Monthly Archives: October 2009
Team to win a ring:
The Lakers strolled to victory in the finals against the Magic in June and made it a priority to re-sign all of their free agents (Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown). Odom and Brown return, but Ariza left to sign with Houston. In Ariza’s place, the Lakers signed defensive specialist Ron Artest from the Rockets, in what is an upgrade at small forward. If Artest can perform like he did last year for Houston and Andrew Bynum can fulfil some of that potential which could see him become an All-Star center, the Lakers are the team to beat in the NBA this season. With Kobe and Pau Gasol as stars of the team, the Lakers are even stronger than last season.
DARK HORSE – San Antonio Spurs:
Tim Duncan only has about 2 more years before his skills start to decline, so the Spurs need to make a run for it while they still can. If Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker can stay healthy and Richard Jefferson can settle in well, the Spurs can win their fifth championship in the Duncan/Poppovich era.
MVP – Lebron James
I can see Lebron winning a second consecutive MVP award. His numbers across the board will continue to improve and I can see him becoming even more of a defensive presence with his high-profile blocks and King James could even scoop the DPOY award. I don’t think the Cavs will be as good as last season, but Lebron will have them hovering near the top of the East.
Dark Horse – Carmelo Anthony
Last season, thanks to the arrival of Chauncey Billups, Melo and Denver were able to get out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Melo has always been an offensive powerhouse and arguably the most accomplished offensive player at the moment, but his improvement in attitude has translated onto the court. I can see Melo putting up high numbers in scoring, as any night he is capable of going for 50. I still think Lebron and Kobe are the favourites, but Melo could surprise a few people this season.
Rookie of the Year – Blake Griffin
This is Blake Griffin’s award to lose. He was clearly the best player in college last year and should see a lot of playing time on a Clippers team that only really has Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby in the frontcourt. If Griffin can stay healthy and avoid the “Clipper curse” that has affected their franchise players like Elton Brand, Darius Miles and Shaun Livingston, then the Oklahoma forward should have a solid rookie year.
Dark Horse – Tyreke Evans
The 4th pick out of Memphis should see a lot of playing time in a Kings team that is expected to stink this year. Not a pure point guard, he is bigger than a lot of players at that position and is good at driving into the lane and getting into the paint. If he can fit in well with Kevin Martin in the backcourt, I think Evans could be a force in the NBA this year.
Surprise Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Starting with a 3-27 record last season, the Thunder were the laughing stock of the NBA. They turned it around, winning 23 games and thanks to GM Sam Presti, have one of the most exciting young cores in the league, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and rookie James Harden. If Durant improves his numbers like expected and becomes even more of a force in the NBA, expect the Thunder to contend for a playoff spot in the West. With teams like the Rockets and the Hornets getting worse in the offseason, the Thunder might be able to scrape that last playoff spot.
Chicago ran out 102-101 winners and even though they were missing key starters Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas, had British superstar Luol Deng making an appearance in front of his home crowd. Deng, playing only his second game after a six month absence that caused him to miss this summer’s European championships for Team GB, impressed for the Bulls (18pts, 5 assists, 8-12 FG’s), despite sitting out all of the fourth quarter. The Bulls led for most of the game, leading by 7 at halftime, before a superb third quarter from Jazz point guard Deron Williams (16pts, 3 assists) brought Utah back into contention.
Bulls rookie Johnson had an impressive game (18pts, 8 rebs) as well as scoring the buzzer-beating fadeaway over Andrei Kirilenko, as did point guard Jannero Pargo (16pts, 5 assists) for the Bulls, in a game where both sides rested key players for large periods of the game.
Paul Millsap led all scorers for the Jazz (18pts, 6 rebs), and Wayne Matthews (16pts). Carlos Boozer had a woeful game for the Jazz (6pts, 5rebs, 4 fouls) in just 19 minutes, heightening rumours that he may be on the way out of Utah, especially given Paul Millsap’s recent performances and the fact that the Jazz are $14 million over the salary cap.
17,000 fans packed out the O2 arena, and celebrities such as footballers Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and Rio Ferdinand were in attendance, as was boxer David Haye.