Discover more from Pointless Exercise
The Bulls are back!
Well, technically so is everybody else. Let's look ahead to the NBA season.
The WNBA champs call Chicago home, could the Bulls make it a historic double? Hahahaha. No. No they can’t.
But, isn’t it nice to have a real NBA team in Chicago again?
It started last year when the Bulls finally showed GarPax the door (well, the Gar part, Pax still has an office, he just does what he did best when he played with Michael Jordan—stay out of the way). They brought in Arturas Karnisovas to run the team, they traded in the junior high substitute gym teacher energy of Jim Boylen for Billy Donovan, a real coach1. They drafted Patrick Williams in the first round that year, while Gar sat at home throwing Pringles at his tube TV yelling, “There’s a guy from Iowa State RIGHT THERE! TAKE HIM!” In season they made a flurry of trades that brought in an actual All-Star big man in Nikola Vucevic while jettisoning, among others, Wendell Carter Jr.2, last seen grabbing an offensive rebound two feet from a basket then turning around and throwing it into the backcourt, again.
In the offseason they pulled off an incredible feat, they negotiated not just a contract with Lonzo Ball, but a full sign and trade with the Pelicans in the first three minutes of free agency! Amazing. The NBA was so impressed they’re still looking into how the Bulls managed to do that. They also acquired swingman DeMar DeRozan and headband wearing try hard white guy Alex Caruso. You know Bulls’ fans were going to love Caruso anyway, but it turns out, he’s actually pretty good. All the better.
They drafted Illini legend Ayo Dosunmu and he will undoubtedly have a huge impact this season, and you will most likely be able to see him do it by buying tickets to see the Windy City Bulls out there in Hoffman Estates. See you next year, Ayo!
And, most importantly, they sent their best player, Zach LaVine to Japan for a few weeks over the summer to Greg Popovich’s Scared Straight NBA Defense camp. And, LaVine actually played some!
Here’s the thing about Zach. He’s gotten better every season in the NBA. He works his ass off. He seems like an awesome dude. He’s super fun to watch (on offense). And he’s always been a terrible defensive player. It never made sense either, because most guys who are terrible defenders either hate playing defense and don’t try, or are indifferent about it and don’t try. But Zach has always cared and always tried. He just always managed to find himself in the wrong spot. It’s as hard to be wrong all the time as it is to be right all the time, so he should get some credit for that. But in the Olympics he actually kept wandering into the correct spots. It was disorienting. If he can just become a passable defender (which is asking a lot more than you think) it would be a huge boon to the Bulls.
The Bulls are back. Not back to 1990s championship Bulls, but back to “Hey the Bulls are on and they’re actually fun to watch.” We’ll take it. It’s been a while.
What’s the easiest way to do a half-assed season preview where you can just make jokes at every team’s expense? Yes, it’s over/under time!
You’ll be shocked to know that Bill Simmons thinks the Celtics are a “sneaky threat to win the Eastern Conference.” At least that’s what I think he said. I couldn’t tell because like always, the ability to comprehend what he was saying was pretty dependent on how much you remember about the plot of “Teen Wolf.”
He did seem to be pretty excited that Boston brought Al Horford back, just two years after he was super excited that they let him go.
How much will the Celtics miss their old coach, Brad Stevens? He is, of course, a basketball genius who has never actually won anything, and he got fired and instead of sending him home they made him the GM. That seems like a great plan. UNDER.
I live in that space in the middle where I can think Tom Thibodeau is a really good coach and I think it’s insane that he tries to win every regular season game and will grind his team into the ground over six months for what usually amounts to maybe a one spot higher seed in the playoffs. The Knicks brought back Derrick Rose and signed Kemba Walker, so they are really well positioned to win the 2011 NBA Finals. Thibs’ maniacal need to try to win every regular season game might be detrimental to his team’s playoff chances, but that’s not what we’re betting here. OVER.
How are things going with the Sixers? Well, they sent Ben Simmons home from practice Tuesday for refusing to enter a drill (must have been free throws). Simmons only showed up to camp when Sixers management figured out a way to deny him both of his balloon salary payments if he didn’t, and their best player said this about him:
Seems like everything’s going great. UNDER.
They spent last season playing their “home” games in Tampa. But this year they get to go home to Canada, and you might excuse our poutine loving cousins to the north if they don’t recognize huge swaths of the roster. What they will recognize is Rockford, Illinois’ very own Fred VanVleet. Which is something. I don’t think they’ll be good. But I think you could give Nick Nurse 12 guys from your noon YMCA games and he’d win 37 games with them. OVER.
Last year their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving played EIGHT games together. By the time they made it to the second round of the playoffs Irving was out and Harden pulled a hammy, and Durant nearly beat the Bucks all by himself. If he had ever lost a toe to frostbite growing up in Maryland, the Nets would have beaten the Bucks.
Kyrie has decided he doesn’t want to get vaccinated for COVID, which means he he can’t play in any Nets home games, which meant the Nets told him to just stay home. They aren’t waiting for Kyrie to change his mind, they’re waiting for COVID restrictions to loosen up. Because Kyrie doesn’t change his mind. If he did, he’d have never agreed to make this piece of shit:
And he wouldn’t still go around claiming the Earth is flat. Seriously.
