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Stampler's NBA Preview Spectacular, Part I: The (L)East



Hi, how ya doin', long time, yadda yadda yadda.

I'm sick of my day job so I want to write about basketball for a change. Here's how it'll go. Tonight is the preview of the Eastern crap teams. Tomorrow (maybe) will be the Western crap teams. Monday or Tuesday will be the good (relatively speaking) Eastern teams. Wednesday will be the good Western teams, without going too long on the Spurs because everyone else has covered everything.

Okay? Okay. Enjoy.

9. New York Knicks

PG          Raymond Felton               Toney Douglas 

SG          Kelenna Azubuike           Roger Mason Jr.     Andy Rautins                    

SF           Danilo Gallinari  Wilson Chandler               Bill Walker           Landry Fields     

PF           Amare Stoudemire        Anthony Randolph                                         

C             Ronny Turiaf      Timofey Mozgov              Eddy Curry

At least one New York team can play.

harlem globetrotters higlights (via robbelli)

The Knicks are a perfect team to start off your little Stampler preview extravaganza, because the Knicks are just frickin' weird, man.

First, they traded for three guys in Azubuike, Turiaf and Randolph from the Golden State Warriors. Yes, the Warriors. Because when you want to bring in players with a winning attitude, the first franchise you want to plunder is the Warriors. Of course. What, were the Clippers too cheap to pay their phone bill that month?

The thing is, I actually like two of those guys. I'd be happy if either Turiaf or Azubuike were Spurs. I wanted us to get Azubuike two years ago, if you'll remember. I think he's got all the tools, he just needs proper coaching, which he definitely would've gotten here, and definitely won't in New York. Turiaf can't help you much on offense, but there's something to be said for a guy who gives his all to protect the rim. You gotta respect that. Pop would adore that guy.

Randolph on the other hand has more talent in his pinky than Turiaf, but he's dumber than my boxer shorts. Put him, STAT and Eddy Curry on the same team and that's three guys combined, who might be able to crack quadruple digits on an SAT. You know that SNL sketch that made fun of that Insane Clown Posse song "Miracle?" Well these guys wouldn't get the joke.

"Defending the Paint? How does that work?"

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Roger Mason Jr. A guy who's got a head on his shoulders, but isn't much better at basketball than you or I. Well, me anyway.

I actually like most of the roster. Felton's pretty good, right? Gallinari has some game. Mozgov showed some skills at the World Championships. My on again/off again Knicks friend Roh swears by Toney Douglas, so he can't be completely awful. There are enough pieces here to contend for a playoff spot because let's face it, nabbing a playoff spot in the East is like getting a New Yorker to cuss at you. It doesn't require much effort.

On top of all that, they're trying really hard to get Carmelo Anthony, which definitely would propel them to the playoffs, as long as they don't gut the roster. Oh who am I kidding? There is no roster to gut. Gallinari and Randolph could be gone tomorrow and no one would care.

As far as the Spurs are concerned, the guy we're scouting is Wilson Chandler, a defensive (by Knicks standards) small forward we're rumored to be interested in.

Those things never come true though, so never mind.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. Amar'e will miss Steve Nash by December and will start openly begging for Chris Paul. Since he plays for the Knicks, David Stern won't fine him for tampering.

2. No, Tony Parker isn't getting traded to the Knicks. They want a passing point guard.

3. I will watch zero Knicks games not involving the Spurs.

10. Washington Wizards

PG          John Wall             Kirk Hinrich        

SG          Gilbert Arenas   Nick Young                         

SF           Josh Howard      Al Thornton                       

PF           Andray Blatche Yi Jianlian             Trevor Booker   Kevin Seraphin                                 

C             JaVale McGee   Hilton Armstrong

Hey Gilbert, here's how you fake an injury...

Ohh, my arm. It's broken. (via ThePitMaster1)

I feel like even as a number one overall pick, John Wall has kinda slipped through the cracks a bit at DC. I mean, Donovan McNabb was traded to the Redskins so they're a bit rejuvenated, they had a summer of Stephen Strasburg throwing like 193 mph before his arm fell off, and they've still got the best hockey player in Alex Ovechkin. Plus, I'm told various political things are happening there.

Then again, I don't really pay much attention to things outside of my private little bubble. My life is like that Edie Brickell song: I'm not aware of too many things but I know what I know if you know what I mean. Maybe I'm way off base and "Chocolate City" has been fully swept up in Wallmania.

I for one would advise people to hold off a bit. I don't believe this kid will be a once-in-a-generation type player like Duncan or Shaq or even Allen Iverson. If he was, he wouldn't have let Kentucky go down so meekly in the tournament. I wasn't impressed by him much at all. I think he'll be a good pro, but better than Chris Paul or Deron Williams? I'm dubious. Can he even shoot? He better be able to shoot, because I know he can't pass as well as Paul or guard people like Rondo.

