One Reason to Hate Every NBA Team's Roster Heading into the 2012-2013 Season

Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 21, 2012

One Reason to Hate Every NBA Team's Roster Heading into the 2012-2013 Season

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    There's been plenty of turnover on NBA rosters heading into the first full season under the new CBA. The 2012-13 campaign features great storylines like Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in L.A., the Nets' first season in Brooklyn and LeBron James' first attempt to defend a title.

    While there's plenty to be excited about across the league, there's also reason for concern on some rosters, even on the ones expected to contend for an NBA championship.

    For instance, the Miami Heat's depth could now be considered a negative. The new faces on teams like Houston, Dallas and Toronto have undeniably spiced up the roster, but it remains to be seen if that's enough to compete with the big boys of their respective conferences.

    By taking a pessimistic look at each NBA roster, we can analyze some of the weaknesses each roster currently boasts. Although some are contenders and others are not, every team has a weakness. 

    Outlining a look at all 30 NBA teams and their current rosters, here's one reason why you should hate each one this year. From Atlanta to Washington, you won't want to miss these weaknesses that might keep your favorite team from making a playoff push.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Too Many Guards

    There's two schools of thought on the issue of having too much. No. 1: You can never have too much of a good thing. No. 2: Too much of a good thing isn't good at all.

    Atlanta falls in the latter.

    After ridding themselves of the awful Joe Johnson contract and adding some talented young players in the deal with the Brooklyn Nets (yet no MarShon Brooks?), the Hawks have eight guys fighting for four spots in the rotation.

    Sure, Kyle Korver and DeShawn Stevenson can slide over and play small forward, while scorer Louis Williams has made a name for himself as an undersized shooting guard. However, both those are spot lineups and won't help Atlanta beat teams like the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics.

    Additionally, they've blocked the progress of first-round pick John Jenkins while still only employing two guys that will share time at center, Zaza Pachulia and Johan Petro. Neither is more than a low-grade backup on another team. Look for Atlanta to find a trade for someone in this rotation, or it's going to be chaos in the Hawks backcourt.

Boston Celtics

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    Unproven Talent at Key Positions

    From Darko Milicic to Jared Sullinger back around to Jeff Green, the Celtics are hoping the infusion of youth and talent will be enough to make up for the significant age increase at their key positions.

    With new guard Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce all pushing towards their late 30s, it's going to be up to these new Celtics to keep the pressure, and wear and tear, off the elder statesmen of this Boston team.

    Milicic hasn't played a meaningful postseason minute in his career, while Green is rebounding from major heart surgery. Green was previously a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder squad, but that was before they were the playoff battle-tested team they are today.

    Elsewhere, rookies Sullinger and Fab Melo will both likely be asked to play solid team defense, and I think Sullinger will eventually supplant Brandon Bass as this season wears on. But how that translates to the postseason will be the big question, as Boston will have to rely on a cast that doesn't include Ray Allen for the first time since 2007.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Lots of Talent, Only One Ball

    Team chemistry and ball distribution will be a point of emphasis for coach Avery Johnson. With all the talent the Nets have accrued on offense, it will be up to Deron Williams, a noted shot-taker himself, to get this offense to a point where it's hard to defend.

    Even the second-team offense, at least on paper, has some noted black holes. Andray Blatche was forced out of Washington for poor team chemistry. C.J. Watson, while filling in admirably for Derrick Rose, did more with his shot than he did with his passing.

    Take MarShon Brooks as another example. He won't be on the court to distribute.

    The bottom line: While the Nets look to have set themselves up as a major player in the East for the next few years, they also have to climb past a steep learning curve of talent. How quickly they do so will likely determine their success this season.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    The Island of Misfit Toys

    When you look at the Charlotte Bobcats, it's hard to point to a real strength of their team. Aside from No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, this team has virtually been assembled off the pieces of other teams.

