1 Question for Each NBA Team: East
Atlanta Hawks – How will the rebuild continue?
The Hawks decided instead of bringing in talent from a Josh Smith trade, they decided to let him walk in free agency. With that money, they filled a big void in the front court by signing Paul Millsap. This allows Al Horford to move over to his more natural position of PF. One problem is that the team became less athletic by letting Smith go. Their best guard, Lou Williams, is not expected back until January after tearing his ACL. In order to get back to the playoffs, the Hawks must develop a young guard. That guard will probably have to wait until the 2014 NBA Draft.
Boston Celtics – What will the Celtics do with Rondo?
The days of Celtics fans reserving their playoff tickets have to be put on hold. With Garnett and Pierce being traded away this past offseason; the Celtics have blown up their team. The trade did bring back some interesting pieces. Marshon Brooks is a promising guard that could bring some punch off the bench, Kris Humphries brings an expiring contract, and Brad Stevens brings some youth to an aging organization. Since the team is in a full rebuild mode, the Celtics should trade Rondo now. I do not think he will mesh with Stevens due to Rondo doing his own thing while Stevens will want more control. The team can get back vital pieces that will help this rebuilding process expedite. Keep an eye on the Kings. If Demarcus Cousins were to struggle, I could see them swapping players.
Brooklyn Nets – Is Deron Williams healthy enough to lead this team?
The Nets became an instant contender with their blockbuster trade. However, one pressing point is that head coach, Jason Kidd, has said Deron Williams could miss time in the regular season due to his ankle issues. Right now, he doesn’t have a return date. It is only preseason, but Williams has a history of ankle issues. The Nets should consider acquiring a reliable backup PG to alleviate any lost value if Deron were to miss time. Maybe Jason Kidd will suit up? He might be as good as Uncle Drew!
Charlotte Bobcats – Can the Bobcats avoid the lottery?
No. They did add a veteran presence in Al Jefferson, but he is injured. The addition of Cody Zeller is not as exciting as everyone is making it out to be. I was able to watch him in preseason and didn’t see him be assertive at all. I don’t think he is physical enough to battle down low. With that said, I think opposing teams could stick their 3 on him and be fine. Kemba Walker needs more help. The Bobcats will end up in the first half of the Draft in 2014. Hopefully, it will be the last time for a few years.
Chicago Bulls – Can the Bulls get past the Heat?
The Bulls were able to take the Heat to 7 games last playoffs without Derrick Rose. The addition of Rose is a major piece to the puzzle. I think another piece is the addition of Jimmy Butler to the starting 5. Depth is one thing that can wear down the Heat. They are all 1 year older. Rose adds an offensive weapon that was clearly lacking in the playoffs. I cannot wait until the playoffs when these two teams face off.
Cleveland Cavaliers – What will happen to Anderson Varejao?
This may be one of the most important seasons for the Cavs. Coming off another 1st overall draft pick, the team must make the playoffs not only for their organization and fans, but for LeBron. If Anderson Varejao plays like he did last season, they must decide whether or not to trade him. The team had their chances last year but waited too long and Varejao strained his quad and had a blood clot. If Varejao is healthy enough, he could be used as leverage for luring LeBron back to Cleveland. Then again, the “Wild Thing” could bring back a package of prospects and draft picks. I would expect the Thunder to inquire about Varejao this season.
Detroit Pistons – Will Chauncey Billups lead Brandon Jennings to a top tier PG?
The Pistons were able to land some key acquisitions this offseason. They signed Chauncey Billups and Josh Smith, and traded for Brandon Jennings. Billups will provide a veteran voice in the locker room. Most importantly, he will hopefully serve as a mentor to Brandon Jennings. Jennings is coming from Milwaukee where he had to learn on his own and never had a veteran tell him how to prepare. Billups could be a key factor in his growth as a player. I expect Billups to also contribute to the progress of Andre Drummond. I anticipate Jennings and Drummond to form a formidable pick and roll duo.
Indiana Pacers – How will Danny Granger help the team?
Granger can help this team by taking some of the pressure off of Paul George. Not only did George improve drastically last season, he signed a max deal. I’m not sure how he will respond to this added pressure. Granger will help immensely if he can return close to his old self. He is broader than George which will allow him to guard bigger 3’s. Danny must get back into NBA game shape before he contributes. Being able to run and run in practice is one thing, but NBA games are completely different. If he can help take the load off of Paul George, watch out!
