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PG: Luke Ridnour
SG: JJ Barea
SF: Chase Budinger
PF: Derrick Williams
C: Greg Stiemsma
The Minnesota Timberwolves are certainly a team on the upswing. Led by Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, with Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved and others, they certainly have a bright future. The same can also be said for their second unit.
Although I expect them to fight for a playoff spot this season, they won’t do much more than that. Given time, however, they should develop in to a sure-fire playoff team in the competitive Western Conference for years to come.
PG: Toney Douglas
SG: Jeremy Lamb
SF: Terrence Jones
PF: Marcus Morris, Royce White
C: Donatas Motiejunas
The Rockets are rebuilding; however, they have a very young and interesting bench. I’m intrigued to see how this second unit—assembled mainly as trade bait for Dwight Howard—will play together. With four rookies, a second-year and a third-year player, they’ll get lots of opportunities to develop, and it should be fun to watch.
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Terrence Ross
SF: Linas Kleiza, Alan Anderson
PF: Ed Davis
C: Amir Johnson
I think the Toronto Raptors are a dark horse to grab the seventh or eighth playoff spot in the East, not because they have any one true star and not because they have a talented starting lineup, but because they have a well balanced roster from spots one through ten and should prove to be a very good defensive team.
The improvements Dwane Casey made last season on defense—especially given the group of players he had to work with—was nothing short of amazing. This year he will look to build on that change of culture with the help of four new players who are all solid or decent defenders: Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, Landry Fields and Terrence Ross.
No one knows exactly what Toronto’s rotation will look like this season, but we do know their second unit will be led by starter calibre point guard Jose Calderon, will feature Linas Kleiza, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson up front—all three of which have the potential to become excellent role players—and one of Landry Fields, DeMar DeRozan or Terrence Ross playing alongside Jose in the backcourt. This is basically the starting lineup the Raps threw out on the court last season, so look for this group to overachieve—assuming Jose Calderon stays with the team.