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An NBA Preview For the Masses

An NBA Preview For the Masses


Football is great and all, but nothing gets us as hyped as basketball season. There are games every day of the week, star power galore, and tickets aren’t crazy expensive (excluding those at Madison Square Garden). We all rep different squads here — Knicks, Bulls, Lakers, Magic, Nets — but recognize that not everyone is so well-versed in NBA-speak. That’s why we’re breaking this upcoming season down by comparing every team to a rapper and a ’90s movie. Some things are universal. They’re not perfect, just our interpretation of the situation.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics
Coming into the season…They traded away the heart of their team, declaring the Big 3 era over. Shortly after, Doc Rivers leapt out of a moving car and hitchhiked his way to the Clippers. This is a roster that consists of Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and the shattered knee of Rajon Rondo. They signed Brad Stevens as coach, who looks like he recently hit puberty. This team is going nowhere.

Alike rapper: Ludacris – The glory days are gone. It’s time to find a new approach.

’90s movie: “The Sixth Sense” – You think Rondo’s seeing dead bodies walking around the TD Garden?

X-factor: Rajon Rondo’s middle fingers – how little fucks will Rondo give this season? We heard he was taking night classes at the Vince Carter School of Mailing It In.

Predicted record: 20 – 62

Brooklyn Nets
Coming into the season… Deron Williams looks like a frog human with a horrible hairline. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are definite members of the illuminati. Their fans are bandwagon hipsters or smelly Jersey folk. But this might be the deepest squad in the league with five bench players who most likely could start for a lot of teams in the league. Unification of Andrei Kirilenko with owner Mikhail Prokhorov is the basketball equivalent of the Soviet Union reforming. This team has heavy expectations but will most likely succeed based on sheer talent and veteran leadership.

Alike rapper: Big Sean – Playing with the big boys now, but dropping a dud would be a huge step backwards.

’90s movie: “Billy Madison” – Rich boy needs to turn wealth into something of substance

X-factor: Brook Lopez – How in the world is he going to exist on a team with Reggie Evans, KG and Andray Blatche? Without Kris Humphries around to deflect some of the attention away from Lopez and his absurdly terrible rebounding numbers, how will Lopez react? Picture the ferocity in KG’s eyes before a game. Now imagine it’s B-Lo he’s death staring.

Predicted record: 54 – 28

Philadelphia 76ers
Coming into the season… They legit are trying to suck. The next NBA draft is loaded, which is why they moved Jrue Holiday, their best player, for a future pick and Michael Carter-Williams. They also drafted Nerlens Noel, who will sit out the entire year. The only hope for this team is that they do badly enough to pick up Andrew Wiggins or one of the other studs in the next draft class.

Alike rapper: Lil B – What first seems horrid is actually genius

’90s movie: “Saving Private Ryan” – Sixers straight tankin’ on the low.

X-factor: Evan Turner – The Sixers are going to need to see some improvement from the former number two pick if they are going to have any hope in the future. He has a unique skill set, a two guard who can pass and handle the ball like a PG in the open court. The team itself is going nowhere, but this season will be important for Turner as a professional in terms of growth.

Predicted record: 16 – 66

New York Knicks
Coming into the season… They’re good, but not Miami Heat good. This is a roster that features the corpse of Amare Stoudemire, resident fan beater Metta World Amnesty (shout out to Bill and Jalen), an Argentinian Quagmire look-a-like in Pablo Prigioni and the loosest of cannons — JR Smith. This team has tons of question marks as they start the season. How will the talent mesh together? Will JR or Iman Shumpert start?  What will their defense look like? Will Carmelo re-sign with the team? In a tougher Eastern Conference, they could fall apart.

Alike rapper: J. Cole – you got a good buzz but you’re not in that top spot yet. The Knicks have to get over the proverbial hump known as the Bulls and Heat.

’90s movie: “Se7en” – Very real possibility this season ends with someone’s head in a box.

X-factor: Andrea Barganani – It’s always a concern when your X-factor has a female name. But really if this Italian dude can come in and score, the Knicks will be hard to defend. On the other side of the ball, playing him and Melo will be a nightmare defensively.

