Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Official #BucksForest 2015 NBA Preview

NBA fans, we begin the 2015 season on the precipice.  The NFL is dominant; analogous to soccer in England or Cricket in Pakistan.  The NBA players, riled up from reading headlines instead of details, are steeling themselves for a union action.  The owners, in an effort to maximize short term franchise values, are increasing League exposure to unsustainable levels.  The Bucks, long an underachieving, yet stable, franchise, have begun pushing to find something that may not be there in Milwaukee.  These are scary times.

But what is life without conflict?  Nothing, that's what.  Life IS conflict.  And the Bucks are ready for 82 knock down, drag out fights that we all can enjoy.  So, forget the arena.  Forget the Kidd controversy.  Forget Frank Gimbel and forget Common Ground.  (And don't forget to substitute in a different F word for "forget".)  I want Good Brandon.  I want Jabari.  I want the Fortress on Fourth to be rocking on Halloween.

It's time to watch, talk about, write and read about the game of NBA basketball again.  Ain't it great?

2014 was probably the worst season in Bucks franchise history, but it actually ended up pretty good for #BucksForest predictions.  Here are the author's from last season, followed by the actual order of finish in parenthesis.  Predictions are based on regular season record, which the exception of spots 1 and 2.  Those are reserved for conference champions.

30. Some team decimated by injuries/Orlando (actual: Some team decimated by injuries - the Bucks!)
29. Phoenix (Philly) - didn't believe enough in Hornacek.
28. Philly (Orlando)
27. Hawks (Boston) - ranking them below Utah because they played in the East.
26. Cavs (Utah)
25. Boston (Lakers)
24. Blazers (Kings) - maybe my worst example of underrating.
23. Bobcats (Pistons)
22. T-Wolves (Cavs) - still proud that I predicted a playoff miss.
21. Pistons (Pels) - another proud playoff miss prediction.
20. Kings (Nugs)
19. Wizards (Knicks) - proud I had the Wiz in the playoffs.
18. Raptors (Hawks) - proud I had the Raps in.
17. Jazz (T-Wolves)
16. Bucks (Bobcats)
15. Warriors (Nets) - they almost missed, which would have been a great call.
14. Clippers (Wizards) - ugly prediction to have the Clips out.
13. Pelicans (Bulls)
12. Pacers (Raps) - way too low.
11. Nets (Suns)
10. Grizzlies (Mavs)
9. Lakers (Grizz) - maybe my worst overrating.
8. Thunder (Warriors)
7. Nuggets (Pacers) - I'll defend this because I thought Gallinari would play.
6. Mavs (Blazers)
5. Rockets (Rockets)
4. Heat (Clips)
3. Bulls (Thunder)
2. Knicks (Heat) - actually, this is my worst overrating.
1. Spurs (Spurs) - got the Champs, which I think was rare last season.

Some ugly stuff there, huh?  Some good stuff, too.  I knew that the 30th team would be decimated by injuries and I knew that the Spurs would win the championship.

Now, without any further ado, let's see how the NBA is going to go in 2015.

30) Some team decimated by injuries

Yes, I say the same thing every season, but this season it's actually a bold prediction.  Consensus is that Philly will be the worst team.  Even if Blake Griffin gets hurt and Chris Paul misses his usual 20 games and the Clippers' wings get old, the Sixers are expected to be worse than any team no matter what happens.

I say that Philly won't be the worst team.  I say that some team will finish below the Sixers because of injuries, internal strife or something else that is not readily apparent today.

So, who?

30) Los Angeles Lakers

Bad coach + bad role players + (recently) injury-plagued superstar = 30th place.

Admittedly, the Lakers' atrocious preseason is playing into this ranking.  I know that preseason is a time for experimentation and I know that many teams have followed up garbage preseasons with non-garbage regular seasons, but this team is bad.

One thing that gives me confidence in placing the Lakers below the Sixers is the presence of Byron Scott.  He should not be an NBA head coach.  It still mystifies me that he beat out Mike Dunleavy -- who I think got an unfair shake with towards the end with the Clippers -- for the Lakers' head coaching job.  Even though he has more established veterans than he had in Cleveland, the man seems so stuck in the past that a last place finish is quite possible.

29) Milwaukee Bucks

Sorry.  I just think they want to stink.

