2013-14 NBA Season Preview: 10 Questions To Start The Season!

NBA Season Preview HeaderThe NBA season starts tomorrow night with 3 games on the schedule before the rest of the league gets into action on Wednesday night, the Toronto Raptors included.

And since the season has a chance to give us some pretty interesting storylines, I recruited Sean and Allegra to talk ball with me before things get underway. I asked them both the same questions, and I’m giving them both the same opportunity to answer.

These are good answers kids.

Check it out…

Josh: 1. Who’s going to be worse in the 2013-14 NBA season: The Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers? 

Sean: The Celtics. Pau Gasol is the most easily forgotten and under-appreciated player in the league. The Lakers will have some kind of Kobe Bryant back for at least half a season. Steve Nash is in serious decline, but there’s still talent there. The Celtics’ cupboard is young and empty; none of their veterans are game-changers, and they’re without Rajon Rondo for part of the year. It’s not going to be a pretty season.

Allegra: Sean! You’ve been hanging around me too long – my defensiveness about Pau “Perfect Man” Gasol has rubbed off on you! His brother gets the glory (and the DPOY titles) and I guess that’s what has kept Pau immune to Laker diva antics. Just keep Nick Young on the bench – that guy is a liability. Who knows what form Kobe and Rondo will be in when they come back, but I’ll take some broken Lakers over the broken Celtics. Neither Olynyk nor Faverani are particularly great centers and the Celtics don’t even have room below the tax line to acquire game-changing talent.

Josh: 2. The Toronto Raptors have an over/under prediction of 36.5 wins this season. Which way do you think it will go? Why?

Sean: 36.5 is probably pretty close to where the Raptors will end up; I just don’t think this team has the discipline and defensive acumen required to take the next step into the “solid playoff team” tier. However, with the current talent level in the league being heavily skewed Westward, a win total close to 36 and a half might just be enough to squeak into the playoffs. I’ll take the over, but just barely.

Allegra: I was NOT optimistic about our Raptors before pre-season started. I’ve been especially hard on Rudy Gay since we acquired him at the expense of our smartest player. We don’t have much in the way of point guards, and I still don’t think Kyle Lowry will ever be top-level. That said, he’s gotten faster and more comfortable than I’ve seen him. DeRozan has bulked up and even Rudy Gay’s Miracle Eye Surgery leaves me optimistic. I’ll take the over, unless we start trading our players away while the value is high OR if Jonas Valanciunas gets injured.

Josh: 3. Biggest star to be traded this season?

Sean: Despite what Danny Ainge says about the Boston Celtics would never deign to tank, the reality is that a good return for Rajon Rondo would accelerate their rebuild by years. I don’t think Rondo’s temperament lends itself well to being the core veteran on a team that will almost certainly squander his prime years in the basement of the conference. There is a question of which teams have the bounty to acquire Rondo – because he won’t come cheap – but Ainge will likely not settle for less than a high draft pick and another major asset, things that will pay dividends for the Celtics while they get their house in order.

Allegra: I don’t even know! I think it’ll be a very expensive surprise, and will be a game-changer akin to CP3’s move to the Clippers. None of the current trade rumours have grabbed my attention in any real way, but there are a lot of teams that have become accustomed to a certain level of play that they just aren’t getting anymore. My money is on this deal somehow involving the Spurs though.

Josh: 4. Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook are all  scheduled to come back from injury mid-season. Which player will have the most success in his comeback?

Sean: Westbrook is by far the youngest player and the one with the least mileage; his injury was also the least severe. With athleticism to burn before the injury, I don’t see much more than rust affecting his play upon his return. That said, if Kobe re-discovers the post game we saw from him in seasons past, he could come back with a renewed focus and surprise everyone.

Allegra: Hands down, I’m thinking Westbrook. For not only all the same reasons Sean already listed, but also because OKC coaches seem to be encouraging him to take his time and he’s smart enough to listen.