Don't tell me we're going gaga over some guy who dribbles fast and makes layups. There's more to him than that, right?

The rest of Les Wizerables roster reads like a who's who of draft busts and coach killers. Al Thornton? Yi Jianlian? Gilbert "Ron Artest Isn't Half As Crazy As Me" Arenas? The Big Bug? Kirk Hinrich must be thinking what he ever did to get sentenced to this sanatorium (pssst, your career shooting percentage is .415). Andray Blatche? JaVale McGee? I know they're not the same person, yet I feel that they are.

Can the Wiz make the playoffs? Oh, I suppose it's possible. I just think it's likelier that Arenas will torpedo them with his "quirkiness" which in normal people-speak translates to "narcissistic jackass-ness." They'll probably try to trade him in February, right?

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. Why yes, they will try to trade Arenas.

2. Flip Saunders will be heavily medicated by December.

3. Wall will not win Rookie of the Year.

11. Indiana Pacers

PG          Darren Collison                 T.J. Ford               A.J. Price             

SG          Mike Dunleavy                  Brandon Rush    Dahntay Jones  Lance Stephenson                          

SF           Danny Granger                 James Posey      Paul George                      

PF           Josh McRoberts                  Tyler Hansbrough            Magnum Rolle                  

C             Roy Hibbert                        Jeff Foster          Solomon Jones

Parks & Rec - Legend of the Mustache (via NBC)

Now that pretty much all the good white wide receivers on the Colts have gotten themselves hurt, the only thing left for Indiana to be proud of is Parks & Recreation, a show that isn't technically shot in Indiana, but takes place in it, which is good enough. Even though it's one of the few shows on NBC that's decent, not enough people watch it so instead they put on some racist show called Outsourced about Indian telemarketers.

Parks is better than decent. It's hilarious. If it was a basketball player, it'd be like Brandon Roy. Maybe not a Hall of Famer, but a perennial All-Star you can count on if you don't happen to have a Ginobili on your roster. When it comes back on air do yourselves a favor and watch it, you boobs.

I liked the Collison pickup for them. Definite upgrade. And Granger can score all day. But outside of that these guys are lucky Toronto is in the league, otherwise they'd be the worst defensive squad in the East. I mean, Dunleavy at shooting guard? Really? I'll be pretty disappointed if the Spurs don't score at least 115 on them on opening night.

Of course we very well might need to score that many to win, but that's a whole other story.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. Danny Granger will want to take his talents to a beach. Any beach.

2. Larry Bird will still be unfortunate to look at with HD.

3. During a road trip at Denver, Tyler Hansborough will get a chance to meet Tim Tebow and their combined purity will cure all disease, end all wars, and feed all the starving people of the world. 

12. New Jersey Nets

PG          Devin Harris        Jordan Farmar   Ben Uzoh                           

SG          Terrence Williams     Anthony Morrow                            

SF           Travis Outlaw     Stephen Graham             Quinton Ross     Damion James                  

PF           Troy Murphy      Derrick Favors   Kris Humphries                

C             Brook Lopez       Joe Smith            Johan Petro        Brian Zoubek

DirecTV Russian Guy Funny Commercial ("Opulence, I Has It") (via watchRadAds)

 

Do I think this character was based on Mikhail Prokhorov? Hell yeah I do. We moved last week, and it gave me the opportunity to switch from Dish Network to DirecTV. I did it because Dish Network no longer carries FX and also because the NBA League Pass won't be available on it this year, because of some bullshit problems between them and Fox.

The DirecTV people lured me with an enticing offer of the NFL Sunday Ticket (so I can record my beloved Eagles while I'm working on Sundays) and said I would have all the sports packages for the first five months, including the League Pass, for like $60, so "I jump in it."

So far I've been bitterly disappointed. Their DVR is far cruder than Dish Network's. Not only does it have SIGNIFICANTLY less memory, but it's just clunky and confusing to use. I can't ever figure out what it's recording and what it isn't.

Last Thursday I tried to record the Giants-Phillies playoff game at 5:00, the Spurs-Rockets preseason game, at 5:30, and the NBC comedies from 8:00-9:30. I got the Giants game and The Office at 9. The Spurs game, that was listed on the League Pass HD channel never showed up, meaning I have yet to watch them play this year. The 8:00-9:00 NBC comedies also never recorded. The DVR never explained why.

I have no idea if I actually have League Pass or not, and I probably won't know until Tuesday or Wednesday. Neat. All I'll be doing next Wednesday is recording Game 1 of the World Series (GIANTS WHOOOOOOO!), the Spurs opener, and Modern Family. How can anything go wrong? I might be having an angry phone call with those people Thursday morning, so that should be fun.