Why, you ask, would this team want to stink?  A team with new owners?  A team that has trouble selling tickets?  A team with a coach who is used to winning?  Because I have a feeling that the new owners think that they've outsmarted the game.  I think that Edens & Lasry think that losing is better than winning in 2015.  I think that they think that they need a third young "stud" to team with The Grecian Formula and Jabari.  I think that they think that the only place worth being in the NBA is in the top tier.  And I think that they think that the only way to get there is to have high draft picks.

What I wanted to write is that The Colonel and Big Ers will become a solid frontcourt again.  And that Juice Mayo can still be a great 3-and-D guy.  And that the franchise believes in Good Brandon.  But I can't.  At least not in a predictions column.  My feeling is that Jason Kidd is in cahoots with the new owners in wanting another ugly record.  I hope that I'm wrong (actually I hate it when people say that; they never mean it) and that the Bucks will try to put together a playoff run in 2015.

We will be able to tell early whether the Bucks want to win or not.  Teams that set aside big minutes for young players, keep able vets on the bench and trade away good players for future draft picks are not interested in having a winning season.  I expect to see all of those things from the 2015 Bucks.

28) Philadelphia 76ers

The first strike against conventional wisdom.

First of all, I think they are not trying to lose.  I think it is different from being willing to lose.  This is a roster put together by men who are willing to lose.  But I think the team will play hard and I think management would be very happy if this roster of players won this season.

People may not recognize a lot of these guys, but they have some players.  Tony Wroten is my 2015 fantasy basketball sleeper.  I think he is better than Michael-Carter Williams.  The frontcourt is bad (Mason Plumlee looked like Shaq against them in preseason), but they are young and they will learn the tricks of playing under the basket.  Most of their young players were not top prospects, but that doesn't mean they can't fill a role.  Maybe Henry Sims can bang, Hollis Thompson can shoot the three and Nerlens Noel can protect the rim.  They will finish better than expected.

27) Orlando Magic

Jacque Vaughn is coaching an NBA basketball team.  There are some possibilities here.  Perhaps Vaughn is willing to work for cheap.  Perhaps management wants a coach who won't do too well, so that another high draft pick can be gleaned.  Perhaps Magic GM Rob Hennigan is a full time dunce.  These are all logical.

If the Magic are attempting to be the modern Thunder, then Orlando's 2015 will probably be like the Thunder's 2009.  Some young pieces were in place (Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic, in this case), an inept head coach was at the helm and after a slow start (1-12!!!), the inept coach was fired.  I expect Vaughn to last longer than PJ Carlisimo did during the 2009 season, but I expect the 2015 Magic to post a record similar to 2009 OKC's (23-59).

26) Minnesota Timberwolves

Oh, Kevin Love.  You left a fan base that loved you.  You left them with a starting five of Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Young and Pekovic.  (Wait a minute.)  A crew of rotation reserves featuring the likes of Dieng, Cunningham, Wiggins and Mo Williams.  (Actually, that's pretty good.)

Hold on.  They're not that bad.

26) Sacramento Kings

Ahh.  There we go.  Bad owner.  Bad coach.  Disjointed roster.  Now, this is a bad team.

Much has been made of DeMarcus Cousins's play at the Worlds over the summer.  And I like Boogie Cousins.  But two weeks with Coach K is very different than six months with Mike Malone.  Not many teams would trade Kyrie Irving for Darren Collison or James Harden for Ben McLemore, either.

As an aside, it is striking just how inept the Vivek-led Kings seem to be.  If the mini-doc of the team's draft was an accurate indicator, then that franchise is in trouble.  The franchise hierarchy appears to be:

Boogie
...Vivek
......Front office stooges
.........Malone
............Other players

I can't see what else would compel the team to dump its best player (Isaiah Thomas) and replace him with an aging penetrator and a guy coming off a fluke season.

Rudy Gay could end up making the author's prediction look silly.  He shot 48% for the Kings last season, which was in the neighborhood of how he shot before his infamous max contract extension.  He still turned the ball over too much and he still forgot how to play defense from time to time, but if he focuses he could help carry this team into playoff contention.

25) New York Knicks

Ah, yes.  Another team that I rated way too highly last season, and am possibly rating way too low this season.

The Carmelo phenomenon fascinates me.  Lots and lots of people regard him as a good, or even great player.  For media types and bloggers, that's understandable.  What mystifies me is basketball people.  Why do they like him?  He's a chucker.  When motivated he'll rebound, but he's unmotivated way too often.