Josh: 5. The Charlotte Bobcats, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers look like the worst 5 teams in the league – who finishes with the worst record overall?

Sean: The 76ers. Look at that roster; it’s barely an NBA team. They’re Diggin’ for Wiggins something fierce and nothing will stand in their way. While the Jazz made an impressive dive to the bottom this offseason, Philadelphia is committed to tanking in a way that is unparalleled in the league this year. I would not be surprised to see what marginal assets they have – a perpetually underwhelming Evan Turner and perhaps Spencer Hawes – be shown the door in an attempt to stockpile draft picks or other young talent.

Allegra: I’m inclined to agree with Sean because he makes some good points, but DAMN the Jazz are pathetic as heck this year. They’re kicking the season off with fewer than a dozen healthy players (Trey Burke’s injury means they’re starting John Lucas III as point guard – yeeeeesh) but the attitude is really what’s going to make a difference. Philly is obviously trying to fail but Charlotte are probably going to still try hard enough to warrant good effort sundaes.

Josh: 6. Everyone is looking to knock off the Miami Heat – in the West the numbers have the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder as the best 4 teams going into the year. Which team has the best chance to beat Miami in the Finals?

Sean: Indiana was one game away from upsetting the champions last year and have solidified their rotation with the additions of Luis Scola and Chris Copeland. I’m not buying the Paul-George-as-superstar narrative by any means, but I think they match up well with the Heat. Chicago will be reloaded with Derrick Rose but I think the workmanlike and inside-outside game of the Pacers has the Heat more concerned than a one-man offense.

Allegra: Unless something crazy happens with the Bulls, I think Miami has the east locked. I always want to say that THIS is the year for my Clippers boys in the West, and I think they stand a good chance especially since they have Doc Rivers coaching. If the Clippers could make it this far under Vinny del Negro, I have high hopes for them under a real coach – maybe one who’ll make certain power forwards work on their damn free throw shot. The Spurs are getting old (most of their starters are well into their 30s) and can’t take on really physical young teams the way they used to.

Josh: 7. Can Derrick Rose be the player we saw him as before the injury and lead the Chicago Bulls to one of the top 3 seeds in the Eastern Conference?

Sean: I think he’ll be back to 100% or close to it, but the workload that Tom Thibodeau demands of his players falls somewhere between “workhorse and “indentured servant”. I think his success will depend on his confidence in the recovery process and whether the Bulls’ management resolves some of the internal issues and impending contract disputes that loom over the team.

Allegra: Derrick Rose has been playing REALLY well in the preseason – I know we shouldn’t judge based on that but he’s smooth and playing full minutes and consistently scoring in the double digits. I think the Bulls have a good shot at the top three for sure.

Josh: 8. Blake Griffin said, “Lob City doesn’t exist anymore. Lob City is done.” – Pick a new nickname for the Clippers!

Sean: While I was partial to “Blob City” last year with Lamar Odom’s appearance on the roster (cruel, cruel) I’ll go with Sob City because as much as I like watching the team, they do complain about fouls at a comically high rate.

Allegra: This is what I get for letting Sean answer first – he stole my Blob City joke. Jerk. I never much cared for Lob City as a nickname, but I really hope my “#LetUsGoTheClippers” hashtag catches on. 

Josh: 9. Pick the 2013-14 Toronto Raptors MVP

1) Rudy Gay
2) DeMar DeRozan
3) Kyle Lowry
4) Jonas Valančiūnas
5) Other

Sean: My heart says Valanciunas, but my mind says DeRozan. He’s displaying an impressive jump in his basketball IQ this preseason, picking his spots and taking more intelligent shots. He’s also eager to bang inside, using his newfound weight to put his back to the basket and get into the post more often against his defenders. Consistently displaying increased skill from year to year, I don’t think he’ll ever take that jump into All-Star status by any means but I believe he’s the key to this Raptors offense with Rudy Gay showing little change in the cavalier attitude towards efficiency that has plagued his entire career.

