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2018-2019 NBA Season Preview – Eastern Conference

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2018-2019 NBA Season Preview – Eastern Conference
Green With Envy?
    1. Atlantic Division

Toronto Raptors

Vince Carter. Chris Bosh. And now DeMar DeRozan. Another Toronto Raptors legend left before his time. And this one sadly may be the greatest yet. Sure getting Kawhi Leonard in return on paper sounds like the perfect match. That being if you had read all about it in the Toronto Star last year mind. This former San Antonio Spurs fallout in Texas was well documented for all the things that weren’t said, but actioned a thousand times more than words. And now the former mild mannered seeming Leonard no longer seems like a sure thing. Oh and he’s a free agent next Summer too. So like the Lakers no one is holding their breath. We wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up back in San An of all places. Still for the year Kawhi and Kyle could form a great one, two. Along with the team of Serge Ibaka, Danny Green and new big signing from the Bucks, Greg Monroe. But it just won’t hit like one of the best backcourts of the last half decade in Lowry and D. The 6 has really been turned upside down now.

Brooklyn Nets

With all the talk of LeBron in Lakerland right now, nobody speaks on the original post-Kobe star of the purple and gold future, ‘D’Angelo Russell anymore. But he was a part of their young core like Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle after him before Ball that deserved more. Now with another former Laker, Lin gone again in a New York minute, D’Angelo has a vanguard of talent around him. DeMarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried, Ed Davis (wasted Lakers stand up!) Shabazz Napier and Spencer Dinwiddie. But if he wants to be king of the B.K. he better serve us a whopper of a year. Otherwise D’Angelo’s star status will remain untitled. How does it feel? He could be the one like his jersey number. But until then it’s just another Beastie Boy reference.

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New York Knicks

Ewing. Starks. Carmelo. The ghosts of Garden’s past still haunt Madison Square like biting into a rotten apple. But at least the big-man unicorn magic of Kristaps Porzingis can light up the darkness. It’s beyond belief how far the best international big since Dirk could take the Knickerbockers to glory. And the supporting cast of Enes Kanter, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah and Tim Hardaway Jr. are the perfect compliment like peanuts at the end of the bar. But now New York have added one of the best young players in the game in Emmanuel Mudiay to the mix who knows how it will all turn out under the glare of Times Square. New Year neon or end of the season blackout? This team could make the playoffs if they play more like how they look on scouting report paper and less like…well, the Knicks.

Philadelphia 76ers

“Passionate. Intense. Proud”. That’s what an old post-Answer, Sixers rally towel from a trip to Philly a decade ago hung up in my room says. Now their motto is simply, ‘The Process’. Big talent Joel Embiid started it and now Aussie ruler Ben Simmons is the reigning Rookie of the Year in what in reality is his second salary calender with the Sixers franchise. Process that! And who knows what Markelle Fultz could be? Surrounded with talent like Dario Saric, Anthony Brown, Amir Johnson, Wilson Chandler, Emeka Okafor and J.J. Reddick. And now with former All-Star Elton Brand their new General Manager, could this be the year the new Sixers Iverson themselves over the league like stepping over Ty Lue? Trust it’s a must.

Boston Celtics

Once again the strength of Boston can’t be beat. Last season the Celtic pride of Isaiah Thomas was traded for the King’s man, Kyrie Irving and aligning with Utah Jazz free agent Gordon Hayward they formed a dynamic duo of the future. But who would have thought it would all snap (or should we say twist?) on the first day of the season when Hayward turned his whole foot the other way round? And who would have thought after carrying the team for a whole MVP worthy season Uncle Drew would end up hobbled before the playoffs too? But then in turn again who would have thought the young guns and new dynamic duo of star to be Jaylen Brown and one of the rookies of the year Jayson Tatum, dunking and chest shoving on LeBron would run the future of Boston like the spirits of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis and almost go all the way? Now with All-Star Al Horford in the middle this team has the perfect starting five. Not to mention the bench mob of Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Smart. Kyrie giving birth to the next chapter of the storied Celtics/Lakers rivalry versus his former Cavalier King ally thinks his team could take the Golden State Warriors in a seven game series. We think not. We think they can do it in less.

