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DBB on 3: Around the NBA

As we sneak up on the regular season we have one last chance to sneak in some non-Pistons topics.

NBA basketball is back. Even with janky feeds of the Detroit Pistons preseason games -where the audio was 5-10 seconds behind the video - it is a joy to watch real live NBA hoops again.

Bearing in mind that this site will rightfully be flooded with Pistons news in the coming days and weeks there’s still time to talk about a few topics about the NBA at large dealing with a couple of big trades and their possible impacts and one looking for darkhorse candidates in each league.

1. Do you think the addition of Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder makes them a legit team in the West that could challenge the Warriors?

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I think most people are being a little too quick to write Carmelo off and say he can't be helpful to winning basketball, especially as a third banana like he's so often excelled in the Olympics. I don't think he pushes the Thunder over the edge against the Warriors, but they're in better shape than they were before the trade. Maybe they'd have a 25% chance or so in a series against the Warriors? Not insignificant. He'll really be the only weak link they have defensively and he can work on and off the ball with or without the other two stars. If he's willing to play the 4 it's be a nice fit.

Justin Lambregtse: The addition of Carmelo Anthony makes the Thunder better, but I don't think it makes them contenders to beat the Warriors. They haven't all played together yet and Carmelo Anthony isn't that good anymore.

Benjamin Gulker: Not even close. Melo is old, often injured, and ball dominant. Westbrook and Melo together? Melo has never deferred, never committed to defense, and never improved his shot selection. Pretenders.

Kevin Sawyer: No. I think they got worse on paper. Melo wasn't all that great to begin with, but he is just an inefficient chucker at this stage of his career.

Jordan Bellant: It depends on what Carmelo they get in OKC. If it's Olympics/Team USA Melo, then there's a chance he makes them a West Conference Finals contender. It's all about his attitude and how Donovan works the offense around Russ and Melo. A starting five of Russ, Roberson, PG, Melo and Adams could have some exciting moments, but I don't know if it clicks in one season.

Steve Hinson: Hell no. Carmelo Anthony is a below average basketball player. Folks say he's an elite scorer. Ok. How can you be an elite scorer with a 53% true shooting percentage when the league average is 55.2%? And he does nothing else. They turned Paul George into a sit-down-in-the-corner three-and-D guy and ensured he's not re-signing. And when Russell Westbrook loses yet another elite partner, does he finally walk? This trade was an absolute disaster for the Thunder. And that's in a basketball sense, even before going into the thought that all three of them have been through quite a lot in their careers to this point which may have them on a hair-trigger. I had them as a 51 team before this deal, with Westbrook and George surrounded by a bunch of specialists. With a deluded "superstar" added to the mix, I'm dropping them to 41. That's how horrible of a move I think this was for them.

Funny thing with it though, both teams lost the trade. Second time we've seen that this season, with the Timberwolves-Bulls deal also being so. That's kind of awesome.

David Fernandez: OKC will be top 4 in the absolutely-ridiculous-makes-me-thankful-the-Pistons-are-not-in-the Western Conference. And if you're top 4 in the West, you're about as legit as they come. Golden State is still the heavy favorites to take home the title, but if GSW is hobbled or not at full strength, OKC has the firepower to take them out.

Ryan Pravato: No. They still lack a Draymond Green type player. Not many of those in the league, so I guess they're stuck. Will be fun seeing Carmelo playing some 'power forward' and perhaps taking a backseat like Olympic Melo. Fun team on paper (if you talk yourself into it) but not much more than a 45-47 win team. Things don't fit.

2. Will Kyrie Irving rise to the challenge he set for himself and become the leader of a new title contender in Boston?

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Kind of. I think Boston will generally be viewed as a title contender, and he'll be viewed as their leader because he's super famous and he'll average the most points and have the highest usage rate on the team. If he can hero ball them to an upset of the Cavs, sure, but I think chances are more likely that he can't.

Justin Lambregtse: I think he will be the leader because he is the best player on the team, but until LeBron retires the Celtics will not be a title contender.

Benjamin Gulker: Being the leading scorer doesn’t mean a player is automatically a leader. After the drama leaving Cleveland, I’m not sure how I’d feel about looking to him as a leader were I his teammate.

Kevin Sawyer: I think he will lead the team in shot attempts, which is his brand of leadership. I do not think Boston will meaningfully contend this season.

