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7/17

The NBA Soap Opera- All My Players 

I go over the current state of the NBA as of July team by team, but I do it my way.

Lakers and Warriors 

Well, here we are. The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions. What a season, Lebron and the Lakers flopped, Anthony Davis said “eh I don’t really feel like doing that any more” when he realized he would have to play basketball in New Orleans for another year after this one, and Magic Johnson said the same when he came to terms with the perspective reality that he actually has to effect positive change and make smart decisions consistently instead of just hoping to sign super stars. The Warriors seemed to implode internally for the better part of a regular season in which they finished as the one seed in true disappointing Golden State Warrior fashion. I personally find it hilarious when teams get so good that no matter the success, they still end up hating each other. I’m from the Jersey Shore, Monmouth County to be exact, and here when we have a really good thing that always works, theres always that one person that decides they don’t want it anymore, or that it’s getting old, and they mess everything up. Thats the Warriors, that really fun Bar, or event that is just amazing every year, and I can’t quite pin-point who is the player that decided this year would be the year to ruin everything, but now I don’t have to. Just like the aforementioned Toronto Raptors I was bailed out by the plethora of injuries that hampered the Warriors on the back half of the post season. I will prematurely say it even though the only ginormous loss the Warriors suffered was really Kevin Durant (big, but the team that excited before him went 73-9). This has been a long time coming, we watched the lovable “We believe” Warriors morph into an underdog up-and-coming squad with a light-skinned baby face bucket getter named Wardell Stephen Curry. Quickly, after the termination of Mark Jackson, and the subsequent entrance of Steve “roll me a backwood” Kerr (cc: Nick Young), the Warriors were a true contender. They added Kevin Durant after the GOAT, Lebron James, sent the Dubs retreating for reinforcements. The Kevin Durant addition brought the Warriors two more titles. All in all the Warriors dynasty clocked in at a 3/5 with a repeat, and what could be perceived as a three-peat if father time and the universal powers that be did not step in and stop the fight. It is with reluctant pleasure that I say to the 2020-2021 Golden State Warriors WAY TOO SOON; Kevin Durant is not walking through that door, Sean Livingston is not walking through that door, Quinn Cook is not walking through that door, Andre Iguadola is not walking through that door, and for at least a half season Klay “probably better than Steph but less marketable” Thompson is not walking through that door. However, D’angelo Russel and Willy Cully-Stein are so… I, nay, we could be blowing our load way too soon, but the Warriors are dead, banished to the purgatory that is the 5 seed in the western conference, RIP to a great dynasty and have fun in limbo until Steph retires. The Lakers got AD and skinny Boogie along side a new gang shooters and vets that can help gel the team quicker than most others, its their turn to have tons of success in the midst of an inordinate amount of petty turmoil (lets see how long Taco Tuesdays last when you’re 5 games back of the Jazz at the break Lebron).

Toronto Raptors Boston Celtics OKC and Houston 

I digress however, and continue the drama filled dialogue on what has been possibly one of the best off seasons in recent memory. Best is too broad of a word, I would refer to this off season as “eventful” and nothing more, but also nothing short of. The poor Toronto Raptors became the poster child for why it may not be a great idea to do the whole “rent-a-star” idea. Kawhi left! And the only thing he left them was the first NBA Title in franchise history; tragic, selfish, and all together deceitful. Wait a minute I may have had my Skip Bayless autocorrect feature on. Thank God no other team in the NBA tried to rent a star and had it blow up in their face. Anyways, we could not wait for the Celtics to suck again, but obviously after a calendar year where only 2 out of the 4 major Boston area teams won the championship, the sports gods rewarded the much maligned and beat down Boston fans with Kemba Walker, and most likely another 3 NBA seasons with the playoffs coming to town and gangle of opportunities to remain relevant in any sports conversation ever. Moreover, I was ready to roast the Houston Rockets, but as any AWL of Pardon My Take would reiterate, I will simply say this of the Rockets offseason thus far, this league. In all seriousness Russ and James Harden together on a team is so hard to fathom. There is only one ball, imagine a team smart enough to draft both of them, and make it work. They would make the finals easily with one other star, preferably a big man that can shoot, but I will get my head out of the clouds and stop playing fantasy basketball and focus on the Rockets for now. They bring back essentially the same team outside of Chris Paul, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Speaking of bad things, OKC sucks again, or perhaps for the first time. The sports gods always prevail as they punish OKC with a Buffalo Bill-esque generation. 3 MVPS 2 other all stars, and a handful of solid roll players, and what do they have to show for it? Well, I just said it. The thought I had about the Thunder is they had so many great individuals, and while basketball is a great individual sport it is teams that win championships, players win MVPs, hence the sentence prior to this. Sam Presti is definitely on the hot seat, hopefully that AAU rosters worth of future first round picks he acquired can come through in the clutch, right after 3rd period conceptual science class. 

