Bold Prediction for Every NBA Team During the 2011-12 Season
With no clear sight of the dreadful NBA lockout ending, we are left with nothing to write about but the speculation and hope of a swift player-owner agreement. That being said, there is no reason why we can't have a little fun and talk about the upcoming season.
With many aspects getting ready to change post-lockout, this will likely be a season full of surprises and a lot of roster moves to shake things up.
We are one year out of seeing the surprise Dallas Mavericks finally live up to their expectations and become NBA Champions. This leads us into a season where the Miami Heat will look for redemption, the Dwight Howard sweepstakes begins, and we will see many teams rising and falling based on age and other considerations.
I, for one, cannot wait for the NBA season to start, but for now, let's check out some predictions for each team in the 2011-12 season.
Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith Will Be Traded
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The Hawks have been a mid-tier playoff contender in the East for the past few years. The only problem is that they haven't progressed as a team.
Josh Smith was being inquired about by possible suitors before the lockout became official, and is likely to be a hot name once it ends. A move for Smith makes sense depending on if a team can put together an appropriate package.
Smith fills a stat sheet nightly with many different threats, but doesn't always make the smartest decisions to help Atlanta win. Often times he will settle for unneeded jumpers instead of doing what he is best at: using his quickness and athleticism to dominate defenders.
Trading Smith wouldn't be the immediate answer for the Hawks to advance further in the playoffs, but he could be the answer for giving a team a huge boost to become contenders.
Bonus prediction: Joe Johnson will continue to prove he wasn't worth a huge contract.
Boston Celtics: They Make It to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals
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The shorter the season, the better things are looking for the veteran Boston Celtics. With age starting to become a bigger question every year for Boston, a shortened season should have them looking fresh come playoff time.
The key for the Celtics to have one more successful title run is simply to limit the minutes of the original "Big Three". With that comes a lot of pressure for the supporting cast to come up big in their expanding role.
Rajon Rondo will continue to be a playmaker, both offensively and defensively, at the point guard position. With his options to dish to, it's not out of the question that Rondo could drop 11 dimes a game. He should be considered the future of the franchise, but will still need a lot of help along the way.
Signing back Glen Davis and Jeff Green could really provide the depth needed off the bench.
Davis is a large body who can bang in the paint for rebounds and loose balls, and also is a threat with a solid mid-range game offensively.
Jeff Green would give the Celtics a backup option at both forward positions, and has the potential to develop into an All-Star. Getting him comfortable in Boston could be the answer in finding a dominant sixth man. He's got an average jumper for a forward, but holds the ability to improve that over time.
Also, look for the Celtics to bring in familiar faces like Delonte West to round out the important bench roles.
I'll stress that depth is a big factor in the Celtics' season, but let's not forget that the big stars have to be valuable as well.
Getting big shots from Ray Allen and Paul Pierce will be crucial, along with Kevin Garnett staying healthy and rebounding well.
A lot would have to go wrong for Boston not to be serious contenders next season, but just like KG says, "anything is possible".
Bonus prediction: Doc Rivers retires after the season.
Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker Will Win Rookie of the Year
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If Kemba Walker's last campaign as a college player proved anything, it has to be that this guy is a natural leader. Watching him take a struggling Connecticut team and winning both a Big East and National Championship made for one of the best sports stories of the decade.
Walker is a lightning fast guard, with the ability to make his teammates better. He showed the ability to score at an efficient level during his sophomore season, which could translate well at the pro level.
While undersized, the most important attribute Walker possesses is his mental toughness. He's never going to take a possession off, and will turn into the true leader Charlotte needs.
The Bobcats are a long way away from being contenders, but bringing in Walker was a smart move by the front office.
Bonus prediction: We hear at least one commentator use the phrase "he just got Bismacked!" whenever Bismack Biyombo blocks a shot (dibs on trademark rights).
Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer Will Be Dealt
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Carlos Boozer still has the talent to be a great NBA player, however, last year, he didn't shine in his first year with a new fat contract. Boozer put up effective numbers with 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds a game, but it was his inability to come up in big situations that really hurt the Bulls.
Now, the Eastern Conference contenders face a bigger problem.....
How do they extend newly-crowned NBA MVP Derrick Rose to a bigger contract?