    Brendan Haywood was an amnesty waiver claim from the Dallas Mavericks. Ben Gordon wasn't wanted in Detroit, and Ramon Sessions exhausted every possible option before signing with the Bobcats.

    If you look at the 2011 draft, they got Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker before the 10th pick in the draft. Following Walker, it went Jimmer Fredette (pass), Klay Thompson, Alec Burks, the Morris twins from Kansas and Kawhi Leonard.

    You could argue that any of those players would be a better fit for this team than Kemba Walker, but conjecture often has the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. While it's certainly going to be a struggle with so many new faces and a new coach, Charlotte will have to turn this weakness into a collective strength to have any shot at winning more than 20 games in 2012-13.

Chicago Bulls

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    Without Rose, Plenty of Thorns

    Derrick Rose is the former MVP of the league, and he's the most important player on this Bulls roster. Without him, this isn't the same team, as evidenced by their first-round playoff loss to the Philadelphia 76ers last season.

    Taj Gibson isn't ready to carry the load. Carlos Boozer has been awful, and although Chicago plugged the dam a little bit with Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson and 2012 first-round draft pick Marquis Teague, are we really expected to believe that this team is built to contend without Rose?

    The answer, folks, is no.

    Coach Tom Thibodeau will keep them in the hunt purely on defense and the emergence of second-year forward Jimmy Butler, who's my pick for breakout player of the year.

    Elsewhere, this team is very average, considering the moves teams like Boston, Brooklyn and Miami all made to get better this offseason. That will be the case until Rose returns from his ACL injury, and until he proves he's 100 percent.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    An Abundance of Youth

    With C.J. Miles and Dion Waiters expected to join the starting lineup for the Cavaliers, the elder statesman appears to be Anderson Varejao.

    Oftentimes youth is a good thing for teams. It's worked for Oklahoma City and Philadelphia, but it takes time for young players to develop the kind of awareness and savvy that makes for NBA contenders.

    Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving are both barely out of their teens. Tyler Zeller, while a four-year starter in college, certainly will have a learning curve as he prepares to take on NBA talent.

    This group could turn out to be the next Oklahoma City. With several first-round draft picks over the past few seasons, they've stockpiled talent in hopes of becoming the Eastern Conference's next great team. Right now, though, it's a learning process, and too much youth will prove to be a bad thing in 2012-13.

Dallas Mavericks

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    A Team Still Built Around Dirk Nowitzki

    The point of clearing cap space after the 2011 championship run was to take a shot at a marquee free agent in the summer of 2012. The Mavs lost out on Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson, all their own free agents, in pursuit of a big fish.

    But Deron Williams turned his back on his hometown team and chose to stay with the Brooklyn Nets. He cited the absence of Mark Cuban and the only sales pitch being Dirk Nowitzki as reasons he chose to forgo a move to Dallas to join the Mavericks.

    Whatever the reason, Dallas did a remarkable job of scraping the barrel for talent after Williams didn't sign with the team. O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman were all nice pickups but are simply an ensemble cast without Nowitzki.

    As Nowitzki now battles the recovery from knee surgery and Kaman is also sidelined with an injury, this Dallas team is back to being a very average group.

    As constructed, you could certainly make the argument that Dallas is a top-five team when Nowitzki is playing at an All-Star level. But without him, they might have the highest drop in expectations of any team with a legitimate superstar.

Denver Nuggets

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    Too Many "Tweeners" Out of Position

    Denver somehow managed to come out winners in the Dwight Howard trade, a deal it wasn't even expected to be involved with until the framework was being revealed towards the end of day.

    Andre Iguodala went to the Nuggets, and they were able to rid themselves of a bad contract in Al Harrington. But when looking at their projected lineup, there are pieces in place that aren't exactly in the mold of a traditional NBA lineup. Granted, that's not the only key to winning a title, but the defensive matchups worry me the most.

