This may be the final National Basketball Association season in the history of the world (Of the world, Craig!). With the players strike looming at the end of the season, and 2012 right around the corner (which will be the end of mankind), its safe to say few if any NBA seasons have been anticipated as eagerly as the 2010-11 is.
Major story lines abound: the Los Angeles Lakers attempting a three-peat, Lebron James looking to prove his "Decision" was the right one, Carmelo Anthony allowing La La to wear the pants in the house and force a trade to the New York Knicks, Kevin Durant possibly stealing the MVP award from Lebron by swaying voters with his world class talent and "aw-shucks" personality, the Boston Celtics using the Smokey from "Friday" approach (The older the berry, the sweeter the juice)... and those are the mainstream stories.
Can't forget these gems for true NBA junkies: the Utah Jazz trading for Karl Malone 2.0 (Al Jefferson) and teaming him with Deron Williams' Ceasar, Steve Nash playing with some guys from the Phoenix area YMCA adult league, Blake Griffin leading the Los Angeles Clippers to the eighth seed in the west, John Wall doing the "John Wall Dance" in front of a half empty crowd and an awkward looking Russian billionaire, Dwight Howard possibly learning an actual post move from Hakeem Olajuwan, Derrick Rose looking incredibly uncomfortable in those Adidas commercials with the Asian dude from "The Hangover"...
Most importantly, J.R. Smith, Chris Anderson, and Kenyon Martin forming some sort of neck tattoo Voltron in the middle of a game, and using their powers to stop a terrorist attack at the Pepsi Center.
(And the All-Star game is in Los Angeles too? Sheeeeeeeeeeet.)
Without any further delay (or lame jokes), lets preview the Atlantic Division. We'll do power rankings from leas to greatest. Short and sweet, Las Vegas odds to win the title will appear next to the team name. Gambling is still illegal, along with prostitution and marijuana. Act accordingly.
5.) Toronto Raptors 200 to 1
They will be terrible. PG Jose Calderon is serviceable, and Demar Derozan will make a few highlight dunks, but their starting small forward is Linus Kleiza, and they paid Amir Johnson $34 million when no one else would have given him half that amount. I will pick them to win one big game this season: Wednesday, Feb. 16 2011 at home against the Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade may miss the game with an injury or a custody hearing. There may even be an "incident".
4.) Philadelphia 76ers 100 to 1
Doug Collins is the head coach (red flag number 1). Number 2 overall pick Evan Turner is suffering from maturity issues (red flag number 2). Elton Brand's knee (red flag number 3). Philly fans tortured by a Phillies NLCS upset, and the Eagles eventual January folding, will take all their anger and apathy out on this admittedly mediocre team (red flag number 4).
3.) New Jersey Nets 125 to 1
The fact that I predict they'll be better than the 76ers and the Raptors should be cause for celebration in New Jersey. That will be quite the improvement from last year's 12-70 season. Avery (Ayyy-VOR-EE) Johnson will lean heavily on his guards (Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, Jordan Farmar, and Anthony Morrow) who would all combine to make one better than average NBA point guard. Troy Murphy will also be a compliment as a rebounder alongside Brook Lopez. I predict a not-to-shaby 32 wins.
2.) New York Knicks 50-1
Amare' Stoudemire and Raymond Felton will indeed make that big of a difference, and once the trade for Carmelo Anthony is finally done (it's gonna happen) don't be surprised when you see the Knicks in the second round of the playoffs.
And for the record, if you don't want this Carmelo-to-NY trade to happen, you're one of those parity-loving socialist, you have abandonment issues, and you generally suck the life out of all fun things. Your friends hate you, and your father is extremely disappointed in the decisions you've made in life.
1.) Boston Celtics 8-1
Facts are facts. The Celtics had a lead in the 4th quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Finals just four months ago. This offseason they added a fourth future Hall of Famer (a motivated and in-shape Shaquille O'Neal), another O'Neal (Jermaine) to bang bodies, and one bad yellow mother shut-yo-mouth (I'm just talking about Delonte West). Not only did they make smart free agent signings, but they drafted well (guard Avery Bradley from Texas and forward Luke Harangody from Notre Dame). The Celtics are primed to make yet another deep playoff run, possibly challenging talented guys from South Beach.