry Jones III (28th)

Trades 

None

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $14,693,906 $15,719,062 $16,744,218 $17,769,374 $78,615,310 $3,351,386 $0 $0 $0 $5,690,107 $1,260,360 $2,204,370 $3,400,144 $0 $8,073,274 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $3,900,000 $0 $0 $0 $7,500,000 $7,636,385 $0 $0 $0 $13,456,802 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,090,942 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $17,832,627 $18,995,624 $20,158,622 $0 $73,656,502 $2,119,214 $3,178,821 $0 $0 $6,472,115 $788,872 $915,243 $0 $0 $2,177,179 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $12,250,000 $12,250,000 $12,250,000 $12,250,000 $51,253,062 $2,585,668 $2,242,003 $0 $0 $7,757,003 $1,082,520 $1,129,200 $2,038,206 $3,036,926 $8,322,812 CENTER – SALARIES $8,977,437 $9,654,342 $0 $0 $26,932,310 $3,245,152 $4,442,642 $0 $0 $10,133,274 $1,200,000 $1,250,000 $0 $0 $3,650,000 $916,099 $0 $0 $0 $1,770,488 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $7,766,304


Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Jordan White So few times does promise actually become reality. Injuries prevent a player from realizing his potential, trades shatter a once promising core of players, a feud between a coach and his player ruin the team’s often praised chemistry. But every so often, the stars align and that which we once hoped for comes to fruition, even more magnificent than we originally imagined. The Thunder emerged from their lockout cocoon a basketball Mothra. Kevin Durant was simply otherworldly. Russell Westbrook forced us to redefine what it means to be a point guard. James Harden, both his beard and his game, grew more aggressive. Serge Ibaka molded his athleticism and raw potential into a shot-blocking juggernaut. Kendrick Perkins was slightly less fat. Oklahoma City’s chemistry has always received lofty praise, but it was last season in which that cohesion became nearly tangible. You could almost feel the joy with which the team played, how their genuine friendship fueled their nigh-unstoppable offensive juggernaut. Those playoffs were a successive series of exorcisms for the Thunder. First, the Mavericks, the team that bested Oklahoma City the previous year in the Western Conference finals. Next, the Lakers, whom the Thunder couldn’t get past two years ago, and always seemed to be the one obstacle in the way of the Thunder’s journey to the top. Finally, the Spurs. Though Oklahoma City is now the model of a modern major NBA team, the Spurs are actually the originators of that model. Also in that series, Scott Brooks, one of the Thunder’s biggest question marks, answered all speculation as to whether he was the right coach for this team. And while Oklahoma City fell victim to the Miami Heat and an historic performance from LeBron James in the Finals, this was still undoubtedly the season in which the promise and potential held by Oklahoma City was finally realized. Now, the only question the Thunder face is whether they can take that last, final step.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Connor Huchton Russell Westbrook catches the ball, alone, on the wing. He stares for a moment. Thousands of tweets cry out, “Pass, pass, pass!” The words “Kevin” and “Durant” cross millions of minds. The few remaining seconds tick, the floor lightly squeaks, and mouths throughout the state of Oklahoma are infinitely agape. Russell Westbrook takes a quick dribble towards a waiting Durant in the wings, pulls up, and bends his arms as if to pass. He clutches. He double-clutches. He clutches again. Confusion sets into Kevin Durant’s face, and everyone else’s. Nearby Heat defenders glance quickly at each other, wondering how to defend a man who chooses to simply do nothing. Five seconds remaining, the world watching, the biggest game of many careers, and yet, nothing happens. Everyone waits, primed to defend or shoot or watch, not knowing what they’re waiting for or why.


In another world, one in which the Thunder still holds a timeout and the ABA-NBA merger never occurred, none of this ever happens. But finally, Westbrook does something. He bounces the ball off of a defender, and dribbles once, twice, three times, but something’s not right – he’s moving towards halfcourt, not the basket. Confusion breaks into angry crowd screams, and LeBron James, in a moment of needing to do something, anything, rushes towards Westbrook for the steal. Durant, in turn, does his best to plea for a last-second handoff. Just as the noise builds into a crescendo, and Westbrook is almost completely surrounded, he makes his move. With his back turned, Westbrook flips the ball over his right shoulder. He never looks back. The Thunder wins as the buzzer sounds. Everyone is still confused.

Listen All Y’all This Is Sabotage by Jordan White Scene: TD Bank Garden, Boston, 2011. Doc Rivers sitting behind his desk. Across from him sits Kendrick Perkins, center of the Boston Celtics. Doc: We have a new assignment for you. Perkins: You mean like a new defensive assignment? You want me to guard Dwight differently tonight? Doc: No, son, I mean a new assignment. Perkins: Oh...coach...I gave that life up a long time ago. I’m not that guy any more. I’m an actual part of the team, now. I have a life here! Doc: Rule number one: Never get attached. You’ve known that since we first brought you here. You want to continue helping this team, you’ll take this assignment. Perkins: ...Yes sir. I’m sorry. What’s the assignment? Doc hands Perkins a manila folder. Perkins grabs the folder, takes out the papers inside, and begins leafing through them. Perkins: Durant...Westbrook...Harden...you’re sending me to the Thunder? Why? They’re not in our conference and they can’t stop us from reaching the Finals. Doc: No, they can’t stop us from getting to the Finals, but if we meet them there, they’re the one team that can stop us from winning the title. Unless, of course, something were to go wrong. Perkins: Which is where I come in. Doc: Which is where you come in. No one will suspect a thing. ESPN, the fans, the so-called “experts” will love this move. They’ll say it puts the Thunder over the top, that by adding defensive stalwart and intimidator Kendrick Perkins, who also brings veteran leadership, the Thunder are now the favorite to win the title. Everyone, the Thunder included, will think you’re the low-post presence they’ve been missing. But we know differently, don’t we? When the Thunder reach


the playoffs, you’re going to be awful. Your ill-advised jumpers and laughable attempts at any post moves will kill all offensive rhythm. The numbers will show that the Thunder are much more effective with Collison playing center, but that won’t matter to Scott Brooks, because you have “championship experience” and set bone-bruising screens. The Thunder are born to play fast, but your plodding top-speed won’t allow it. Despite all of this, the Thunder will sign you to a multi-year extension, all but ensuring your place in the starting lineup. You, Kendrick Perkins, will singlehandedly keep the Thunder from reaching their full potential. Perkins: I understand, sir. But, if I may ask, who are you guys getting back in the trade? Doc: That’s the best part! We’re getting a franchise cornerstone in return for you! Perkins: They’re giving you Harden? Doc: Jeff Green!

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Jared Dubin Russell Westbrook has never missed a game in his four-year NBA career. In those four years, he is the only player in the league to appear in every single game. Russell Westbrook has improved his field goal percentage in every season he has been in the league. It’s gone from 39.8% to 41.8% to 44.2% to 45.7%. Russell Westbrook has decreased his turnover percentage in every season he has been in the league. It’s gone from 17.6% to 16.6% to 15.9% to 14.2%. In his first four seasons, Russell Westbrook has scored 5,929 points, grabbed 1,480 rebounds, and dished out 2,119 assists. Only one other player in NBA history has accumulated those numbers through four seasons. His name is Oscar Robertson. Through his first four seasons, Russell Westbrook has averaged 19.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. Only two other players in NBA history have averaged those numbers through four seasons. Their names are Chris Paul and Oscar Robertson. Through his first four seasons, Russell Westbrook has averaged 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists per-36 minutes. Only one other player in NBA history has averaged those numbers through four seasons. His name is – you guessed it – Oscar Robertson. People can rag on Russell Westbrook for not being a point guard all they want. I say we just #LetWestbrookBeWestbrook. After all, he’s already well on his way to having one of the best point guard careers of all time.


Orlando Magic (37-29, 3rd in Southeast)

MANAGEMENT Owner Rich DeVos

GM Rob Hennigan

Coach Jacque Vaughn

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 102.4 14th

Own eFG 101.7 13th

Own FTR 50.56 4th

Own TOR 48.78 14th

Own ORR 29.2 10th

Def Eff 24.6 5th

Opp eFG 14.45 23rd

Opp FTR 12.89 25th

Opp TOR 26.47 20th

Opp ORR 24.46 2nd

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents – Signed

Free Agents –Lost Daniel Orton (OKC)

Draft Picks Andrew Nicholson (19th) Kyle O’Quinn (49th)

Trades 

Player Jameer Nelson Ishmael Smith E’Twaun Moore

2012-13 $8,600,00 $910,491 $762,195

Arron Afflalo J.J. Redick

$7,750,000 $6,190,000

Hedo Turkoglu Quentin Richardson Moe Harkless

$11,815,850 $2,627,400 $1,731,960

Glen Davis Al Harrington Josh McRoberts Andrew Nicholson

$6,400,000 $6,687,400 $3,135,000 $1,418,160

Justin Harper

$762,195

Gustavo Ayon $1,500,000 Nikola Vucevic $1,768,800 Kyle O’Quinn $788,872 2012-2013 Salary: $64,982,988

Acquired Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, and five draft picks total from Denver, Philadelphia, and LA Lakers for Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, Earl Clark, and Jason Richardson (Howard, Duhon, Clark to LAL. Richardson to PHI.) Acquired Gustavo Ayon from New Orleans for Ryan Anderson.

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $8,600,000 $8,000,000 $0 $951,463 $992,435 $0 $884,293 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $7,750,000 $7,750,000 $7,937,500 $0 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $12,000,000 $0 $0 $2,808,600 $0 $0 $1,809,840 $1,887,840 $2,894,058 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $6,400,000 $6,600,000 $0 $7,148,600 $7,609,800 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,482,000 $1,545,840 $2,380,593 $0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $16,600,000 $2,854,389 $1,646,488

$0 $0

$31,187,500 $6,190,000

$0 $0 $4,045,893

$23,815,850 $5,436,000 $12,369,591

$0 $0 $0 $3,394,725

$19,400,000 $21,445,800 $3,135,000 $10,221,318

$0 $0 $0 $762,195 CENTER - SALARIES $1,500,000 $0 $0 $0 $3,000,000 $1,892,280 $2,902,757 $4,078,373 $0 $10,642,210 $788,872 $915,243 $0 $0 $2,492,987 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $6,938,988


Orlando Magic 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Sean Highkin Rehashing the details of Dwight Howard's messy exit again would be pointless. It's been deconstructed to death, and the comical diva act pulled by the greatest player in Magic franchise history is something most Orlando fans would probably be perfectly happy never to talk about again. In a way, though, this season should come as a breath of fresh air. Otis Smith, the man behind some of the most financially irresponsible front-office spending of the last half-decade, is out, as are all but a few of the players that made up the bloated, underachieving, capped-out quasi-contender he built around Howard. Gone are the days when this franchise devotes all of its energy to appeasing one player who's on his way out regardless. The climb back into contention will be a long one, but at least now it is beginning for real, not dying a slow death obvious to everyone but those calling the shots. The new-look Magic will almost certainly finish with one of the worst records in the NBA in 2012-13, but that's hardly the point. The roster first-time head coach Jacque Vaughn will trot out on opening night isn't so much a basketball team as a collection of assets of varying worth which have yet to be turned into a competitive unit. The best player of this bunch is Arron Afflalo, acquired from Denver in the deal that sent Howard to the Lakers, but even he is hardly an untouchable piece. Evaluating this squad on its basketball merits is futile because nobody is laboring under the delusion that the Magic of the present is the Magic of the future. Watch this team for promising Mexican big man Gustavo Ayon and rookies Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson, not for wins and losses.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Jordan White This seems like an odd section for the Orlando Magic. Indeed, the obstacle they face in becoming a championship team isn't so much a hump as it is Mount Everest. But we're not talking about hump in the traditional sense, here. No, in this case, the hump in discussion is the one the Magic must clear to continue their rebuilding project, meaning giving themselves the best chance to obtain the number one pick in next year's draft. And how do they do that? In a word: lose. At every turn, at every chance the Magic has to lose a game, they must seize the opportunity. Not to say that they should aspire to be the 2011-12 Bobcats; by all means, be competitive. Jacque Vaughn should play his best line-ups, do his best to get promising young players like Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson and HOW COULD YOU BE MOE HARKLESS valuable experience, preach intensity and defensive fundamentals, but DO. NOT. WIN. Say it's late February. The Kings and Magic, both well out of the playoff race, are locked in a vicious battle of brutal basketball. It's the fourth quarter, with three seconds left, the Magic have the ball and are down 98-97. They could A. draw up a play to get Aaron Afflalo open for a game winning jumper, or B. they could draw up a play to get Kyle O'Quinn open for a game winning three-pointer. Clearly, A is the better option for the present, but B. is better for the future, and the right call. You may call this tanking; I prefer to think of it as strategically positioning the team to later improve their roster.


