Dissecting Four Myths About the Upcoming 2010 NBA Season
The Mythbusters team graciously welcomed me aboard as I take the helm of the new NBA portion of our program.
Seriously, due to the surprisingly eventful off-season, we've been hearing a lot of bold predictions, claims and myths. This slideshow will discuss and break down four of the most troubling myths that this off-season has given birth to.
1) Myth: Shaq’s Arrival Makes the Cavaliers Heavy Contenders
Be real here.
Shaq stopped being relevant years ago, but don’t take my word for it. Ask yourself: when was the last time Shaq grabbed a headline because of something he actually did on court?
Unfortunately for Cleveland supporters, the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal amounts to little more than a publicity stunt.
While the move succeeds in showing that Cleveland’s front office is willing to do anything within its power to pacify LeBron, it does nothing to address Cleveland’s staggering lack of frontcourt athleticism.
Many will point out Cleveland’s inability to defend the pick and roll, which is a legitimate concern, but quite frankly that’s only the tip of the iceberg here.
Cleveland’s front office openly admits that the decision to bring in Shaq was in no small part due to the shellacking the Cavaliers received at the hands of Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference Finals, but as time will soon tell, the best Shaq can hope to be is Bizzaro to Dwight Howard’s Superman.
In the Superman mythology, Bizzaro possesses nearly all of Superman’s raw power, but none of his finesse, agility or speed. Its funny how well that fits isn’t it?
I fail to see how a 37 year old Shaq is going to be able to muster the athleticism necessary to defend a 23 year old Dwight Howard throughout the course of an entire playoff series. But hell, even in that statement we may be giving Shaq too much credit.
While the Cleveland Cavaliers may be a shoo-in to at least qualify for the post-season, particularly in the Eastern Conference, who’s to say that Shaq's health will hold out long enough for him to reach the post-season with them?
2) Myth: Rasheed Wallace + Boston’s Big Three = Big Four
Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were all MVP caliber players on their respective teams prior to joining forces in Boston. Rasheed Wallace wasn’t.
It’s that simple.
While the Celtics haven’t really improved that much with this move, they didn’t really need to. The acquisition of Wallace along with the return of Kevin Garnett should be enough to re-solidify Boston as the class of the East (sorry, Orlando).
Still, when assessing this acquisition more thoroughly, its worth noting that Wallace completely quit on the Pistons during their forgettable first-round sweep at the hands of their division rival Cavaliers.
Wallace barely went through the motions, averaging a meager 6.5 points, 6 rebounds, and less than a single assist during the series (registering career post-season lows in both points and assists).
However, conventional wisdom tells us that sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery.
While it is likely that Rasheed Wallace will be a noteworthy force off the bench, the majority of his contributions will probably come on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor.
3) Myth: The 76ers Won’t Make the Playoffs
Losing Andre Miller hurts. Badly.
I’ll be the first to admit this. He was an excellent open-floor general and a very underrated point guard. Still, at 33 years old, the 76ers were wise to not
While the Sixers may not be major threats to bring Larry O'Brien home this June, they still have an excellent young core, led by underrated Forwards Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young.
Also, the Sixers will welcome back a healthy Elton Brand with something to prove.
Things really could be going worse. After all, with this team you know there’s at least one thing you’ll always get: fight.
In the last two years the Sixers have won in Boston, won their first ever regular season road victory in Los Angeles (becoming one of only five teams to beat the Lakers at home), pushed the then-Eastern Conference Underboss Pistons to 6 games and did the same to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Magic.
Besides, if the Hawks could make the playoffs with 38 wins two years ago, and the Pistons were able to do the same this year, who’s to say that the Sixers won’t at least be able to squeak in at the eighth seed?
4) Myth: The Lakers Are Incapable of Winning 70 Games
All right, so we’ve only seen one team (’96 Bulls) reach the 70-win plateau mark in the history of the NBA. Great. I guess it’s a good thing that history has a habit of repeating itself.
Sometimes it does so very literally.
In what will be an encore presentation of the ’96 Bulls dominance, the role of Michael Jordan will be played by Kobe Bryant, the role of Scottie Pippen will be played by Pau Gasol, the role of Dennis Rodman will be played by Ron Artest, and the role of Phil Jackson will be played by….. Phil Jackson.
Even aside from these eerily close similarities, the Lakers have all the pieces in place to set themselves up for a repeat Championship title and a 70-win season.
Its no secret that the Lakers play in one of the weakest divisions in basketball.
Aside from the Phoenix Suns, who were unable to even qualify for the playoffs, no one in the Pacific Division was able to muster anything resembling a .500 record and not nearly enough improvements have been made within the division to predict a radical enough change next year.
Besides if we analyze the Lakers’ situation closely, we see that the Lakers were actually much closer to 70 wins last year than most would give them credit for.
Off the top of my head, I can name three one-point losses that the Lakers suffered, two of which that came at literally the last second.
#1 Troy Murphy, Pacers – rebound tip in 0:01 4th quarter
#2 Roger Mason, Spurs – fouled, jumpshot made free throw converted 3point play 0:10 4th quarter
#3 Andre Iguodala, Sixers - Three pointer 0:01 4th qarter
Now if you give the Lakers two of those seconds back, they’ve already won two of those three games, bringing them to 67 total regular season wins.
Is it really that hard to believe that the Lakers can win three more additional games this year with the renewed focus and confidence that comes along with becoming reigning Champions in addition to a healthy Andrew Bynum AND the newly acquired Ron Artest?
I don’t think so.
Just remember: you all read it here first.