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Old 09-12-2013, 12:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
Ball Don't Lie
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Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks-

Projected Starters: Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Demarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, Al Horford
Rotation players: Dennis Schroder, Lou Williams(inj), John Jenkins, Mike Scott, Elton Brand

Key Additions: Paul Millsap, Dennis Schroder

OUTLOOK:

Atlanta couldn't bring Dwight and CP3 together this offseason, so like Dallas, they brought in players who would help them stay compettitive, but they were able to do so by signing said players to much more cap friendly deals. They will still fight for the lower seeds in the Eastern playoffs, but I don't think they have enough scoring on their roster if Lou Williams isn't back at the start of the regular season.


Orlando Magic


Projected Starters: Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Afflalo, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic
Rotation players: E'Twaun Moore, Moe Hawkless, Andrew Nicholson, Glen Davis, Kyle O'Quinn

Key Additions: Victor Oladipo


OUTLOOK:

The Magic only made one small free agent pick up in Maxiell who likely wont play much this season, as they're in year 2 of their rebuild. Their 1st year was a big success in terms of acquiring many very good young prospects in the Howard/JJ Reddick trades, and I expect them to move at least Afflalo and Davis, if not Nelson as well before the trade deadline ends, to open up more minutes to the slew of wing players and guards on their roster. The Magic are going to be bad again next year, but next offseason is when they're going to try and make their splash, and it should be a big one with cap space and another lottery pick being added to an already flush with young talent roster.


Charlotte Bobcats

Projected Starters: Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd Gilchrest, Josh McRoberts, Al Jefferson
Rotation players: Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon, Jeff Taylor, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo

Key Additions: Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller


OUTLOOK:

The Bobcats finally brought in some frontcourt talent in adding Jefferson and Zeller. Jefferson should have another 20+10 season as the number one option in Charlotte, but they will struggle on both sides of the ball again this season due to their lack of interior presence on defence, and lack of wing scoring on offence. If MKG can break out this season, this would change everything for the Bobcats, who would have a shot then of making the playoffs, but his jumpshot still looks broken, and if it is, defences won't respect him enough on the perimeter to open up his underrated driving and passing ability because they'll be able to play so far off of him again.


Washington Wizards

Projected Starters: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Emeka Okafor, Nene
Rotation players: Eric Maynor, Otto Porter, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin

Key Additions: Eric Maynor, Otto Porter


OUTLOOK:

The Wizards biggest improvement this year will come from their backcourt, and not so much from the good bench pieces they brought in to help bolster the roster(Maynor, Porter, Harrington). John Wall was one of the best point guards in the NBA when he returned in the 2nd half of the season, and I expect him to take his game to a pre injury Rose level this season. I believe Beal will take a big leap this year as well, becoming one of the leagues most lethal shooting guards. If they're able to stay healthy and build chemistry early as one of the highest scoring backcourts in the NBA, and their defence continues to improve as it did in the 2nd half of last season, then the Wizards should make the playoffs for the first time in 5 years.

Miami Heat

Projected Starters: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh
Rotation players: Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Michael Beasley, Chris Anderson

Key Additions: Michael Beasley, Greg Oden


OUTLOOK:

The Heat essentially stood pat this offseason, only adding two players who are low risk, high reward signings. If Beasley can stay out of trouble, and shed his lazy habits, he could be a very good pick up for Miami as a nice scoring option off of the bench for the Heat. The Heat are hoping Oden is healthy and able to play 10-15 minutes per game come playoff time for when they have to contend with Hibbert and Noah. Both players are unlikely to contribute to the Heat based off the past, but if they do, Miami will be even tougher to beat this season. If they don't end up contributing, then Miami will hope that Wade is healthy when it matters, as he is the teams X factor in terms of putting them over the top in the later rounds of the playoffs.


