Naturally, Boozer was injured shortly after this picture was taken. I'm kinda
surprised he got through the press conference without a strained hammy.

The Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have nine new players and a new coaching staff. Sure, management whiffed on their attempts to sign LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and/or Chris Bosh. But all is not lost. They have a former All-Star (Carlos Boozer), a couple of possible future All-Stars (Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson), and a budding Superstar (Derrick Rose). They imported shooters (Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans), an athlete (Ronnie Brewer) and a crafty veteran (Kurt Thomas). Oh, and they have Luol Deng. For 60-65 games anwway. If they're lucky.

Of course, Boozer set a personal record by getting injured before he'd even played a single preseason game. By falling over a bag. At home. Seriously. The dude probably won't be back until December. Meanwhile, Ronnie Brewer (sore hamstring), C.J. Watson (strained left quadriceps), Taj Gibson (sore right heel) and now Kyle Korver (cyst in his left ankle) have all had ticky-tac injuries. If a window mysteriously slams shut on Noah's hands or a piano falls out of the sky and lands on Rose, I'm going to start thinking the Curse of the Billy Goat has been transferred from the Cubs to the Bulls (with a brief layover at Soldier Field to hit Jay Cutler with another 23 sacks).

With Boozer out, the Bulls might be a casualty of their schedule: In November -- a stretch of 13 games -- Chicago faces eight playoff teams and a Houston squad that should return to the playoffs if Yao Ming can stay healthy for a change. After a tough opening stretch in which they face the Trail Blazers (home), Celtics (road) and Nuggets (home), the Bulls close out the month with a brutal seven-game road trip that features two sets of back-to-backs and consecutive games against the Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks, Lakers, Suns and Nuggets.

And did I mention this team has a league-high 23 sets of back-to-back games?

There's really no figuring out how good the Bulls will be until Boozer is back and manages to shake off the rust from his layoff. But injuries -- seriously, can we just schedule Deng's 15-game absence in advance? -- and a rugged calendar of events will cap this team's potential at 40-45 games. Unless Rose and Noah can make a big leap up. Without falling back down and landing on their heads.

The Cleveland Cavaliers

At this point, it's hard to tell which would have been more devestating to Cleveland: LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach or just dropping a couple nukes on the city. I'm going to go with the LeBron thing. At least the nukes would have been quick and less heartwrenching. Who wouldn't prefer instant incineration or death by radiation poisoning to the hopeless pining for your former hero? Let's face it, King Crab didn't just stab Cleveland in the back, he treated the wound with a lemon juice and acid drip. Every triple-double he has for the Heat will just be another shot to the city's crotch. That's what Clevelanders are in store for: 82 games worth of kicks to the groin.

So what's left? Even with a back-to-back MVP, this squad couldn't make it to the NBA Finals. Heck, last season, the Cavs didn't even reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Now it's Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison, J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao against The World. I don't know about you, but my money's on The World. And I'm betting big.

It's hard to determine what kind of ceiling this team has -- will they be runny, oozing poop or the hard, calcified kind? -- but I can tell you this much: When new coach Byron Scott falls asleep on the bench this season, he'll be dreaming wistfully of his past firings and begging for the sweet, sweet release his next axing will bring.

The Detroit Pistons

During the summer of 2009, Joe Dumars lost his damn mind and dropped $90 million on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. (Every time I type that sentence, I have-wonder whether I've lost control of my fingers.) Mind you, those signings happened in the immediate aftermath of trading Chauncey Billups -- only the heart and soul of the freaking team -- for Allen Iverson, who basically quit the team after being relegated to a bench role (a fact that Dumars actually tried to hide by citing a back injury). Anyway, after Dumars obliterated the team's cap space for the foreseeable future, the Pistons suffered all sorts of injuries and essentially fell apart.

And you know what? For Dumars, that was the best thing that could have happened. The injuries provided a smokescreen and built-in excuse for failure. "But, but, but...we were injured, man! Wait 'till next year!"

Yeah, well, next year is here, Joe.

