The NBA Season is upon us. To celebrate the 65th season of NBA action, here are answers to the top 65 questions.
1. How many games with the Pistons win this year?
A: 38. Coach Kuester seems to have figured out where the talent on the team lies, and the offense really opened up in the preseason. The truth is, this team goes about 11 deep with average players. On paper, that should yield an average result,minus a couple of wins for the absence of Jonas Jerebko. Expect fewer injuries and improved three point shooting, but reliably lousy defense.
2. Who will be the Pistons MVP?
A: Ben Wallace. Theoretically, Ben Gordon should run away with this, but I'm going to need to see evidence that last year was an injury induced fluke. Otherwise, what has really changed from last year?
3. Who will be the Pistons' leading scorer?
A: This is interesting. If Stuckey takes the lead, it will probably indicate his time as a starter is up, which leaves Ben Gordon. Otherwise, it's probably Gordon anyway.
4. Will any Pistons make the all-star game?
5. Come on. Humor me?
A: Actually, Wallace might have a shot at the Joe Dumars memorial "lifetime achievement injury replacement" roster spot. Otherwise, if the Pistons are above .500 and BG is averaging 19 ppg, I could see that happening.
6. Will Austin Daye work at the 4?
A: Sort of. The Pistons weren't going to get a lot of defense at that position anyway, and Daye has the most breakout potential. He'll be poorly matched on defense, but should create mismatches on offense. This is the best way to get the best players on the court.
7. Will Detroit make a major mid-season trade?
A: No. The price for a talented big is going to be expiring + young talent + draft pick. If the Pistons have a high enough draft pick to offer, they won't be in a position where it makes sense to trade young talent (read: Daye).
8. What about Rip?
A: Not with that contract.
9. Will the Pistons make the playoffs?
A: No. It's tougher to make the playoffs with a win total in the high-30s than sportswriters make it out to be.
10. If the Pistons squeak into the playoffs, will they create matchup problems for the Heat and maybe win a game or two?
11. What about the Celtics.
A: Well, that would certainly be a whole lot better.
12. Will Greg Monroe win the starting job this season?
A: It would take at least a couple injuries, which isn't quite the same as "winning" the starting job. Monroe looks like he is a year away. Expect some flashes of excellence, but a lot of 2-6 shooting nights and fouls.
13. Will Rodney Stuckey turn the corner?
A: Only if he can develop a reliable three-point shot. That's a major gap in his game right now, since it allows teams to pack the lane against him. Stuckey will get about half of a season to turn his game around before the Pistons start looking for other options at the point.
14. Who will win the championship?
A: Miami. Duh.
15. Okay, smart ass, who has the best chance of unseating Miami?
A: The Magic can certainly do it, since an unchecked Dwight Howard is the best player in the league. They also have some room to improve their roster via trades.
16. Who makes it out of the Western Conference?
A: The Lakers. I am not drinking the OKC Kool-aid at all here. Westbrook isn't going to have another series like he had against the Lakers last year.
17. Whose going to be a surprise contender?
A: The Jazz. That's a pretty boring answer to a question with the word "surprise" in it, but I think people are writing them off for no reason.
18. What about the Eastern Conference?
A: I like what Milwaukee has done with their roster. I could see them getting to 50 wins and sneaking into the finals, if they get a bit of luck with the seeding.
19. Andrew Bogut in the house!
A: That wasn't a question.
20. Who is going to surprise everyone by making the playoffs in the West?
A: The Rockets. If the 24 mpg plan for Yao works, they've got a very competitive squad.
21. Who gets replaced?
A: The Suns are looking pretty terrible. They are old, with a shallow bench and a weak inside presence.
22. What about the Eastern Conference?
A: I'm in the minority here, but I think the Knicks could rack up 43-44 wins. This will be a test of whether D'Antoni's coaching is really all that impressive.
23. Who drops out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
24. Can Chicago make it out of the East?
A: No. Boozer was the only major addition to a .500 club, and he's injured. I'm on the record re: Derrick Rose and his not-Durantness.
25. How about Orlando's 21 straight pre-season wins? That's got to provide some confidence.
A: About as meaningful as Boise State's victories in college football. Fun to talk about, but irrelevant to the championship.
26. Most overrated team in the East?
A: Chicago. See above.
27. Most overrated team in the West?
A: OKC. At a certain point, Durant can only get so much better. He's going to need another piece on offense before we can start calling his team a contender.
28. How many games does Miami win?
A: 64. The preseason injuries are going to make them awfully timid about putting pedal to the metal in hopes of going 73-9.
29. How many games does Minnesota win?
A: Not very many.
30. What happened to Portland?
A: Oden's injury and a string of panic moves (remember they tried to sign Hedo Turkoglu). They fired the one guy who would be able to right the ship.