The Transcendent And Wonderful by Danny Chau OK, transcendent may be a bit much, but Gustavo Ayon is a pretty special player. The problem was, during last season, I had no idea how to articulate why. I knew he was an incredibly fluid player, sprinted up and down the court, and made some very sharp and decisive cuts, but none of that made him particularly spectacular. My lack of fundamental basketball knowledge may have clouded my vision, but still. There had to be a reason why he was so captivating. Of course, thanks to Brett Koremenos and John Hollinger, we now know of his pet move: playing extremely deep on the baseline behind the defenses and making quick lateral cuts for easy attempts around the rim. The fun part is wondering what’s next. Ayon will have ample opportunity to show off what we only caught glimpses of 20 minutes at a time in New Orleans. He’s spent more than half of his professional career (not to mention almost all of his life) in his home country of Mexico. The country’s basketball prowess may not be the first (or 18th) thing that comes to mind, but Ayon’s unique skills as a big man could have come from Mexico’s predominant soccer culture. The way he plays reflects how he sees the court, the values of spacing and positioning, the opportunities that emerge from attacking from the corners of the court. He's hardly the first international NBA player to have grown up in a soccer-obsessed society, but Ayon’s nifty skills show that there is still so much to learn about the game from outside perspectives. There are differences in how the world plays basketball, and we aren’t even close to uncovering the myriad of strategies at play. Ayon isn’t transcendent in his internationality, but he’s among many before him that have helped the NBA explore the unseen possibilities basketball still has to offer to the world. That’s transcendent. That’s wonderful.

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Jared Dubin Oh, Orlando Magic. What to do with you? Let’s recap. Once upon a time, you had Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy. Dwight Howard did not particularly care for Stan Van Gundy. You did not particularly care for the idea of not having Dwight Howard on your team, so you tried to placate him in any way possible. You signed Big Baby Davis. You signed Jason Richardson. You did everything in your power to make Dwight comfortable, stupid as many of those things you did were. And he just didn’t care. He still tried to force his way to Brooklyn. He torpedoed any leverage you had in trade negotiations by being an idiot and leaking things to the press left and right. He burned your house to the ground and left you for dead. You pretty much knew there was a zero percent chance that he would be on the team for the 2012-13 season. So you decided to move on. But not before you fired Stan Van Gundy, easily one of the best coaches in the whole damn league. So I ask you, Orlando Magic: why? Dwight doesn’t like Stan. They can’t coexist. So one of them has to go. If you’re trading Dwight, why’d Stan have to go too? You gave up one of the league’s best coaches for no particular reason. That… doesn’t make much sense. And now let’s talk about the return you got in the Dwight Howard trade. True, we can’t really judge yet until we see how it shakes out over the next few years, but I’m not exactly encouraged. Generally, there are three things you want to get when you trade a franchise-level superstar: 1. Lottery picks 2. Young talent with star potential 3. Big-time cap relief. You got… none of the three. All the picks you received are of the protected nature, from playoff teams. The best player you got in the deal is Arron Afflalo, who is about to turn 27, and while a nice player, is not a potential star. And you barely got any cap relief. So yeah, Orlando, your team sucks.


Philadelphia 76ers (35-31, 3rd in Atlantic)

MANAGEMENT Owner Josh Harris

GM Rod Thorn

Coach Doug Collins

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 101.7 17th

Own eFG 96.6 3rd

Own FTR 47.96 19th

Own TOR 46.05 3rd

Own ORR 21.7 30th

Def Eff 25.5 8th

Opp eFG 10.88 1st

Opp FTR 13.47 20th

Opp TOR 24.40 25th

Opp ORR 24.77 4th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed

Free Agents –Lost

Kwame Brown (MIL)

Elton Brand (DAL)

Royal Ivey (OKC)

Jodie Meeks (LAL)

Nick Young (LAC)

Lou Williams (ATL)

Draft Picks Moe Harkless (15th, later traded to ORL) Arnett Moultrie (27th via trade)

Sam Young (IND)

Trades Acquired Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson from LA Lakers and Orlando for Andre Iguodala ,Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a 2015 first-round protected pick. Acquired Dorell Wright from Golden State and Darryl Watkins from New Orleans for the rights to Edin Bavcic (Bavcic to GS).

Player Jrue Holiday Royal Ivey Maalik Wayns

2012-13 $2,674,851 $1,223,166 $473,604

Jason Richardson Nick Young

$5,799,625 $6,000,000

Evan Turner Thaddeus Young Dorell Wright

$5,293,080 $8,039,130 $4,106,000

Spencer Hawes Lavoy Allen

$6,500,000

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $3,776,889 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $762,195 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $6,204,250 $6,601,125 $0 $0 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $6,679,866 $8,717,225 $0 $8,600,000 $9,160,870 $9,721,740 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $6,500,000 $0 $0

$3,000,000

$3,120,000

Arnett Moultrie

$1,042,320

Andrew Bynum $16,473,002 Kwame Brown $3,000,000 2012-2013 Salary: $63,236,217

$0

$0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $6,451,740 $1,223,166 $1,235,799

$0 $0

$18,605,000 $6,000,000

$0 $0 $0

$20,690,171 $35,521,740 $4,106,000

$0

$13,000,000

$0

$6,120,000

$1,089,240 $1,136,160 $2,049,632 $3,039,604 $8,356,956 CENTER – SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $0 $16,473,002 $3,000,000 $0 $0 $0 $6,000,000 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $5,192,217


Philadelphia 76ers 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Noam Schiller There are enough subplots in Philadelphia for us to effectively put on a charade of multiple focal points. Jrue Holiday needing to grow up to the point that his max extension request becomes only slightly preposterous; Evan Turner getting a starter position and the keys to an offense for what could be, barring significant progress, the last time; Doug Collins entering his 3rd season with the same team, historically a sign of mutiny to come; Spencer Hawes, power forward, and all the chaos that it entails. But let’s not kid ourselves. This is about Andrew Bynum. It’s been six years since Allen Iverson last roamed the streets of Philadelphia (2009-10 never happened, sorry). Six years since the Sixers have had a player who offered enough of an on-court presence and an off-court personality to warrant constant monitoring, and even longer since they were a noteworthy presence on the Eastern Conference scene. Some of those Iguodala teams were sweet and Lou Williams recorded a few tracks, but it was a tall order to ask a non-diehard to pay attention. Bynum changes everything. We don’t know if he’s a franchise player yet, because we haven’t seen him try to act as one, but at the very least, he’s one of a dozen or so players who may just be up to the task. His willingness to play that role for this season and beyond is all that matters, and it alone makes us turn our heads. Yes, it would be nice to get some help – Thad Young developing a mid-range jumper, Dorell Wright playing defense again, anything from Arnett Moultrie – but those are all bonuses. Much like an initially subpar offseason, Bynum overshadows it all, and the Sixers can only hope it’s for the better.

Mystery Statistics Theater by Conrad Kaczmarek For this portion of the Philadelphia 76ers preview, I will supply you with two comparisons. I assume that you have read most of these previews by now and understand what Mystery Statistics Theater is trying to do. If you don’t, ask Eric Maroun (I will give you his personal email address). Case #1


In this first example, you’ve got two players that switched teams this past offseason. One of them, you’ve heard a ton about --the other one, not so much. Which would you rather have? It’s fairly obvious that the top guy is Ray Allen. He shot 45% from three-point range last year, but that seems somewhat unrealistic to expect. Apart from his elite threepoint shooting, Allen doesn’t really bring that much to the table anymore. The second guy seems to be a bit better overall at this point in their careers (or so PER would lead you to believe). Who’s that? It’s the one and only Dorell Wright, of course. If you’re like me, you didn’t even realize that the Sixers got Wright in the offseason. He went completely under the radar while Ray Allen got an enormous amount of hype. Who would you rather have for the next season? Allen is going to get a ton of open looks and is one of the best shooters from distance in NBA history. That said, Wright isn’t too shabby at shooting the 3-ball as well. In fact, he led the league in three-pointers made during the 201011 season. If you want a shooter that can stand there and shoot, Allen is your guy. If you want a deep range threat plus a guy who can contribute it some other areas as well, you’ll take Dorell Wright. Case #2

In this second example, we’re looking at two of the greatest players of all time. One is on the Sixers this next season. The other is not. Which would you rather have? Maybe you’re thinking that you would take the top guy, no questions asked. But that’s probably because you are just looking at other meaningless stuff like rebounding, PER, assists, steals, or True Shooting Percentage. What we really need to be looking at here is three-point shooting and three-point shooting only. When we look at the most important statistic, we can determine that the second player is obviously the better shooter and thus, better overall player. Give me Nick Young aka Swagy P over Larry Bird any day of the week. No questions asked.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It’s Trollin’ For Andrew Bynum by Connor Huchton Consider this statement, irrespective of your allegiance or dislike or disinterest: Sixers’ fans are sullen, Sixers fans are singular, Sixers fans are passionate, Sixers fans are unsure, and most of all, Sixers fans are uneasy about their team. Uneasy about the state of their team, uneasy about their place in the basketball world, and uneasy about how they’ll be perceived. Which is exactly what I’m attempting to do – perceive them from a close distance.


