Massive NBA Preview: Central and Pacific Divisions

This is the first part of the Massive NBA Preview in Pictures: two divisions per week, ten teams every Friday until the season starts at the end of this month. What teams will be good, what teams will do badly, and what hotties you should keep an eye out for: this preview answers all your questions. The divisions are chosen mostly by which teams I have enough pictures for by Friday. This week: the Central division, featuring the Pistons, Bulls, and Cavaliers, and the Pacific division, featuring the Suns, Lakers and Warriors.

Welcome to Cleveland. King Jesus plays here.

Welcome to Cleveland. King Jesus plays here.

CENTRAL

Detroit Pistons:

2007-2008 record: 59-23

Rodney Stuckey, second-year point guard.

Rodney Stuckey, second-year point guard. Mmm, Stuckey.

The Pistons threaten to succeed every season. With the Best Starting Five In The League, they’re a lock for the Eastern Conference Finals every year – or they were. With the advent of the new Celtics, and as the balance of talent between the conferences shifts back towards even, the Pistons’ hegemony has waned. However, that starting five of Sheed, Tayshaun, Chauncey, Rip, and Maxiell have been steadily augmented by what’s now one of the best young benches in the league, and the Pistons don’t look to fade over time.

Needed moar Arron Afflalo? Heres moar Afflalo.

Needed moar Afflalo? Here's moar Afflalo. He and Stuckey will continue to pick up backcourt minutes as the season goes on.

Amir has been freed, and is actually starting at the beginning of the season.

Amir has been freed, and is actually starting for Maxiell at the beginning of the season. Here's hoping for the Pistons' sake that he eats babies at a similar clip.

Dont count out Tayshaun and the other starters, though. See, he knows.

Don't count out Tayshaun and the other starters, though. See, he knows.

And, of course, Sheeds still Sheed. His tongue, let him show you it.

And, of course, Sheed's still Sheed. A lolSheed, in fact. His tongue, let him show you it.

Cleveland Cavaliers:

2007-2008 record: 45-37

Daniel Boobie Gibson, a personal favorite of mine.

Daniel "Boobie" Gibson, a personal favorite of mine.

Last I checked, LeBron James was good to go for this season. Therefore, you can pencil the Cavaliers in for at least 41 wins. The question after that depends on what moves the Cavs have made to back up LeBron – and, unfortunately, that’s not much. On the good side, though, they did get him Mo Williams, who averaged seventeen points for the epic-faily Bucks last season, and Ben Wallace and Wally Szcerbiak have yet to play a full season for the team. Plus: Boobie. As long as they don’t push him out of position, as happened sometimes last season, he should be very valuable to the team. And cute. Did I mention cute? Anyway, however, the Cavs still have a very weak offense, and it’s an open-ended question as to whether that will improve.

scoring. Er. That came out wrong.

That's what LeBron's new friend Mo Williams is for: scoring. Er. That came out wrong.

Everything still depends on Bron, though. LeBron knows it, Boobie knows it - Anderson Varejao really knows it.

Everything still depends on Bron, though. LeBron knows it, Boobie knows it - Anderson Varejao really knows it.

Chicago Bulls:

2007-2008 record: 33-49

Derrick Rose Derrick Rose Derrick Rose.

Derrick Rose Derrick Rose Derrick Rose.

The Bulls will be better this season for one reason: they can’t be worse. Well, they can, of course – witness the Knicks, Heat, or Bucks – but I just don’t think they will. For one thing, there’s the young gentleman above. Derrick Rose is young, and the learning curve for point guards in the NBA is steep. But the Bulls are a young team, and with his skill, combined with the increased experience of young players like Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah and young veterans like Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, and Kirk Hinrich, they’ll be better. …Right?

Well, the Bulls still don’t have a good center. And Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, conventional wisdom speaking, can’t score, and neither can any of their other bigs. Luol Deng does his best, but Ben Gordon’s still a prima donna and Kirk Hinrich still has limited skills, and Nocioni is still hot and cold. Can Derrick Rose and a summer to heal a season of humiliation get the team to a higher place? Well, damn, here’s hoping.

See, Joakim plays defense! Thats good, right?

See, Joakim plays defense! That's good, right?

or, as my friend always says when we watch the Bulls, Luol DAAAAAAANG!

Luol Deng: or, as my friend always says when we watch the Bulls, Luol DAAAAAAANG!

And Chicago will always wonder what could have been.

And Chicago will always wonder what could have been.

Indiana Pacers:

2007-2008 record: 36-46

Danny Granger, the best player (and cutest) of the Pacers.

Danny Granger, the best player (and cutest) of the Pacers.

The Pacers were…not good last year. Not horrible, really, sitting in ninth place at the end of the season, just not good. They didn’t have any trouble scoring last year – 104 per game – and they won’t this year, not after adding TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and a raft of rookies and second year players. Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert owned the NCAA, and Jarrett Jack will be a marked improvement over Flip Murray – expect the Pacers to seriously contend for a playoff berth this season.

Brandon Rush is a very good player - whether or not hell adjust quickly to the NBA is less clear.

Brandon Rush is a very good player - whether or not he'll adjust quickly to the NBA is less clear.

The Pacers, unfortunately, have a serious dearth of cute on their team. I mean, Dunleavy the Younger? This is what I have to work with, people.

The Pacers, unfortunately, have a serious dearth of cute on their team. I mean, Dunleavy the Younger? This is what I have to work with, people.

Theres still Danny Granger, though. Mmm, Danny Granger.

There's still Danny Granger, though. With him taking leadership of the team, and getting some considerable help, the Pacers should succeed beyond everyone's expectations...or just suck.

Milwaukee Bucks:

2007-2008 record: 26-56

your Milwaukee Bucks.

Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, and Richard Jefferson: your Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks are bad. The Bucks are going to stay bad. True, Yi Jianlian was doing nothing for them, and they did get rid of him – but, it was in return for the Nets’ Richard Jefferson. They traded some dead weight for what may be slightly more productive dead weight. They drafted Joe Alexander and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, both of whom have great potential but limited proven ability; they traded away Mo Williams, one of their best scorers; got Scott Skiles, who is made out of douchebaggery, for a coach; and, again, got Richard Jefferson. All of their slightly good moves were offset by slightly bad ones. They may not be in the absolute cellar by the end of the season, but they’ll definitely be chilling at least halfway down the stairs.

Joe Alexander hasnt been playing his whole life, had a mixed college career and did amazingly well in the pre-draft workouts. Also, hes seriously cute, but I dont think that matters to the Bucks.

Joe Alexander hasn't been playing his whole life, had a mixed college career and did amazingly well in the pre-draft workouts. All in all, his value as a player is questionable. Also, he's seriously cute, but I don't think that matters to the Bucks.

PACIFIC

Los Angeles Lakers

2007-2008 record: 57-25

remember the Lakers humiliation at the Celtics hands last season.

A bone for all the haters: Kobe's humiliation at the Celtics' hands last season.

The Lakers. They’re good. They’re going to stay good. They’d have to do something pretty dramatic at this point to be bad. So, lets just move on to the pictures, shall we? Here’s what happened this summer:

Sasha Vujacic got fat.

Sasha Vujacic got fat.

Pau stayed creepy.

Pau stayed creepy.

Sasha got fat and Pau stayed creepy.

Sasha got fat and Pau stayed creepy.

Jordan Farmar stayed awesome. He held basketball camps for Israeli and Palestinian children in Israel, and here, Farmar (whose parents are Israeli) is visiting Palestinian patients in a Gaza hospital.

Jordan Farmar stayed awesome. He held basketball camps for Israeli and Palestinian children in Israel, and here, Farmar (whose parents are Israeli) is visiting Palestinian patients in a Gaza hospital.

This wasnt last summer, but this picture is all that is man, so I couldnt pass it up.

This wasn't last summer, but this picture is all that is man, so I couldn't pass it up.

Phoenix Suns

2007-2007 record: 55-27

Mmm, Boris Diaw.

Mmm, Boris Diaw.

The Suns are a tragedy every year. I don’t think this season will be any different. They got rid of the excellent, but whiny, Shawn Marion, trading him for the good, but fat and slow, Shaquille O’Neal. They ran off run-and-gun coach Mike D’Antoni, exchanging him for defense-minded Terry Porter. Granted, that was exactly what the Suns desperately needed – defense – but the Suns have irrevocably changed, and they’re no longer the top-five-team lock that they once were. Add to that the impending creakiness of Steve Nash’s bones and the lack of a proven back-up point guard, and I don’t dare to hope. But enough of that gloominess; the Suns are still contenders, and will be as long as they’ve got Steve Nash lacing up for them. They’ve still got a lot on their side.

Theyve got Raja, whos always ready to get up in someones face.

They've got Raja Bell, who's always ready to get up in someone's face.

Theyve got Steve. This picture could not be more Canadian if it tried.

They've got Steve. This picture could not be more Canadian if it tried.

Theyve got the lesser Lopez, Robin, who may end up being a very good player and valuable rebounder and defender for the Suns.

They've got the lesser but more stylish Lopez, Robin, who may end up being a very good player and valuable rebounder and defender for the Suns.

Ive got to congratulate the photographers here for making a pair of seven foot tall basketball players look like Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Man, those shorts are brutal.

I've got to congratulate the photographers here for making a pair of seven foot tall basketball players look like Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Man, those uniforms are brutal.

Los Angeles Clippers

2007-2008 record: 23-59

Baron Davis. I think hes handsome. Dont judge me.

Baron Davis. I think he's handsome. Don't judge me.

The good news is, the Clippers got Baron Davis. The bad news is, they lost Elton Brand. With only one potential All-Star in Davis, Marcus Camby, and a passable crop of supporting players, can they fight their way out of the cellar? The answer, unfortunately, is probably not. The Pacific division, and the West in general, is very top-heavy. The Clips could see a fifteen-game improvement in the win-loss column and still miss the playoffs. But, hey. At least Baron will be back in his hometown of LA, right?

They got Marcus Camby. Hes good, and this means the Nuggets will fade into the sunset - but does it mean the Clippers will be good?

They got Marcus Camby. He's good, and his trade to LA means the Nuggets will fade into the sunset - but does it mean the Clippers will be good?

Barons the new spokesman for Jenny Craig. Looks like its been working.

Baron's the new spokesman for Jenny Craig. Looks like it's been working.

Sacramento Kings:

2007-2008 record: 38-44

Spencer Hawes has a dunk. Not great skill, or popular political views - but, hey, its not like he has sneakers to sell anyway.

Spencer Hawes has a dunk. Not great skill, or popular political views - but, hey, it's not like he has sneakers to sell anyway.

Ah, the Kings. With point guard Mike Bibby gone, and having spent the last two seasons at the bottom of the West, their fate this season is uncertain. They’ve still got speedy mini-K-Mart, Kevin Martin, who I have a major crush on. And they’ve got great depth at center, with Shawes, Brad Miller, and new kid Jason Thompson. They’ve got Beno Udrih at point, where he did well last year, and Bobby Jackson, who’s always quietly good. Now, does all this name-dropping mean the Kings will be good? Er, no. They won’t be at the bottom any more, though, I think. Sactown was never a place for stars anyway.

Rookie Jason Thompson has been doing well in the preseason, as LaMarcus Aldridge can attest.

Rookie Jason Thompson has been doing well in the preseason, as LaMarcus Aldridge can attest.

twinkish, adorable, and very, very skilled.

Shooter Kevin Martin: twinkish, adorable, and very, very skilled.

Golden State Warriors

2007-2007 record: 48-34

Stephen Jackson and Kelenna Azubuike, one of whom is crazy and one of whom is crazy-hot.

Stephen Jackson and Kelenna Azubuike, one of whom is crazy and one of whom is crazy-hot.

If the Suns consistently underachieve, the Warriors brought our hopes up briefly only to disappoint. That brief, golden window of We Believe is shut now with Baron Davis gone, and it’s never coming back. The W’s didn’t particularly replace him, and their other star guard, Monta Ellis, is out for months with a moped-induced injury. The Warriors have always been strange, but with both of Stephen Jackson’s co-captains (Davis and Matt Barnes) gone, it’s questionable whether they can stay sane enough to play basketball. They’ve got a good young core of Ellis and Andris Biedrins, both of whom have been signed to long deals – but they can’t win on their own, and even with Stephen Jackson and rising young player Kelenna Azubuike, they probably won’t. However, they’ll still probably be fun to watch.

Ive always found Andris Biedrins strangely attractive. Maybe its the hair.

I've always found Andris Biedrins strangely attractive. Maybe it's the hair.

Matt Barnes, who is gone, CJ Watson, who is a passable but young backup point guard, and Azubuike, who, again, is incredibly attractive.

Matt Barnes, who I love but is gone, CJ Watson, who is a passable but young backup point guard, and Azubuike, who, again, is incredibly attractive.

As if the Warriors needed more passion or craziness, they traded for Ronny Turiaf. Hell add rebounding, hopefully, but mostly Id like to see him and Action Jackson out on the town.

As if the Warriors needed more passion, craziness, or silly faces, they traded for Ronny Turiaf. He'll add rebounding, hopefully, but mostly I'd like to see him and Jackson out on the town.

That’s it for this week, readers. Next week, we’ll have the Southwest division (Chris Paul! The Texas teams!) and the Atlantic division (the Celtics, the Sixers, the Raptors!) Have a good weekend!

6 thoughts on “Massive NBA Preview: Central and Pacific Divisions

  1. Pingback: news about hair loss » Blog Archive » Massive NBA Preview: Central and Pacific Divisions

  2. I feel personally invested in Kelenna Azubuike’s career because he came from my hometown and the entire time he was in high school we had to hear about how great he was. So it’s kind of nice that all that fuss ended up being justified.

    Also, I’m going to start using “made out of douchebaggery” in everyday conversation.

  3. The Warriors are stealing Clippers as payback for them stealing Baron Davis. First match Azubuikeā€™s offer, signing Corey Maggette, and now recently signing away Dan Dickau.

  4. I am still not sure why the Bucks are paying Bogut outlandish money… did I miss something over the last four seasons, you know the game where he played like a starter for 48 minutes????????

    PS: I thought I was the only one who got the appeal of the hottest man from Latvia!

  5. I’m a KU fan and saw Rush play quite a bit. Very smooth player, but had games where he was not as aggressive as he could have been. He is also one of those who can quietly put up big numbers (for some reason it would seem like he did not do much and then you would look at the stats and he would have had almost 20 points).

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