Some teams are destined for spectacular years. Other for colossal failure. But which teams are we talking about the most? With no further ado—Week 1 of Trending Teams 2013-2014
Captivating the Basketball World
1. The Bulls
More than we want to see Lebron version IX, more than we want to see the Beard and the Man-Child, and even more than we want to see the best team money bought… we want to see if the Bulls + Derrick Rose= NBA Title. Can the tough rugged Bulls team that fought through injury and illness get to the next level? Does it mean anything that Derrick Rose was “mentally not ready” when Nate Robinson was “physically puking” during games? Will Chicago turn to anarchy if a THIRD major injury occurs? Stay tuned folks—D-Rose has returned.
2. The Heat
I am gawking to see Derrick Rose exploding through the lane to the rim. But we at TrendingHoops are salivating to see Lebron attempt a 30-10-10 season. Or win 70 games. Or at least grab his 3rd title and 5th MVP. With expectations like this, what could go wrong? (See Dwayne Wade’s knee, Chris Bosh’s inconsistency, and Ray Allen’s birth certificate). Not looking forward to 82 games of: “Wouldn’t Lebron look good next to Kyrie Irving? Or perhaps an aging Kobe?” Just play the season…
Interesting to Almost Everyone Who Watches the NBA
3. The Nets
What if George Steinbrenner had owned a basketball team? That’s the question Mikhail Prokhorov is answering for us. Of course, he ruined his team’s future for it. No picks, aging stars, over-the-cap. And if history tells us anything, it’s that four future Hall of Famers can’t lose, right? (Looking at you, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal in 2004.) NBA owners fear he’s paying Andrei Kirilenko under the table. So what can the under-achieving Deron Williams, the promising Brook Lopez, the ball-sucking Paul Pierce, and the always growling Kevin Garnett produce this year? A lot of buzz.
4. The Rockets
Ready to watch a lot of free throws? Beard and Man-Child will be racking them up. Harden knows how to rock a defender just right so he can force them into an offense initiated foul. If it was England, some old chap would be crying, “Foul Play!” We, however, are in the NBA. Deal with it. The Beard affect is so huge that no one minds this little detail. People have become Harden fans because of his hair—not necessarily his game (although hitting clutch shots in 2012 certainly helped). People have become Howard haters because of his immature behavior—not necessarily his game (although playing poorly with lingering injuries in L.A. helped to fuel that fire). Man-Child will get fouled for playing in the post and shooting free throws terribly (insert tiresome Wilt Chamberlain reference/comparison/excuse here). If Howard grows up and can throw his muscle around? 55 wins. If not? 47 and an 8 seed.
5. The Clippers
Any team that won 56 games (!!!) and returns with a new coach and two new starters—all improvements—is going to be talked about. If Chris Paul doesn’t make the finals, his legacy is in jeopardy. If Blake Griffin doesn’t add some consistent third tool (besides dunking and rebounding), well Cliff Paul might sell him down the river. What is their realistic expectation? Improvement in the regular season means 60 wins. Improvement in the playoffs means a hard fought West Finals is the least they can do. Will L.A. embrace the Clips after years of Laker love? Let’s hope Doc has a plan.
6. The Thunder
You may be tempted to overlook the Thunder. They are starting without their #2 in Russel Westbrook. They have gotten essentially nothing for James Harden. But—if you remember the Thunder in last years playoffs—Kevin Durant is going to have to be the man. The West is so tight this year that a couple of losses may mean the difference between a #2 seed and a #7 seed. Batman is going to have to carry this team until Robin gets back. If Durant averages 40 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocked shots for a month? I will be glued to the games, and Lebron will have a legit MVP challenger. (Remember, the defense will be weaker than in the playoffs.) The stage is set, the call for a hero has been sent out. Can the Durantula save Oklahoma City?
7. The Lakers
Aww….but they’re terrible. Do we have to talk about them? For those of you who like watching crashes in Nascar races, listen up. Kobe returns from injury to find Pau and Steve (softy and oldie) as his best options. Pissed, he either decides to go for a scoring title (challenging Durant and Carmelo to an epic race) or sulks, whines on Twitter, threatens ownership, and throws a fit until the Lakers sign two bona fide free agents next year. (What do you think will happen?) Either way, we’re going to hear about it. Maybe their secret plan is to fall into the high lottery and improbably get the Andrew Wiggins ping pong ball. Only time will tell.
Storylines Hoops Junkies Will Be Watching
8. The Warriors
Andre Iguodala + Steph Curry’s healthy ankles = another improbable playoff run, this time as a 3 Seed. Bad chemistry + injury prone shooter = The Portland Trail Blazers in the play-offs. We love the addition of A.I., but worry about 2013 being a fluke. Prove us wrong Dubs—please! Ever since Don Nelson, crazy fans, and the reappearance of Baron Davis’ ability to play basketball I have been rooting for Dubs to win a title. It would be like Metallica winning a Nobel Peace Prize—they don’t belong, others probably deserved it, but boy they must have done something pretty amazing to be standing on that stage.
9. The Pistons
Andre Drummond has become a media centrifuge. After dating an I-Carly star, playing WAY above what experts projected, and showing obvious “I’m at least going to be Ben Wallace 2.0” signs…basketball is just waiting for this guy to explode. It would help if his starting point guard wasn’t out for tooth problems (seriously?) and disappointing Stuckey hadn’t shut his thumb in a car door (really? Were you drunk?). However, having two centers and a modern power forward (Josh Smith) attempt to play the 5, 4, and 3 positions will be…intriguing. An established 2 guard that was lights out would help… at least we know the starter there is Stuckey….er Billiups…. I mean Bynum… actually Caldwell-Pope…wait—Kyle Singler, the back-up SF. That means the Pistons average starting position is 3.6…. in a small ball league! Should be fun.
10. The Knicks
Lots of options here, but the Knicks get the spot. New York’s big market appeal means the Knicks are always trending to some degree. And Carmelo is a true star. Metta World Peace should make things unpredictable. Talk Radio will complain more about how “one-dimensional” Melo is. Andrea Bargnani will be a disaster who fills out the stat sheet. Stephen A. Smith will frustrate Skip Bayless. But seriously, how fun will it be to see all media-dom come down on the Knicks when they finish 6th or 7th in the East? Carmelo will squirm. Maybe he’ll make another “Stop Snitchin” video.
The Spurs and Kawhi Leonard.
The Cavs and Uncle Drew.
The Timberwolves and a solid, play-off worthy roster
The Trailblazers and two bona-fide all-stars
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