The general basketball community struggles to define the Sixers for anything longer than a momentary stretch, and it’s almost intensely difficult to parse a definitive statement regarding the team’s particular flavor of basketball. What does an NBA fan mention when asked to briefly summarize a team that’s equal parts middling and maddening? A strong defense? The now departed Andre Iguodala? The firm orders of Coach Doug Collins? Andrew Bynum’s arrival, and the moderate hope it brings? All of these things are heard and felt and understood, but none truly summarize. No basketball team can be compartmentalized with a short answer, but no team represents a shrug and a feeling of overwhelming grayness quite like the Sixers do. In my discussions with Sixers fans like esteemed Liberty Ballers’ writer Michael Levin, he often stresses the importance of the team obtaining a true superstar, even going so far to say that a Greg Oden max deal would be preferential to the state of mediocre grayness that’s followed the team in recent years. An unlikely chance for greatness, however desperate, contains more hope in it than an unremarkable reality. Sixers fans seek a sense of direction, a sense of purpose, and a sense of position, something that can’t easily be found in a world of seventh seeds and early-round playoff exits. The uneasiness rests, unquenched, but still yearns for something more to grab onto for longer than a couple years of unknown reckonings. But the current state of Sixers’ fandom isn’t quite as bogged down in nebulous perceptions as it once was. Bynum brings something new to the team, a young, brimming vitality that has never been so concentrated in a singular Philadelphian form since the Iverson era. The incoming big man is somewhat of an unknown entity in the basketball world, a basketball prodigy who has combated injuries and perceived immaturity with similar indirect and evolutionary retorts. No one knows whom Bynum will rectify himself as in a Kobe-less city. For much of the past season, many Lakers’ fans cried for the reins of the team to be passed to the emerging, shifting Bynum, to dilapidated avail. In Philadelphia, there will be no question of team control, no doubts of leadership emanating from the presence of all-time great or the city that houses him. Bynum’s the man in Philly, the foundation of a newfound structure. Now if only the two can figure out what exactly they are to each other, we can all exhale.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Clint Peterson PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum is scheduled for another injection on his injured right knee. ESPN After Spencer Hawes missed half of last season the Sixers felt like they needed to go get a big man they could rely on so they went out and got Andrew Bynum. OH WAIT. WHOOPS. It's okay, they also have Kwame Brown just in case. DOUBLE DAMN. The Sixers pushed the Boston Celtics to the brink of elimination -- this, a Celtics squad who in turn pushed the Miami Heat to their very own brink. So Philly was for real. Past tense. They now lack depth and backcourt toughness -- their biggest strength -- after being pillaged of Jodie Meeks and Andre Iguodala in favor of Nick Young and Jason Richardson. Sixers fans pinning their hopes on Drew Bynum, a little advice: Don't. He's waited for his shot to be "The Man," and now has it. Last season the Sixers rang in at tenth in assists as a team. Now with the likes of ball dominant players like J-Rich, Nick "I Need To Learn To Shoot More Better" Young, and "It's MY Turn" Bynum, if Doug Collins doesn't retire for good I'll eat a Philly steak and cheese out of my hat.


Phoenix Suns (33-33, 3rd in Pacific)

MANAGEMENT Owner Robert Sarver

GM Lon Babby

Coach Alvin Gentry

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 103.5 8th

Own eFG 103.8 23rd

Own FTR 49.90 9th

Own TOR 49.07 19th

Own ORR 25.7 22nd

Def Eff 26.2 9th

Opp eFG 13.28 10th

Opp FTR 13.13 21st

Opp TOR 25.78 23rd

Opp ORR 28.27 24th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Michael Beasley (MIN) Goran Dragic (HOU) Jermaine O’Neal (BOS) Luis Scola (HOU)

Free Agents –Lost Aaron Brooks (SAC)

Draft Picks Kendall Marshall (13th)

Grant Hill (LAC) 

Robin Lopez (NOH) Ronnie Price (POR)

Trades Acquired Wesley Johnson from Minnesota for Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick (Lopez and Warrick to NO). Acquired 2013 and 2015 first-round draft picks and 2013 and 2014 second-round draft picks from LA Lakers for Steve Nash.

Player Goran Dragic Kendall Marshall Sebastian Telfair

2012-13 $7,500,000 $1,919,160 $1,567,500

Wesley Johnson Shannon Brown

$4,285,560 $3,500,000

Michael Beasley Jared Dudley P.J. Tucker

$5,750,000 $4,250,000 $762,195

Luis Scola Markieff Morris

$4,500,000

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $7,500,000 $7,500,000 $7,500,000 $2,005,560 $2,091,840 $2,989,239 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $5,421,233 $7,150,606 $0 $3,500,000 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $6,000,000 $6,250,000 $0 $4,250,000 $4,250,000 $4,250,000 $884,293 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $4,500,000 $4,500,000 $0

$2,063,040

$2,207,040

Channing Frye

$6,000,000

Marcin Gortat $7,258,960 2012-2013 Salary: $50,385,431

$3,153,860

$6,400,000 $6,800,000 CENTER – SALARIES $7,727,280 $0 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000

2016-17 $0 $4,134,117 $0

Total $30,000,000 $13,139,916 $1,567,500

$0 $0

$16,857,399 $7,000,000

$0 $0 $0

$18,000,000 $17,000,000 $1,646,488

$0

$13,500,000

$4,361,788

$0

$11,785,728

$0

$0

$19,200,000

$0

$0 $14,986,240 UNDER Salary Cap By: $7,658,569


Phoenix Suns 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Amin Vafa Let’s not beat around the bush. This season is about Steve Nash no longer being a Sun. There are other additions to the team (notably an amnestied Luis Scola and a gotten-back Goran Dragic), but with Nash no longer there, the Suns organization has finally made a statement: this team ain’t going anywhere, and it’s time to rebuild this thing on the cheap. Well, maybe the organization would have made a more eloquent statement than that, but you catch my drift. By severing ties (albeit civilly) with the face of its franchise for 8 years (10, if you count his rookie and sophomore campaigns, too), the Suns are now in a real rebuilding mode. They were close to it before, but they were still winning too many games and putting too many butts-in-seats and being too competitive with Nash at the helm. With him gone, they can concentrate on rebuilding by acquiring more youth, picks, and money by trading away pretty much any player with value. And even though they’ve invested money in some new players, unless Dragic has an absurd breakout season, we can be pretty certain that Phoenix’s next franchise player is not yet on the roster. The Suns aren’t going to be terrible this season, but they’ll be close. And if they’re not close, they should be close. Sorry Suns fans, it’s got to get worse before it gets better. We should all expect Phoenix to be pretty active at the trade deadline, and we shouldn’t be surprised if they trade away their assets for nothing more than money and picks. And we shouldn’t be surprised if they bundle those acquired monies and picks for different monies and picks. Those monies and picks will help them dig deep into the lottery next year, and maybe—just maybe—they’ll be able to quickly get their hands on a franchise player to help turn their franchise back around.

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Sean Highkin Don’t be surprised if Kendall Marshall winds up being voted a starter on the Western Conference All-Stars this season. The amount of fan goodwill he’s built up before playing a single NBA game is unprecedented. There is no player who represents the experience of being a hardcore NBA fan in the 2010s the way Marshall does. If you’re reading this, you probably know what I’m talking about. Twitter is just as integral to the modern-day basketball-watching experience as, you know, watching actual basketball. And Marshall’s ascent to NBA Twitter supremacy rivals Blake Griffin’s dominance of YouTube or JaVale McGee’s Cinemagr.am prowess. Marshall isn’t just a funny tweeter. There are plenty of funny tweeters in professional sports, and none of them (save the peerless Tony Allen) have won the hearts of smartphone-owning fans the way Marshall has. He’s an ambassador of the amorphous conglomerate called Basketball Twitter. He brought “btb” from relative obscurity to the fingertips of other NBA players. An acronym created by one of us is now on Marshall’s Wikipedia page. He’s used it on teammates, on his sister, and on Kevin Durant. To encapsulate the spirit of “btb” is to encapsulate the spirit of Twitter, which is to encapsulate the spirit of basketball in the second decade of the new millennium. No matter how he pans out as a player, he’s going to be popular for his entire career. Unless he sells out and explains it to his non-Basketball Twitter followers, that is. (“What does btb stand for?” you ask if you’re behind on these things, or retweet yourself asking if you’re JaVale. Well, btb.)


Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It’s Trollin’ For Suns Fans by Amin Vafa Curtain Rises Scene: Arizona desert. Barren landscape, except for one large rock, stage right. Rock begins to shift left. Man begins to emerge from the spot where the rock used to lie. Hair is long. Beard is disheveled. Face is streaked with white and yellow fan paint, while also covered in large specks of dirt. Dust comes off Man’s purple Suns jersey. He climbs from the hole, faces away from audience. As the dust falls away from his back, the words” NASH FAN” and the number “1” are clearly visible. Man: [tremendous yawn] WOOOOO. What a nap! I love my offseason hibernation! A yearly tradition like none other. Though I guess they’ve been getting a bit more restful since my boys have been missing the playoffs. Well, that’s OK. I’ve been really tired after cheering my tail off all season. Now I’m totally pumped for next season, even if it is just more of the same. Yep, just another regular ol’ season here in Phoenix. Picking up where we left off last season. Yeah, we’re not trying to win a title this year, but we added some new young guys in the offseason. Maybe this youth movement will help us make our way to the postseason after a couple-year drought. Yep, nothing changed at all. Not. A. Thing. Well, I wonder what’s happening in training camp. Oh man, did I sleep through media day again? I probably did, didn’t I? Well, let me just check out my Google Alerts. [Removes smartphone from pocket. Eyes widen.] Oh. [Walks back to hole. Crawls inside. Replaces rock overhead.] End scene.

Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Danny Chau Writers and historians fascinated by Pre-Columbian Mexico often mused over the application of chili peppers. Most had agreed that it was an ingredient championed by the poor, a way of numbing themselves to their dismal diets. To an Anglo centric culinary perspective, one that did not feature a lot of piquancy, this made the most sense. After all, why would the rich want to subject themselves to the incendiary effects of the chili? Of course, later historians discovered that the chili pepper was actually a luxury. Adding chilis to certain dishes provided irreplaceable flavors and sensations known almost exclusively by social elites. Of course, this idea of using explosive, temperamental ingredients extends very much into the idea of teambuilding. Acquisitions like that of Stephen Jackson to the San Antonio Spurs and Andray Blatche subscribe to the more recent understanding of chili usage. As complementary players, their bite is mitigated, which provides more wiggle room for their respective teams to isolate the strengths. Phoenix, on the other hand, is very much in the old school of thought. Signing Michael Beasley as a franchise cornerstone is applying an even coating of napalm on the tongue and lighting a match, hoping that it’ll quell your hunger. Good news is it probably will, but only because your head was just blown to bits.


Now, I’m a fan of chilis just as I’m a fan of Beasley. I proudly maintain more than four different chili plants in my backyard, and I’ve found an odd joy in watching Beasley jab-step his way to oblivion. I would love nothing more than seeing a Beasley breakthrough. But signing Beasley was an act of desperation, trying to find any reason for fan enthusiasm after more than half a decade of fun, if not successful, basketball. In dire situations this season, the Suns will likely hand the reins to Michael Beasley to find a solution. And if that’s one of your top options, your team isn’t going to be very good at all.


