Let’s not kid ourselves here, Kobe is done. Ok, maybe not quite yet, but his best days are far behind him. He was lucky enough to get a title 2 years ago but last year he and the rest of the “Laker Gang” fell off considerably. In Kobe’s own words it was a: “wasted year of my life”. And as far as things look this year, it’ll likely be another year worth forgetting.
Kobe’s on his own. His wingman, Pau Gasol, lost his intensity a long time ago. Odom’s gone. Bynum’s out for the next 4-5 games. Artest has lost his game along with changing his name. Fisher’s got one foot in retirement. Speaking of retirement, did I forget to mention Phil Jackson? He’s probably out somewhere fly fishing (whatever that is).
Now, if this was back in 2001 with a 23 year old “Afro” Kobe fresh in his prime, the Lakers would be fine. He could carry them all by himself no doubt. But this is bitter, injury prone, 33 year old going into his 17th season - a shortened season jam packed with 66 games at that. And for those Laker fans still delusional enough to think Kobe’s still in his prime and can win another title, I have bad news for you. Not only is he far from being in his prime, he’s even farther from getting that sixth ring. As crazy as it sounds, The clippers have a better shot at winning a championship. That’s at least some good news for the city of Los Angeles.
The only positive note I can think of going into the new season for Kobe is the possibility of landing Dwight Howard at some point. If this happens, then forget everything I just wrote cause It wont matter at all. Lastly, I’m interested how the recent divorce will effect Kobe’s game. This is an X Factor worth considering. It could be good or bad for the Lakers. You can never count out a player like Kobe but this could be just what he needs to take his game to another level. If decides to take his anger out on the court, the league better watch out.
It’s do or die for Lebron this season. Seems like everyone’s given him two years max to win a title with the Heat. One years gone and times running out. Actually, Lebrons running a little late. Jordan won his first title in his 7th season and Lebrons going into his 9th. While he may not be exactly comparable to Jordan in this regard, he still is the best thing to hit the NBA since. It’s too early to call him the next Jordan, but since going to Miami, he’s failed to even live up to his own expectations.
In 2012 I expect Lebron to finally find his true role on the Heat and excel at it -whether it be as a distributor, scorer, leader or closer. Then again, he is capable of doing it all. Add to all this an improved post game, and the sky’s the limit. This could be another MVP year for him. The only thing holding Lebron back is himself. He may be the NBA’s biggest villan in the league, but the biggest enemy he will face is the “man in the mirror”. Will the pressure of living up to his self-proclaimed “King” title cause him to choke again? We’ll find out soon….
“No more Mr. Nice Guy”. That should be the motto for Kevin Durant this upcoming NBA season. If you’ve seen what he did this past summer, then you know he has all the skills to be the best player in the NBA. But does he have the killer instinct and intensity to match?
Last season, Durant may have lead the league in scoring, but he still didn’t perform up to his full potential. His disappointing performance in the playoffs had us questioning if he was ready for the big stage. And with Russel Westbrook stealing the spotlight every chance he got, some even wondered who the real star of the team actually was.
The future of OKC no doubt rests on the shoulders of Durant. They will only make it as far as he carries them. This year, Durant will have to man up and establish himself the Leader and only star for the Thunder. It’s the only way they make it further than they did last year.
The NBA’s only two days away! While it’s too early for me personally to give team predictions (I gotta see at least a few real games), I will give some individual player assessments featuring Rose, Lebron, Durant, Kobe and Howard. Basically a recap of where they left off last season and a look ahead to what I (and most basketball fans) expect from the NBA’s top 5 talents going into the new year. I’ll starting with Rose obviously.
Coming of his recent 94 million dollar, five year maximum contract extension with the Bulls, it’s clear that Rose is the guy that the Bulls will build their franchise on for the long run. Thibodeau and the Bulls front office have no doubt he can bring a championship back to Chicago. That’s a great sign goin into the new season and there’s a lot to be exicted about for Bulls fans. Other than this annocement, however, Rose had the most boring post-season and lockout of any the leagues superstars.
He didn’t participate in any high profile Summer League games and other than a couple Adidas events, Rose wasn’t seen on the court at all since losing to the Heat last May. That no surprise though. Rose never been that vocal of a person to begin with and he tends to stay out of the media. I do recall him expressing dissapointment in his playoff performance though. Something about him thinking he let his team down and not wanting to leave the house for weeks but don’t quote me on it. He also said how he wanted to improve his game. I take Rose’s silence as a good sign. It’s shows his level of focus and intensity in preparation for the new season. But could it also be a bit of nervousness?
Rose is coming of a MVP season where his popularity reached heights comparable to that other Bulls superstar guard. But Rose did not have Pippen or Rodman to help him. As the teams only superstar, Rose’s responsibilities were more than any other player in the league. This is a lot of pressure for a 23 year old and expectations will be even greater this year. Will this season be comparable to a sophomore slump for him or will he take his game to even new heights?
Its hard to imagine Rose becoming any better of a player but what he should improve on is his outside shooting and shot selection. Last playoffs, he was often criticized for doing too much. But that was partly because he had little help. That shouldn’t be a issue for Rose this season with Rip at his side. I expect Rose this year to be a much better facilitator and leader than he was last year. All he really wants to do is win. To do this his points may drop and he may not be the MVP again but he will likely lead his to the Eastern Conference finals.