Dwight Howard

2018 NBA Trick or Treat

I love writing this piece every year. I love that its been made more interesting by the Where the Hell is Jimmy Butler Going? drama to kick off this season. You know what else, we also have Anthony Davis, Durant, Kyrie, and a slew of other 2019 free agents to keep in mind too. I love that we might see even more three’s launched this year with the introduction of even more big men shooting them. I also love that the League is soooo loaded with talent Paul George was a “last minute call-up” for the All-Star Game.

Anyway, let’s get started. Remember, this column is based around a true/false type of format where true equals treat and false equals trick. Let’s go…

Where the hell is Jimmy Butler going, Miami???

In this fall, this is tough. In this fall, I’m taking my talents to…

Just kidding.

It’s funny Jimmy Buckets named his prefered destinations (Clippers, Nets, and Knicks), but also claimed winning meant a lot to him. If winning means a lot to him, then why not just stay put? Why not stick with Towns, and hope Wiggins pans out or can be flipped for prospects?

Because Jimmy wants to play in a big market, regardless of that team’s baggage – Knicks (Dolan), Nets (Lack of Leadership), and Clippers (everything).

Anyway, here’s some trades I came up with:

Miami receives: Butler
Minny receives: Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow, and Josh Richardson

If you’re Minnesota are you really taking this? That’s what, sixty cents on the dollar? I’ll pass.

Brooklyn receives: Butler
Minny receives: DeAngelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMare Carroll

Where’s Minnesota headed in a loaded West with the starting five of Russell, Wiggins, Hollis-Jefferson, Taj Gibson, and KAT? Foreseeable future of 8th seeds at best.

Clippers receive: Butler

Minny receives: Tobias Harris, Lou Williams, and a future 1st

I’ll act like you just didn’t say that!

Knicks receive: Butler

Minny receives: Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, and a lottery protected 1st

So basically nothing for a franchise player, ummmmm no!

Here’s the thing, if I’m Thibs I’m not trading him until the trade deadline or after the season. Even then I don’t feel great about that sort of trade, a player for a random lottery pick. We saw what happened with Cleveland and the Kyrie trade. You’re Minnesota, you’re locked into KAT and whatever Wiggins isn’t bringing to the table, with cap space to sign who? Joakim Noah!?

Sorry Minny, you’re in no man’s land. I think they’re taking that Clippers deal, which will be a lottery pick this coming year.

Unless, and you can call me crazy… Butler for Klay Thompson!

The salaries work, and both players get their extensions with no money lost. Who says no?

If the Warriors win another championship, Durant hinges on leaving, but Boogie works out, I can’t see why Golden State’s brass wouldn’t pull the trigger on this!?

Trick

Rookie of the Year, DeAndre Ayton?

Trick. He’ll have an up-and-down, but mostly up season. Did you know through four preseason games he’s averaging 20.5 points, 11.3 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and 1 Embiid insult? Oh, and he also shot 60.4% from the field, and an impressive 78.3% from the line. Did I mention he can shoot the three also?

It’s the reason why Phoenix grabbed him first overall, but it’s hard to envision him overcoming third overall pick, Luka Doncic, who by all accounts is already playing like a veteran dropping a stat line of 15 points, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks, 3.5 assists, 5 rebounds, .437 from three point land, and an eye popping .501 field goal percentage… FOR A GUARD!!

Also, I trust Rick Carlisle, the core of the team (Dennis Smith Jr. + Harrison Barnes + Deandre Jordan), and their ability to finish with a better record than Phoenix.

Question: Are we sure Phoenix isn’t finishing with the worst record in the West again?

Their starting five: Elie Okobo, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Ryan Anderson, and Ayton. So basically Booker and Ayton. Let’s pencil them in for another tanking, I mean development year.

This year’s MVP is really just a two man race?

I think we’re in for a huge treat on this one.

It’s The Brow vs Greek Freak.

