(15) The 'New' Season Begins


This is what we're all after now...

Okay, we have finally separated the wheat from the chaff and the NBA regular season has drawn to a close.
Teams who did not stand a chance can spend the next 8 weeks thinking about what they will do in the NBA draft, and 2 following that making moves for the free agency boom that will see LeBron keeping his ass in Cleveland.
[Phlip note - I been saying it for 2 years now, and I will eat the proverbial crow if it doesn't happen]
We can now speak of the things that one should at the end of a season, awards and playoffs and such.

**Post Season Awards**
I was wrong about Rookie of the Year, but I was not expecting The Clippers to be so unlucky as to have the kid Blake Griffin go down without playing a single game.
As it were, and as a watcher of basketball, DeJuan Blair SHOULD win it, but Tyreke Evans or Brandon Jennings will win it, I am thinking Evans personally.

Defensive player of the year is a no-brainer.
Dwight Howard leads the league in blocks and rebounds, he will win it again hands down. No further lining needed, since no one defends on the ball anymore.

6th man of the year?
Jamal Crawford... Sure, the dude gets starters minutes off the bench, but that suggests his ability to hold down the second unit and doing so at a high level of work, what with his output and all on a team that still has Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.
He deserves it and no one more.

Coach of the year?
This one was tough...
Part of me wanted to give it to Kiki Vandeweghe of the New Jersey Nets, as it seems that it would take special effort to fail that hard, but we can't do that.
Part of me wants to give it to Larry Brown, for taking the Charlotte Bobcats from being a joke to a legitimate playoff team.
Part of me wants to give it to Scott Brooks, for the immediate turnaround of Oklahoma City into not only a playoff team, but an out-of-nowhere contender. The contributions of Kevin Durant alone aren't the way.
No part of me wants to THINK about giving it to Mike Brown, but we know that is who the league office wants to give it to.
At the end of it, I am thinking Larry Brown or Scott Brooks, I would not be angry at eigher of them getting it.

League MVP?
LeBron James, as he and Kevin Durant will trade them for the next 10 years, barring any lasting injury to either.



And with that out of the way, let's talk about the second season, now...

Coming into and now exiting the season, I was a Lakers fan, as I have been coming into and through every season of my life as it matters to sport. I remained such through the entirety, even when they played down to competition as they often do.
What they did, though, was lay a bit of ruin on my thoughts of a realistic chance of repeating as champions. No change in the HOPES for such, but I'm nothing if not realistic and honest. That goes not even to mention having played the last quarter of the season as if it really didn't matter, as if momentum into the playoffs is not important. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst, they say, and that is precisely what I conceded to over the course of a couple of losing streaks back in February/March and some REALLY ugly April play.
At the outset of these playoffs, I hate to admit that this appears to be LeBron's year, for which he will get a deserved second MVP. Hell, mathematically, last year was supposed to be as well, but immaturity and a lack of a presence when it mattered most was the problem. Now that we're in the playoffs, we COULD see him return to old ways and I would not say I would be surprised by such, but again I am not expecting it, not this time, not with this much on the line...
Not that his continued life in Cleveland has even been a subject to question in my opinion, but one must think that for the sake of Mike Brown, it'd be sage advice to not go and get out-fucking-coached in the playoffs again, lest Cleveland will begin the 2010-2011 season with an even wealthier LeBron still intact, but a new coach as well.
[Phlip note - I nominate Jeff Van Gundy, the battles between Lebron/D-Howard with the added element of the Van Gundy brothers would be epic]

That being said, part of me hopes for one more failure on the shoulders of LeBron, owing more to my dislike of Mike Brown's coaching style than my distaste for LeBron in general. Brown needed to have bid his time on a shitty team like any other coach worth the primetime, lest he becomes a lazy coach who plays a "do as the biggest star on the team does" approach, which costs his team dearly in the playoffs, where the winners roam. Times like this, good decision making and GREAT coaching is key. Mike Brown is not a great coach, he was a decent assistant under a DAMNED great coach, Gregg Popovich, but he is not a great coach. Great coaching creates good decision making, which is where Mike Brown lost to Ron Jeremy Stan Van Gundy last year, and could again this.
Such a failure would also make for easier precipitation of an LA Lakers repeat. All worry aside, the Lakers are known to turn their shit on in the playoffs, excepting having just out-fucking-played by the Celtics 2 years ago. In the western conference, the Mavericks as previously presented are choke artists -- having gone down to Miami in the finals what feels like forever ago, and taking only until now to appear to have gotten back up but still not having fully shown it -- made moves but still aren't ready for the prime. They have some new elements, but those elements were also gleaned from losing environments, and putting career losers in a new environment doesn't necessarily create winners.

My only real worry as a Lakers fan is in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. I know what can and has happened in the regular season this year and would love for them to choke in the Eastern Conference Finals again and never have to meet them.
Problem, here, is that I just don't see anyone strong enough over the course of a 7-game series THAT good this year. Sure, there is LUCK in Charlotte and Atlanta over the course of the regular season, but that usually does nothing to help in the playoffs. Boston has their number, and Orlando showed us what they could pull off last year, which they COULD -- but likely won't -- repeat this year. Boston could be a problem for them as well, naturally... That will make for the possibility of some good basketball out east, but in the end, we're pretty sure of how this will go. Lakers lose to Cleveland in the finals, and people will send me messages on FaceBook like I didn't already call it a mile out front, or as if I will be anything more than disappointed and a little bothered that they blew the season.

Either way, basketball will be back upon us this coming Saturday, here goes!
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