Monday, October 25, 2010


It’s the eve of regular season play and the time of year when various blogs put forth their division depth charts - teams usually ranked one though eight for east and west or one through five for sub-divisions or some other pertinent number like 78 cents for how much money Searching for Slava made through ad hits in its first month of glory. This blog’s not just about the ducats though, notwithstanding the last post title which was an admittedly lame attempt to bring in traffic through a certain gossip girl correlation. Eminem deserved better. Anyway. Above-mentioned Kreskin feats are always fun to read but writing that stuff’s like literary quicksand for me. I get to the second or third team down from my Lakers and realize that an hour’s gone by, it’s all a dark void and I want candy, Excedrin and naptime, in that order.

What does pique my interest is the best of the worst. It’s probably why I like reading Basketbawful, why I gravitate to the longest shot on the tote or an over-classed boxer with a puncher’s chance. Give me your flotsam and jetsam, your tired, your street poets, your huddled masses yearning to breathe rancid barroom smoke. My sports heroes run to Silky Sullivan,  Jersey Joe Walcott, Mark 'the bird' Fidrych, William ‘the fridge’ Perry and don’t ever forget Slava.  In my dream of playoff dreams I’d watch the worst team in the league mount an unfathomable run of runs to the finals where they’d face my beloved Lakers in a blaze of redemptive glory and get stomped senseless.  'Cause that's how I roll.

So without further restless finger syndrome, my dark horse picks for the 8th slot, west then east. No sixes, sevens or nines.

The West:

The T-Wolves. There’s been a lot of blogger speculation that the team won’t break 20 wins this year but methinks that’s based on the past few seasons and a tendency to stick one’s head in the boggy marsh. They’ve got Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, Luke Ridenour and the tri-headed eastern comedy bloc of Darko Milicic, Kosta ‘the dancer’ Koufous and Nikola Pekovic who’s averaging nearly 10 ppg in his rookie preseason. Who is this guy? Rambis is running a hybrid triangle that’s got a much better flow than last season and they’re looking pretty legit so far.

The Clippers. Of course. These guys have turned free fall into an art form over the years. There is absolutely no other team in sports that has boasted so much talent and done so little with it. They’re an injury waiting to happen, the crappiest owner in eague history, a who’s who archive of Bill Walton to World B. Free and at any given moment, able to beat the best teams in the league before beating themselves. This year, Blake Griffin is back and holding nothing in reserve. There’s nothing like watching a high-fly act that’s built like a linebacker.

Golden State. They probably wouldn’t have made my list with Nellie gone but the other night in a preseason OT loss to the Lakers, Keith Smart chose to run Monta Ellis for 53 minutes. Way for a first-time head coach to plan career suicide. Add Steph Curry, David Lee, Vlad Rad and Andris Biedrins and it could be anything from feast to lottery.

The East:

The New York Knickerbockers. They seem to be on everybody’s radar right now for the 8th slot by process of general elimination and eternal wishful thinking. They obviously didn’t make the big free agency splash they were looking for but Amare/D’Antoni part deux isn’t really all that hair-brained - I saw some of the training camp footage and the team looks quasi-solid. Their revolving door has been second to none over the past decade but they have some decent players in Wilson Chandler, big energizer bunny Turief and hard-working Raymond Felton. When’s the last time these guys made it to the playoffs anyway? To be honest, I haven’t really paid much attention since Spree left.  Miss that guy.

Cleveland. For some really good reasons. Byron Scott for one thing.  And the city themselves. They deserved a whole lot better than what they got from LeBron. They still have Varejao and Jamison. There’s not a lot of size but Powe knows how to bang and there’s a couple undrafted rookies who earned their way onto the roster during camp so who knows? Might be a little Bad News Bears thing going on after the big screw job. Which leads me to saving the best for last.

The Miami Heat. Yeah, that’s right. Because I’m hopin’ they stumble so badly out of the starting gate that they’re all but written off by the All-Star break at which time they mount the mother of all comebacks. ESPN rises cheering to its feet and stays there stupidly until the three horsemen’s vainglorious arrival at the finals... which results in a win less DEATH. Peace and happiness, people.

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