Portland Trail Blazers (28-38, 4th in Northwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Paul Allen

GM Neil Olshey

Coach Terry Stotts

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 102.8 12th

Own eFG 103.7 22nd

Own FTR 48.75 16th

Own TOR 50.42 25th

Own ORR 26.3 19th

Def Eff 26.6 11th

Opp eFG 13.40 13th

Opp FTR 14.12 11th

Opp TOR 26.28 21st

Opp ORR 27.25 18th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Ronnie Price (PHX) Joel Freeland (Europe) Victor Claver (Europe)

Free Agents –Lost Jamal Crawford (LAC)

Draft Picks Damian Lillard (6th)

Jonny Flynn (DET)

Meyers Leonard (11th)

Joel Przybilla (MIL) Brandon Roy (MIN) Hasheem Thabeet (OKC)

Will Barton (40th)

Player Damian Lillard Nolan Smith Ronnie Price

2012-13 $3,065,040 $1,404,960 $1,146,337

Wesley Matthews Elliot Williams Will Barton

$6,505,320 $550,000 $1,442,880

Nicolas Batum Luke Babbitt Victor Claver

$11,950,000 $1,892,280 $1,254,720

Sasha Pavlovic

$1,232,713

LaMarcus Aldridge J.J. Hickson Jared Jeffries

$13,000,000 $4,000,000 $1,475,106

Meyers Leonard $2,126,520 Joel Freeland $1,020,960 2012-2013 Salary: $56,040,428

Trades 

Acquired for Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, draft rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and Giorgos Printezis, and a protected future second-round draft pick from New York for Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas.

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $3,202,920 $3,340,920 $4,236,286 $1,503,000 $2,394,279 $3,450,156 $1,265,977 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $6,875,480 $7,245,640 $0 $762,195 $854,389 $0 $2,373,537 $3,436,881 $0 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $10,920,250 $11,390,500 $11,860,750 $2,902,757 $3,436,881 $0 $1,311,240 $1,367,640 $2,249,767

2016-17 $5,651,205 $0 $0

Total $19,496,371 $8,752,395 $2,412,314

$0 $0 $0

$20,626,440 $2,166,584 $7,253,298

$0 $0 $3,257,662

$46,121,500 $8,231,918 $9,441,029

$1,399,507 $1,448,490 $0 $0 $4,080,710 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $14,100,000 $15,200,000 $0 $0 $42,300,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $4,000,000 $1,541,486 $1,607,866 $0 $0 $4,624,458 CENTER - SALARIES $2,222,160 $2,317,920 $3,075,879 $4,210,878 $13,953,357 $1,066,920 $1,112,880 $2,008,748 $3,013,122 $8,222,630 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 UNDER Salary Cap By: $2,003,572


Portland Trail Blazers 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Sean Highkin Not much more could have gone wrong for the Blazers than the way the 2011-12 season played out. Training camp opened with the (ultimately short-lived) retirement of Brandon Roy due to knee problems. Portland's two major offseason additions, Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford, were unqualified disasters. The combination of losing and a lack of conviction on the part of several key players drove longtime head coach Nate McMillan out of town. The lone bright spot was an overdue All-Star selection for LaMarcus Aldridge, and even he was eventually shut down with a hip injury. There is a lot different about the 2012-13 team. They will begin the season completely out of the shadow of the expectations Roy and Greg Oden carried. In Neil Olshey, Portland finally has a capable GM after going an entire season with that seat vacated. In former Mavs assistant Terry Stotts, they have a successor to McMillan with his sights set on expanding the games of Aldridge and newly re-signed Nicolas Batum. In Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard, two promising lottery picks to sell as the Great Hopes for the Future. While there is plenty of reason for Blazers fans to be optimistic about the team's prospects down the road, it's not going to translate into a lot of wins this year. In Aldridge and Batum, they have exactly two players who are proven aboveaverage. The rest of the roster is raw and unproven, with three additional rookies expected to play rotation minutes. The player to watch is Lillard, who dazzled at Summer League and has every signifier of a soon-to-be-elite young point guard. But the development of him and others should be watched this season with the next few years in mind, rather than this one.

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Sean Highkin Just how much worse was Wesley Matthews at attacking the basket last season than in 2010-11? 14.4% worse. The two extremes of modern basketball argument (especially on the Internet) are “You can’t just rely on what you see, you need numbers to give it context” and “Stats are for nerds, I actually watch the games.” There are times, however, when the numbers thoroughly back up what you watched, and Matthews’ futility on the break is one of them. A lot of things went badly for the Blazers last season, but lost in the more highly publicized failings of Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford was Matthews’ regression. And nowhere was this more visible than any time he got close to the basket. A Wesley Matthews fast break quickly became a source of dread and groans for Blazers fans, as it was almost guaranteed to result in a turnover or missed scoring opportunity. In Nate McMillan’s slow-it-down offense, a player like Matthews could get away with not attacking the rim. But Terry Stotts’ higher-octane, ball-movement-heavy system and new point guard Damian Lillard’s explosiveness lend itself to a style in which the Blazers’ starting shooting guard has become a colossal liability. The team may not have much to play for this year outside of another lottery pick, but on a roster that still figures to be in shuffle mode for the next few years, Matthews has to prove that he can adapt to the new coach and point guard.


Jesus Christ Your Team Sucks by Scott Leedy LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum... Sasha Pavlovic? Jesus Christ this team sucks. First of all, we aren’t even going to talk about Lillard. Yes, he played great in Summer League, Yes I think he’s going to be very good. But, like any rookie, we don’t really know much of anything. Surer things than Lillard have failed, and more questionable players have prospered. We need to reserve judgment on him, until, you know, we have something to judge. But good God, even if he lives up to expectations, this team is still going to be terrible. This is probably the paragraph where you’d normally expect a discussion of the Blazers roster, maybe even a link to the ESPN roster page. No. That will not be happening. I would never subject my readers to such awful, horrible, torture. Friends don’t let friends listen to Ke$ha, and friends don’t let friends look at the 2012-2013 Portland Trailblazers roster (notice how I called my readers my friends. Yes, friend, I am talking to you). Hell, the Blazers can’t even get the whole “new alternate uniform” thing right. They somehow managed to both hardly change the uniform and make it 1000% worse all at once. Congratulations, truly special stuff. This team is so bad, I tried my hardest to come up with the most logical way that the Blazers would end up as NBA champions. Here’s what I have: Through some bizarre occurrence there is a league wide epidemic of the bubonic plague. The Blazers somehow manage to escape to Paul Allen’s yacht, safe from the disease (plus they have a submarine to play with!!! Win win). They are ultimately awarded the O’Brien Trophy, as the only surviving NBA franchise. Ladies and gentlemen your 2012-2013 Portland Trailblazers. Enjoy?

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Noam Schiller June 24th, 2010. Kevin Pritchard was sweating like a madman. He knew his quest was about to end – the big boss had declared he was no longer fit to lead the expedition, and the official cut was mere hours away – but as long as he was still on the job, he had to try. He knew what he was supposed to be looking for, in theory. He had heard the stories. He was told about the magical effect of that third digit, of the cheering crowds who cared not for wins or losses. He wasn't sure if he believed it or not – a pale, tall creature who parked itself outside arcs and gifted the very best of Mexican cuisine to all those presented a ticket stub? He would be laughed out of any high profile intellectual institution. But something about the tall tale was impossible to let go. His mission had sent him all the way to Nevada. The sun was scorching through his custom-made straw hat, and he was probably delirious, for he was sure he imagined that this foreign land had no bike lanes. Nevertheless, he focused on the task at hand, trying to lure out the beast, using an injured Martell Webster as bait - as the legends say one should. He barely even noticed when it happened. A slight doze – not even that, really, it was barely a blink – and Webster was gone. Where he lay there was but a smear of an unidentified condiment. Fata Morgana? Perhaps. Pritchard splashed water on his face, but the sauce was still the only thing there. Incredulous, he bent down to the ground, stuck his finger in the unidentified plasma and stuck out his tongue. Salsa. His pupils widened, noticing, barely, the shape of a chipotle pepper on the horizon. "It IS real", he whispered, though he knew nobody was there. "Chalupacabra."


Sacramento Kings (22-44, 5th in Pacific)

MANAGEMENT Owner Joe Maloof

GM Geoff Petrie

Coach Keith Smart

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 101.0 20th

Own eFG 106.8 28th

Own FTR 47.19 27th

Own TOR 51.48 30th

Own ORR 26.8 18th

Def Eff 26.2 9th

Opp eFG 12.97 5th

Opp FTR 13.95 13th

Opp TOR 29.05 7th

Opp ORR 29.51 29th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed

Free Agents –Lost

Aaron Brooks (PHX)

Player Isaiah Thomas Aaron Brooks Jimmer Fredette

2012-13 $762,195 $3,250,000 $2,406,240

Marcus Thornton Francisco Garcia

$7,632,500 $6,100,000

Tyreke Evans John Salmons Travis Outlaw

$5,251,824 $8,080,000 $3,000,000

Tyler Honeycutt

$850,000

Jason Thompson Thomas Robinson James Johnson

$5,250,000 $3,374,640 $2,812,006

DeMarcus Cousins $3,880,800 Chuck Hayes $5,486,250 2012-2013 Salary: $57,924,631

Draft Picks Thomas Robinson (5th)

Trades 

None

POINT GUARD – SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $884,293 $0 $0 $3,396,250 $0 $0 $2,574,120 $3,282,003 $4,470,088 SHOOTING GUARD – SALARIES $8165,000 $8,697,500 $0 $6,400,000 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $6,927,156 $0 $0 $7,580,000 $7,000,000 $0 $3,000,000 $3,000,000 $0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $1,646,488 $6,646,250 $12,732,451

$0 $0

$16,330,000 $12,500,000

$0 $0 $0

$12,178,980 $22,660,000 $9,000,000

$900,000 $0 $0 $0 $1,750,000 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $5,643,750 $6,037,500 $6,431,250 $6,825,000 $30,187,500 $3,526,440 $3,678,360 $4,660,482 $6,179,799 $21,419,721 $3,950,868 $0 $0 $0 $6,762,874 CENTER – SALARIES $4,916,973 $6,519,198 $0 $0 $15,316,971 $5,722,500 $5,958,750 $0 $0 $17,167,500 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 UNDER Salary Cap By: $119,369


Sacramento Kings 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Amin Vafa So... what's the plan? Like, seriously. What's the plan? What are we doing here, guys? Are you sticking around, or not? I'd really like to know. I mean, I know there's a plan, since everyone's got a plan. But it's not really clear what's happening. I mean, running 1943 Globetrotters plays? Really? Renaming your arena the "Sleep Train Arena?" For serious. Well, I guess it's better than "Power Balance Do You Honestly Expect These Bracelets to Have Positive Non-Placebo Effects On Your Health? Pavilion." I'm sorry if I'm being too harsh. I know it has been a rough couple of years. Not because of the losing, but because of everything else. The arena that was going to be then wasn't. The arena that wasn't good enough then was. The coaches. The management. The roster overhaul. John Salmons. The Maloofs. How can you be excited for your NBA season if you don't know if you're going to have one? It's like having the lockout looming over just your city every. Freaking. Year. Here's what I like about Sacramento fans, though. They don't think like that. Instead of thinking, "Damn. This could be the last season," they live every season like it's the last. They come to games. They want this team to stay. They see potential in this team. They see promising athletes, smart and athletic kids who are terrific at basketball. Yet somehow they lot of them have seemed to have had their development stunted by an upper management dynamic that can't seem to get its shit together. They love this team, and they love the personalities on it. I mean, are there any two more Kings-y stories than a fantastic forward/center not being selected for the Olympics because he's got a rep for a bad attitude and one of the best point guards drafted in the last five seasons to be picked 60th in the NBA draft? Highs and lows. Mixed feelings. Blessings and curses. And the fans are right there, accepting these guys, loving these guys, cracking jokes about and with these guys. I mean, would you look at these hilarious Photoshops of Demarcus Cousins that Greg Wissinger (aka @gwiss) made for me--again, because Kings fans are awesome?

