Projected Starters: Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Rotation players: Earl Watson, Alec Burks, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter
Key Additions: Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Marvin Williams
The Jazz have a nice young core, and their growth as a team this year will come internally with their young players development as they're coming back essentially the same team as last year, as Harris and Mo Williams as well as CJ Miles and Marvin Williams are pretty close in terms of production. Like last year, I think the Jazz should look to sell high on Millsap and look to upgrade their PG position. With the West getting even better, I cant see them making the playoffs. Look for Alec Burks to work his way in to the starting lineup this year.
Projected Starters: Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Javale Mcgee
Rotation players: Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph, Kosta Koufos
Key Additions: Andre Iguodala, Anthony Randolph, Evan Fournier
Denver has a really good 10 man rotation, but no star player. Lawson looked like he turned in to the leader of the Nuggets in the playoffs, but with the addition of Iguodala, it may hurt Lawsons aggression and usage since he wont have the ball as much, and with so many players needing minutes, I think guys like Chandler and Iguodalas production may go down as well. With all of that said, they have a really talented and quick team and should be really fun to watch this year. The key to their success this year will depend on their ability to finish games which has been their achilles heel since Carmelo left, as well as Javale Mcgees progress in to a legit NBA starting center. If Mcgee matures and Denver develops a good chemistry, they could make it to the conference finals this year.
Portland Trail Blazers
Projected Starters: Damian Lillard, Wes Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Freeland
Rotation players: Ronnie Price, Elliot Williams, Victor Claver, JJ Hickson, Meyers Leonard
Key Additions: Damien Lillard, Joel Freeland
This will be a rebuilding year for the Blazers after another injury plagued season last year. They're in a good situation financially next offseason, being able to build with another lottery pick and cap space, but this year they will not be contending for the playoffs unless Lillard has a huge impact, and they improve their bench at the deadline, as it's likely the worst bench in the NBA. I expect Joel Freeland to surprise people this year with his play, as he looked very good in the Olympics.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Projected Starters: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins
Rotation players: Eric Maynor, James Harden, Daequan Cook, Perry Jones, Nick Collison
Key Additions: Perry Jones, Hasheem Thabeet(
After a succesful season last year, the Thunder will be poised to avenge their loss to the Heat last season, and should be even more hungry to win this year. The key for them this season I think will be their bigman rotation, as Scott Brooks needs to go to small lineups a lot more often with the way the game has changed, with Serge/Collison at the 5 and Durant at the 4. If Brooks continues to just play his usual rotation in the playoffs again(against most teams, besides huge teams like the Lakers) with Perkins playing a lot of minutes, I think he'll be doing a disservice to his great team.
Projected Starters: Ricky Rubio(once back), Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic
Rotation players: JJ Barea, Luke Ridnour, Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams, Greg Stiemsma
Key Additions: Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Alexei Shved
Minnesota has a very nice young core, and they have now added a veteran presence with Roy and AK to try and help get them in to the playoffs. Before Rubio got injuired, Minnesota was a near playoff team who played above average defence, so I think the first month of the season will be big for them without Rubio, not only trying to create chemistry with the new players, but also not getting destroyed on the defensive end. The biggest question with Minnesota will always be their health, as Roy and AK are obviously very injury prone, and is Roy even ready to play? If he isnt, theyre going to have to go small which may not be such a bad thing since Rubio can defend bigger players with his size and length and it'll give them more quickness and versatility on offence. If they stay healthy, I expect them to be in the playoffs this year.
Los Angeles Lakers
Projected Starters: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Rotation players: Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Devin Ebanks, Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill
Key Additions: Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Antawn Jamison
As with most years for LA, but especially this year, winning the title will depend on Kobe, but this time, it's not in terms of production, but deferring to his teammates, which I think may be the most interesting subplot of the season. Will Kobe allow Nash to run multiple pick and rolls/pops with the Lakers bigs? Will he run the offence through the bigs inside when they have mismatches? Because there's no reason why he should be shooting 22+ times a game this year. Kobe should be acting as more of a facilitator this year, and that should propel the Lakers to greatness.
Los Angeles Clippers
Projected Starters: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Rotation players: Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Rony Turiaf
Key Additions: Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom
The Clippers took a big risk with their offseason signings, in hoping all 4 of Billups, Crawford, Hill and Odom dont look like corpses and they make a big run this year possibly as far as the Finals. But ultimately, their success will depend on the growth of Blake Griffins game. Griffin not only needs to commit to the defensive end, but he needs to become dominant in the post. If he does, they are going to be extremely hard to beat even if only 2 of the 4 above mentioned players play decent.
Projected Starters: Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat
Rotation players:Sebastien Telfair, Shannon Brown, Wes Johnson, Markieff Morris, Jermaine ONeal
Key Additions: Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola
If the Hornets didnt match the Suns offer sheet to Gordon, I'd say they'd have a good shot at making the playoffs. But unfortunately for the Suns, the Hornets did match. The Suns do have a decent lineup, but they're going to rely heavily on Dragic to put up huge numbers, which he likely will, but their defence is likely to be horrible this season especially when Gortat goes to the bench. Overall, they just dont have enough talent to make it to the playoffs. They're on the low lottery pick treadmill.