Predicted record: 45-37

Toronto Raptors
Coming into the season… This is a team that suffers from not having any real stars. They have Rudy Gay and Demar DeRozan but neither one of those guys can hit a jump shot. Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas haven’t proven themselves yet. They did grab one of the finest GMs in the league in Masai Uriji, who masterfully rebuilt the Denver Nuggets during his time there. Perhaps he can do the same for the Raptors? Watch out for trade rumor galore out of Canada this season.

Alike rapper: Tyga – They’ve got one player (read: track) to stand on. and that’s..about..it.

’90s movie: “Home Alone” – How Rudy Gay will likely feel while putting up 30 points in consecutive losing efforts.

X-factor: Drake – New team and city ambassador. The Raptors might not be a playoff team, but can Drake drum up some buzz otherwise?  Drizzy is a lot like the Raps best player ever, Vince Carter.  Occasionally he brings out the heat, but mostly he’s just wincing in pain over some fake injury. Taking a page out of Brooklyn, maybe Drizzy can bring some hometown mojo to the long suffering fans.

Predicted record: 36-46

Central Division

Chicago Bulls
Coming into the season… Expectations and pressure could not possibly be higher. The Bulls will be one of the most captivating teams this season. They also play with so much more intensity than every other team in the league. Half their team was injured last year in the playoffs and they still beat the Nets because they just played harder. Joakim Noah is the NBA’s Bob Marley. Thibodeau gets about two hours of sleep each night and sounds like he smokes at least three packs of Newports a day. And they have the best Alaskan baller ever in Carlos Boozer (apologies to Mario Chalmers). What’s not to like about this team?

Alike rapper: Eminem – Once the greatest, Em hopes to recapture the magic with his upcoming Marshall Mathers LP 2, similar to the Bulls, who are banking on Derrick Rose’s health to bring them back to supremacy.

’90s movie: “Goodfellas” – Might take you out if you start actin’ silly.

X-factor: Rose – Really this team will go as far as Rose will take them. They are only a championship level team with him playing at his highest. We bet that he comes back with less explosiveness but smarter playmaking skill. If he loses like 10 percent of his quickness, he’s still crazy quick. He’s D-MOTHERFUCKIN-Rose, so we won’t be surprised at all if he’s still a beast.

Predicted record: 50-32.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Coming into the season… The Cavs added Andrew Bynum and took Anthony Bennet number 1 overall in this years draft. The pick was unexpected, but Bennet will add to the young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson. It’s an intriguring team, but dependent on both Bynum and Bennett being contributors and not liabilities.

Alike rapper: Earl Sweatshirt – They suffered a set back a few years ago, but have a chance to be formidible if all the pieces come together

’90s movie: “Pulp Fiction” – Can Bynum come back like Travolta did here, and kill it along side Kyrie’s Samuel L.?

X-factor: Bynum – Dude has the potential to shed the joke status he acquired last year and actually return to form. If he’s on point in the paint, he and Kyrie could have that alley-oop jawn on lock. If not, well there’s always the chance that LeBron comes back to Cleveland…
Predicted record: 34-48 

Detroit Pistons
Coming into the season… Picked up Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith to go with a somewhat tenacious front court. Drummond and Monroe are quietly two of the best young big men in the game. This team isn’t going to place much higher than a 6 or 7 spot season, but that’s an improvement at least from constant mediocrity. Also this team might take the award for craziest first name trifecta in the league: there’s a Jonas, a Kentavious and a Luigi all on the same roster.

Alike rapper: Ab-Soul – they’ve improved a good deal but have they cracked anyone’s top ten yet?

’90s movie: “Reservoir Dogs” – How will this team work? A lot of big names and potential, but potentially volatile.

X-factor: Andre Drummond – Could easily be either of their two big free agent signings, but J-Smooth and Brandon Jennings are likely going to hold it down regardless. How they gel with the young big man though is the greater unknown. Will Andre the Giant come with an improved game? Or was he distracted by a summer with his Nickelodeon girlfriend?

Predicted record: 43-39

Milwaukee Bucks
Coming into the season… Lost Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis and added OJ Mayo and Brandon Knight, whose biggest play last year was being swallowed whole by DeAndre Jordan. Ersan Ilyasova is like James Franco minus the weed and giggles and plus Eastern European goofiness and bricked three pointers. Without a legitimate star, will this team be able to succeed?

Alike rapper: Action Bronson – If only because he physically resembles most of the Wisconsin fan base.

