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Old 09-12-2013, 11:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
Ball Don't Lie

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Default Ball Don't Lie's Around the NBA Daily 2013-2014 Edition

With training camp right around the corner, and this board being dead as a doorknob, I figured I would post this a bit early to try and generate some good discussion about basketball again. Here is my 2013-2014 preview of the NBA:

Northwest Division:

Utah Jazz

Projected Starters: Alec Burks, Brandon Rush, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter
Rotation players: John Lucas III, Alec Burks, Richard Jefferson, Rudy Gobert

Key Additions: Alec Burks, Brandon Rush


This is year 1 of the Jazz' rebuild, as they have finally decided to strip down their roster and build from the ground up. We will see how good their frontcourt really can be this year, with all 3 projected to get as many minutes as they can handle, given their bench situation, which may be the worst in the NBA. They're going to be awful, but it'll be fun watching their frontcourt blossom and put up big numbers in the process.

Denver Nuggets

Projected Starters: Ty Lawson, Evan Fournier, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Javale McGee
Rotation players: Andre Miller, Nate Robinson, Randy Foye, JJ Hickson, Timofey Mozgov

Key Additions: Nate Robinson, Randy Foye, JJ Hickson


Denver once again has 12 quality players(Arthur and Hamilton look like the odd guys out, with Andre Miller possibly joining them given their additions this offseason in the backcourt) going into the season, but once again lack the star power to be able to take that next step as a franchise. With Iguodala gone, and Gallo not expected back until the new year, Ty Lawson will be relied upon even moreso to create offence, and we'll see if he can reach that next level as a PG, because that's the only way they're making the playoffs this year(unless Brian Shaw is able to give McGee a brain transplant, and somehow gets him to play 30 quality minutes in a starters role).

Portland Trail Blazers

Projected Starters: Damian Lillard, Wes Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez
Rotation players: Mo Williams, CJ McCollum, Dorrell Wright, Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard

Key Additions: Robin Lopez, Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright


Portland quietly had one of the better offseasons in the NBA, as they were able to pick up all 3 of their key additions on really cheap, cap friendly deals, or in Lopez' case, in a salary dump during a 3 way trade. Their depth is much improved, but they have to stay healthy, and the Lillard/Aldridge tandem really needs to produce big for them to be a lower seed come playoff time. This is the year that Aldridge really needs to prove he can be an elite bigman, as he's going to have to be the primary rebounder on the floor now that Hickson signed with Denver, while still having to produce 20+ points per night.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Projected Starters: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins
Rotation players: Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, Nick Collison, Steven Adams

Key Additions: No one


OKC, like last offseason, chose to go the cheap route by not picking up any free agents. They're putting even more pressure on Durant and Westbrook to do even more, especially if Lamb or Jackson don't step into the 6th man scorer role effectively, as they'll have no one to consistently provide offence off of the bench, which will really hurt them against the elite teams in the NBA if one of them is having an off night. Usually in this kind of spot, with a team that's on the brink of something great(and also wanting to keep its superstar happy) I'd say they're likely to make a trade to bring in a veteran player to improve their scoring off of the bench, but judging by past history, that just isn't going to happen. OKC, welcome to 2nd round purgatory(if they're lucky) until their management decides to stop being cheap.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Projected Starters: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic
Rotation players: JJ Barea, Alexey Shved, Corey Brewer, Derrick Williams, Dante Cunningham

Key Additions: Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer


The only way Minnesota doesn't make the playoffs is if they don't stay healthy again. Otherwise, this is a very deep, very offensively potent team with a lot of players who are capable of helping them win games on different nights. Much like Aldridge, this is a big year for Love to prove he too belongs in the NBA's elite. The other question with this roster will be their wing defence, as Martin obviously isnt good, and Budinger is average, but their rebounding and scoring output should help combat that.