The Nets don’t even need him to win the title. They do, however, need Harden and Durant to both stay healthy. If they don’t win 56 or more games, it’ll be because either those guys did get hurt or because head coach Steve Nash gave them lots of rest days. I’d go with the OVER anyway.
For fans of the Knicks, Nets and Celtics the season started just in time for them to take full advantage of the launch of online sports betting in Connecticut. It’s really too bad that Tommy Heinsohn’s not still around broadcasting Celtics games. We could have made a fortune betting that he’d swallow his tongue trying to pronounce Juancho Hernangomez.
The Bucks won the championship last year? Seriously. Is that a thing that happened? I guess it was. If Durant’s toe’s not on the line, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer would be trying to explain away his driving record to get a job with Uber. Instead, Coach Bud is riding high. Giannis Antetokounmpo took his game to another level in the playoffs last year. This, despite playing in The Finals with a serious bone bruise in his knee. Hey, ask Andy Dalton how hard it is to try to play with that injury. It’s clearly impossible. OVER.
In the preseason the Bulls were running out to 35 and 40 point leads. The new guys, plus the kind-of-new-guy in Vucevic, have dramatically upgraded the passing and floor spacing and Lonzo and Zach are going to make for a devastating duo on offense. I’m not saying they’re going to win every game by 35 points. They might win some by only 25. OVER.
Their roster looks like they got drunk and passed out right before a fantasy draft and the Auto Draft was very, very mean to them. Their first round pick, Evan Mobley has a chance to be a good player, and they signed Tacko Fall! For some reason. I have always like Lauri Markkanen and I hope he does well there, but do we really think it’s gonna happen? UNDER.
Is it too much to ask for rookie center Luka Garza to just have every one of his shots blocked this year? I mean that would be fun. Quick. Don’t look. Who is Detroit’s coach? No, it’s not Dan Campbell. That’s the Lions. It’s still Dwane Casey. He deserves better. OVER. But only because that’s a super low number they’ve been given.
There are definite pieces here and if Caris LaVert and Malcom Brogdan can stay healthy, they could have a pretty dynamic offense. Do we think there’s any chance that happens? They’ll duke it out with the Bulls for second place in the prestigious Central Division. That’s how much improvement all those moves got the Bulls. They are the Pacers now. Man, that just shows how far they’d fallen. They’re Pacers good, whoo! Anyway, this number just feels low. OVER.
The Hawks took a lot of shit for their draft night trade a few years ago that brought them Trae Young instead of Luka Doncic, and yeah, Luka would have been a better pick, but give Trae credit, he’s pretty damned good. He’s good enough that the NBA felt the need to outlaw the move where he dribbles in front of a defender with his back to them, stops and gets run over for a foul. If the NBA changes a rule to thwart you, you’re doing something. The Hawks are pretty deep, and so I like the OVER here. What I am more concerned about is what is Trae going to do when the rest of his hair falls out?
This is not a head that is going to look good shaved:
He already looks like one of those pencil gnomes from when we were kids. You remember them, you could hold their little body between your palms and spin it until their hair stuck straight up? Shave one of those and you’ve got what Trae’s going to look like. If he were in Chicago he’d already have like six Restore bill boards on I-90 heading to O’Hare. I honestly think he’s going to have to play in a toupee. I hope they have sweat proof wig glue. They sure didn’t when Carlos Boozer was still playing.
The Heat were in The Finals just two years ago and they added Kyle Lowery in the offseason, so there’s that. Which is nice. I love Bam Adebayo, the Heat are well coached and Jimmy Butler will still get in everybody’s ass if they don’t play hard. They’re not title contenders, but I’ll bet they hit the OVER here.
They traded everybody away Jed Hoyer-style at the deadline and there’s just not that much left. Wendell can’t really play. They did draft Jalen Suggs, so there’s that, but he’ll end up having the wrestle the ball away from Cole Anthony during games. But hey, maybe this is the year Markelle Fultz puts it all together.
Hah! UNDER. This roster is built like they’re trying to lose. Because they are.
Their one year Russell Westbrook experiment is over and they have to be relieved. And “sharp shooting” Davis Bertans has looked great so far this fall.
But they do have Bradley Beal, of course and added Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma and Gonzaga rookie Corey Kispert is on the team to run around with pretty hair and somehow get half his three point attempts blocked. Can they get to 34 wins? That’s not much is it? It’s not. OVER.
Lonzo’s little brother LaMelo is a lot of fun. He’s an even better passer, and the Hornets have to hope that like Lonzo he eventually learns how to shoot, but man, he can do stuff on the floor already.
Outside of him? Man, that’s a rough looking roster. I guess Gordon Hayward could theoretically stay healthy and PJ Washington has good games against the Bulls. But the road to 39 wins looks pretty rocky. UNDER.
