I have been going on the assumption the Pistons are - easily - the best team in the Eastern Conference. I have had the full expectation the Pistons are clearly better than both Cleveland and Miami and will be reach the Eastern Conference finals without much trouble. Now I am having some doubts as the season moves on and teams start getting ready for the playoffs. It’s weird, but Miami losing Dwyane Wade has only somehow made the Heat stronger. I know Wade is a great force, but they have played extremely well without him and Jason Kapono - the best shooter for the Heat. The loss to Orlando aside, it seems Shaquille O’Neal has something to prove and is proving it. Cleveland has played a lot of home games lately, so their recent winning streak is understandable from that point. And the Cavaliers are still lacking in certain areas, but LeBron James is eventually going to lead his team to championships. He is capable of being an incredible playoff force, and it may apply itself this year. The Bulls are still there and solid, yet lack the big star. I can’t help but fall into the trap of the star system in the NBA. I always like a team in the playoffs that has that one big star. I know the Pistons have shattered the mold in recent years, and I know their starting five is formidable and I feel Chauncey Billups, in particular, is a star. Yet, somehow, I still feel the Pistons will be vulnerable to opposing star players come the postseason.
- I am surprised Jim Leyland named Jeremy Bonderman opening day starter. It seems out of line considering both Justin Verlander and Kenny Rogers were better pitchers last season than Bonderman. I am not sure if Bonderman earned the honor nor if he is the staff ace. It is still more about potential than reality with Bonderman.
- I know he has won a national championship, but this was, nonetheless, Tom Izzo’s best coaching job. I was in Winston-Salem Saturday night sitting courtside. If you all saw what I did, up close like that, you’d know just how much that game should have been a blowout. North Carolina was so much more talented. Yet, the Spartans were in that game. That speaks volumes for Izzo. Watch out for the Spartans next season when this group of players blends with an outstanding recruiting class. It should be dynamite.
- Tyler Hansbrough is an unrelenting force, but I am not so sure how his game will translate to the NBA. He is much bigger and stronger than college inside players. That won’t be the case in the NBA.