The Movement Don't Squint

You may have noticed the distinct absence of a FreeDarko season preview in the run-up to '06-07. We gave you the meta-Zen of the Fifty Greatest, though in retrospect it might've also been wise to hit you with our Pillars of Strength (Stars, Potential, Style, Psychology, and Socio-Political Intrigue, thought not necessarily in that order). And with all forthrightness, I sat down here to assemble something roughly equivalent to last year's hyper-obscurist five touchstones, if not the follow-up to our trippy, Hawks-centric chat.

With my heart in gear and fingers ready to tap away, I quickly realized that there just wasn't one there. If I have one prevailing hunch about what we're about to face, it's that there are precious few gaping question, hype-laden circumstances, or clear-cut struggles for dominance. Of course, journalists have to whip up entanglement so they'll have material for their previews; blogs often know the real score, but they need something to thematize their endless information digs. Therefore, without intending any disrespect to other writers of this earth, I would like to offer up to you FIVE THINGS WE REALLY SHOULDN'T BE TALKING ABOUT.

The Raptors: Executives do not run the floor. They don't even coach. And they certainly don't initiate seamless decision-making and crisp passing. So for all the talk of the newly-transmogrified "Suns North," all interested parties would do well to pay attention to their roster's track record, as well as that of Mr. Sam Mitchell. Ditto for T.J. Ford, whose "pure point" rep stems mostly from poor shooting and an eagerness to wear those stripes. Dude can get up and down the floor like lightning, but unless he's laying it in, there's a good chance imprecision will reign. Plus Bosh, for all his suprematism, is KG's clone in build only. He's more a JO man, which sets this up to be nothing more than a classic "Eastern Conference team endowed with a big guy."

Celtics Point Guard Battle: Let me be prefectly careful on this one: Bassie and Rondo are both certifiably FD. Bassie mostly for what he showed in that doc, Rondo just because. There are also plenty of operatives lurking in our offices who would give a flank or two for the causes of Green, Pierce, Allen, and West. That said, I just don't buy this team ever morphing into a blistering, burping new funk machine. While Rivers may be a "players' coach," I've come to see that this is more like "cool dad" than player/coach. They're put in place to reach the young'uns, transition them into the way games get won by grown folks; nevermind the professional repercussions of a non-wizened black coach putting in place a system advocating athleticism and dunking. I'd far prefer to see a weirdo outsider like D'Antoni step in, since only they seem capable of coaching without the bullshit.

Franchise Darko: The Magic will make the 'offs with or without his blossoming into fertility. Dwight Howard is the best big man in the East. Meer Meer can do it. Grant Hill is not dead yet. As we saw last go-round, the East is far from legit past the top two or three. If The Namesake can block shots, find his spots, and put up 12ppg, the curse will be disspelled and he'll be an integral piece of a winning team. As BR points out, Kwame's done a lot to redeem his ignominity with far less. PS An Iverson trade would put them in the Finals.

Speedy Saves The Hawks: No, no and no. Joey Johnson is Penny redux. The glut of SF's need to be fed gently and often. They probably shouldn't be on the same squad, but the situation only gets more messy when you bring in a guy who, like Ford, is more Telfair than Nash. The Hawks may be able to keep up with him, but S-Clax in this position means less feature time for quiet star JJ and a major disappointment when it comes to the development of Smith, Williams, and Childress. The Recluse believe that Claxton should be a Boykins-esuqe change of pace at the one, but I'm not even that convinced of his scoring talents. Seems that, as with Ford, there's a drastic overvaluing of flawed six footers unable to vanquish the scoreboard at an Arenas-like clip, like no size and a limited offensive repertoire gets you closer to being a "real" point guard.

Adam Morrison, Freckles On A Savior: If he starts, he'll average 18 and contribute little else; if he comes off the bench, it's about 12. Either way, the Cats are bound to improve, and it'll be primarily because of Felton's holding the reigns and a healthy Okafor. That serious basketball folks think Morrison will be the catalyst for a Charlotte leap either have a very, very myopic memory or have forgotten how poorly they regard pure scorers when they're darker and can dunk. For what it's worth, it's primarily because of recent immediate impact rooks like LeBron, Wade, Paul, and Howard that Morrison, along with Roy and Foye, is being sized up in this manner. It might, though, be worth monitoring coverage of a A-Moor/Wallace position battle, since it will no doubt boil down to stereotypes and Dunk Contest participation.

