2014-15 NBA Season Preview: Part 1

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The NBA 2014-2015 season is finally upon us. The offseason was invigorating, and the thousands of hours I spent this summer reading about basketball were all leading up to today. There were coaching changes, player swaps, and an owner ousting or two. Melo and Bosh stayed with their teams, but LeBron and Pierce left for greener pastures. Kevin Love and first-overall pick Andrew Wiggins switched franchises, the draft had its powerful moments, big contracts were signed.

Reigning MVP Kevin Durant and Celtics’ star Rajon Rondo got injured while Derek Rose spent the summer rehabilitating from a second ACL tear, having not played more than a month of healthy basketball in two full years. Kobe Bryant also missed time last season, but it’s a safe bet he won’t end the season as the 40th ranked player he is currently projected to be. With an offseason this tumultuous, it just might be the greatest year for basketball since James Naismith threw a soccer ball into a peach basket in 1891.

The following is a two-part guide to the upcoming season. In it, you will find the following: reasons why each team will be fun to watch, what their best-case scenario is for the season, and what the outcome would be if everything went horribly wrong for them. The season tips off with the defending champs (San Antonio Spurs, for those less informed) taking on the Dallas team that took them to 7 games in the playoffs last year. Tonight. 8:00 PM. Don’t miss it.


Part 1: The Western Conference

San Antonio Spurs

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Why they will be fun to watch

The league’s best coach, most efficient offensive system, and a lineup from all around the globe? This team is a melting pot of humble international players and they play gorgeous, selfless basketball. What’s not to love?

Best-Case Scenario

The team rests its best players for 20 games. They go 65-17 anyway en route to sweeping the incredibly tough Western Conference, and get the Bulls in the finals.

Worst-Case Scenario

Pop decides that he is saving all of his best players for the playoffs, and doesn’t play them at all during the regular season. They go 65-17 anyway en route to sweeping the incredibly tough Western Conference, and get the Cavaliers in the finals.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

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Why they will be fun to watch

Durant is out for the first 20 games with a foot fracture. Will Russell Westbrook be able to carry the team to a respectable record before the reigning MVP returns? They will be fun to watch solely based upon the fact that Westbrook will put up about 25-30 shots per night, and one game he might even make most of them.

Best-Case Scenario

Durant was faking the injury to get attention, and returns after the first two games. Scott Brooks and Scott Brooks’s horrible coaching suddenly improve after he falls and hits his head hanging a clock.  Ibaka’s incredible body continues to be incredible. Westbrook puts up 25 and 15 in Durant’s absence and the Spurs and Clips both have major injuries.

Worst-Case Scenario

Harden averages 50 points a game, making them further regret his trade to the Houston Rockets that they have already been regretting for the last three years. He then proceeds to drop 70 on them in the first round of the playoffs, handing them an extremely unceremonious exit to what looks to be a very promising season.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

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Why they will be fun to watch

Honestly, who isn’t excited to watch Kobe this season? These are the things that we know to be absolute truths. He is on a team with no real defense. He will jack up minimum 20 shots a game. He will call out every single person on his team. He will be awesome to watch. He will never retire.

Also, LINSANITY!!!!!!!!!!

Best-Case Scenario

Kobe hits a ton of game winning shots and the Lakers sneak into the western conference 8 seed after major injuries hit the Rockets, Blazers, Mavs, Suns and Grizzlies.

Also, LINSANITY 2.0!!!!!!!!!!!

Worst-Case Scenario

Kobe misses the only game winning shots the Lakers get and Linsanity is unLinteresting. The Lakers wind up with a lottery pick that they whiff on.

 

Los Angeles Clippers

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Why they will be fun to watch

The Clippers are slowly taking over the city of Los Angeles, annexing celebrities, and finally getting rid of their racist, buffoon, sloth-like owner/Jabba the Hutt impersonator (replacing him with the benevolent Steve Ballmer, banner of iPhones).  They have one of the best coaches in the game, as well as perhaps the best point guard and power forward playing now. Oh and these two make perhaps the best commercials in the league.  Did I mention this team calls itself Lob City? Yeah, this season will be fun to watch.

