Ball Don't Lie's Around the NBA Daily 2012-2013 Edition
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:
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
The Raptors 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
How you putting OKC in front of LAL? I assume it's because the Lakers will start slowly? I actually think they might even be lower, 3-4 seed. Howard will be out a while no?
I think they'll probably start slow especially if Howard isnt able to participate in training camp and in preseason. Their chemistry will take some time so I can see them losing a lot of road games to tough teams early in the season. I think they'll have a better shot next year of having a near 70 win record if the parts do fit like everyone expects.
I fully expect them to win it all this year though.
Link: NBA finalizing flopping procedures
This season should be a gas. I'm rooting for you Mcgee you freak!
The East is so much weaker than the West once again.
Blazers got the worst bench in the NBA? Hey don't jinx us, it'd be nice to see a complete bench for an entire year. Usually it's like 1 or 2 guys after everyone on the team gets hurt.
*note: reserve SG Elliot Williams achilles tore in first team workout. Out for season.
-1 Blazer already
I think this year the East may actually overtake the West in number of wins, for the first time in a really. really long time.
Wow Lamar is really out of shape:
He has a history of showing up to camp fat, but not THIS fat.
heck, thought that was Felton for a sec
Awesome job Thrills!! My fav thread is back!!!
Except that Chicago might still finish higher, can't argue with the east playoff seeding. And I don't have my Raptor goggles on.
This team with pretty much nobody leading, nobody scoring and without actually having the suited pieces to play the style designed for them still got a sniff of a playoff spot. Not having training camp under a new system for a team that young last year also would have a more pronounced effect than for most teams.
They also have decent backups at every position so that they can withstand a few key injuries better than most.
Having said that, prepare for a first round curb stomping at the hands of Miami if they take 8th seed.
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