Basketball Over Everything: My Top Ten Favourite Players For 2013/2014

If five year old Irving read our blog since our summer hiatus this is what he’d say, “Hey Irving, you’ve written plenty about music, comics, camp, music, and had your 50th post.  How about a post about basketball?  You know that sport you love or at least you say you do but now you seem more occupied with yoga.  By the way, you suck and I hate you.  You poo poo head.”

We can’t have an upset five year old Irving.  Here’s my NBA preview focusing on my ten favourite players heading into this season.  Instead of just doing a boring best case/worst case scenario for each player, I’m selfish so I will be breaking down my best/worst case scenario for them.  Also will include highlight mixes – another reason to be pumped for the upcoming season.

10. Kobe Bryant

Why I Care About Them:  Kobe makes my list?  My list?  Someone who will argue that MJ is the greatest ever until the day I die?  As recently as three years ago Kobe would never have sniffed this list.  However, as he has aged, he has grown on me.  Watching the Lakers suck last season made me empathize with Kobe, I wanted him to drag an old, broken down, sad excuse of a Laker team into the playoffs.  It was as if Kobe was in a burning building and everyone was jumping out and admitting defeat except for him.  He’s just too stubborn to want anything less than a ring.

Does this make me a Kobe fan?  Of course not.  However, I do respect the shit out of him and will admit that he is the second best shooting guard ever, one of the greatest Lakers ever, and a top eight player of all time.  I hope Kobe comes back from his injury with a vengeance, ages gracefully, and keeps up his reign as the old veteran who just doesn’t care what he says anymore.

My Best Case Scenario:  My best case scenario for Kobe is that he returns from his injury, the Lakers let him shoot as much as he wants and he somehow drags the Lakers to a seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs for a first round showdown with the Clippers.  And the Lakers get beat in four or five, leading to a summer where Kobe sounds off on Twitter.

My Nightmare Scenario:  The Lakers decide to throw away the year by sitting Kobe for the season, they trade Gasol, and tank.  Of course, this leads to the Lakers winning the lottery and taking Andrew Wiggins, because this is the type of shit that always happens to the Lakers.  In fact, if the Lakers weren’t run by Jim Buss, I’d be scared for this scenario to actually happen.

9. Lebron James

Why I Care About Them:  He’s the best player on the planet, going for his third straight championship, trying to lead his team to four straight Finals – which hasn’t happened since the Celtics did it in the 1980’s – he’s the best player on the planet, he can opt out of his contract after this season.  He’s Lebron; do I really need to say more?

My Best Case Scenario:  Miami is riddled with injuries through out the season, forcing Lebron to submit one of his best seasons ever just to have Miami keep up with Chicago and Indiana.  The Heat will hit a slump and people will question if they have enough juice after playing in three straight Finals for another long playoff run.

In the playoffs Lebron drags a hobbled Wade and the Heat to the Conference Finals where they lose to either Chicago or Indiana.  Lebron has a huge series in the loss and his lack of help is blamed for the defeat.  Lebron opts out of his contract and signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers and wins multiple championships with the number four player on this list.

My Nightmare Scenario: The Heat win their third straight championship.

8. Kawhi Leonard

Why I Care About Them: There’s a chance I’m overreacting to watching the majority of the Spurs playoffs run last season, but I love Kawhi’s game.  He seems like he’d be a fun person to play basketball with.  He’d be happy shooting ten times a game, he is good on ball defender, never does anything he can’t, and he crashes the offensive glass.  From an outsider’s perspective he seems to be the perfect Spur.  How could you not like a guy like that?

My Best Case Scenario: He takes the next step in his development, takes over a broken down Manu on the Spurs Big Three, has more plays for him called on offense, and helps the ageless Spurs make another long playoff run.  Pop and Timmy D still need number five.

My Nightmare Scenario: His improvement is only minor, this is the season the Spurs finally look old and get bounced in the second round.

7. Kevin Love

Why I Care About Them: Last year was a waste for the best power forward in the league today.  Here’s hoping that he finds his 2011/2012 form.  Also I can’t imagine a more fun NBA duo to play basketball with than Love/Rubio, who played a total of twenty-eight minutes together all last season.  Come on basketball Gods, we need more Ricky and Love in our lives.

My Best Case Scenario: He wins the rebounding title, cements his status as a franchise guy, makes the All-Star team and an All-NBA team, and leads the Timberwolves to their first playoff berth since 2004.

My Nightmare Scenario: He breaks his hand by doing knuckle push ups, misses chunks of the season which robs fans of a world where he and Rubio make sweet basketball poetry…AGAIN.

6. James Harden

Why I Care About Them: He is the best shooting guard in the league.  He has his own team, the max contract he sought, and their team looks like a contender on paper.  Bonus points for the beard and taking part in Summer is Serious.  Too bad everything in the second sentence had to come with a price and the price was Harden not being in OKC anymore playing with Durant and Westbrook.  Let’s move on before I punch something.

My Best Case Scenario: David Stern vetoes the Harden to Houston trade and reunites Durant, Westbrook, and Harden.  Harden continues to be the best shooting guard in the league, he runs the high screen and roll perfectly with Dwight, his defense improves, he gets another All-Star and All-NBA nod.  The Rockets come together quicker than expected and they make a run into the West Finals.

My Nightmare Scenario: Dwight Howard ruins everything, leading Harden to slap him in the face in the locker room, or practice, or during a game, or all of the above.

