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2016/2017 NBA Season Preview-Western Conference

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Draymond 1

Northwest Division

Portland Trail Blazers

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Damian Lillard doesn’t just get buckets…he gets bars too. If you wanted find a baller who really raps look no further. But his backcourt partner C.J. McCollum is more than just a hypeman. One of the leagues rising superstars is a journalism major on the side too. And he is the one writing his career future. But can he rewrite the Blazers one? The City of Roses is no longer mourning the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge, but we’re going to need a little more from the PDX to keep Portland in it.

Denver Nuggets

Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay remain some of the newest and best stars the NBA has under its radar. Whilst household names like Mike Miller and Jameer Nelson keep a veteran sense of presence in the locker room. This baby blue Denver squad has a lot of Nuggets, but this team still searching for a post Carmelo identities biggest x-factor and match-up problem is still that mile-high Colorado air. Other than that this team that has been through a lot of thick is a little thin.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Scream Timber and howl like Wolves all you want but there are no more tickets left when it comes to big Minnesota legend Kevin Garnett. But even after his short return resulted in retirement Da Kids are more than alright. His protegee Karl Anthony-Townes runs this one now. And the SLAM cover star is joined by repeat Slam Dunk champ Zach Lavine, European phenom Ricky Rubio and of course Canada’s very own Andrew Wiggins, who we’re sure even the champion Cleveland Cavaliers wish they kept now in this Golden State age of Kevin. Show these pup some love, because when these Teen-Wolfs become a pack you’ll no longer have to worry about just one man.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant has gone. Lets move on. Serge Ibaka too. Just like James. But Westbrook stayed. Russell re-upped even when he had another year and couple of millions of contract worth to wait. Now that’s commitment. That’s loyalty. Lightening may have struck this Oklahoma home, but Russ West Thunder-clapped back. And now he’s free to roam the whole damn floor this dynamo without the dynamic duo will be dynamite. He has plenty of underrated support in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. And the Magic may have tricked them for Ibaka, but the Victor Oladipo trade will prove a real treat, making for the scariest, speediest backcourt outside of more than just the wild West. Don’t put the umbrellas up just yet. OKC is O.K.

Utah Jazz

Timetables will turn and tell how well the Jazz will play this year once their child of Mike Dunleavy and Matt Harping, superstar Gordon Haywood returns to the Salt of Lake City. Still the Jazz have more notes with new court compositions Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and George Hill to sing from the playbook sheet. If these vets can work in-sync with the potential of Derrik Favours, Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert then the Jazz will be miles ahead.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors

73 wins may be enough to beat Michael Jordan’s greatest six-peating Chicago Bulls, but not enough to beat LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games, even at a never beaten before 3-1 advantage. Perhaps it was losing Andrew Bogut in the middle, which has happened again (sometimes people never learn). But as he leaves in free agency, the Dubs have picked up former San Antonio ring bandwagon-er David West to fill the hole and space on his finger. As for the small ball, death line-up changing of the guard don’t worry. Steve Kerr is still leading this unit with the blessings of fellow retired point Steve Nash on board. Steph Curry still has the shot. And he has more than a big-three with Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and former Finals MVP and LeBron stopper, come own shot swatter Andre Igudola. And that’s the Fantastic Four that has ignited the league with the decision made by Kevin Durant. But will this superteam be how the West has won? Or another Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton experiment come death of a dynasty undone?

Phoenix Suns

The LeBron strong Eric Bledsoe. His running mate Brandon Knight. The quick impact Devin Booker. The Nash days Leonardo Barbosa. Yeah the Suns know how to run. Just like your electricity. They know to have as much fun, fun, fun as the Beach Boys. But if Phoenix want to rise from the desserts of Arizona and find the same kind of Californian sun that those in Golden State seem to shine then it’s time to get serious. Seriously good. No matter how talented or thrilling thy are. These bright youngsters don’t want to burn out too quick and become ash.