Heat Sixers Spurs

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Speaking of Heat, Jimmy Butler is there now. I won’t pretend to be a pro at the basketball analysis game, I just call it how I see it. Every spring since Bron left the heat are about to make the post season, whether they do or don’t does not really matter because the season will end shortly after that either way. I’m not exactly sure why J-Butt left Philly, I thought what they had going there could be good, and he finally found a city that cared as much as he did, but again what do I know. If you payed me 100 Million plus to live and hoop in Miami, I would not ask much questions other than when the next flight out is. I’m going to take a quick break from talking basketball to speak about chess. Not sure what the Spurs did, but I expect they’ll be in the playoffs as long as I’m living and breathing on this Earth. Plus Demar Derozan is the mid range god Okay, back to Philly. This town has loads of camaraderie every major sports stadium  is literally in the same complex and as an Eagles fan I find that so cool. I’ve grown quite the affinity to the Sixers even though I am a Knicks fan mostly because I like to see Philly fans happy, I also feel safer even though we ate poop and flipped cars after our first Super Bowl victory. The Sixers added Al Horford so Joel Embiid can sleep at night, as well as Josh Richardson who is good enough to market now, I guess, and they brought back Tobias Harris, hopefully the magic didn’t lay within the Bobi/Tobi connection and he can have the same success now that he’s stupid rich. The Sixers are the ultimate “potential starting line up eye emoji team.” A bunch of good players, some players that you only feel are good because others tell you they were good, and a star. Truth is we don’t know what the Sixers will be, but their saving grace is that they’re in the eastern conference so they can mail in a 3 or 4 seed and figure it out then. Hopefully the three point line doesn’t kill them before that time. 

Knicks Clippers Bucks

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Speaking of killing things, the Knicks! The Knicks deserve jail time. Why essentially promise us a superstar instead of just saying, hey we are going to try. We traded Kristaps in hopes for KD, and Kyrie, and it did not work. Mills and Perry actually went to work. This hurts to say, but with a young promising player that was dumped by LA, and a group of young players that have showed promise, the Knicks look a lot like the Nets did last year. Don’t look me in the eye and tell me you thought Caris Lavert would be Caris Lavert, and Jarrett Allen would be Jarrett Allen. Okay, so with that said enter Alonzo Tirer and Mitchell Robinson. Kevin Knox also showed good range in summer league RJ Barrett averaged like 15 and 8, and guys like Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Bullock fill the holes with enough effort and talent mixed in to get to the (dare I say) 8 seed. here_we_go_joker_.gif. Speaking of unexpected teams the Clippers are relevant again for the first time since Lob City. If you believe rumors than you also believe that Doc Rivers and Paul George have some stuff to figure out, but thanks to Pat Bev and Lou Will the Clips held down the fort until Kawhi and PG-13 came home, now they’ll probably be the best defensive team in the league with the quietest in house locker room chemistry. It is often said that Kawhi restored balance to the NBA, but where one threat is defeated a larger one looms. I give it 2 seasons before everyone hates how good the Clippers are (if everyone stays healthy). Not much to say about the Bucks. They’re good. Giannis feels like a Dame or a D-book type player that wouldn’t even think of leaving his franchise for a bigger market or a team up else where. The Knicks fan in me sees the bevy of team options that postures us up to make a run at the Greek Freak, but I know better than to get my hopes up for two things, my romantic life, and the New York Knicks. For the Bucks however, they bring back everyone besides Malcolm Brogdon who’s foot is apparently supposed to explode at some point. nonetheless 84 Mil to hold down the for until Dipo gets back isn’t a bad gig for Brogdon, but also not a monumental loss for the Bucks, because, well, Giannis. 

Nets Bulls Cavs

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The only thing I like about Chicago is the music. I’ll never get over the video of D Rose when he realized his hometown team traded him to the Knicks. I can’t un-hear that crackly broken “you lyin’” Rose let out when he realized his career was only trending down after that. The Bulls haven’t been relevant since Rose. I’m not really sure if Baby Dirk Lauri Markkanen is actually that great, but Zach Lavine is trending up. Colby White is a great pick just because he has supplied me with enough tweet reaction responses to last me the rest of the year, good luck to the Bulls, I wish I knew more about you. Onto more interesting things we have the Brooklyn Nets. The ultimate last laugh for any dwarfed franchise is being all around better than the bigger, richer, and more well known franchise. So here are the Nets. For the time being Nets fans you win, you for KD, and you got Kyrie. You lost DLo, but you keep Allen, Dinwiddie, Lavert, and many other players that helped you to shock the NBA world last season and force teams to put more respect on your names. 2020 may not be the final product, but 2021 should be. In the illustrious words of Micheal Scott “this had better be terrible.” From a realistic, not at all biased stand point however, if I were a Nets fan I would be scared. You went from a quiet yet commanding, docile yet passionate playmaking point guard, to another point guard with the personality of an angsty teenager off that mid-pack. Rumor has it that Jaylen Brown actually hated Kyrie Irving because he felt he as fake deep. I’m not sure how that equates to basketball, and far be it from me to assume I know any of these men personally, but take that how you will. My message to BK fans is to not be too surprised if you look up Christmas day and you’re the biggest question mark in the NBA due to underachieving and Kyrie is one bad game away from saying something passive aggressive to the New York media. Also KD, tore his achilles and although he is amazing, and in the conversation has an all time player I feel like we forgot what that injury does to people. KD is in his 30’s now. I hope I’m wrong about the Slim Reaper, but unless something with this injury has changed over the last few months I’m probably not wrong. The next team on my list is the Cavs, but like…no

