Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Your 2009-10 Free Keon NBA Preview: Part II

Like most years, there's really only four or five teams that can vie for the title. This year is no different than last year. Lakers and Spurs in the West. Celtics, Cavs and Magic in the East.

And I'm dropping the Cavs out of contention right now. When was the last time a team added a 37-year-old 330-pound center and got better? Why would it be any different with Shaq? His minutes will be limited and his durability will come into question. Could the Cavs not have traded for a younger guy with promise to split time with Zydrunas Ilgauskas? How about a younger guy without promise?

Yes, LeBron is great. He'll probably put up 30-7-7 again. But can he do much more than he already is? Disregarding Shaq, does Mo Williams strike you like a second option on a championship team? Does Delonte West belong? The Cavs could be a piece away, but that piece is not Shaq.

That leaves a final four of Celtics, Magic, Spurs and Lakers.

After adding 35-year-old Rasheed Wallace, the Celtics hope adding one more old man will put them over the top. The problem is the Big Three are two years older than when they won in 2008. They need Kevin Garnett to be healthy again this year. They need Ray Allen and Paul Pierce not to drop off. And they need Rajon Rondo not to play like a punk and not punch Brad Miller in the face. Ok, maybe that has no bearing on their success. But he should still stop. When they're all healthy, this team has the best balance in the East.

The Magic lost Hedo Turkoglu and added Vince Carter. They also hope to have All-Star Jameer Nelson for the whole year this season. Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard round out the notables. Speaking of Howard, how can a guy come into the Magic organization as a young center and call himself Superman? And then take it to an obnoxious extent with shoe design and dunk contact antics? Was he around for the late '90s? Has he met Shaq? And another thing, since when does the NBA script the dunk contest and offer to bring in prop telephone boxes? Anyway, the Magic have a few question surrounding their team. Can the young guys make strides? Will Carter be an effective addition? Can Super Mario Van Gundy add brother Jeff to his staff? Just for fun?

The Spurs added Richard Jefferson. They need him for the 35 games Manu Ginobili will be injured for. As I'm sure you've read, Tim Duncan is getting old but still consistently productive. Tony Parker also tends to get hurt. Role players include former Wisconsin Badger Michael Finley, who matched up with the likes of Bruce Douglas (I think), Antonio McDyess, Roger Mason, and reigning country music entertainer of the year George Hill. Short, big-armed former Pittsburgh Panther DeJuan Blair is an intriguing addition as a rookie.

The Lakers brought in Ron Artest after Trevor Ariza left. And I think its terrific. Two things Artest brings that the Lakers need: perimeter defense and edge. Putting Artest on the other guy's best guard frees up Kobe from taxing defensive assignments. Plus he's nuts. If you're the other team do you feel more comfortable with Artest or Luke Walton/Adam Morrison on the court? Phil Jackson can handle the circus. Artest is the Lakers' Dennis Rodman. Remember how that turned out? Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will continue to give the Lakers options outside of Kobe. Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar will take turns running the point. Plus, who knows, maybe Andrew Bynum is ready to have a good year all the way through?

As much as I'm rooting for the Spurs to get Duncan his fifth title, I think the Lakers come out of the West. Lakers in six over the Celtics in a revisit of the 2008 finals matchup. There it is. Kobe gets his fifth in 2010.

I'm ready for 2010-11, when LeBron joins the Brooklyn Jiggas and actually starts competing for championships.

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