As for Prokhorov, it doesn't look like he was able to sign any significant free agents, unless you count Travis Outlaw and Jordan Farmar. (NOTE: You would be a fool to count those.) I do not know who Terrence Williams is, nor do I feel that I should. Derrick Favors might amount to something in a few years, but that doesn't help them any now. Troy Murphy usually plays well against the Spurs, which in the greater scheme of things doesn't matter.

I am rather fond of Brook Lopez though, so I will place the Nets above three even more dilapidated teams than they, based almost entirely on my expectations of him. Better luck to Prokhorov next year. I'm sure the 2011 free agent class will be just as star-studded as 2010's was, right?

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. It will take about ten minutes of Farmar on the floor to make Nets fans appreciate Devin Harris in ways they never dreamed they would before.

2. Prokhorov will use his worldly influence to get Lopez more All-Star votes than Dwight Howard.

3. You will never, ever, EVER, catch me calling them the New Jersey Nyets. How lame.

13. Detroit Pistons

PG          Rodney Stuckey                                  Will Bynum                         Terrico White                    

SG          Richard Hamilton                              Ben Gordon                       Tracy McGrady                 

SF           Tayshaun Prince                               Austin Daye                DaJuan Summers                            

PF           Jonas Jerebko                                   Charlie Villanueva   Greg Monroe    Chris Wilcox       

C             Ben Wallace                                       Jason Maxiell

 

Hey remember this? That was fun. I like that ESPN's highlight package makes it look like Manu was taking a dump for the first three quarters.

2005 NBA Finals Game 7 Highlights and Analysis (via juncan)

It's probably not a good sign for the Pistons that their best player is Jerebko, right? But I like that they're following the Spurs model of putting their second best player on the bench. That's just adorable. And look at that, Tracy McGrady is hanging around on the third team. At this point he's just getting passed around from one crappy squad to another like a bong at a frat party.

The only compliment I can give the Pistons is that I think their second unit is every bit as good as their first unit, but perhaps that's not as flattering as it sounded in my head. These guys desperately need to do something to get the fans attention, because by all accounts they might be playing in front of about 600 people this season. I'm thinking Dennis Rodman: Player/Coach. 

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. Joe Dumars will not win Executive of the Year.

2. They will boo Manu Ginobili.

3. Neither Kid Rock nor Eminem will be in the stands at any of their games this year.

 

14. Toronto Raptors

PG          Jose Calderon                    Jarrett Jack         Marcus Banks                   

SG          DeMar DeRozan               Leandro Barbosa                                             

SF           Linas Kleiza                       Sonny Weems                                  

PF           Amir Johnson                    Reggie Evans      Ed Davis               Julian Wright      Joey Dorsey

C             Andrea Bargnani              David Andersen

Scott Pilgrim vs the World Trailer 2 (via somedia)

I saw Scott Pilgrim over the summer and it was shot in Toronto, so there you go.

I went to Comic-Con in San Diego a while back, where they had the premiere of the movie. I was with a friend of mine but we were separated and I wanted to see the flick but she wasn't into it, so after it was over, I was rushing to get out of there as fast as possible. It was a free screening and all the actors of the movie were going to be on stage after, so about a million people were in this huge theater. I snuck out this side balcony right when the credits rolled.

I enter this room, and immediately I recognize Chris Evans, one of the actors in the movie who had a small role (he was also the flame guy from Fantastic Four). He's hugging some girl, so I think he's there to surprise some fan or something.

But then I recognize the girl he's hugging. It's Mae Whitman, who's also in the movie, and also played "Ann-Egg" in Arrested Development (and the president's daughter in Independence Day when she was a youngin').

Then I recognize Keiren Culkin. Macaulay's brother. He was also in the movie.

And then more and more skinny, tiny people are joining the group. They're all laughing and hugging and giving each other high fives. 

I realize I've somehow walked into a room with all the actors from the movie. Holy shit.

Jason Schwartzman (he had a mustache) shook my hand. I didn't say anything.

I found myself face-to-face, like two inches away from Michael Cera. HE IS AN ALIEN.

Seriously, this is the weirdest looking person I've ever met in my life, and I'm a huge Cera fan. He's like a bug. He's has no torso he's so narrow. It's like a thorax. His head is super skinny, but he has a wide mouth, so it covers his entire face. He was very tan, but had super short light brown hair, which was an odd combination to say the least.