Sacramento Kings

Sacramento want to be king like LeBron. But they are a long way from those Laker rivalling days of Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie and Mike Bibby/Jason Williams. Still thanks to two of those international owners they’re not as close to a Royal move to L.A. or Seattle yet. The cowbells are still ringing…even if it’s not quite as Blue Oyster Cult deafening. Sacramento still seem to be holding most of the cards…no matter how many Kings they lose. Veteran Rudy Gay is joined by the talented teammate likes of Darren Collison, Ty Lawson and former Lakers Jordan Farmar and ‘Mad Dog’, Matt Barnes. Losing members of the Stockton and Curry family hurt, but the future is Wiley Cauley-Stein. Still it’s still all about DeMarcus and Boggie’s down low productions. Without Cousins it just doesn’t relate.

Los Angeles Lakers

So the Lakers are done right? Right? WRONG! With the second pick in the last two drafts the Lakers have more than just a dynamic duo. They have a Golden State like death line-up that could be a revolution in this small ball league. Formed by former top ten picks and late round steals. Big-men Draymond strong Julius Randle and dunking hard Larry Nance Jr. and Swag Brodie guards Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell with ice in his veins (time for Loading to stop being Hakeem Lyon and make Lakerland his Empire). All lead by future franchise face and probable Rookie of the Year Brandon Ingram…and maybe even the Gasol like Zubac, learning the sky-hook off Kareem as we speak. And lets not to neglect the underrated, X-factor Anthony Brown and the Knick 90’s Mason tough throwback Tarik Black. And if the kids on the best young team (and we aren’t talking about Nick) in the L aren’t alright there’s a veteran back-up lead by All-Star Luol Deng, Olympic standout Yi Jianlin, Cavalier champion in the middle Mozgov (Timofey…every Key & Peele substitute teachers dream) speedy, skillful guards Jose Calderon and Marcelo Huertas (who had quite the home 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil) and of course World Peace himself for another match-up option to run. Not to mention two Six Men in Lou Will and Swaggy P. All lead by former Laker and last years inspired interim, unbeatable Warrior coach Luke Walton. All this and we didn’t even have to mention Kobe. It’s time for a new 24.

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Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers believe they have a superteam. With lob leader Chris Paul, dunk finisher Blake Griffin (working on his post passion problem career with retired kid Kevin Garnett), Olympic gold shiner DeAndre Jordan, retiring legend and that’s the truth Paul Pierce, ‘Sixth Man Of The Decade’ Jordan Crawford, Duke gun draw dual for hire J.J. Reddick and coach Doc Rivers kid Austin we agree. Now it’s time for the “Super” to become “team” before they go from newspaper clippings to barbershop ones.

Southwest Division

Houston Rockets

Howard’s end is no problem for Houston. James Harden has plenty of Rockets to take off. You’ll find them all like food in his beard. There’s Nene, fresh off his home hosting the Rio Olympics. Bruce Bowen like defensive legend Trevor Ariza.  Young vets like Eric Gordon and Corey Brewer. Patrick Beverly and a youthful movement of Sam Dekker, Tyler Ennis and Ryan Anderson. And arguably the best undrafted rookie in Gary Payton II. The glove has been handed down, time to pass and euro-step in the name of history. Names like James win championships…if they come with defence.

San Antonio Spurs

Fundamentally the best Power Forward of all-time Tim Duncan may have joined the Admiral David Robinson in the port of retirement. But just as much as the game will miss him, just like when the T-Bot was brought in to replace D-Rob, LaMarcus Aldridge has been ready to keep number 21’s legacy alive with the reflection of his dozen jersey. Alongside former Finals MVP, Most Improved and Defensive Player Of The Year, Kawhi Leonard who will still be carrying the torch once Olympic internationals Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can no longer keep the flame lit. The Spurs will keep striking their match-ups thanks to free agent Pau Gasol joining David Lee, Kevin Martin, Danny Green, Andre Miller and Patty Mills for a team as deep as future Team USA coach Greg Poppovich’s knowledge of the game. Which is far from Riverwalk shallow. A Gondola trip worthy of another parade.

