Their biggest acquisition of the offseason was Quentin Richardson. *Yawn*
If they don't make any other significant pickups during the offseason, they have to pray that Wade can play lights-out again next season and that both Beasley and Chalmers make significant jumps this season.
After hiring Eddie Jordan as the Head Coach, this team is looking more and more like the Washington Wizards of two years ago, just with less talent. Will they be able to make the transition to the Princeton Offense? I think so; they have their star player who has gone very unappreciated this past season- Andre Iguodala- who I think has a chance to make a name for himself this year.
They lost their star point guard Andre Miller, but at the expense of giving more minutes to Lou Williams, who many believe will be a good fit in this new offense. He doesn't need to be a traditional PG, and he doesn't need to put up Chris Paul-type numbers, he just needs to learn the system and play to his strengths, which will be easy for him as he did much of that off the bench last year.
But best of all, they're getting back a healthy Elton Brand, which will give them a presence down low both offensively and defensively. This team has the potential to be playoff bound, but if all goes bad, they will be lottery bound.
18. New Jersey
Call me crazy, but I actually think shipping out Vince Carter makes the Nets a better team. Don't get me wrong, Vince Carter is still a solid player. But his presence definitely was hindering the development of other players, in my opinion. The Nets now have a much more balanced backcourt with their three guard rotation of Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, and Rafer Alston.
Lee is very much the type of player you want playing next to Harris. All he has to do is defend his position- something he does very well- and shoot the occasional jumper from the perimeter (another thing he does well), and the Nets are set in the backcourt.
Additionally, having Alston available off the bench should allow Harris to swing over to the two-guard from time-to-time, so that he's not constantly handling the ball. They just have a very balanaced backcourt now. It's not a very talented backcourt, but it should be effective.
Also, with Carter gone, Brook Lopez should be getting a lot more looks. Out of the 2008 draft class, he's the most likely player to be a 20-10 guy one day. As a 20-year-old rookie, he averaged roughly 13 pts, eight reb, with two bpg on 53.1 percent shooting. Vince Carter was averaging 16.8 FGA's per game compared to Devin Harris' 15.1 FGA's per game and Brok Lopez's 10.3 FGA's per game. Is it really inconceivable that with Carter's touches going elsewhere that Lopez can't score close to 20 ppg? No, it's not.
Watch for New Jersey to potentially make a playoff push as a low seed. If they're successful in reaching the playoffs, they could turn some heads come the big 2010 free agency period because of the cap space that they have.
This team is a mess.
They're a mix bag of above average and very good players that just don't fit well. What has Joe Dumars been thinking?
Stuckey isn't a true point guard, and both Ben Gordon and Rip Hamilton need an effective point guard for them to be successful. Charlie Villenueva is only a nice option if he's paired next to a stud. Otherwise, he's really just a serviceable power forward. And who's going to be that stud playing next to him? Chris Wilcox? Kwame Brown? A washed-up Ben Wallace?
Joe Dumars has me completely befuddled on what direction he's leading that franchise. These are all the wrong pieces if they want to complete. If Dumars can't convert Hamilton into a nice big man, look for Detroit to finally miss the playoffs this year for the first time in a long time.
What a run they've had.
20. Oklahoma City
Durant is poised for another great year. But OKC still has a ways to go in filling the right pieces next to him. If Harden pans out, they're going to be an exciting team to watch.
They'll be stocked at the one, two, and three with a very nice option off the bench in Thabo Sefolosha for defensive purposes. However, their frontcourt leaves quite a bit to be desired.
Jeff Green is not a power forward, and Kristic and Collison are just serviceable power forwards. They're really missing that consistent scoring option out of either the four or five positions that they need to take the leap that Portland has in recent years; that is, they'll become a very good, young team with no playoff experience that will take some time to make the next step forward.
Still, they should be interesting to watch this coming season.
Although I'm not high on Chandler, I do think he's a better fit next to Diaw than Okafor was. Diaw is not a classic post presence by any means, but without Okafor in Charlotte, he should absorb most of his touches. All Chandler has to do is act as the supporter and take pressure off of Diaw on the defensive end and suddenly Charlotte is quite a bit more balanced.
Gerald Henderson is also an intriguing prospect. Will he earn a starting spot? Or will the Bobcats be forced to use Bell (a guy who should be a sixth man) as their starter again?
It's hard to say. They took a step back with the Okafor trade, I see them ending up in the lottery this season.
Tyler Hansbrough has gone from extremely underrated by the media to extremely overrated by the media. In all likelihood, he'll end up being a nice role player. He's never going to be a star, but he's not going to be a scrub either.
Earl Watson should more than make up for the loss of Jarret Jack, while Brandon Rush is looking like he'll bloom into a very solid shooting guard. But the biggest issue here is whether or not Mike Dunleavy can stay healthy. If he returns to form next to Danny Granger, Indiana could be a difficult team to deal with. They would have a few very nice offensive options in the frontcourt to go along with an underrated frontcourt.