Best-Case Scenario

Chris Paul plays a full season. Blake Griffin plays a full season. DeAndre Jordan steals another man’s soul with a vicious dunk and then makes this face. Matt Barnes, JJ Redick, and Jamal Crawford destroy other teams focused on Paul and Griffin. Cliff and Chris continue to have excellent fraternal chemistry.

Worst-Case Scenario

They can’t keep it together. The good feelings from getting rid of Sterling dissipate as the team is forced to move out of LA because Kobe wants a stadium all to himself.

 

Denver Nuggets

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Why they will be fun to watch

I literally watched this video 30 times in a row. By the way, Nate Robinson is generously 5’9” and absolutely destroys people.

Best-Case Scenario

Ty Lawson plays like an All-Star, and the league recognizes him as one. Kenneth Faried a.k.a. “The Manimal” lives up to his monstrous World Cup and keeps the team afloat with his insane energy. This weird amalgamation of players cohesively comes together as a team without a true superstar and the Nuggets snag a 7 or 8 seed.

Worst-Case Scenario

The team realizes that they are playing in Colorado. They open a team dispensary called Denver Nugget Nugs, and the season disappears in a cloud of puff puff pass.

 

Utah Jazz

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Why they will be fun to watch

Dante Exum. Will he live up to the hype? Gordon Hayward. Was he worth the large contract that Utah inked him to this summer? Trey Burke. Can he improve upon his solid rookie year? Rudy Gobert. Is it possible for him to make the leap to elite center? Alec Burks. Can he continue to make Kobe look silly with his sweet moves? So many questions! So much intrigue!

Best-Case Scenario

This team’s young core gains a year of valuable experience playing together. Exum is Penny Hardaway 2.0 and Gobert looks like he’s a year away from being an All-Star. Then, Hayward goes and does this again.

Worst-Case Scenario

Exum is the Australian Darko Milicic and every other player in the lottery looks like they would have been a better choice.

 

Golden State Warriors

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Why they will be fun to watch

I watched that entire video. It’s pretty sweet.

Best-Case Scenario

If Thompson keeps developing into an All-Star talent, Curry keeps bombing threes and dishing assists, and the whole team gels under new head Coach Steve Kerr, a disciple of Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson, this could be a season where Golden State gets to the Western Conference Finals.

Worst-Case Scenario

Thompson and the Warriors have a decent season, but a little voice in the back of everyone’s mind makes them wish they could have seen Curry and Kevin Love playing together after Cleveland tears up the league.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

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Why they will be fun to watch

I am so excited to watch Minnesota.  Like, irrationally excited. The names! Wiggins! LaVine! Dieng! Rubio dishing no-looks on a nightly basis! An in-shape Anthony Bennett! This is a young team and will struggle this year but I’m excited for the occasional flashes of brilliance they will show. Just imagine them in 3-4 years…Minnesota fans should be drooling.

Best-Case Scenario

Zach LaVine and Wiggins are featured nightly on Sports Center’s Top 10. Basketball is fun again for Minnesota fans and they add another solid young player in the draft lottery.  Canada starts to get excited about the future of its Olympic Basketball team. Coach/GM Flip Saunders decides perform a halftime show on rollerblades in which he jumps over cheerleaders to the tune of “Love Me Sexy.”

Worst-Case Scenario

Wiggins never quite lives up to his offensive potential and the team’s absurd athleticism is affected by the cold winters in Minnesota. Flip misses the jump.

 

New Orleans Pelicans

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Why they will be fun to watch

Anthony Davis might be the league’s pick for MVP if LeBron goes down, and his freakish athleticism and Frida Kahlo-brow make every game that he plays fun. Ryan Anderson should be healthy this year, as will Jrue Holiday. Omer Asik, who they added in the offseason and was the league’s grumpiest player last year, will add depth at center and entertainment if he doesn’t get enough playing time again.

Best-Case Scenario

The Brow is named MVP as he averages 8.5 blocks and 25.0 points a game.  The team continues to improve. They just miss the playoffs, but the future looks bright.

Worst-Case Scenario

The team’s lack of depth catches up with it as it loses a lot of games down the stretch.  Davis decides to pluck his eyebrow, and create eyebrows. Honestly, this is probably the worst-case scenario for the entire league.

 

Sacramento Kings

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Why they will be fun to watch

Two words: Boogie Cousins.

