We're going to do something a bit different with our NBA Preview links this year. Instead of just throwing out the links as usual, we'll offer a short take on what the blogs said about their teams as well as what we think will happen. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments!
Our grading scale:
For a team that's made the playoffs once in the last 18 seasons, any sniff of the playoffs is a total blessing. The long-suffering Warriors blog Golden State of Mind remains cautiously optimistic, seemingly happy with their off-season acquisitions. But Mark Jackson and his one year of coaching experience remains a dark spot on this team, and they don't exactly have the tools to be the defensively aggressive team that he wants.
Clips Nation is excited about what the team has done over the off-season, but they don't seem to think that the team has the tools to get over the obstacles of the Lakers or Thunder. In essence, they see not advancing past the second round as a non-failure. However, Gunnerz! disagrees, seeing the conference finals as the goal. Clips Nation is worried about the teams defense and the team's shooting, and Gunnerz! would like a less predictable fourth quarter offense. Nevertheless, both blogs would agree that the Clips are a dark horse contender this season.
||This team has the talent to win the NBA Finals, no holds barred. But two things stand in the way of that goal: Vinny Del Negro, and the lack of a lock-down defender. Del Negro didn't show himself to be especially competent last season, consistently throwing out bad lineups. And this team will be excellent in terms of back-court scoring, but when they have to stop any elite wing (like, oh, Kevin Durant, Manu Ginobili, or Kobe Bryant), they won't have the tools to do so. I imagine the team will finish with a good record and a high seed, but I could easily see them faltering in the face of a team that has their number during the playoffs.|
||The Clippers likely have a ceiling this season where they could realistically compete for the #3 spot, if the Spurs take a huge step backward. If L.A. can accomplish this feat, then they have a great chance to get a favorable route through the playoffs, rather than endure a grueling slug-fest with a team like Memphis and then get wiped out by the Spurs in the 2nd round. Led by CP3, they have a knack of hanging around and getting late game heroics from their all-star point guard. Talent-wise though, I think they're still a step below the Lakers and Thunder and would not be able to advance past them in the playoffs.|
Everybody, including these two blogs, seems to agree that the Lakers will be pretty awesome this year. Every move the Lakers made is pure gold, and this team is slated for, nay, destined for an NBA Championship. Silver Screen and Roll is the more upbeat of the two, seeing the team's main weakness as the new pieces' ability to fit together. Hardwood Hype is a bit more leery, citing bench problems and some potential real chemistry issues.
The Suns have begun to rebuild, and with Nash finally gone, the blogs have realized this fact as well. Both of them can agree that the Suns have a bright future, but that this year probably won't be one to remember. However, the flaws of what will be almost an entirely new team are unclear. Bright Side of the Sun cites lack of paint presence and lack of consistency, while Valley of the Suns is mostly concerned about the lack of a go-to player.
||I think the Suns will surprise a few people and make some noise this season. Of course, some serious pieces will have to fall into place in order for the playoffs to happen. Namely, Michael Beasley will have to be consistent, Jermaine O'Neal will have to stay healthy, and Kendall Marshall will have to have a nice rookie season. Otherwise, this team is probably a few steps away from making any heads turn.|
||I'll say this - the 2012-13 season might be the kind of season the Suns need to tank in order to start the rebuilding process next season and hope that they can grab a high profile free agent or two (but not James Harden!). They simply do not have enough talent to compete with the teams in the West and haven't for 2 seasons now. With Steve Nash now in L.A., it is hard to find Phoenix compelling in any way.|
The Kings haven't really done much since last season, other than drafting Thomas Robinson and trading for James Johnson. Sactown Royalty remains realistic about this team, and acknowledges that this team has no hope of the playoffs from the start. They lack defense and shooting, which are two essential elements of any basketball team. There's hope that the areas will improve, but not too much hope. Unfortunately, this season will probably be moreso remembered for its' ongoing relocation battle than anything else.
||This team might as well be renamed the Warriors. They run a fast paced-offense but can't shoot, and they have lots of somewhat alright talent locked up on somewhat alright contracts. DeMarcus Cousins is good but has questions about his attitude, nobody else sets your world on fire, and overall the team is deeply flawed. The question is whether they can cover up their flaws well enough to excite their fans....or anybody, for that matter.|
|Sherman's Take||For the record, I really like some of the pieces on this team. I think DeMarcus Cousins is going to become a better version of Zach Randolph, I like Isaiah Thomas' tenacity, and this team is one of the best rebounding teams in the league. What I don't like is the fact that Tyreke Evans, a guy who was taken #4 a year after fellow Memphis Tiger Derrick "MVP" Rose was taken #1, seems to be regressing. At this point, I watch a guy who was supposed to be a future cornerstone and I just think...backup. Despite their offense and rebounding, the team is still a mess and Sacramento might have to clean house after another disappointing season.|
What do you think about the Atlantic Division teams? Let us know in the poll and the comments!