Jordan Bellant: Sure. Boston remains a power in the East and I can see them slipping into the Finals. I don't see them winning a title in the near future, but a "contender," sure.

Steve Hinson: Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder are two of the toughest, most over-achieving players in the league. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward aren't. Both are very talented, but they're not tough. That was the Celtics' identity. No, I don't think Irving will rise to the challenge and lead the Celts to be a new title contender. I think they took a step backwards from last year. The Cavs are even more firmly the favorites and the Celtics might want to check their rearview for the Wizards.

David Fernandez: Will Kyrie become a more well-rounded leader? Sure, that wouldn't surprise me. Will Boston become an actual contender? Not as currently constructed, but they're in a good spot to add to the roster, possibly making them contenders down the road.

Ryan Pravato: Kyrie has got it in him. But he'll need to change his game/approach a bit (see: a lot). He's not a dumb guy. He'll get it. And wait a few years until Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or someone else is a big time player. Boston isn't Finals caliber yet; Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes are two of their top nine players currently.

3. Who are your dark horse candidates for success in the East and the West?

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Denver is a good choice in the West - they had the #1 offense with Jokic out there and added Millsap as a totally perfect fit that's probably a little overshadowed by the moves OKC, HOU and MIN made. In the East, I'll say Miami. By no means do I expect them to play as well as they did in the second half last year, but they did go 30-11 and are a better roster on paper this year, so they should probably be getting more credit as a potential 3 seed.

Justin Lambregtse: My dark horse candidate for the East is the Pistons. My dark horse candidate for the West is the Denver Nuggets.

Benjamin Gulker: Charlotte in the East. They underachieved last season and improved their roster over the summer.

Is it fair to call the Spurs a dark horse? Houston and Golden State will get all the attention, but Pop and Kawhi are still Pop and Kawhi.

Kevin Sawyer: In the East, the Cavs are basically a lock, but I think the Raptors could wind up number 2 by virtue of standing pat. They led the Eastern Conference in point differential last season, so a repeat 50 win season is hardly out of the question.

Jordan Bellant: I think Utah could win 45-50 games this year. After losing Hayward, I think that makes them a dark horse for success. I still like the pieces and think they're a good defensive team that can play positionless and provide a tough matchup.

In the East, give me Brooklyn. I think Orlando, Chicago, Indiana, Atlanta and maybe New York are worse and they also WANT to be worse. The Nets frontcourt isn't much to look at, but I'll take the team with nothing to lose that's filled with players that have something to prove. Oh, and a really good coach.

Steve Hinson: For the East, I'm going to vote John Hammond: the Bucks and Magic. I think both will win 10 more games than they did last year. Someone has to win in the East and having Giannis makes doing that much more likely. And the Magic haven't made sense for years thanks to Rob Hennigan, but they finally do. In the West, I think the Nuggets are the fourth best team - and if the Spurs roster ever plays to it's ability rather than Popovich's magic, the third best team.

David Fernandez: Not to be too homer-ish, but my dark horse in the East would be Detroit. I ran a Twitter poll and of the near 200 voters, 47% voted that the Pistons would be on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Expectations are low for the boys in blue. In the West, give me NOLA. Not sure how it'll work, but give me one full season of Boogie x Brow.

Ryan Pravato: EAST: Pacers - because why not.

WEST: Utah - though it depends very much on the kind of day I'm having when I get asked about the Jazz, or when I ask myself (more likely) about the Jazz. Good day: I tend to lean that they will compete for a playoff spot the entire season -- good defense, good coach, and some young hungry guards looking to prove themselves and break out. Bad day: They will have a hard time scoring / keeping up in the deep and offensively gifted West. Really bad day: They'll stink and so will Dante Exum (I want him so much to be good). But... being a Jazz fan is still much better than being a Pistons fan right now (even on good days I don't see the Pistons this season winning more than they lose).


What are your thoughts? WIll we see Olympics Melo, hoodie Melo or past-his-prime ball-stopping Melo? WIll Kyrie rise to the challenge or will his rosy glow fade when the Celtics struggle? Who are your darkhorse candidates?

Please copy/paste the topics and give us your thoughts in the comment section below:

1. Do you think the addition of Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder makes them a legit team in the West that could challenge the Warriors?

2. Will Kyrie Irving rise to the challenge he set for himself and become the leader of a new title contender in Boston?

3. Who are your dark horse candidates for success in the East and the West?