Allegra: As I’ve already mentioned, I have no faith in Rudy Gay as the saviour of this team. His eye surgery, which was supposed to fix his crazy depth perception issues, hasn’t made him a more efficient shooter. Speaking of trades I regret, nuts to Hansbrough. That guy’s attitude is a liability we can’t afford. DeRozan and Lowry, while both seem committed to improving, still aren’t wowing me the way Jonas is. He’s got to be careful about injuries and not getting fouls, but he’s a smart, conscientious player who I think is the key to turning this team around.

Josh: 10. Which of these Canadians will have better rookie seasons: Cleveland Cavaliers’ Anthony Bennett or Boston Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk?

Sean: I’m not much of a believer in Olynyk; his style of play, below average athleticism and wispy body doesn’t seem like it’ll translate well to the pro game. With the Celtics possibly being forced to start him at Center, his rookie season is going to be a painful one on a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of talent to make his move to the NBA easier.

Bennett will have the eyes of the league upon him, but there is a young talent base in Cleveland that doesn’t exist in Boston. Cleveland’s frontcourt could be one of their strengths if Andrew Bynum is healthy and motivated, which makes the pressure to be a franchise-changing star – which I don’t think he is – less than it otherwise would be. I think he’ll be the better rookie.

Allegra: I didn’t follow either of these young men in their college career, so I only have the pre-season to work with. Cleveland are a bunch of young guys who are also developing talent – Bennett is unpolished but he’ll fit well. Olynyk doesn’t really strike me as an NBA player in terms of skill or build or grace, but that’s what rookie year is for! He’s got an uphill battle to wage, though, whereas Bennett has a more solid foundation.

Thank you to both Sean and Allegra for being awesome and talking basketball before the season has even started. I can’t wait to keep up with them all season long. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll find something to get in this space again as the season goes on.

Here’s hoping that all of you are as ready for the 2013-14 NBA season as the 3 of us are.

It’s time for tip-off!

Be Awesome!Allegra and Sean NBA Season Preview

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2013-14 NBA Season Preview: 10 Questions To Start The Season!

NBA Season Preview HeaderThe NBA season starts tomorrow night with 3 games on the schedule before the rest of the league gets into action on Wednesday night, the Toronto Raptors included.

And since the season has a chance to give us some pretty interesting storylines, I recruited Sean and Allegra to talk ball with me before things get underway. I asked them both the same questions, and I’m giving them both the same opportunity to answer.

These are good answers kids.

Check it out…

Josh: 1. Who’s going to be worse in the 2013-14 NBA season: The Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers? 

Sean: The Celtics. Pau Gasol is the most easily forgotten and under-appreciated player in the league. The Lakers will have some kind of Kobe Bryant back for at least half a season. Steve Nash is in serious decline, but there’s still talent there. The Celtics’ cupboard is young and empty; none of their veterans are game-changers, and they’re without Rajon Rondo for part of the year. It’s not going to be a pretty season.

Allegra: Sean! You’ve been hanging around me too long – my defensiveness about Pau “Perfect Man” Gasol has rubbed off on you! His brother gets the glory (and the DPOY titles) and I guess that’s what has kept Pau immune to Laker diva antics. Just keep Nick Young on the bench – that guy is a liability. Who knows what form Kobe and Rondo will be in when they come back, but I’ll take some broken Lakers over the broken Celtics. Neither Olynyk nor Faverani are particularly great centers and the Celtics don’t even have room below the tax line to acquire game-changing talent.

Josh: 2. The Toronto Raptors have an over/under prediction of 36.5 wins this season. Which way do you think it will go? Why?

Sean: 36.5 is probably pretty close to where the Raptors will end up; I just don’t think this team has the discipline and defensive acumen required to take the next step into the “solid playoff team” tier. However, with the current talent level in the league being heavily skewed Westward, a win total close to 36 and a half might just be enough to squeak into the playoffs. I’ll take the over, but just barely.

