Surprise! Roger Goodell upholds own ruling on Pryor suspension

Do you remember when football used to be a contact sport?  I do.  It was what made the game great.  Now, however, thanks to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s quickly turning into a video game with passing yards piling up in ways that make every defensive player sick to their stomach.  Defense was once the most important aspect of the game.  Under Goodell, however, it’s little more than a necessary evil that needs to be constantly restrained for fear that the high-priced offensive talent might actually get banged up.  Um, Roger, in case you didn’t know, that’s what the game’s all about.  If you’re gonna drop back to pass, you’re gonna get smacked down.  Risk/reward, you know?  Or it used to be, anyway.  The new defenseless player rules are quickly making for an entirely defenseless league.

He also recently upheld Terrelle Pryor’s suspension for NCAA violations.  Just consider that for a moment. He suspended a guy for violations he has exactly zero jurisdiction over, and the violations themselves aren’t even against NFL rules.  There also just might be a conflict of interest in allowing the guy who issued the thoroughly unjustified suspension to rule on the appeal, as well.  But, hey, apparently integrity only matters when Goodell says so.  This might have been something the players should have addressed in the recent CBA battle, if they weren’t too busy caving in to the owners’ ludicrous claims of poverty.

Read full article on Killer Crossover Sports

Published in: on October 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brady Quinn? Really?

I was only too ready to stand up and tell anyone who would listen after last year’s NFL Draft that I thought former Florida QB Tim Tebow would be a bust.  Well, I’m still not convinced that he will pan out, but he has shown me enough over the past year that I now believe he at least deserves a fair shot.

Denver apparently disagrees, however, dropping Tebow behind genuine, unquestioned bust and total waste of roster space Brady Quinn.  There is even talk that Tebow will be released by the Broncos.  I may not like the guy, but he’s really getting the shaft here.

Read full article on Killer Crossover

Published in: on August 26, 2011 at 1:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Absolute Power: With Terrelle Pryor ruling, Roger Goodell proves he’s been corrupted absolutely

Just when you thought NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell couldn’t do anything to look like more of a deuchebag than he already has, here comes the Terrelle Pryor decision.  Pryor, the disgraced former Ohio State quarterback, petitioned the league for entry into the supplemental draft.  What should have been a simple yes or no decision has turned into an ugly, invented punishment for a guy not even in his league yet.

Goodell inexplicably ruled that Pryor could enter the supplemental draft but he’d be suspended for five games.  Not coincidentally, that’s a suspension exactly the length of one he agreed to at OSU before things took a massive turn for the worse with the NCAA earlier this year.  Goodell somehow has decreed that he has the authority to enforce NCAA sanctions, even when the rules violated aren’t even prohibited activities in the NFL.

It’s an egregious over-stepping of authority by Goodell, and a blatant give away as a favor to the NFL’s de facto minor league, the NCAA.

Read full article on Killer Crossover

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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NBA Draft 2011 Winners and Losers

In brighter NBA news, just before the lockout, the league held its annual draft.  The NFL draft gets all the buzz, but I’ve always liked the NBA version better.  In the NFL, so many players are hyped so much but so few of them actually pan out or are ever heard from again.  The NBA’s model is much more concise  (2 rounds as opposed to 7) and players have an increasing likelihood of affecting their team’s immediate fortunes.

This year’s draft was, admittedly, anti-climactic coming off of a fantastic playoff run and directly before a work stoppage that could mean we don’t see any of these guys on an NBA court until sometime in 2012, if we’re lucky.  Even still, I enjoyed it and spent a little time breaking down who I thought the winners and losers were.  I can only hope I get to find out whether I was right or wrong sometime soon.

Read my NBA Draft 2011 Losers on Bleacher Report

Read my NBA Draft 2011 Winners on Bleacher Report

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lockout Woes: An Entire NBA Season in Jeopardy

Over the past few months, sports fans everywhere have been subjected to endless labor struggles and shutdowns of our favorite leagues.  The NFL battle, while being somewhat inexplicable to me given the heaping gobs of cash that league is rolling in, has at least come to an end and players will be back on the field soon enough.  The NBA, however, is an entirely different matter.

Over time, my mood and opinion on the NBA issues has shifted a bit.  Initially, I backed the owners as a cursory look at the state of the league seemed to indicate that some significant structural changes needed to be made in the owners benefit.