Indiana's big men may not fill up the stat sheet well, but they are solid options as role players. The biggest piece missing from their frontcourt, however, is a consistent scoring big man. Pacers fans love to beat their chests about how great Troy Murphy is, but he's really just a solid role player.
In fact, there's a good chance that Hansbrough develops into Troy Murphy 2.0. I know Indiana is banking on Hibbert developing into that piece they're sorely missing, but I just don't see that happening. Larry Bird still has some tweaking to do.
23. Golden State
The Warriors of the last few years have been a fun team to watch. But like the Wizards, their defense is almost non-existent. They don't have a true point guard and their frontcourt leaves much to be desired.
Biedrins is an interesting option at the five, but I'm really not sure how to evaluate how good the guy actually is. Last season he was a solid 11-12 guy, but his scoring came in an up-tempo system and he wasn't playing next to good rebounders in the frontcourt. So in a different system, he may actually be very average.
Anthony Randolph is someone that a lot of people believe is oozing with potential. And from what I've seen, he might actually be a solid player within a year or two. But most likely that won't happen with the current Warriors.
Their team is full of selfish options that don't like to play team ball. When they shipped out Jason Richardson and were not able to resign Baron Davis, they lost the heart and soul of their team. Al Harrington was also probably a better fit next to Biedrins than Anthony Randolph.
And who knows how much longer Stephen Jackson will continue to play at a high level. They have too many question marks coming into this season and are taking a huge risk having Monta Ellis act as their main point guard. Maybe they'll prove me wrong, but I see them as being a lottery team again, despite the addition of Stephen Curry.
I don't like the Zach Randolph trade, I don't like the Iverson signing, and I really don't like Mike Conley as their point guard. In my opinion, Hasheem Thabeet was a poor pick and they would have been much better off either taking Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, or even James Harden.
If they were going to bring in Zach Randolph anyway, they could have stuck with Marc Gasol at the five. And if they had picked James Harden, they could have actually tried O.J. Mayo at the point. And if that didn't work out, they could have traded one of the two guys at some point during the season for a pretty penny. But no, they went with the very raw seven-footer who could easily turn out to be a bust in Thabeet.
Maybe he'll prove me wrong, but until then, they're a mess.
Houston arguably has had the worst offseason of any team in the NBA
Yao Ming is out the entire season with a foot injury that might force him into an early retirement, Ron Artest bolted to the Lakers, Tracy McGrady is now a year older (that's not a good thing considering his recent decline), and Von Wafer is now galavanting in Europe.
And unfortunately, their biggest acquisition was Trevor Ariza (way overrated). You have to feel sorry for the Rockets. They are just in an awful position for next season. But at the very least they should be able to rebuild quickly in 2010 with the amount of cap space they'll have. However, with the optimistic reviews on Tracy McGrady, Trevor Ariza will not be carrying the load, and Houston should be able to win 30 games at best.
The Bucks should have been a playoff team last season, but injuries plagued them all season long.
Yet Scott Skiles still get the best out of the scrubs who were still playing. Had they not traded away Richard Jefferson, they would be higher on this list. But without him and Ramon Sessions, it's hard to say where they'll be.
With Sessions leaving for Minnesota, Jennings will have a great year and will be a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.
So Minny grabbed two point guards and traded away Ty Lawson for a 2010 pick. I like the Ty Lawson deal for them since the 2010 draft is supposed to be very deep. But unless they can get Rubio into the NBA or trade him for something nice, they're in trouble.
They have no two-guard. And the Jefferson/Love combo is not a good one. It's not as if either player isn't good, they're both solid; in fact, Jefferson is great. But they don't complement each other well and Jefferson is really more of a power forward than a center. They should really trade one of the two to fill out another position on their roster.
This is another team that's a big mess: they don't have Rubio the next two years and they still have not found a star player to compliment Al Jefferson.
28. New York
They haven't been able to get any decent free agents to join them this offseason. And they've made basically no improvements besides drafting Hill. Knicks fans should be bracing for yet another miserable season.
29. LA Clippers
Good for them that they lucked out in the draft. Blake Griffin will certainly help them out. Unfortunately, like the Detroit situation, this is a team with a lot of talent but all the wrong pieces.
Kaman and Camby cannot co-exist. And Griffin is still a rookie that will take some time to develop. While they should be improved next season talent-wise, their record probably won't improve all that much. However, they've laid out the groundwork to build around a nice little core of Griffin, Gordon, and Thornton for the forseeable future.
While Sacramento absolutely has a lot more talent than Houston, they don't have pieces that fit together well. I like that they've brought over Casspi from Israel, but isn't he projected to develop into a similar player as Andres Nocioni.
They already have Nocioni, so I don't know how he'll get much playing time. Also, I'm not entirely convinced that Evans is a point guard. And while I do like Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, neither is the dominant big man they need.
The Kings are going to be in for a rough season until they learn how to play together. But considering their star player is a major chucker (albeit a very good chucker) who doesn't play a lick of defense (and no one really knows at this point who their second option will be), the Kings will unfortunately be in for a very rough season.