Take a gander at this team's roster. The starting point guard (Rodney Stuckey) isn't a point guard (according to ESPN's John Hollinger, Stuckey ranked 64th out of 71 point guards in assist ratio). Their starting shooting guard (Rip Hamilton) is in the midst of a steady decline and his backup (Gordon) is a defenseless gunner. Tayshaun Prince still does a little bit of everything well, but nothing great. Villanueva is a spotty shooter (who loves to shoot!) and a lousy defender. Ben Wallace is the team's starting center. I know he was better than expected last season, but that was mostly in comparison the dead, rotting body everybody thought he was. Trust me, he won't have a second rivival year.

The bench -- Jason Maxiell and Will Bynum in particular -- used to get a lot of hype, but the shine's off the apple. And Dumars brought in Tracy McGrady for...what exactly? Does the team get some kind of tax relief for taking on crippled players?

Detroit's offense is going to revolve around isolations, clearouts, relentless chucking of outside shots and whatever Big Ben can scrape up on the offensive glass. As for the defense, I hope Dumars spent whatever was left in the petty cash jar on matador capes. This team will be lucky to win 30 games. And trust me, those are going to be 30 of the ugliest games you're going to see this season.

The Indiana Pacers

Larry Bird's master plan for rebuilding the Pacers took a major blow this offseason when Bird willingly sacrificed one of his slow white players (Troy Murphy) in return for two African American players (Darren Collison and James Posey). It was a rare smart move by Bird, which makes me wonder whether he fell asleep at the Trade Machine, accidentally mashed some keys, and didn't wake up in time to cancel the deal. Larry, what happened? Didn't you realize there are still some white players in the league who aren't on your roster? I mean, did you even try to sign Kyle Korver? What's going on here?!

In all seriousness, I like the Collison acquisition for Indy. This team has been searching for a reliable point guard since Mark Jackson left. That's been a long time, by the way. Danny Granger is a strong scorer who doesn't do much else. (Me being me, I don't like the fact that he shot 42 percent from the field last year. Plus his durability is in question -- Granger has missed 15 and 20 games the past two seasons.) After those two guys, the Pacers have...uhm...what exactly? Think about it. Think really, really hard. Don't pop a vein or anything, though.

That's what I'm talking about. In 2003-04, the Pacers finished 61-21, which was the best record in the league. In 2004-05, Ron Artest lost his mind and destroyed the team, maybe forever. Since The Malice at the Palace, the Pacers have won 44, 41, 35, 36, 36 and 32 games. This season, they'll probably be just plucky enough to win another 35 games or so. If Larry keeps this up, they'll be a 35-win team for the rest of the decade.

I've said it before: God hates the Pacers.

The Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are generating some serious darkhorse buzz. And on paper, there's reason for optimism. Their starting lineup -- Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden and Andrew Bogut -- are projected to be worth about 100 PPG this season. Plus, the Bucks have some reserves (Carlos Delfino, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Kenyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts) who can make some noise off the bench. And hey, what if Michael Redd regains what is known as "human function" in his surgically repaired knee? The sky is the limit, dear readers.

Oh, who am I kidding? Last season, Scott Skiles somehow kept from losing his shit despite the wildly misdirected shooting of Brandon Jennings. This year, he's going to have to deal with perennial underachievers in Maggette and Gooden. I can tell you from experience that Skiles doesn't handle underachievers very well. If his head hasn't exploded -- Scanners-style! -- by the trade deadline, we need to check his basement for Body Snatcher pods.

Should other NBA teams "Fear the Deer"? Maybe. The team's got talent (although I wonder where their three-point shooting is going to come from). And they overachieved last season even in the face of adversity and injuries. My take: This team looks better on paper than it actually is. The Bucks could win 45 games or so -- have you taken a look around the Eastern Conference? Blech! -- but do you think guys on the Celtics, Heat or Magic are quaking in their very expensive sneakers? Yeah. Me neither.