Read my original take on the NBA’s then upcoming lockout on Bleacher Report

However, once the season ended with a thrilling championship win by the Dallas Mavericks over the much-despised Miami Heat, I’ve had more time to look a little more deeply into the issues at hand.  While I still believe that a deal has to be struck more to the owners benefit, what the league is seeking isn’t reasonable concessions but total destruction of both the player’s union and their ability to be fairly compensated.  Commissioner David Stern’s hardline stance has totally turned me off, as well, and their effort now looks a lot more like a giant screw job of the players rather than a fair deal where everyone benefits.  

Read my updated point of view on the NBA lockout on Bleacher Report

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, but it’s looking more and more like the owners are more than willing to throw away an entire season in order to break the players, you know, the folks that actually generate all that revenue in the first place.   Stupidity knows no bounds, apparently, even among billionaires.

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Extra, Extra! Clever headlines suffering from technology’s limits

As I’ve mentioned, I’m humoring the kid in me who always wanted to be a sportswriter with this website called Bleacher Report.  Well, yesterday, after hearing that Randy Moss was traded by the Patriots, I wrote up an opinion piece stating the Pats coach Bill Belichick was basically bagging this year to get on with the future.  To cap it off, I gave it the headine “No Moss Growing Under Bill Belichick’s Feet”. 

(If you don’t know football, then you probably have no idea who I’m talking about.  But bear with me, I have a point in here that has nothing  to do with sports.)

I was proud of my modest little headline.  It mentioned two of the principles by name in Moss and Belichick, and it was a both a play on Moss’ name and a metaphor for the direction New England was taking as a team.  About as perfect as you can get for a throw-away opinion piece on a sports blogger website.  If I do say so myself, it was also one of the most, if not the most, clever headline I saw on any of the Moss articles.  Bleacher Report has an editor process for each submission.  When I went later to look at my article, I noticed that the editor had slapped a three-word preface on my clever headline;  “Randy Moss Trade:”. 

Now let me say, I understand completely why this was done; three other little words- search engine optimization.  But I still couldn’t help feel that this slight addition for visibility’s sake somehow lessened the original.  Moss’ name, in particular, being mentioned prior to the pun took something away from its impact.  Besides, the article was already tagged every which way, including the phrase “Randy Moss Trade”.  Was it really necessary to sacrifice cleverness and presentation in this, or any other, case?

I say no.  Never once have I penned a headline here for any other reason than to creatively present the piece I had written.  Limiting interesting headlines for search engine optimization is a sacrifice I’m not willing to make, given the choice.  Nor do I think any of us should have to.  Why are we dumbing down the content we produce to accommodate the technology? Instead, we should be making search engines to better catalog and present that content, to suit the standards of the creators.

For an inherently visual and dynamic medium, the internet is still all-too-frequently about long blocks of words.  Certainly, the possibilities for disseminating content are amazing and nearly without limit, but we are giving up some creativity and presentation value in the bargain.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, it shouldn’t be that way at all.

Put Me In, Coach! My Personal Sportswriter Fantasy

Over the course of the past year since I started blogging here, I would periodically mix some articles on sports into my stream of conciousness.  Well, now I’ve decided to try my hand at it a little more regularly.

To that end, I’ve done a couple of things that will help.  First, I created an entirely separate site just for sports related material.  It’s called Killer Crossover, named in honor of my all-time favorite NBA player, Tim Hardaway, most famous for his years with Golden State and Miami.  But the site won’t be just basketball, it will literally cross over from sport to sport as the mood strikes me.  Right now, for instance, there’s my
preview of week 4 in the NFL, a conference by conference look at the upcoming NBA season, and next up is a look at October baseball.

The other thing I’ve done is sign up with a sports syndication website called Bleacher Report.  If you like sports and haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out.  My articles will also appear on the BR site, but in a much fancier fashion.  With that site, I’ll have access to an archive of images to spruce up my copy, and can create photo and video slideshows on topics of my choosing.  It doesn’t pay (what does these days?) but that’s not really the immediate point.  What I do get is a much larger audience and resources of potential material.  Plus, I get to fake being a sportswriter.  It’s awesome!

I’ll be setting up some rss feeds, and cross  links between this site, the new site, Bleacher Report, Facbook, and likely various other places in the next few days.  But until then, you can check out Killer Crossover by clicking here, and Bleacher Report here.  Stay tuned for more.