’90s movie: “Fargo” – It’s very cold in Milwaukee and also Larry Sanders might kill a guy

X-factor: LARRY SANDERS! (S/O to Garry Shandling) – He’s their best player but he’s also one of the most emotional dudes in the league. His sarcastic thumbs up and subsequent ejection was one of the best moments last year. Thank you Larry Sanders for picking up where Rasheed Wallace left off. The NBA is better with players like you around.

Predicted record: 34-48

Indiana Pacers
Coming into the season… They didn’t lose anyone, were one monster LeBron game from going to the championship, and added CJ Watson, Luis Scola and Britney Griner-lookalike Chris Copeland to sure up their bench. Plus Danny Granger is coming back from injury. If Roy Hibbert and Paul George can continue playing the way they did last season, there’s no reason to believe this team won’t have a chance at contending this season.

Alike rapper: Rick Ross – Dominating frontline and widely successful. But you know what you’re getting.

’90s movie: “The Big Lebowski” – Them some big bowling ball slangin’ boys in Indy.

X-factor: Danny Granger – Remember how in the third season of “Boardwalk Empire,” Eli Thompson comes back from prison, expecting his position to be the same but soon realizes that Nucky’s enterprise has changed dramatically in the year he’s been gone? Granger is going to go through the same thing – he was the team’s sole All-Star only a year ago and now he comes back to a team with two All-Stars and a new starting SG. Who’s to say he’s going to fit in right away? Should be interesting to see if he stays for the long run or not. We see three possible scenarios: the Pacers trade him for lesser value, he comes off the bench and thrives as a scoring six man, or he regresses and slumps on the bench.

Predicted record: 54-28

Southeast Division

Miami Heat
Coming into the season… Everyone in the East got better and their main acquisitions were Greg Oden and Michael Beasley, two of the biggest busts in recent draft history. It’s an unknown what Oden is going to bring to the team. At least, they know that Beasley will be able to roll Chris Bosh’s dutches to calm his nerves before the game. Even so, this team still has three of the best players in the league, including LeBron James. The big question heading into the season is whether or not LeBron is going to embrace his baldness. He rocks about a pound of cotton on his head for that headband to look “normal.” We at Mass Appeal would love to see LeBron lose the headband and solidify his spot amongst bald Mount Rushmore, next to MJ, Larry David and Heisenberg.

Alike rapper: Jay Z – love him, hate him, he’s still on top.

’90s movie: “Jurassic Park” – They got some dinos over there that could squash a team like a bug. And also Chris Bosh.

X-factor: Dwyane Wade – He’s really the key to this team. We all know LeBron is the best player, but without D Wade doing D Wade things on the block there’s no way the Heat can be as successful as they can be.

Predicted record: 59-23

Atlanta Hawks
Coming into the season… Honestly, can anyone name their players? Give us a second… Ok, Al Horford, he’s good. Paul Millsap, he’s alright. Kyle Korver is the NBA Ashton Kutcher. Apparently they got rid of Ivan Johnson… Huge mistake to separate him from his identical twin Deshawn Stevenson. This team seems destined to mediocrity. Not that anyone in Atlanta cares.

Alike rapper: Fabolous – Because at this point who’s really paying any attention?

’90s movie: “Scream” – Lost Joe Johnson and Josh Smith in cossecutive offseason. Could get ugly if heads keep dropping.

X-factor: Paul Millsap – This team is heading nowhere but stealing Millsap was a coup. Maybe he and Horford pair up to make a formidable two-some. The Hawks building on the Pacers model.

Predicted record: 38-44

Orlando Magic
Coming into the season… Still reeling from the Dwight Howard trade. How is it possible that Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson are still playing in the league? Can someone explain this? Aren’t those guys like a combined 152 years old? Anyway, they picked up Victor Oladipo, who is going to be a beast in this league in two years. But for now, this team is relegated to lottery status.

Alike rapper: Nelly – They’ve killed it in the past, but is a comeback really in the cards?

’90s movie: “Blair Witch Project” – Not really a lot of big pieces to work with, but could make some noise if they hit the right note.

X-factor: Oladipo – We thought he was the best player in the draft, just by sheer ability alone. He just looked better than everyone else in college last year. Should be interesting with the Magic playing him at PG to see what he does.

