Projected Starters: Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Rotation players: Lou Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Kyle Korver, Ivan Johnson, Zaza Pachulia
Key Additions: Devin Harris, Lou Williams, Anthony Morrow
Atlanta is essentially doing the same thing as Dallas, in acquiring shorter term contracts this year in hopes that next offseason they can acquire a big free agent or two. They, like Dallas, should be a fringe playoff team this season(in the Hawks case, they have a very low chance of making the playoffs in comparison), but I cant see them making the playoffs unless Jeff Teague has a huge year, which is doubtful. The Hawks propensity to give up early in games combined with their lack of overall talent, especially on the perimter, leads me to believe they'll be in the lottery this year.
Projected Starters: Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, Nikola Vucevic
Rotation players: Ish Smith, JJ Reddick, Moe Hawkless, Andrew Nicholson, Al Harrington
Key Additions: Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic
This is a really ugly looking roster. I expect players like Nelson, Reddick, and Davis to be shopped, and likely traded at the deadline. The Magic will be gunning for that #1 spot this season. Hello, Nerlens Noel.
Projected Starters: Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd Gilchrest, Bismack Biyombo, Byron Mullens
Rotation players: Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon, Reggie Williams, Brendan Haywood
Key Additions: Michael Kidd Gilchrest, Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon
Well, they did get better. They won't be much better, but they'll be better than last year. Their success this year will depend on their offence, as their defence doesnt look too bad with Henderson and MKG on the wings, and Biyombo patrolling the paint. But realistically, who will score on a nightly basis for this team? Will Ben Gordon regain his touch? They will likely be the worst offensive team in the NBA this year, but they should win 20 games.
Projected Starters: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Nene
Rotation players: Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin
Key Additions: Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor
The Wizards went through a much needed transformation over the last year, in ridding themselves of the players who, combined, helped build a horrible culture of losing and lack of effort in Washington. Washington has made some bold moves in bringing in their new frontcourt, but at least now they have pros who know how to play around Wall and give the team a chance to compete for the first time in a while. In terms of pressure for individual players, John Wall has to have the most pressure on him to perform. He's had the supporting cast excuse the last 2 seasons, but now it's on him to take his game as well as his team to the next level and make the playoffs this offseason. His play this season should show if he's a motivated, winning player who will be in the argument of best PG in the NBA in the upcoming years, or if he's another lazy PG who could have been so much more. I expect him to become a top tier PG this year.
Projected Starters: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh
Rotation players: Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony
Key Additions: Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis
The Heat got better in the offseason by acquiring Allen, and Lewis. The great thing for Miami is if Lewis is indeed finished, they have players waiting in the wings who can contribute if given the same role in Jones, and Miller if need be. But if Lewis does work out, and can play 20-25 effective minutes, the lineup of Wade, Allen, James, Lewis, and Bosh
will be one of the most devestating lineups we've seen in a long time.
Projected Starters: Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Rotation players: Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson
Key Additions: Kirk Hinrich
The Bulls gutted their team because their owner didnt want to pay the luxury tax in a year where if Rose comes back, they likely still would not contend anyway, so he really did a service to the franchise in not building a cap killing team who's going nowhere. But at the same time, Krause has never paid the luxury tax so it's unlikely the Bulls would have been able to get better this offseason anyway. The Bulls will still be an awesome defensive team this season, but they're extremely thin on the bench and they're going to go through some ugly scoring droughts this year. I expect the following to happen this season: they sustain a key injury or two to Deng/Boozer/Noah, and then shut that player(s) down, and Rose will come back with a gutted team and play a few games and look horrible, at which point the Bulls will shut him down as well and start tanking near mid March where they miss the playoffs by a few games.
