The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

2012-2013 NBA Season Preview

“Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” Miami Heat forward Lebron James said in his introduction ceremony to the Heat two seasons ago.

King James finally got his first ring this past season, in an NBA finals victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. While James suffered harsh criticism for his title predictions after the team failed to capitalize in the finals against the Mavericks two seasons ago, his hypotheses seem even less credible this upcoming season.

Of course, James’ antics aren’t the only thing that NBA fans are looking forward to as November rolls around. For fans, the start of the NBA season is a lifestyle. It is time for NBA fans to kick back on the living room sofa, grab our five o’clock snacks, and put on our favorite jerseys. The 2012-2013 NBA season finally tipped off on October 30, 2012. After a quick summer full of offseason trades, a hyped-up draft, and new management decisions, the season is now fully underway.

Scouting Report: Rookies

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Anthony Davis, Power Forward, New Orleans Hornets, 6’ 10” 220 lbs
Taken as the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft from Kentucky, Anthony Davis is seemingly the new franchise player of the New Orleans Hornets. While Davis adds a versatile offensive arsenal, his force as a shot blocker provides instant defensive intimidation for the Hornets. In his season at Kentucky, Davis totaled 186 blocked shots, the most ever in NCAA history. Davis is set to top the NBA leaderboards in shot blocking this year, and could even break records his rookie season. if his NCAA success is at all telling of his future, Davis’ play will be will be defined by explosive plays on both sides of the ball. While his individual playmaking is notably outstanding, his presence will most greatly inspire a revolutionary defensive mindset for the Hornets. Although it will take time, the Hornets may eventually be among the top post-defense teams in the league.

Damian Lillard, Point Guard, Portland Trail Blazers, 6’ 3” 195 lbs
With the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft, The Blazers selected crafty point guard from Weber State, Damian Lillard. Lillard’s career at Weber State was defined by his natural ability to rack up points, where he ranked second in the country in scoring last season. While Lillard brings craftiness, a high basketball IQ and a deadly jump shot, his greatest impact on the Blazers will be seen in his excellent pick-and-roll play. Alongside all-star power forward Lamarcus Aldridge, Lillard will have have plenty of pick-and-roll opportunities to spread the floor and create buckets. Lillard has already shown us his potential in the league, averaging 19.3 points and 6.4 assists so far this season.

“Damian is precocious in NBA terms,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said in a press conference after the 2012 Summer League. “Defenses will make his pick-and-rolls a priority.”

Bradley Beal, Shooting Guard, Washington Wizards, 6’ 5” 202 lbs
Another superstar has finally arrived in the nation’s capital. With the third overall pick in the draft, The Washington Wizards selected shooting specialist from the University of Florida, Bradley Beal. Beal is definitely set to match the hype his presence on the team has created. Beal averaged 17.6 points per game at Florida, and has proved to be an aggressive scorer. He is clearly a huge addition to the Wizards, who have been struggling to find players to work around superstar point guard, John Wall. Beal’s presence revolutionizes Washington’s offense, for Wall’s speed and driving ability opens up the floor to the sharpshooter. The Wall-Beal backcourt is certainly explosive, and instantly shakes up defenses coming into games. Beal’s shooting has already drawn comparisons to all time NBA three point leader, Ray Allen. Don’t be surprised to see Beal topping the rookie leaderboards in scoring this year. Beal has certainly impressed so far this season, averaging 10.9 points this season.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Small Forward, Charlotte Bobcats, 6’ 7” 232 lbs
“I think the kid has the potential to be, as I call him, a connector,” Hall of Famer and Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said in an interview following the 2012 NBA draft. “He can connect a lot of dots, a Scottie Pippen-like player.”

These are certainly bold words coming from all-time NBA great, Michael Jordan. Although Jordan is the owner of the Bobcats, his comment about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is far from a biased one. With the second overall pick in the draft, the Bobcats selected Gilchrist, an athletic and powerful swingman from Kentucky. Gilchrist had an outstanding career in his one and only season at Kentucky, averaging 11.9 points per game, and 7.4 rebounds per game. Beyond the stats sheet, Gilchrist comes to the league with an NBA-ready body, outstanding finishing ability, quickness, athleticism and the unique ability to guard almost every position on the floor. Additionally, Gilchrist’s work ethic and energy goes beyond his physical attributes. Gilchrist plays with unmatched energy. For a team like Charlotte, who is coming off a 7-59 season (worst in NBA season), energy is certainly an aspect of play they are in dire need of. With the addition of Gilchrist to the court, the Bobcats’ game becomes instantly explosive, and certainly one to watch closely this season. Gilchrist has already shown his explosiveness on the court. In only his fourth game this year with the Bobcats, Gilchrist scored 25 points, had 12 rebounds, blocked two shots and added one steal. As we have already seen this season, Gilchrist has the potential to put up huge numbers on any given night.

