Christmas In July

I think this is the closest you can come to winning an NBA Championship without actually winning one. The Warriors have been the definition of whatever is 14 levels below mediocrity (save for a magical playoff run in 2007). One playoff season in the last sixteen seasons. Typing that last sentence actually made me lose vision in my left eye. Prepare yourself for a slew of articles about how great Warriors fans are and how they deserve better, which they do. They put 18 thousand strong in the seats every night to watch Corey Maggette not pass and to watch Anthony Randolph not play. That’s more than you can say for the fair weather fans that will be cheering for the Heat this season.

Best Warrior Moments Since 1995:

Warriors 4-2 Mavericks
Getting to the playoffs on the last day of the 06-07 season
Latrell Sprewell Chokes Carlisemo

It’s pretty depressing when one of the best moments of the last decade and a half for your franchise includes your only All-NBA player during that time period choking your 3rd worst coach during that time period. This day is like Christmas in July. The Lakers may have won the 2010 Finals but the Warriors won the 2010 offseason, even after including them trading their three best defenders for the right to overpay David Lee and their number six draft pick (in a five player draft) hurting his wrist and missing the next six months. They have Curry, their new owners, and for the first time in a long time, they have legitimate hope.

The Vegas Summer League has been a mixed bag, as it always is. John Wall has been pretty electric. He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well (16-46 FG, 0-5 3FG) and his turnovers were high the first two games (8 in each) but he has handed out double digit assists twice and is getting to the line plenty while shooting a great percentage from there. He consistently beats his man off the dribble and creates shots for his team. Watching him run a fast break is fun but still a letdown at the same time. No one can keep up with him, even his own players. That’ll get better once he starts playing with the guys who will actually be on the team.

DeMarcus Cousins is redefining the term ‘beast’. He is commanding double teams every time, filling the bucket, and not playing egregiously bad defense. He’s clearly a cut above, just like last year at Kentucky. I can’t wait to see him square up to either of the Lakers’ bigs and see how they react. It seems like it has been forever since we had a young big, who is actually big, who could play offense and defense at a high level from the start. Coupling him and Evans together is going to spell trouble for the Western Conference for the next few years. The West is stacked and they won’t make the playoffs this season but the Kings won’t be a pushover anymore, which is more than you can say in the last few seasons.

Daniel Orton, Cousins and Wall’s Kentucky teammate, has been a far different story than his brethren. He’s been terrible on defense, atrocious on offense, and lost at all times. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if he was caught accidentally sitting on the Bobcats bench the other night. Good news for Magic fans though because Orton won’t see anything but garbage time minutes since he’s backing up Dwight Howard’s backup. Daniel Orton: The Garbage Man. Has a nice ring to it.

With the draft finished and the majority of rosters set, I present to you my first ever Charles Oakley Rankings, named as such because Charles Oakley is more powerful than ‘power.’ He’s like Superman crossed with Shaft. Thus, the Charles Oakley Rankings.

1. Los Angeles Lakers– And all they’ve done is gotten better. Losing Farmar (a bad fit for the triangle and below average on defense) and gaining Blake (a great fit for the triangle and below average on defense) will only make them better at their weakest position.

2. Dallas Mavericks– First round implosion notwithstanding, they dumped Dampier for Tyson Chandler, who is really good when healthy, and Rodrigue Beaubois is a year more seasoned. Incidentally, Roddy Buckets is the best nickname in the Association and he is looking tuned up in Vegas.

3. Boston Celtics– Lost in a Game 7 in a 4th quarter in which they couldn’t score or come up with a meaningful stop. They were thisclose to having the most overbearing fans for a whole season, instead we’re in for our second straight season of overbearing Lakers fans. I can’t decide which I’d rather have. Anyway, they’re third because Ray Allen had one good half in seven games of the Finals and I don’t think that bodes particularly well for the future.

4. Orlando Magic– Dwight Howard changes every game he plays in. Good or bad. He changes every shot within his immediate vicinity. He gets in foul trouble sometimes and is rendered useless. J.J. Reddick was their best player in the Eastern Finals and you aren’t going to make it to the Finals when that’s the case. Ranked this low because I refuse to believe any team with Vince Carter will win anything ever.

5. Miami Heat– They have to go somewhere. Wade and James are certifiable and Bosh is a really good, not great, player. They added Mike Miller who will play the dead-eye shooter role perfectly. They’ll be good most everywhere. The thing I question is where will the interior defense come from. Is there any scenario where Pau Gasol doesn’t average 24 points a game against them in eleven months?

6. Portland Trailblazers– If, if, if, if, they can stay healthy they will be scary to any and every body. They have the length to matchup with anyone and can play scary good defense coupled with an efficient offense that doesn’t rely on one guy, although when they need to rely on him, Brandon Roy is there. He hopped off the table he had  arthroscopic knee surgery and right into the series against the Suns. Gregory Oden, name modified after his alter-ego Benjamin Button, was actually playing well until his left kneecap burst into flames. If, IF they stay healthy this will be a fun team to watch for everyone but the opposing team.

7. Oklahoma City Thunder– I love this team. They were the second toughest series for the champs this year and they were a Serge Ibaka box out from forcing a Game 7. A year older and a year hungrier, they know they can play and that’s what makes them dangerous.

8. San Antonio Spurs– An off year saw them through to the second round. When healthy and rested, they can beat anyone. Adding Thiago Splitter from Brazil and getting a more experienced Dajuan Blair will only lead to a stronger season.Phoenix

9. Suns– I’m not worried about them losing Stoudemire. They’ll find points in that offense. Nash will find the hot hand every night, even if it means it his own. They’re style of play is suited for the regular season. Break neck speed all season long will allow them to beat teams worse than them and consistently steal games against the top tier teams.