Predicted record: 22-60

Washington Wizards
Coming into the season… They are the Wizards, so expecting anything above .500 is hard to imagine. Jan Vesely hasn’t shown he can dribble a basketball and he damn sure can’t make a free throw to save his life. They do have John Wall, who absolutely tore up the league after coming back from injury last season. Bradley Beal could make a jump to a higher level. If those two can perform at an All Star level, the Wiz may have a shot at making the playoffs.

Alike rapper: Wale – He’s from D.C., they’re from D.C. He’s convinced he’s ready to hang with the big boys, the Wiz are, too.

’90s movie: “Edward Scisorhands” – John Wall could cut the league up. Orrrr turn this season into a frightening melodrama.

X-factor: John Wall – It’s a point guards league, and as the number 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Wall needs to be the one that takes the Wiz further. They’ve built a pretty solid supporting squad around him with Brandon Beal, Nene, Gortat and now Otto Porter Jr. If the Wiz are a whip, John Wall is the tires. If one of them pops your skrrrrting off the highway.

Predicted record: 42-40

Charlotte Bobcats
Coming into the season… They picked up resident black hole and Geico cavemen Al Jefferson. Probably not making them any better than they were last year. Kemba Walker is the truth, though.

Alike rapper: T.I. – One of the most successful rappers ever but also one of the worst rapper executives ever. Sorta like MJ in that respect.

’90s movie: “Boogie Nights” – The role for Mark Wahlberg was his first big turn in acting, something MJ and the Bobcats hope comes this season with the additions of Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller.

X-factor: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – He might have made 25 outside shots in 82 games last year. And that’s on the high side. But he’s a beast athletically. Did you see what he did to Greg Monroe? Good lord that boy can jump! He probably won’t do much to bring this squad out of lottery status though.

Predicted record: 28-54


Western Conference

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder
Coming into the season… Russell Westbrook is set to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season, so it looks like the Thunder bandwagon is starting off with a lame wheel. With James Harden no longer in OKC, everybody saw how quickly the Thunder can fall apart with one single injury. Healthy and clicking though, the Durant-Westbrook-Ibaka core is as formidable as any in the NBA. Whether they can get contributions from their younger players, like Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones and Reggie Jackson will be a big indication of whether or not this team is capable of going all the way this year. This league moves so quickly, it’s crazy to think just a year and change ago they were the odds on favorite to check the Heat.

Alike rapper: Kanye West – KD and Westbrook each defy the boundaries of their position, just like Kanye does with genre. But like Kanye, the team can wil’ out occassionally with reckless decisions (we’re looking at you, Russell Westbrook).

’90s movie: “The Lion King” – Like a young Simba, they can’t wait to be kings.

X-factor: Serge Ibaka – With Westbrook out, Ibaka will need to significantly improve his play in order for this team to stay the course. Is he going to make that leap into an All-NBA power forward? If he does, the Thunder should be able to coast without their All-Star PG. But if he doesn’t, this could be a long season for the OKC fans.

Predicted record: 57-25 

Denver Nuggets
Coming into the season… Iguodala jumped town, leaving this ensemble roster missing its biggest piece. Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Andre Miller are all solid, but this is a team that took a step backwards in personnel. Will new coach Brian Shaw get more with less to work with than his predecessor George Karl? It should be interesting to watch Shaw cope with the insanity of Javale McGee. One of the best running subplots was McGee’s on court stupidity over the past few seasons.

Alike rapper: Wiz Khalifa – Only ’cause Colorado’s got that super loud and also their team is straight up called the Nuggets. C’mon son…

’90s movie: “Groundhog Day” – Wasn’t that long ago Denver lost their best player. Then, they at least flipped Carmelo Anthony for a number of lesser pieces. Now, with Igoudala heading West, it seems like their spring ain’t comin’ anytime soon.

X-factor: Faried – Will Faried be able to make a leap from energy, hustle player into a competent offensive threat with a legit post game? He was one of our favorite players last year by being one of the best in-game dunkers in the league. Let’s see if he can build on that this season.

Predicted record: 40-42

Minnesota Timberwolves
Coming into the season… Kevin Love was plagued by injury last season, handicapping the Timberwolves from the get. They added Kevin Martin in the offseason, an actual second scorer, but so much rests on Love’s shoulders. Ricky Rubio played in 57 games last season, 16 more than his rookie year, but shot an abysmal 36%. The name of the game in Minnesota will be health and consistency.

Alike rapper: Joe Budden – Questionable career decisions all around. Brief glimpses of what could be legendary though.