So, Sacramento, I ask again: What's the plan? I'm sure your fans would like to know, too. You owe it to them to let them know.


Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Noam Schiller It’s not hard to envision the scenario in which the Kings just get it, isn’t it? Unlikely, but not hard. The steps are almost laughably simplistic: ·

DeMarcus Cousins calms down just enough to lower his technical fouls and up his percentages without losing his mean streak.

·

Tyreke Evans recovers some of that rookie year magic, getting to the rim at will and improving his jumper just enough to open up those crucial lanes.

·

Isaiah Thomas continues to display impressive playmaking skills as the point guard of the future.

·

A healthy Chuck Hayes, a beastly Thomas Robinson, and what is by now an expected 15 and 10 per 40 minutes from Jason Thompson solidify the frontcourt on both ends.

·

Marcus Thornton gets buckets; and Aaron Brooks gets all remaining buckets.

·

David Stern decrees that the small forward position is vanquished and basketball is played 4 vs. 4.

Of course, the problem with the Kings isn’t the talent on the roster. It isn’t even how that talent fits together – yes, there are too many chuckers and too little passers on the squad, but eventually, as players mature and front offices separate the cornerstones from the flotsam, these things figure themselves out. The problem is that these are the Kings, the organization as a whole that has done everything in its capacity to undo the talent bestowed upon it by the NBA’s lottery system. From the Paul Westphal era single-handedly killing multiple promising careers, to broke owners trying to submarine the franchise and get paid for it, it’s hard to get excited about the on-court product when the whole operation can go down in a second. If the Kings’ season ultimately fails, it won’t be because of a bad record; that’s to be expected. It’ll be some kind of new, unforeseen, previously unimaginable low. A move to Little Rock, Arkansas, somehow trading Cousins for another John Salmons, signing Shawne Williams to shore up that small forward spot; the possibilities are endless, and terrifying.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Danny Chau It would all be so much easier for Tyreke Evans if this was a role playing game. If along his quest, he could obtain items, equipment, attachments. His base stats are promising, but his skills are stuck between several classes, and they aren’t truly adequate for any of them. As such, he is having problems with the boss battle, and he’s already tried twice. If only he had the Boots of Andre Miller, which would raise his HP and provide some injury resistance. Or the Gloves of Iguodala, which would increase defensive focus. Or the Reggie Miller Elixir, which would quadruple his off-the-ball skills and shooting (though it would also condemn him to a life of terribly annoying commentary once the story mode is completed). Ideally, Evans finds a way to succeed as a 3 in the Kings’ starting lineup. He has the speed and length to guard bigger players, and the athleticism to play off the ball, but didn’t consistently show a willingness to do either last season. When most of your pet moves only work in isolations, and your percentages from 15 feet and out are horrendous at best, you tend not to do so well without the ball in your hands.


Systems, like rules, are meant to be broken. Having a player that thrives in improvisation can be a great tool for a system prone to collapse due to inexperience, but it’s another thing entirely when one of your best players exists outside of the system. This is a crucial juncture in Evans’ development. He was given absolute control too early in his career, and expectations grew too fast with his LeBron-esque stat line. He’s had trouble adapting to a universe that doesn’t circle around him, but that’s the great thing about being young. There’s still time to figure it all out. If and when Evans levels up, it’ll be about damn time.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Amin Vafa "We are on the spot to buy tickets," he said. "If we don't, and they don't make money, they are gone. We can't give them excuses. If we support them, I think the league will put pressure on them to make a deal." -Longtime Kings season ticket holder Jack Spiegelman, from http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/26/4443550/kingsseason-ticket-holders-torn.html Part of being a consumer of sports is figuring out the personalities of all the various people involved. You've got players, coaches, managers, scouts, agents, fans, referees, groupies, hangers-on, posses, media. And owners. Oh, those owners. Some of the will try to win over their fans, free agency consequences be damned. Some will sit quietly in their offices, delegate to the right people, and allow their teams to progress in an orderly fashion towards championships. Some might simultaneously berate and ogle their players. Others might just be cheapskates. And some might string their home cities along for so long that they not only lose the spirit of the players they employ, but they wind up both actively and passively antagonizing the team's fan base. In case you haven't figured it out by now, that last group is the Maloofs. They provide fans with the worst kind of "Will they or won't they?" storyline. This ain't no Sam and Diane, Ross and Rachel, Jim and Pam, Luke and Lorelai, Kirk Hinrich and Gar Heard. No, it's Will they move the team, or won't they? Will they sell the team or won't they? As a fan, how do you deal with that? How do you support a team whose owners want nothing to do with the town anymore? How do you convince yourself to separate the team and the ownership in your mind so you can keep supporting the team without supporting the owners you don't like? As a player, how do you block that out? It's not like your job is on the line, but you're only human. You hear things. The walls around you are crumbling, and there's only so much you can do to ignore it forever. How do you do it? How do you block it all out and keep marching forward? I don't think I could.


San Antonio Spurs (50-16, 1st in Southwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Peter Holt

GM R.C. Buford

Coach Gregg Popovich

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 108.5 1st

Own eFG 100.6 11th

Own FTR 52.85 1st

Own TOR 48.88 15th

Own ORR 26.1 20th

Def Eff 22.2 2nd

Opp eFG 12.81 3rd

Opp FTR 12.93 24th

Opp TOR 25.09 24th

Opp ORR 24.00 1st

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed

Free Agents –Lost

Player Tony Parker Patrick Mills Cory Joseph

2012-13 $12,500,000 $1,085,120 $1,105,560

Gary Neal Manu Ginobili Danny Green Nando De Colo

$972,000 $14,107,492 $3,500,000 $1,400,000

Kawhi Leonard Stephen Jackson

$1,861,920 $10,059,750

Tim Duncan DeJuan Blair Matt Bonner

$9,638,554 $1,054,000 $3,630,000

Boris Diaw $4,500,000 Tiago Splitter $3,944,000 2012-2013 Salary: $67,249,475

Draft Picks Marcus Denmon (59th)

Trades 

None

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total $12,500,000 $12,500,000 $0 $0 $37,500,000 $1,133,950 $0 $0 $0 $2,219,070 $1,182,600 $2,134,593 $3,201,889 $0 $7,624,642 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $1,116,099 $0 $0 $0 $2,088,099 $0 $0 $0 $0 $14,107,492 $3,762,500 $4,025,000 $0 $0 $11,287,500 $1,463,000 $0 $0 $0 $2,863,000 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $1,991,760 $3,053,368 $4,268,608 $0 $11,175,656 $0 $0 $0 $0 $10,059,750 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $10,361,446 $10,361,446 $0 $0 $30,361,446 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,054,000 $3,945,000 $0 $0 $0 $7,575,000 CENTER - SALARIES $4,702,500 $0 $0 $0 $9,202,500 $4,930,000 $0 $0 $0 $8,874,000 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $9,205,475


San Antonio Spurs 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Clint Peterson Tim Duncan will continue to beat out deserving young talent at the "F" spot in the annual All-Star gala due to some insane inner-circle insistence on his not being listed as a center even though he has been since the Stone Age. Okay, maybe not the Stone Age, but damn close. Since Rasho Nesterovic was a Spur. I'm not kidding. How many of you even remember Rasho let alone the fact that he got a ring in 2005 with San Antonio? If there's a certainty in the Spurs' circles, it's that they will continue to reload around their aging superstars as long as they can, and likely finish the regular season with a home-court series or three in the Western Conference playoffs. They raid Europe like a Viking, better than any other ball club in the NBA. But seriously, I'll just leave this here.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Steve McPherson We talk a lot about inevitabilities when we talk about sports, even if we don’t exactly couch them that way. When someone says LeBron James can be better than Michael Jordan, people hear “will be better” and get purple in the face. And sometimes we do put it that way; when the Heat acquired James and Bosh, it wasn’t a question of whether they would win the championship, but when. But you know what’s really inevitable? Getting old and then dying. Sure, we now have German cyberknees and Tommy John surgery, but they’re only a stay of execution. For at least a couple years now, death’s icy hand has been threatening the Spurs, but somehow they always slip the noose. Last postseason, their ascension to a Finals match-up with the Eastern Conference winner seemed all but, yes, inevitable until the Thunder took them apart. But the question now is, and seems to always be, can they do it again?


Ginobili, Duncan and Parker are all still top flight basketball players, and they’ve managed to bring in solid talent to shore up those players with DeJuan Blair, Kawhi Leonard, and Tiago Splitter all there to take the weight and ensure the Spurs’ own personal GDP stays in the black. But without their core, are you confident the Spurs would be anything more than a well-coached Phoenix Suns? I’m not saying this is necessarily the season we discover the hideously twisted and decrepit portraits Manu, Tony, and Timmy keep in their attics. I’m just saying it’s inevitable that one day we will.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Jared Dubin The Spurs exist in a kind of limbo. Everyone knows they’re an incredibly talented team, talented enough to win the championship this year. Everyone knows they will operate like a well-oiled machine on the offensive side of the court; they’ll run their high pick-and-rolls with Parker and Duncan and beat you to death with their corner 3’s and their lay-ups and that sneaky Manu Ginobili. Everyone knows Gregg Popovich will have them ready to play every single night… except for those nights when he decides to sit his big guns down to maximize their rest for the postseason tournament he knows they’ll reach. But everyone also knows that they’re another year older, which means they’re another year closer to that eventual, inevitable season when Timmy D finally breaks down, when Manu doesn’t have anything left in the tank, when Parker loses that half a step. Or are they? The Spurs are pegged by the media and the bloggers and the pundits to regress due to age nearly every year, and yet they just keep humming along, same as they ever was. In the worst case scenario for San Antonio, this really is the season where Duncan is no longer Duncan, where Ginobili’s myriad of injuries finally catch up to him, where Parker’s quick first step begins to deteriorate, and where the young guns just don’t have it in them yet to make up the difference. They slump to a bottom-half of the West playoff seed and are bounced in the first round. In the best case, San Antonio is essentially what they were last season – a brutally efficient offensive powerhouse that can score at will on any team in the league, only better. With improvements from Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair, and the presence of Patty Mills and Nando De Colo to back up Parker, the Spurs take yet another leap when we expect them to fall. They get revenge on OKC for last year’s Conference Finals defeat, and take out the Heat in the Finals. And then next year, when we count them out again, they come back for one more run.

