By Quincy Williams
The Bucks didn’t have quite enough to contend with the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern-Conference Finals last year, so they reloaded with Wes Matthews, Robin Lopez and Dragan Bender. Wait, that doesn’t sound like a good plan. Outside of adding Sideshow Rob I don’t like any of their offseason moves; oh and also they lost Malcolm Brogdon who was the best shooter on the team for three years running. The Bucks obviously still have Giannis Antetokounmpo, a decent second banana in Khris Middleton, and sharp shooter extraordinaire Brook Lopez. They also have a decent SF/PF Ersan Ilyasova. Kyle Korver is washed, and George Hill flits back and forth between usefulness. Eric Bledsoe has been a liability in the playoffs for two years in a row. The Bucks would’ve been better off giving Brogdon Bledsoe’s new contract. I think the Bucks will make the playoffs and exit in the divisional round. I don’t think they can compete with the Philadelphia 76’ers, and probably would’ve lost to them in last year’s ECF if not for Kawhi Leonard’s cold-blooded shot at the buzzer.
When I hear people talk about the treadmill of mediocrity the first NBA that comes to mind is the Miami Heat. This is a team that is in great shape, has scrappy, high IQ players and a dearth of talent. This year they tried to ameliorate this fact by adding All-Attitude First-teamer Jimmy Butler. Butler is a great player, definitely, but who’s the next best guy on the team? Goran Dragic? Justise Winslow? These are fine, talented, NBA players don’t get me wrong but no one is going to mistake this team for a contender. I like C Bam Adebayo, and hope Winslow can begin to make threes at a high clip; he’s a bulldog on the defensive end and has a jerky jerky dribble that often ends in contact at the rim. The three-pointer has eluded Winslow so far in his career and has kept him from becoming a true difference-maker. Looking forward to watching former Kentucky G Tyler Herro try to develop into a rotation wing; early returns are he’s going to be a great shooter. Miami will be on the bubble of a playoff appearance, again this year.
Any conversation about the Dallas Mavericks, at this point of their rebuild, begins and nearly ends with Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic. Porzingis is the original unicorn, a 7’4 behemoth who blocks shots and hits step-back threes. When healthy, he’s mobile and a terror on both backboards. He’s a constant mismatch and has a feathery touch. Luka Doncic just came off of one of the most impressive rookie seasons that I can remember in recent years. He’s deadly in transition, quicker than he is fast and shoots from range with comfort. If you’re a casual NBA fan you mostly saw a couple of game-winning shots from him last year; the real story about him is his feel and passing. Doncic and Porzingis fit like a glove, both can shoot and their two man game should be sublime. Seth Curry and Boban Marjanovic are two interesting bench/depth players to watch on this team along with constant irritant J.J. Barea. This team doesn’t have serious playoff intentions and will lose upwards of 40 games, they’ll be fun to watch though.