BONUS: Although in the midst of adjusting to a new job and a new town, the Recluse had a lot of NBA on his mind. Here are his top picks for underheralded storylines, which he's logging here mostly for May bragging rights.

1. Mo Williams: The Next T.J. Ford
2. DeShawn Stevension: Missing Piece of the Championship Puzzle
3. LaMarcus Aldridge: Least Talked-About #2 Overall EVER

By the way, over at my other lair, I've got a lengthy Q&A with Wire mastermind David Simon. Until my roundtable with J.R., Marquis, and Multiplicity comes through, this is the highlight of my blogging career.

Oh, and don't miss FD favorite Jason Whitlock's many cents on The Wire.


At 10/15/2006 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darko will make the all-star team. You heard it here first.

At 10/15/2006 11:28 PM, Anonymous boris said...

Iverson trade proposals? Philly wouldn't bite, but how about Darko, Nelson, Battie and Arroyo for AI.

At 10/15/2006 11:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i meant if you added iverson to the nucleus they'd make the finals. though really the only way philly could do that deal would be if they landed local hero meer + picks + a shooter. and it would have to be the only decent option for the sixers.

a confident arroyo, AI, grant, darko, dwight? that's a monster of a dark horse there

WV: tbeoasng=concept album by thebo's pops about the confused feelings he faces when senior tries to get back in his life

At 10/16/2006 12:02 AM, Anonymous boris said...

right. getting the salaries to work would be tough though if yr sending back picks. AI in orlando? dirty south!

At 10/16/2006 2:38 AM, Anonymous White People Dont Know said...

i cannot express my delight at seeing celtics talk on freedarko, even if it is talk about how we shouldn't be talking. furthermore, that is as great a summary of this year's team as i've seen anywhere.

the 2006-7 celtics remind me of a story i saw on the news about a guy in alaska who found the largest single nugget of gold in recorded history. melted down, the huge rock would have been worth about $50,000, but the man was seeking a buyer who would pay $2-3 million for the priveledge of owning the entire record-breaking chunk.

but no one was interested, because what's the fucking point of a giant, overvalued piece of gold that you can't ever do anything with? bring us iverson.

At 10/16/2006 1:42 PM, Anonymous aug said...

I feel bad for all the gilbert fans out there if they think stevenson is going to do anything but liquor up 16 year old girls. If you want a guy who can play 20 minutes, go 2-7, play solid defense and make offensive mistakes, be my guest. I was more than happy when he asked for more money because if he didn't think he was a good basketball player, the magic might be stuck with him still.

As far as the raptors, i'm not interested in ford and colangelo as much as i am with seeing how the other new players work. Bargnani will probably perform similar to the hairless one with maybe less boards, bosh should continue to develop, mo p has finally figured out what he can and cannot do. Plus, anthony parker gets a chance at redemption after defecting to the euro leagues and dominating there for a few years. Garbajosa is the next euro semi-star looking to make a big name and shed the soft 3 point shooter image made popular by the welschs mascijauskas's of the world. Ford has really only played about 1 season, and unlike speedy has some potential still. There is still time for him to develop into the complete package. If not, it's not a big deal because he's on a 1 year contract and they can retool this next offseason with a good FA market. They're not going to be good, but i'll be interested in watching them play games. It just seems that they're going to spread the ball around a lot with their depth of talented but unique players.

I'm actually interested in the lakers after their strong finish last year and their dualistic playoff showing. I think you guys would agree with kwame brown looking to be a very intriguing character to watch this year. Andrew Bynum should get a bit more run this year, farmar is gonna push smush parker come february/march, odom is coming off the death of a child, a team usa snubb and a good season and still somehow has a ton of potential. I don't even think mentioning kobe is necessary.