Pacific Division:

Los Angeles Lakers

Projected Starters: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol
Rotation players: Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Shawne Williams, Chris Kaman

Key Additions: Nick Young, Chris Kaman


I don't think anyone has any idea what the Lakers starting 5 will look like on opening night, as there's a lot of questions to be answered in terms of Kobes health, whether D'Antoni wants to go super smallball with Meeks starting, or if they just want to go full offence mode and start Young. Either way, this roster is a mess, and they will likely be in the bottom 5 in terms of defensive efficiency. If Kobe isn't fully healed, expect LA to be out of the playoff picture by early 2014, unless Gasol and Nash find the fountain of youth, and D'Antoni magically becomes a good Head Coach.

Los Angeles Clippers

Projected Starters: Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Rotation players: Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens

Key Additions: JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, Darren Collison, Byron Mullens


The Clippers had a great offseason in adding consistent 3 point shooting into their starting unit, something they've lacked since Paul came to the team. The bench looks very good much like last season as well. This season will be all about Doc Rivers ability to coach, which is something I still question, as he's been able to hide behind the greatness of the Celtics the past 5 years. This team won 57 games last year, but it doesn't really matter how many they win this year, their success will be based off of their playoff performance, which will be directly based off of how Doc is able to coach Jordan, Griffin, and Mullens to become MUCH better defensively. Lastly, he has to help Griffin take his game to the next level on offence, as he needs to be a dominant post scorer come playoff time by making much quicker decisions, and using his unbelieveable quickness to his advantage. I hate to say it again, but see Love/Aldridge, with regard to Blakes growth as a player.

Phoenix Suns

Projected Starters: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat
Rotation players: Kendall Marshall, Archie Goodwin, Shannon Brown, Marcus Morris, Alex Len

Key Additions: Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len


This is one really ugly looking roster, 2nd to only Philadelphia in terms of teams blatantly tanking. We will learn this year if Bledsoe is cut out to be a starting player in the NBA, and the other younger players(even Gerald Green) will have a lot of opportunities under new Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. Unless Hornacek is the second coming of Thibodeau, they should be in the bottom 5 with regard to defence, and team record(probably offence too in looking at their starting 2/3, and chuckers on the bench). Let the rebuild begin.

Golden State Warriors

Projected Starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Andrew Bogut
Rotation players: Toney Douglas, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Marreese Speights, Jermaine O'Neal

Key Additions: Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights


The Warriors come back this year with an even better roster than last, which made the second round of the playoffs last season. Adding Iguodala will not only bolster their perimeter defence and allow them to play one of the most lethal smallball lineups in the league, but take pressure off of Curry early in games and 3rd quarters to not always have to create offence. Jack did well in this role off of the bench, but the main difference between him and Iggy in the same type of role on offence is Iggy won't play hero ball at the end of games like Jack often did, where Curry will now have to prove time and again that he is elite. If Curry and Bogut can go into the playoffs healthy again, look for the Warriors to take another step in terms of their progress, and make, in the least, the Conference Finals this season.

Sacramento Kings

Projected Starters: Greivas Vasquez, Marcus Thornton, Luc Mbah A Moute, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
Rotation players: Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, John Salmons, Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes

Key Additions: Greivas Vasquez, Ben McLemore


I almost just copy pasted last years preview of this team, besides the part where I mentioned it was Tyrekes last year to prove himself, because they're coming into this year with almost exactly the same roster. They've upgraded their point guard depth with Vasquez, but they are still going to be abysmal defensively because they still have almost the same lineup as last year, plus Vasquez is nowhere near as good defensively as Thomas(again, even with Thomas in the lineup, they still sucked). Their bench unit has improved with Thomas and Landry being a nice pick and roll duo, as well as the addition of McLemore, but they're going to be in the cellar in the West for yet another season.