’90s movie: “White Men Can’t Jump” – Self-explanatory.

X-factor: Shabazz Muhammed – The T-Wolves should be better than they are/were, but injuries have limited them for the past two seasons, and early first round pick Derrick Williams has yet to make any real impact in his two seasons in the league. Minnesota needs a second scorer behind Kevin Love. Ricky Rubio is the facilitator, and Chase Budinger can knock down the 3s, but who’s going to be the at the rim scorer? If it’s not Williams or Martin, it needs to be Shabazz.

Predicted record: 42-42

Portland Trailblazers
Coming into the season… The Trailblazers could be a very sneaky team this season. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are going to hold it down for sure, but look at the depth of this roster: Nicholas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Thomas Robinson, rookie C.J. McCollum, Robin Lopez, even Mo Williams, who could find some rejuvenation in Portlandia. This squad might be playoff bound, and could catch someone slippin’ in the first round.

Alike rapper: Mac Miller – Good young squad, that retooled slightly differently and is now way more formidable because of it.

’90s movie: “Thin Red Line” – Super deep cast, underrated film.

X-factor: Thomas Robinson – Is it possible to be a 22-year-old journey man? If so, Robinson is it. He’s on his third team in two seasons, with stats that don’t live up to his 5th overall draft selection. The Blazers will have plenty of guards hoisting up shots, and T-Rob can settle into that rebounder-hustler role off the bench and make a name and a home for himself in Portland.

Predicted record: 43-39

Utah Jazz
Coming into the season… How young is this Jazz team? Their starting five of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Trey Burke, Alec Burks, and Gordon Haywood has a mean age of 21.6. This team is going to take their lumps, but the upside is there. Favors is getting to the point of either paning out or not, and it’s hard to say how Trey Burke is going to fit into the league. With young guards lately, it’s been fairly unpredictable. If all else fails this season, the Jazz might end up with a high lottery pick in next years draft and add to their youthful movemnt.

Alike rapper: CyHi Da Prince – Road to relevancy is a looooong one.

’90s movie: “Kids” – They are young, like kids.

X-factor: Trey Burke – As far as the young buck Jazz go, Trey Burke is the youngest and buckiest. How he contributes this season will dictate the Jazz’s future.

Predicted record: 20-62

Pacific Division

Phoenix Suns
Coming into the season… What is good with the Suns? The Steve Nash-Amare years seem a century away now. They traded for Eric Bledsoe in the off season which is good, but have Gerald Green starting at SF, which is bad.

Alike rapper: The Game – Had a little flame back in the day, and now what are you?

’90s movie: “Mission Impossible” – See: winning games this year

X-factor: Alex Len – This squad needs captial H help. Dragic is a nice point guard, but clearly not a premier star. What of Alex Len, then? If he’s butt then this team will be in the basement again, which might be for the best, considering next year’s loaded draft.

Predicted record:19-63

Sacramento Kings
Coming into the season… Tyreke Evans went to the Bayou, but the more pressing matter: will DeMarcus Cousins go Big Man Ron Artest on us? We need DeMarcus in our lives. From nights where he scores 36 and grabs 22 boards to the nights where he’s fighting with color commentators and being G. He’ll hold down the post as rookie Ben McLemore swings around the perimeter.

Alike rapper: Tony Yayo – Mediocrity on repeat.

’90s movie: “Shawshank Redemption” – The Kings have been in the cellar for a while now. Can a more focused Cousins and newly aquired McLemore be their ticket out? Also, the Kings fan base likely feels improsined and tortured after all this relocation news.

X-factor: Boogie Cousins – In lettng Tyreke-a-leak go, the Kings are putting all their chips on DeMarcus Cousins. And if dude can manage to not eat said chips, he could be a force in the NBA.

Predicted record: 33-49

Los Angeles Clippers
Coming into the season… Expectations are high for the Clips, who resigned Chris Paul and played homewrecker in the Doc Rivers-Celtics marriage. They flipped Eric Bledsoe into J.J. Reddick and Jared Dudley to go with Jamal Crawford to have the best shooting guard platoon in the leauge. With the death of Lob City and a renewed emphasis on defense, will the Clippers be a championship contender? Not unless DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin somehow learned how to score without dunking. It’s like everytime these two dudes get the ball in the paint, they throw it 200 miles per hour at the backboard. Let’s see if these two got some touch over the summer.