Then there's Derek Fisher.  He always seemed like a trickster rather than a cerebral player.  It's possible that he'll be able to coach, but I'm expecting another Kurt Rambis situation.

24) Boston Celtics

Just like last season, this is all Rondo.  I just think the guy is great and that he won't accept being on a team that is truly scraping the bottom.  Last season it didn't work out.  His injury kept him out longer than I expected.  This season I expect him to play all year and play well.

The team around Rondo is kind of hard to figure.  My gut feeling is that Sullinger might be good, but I also wonder if he's a guy who can't thrive against good big men.  I loved Marcus Smart before the draft, but now I'm wondering if he's a scoring point guard without touch at the rim or a jump shot.  Jeff Green and Evan Turner are two guys who just seem like they don't get it, but they both have obvious skills.

I feel good about the Celtics at 24.  On the other hand...

23) New Orleans Pelicans

Throughout the entire offseason I thought I'd have the P-Cans higher.  Everyone loves Anthony Davis.  Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon can be a hot backcourt duo.  Ryan Anderson looks like he's back and Omer Asik may be in a perfect situation.

Actually...

23) Los Angeles Clippers

There we go.  This is where I wanted the Clips, but I almost chickened out.

In some ways it's fun to have a supposed title contender listed three quarters of the way down the league, but it is a little bit scary.  I predicted a playoff miss for the Clips last season, so if I'm wrong this season I'll have to start wondering if it's becoming outright haterism.

The reasons for the low Clippers prediction (weak backup to the oft-injured Chris Paul; overrated bench wings; DeAndre Jordan being unreliable) are all still there.  Spencer Hawes was brought in to back up Jordan.  That is a solid move.  The problem is that they lucked into Darren Collison last season, and I don't see Jordan Farmar replicating that high level of play.  JJ Redick was solid when he played, but now I think he's getting old.  Matt Barnes was excellent, but it seems that he's lost his shot and ability to play top defense.

Blake Griffin is still there, and he is a superb player.  But so is Kevin Love.  So is Boogie Cousins and so is LaMarcus Aldridge.  There are a lot of superb players in the West and every year a couple of them miss the playoffs.  I think this is Blake's year to miss.

22) New Orleans Pelicans

In the end it's a numbers game.  Too many good teams in the West and not enough playoff spots.

21) Charlotte Hornets

Here's some classic NBA Algebra:

Charlotte Playoffs 2014 + All-Star Guard = Charlotte Playoffs 2015

Unfortunately for the Bugs, that's not how things work.  They made the playoffs last season, but a lot had to go right.  McBobs (now gone to Miami) had to be an active big man.  Al Jefferson had to play the best defense of his life.  The Knicks had to take an unexpected tumble.  Kemba Walker had to play better than I ever expected him to.

This feels like a year to go backwards.  I love Lance, but I don't love Lance here.  Lance is best with the ball, but I doubt that Kemba and Al will let him have it.  Lance tends to ride highs and lows, and I don't know if the team has the guns to stop things from getting too low.  It reminds me a little bit of the unfortunate Anthony Mason era with the Bucks.  I never blamed Mase alone, but for whatever reason his addition set the team back.

20) Utah Jazz

I really want to rank them higher.  I like Favors and Hayward.  I think Burks and Exum are fine guards who will get finer.  I think Rudy Gobert will be excellent for them on defense.

The West is just too tough.  Nine of the remaining ten West teams all expect to play in the postseason.  Most of them think they have a shot at winning it all.  Utah may be thinking postseason as well, but until Exum has a couple of years under his belt I can't trust the guards here.

19) Miami Heat

Maybe their putrid preseason shouldn't matter.  Maybe Chris Bosh can be a top offensive option again.  Maybe Luol Deng is not who Dan Gilbert (or whoever the Cavs person was who leaked the "African" dig to Danny Ferry was) thinks he is.  Maybe Spoelstra is too good a coach to miss the playoffs.  (That last one is the one I'm closest to believing.)  But this smells bad.  It smells like a long, frustrating season that could go even further south than a near playoff miss.

18) Brooklyn Nets

At last!  We're in the Playoffs!  (Actually, we still have two more non-playoff teams to go in the West.  And I know that everyone says that the East is better this year, but I just can't trust it.)