He stared at me and I started at him. We were sizing each other up, like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm when he's trying to tell if someone is lying to him or not. I think he had the sense that I don't belong there, but neither of us said anything. I followed the group down some stairs, into some dark, tiny room. A security guard was there, but again, he didn't say anything to me. Maybe he thought I was one of the actors' older brother or something. I think each person there just assumed I was with someone else.

I realized they were about to be called out to the stage, so I asked the guard where the exit was and he showed me and I left. I'm not sure Michael Cera has eaten a sandwich since he was 15.

About the Raptors... I know I'm not the most knowledgeable NBA person out there, but I have no idea who Amir Johnson is. What I do know is that even if he and DeRozan were the defensive equals of Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars during the "Bad Boys" days, this team will still BLOOOOW defensively with Calderon, Bargnani and Kleiza in the starting lineup. It's like an Eastern version of the Warriors, minus about a thousand tattoos.

And I'm positive all three of those guys speak English more fluently than Monta Ellis.

Are they gonna miss Chris Bosh? A little, I guess, but I'm with Simmons. The guy is comically overrated. He's like the basketball version of Carl Crawford, a free agent that the Yankees and Red Sox will kill each other bidding for just because he happens to be out there. One of them is gonna give him $20 mil a year when he's worth maybe half that.

What is Bosh really? A rich man's LaMarcus Aldridge and nothing more. He doesn't play defense and he's not going to score when it matters. During the same Olympics where he was nuzzling up to LeBron and Wade, Spain's bigs were flossing their teeth with him.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. ESPN will not make as much of a fuss over Bosh's first game in Toronto as they will James' first game back in Cleveland.

2. About 32 different guys will get their career highs in points, rebounds or assists against them this year. DeJuan Blair might get all three.

3. Their TV ratings will be worse than the Maple Leafs'.

15. Cleveland Cavaliers

PG          Mo Williams                       Ramon Sessions                                              

SG          Anthony Parker                   Daniel Gibson                   Christian Eyenga  Manny Harris    

SF           Jamario Moon                   Joey Graham                     Jawad Williams                 

PF           J.J. Hickson                       Antawn Jamison               Leon Powe   Samardo Samuels           

C             Anderson Varejao           Ryan Hollins

So, this happened.

 

Raw Video: Cavs Fans React to LeBron's Decision (via AssociatedPress)

I love all these facepalm, disappointed reactions. "Oh no, LeBron's gone. Now who's going to lead us to repeated playoff chokes year after year?"

Get over it people. The guy is a punk and a loser. Always has been, always will be. My greatest only skill in life is being able to tell if a guy is an asshole within 30 seconds of meeting him, reading about him, or seeing him interviewed on TV. This skill only works on men, as I'm pretty much clueless about women. Anyway, my asshole-meter chimed loudly at "King James" before he even entered the league. This whole time I've been patiently waiting for the world to catch up to the fact the guy is a huge douche.

Same thing about Mike Vick. I was on to him YEARS before the dog fighting stuff. Ask anyone.

Anyway, you know you've had a bad off-season when this is your highlight. Personally, I thought it was awesome, because I'm a fan of anything that makes LeBron look bad (must be why I love Adrian Wojnarowski so much), but even little ol' me, with my complete lack of business sense, understood that this was a terrible way to ingratiate yourself to prospective free agents.

Then again, what free agents would ever sign in Cleveland now anyway? In retrospect, it's remarkable Gilbert was so restrained. I'd have peppered that letter with about 48 F-bombs, confirmed the rumors about James' mother and Delonte West (even if it wasn't true, I'd have said it was anyway), and gone into copious detail about every single douchebag thing LeBron did the past seven years, from the demands he made for his flunkies, to the way he treated his coaches, faking that elbow injury, all of it.

Was Gilbert's letter immature? You bet. But how mature would you be if you realized you just lost half your worth in one fell swoop? I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Cavs were contracted within five years.

As for the 2010-2011 team, obviously in a perfect world karmically, these guys would nab the eighth spot in the East, and upset Miami in the first round. Of course in a perfect world I'd be too busy wading my through the Playboy Mansion like General Sherman through Atlanta to be writing this.

I guess the roster is the 15 schmoes who weren't bright enough to figure out a way to be traded or released or who were so crappy that nobody else wanted them. I can't believe even with LeBron gone that Antawn Jamison won't crack the starting lineup according to ESPN. That can't be right, can it? Either way, I don't see how these guys can average more than 74 points a game. It's gonna be a tough year for the Cavs.

Three Fearless Predictions:

1. Gilbert mysteriously gives the security people the night off when the Heat visit the Cavs.

 2. LeBron misses the game with a phantom injury and doesn't even make the trip.

 3. They win as many Finals games in 2011 as they did the previous seven years.

P.S. I wanted to write the Cavs preview in Comic Sans, but the stupid SB Nation interface won't let me.

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