Southwest Division:

Dallas Mavericks

Projected Starters: Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Samuel Dalembert
Rotation players: Gal Mekel, Vince Carter, Wayne Ellington, Dejuan Blair, Brandan Wright

Key Additions: Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert, Devin Harris(inj)


The Mavericks decided to go with the Milwaukee Bucks rebuilding plan, in signing fringe starters to unmoveable long term contracts in the hopes of just making the playoffs. Although this team will score a lot of points, be a lot of fun to watch, and fight for the 8th seed, it won't be worth it because they've handcuffed themselves in terms of their financial flexibility for the future, assuming Dirk doesn't do Cuban a favor and take a lot less money on his next contract. They're going to be awesome offensively, and one of the worst defensively. Expect Rick Carlisle to lose all of his hair before the end of the season.

San Antonio Spurs

Projected Starters: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter
Rotation players: Corey Joseph, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter

Key Additions: Marco Belinelli


The Spurs weren't active this offseason, nor should they have been, coming off of a season where they were one shot away from winning the championship. I love their addition of Belinelli, who will allow Ginobili to not only play a lot less minutes, but also lessen his role on offence in the playoffs due to his ability to handle the ball in the second unit. The Spurs are prime for another run at the title this season, so long as father time does not catch up to Tim Duncan. Kawhi Leonard will likely become more of an option now for the Spurs in the halfcourt offence, which should lessen the workload for Duncan in the regular season, allowing him to stay fresh for the playoffs.

Houston Rockets

Projected Starters: Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, Dwight Howard

Rotation players: Patrick Beverley, Francisco Garcia, Reggie Williams, Donatas Motiejunas, Omer Asik

Key Additions: Dwight Howard


Houston had the best offseason in the NBA in adding Dwight Howard. They've also added veterans not listed in the 'rotation players' with Aaron Brooks, Omri Casspi, and Marcus Camby(they still have Greg Smith as well) who will all likely play throughout the year but won't be rotation players unless there's injuries. Harden and Dwight will likely lead this team to being the best offensive team in the league, but their success will come at the defensive end with Lin, Harden, and their Power Forward combination of Jones and Donatas having to dig in defensively if they're really going to have any success in the playoffs this upcoming season. They also have to figure out what they're going to do with Omer Asik, who likely won't fit as the starting 4 due to offensive spacing issues, but is far too good to come off the bench and only play 15 minutes per game, which could cause a problem for the Rockets at the start of the season. If they can gain chemistry early and at least be average on defence, they should win at least one round in the playoffs. Their best case scenario this year is a title contender, if everything goes right, because they definitely have the talent and supporting cast to make a big push this season.

New Orleans Hornets

Projected Starters: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis, Jason Smith
Rotation players: Brian Roberts, Austin Rivers,Al Farouq Aminu, Ryan Anderson, Greg Stiemsma

Key Additions: Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans


For me, this is the hardest team in the league to predict. They have 4 really good players in their starting lineup who are capable of having a big game on any given night, and if they mesh together offensively, this could be a really good team even in the West because they have one of the best Head Coaches in the NBA, especially with respect to defence. You know this team is going to be in the top 10 defensively, not only because of Monty Williams system, but now you have capable, talented players throughout the lineup. The real question with this team, again, is how they're going to run their offence when their 1-3 positions are usually ball dominant players, though Jrue and Gordon have shown that they can play off of the ball effectively, and Tyreke really improved from the 3 point line this season. With Davis' improvement, and the defensive potential of this team, I like their chances of making the playoffs as a low seed in the West.

Memphis Grizzlies

Projected Starters: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Quincy Pondexter, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Rotation players: Jerryd Bayless, Mike Miller, Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos

Key Additions: Mike Miller


The Grizzlies upgraded their roster a bit this offeason by swapping Arthur for Koufos, who will have a bigger imapct off of the bench, but more importantly it opens up minutes for Ed Davis at the 4, and 5 positions in smallball lineups. I expect the Grizzlies to start Pondexter this year to space the floor better, and bring Prince off of the bench. Overall, they have the same ceiling as last season, as a team that can win 1 round but doesn't have enough firepower to be a true contender.

Western Conference Standing Predictions:

1. SAS
2. OKC
3. LAC
4. GSW
5. HOU
6. MEM
7. MIN
8. NOH
9. DAL
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