Mavs Pelicans Blazers

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The Dallas Mavericks are such an anomaly. I’m not exactly sure what they will be next year. They should theoretically make the playoffs but the Magavricks led by Luka and Kristaps are very unproven. Can they be led by a 2nd year player and an injury prone big? I’m not quite sure. They added Boban and Seth Curry so just like their additions and their stars I imagine they’ll be pretty average. Another average team is the Pelicans. I think the NBA and sports media felt bad for the Pelicans fans after they were spurned by Anthony Davis or maybe they felt sympathy New Orleans fans in general after their sports year so the New Orleans baksetball off season has been hyped up and heralded as top notch. They stumbled upon the number one overall pick, that obviously turned into Zion “Chonk” Williamson. The players and assets they got for AD obviously weren’t bad, and Jaxson Hayes is apparently just another light-skin NBA player that can jump really really high (cc: Aaron Gordon and Zach Levine). They added JJ Reddick, as well and before you know its the Pels have a nice litter squad. Except for the fact that Anthony Davis is GONE. They finally added some nice pieces to put around the star, all it took was trading away their star… wait thats not right. They aren’t to blame however AD asked to be traded so obviously they have to trade him, thats the rules I’m pretty sure. I bet New Orleans wishes they were more like Portland. The Blazers are doing something right out there, because to actually have stars that want to stay in the pit of mediocracy in hopes to soon depart from it is very rare. Damian Lillard is a gamer. I won’t be one of those people that says he’s underrated because if you don’t know how good Dame is then your just stupid. The underrated tag goes to CJ Mccollum he just about saved Dame from a night of slander form irrelevant twitter trolls at the end of the Denver series. Adding Hassan Whiteside is interesting, and also don’t forget Jusef Nurkic who is one of the ultimate “also don’t forget about” players right up there with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Malcolm Brogden and pretty much the rest of the Pacers roster along with half of the Heat’s and most of the Utah Jazz. 

Jazz Pistons Nuggets + everyone else 

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The Utah Jazz are actually going to be really good. Mike Conley deserves to win, he quietly has hooped majority of his career so for him to enter the locker room of an already solid squad will be good for him. The Utah Jazz feel like a very obviously good 3 seed. Adam Silver will ultimately make the call though when it comes down to it the NBA doesn’t need the finals in Utah. I’m firing on all pistons right now at almost 3 thousands words so if you’ve made it this far, you’re either my parents, or you really like basketball. The Detroit Pistons probably will be a playoff team because Blake Griffin is a stud but the thing I really want to see is the revival of D rose. I will be a closet Pistons fan all year until it is between them and the Knicks in a slobber knocker race for the 8 seed. The Nuggets backed up the brinks truck for Jamal Murray and Jokic should probably be MVP barring a spectacular season from anyone else, I feel like he’s next on the hierarchy of valuable players. The Nuggets are running it back, and rightfully so. T wolves, Suns, Kings, yeah. I like Swipa Fox, I feel like he can break out, but I’m not sure what that Harrison Barnes thing was about, but we must pay true homage to a finesse king. T wolves are exactly who we think think they are as the late great Denny Green would say. The Suns aren’t getting better in 7 seconds or less, so I won’t waste my time. Prove me wrong Devin Booker. The Hornets lowballed the best player their franchise has ever seen in conceivably the stingiest offer to a super max player ever. They deserve everything they get out of this season. The Pacers will manage to manufacture a 45-50 win season, the Grizzlies are in Memphis to the extent of my knowledge, it is going to be interesting to see if the Magic making the playoffs was an anomaly or a legit thing, but it feels like they should reach out to a team with players that could be a nice addition, maybe Chris Paul. The Atlanta Hawks are either a dark horse 6 seed, or a huge flop, no in between, and the Wizards I honestly just feel bad for. John Wall needs to get healthy, and Washington needs to free Bradley Beal, starting over isn’t always bad.