    Danilo Gallinari isn't exactly fleet of foot defending other small forwards. Anthony Randolph has won the "Tweener of the Year" award ever since Don Nelson fell in love with him as a Golden State Warrior, while Kenneth Faried is still playing undersized at the 4 position (although I'm his biggest fan).

    George Karl has effectively mixed his lineups over the past two years and made this team better than it ever was with Carmelo Anthony. But with their starters playing mostly out of place, I think good coaches in this league will find a way to exploit their lineup—either through speed on the wings or huge bodies in the post.

Detroit Pistons

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    Talented, but Very Raw

    From Jonas Jerebko to new first-round pick Andre Drummond, this roster is loaded with talent. Brandon Knight commands a backcourt with Rodney Stuckey, and Tayshaun Prince decided to stick around for his final performance in Detroit.

    But from a consistency standpoint, there isn't one player on the roster who can parallel what Greg Monroe has done on a night-to-night basis.

    Stuckey is as inconsistent as they come, as is multimillion-dollar man Charlie Villanueva. They flipped one bad contract for another in Corey Maggette, so aside from Drummond, this is essentially the same team that was a lottery squad in 2011-12.

    Top picks like Jerebko and Austin Daye just haven't lived up to lofty expectations. Drummond looks to avoid the same fate, but until that happens, this Detroit team will not be able to harness the raw talent it has acquired.

Golden State Warriors

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    Best Two Players Are Injury-Prone

    To clarify, I love what the Warriors have done this offseason. They've added competitive pieces to both the starting lineup and the bench, while adding young talent in the draft that can help them in the immediate future.

    But for this team to have a shot at contending, both Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry have to remain healthy. Curry isn't off to a good start, injuring his surgically repaired ankle in the Warriors' game on Friday night.

    Stephen Curry had his right ankle rolled on by another player and he will not return tonight for precautionary reasons.

    — Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) October 20, 2012

    That's just the latest in the long line of ankle problems for the fourth-year guard. When healthy, he's one of the brightest young players in the league. Same goes for Andrew Bogut, who is still working his way back from injuries that kept him out of the lineup during parts of almost all of his seven NBA seasons.

    Both are big factors for the Warriors to get back to the playoffs. The rest of the roster is nice, and David Lee might be the league's most underrated player, but their strength is also a weakness in the form of injuries.

Houston Rockets

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    Aside from Kevin Martin, the Biggest Ensemble Cast of All Time

    Don't assert that Jeremy Lin is a bona fide star, people. He was playing in the right system, the NBA hadn't yet seen him on tape and things happened at the right time for the young point guard. While still talented, names like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and even Tony Parker won't be behind him on any point guard list this season.

    I think Lin is a great player, but he can't honestly be expected to turn this Houston team into the New York Knicks of February 2012, not without talent like Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler suddenly wearing Rockets uniforms.

    Kevin Martin is a talent, but I predict he will be on another team by the end of the season. That would leave Lin and 14 players you've probably never heard of to contend for the West's last few playoff spots.

    From rookies Royce White, Terrence Jones and Jeremy Lamb to newcomers Carlos Delfino, Toney Douglas and Omer Asik, the Rockets have managed to assemble a cast of players that would likely be the seventh or eighth option elsewhere.

    Head coach Kevin McHale has talent to work with and a player in Jeremy Lamb that could be a star in the near future. But aside from Martin and Lin, Houston has managed to acquire plenty of role players—just not the kind that play significant minutes and contend for championships.

Indiana Pacers

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    NBA Development League Depth

    On paper, this is the same group that pushed the Miami Heat only to suffer a painful loss in the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals.

    They've added Ian Mahinmi to bolster a small front line from a season ago and also brought in more athleticism in Gerald Green and D.J. Augustin.

    But behind some of the surface-level reserves, this isn't as deep of a team as it would appear. Lance Stephenson is still waiting for his breakout season. Blake Ahearn (who might not make the roster in favor of Ben Hansbrough) is a perennial D-League All-Star, and Miles Plumlee was drafted far too high in relation to his pedigree.

