10. Philadelphia 76ers The Philadelphia 76ers have been a surprise practically all season long, but the revival of former superstar Elton Brand and the up and coming all-star in Andre Iguodala. Jrue Holiday and Louis Williams have been doing a great job running the backcourt, and their mostly young team has done a great job pounding down on the old legs of the Boston Celtics. They also did a great job of knocking off the Bulls and taking advantage of the Derrick Rose injury early in the series.
9. JaVale McGee JaVale McGee has always been famous for one thing, being an idiot. That reputation wasn’t really shed this year, but after being swung to the Denver Nuggets at the trade deadline, JaVale being dominating especially during the playoffs, grabbing rebounds and scoring consistently. What does this do for the Nuggets next year?
8. Tim Duncan I cant seem to figure out whether its 2012 or 1997 because Tim Duncan seems 16 not 36. He seems to have found some athleticism in the 7 foot frame of his, leading the Spurs to 23 out of 25 victories, 8-0 in the playoffs.
7. San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard This kind of relates to the number 7 Tim Duncan, but this revolves around how “veteran-esque” young man Kawhi Leonard is. A rookie with hands larger then a basketball is playing the game as if he has been in the league for a decade. This obviously has to do with the mature, veteran presence around him, but for someone at his age, it is a surprise that the excitement didn’t affect him. The team and Leonard have proven to mesh perfectly.
6. Los Angeles Lakers The above points have all been relatively positive and complimenting age, whole the next couple with also relate to the age, but negatively. The Lakers have a lot of young hope in Bynum and Sessions, but the last thing you’d expect is for veteran superstars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to bring the team down, which they did as they lost to the young and athletic Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games. Unlike the Spurs, this veteran squad proved to be lacking against this young team, and their veteran power only pulled them down rather then bringing them up.
5. Boston Celtics Yes, the core of the Boston Celtics is most likely done, but still powerful with a combo of sharp shooters and grizzly like big men, therefore you would expect them to breeze by a team that got lucky beating the Chicago Bulls, but its been the opposite as it has led to a seven game series. Despite their age, the team should be led by Rajon Rondo, a point guard who I feel can lead any team through a powerful play-off push, but the young guard seems scared to lead the time, putting all the weight on the should of the Big 3 who’s knees clearly cannot handle it.
4. Derek Fisher Fish has got to be one of the oldest guys in the league, but definitely one of the most loyal and clutch players. He clearly had a love for the Lakers and being traded away at the deadline must of killed, but he didn’t show it. If it wasn’t for him the Thunder probably would not have put the Lakers away in 5, maybe 6, but not 5. He didn’t seem to let his feelings get in the way of daggering some clutch shots throughout the series.
3. Indiana Pacers Everyone expected the Pacers do well, with Granger, Hibbert, West, Collison and Barbosa running the show, that a pretty talented line-up, but I saw a lot of unexpected bright spots in the 6-game Miami Heat series. Although they only won two games, they battled a lot harder and pushed a lot harder then some believed could be possible. Next year, I expect them to be a force in the East.
2. Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith Straight up, I did not expect SVG to get fired, but Otis Smith I did. Smith should have traded Dwight for something while he wanted out, instead the Magic are stuck with his contract for an extra year only to seem him cut out in 2013, Smith is out of a job and the Magic are out of a coach who I believe to be a potential Hall of Famer. The one time championship caliber team is headed to the gutter with bad moves made by both Otis Smith and Front Office. Thank goodness Shaquille O’Neal is no longer interested in the GM position or who knows what would happen.
1. Allen Iverson “The Answer” made an appearance in Game 6 of the 76ers versus Boston Celtics series, and despite all of the paparazzi, he didn’t care how “thug” his appearance was as long as he was loyal, sporting the 76ers hat, jersey and jacket. It was really out of the blue for Iverson to appear at the game, but it sure gave a boost to the team and the crowd. A bigger surprise would have been to jump on the court though.
By: Aaron Rabinovits