Dion Waiters, Shooting Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers, 6’4” 216 lbs
With the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected shooting guard from Syracuse University, Dion Waiters. Waiters had an outstanding career at Syracuse, where he consistently scored and made big-time plays down the stretch. Waiters surely has a bright NBA future ahead of him, playing alongside last season’s Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving. The young duo are a deadly backcourt, with the ability to attack the basket and spot up for three-point shots. Teams will have to respect Waiters’ three point shooting ability, and thus play more heavily on the perimeter. This allows Cavaliers to open up the offense, and let Irving freely run the point. With a player like Irving on the ball, Waiters should certainly get great looks on the perimeter to knock down outside jumpers. Waiters surely brings lots of variability to the Cavaliers’ offense, and is the one player besides Irving who can create his own shot. Expect the Irving-Waiters backcourt to produce thousands of points combined this season. Waiters has already shown his scoring potential so far this season, averaging 14.7 points per game this season.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Empire

The Los Angeles Lakers have finally landed their blockbuster hit. Dwight Howard has finally taken center stage in Hollywood. Whether he’s posting a Beyonce “Single Ladies” video or dancing to “Gangnam Style” on the back of the set, Dwight Howard always finds a way to goof off. However, this jokester is also known the most powerful and skilled center in the NBA today. Howard’s eight year career in the league has defined him as the following: a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, six-time NBA All-Star, four-time rebounding leader, two-time NBA blocks leader, five time NBA first team selection, and four-time NBA defensive first team selection. Howard is a goofball indeed, but a special one to say the least. Howard already has the resume of a Hall-of-Famer.

“A goofball doesn’t make plays like [Howard],” Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant said in a press conference following Howard’s signing day. “You need to have a little of that dog in you. It’s there. It’s just a matter of pulling it out.”

After much speculation and problems with management, Howard left the Orlando Magic in the offseason and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard, who initially preferred to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, ended up quite satisfied signing in Hollywood. The Lakers certainly got the full bang for their buck, signing Howard along with veteran point guard Steve Nash from the Suns, and even adding versatile power forward Antawn Jamison from the Cavaliers. With an arsenal of weapons, the Lakers have built an empire around their future Hall-of-Famer, Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, who is entering his entering his 15th year in the league, has hinted at a near retirement. However, in the meantime, he plans on adding a couple more rings to his collection of gold. With a rebuilt, superstar-fused Lakers squad, it’s quite reasonable to expect championship appearances at minimum. While the team has added various new pieces to the franchise, all eyes will be on the goofball: Dwight Howard. Kobe can’t last forever. When Bryant goes, it will be the Los Angeles Lakers of Dwight Howard.

“Look, I’m going to play two, maybe three more years, then the team is his [Howard’s],” Kobe Bryant said in a press conference during preseason training. “I’m excited for the Laker franchise. Now they have a player that can carry the franchise well after I’m gone. It should be his.”

While Bryant and the franchise’s future remains undetermined, the upcoming season for the Lakers certainly is promising. Their projected starting five looks to be: Steve Nash (point guard), Kobe Bryant (shooting guard), Metta World Peace (small forward), Pau Gasol (power forward), and Dwight Howard (center). It’s hard not to have bold expectations for the team, given the franchise’s history of titles (16, to be exact) and the fact that four of five starters are perennial NBA All-Stars. All jokes set aside, Dwight and the Lakers will certainly not be dancing around in the postseason. Expect a high powered Lakers squad, dominating the post in every game of the season. With a shot blocking and scoring machine, assist specialist, defensive cyclone, finesse power forward, and of course, the highest scorer in Lakers history, the Lakers will certainly be more than just a Hollywood hit this year.

The Nets Franchise: Welcome to Brooklyn

Boston Celtics-Brooklyn Nets
At 626 Atlantic Avenue, the newly built Barclays Center stands tall and bright as the new home of the Brooklyn Nets. The formerly known New Jersey Nets have not only relocated the the Bronx, but have also reconstructed their logo, jerseys, management and roster.The Nets squad  experienced significant modifications this offseason. The resigning of all-star Deron Williams was the franchise’s initial bolstering step. With the signing of Williams, the team attracted athletic and powerful small forward, Gerald Wallace, from the Portland Trail Blazers. Shortly after, the Nets were able to land their biggest offseason signing of the year: all-star sharpshooter and superstar, shooting guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks. With a backcourt led by Williams and Johnson, the Nets finally have the personnel in place to become a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.
World renowned rapper and producer, Jay-Z has essentially become the face of Nets management. As a part owner of the franchise, he has had many influences on the team, some of which included: designing the new black and white logo to the design of his “40/40 club” and setting up the Barclays Center for the team.“He [Jay-Z] brings a vision. He brings design acumen,” Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark said in a franchise press conference. “I just didn’t know that he is as talented as he is and had a good opinion on so many different things.”

Jay-Z’s contributions to the franchise have been enormous. He is the director of the Barclays Center, has helped created 11 exclusive suits at the arena, named The Vault, and even added “Rocawear,” his own clothing store, to the facility.

The formerly “disregarded” franchise has recently received much hype for its relocation, squad changes and management decisions. However, questions still remain whether or not the exciting new team can compete with top teams in the league. While these questions remain unanswered until the season progresses, the team’s squad can certainly boast some of the biggest names around the league. A new era has begun in Brooklyn, orchestrated by Jay-Z, and driven by Deron Williams’ deadly ball-handling.