Central Division

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron is gone. Lets get that out of the way. The King has left the castle of his land. But Love stuck around. Imagine that! From the hard hat heart of his construction worker contract sign, we need to talk about how this is Kevin’s team and time now. No King. No Kyrie. Just J.R. and the shot clock. But have faith Love will do for Believeland what he is for mental health awareness right now. Remember this zero jersey number is the type of player who put up 30/30 numbers on the board by himself in the wilderness of Minnesota. This prince may never be king, but he’ll always be basketball royalty. And for a franchise that’s cleaned house (from Isaiah Thomas to Dwyane Wade) and replaced them all with young guns from the La La Land LeBron now belongs to (Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance), Love is the perfect leader for this solid gold team of heart (Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, George Hill, Kyle Korver and just how good Sam Dekker could turn out). Why hate?

Chicago Bulls

Michael. Scottie. Dennis. Those were the days right. Butler. Rondo. Wade. Them too. Rose. Don’t make me cry. Chandler and Curry? Don’t make us laugh. The Windy City has been through the storm. But hold on now Chi-town may finally be on to something again. Hometown hero Jabari Parker leads a new look team of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine, anchored around veteran big Robin Lopez that could really get everyone out their seats once they varnish the splinters out their bench. Markkanen is big, Zach can bang, Denzel Valentine will make his name more than just cool and as for Jabari. Well you know him by his first name. Doesn’t that make him a star?

Indiana Pacers

And another one. Now the return of Lance Stephenson has left yet again to be in the ear of the King of L.A., there is no one left from the Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill, David West (Happy Retirement) and Danny Granger, Indy 5.00 era. And this Domantas Sabonis, Tyreke Evans and Myles Turner sports team remains relatively unchanged too. Although adding guys like Doug McDermott and Canuck, Cory Joseph gives them more playoff pull. But how much this team will improve lies in truth in the souls of the sneakers of Most Improved Player (improved? Really in this case the award the NBA gives for player they most slept on) Victor Oladpio. Who is set to run until he finds the promised land, or at least another All-Star trip. It’s time to keep pace. Hoosiers don’t just run pickets. The Fieldhouse won’t be fenced in for long.

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Detroit Pistons

Motor City could assembly line all the automobiles Blake Griffin wants to fly over, but they’d still be a touch of chrome and paint away from really riding. And you thought it was all about the hyperdunks when it came to jumping over convertibles. Down 8 Mile road the frontcourt force of Drummond and Griffin is like the one he flew in L.A. with Jordan. But without all the Sterling drama underneath the Spalding rim dunks, as Blake swaps DeAndre for “just” Andre. And the running cog Reggie Jackson, who is like a spring-loaded, spark-plug to this Pistons machine. With Blake Motown has as lively an identity as when Marvin and Tammi sang. But it’s going to take more than just two…or three for this team to be the beast of the East’s eighth wonder.

Milwaukee Bucks

Buck it. All this team needs to get buckets, blocks, ‘bounds and bounce passes is Greak Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He can play every position and spread the entire floor with that gazelle like first step, or Jordan inspired Maya Moore poster across Minnesota wingspan. But in Milwaukee, losing Jabari and Greg Monroe, with no Mayo for garnishing leaves these deers in the headlights. But fear not. This team has Malcom Brogdon, Thon Maker and Eric Bledsoe now. And as long as they re-up sixth spark veteran Jason ‘Jet’ Terry like they’ve added one of the best centers in the league from downtown, Brook Lopez than this deer will have plenty in reserve. It’s as simple as A, B, C. Still however, if you want to win like 1, 2, 3. Then it’s time to recite the alphabet.

Southeast

Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal street and the only Wall in Washington we’ll ever be down with may form the best backcourt in the L if you haven’t yet read the first paragraph of our Western Conference season preview. But Gortat is gone. And Dwight Howard is hardly the bigger and better replacement when you look at how many teams he has journeyed with over the last couple of years. It’s a good job they got Bryant off the Lakers too. Thomas…not Kobe. That would be awkward…or hella entertaining. The Wiz can spell players like Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks, Doc’s son Austin Rivers and more to make points. But how about the prize? Sure these Wizards have tricks, but in losing Gortat and choosing Howard I solemnly swear they are up to no good.

Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade is taking his talents to the Chicago natives real home for one last run. And it’s time to appreciate one of the top five Shooting Guards and possibly the greatest Miami Heat franchise player of all-time on his retirement tour whilst we still can, as he no longer lives or plays in the Kings shadow. But don’t think you won’t see flashes of brilliance as D-Wade heads to the rocking chair, switching sneakers for slippers. You remember what he did in that Miami Vice jersey last season and for who? And wouldn’t it be fitting if Udonis Haslem who never left calls it a day with his old friend next seasons end too? Although we are pretty sure we will see this number 40 in a red, black and white jersey forever, in one way or rafter another. With the Heat fire dragon Dragic and hero Kelly Olynek South Beach has the talent to give Wade an outside shot for one last World Championship. But once the buzzer rings and the bell tolls, then the new big-three W of Whiteside, Winslow and Waiters can begin their service in earnest. Until then Florida is still Wade’s world.

Atlanta Hawks

Get your talons into this Napoleon Dynamite. Vince Carter will soar once more as he spreads his wingtips with the Hawks. And Air ATL can still fly as this is 40. Besides V.C. could probably still win Slam Dunk contests at 50. Get it? Five tens! But with the era of Schroder over the Hawks have little else outside their starting five. Even if they have added the Linsanity of Jeremy Lin to this crazy mess of Kent Bazemore and not much more. Until you count their top pick in the draft in Trae Young punching his winning lottery ticket. This kid is the future of the league and right now the only thing these Hawks have got that could really take wing. But until they welcome him by letting him take off in the A it’s just birdseed.

Charlotte Hornets

Seriously?! How many more losing seasons do you need before owner Michael Jordan steps down and suits up. Sure he’s learned from Washington and let me say I’m 99.999999% and another nine certain he aint coming back. But oh how this North Carolina team needs the greatest of all-time…even if he is well past his prime. The Hornets need help and as good as he is Tony Parker is closer to joining his friend Manu Ginobili than being the future of this franchise. And T.P. in teal just looks stranger for the Spurs legend than the whole Kawhi Leonard situation out in San Antonio. Sure Kemba, Kidd-Gilchrist, Kaminsky, Batum and Lamb are pure talent. But you only have to look at a guy like Marvin Williams to see what happens to the appreciation of said talent when the spotlight shines somewhere else. Last year the most exciting thing in uniform for Buzz City was the inclusion of Nike’s Jumpman logo on the lapel. But just like number 23 in the United rafters we can take it higher than that. Because like their shrugging owner this is a franchise that’s history in this league. One thats throwback jerseys even tell their own golden era story. Charlotte will always mean something.

Orlando Magic

Erm…I know ‘Space Jam’ was Bugs Bunny and all, but how’s your jump shot Mickey? Hey! Put that mop down! And bring that duck with you too. We have a pair of shorts for him. Air Gordon needs some help in Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom. He can’t do it all by himself like in ‘Uncle Drew. He needs a big legend like Shaq or Hardaway. Otherwise it’s just pennies in a town that runs off Disney dollars.

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NBA

Augustus In Los Angeles. Seimone Signs With Sparks

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augustus in los angeles seimone signs with sparks
Augustus, Los Angeles County...

The balance of power in the WNBA has shifted like this league of its own has shifted the gender gap in this sport.

Google, “Seimone Augustus, Los Angeles Sparks” and you’ll find a picture of the former Minnesota Lynx running the break and howling like a Timberwolf, as Sparks superstar Nneka Ogwumike is left lying on the court like it was a canvas and she Sonny Liston.

But that won’t happen anymore.

Don’t worry the Roman emperor Augustus isn’t joining former Minnesota dynamic duo teammate Maya Moore in not playing this August…although this will be her final season (and as an aside we nothing but salute you for your stand Moore). But the Lynx now lose the legacy of this legend too in the same fortnight the Twin Cities celebrated the dynamic duo coupling of Karl-Anthony Towns and best friend D’Angelo Russell for their Basketball brotherhood. But like losing Showbiz and K.G. this WNBA big ticket will be back, all the way to the gate receipts.

