*The follow season preview is courtesy of one of the original RaptorsForum members thriller92.*
I’m going to do this edition like I did 2 years ago because I havent been this excited for an NBA season since my favorite player, KG, finally got some help in Minnesota some 5 yrs ago.
The team previews will be short and sweet but will give some insight on what the teams did in the offseason, and where they should be going this year. In my second post I’ll also preview day 1 of the 2009/2010 NBA season. Hope you enjoy. So without further ado, here is the Southeast Division in the
Starters: Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Rotation Players: Jamal Crawford, Mo Evans, Joe Smith, Zaza Pachuilia
Key Additions - Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, Joe Smith
OUTLOOK: The Hawks are coming off a successful 08/09 season by making it to the 2nd round of the playoffs. They are coming back with essentially the same team, hoping that internal improvement can carry them into the 2nd round and beyond again this year. They have added a solid prospect in Teague, and a wildcard in Crawford. Crawford has still yet to make the playoffs in his NBA career, but it should be his first trip there this year. He should be a better fit then Flip Murray was due to the fact that he can shoot from Range and create a bit more off the dribble, but the downside like always with Jamal is he is the worst defender in the NBA and often takes questionable shots.
If Mike Woodson can get him in a mindset where if he doesnt play hard on D and doesnt take good shots then Teague will steal his minutes, then he’ll have something very good on his hands because Crawford is an explosive player. I dont think Crawford can really hurt this team as they really needed scoring off the bench and he will provide that.
SEEDING: 4TH IN EAST
Starters: Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard
Rotation players: Anthony Johnson, Mickael Pietrus, Brandon Bass, Marcin Gortat
Key Additions - Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson
OUTLOOK: The Magic arguably made the best offseason moves to shore up their roster in the NBA. They added an upgrade on the offensive side of the ball with their primary ballhandler in the offence now being Vince Carter who can create his own shot and create for others better than Turkoglu, and they’ve added toughness and depth with their additions of Bass and Barnes. From what Ive heard they will start Bass on certain nights vs the bigger teams like the Lakers, but vs most teams they will start their unconventional lineup with Lewis at the 4 to really give opposing teams an impossible task of guarding this team.
When you look at this team as a whole, they may be the deepest team in the NBA from 1-12 with a guy like Ryan Anderson likely not even being in the mix and a guy like Gortat who will likely only be playing 10-15 mpg. The re signing of Gortat was likely to have him as a trading chip later on, I see him being moved at the deadline for a Battier type SF to round out their starting 5 come the trade deadline.
The Magic have a big FOUR with Nelson, VC, Shard and Dwight, and really, Dwight has no excuse not to win it all this year with the supporting cast that they have. If hes improved his post game theyre going to be even tougher to stop than last year.
SEEDING:1ST IN EAST
Starters: Raymond Felton, Raja Bell, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler
Rotation players: DJ Augustin, Ronald Murray, Vladimir Radmanovic, Desagana Diop
Key Additions - Ronald Murray, Gerald Henderson, Tyson Chandler
OUTLOOK: The Bobcats are coming off of a lackluster season, and have looked to have improved in the offseason with the addition of Chandler. Although hes not as good as Okafor in my opinion, he provides them with more length along the frontline and I think theyll be better defensively with a taller lineup. DJ Augustin is likely to take the starting reigns from Felton before this season ends, as I expect Felton to either be dealt come the trade deadline or moved in the offseason as I think people will come to find out DJ is a starting caliber PG in the NBA.
The main problem with the Bobcats is they have no go to guy, as most teams have at least 1 guy and that hurts them in late game situations and when theyre in scoring droughts which happens often. They have a lot of good complimentary guys but no one that teams gameplan their defences against, and that again will keep them out of the playoffs this year unless Augustin has a HUGE 2nd year which still may not be enough.
SEEDING: 10TH IN EAST
Starters: Gilbert Arenas, Mike Miller, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood
Rotation players: Randy Foye, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee.
Key Additions - Mike Miller, Randy Foye
OUTLOOK: The Washington Wizards improved their balance and bench by adding Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Miller is one of the better role players and shooters in the NBA and should fit in their starting lineup beautifully, and Foye is in his ideal role as a scorer off the bench.
But all of that doesnt matter if the Wizards dont stay healthy. If Gilbert Arenas doesnt play 70+ games this team is going nowhere again. Reports indicate hes back to full health, and if he is back in his 2005 form they could be a really tough team to beat come playoff time with their superb depth, and scoring punch. Theyre easily the most dangerous team in the East come playoff time, if healthy, outside of the big 3.