Best-Case Scenario

Rudy Gay is given the book The Berenstain Bears Learn to Share, which he takes to heart. Cousins stays on the World Cup tear in which he shot nearly 71%. Nik Stauskas gives Canada even more hope for their future Olympic team with his stellar outside shooting and enthusiasm about his paycheck. Kings are competitive but are ultimately not talented enough to make the playoffs in a loaded West.

Worst-Case Scenario

Boogie gets hurt and Rudy Gay graciously takes it upon himself to take all the shots. ALL the shots.

 

Memphis Grizzlies

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Indomitable? Is that you?

Why they will be fun to watch

This is a tough-ass team. Their brawl potential is higher night-to-night than any other.  Also, they stole Vince Carter, who rocks, right from under the nose of Mark Cuban. ZBo and Marc Gasol make up arguably the league’s best frontcourt.  Tony Allen is a defensive wizard. Mike Conley has a hat made of wood.

Best Case Scenario

Injury locusts riddle the Western Conference, but the plague misses Memphis. They battle their way through four consecutive 7-game series and defeat a like-minded Bulls team in the Finals with a gritty, low-scoring, 65-61 game 7.

Worst Case Scenario

The Grizzlies have a solid season but they can’t overcome their lack of a true star, and fall just out of playoff contention. Marc Gasol is eliminated in Celebrity Voice after he has to sing against his brother.

 

Houston Rockets

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Why they will be fun to watch

Rockets play the Lakers: Kobe vs. Dwight. Rockets play the Thunder: Harden vs. Westbrook and Durant. Rockets play the Mavs: Parsons vs. the Entire Team. Rockets vs. any team: Patrick Beverly vs Someone.  This team has a feud with nearly every team in the NBA. For that reason, there will be a story for every game they play. Can’t wait.

Best Case Scenario

Harden plays solid defense. Dwight hits 60% of his free throws.

Worst Case Scenario

and

 

Phoenix Suns

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Why they will be fun to watch

FOUR VIABLE OPTIONS AT POINT GUARD! The four-headed hydra that was born in the depths of Arizona this summer will be über-exciting. Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic (featuring rhyming brother Zoran Dragic), Eric Bledsoe, and Tyler Ennis all make up a backcourt that will destroy the opposition with speed and ball control skills.  The Morii will be back, and twin chemistry is always fun to watch.

“It’s comedy with a kick!”

Best-Case Scenario

This team goes all Roadrunner on the competition as the Suns outscore the coyote opposition, and outrun ACME anvils en route to a 5 or 6 seed in the West. They play a competitive first round series, and end up losing in the second round in 7 games.

Worst-Case Scenario

The team is competitive but can’t make the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference (a phrase that might be true of nearly every team in the West).

 

Dallas Mavericks

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Why they will be fun to watch

This team has arguably the NBA’s second-best head coach, an owner that stars in Shark Tank on Friday nights on ABC and who just invested $1 MILLION in the next Franzia. They also have a guy named Dirk Nowitzki, still one of the NBA’s best players at age 36.

Best-Case Scenario

Chandler Parsons (signed in a dance club this offseason), Tyson Chandler, and a much skinnier Raymond Felton were the missing pieces keeping this team from going all the way in 2014. This year, Cuban’s fantasy involves the Mavs, the Spurs and the 7th game going a different way.

Worst-Case Scenario

Raymond Felton eats his way through every single one of Dallas’s restaurants and publishes a cookbook of delicious recipes called “How I gained 200 pounds in one season.”

 

Portland Trail Blazers

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Why they will be fun to watch 

This team loves to bomb from downtown, which is always fun. Clutch Czar Damian Lillard has ice-water in his veins. LaMarcus Aldridge has become one of the league’s top five power forwards, and is a midrange master. The Robin Lopez/Sideshow Bob comparison.

Best-Case Scenario

“Portland Trail Blazers Win Big By Dunking the Entire Game.”

Worst-Case Scenario

This steady team has a good, if unspectacular season. As a result of poor ratings, Portlandia is unceremoniously cancelled, leading to a revolt of the entire state of Oregon. Oregon joins up with Canada, taking Washington and Idaho with it.

Tune in tomorrow for NBA Preview Part 2: The Eastern Conference.

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