ONE: First off the rank is the Aussie Roundup. Lots of Aussie-related NBA news happening in the last week, all of which you would have seen if you’re following the NBAMate Twitter feed (more on this later). You all know by now that Patty signed with the Blazers – a move that many thought could have indirectly signaled the end of his career in Portland. Just a few days ago we learnt that the Blazers waived Ime Udoka and Jarron Collins, which seems to have put the doubts to rest. Patrick Mills will be a Trailblazer this season. All that remains now is to see what number jersey Patty gets. I highly suspect we will be giving away a free Mills jersey when (or before) they hit the shelves, so stay tuned.
Then of course there was the Nathan Jawai trade, which firms the big Aussie’s chances of getting NBA court time this season. Jawai’s odds of landing a Mavs roster spot were slim to none, and now he gets the opportunity to play for a team who’s big men have been dropping like flies – both Al Jefferson and Kevin Love are not expected back on the court for some time. While it’s hard to see Jawai holding down minutes when those two return, the most important thing at this stage in his career, and also the hardest thing, is getting that first chance. In that sense the T-Wolves are perfect for him, and they can hopefully provide the nurturing environment that sustained the NBA career of another great Aussie big man – Luc Longley (who incidentally just missed out on the Top 30 International NBA Scorers of all-time).
Meanwhile David Anderson continues to do good things in Houston, prompting some to ask whether he’s deserving of the Rocket’s starting center position? In the Rockets narrow loss to Dallas yesterday Anderson came off the bench for 22 minutes, contributing 6 points, 5 rebounds and a block. More importantly he had the second best points-differential of any Rockets player with +7. I don’t think Anderson has convinced Coach Aldeman he deserves a starting spot, but I do think we can expect to see him for 20+ minutes on any given night. Which is amazing when you consider where he was one year ago (i.e. not in the NBA).
Bogut rounds out the four-man Aussie NBA contingent (wow never thought I’d say that!), and his play of late has been extremely encouraging. In a loss to the Bobcats earlier in the week AB put up 14 points, 10 boards, 2 blocks and 2 assists in 28 minutes. Against the Pistons a couple of days ago he barely missed another double-double with 10 points, 9 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals in 32 minutes of play. From all reports his back is holding up really well and should be able to handle the rigors of proper starting minutes come next week. Look to see the Bogut Tracker and BOGOMETER back in the right-sidebar once the season kicks off.
TWO: The NBA has released some new commercials for the 2009-2010 season. Same “Where XXX Happens” theme, different music, still very cool. Here are a couple:
THREE: Near the top of everyone’s list of most compelling story lines of 2009-2010 is the question of how Lebron and Shaq will co-exist. Not very well, according to the Loscy Celtics Blog. I was going to write my own piece on the Shaq-Lebron experiment (one that I think is doomed), but those guys say pretty much exactly what was on my mind. The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be an absolute circus this season. Shaq naturally attracts enough attention to himself. Put him alongside the biggest star in the NBA on a title-contending team, combined with the hoopla of the 2010 Free Agency Market, combined with the inevitable stupid comment or two to come out of Mo Williams mouth, combined with the Shaq-Kobe-Lebron rivalry hoopla, and you will get a hype-machine of epic proportions far greater than the sum of its parts. All that does it make the job of the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics that much easier, who can glide under the radar and concentrate on the one thing that matters – playing basketball.
When I look back at the Cavs 2008-2009 season, the one thing I think hurt them was their chemistry. By that, I mean their lighthearted, goofy ways. They looked like they were having far too much fun out there, which is an important element of team chemistry, for sure. But it came back to bite them when they were forced into being accountable for their actions against Orlando in the Conf Finals, and everything kind of imploded. They couldn’t even look themselves in the eye. Lebron stormed off court without saying anything to anyone. What happened to most spirited team in the league at that moment?
I think Lebron now realizes he can’t win a championship and a popularity contest in the same season. I think he realizes the creativity of your pre-game theatrics is irrelevant to the goal of winning a championship. I think he realizes that the overly intense exterior of KG and Kobe is sometimes a necessary evil – it will distance the weak in the pack, but help focus the strong. I thought that going into 2009-2010 we would start to see more of that from Lebron – less nice guy and more ruthless bastard. Then the Cavs go and find the single most goofiest force in the league to hinge their championship hopes on. The one aging superstar who achieved all his success without that tone of intensity and ruthlessness. The one guy in the league who felt it necessary to personally respond to Lebron’s pre-game theatrics with that of his own. This is the problem with Shaq at Cleveland. He brings them an edge, but the wrong kind of edge. Psychologically its the wrong direction Lebron and his goofball teammates needs to move towards. It wouldn’t be a problem if you knew Lebron could tow Shaq in line. But since when does Shaq take a backseat to anyone?
FOUR: That Twitter thing. Over in the sidebar on the right you’ll see the NBAMate Twitter feed – the last 10 tweets. It’s been there for about six months now, nothing new. But I wanted to point it out because quite simply, it gets updated far more often than this blog does, and that will continue to be the case all through the season. So if you’re a Twitterer, please follow us. If not, make sure to check the sidebar feed for the latest and greatest news. I get a lot of articles and links landing in my inbox – some from loyal site readers (thanks, you know who you are), some from other bloggers, some from my Ray Allen-obsessed friend (most of which get ignored), and about 25 daily Aussie-related Google Alert emails. Some of these will end up in blog posts or the Sunday Six Pack, but most will just get Tweeted.
A big focus of NBAMate this season is more Aussie-related content. This was admittedly hard last season when Bogut got injured and we had zero Aussies to talk about. But now we have Bogut back in action, the dawn of the Patty Mills era, the David Andersen experiment, and big Nathan in ‘Sota. When news relating to these players hits the Internet, you can be rest assured I’ll find it and get it on NBAMate as soon as I can. Twitter lends itself to that spontaneous broadcasting better than anything, so that’s the first place I’ll go. Having said that, I’m not a machine and I can’t be attached to the Internet 24/7, so I greatly appreciate all the news and links that readers are posting in the comments section. If you link it and I post it, you’ll get the cred.
FIVE: There’s been a bit of a basketball drought from Bill Simmons of late, no doubt in part due to his new book. But his preview of the 2009-2010 season’s most intriguing characters is a welcomed return. Check Part I and Part II for some classic Sports Guy.
SIX: Looking at the NBAMate Wall of Fame I can’t help but feel its a bit out of date. The last inclusion – Vujacic for Ray Allen – I admit, was a gross error on my behalf. Ray went on to have an epic playoff series against Chicago while Vujacic essentially did nothing (in fact, I’ve had some Lakers fans tell me that since I met Sasha in April I put a curse on him that made him completely ineffectual for the rest of the season and playoffs… if that’s true, I apologize). Matthew Richardson missed most of the 2009 AFL Season (in typical disappointing fashion), giving us hardly any opportunities to add to his Wall of Disappointment. Puerto Rican Guy curiously disappeared in the playoffs against Denver, while Sheed disappeared for the entire 08-09 season (and no longer wears the red and blue anyway).
Which makes me think we need to make a few changes. Being added to the Wall of Fame is a prestigious honor and gets your face in our banner for at least half a year. It’s not a decision I take lightly, so I’m turning to you for help. Please place your vote in the below poll and in a couple of weeks I’ll announce the results. The question of who to replace them with is even tougher, so feel free to make some suggestions in the comments. I’m all ears.