The end of the regular 2015-16 NBA season will also mark the end of an era. Last night, Kobe Bryant announced that he will retire once the Lakers’ season has ended.
Bryant, a 20-season veteran has played all of his games as a Los Angeles Laker, after being drafted out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Lakers on draft night.
Key Acquisitions: LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers), David West (Pacers)
Key Departures: Tiago Splitter (Hawks)
Projected Starting Lineup: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Lamarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan
What you need to know:
It’s been a longstanding scientific and universal acceptance that time catches up to all men. Sooner or later, the effects time’s passage come to fruition in all of our lives. But you know what, I don’t buy it anymore. You can’t look me in the face and tell me that time will catch up to everybody when Jennifer Anniston is still out there as beautiful as ever. And don’t you dare tell me that time will ever catch up to the San Antonio Spurs. I have fallen for that blasphemy one too many times.
The teams of my childhood have all faded into the backdrop of mediocrity and irrelevance in some way or another. The 2000’s “7 seconds or less” Phoenix Suns, the 04-05 Detroit Pistons and Kobe Bryant’s Laker champions are all examples of teams who once stood atop the league that are no longer anything more than a memory. But somehow, the Spurs remain victorious in their combat against time. Here in 2015, they will once again be a championship contender, if not the frontrunner to take the title back home.
The Spurs are very old in some areas of their roster. Tim Duncan, while his game remains ageless, will turn 40 before the end of the season. Tony Parker is the point guard equivalent to your dad’s 1970’s Mustang that sits in the garage and sounds like it is going to break down into its individual parts every time it gets above 5 miles per hour. Manu Ginobli has more bald on his head than he does hair. What magnificent hair he had.
But they have also had a resurgence of youth. They landed the summer’s free agent prize by signing LaMarcus Aldridge, in hopes that he will be Kawhi Leonard’s partner in crime for the future. Danny Green and Patty Mills have also developed into reliable nightly producers. But most importantly, they still have the brain behind the operation, coach Gregg Poppavich.
Leonard will be the motor for this team. He is far and away the best wing defender in the league, and he has the hardware to prove it. By the end of last season, dribbling within a 5-foot radius of the 2014 NBA Finals MVP was the equivalent jumping into a tank of hungry sharks with an open wound. He will put the seatbelt on any wing player in the NBA with more care and precision than a father strapping-in his newborn baby, or me when I buckle-up my bag of to-go Chiptole in the shotgun seat. He was absolutely ruthless on that end of the floor, and has developed the offensive game to compliment his skill-set on the defensive end.
With Aldridge now, the Spurs have a new foundation for the future. They mix the old with the new in a product that will only be incredible. Unless, of course, you are an NBA team trying to figure out how to stop them. There will be bumps in the road as they incorporate Aldridge into their new system, and they very well could start the season sluggish. But make no mistake; the Spurs are going nowhere anytime soon. Hopefully, neither will Jennifer Aniston.Continue reading 2015-16 NBA Preview: Southwest Division→
Key Additions: Coach Billy Donovan (from the University of Florida)
Key Departures: None
Projected Starters: Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter
What You Need to Know:
Entering this season, the Thunder have more pressure for immediate results than any other team. Rumors of Kevin Durant leaving the city for his hometown have been circulating for almost two years now and this cloud of uncertainty will loom over the franchise all season. Combined with the fact that they have new coach Billy Donovan, who has never coached an NBA team, and there is even more work to be done in Oklahoma City.
Key Acquisitions: Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Knicks), Tiago Splitter (Hawks)
Key Departures: Demarre Carroll (Raptors)
Projected Starting Lineup: Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Milsap, Al Horford
What you need to know:
NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks took the league by surprise when they turned in the first 17-0 month in NBA history. They had no superstars, but they had very good players and a Poppavichian system predicated on ball movement. This season, they are expected to take a step back after losing Demarre Carroll to the Raptors and becoming somewhat exposed in the playoffs last season.
Vegas has the Cavaliers with the top odds to win it all next season, and there are many reasons this is the case. There is one obvious reason that supersedes all else, and that reason is LeBron James. When it seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong in his return home went wrong, the world was swiftly reminded why he is the best.
Okay, so maybe he was the one who made sure we got the reminder, but the man had a point. To say he singlehandedly gave the Cavaliers a shot at the title against the Warriors is an understatement. While everybody was writing them off as done the minute Kyrie Irving went down to a knee injury, LeBron took the series to 6 games and put up some of the most absurd numbers we have ever seen in the Finals. He played so well that he had the entire world convinced that Matthew Dellevadova could lockdown Steph Curry. This alone was an incredible feat, until well… this. Continue reading The 2015-16 NBA Preview: Central Division→
It was a fantastic season for the NBA in 2014-15. Young talents turned into full-blown superstars. The likes of Steph Curry and James Harden became social media moguls, with countless vines of ankle-breakers unleashed on any given night. Young talents emerged as true threats to the crown, and veterans like LeBron James and Chris Paul were put on notice. Who will be the new faces to throw their names into contention this season?
Now the NBA preseason is in full-swing and teams are tasked with expectations following an offseason of change. Anticipation must translate into tangible results, as young teams attempt to prove their worth and aging teams watch as their window for championship aspirations close before their eyes. We’re here to help you sort through the murky uncertainty as next season comes closer with our division-based team analysis.
We start with one of the weaker divisions in basketball: the Atlantic Division. Even in what is going to be another down year for the Eastern conference, there will only be two teams who can realistically compete for the playoffs in this division. The bottom of this division will be bad and may hold three of the worst teams in the entire league this year. Here’s what to look for from each team. Continue reading The 2015-16 NBA Preview – Atlantic Division→
Games 1-3 of this year’s NBA Finals were close games with the 4th quarter or even overtime coming down to the final seconds but that was not the case in Game 4. The Golden State Warriors cruised to a 103-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, tying the series at two games apiece. Games 2 and 3 were centered on the supporting cast of LeBron James stepping up and being the difference makers in those two victories. That supporting cast did not show up to play on Thursday night, leaving James with no help on either side of the ball while also leaving the Quicken Loans Arena crowd in shock and disappointment.