Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An NBA Preview for Theologians: Part 2 - The Western Conference

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks, NBA, basketball, German
by Ben Howard

Today we continue with part two of the On Pop Theology NBA Preview for Theologians by covering the teams in the Western Conference. You can find the Eastern Conference here.

Dallas Mavericks

Orthodox/Heretical: Heretical, in a we're rich and aimless way.
Representative Biblical Book: Ecclesiastes - Rich dude reflects on how life is meaningless and nothing makes him happy. That sounds perfect.
Patron Saint: Dirk Nowitzki - The patron saint of Germans, Shaggy-Headed Men, and Overbites.

Summary: What happens when your brash over-the-top owner goes all out in back-to-back years to sign the biggest free agents available? You get to root for Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon! Are you not entertained? Eh...probably not.

Denver Nuggets

Orthodox/Heretical: Heretical, in a train going off the tracks way.
Representative Biblical Book: 1 & 2 Timothy - They seem okay until you look closer and then they make you feel kind of uncomfortable and you stop reading them anymore.
Patron Saint: Andre Miller - The patron saint of Scrappy Dudes, Old Man Basketball, and Professors.

Summary: The Nuggets finished with the 4th best record in the NBA last year. So, like any well-run franchise, they fired their coach, allowed their general manager to leave, and let their best player sign with another team. What's left? A team whose two best players are undersized point guards along with the blooper-reel stylings of JaVale McGee.

stephen curry, basketball, nba, golden state warriors, jump shotGolden State Warriors

Orthodox/Heretical: Heretical, in the best way possible.
Representative Biblical Book: James - Faith without works is dead and I have a lot of faith in Stephen Curry.
Patron Saint: Stephen Curry - The patron saint of Threes, Being HOT!, and Being SOOO HOT!!

Summary: If basketball fans could build a magical kingdom where all of their wildest dreams came true and unicorns shot threes with impunity, they would come up with something not unlike the Golden State Warriors, a team that plays fast and shoots well. However, like most fantasy-worlds, no one is confident that it can stand up to the harsh light of reality.

Houston Rockets

Orthodox/Heretical: Orthodox, in an exhilarating way.
Representative Biblical Book: Song of Solomon - Sexy, sexy, sexy. Also, Donatas Motiejunas has a neck like an ivory tower.
Patron Saint: James Harden - The patron saint of Beards, Bored Stares, and Even Larger Beards.

Summary: The Rockets signed star center Dwight Howard (aka The Hamlet of Candyland) in the offseason which begs the question: Are the Rockets ready for lift-off? I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. In other news, Chandler Parsons is a sexy man with a spray tan.

Los Angeles Clippers

Orthodox/Heretical: Orthodox, in an exciting way.
Representative Biblical Book: Philipians - A book that talks about joy is the only appropriate book for a team that love alley-oops.
Patron Saint: Blake Griffin - The patron saint of Dunks, Red Heads, and Kia.

Summary: Every pundit seems to think that the Clippers will be very good, and I must say I'm inclined to agree. They have stars in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and a very solid supporting cast. However, they will also be relying on Byron "Don't Call Me B.J." Mullens who I once watched play for the Ohio State Buckeyes. With this knowledge, I am also inclined to say the Clippers won't be that good.
nick young, los angeles lakers, china, nba, basketball
Los Angeles Lakers

Orthodox/Heretical: Heretical, in a rabble of cast-offs way.
Representative Biblical Book: Revelation - Confusing, over-exposed, and apocalyptic.
Patron Saint: Nick Young - The patron saint of Having Swag, Riding Elephants, and Always Shooting.

Summary: There is a non-zero chance that Kobe Bryant will attempt to fight Nick Young during a game. However, Nick Young, in the most Nick Young-ian reaction possible, will not take Kobe's threats seriously which will both add to the hilarity of the moment and possibly cause Kobe to suffer a psychological break. After this incident, Dwight Howard will send Nick Young the biggest bag of Skittles ever as a congratulations.

Memphis Grizzlies

Orthodox/Heretical: Orthodox, in a way that will dismantle your soul.
Representative Biblical Book: Leviticus - Rigid structure that will bend you to its will.
Patron Saint: Marc Gasol - The patron saint of Spaniards, Giants, and Body Odor.

Summary: Last year, I was forced to watch a hobbled version of my beloved Oklahoma City Thunder lose to the Grizzlies in the Second Round of the NBA Playoffs. This was the basketball equivalent of watching a beloved pet get punched in the face repeatedly. I have no good things to say about the Grizzlies.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Orthodox/Heretical: Neutral, in a perennially snake-bit way.
Representative Biblical Book: Exodus - They're coming out of the oppression of injuries. Here's hoping Love and company can avoid a rebellion that leads to 40 years in the wilderness.
Patron Saint: Kevin Love - The patron saint of Rebounding, Outlet Passes, and Big Hugs.