I don't see the Nets contending for the Championship.  And when Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team several years ago, he promised that they'd be a championship contender by this point.  It's not so much that they lost too many good players (in fact, I think losing Pierce will be a net positive) or that Hollins is a big downgrade from Kidd (though I do think that Kidd is better).  I just think that they'll have trouble with Lopez, one way or another.  In fact, that rumor of a Larry Sanders-for-Brook Lopez trade sounded like a winner for both sides.  Too bad it was reportedly Jason Kidd who wanted The Colonel.

17) Indiana Pacers

Yes, the roster looks bad.  Yes, David West is done.  Yes, Hibbert looked like a head case.  Yes, George Hill would have to score a lot more than he is likely to in order for this 7th seed to happen.

I just like Vogel.  I think he makes great adjustments and I was so impressed that he got that mess of a group to the conference finals last season.  I also think that Paul George is overrated (less than two years after he was clearly underrated).  They can cobble together 95 points per game and win with defense.  And remember, great big men tends to carry the day in this league.  If Hibbert is great again (and I think he will be), then I just can't see this team missing the playoffs.

16) Golden State Warriors

Here we go again.  Last season, I picked the Clippers and Warriors to miss the playoffs.  While Golden State undoubtedly missed expectations, the Clippers did not.  And both made it in (and had an epic series, with yours truly attending game 7).  I already picked the Clippers to have a mess of a season, and I am expecting the same from Golden State.

I don't trust Steve Kerr.  I doubt that he is a great strategic coach and I don't buy that he will be able to inspire his players when the going gets tough.  The West is a tough place.  Every team expects to make the playoffs (even the Jazz and T-Wolves, I'm telling you) and the Dubs will not get any nights off.  I think that trading Steve Blake's shooting and defense for Shawn Livingston's vision and flow may end up being the wrong fit.  It's a pessimistic view, but I have them out.

15) Phoenix Suns

This one is tough.  9th place again after that wonderful run in 2014.  I think Hornacek is a super coach and I love Dragic's fire and versatility.  I think Bledsoe is a rare commodity as an on the ball defender.  I want to see them in.

I have to go back to what I wrote about the Suns a year ago: big men matter more than guards.  Their best players are guards.  They almost won 50 games last year riding those guards, but their big men played great.  So great, in fact, that I think their big men will regress.  I don't see the Morris twins playing so well again and I think that the Nets have the better Plumlee.  Things will be different in a few years when TJ Warren gets good.  For now, however, I have them out.

14) Minnesota Timberwolves

I didn't forget about these guys.  I just reconsidered.

Conventional wisdom is that this team will struggle without Kevin Love.  And they might.  I am not going to go on and on about Kevin Love here, because I've already made clear on twitter (@benmiller) and elsewhere that Kevin Love has holes in his game.  But this team will be able to rebound without him (I love the Pek/Dieng combo down low) and score without him (even though I don't expect much from Wiggins or LaVine).

I also like Flip.  He has all of the well known cases of falling short when he has great teams, but this is not a great team.  It's a borderline team that needs to play together.  I think that they will.

13) Washington Wizards

Here's another one that falls outside of the typical range.  The Wiz were a 5 seed last year, retained all of their top players, brought in Paul Pierce and Kris Humphries, and now I'm expecting them to get worse.

The big worry for me is Bradley Beal's injury.  I think Bradley Beal is great.  I think that he's going to be the best off guard in the league pretty soon and I think the former Bullets were wise to keep him instead of dealing him for James Harden.  Beal was injured last season as well.  I'm not ready to call him injury prone, but I am willing to drop the team below my East sleeper.

12) Detroit Pistons

I just like Van Gundy.  I think back to all of those games when Dwight Howard make Andrew Bogut and a host of other Bucks big men look inept.  Howard is a fantastic player (more on that later), but in hindsight I think that Van Gundy was using him in the absolute best way possible.

Van Gundy will find a way to make Detroit's awkward frontcourt work.  If he has to bench or trade someone, he'll do it.  But he will find the right combination to make this team a terror on the boards and at the rim.

The guards are a worry, but part of this high prediction is based on me expecting something from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  He is going to get a ton of opportunities playing with Monroe and Jennings.  I expect him to post solid numbers (fantasy alert) and help this team get to the playoffs.  They also have salary flexibility, especially if they can find a taker for Josh Smith's talents.

