Teams That Will Flip the Script After First Month of 2012-13 NBA Season
Within the first month of the season, there will be some changes to various NBA teams. There always are.
Not everything works out the way that teams anticipated in the preseason, and early changes give teams a chance to make up the difference. Thus, these are changes that teams are hoping can help them immediately.
Lineups will change. Some coaches will change. One system will change.
Here are six changes that you can expect to see and one completely outside-the-box change that you probably won't see, but it's worth thinking about.
Suggestion: Bring Dwyane Wade off the Bench
So here's a thought so far completely outside the box it will make you laugh, guffaw or possibly choke. Bring Dwyane Wade off the bench and start Ray Allen.
First, let me answer a few questions that I anticipate in the comments section. No, I am not stupid. Yes, I do watch games. No, I am not insane, crazy or on drugs. Let the initial chagrin pass and give this some honest thought.
First, players like Manu Ginobili and James Harden in recent years have more than established that the "best" players don't have to be the "starting" players; likewise, neither does who start dictate who finishes. Bringing Wade off the bench actually makes sense in a lot of ways.
First, LeBron James is a tremendous asset to three-point shooters. For instance, according to NBA.com's advanced stats, Mario Chalmers shot 41 percent from deep while James was on the court compared to 26 percent while he was on the bench.
Pairing Allen to start the game with James would maximize the shooting of Allen.
Second, the biggest problem the Heat have had is that their bench hasn't had a bona fide scorer coming off of it, so James or Wade has to run with the unit anyway. Why not just make it Wade and let him be fresher for the postseason?
Third, bringing Wade off the bench would allow for him to be the center of the offense when the bench is on the court, thereby drawing away attention from the likes of Mike Miller and James Jones, making them more efficient from deep.
While I anticipate that there's not much chance of this happening, it may effectively happen, as I can see Wade being the first player to go to the bench, Allen being the first player off the bench and the rotations working in similar fashion.
Mavericks Bench Eddy Curry
The first change will be that Mark Cuban or whomever made the decision to put Eddy Curry in the starting lineup will put down that funky cigar they are smoking and come to their senses and realize they are starting Eddie Curry.
Eddie Curry! If you're waiting for the punchline, there isn't one. He's really the starting center for the Dallas Mavericks.
Stop laughing! It's serious!
The biggest thing for me is staying between him and the basket. He’s going to make some shots early. If he makes a lot of them, good for him; it’s going to be a good night (for Howard).
But I’d rather that than dunks over the top, because that’s the stuff that gets the whole team going and whole crowd going, and it’s a little bit demoralizing as a defensive team.
In other words, "I know that Howard is going to destroy me tonight; I just hope he limits the number of facials he serves up in the process."
When the goal of your starting center is to eat less basketball—the actual ball, not the game—you do not have a true starting center.
The Eddy Curry experiment was interesting, but it was over before the game even started.
Kings Change Up the Starting Lineup
The Sacramento Kings were chomping at the bit to put Thomas Robinson in the starting lineup during the preseason. Normally when that happens, it's only a mater of time before they get there.
The problem is where do they put him and who do they take out. The most likely scenario is that they will play him at small forward and relegate Tyreke Evans, the former Rookie of the Year, to the bench.
This marks another potential change to the Kings this season, though it's not likely to happen during the first month. Tyreke Evans' time in Sacramento is drawing to a close, and the writing on the wall is so blatant, it's becoming a graffiti problem.
The problem is that Evans' trade value drops the moment they bench him. The other problem is that everyone knows the only reason he's not already benched is that Sacramento doesn't want to lower his trade value.
Eventually, the Kings are going to realize that they are playing a game of chicken with themselves, and they're just going to go ahead and do it. It's just a matter of how long it takes coach Keith Smart to smarten up.
Lakers Abandon Princeton Offense
People are still scratching their heads trying to figure out why the Lakers have made a big issue out of going to the Princeton offense.
It would be akin the Denver Broncos dedicating themselves to the running game after acquiring Peyton Manning.
The acquisition of the best pick-and-roll point guard and the best roll man in the league has virtually the entire basketball world wondering why a team would go to the Princeton offense, which is designed to work against Ivy League defenses, not NBA defenses, and is premised on defenses breaking down, not on breaking them down.
While the Lakers won't ever "officially" abandon the Princeton, they're smart enough to go with what works. And what's going to work is the pick-and-roll—what, with having the perfect pick-and-roll team and all.
By the time the first month of the season ends, you won't hear about Princeton unless you're talking about colleges.
Atlanta Hawks Send Kyle Korver to the Bench
Kyle Korver is a terrific three-point shooter, one of the best in the history of the game in fact. Only two players in the NBA, Wesley Person and Steve Nash, have a higher three-point percentage with at least 1000 makes.
But being a great three-point shooter doesn't mean you're a great all-around player. It doesn't even mean you're a very good one.
One thing no one ever accused Kyle Korver of is being able to put the ball on the floor and drive the lane. Furthermore, while he brings every bit of effort he can to the defensive end of the court, he just isn't athletic enough to contest most starting small forwards in the league.
The only thing offensive about DeShawn Stevenson is his complete lack of offense, but at least he's a stout defender. It's only a matter of time before the Hawks try him at the starting small forward spot.
Then, it's probably only a matter of time before they switch back.
Celtics Go Small Ball
Jeff Green is going to come back strong. He's going to come back strong enough that he's going to have people lamenting that there isn't a Comeback Player of the Year award anymore.
As a result, the Celtics are going to find that their most effective lineup comes with Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Kevin Garnett on the court together. The offense will be higher-octane than anything they've run recently, but it will be highly efficient.
What makes this work so well is that, when most teams go small, they give up something on defense, but the Celtics can run their starting five and not give up anything on the other end of the court. As a result, you can expect that unit to be near the top of the plus-minus rankings in the entire NBA.
While it might not impact the starting lineup, look for Green's numbers to gradually go up and for that to become the most used unit the Celtics run as the season progresses.
Clippers Fire Vinny Del Negro
Vinny Del Negro has somehow tricked people into thinking he's an NBA head coach for four years now. That might have something to do with him having a career record that is shockingly close to .500 at 154-158.
Don't be fooled into believing that has something to do with him as a head coach though. Monty Williams did a better job coaching the 21-45 Hornets than Del Negro did of coaching the Clippers, who got to the second round last year.
Coaching isn't measured by winning and losing; it's measured by whether a team gets the most out of its talent, and no Del Negro team has ever been accused of that.
After the Clippers start the season with a .500 record through the first month of the season, he'll wear out his welcome, and the Clippers won't wait for another year to go by and risk losing Chris Paul in the process.
Del Negro will become the first coaching casualty of the season. At least Clippers fans should be hoping he does.