NBA 2K 15: Teams 2 Watch ( East)

When most NBA writers preview an upcoming season, they do so by covering all 30 teams. Not me.  If you watch NBA basketball like I do, you know who the bottom-feeders are, and why it can be rather boring spending time discussing the teams who’s only shot at contention -of any kind- is that of who gets first pick in next seasons’ draft!

No disrespect to the unfortunate “less thans”, but because today’s sports’ culture is all about  ” instant mashed potatoes”, I’ve decided to get right to the point and give my take on which teams’  will matter in the 2014-15 NBA season.

Starting with the East, here are the ‘Teams’ 2 Watch’ this season:

BULLS:  Every time I watch the Bulls, it is clear to see in Thibodeau the Spurs/Popovich pedigree. Despite the abscence of Rose and Deng last season, Thib’s still managed to get  48 wins out of a depleted “MASH UNIT.”  Add to this mix former Laker Pau Gasol, fifth ranked NCAA all-time Division I scorer Doug McDermott, and 6′ 10″  ‘Inside-Out’  Nikola Mirotic, and it’s no tellin’ just how much havoc Thib’s and co. will wreck this season; provided Rose can stay healthy the entire season.

RAPTORS:  DeMar DeRozan,  Kyle Lowery,  Amir Johnson,  Terrence Ross,  Jonas Valanciunas, and  Lou Williams are, and will be, a headache for whomever they play. Coach Casey has no excuse for this squad not to improve on last year’s success; need to get away from so many overtime games (1-6) last season.

KNICKS:  Phil Jackson is the only person I’ve seen to ever get NBA-ego’s to come together just long enough to win an NBA Title. So, excuse me for not understanding all the doubt folks had surrounding his return to basketball because he decided to claim a front office position (with the Knicks) instead of his customary seat on the bench, saying, ” Phil can’t be the difference for the Knicks unless he’s the coach!”  I say those folks don’t understand just how much damage an over-inflated NBA ego can cause. For a man of his stature to win multiple NBA Titles with some of the most volatile personalities the game has ever seen, it wouldn’t matter the capacity Phil chose, just so long as he’s somewhere in the building!

PISTONS: Recently acquired Stan Van Gundy will get the motor going in this city once again. Like him or not, Gundy understands how to get his players to play to their strengths. With a front-court every team in the NBA would dream of in Monroe and Drummond, the Pistons only need for Josh Smith to stop jackin’ so many trey’s and become the complete player he should be, and Jennings to understand the difference between point-guard and facilitator. Once that happens, Van Gundy’s version of the Pistons’ ain’t gon’ be nothin’ nice.

HAWKS:  Coach Budenholzer’s Hawks made unwanted press with the admission of co-owner Bruce Levenson’s, and GM Danny Ferry’s racist remarks regading Hawks fans. Sometimes, thing’s of this nature can unravel not only a franchise (regardless of sport) off the court, but on the court as well. Al Horford’s return, combined with Milsaps relentless play and Budenholzer’s  San Antonio pedigree, the Hawks will use the fallout from management’s ” brainlock” moment to re-establish the cohesiveness necessary  to make them contenders.

WIZARDS:  The Wizards are a ” round robin” lock simply because of their front-court of  Gortat and Nene. Beal’s wrist injury is not so serious that the wiz’ will falter in his abscence. Wall, Gortat, and Nene will keep the ship afloat til Beal gets back in the fold. There is one thing that I question; can Paul Pierce make more of a difference than Trevor Ariza?  We’ll see. If so, the capitol could be in for a big time celebration.

NETS: After Kidd’s exodus, Brooklyn went out and got one of the NBA’s best in Lionel Hollins. That said, the clock is ticking on Deron Williams and his band of merry men to finally put to good use all the money  Prokorov has dished out over the last few seasons. This team’s ticket to a Finals appearance is solely tied to their ability to rebound, which was second worst (38.1) in the NBA last season.

CAVS:  With all the “ready made” off-season moves, don’t talk to me about what this team does in the regular season or playoffs. With Love, Irving, and James, the only talk surrounding the new “Big-3” should be not 1… not 2… not 3…  CHAMPIONSHIP(s)! PERIOD.

Honorable Mention: Heat – Wade and Bosh will be out to prove something.  Hornets – Al  Jefferson is coming; forget the plantar this go round!

As always, let us know what you think: http://www.theshopreport.com

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Utah Jazz

Of all the potential playoff contenders in the Western conference, the Utah Jazz baffle me the most. Come to think of it, they baffle me more than any playoff team this year!

Going into the All-Star break this weekend, the Jazz are sittin’ pretty decent with a 30-24 record overall and a 7th seed if the playoffs sarted today. The numbers aren’t too shabby until you see the Jazz play. Their play -at times- is reminiscent of the stock market and they still somehow managed to pull off being 11th in the league in points scored at 98.3 per. What’s even more crazy is they allow per game (98.6), darn near just as many as they put up!! That’s adds up to a whole bunch of close games and a nice playoff seed, but a “don’t take your shoes off, cause you’re not stayin”- come tourney time.make no mistake, the Jazz will be first round casualties.

Al Jefferson (6-10/265), and Derrick Favors (6-10/246), bolster an interior that would serve the Jazz well during the playoffs, it’s the perimeter play that would eventually lead to their early first round exit. Favors will have to give better production; averaging 9 pts a game won’t cut it.

Mo Williams is the only viable threat fom the perimeter because of his ability to score in bunches, but he’s a sixth man off the bench who’s only appeared in 24 games this season. His 12.9 are sorely missed.

Randy Foye’s 11.8 don’t cause the opposition much fear, but shooting 80% fom the line will keep a defense honest; 42% from three means not enough mid-range to me.

Alec Burks is another case for the argument, “should college players stay an extra year?” He looks like a strong candidate for the promise outweighs the production award. An award the NBA should consider adding to all the other “dust collectors” they hand out.

Gordon Heyward seems to always be “questionable” since his arrival. Not to bash the whole group, I thought Butler players’ were supposed to be tough? He’s more bust than baller at this point. Can you say, Adam Morrison? I digress.

Enes Kanter’s jersey number is 0, and so too is his value and production. Jamaal Tinsley looks too old, and Earl Watson couldn’t hit a bull in the backside with a shovel if it were standin’ right in front of him!!!

Milsap has a nice game, but he’d be far more dangerous if he added a mid-range.

In the end, the Jazz just don’t have enough of everything to make a serious run in the playoffs this go round. Maybe next year will be different when Heyward (9th pick overall-2010), Kanter (3rd pick overall-2011), and Burks (12th pick overall-2011) figure it’s time to get down to the business of perfectin’ the craft of basketball.