Labels: , , , , ,

Blogger Murcy said...
re: bucks 3-point shooting: the resurrected zombie of michael redd might get a number of threes as well as salmons... other than that though, I don't see much potential either. I just don't get all the hype around this milwaukee team. skiles is a bad coach. he gets a lot of work out of his players, but he's not particularly good in in-game situations and he's nothing resembling a nice person

Blogger Anish said...
Not sure if you were kidding, but for Granger how is 4.3 boards, 2.3 steals, a three, an assist and block a game make him "someone who doesnt do much else"

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Not sure if you were kidding, but for Granger how is 4.3 boards, 2.3 steals, a three, an assist and block a game make him "someone who doesnt do much else"

Well, first off, Granger's 5 RPG doesn't rock my socks for a 6'8" forward with a usage rate approaching 30. In fact, Danny's ranked in the top 10 in Usage Rate the last two seasons. Considering that he was seeing the same kind of usage as Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki, I think the rest of his stats are a wee bit lacking, don't you? I mean, he's the franchise player on a bad team. If your stats aren't getting padded in those circumstances, they never will.

Also, Granger's career stats are 5.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG and 1.0 BPG. Again, these numbers are just okay for a franchise guy who's always got the rock in his hands. Granger is a scorer who chucks up a lot of shots (he ranked 6th and 4th in three-point attempts the last two seasons, respectively). Dude took SEVEN threes a game last season. Oy.

Blogger Cortez said...
"Not sure if you were kidding, but for Granger how is 4.3 boards, 2.3 steals, a three, an assist and block a game..."

I'm not sure if you were kidding with this response. If so, it's a classic example of someone who doesn't understand basketball. He wasn't implying Granger had zeros in every other statistic.

Plus, where did these stats come from anyway?

They look made make Granger's production look worse than it is in reality.

Anonymous SirGirthNasty said...
I'm going with your Bulls, 'Bawful, to win the division. I do think if Boozer comes back (and maybe found some new glue for his paper-mache' body) then the Bulls will make some noise league-wide.

Anonymous JJ said...
I always thought Gordon and Villanueva signings were the most bawful moment of Dumars GM career. At least Iverson offered salary cap relief....which he then blew on those guys. Maybe he can be forgiven for signing 1 of them, but both? Not sure what he was smoking.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Bucks 3 pt shooters

Brandon Jennings - 145 for 388
Carlos Delfino - 134 for 365
John Salmons - 118 for 309
Ersan Ilyasova - 81 for 241
Keyon Dooling 59 for 157

Not too shabby, methinks.

They're not going to set the league on fire, but if they click, they'll be good. Not great. And trust me, being a Bucks fan that's all we want; team with a plan that competes.

Skiles is a good coach, regardless of whether he's a meanie or not.

Blogger Anish said...
Haha dont want get caught up in a statistic battle, but i see what you are getting at. As a raps fan, ive seen first hand how stats can be padded (chris bosh, mike james) on a bad team.

I think he's gonna perform better this year (especially with fg%) because he has better options and a real point guard. This ties in with his incredible usage last year which I think will go down, making him more efficient. If Hibbert turns out to be a legit center (which i doubt) and collison can re-create his post-Paul injury form, then i think Granger will have a nice bounceback season.

I'm pretty sure my previous paragraph will be irrelevant because Granger will probably miss 40 games because of injury.

Anonymous Czernobog said...
I'm going with your Bulls, 'Bawful, to win the division. I do think if Boozer comes back (and maybe found some new glue for his paper-mache' body) then the Bulls will make some noise league-wide.

But he can't use more glue, it will increase his bodyfat percentage.

Anonymous DetroitFAIL said...
Being from Detroit I can say that pretty much the only player we were interested in seeing develop was Jonas Jerebko who naturally suffered a season ending injury in the first 5 minutes of preseason. I can't say that I'm thrilled with even one other roster member besides maybe Will Bynum, and he's a backup PG. EFFFFFFF

Blogger Basebawful said...
Hey Bawful:

Seems like you don't watch baseball. Philly has hopes besides the Eagles.

The Phillies are playing in the National League Championship Series looking to be the first National League team to go to 3 straight World Series since the 1942 - 44 Cardinals.

Of course, me being a Braves fan, I hope the Giants crush the dream and knock them out.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
But he can't use more glue, it will increase his bodyfat percentage.

