Preview of Lindy's Pro Basketball 2013-14Lindy's Pro Basketball 2013-14 includes eight feature stories: "Scoping the NBA" (Jorge Ribeiro's perspective on a variety of off-court happenings involving NBA players), "Spread 'Em" (Michael Bradley's examination of the evolution of the usage of the three point shot), "All's Cool That Ends Cool" (Mike McGraw's Derrick Rose profile), "Super Teams" (my contribution, an analysis of various franchises that tried to win a championship by gathering together big name players), "NBA Report Card" (Gary Woelfel grades each team's offseason moves), "A Look Ahead" (Jeremy Treatman previews the upcoming season), "Fantasy Basketball" (Mike Ashley offers some tips) and "A Look Back" (Lindy's editor Roland Lazenby recalls the great "Bad Boys" Pistons teams).
This year I wrote eight team previews: Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. Each team preview includes a brief sidebar story.
Here are the titles of each of my sidebar stories, plus capsule summaries:
Charlotte: "An Artist in the Paint, Jefferson Draws Doubles" (Al Jefferson provides a low post presence that the Bobcats have never had).
Denver: "Shaw Finally Gets a Shot" (Long-time NBA assistant coach Brian Shaw takes the reins from George Karl in the Mile High City).
Miami: "James Building Legacy" (LeBron James' body and skill set combine elements that have never been seen in one player: he has Karl Malone's size, Larry Bird's passing skills, Scottie Pippen's defensive versatility and Julius Erving's ability to attack the hoop with spectacular grace and power).
New Orleans: "Pelicans Took a Holiday" (New Orleans traded potential franchise center Nerlens Noel to obtain a point guard, a decision that would have been almost unthinkable for most of the NBA's history because a dominant paint presence used to be an essential element for a championship team).
New York: "Knicks' Mismatch is in Their Lineup" (It seems unlikely that the Carmelo Anthony-Amare Stoudemire duo will lead New York to a championship).
Orlando: "Big Nik has Arrived" (Nikola Vucevic did a much better job replacing Dwight Howard than anyone could have reasonably predicted).
Phoenix: "Horny Takes Over" (Former Phoenix All-Star Jeff Hornacek returns to his old stomping grounds and makes his NBA head coaching debut in the Valley of the Sun).
Utah: "They're Virtually Pointless" (The Jazz have employed a series of undistinguished point guards after being blessed with first John Stockton and then Deron Williams)
In the "Super Teams" article I distinguish between great teams that formed organically--i.e., the key players played together for all or virtually all of their careers, such as Bill Russell's Boston Celtics, Magic Johnson's L.A. Lakers and Larry Bird's Boston Celtics--and teams that added at least one superstar to an already established mix. Russell's Celtics beat the Lakers five times in the NBA Finals in the 1960s and the Lakers faced the daunting question, "How do you overthrow the league's dynastic kings?" Russell led the Celtics to 11 championships in his 13 season career and the Lakers knew that nothing short of a basketball revolution would shift the balance of power. That led to the formation of the NBA's first Super Team, a trio featuring Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. My article also discusses the 1976-77 Philadelphia 76ers, the 1982-83 76ers, the 2003-04 Lakers, the 2007-08 Celtics, the current Miami Heat and the Super Team that the Nets hope that they have built for the 2013-14 season. The 1976-77 76ers, led by Julius Erving, are the first Super Team that I remember; on p. 187 of The Legend of Dr. J, Marty Bell summarized why that squad did not win the title: "The fact was, these Sixers were not a great team. No one was able to play up to their ability. Julius had the most ability and he sacrificed the most."
Roland Lazenby deftly edited the features and team previews. His piece about the "Bad Boys" discusses the strategic reasons behind the much-discussed Adrian Dantley-Mark Aguirre trade; some commentators are quick to buy into the idea that Isiah Thomas orchestrated the deal so that he could team up with his childhood friend Aguirre but the reality is that Aguirre's passing skills and post up ability added new dimensions to Detroit's offensive repertoire.
Last year I concluded my Lindy's preview with some words that also apply to the current edition:
"An editor is like a basketball referee: when he does his job well he is not necessarily noticed by the casual fan but he is still playing an important role in the proceedings (in contrast, bad editors and bad referees both stick out like Rudolph's famous bright red nose)."
posted by David Friedman @ 3:23 PM