Now that the sports world has had almost an entire month to digest the new state of professional basketball and all but four fan bases are finished with the NFL playoffs, it seems appropriate to look at the winners and losers of the NBA lockout.

WINNERS:

Washington Wizards

The Wizards needed the season to get started so they could start losing games to get the first overall draft pick this summer, and their 1-13 record out of the gate indicates a resounding success. For a team that’s paying Andray Blatche over $6 million this season, only the draft could possibly help the Wizards improve and get more fans to games (a ticket to tonight’s game is currently selling for $3.99). A few more first-overall picks would complement future superstar John Wall and possibly lead to future success. So while it’s always painful to watch your team lose, in a few years Wizards fans might look back fondly on this bad start.

Casual Fans

For the majority of casual NBA fans, the lockout could not have ended at a better time. With this October’s thrilling MLB playoffs and Tebowmania finally subsiding after its rampant spread across America, most sports fans finally have the time to watch basketball. The casual sports fan’s reward for enduring a lockout is that he or she now has almost 10 NBA games per night to choose from thanks to the condensed 66-game schedule — not a bad reward at all.

Indiana, Golden State, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Denver

Squeezing 66 games into a little over four months is exciting for fans (and not to mention fantasy basketball players), but at the end of the day, these players are human, and playing five games a week is going to take a toll on every player down the stretch. The older teams across the league will inevitably break down as the season wears on, giving young, deep squads a chance at a playoff run. Each of these five young teams look primed to take advantage of the short season and finish much higher than they would under normal circumstances, as well as being much more exciting to watch as the season goes on.

Metta World Peace

The lockout granted Ron Artest the time to do some soul searching and realize he would be better served changing his last name to “World Peace.” Unfortunately, his 8-year-old daughter Diamond will also be participating in the name change.

Honorable Mentions: Shaq as a broadcaster, Los Angeles Clippers and Vince Carter’s new beard.

LOSERS:

Boston Celtics

It’s hard to fathom either the Celtics or the Lakers having any sort of success in the shortened season, which is sad given that the two have combined for five NBA Finals appearances in the last four seasons and feature three of the last four NBA Finals MVPs. But old age and deteriorating health seem to have caught up with team leaders Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a season with little rest. Can a team really succeed when its starting center is Jermaine O’Neal and when Brandon Bass plays 27 minutes per night? After unsuccessfully trying to trade Rajon Rondo — and successfully angering their only future talent — the Celtics’ short-lived 21st century revival appears to have run its course.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are in better shape than the Celtics, if only because they don’t have to deal with the Bulls, Heat, Knicks or the rest of the daunting Eastern Conference. It’s only a month into the young season, and the Lakers are already dealing with a Kobe Bryant injury/divorce combo that could shut down “Black Mamba” more effectively than the aforementioned Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals (they held the Lakers’ best scorer to 6-of-24 shooting). Further, their inability to land Chris Paul (through no fault of their own), the following panic trade of Lamar “Khloe Kardashian’s Husband” Odom to Dallas and Andrew Bynum’s chronic injury issues leave this team seemingly anemic as the season wears on.

David Stern

David Stern is entering the Brett Favre zone for sports figures that held on too long. His inexplicable handling of one of the more pointless lockouts in history — shortly followed by the Chris Paul to Los Angeles trade fiasco — has left even casual NBA fans frustrated with Stern.

Honorable Mention Losers: Paul Pierce’s weight, Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband Kris Humphries and Dwight Howard’s purgatory in Orlando.

Corey Blaine is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. The Bleacher Seats appears every Friday.

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