    Questions about the front line for this team are there. If the Pacers couldn't beat Miami as constructed in 2012, what makes people think 2013 will be different with virtually the same roster? Should the injury bug hit, the Pacers will be running out D-Leaguers behind their starters.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Isolation-Heavy Lineup

    After Chauncey Billups went down with his season-ending injury in 2012, the Clippers never found the kind of offensive consistency that they felt in the first part of Chris Paul's time in L.A.

    If you take a look at the roster this year, the Clips have some noted isolation-heavy players on the roster. Blake Griffin attempted 53 percent of his shots away from the basket. When you look at the game film, he's often forced into those attempts by opposing defenders.

    Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom are both new additions to the lineup this season, and both do damage in different parts of the court. Odom has the ability to both post up and take bigger defenders off the dribble, but he does so out of one-on-one sets. It's part of the reason he had so much trouble as a small forward in Dallas' flow offense in 2011-12.

    Crawford is known for standing out on the perimeter and eating away at his team's shot clock. He was a minus-11 in clutch situations last season, as reported by 82games.com. Part of those struggles deal with Crawford as the primary offense creator, and it remains to be seen if he tries to vulture any of that designation away from Paul.

    Simply put, it will be Vinny Del Negro's job to keep an offense running smoothly. There's tons of talent and experience on both sides of the ball, but this team had success when the extra pass was being made, not while watching Griffin post up better defenders.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Steve Nash/Dwight Howard Insurance

    Much like Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry, the Lakers have a pair of marquee athletes at center and point guard. But Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are vast upgrades on their Northern California counterparts, which is why the Lakers are early title favorites.

    Behind them, though, Steve Blake and Jordan Hill headline a ragtag group of reserves that puts the Lakers in the same position as last season.

    The Lakers aren't banking on Blake, Chris Duhon, Robert Sacre or Hill to play starter's minutes this season. If they do, it's likely been a failure.

    But should Howard, coming off back surgery, or Nash, pushing his body to the limit as he approaches 40, need medical care this season, someone else will have to step up. A smaller lineup with Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison would win games but derail title hopes in Los Angeles.

    As with the rest of the league, let's hope Howard and Nash don't face the injury bug this season.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Same Cast, Different Story?

    The Grizzlies only lost one significant role player from their last two postseason appearances. O.J. Mayo is gone, and with him goes consistent scoring punch off the bench for coach Lionel Hollins. 

    Memphis is getting Darrell Arthur back from injury, but Marreese Speights is still in front of him on the depth chart, while Zach Randolph is also returning from injury to claim the bulk of the starter minutes.

    This is largely the same group that has lost in the semifinals and first round the past two seasons. Is the resolve there to avoid key injuries and make a deep run with the same group that's been knocked out by the Thunder and the Clippers?

    That remains to be seen, but with the Grizzlies now relying on youngsters Quincy Pondexter and Josh Selby to replace the scoring punch from Mayo, the rest of this lineup is going to have to dig deep and find a new level of success they've never known as a franchise.

Miami Heat

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    Frontcourt Depth

    The Miami Heat's best lineup has been with LeBron James and Shane Battier both on the floor. With the addition of Ray Allen, they might be the team that threw traditional lineups out the window when we look back in NBA history.

    They'll enter the season starting the Chris Bosh as a center experiment, and they boast success with it in certain spots over the last two seasons.

    By adding Allen and Rashard Lewis to a roster already full of wing-type players, the Heat have failed to address their biggest weakness—frontcourt depth.

    Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem are still on the roster, but should any of those two or Bosh go down with an injury, the Heat are looking at LeBron being their enforcer. That doesn't bode well for his durability or the team's chances since it still doesn't trust Dexter Pittman enough for a bigger role.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Small Guard Syndrome

    Besides starters Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, the Bucks have Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb as their primary backups at the guard position.