Projected Starters: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Jason Maxiell, Greg Monroe
Rotation players: Will Bynum, Corey Maggette, Jonas Jerebko, Andre Drummong
Key Additions: None
The Pistons are going through a long, and painful rebuild, as shown by their current roster which is essentially the same as last year, except Maggette in Gordons role. But Dumars put them in this situation with the signings of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, so he really had no choice but to rebuild in this manner. The Pistons will be a lottery team again this year, and with their lack of depth in the frontcourt, Drummond should get an opportunity to play and try and work through his mistakes. Monroe should look like one of the better young bigs in the league again this year, but I think the Pistons fans and organization are most intrigued with what kind of player Knight turns in to, as his progression will either move the Pistons a year or two closer in their rebuilding cycle to a playoff and contending team, or stunt their growth as a team the same amount of years if he turns in to what I think he will, which is a combo 1-2 guard whose game is best suited to coming off the bench.
Projected Starters: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, CJ Miles, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varajao
Rotation players: Daniel Gibson, Omri Casspi, Alonzo Gee, Tyler Zeller
Key Additions: Dion Waiters, CJ Miles
Year 2 in the rebuilding phase for CLE. Like Knight for DET, Waiters may end up either holding back or moving the Cavs progression as a team forward with his play over the next 1-2 years. Will he be the overweight, lazy combo guard who cant shoot? Or will he be the motivated, highly talented and creative 2 guard who can create his own offence for a team that desperately needs a #2? I believe Kyrie Irving will improve upon last year with an increase in minutes and likely being given the keys to the team in terms of being the leader and essentially the teams entire offence much like Chris Paul was in year 3(he's a year ahead of Paul in terms of progression, aso f now anyway). The amazing thing is Kyrie put up much better numbers than Paul in year 1, so I'm really looking forward to seeing his progression in year two and how much he can improve and how far he can take this roster which is lacking talent overall. Paul upped his assist numbers bigtime from year 2 to 3, so it'll be interesting to see how Irving does with more minutes and touches from year 1 to 2, and to see if he's capable of being a great passing PG, or if he's just an amazing shooting PG who will never be considered in the same pool as a Chris Paul because of his passing.
Projected Starters: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, , Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert
Rotation players: Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris, Mike Dunleavy, John Henson, Epke Udoh
Key Additions: Samuel Dalembert
You, like I, have no idea what the Bucks are doing. It should be more clear next offseason, when they have to make a decision with Jennings, but in the past 2 seasons they've essentially doubled up on players who play the same style/position in Ellis, Gooden, and Ilyasova, who have long term contracts which give them no cap flexibility. They're the definition of a treadmill team, though I do expect them to be in contention for the 8th seed if healthy, but miss out and get another mid lotto pick while their fans continue to wonder what the hell they're doing.
Projected Starters: George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert
Rotation players: DJ Augustin, Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Ian Mahinmi
Key Additions: DJ Augustin, Gerald Green
The Pacers were able to re-sign Hibbert, and with that they had a successful offseason. They changed their bench look completely with the additions of Augustin, Green and Mahinmi, Their backcourt is more explosive now, but they downgraded with their defence since Augustin/Green cant defend a tree. It does make them more dangerous offensively though which is key for a team that often struggled in many stretches of the game, but this could be attributed more to lack of chemistry with a new lineup. In short, their success this season will depend on the progression o Paul George. If he can become a 15-17 PPG scorer, it adds a whole new dimension to this team and makes them capable of competing with the Heat in a long series.
Projected Starters: Rajon Rondo, Avery Braldey, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett
Rotation players: Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Chris Wilcox
Key Additions: Jason Terry, Courtney Lee
The Celtics had a very successful offseason in acquiring Terry and Lee, who will compliment Rondo, and eachother, very well. The Celtics needed to add more depth last season, and acquiring the quality depth that they did as well as getting Green back, in my eyes, makes them capable of defeating the Heat this offseason. The Celtics now have many players they can throw at Wade and Lebron to give them different looks, while not hurting them on the offensive end like Dooling/Pavlovic did last year. A big key for them this year is their frontcourt depth, and Jeff Green could make or break them with his play and how he fits in. I've always considered Green very average and a tweener, which is why I have no idea why they gave him so much money, but if he does work out and they're able to effectively play him for extended periods at PF next to KG, they will be a very dangerous team. The Celtics need to have a quick 4 who is capable of scoring, defending and rebounding multiple positions to be able to defeat the Heat, something they've sorely missed since losing Posey. I just dont think Green is up for the task.
