Well folks, as the regular season winds down, I think that now is an appropriate time to look back on the season that was. Actually it’s more like the season that “is,” since the regular season hasn’t actually finished yet. I’m just really tired of regular season basketball right now. If you follow me on Twitter, you could tell that baseball has swallowed my attention, and that basketball, for now, has taken a backseat. Sure, playoffs are starting soon, like REALLY soon, but I couldn’t resist doing a recap now. I’m just way too restless.
Alright, so since none of you want to listen to me ramble on about baseball, I’ll start off by picking five stories at the start of the season, that didn’t quite pan out. Obviously I need to talk about the Miami Heat. No one has done that enough. And of course, I need to talk about Kevin Durant, since people were calling him MVP before the season started. I can’t NOT talk about the Lakers, they had a season that was unlike anyone could expect. The Spurs deserve some attention as well. And no recap list would be complete without Carmelo/Knicks/Nuggets on it.
The Miami Heat came into the season favored by many to place first in the Eastern Conference. If I remember correctly, one basketball commentator (you know who I’m talking about) even thought they would break the record for most wins in a season. Well, none of that happened. The Heat came out of the gates playing very poorly, no Dwyane Wade at training camp, and an injury to Udonis Haslem later, they were at a 9-8 mark. Not only were they at a 9-8 mark, but they were at a 9-8 mark heading into a game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who, at the time, weren’t nearly as pathetic as they are now.
Of course the Heat would go on to win that game. In fact, the Heat would go on to win a lot of games. They were making the critics eat their words, they were striking FEAR in all of their opponents, hell, they beat the Lakers on Christmas day! But then the infamous losing streak happened. The infamous moment that would become known as “Cry-Gate” happened. The infamous moment that made us all rethink whether the Heat were “MAN” enough to win a championship. “These guys are too soft to win,” the critics said. Others had different opinions. At the time I remember Saving the Skyhook’s own, Marco Romo, as saying “I’m glad they are showing emotion.” I also remember writing an article around the time that basically told everyone to cool their jets. And everyone did. Now the Heat are playing well, and looking forward to finishing either second or third in the Eastern Conference.
So a lot of people were wrong. The Heat weren’t a historically great team in their first year with LeBron and Bosh. Everyone who crowned them champs before they even played a game, (and there were A LOT on various websites) can eat a slice of humble pie. I’m not saying they CAN’T win it all, I’m just saying that this team isn’t far and away the best in the league.
Another reason why making preseason picks can turn horribly wrong, is the MVP race. Kevin Durant was my choice as MVP before the season began. I thought that he would take a HUGE leap forward after leading the United States to Gold in international play this past summer. His win shares per 48 minutes is at 0.190, which is still good, but not nearly as good as 0.238, which he posted last season. His PER (Player Efficiency Rating) also dropped this season, from 26.2 to 23.6. If you asked him, he would obviously not care about this lack of production (he’s also averaging less points and rebounds this season). The Thunder have more than lived up to the hype. Many bloggers and commentators had predicted the Thunder to win their division, and of course they did.
Kevin Durant might not have improved as an individual player as much as folks would have liked, but he, and teammate Russell Westbrook, are leading a team that is now (with the addition of Kendrick Perkins) favored to make the Western Conference Finals. The prevalence of Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, and the consistency of LeBron James, have kept Kevin Durant out of most commentators top three MVP candidates. I would be surprised if he got any first place votes to be honest, but you can’t argue with the results. Perhaps he isn’t an MVP candidate, but the kid is doing very good things, with a very young team in the Western Conference. Something tells me that he’ll be “alright.”
So, if you have made it this far… chances are you don’t want to read anymore. I’m sure your eyes are tired (let’s be honest, I’m too lazy to write more), so I’ll be so nice as to split this post up into two parts. I’ll pick up where I left off, and continue with Kobe and the Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs, and Carmelo/ the Knicks/ the Nuggets. Look for part two sometime early next week.
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