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Clint Peterson 46,784: The number of NBA minutes Tim Duncan has played in the regular season and playoffs combined. 830: The number of wins since Gregg Popovich's first full season as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. For his career, since taking over early in the 1996-97 season from Bob Hill as head coach, Pop boasts an incredible .680 winning percentage. 15: Adjusted for two lockout-shortened seasons, the number of times the Spurs have reached the 50 win plateau. Also the number of times the Spurs have made the playoffs, never once missing the postseason in a full season under Popovich. Tim Duncan has never once "gone fishing" after the regular season in his entire career, and probably finishes it having never missed the postseason. 1: The number of times the San Antonio Spurs will have failed to reach the [weighted] 50 win plateau by season's end in the last 16 seasons. Good night now.


Toronto Raptors (23-43, 4th in Atlantic)

MANAGEMENT Owner Richard Peddie

GM Bryan Colangelo

Coach Dwane Casey

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 98.5 25th

Own eFG 101.5 12th

Own FTR 47.55 22nd

Own TOR 47.46 5th

Own ORR 27.4 15th

Def Eff 35.0 30th

Opp eFG 14.77 26th

Opp FTR 12.81 26th

Opp TOR 25.87 22nd

Opp ORR 24.61 3rd

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Landry Fields (NYK) John Lucas III (CHI)

Free Agents –Lost Jerryd Bayless (MEM)

Player Kyle Lowry Jose Calderon John Lucas III

2012-13 $5,750,000 $10,561,985 $1,500,000

Terrence Ross Landry Fields

$2,563,320 $5,000,000

DeMar DeRozan Linas Kleiza

$3,344,250 $4,600,000

Alan Anderson

$885,120

Andrea Bargnani Amir Johnson Ed Davis

$10,000,000 $6,000,000 $2,207,040

Quincy Acy

$665,000

Jonas Valanciunas $3,374,640 2012-2013 Salary: $61,319,032

Draft Picks Terrence Ross (8th)  Quincy Acy (37th) Tomislav Zubcic (56th)

Trades Acquired Kyle Lowry from Houston for Gary Forbes and a first-round draft pick

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $6,210,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,567,500 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $2,678,640 $2,793,960 $3,553,917 $5,225,000 $8,500,000 $0 SMALL FORWARD - SALARIES $4,531,458 $0 $0 $4,600,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $10,750,000 $11,500,00 $6,500,000 $7,000,000 $3,153,860 $4,361,788 $788,872

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $11,960,000 $10,561,985 $3,067,500

$4,790,680 $0

$16,380,517 $18,725,000

$0 $0

$7,875,708 $9,200,000

$0

$0

$885120

$0 $0 $0

$0 $0 $0

$20,750,000 $19,500,000 $9,722,688

$915,243 $0 $0 $2,369,115 CENTER - SALARIES $3,526,440 $3,678,360 $4,660,482 $6,179,799 $21,419,721 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $3,275,032


Toronto Raptors 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by James Herbert Take a restaurant with a name you only see in print when it’s near the words “health code violation”. You’ve scarcely thought about its existence since college and you’ve never stepped foot in there before 2:00 a.m. Say you heard it had new management last year and cleaned up its act, but has the same name and serves a similar menu. How long would it take for anyone to notice? How long would it take for you to give it another chance? Dwane Casey revamped the Toronto Raptors in 2011-2012, taking over a team that went 22-60 a year prior. He dragged their defense from reprehensible to respectable. The Raptors still lost 65% of their games, but blowouts were rare. They struggled to score, but wouldn’t have struggled as mightily if Andrea Bargnani hadn’t suffered a calf injury that forced him to leave the lineup just as he looked like he’d finally found himself and left him limited upon his return. Bargnani’s healthy now, and there’s a stronger foundation around him. Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas were brought in to man their positions for the foreseeable future, though the latter may require some patience. Potential pitfalls abound for the 2012-2013 season, but we’re talking about some bland burgers rather than a rodent infestation. Toronto will find out what it has in DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis this year. Its offense will improve if Landry Fields and Terrence Ross shoot the way they’re expected to. Its winning percentage should improve if a major injury is avoided. But there’s no guarantee it will surge in the standings to the point where people have to pay attention. It feels like the Raptors are going to be relevant eventually. The question is how close they are now.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls, It's Trollin' For Jonas Valanciunas, Andrea Bargnani, and Bryan Colangelo by Amin Vafa Ahem... My name is Jonas. I'm carrying this team. Thanks for drafting me, Bryan. I'm promise I'm not weak. Come sit next to me. Eat some warm poutine. Just like Chris Bosh did when we couldn't find wins. Things were so-so then. Once, but never again. We've all been snowed in. Let me tell you, Bryan. The Air Canada flight left right on time. A ticket costs only five loonies. The pilot said, "Hey, man, we're going to Boston, eh." Of course we'll be willing to play. My name's Andrea. Got a pretty sore calf. I'm fresh out of energy, and I'm still taking naps, taking naps. Tell me how to shoot. I can bank that shot. Oh, my freakin' calf. And you know what else?


Guess what I received in the mail today? Words of deep concern from Coach Dwane Casey. The rebuild's not going as you planned. The center has injured his calf. The payroll will exceed the cap. You swore, Bryan, you learned your math. The fans are going home. (x4) Meh! The fans are going home. (x3) Meh! Meh! Meh! My name is Jonas.

I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Connor Huchton I am the one who drifts dangerously close to the fabled Eastern Conference eighth seed. I am the one who improves just enough every year to keep fans hopeful. I am the purveyor of smooth-shooting big men. I am not, however, the purveyor of insatiably rebounding big men. I am the team with no stars but several players who reach ever so closely to the sky's greatest heavens. Close, but never close enough to retain a grip. I am the one who hires a defensive-minded coach and changes team culture for the better. I am the one who replaced Bayless and Johnson with Lowry and Fields, and who now waits on the precipice of the next nebulous step. I am the Toronto Raptors, and I will lightly knock.

MVM: Most Valuable Meme by Jared Dubin Jonas Valanciunas is the single greatest organized basketball player in all the land. Which land? All of them. America. Canada. Lithuania. Everywhere there is land. There has never been a better basketball player than Jonas Valanciunas. The Cavaliers should have drafted him in the 2011 Draft. Not only over Tristan Thompson, but over Kyrie Irving as well. The Wolves should have drafted him. Not only to add to their stable of white guys, but because he could crush Derrick Williams in the palm of his hand, while a basketball was in that palm, and then dunk both Williams and the ball. He is, quite simply, the most spectacular, marvelous, exciting basketball phenomenon the world has ever known. Able to leap small forwards in a single bound, Valanciunas will single-handedly obliterate the NBA this season. He will drive and he will dunk and he will dish and he will dominate. He will rebound and he will rotate and he will roar like a Raptor when he blocks every single shot taken against his Toronto team this season. There is simply no stopping Jonas Valanciunas, the greatest organized basketball player in all the land. You can only hope to contain him. These are all things I know about the great Jonas Valanciunas, despite the fact that I have never seen him play even one second of organized basketball. I know these things because many, many people on Twitter have told me. These people are apparently able to say, with great certainty, that Jonas Valanciunas is a surefire Rookie of the Year candidate poised to take over the world based on his respectable Euroleague stats as a teenager, a mildly unimpressive performance in the Olympics, and… well, I really don’t know what else. Maybe the kid’s a player. Maybe he really is that good. But I’ll believe it when I see it.


Utah Jazz (36-30, 3rd in Northwest)

MANAGEMENT Owner Greg Miller

GM Kevin O’Connor

Coach Tyrone Corbin

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 103.7 7th

Own eFG 103.6 20th

Own FTR 48.08 18th

Own TOR 49.28 22nd

Own ORR 30.2 8th

Def Eff 32.5 28th

Opp eFG 13th 6th

Opp FTR 13.75 16th

Opp TOR 30.22 2nd

Opp ORR 26.16 11th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Randy Foye (LAC) Mo Williams (LAC)

Free Agents –Lost Andrei Kirilenko (MIN) C.J. Miles (CLE)

Player Mo Williams Jamaal Tinsley Earl Watson

2012-13 $8,500,000 $1,352,181 $2,300,000

Gordon Hayward Randy Foye Alec Burks Raja Bell

$2,709,720 $2,500,000 $2,111,160 $3,480,000

Marvin Williams DeMarre Carroll

$8,287,500 $885,120

Jeremy Evans

$1,794,872

Paul Millsap

$8,500,000

Derrick Favors

$4,753,320

Al Jefferson $15,000,000 Enes Kanter $4,319,280 2012-2013 Salary: $66,596,786

Draft Picks Kevin Murphy (47th)

Trades Acquired Marvin Williams from Atlanta for Devin Harris

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $3,452,183 $4,677,708 $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,202,000 $3,034,356 $4,405,083 $0 $0 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $7,500,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,660,257 $1,794,871 $0 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $0 $0 $0

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $8,500,000 $1,352,181 $2,300,000

$0 $0 $0 $0

$10,839,611 $2,500,000 $11,752,599 $3,480,000

$0 $0

$15,787,500 $885,120

$0

$5,250,000

$0

$8,500,000

$6,008,196 $7,882,663 $0 $0 $18,644,179 CENTER – SALARIES $0 $0 $0 $0 $15,000,000 $4,505,280 $5,694,674 $7,882,663 $0 $22,401,897 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 OVER Salary Cap By: $8,552,786


Utah Jazz 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Clint Peterson "The Jazz will trade either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap before the trade deadline" has dominated Jazz-speak since the beginning of the shortened 2011-12 NBA season. It didn't happen last year, but the whispers continue, three out of four experts assuming it has to happen by this season's break. Does it really, especially with young gun Enes Kanter seemingly breaking through and finally reaching above the rim in traffic for finishes? Derrick Favors was the larger-than-life off-season reasoning that this supposed "logjam" among Utah's front-court was inevitably to be broken up, but all reports from training camp were that he seemed to lack a fire and desire, that it was a lackluster start to his season, and that he hadn't made any real improvement to his basketball skills on the offensive end. On the other hand, Kanter came into camp sporting an eight-pack of abs and an athleticism that allowed for an explosiveness sorely lacking in his game last season, leaving those who favor the youth movement quickly jumping camps to support their position. Many will be disappointed at the trade deadline when incoming GM Dennis Lindsey, absconded with by former Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor from the San Antonio Spurs over the summer, doesn't move either of Jazz big starters Jefferson or Millsap. With off-season acquisitions geared toward adding perimeter threats, there's little reason to break up this #FearsomeFoursome now, Utah brass having given head coach Ty Corbin the tools to open up the paint for all four of the Jazz bigs. The effect will be resounding, Jefferson's field goal percentage rebounding from a down year, Millsap will continue to do Millsap things, ever further from the basket, and both Kanter and Favors will benefit on the offensive end from increased space to move when their stints come, accelerating their development and confidence. The Jazz brass should have little reason to break up a good thing they'll have going this year, preferring to let it ride, see where it all shakes out especially when they will be major players in the upcoming crop of free agents in the summer of 2013.