Allegra: I was NOT optimistic about our Raptors before pre-season started. I’ve been especially hard on Rudy Gay since we acquired him at the expense of our smartest player. We don’t have much in the way of point guards, and I still don’t think Kyle Lowry will ever be top-level. That said, he’s gotten faster and more comfortable than I’ve seen him. DeRozan has bulked up and even Rudy Gay’s Miracle Eye Surgery leaves me optimistic. I’ll take the over, unless we start trading our players away while the value is high OR if Jonas Valanciunas gets injured.

Josh: 3. Biggest star to be traded this season?

Sean: Despite what Danny Ainge says about the Boston Celtics would never deign to tank, the reality is that a good return for Rajon Rondo would accelerate their rebuild by years. I don’t think Rondo’s temperament lends itself well to being the core veteran on a team that will almost certainly squander his prime years in the basement of the conference. There is a question of which teams have the bounty to acquire Rondo – because he won’t come cheap – but Ainge will likely not settle for less than a high draft pick and another major asset, things that will pay dividends for the Celtics while they get their house in order.

Allegra: I don’t even know! I think it’ll be a very expensive surprise, and will be a game-changer akin to CP3’s move to the Clippers. None of the current trade rumours have grabbed my attention in any real way, but there are a lot of teams that have become accustomed to a certain level of play that they just aren’t getting anymore. My money is on this deal somehow involving the Spurs though.

Josh: 4. Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook are all  scheduled to come back from injury mid-season. Which player will have the most success in his comeback?

Sean: Westbrook is by far the youngest player and the one with the least mileage; his injury was also the least severe. With athleticism to burn before the injury, I don’t see much more than rust affecting his play upon his return. That said, if Kobe re-discovers the post game we saw from him in seasons past, he could come back with a renewed focus and surprise everyone.

Allegra: Hands down, I’m thinking Westbrook. For not only all the same reasons Sean already listed, but also because OKC coaches seem to be encouraging him to take his time and he’s smart enough to listen.

Josh: 5. The Charlotte Bobcats, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers look like the worst 5 teams in the league – who finishes with the worst record overall?

Sean: The 76ers. Look at that roster; it’s barely an NBA team. They’re Diggin’ for Wiggins something fierce and nothing will stand in their way. While the Jazz made an impressive dive to the bottom this offseason, Philadelphia is committed to tanking in a way that is unparalleled in the league this year. I would not be surprised to see what marginal assets they have – a perpetually underwhelming Evan Turner and perhaps Spencer Hawes – be shown the door in an attempt to stockpile draft picks or other young talent.

Allegra: I’m inclined to agree with Sean because he makes some good points, but DAMN the Jazz are pathetic as heck this year. They’re kicking the season off with fewer than a dozen healthy players (Trey Burke’s injury means they’re starting John Lucas III as point guard – yeeeeesh) but the attitude is really what’s going to make a difference. Philly is obviously trying to fail but Charlotte are probably going to still try hard enough to warrant good effort sundaes.

Josh: 6. Everyone is looking to knock off the Miami Heat – in the West the numbers have the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder as the best 4 teams going into the year. Which team has the best chance to beat Miami in the Finals?

Sean: Indiana was one game away from upsetting the champions last year and have solidified their rotation with the additions of Luis Scola and Chris Copeland. I’m not buying the Paul-George-as-superstar narrative by any means, but I think they match up well with the Heat. Chicago will be reloaded with Derrick Rose but I think the workmanlike and inside-outside game of the Pacers has the Heat more concerned than a one-man offense.

Allegra: Unless something crazy happens with the Bulls, I think Miami has the east locked. I always want to say that THIS is the year for my Clippers boys in the West, and I think they stand a good chance especially since they have Doc Rivers coaching. If the Clippers could make it this far under Vinny del Negro, I have high hopes for them under a real coach – maybe one who’ll make certain power forwards work on their damn free throw shot. The Spurs are getting old (most of their starters are well into their 30s) and can’t take on really physical young teams the way they used to.