SEEDING: 5th in East
Starters:Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Jermaine O’neal
Rotation players: Carlos Arroyo or Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Quintin Richardson, Joel Anthony
Key Additions - NONE
OUTLOOK: The Heat really didnt do anything in the offseason unless you count adding Quintin Richardson, who is a scrub now.
They’re relying on DWade to come up with another superhero performance, hoping he doesnt get hurt, and for Beasley to break out. Their bench could be the worst in basketball, but I think DWade is too good, and the East at the lower part of the standings isnt good enough to keep Miami out of the playoffs if Wade stays healthy.
SEEDING: 8th in EAST
Starters: Derrick Rose, John Salmons, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah
Rotation players: Kirk Hinrich, Jannero Pargo, James Johnson, Brad Miller
Key Additions - Jannero Pargo, James Johnson
OUTLOOK: The Bulls are coming off of a solid season where they nearly edged out the Boston Celtics to get into the 2nd round. Derrick Rose showed that he has the potential to become the best PG in the NBA in the playoffs, and you can expect him to be in the running for most improved player with more of the offensive load on hi shoulders with Gordon now in Detroit. Joakim Noah has also made huge strides in becoming one of the better young centers in the league.
The main question with Chicago is whether theyll have enough scoring around Rose, and if they can improve their defence to become more respectable on that side of the ball. I think once Chicago gets a bigman who can score with Rose the Bulls will really take off, but at this point I see them stuck around the bottom of the playoff seedings again to lose to one of the top seeds in a quicker first round series.
SEEDING: 7th IN EAST
Starters: Rodney Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Chris Wilcox, Kwame Brown
Rotation players: Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye, Charlie Villanueva, Ben Wallace
Key Additions - Chris Wilcox, Austin Daye, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva
OUTLOOK: Detroit is a really disjointed team and their new coach admittedly doesnt have a set starting 5 right now. Either way they have no balance in the back or frontcourt. They have 2 guys off the bench who like to score a lot and need minutes to do so, but their starters need the minutes as well. I think the Rip/BG thing will blow up in Dumars face and he’ll have to move Rip very very soon. Their frontcourt is not good at all, as you either put in defence, or you put in straight offence. Theres no real combo that works there.
I just dont like the makeup of their team, and I have no idea what Dumars was thinking getting a 20+ PPG guy at a position he was already set at unless he IS planning for a big move. Its going to cause a lot of problems because IMO they cant even really play together either. Detroits fans arent in for a fun time this season.
SEEDING: 11th IN EAST
Starters: Maurice Williams, Anthony Parker, Lebron James, Anderson Varajao, Shaquille Oneal
Rotation players: Daniel Gibson, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Key Additions - Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Shaquille Oneal, Leon Powe
OUTLOOK: The Cavaliers on paper definately upgraded, but the season really comes down to how Shaq fits in with the team. They want him to be up top a lot of the time setting screens and I really dont think that is going to work in the long haul. Theyre lucky they have the luxury of Z as his backup because Shaq is bound to miss his usual 10-20 games.
Come playoff time, once they play ORL or BOS I cant see them winning vs either because Moon isnt a good enough swing guy to play meaningful minutes and Shaq isnt good enough anymore to dominate games. The lane will be clogged with him and Varajao down there and they will have a tough time scoring vs a smart defence. Unless they go out and get a Troy murphy or a stretch 4 as some people like to call it, I cant see this season ending in a title for the Cavs. Even if they did somehow get out of the East they have a ton of matchup problems vs the Spurs and the Lakers.
SEEDING: 3rd IN EAST
Starters: Brandon Jennings, Michael Redd, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah A Moute, Andrew Bogut
Rotation players: Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Hakim Warrick, Dan Gadzuric
Key Additions - Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Hakim Warrick
OUTLOOK: Bucks fans should buy NBA League Pass to avoid the horror that is ahead. Redd is one of the most loyal players in the league staying in Milwaukee, but you have to wonder how long he can take what is going to be a terrible season for this team before you start hearing that he wants out. Jennings is obviously the player to watch on this team, but there isnt much else to see here besides their fans talking lotto in early November.
SEEDING: 15th IN EAST
Starters: TJ Ford, Brandon Rush, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert
Rotation players: Earl Watson, Dahntay Jones, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Foster
Key Additions - Earl Watson, Tyler Hansbrough, Dahntay Jones
OUTLOOK: I didnt have a clue in the world what Bird was doing this offseason until 2 days ago when I read the headline: “Bird likely to resign from position next offseason”. Hes pulling an Isiah! Building an awful team and then leaving the franchise in a mess for the next GM to clean up. They rival Miami for the worst bench in the NBA. There is potentially some bright spots for this team with Rush Granger and Hibbert, but realistically this team is awful and their only chance of winning ballgames is hitting a bunch of 3s. Theyre a more well rounded Knicks team.
