Preseason Thoughts

Thanks to Gordon Jones for getting us back on the map:

The NBA season starts tonight and I’m really looking forward to it.  The long baseball season is almost at an end and the NFL is getting more and more difficult to watch for numerous reasons (one of which is that I don’t get Fox or CBS).  I’m just glad to have access to the NBC Sports Live Extra app – English Premier League games (Go Swans!) on Saturday and Sunday mornings have carried my sports viewing interest for the last two months.

Despite my growing interest in the Premier League and waning interest in the professional sports leagues in the U.S., I will be glad to have the NBA back. There have been a lot of fairly obvious story lines this offseason with LeBron and Kevin Love going to Cleveland, the Sixers redefining tanking, Paul George’s injury, and the new TV deal, but I am more intrigued by a few of the other things that are going on around the league.

The Warriors made a coaching change to Steve Kerr in the offseason and they still have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but that could be the problem. If they don’t live up to expectations, the fans will quickly remember that the Warriors could have had Kevin Love if the owners had been willing to trade Thompson.

The Suns currently have three starting NBA point guards on their roster. Jeff Hornacek figured out how to use Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe at the same time last year, maybe he can work his magic and play those two and Isaiah Thomas at the same time this year. The Thunder seem like a lock for the Western Conference Finals every year, but with Kevin Durant set to miss the first month or two of the season, will Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka be able to carry the team?

The Hornets are back, honeycomb, teal, and all. What’s not to like about that? And they have Lance ’The Eighth Grader’ Stephenson.  Watch out Eastern Conference.

A new team means a new colorway. Photo courtesy of Kent Bazemore’s Instagram.

And finally, the team I am most excited to watch this year is the Atlanta Hawks. Yes, I know I’m biased, they are my favorite team and my favorite player in the league now is Kent Bazemore (Old Dominion Hail!).  But there is some other interesting stuff going on here. Paul Millsap is in the final year of his Hawks deal, backup PF Dennis Schröder will be in his second NBA season, Kyle Korver shoots 3’s, Pero Antic is half man, half bear, half pig, Jeff Teague is a human blur, and DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott (the pride of Deep Creek High School) are good, athletic wings. The real question is the health of Al Horford, who has torn a different pectoral muscle in each of the last two seasons.  Before he went down last season, the Hawks looked like they would be the third seed in the East, and I don’t see why that can’t be that good again.

Let’s just hope Horford’s not related to the lady from Total Recall.

Saturday’s A Dunking Day

Two dunks from Saturday’s basketball action:

In VCU’s 80-65 home win over Duquesne, Terrance Shannon scored two of his seven points by following teammate Juvonte Reddic’s missed dunk:

(Tip of the cap to VCU’s Around the Horns blog, a must-follow for any Ram fan).

In evening action, Paul George of the Pacers put a little icing on the cake in his squad’s 106-92 victory over the Clippers:

Wow.

Buzzer Beaters Are Cool

Sophomore Stephanie Martinez of Division III Stevenson (MD) University sent the Mustangs to victory over visiting Messiah (PA) College last night with this forty-footer:

There is probably a clever headline out there about a college called Messiah losing on an answered prayer (à la this man’s (in)famous “JESUS SAVES GIANTS!” headline), but you won’t find it here.

High marks to the Stevenson Athletic Department for such a slickly produced video package, and high marks to the Mustangs for going with the gorge green/electric green Hyperdunks.

By the way, did you know that the school formerly known as Villa Julie now has two campuses?

(Tip of the cap to D3Hoops).