We’re counting down the days ’til the start of the new season, and it’s about time for everyone to be making predictions. This year, instead of just doing one prediction, I decided to go out and interview one blogger for every NBA team.
The bloggers whose opinions we will be graced with over the next few weeks are the best of the best, as all of them have featured in Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie basketball blog’s Blog Association, where Kelly Dwyer has been profiling the best team-centric NBA blogs out there. If you have any inclination of increasing your knowledge about the NBA, these are the blogs you need to read and subscribe to (I know I will be!).
Today, we are honored to interview Amar from Cavalier Attitude, one of the premier Cavs blogs. Amar was was gracious enough to give up some of his time to answer some questions regarding the Lakers and Cavs.
Jonny: Out on a limb, although backing it up with solid reasoning would be cool too, what do you think the ball park for the Cav’s 08-09 regular season record will be, and do you think it will be enough to win the East?
Amar: I predicted 52-30 last season after the team was coming off of back-to-back 50-32 seasons. But it seems like I’d have more reasons to think that this year than last. Last season, the team was mired by contract disputes and player holdouts. This season, there’s none of that, and the team added a legitimate point guard in Mo Williams alongside LeBron James for the first time in LeBron’s career. Anything less than 50 wins is severe underachievment, and although it may not be good enough to win the East’s regular season standings, the Cavs have always proven to be far more dangerous in a postseason series.
Jonny: Again, out on the said limb, what do you think the ball park for the Laker’s 08-09 regular season record will be, and do you think it will be enough to win the West?
Amar: They were 57-25 last season despite having Pau Gasol for only half a year and having Andrew Bynum miss a half with injury. Los Angeles is locked at several key positions, and if they can get good health out of Kobe, Gasol, Odom, and Bynum, then they could be a threat to win 60 games. However, their failure to be a good defensive team – let alone an elite one – could be a reason that they don’t get back to the Finals. They were 19th in points allowed last season and 15th at defending the three-point line, while the team that beat them – Boston – was at the top of every defensive category.
Jonny: How do you feel the Cavs match up with the Lakers over a 7-game series?
Amar: The interesting thing when trying to see how this would play out is that the Cavs never faced the Pau Gasol Lakers. Cleveland has won five straight against the Lakers dating back to 2006 and six of the last seven. They’ve owned the Lakers as of late, but a guy like Gasol alongside a guy like Bynum changes everything. The supporting cast and coaching favor the Lakers, which is why I think that L.A. would probably take the series in seven games.
Jonny: Lakers fans are split down the middle on Odom; some love his versatility, others hate his inconsistency. As an opposing fan, how do you rate Odom?
Amar: It’s interesting that you’d ask this question since I really wanted the Cavs to make a pitch for Odom back in 2006. I think he’s the perfect guy to have as the “third wheel.” The LA fans who hated him probably didn’t like him as the primary sidekick alongside Kobe Bryant. We in Cleveland have had our share of inconsistent sidekicks in Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden, who are like Odom in that they are not All-Stars and have a bigger reputation as players than their game warrants. So in that sense, I feel your pain. But with Kobe as the alpha dog and Gasol as his wingman, Odom fits in perfectly as the third option.
Jonny: What do you think of Kobe’s decisions to put-off surgery on his injured pinky?
Amar:That decision kind of makes it seem like Kobe knows that it’s “now or never.” This is, by far, the best Laker team that he’s had since Shaq left, and the window for his prime is about two more years (three if he’s lucky). He doesn’t want to put in the time to have surgery and rehab when he seems driven to win the title this year itself. It’s definitely a message that it’s now or never for the Los Angeles Lakers, and it’s a big gamble on Kobe’s part. Depending on what happens during the season to that pinky, it might shave off a few quality years from the tail end of his career.
Jonny: What is your perception on Bynum? Lakers fans have him pegged as the next *insert hall-of-fame center*, yet the rest of the league doesn’t seem to hold him in such a high regard.
Amar:Truth be told, I’ve never been high on Bynum. He’s not Dwight Howard, he’s not Yao Ming, he’s not Amare Stoudemire, and he sure as hell will never, ever be Shaq. He’s certainly an above-average center with the possibility of All-Star Games in his future, but he’s overrated only because of the high esteem that Laker fans hold him in. Right now, though, I don’t see his value to the team being any more than Lamar Odom’s. And Odom’s not an All-Star.
Jonny: If you could have one player for the 08-09 season, who would it be: Kobe or Lebron?
Amar: Damn, you’re going to put me on the spot here for your readers, aren’t you? Either I’m a homer or I’m not loyal. I think that LeBron’s the better all-around player – better passer, better playmaker, better rebounder. Kobe’s the better defender, and the scoring abilities are up for debate since LeBron just won the scoring title but Kobe has 81. LeBron has done more with less before, however. He has never used sorry supporting casts as an excuse, and his teams have always overachieved because of his through-the-roof abilities. No question with who I’m going with here: King James.
Jonny: A lot of people are wondering how much the addition of Mo Williams will affect Cleveland. what do you feel are the best and worst case scenarios for the Cavs?
Amar: The Cavs have never had a point guard with the play-making abilities that Williams showcased in Milwaukee. As a best case scenario, Williams turns into that consistent second scoring option both from the perimeter and a slasher and opens things up both for LeBron on the outside and for Zydrunas Ilgauskas on the inside. That trio could benefit a ton if Williams brings his 17 points per game consistently. As a worst case, Williams mysteriously loses his abilities upon arriving in Cleveland like Larry Hughes did, chucks up brick after brick, shots the team out of games, and makes the same fans who praised GM Danny Ferry for getting the guy curse his name and drive him out of town.
Jonny: What are your thoughts on the “player exodus” from the NBA to Europe? do you think a Kobe or a Lebron would ever seriously consider leaving the NBA?
Amar: It’s in its early stages right now, but I don’t think a serious superstar will be going there anytime soon. If anything, it will probably have a huge impact on the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and the salary cap, possibly allowing teams to give more money as max contracts to players. That might drive the league into the same problems that led to the lockout back in ’99, but it will definitely be interesting to see how the league and its players respond to this new phenomena.
Thanks again to Amar for his time and Insights.. Please DO NOT troll Cavalier Attitude, even if you think his ideas are totally off base (which you shouldn’t). Remember, on the Internet, you and I represent Lakers fans everywhere. Lets try to give ourselves a good name.