First thoughts on the NBA season
- By: The Professor
- On: 11/28/2011 7:07:00 AM
- View Comments : 43
This weekend, when I heard that the NBA powers that be had decided to stop playing chicken with the game I love and finally give us a season starting on Christmas, I had the same sentiment. In fact, if you'd have had a video camera up in the Smokey Mountains where I was when the news broke, there's a good chance you would have actually SEEN me break dancing...which at my current age and level of physical fitness, really wouldn't have been a good visual. But I digress.
The point is, in less than a month the NBA season will tip off. Which means that we need to start getting ready for our NBA fantasy drafts. Of course, this season is unique in NBA history because we're coming off this extended Lockout, the league is going to try to squeeze 66 games into only four months, and neither free agency nor training camp have even begun yet. This, as you might imagine, makes predictions for this season HARD. There have been a lot of questions about whether the unique conditions favor veterans or youngsters more, and here are some of my thoughts as we go into this...
1) We got to see something similar to this 12 years ago, when an NBA lockout caused a truncated 50-game season that began after the New Year. In that season the MVP was 35-year old Karl Malone, who had always been known as an off-season workout warrior. The 6th Man of the Year AND Most Improved Player was a 30-year old journeyman, Darrel Armstrong, who was known for his strong work ethic. And the NBA Championship was won in dominant fashion by a veteran-laden Spurs team that, though led by young Tim Duncan, also received the last outstanding season of David Robinson's career and meshed into a juggernaut that they were never able to replicate in future seasons.
The point: veteran, hard-working, workout warrior types are primed to get out of the box quickly because they are already in great game shape and know how to play the game. Younger players or younger teams may not have gone quite as hard in the offseason, or may be trying to break new players into new situations. As such, they may start the season a step slower.
2) This season will be a bit different than 1999, though, because it will be even longer. A 66-game season, as opposed to the 50 games they played in 1999, could be just long enough for the veterans to start wearing down due to the break-neck pace this season will be played under. Veterans already don't like playing back-to-back games, and the rumor is that this season each team will play up to three back-to-back-to-BACK game blocks. I could definitely envision some veteran squads like the Celtics or Spurs sitting some of their old guys down in the middle game of such a series, or at the very least giving them a lot more breaks.
The point: while vets may get out the box stronger, by the time your fantasy playoffs come around the younger, in-their-prime players may be the safer bets.
3) Just a thought, but I expect Kobe Bryant to try his best to do something ridiculous this year. He's coming off of a season where some are starting to whisper that he's old, he knows he got a reprieve in the public battle between he and LeBron James because of how the Heat folded to the Mavs in the Finals, but I wouldn't think Kobe wants to rely on that happening again. Kobe is reaching the age of possibly only having one top-level season still left in him, he's coming off of an extended rest with the Lakers bowing out early and a season not beginning until the end of December, and if he has one more legendary season he knows the "Kobe vs Jordan" debate will once again heat up. I like him as a first rounder a lot more this season than I did a year ago.