Which is 5 percent. It's 5 percent, man. He's a big guy, and his body fat percentage is 5 percent. Everybody get that? 'Cause Booz wants you to's 5 percent.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Yea those Granger stats are wrong. He's top 10 fantasy, but that's it.

Anonymous Stockton said...
Bulls may have got Breakable Boozer, Kyle Whitesmoke Korver, and Mighty Brewer, but they forgot to hire Sloan to coach them...

so FU Bullies!!!!

Anonymous Czernobog said...
One of many ways in which Boozer resembles cottage cheese.

WV: tingl.

Make your own jokes.

Anonymous Ryan P said...
Keep track of Austin Daye and Greg Monroe, about the only two players in Detroit worth keeping tabs on now that Jonas is out for da year.

Joe D: Make a trade already!!!

Anonymous Barry said...
Ryan P: You say that now, but he trades Hamilton and Prince for people like Kosta Koufos and Martell "The Definition" Webster......

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Haha, I just noticed something from this post (emphasis mine):

"a couple of possible future All-Stars (Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson),"

Wait, what? Since when is someone projected to be the next Dan Gadzuric a possible future All-Star?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Wait, what? Since when is someone projected to be the next Dan Gadzuric a possible future All-Star?

Maybe I'm suffering recall bias, but I was really impressed by this kid last year. He nearly averaged a double-double under Vinny Del Negro without a single play being called for him while being yanked around, starting some games, getting garbage minutes in others. Plus, he had plantar fascitis all season.

Anyway, it's possible. Remember Jamaal Magloire, people. Remember Jamaal Magloire.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
The Del Negro comment is fair, but the list of rookies who've had similar numbers is a bit worrysome (Olowokandi and Sam Bowie lol). Well I guess Boozer made a few All-Star games too.

Arbitrary stat: Bulls were 14-8 when Taj collected 10+ rebounds.

Blogger Dan B. said...
Remember Jamaal Magloire, people. Remember Jamaal Magloire.

Thanks but no thanks. I've watched that guy play since college, and I've been trying to forget him.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Yo, you all been reading the reports on the first NBA banned shoe due to performance?

Round 2 of the White Man Jump Challenge coming up! (Pending $300 donation)

Anonymous Czernobog said...
That's such a stroke of marketing genius I'm almost speechless. The only word coming out of my mouth right now is "ball."

Blogger Unknown said...
The only issue Milwaukee faces regarding Skiles is him wearing on his players after a few years. Twice he's started off good with teams, reshaped them, then after two seasons, his players stopped taking his shit and started tuning out. Milwaukee brass may dump him if Jennings starts to tune him out.

Anonymous Toby said...
Enjoying the team previews but no mention of Ama're
Stoudemire's ESPN cover during the Knicks preview? Looks pretty bawful to me.

Blogger Josh said...
No love for Frankensova in the Milwaukee comment? C'mon!

Anonymous Dave M said...
Re: Celtics, the two O'Neals - "shambling mounds". Hahaha! I can't recall a better two-word descriptive phrase.

Blogger Clifton said...
While clicking your link to "God hates the Pacers," I saw, in the then-Recent Posts, this link:

Tommy Heinsohn: Insane.

Good to know he's gotten no more (or less) sane in the interceding five years.

Anonymous supersonic said...
Taj Gibson possible future all star? The 25 year-old sophomore? In what universe?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
My predictions:

East Standings -
1. Heat
2. Magic
3. Celtics
4. Bulls
5. Bucks
6. Hawks
7. Bobcats
8. Knicks
9. Pacers
10. Sixers
11. Pistons
12. Wizards
13. Nets
14. Cavs
15. Raptors

West Standings -

1. Lakers
2. Mavs
3. Jazz
4. Spurs
5. Blazers
6. Nuggets
7. Hornets
8. Thunder
9. Rockets
10. Suns
11. Grizzlies
12. Clippers
13. Warriors
14. Kings
15. TWolves

Random thoughts -

*Thunder will have a regress year just like the Hornets did a couple seasons ago.

*Lakers, Heat and Magic will win 60 or more games.

*TWolves, Cavs and Raptors will win less than 20 games.