Obviously, this is a New Jersey Nets blog, however, the NAS crew absolutely love the NBA in general. So, every week, Mark, Devin, Justin, Danny, Vivek, and/or myself will answer questions regarding the L.
1) Has LeBron James turned a corner? He's had ice water in his veins this postseason, so is this when he becomes legendary? Will he lead the Heat to the promised land?
Mark: How can you turn a corner when you've continually been the best for years? What about the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons? I know LeBron's teams have flamed out spectacularly the past two years, but if there's been any corner turned it's tied-in to what people have been saying since July. LeBron has legitimate teammates now in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He can take over a fourth quarter more easily because he's not the only guy who can kill you. Trust me, I hate this. I hated Superfriends since Day One, though I'm secretly hoping that Nets can replicate it with Dwight Howard and Deron Williams in Brooklyn. But the fact is, anyone who didn't see a Miami postseason run like this is crazy. LeBron is and will be a beast for years, and now he's got two other top 10 players (including a top five guy in Wade) standing right next to him.
Devin: I'm with Mark. The guy's been the best player in the league for years now. Before this year, when everyone decided that hate was worthy and Derrick Rose was God, LeBron James was your two-time reigning MVP and undisputed King. He had hit more than his fair share of clutch shots in the playoffs, though people seem to recall last year's game 5 over his overall body of work. Those who cry ringless lose track of the team element of this game. I don't know if Miami will win the championship, but I do know that we've been witnessing greatness for a long time.
Justin: I have never been a big believer in the "LeBron's not clutch" argument. Let's face it, he's hit game-winners in the playoffs against the Washington Wizards and the Orlando Magic. He had his 25 straight points in the win over the Pistons. He's scored 40 points or more in eight playoff games (Kobe has nine since '02) including a Game Seven and he's gone to the NBA Finals once. This is just the best supporting cast he's had, and yes I do think the Heat will be the champions this year. I predict LeBron wins three of the next five NBA championships.
DV: I never got that feeling about LeBron the way you did about Kobe in the playoffs. That "I'll do anything and will my team to victory" type of feeling. Kobe over the years has proven that desire and effort, that assassin-type of mentality. You never got that feeling from LeBron... except now. His eyes light up now with excitement and looseness like he knows he's going to break the other team's neck, no question. It's a different feeling nowadays and it will probably land the Heat another NBA title and LeBron's first.
2) Mike Brown is the Los Angeles Lakers' choice to replace Phil Jackson as head coach of the team. Is this surprising considering other candidates such as Rick Adelman and Brian Shaw?
Mark: I do not get the fascination with Mike Brown. It's like "Hey, we're a storied franchise that just got embarrassed, so let's bring in the guy who watched his star quit on him last year." Needless to say, I'm not a fan of Brown's, nor was I even remotely interested when he was on the Nets' radar last summer.
Justin:It was somewhat surprising just because I thought they would go with either Rick Adelman or Brian Shaw. Mike Brown, however, is a good choice and maybe his fresh approach will breathe new life into this Lakers squad. I don't have any doubts about Brown's ability to construct a game plan, I just wonder what type of relationship he'll form with Kobe Bryant.
DV: I think Brown will bring in a strong sense of defense from the team because that's where his strengths as a coach lays. However, offensively, I'm not sure what's going to happen. The triangle offense has been such a part of the Lakers it will be weird to see them run anything else. I know this much, Brown better win over the veterans and the fans quick because he'll have a short leash in LA in regards to support. That's what happens when you replace a legend.
3) How much of an impact will Jerry West make in the front office of the Golden State Warriors?
Mark: Well, the guy is a winner, though how much say will he ultimately have? That's still not entirely clear. And while I would take either one on my team as a scorer, a backcourt with both Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry is not the cornerstone of a prospective playoff team. One of those guys needs to go for a frontcourt piece.
Devin: You ever play NBA 2K11 and start a franchise with the Timberwolves or the Clippers, just for the hell of it? While the financial incentive is obvious, and his impact is yet unstated, I do think Jerry West loves a challenge. The Warriors have a lot of moves to make, and West is a brilliant basketball mind. Larry Riley would be foolish not to listen to him. I think the direction of the team will be more solidified by draft day: Riley has to make moves to improve that frontcourt and their defense, and the Warriors definitely have the assets. We'll see if Jerry West helps them turn Golden State into gold.
DV: I think it's a great PR move and, obviously, West knows how to construct a winning team. However, how deep will his involvement be? Trades will probably go down and perhaps a change in offensively philosophy with more stress on defense. Yes, it actually does exist, Warriors. West has a brilliant basketball mind, but how many brain cells will he actually put into use with the Bay Area squad?