Fantasy Basketball: Where The NBA Needs To Go Next
The Miami Heat are not going to save the NBA any more than the Boston Celtics did. We need a Magic v. Bird style rivalry to revitalize a sport that has long looked for an heir to the Jordan throne. Jordan was one of a kind, and the dynasty he provided, he provided to the team he started with. LeBron couldn’t do it in Cleveland because there were no Ron Harpers, Scottie Pippens, Dennis Rodmans, or Phil Jacksons. He couldn’t do it because it was in Cleveland and not Chicago. The Celtics/Lakers rivalry looked primed to come back to full swing, but the problem was that only Andrew Bynum and Rajon Rondo were important players born after 1980.
We need to revitalize a new rivalry. A fun rivalry. A west vs. east rivalry. The problem is that the two teams who could do it are not in the biggest markets. Atlanta and Oklahoma City. Atlanta is a decent market, but OKC needs an image makeover and about 5 million more people. Let’s put aside the fact that these cities won’t work and look at how these teams could save the NBA.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are the backbone of the OKC organization, which is fantastic, and their owner and couch are great. Despite the continually improving play of Jeff Green, James Harden, and Thabo Sefelosha, it’s Ibaka who they need to push them to the next level. Serge is only barely drinking age and is already averaging 2.5 blocks a game. His dunks are massive and his ups are massive, he only somewhat lacks in the height department to be an elite center. Still, he scores at nearly the same rate as Dwight Howard did at his age and has a great FT%. His rebounding numbers are low, but that matters less when your PG averages 5 rebounds a game. If Serge Ibaka can develop into a 35 minute a game player scoring 18 with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, than OKC becomes one of the best teams of all time, remember Thabo Sefelosha was born in 1984 and is by far the oldest player in their top 6 once Ibaka replaces Kristic. Jeff Green – 1986, Westbrook and Durant – 1988, Ibaka and Harden – 1989.
Atlanta is a little older, but is just as dependent on the growth of a second year backup player. Jeff Teague is 6’2″ dunking point guard who could easily average 10 assists a game given the minutes. In the last game of the season last year, Atlanta sat its top five players, giving Teague the chance to play 48 minutes with backups. He got 15 assists, 24 points, 5 rebounds and a steal and a three. His threes and steals will come with time, as they have for Derrick Rose, but his passing and scoring are already there. Rivaling numbers from Mike Conley, DJ Augustin, and Aaron Brooks when they were put in similar situations. With Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford as their old veteran leaders (still only 29 and 30 respectively) Teague, J-Smith, and Horford could lead the Hawks to many titles. The other option is to get rid of the veteran presence and trade Johnson, Bibby, Crawford to try to get an outside scorer to open up the floor for Smith and Horford, someone like Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, or Monta Ellis – all born 1985 or before.
If these two teams could become the rivals, then we would have an interesting NBA worth watching, so lets all root for Jeff Teague and Serge Ibaka to save the NBA
Pickups this week:
1. Spencer Hawes – December numbers: 11.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 0.5 3PG on 53.9 FG%
2. Martell Webster – He’s averaging near the same minutes he averaged last year as a starter. During those games he got 12 points on 2 threes and 4 rebounds and decent defensive numbers. He’s averaged 16 points on 2 threes with 5 rebounds since getting back.
3. Ty Lawson – He’s a short term fix that could turn into a long term if Billups keeps getting injured, which happens when old people start getting injured. 16 ppg, 6 apg, a steal and a three on 56 FG% are his numbers in the 12 games he’s started in his career. No PG shoots 56% except T-Law.
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