Well, trading one of the heavy contracts held by Boozer or Luol Deng is a start.
Boozer will be a nice addition for many teams if the Bulls decide to put him on the market. Depending on how a new CBA agreement pans out, Boozer could draw some surprisingly strong or weak offers.
This could be the best way to acquire a new shooting guard to give the Bulls better production from Rose's backcourt partner.
Anyway you put it, Boozer is the odd man out in Chicago. Depending on how they deal him, it could be the difference between a bright and brighter future for the Bulls.
Bonus prediction: Joakim Noah lands an All-Star roster spot.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving Will Struggle in His Rookie Season
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I'll state this right now: Kyrie Irving has an All-Star future ahead of him, but, he won't blossom before he gets a few seasons under his belt.
Irving is a point guard with the fortune of being able to create plays with his passing and ball-handling abilities first and score as a second option. He also has quick lateral movement, and doesn't turn the ball over at a high rate.
Although Irving showed impressive things in his lone season with the Duke Blue Devils, he only played 11 games due to injury. Watching to see how he bounces back will be a major factor in his long term success.
As for his immediate impact in Cleveland, don't expect much.
The fact is this Cavaliers team doesn't have the right pieces to surround their franchise player. Antawn Jamison is an aging player who could become trade bait, and they have a lot of depth already at the point guard position that could take time away from Irving.
If Tristan Thompson progresses nicely, he could be key for helping Irving develop faster. Cleveland doesn't have a strong post player offensively, which is needed to give Irving that go-to figure inside.
The Cavaliers have a lot of work to do to get back into contention. While Kyrie Irving has a promising future, he needs the experience and pieces to become great.
Bonus prediction: Cleveland fans will still hate and whine about LeBron James (wait, that's pretty much a gimme, right?).
Dallas Mavericks: They Will Get Eliminated Within the First Two Playoff Rounds
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The Mavericks are a perfect example of a team that got hot at the right time last season. After years of disappointing playoff exits, Dallas finally won a championship with Dirk Nowitzki.
Undoubtedly, this was a team with impeccable chemistry that just couldn't miss from beyond the arc. However, don't consider me a believer that this team can repeat next season as NBA champions.
One of the biggest issues facing the Mavericks is the possibility of losing a key player, Tyson Chandler, to free agency. Besides Nowtizki, no player deserves more credit for Dallas' success than the defensive presence of Chandler. His ability to keep Miami from dominating the paint was crucial for the Mavericks' defensive attack.
It's interesting to think that Dallas was so close to trading Chandler to Oklahoma City. How would that have changed history?
Age could also factor in the coming years for the core stars in Dallas.
Dirk is 33.
Jason Kidd is 38.
Jason Terry is 34.
Well, you see my point.
With so many up-and-coming teams in the NBA starting to develop, it won't be a surprise to see the dangerous shooting Mavericks team get ran out of the building.
Bonus prediction: J.J. Barea stays. Peja Stojakovic, DeShawn Stevenson, and Tyson Chandler all leave.
Denver Nuggets: They Will Wait Until the Next Offseason to Make Major Moves
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Denver could be in prime position to grab some key free agents next season. They don't carry any overly-expensive contracts, and could be sitting pretty, depending on the new CBA agreement.
That being said, don't look for Denver to spend much money in this mediocre free agent pool.
Look for them to bring back Arron Afflalo to be a staple for the Nuggets' future. He continues to improve every year he plays, most recently averaging 12.6 point a game, and will likely see an extended offensive role with J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony out of town.
Other than that, it is unlikely Denver will bring any free agents back long-term.
Names like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Love, and Deron Williams are reason enough to hold out until the next season. Instead, Denver should look to sign players to smaller contracts just to put them in a better position for next year.
Bonus prediction: Danilo Gallinari averages 22 points a game.
Detroit Pistons: Richard Hamilton Traded for Financial Reasons
The Detroit Pistons have two glaring player contracts hurting them right now: Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon. While signing Gordon didn't make much sense in the first place, it will likely be him staying in Detroit.
Besides a good mid-range jumpshot, former NBA champion Richard Hamilton doesn't bring much to a team. At age 33, he's not going to give you much to build on, and he is a liability defensively. If a team can find room to bring in Hamilton, it will give them a valuable scoring option off the bench for an offensive push.