    While that will get them points and some ESPN Top 10 highlight reels, it won't help them play defense against bigger guards or attack against bigger defenders.

    Ellis is playing out of position. The man is a scoring point guard and has no business on the court unless he's the primary ball-handler. When you watch him play, he's noticeably less involved mentally when the offense isn't running through him.

    Jennings is also in need of the ball, and these two little guards will likely take 50 percent of the team's shots between the two of them. They'll score a lot of points but don't have the intangibles to help turn Milwaukee's fortunes around on the "big" stage.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Lack of Toughness

    Up and down the Minnesota lineup, there aren't many guys that scream "mentally tough" when you look at them. Among their starting lineup, only Kevin Love has that kind of fortitude, and he's out for the first six weeks of the season.

    With AK47, Chase Budinger, Luke Ridnour and youngsters Dante Cunningham and Ricky Rubio on that list, too, there just isn't much physical toughness for this team to throw at people.

    Even Brandon Roy, with his chronic knee problems, falls into that category. What happens if his legs begin to fall off in the middle of the 82-game season?

    I love all the moves the Timberwolves have made over the last two months. They have an exciting mix of young talent and veteran leadership, and they should contend for a playoff spot. But I fear they'll be easily bullied by bigger teams, and when one team does it, the rest of the league will notice.

New Orleans Hornets

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    Elite Talent Not Ready

    Take away this year's top draft picks, Austin Rivers and No. 1 overall selection Anthony Davis, and this is a worse team than the one that won the rights to that top lottery spot.

    Disappointing forward Al-Farouq Aminu is the starting small forward, while Ryan Anderson prepares to try to shed the "shooter-only" label as he leaves Orlando for the first time since becoming relevant.

    Greivis Vasquez is the starting point guard, and while Eric Gordon is an exciting young talent, injury concerns leave him as a wild card to make a long-term impact.

    Fact is, this team's best two players will be Rivers and Davis—just not this season. These two are less than a year from being on a college campus and less than two from being high school seniors. You don't stroll into the NBA without the proper welcome, and these two will be no different.

    When they figure it out, though, look out.

New York Knicks

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    A Walk Around the Retirement Home

    Just when we thought the Celtics and Mavericks would both collectively retire at the end of the season, the Knicks managed to sign a bunch of guys that should have been done years ago.

    Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Kurt Thomas are all in their late 30s. Already over the hill in basketball years, this team will have to rely on savvy and basketball IQ to outsmart more athletic opponents.

    Tyson Chandler is no spring chicken, and neither is Carmelo Anthony. These guys are all veterans, and the only infusion of youth is Iman Shumpert whenever he returns from his ACL injury.

    If the injury bug or old age starts to take games away from a team already devoid of true depth, things could get ugly.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Lack of Perimeter Shooting by Role Players

    This is nitpicking a little bit, but the title of the article suggest we'll be saying something each team needs to do better, so this should be no surprise.

    Kevin Durant and James Harden will do most of the heavy lifting from the outside. Daequan Cook and Thabo Sefolosha are both quality spot-up shooters, but they weren't the answer in the postseason when the team needed them the most.

    Enter Perry Jones III, the young rookie who can hopefully make a Jeff Green-like impact in smaller lineups, and the return of Eric Maynor from season-ending surgery in 2011.

    The Thunder have the tools to be a nice team from the three-point line, especially with the 2012 Olympic leader in three-point field goals on their team (Durant). But they'll have to prove it to us before I'm willing to say they've passed this checkmark in their team development

Orlando Magic

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    Everything

    Now, I know that's not true, and there are some talented players on Orlando's team that will help it compete in the Eastern Conference.

    But by the All-Star break, I think Orlando will be fighting like heck to end up with the No. 1 overall selection, and it's because this team was built around some guy named Dwight Howard.