31. Most improved team?
A: The Nets. They haven't gotten better on the top end, but they are replacing some pretty awful players with picks and free agent signings.
32. Most diminished team?
A: The Cavs.
33. Most lateral team?
A: The Spurs. Tiago Splitter takes a bit of heat off Duncan. Same old, same old.
34. Who will win MVP?
A: Kobe. Pau Gasol is going to lead the Lakers do another gaudy win total, in a Western Conference that is its weakest in years. Naturally, voters will reward him by handing the award to his more famous teammate.
35. Not Durant?
A: A couple of problems. First, I don't think the Thunder are going to come within 6-7 games of the Lakers in the standings. Second, I think there will be a feeling that Kobe deserves one more before he starts to decline. Remember, the MVP vote has scant basis in reality, otherwise LeBron would be the odds on favorite.
36. Who will win Rookie of the Year?
A: John Wall. Griffin will almost certainly have the better season, but there are enough scorers to limit him to 13-14 ppg. Wall will have the green light to shoot at will.
A: Dwight Howard has a hammer-lock on this thing until he gets hurt.
38. Sixth man?
A: I like Manu for a comeback season, here. With more and more teams experimenting with their bench, though, this has become something of a crap shoot.
39. Most improved player?
A: Does anyone care about this award?
40. I'll ask the questions.
A: Fine. If Gilbert Arenas can find a new home, I think he's got the stuff to take it home. See why I don't care about this award?
41. DeMarcus Cousins. Boom or bust?
Boom. He's probably a year away from putting together a really big season, but the Kings are looking great for the future right now.
42. Who will be a surprise all-star in the East?
A: Joakim Noah. Not an earth-shattering surprise, but I think he'll get his due, to the dismay of the 20 ppg crowd.
43. How about the West?
A: Kevin Love. His numbers are going to be pretty hard to ignore, and this is kind of a down year for bigs in the Western Conference.
44. Suprise all-star snub in the West?
A: Steve Nash. The Suns are looking bad, and he falls under 10 apg, his numbers suddenly don't look so dazzling to voters.
45. Surprise all-star snub in the East?
A: Chris Bosh. People are down on him for whatever reason, and if Miami fails to take the world by storm right away, he could be out of the mix.
46. Biggest free agent bust?
A: Boozer. The odds were slim he'd live up to his contract, and losing half a season makes it nearly impossible.
47. Biggest free agent score?
A: LeBron James.
48. You're no fun.
A: Jermaine O'Neal. Think he's got some life left. And I think loading up on bigs is the only plausible way to get back to the championship.
49. That was fun?
A: Allen Iverson is going to light it up in Turkey.
A: You're welcome.
51. What will be the biggest story?
A: The impending lockout. Everyone thinks it is inevitable, everyone thinks it will be devastating, and everyone will be right.
52. What player will make the most news?
A: Arenas. I think he's going to be moved, I think it's going to be weird, and I think people will actually be interested in reading about it. Seriously, what happened to that guy.
53. Which teams will be the center of trade rumors?
A: Denver, certainly. Washington obviously. Houston always. Wouldn't be surprised if Orlando gets involved with any or all three teams.
54. Hottest NBA romance?
A: Besides Baron Davis and the three point shot?
55. I said hottest, not most painful to watch?
A: Oh, is Odom still with that one Kardashian sister?
56. You could Google it.
A: Nope, I'm fine.
57. Are any rules changes forthcoming
A: I think you'll see some futzing with the draft. That's where the NBA can make major challenges with earning the ire of the players union.
58. Is Stern for real about contraction?
A: I don't think so. I think it's his way of getting small-market owners to come to the table. That said, if they call his bluff, or show little interest in finding a way to make their teams work...
59. How will contraction get by the players?
A: I think the NBA could commit to two new teams to replace the two contracted teams once certain benchmarks are met.
60. What teams are on the chopping block?
A: You'd have to think the T-Wolves and the Grizzlies. If you could trade Memphis and Minneapolis for Vegas and Seattle, wouldn't you?
61. Will there be a lockout?
A: Yes. The owners will have to extract major concessions, including a hard cap, to get half way back toward profitability. Some sort of strike is guaranteed, if only for posterity.
62. What story will you be watching?
A: Come on. It's the Heat. This is the most intriguing team the NBA has seen in years.
63. Favorite team to watch besides the Pistons?
A: As long as the Nuggets have Chauncey, that's the team to go with. Otherwise, the Thunder, or the Knicks when they play the Warriors.
64. Most interesting player to watch?
A: Durant. Big expectations. I would be surprised if he regresses to his rookie year form a bit if the going gets tought.
65. Least interesting player to watch?
A: Johan Petro
66. Johan Petro is the answer to your bonus question?
A: LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!