The only sport that matters is returning, and I’m almost as excited as Robin Lopez on Back to the Future Day.
In lieu of my traditional 5,000+ word/obscure pop culture reference NBA preview, I’m trying something new. Trust the process.
Meet your 2015-16 All-Bank Team. This eclectic squad is essentially my version of Taylor Swift’s “futuristic, neo-noir” army of stage-crashing henchwomen.
While these esteemed gentlemen won’t be competing for a title together, each will individually vie for your heart.
Heading into this wildly compelling season, they’ve already hijacked mine.
Head Coach – Frank Vogel (Indiana Pacers)
Even in 2014-15’s dismal Eastern Conference, I have zero clue how this 42-year-old “Avenger” led the Pacers to 38 victories. George Hill’s team leading 16.1 PPG and 5.1 assists shouldn’t have been enough to keep Zombie Roy Hibbert upright and in meaningful April basketball games. With Hibbert pursuing more Parks and Recreation-esque cameos in Los Angeles, newly-acquired point guard Monta Ellis should help Vogel make these guys fun again.
It’s easy to forget how awesome Paul George is, but never sleep on Vogel. Last year’s job was even more triumphant than 2013-14’s (I’m still convinced Mike Woodson’s Knicks would’ve faced Miami in the Conference Finals if Chris Copeland played more minutes and Tyson Chandler didn’t drop dead).
I can’t wait to see where the league’s fourth-longest tenured head coach (!) goes from here.
Point Guard – Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee Bucks)
There’s something inherently charming about a third year guard who can’t shoot being coached by a dude who spent most of his Hall of Fame playing career making teams wish he’d pass less.
While I admittedly have Syracuse University bias, I really do like MCW in Jason Kidd’s system. With Greg Monroe, Greivis Vásquez, O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, a (hopefully) healthy Jabari Parker, and Greek Freak doing Greek Freak things, there won’t be many jumpers left to brick.
Kidd masked his own playing deficiencies for nearly two decades. Carter-Williams should have enough talent and mentorship around him to do the same. The dude has been EPIC before. He’s ready to begin again.
Shooting Guard – Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors)
I bet you already forgot Iggy is the reigning Finals MVP.
I fell in love with this selfless catalyst’s game while attending Game 6 of the 2012 Celtics/Sixers Eastern Conference semifinals (which weirdly marked Allen Iverson’s public return to Philadelphia).
Iguodala may not be the elite athlete he used to be, but he’s only 31. No productive role player is in a better situation. With or without Steve Kerr, he’ll make you remember last June.
Small Forward – Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
This will come as a major shock to those who know me.
I’ve never been a Melo guy (I was a Kansas fan until I attended SU in 2007), but I’ve decided to sign a Trump-esque loyalty pledge to the player whose health (and attitude) will determine whether my dysfunctional basketball family’s pursuit of pleasant mediocrity is realistic.
Whether he’s a Knick for four more months or years, loathing your best player is equally excruciating and exhausting. Trust me.
No “superstar” is worse at hiding when he isn’t trying (especially since James Harden learned how to kinda feign playing defense), so I’m hoping my “unwavering” support will make a subtle difference.
If I’m stuck with Carmelo Anthony, so are you.
Power Forward – Nikola Mirotić (Chicago)
I don’t know what’s more shocking – the fact that last year’s behemoth Rookie of the Year runner-up came out of a woman’s womb, or that this occurred in 1991 (just two years before Henry Rowengartner tore up the National League). This man simultaneously makes me feel ancient and prepubescent.
Mirotić played all 82 games and led the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring last March. With unconventional confidence, efficiency, finesse, power, and range, the Serbian Sorcerer (my nickname until you can think of a better one) is a Hummer and bizarro McConaughey Lincoln commercial rolled into one.
I’m not sold on Fred Hoiberg filling Tom Thibodeau’s void, but I am convinced Chicago has a future All-Star on the rise. He’s arrived just in time to replace their former MVP.
Center – Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder)
“Steven Adams pissing off opposing players, then staring at them, stone-faced, as they attack him — and get ejected.” – Zach Lowe, Grantland
“Adams is the youngest of Sid’s 18 children with five different women. His siblings and half-siblings are notable for their exceptional size and athletic prowess.” – Wikipedia
Sorry, Kirk Hinrich. Steven Adams is my new favorite basketball player. He’s also the first annual All-Bank Team CAPTAIN.
– Thabo Sefelosha. Frustratingly underreported story.A productive (and respected) 10-year NBA vet. What if he was a star?
– Entertainment publicist who told me she believed Sasha Vujacic could become “Basketball’s Beckham” back in 2009.
– Janis Porzingis
Bank’s 2015-16 NBA Predictions
MVP – Anthony Davis
Rookie of the Year – Karl-Anthony Towns
Finals – Cavs over Thunder