Projected Starters: Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Dorrell Wright, Spencer Hawes, Andrew Bynum
Rotation players: Nick Young, Jason Richardson, Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen
Key Additions: Andrew Bynum, Dorrell Wright, Nick Young
The Sixers are one of the more intriguing, and unpredictable teams this season with their huge acquisition of Bynum. On one hand, I can see them being a top 4 Eastern team, if Bynum plays welll as the #1 option, and makes Holiday and Turner better players with the lane being more open for them to penetrate(much like the Shaq/Dwight effect with the bigs for the other teams not wanting to leave Bynum to help). On the other hand, I can see things going sour quickly if Bynum continues to struggle with double teams and being the #1 guy, and possibly becoming a selfish star where the city would turn on him quickly, as we all know Philadelphia may be the most ruthless fan base in all of sports. The other question is Bynums health, and being able to stay healthy doing more on the floor for the course of an 82 game season, as he will no longer have a player like Pau to have his back on defence, as well as not being spoonfed points by Pau and Kobe, as he'll have to work harder for his points than ever before. I'm going to go the safe route and say Bynum has a good season, and Philly finishes in the 5th or 6th seed this season.
New York Knicks
Projected Starters: Raymond Felton, JR Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler
Rotation players: Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Steve Novak, Marcus Camby
Key Additions: Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby
The Knicks should be very good defensively again, but their success again depends upon the chemistry between their star players and how they can co exist in the Knicks halfcourt offence. Amare was a ghost last season when Melo was in the lineup, and that needs to change if the Knicks want to achieve anything this post season. If they can find a way to incorporate both in to their offence effectively, they can propel themselves in to becoming contenders as they have a lineup capable of beating the Heat, but I dont forsee Woodson being able to come up wih the solution, nor Melo being able to change his game and share the load with Amare, nor consistently make his teammates better. This is Melos biggest year as a pro by far, and this year will llkely cement his legacy forever. Which legacy will that be? I believe it will be the selfish ISO superstar who was never able to change for the betterment of the team.
Projected Starters: Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Landry Fields, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson
Rotation players: Jose Calderon, Terrence Ross, Linas Kleiza, Ed Davis, Jonas Valanciunas
Key Additions: Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, Jonas Valanciunas
made a great acquisition in getting a young, improving, very good PG in Lowry to lead the team for the upcoming years. Although I think we massively overpaid for Fields after a down year, I think overall he'll be a good addition to this team as long as he can locate his shooting stroke. The key this year for the Raptors
is health and growth, as I expect them to be a solid defensive team, but the growrth of the young players will be the biggest key for us to make the playoffs this year. Demar Derozan is obviously the biggest x factor, as he needs to become a solid 18 PPG shooting guard who does more than score. If Demar can become a better all around player, Lowry can continue to grow and cement himself as a top 10 PG, and our rookies step up and contribute right away and throughout the season, I can see us being a 7-8th seed. I expect Bargnani
to bring the same sort of production as in years past pre injury, but we have a lot of question marks as a team and a lot of things need to go right for us to be successful this year.
New jersey Nets
Projected Starters: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Walalce, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez
Rotation players: CJ Watson, Marshon Brooks, Mirza Teletovic, Reggie Evans
Key Additions: Joe Johnson
It's amazing how much of a transformation the Nets have had from last years opening day lineup to this years. They had Damion James starting for them last year. I expect the Nets to be a top 4 Eastern Conference team this season, as I expect Joe Johnson to excel, as he did with Nash, next to a top tier PG, and I think their lineup compliments eachother well. They've also massively upgraded their bench, in being able to give JJ/Wallace long rests with Brooks playing effective minutes, as well as adding Watson who is one of the more solid backup PGs in the NBA. Teletovic will be a key for the Nets this season, as if he's able to make a quick transition to the NBA game, the Nets may end up having one of the better benches in the NBA. The main question for the Nets will be their defence, as their frontcourt defence is pretty weak, and Willams and Johnson are inconsistent on the defensive end as well. If Avery Johnson can get them to dig in defensively, they're going to be a tough out come playoff time.
Eastern Conference Standings Prediction:
5. New York