Friday, September 29, 2017

NBA Bold Predictions

Trying to consume the endlessness of the NBA is impossible, unless you're a cyborg. Melo's in OKC and Wade went to Cleveland, Sam Presti's a bold GM, while the Cavs got a lot deeper. For those who check in, I'm making some personal predictions that I think are bold, as related to the upcoming NBA season.

In case you're wondering how bold these predictions will be, I'm going with the fourth definition of boldbeyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative. Now that you know where I'm coming from, feel free to use, or abuse, any of these takes. Here goes...

The Clippers will be better without CP3
OK, maybe not in the regular season, if Blake were to miss too many games, but in the playoffs. What does that mean actually? Do they make the conference finals? Probably not. So are they better? I say yes, and definitely in the long term. I wouldn't want to pay an undersized point guard 200+ million dollars when he's in his mid to late thirty's. A breath of fresh air in Clipper land sounds good. No more angry point guard, in his place is Patrick Beverley, a defense-first hustle guy who competes hard. They also brought in Miloš Teodosić, a Serbian wizard with the ball, giving Doc Rivers two quality guards at the point. It'll be interesting to see how much run Griffin gets as a point-forward hybrid once he's on court. Gallinari could be the wing player who creates space that they've always needed, assuming he can stay on the floor. Lou Williams is a better version of Crawford off the bench and scouting the youthful talents of Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell is a worthy experiment as well. Let's see what these new look Clips can do. A Clippers Death Star match up in the first round would be awesome. And, wouldn't it be otherworldly if Lob City flew an X-wing into the reactor core of the Death Star without CP3? You heard it here first...

Two new teams make the playoffs in the west:
The Wolves and the Nuggets appear to be ready. Not bold enough? Holy shit, the Lonzo-led Lakers are making the playoffs, his dad's a prophet, transforming the LeBron whispers into sound barrier breaking screams. Just kidding. I think the Blazers, Clippers and Jazz will fight for the final two playoff spots. Unless my bold Clippers prediction totally backfires. I still believe in the Jazz too. Utah plays defense at a high level, has a really good coach and has some guys who could prove they're able to fill the void Hayward created by leaving in free agency. Perhaps Utah staying relevant in the west is also bold. Sorry Blazers fans. The Wolves roster looks too good to falter over 82 games. The Nuggets play phenomenal on offense and signed Millsap over the summer, so they're going to improve upon last year's uptick. It remains to be seen if Minnesota and the Nuggets can prove worthy of the playoffs in the west, but I'll go ahead and say it, they're both a lock.

2 to 4 more all-stars will be dealt by the trade deadline:
If Memphis fails to compete as they transition out of the grit and grind era, their stars could become attainable. Let's pretend Thomas is not fully healthy for the Cavs, which would be terribly sad, and the Grizzlies look slow and old in the west. Conley could then become the best guard available at the deadline. Say, Love and Frye for Mike Conley and Andrew Harrison. The Grizzlies would shed one year and $6 million per, by swapping Conley's contract for Love's, plus they'd get another almost $7.5 million off their books next year with Frye's expiring. Maybe Conley does more than the off-season moves did to help shift the narrative of this being LeBron's final year under contract. Wade helps to some degree, but let's be honest, it's a one year deal. This would help Memphis to move away from their biggest contracts, accelerating a reboot. If Conley were to be dealt, they could then shop Gasol too. I know, pretty bold huh?

AD & Boogie
Here's another bold one, what if the Cavs could then snare Anthony Davis away from the Pelicans? This would surely encourage LeBron to stay. That deal would only hit the trade machine if the Pelicans look like a rubble pile to start the season. Imagine that smoldering trash heap scenario, with no direction in sight, with the added fear that Davis will soon want to leave. Cleveland calls and offers Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert, their recently acquired first and second round drafts picks from Boston, plus a future pick in return for Davis and Jordan Crawford. The Pelicans could build around Holiday and Boogie, or trade Cousins for more pieces and picks, deciding instead to just blow it up.

The more fun scenario is thinking about a five man lineup that would include LeBron, AD, Conley, Crowder and JR Smith (Korver could step in and create even more space or Wade could play the role of Ginóbili 2.0). Those five man groups could be scary on both ends of the floor. Cleveland would get some cost-effective youth with Harrison (6'6") and Crawford (6'5"), maybe they could develop into versatile wing defenders...or maybe this is all too ridiculous. Or, maybe this does happen. Or maybe, Isaiah Thomas comes back healthy? This would however, be a bold move were the Cavs able to make it happen. LeBron would probably stay knowing he had Davis and Conley, especially if they recapture the title. Hell, if they were to pull this off, Conley and AD combined, keeps them at the top of the east for the foreseeable future. Please let this happen, because this type of shit happens in just one place, only in the N B A!

