Today is the first day of fall, which means we’re getting closer! With training camps set to open just seven days from now, preseason tipping off in less than two weeks, and the real deal only a month away, the new NBA season is so close that you can almost hear the sneakers squeaking and the whistles blowing.
Last weekend, I presented you with a short list of things I hope to see this season. This weekend, I give to you another wish list… and being that it’s my birthday, I think the basketball gods ought to deliver at least one of the following:
John Wall’s Breakout Season
Following his up-and-down rookie season, many (including myself) expected a healthy John Wall to elevate his game quite a bit. Throughout the lockout, Wall remained one of the NBA’s most visible players, seemingly participating (and often dominating) in just about every pickup game he could find. His constant presence and high level of performance certainly helped to build some hype, and a breakout appeared to be just around the corner. Unfortunately, instead of that special season, Wizards fans were served with a reminder that the ability to create spectacular highlights in pickup games doesn’t equate to great success on the highest level of organized basketball.
The good news is that John Wall still has time. Entering into his third year in the league, Wall will finally be running alongside a professional or two. Having just turned 22, Wall will be about the same age that Derrick Rose was in his third season, when the former MVP improved his three-point percentage by nearly 6 points, lifted his PPG from 21 to 25, and helped to add 21 wins to Chicago’s record. Hopefully Wall has been working on his jumper the same way Rose did, because 7.1% from three-point range isn’t going to open up any driving lanes.
Likelihood: Personally, I’m still holding out plenty of hope for young John Wall. He’s got so much ability, and so much potential to be one of the most exciting players in the game today. Maybe this is a bit of wishful thinking, but I’m saying John Wall can do it.
Amare Stoudemire’s Return To Form
To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t really care less about the fate of the Knicks, Stoudemire’s defense, or his statistics. I would, however, be thrilled to see Amare in all of his athletic glory once again. While I understand that #32 isn’t walking through that door, #1 was pretty damn explosive in his own right… at least until he decided to experiment with some added bulk. Come October, I hope to see a sleek and slender Amare capable of leaving the floor more quickly than any other man his size. STAT was powerful enough in his Phoenix frame; there was never a need to add the muscle that ended up serving as an anchor.
Likelihood: I think there’s a pretty good chance that we get the old Amare back this season. He’s only 29, and I think the ’11/12 campaign will end up standing out as an anomaly amongst the prime years of his career.
An Increased Effort To Stop Flopping
Unfortunately, flopping has become an epidemic. It’s gotten to the point where notorious floppers like Manu Ginobili fail to even stand out as floppers anymore, ’cause f@cking everybody is flopping. Flopping will continue to plague the game until it’s no longer rewarded, so the only real solution here is to stop rewarding it. Officials simply have to do a better job of determining what is a flop and what is legitimate contact. The NBA ought to institute some sort of mandate that forces referees to study up on the matter.
Likelihood: Get ready to see the same old refs making the same old calls (overall, I actually feel that the refs do a pretty good job… but when it comes to the flop—particularly when a superstar is involved—not so much).
James White In The Dunk Contest
Back in July, James “Flight” White signed a one-year deal with the Knicks. The deal is of the guaranteed variety. This means White should be on New York’s roster come All-Star Weekend, which would make him eligible to compete in the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest. Need I say more?
Likelihood: The Dunk Contest has been in desperate need of a guy like White (all ups, no gimmicks) for quite some time now, and I can’t imagine the powers that be allowing this obvious opportunity to resurrect the event to slip through the cracks. I mean, there’s no f@cking way James White can be an NBA player come All-Star Weekend and not be in the Dunk Contest, right?
Kobe Bryant NOT On The All-Defensive Team
With all due respect to The Bean, let’s be real here… Kobe Bryant should not be sniffing an All-Defensive nod in the year 2013. He will, though, because in order to make the All-Defensive team you pretty much have to be good on offense. Here’s a novel idea, voters: give the f@cking selection to one of the players whose job it is to guard Kobe Bryant, not to Kobe Bryant. Kobe doesn’t guard his damn self, nor does he spend the majority of his time guarding any other scorers of his caliber. That’s what that World Peace fella’s for, people.
Likelihood: Kobe Bryant says he’ll probably retire at age 35. Whether he retires or not, he’ll make Second Team All-Defense at age 36. And 37.