Post Week One NFL Power Rankings- NFC Edition

Yesterday, I went through the superior AFC.  Now it’s on to the NFC.

16.  St. Louis Rams-  Sam Bradford looks like he might be the real deal, but he’s still a potentially injury prone rookie.  And this could be the year Stephen Jackson finally wears down from being the only game in town.  Losing at home to a hollowed out Arizona team is the beginning of another bad season.

15.  Detroit Lions-  Even without Matthew Stafford, the Lions were an absurd NFL catch rule away from beating the Bears in Chicago.  Still, with Stafford possibly missing half the season, Detroit may see a promising year go up in smoke.

14.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers-  The Bucs held on to beat Cleveland in Tampa last week, which is nice and all, but the Browns are awful.  Josh Freeman may end up as a first rate QB, but the rest of the roster is woefully thin on talent.

13.  Carolina Panthers-  If it wasn’t for the quarterback position, these guys could be amongst the top NFC teams.  As it is, they are probably good enough to lose a lot of close games.  Getting whipped by the Giants last week with three interceptions from Matt Moore makes the start of this season look a lot like last year.

12.  San Francisco 49ers-  Here they are, the it-team in the NFC.  After getting unmercilously stomped by what to even the best estimations is a pretty generally lousy Seattle team, so much for that division title.  If Alex Smith doesn’t show something soon, all that preseason hype will result in nothing more than a high draft pick on a quarterback.

11.  Arizona Cardinals-  The Derek Anderson era of Cardinals football started off with a tight win on the road against the worst team in the conference in St. Louis. With those two, and the 49ers troubles, the league may need an emergency realignment to prevent a 5-11 division winner.

10.  Chicago Bears-  The Bears held on (unlike Calvin Johnson) to win against the Lions.  Not exactly inspiring.  On the plus side, Jay Cutler racked up tons of yards and threw more touchdowns than interceptions.  Matt Forte is going to have a monster season in Mike Martz’ offense.

9.  Philadelphia Eagles-  Ain’t America great?  Michael Vick is the savior of the Eagles’ season.  Everyone in the City of Brotherly Love is channeling memories of Randall Cunningham after his second half performance against Green Bay.  The Eagles are going to the Superbowl!  Well, maybe they should win a game first. 

8.  Dallas Cowboys-  The Cowboys offense looked putrid in the preseason, and looked just as bad losing to Washington last week.  If things on the line don’t improve, Tony Romo’s season could be shorter than expected.

7.  Seattle Seahawks-  Big, big win over San Francisco.  Still, the quality of whipping put on by Seattle rates this high a spot.  But can they keep it?  Hopefully, for the western division’s sake.

6.  Atlanta Falcons-  Losing a close game in Pittsburgh, even without Big Ben, isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Still, Matt Ryan and Michael Turner better turn it on to avoid a .500 season.

5.  Washington Redskins-  A big early-season division win over the Cowboys kicked off the Mike Shanahan era.  If the defense plays like that, they’ll be in the playoff hunt all season.  And Donovan McNabb will settle in eventually.

4.  Minnesota Vikings-  Brett Favre was rusty, the receiver corps was decimated and the Vikings still almost won in New Orleans.  Make no mistake, this team will be a factor all season.  The only question is can they keep up with Green Bay in the division.

3.  New York Giants-  The Giants beat Carolina in New Jersey thanks to Matt Moore interceptions.  Still, it was a big win and until they prove otherwise, they deserve a high spot in what looks like a fairly weak conference overall.  But remember, they started 5-0 last year and we know how that turned out.

2.  Green Bay Packers-  The Pack was probably the most impressive team in the first week, at least until Michael Vick started channeling his Falcons days.  They went into a hostile environment and gave it to the Eagles.  They did lose Ryan Grant for the season, and that could be a problem, but they’ll wins lots of games.  This is the season we get a Favre against Green Bay playoff game.

1.  New Orleans Saints-  Holding Minnesota to single digits was impressive but for the Vikings issues on that side of the ball.  The offense didn’t produce like it needs to, but Minnesota is no slouch on defense , either.  I still have concerns about the Saints defense, namely their total reliance on turnovers.  Still, they beat one of the best few teams in the league and they are the defending champions.  Until someone beats them, they’re number one.

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm  Comments (2)  
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Post-Week One NFL Power Rankings: AFC Edition

Instead of making preseason NFL predictions this year, I decided to wait until some actual games were played to rank the teams.  That way, actual performance on the field would theoretically be more important than hype.  Two things seems pretty clear so far, the AFC is a much, much deeper conference, and both western divisions could conceivably send under .500 teams to the playoffs.  So, here goes, my first NFL power rankings of the year, AFC version.

16.  Cleveland Browns-  Jake Delhomme looks suspiciously like the turnover machine that lost his job in Carolina last year in their road loss to somewhat-less-putrid Tampa Bay.  Holmgren or no, these guys still suck.

15.  Buffalo Bills-  The passing game is awful, the rushing game is worse and they lost at home.  But at least they were competitive against a pretty good Miami team.  That gets them a nod over Cleveland.

14.  Denver Broncos-  This team, outside of a few players, is just plain bad.  This season will likely be closer to the 2-8 finish to last year than the 6-0 start.  Getting pretty handily beaten by a mediocre Jacksonville team is a bad start.

13.  Oakland Raiders-  This team is precisely why I wanted to avoid preseason hype.  Lots of people were talking playoffs for the Raiders.  Seriously?  They played a genuinely good team in Tennessee and showed why they’re still not ready for prime time by getting beaten worse than anyone other than San Francisco.  Bad week for the Bay area.

12.  Kansas City Chiefs-  Sure they beat the only supposedly good team in either western division in San Diego, but Matt Cassell was the worst QB in the league.  Their running game alone could be enough to win this division, but that is not saying much.

11.  Jacksonville Jaguars-  Yes, they beat Denver pretty easily at home, and David Garrard looked the part of a real quarterback.  But playing in a division with Houston, Indianapolis and Tennessee is going to make for a long season.

10.  San Diego Chargers-   Even though they lost, the Chargers are still better than Kansas City.  However, Ryan Matthews looked like the early-season favorite for bust of the year, and without Vincent Jackson, the passing attack looked pedestrian, even with one of the top QB’s in the league in Phillip Rivers.

9.  Cincinnati Bengals-  Losing to New England in Foxboro is nothing to be ashamed of.  But the big question for Cincinnati is if they are the team that got blown out in the first half or played well in the second half.

8.  New York Jets-  The defense lived up to its billing, holding Baltimore to only 10 points.  Unfortunately, the offense only scored 9.  Losing a close game at home to a Superbowl contender makes the Jets a good team but not a great one.

7.  Indianapolis Colts-  Wow, is their run defense bad.  Peyton Manning went wild through the air, but it wasn’t enough to win in Houston.  It could be an uncharacteristic long season in Indy, having Chris Johnson, Vince Young and Maurice Jones-Drew running the ball in their division.

6.  Miami Dolphins-  Sure, the Fins weren’t spectacular or flashy, by they dominated the Bills on defense and time of possession on the road.  They may only get stronger as the year goes on.

5.  Pittsburgh Steelers-  Every win they can get before Big Ben comes off suspension is gravy for this team.  If the defense holds up as it did against Atlanta,  by season’s end, they will be a real player in the Superbowl hunt.

4.  Tennessee Titans-  Vince Young looks like he may finally have figured things out, Chris Johnson is the best back in the league and they just stomped the Oakland Raiders’ bandwagon out of existence. If the Colts can’t stop the run, Tennessee will eat them for lunch.

3.  Baltimore Ravens-  The defense is already in mid-season form after holding the much-hyped Jets to single digits.  The offense wasn’t exactly brilliant, but it’s bound to get better against defenses that aren’t one of the top two or three in the league.  They have a strong-armed quarterback, quality receivers all over the field, a deep and talented backfield and a first rate defense.  They might be this season’s Saints.

2.  New England Patriots-  They looked absolutely dominant in the first half against Cincinnati, then took their foot off the gas a bit.  If they stay healthy and focused, a run at a playoff bye is a definite possibility.

1.  Houston Texans-  Matt Schaub had a very average game, but the emergence of a monster running game led the way in a victory over the defending AFC champs.  The defense did allow over 400 yards passing and three touchdowns, which is concerning.  But the Colts also happen to have the best passing offense in the league, so it’s understandable.  The offense will get better, and the defense should, too.  Finally, this will be the year the Texans made a play for the top of the AFC.