Summary: "And verily the prophecy foretold that the child of the hippies (Kevin Love) and the foreigner (Ricky Rubio) would unite to lead the great mythical beast out of the dark woods of the north to wreck havoc upon those who would stand in their way. Unless, of course, the great mythical beast develops knee and ankle problems as the beast has been known to do." - The Great Viking Tome of 1972 (I imagine Minnesotans to be very epic when talking about sports.)
anthony davis, new orleans pelicans, unibrow, nba, basketball
New Orleans Pelicans

Orthodox/Heretical: Heretical, in a dizzyingly weird way.
Representative Biblical Book: Jude - Have you read Jude? It's super weird.
Patron Saint: Anthony Davis - The patron saint of Versatility, WINGSPAN, and Unibrows.

Summary: The Pelicans three highest-paid players all the play, more or less, the same position. All of them are good at that position, providing you squint and ignore all the red flags. Their highest scoring player is a 6'10'' power forward who only shoots threes and doesn't start. Their best player trademarked his unibrow. I think the Pelicans might be an elaborate practical joke on the people of New Orleans.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Orthodox/Heretical: Orthodox, in a frustratingly static way.
Representative Biblical Book: John - They are the team that I love, though I'd like to avoid all the challenging parts.
Patron Saint: Russell Westbrook - The patron saint of Reckless Abandon, Bizarre Fashion Statements, and Glasses Without The Glass Part.

Summary: I lived in Oklahoma when the Thunder moved into town and they are my adopted team. As a result, I can't speak with much objectivity about their outlook. To be honest, I watch most Thunder games in a fever-state that vacillates between near ecstatic joy at the beauty of it all and a furious hatred which allows me to invent new obscenities to yell at Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins. In lighter news, they drafted a seven-foot tall Kiwi named Steven.

Phoenix Suns

Orthodox/Heretical: Heretical, in a giving up way.
Representative Biblical Book: Philemon - You'll spend as much time reading Philemon this year as you will watching the Suns.
Patron Saint: Steve Nash - The patron saint of Canadians, Soccer, and Everlasting Youth.

Summary: At one point while I was writing this preview, I forgot that this team existed. It is entirely possible that there are players employed by this team who do not realize they are in the NBA. Also, their mascot is a gorilla...for no reason. (Note: Of course, the Suns then started this season 5-2 with all of their players playing far above expectations. But to be fair, even their coach is surprised that they're winning.)
lamarcus aldridge, basketball, nba, post move, portland trail blazers
Portland Trail Blazers

Orthodox/Heretical: Orthodox, in a not quite enough way.
Representative Biblical Book: Hebrews - If nothing else, the Blazers fans are a great cloud of witnesses.
Patron Saint: LaMarcus Aldridge - The patron saint of Being Very Good, Being Forgettable, and That Guy You Totally Overlooked For Some Reason.

Summary: The Blazers are building around Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, two very good, but not quite elite players. On the plus side, that means they'll have the chance to the go to the playoffs. Unfortunately, it means someone better will run them off the floor.

Sacramento Kings

Orthodox/Heretical: Heretical, in a totally insane way.
Representative Biblical Book: Book of Enoch - I had to go off the board to find something wacky enough for the Kings.
Patron Saint: DeMarcus Cousins - The patron saint of Insanity, Sacramento (not a compliment), and Derrick Coleman.

Summary: Consider this season the Kings halfway-house on their way to NBA sobriety. After years of shady ownership with shallow pockets and rumors of moves to various cities across the country, the Kings are secure for the time being. Now they just have to focus on playing basketball. Thankfully, they have DeMarcus Cousins. On the other hand, they have DeMarcus Cousins. The team will rise and fall on his ability to grow up.

San Antonio Spurs

Orthodox/Heretical: Orthodox, in the best possible way.
Representative Biblical Book: Genesis - In the beginning God created the Spurs. And there was evening and there was morning the first day.
Patron Saint: Tim Duncan - The patron saint of Fundamentals, Incredulous Stares, and Bizarre Referee Feuds.

Summary: If you've ever watched a sunset and just basked in the glow of something being so perfect, natural, and beautiful, then you know the feeling of watching the Spurs play basketball. This is as close to art as basketball gets.

Utah Jazz
white, gordon hayward, basketball, nba, utah jazz
Orthodox/Heretical: Orthodox, in the most passive way possible.
Representative Biblical Book: Lamentations - Because everyone is sad that God has abandoned them.
Patron Saint: Gordon Hayward - The patron saint of Whiteness, Mormons, and Snow (by association).

Summary: Their best player looks like a kid who got beat up a lot in high school. I hope he's ready to relive that experience this year. It's not going to be pretty.

Ben Howard is an accidental iconoclast and generally curious individual living in Nashville, Tennessee. He is also the editor-in-chief of On Pop Theology and an avid fan of waving at strangers for no reason. You can follow him on Twitter @BenHoward87.  

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