Jacob Durst and Nathan Janick both played self-proclaimed “high-level varsity basketball” in high school where they each played against third-round NBA Draft picks. Sources suggest that one of them might have been dunked on by Julius Randle. They have been best friends and rival basketball analysts since the time they diagrammed intramural basketball plays on napkins at Steak ‘n Shake together at 2 a.m. freshman year.
Part 1: We power-ranked all the teams in the NBA. Look for Part 2 next week, when we talk about the teams that actually matter (Disclaimer: Brooklyn, New York and Los Angeles are in Part 1). Without further ado, Durst’s and Janick’s NBA Preview begins now:
Tier 1: Praying for No Lottery Reform
30) Philadelphia 76ers:
Durst: They might actually compete for a NCAA Championship this year. Would anybody on this team even play on a real contender?
Janick: The short answer is no. The long answer is how would one even talk themselves into paying for season tickets.
D: Their most intriguing player, Nerlens Noel, is coming off knee surgery and hasn’t played competitive basketball for 18 months.
29, 28) Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics
J: Orlando just traded away its best player, Arron Afflalo, and Boston is about to lose Rajon Rondo. Jake, tell me what these teams have to look forward to.
D. Well, Celtics fans can already start to get excited about the 10 second-round picks they are about to get for Rondo (Cut to Celtic fans with the Manning face). Too soon?
J: Well, we just lost our audience from Boston. Orlando did draft Elfrid Payton, a dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year.
D: He is going to get a ton of playing time and a ton of shots, just like Michael Carter-Williams did last year.
27, 26) Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz
J: People care about these teams, but none of them go to Emory.
D: Let’s be real. Who will Emory students follow closer: the Emory basketball team or these two teams?
J: Yeah, let’s just move on so people will actually keep reading.
Tier 2: Nicholas Cage Division: Just Bad
25) Los Angeles Lakers
D: The question is whether Kobe actually believes this team can make the playoffs.
J: If he does, this ranks with any president believing that he can pass his entire political agenda, or Roger Goodell thinking he handled the Ray Rice situation correctly on the spectrum of irrational self-confidence.
D. Vegas Prop-bet: Laker wins or Swaggy P (Nick Young) attempted 360 layups.
J: What does have some relevance: Thoughts on the future of Swaggy P and Iggy Azalea’s relationship?
D: Similar to the prospect of Julius Randle becoming an instant star and leading the Lakers to the playoffs, not likely it is going to pan out.
24) Minnesota Timberwolves
J: Durst, if you’re a Minnesota fan, which T-Wolf makes you cringe more when attempting a three pointer: Ricky Rubio or Anthony Bennett?
D: I don’t know. On one hand, you have Rubio, a historically bad shooter (like actually one of the worst of all time), and on the other you have a 40-pound overweight Bennett.
J: Hey, at least Kevin Love is the best shooter in the league for his position. Good thing they traded him for Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, both of whom would not be the first picks in their respective drafts if they were drafts were re-done today.
D: If I were Minnesota, I would look into a share-the-love program with Cleveland.
23, 22) Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons
D: What’s more painful to watch, Indy’s offense this year or the Detroit “Big Three” of Brandon Jennings, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith sharing the court?
J: R.I.P. to the Joe Dumars era.
D: The best part is that their offense will still be better than Indiana’s. Sneaky question: If we go back to three years ago, how much is Roy Hibbert worth?
J: His contract pretty much like Joe Flacco’s. You kind of just fluctuate between, “How much are we paying him?” and, “Wait, this is a bargain?”
D: What if Ricky Rubio, Josh Smith and Roy Hibbert had a shooting contest with Smith and Rubio taking threes and Hibbert shooting open 15-footers vs. Atlanta in the playoffs last year? Would that be the most depressing thing you’ve ever seen?
J: I just got a call from NBC. They picked this up as a pilot for their Thursday night Primetime slot. They’re calling it “The Biggest Loser: NBA Edition.”
Tier 3: Eastern Conference Playoff Teams
21) Miami Heat
J: LeBron isn’t on this team anymore. Let’s just give everybody a break and not talk about them.
20, 19) Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets
D: If these two teams are in the Eastern Conference they are probably playoff teams.
J: Yeah, but they aren’t, so let’s move on to a region that is more represented by the student body at Emory.
18, 17) New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets
D: Serious question: Do the Nets try and trade Brook Lopez?
J: It comes downs down to their future plans on and off the court. If the organization decides that they do not have a realistic shot at contending for a title (which they don’t), then they should try to trade him and acquire young assets and draft picks. Rumors are also surrounding the sale of the team, so that makes things more complicated.
D: Mikhail Prokhorov has to decide between spending hundreds of millions of dollars gambling and participating in other billionaire activities or loosing another $140 million running this basketball team.
J: Now, if you’re a Knicks fan, convince me why the Knicks’ future is brighter without using the words “Phil Jackson,” “lottery reform” or “blatant luck.”
D: AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE’s $23 MILLION EXPIRING CONTRACT. CAP ROOM: FREE AT LAST.
J: It’s the Eastern Conference, so the Knicks have a very realistic shot at making the playoffs this year. Then, they can hope to snag a major free agent in the summer.
D: Who doesn’t want to play with J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony shooting 40 times a night?
16, 15) New Orleans Hornets … I mean Pelicans, and Charlotte Bobcats … I mean Hornets.
J: What is more confusing to the casual NBA fan, these teams changing their names or their front office decision-making?
D: Some of Michael Jordan’s personal decisions have to be under-the-table deals to settle some of his larger gambling debts.
J: He may be Pete Rose, just in a front office position.
D: The real question is whether or not this is the year when Anthony Davis emerges as a top-3 player.
J: This is much more realistic than many people think. Derrick Rose made a similar leap in his Most Valuable Player (MVP) season. Do you see the Hornets being legitimate contenders in the East?
D: If things break right, I can see them competing for a top-4 seed, but not making it to the conference finals.
J: If they make one trade, Al Jefferson, aka Big Al, has a career year, and if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s new jump shot actually goes in, this team could find its way into the conference finals.
D: You can’t forget about Lance! Fake Vegas prop bet: Big Al assists per game or stare downs towards Lance Stephenson?
J: Nothing would be more frustrating than rooting for Big Al to pass the ball.
14) Phoenix Suns
D: Can we call Jeff Hornacek a top-5 NBA coach?
J: That’s bold. What he did with this Phoenix team last year was beautiful to watch, but let’s see them make the playoffs and win a playoff series first.
D: They would have been tied for a three seed if they played in the East last year and that is with a Western Conference schedule.
J: Very reasonable point. They would have probably been the second best team in the East last year.
D: I still don’t see them making the playoffs in the West this year.
J: I think they could slip in with some key injuries to other teams in the conference. But they will at least be really fun to watch, and who knows what’ll happen if Hornacek plays three point guards at once with the acquisition of Isaiah Thomas.
13) Atlanta Hawks
D: The Hawks will not be featured on SportsCenter without the words, “sources say.”
J: This is what happens when you have a roster full of players on fair contracts. It tends to make it easier to make trades. Just ask James Dolan.
D: They are strong contenders for the 10 seed in the West … um, I mean third seed in the East.
N: I really like this team as well, especially with the acquisition of Luol Deng, but I just don’t see them making much noise deep in the playoffs.
— By Jacob Durst and Nathan Janick