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Instead it’s because Seimone is now a Spark. Soon you’ll have no trouble finding her in the purple and gold as she follows the fast break of the twinning and winning Ogwumike sisters and superstar Candace Parker leading the charge for the best big four in L.A. all day since Shaq, Kobe, ‘The Mailman’, Karl Malone and ‘The Glove’, Gary Patyon brother a new trend in billionaire boy club basketball. Cue Candace’s Dunk Contest judge reaction face last weekend at All Star, Chicago. This one is all tens for a 50 that can’t not win.

This is straight unfair too “like” when La La Land script sent tried to combine Kobe and CP3. But with respect to the one and only commissioner (rest peacefully) nothing is nixing this (and I’ll always love that move because Pau stayed where the second best European player until Luka finishes this season belonged like Gasol does up in the same STAPLES rafters). WoW!

Champion Elena Delle Donne and Co may have resigned with the mystifying Washington Wizards, but D.C. aren’t going to have as easy a time re-upping next year…if they even make it that far. Especially in the same week of a freeing, free agency of players with their own one, almost as crazy as last years NBA one. One that has already seen Skylar Diggins-Smith rise to Phoenix to form Mercury with the one and only, G.O.A.T. Diana Taurasi. As the hardest player in the game and the one who played whilst pregnant last year (before a game changing CBA agreement finally gave the great expectations of players like Diggins-Smith her due after watching her work like that) form like the heat of voltron. All for the best legend and superstar one-two punch since the Sparks plugged both pioneer Lisa Leslie AND the prolific Parker.

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AND we haven’t even mentioned that similar Seattle score of the Storm’s Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart still wanting that reign back like the city that wants the Sonics (respect to Shawn Kemp and his old Oskar’s Kitchen bar and grill downtown tuning into this league with his 40 piece handing behind the bar like a retired rafter). The West is going to be even wilder than when Will Smith did that one bad movie (yeah I said it Bad Boys…I loved ‘Gemini Man’).

From rivals to sisters the 35 year old, four time champ brings experience and pedigree to this powerhouse franchise in her Tamika Catchings chapter of what will surely be the swansong of another Hall of Fame career. Inking the last, lasting part of her legacy like the tattoos on her diving for loose balls, put the Spalding down arms as colourful as the magnificent and moving murals that honour the Mamba and Mambacita in her new City of Angels.

Now how’s this for a Hollywood ending in the Kings town? And with love to LeBron we’re talking about King Kobe. But now the sisterhood of the Sparks now has more than three queen’s as these crowns go for the throne in this game.

The 2020 vision of the Sparks is set to be electrifying before these best of the best go for gold in Tokyo, Japan for the Summertime Olympic Games. And even though legend Alana Beard ready for the rafters has retired her gold standard purple reign, the Sparks also have sharpshooting Chelsea Gray and another big name addition in Kristi Toliver to add to their who’s who roster of the elite.

Make that a Famous Five and 6 God, Sixth Woman.

Or how about a Sinister Six to marvel?

Soon the best Basketball team in L.A. won’t be the Lakers OR Clippers.

Clutch Lakerland and Coach Fish has really gone all, “Go Fish”.

In these Star Wars, they are the Sparks that will light the fire that will burn the house down.

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Chicago, All-Star 2020 blows in the Windy City for Kobe

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lebron james throws down two hand dunk 2020 nba all star game
Finding 24 Forever...

Untouchable.

Like Eliot Ness, that’s what Common’s city of Chicago is when it comes to this court. All greatest of all-time thanks to the statue outside the United Center that they have to bring in from the cold when ice gets in it’s cracks like the veins of new Minnesota Timberwolves cold front player, D’Angelo Russell (he should be here. These lost Lakers are just glad Brandon Ingram is). Forming a duo with Karl-Anthony Towns as dynamic as that one of Star Marbury and the uncut gem of Chi-towns own Kevin Garnett heading for the Hall.

And just like the Big Ticket, the Rose that grew from concrete and the way of Wade who was moved to tears, the rapper slash actor, author and Microsoft poet Common (who fittingly won MVP of the Celebrity Game in his city. Even after Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith said “c’mon Common you can’t even dunk donuts in coffee” after giving Dwight Howard’s athletically graceful, camera flash freeze, cheese smile, spin dunk an 8 (Kobe?)) put on for his city like Barack Obama and of course the statue of the G.O.A.T. M.J. with a poetic rap that waxed lyrical on hoops history and it’s nuanced nostalgia.

