Posted on: March 30, 2010 3:35 am
Hey, you guys remember when this season started? I honestly don't, it was many drinks ago. Anyway, there were some lofty expectations for some teams and some fanbases, the preseason contenders, to be specific. I remember not seeing much agreement when I said the Lakers would win about 58 games this year (to be fair, they will probably win 60 or 61, and I did have them as the 2 seed, when they are clearly the 1 seed, but hold this "top team in the West is about a 60 win team" sidethought, it's indicative of my actual point). I was told this was a 64-66 win team easy by those rational Lakers fans out there, and a much better team by the more irrational bunch. Over in Beantown, the expectations were for far more then the 4 seed in the East, this is not the team you thought you had. Boston is lame, there is no need to waste much time tying about how bad they have missed the expectations. Orlando crowed about how swapping Vince for Hedo was the answer and how they could challenge for the Eastern home court. VC showed flashes, but I think it's safe to say that team underachieved.
Everyone thought the Nuggets were a trendy pick to push LA in the West, but the Nuggets have shown themselves to be a team lacking depth and with more holes then last year's playoffs led us to believe. Dumber people, like myself, thought the Spurs had something left in the tank and could challenge for the 1 seed in the West. How wrong myself and others were. Cleveland has had the regular season they were hoping for, but the regular season isn't the problem for the Cavs. Their problem is a couple weeks away. And after this offseason, Cleveland ceases to be a name worth typing on this board.
Teams like Orlando can't be too upset, and Dallas, Utah, Atlanta, and OKC have to be pretty happy with the way this season has gone so far, but those last 4 were loooooongshots to win the title, and for the most part, are still longshots. So if all the preseason contenders are pretty much disappointed with how strong their team has looked this season, except for Cleveland, who likes to jump on the disappointment train after the regular season ends, who really wins this year?
New York? LeBron's next home? I say yes.
Let's face it, if you are a Lakers fan, Celtics fan, Magic fan, or in about a month, a Cleveland fan, even a ring won't convince you that your team was as strong as you thought it was at the start of the year. This isn't just a pure fan thing. I remember Reggie Miller telling me the Lakers would start 20-1. Now they want to end 60-22. Big difference. Even this year's champ won't think they were as good as they thought they were to start the year. And I won't think they were as good as they were to start the year. Except if LA wins. I thought you were almost exactly this good. But I was on an island.
Now when New York gets LeBron and a friend and enters the NBA's elite next year, they are going to do it on a feast or famine team. They got cap room, a couple good young players, stole a couple rotation players dirt cheap from Boston (THANK YOU NATE!), and are going to sign a couple stud players, LeBron + 1. The rest of the team will be replacement level garbage and Eddy Curry until the Knicks get Curry off the books after 2010-2011. I've thought for a while that during LeBron's first year in New York, the Knicks would be like a scary 3 seed in the East. I thought unless Eddy Curry gets flipped into a big time piece, bigger then a Jamison acquisition, New York just won't be complete enough to contend until they dump all the dead weight off the roster and maximize the salary cap. I no longer think this.
But then it hit me, who the heck do a top heavy, relativity young Knicks have to fear in 2010? LA, even if they win the title this year, this isn't the dynasty juggernaut we all thought they were. LA is beatable. And if the Zen Master leaves, maybe more beatable then we are thinking. Cleveland will become nothing after this offseason. Orlando, a young team that seemed to just be VC away from being a perennial contender, hasn't shown me anything I won't hesitate to take my chances against with LeBron and friend next year. I woudln't have said this about next year at the start of this season. Atlanta is going to lose the #1 option this offseaon. Dallas will stick around, but can Kidd be this valuable with another year on those tires? Can Utah survive without Boozer? Can Denver actually contend? Should I even bother to mention 2010-2011 Boston?
I'm liking New York's ability to compete next season for the NBA Title more and more as time goes on. If the best team from this season that keeps their roster in tact is a 60 ro so win LA team that could lose it's coach, then 2010-2011 New York is a lot closer to a ring then even I thought. I don't expect any of the fans of contenders to agree that NY can become just as good as you guys in one offseason. But no matter how you shake it, all the preseason contenders have been disappointments to various degrees this year. They are all weaker then we thought. Blame injuries or poor luck or coasting to the postseason all you want. It's not like injuries, bad luck, or coasting to the postseason was just invented this year. I'll run the best player in the NBA, teamed up with the best teammate he's ever played with, in a system that is catered to his skillsets, and even with Eddy Curry wasting away on the bench, with second rounders at the end of the rotation, and no chemistry to start the year, I'll put next year's New York against anyone. After all, the defending champion isn't exactly going to be a historically great team. Not by any stretch.
NBA will be WIDE open next year. Who's to prevent NY from seizing the opportunity faster then I thought?