It’s 30.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 3.1 blocks/game (Brow) vs 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks/game (Greek Freak). Advantage: Greek

It’s 50 double doubles vs 42 double doubles. Advantage: Brow

It’s the 2017 4th Best Win Shares Player vs the 6th Best. Advantage: Brow

It’s a continuation of Davis’ 2017 second half leap vs this year Giannis leap. Tie

Most importantly, I think it’s tough to overcome that loaded Western Conference Schedule Davis will have to face night after night. Imagine one night the Warriors, the next you’re flying to Houston, then following that up with Utah, Denver, and the rest of those contenders. There’s no nights off (more on this later). Keep in mind they finished last year as the sixth seed. Giannis on the other hand, all signs point upward: no LeBron in the conference, only six wins separated them from the fourth seed last year, a better offense led by 2016 Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer, fifteen to twenty pounds of added muscle, a smoother jumpshot, and him being an actual three point threat. Advantage: Greek

Winner: Greek Freak!

Are the Lakers making the playoffs?

If you thought last year’s Western Conference Playoff Race was tight, this year has a chance to be even more competitive. Memphis is back, so are the feisty Clippers, add LeBron in, Dallas should be even better, don’t forget just two games seperated the third and eighth seed, and the eighth and ninth seed played an extra game just to squeeze into that final spot. How awesome was that!

Here’s what I know though, barring some sort of injury or major catastrophe, Houston and Golden State are definitely in. I like Utah and second year Donovan Mitchell too. That leaves three through eight open with the ninth seed challenging for that last spot.

Let’s run through this, Portland, OK City, LA Lakers, Denver, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Minnesota are the contenders. I’m good with Portland and The Brow’s New Orleans making it too. I can’t bet against San Antonio, I just can’t especially given they made it last year without Kawhi and have now added DeRozan.

Two spots left.

I like Denver and the makeup of their team. That makes one spot left.

You know who I don’t like, Minnesota and the Butler situation. If he’s traded for anything less than he’s worth, I can’t see them making it.

Down to Oklahoma and LA.

But what is OK City? They can’t really rely on Westbrook to bail them out night after night, right?

You know who you can rely on to get do that? LeBron.

Imagine LeBron in Staples, when the crowd is roaring for the first time in long time with all that talent around him. Imagine how much he’s gonna love being the King of LA with Jack, Denzel, and the rest of Hollywood’s stars sitting courtside. Imagine him running the fast break with Lonzo and Kuzma and the alley-oops he’s gonna be throwing to Brandon Ingram. Imagine that “new car smell” of Lakerland. It’s gonna be awesome… Treat.

Is Kawhi’s laugh the best thing this year?

Definite Treat

I’m a fun guy:

Most pivotal players this year are Markelle Fultz, Gordon Hayward, DeMarcus Cousins, and Chris Paul?

Trick.

I think it’s Fultz, Cousins, Chris Paul, AND Jayson Tatum. Outside of those teams represented, it’s hard to see anyone upsetting them.

If I had to rank em though, it’d be 4) Fultz, 3) Chris Paul, 2) Tatum, 1) Boogie.

I think Fultz is still two years away from affecting the championship picture on a grand scale, CP3’s health will still be a huge question mark, but Tatum and Boogie, that’s where everything hinges. If Boogie is even 90%, game over.

Which leads to this…

We’re headed for a Celtics/Warriors Finals Matchup right?

This is what the Finals should have been last year before Kyrie went down. I can’t wait to see Kyrie’s big game chops in The Finals again. I can’t wait to see the Splash Brothers catching fire, or Durant drain from super long range, Draymond challenging everyone, Hayward back on the big stage, Smart not backing down in the post, Kerr’s unorthodox lineups, Stevens’ brilliant last minute plays, whatever Boogie brings to the table even if he’s at just 85-90%, and don’t forget Tatum and Horford. I think this is gonna be a war and one of the best Finals we’ve had in quite some time. How many All-Stars is that in that series? Whatever it is, I think we’re in for a super treat!

Enjoy the season guys, I’m picking Celtics to win it all.


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