SEEDING: 12th IN EAST
Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
Rotation players: Eddie House, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace
Key Additions - Marquis Daniels, Rasheed Wallace
OUTLOOK: The green machine is back and better then ever. KG looks great and Marquis has fit in like a glove. Sheed has looked a bit slow in pre season but he doesnt look all that interested as of yet so its hard to judge on that front. I think the battle for the East comes down to ORL and them, and if healthy I have no doubt in my mind Boston is going to win it all. Theyve improved their bench bigtime adding Quis who can handle the ball so House doesnt have to, and that will also cut down PP and RA’s minutes during the regular season, and the Celtics probably have the best backup bigmen situation in the NBA with Davis and Sheed. The only way ORL beats them is if, again, Dwight has improved his offensive game a ton, because as it stands right now, BOS only has to play him with single coverage which in turn hurts ORLs outside game which is what they thrive on, since theyll have no open looks from Dwights presence with Perkins showing he can handle him the last 2 seasons and Sheed in previous seasons as well.
SEEDING: 2nd IN EAST
Starters: Louis Williams, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert
Rotation players: Willie Green, Jason Kapono, Marreese Speights, Jason Smith
Key Additions - Jason Kapono
OUTLOOK: They lost their floor leader and fast break starter in Andre Miller and have replaced him with their lightning quick young PG Williams who likes to score on his own. I really dont like their floor balance as they have a hard enough time already scoring in the halfcourt, its going to be even tough if Williams is running his own number a lot more of the time than Miller did. They have no consistant shooting in the starting lineup so again that will hurt Brands opportunities in the low post as teams can easily sag on him. Their bench is pretty weak especially at the wing with 2 shooter types in Green and Kapono, though Speights looks for a breakout year in the frontcourt.
Overall I just dont like the direction this team is going. They seem to not want to make a decision on whether to keep Iggy or Young which WILL be the ultimate decision for this team going forward because of the lack of shooting and both of them essentially playing the same way and same position. Them losing a lot of their fastbreak game combined with the disjointed lineup and weak bench I dont like their chances in making the playoffs, and if they do, its 1 and out again.
SEEDING: 9TH SEED IN EAST
NEW YORK KNICKS
Starters: Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Jared Jeffries, Al Harrington, David Lee
Rotation players: Nate Robinson, Danilo Gallinari, Darko Milicic
Key Additions - Jordan Hill
OUTLOOK: The worst team to watch in the NBA. They put basketball, and Dantoni ball, to shame with their selfish and wreckless style of play of jacking up contested shots off of one or two passes when theyre not even close to being open. Another season of boos will come down at the garden, and the Knick fans deserve better. Theyre all waiting until next offseason anyway where they probably wont end up getting anyone and their team will be in purgatory forever.
SEEDING: 13TH IN EAST
Starters: Jose Calderon, Demar Derozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani
Rotation players: Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Antoine Wright, Amir Johnson
Key Additions - Everyone I just named besides Jose Chris and Andrea
OUTLOOK: Probably the hardest team in the league to predict since they only brought back 3 rotation players from last season. Hedo should bring what Jose cant to this offence, an aggressive penetrating style off of the pick and roll, which is most of our offence. Hedo should create a ton of opportunities for others and Bosh should get a few extra gimmies with him on the floor.
But our season will be won and lost at the defensive end, particularly with our help defence. Will Bosh and Andrea step up and use their height and length in the frontcourt, or will it be another season of watching a layup line for opposing guards and bigmen? Can Triano create a defensive system where players actually look like they know where the hell theyre supposed to rotate to cut off open opportunities? Or will we all be frustrated again in the 15th season of a franchise which has esssentially accomplished nothing? Its time for Bosh, Andrea, and Triano to step up on defence, because offence wont be a problem.
SEEDING: 6TH IN EAST
NEW JERSEY NETS
Starters: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Bobby Simmons, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez
Rotation players: Rafer Alston, Chris Douglas Roberts, Terrence Williams, Josh Boone
Key Additions - Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, Terrence Williams
OUTLOOK: A young up and coming team with some good pieces to build around. Lee and Lopez’ numbers are likely to go way up with more touches and minutes, but this team as a whole isnt very good. Besides their young players, the only other thing to look out for is the Rafer Alston situation as it appears he wants out and they have a better backup PG behind him right now in Dooling. Rafer is likely to be traded before the deadline, but besides those two things, not much else to see here besides empty seats.
SEEDING: 14th IN EAST