The downfall for Detroit is that they will most likely have to take a bad deal just to get rid of him. On the flip-side, it's better than paying him $12.5 million over the next two years to be ineffective.
With so many players eligible for free agency post-lockout, Hamilton will be shopped in an effort to open up some salary space.
Bonus prediction: Brandon Knight leads the Pistons in scoring.
Golden State Warriors: Dorel Wright Once Again Leads the NBA in Threes
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Dorell Wright finally busted out in his first year with the Golden State Warriors to show his true potential. He was so impressive that he actually scored more points last season than all of his other years combined.
Saying Wright has a solid follow-up season would be no stretch.
After hitting 194 three point shots in 2010-11, the ceiling remains high to see what the 6'9" forward can do. If he remains effective, it will give them a secondary scoring option they need and could possibly make a trade for Monta Ellis look more reasonable.
Consider him a big part of Golden State's future, and a possible All-Star selection if he becomes a more versatile player.
Bonus prediction: Stephen Curry averages eight assists under new coach Mark Jackson.
Houston Rockets: Signing or Trading for a Big Man Will Be the Top Priority
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With the Ming Dynasty over in Houston, they are now in dire need to make a sign or trade to fill his shoes. There are a few possible options for the Rockets to pursue in free agency that could have positive impacts.
Marc Gasol will likely be the most heavily sought player once the lockout ends. While not being the most athletically gifted player, Gasol is a dangerous finesse player on both ends of the floor.
He brings a much needed defensive game with his ability to block shots, rebound, and guard some of the elite centers in the NBA. Offensively, he's not too shabby with the ball in his hands, being able to overpower weaker centers in the paint.
Tyson Chandler is a possible option as well. He was masterful in his efforts to help the Dallas Mavericks secure a title, and is possibly the best defender in free agency. After his performance in the NBA Finals, he could come with a heavy price tag.
Options like Samuel Dalembert could also be looked into for a short-term solution, but could be unlikely.
Houston could also decide to pass and join the Dwight Howard sweepstakes in the following postseason. However, this is a team that is one player away from a playoff spot and they could look to act now.
Bonus prediction: Houston is one of the final contenders to acquire Josh Smith from the Hawks.
Indiana Pacers: Roy Hibbert Becomes an All-Star
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Centers in the NBA usually take more time to develop than any other players. If Roy Hibbert continues to improve like he has the past few years, he could give Indiana an All-Star caliber player other than Danny Granger.
Hibbert has raised his scoring, rebounding and blocking totals in each of his seasons as a pro. While he still needs to work on his overall defense and on staying out of foul trouble, he was a bright spot in Indiana's playoff appearance last season.
Although he isn't the quickest or most agile big man in the league, he still works hard and will only continue to get better based on his efforts.
The Pacers have the ability to move up a spot or two in 2011-12's playoff standings, but a lot will be based on Hibbert's ability to improve.
Bonus prediction: Geroge Hill becomes a starter, averages 18 points a game.
Los Angeles Clippers: They Will Sneak into Playoffs as the Eighth Seed
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It seems like forever since the Los Angeles Clippers have been a relevant team in basketball. With many of the former Western Conference powerhouses on a downward trend, now is the perfect time for the Clippers to rise up and make a statement.
For the first time since Elton Brand, the Clippers now have an established star in Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin. He's got the size and athleticism to dominate defenders inside, and also put on a highlight reel filled with sick throwdowns his rookie year.
Griffin is paired with Eric Gordon, a budding young shooting guard with mass potential. While being undersized, Gordon possesses a natural ability and instinct to score the ball at an elite rate. He won't dazzle you in many other ways, but a healthy Eric Gordon is a game-changer.
The Clippers also have a few promising role players in Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan that can be difference makers in the future.
Although DeAndre Jordan is a restricted free agent, Los Angeles should spend the money necessary to keep him locked in for a while. He's got the defensive mindset needed to form a dominant combo with Griffin, and is still working on becoming a fluent offensive option.
All this without mentioning former All-Stars Chris Kaman and Mo Williams, who could be used for trade bait mid-season.
The future looks promising for Clipper fans. That is, if Donald Sterling doesn't blow it like usual.