Golden State Warriors
Projected Starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Andrew Bogut
Rotation players: Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Draymond Green, Carl Landry
Key Additions: Harrison Barnes, Jarrett Jack, Draymond Green, Carl Landry
The Warriors had the most under the radar offseason of any team in the NBA. They added a good looking prospect in the draft, two of the best backup PG+PFs in the NBA, and finally arent forced to play smallball all game with their acquisition of Bogut last year. Their success, like Minnesota, will depend solely on health and being able to mesh early in the season though. They definitely have the talent to make the playoffs this year, as I really think their lineup will mesh well together if healthy, with Bogut being able to make Lee look serviceable on defence, and Curry having a ton of options on offence at his dispoal, and not having Monta Ellis limiting his usage.
Projected Starters: Isiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
Rotation players: Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, John Salmons, Thomas Robinson, Chuck Hayes
Key Additions: Aaron Brooks, Thomas Robinson
Same as last year, they have a talented lineup, but the parts dont fit. This is essentially Tyrekes last opportunity with the team since they have chosen not to extend him, and I think its in their best interest to move on. They play no defence, and there's too many players looking to get their own offence, which is why I wasnt a fan of them signing Brooks despite only having to pay him 3 million a season. They will be at the bottom of the West again, despite DeMarcus Cousins having a monster season.
Projected Starters: Darren Collison, OJ Mayo, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Kaman
Rotation players: Delonte West, Rodrigue Beaubois, Vince Carter, Elton Brand, Brandan Wright
Key Additions: Darren Collison, OJ Mayo, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand
The Mavericks decided to play it smart after striking out in free agency by acquiring good players with 1-2 years left on their deals and try again the next 2 offseasons to acquire a star to play alongside Dirk. The Mavericks are hoping that the new supporting cast can keep their playoff streak alive, but unless Dirk has a much better year than last year, and OJ Mayo finally plays to his potential, I cant see them making the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference especially with their rotation of extremely injury prone players(Kaman, VC, Beaubois, West, Brand).
San Antonio Spurs
Projected Starters: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw
Rotation players: Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter
Key Additions: No one
The Spurs stood pat this offseason(they didnt really have a choice) with last years roster, in hopes that the internal improvement of Leonard and Splitter as well as having a full training camp together will get them over the hump. Both Splitter and Leonard will need to make huge leaps this year with their games, as well as the Spurs picking up a solid 7 footer at the deadline if they expect to contend this season. And obviously, as always, their playoff success will depend on the health of Manu Ginobili, one of the biggest game changers in the NBA
Projected Starters: Jeremy Lin, Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, Omer Asik
Rotation players: Toney Douglas, Jeremy Lamb, Carlos Delfino, Royce White, Donatas Motiejunas
Key Additions: Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik
I have no idea what Houston is doing. They still have 8 power forwards on their roster, and their bench is probably the most inexperienced in the NBA. They have a serious lack of talent on this team and they put a ton of money in to two players who are serious question marks and could end up handcuffing them financially the next few years. At least Sacramento has some quality young players and a potential franchise player. Houston has little hope of anything these next few years unless they can unload their glut of young rookie bigmen for some good veterans, but the problem is most of their young bigmen dont even look that promising.
New Orleans Hornets
Projected Starters: Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Al Farouq Aminu, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis
Rotation players: Austin Rivers, Xavier Henry, Hakim Warrick, Jason Smith, Robin Lopez
Key Additions: Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis
This will be a transition year for the Hornets, who should have plenty of minutes to try and develop their rookies, and see what they have in their sophomore and 3rd year players. They have a huge hole at the 3 position, and although I've heard them talk about Davis starting at PF, I cant see them either putting Anderson at the 3 or bringing him off the bench for the price tag they got him for. If I had to pick which I think will happen, I'm going to guess Anderson at the 3, which will be a disaster and get players like Davis and Lopez off the floor quickly with foul trouble. Ultimately, I think they're going to look very good in the frontcourt with Davis and Anderson at the 4-5 either next year or the year after if Davis turns in to a good offensive player, as a player like Anderson thrives off open looks from kickouts caused by the attention a star big gets, like he did with Howard. They'll be in line for a good lottery pick next draft. I'm very interested to see how Rivers does, but as I've previously predicted, I think he's going to struggle mightily and be this years Kemba Walker. Thought its going to be hard to top Kembas legendary shooting numbers from his rookie year,
Projected Starters: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Rotation players: Jerryd Bayless, Tony Wroten, Marreese Speights, Darrell Arthur(out 4-6 weeks)
Key Additions: Jerryd Bayless
This will be the last year of the Gay/Randolph experiment, as I expect them to move one of them next offseason when they likely go one and done again this year. They have the potential to be a Conference finalist, if Gay ever learnt to share the ball and play within their system, but judging by last season watching their full lineup together, it doesnt look like that will ever happen.
Western Conference Standing Predictions: