28 Fortnights Later: A Post-Lockout Tale ‘” Eastern Conference
With NBA owners and players at polar opposites of CBA negotiations, the possibility of a lost 2011/12 season is now frightfully dawning in the back of every basketball junkies mind. As the negotiations to and fro, the only other news to come from the Association is limited to assistant coaching spots being filled. And no disrespect to all those hard working assistant coaches out there, but unless the Lakers decide to appoint Jack Nicholson, Denzel and P. Diddy to their bench as a publicity stunt, we’d much rather be hearing stories from the Vegas Summer League as the players work towards a season which will actually tip off in October. We are only a few weeks into the NBA downtime, but what if we really have to sit out a whole year? How will we, as NBA junkie fans , survive? And what league will be waiting for us in 2012/13? Well, let’s look into our crystal ball and see what the future of the NBA holds for us in the Post-Lockout World.
2012/13 Post Lockout ‘” Eastern Conference
- Miami Heat ‘” After having every team sit out an entire year, the Big Three are as accustomed to each other as every other team in the league. Team harmony is very much a thing of the past in the Post Lockout Era and fourth quarters are generally dominated by the teams with the most one-on-one talent. The Heat wins the East in a landslide.
- Chicago Bulls ‘” Derrick Rose comes in as the last player to win MVP in two years and only John Wall and Kyrie Irving come close to keeping up with him. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer actually play a combined 160 games with their bodies having the benefit of a years rest. They still don’t have a shooting guard, but the league’s talent is so disseminated due to the lockout that Kyle Korver’s jump shot actually lasted better than most other players and the Bulls manage 55 plus wins yet again.
- Atlanta Hawks ‘” Al Horford is a legitimate beast in 2012/13. Joe Johnson is a shell of himself. Josh Smith still plays D, but his prime jumping days have passed us by without us knowing and the crazy block numbers aren’t there anymore. Trading Mike Bibby was the best move the Hawks ever made as that guy must be using a walking frame by now.
- Washington Wizards ‘” Bet you didn’t pick this one. But while you’ll be spending the next 12 months wishing there is an NBA season to watch, John Wall will be developing into the second best point guard in the league. Meanwhile, Nick Young, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee all enter the 2012/13 in their physical primes and the Wizards are the fairytale team in the East.
- Orlando Magic ‘” Dwight actually averages a career high 27 points per game in 2012/13, publicly calling out to his doubters who question his offensive game. The fact that the rest of his team are all past their prime in 2012/13 plays a small role, but more notably (and sadly) is the fact that all other centers in the league spend their 12 months off eating cheeseburgers and French fries and Dwight’s physical advantage over the chubby slow frontlines of the NBA actually makes his 27ppg a relatively unimpressive number.
- New York Knicks ‘” Similarly to Dwight, Amare Stoudemire keeps himself in better shape than most, but we all knew his knees had a limited shelf life and the year off passed by one of his prime years which he will never get back. Carmelo makes the All Let-Yourself-Go team, entering the season at over 275 pounds, but refuses to defer to the fitter Stoudemire late in games. Team chemistry issues haunt the Knicks and point guard Chauncey Billups is too old to rein them in to realise their potential.
- Milwaukee Bucks ‘” It takes Brandon Jennings 12 months of daily shooting, but he actually develops a consistent jump shot and shoots 44% from the field on the season. Andrew Bogut is healthy, albeit slightly chubby from spending the majority of his time-off downing meat pies back in Australia, but his passing game keeps him as an elite big man. Stevie Jax is relatively unimpressive by this point of his career, but a better fit than Corey Maggette or John Salmons ever were. The Bucks actually lose Michael Redd’s phone number during the lockout and he is never heard of in the NBA again.
- Philadelphia 76ers ‘” Andre Iguodala enters the season as the number one man in Philly as everyone remembers, but it turns out that Jrue Holiday kid really can play. Evan Turner by this stage actually plays like a player who was drafted second overall in the 2010 draft. The 76ers big men are a bunch of stiffs, sadly led by Elton Brand who spends most of the 2012/13 season dealing with a myriad of injuries, but they get enough versatile big man play out of Spencer Hawes to take the East’s final play off seed.
- Brooklyn Nets ‘” Deron Williams rivals Carmelo for the biggest body fat increase during the lockout, but doesn’t suffer as great a drop off as his passing gets him by. Brook Lopez actually is a reasonable rebounder amongst the pitiful Post Lockout big men. The rest of the Nets are still relative no names, but they prepare for the 2012/13 season with more vigor than most as Brooklyn Fever sweeps New York.
- Boston Celtics ‘” Sorry Bean Town, someone had to drop drastically in the East and when you keep running senior citizens out there, eventually youth will catch up. Rondo is a weapon but by this stage PP is a shell of his former self and cannot carry a team to the playoffs. Ray Allen and KG both come off contract during the lockout and only one actually comes back to play in the Post Lockout Era — we’ll let you decide which one; either way, the Celtics are toast.
- Indiana Pacers ‘” Darren Collison is still as fast as they come and Danny Granger still has game, but is still not in the Wade and James category of superstar. Roy Hibbert is reminiscent of Oliver Miller from the 90’s Phoenix Suns days. Luckily the Pacers get some inside play out of Tyler Hansbrough and their whole season is not without playoff hopes.
- Cleveland Cavaliers ‘” Point guard quality takes a real hit during the lock out. Teams return with no real team unity and hybrid guards are more the norm, with traditional team play suffering as a result. The Cavs are an exception thanks to Kyrie Irving. The rest of their team on paper really is terrible, but Irving’s ‘rookie’ season actually has him as one of the more stable players in the league as even seasoned pro’s struggle to control the locker room egos in the return to structured basketball.
- Toronto Raptors ‘” As the Cavs still stink on paper, their biggest regret is drafting Tristian Thompson over Jonas Valanciunas in the 2011 draft because they did not want to wait a year for Valanciunas to come off contract in Europe. The lockout makes that decision absolutely laughable as the whole league sits out the year and Valanciunas comes into the league as one of the more tuned big men, having actually played basketball for the past 12 months while American players sit at home.
- Detroit Pistons ‘” Not a lot to say about the Pistons, they just aren’t very good. Greg Monroe is the balls, but no one gets him the ball and he doesn’t have the ‘this is my team now’ attitude to dominant in the Post Lockout Era.
- Charlotte Bobcats ‘” By the time Corey Maggette has a chance to suit up for the Bobcats, he will be 34 years old and with his speed reduced to a leisurely stroll, his days of dominating from the free throw line are a thing of the past. Not only is the Bobcats front line thin on talent, but by 2012/13 they are also old, overweight and just over it, generally.
Following will be the Western Conference but we won’t build the suspense up for you, the Heat will represent the East in the 2012/13 NBA Finals. But who will they face? And will LeBron finally get a ring? We’ll break it down for you in our next article coming soon — .
Article contributed by: www.kingsofhoop.com