Source: HoopsHype


Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Danny Chau Utah’s depth chart in the frontcourt is evidence enough of a team at a serious crossroads. Despite Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap (both 27 until 2013) being in their primes, the promise of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter looms over the former duo’s fate in Utah. Favors and Kanter offer an interesting combination of inside-outside, offense-defense, freak athleticism and freight train strength. Those two appear to be locks as the Jazz’s twin towers of the future – that much is obvious. But is anything truly obvious? Talent and potential bring Favors and Kanter to the fore, but the numbers say something else entirely. Like, say, the number 50. 50 is the Player Efficiency Rating of Gordon Hayward in five games at the power forward spot for the Jazz last year. It is also the PER of newly-acquired forward Marvin Williams in one game at center for the Atlanta Hawks last season. PER is an advanced statistic created to measure greatness, and it appears that the greatness Utah has at its disposal was hidden behind traditional notions of positions and everything else associated with how we think the game is played. So if numbers tell us anything about the Jazz’s upcoming season, it is that their potential quandaries in the frontcourt are more glaring than anyone could have thought. The coaching staff has to decide the direction it intends to head toward: riding it out with the reliable duo in Jefferson and Millsap, pressing forward with the potential-laden duo in Favors and Kanter, or taking a leap of faith with the duo of Hayward and Williams that has the potential to be one of the greatest tandems in NBA history for a few seconds. They say it takes two to tango. They also say it takes three sets of tango-ers to engage in a trilateral war for Utah’s future.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump? by Clint Peterson Few gave the Utah Jazz a shot to make the playoffs last year under fledgling head coach Ty Corbin, after his taking over for Jerry Legend mid-season in 2011. Indeed, many experts had Utah as a bottom three team in the entire league. Yet they managed to sneak into the Wild West's eighth slot, even if they were briskly bounced in a sweep by the Spurs. Nevertheless, it was valuable experience for a young, unseasoned squad still on the rise. The Jazz didn't get worse over the summer as they addressed their biggest weakness on offense, perimeter shooting, where Utah ranked 27th of the 30 NBA teams in three-shooting, by picking up Mo Williams -- whom Kevin O'Connor calls his "biggest mistake as GM" for letting him slip away after a single rookie season in 2004-05 -- Marvin Williams, and drafting sharpshooter Kevin Murphy who was a flawless 5-5 from three in the intra-squad scrimmage this fall. Some have seen the current roster as unbalanced, puzzling since the Jazz were already a force on offense, sixth-best in offensive rating according to Basketball-Reference.com last season, despite an utter lack of honesty from opposing defenses, who simply packed the paint and let the Jazz lay bricks from range anytime they cared to try. Ty Corbin's focus in training camp has been mainly on the defensive end where Utah was ranked bottom three much of last season, managing to make a D-blitz in the last third to bring their overall season defensive rating vaulting up to a more respectable 19th by season's end. Not only did the Jazz not get worse, they got loads better. Menaced for years by the length and talent of the Lakers, O'Conner has spent the last few seasons acquiring lottery talent and length of his own. Utah's projected starting wings,


Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams, are both taller than its starting power forward Paul Millsap, who in the last two years has gained an ability to pull opposing stretch 4s away from the paint with a deadly mid-range shot, an area of the floor where Millsap can also use his uncanny ability to swipe the ball away on the other end of the floor. Millsap was the only qualified player in the NBA last season not primarily a wing or guard to appear in the top 17 for steals, ringing in fourth-best in the league in the category. Anyone calling for the Ty Corbin era to come to an end prematurely should remember that the Jazz brass have enabled him to succeed with tools that were missing from his toolbox previously. Oh, and there's also the small matter of fact that this will be Corbin's first full season as the team's coach, his first time with a real training camp and preseason to develop chemistry and schemes. On a final note, this is Corbin's contract year. Expect big things. And an extension. He does have a better winning percentage than Jerry Sloan as a head coach through the same number of games as lead man, after all.

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls. It’s Trollin’ For Paul Millsap by Clint Peterson The general assumption seems to be that as the Utah Jazz's salary books clean themselves out at season's end Utah will let Al Jefferson walk and re-sign Paul Millsap, bringing him one step closer to being a Jazzman for life. Sure, Millsap says all the right things when it comes to the inevitable, if dreaded, queries as to the state of contract negotiations and feelings on the state of Utah itself. But I'm here to tell you that this Jazz team literally gravitates around Al Jefferson. While Ty Corbin has refused to name team captains in his tenure, Jefferson has been a quiet force of nature in the locker room and any team function, taking young players under his wing, showing them the ropes, throwing them bones about their opposition on the floor during games, giving, namely Enes Kanter, whom Al affectionately dubbed "Big Turkey," the spotlight in the immensely enjoyable preseason and pre-postseason crowd-pleasers before games (MIC DROP!). Al loves to tease the good-natured Kanter, who in turn adores Al back for all the attention. I had the pleasure to attend one such function last year, a charity event in Park City, Utah, to observe this phenomenon firsthand. Al came in a little later than most of the players and coaches, proceeding to make his way over to a leather couch to settle in. As he did so, every player, every coach, personally greeted the lovable Big Al, who in turn took the time stop and chat with a smile with each and every one of them. Derrick Favors, on his third plate of sweet potato fries, sat down by Al, who proceeded to heckle him about his shoe size. Al, to Derrick: "What size your [bowling] shoes?" Derrick: "What size YOUR shoes??" Al: "Fourteen!" Derrick: "FOURTEEN!" *both laugh* The love was palpable, the chemistry undeniable. Al Jefferson has found a home here in Salt Lake City. I realize that you don't want to hear it, that you will deny your inner demons when they say it, but Paul Millsap wants to get paid. Again. In another environment, one not named Utah. The undercurrent has been flowing, growing, quietly


gaining momentum. Someone will yet again (looking at you, Kevin Pritchard) make Millsap an offer he can't refuse at season's end. One the Jazz may have the ability to match, but in the best interest of the future, almost certainly will not. Jazz brass have already been down that road, tying one hand behind their back by doling out absurd numbers of dollars to Greg Ostertag and Andrei Kirilenko. Trust me, they won't do it again.


Washington Wizards (20-46, 4th in Southeast)

MANAGEMENT Owner Ted Leonsis

GM Ernie Grunfeld

Coach Randy Wittman

2011-12 STATISTICS Stat Rank

Off Eff 97.8 28th

Own eFG 103.8 23rd

Own FTR 47.23 26th

Own TOR 49.23 21st

Own ORR 25.3 25th

Def Eff 30.2 24th

Opp eFG 14.21 19th

Opp FTR 14.21 8th

Opp TOR 27.32 17th

Opp ORR 29.11 26th

OFF-SEASON RECAP Free Agents - Signed Jannero Pargo (ATL)

Free Agents –Lost Andray Blatche (BKN)

A.J. Price (IND)

Draft Picks Bradley Beal (3rd) Tomas Satoransky (32nd)

Trades 

None

Martell Webster (MIN)

Player John Wall Shelvin Mack A.J. Price

2012-13 $5,915,880 $762,195 $885,120

Bradley Beal Jordan Crawford

$4,133,280 $1,198,680

Trevor Ariza Jan Vesely Chris Singleton

$7,258,960 $3,202,920 $1,551,840

Cartier Martin

$915,852

Nene Hilario Trevor Booker

$13,000,000 $1,385,280

Emeka Okafor $13,490,000 Kevin Seraphin $1,797,600 2012-2013 Salary: $56,785,412

POINT GUARD - SALARIES 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 $7,459,925 $9,697,901 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 SHOOTING GUARD - SALARIES $4,319,280 $4,505,280 $5,694,674 $2,162,418 $3,206,886 $0 SMALL FORWARD – SALARIES $7,727,280 $0 $0 $3,340,920 $4,236,287 $5,962,375 $1,618,680 $2,489,530 $3,726,965

2016-17 $0 $0 $0

Total $23,073,706 $762,195 $885,120

$7,471,411 $0

$26,123,925 $6,567,984

$0 $0 $0

$14,986,240 $16,742,502 $9,387,015

$0 $0 $0 $0 $915,852 POWER FORWARD – SALARIES $13,000,000 $13,000,000 $13,000,000 $0 $52,000,000 $2,350,820 $3,420,443 $0 $0 $7,156,543 CENTER – SALARIES $14,487,500 $0 $0 $0 $27,977,500 $2,761,114 $3,898,691 $0 $0 $8,457,405 2012-13 Salary Cap: $58,044,000 UNDER Salary Cap By: $1,258,588


Washington Wizards 2012-13 Season Preview

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball by Amin Vafa There are two huge questions surrounding the Wizards’ upcoming season: 1) By trading away and amnestying knuckleheads, drafting of almost-sure-thing Bradley Beal, and acquiring veterans to kinda-sorta win now, have the Wizards expelled their punch line/mediocrity mojo once and for all? 2) Does John Wall’s injury that has him sidelined for at least the first month of the season make my first question sound absurd? On September 28th, the buzz surrounding the Wizards was about the potential pairing of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Sure, there was some talk of potentially poorly-spent money in the acquisition of Nene, Emeka Okafor, and Trevor Ariza, but for the most part, both fans and critics of the team accepted the new roster for what it symbolized: the culmination of a 100% roster overhaul 18 months after Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton exchanged probably the most idiotic locker room feud in the history of mankind. The previous era officially closed when the team exercised the amnesty exception on Andray Blatche, giving the Wizards a completely different makeup than it had had only two seasons prior. The conversation this summer was finally focused on things like, “How effective will Wall and Beal be in the backcourt together?” and, “Does this team’s size and length make it above average defensively?” Then the news broke on September 29th that John Wall had a stress injury to his patella tendon. He’ll was expected to be out eight weeks, which means he’ll miss roughly the first 10 games (roughly 12%) of the season. When he gets back, he’ll likely be a little sluggish since he’ll have been careful with his leg exercises so as to not aggravate his injury. Now the conversation is back to, “The Wizards and their point guards: What’s with their knees?” and, “If this team is vying for the playoffs, can they afford to lose Wall for 10 games?” and, “The best they can hope for now is some sort of ‘Ewing Theory’ offshoot with Wall,” and, “Same ol’ Wizards.” This season is really important for Wall. He had a good rookie season, but it wasn’t as good as everyone thought it would be. With all the jokes surrounding the team both on and off the court, as well as Wall’s stellar 20-assist performance in the rookie-sophomore game, he was essentially given a free pass: “Oh, the rest of the team isn’t good, so he’ll be better when he matures and also plays with better guys.” While I tend to agree with that assessment, more because the team was rudderless without veterans imbuing healthy habits rather than everyone playing poorly, this season was going to be Wall’s coming out party. This was it: his chance to shine. And it still has to be, but right now, he’ll be starting behind. His injury will buy him a little more free-pass time, but it shouldn’t. And I don’t think he wants it to buy him any time, either. He knows how important this season is for the team and for his career. The best thing he can do for now, though, is to make sure he doesn’t rush back. The last thing this team needs is Wall being chronically injured. They can’t afford to go through that again.


Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven by Sean Highkin It wouldn’t be a Wizards season if it didn’t start out with a knee injury to John Wall that’s expected to keep him out for several weeks in a hugely important development year. Before this latest setback, these guys were being thrown around as a possible sleeper for the up-for-grabs eighth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. That could still happen, if they catch an insane amount of breaks. Let’s say Wall comes back fully recovered after missing only eight games or so. Let’s say Nene also shakes his injury luck. Let’s say Wall and Bradley Beal click immediately upon his return. Let’s say their young players—Kevin Seraphin, Shelvin Mack, Chris Singleton, Jordan Crawford—all take massive steps forward. If all that happens, new additions Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor could actually add the “veteran leadership” that’s always talked about with these kinds of acquisitions. More likely, though, is the possibility that Wall’s injury put them another year out of playoff contention. For a player with his relative inexperience, especially one with his athleticism coming off a knee injury of any kind, it may not be the smoothest re-integration. It’s going to be a rough first month of the season for Beal, forced to learn the NBA with only the likes of A.J. Price to share a backcourt with. Nene’s health is still a question mark. Ariza and Okafor are both good, capable players who know what they’re doing, but could end up just high-priced veterans trapped on a mediocre team without much to keep them interested. They also may be just good enough to keep Washington out of the top of the draft lottery. 2012-13 looks like a season of “almost” for the Wizards, when one of the extremes is the ideal.

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Noam Schiller How many three pointers did John Wall make last season? The answer is 3. That's it. He took 42 of them, which means that in possessions that were designated for three pointers, John Wall scored 0.214 points per possession. Of the 38 guards who made less 3 pointers than Wall last season, only two played more than 500 minutes (Shaun Livingston at 1087, and Donald Sloan, who somehow managed 610). Wall played 2388 minutes. It was, by far, the lowest amount of made 3s per minute of any guard who actually managed to net one. It gets better once you move closer to the hoop – it couldn’t possibly get much worse – but just barely. Long twos? Wall shot 29% from 16 to 23 feet; with 289 shots, to go with 30% his rookie year on 287 shots, it’s hard to argue that this is a fluke. The story is similar from 10 to 15 feet – 28% his rookie year, 32.1% last year, and a whole lotta clangin’ on the way. There may not be a worse jump shooter than John Wall in the entire league. In fact, there are very few players who are as bad at anything as Wall is at jump shooting; this is Andris Biedrins free throws or J.J. Hickson defense territory. Wall is immensely talented, and the Wizards aren’t out of line to plan ahead with him as the face of the franchise. But if he doesn’t start knocking down shots, defenses standing at the free throw circle while a point guard dribbles up top will no longer be known as the “Rajon Rondo treatment”. I doubt that’s how Wall wants his name to be used.


I Had A Dream Last Night And It Looked Just Like A Dream by Jared Dubin Washington made it a priority to jettison their lunatics (JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Andray Blatche) and surround franchise point guard John Wall with veteran talent in an effort to improve enough to the point where Wall doesn’t get fed up with the losing and decide to try to force his way out of town. So McGee and Young were traded at last year’s deadline, and in return the Wiz scooped up veteran center Nene. Blatche was amnestied this offseason. The Wizards then swapped out one extremely overpaid veteran role player for two slightly-less-overpaid veteran role players this offseason when they finally, mercifully, shipped Rashard Lewis and his gigundous contract out the door and welcomed Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza into the fold. Okafor and Ariza will presumably be counted on to provide two things: veteran leadership, and defense. Basically, the same things as Nene, but without the added offensive production. Here’s the thing about those guys though: they ain’t exactly young. Nene is already 30, and Emeka will be there soon. Ariza’s nearly 28, and has been in the league for eight (WOAH) years now. And while Nene is still a needle-mover, Okafor and Ariza kind of aren’t. But can you imagine if the Wizards got the 2008-09 versions of those two? What if, in a sort of reverse-Looper style, we sent 26-year-old Okafor forward in time and had him play basketball for the Wizards? Him and Nene would make a much more fearsome offense/defense front-court tandem, rather than Emeka likely being Nene’s backup. What if we sent 22-year-old Ariza, who wasn’t yet convinced he was a star-type player due to his hot shooting during LA’s championship run and subsequent big Rockets contract, forward to run the break with John Wall? Wouldn’t that just be oh-so-fun? It sounds crazy, but it just might work.


HP Season Predictions – Team

Atlantic

Central

Southeast

Pacific

Northwest

SouthWest

Eastern Champ

Western Champ

Finals Champ

Danny

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Thunder

Heat

Jared

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Thunder

Heat

Curtis

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Lakers

Heat

James

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Lakers

Heat

Sean

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Lakers

Heat

Connor

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Clippers

Thunder

Mavs

Heat

Thunder

Heat

Conrad

76ers

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Thunder

Thunder

Scott

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Lakers

Lakers

Andrew

Nets

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Lakers

Heat

Eric

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Lakers

Lakers

Steve

Nets

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Thunder

Thunder

Clint

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Grizzlies

Heat

Thunder

Heat

Noam

76ers

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Thunder

Heat

Amin

Nets

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Mavs

Heat

Nuggets

Heat

Jordan

Celtics

Pacers

Heat

Lakers

Thunder

Spurs

Heat

Thunder

Thunder


HP Season Predictions – Individual

Most Valuable Player

Defensive Player of the Year

Sixth Man of the Year

Rookie of the Year

Most Improved Player

Coach of the Year

Executive of the Year

Danny

Kevin Durant

Dwight Howard

James Harden

Damian Lillard

Derrick Favors

George Karl

Mitch Kupchak

Jared

LeBron James

Dwight Howard

Ray Allen

Anthony Davis

Derrick Favors

George Karl

Mitch Kupchak

Curtis

LeBron James

LeBron James

James Harden

Anthony Davis

Gustavo Ayon

Doc Rivers

Mitch Kupchak

James

LeBron James

LeBron James

James Harden

Damian Lillard

Patrick Patterson

Rick Adelman

Mitch Kupchak

Sean

LeBron James

Dwight Howard

James Harden

Damian Lillard

JaVale McGee

Doc Rivers

Mitch Kupchak

Connor

Chris Paul

LeBron James

Elton Brand

Anthony Davis

Bismack Biyombo

Frank Vogel

Mitch Kupchak

Conrad

Kevin Durant

DeAndre Jordan

James Harden

Dion Waiters

CJ Miles

Monty Williams

Danny Ferry

Scott

LeBron James

Dwight Howard

James Harden

Anthony Davis

DeMarcus Cousins

Monty Williams

Mitch Kupchak

Andrew

LeBron James

Dwight Howard

James Harden

Anthony Davis

JaVale McGee

Doc Rivers

Masai Ujiri

Eric

LeBron James

Tony Allen

James Harden

Anthony Davis

Derrick Williams

Rick Adelman

Mitch Kupchak

Steve

LeBron James

Dwight Howard

James Harden

Anthony Davis

Wes Johnson

Monty Williams

David Kahn

Clint

LeBron James

Tony Allen

James Harden

Damian Lillard

Paul George

Ty Corbin

Kevin Pritchard

Noam

LeBron James

Dwight Howard

James Harden

Anthony Davis

Eric Bledsoe

Doug Collins

Mitch Kupchak

Amin

Kevin Durant

LeBron James

Jason Terry

Bradley Beal

John Wall

George Karl

Dell Demps

Jordan

LeBron James

Dwight Howard

James Harden

Anthony Davis

Paul George

Kevin McHale

Mitch Kupchak


Contributors Danny Chau (@dannychau) is HP’s resident Zen haikuist. He once woke up next to an elk breathing into his ear, and that isn’t even the weirdest deer-related story he has. Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) is Co-Editor-In-Chief of Hardwood Paroxysm. He previously started the mildly popular NBA blog Outside the Arc, and is co-author of We’ll Always Have Linsanity: Strange Takes From The Knicks Strangest Season, a forthcoming book about the 2011-12 New York Knicks season. Curtis Harris (@ProHoopsHistory) blogs about basketball solely for Hardwood Paroxysm and also enjoys peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches. James Herbert (@outsidethenba) loves basketball to an unhealthy degree. He lives in Toronto and is excited about watching the Bobcats on League Pass soon. He is also the producer of HoopSpeak Live. Sean Highkin (@shighkinNBA) is a Portland native and long-suffering Trail Blazers devotee, and a staff writer for Portland Roundball Society. He also writes for MagicBasketball.net, because he is a magnet for rebuilding teams. Soulja Boy used to follow him on Twitter. Connor Huchton (@ConnorHuchton) enjoys writing for Hardwood Paroxysm, especially in the third person. He also contributes to ESPN TrueHoop's Mavericks' site, The Two Man Game, is an editor of SB Nation's Rufus on Fire, and runs the pop culture website Digital Refrain. Conrad Kaczmarek (@conradkaczmarek) is not a doctor but he plays one on the Internet. He writes lots of basketball stuff and for whatever reason, people seem to read it. You can find most of his ramblings on FearTheSword.com, SBNation's Cleveland Cavaliers blog. You shouldn't not follow him on Twitter at @conradkaczmarek. Scott Leedy (@ScottLeedy) loves rap music almost as much as he loves Tracy McGrady. Andrew Lynch (@AndrewLynch) When God Shammgod created the basketball universe, Andrew Lynch was there. His belief in the superiority of advanced statistics and the eventual triumph of expected value-based analytics stems from the fact that he's roughly as old as the concept of counting. With that said, he still loves the beauty of basketball played at the highest level -- it reminds him of the splendor of the first Olympics -- and the stories that spring forth from the games, since he once beat Homer in a game of rock-paper-scissors over a cup of hemlock. Dude's old. Eric Maroun (@EJMaroun) is a native Clevelander living in Indianapolis who lists meeting Craig Sager at a bar after LeBron’s return to Cleveland as one of the high points in his life. He enjoys the Cavs, good basketball, and the rare occurrence of those two overlapping each other. Steve McPherson (@steventurous) When Steve McPherson was a freshman in college, he sometimes wondered if thinking hard about stuff was really for him, which is just flat-out hilarious if you know him now. He spends a lot of his time thinking and writing about basketball here at Hardwood Paroxysm and also for A Wolf Among Wolves, HoopSpeak, and Operation Sports. Matt Moore (@HPbasketball) is a blogger for CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball blog. He both loves and detests the sound of his own voice.


Clint Peterson (@clintonite33) has been around the basketball block a few times. Proud father, raised a racing nut, he's also a feature writer for UtahJazz.com, helps moderate ESPN's Daily Dime Live, and makes odd Photoshops and snarky comments on Twitter @Clintonite33 when he isn't creating cover art for novels, managing the band, doing charity work, or digging up stats. Noam Schiller (@noamschiller) loves obscure basketball players more than he loves famous basketball players and mistakenly thinks that makes him cool. He lives in Israel and has basketball related insomnia throughout entire seasons. He also contributes to MagicBasketball.net. Amin Vafa (@AminVafaNBA) grew up in Cleveland, lives in DC, and somehow still manages to love watching professional basketball. He also does in-game coverage of the Wizards for Bullets Forever, and writes about the Cavs in exile for SB Nation Cleveland. Jordan White (@JordanSWhite) loves and lives to write. He marvels at every Ricky Rubio pass and cries after every Brandon Roy highlight. He grew up in Kansas, where, contrary to popular belief, there is running water, electricity, and no singing munchkins. He is the Cormac McCarthy of basketball writing. Not because he's a good writer, but because he's terrible with apostrophes.

Hardwood Paroxysm Season Preview 2012-2013  

The best thing you've ever read.

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