    J.J. Redick is not a starting shooting guard unless he has a rebound machine collecting long rebounds and keeping his poor defense from being exposed. Hedo Turkoglu is getting so stiff he can barely move laterally, and Jameer Nelson is going to have his hands full dealing with Glen Davis on an ego trip.

    Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington weren't the returns that this team wanted for Howard. But they got the draft picks, and they've made themselves conceivably worse than they would have been with Howard this year. They've also set up new GM Rob Hennigan's master plan that we don't know about yet.

    Gustavo Ayon is also suddenly replacing Dwight Howard. Let that sink in, and prepare for a rebuild effort soon, Orlando.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    All-In on Andrew Bynum

    After losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2012 playoffs, Doug Collins and the 76ers brass decided it was time for a shakeup.

    Gone are Nikola Vucevic, free agent Louis Williams, first-round draft pick Maurice Harkless and Olympic gold medalist Andre Iguodala, and arriving are Andrew Bynum, Nick Young and Jason Richardson.

    The scoring punch off the bench of Williams has been replaced by Young and Richardson, maybe more so than the former sixth man. But Philadelphia gave up a lot to get Bynum, the young man whom many feel can turn this playoff team into an NBA Finals contender.

    The move allows Spencer Hawes to play Pau Gasol in the offense, while allowing Bynum to be the go-to guy for the first time in his career. But when you trade a guy that's meant to your franchise what Iguodala meant, you are taking a heavy risk that Bynum is the real deal.

    He's been unable to participate so far due to injury, so the 76ers are taking a huge risk in Bynum's contract year. If he decides to leave via free agency and the Sixers haven't won a title, was it worth the trade?

Phoenix Suns

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    Castoffs from Other Teams

    To give Phoenix some praise, it was able to pick up draft picks for the sure-to-depart Steve Nash and replace some of his scoring punch with Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Luis Scola.

    But when playing devil's advocate, isn't there a reason these guys were unwanted in their old franchises?

    The answer is yes, and upon closer investigation, the Suns assembled at least four players that were unwanted in their old cities. Beasley and Wesley Johnson had no future in Minnesota with Brandon Roy and Derrick Williams in the way.

    Scola was an amnesty waiver claim, and the Houston Rockets weren't about to give Dragic a huge contract when they had their eyes on Jeremy Lin. Even Marcin Gortat and Shannon Brown were castoffs from their old teams.

    You can't help but wonder if all those reasons won't rear their ugly head at some point this season, especially with Nash no longer in control.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Not Enough Talent to Surround LaMarcus Aldridge

    Aldridge isn't scheduled to be a free agent until 2015, but if this team struggles for two more years of his prime, you can bet the trade winds will start to swirl in the Northwest.

    Rookies Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard are both young and very raw. Lillard put on a show in the NBA summer league, but he'll have to contend with the NBA's deepest position on a night-by-night basis, and running the point is often the hardest collegiate-to-NBA adjustment.

    After whiffing on Greg Oden (when they could have had another Texas product, Kevin Durant), it hasn't been a good series of drafts for the Trail Blazers. Keeping the underrated Nic Batum in the fold is a great move towards combating this, but Wesley Matthews is starting to look more like a bust than he did in Utah three years ago.

    New coach Terry Stotts has a tall order to fill, and that order is keeping Aldridge within reach of victories. If they can stay competitive and develop all of this young talent, this won't be an issue. If they can't, then expect Aldridge to change cities in the summer of 2015.

Sacramento Kings

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    Let Go of My Ego

    There's a ridiculous amount of talent on this team. From former first-rounders Tyreke Evans, Aaron Brooks, DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons to this year's fifth overall pick, Thomas Robinson, there aren't many reasons why Sacramento should continue to underperform.

    However, Keith Smart took over for Paul Westphal after the latter publicly challenged Cousins' effort and intensity during the first part of last season. Management chose the player, and that has really set the tone for everything this roster gets away with.

