Can Anyone Beat the NBA's One-Percenters?

Gladly, Hampton. Like most of the city, I'm still reeling from Hurricane Sandy (as of this writing, my Greenwich Village apartment is without power and may have been looted by marauding hipsters). The Nets are no exception—the NBA postponed Brooklyn's blockbuster home opener against my beloved Knicks that had been set for Thursday.

Honestly, I'm glad they did. The return of pro sports to Brooklyn (sorry, Brooklyn Cyclones, you don't count) should be a gala celebration, not a tepid affair attended by the few thousands souls hardy enough to brave the subway-less, semi-flooded city. The Nets are not going to challenge the Heat anytime soon—after Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, their roster is filled with busts (Brook Lopez) and tabloid fodder (Kris Humphries, a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known as Mr. Kim Kardashian). But they can challenge the old and decrepit Knicks for Big Apple supremacy, and they can develop a rabid fan base full of beards and skinny jeans.

The rest of the league appears set to be overrun by the Heat now that the Thunder have traded away James Harden, an astoundingly short-sighted move that ensures Oklahoma City will be watching other teams hoist the championship trophy for years to come. The Lakers are trying the same star-heavy recipe that failed in 2004, and it will fail this season too. The Clippers have potential but must prove themselves in the postseason. My pick out of the Western Conference is a throwback: the San Antonio Spurs, who were two wins from the Finals last year and should be just as good this year.

But no one will stop the Heat. They have LeBron at the peak of his powers, a healthy D-Wade, a top-five big man in Chris Bosh, and the best outside shooter in the game in Ray Allen. Come crunch time, they'll throw out an impossibly athletic lineup of Mario Chalmers, Allen, Wade, LeBron and Bosh (with LeBron playing the power forward position). Good luck trying to stop that, and good luck trying to score on that lineup if you don't have an elite big man.

The Heat could win 73 games this year if they stay motivated throughout the season. They'll fall short of that goal, but a second straight title will be a great consolation prize.

What say you, Patrick? Any musings on your Washington Wizards?

–Jake

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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