The lovely folks over at SportsFanMagazine.com
asked me to do a preview of the upcoming season. They supplied the questions, I supplied the answers. A general distaste for humanity supplied the endless heaps of sarcasm.Biggest off-season move for your team, and why:
I think the acquisition of Michael Finley will prove the most beneficial. Brent Barry’s defense was a huge liability during the playoffs. Finley will be a significant improvement in this area and also shoots a comparable percentage from the 3-point line (Finley has shot 39.4% over the past 3 years compared to Barry’s 40.2%).
Finley’s dependability on the defensive end should allow Pop to severely limit Manu’s regular season minutes which is undoubtedly high on Pop’s priority list (presumably right below keeping Tim and Manu healthy). Another significant benefit of the Finley signing is roster flexibility. The Spurs are basically at the luxury tax threshold (which owner Peter Holt has vowed not to exceed) and will need to move a significant contract if they want to sign Mohammed or another free agent at the end of the season. Finley’s performance may make Barry and his $15.5 million over the next three years expendable. And, unlike Rasho Nesterovic, Brent is actually tradeable.
Another move worth mentioning is Duncan’s growing afro. It’s downright saucy.Biggest off-season loss for your team, and why:
Uhh… Devin Brown I guess (free agent; signed with the Jazz). He brought aggressiveness and athleticism every night but didn’t play any meaningful minutes in the playoffs due to a back injury. Not much of a loss when you consider his roster spot was taken by Michael Finley.Who is your favorite player and why, either on your own team or in theentire NBA?
Ray Allen, mainly because I gravitate towards overrated high-volume scorers that would rather get a pedicure than play defense. Man, I love hating Ray Allen. Anyways. Anyone who reads my blog could probably guess that Manu “The Sickness” Ginobili is my favorite player. Skillful, stylish, fearless and just happened to be the best player on the Spurs during the playoffs. And yes, I know he flops and has long hair despite a growing bald spot.Phil and Kobe: Dynasty in the making, or disaster waiting to happen? Why?
Disaster. Even if there’s no friction or controversy the media will do what it takes to fabricate drama between the “genius” coach and the “uncoachable” player. I am sure Phil Jackson’s lapdog Charley Rosen already has the article written.Should the NBA just cut to the chase and give Andrew Bogut the Rookie of theYear award now?
No. Charlie Villanueva’s going to win it. He’ll get a ton of minutes in Toronto and be more of a focal point of the offense (after Bosh of course) than Bogut (or any other candidate). He’ll also get a lot of media coverage because of the near universal trashing of his selection with the #7 pick. People love a story, especially when the story doesn’t have eyebrows.Who will have the higher attendance this season: Atlanta or Charlotte? Andif a tree falls during either of their home games, will it make a sound?
Yes and yes.Who will be the best-dressed player under the NBA’s new dress-code policy?
The dual man-purse attack of Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto will be too much for the rest of the league to overcome.On a scale of 1-10, how tired of the San Antonio Spurs’ success are you?(With “one” being not at all, and “ten” being the kind of pain you feel whenyou see Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes on the cover of a magazine at thesupermarket.)
Definitely a 1. Despite winning the title, the Spurs are still a team in flux. There are a lot of interesting side plots to follow. Will Parker’s offensive game continue to develop? Will Manu play at the same level he did in the playoffs? Will Tim Duncan continue his trend of shouldering less of the offensive burden? How well will Oberto, Finley and Van Exel fit in? Who’s going to start at center? Will Barry, Mohammed or Nesterovic get traded during the season? Will Eva break Tony’s heart? Will Duncan embrace the fro? Will Popovich say one provocative thing the whole season? How many more times will Duncan say something is “basically retarded?”Over/Under on the number of games Eddy Curry plays this season for the Knicks:
58 seems like a good total, but I hope he plays all 82. Though the more Jermaine Jones plays the more opportunities I’ll have to write about the ineptitude of Isiah Thomas.Favorite current NBA uniform:
Spurs. How can you go wrong with black and silver?Least favorite current NBA uniform:
Charlotte. That orange is horrendous; even worse than their nickname.Rank these three in order, from the person you’d most likely be able to takein a fight to the person who’d give you the harshest ass-whupping: RonArtest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson.
Just contemplating this question has caused me to wet myself.If aspiring law enforcement officer Shaquille O’Neal had his own televisionpolice drama series, what would it be called?
“Supersized Shaft.” The series would get great ratings but people in the know would say his costar carried every other episode.Will the New Orleans Hornets ever play another game in New Orleans? If not,where will they move?
Yes, but they’ll move to Vegas by the end of the decade.Word Association time. When I say ______, what's the first thing that comesto mind?Mark Cuban
: A breath of fresh air. I love the fact that he’s willing to speak his mind and wear his emotions on his sleeve. Yeah, he complains about the officiating a lot, but that probably has something to do with the fact that the refs suck ass.Yao Ming
: Underappreciated. The guy shot, what, 55% last year at age 24? Van Gundy complains about his conditioning yet has him sprinting up and down the court, jumping the pick and roll and setting screens all day. Hey Jeff, watch some film of Shaq. The only time he sprints is when he’s leading the fast break in an All Star game.Allen Iverson
: Overappreciated. I love his grit and determination, but having great basketball skill does not necessarily translate into being a great NBA player.LeBron James
: On the verge. I am not sure what statistical expectations would qualify as unrealistic.Bill Walton
: Over the top. I have gone from hating this guy to liking him and I have no explanation.Stephen A. Smith
: What’s the big deal? Yeah, he has opinions, he’s loud and is willing to label people and teams as “horrible.” Why does this bother people? Who cares?David Stern
: A pimp with vision. I don’t even know what I mean by that.Finally, where do you expect your team will finish, and what do you thinkits record will be? What one thing will "make or break" your season?
I don’t think the Spurs will have the best record in the West. Pop loves to tinker with substitution patterns and combinations and has 3 key players to integrate. Securing home court is not a high priority to him; especially compared to keeping Tim and Manu healthy and rested. I think they’ll cruise to 59 wins while playing Tim and Manu about 30 and 28 minutes a game respectively.
The only thing that can “break” the season is an injury to Duncan or Ginobili. Assuming they stay healthy the Spurs are the obvious favorites, though I think the Pacers (assuming Artest keeps control of the voices in his head) could give them serious trouble in the finals. However, if Tony Parker develops a jump shot then nobody stands a chance.
Prediction: Back to back: Spurs over Pacers in 6.