5. Tim Duncan

Why I Care About Them: I love Timmy D My favourite players of all time are: MJ, Scottie, Iverson, and Timmy D.  He will never drop any lower than five in my current favourite players rankings.

My Best Case Scenario: Father time is kept at bay for another year.  Duncan submits another consistent season, every other team in the West has enough cracks in them for the Spurs to get by them.  In a Finals rematch with the Heat, the Spurs come out on top as Timmy D and Pop ride off into the sunset.

My Nightmare Scenario: The Spurs finally look old and get bounced in the second round.

4. Kyrie Irving
3.Derrick Rose

Why I Care About Them: When making a list of my favourite ten players, I was surprised with how easy the names came, as well as ranking the players.  The toughest decisions were with Kyrie and D-Rose.  As much as I love Rose, he missed all of last season, while Kyrie had a bunch of stand out moments.  So why does Rose get the nod over Kyrie?  Because we know the Bulls are good, they won forty-nine games last season and made it to the second round without their former MVP point guard.  Also, I miss watching Derrick Rose play basketball, and while Kyrie is smooth and in my opinion has the best handles in the league, Rose is pure explosion.  He catapults himself into the teeth of the defense, gets lost in the swarm of bodies and limbs, and comes out on the other side for a scooping lay-up.  Sometime soon Rose will have to dial back his play because his body will take too much of a beating.  We’re on borrowed time with this reckless explosion of basketball that is D-Rose, enjoy it.

My Best Case Scenario: Kyrie leads the Cavs to the playoffs for the first time since Lebron was in town.  He makes another All-Star team, gets an All-NBA nod, and repeats as the Three Point Champion.  In the summer after Miami doesn’t three-peat he rejoins the Cavs, leading to a Kyrie/Lebron duo.

Rose returns to the level where he was before he got injured.  The Bulls beat the Heat on route to the Finals and the Bulls hang banner number seven.

My Nightmare Scenario: Kyrie continues his string of fluky injuries, the new parts on the Cavs don’t gel and Cleveland is in the lottery again.

Rose and the Bulls run into Lebron and the Heat and get squashed again.

2. Kevin Durant

Why I Care About Them: “Show me, don’t tweet me.”  #KDisnotnice 

I’ve been a KD fan since he was getting buckets during his time at Texas.  In high school I said he should’ve been the first pick in the draft.  He is the best pure scorer I’ve seen in my life.  What’s not to love?  He can score from anywhere.  At this point in his young career – he just turned twenty-five this past September – he’s stuck being the second best player in the NBA to a top ten player of all time.  The only way for KD to surpass Lebron is by winning titles.

Even though KD isn’t number one on this list, I can’t wait to see what happens with him this season.  To me he is the second most intriguing story line behind Lebron, we’ll see if he can finally push Lebron to the side.

My Best Case Scenario: KD gets pissed with everyone writing OKC off and saying they can’t do anything without Westbrook.  In response KD goes HAM during the regular season and wins his first MVP.  In the playoffs with a healthy Westbrook, they storm through the West in this order: Memphis, Houston, and the Clippers.  OKC wins it’s first title, Durant is named MVP, and question of whether he can win is never brought up again.  Do I think OKC will get there this season?  I’m skeptical, but KD will get there – he’s too good not to.

My Nightmare Scenario: OKC struggle with Westbrook out.  Even though they make the playoffs they get bounced in the second round leading to questions about KD and Westbrook leaving OKC and if their window has shut, leaving the once upon a time darlings of the NBA in shambles.

1. Chris Paul

Why I Care About Them: CP3 has been one of my favourite players since he was a sophomore at Wake Forest.  I have an affinity towards point guards and I adore CP3’s control over the game.  If Kyrie is smooth and if D-Rose is explosive, then CP3’s game is about nuance.  I think he’s the smartest player in all of basketball right now.  He can get to wherever he wants on the floor, he spends the first forty-three minutes getting everyone else involved and flowing, before taking over for the last five.  Despite what you feel about him, you’d want the ball in his hands on the last play of the game.  I can’t wait to see what he does with more weapons and a new coach.

My Best Case Scenario: His first NBA title and Finals MVP which cements his status as this generation’s Isiah Thomas and one of the five greatest point guards ever.

My Nightmare Scenario: The Clippers don’t gel, their lack of reliable big men bites them in the ass at the worst possible time and they get bounced in the second round.  Skeptics pick a part CP3’s game all summer, call him overrated, and say that a he can’t be the best player on a championship team.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole

It’s a good thing Irving and I don’t have a podcast and that this post doesn’t have a podcast twin – Irving would be talking so darn fast that he would probably forget to breathe and would end up passed out flat on the floor. And breaking out a defibrillator in the middle of a pod? That’s just poor form. When upright, Irving would pace the room throughout the entire pod, pausing only to do rage push-ups while naming Kobe and Lebron to the list. His voice would reach such a passionate pitch when discussing Chris Paul that listeners would have to speedily yank their headphones out of their ears to avoid hearing loss. And little podcast recording room, you’d have to duck and cover when the whole OKC trade thing came up. All furnishings would have to be securely bolted down.

Actually, maybe I do wish this post existed in the podcast realm – I wouldn’t even have to make an appearance in the recording room, as I would get approximately zero words in edgewise this entire podcast. I’m in.

Irving Chong (@Irving_Chong) and Nicole (@_nicoliooo) are co-creators of This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things even though it doesn’t make sense why they’re friends.

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