New Orleans Pelicans

Hornets don’t sting. Bobcats don’t claw. New Orleans basketball looks to finally be catching a break like fish in a Pelicans bill. Anthony Davis has MVP wrote all over the rest of his career. And now big bruiser Kendrick Perkins has his back in the post paint. Whilst Barbados born Buddy Hield is considered by some to be the most ready to go player in the draft…he has been working out with Kobe Bryant after all. Now if Tyreke Evans regains his rookie form or Lance Stephenson becomes the player the last few teams that bet on him expected him to be then you’ll be in for something formidable. But you really want to see something? Something special. Then just look why Jrue Holliday is on indefintie leave from the team. This season is for Lauren.

Memphis Grizzlies

Grit your teeth through this one Grizzlies. They say if it aint broke don’t fix it. But there’s nothing wrong with a little tinkering if nothings changing. After all this is a team that left Vancouver to get out of the “Canadain cold” (yeah tell that to the Raps). Offering Chandler Parsons a big contract like Nike did Mike Conley Jr may just about do it. Besides with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen and Sixth Man who can still get up off the pine and to the rim Vince Carter Memphis have rocked one of the best starting five out of all rosters for many a roll-call now. But if this Tennessee team wants to really become a Titan then it’s time to grind.

Dallas Mavericks

The Texas Triangle is nothing without Dallas. But if the Mavs really want to have a maverick season than they need to be more obtuse than acutely equilateral. Dirk is just about done, but Nowitzki can still get it so. As can All-Star point Deron Williams who seems to have lost his former co-best Point Guard in the league with Chris Paul identity in Utah. These Mavericks are still fighting, but if the Texas horsemen want to be in a state more Golden then a few former Warriors wouldn’t hurt. From big Finals difference maker Andrew Bogut to forgotten star Harrison Barnes who is eager to show why he made the Rio Olympic team this Summer and deserves more minutes. Even Steph Curry’s little brother Seth has a shot…but right now the Mavs would probably take Riley too.

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The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series

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The Warriors Came Out To Play This Series
RIP Portland...

Even without the fantasy Basketball of Kevin Durant in this series, the Golden State Warriors still brought out the brooms like ‘Fantasia’.

And swept out of Game 4 like Thanos click finger dust, the Portland Trailblazers may have only lost by a bucket (119-117)…and in overtime at that. But with all the Splash they had to contend with this series from brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they were left dealing with more leaks and holes in all of their own ones like Mickey Mouse in said Disney epic.

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This was meant to be the showdown between Dell Curry’s boys Steph and Seth which divided a household. And although the youngest gun stepped up to the plate, swung big in this carnival and knocked them down, big brother was always watching.

Steph Curry averaged over 36 points a game this series. Just read that again. 36 points. Right now we don’t need to talk about Kevin.

The Warriors are a dynasty for the ages even without their best player (although this writer thinks he wasn’t missing this entire series). The first team to make it to five straight finals since the Boston Celtics. The 1960’s Bill Russell Celtics. That’s King James crowning legendary. And Steph Curry with the shot and that facet of the game is just as iconic and dominant as a Bill block.

Give some credit to a blazing Portland side who never gave up despite the box score. They can hold their heads in the PDX. Even in their Moda Center home-stand City Of Roses end in RIP City. Their season eulogy should read as a celebration and commiseration, not a trolling condescension from critically entitled fans who have done nothing to determine the outcome of these games and could never make it this far in their wildest memes. They call themselves “influencers”? Well no one’s going to remember them in 50 years.

The NBA will remember one of their Top 100 greatest of all-time in a half century though. As after hitting the biggest buzzer beater in playoff history against Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, Damian Lillard played through the pain of separated ribs this series and still made the Basketball God’s look down from the hoop heavens with praise. Like New York singer St. Vincent tweeted, “Damian Lillard is my hero”. Even his backcourt brother of splash CJ McCollum in the only small man set up to rival Curry and Klay came out to play against the Warriors after midrange mining the Nuggets into submission in Denver just over a week ago.