Central Division:

Chicago Bulls

Projected Starters: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Rotation players: Kirk Hinrich, Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Taj Gibson, Erik Murphy


Key Additions: Tony Snell, Mike Dunleavy, Erik Murphy


OUTLOOK:

The Bulls had a really good draft in selecting Snell, and Murphy, two players who will contribute immediately off of the bench for them. Both players give the Bulls much needed shooting and energy off of the bench, to go along with the veteran play of Hinrich, Dunleavy, and Gibson. Ultimately, the Bulls season hinders on Rose's recovery and how good he can be coming back from major knee surgery. If he's 90+% of what he was pre injury, the Bulls will be legitimate title contenders, as they have finally found a legit starting shooting guard to pair with Rose who is a very good 2 way player. IF Rose is healthy again, I think they have the second best chance of knocking off the Heat this offseason, only behind the Pacers.

Detroit Pistons

Projected Starters: Brandon Jennings, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond
Rotation players: Chauncey Billups, Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler, Luigi Datome, Josh Harrelson


Key Additions: Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Kentavious Caldwell Pope


OUTLOOK:

The Pistons decided to scrap the rebuilding strategy, and try to emulate the formula that helped them win the championship in 2004, by acquiring unwanted players with a lot of talent, and hoping the talent meshes together. I don't believe the Josh Smith at Small Forward experiment is going to last long in today's NBA game which is all about spacing on the wings(which is why I think Pope will start over Stuckey), so they're going to have to decifer a rotation that works, which may end up being bringing Drummond off of the bench, and splitting the minutes at the power forward and center positions equally between him, Smith, and Drummond. The Pistons are essentially the Hornets of the East in terms of being unpredictable due to having a complete roster makeover, but I think that they will ultimately figure things out this season, and the renewed model of bringing in highly troubled, yet highly motivated players will work, as I think both Jennings and Smith will have good seasons, and help lead the Pistons back into the playoffs. If Jennings especially doesn't grow up this season, the Pistons will be in a lot of trouble not only this season, but the future as well since they are already tied up financially with Monroes extension upcoming.


Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected Starters: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum(inj?)
Rotation players: Jarrett Jack, CJ Miles, Alonzo Gee, Anthony Bennett, Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller


Key Additions: Andrew Bynum, Anthony Bennett, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark


OUTLOOK:

The Cavaliers had a very good offseason, in adding one of the best 6th men in the NBA, and a lot of frontcourt depth and talent. They needed an infusion of talent in the frontcourt to be able to combat the inevitable injuries to Varejao, and likely many missed games from Bynum. Even if both players are out at the same time, they will now still have a solid 4 man rotation of Clark, Bennett, Thompson, and Zeller to be able to play solid extended minutes if need be. I don't think there's any doubt that this team will be in the playoffs this season with Kyrie leading the way, but their success in terms of what seed they'll be will determined by Waiters growth as a player, in my opinion, as he would make them a much better team if he would commit to the defensive side of the ball, and stop taking so many bad shots on offence. If he doesn't, I don't think Mike Brown will hesitate to play Jack 30+ minutes per game, but in doing so, Cleveland will suffer as teams will exploit their lack of height in the backcourt.


Milwaukee Bucks

Projected Starters: Brandon Knight, OJ Mayo, Caron Butler, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders
Rotation players: Luke Ridnour, Gary Neal, Carlos Delfino, John Henson, Zaza Pachulia


Key Additions: Brandon Knight, OJ Mayo, Carlos Delfino


OUTLOOK:

The treadmill rolls on.


Indiana Pacers

Projected Starters: George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert
Rotation players: CJ Watson, Lance Stephenson, Chris Copeland, Luis Scola, Ian Mahinmi


Key Additions: CJ Watson, Chris Copeland, Luis Scola


OUTLOOK:

The Pacers have one of the best management teams in the NBA. They had one of the worst benches in the NBA, so this offseason they went out and got 3 very good role players to bolster their bench scoring, while also adding Granger back into the mix. They have had a fantastic offseason, and they are prime to beat the Heat this year.