My final NBA offering prior to opening night will be a forecast of the season standings. For past ramblings on Five Teams to Watch, click here. For the NBA Preview, click here. As always, thanks.


Friday, September 22, 2017


Lucinda Williams | "Minneapolis" | World Without Tears

I wish my thoughts were pure like the driven snow
Like the heavens and the spring's virgin buds
But they strangle me with their sin
Fill me up with poison
Black clouds have covered up the sun again


Monday, September 18, 2017

"Musical Story, Yes/Better Day"

Sound Tribe recently celebrated year 20 at Red Rocks. The three night run included some interesting sets, tasty interpretations and visual goodies. Night one was an ode to perhaps peak Sector. Artifact was played in its entirety. Above are the opening tracks, "Musical Story, Yes" & "Better Day." These offerings exemplify Sector's ability to bind score-like instrumentation with modern sampling; creating such ethereal sound-scapes is even funkier. Always a fan. 


note: Night two showcased more recent material, the entire show was electric. Night three featured an Axe The Cables first set and a second set with full-gear. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

5 NBA Teams to Watch

New Teammates in Minnesota!
Once again I'll be blabbing about five teams to watch in the NBA, even if they're not your team. I should be clear, I intentionally omitted the Cavs and the Death Stars, they're both too obvious a choice, plus they're both likely to mash through their conference playoffs. So here are five teams you should try to watch during the regular season. 

1. Minnesota Timberwolves - They were on my list last year, I'm not sure whether that's good or bad. One thing is for sure, their roster is very different from a year ago. There will definitely be two new starters, Jimmy Buckets and Jeff Teague. Coach Thibodeau may insert a third new face into the starting lineup if he chooses to go with Taj Gibson; Gorgui Dieng will probably get minutes too. Adding reliable veterans to their young athletic core could be the combination needed to finally unlock this team's potential.

There are many projections suggesting they will make the proverbial leap, I sure as hell hope so. The top teams out west can all score. What remains to be seen is, can these Wolves adopt and adapt, to Thibodeau's defense-first mentality? Two former Bulls will help bring that edge and some late game poise, to a franchise hungry for the playoffs. One subplot will be the growth of Andrew Wiggins on defense. He's far too athletic to be so mediocre on that side of the ball. The key ingredient to this recipe is Karl Anthony-Towns, the best player in the Association still on a rookie deal, his upside is limitless. I believe he's already a top 15 player and he's certainly a franchise cornerstone. Please Minnesota, show us that you're ready.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder - Last year Russy went zenith and returned to earth as a triple-double machine. He's also being recognized as the first real-life Marvel super hero, and now he has a son, so that's cool. This year he gets some serious help with the addition of Paul George—thanks Indiana for giving him away for nothing, because you were too narrow-minded to flip him to an eastern rival for a better package. Russy thanks you too. 

PG and Russy alone will increase OKC's win total. Mix in a little 3 & D from Patrick Patterson, who signed a team friendly deal and some added reps with Doug McDermott, and that's four perimeter/wing players with the potential to mesh well. Of course there's Steven Adams, the blue collar big, who could realistically wipe the floor with the ball-kickers of the NBA. Nobody wants a piece of Adams, he's for real tough. They also have the defense of Roberson to throw at teams and bench scoring from Kanter. They appear to have the pieces to host a first round series, let's hope so.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
3. Milwaukee Bucks - Two words, Giannis Antetokounmpo. I'm a big believer in his threat to the Eastern Conference. I realize that they have some holes in their lineup, but damn if he doesn't have the potential to be LeBron-like. I also think a full season with Kris Middleton will help create more space for Giannis on offense, Kris is a solid defender too. Should Thon Maker continue to develop his game, look out. The Bucks have an obvious penchant for the super long diamond-in-the-rough-type players, an advantage when playing in, or against a switch heavy defense. If they can get some reliable outside shooting they could threaten the eastern teams at the top. I'm in the camp that also thinks Brogdon can further blossom from last year's ROY campaign. I also hope Parker can come back in a contract year after injury. There's real reason to believe the Bucks can secure home court in the first round; they'll battle Toronto for the fourth seed.

