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2012 NBA Preview

Twenty-three reasons this will be the high-flying-est, nasty-ass dunking-est B-ball season in decades.

1. Blake Griffin’s Junk in Everyone’s Face

Illustrated for Maxim by Tyson Beck

2. Frenemies Forever
The quest for Olympic gold in London was a sweaty, huggy, smiley dancefest, but now that Le­Bron, Durant, Carmelo, Kobe, and company are going to be battling it out on the floor once more, it’s going to be a blast watching all that leftover goodwill quickly dissipate with one well-placed elbow to the solar plexus.

3. Return of the Rose
With all the talk centered on the Heat–Oklahoma City rivalry, we forgot how friggin’ great Derrick Rose is, and one day his ACL is going to be just fine. This year’s finals match-up is far from decided.

4. Getting Chucked Up
Whether he’s poking fun at Shaq’s mumble or breaking down Amar’e’s post game, Charles Barkley is that rare analyst who doesn’t have you reaching for the mute button or the nearest shoe to hurl at your flat-screen. Honestly, our only real complaint is that he dropped all that weight.

5. SoCal Smackdown
Comedian Adam Carolla on the budding Lakers-Clippers rivalry.
“It was fun to be a fan in L.A. last year, with the Clippers finally being good. But do any of their players even know what a clipper is? I bet they think clippers are the things you use to carve designs into the side of your head. The Lakers at least know that their name has to do with a lake. Anyway, as a Lakers fan, I think getting Nash was great, and while I’m excited for Dwight Howard, part of me feels like we’re stocking the company softball team with a bunch of ringers. I mean, how many more championships do we really need? I don’t need to see the deck stacked in our favor.”

6. And Now... the Brow!
College Player of the Year, national champ, Tournament MVP, number one pick, Olym­pic gold medalist: not a bad year! So what is Anthony Davis most looking forward to as he hits the NBA? “I wanna play against Kevin Garnett,” he says. “He’s one of the few idols I have.” Dude, be careful what you wish for.

What will JaVale McGee do next? That’s the burning ques­tion in the Maxim offices. With all due respect to Metta World Peace, the NBA has a new Head Headcase in Charge. But if the Nuggets’ freakishly gifted center could only remember which direction to run, he could be one of the game’s best big men.

8. Melo's Time
Happy Endings star and New York superfan Adam Pally on the Knicks.
“It’s been hard to be a Knicks fan for so long, but I feel good about this year. When they don’t suc­ceed, it’s easy to blame the best player, Carmelo Anthony. But he’s a three-time Olympian, a national champ at Syracuse. He’s a winner. Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby were great pickups. Our bench is deep. Every time Amar’e Stoudemire’s injured, the next year he’s huge. He and Melo know they have to win, and the three seed in the East is possible. Losing Jeremy Lin sucked, but honestly, I didn’t love him. He’s such a Jesus freak. It’s hard to root for a guy who thinks you’re going to hell because you’re Jewish.”

9. So What's Next For Linsanity?
Seriously, we have no idea. As Knicks fans, we hope lots and lots and lots of turnovers.

10. Players on Twitter
@TheRealJRSmith I can’t watch the game like this! Damn you @TheRealTahiry

@JaValeMcGee34 My love is shampooable! I mean conditional.

@MettaWorldPeace (Ron Artest) I love my pet penguin.

11. Seeing Michael Jordan Fail
We’re not sure what’s worse: MJ’s ’stache in those Hanes ads or his stew­ardship of the Bobcats. Not to be dicks, but it’s kind of nice to see a guy so great at one thing be so shitty at another. OK, we are dicks.

12. The Curse of the Trailblazers
Bill Walton’s feet. Greg Oden’s dong. Brandon Roy’s knees. Fate’s been so cruel to Port­land—how will fans cope if Roy, their former all-NBA swingman, succeeds in his comeback with the T-wolves?

13. Ogling the WAGs
Where else are you going to see supermodels like Adriana Lima (a.k.a Mrs. Marko Jaric) in person?

14.  Point Breakout

Illustrated for Maxim by Tyson Beck

NBA TV’s Greg Anthony on the golden age of the point guard.
“We’re seeing a renaissance at point guard,” says Anthony. “The current crop is as physically gifted as they’ve ever been.” Here we asked Anthony, who manned the point for more than a decade in the NBA, to give us his thoughts on the league’s best.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
“If you look at every facet of the game, he’s the best…as long as he’s healthy.”

Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers
“He’s like a quarterback, a guy who can totally take over a game.”

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
“Sometimes he gets lost in the discussion, but I think he’s going to have a tremendous season.”

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
“As far as pure, pass-first point guards go, he’s as good as anyone.”

Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder
“I thought he was unduly criticized last year for not passing more, but he’s got to score. That’s his role.”

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
“He’s coming off his best season. He was brilliant.”

Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers
“It’s going to be exciting to see what he does in a new situation.”

LeBron James, Miami Heat
“People never understand that LeBron James is a point guard, and an elite one.”

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