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 12:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Four Three’s- Lakers Dynasty and Phil’s Quest for Another Three-Peat in 2010-11

The other day, I looked at the NBA’s Eastern Conference and it’s relative lack of depth. Today, it’s the West and it’s over-abundance of good teams. In fact, there are only two teams out of 15 that I couldn’t conceive of any possible chance at making a playoff run. Every other team has either the pieces in place or the potential to get it done. Not that they all will, and there are a couple dominoes left to fall in terms of possible big-names on the trade market, but here is an early look at how I see the West shaping up.

15. New Orleans Hornets- This is a team that, if they keep Chris Paul and the young guys improve, could sneak into the lower area of the playoffs. They did a great job playing without Paul last season. But they have a rookie coach, a rookie GM, and the scuttlebutt is that Paul is fed up and wants out now. Either traded or disgruntled, without a top-flight Paul on the floor, these guys have no chance at the playoffs. I expect a bad trade that nets them very little in return for Paul, the young guys to regress a bit when faced with having to carry the franchise and things to get a whole lot worse in New Orleans before they get better.

14. Golden State Warriors- With Don Nelson still ruling the roost, these guys are going nowhere fast. Monta Ellis may soon find himself elsewhere, David Lee’s production is certain to fall off a bit, and the Warriors are pretty clearly going to be the worst team in the Conference’s worst division this year. Hopefully for them, another bad, directionless season might signal the end of Nellie.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves- This is the other team that has absolutely no possibility of seeing playoff basketball under any scenario. They’ve gone from a team that had little talent to one full of career underachievers, like Darko Milicic, Michael Beasley and Martell Webster. If guys like Kevin Love and Johnny Flynn continue to grow and one of the before-mentioned threesome decides to actually play up the their potential, and if Ricky Rubio come to the NBA next year, and if he is some sort of other-worldly immediate superstar, then they might be able to talk about being a .500 team in 2011-12. But this year, it’s another likely top five lottery pick.

12. Denver Nuggets- Has anyone noticed how old and mediocre this team really is? Without George Karl late last season, they went completely belly-up. If Karl either can’t go or has to step away again this year, these guys are toast. Melo is likely to want out with other high-profile superstars grouping in different places around the league. Billups is another one who could be traded to a contender. Everyone else on the roster is either a role-player or a major injury risk. This team could go south and get that way in a hurry. Still, the 12th spot out West is probably good for at least 40 wins, though.

11. Memphis Grizzlies- I’m just not sold on Memphis. Sure, they had a great first half last year and held it together enough to finish at .500, but really, can we expect Zack Randolph to get through another complete season looking and playing like an actual all-star? Rudy Gay is a solid player who was somewhat overpaid, but that is understandable. O.J. Mayo is 22 and still figuring it out, although he could be a big star in the next couple years. And I love Marc Gasol. An actual physical European center. They have a couple pieces that have solid future potential, but lightning doesn’t strike twice that often. Without another fast start, Memphis regresses a bit from last year. But just a bit.

10. Sacramento Kings- Go big, young man. If DeMarcus Cousins is for real–and in my eyes, all signs point toward yes, he is–then the Kings have a young inside/outside duo potentially better than anyone else in the league sooner than later. They drafted size, traded for size and seem to have a plan. Bang down low, do all of the dirty work and rely on a slashing guard who can do it all. Sounds good to me. They won’t get into the playoffs this year, but in three years time, OKC-Sacramento Western Conference Finals matchups could become a regular occurrence.

9. Portland Trailblazers- The last team out of the playoffs. Realistically, how many years is everyone going to keep saying, “this is the season Portland puts it all together.” Is Brandon Roy healthy and going to stay that way? Is Greg Oden a complete bust and will he ever stay on the floor for enough games for anyone to find out? Will Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum or Jerryd Bayless step up and fulfill predictions of greatness that guys like Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster before them were unable to? Why, again, did they sign Andre Miller, a complete mis-match as a point guard for this team? But the biggest questions of all are, now that GM whiz Kevin Pritchard is gone, who will be the first team to fleece the Blazers on the trade market, and is head coach Nate McMillan next out the door?