Josh: 7. Can Derrick Rose be the player we saw him as before the injury and lead the Chicago Bulls to one of the top 3 seeds in the Eastern Conference?

Sean: I think he’ll be back to 100% or close to it, but the workload that Tom Thibodeau demands of his players falls somewhere between “workhorse and “indentured servant”. I think his success will depend on his confidence in the recovery process and whether the Bulls’ management resolves some of the internal issues and impending contract disputes that loom over the team.

Allegra: Derrick Rose has been playing REALLY well in the preseason – I know we shouldn’t judge based on that but he’s smooth and playing full minutes and consistently scoring in the double digits. I think the Bulls have a good shot at the top three for sure.

Josh: 8. Blake Griffin said, “Lob City doesn’t exist anymore. Lob City is done.” – Pick a new nickname for the Clippers!

Sean: While I was partial to “Blob City” last year with Lamar Odom’s appearance on the roster (cruel, cruel) I’ll go with Sob City because as much as I like watching the team, they do complain about fouls at a comically high rate.

Allegra: This is what I get for letting Sean answer first – he stole my Blob City joke. Jerk. I never much cared for Lob City as a nickname, but I really hope my “#LetUsGoTheClippers” hashtag catches on. 

Josh: 9. Pick the 2013-14 Toronto Raptors MVP

1) Rudy Gay
2) DeMar DeRozan
3) Kyle Lowry
4) Jonas Valančiūnas
5) Other

Sean: My heart says Valanciunas, but my mind says DeRozan. He’s displaying an impressive jump in his basketball IQ this preseason, picking his spots and taking more intelligent shots. He’s also eager to bang inside, using his newfound weight to put his back to the basket and get into the post more often against his defenders. Consistently displaying increased skill from year to year, I don’t think he’ll ever take that jump into All-Star status by any means but I believe he’s the key to this Raptors offense with Rudy Gay showing little change in the cavalier attitude towards efficiency that has plagued his entire career.

Allegra: As I’ve already mentioned, I have no faith in Rudy Gay as the saviour of this team. His eye surgery, which was supposed to fix his crazy depth perception issues, hasn’t made him a more efficient shooter. Speaking of trades I regret, nuts to Hansbrough. That guy’s attitude is a liability we can’t afford. DeRozan and Lowry, while both seem committed to improving, still aren’t wowing me the way Jonas is. He’s got to be careful about injuries and not getting fouls, but he’s a smart, conscientious player who I think is the key to turning this team around.

Josh: 10. Which of these Canadians will have better rookie seasons: Cleveland Cavaliers’ Anthony Bennett or Boston Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk?

Sean: I’m not much of a believer in Olynyk; his style of play, below average athleticism and wispy body doesn’t seem like it’ll translate well to the pro game. With the Celtics possibly being forced to start him at Center, his rookie season is going to be a painful one on a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of talent to make his move to the NBA easier.

Bennett will have the eyes of the league upon him, but there is a young talent base in Cleveland that doesn’t exist in Boston. Cleveland’s frontcourt could be one of their strengths if Andrew Bynum is healthy and motivated, which makes the pressure to be a franchise-changing star – which I don’t think he is – less than it otherwise would be. I think he’ll be the better rookie.

Allegra: I didn’t follow either of these young men in their college career, so I only have the pre-season to work with. Cleveland are a bunch of young guys who are also developing talent – Bennett is unpolished but he’ll fit well. Olynyk doesn’t really strike me as an NBA player in terms of skill or build or grace, but that’s what rookie year is for! He’s got an uphill battle to wage, though, whereas Bennett has a more solid foundation.

Thank you to both Sean and Allegra for being awesome and talking basketball before the season has even started. I can’t wait to keep up with them all season long. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll find something to get in this space again as the season goes on.

Here’s hoping that all of you are as ready for the 2013-14 NBA season as the 3 of us are.

It’s time for tip-off!

Be Awesome!Allegra and Sean NBA Season Preview

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