Shouting out the real King MLK and Kobe before Magic made a moving speech, all players behind him dressed in warm-up white and Jennifer Huston brought the not a dry eye in the arena, house down with her tribute that beat the hardwood like the commercial Dr. Dre one for this California love in Chicago, like the National Anthem of treasure Chaka Khan in a 23 jersey.

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Common also had rhymes for each player introduction for all those who would take to the floor dribbling across the Chicago skyline, as he rocked the mic like fellow Chicagoland legend Chance The Rapper halftime and injured All-Star Dame Lillard, who still got to play this weekend as Dame D.O.L.L.A. The first player to perform on this stage of Basketball’s Grammy’s, bringing out ‘Tha Carter’ himself Lil’ Wayne and a Mamba Forever leather that we all want to cop for this year’s Winter jacket.

From saying “Sixteen-time all-star, three-time NBA champion/ We continue to witness his reign / One of the greatest to play the game/ From the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James”, to “A four-time all-star / He handles the rock like Gibraltar / From the Boston Celtics / Give it up for Kemba Walker”.

But hey, I’ve got one for you all, “like the Beard and the Brow he runs the show/so where the f### is Alex Caruso”.

But to the beat of his own raps and his milk carton brother Kanye, even if every event was set off by the “GO” vocal of guitar hero John Mayer on his Common collaboration with ‘Jesus Is King’ walking God, Mr. West (from the bam, bam Bam Adebayo BAM Skills Challenge bucket win. To the Buddy Hield buzzer beating on the last ball of the last rack, Devin booking, beating and winning the Three-Point Shootout (still one of the best and most underrated events of the weekend)), this night of all the All-Stars was all about the one who should have been in the crowd cheering with his daughter courtside.

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From Superman, Dwight Howard returning and bringing back the red cape out of the phone booth, with 24 on the chest, to Man Of Steel and former Lex Luthor like enemy Shaq filming on that old camcorder again. In one of the best but most controversial dunk contests that saw an all 50 and 7-foot-5 Tacko leaping Aaron Gordon robbed again like when he cleared the mascot (seriously I don’t mean to leap to conclusions, but these guys need to get over jumping over things…literally. Only Leonardo DiCaprio gets over this many people).

This time by the South Beach, bringing the Heat in the Windy City, tornado storm of Derrick Jones Jr. Air Gordon won’t be back (thanks for that judges. Dwayne Wade said in the Skills Challenge his mind can be changed…ain’t that the truth), but let’s hope the backboard ball touching, Woody Harrelson Venice Beach wear honoring Pat Connaughton will be. Because white men can jump too in an epic exciting weekend of Chicago, 2020 that in the Olympic year of Tokyo, 2020 showed all the world’s a Basketball stage like the Rising Stars game (Konichiwa Hachimura).

lebron james throws down two hand dunk 2020 nba all star game
Lebron James throws down two hand dunk during 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago

For the main event of the biggest weekend on the schedule itself Team LeBron all wore number 2 on their blue jerseys for GiGi and Team Giannis 24 forever for Kobe (a bald Khris Middleton even sometimes from the nose bleeds making it look like Mamba was there…which spiritually he was like his mentality), to another LeBron like Kobe dunk running the floor like Bean and the 24 second shot clock that decided the fourth quarter of an entertaining All-Star Game that was more than the legendary lay-up line and was actually a competitive affair.

kawhi leonard 2020 nba all star game mvp
Kawhi Leonard 2020 NBA All-Star Game MVP

That’s just what happens when you win the game on a free throw (157-155, King over Freak) as Laker and hometown Chicago hero Anthony Davis did the honors after filling the stat sheet with the game on the line. But, the All-Star MVP now beautifully renamed the Kobe Bryant award went to another Los Angeles King in Clipper Kawhi and his 30 points. Who dedicated his award to the late legend it’s named after, as fans had their fill of their favourite weekend of the mid-season they love like the hearts of a mid-Feb Valentine.

Just don’t ask him what he had for dinner.

Answer…Team Giannis.

For Team LeBron. For Kobe. For GiGi.

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