Miami Heat – Can they 3 peat?!?!
The Heat will have their work cut out for them. Teams in the East are getting stronger, and this team is 1 year older. No one knows if Dwayne Wade’s knees will be able to withstand another season. He did, however, work out with his old strength coach which should help him for the grueling season. They lost their 3 point specialist in Mike Miller and signed Greg Oden. If Oden can play even 20-25 minutes a game, it would be a success. The Heat also signed the loony Michael Beasley. As long as they have the best player on the planet, the Heat will have the best chance of hoisting that trophy at the end of the season. Don’t be surprised if they mend their relationship with Lil Wayne this season as well. I would expect a special performance of his song, “3 Peat.” Then again, he could go on this rant.
Milwaukee Bucks – How long will they keep Ersan?
Ersan Ilyasova is stunting the growth of John Henson. Yes, he has an injured ankle right now; but, Henson by has the bigger ceiling. His 7’6’’ wingspan is essential down low and he has an improved mid-range game. Since Ilyasova’s injury, Henson is averaging 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in roughly 30 minutes per game. Once Ersan gets healthy, the team must let him play so they can showcase his talent. From there, they HAVE to ship him out. Henson is too much of a talent to sit on the bench. Hold on Bucks fans, this season may be a doozy. There is hope, though. Start sending your plea’s to David Stern for Andrew Wiggins. He might fix this Draft in your favor!
New York Knicks – Will the team lose focus due to Carmelo?
Recently, Carmelo Anthony said he is going to test free agency. How dumb can he be? The only thing that the media, fans, and even his teammates are going to ask is where is he going to sign next? We can all remember the season of the “Dwightmare” where everyone was asking themselves who was going to land the prized big man. Carmelo has the arsenal to lead a team deep into the playoffs, but I don’t expect the Knicks to do any damage this season. There will be too much drama and finger pointing for this team to achieve anything. The bad thing is they will make the playoffs, which will leave the team with a low draft pick. Say Carmelo leaves to the Lakers (he most likely will), now the team cannot rely on a top draft pick to salvage this team. Spike Lee and Stephen A. Smith are not going to enjoy this season very much. But, I am looking forward to his rants!
Orlando Magic – Can Victor Oladipo bring this team back to relevance?
Oladipo was highly regarded as the best player in the 2013 Draft. He will eventually take over as either the starting PG or SG. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists this preseason. Very promising. The one thing holding him back this season is the lack of help. He has Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic to help him, but these aren’t exactly superstars. Unfortunately, it’s looking like this team will end up with plenty of ping pong balls in the hopper this offseason. Be patient Magic fans. This team is on the rise and will be relevant again.
Philadelphia 76ers – How many losses will it take to get Andrew Wiggins?
When the 76ers traded away their only star in Jrue Holiday, this essentially started the Andrew Wiggins draft day celebrations. This team is going to be absolutely horrible. They did land their big man of the future in Nerlens Noel, but Michael Carter-Williams was a waste of a draft pick. His jump shot is worse than Rajon Rondo’s when he came into the league and he is a turnover machine. I believe Tony Snell would have been a better pick here. He reminds me of a Kawai Leonard, just a scrappy G/F that plays defense and surprise you sometimes on the arc. Nonetheless, the 76ers have set themselves up for Andrew Wiggins next year.
Toronto Raptors – Will Jonas Valanciunas live up to the hype?
JV has been hyped all offseason as a sleeper this summer. He was named the 2013 FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year and was dominant in the Summer League. His 7’0’’ frame and age (21) have the Raptors’ front office raving. However, unless his teammates start trusting him with the ball, I don’t see JV living up to the hype. Last game against the Knicks, he only shot the ball 4 times. He did make 3, though. Through his 5 preseason games, he is only averaging 9.0 points and 4.8 shots. I just don’t see Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan giving the reins to Valanciunas.
Washington Wizards – Are the playoffs on the horizon?
John Wall was locked up this past offseason and the team drafted Otto Porter Jr. I believe this is the year the Wizards make the playoffs. Bradley Beal’s ankles are healthy and he has been on fire shooting the ball. John Wall has been a beast scoring and dishing the ball to teammates. Kevin Seraphin will be forced into the rotation due to Emeka Okafor and Nene injuries, but I see him as a potential sleeper. Hometown guy, Otto Porter Jr., will help with defense on the wing and bring a mid-range game. The Wizards might need some big men help (Anderson Varejao?), but I see this team breaking into the playoffs.