11) San Antonio Spurs

Eleven ain't so bad.  When you're coming off a championship, it may look bad.  When there are six other West teams ahead of you, it looks bad.  When you're used to winning with your stars and playing well with your scrubs and bringing every player into just the right role, eleven feels low.

This prediction is basically that the Spurs get old.  Like the 1964 Yankees or the 1978 Celtics, I think we are at the end of a great run.  They got their revenge on the Heat.  Duncan has as many as Kobe.  They surely want to have that fire but I think their bodies will not keep up.

I actually could see a full-on tank job coming.  If the West ends up being tough and if the best possible scenario starts looking like a 7 or 8 seed, I wouldn't be shocked to see Duncan shut it down.  The franchise did an instant rebuild when it unexpectedly had a bad season in 1997.  It could happen again.

10) Chicago Bulls

People seem to really like the Bulls this season.  I don't get it.  Derrick Rose is back, but even optimists don't expect him to be close to his former (robbing Dwight Howard of the) MVP level.  Pau was the big offseason pickup, but he stunk last season.  He played great in the World Championships (I think that calling it the World Cup is so silly), but then Rudy Gobert iced him.  I also think that Boozer's departure will hurt more than most people think.

Thibs doesn't do the lottery.  In fact, he doesn't even come close.  So I think that the Bulls will stay close to the top of the East.  I just don't see them as a real contender.

9) Denver Nuggets

They're still my boys.  Last season I went against the grain and predicted that Denver would continue the hot play that they showed in 2013.  They didn't.  But I have excuses!  Gallinari's absence hurt a heck of a lot.  They made a mistake in counting on JaVale McGee.  Andre Miller should have been let go earlier.

This is the year that I think Brian Shaw shines as a coach.  I think they can score, I think that Hickson, Mozgov and Faried make a great frontcourt and I think that rookie Gary Harris (aka Dwyane Wade Without The Steroids) will become a factor by March or April.  There is almost always a surprise playoff team in the West, and this is my pick for 2015.

8) Atlanta Hawks

One thing that has irked me in recent years is inaccurate grading of trades.  For example, conventional wisdom is that the Celtics won the KG/Pierce trade to the Nets.  I say, "look at their records".  We have only had one year since that trade, and the Nets (despite a first year coach and an injury to their starting center) were 5 wins worse than the previous season.  The Celtics were 16 wins worse!  One can argue that the Celtics were rebuilding or tanking or whatever, but a win is a win.  I want the Bucks to lead the league in Championships over the next decade, but I also want them to have more wins than anyone.  And the Nets have a big lead on the Celtics after one year, with this year likely to shake out similarly.

The famous (or infamous) Joe Johnson trade is another example of inaccurate trade grading.  Johnson has now played two seasons for the Nets.  The Nets only won 51 combined games in the two seasons prior to the Johnson trade (and that's with extrapolating out the win percentage in the 66 game lockout season of 2012) and have won 93 games in the two seasons since.  The Hawks won 94 games in the two years prior to the Johnson trade (again, extrapolating out for the lockout in 2012) and only 82 in the two seasons after.  So, it's Nets +42 wins, Hawks -12 wins so far.  So, the Nets didn't necessarily lose that Joe Johnson trade.  At least, not yet.  Because...

I like this Hawks team.  A lot.  I think that Horford will be the best center in the East.  I think that matching the Bucks' offer for Jeff Teague turned out to be a fantastic move.  I think that if the players around those two guys play their roles to their capabilities, this team will play attractive basketball, win lots of games and finally excite the city of Atlanta.

I'm in on the Hawks like I was in on the Wizards last spring.  I predicted an NBA Finals appearance for the Wiz, but they fell well short.  I am expecting a top four seed for the Hawks.

7) Dallas Mavericks

In my first draft, they were low.  I figured that Dirk will finally start slipping.  I figured that Tyson Chandler is no longer a defensive force.  I figured that Chandler Parsons is a role player and nothing more.

And you know what?  I still think those things.  But they also have Rick Carlisle, Monta Ellis, more help on the wings, better bigs and the strong desire to not be the third team in Texas.  I say they have a renaissance in the regular season (followed by a likely spanking in the first or second round of the playoffs).

