Thursday, December 29, 2011

Defying Authority

It's Thursday and I must've hearkened back to my collegiate roots because I have gotten into the whiskey. It's Christmas break, the kids are scattered about, the wife is watching Lifetime and I reintroduced myself to Jack Honey...and decided to bang out a NBA column.

The lockout-shortened seasoned is 66 games instead of 82 and Atlanta's Air Force is 2-0. Let me just give you a synopsis as to why I think we'll have a good season:

  • Depth: There are a few sets of back-to-back-to-back games and that is disastrous for veteran teams. The Hawks are deep and they're young and they're a legit 2-deep at each spot, so that will come in especially handy for this rushed schedule (the 1999 lockout-shortened season was 50 games and there was a call for that this year, but the commissioner would have none of that, much to the chagrin of everyone). We have Jeff Teague at PG and Kirk Hinrich (GO WHITE BOY!) backing him up. Joe Johnson, a.k.a. contract albatross, is the starting OG and Hinrich also backs him up (WHITE BOY STILL GOING). Janerro Pargo can back up either spot, but is primarily a PG with 3pt range. We picked up Tracy McGrady in the offseason, which would have been huge 10 years ago, but he can still play. He'll play more of a point forward role and some OG, but can't guard a parked car and his vertical is just a shade more than mine at this stage of his career. Again, very deep with lots of experience there. Former Jorted Gator Al Horford is the starting C and the human foul Zaza Pachulia backs him up (the man relishes contact like a drunken prom date). At the forward spots we have Marvin Williams at SF...and I simply cannot go on without pointing out that we passed up both Chris Paul AND Deron Williams (the 2 best PGs in the game) in the draft a few years back to get him. Now, don't get me wrong, Marvin is a good player and can consistently put up 15ppg and spreads the floor with his range...but....I need to stop. His backup is the aforementioned McGrady and the ageless Jerry Stackhouse (funny story: Stackhouse was a high flyer for the UNC Tarheels in the 90s and they went to war every year with the Duke Blue Devils headlined by Christian Laettner, himself a former Hawk; the 2 ended up as teammates on the Dallas Mavericks one season and during a card game on the plane, Laettner cleaned up and as he was gathering the cash, he made some snide remark about Duke winning again and Stackhouse cold-cocked him and knocked him the F out). The mercurial Josh Smith starts at PF, but can swing to SF in certain matchups. He is still a helluva game-changer on both ends of the floor, but is as frustrating to watch as any 5 year old. There are a few more in the league as talented as him, but few as stubborn and moody. I've ruined 2 remote controls watching him over the years. We have a couple of able bodied stiffs to spell him in spells.

  • Shortened Season: As previously mentioned, this benefits us greatly. The Miami Heat are expected to win 60 out of the 66 games (absurd in my book), but I see no reason why we can't muster 50.

  • Style of Play: We aren't very big once you get past Horford and Zaza, but the league has gotten smaller. Most teams are starting centers that would have been power forwards 10 years ago. There are no more Shaqs or Yao Mings or mammoths like them. Small ball is the new fad with teams like Dallas putting Nowitski at center for spells and causing matchup nightmares for the other teams. For instance, we are expected to feature Teague & Hinrich in the backcourt with Johnson sliding down to SF/3 at times and Smith and Horford on the frontline. That doesn't sound like much of a change, but Smith is considered too fast for opposing PFs and Johnson overpowers other OGs with his size & strength and will either match up perfectly or do the same to opposing SF/3s. Teague is one of the fastest players in the league, so we're talking about a wide open attack on offense and create mismatches along with a fast defense with enough size to not get pummelled on the boards. That's huge.

  • Because Stone Cold Said So: I just think we'll be good.

The Eastern Conference features the Heat and Bulls as the upper crust, with the Hawks, Knicks, Celtics, Pacers and the Magic (currently in limbo due to Dwight Howard's trade demands causing an awkward situation) just behind and one other doormat to finish at number 8 in the conference. I see no reason why we can't grab the 3rd seed and home court in the opening round of the playoffs. Can we beat Miami or Chicago? I don't know and I kind of doubt it, but what bodes well is how our style of play mirrors theirs. It's going to be an interesting season.

I likely won't put another one of these up unless we get on an incredible roll, steal Howard from the Tragic or get back into the whiskey at a random time and feel like venting, so enjoy it or hate it. I feel sure Rev is grabbing his new G-engraved wine-o glass and emptying out a box of wine in disgust. I also feel sure Simple Man is wondering who the Wizards are and why I failed to mention them.

Anyway, my glass is empty and I'm going to save my verbage for the Friday Frivolities.

Onward & up...wait, that's tomorrow. Wang chung tonight, peeps.

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