Everything you hear leading up to the start of the regular season, is who is going to win the NBA Championship? Everyone has their picks right? I am not too keen on making predictions since anything can happen with injuries and unexpected breakthroughs being thrown into the mix. Look at last year's finals. No one thought the Celtics would have made it as far as they did and no one thought the Lakers would have to fight as hard as they did to win the title. With this being said, with no clear challenger in the Western Conference and barring any serious injuries, the Lakers are looking good to come out on top. In the Eastern conference, I know everyone is talking about Miami but I wouldn't rule out the Boston Celtics or the Orlando Magic. I really hope for the fans' sake, the Raptors make the playoffs because they have been showing some real signs of brilliance and playing some exciting basketball. Honestly? I think Chris Bosh leaving was the best thing to happen to the Raptors since players like DeMar DeRozen, Sonny Weems and the like, are getting a chance to really prove what they can do now without being under Bosh's shadow. They are playing more team-oriented basketball and the play no longer revolves around getting it to one person. Today, let's talk about Derrick Rose, Allen Iverson and some rookies to watch this season.
My Favourite 5 NBA Rookies to watch and why
I am sure some of you will agree and some of you will agree to disagree, but here are some rookies I will be keeping an eye this season:
TIMOFEY MOZGOV, NEW YORK KNICKS: For the same reason I liked Andrea Bargnani when he came to the Raptors from Italy, is one of the same reasons I will be watching Timofey Mozgov. Something needs to be said about a player going from one culture to another and learning a new 'basketball language' on top of it. He comes to the Knicks after playing six seasons in Russia and didn't put up stunning numbers but he has the ability to hit the long jumper which he feels his previous coach didn't utilize.
JOHN WALL, WASHINGTON WIZARDS: You have to watch this guy and the rest of the starting line-up from Kentucky for that matter. He is quick and is a strong defender - a good combination for steals. I know he was the top pick for his skills but a good player should also be judged on how he makes his team better. Remember, Kentucky had all five starters drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, including Wall. Let's see how this 20-year-old affects the Wizards.
BLAKE GRIFFIN, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: Finally, something to get me excited about watching the L.A. Clippers. I know he was drafted in 2009 but he didn't play last season after injuring his knee in the pre-season. He's calling this his "official" rookie season. He seems to have fully recovered from his injury and is ready to play. He is hungry to show how he can bang up with the big boys of this league at 6 foot 10, 250 pounds and if his 2009 pre-season play is any indication (17.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 30 minutes of play), he will surely bring it.
DEMARCUS COUSINS, SACRAMENTO KINGS: Another Kentucky product to watch. You know, people said this kid was out of shape and needed an attitude adjustment but he really has come into own. Look at his stats: 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds and he is also able to bang inside to get up and under. Remember Michael Jordan's famous 'switch hands' up and under move vs the Lakers? Look for Cousins to be just as distracting.
DERRICK FAVOURS, NEW JERSEY NETS: He is the youngest player in the NBA at 19 years old and won ACC Rookie of the Year honours at Georgia Tech. Some players have made it in this league with staring out so young but I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first about Favours. I like to see players mature a little under the tutelage of their college coach and come to the NBA prepared. He was reportedly in a deal to trade for Carmelo Anthony remember, which could totally throw a wrench into the 20 minutes he was expected to get in New Jersey. Part of me is concerned about him, the other part is looking to see him get through his first year in the NBA and watch him develop.
Options are exercised on Derrick Rose
Good news for Chicago Bulls fans. The organization has exercised the fourth-year contract option on Derrick Rose which means he'll be under contract with the Bulls for the 2011-2012 season. Good move. Also, the Bulls want to keep Taj Gibson and James Johnson on for the same season and took the third-year options on their contracts. Taj Gibson and James Johnson are good additions to the team but clearly, Derrick Rose was coming back. There was no way Bulls management could ignore the 18.7 points per game or the fact he was the first Bulls player named to an All-Star team since Michael Jordan in 1998. There's a sense of history and longevity with Rose. What happens after 2012, remains to be seen.
Let's get on with already - Iverson about to make up his mind
"You do it to yourself, you do. And that's what really hurts is you do it to yourself, just you and no one else..." - Radiohead. This was the first song that popped into my head when I read an official from Besiktas, a Turkish basketball team, is about to meet with Allen Iverson. You know, I really like Allen Iverson as a player and really wanted to see an NBA club pick him up. But the more I think about it, Iverson had a chance to play in the NBA this season but he didn't want to be on the bench. Now he's going to consider going overseas and away from the NBA where he really wants to be? He's leaving some options open to come back, but if a team doesn't want him now, only a serious injury would change their mind about his place on their roster. As a Besiktas team official, why would you hire an employee who is going to bolt the first chance he gets? Pure bananas, is all I have to say. Pure Bananas.
"Behind Enemy Lines"
Remember to join me here on the DNB this Thursday when we will take a look at the Raptors' opponents for the coming week - see you then.