OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks past Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder after a 106-90 loss during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 21, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City Thunder win the series 4-1, and advance to the Western Conference Finals. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The NBA offseason is coming to an end and the start of the 2012-13 season draws near. SB Nation columnist Andrew Sharp stopped by to drop some wisdom about the Thunder, Bynum going YOLO and an imaginary conversation with Chris Paul in an elevator.
Believe it or not, we are actually now just under two months away from the beginning of the NBA season as the (sigh...) defending world champion Miami Heat will start the season by hosting the Boston Celtics on October 30th. While many of you have taken your mind to football, soccer or
baseball more football, some of us are already pining towards the upcoming season.
The offseason was full of gold medals, silver medals, hijinks and tomfoolery, and who better to chop it up with than the great Andrew Sharp, who appreciates hijinks and tomfoolery as much as I do. Other than getting the Eastern Conference's best power forward wrong, this is a dope Q&A. Enjoy.
Eddie Maisonet: What's been the most annoying story of the off-season?
Andrew Sharp: DWIGHTMARE! But only by default. The Dwight Howard stuff was a lot more unbearable during the year. I think by the summer we just sorta checked out whenever someone brought up Dwight Howard rumors. Or I did, at least. Beyond that?
We had all the Dream Team nostalgia, the Lakers Dynasty, Prokhorov buying the Nets some dignity in July, and then Team USA, which gave us daily doses of awesomen(hig hlights, quotes, instagram, KOBE) for a solid 6 weeks. Compared to last summer and the lockout, it's hard to complain too much about anything.
Ed: You're in an elevator, Chris Paul steps in with you as his pending free-agency is on the brink. You've got 30 seconds to say whatever you want to the man. What do you say?
Andrew: I tell him Blake Griffin is overrated and destined to fall off harder than Amare within the next five years, I carefully point out that the Clippers supporting cast is OK in 2012, would've been phenomenal in 2008, but will be truly terrible by 2014. And that's before you get to the coaching, the mysterious GM situation and Donald Sterling's sparkling reputation. Then I ask how he could possibly stay in L.A. when New Orleans is just waiting down there with Anthony Davis and all that cap space.
Then he's like, "Hey wait who are you get away fro--"
But I interrupt him and say, "But if you DO leave, please don't go to Miami, because I know you're boys with Bron and after watching you guys all summer I could totally see that happening somehow and that would just shut down the entire leag--"
Then he gets off the elevator, clearly a little shaken by the experience, and (obviously) headed to Miami, because that's how life works. The rich get richer.
Ed: Same scenario, but with Andrew Bynum.
Andrew: I probably look over and say, "Hmm, that's Andrew Bynum. Cool, I guess?" And that's exactly how I feel about about Bynum as a superstar.
Ed: Bonus....what's the over/under on how many games it takes for Andrew Bynum to launch a YOLO three-pointer?
Andrew: DUDE. If Bynum was pulling all that on a full-fledged title contender there's no telling what happens with him on a 7-seed. I like to think he and Nick Young are in the middle of offseason workouts as we speak, where they play basketball in sunglasses, only practice turnaround jumpers and half-court shots, and then go buy matching Jet Skis for themselves, even though they're nowhere near water. It's going to be a fun year in Philadelphia.
Ed: Is there any way the Oklahoma City Thunder can mess this roster up in the next 12 months?
Andrew: Nope! Yes? Maybe. It depends on whether we're counting Scott Brooks' coaching as a factor.
Ed: Without thinking, who are the five best teams in the NBA right now, in order.
Andrew: Lakers, Heat, Thunder, Spurs, Clippers.
Ed: There's tons of excitement surrounding the Brooklyn Nets, but will the Nets actually be exciting to watch?
Andrew: On the court, I have no idea. Joe Johnson is a complete wild card--does leaving ATL rejuvenate him, and does watching him as supporting player make us appreciate him again? Or is he every bit as underwhelming in Brooklyn as he was in ATL? Even D-Will could go in a few different directions--Will he go back to being CP3's only competition? Or is he the point guard version of Joe Johnson in Atlanta, overrated and overpaid and not quite good enough to be a franchise guy. Most likely he's somewhere in between, so we'll see. Then again, having no idea how this turns out should make them fun to watch, at least in the beginning. So there's my answer, I guess. Let's just hope Prokhorov is more involved this year.
Ed: And the best team in New York City will be....
Andrew: Knicks, as long as NY finally plays Melo at power forward a la the last month of last season and the Olympics. But them and the Nets could be 4-5 seeds in the East, so it'll be close. (How awesome would that playoff series be?)
Ed: Obligatory Lakers question, but one that needs answering, is Mike Brown a good enough coach to take this Lakers team to a championship?
Andrew: Maybe! Mike Brown's smarter than he looks and he's been so consistently criticized that he's probably underrated at this point. But with this Lakers team ... Half the battle will be managing everyone, which isn't necessarily his strong suit. That's where Erik Spoelstra's been so great in Miami. Even during the anarchy of that first year, he was pretty steady about everything. Now it's Mike Brown's turn. If it works, I'll be happy for him because he seems like a genuinely good dude. If it doesn't work, all the internet's Mike Brown jokes will be fantastic.
Ed: Finish this sentence for me. The best power forward in the Eastern Conference is ____________.
Ed: When its all said and done, the Miami Heat are the obvious favorites to win the title again next season...right?
Andrew: WRONG. Miami, L.A., and O.K.C. are all even in my book. OKC was hanging with Miami in every one of those Finals games, and a year of experience will only make them deadlier. Miami reloaded with Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen to bury people from the corners, which is just evil. And the Lakers ... It's like everyone learned from our freakout before that first year of the Heatles, so now we're all being irrationally casual about what happened in L.A. It's "wait-and-see", mostly. That's fine, but once the Lakers added Dwight, that team became utterly terrifying. You couldn't pick a better roster for Dwight, and you couldn't have picked a team that needed his talent more. If everyone's healthy, that team is going to destroy people.
Anyway, for the title ten months from now... My heart says OKC, my head says LA. So it'll probably be Miami, then.