Bonus prediction: Blake Griffin successfully defends his Slam Dunk Contest title.
Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Bynum Becomes Part of a Package Deal
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As much potential as Andrew Bynum still has at age 23, most of the Lakers' fan base are still waiting for the big man to become elite. While injuries have plagued his young career, could it be possible that a fresh start could get his career jump-started?
As long as Kobe Bryant is leading the way for the Los Angeles Lakers, it'd be insane not to consider them title hopefuls. However, with Kobe inevitably getting ready to decline, the Lakers must put themselves in a position to have a bright future.
Sure, Bynum can be one of the NBA's top centers, but how long must fans wait before that happens?
After playing just one full season in the league, Bynum's future value must now become considered when juggling trade options. Based on the lack of effective big men in the NBA, Bynum could be a heavily targeted player if Los Angeles shops him around.
The Lakers could look to bring in potential options like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, but Bynum would likely have to be part of a deal for that to happen.
Bonus prediction: Kobe doesn't make the NBA All First Team.
Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay Gains MVP Votes
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It's interesting to think what kind of impact a healthy Rudy Gay could have had to Memphis' playoff outburst in the 2010-11 season. Zach Randolph was instrumental in leading the Grizzlies to a playoff upset over the San Antonio Spurs, but the future success of this team relies on Gay more than anyone.
At just 25 years old, Gay is one of the more promising players in the NBA. He has the ability to slash to the rim for a spectacular finish, or he can hurt you with his improving jumpshot and range.
Defensively, he has the length and speed to frustrate defenders, and he can also create turnovers, averaging 1.7 steals a game last year. He also rebounds well and is a threat to block shots, making him a true versatile star.
I'll jump on the Memphis bandwagon and say this team can do great things in the NBA. If Gay lives up to his potential, look for him to throw up 25 points a game while receiving looks for MVP candidacy.
Bonus prediction: Memphis grabs the fourth seed in the NBA playoffs.
Miami Heat: Will Redeem Last Season, Win NBA Championship
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Year one was considered a failure by many, but that's just a common misconception. In reality, it was a glimpse of just what this team can do. Despite injuries, questionable chemistry, and drawing more hate possibly than any team in history, the Heat had a successful season.
This is a team that still contains two of the top 5 players in the NBA: Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Throw in a top five power forward as a third wheel and you have yourself a dangerous team.
The Big Three of Miami have the potential to average a combined 75 points a game. If they can get some perimeter shooting and hard defensive intensity from the role players, an NBA title could be a lock.
Miami faced a lot of injury concerns last season, along with a lot of fan hate and chemistry issues. While things should get better for Miami, an offseason signing of a valid center could prove to be the biggest difference for the team.
James and Wade will continue to dazzle, and the Miami Heat will silence critics by becoming 2011-12 NBA Champions.
Bonus prediction: Brian Scalabrine takes his talents to South Beach (no televised decision or announcement to follow).
Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings Lands an All-Star Roster Spot
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He's got the scoring instinct and the confidence to do so, now all Brandon Jennings has to do is put it together to do big things in the NBA.
After a stellar rookie season, Jennings didn't improve much in his second season. Maybe it was lack of offensive help, as the Milwaukee Bucks only managed to score 91.9 points a game, but new help from Stephen Jackson should make a huge difference.
Look for Jennings to find better shot opportunities and chances for assists thanks to Jackson's tendency to draw attention.
If the Bucks want to get back to the playoffs, a much needed star season from Jennings could be the biggest factor. Converting more shot attempts is crucial, and he must shoot at least 45% from the field.
If he does so, Jennings can average around 22 points a game and be heavily considered for an All-Star spot.
Bonus prediction: The Bucks scout to bring in a new power forward to provide a solid inside contributor.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love Averages 20 Points and 15 Rebounds Again
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Not since Moses Malone has a player averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds in a season. That was until Kevin Love exploded last season to become an All-Star.
Maybe it was just being in the right place at the right time, but Love showed a knack for rebounding at a high level.
While his shooting ability was highly-touted when drafted, Love proved to be a solid player in multiple areas of the game. He is often criticized for not being physical, but, with his rebounding numbers high, it's not the biggest worry.
Love likely won't win any Defensive Player of the Year Awards, but he's going to put up crazy stats for years to come.