Alike rapper: 2 Chainz – Yesterday’s laughing stock is today’s premiere feature.

’90s movie: “The Matrix” – High-flying, jaw-dropping; could turn dystopian in a second.

X-factor: Doc Rivers – This Clippers squad is stacked like Nicki. There is no reason whatsoever they shouldn’t flourish. They added J.J. Reddick, Jared Dudley, and Darren Collison to their already impressive roster, only sacrificing Eric Bledsoe in the process. What’s kept them from Western supremacy though, is questionable coaching and leadership. Chris Paul is a veteran’s veteran, who needs a coach of the highest caliber to keep him from inspiring a mutiny. Vinnie Del Negro wasn’t it, but ole Doc on the other hand? He’s already said this is the most talented team he’s ever coached, and if everything comes together, the Clips should be thinking Finals or bust.

Predicted record: 58-24

Golden State Warriors
Coming into the season… Picked up one of our favorite players in the league, Iguodala, to go with baby face three point assassin Steph Curry. Golden State established an effective hierarchy last season. Curry and Klay Thompson on the outside. David Lee and Andrew Bogut down low. Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes as spark plugs should all else fail. But by signing Iggy, the Warriors put some of that in jeopardy. Jack left for Cleveland, and now Barnes, 21, has to make room for a more experienced, developed small forward. If Iggy causes Barnes to regress or infringes on Thompson’s touches it could be a case of subtraction by addition.

Alike rapper: Kendrick Lamar – The up-and-coming squad that everyone is hyping up.

’90s movie: “Good Will Hunting” – Young phenoms on the block. Could they walk home with the golden statue?

X-factor: Bogut – We know what we’re getting from everyone in their starting five except for Bogut. Are we getting All-Star level production from the Aussie native or are we getting injury prone, bench sitting? If he can be a stalwart on the defensive side, this team could be championship bound. If not, this team is probably not going far in the playoffs.

Predicted record: 52-30

Los Angeles Lakers
Coming into the season… Got dragged through the Dwight Howard mud, Kobe’s coming off knee surgery, and the hype has finally quieted down. Who will survive this season a Laker? There’s a chance D’Antoni, Pau and Kobe are all gone after this season, though it’s more likely that D’Antoni and Pau leave town because Los Angeles might riot like it’s the 1990s if Kobe gets traded. This team has no chance to win the West. Have you seen their bench? It’s Nick Young and no one else. Why aren’t they making phone calls to Luke Walton, Sasha Vuijaic and Slava Medvedenko right now?

Alike rapper: Lil Wayne – Had it once, lost it, but you still have to check for them…just in case

’90s movie: “Titanic” – Big ship in danger of sinking.

X-factor: Kobe – With the Lakers, it’s always Kobe. Sure, Pau Gasol returning to form is big, Steve Nash is going to set the tempo for the offense, and additions like Chris Kaman and Nick Young need to bring something to the table, but it always goes back to Kobe. He’s the face of the franchise, a top 10 player of all time, and approaching the end of his career. Will his health and patience stay intact? The entire Lakers’ season depends on that.

Predicted record: 38-44

Southwest Division

New Orleans Pelicans
Coming into the season… Moved their pick in next years draft for Jrue Holiday and signed Tyreke Evans, in what seems like an all-in push for relevancy. With Eric Gordon healthy and in the mix though, that’s a lot of guards vying for touches. Whether they can all coexist or not remains to be seen, but the Pelle Pel’s are atleast poised to make some noise out West.

Alike rapper: Pusha T – The time for reinvention is here. They have a legacy in Seattle like Push did with the Clipse. It’s all in on the new chapter though.

’90s movie: “Thelma & Loise” – This team was sort of slapped together without much thought. Just trying to rack something up quickly. Season could end up with Tyreke and Jrue driving this team off a cliff.

X-factor: Eric Gordon – Remember him? The former Clipper shooter has played a total of 51 games for the Hornets-turned-Pelicans over the past two seasons. With Tyrie and Jrue in town, the pressure is off E-Nice, but not completely. To complete that come back he’ll need to be a knock down shooter who defenders are terrified to leave should either of the new guards penetrate the lane. Can he be Peja in his prime? If so, the Pels could be an exciting team to follow.