As a magic fan, i'm obviously pessimistic. I don't think dwight will ever take that leap to be more than a slightly bigger, better offensive ben wallace and i think that jameer nelson is going to have a falling off after the 2nd half of last season. There is no way redick is going to be worth that high of a pick when he can't drive and Thabo(my new basketball jesus) was on the board. Darko looks to be the only brightspot where someone will actually improve(arroyo and ariza too but on a smaller scale).

I don't think the season is dead before it starts. I'm still intrigued about the upcoming season with some teams and players. I don't even know if i can watch the suns in fear or what amare might be doing(or more importantly not doing). I'll be there november 1st though.

Memphis(don't ask why. Pau looked determined this summer and with the arrival of Gay and the return of swift, i think something might be happening)
Golden State(nelson has to make this team interesting to watch. too many young intriguing guys)

A good handful of interesting players worth paying attention to this season. I won't name them all, but you can bet that THABO is on the list.

At 10/16/2006 2:22 PM, Blogger c-los said...


who wouldn't take a slightly bigger more offensive Ben Wallace??? I'm a Wiz Fan and have seen DHoward several times and that guy is the truth....forget all that crap about how good of a person he is off the court...I could care less....when he steps on the court he is all business....Yeah his post moves might be limited but they have gotten better every yr...There aren't any big men that come into the league that have good post moves...Amare still gets most of his points off dunks and athleticism...The magic didnt draft JJ to drive...and any trade inloving AI to the Magic would be retarded....they are saving money for this up-coming offseason...they know they can't compete with the upper echelon teams so y would they take on AI's salary

At 10/16/2006 5:51 PM, Blogger Sergio said...

Let me just throw this out there: S-Jax's legal problems just might pave the way for Marquis Daniels to assume a starting role. Words fail me.

Also, has anyone else noticed that the Pacers are devolving into the Atlanta Hawks? It seems like Larry Bird and Billy Knight both have a thing for multi-positional combo guards/forwards.

At 10/16/2006 9:18 PM, Anonymous Jack said...

I really like the Magic in the playoffs this year. Sure, they probably can't beat the top two or three teams, but I only see Dwight and Darko getting better, a good shooter to kick out to (JJ) when these guys are doubled, and if Grant Hill is really as healthy as he makes out to be...I could see them, with a little luck, moving to the second round. They're definitely on the upswing.

It's a pity that Joe Johnson doesn't have more help/talent around him. He's one of my favourite players.

Morrison will light up the scoring (maybe) and NOTHING else. That's all the guy can do. And, he made some really gay commercials. "My mustache speaks to me..."

I think losing Pau for a bit is good for the Grizzlies. It'll MAKE them speed up their game just through the sheer athleticism that their young guys have. The young bucks will get some much-needed experience and minutes, which even some of the veterans could use (Swift). I see the Stro-Show finally realizing some of the potential that everyone's been saying he has. They'll at least be fun to watch with Swift, Gay, and Warrick providing some highlight reel material. Those guys can jump out of the building.

Being a Suns fan, I'm the most optimistic about this season as I've been in a while. I mean, two years ago we were still a 23 win team. Last year, we found out that Amare wasn't expected back til April (if at all). Now, everybody's back, everybody's healthy, and we've made a few needed acquisitions. I think they break through to the Finals this year.

At 10/17/2006 1:06 AM, Blogger BenSchwarmer said...

Iverson isn't attainable, but Darius Miles is...Miles & Magloire for G. Hill may not put the Magic in the finals, but it makes them very interesting.

WV: krkke (the sound of Grant Hill's ankle in 3 weeks)

At 10/17/2006 7:28 PM, Blogger Stumbleweed said...

J.R. Smith in Denver is the only story I'm worried about. If he pans out and has a good year (specifically from long range), the Nuggets will break their 1st round exit curse. And I think he will.

And I finally saw the clip of him crossing some poor bastard up at Rucker -- fiyah. Here's a link to some J.R. highlights that had that footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soEX62bK4Tw

At 10/18/2006 11:15 PM, Blogger "rem" said...

rightly so the scenarios mentioned all belong to teams flirting with the lottery and warrant little attention yet the underdog is always the fan favorite and will continue to garner contemplation at least until being eliminated from serious contention


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