8. Los Angeles Clippers- That’s right, the Clippers who did nothing in free agency, are going to make the playoffs. If it hadn’t been for all of the roster upheaval due to free agency and the trade market, L.A.’s other team could well get some of the attention it’s going to deserve for being one of the league’s most improved teams. Plus, they still have all that cap space, and some interesting trade chips with guys like Paul and Melo going to be available sooner than later. Baron Davis has been somewhat on auto-pilot, but with all of the young talent all over the court, he may just wake up. Or he could find himself in the middle of some kind of multi-team trade that ends up bringing a Chris Paul or a Tony Parker to town. Whether or not they add a superstar, these guys, much like OKC last year, could get hot and not know any better, riding it into the last playoff position. How about a Lakers-Clippers 1st round matchup?

7. Utah Jazz- The Jazz look to be a mirror image of themselves, replacing Boozer with a lesser version of him in Al Jefferson, and Kyle Korver with a lesser version of himself in Gordon Hayward. AK47 and Mehmet Okur are another year older into their career downslopes. Deron Williams is a bonafide superstar, and he, along with the fact that even a moderately talented Jerry Sloan team will win lots of regular season games on fundamentals alone, should get them into the playoff tournament. But to me, they look even less suited for playoff success than last year.

6. Houston Rockets- If Yao Ming is back and healthy, the Rockets could climb way up the West standings. When, exactly, has that ever happened? They have some nice, versatile pieces in Luis Scola, Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza, but without a close to 100% Yao, they are a bottom tier playoff team lacking enough inside punch to be a serious threat in the West.

5. San Antonio Spurs- Much has been written about the demise of the Spurs this season, with many people predicting their eventual fall right out of the playoffs. Well, hold on just a minute. They still have Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. They resigned Richard Jefferson. They have up-and-coming talent like DuJuan Blair and George Hill playing big, important minutes. And now, they’ve finally added the elusive 6′ 11″ European star-to-be Tiago Splitter. This is a bigger, better, deeper, more talented team that the one that knocked off The Mavs last year, and could conceivably be a major roadblock to any team with championship aspirations. If not for the injury risk to their big three, they’d be even higher. Plus, if Hill continues on the upswing, free-agent-to-be Parker becomes a great trade chip for filling needs later this season.

4. Phoenix Suns- The Suns are another team being written off by just about everyone after the loss of Amare Stoudemire. Again, not quite so fast. After adding Hedu Turkoglu and Josh Childress to an already deep roster, this team has the ability to score tons of points and create matchup nightmares against just about anyone. Add to that the fact that Goran Dragic has grown to the point that team icon Steve Nash won’t need to play 40 minutes a night, and the Suns most definitely haven’t set out West. By the end of this season, it’s far more likely that Stoudemire will miss Phoenix much more that they will miss him.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder- Usually, when a young team comes out of nowhere to suddenly make noise, I’m a little leery of whether they can back it up the next season. OKC is an exception. Kevin Durant is a legit MVP-caliber superstar, and this team is loaded with young, improving talent all over the court. And, unlike most young teams, they play hard defense with high energy. They are a serious threat to unseating the Lakers. Maybe they won’t get it done this season, but their day is most definitely coming.

2. Los Angeles Lakers- Okay, so I pick them second, that doesn’t mean they won’t come out of the West or win it all when all is said and done. What it means is that I think they’ll be a little complacent at times during the dog-days of the regular season. Plus, like it or not, Bryant, Artest, Bynum, Fisher, Gasol et al, aren’t getting any younger and it only makes sense to hold them back some when your real goal is to hoist the trophy at the end. They’re still the best team in the league. The only question is can they stay healthy and motivated enough to get it done?

1. Dallas Mavericks- Dallas had the best record in the league last season after the trade for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. They’ve added size, strength and athleticism, particularly in the post, and they still have superstar Dirk Nowitzki along with Butler, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, etc, etc. Now, they can possibly score with the faster teams and match up with the stronger teams. I can easily see them getting the best record in the regular season. I can also see them getting beaten in the playoffs. But unlike the past couple years, whoever does beat them is going to earn it.

So if the playoffs were the top 16 teams in the entire league, it’s possible that the West could feature 10-12 of those teams. As it stands, the West will likely again be a conference 1-8 separated by less than five games. And whoever emerges at the end will head into the NBA Finals tested and ready, unlike the winner of the East, who likely will get to coast through a round or two.

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