Atlantic Division:

Boston Celtics

Projected Starters: Rajon Rondo(inj), Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk
Rotation players: Courtney Lee, Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Jared Sullinger,


Key Additions: Kelly Olynyk


OUTLOOK:

The Big 3 is finally gone, and Rondo is going to be out for the first month plus. The Celtics are likely going to be in the tank after the first month of the season, and all bets are off when Rondo comes back in terms of how he handles losing. It'll be very interesting to see which direction Ainge goes in if rumors begin about Rondo being unhappy once he returns from injury. Either way, they're going to be in the lottery this year.


Philadelphia 76ers

Projected Starters: Michael Carter-Williams, Evan Turner, James Anderson, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes
Rotation players: Tony Wroten, Arnett Moultrie, Lavoy Allen, Nerlens Noel


Key Additions: Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel


OUTLOOK:

If any team was going to get fined for tanking before the year started, it'd be the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers. Their best player is Thaddeus Young. Think about that for a second. They may end up being the worst team of all time. They're going to have some games where only 4000 fans fill the stands this year.


New York Knicks

Projected Starters: Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler
Rotation players: Beno Udrih, JR Smith, Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani, Amare Stoudemire


Key Additions: Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani


OUTLOOK:

I think one thing is for certain with this roster, is that their defensive efficiency is going to go down if both Bargnani and Amare are healthy, and playing at the same time(doesn't even have to be together). The good thing about their roster is they have a lot of talented players, but Mike Brown is going to have to show that he's a damn good coach to make it work to become title contenders this season. I still believe that their best chance of beating the top 4 teams in the East is to keep Amares minutes down this season, but have him play exclusively in lineups with Carmelo and Chandler so they can gain chemistry together, and when the playoffs begin, they can increase his minutes and that lineup will give them the best chance of beating the elite in the East. I think the Knicks are destined for a 5th seed finish and a 1st round exit this season, barring injuries.


Toronto Raptors

Projected Starters: Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas
Rotation players: DJ Augustin, Terrence Ross, Landry Fields, Steve Novak, Tyler Hansbrough


Key Additions: Tyler Hansbrough


OUTLOOK:

I'm not going to go with the cautiously optomistic prediction this year, as I've taken off my rose tinted glasses. A lot of things need to go right for us to make the playoffs this year. First of all, our defence needs be improve drastically from last season. Second, Casey needs to impliment an entirely new system on offence, that hopefully does not involve either Demar or Gay trying to create shots starting behind the 3 point line(hopefully he plays to their strengths and posts them up, or screens for them to catch the ball in the 15-18 foot area EARLY in the clock). Also, Jonas needs to be a lot more involved in the offence, as he should be used in a lot more pick and roll plays, and high low opportunities with Amir, who is an underrated passer. Third, someone from our bench needs to step up and be a high volume bench scorer, which will likely come down to either Buycks, who I expect will unseat DJ for the backup point guard position before Christmas, or Ross. If that doesn't happen, then our bench will be awful, and we'll have no chance of making the playoffs, where we had a small chance previously. In conclusion, if all of these things happen we can retain the 7th or 8th seed, but the odds of that are very, very low. Tank nation commence!


Brooklyn Nets

Projected Starters: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez
Rotation players: Shaun Livingston, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche


Key Additions: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko


OUTLOOK:

The Nets are all in the next 2 seasons, and they have an extremely talented roster from top to bottom. When Reggie Evans is your 11th man, you're doing something right. The key to Brooklyn winning the championship this season is Brook Lopez. He needs to be a sponge this year, and go into training camp with an open mind. He needs to learn from Garnett and Kirilenko, in terms of where to be on rotations in every scenario, and to be their anchor in the paint on both offence and defence. If he elevates his game and becomes a complete player, Brooklyn is going to be extremely difficult to beat in the playoffs with their size, length, veteran savvy, and depth. I expect Deron Williams to have his best year as a Net as well with all of the open space he'll have with the talent surrounding him, but ultimately the Nets fate lies in Lopez' hands.

Eastern Conference Standings Prediction:

1. Miami
2. Indiana
3. Chicago
4. Brooklyn
5. New York
6. Cleveland
7. Washington
8. Detroit
9. Atlanta
10. Milwaukee
11. Toronto
12. Charlotte
13. Orlando
14. Boston
15. Philadelphia
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