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But Curry’s red hot triple double, starter, mains and dessert dish of 37, 13 and 11, to go along with a playing not crying, Draymond Green’s day of 18, 14 and 11 assists also was just too much in the clutch. As Stephen and Dray became the first teammates in NBA history to have a triple double in the same playoff game. Forget how much this team can unbelievably keep winning, how does this ball manage to get shared this much?

Well that just may be the secret of success?

The real test is dubbed next however in the Warriors last season in Golden State before they move across that Golden bridge to the Silicon Valley of a digital age in San Francisco. They will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks (probably…Giannis…MVP. Sorry Toronto but come on!) and Raptors series. But by then they should have some guy called Kevin back.

I mean come on. This has been getting crazy. This is just out of hand like said ball in Splash City.

Now Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics’ record of eight straight finals and wins doesn’t look far out of reach for Steph Curry and the player and team with the biggest range in the association over the gate of the Pacific.

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Welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park

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Welcome To The Toronto Raptors' Jurassic Park
They The North...

“In Jurassic Park, Raptor fans wait until after dark. Even if the cold might eat them!”

Fans find a way.

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An ace serve or two away from being as legendary as Wimbledon’s ‘Murray Mound’ or ‘Henman Hill’ outside the Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors Maple Leaf Square’s “Jurassic Park” may just be the ticket for this sold out crowd.

Raptor Klaw, Kawhi Leonard ruled the earth last night. He and the T-Dot at the final tick beat the Sixers in The Six, as his shot bobbled like a beach ball on the surface of a swimming pool before making the biggest splash of these postseason playoffs. Taking longer to fall than Leonardo DiCaprio’s spinning top in ‘Inception’. But this was no dream.

And if you thought the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto erupted last night, then outside in Maple Leaf Square it was like the volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs after that big ball dropped. An Armageddon even Bruce Willis couldn’t save like he wish he could his career.

Welcome to Jurassic World.

With all due respect to the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin, or pick your poison whoever is your flash card pick of the bench mob pack, but the Jurassic Park crowd fenced in outside of Scotia is the teams spiritual sixth man, spark plug. As electric as the paddock like perimeter fence surrounding them feels with this buzz over basketball (and national sport hockey come Leaf picking season), this crowd can’t be contained.

Forget rain or shine. You see the slickers. These faithful fans will pitch a spot waiting for game time like the ball to drop in Times Square for New Year in New York, sleeping bag lining up all day in their hordes huddled for warmth. These beautiful fans will brave the harshest, most frigid temperatures to be the coldest fans in the game in more ways than one. Part of the ‘We The North’ community in the 6 that the Basketball God’s look down on with pride, whilst other armchair fans watch this game for the throne from home. Or leave early like those suit and tie corporate seats trying to catch that last red eye Matt Bonner home.

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Can you imagine of they called game early before Kawhi last night?

I could imagine Drake taking in the CN Tower looking up views of the Jurassic though, like it was all the basketball God’s plan.

Well those in the park for recreation stayed until the beautiful end to a game Butler almost delivered bitter. And you could could phantom cam see every emotion in slow motion last night as Leonard’s buzzer beating ball toyed with the rim like three dots on messenger, or Damien Lillard even further downtown in Oklahoma City.

This is the spirit of the stadium and the soul of the squad, expanding the capacity arena and the Canadian ballclubs worldwide fanbase watching on their own Jumbotrons.

And the Toronto Raptors are going to need all the north they can get if they’re going to stop the Bucks in Milwaukee.

But this club has the claws to do it. And if you don’t think they can win in Wisconsin on their own road to being the first franchise outside of the United States to be NBA finalists and who knows what next against the Warriors(?), then just watch this Canadian cornerstone from the Jurassic era.

Extinct in six? Nah! Get ready to hear the North roar.

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