The Nuggets were legit title contenders until Jamal Murray blew out his knee in April. He won’t be back until spring at the earliest. The Nuggets can still win games since they have the reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic and a fairly deep roster. I’d play Facundo Compazzo more, just because it’s fun to say Facundo Compazzo. Am I bitter that in recent drafts I wanted the Bulls to take Michael Porter Jr. (it would have required them packaging another pick with the one they took the great Chandler Hutchinson with) and Bol Bol (just a second round pick) and the Nuggets got them both? Nah. Well, some. OVER.
They’re bad, and it’s probably time to see what they can get for Karl Anthony Towns, but let’s just take three minutes and watch Anthony Edwards dunk.
You know what we’re really going to miss with crowds back in arenas? NBA teams just letting people park cars right under the basket.
There’s a lot of talk about where Damian Lillard will go when the Blazers inevitably decide they have to trade him. I don’t think it’ll be this year, because I think they’ll be pretty good. But if it they do, trading him to the 76ers for Ben Simmons makes no sense for Portland. You know who they could trade him for that would make some sense?
I don’t think the Bulls have any intention of trading this guy, but he’s from Seattke, he’s a star, the money can be made to work, how about Zach LaVine back to the Pacific Northwest for Dame?
Anyway, I would hope the Blazers will sit Lillard down before the season and make sure they’re still pals.
How about a Fresca? OVER.
They have a terrible team, but they have sooooo many draft picks. Why, that’s just great. Over the next four years they can draft 47 rookies. That should work out just great. Honestly, all I remember about the Thunder is that Kevin Durant said when he played there the town smelled like dog food. So that’s…something. They have a team and Seattke doesn’t. Sure. Great. UNDER.
Yes, I know they were banged up when they flamed out of the playoffs last year to the Kawhi-less Clippers. But that still has to leave a mark. It’s the kind of thing that can suppress your over/under the next season. And, I think it has. Does Donovan Mitchell still play for them? Yes? OVER!
Steph Curry had a great year again last season (32 ppg) and the Warriors finished over .500 and nearly knocked the Lakers out of the hokey play-in tournament. This year he gets even more reinforcements including the eventual return of Klay Thompson. It’s a big jump from 39 to 48 wins (remember last season was only a 72 game season), but I’ll allow it. OVER.
Paul George finally showed up for the playoffs last year, which was fun to see, but not having Kawhi sabotaged what otherwise would have been a Finals run for the Clips. Why was Kawhi out? Let’s ask the Googles.
Nailed it. He was out with torn ACL disease. Ahh, you hate to see it. It takes a long time to recover from that disease, so I’d lean on the UNDER.
Once again it’s a weird roster for the Lakers, but honestly if you’re going to pay LeBron and AD what they’re worth the other roster spots are all going to be weird. This year they added Russell Westbrook for some damned reason. All I kept hearing was that it’ll hurt them in the playoffs (when teams remember they do not need to guard him), but his maniacal drive to win will help them in the regular season. So let’s cash in on that part. OVER.
Remember that they had a 2-0 lead in The Finals against the Bucks and then lost four straight? Well, they did. But hey, they’ll always have the Valley Oop against the Clippers.
That was fun. Less fun was when it happened to them a series later.
It’s hard to get back when you lose in a championship series. But I’ll count on Monty Williams to keep them on track in the regular season. They won 51 games last year in a 72 game season, I think they can win 52 in an 82 game season. OVER.
Why are the Kings? I mean, think about it if you live in Sacramento. You live in a part of California that has Iowa weather, and you have one major sports franchise and it’s the fucking Kings. Your team took Marvin Bagley III in the 2018 draft ahead of Luka, Trae or Jaren Jackson Jr. Oof. And now, they’re doing this with Marvin.
Well oiled-machine. UNDER.
Zion’s hurt again. Well, I hope he’s in good enough shape to recover quickly, because he’s super fun to watch play. Oh, we have a photo of him?
Oh no. UNDER.
I like Luka as much as the next guy, but does he have to whine to the refs after every single play? I mean, he just does. He’s a great player and has a lot of low altitude LeBron in his game, which I guess includes all the bitching. OVER.
Another team with lots of draft picks and no plan. They traded Chris Paul to get Russell Westbrook, the traded Russ to get John Wall and now they’re going buy out Wall. So, great? UNDER.
Can you really take a Greg Popovich team to win less than 30 games? You can. I wouldn’t. But you can. OVER.
And finally (mock applause fills the internet), we get to the Grizzlies. They were really fun last year with Ja Morant being awesome, but Jaren Jackson missed almost all of the season. He’s a beast, and he’s back. They won 38 games last year and made the playoffs. If Jackson actually plays the majority of the games this year, I think this is a strong OVER.
So there you have it. A breezy look at the upcoming NBA season. Now that you know what’s going to happen you just kick back and enjoy it.
And enjoy a fun Bulls team. Who knew?
One of my favorite things about Billy is that once and a while he slips back into his Nassau County New York accent. It’s unexpected and delightful. Well, in the way that an accent so annoying that even people from Rhode Island go, “What the fack was dat, Dunuvan?”
More like Wendell Farter Junior, amirite? I save all the classy jokes for the footnotes.