10. Chicago Bulls– Joakim Noah came off looking better than anyone this offseason. All summmer he was the piece that the talking heads pegged as the player who could defend the rim and make up for the lack of defense from the offense-oriented power forward free agent class. It didn’t matter who he played with. Boozer, Stoudemire, Bosh, or Lee. He complimented their lack of defense perfectly. Now he gets a defensive coach that was responsible for the havoc Boston caused the last few years.  Signing Boozer gives them the low-post scoring they sorely needed and now Derrick Rose is going to let loose.

11. Houston Rockets– Ninth in the West and Yao is coming back. Key contributors Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill are seasoned, Kevin Martin will be more acclimated and fully healthy, and there’s no way Trevor Ariza can be worse. The playoffs are realistic, if not likely.

12. Milwaukee Bucks– If they can get Maggette to play team ball, they have another scorer who can get to the line and take pressure off Brandon Jennings. They almost definitely beat Atlanta if Bogut is healthy and the experience they received will only make them more prepared for next season.

13. Atlanta Hawks– Not better and not worse. If they add Shaq, they won’t get manhandled by bigger teams as easily. They aren’t as bad as they looked against Orlando, who was their worst possible matchup in the East, and they could be rejuvenated by a new voice in the locker room. They didn’t improve and Chicago and Milwaukee both did.

14. Utah Jazz– This offseason was a wash. Jefferson for Boozer was a fair trade-off. Gordon Hayward is going to be the biggest thing in Utah since the automobile was introduced there. They always find a way to get to the playoffs and lose to the Lakers. They’ve nothing to make me think next season will be different.

15. Memphis Grizzlies– It’s a real shame that only eight teams from each conference make the playoffs. The Grizzlies could be the fifth best team in the Eastern Conference. Instead they have to settle for fighting for the right to lose in the first round to the Lakers next season.

16. Denver Nuggets– They plan on just outscoring everyone because signing Al Harrington doesn’t scream ‘Defense!’. Carmelo would be crazy not sign his extension though. With a lockout looming and slashes in contracts following, there’s no way he doesn’t sign. Rest easy Nuggets fans, Anthony will be here for at least a couple more seasons.

17. Los Angeles Clippers– There’s a lot to like here. Eric Gordon’s silky smooth jumper, Blake Griffin’s passion, Eric Bledsoe running teams ragged off the bench. Too bad you can’t count on Baron Davis to be in shape, consistently give a crap, or not jack up bad threes anytime his team is in need of an answer. Plus its the Clippers. I’ll believe when I see.

18. Charlotte Bobcats– How many trades will Michael Jordan make from the golf course this season? Four? Five? Higher? This should be fun.

19. New Orleans Hornets– I feel bad for Chris Paul. He is too good a guy to leave New Orleans the way James left Cleveland. That means he is stuck in a terrible situation for the foreseeable future. He’s the best point guard in the game and needs the pieces around him to showcase it.

20. New York Knicks– Stoudemire is good enough in this style of offense to win a few more games for this team and that is good enough for a playoff berth in the East. Better luck next summer New York.

21. New Jersey Nets– I like their offseason. Travis Outlaw is a nice player and Farmar will be consistently inconsistent off the bench, which is a step above what the had last year when Devin Harris wasn’t on the court. Avery Johnson will squeeze the most out of them before they turn on him after a practice in 2011 where he makes them run suicides for two hours.

22. Sacramento Kings– Cousins and Evans will get the attention because they’re the foundation but the rest of the team is decent too. Casspi plays within his skill set and Carl Landry does all of the little things that a good team needs done. Teams are going to sleep on them and the Kings are going to sting them. They’re young though, which lends itself to the type of inconsistency that will be exploited.

23. Philadelphia 76ers– Saddled with young talent and bad contracts. Evan Turner, Jrue Holliday, and Thaddeus Young all have a ton of potential and Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala are hampering the teams ability to rebuild around those blocks with their contracts.

24. Indian Pacers– The most interesting thing about this team is wondering what almost-contender Danny Granger will be traded to.

25. Detroit Pistons– The Gordon and Villanueva contracts are killing this team. They can’t do anything but move sideways. The only thing they can hope for is the Knicks hiring Isaiah Thomas back to take them of their hands.

26. Golden State Warriors– The sale of the team is the real victory. It won’t translate on court for a couple years so this Warriors season will play out like most others: Good enough to win enough to finish in the middle of the lottery. At least Stephen Curry and the rest of the team are fun to watch.

27. Washington Wizards-John Wall will be fun to watch…so you’ve got that going for you.

28. Minnesota Timbeerwolves– Thinking about this team makes my head hurt. I’ll leave it at that since the last time I tried write extensively about them I forgot how to tie my shoes for a week.

29. Cleveland Cavaliers– I’m so very sorry.

30. Toronto Raptors– Maybe one of the worst teams ever assembled. They’re like the Nets last year but without the somewhat promising building blocks. Their fans deserve better.

Comments? Hate mail? Send an email to stefanhynes09@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @stefanhynes.

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One response to this post.

  1. Excellent write-up. This is my first exposure to your site and I am impressed.

    Anyways. . .I was NEVER a fan of the Vince Carter trade (I’m a Magic fan by the way, sorry) and I do feel that though he showed promise in the less competitive rounds in last years playoffs, he, once again, crumbled under pressure BUT, to be fair, so did everyone else (except Redick), and VC did it the least dramatically then in other seasons.

    Kepp up the good work.

    Reply

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