    Inconsistent play on offense and defense has left Sacramento has a continual lottery team. Effort from the team's best two players, Evans and Cousins, hasn't been good enough to compete on a night-to-night basis.

    For this team to compete with the suddenly loaded Western Conference, it needs a team-first,not me-first, attitude from Smart and his coaching staff.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Big Three Added Another Year

    There's not much to complain about on San Antonio's roster. Like the Thunder the Spurs are versatile, have a good mix of young and old talent and also have one of the best coaching staffs and front office personnel in the game.

    But Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker aren't getting any younger.

    Parker suffered a freak accident in a New York nightclub this summer and had to undergo eye surgery. Duncan, the introverted superstar, probably moved around San Antonio largely unnoticed, as he does across the league despite his quality seasons the past few years.

    Ginobili seemingly always ends up on the injured list at some point during the season, but when healthy, he's one of the best playmakers this league has to offer.

    With so many "What ifs?" concerning this big three, it's hard to really give the Spurs a shot to win the NBA championship. Could they? Of course. Will they have the talent and health to get there? That remains to be seen.

Toronto Raptors

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    Busting with Guys Ready to Get Out

    The Raptors completely revamped their roster this summer, adding Landry Fields to go along with their three draft picks over the past two seasons.

    Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas are Day 1 starters, while Quincy Acy could have a Kenneth Faried-type impact if he gets a chance to shine. But aside from the new talent, there are also guys that are likely never to return to Canada unless it's on business.

    Jose Calderon is set to be a free agent in the offseason. He's already been replaced in the starting lineup by Kyle Lowry, and it's all but certain he'll be gone by June, if not sooner.

    DeMar DeRozan also faces a situation where he's somewhat been replaced, as Ross is similar in body type and position description. A restricted free agent, DeRozan will probably get a max contract from a team.

    Andrea Bargnani, though locked up through 2015, might be an amnesty candidate if Valanciunas is the new franchise face following the season.

    With all that turmoil with former big-time players, what kind of psyche will this team have when facing adversity? If I wanted to leave a team or a city, I could see it affecting my level of commitment to the team, so this is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Utah Jazz

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    Traditional Point Guard Play

    This might seem like an early complaint, but Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Jamaal Tinsley aren't Devin Harris. As odd as it sounds, Harris quarterbacked this team to the league's fourth-most prolific offense in 2011-12, coming in with over 99 points per game.

    In addressing three-point shooting with Williams and Foye and then trading for Marvin Williams, the Jazz have clearly made it a priority to fix some of the problems they faced with C.J. Miles' perimeter struggles and the growth of young guards Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.

    To do that, they've sacrificed some of the point guard play Harris brought to the table. Mo Williams ran the show in Cleveland during the LeBron heyday, but he was throwing lobs to people all over the court and getting 'Bron the ball in isolation sets, not orchestrating offense.

    Although the four-headed monster is still in full effect in the post for the Jazz, how Williams responds in the point guard role will be a huge factor for Tyrone Corbin's team.

    Don't forget this Jazz team made the playoffs last year. Presumably better after offseason moves, how high can they go in the West?

Washington Wizards

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    Size in the Frontcourt

    Emeka Okafor and Nene have both been centers during their time in the NBA, but neither has the kind of body that's becoming commonplace for a center.

    To make matters worse, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin are the only listed reserves right now, and neither reaches 6'10". Both are listed as the two reserves behind Okafor and Nene.

    Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton will also be asked to fill in during spots, but those two could both stand to put on weight and would get manhandled against a conference foe like rookie Jared Sullinger of the Boston Celtics.

    There's tons of talent in Bradley Beal and John Wall, but also holes that haven't been filled in key areas. The starters have the basketball pedigree to compete with any team in the East on any given night, but should an injury happen or they run into a twin-tower team like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Wizards will likely find they're still a draft pick or two away from the kind of frontcourt depth needed in the NBA.