4. Boston Celtics - One of the top coaches in the Association has been given perhaps the best bucket getter and the kid he coached in college who turned into an NBA all-star. Nice work Danny Ainge. The Celtics definitely acquired the top-end type of talented needed to truly challenge LeBron in the east. Not only did they sign free agent Gordon Hayward, whom I'm a big fan of, and trade for Kyrie (I'm still reeling), they also drafted Jayson Tatum and picked up a Morris twin. I'm not sure who will start for Boston, but it would be interesting to see a five man group that features Uncle Drew, Commissioner Gordon, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and the rookie Tatum. Assuming Tatum is serviceable on defense, which they will need having lost Bradley and Crowder. The Celts could allow Marcus Smart to assert himself on the second unit with Marcus Morris. The cupboard looks pretty bare after that—Terry Rozier anyone? Could we get a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference finals? Only time will tell.  

5. Philadelphia 76ers - The process is processing, rooks on rooks on rooks, will the process manifest? Their collective talent is young and unproven to say the least. Embiid, Simmons and Fultz, plus Saric and McConnell sounds great, but they are also the great unknown. As much as I want to believe, there's not much to go on, unless you think 31 games from Embiid over three years actually means something. At this point he's more akin to Greg Oden, let's shelf the Hakeem Olajuwon talk please; his upside is not in question. Often times the best ability is availability and thus far he's proven to be a fragile tease.

Elder statesmen JJ Redick will help open up the lane with his three point prowess, we know what he's capable of. Do we know what Ben Simmons can do? Did he learn how to shoot while red-shirting? Can Fultz get his shots off against NBA talent? Will Joel Embiid Play in 70+ games? Are Saric and Covington actually their best young pieces? Can the Sixers make the playoffs? There are plenty of questions and boundless intrigue, with only one way to find out, play the season. We finally get to see the 76ers young talent on the floor together. Sam Hinkie's process could become validated.

Honorable Mention: Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox - The Pacific is brimming with point guard plot lines. These two rookies will be competing in the same division, they'll also have to guard Curry and Dame. I have serious concerns about Lonzo's defense, but he possesses outstanding feel for the game with incredible vision. The Lakers will be way more fun to watch if the contagious passing they showcased during summer league persists into the regular season. Sacramento could be well served to just give Fox the keys to the car. Hell, give him all the run he can handle, he bleeds competitiveness. It's going to be entertaining watching these two young players battle each other. Also, Patrick Beverley may try to steal their lunch money now that he's a Clipper? Check back soon for even more NBA conversation, bold predictions and the forecast for standings.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Oh Baby

Best New Music

LCD Soundsystem | "Oh Baby" | American Dream

Oh baby
Lean into me
There's always a side door
Into the dark
Into the dark


Sunday, September 3, 2017

NBA Preview 2017-18

NBA Preview 2017-18
Those that get paid to hoop are prepping for an NBA season that begins a bit earlier this year. Opening night is October 17th and is likely to provide plenty of hot-take narratives. The drama unfolds early as the Cavaliers host the Celtics, while the Rockets travel to Oakland. Night two gives NBA fans an early look at some young teams and more faces in new places. The 76ers travel to the Nation's Capital, while the Wolves head to Texas to face San Antonio. 

There were almost too many major changes among NBA rosters to keep track. A record number of all-stars switched teams during the off season. With so much turnover and the amassed collection of talent in the Western Conference, there's potentially enough to keep us intrigued, before the Death Stars of Golden State run roughshod on opponents in the playoffs. Hopefully there's a few teams out west that will push them. I'm looking at you Spurs, Rockets, Thunder, Wolves and maybe Nuggets.

The Eastern Conference is solid at the top, but ultimately looks like a JV league when compared to their western counterparts. The team with LeBron is like possessing a dragon in Game of Thrones. Obviously there is intrigue in Boston, Uncle Drew and Commissioner Gordon will undoubtedly make their team better, but can they push the previously mentioned Drogon of the east? I'm also interested in watching the growth of Giannis Antetokounmpo. I believe he's capable of taking the next step in becoming a challenger to the current list of yearly MVP candidates. Are there three better players in the east than Giannis, John Wall and Bron?

Over the next few batches of posts I'll drop some more NBA blather. I'll fire off a list of teams to watch, some bold predictions and give my forecast on the standings. Thanks NBA, for being a reality soap opera based on athletic skill, real talent and real personalities. Only in the NBA.