Heat Repeat?
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
We can finally call him King James. After eight long years in the league, Lebron James finally silenced critics by winning his first NBA title with the Miami Heat.

Now that King James has finally marked down his first title, he is hungrier than ever moving forward. And for the Heat, this means an unstoppable 250 pound force on both sides of the ball. We know that James will be virtually irrepressible in all aspects of his game, but how far will the league MVP be able to take the Heat?

Championships. Winning the title was the sole goal of the Miami Heat in the formation of a Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh big three two seasons ago. However, with such a dominant big three comes bold predictions, and with bold predictions comes expectations. It is not a typical scenario for a franchise to be “expected” to win a title, but for a team like the Heat, critics and fans expect nothing less. This past summer, the Heat capitalized and answered skeptical fans and NBA analysts, winning the NBA titles against the Thunder. In broad terms, this feat would be considered for a success, but for the Heat, this can only be considered the initial start to the journey of titles. They were the ones who claimed it at first. As we can recall, Lebron had hinted towards seven or eight titles with the Miami heat. It’s really that simple: He claimed it, we’re all just waiting.

The Heat’s huge expectations for the following years supported the team’s offseason transactions this summer. The Heat signed former Celtics shooting guard and all-time NBA three-point scorer, Ray Allen. The signing of the future Hall of Famer overjoyed Heat fans, but more importantly, it added great depth to the roster and excited Heat players. Having a player like Allen come off the bench adds yet another weapon to the Heat squad. Allen’s three-point shooting ability spreads out defenses, opening up driving lanes for James and Wade. They can pick-and-pop, drive and dish and even screen off the perimeter to free up jump shooters. Allen’s presence is not only a point booster, it make essentially makes the Heat offense impossible to contain.

“He [Allen] is a true professional,” James said in a press conference following a preseason game. “It’s a gift for us to have a Hall of Famer coming off the bench . . . He is a great guy. He will always be that type of guy.”

The Heat sure have the personnel in place to take it all the way. However, what they can’t control is the success of other teams across the league. Teams such as the Celtics, Knicks, and Nets have made significant improvements to their squads, and neither team seems even a bit intimidated by Miami.

Even if Miami is able to take the Eastern Conference title, they still have to go up against one of three hyper-energized Western Conference teams. They potentially could face the new and improved Lakers, young and athletic Thunder or the aged but experienced Spurs. Either of these matchups is a difficult one, and certainly not a smooth ride to a championship ring for the Heat. Miami sure has a lot coming their way, and lots of expectations to fulfill. Even with the best player in the league and perhaps the deepest bench in the NBA, the Heat are far from being the unanimous champions this season.

LeBron James

A Quick Look Before June

While we are only in November, the season has already given us quick implications of we can expect. Shockingly, the Lakers started off the season with a 1-4 record, which ranked dead last in the Western Conference. Shortly after, the Lakers fired head coach, Mike Brown, and have now recently hired Mike D’Antoni to fill the head coach spot. Early season struggles have certainly damaged the Lakers, a team that was expected to blast off after the season tip-off. Whether the problems may be from adjusting to a new team of guys, the Lakers certainly haven’t given their fans much to be proud of besides the productivity of Dwight Howard. So far in the season, Howard is averaged a double-double every night, with 19.1 points, 11.2 rebounds per page. Howard is also producing on the defensive end, averaging 2.6 blocks per game. However as we have seen so far, the Lakers need far more than numbers from Howard if they hope to make a push in the playoffs this year.

While our covered rookies have come off to a mediocre start so far, rookie shooting guard, Dion Waiters, from the Cleveland Cavaliers has already shown his superstar scoring ability. On November 6, Waiters hit seven three pointers against the Clippers. While it is unrealistic to expect these type of numbers night in and night out, Waiters has given us an exciting preview of the type of player he can become.

The Heat of course are rolling on, and have begun the season with an 8-3 start. Lebron James has already started stuffing the stats sheets, averaging 24.5 points, 6.5 assists and 9.0 rebounds per game. As we expected, Ray Allen has been productive off the bench, hitting 21 three pointer shots this year. His three point field goals are certainly numbers to follow carefully this season, for he might end up at the top of the list once again.

As for the Nets, the franchise has certainly met its hype coming into the 2012-2013 season. The team looks to have found its new identity, under coach Avery Johnson. The Nets have started off the season with a 6-2 start. On the offensive side of the ball, the Williams-Johnson backcourt has been greatly productive so far, averaging a combined 34.6 points per game.

The Nets have also shown a solid commitment on the defensive side of the ball, allowing only 92.9 points per game, which ranks them 6th overall in averaged points allowed this season. Although it is early, the Nets certainly look promising to finally make the playoffs this year.

We have seen quite a bit of basketball so far this November, however we still have eight more months ahead of kicking back in the living room with our snacks and sodas. For now, it’s all up to the games and stats to add up. Crunchtime is yet to come. For now, our role is to enjoy our root beer floats and potato chips under the bright lights of our living room arenas.

NBA Teams Infographic

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