Reflector’s roundball roundup
Our panel does the work for you
Todd Colin Vaughan
It’s basketball season.
Now before you puck-lovers out there start complaining about T.V. timeouts and the lack of contact, keep in mind that basketball is, in fact, on right now and features some of the most interesting storylines in many years.
The Reflector has put together an expert panel of devoted NBA fans to sift through thousands of stories that come out of training camp and bring the best of the best to you.
Perhaps we can make basketball fans out of all of you.
You can also tune in to @reflectthis Twitter, which will feature the fantasy smack talk of our panelists as they battle it out all season long.
Is anyone going to dethrone the Miami Heat?
Kyle: The number of teams that could realistically dethrone the Heat can be counted on one hand: the Los Angeles Lakers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics, with the Spurs and Celtics being somewhat of long shots. The Heat are much better than what they were last year with the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. The Thunder are still the exact same team that got beat last year in the finals and the Lakers are dealing with possible chemistry and injury issues. I see the Heat as being the favorite to win again this year and not being dethroned.
Tristan: Short answer: probably not. Long answer: the Heat will cruise through the Eastern Conference, since there’s no one at their level. The Chicago Bulls with a healthy Derrick Rose might have had a chance, but he won’t be at 100 per cent until next year. There are three teams that have a chance of dethroning the champs — the Lakers, Thunder or Spurs — that will put up a good fight. Against Lebron and company, odds are it won’t be enough.
Todd: There is one and only one answer. The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team that could beat the Heat. The issue with the Lakers is that they are probably not ready this year. Dwight Howard is fighting lingering back issues, Steve Nash is pushing 300 years old, Metta World Peace is bat-shit crazy and Kobe Bryant needs 40 shots a game. Simply put, there is too much drama in Hollywood to overcome Lebron and company.
Who will be the worst team in the league this year?
Kyle: Is this a serious question? Everyone knows the worst team in the league is run by the best NBA player of all time. The Charlotte Bobcats. Michael Jordan. Great player, terrible owner. A team that could not even win the championship in a high school division. Maybe he’ll make another comeback and still be the Bobcat’s best player pushing age 50. Next question.
Tristan: Wow, a lot a great candidates for this one! Well, Charlotte, Orlando, Sacramento, Houston, New Orleans and Portland will all be vying for the title. But the first two teams I mentioned are definitely the most likely. The Magic were pretty bad last year before they sent Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson away for two basketballs and a pair of Nikes. The Bobcats were almost the worst team of all time last year — maybe this is the year they pull it off.
Todd: In the words of Shaquille O’Neal: “I ain’t afraid of the Sacramento Queens.” The Kings on paper should be good with Demarcus Cousins, Tyeke Evans and Isaiah Thomas. On the actual court, they won’t be. Evans hasn’t seen a bad shot he doesn’t love; Cousins hasn’t seen a hamburger joint or strip club he doesn’t want to visit and Jimmer Fredette… well… dreams die hard for the state of Utah. Look for Sacramento to start off with 10 wins and then lose the next 72.
Where do you see the Raptors finishing?
Kyle: The Raptors are one Andrea Bargnani “Primo Pasta” accident away from being a lottery team again. Should they avoid injuries, there is talk in the Great White North that the Raptors may vie for the eighth seed in the East, which I agree with. In which case they get annihilated by the Heat in the first round in the playoffs. Looks like another exciting season from the Craptors.
Tristan: Ughhhhhh, the Raptors. Best case scenario, they manage to sneak into the playoffs and get eaten alive by Lebron. Worst case scenario, injuries hit Bargnani, meaning they can’t score on a high school team (points! I mean they can’t score points). Most likely, they end up being a boring, mostly-foreign lottery team, just like last year.
Todd: This is the best time of the year to be a Raptors fan: when there is nothing on the line. Raptors fans love the hype because it is impossible to love their team. Like every year, there is renewed hope in Hogtown. Like every year, they will be let down by the mediocre team on the court. General Manager Bryan Colangelo has had his chance to put winning product on the floor. Time for some changes. Expect plenty of calf strains and another trip to the draft lottery.
What will be the best storyline of the season?
Kyle: Will Lebron’s hairline continue to recede? Will Ron Artest join the WWE after the Harden elbow? In all seriousness, until the Thunder do something with James Harden, the most asked question of the year is, “what will happen with the greatest beard in the NBA?” Will they sign him, trade him or let him walk? A distraction waiting to happen and until something else happens, it’s the best storyline of the season.
Tristan: Jeremy Lin, despite being on a crappy Rockets team, will be a huge storyline. Can he follow up on his success last year? Will Kobe Bryant pass the ball for the first time in two years? I mean, apparently Steve Nash’s style of play is contagious. But the biggest story line the season is just how much will Tristan dominate our fantasy competition?
Todd: The biggest storyline of the season will be Kobe Bryant. The man known for his inability to suffer fools will be in hell when dealing with Dwight Howard. D12 is goofy by nature, much like the former Laker center Shaquille O’Neal, which will drive the cerebral Bryant batty. Look for a possible homicide and 50 shot nights from Bryant when Howard loses focus.
Illustrations: Vern McGill