6) Memphis Grizzlies

I just love these guys.  I've loved Z-Bo since that time the Blazers almost came back from down 0-3 on the Mavs.  I've loved Marc Gasol since I first watched him make a one-handed pass.  I love John Hollinger, the ex-ESPN writer who is now a personnel guy in Memphis.

This feels like a dangerous team.  They acquired just what they needed in Vince Carter.  They have a full season with Beno Udrih as the backup to Mike Conley.  They have a full year under their belts with the new coach.  They are primed.  They want the gold.  They will be ready.

I have the Grizzlies as the fourth best team in the west for reasons that are unclear.  Actually...

6) Portland Trailblazers

There.  I like the Blazers and I think that last year wasn't a fluke, but I'm putting them behind my guys in Memphis.

5) Toronto Raptors

In fact, I'm moving Memphis up again.  DeRozan is a Trojan and I think the Valanciunas/Amir frontcourt is one of the toughest in the East, but Memphis is better.  I even like Lou Williams, but not enough to put the Raps above the four seed in the West.  (And actually, I know I'm covering my rear end here, but I would not be shocked if Toronto had a bad year.  Lowry doesn't feel like the guy you want to pay long term.)

4) Memphis Grizzlies

There.

3) Houston Rockets

Now for the two scoundrels that I can't pick above Memphis, and my East champion.

The Rockets are set up to kill.  Harden and Howard like each other, and they are great.  They want to kill people who think they needed Chandler Parsons.

Patrick Beverly, Isaiah Canaan and Troy Daniels are all very good, underrated guards.  Terrence Jones is a better big man than he gets credit for.  I don't necessarily like Ariza (he's a Bruin), but he will probably be an apt replacement for Parsons.

The one potential sticking point is Kevin McHale.  Is he a great coach?  A bootlick?  A guy who struggles to make adjustments?  A guy who just got unlucky against the Blazers last season?  All of those things?

I think McHale will get the job done.  I am unsure if the Rockets will make the West finals, the NBA finals or get ousted early again.  But my gut feeling is that they have a great season.

2) Cleveland Cavaliers

When I did a rough draft of my playoff picks over the summer, I didn't even have the Cavs in.  The playoffs, that is.  I felt that protecting the rim is more important than ever.  That preventing guard penetration is more important than ever.  And that Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving have never shown interest in doing either of those things.

Then I saw preseason.  And I know I'm not supposed to overreact to preseason and I know that the last half decade is littered with examples of Kevin Love exterminating the Bucks in October and playing golf in April, but they looked great.  That offense just looks too good.  LeBron may have lost a step and Waiters may be a little selfish and Love may shrink when he has to handle widebody bigs, but I don't care.  I think they will tear people apart on offense to the point that their defense won't matter.

They probably should be the Championship pick.  The East will be an easier path and the Cavs will be hungry.  I just can't quite do it ahead of...

1) Oklahoma City Thunder

I have been telling friends since the moment last season ended (which was really the moment the Thunder lost, because picking the Spurs to beat the Heat was the easiest choice since picking the NFC in a 90's Super Bowl) that 2015 will be the Thunder's year.  Durant and Westbrook are just so awesome.  I've doubted Durant since college.  He got smoked by USC in the second round of the NCAAs.  As a rookie he couldn't get to the rim.  He's not quite quick enough to keep most wings in front of him.  Who cares?  He's a killer and he wants it.  I think he's going to get it.

The one worry, of course, is that Durant's injury could be just the start of his decline.  I hate to end this fine preview on a bad note for Wizards fans (because, let's face it, they are all expecting Mr. Business Tats to go home when his contract is up), but I worry.  Durant has a body like mine (tall, super thin lower legs and arms with a slightly wider torso and core), and my body is not that of an athlete.  I am 37 and I can still play tennis and basketball semi-regularly, but I had to slow down long ago.  By age 27 (Durant is 26 now), I had to start playing almost an old man's game.  My body type just can't handle the pounding on the lower body.  I worry that his also can't.

I think that Durant will get through this season.  I think that he will be great, that the Thunder will make any moves necessary to have the best team in the spring and I think that Clay Bennett will accept the Championship Trophy (I can't in good conscience call a trophy by the name of a man who did his job at a level that was so obviously below the level of the commissioner who followed him) with a big ol' Okie smile on his face.

It's going to be a fun season no matter what happens, and I can't wait to watch it, read about it, and write about the Bucks.

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