Predicted record: 40-42

Houston Rockets
Coming into the season… They scored D12, who might have found the slipper that fits him best in Houston – a team with stars, but not too many or stars or stars too big or a city with too little media or a city with too much media, but juuuuust the right city. Maybe. Houston can be a real contender in the West, with Howard, Harden, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik. Expectations will be high, as the Rockets join the Thunder and the Warriors as the young squads to watch out West.

Alike rapper: Drake – New young kings and Dwight Howard is sooo easy to hate. See also: “I reached heights that Dwight Howard couldn’t reach.”

’90s movie: “Toy Story” – James Harden has held it down in H-Town, but there’s a new toy in the box. Can they coexist?

X-factor: Omer Asik – Dwight is an easy one, but Asik stands to mess with the Rockets’ chemistry most. The Turkish Center went from backing-up Joakim Noah in Chiacgo to getting the starting spot in Houston, and after the Rockets aquired Dwight, he requested a trade. We know that Dwight can attract drama, so what happens if the Asik beef isn’t squashed? If there’s no pleasing both of them?

Predicted record: 60-22

Dallas Mavericks
Coming into the season… Don’t sleep on the Mavericks. They picked up one of our favorite ballers, Monta Ellis, who should be in full ‘fuck you’ mode after getting no love on the free agent market. This team still has Dirk so they’ve got to be in playoff contention. Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, although shells of their old selves, are still real helpful as role players. And after Darren Collison failed to get it done last season, the Mavs brought in Jose Calderon.

Alike rapper: Jeezy – Have been at the top, even if for a short while. Where to hold the ceiling for the veterans is hard to tell, though.

’90s movie: “Terminator 2” – This Mavs team has been adding and replacing parts around Dirk like bionic arms and shit. How far off is judgement day with Mark Cuban’s squad?

X-factor: Monta Ellis – The Mavs retool every year, but signing Monta might be their biggest addition yet. They’re no longer depending on the likes of Vince Carter or Jason Terry to put up buckets at the shooting guard position, instead, pairing Dirk with an actually formidible outside threat. Monta can also turn selfish and frustrated real quick, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Predicted record: 46-36

Memphis Grizzlies
Coming into the season… The Grizzlies stayed put this offseason, adding nothing more than stationary ball-shooting machine Mike Miller. Can the front line of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolh, and Ed Davis keep Memphis alive on the West? Can Mike Conely take over scoring duties now that Rudy Gay was sent up north? These are the questions for the steady, far-from-exciting Grizzlies.

Alike rapper: Curren$y – Just a hardworking emcee that puts out quality with each release.

’90s movie: “That Thing You Do” – The Grizzlies do their thing for sure, but they’re a bit of a one hit wonder in this respect. They can hang on the charts with the major players, but haven’t proven they’re able to live at the top yet

X-factor: Marc Gasol – In their first Rudy Gay-less season, the bulk of the offense is going to fall on the Grizzlies frontcourt. Gasol is coming off a stellar season that saw him take home the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Memphis will need that same production and not a Tyson Chandler-esque regression if they want to get beyond the first round of the playoffs this year.

Predicted record: 50-32

San Antonio Spurs
Coming into the season… The old faithful Spurs are content to let the core of this team fade away, changing their roster not one bit aside from replacing Gary Neal with Marco Belinelli. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli are still holding it down, while Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green continue to gain on-job experience. The Spurs have some youth to build around, but the prevailing question is what happens if they don’t make a Finals run like last year? When will Duncan and Popovich decide to hang it up?

Alike rapper: Nas – Legends still doing it. Got rings, but how much should we expect is left in the tank?

’90s movie: “The Usual Suspects” – You know these bros, you’ve seen them before.

X-factor: Kawhi Leonard – The Spurs have done a beautiful job bringing up new talent while their old foundation continues to embody consistency. Danny Green looks promising, but disappeared in last year’s Finals. Kawhi Leonard on the other hand, improved across the board in his second season, nearly averaging a double-double in the playoffs. Time is ticking for the Spurs Big 3, and Leonard will be the new face of the franchise. What can another year under Popovich’s tutelage do for Leonard? The potential is promising.

Predicted record: 48-34

This post was tirelessly compiled, written, and edited by Ted Simmons and Durty Harry. Ted is an enchanting soothsayer who can be found as @TenchanterS across all platforms. Durty Harry is a durty man. Follow him on Instagram @DurtyHarry.