Bonus prediction: The Timberwolves double their 17 game win total from 2010-11.
New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams Signs an Extension
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I've actually stated that I thought Deron Williams could end up staying overseas. After talking with some rather intelligent readers, I've changed my mindset into believing that Williams will stay in New Jersey for a long time.
He's one of the best overall point guards in the NBA, and will likely sign a big contract extension to become the face of the Brooklyn club.
They have owners and management willing to spend money and make necessary decisions to win, and they could threaten for a playoff spot as is.
Williams will get many great offers if he tests free agency, but the Nets could have the most to offer now and for the future.
Bonus prediction: Brook Lopez averages 10 rebounds a game, but remains soft.
New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul WILL Be Dealt
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Chris Paul has the best point guard skill-set in the NBA. He's a true floor general with the ability to create plays and an ability to score if necessary. As good as he is, he has no future in New Orleans.
Let's be honest here: the Hornets franchise is once again headed for doom.
They have no owner, which in turn doesn't make for an ideal place for a free agent to sign. Plus, New Orleans' second-best scoring option, David West, is likely headed elsewhere.
New Orleans could be out of the playoff picture towards the All-Star break, forcing them to deal the MVP-caliber point guard.
Could Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook be on the radar?
Bonus Prediction: The Hornets will not get Russell Westbrook.
New York Knicks: The Chauncey Billups Signing Will Prove to Be a Good One
At first glance, I thought the signing of Chauncey Billups was crazy. Then I looked at the $14.2 million he will get paid and considered it absurd. But, in retrospect it was a brilliant move.
Out of all of the available point guards in the NBA via free agency, Billups gives the team the best chance to win now. He's got the veteran leadership, accompanied by a solid offensive game. He has the basketball IQ to make the important decisions with the ball, and he can still hit shots from long range.
Billups can also become part of a blockbuster trade for a rebuilding team come All-Star break. Based on his one-year contract, he could be a valuable option to take on and let his contract expire, giving a team much needed space.
If they decide to keep Billups throughout the playoffs, he's got championship experience that can help guide them through a run. Once the season is over, they will free up plenty of space to target a top-tier free agent like Chris Paul.
I could be wrong, but I think the signing of Billups has plenty of merit.
Bonus Prediction: New York Lands Samuel Dalembert in free agency.
Oklahoma City Thunder: They Will Win the West, Advance to NBA Finals
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Let's take a look at the last three seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder.....
in 2008-09 they had only 23 wins, showing no signs of playoff hope.
However, the next season they stole an eighth seed with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook having productive seasons.While they were considered a heavy underdog to the Los Angeles Lakers, they put up a worthy fight, giving this team a lot of looks.
As for last year?
Well, they once again continued to improve, making it to the first Conference Finals in the team's short history.
So where do they go from here?
They have the best scorer in the NBA, a top five point guard, and a great surrounding cast that continues to mold together.
Maybe it's just me, but this team will only get better next season. Expect big things and an exciting NBA Finals.
Bonus prediction: Kevin Durant secures his first MVP award.
Orlando Magic: The Attempts to Keep Dwight Howard Will Fail
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Do you remember two years ago, when everyone built up LeBron James' last season in Cleveland before testing free agency?
Yeah, expect the same with the NBA's best big man, Dwight Howard. The main difference being it will take a miracle to keep Howard in a Magic uniform.
Howard is a physical anomaly with his big body, wide shoulders, and leaping ability. He will remain a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year, and is a few post moves away from being destructive inside.
The Magic's front office continues to make efforts to keep Howard happy, but they all end up being terrible. Whether it's acquiring Jason Richardson or Gilbert Arenas, Orlando continues to pile up bad contracts leaving little room to bring in effective players.
One looming deal that could truly benefit Orlando would be bringing in Josh Smith from the Hawks. Along with Howard, they would form the best defensive front court in the NBA, with the ability to block shots and stop opponents inside.
If Orlando shows no hope of keeping Howard mid-season, they could look to trade him off in an effort to settle for a consolation prize.
If not, it could add to the monumental failures Otis Smith continues to bring.
Bonus prediction: Without a move, Orlando faces another disappointing early playoff exit.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holiday Becomes an Elite Point Guard
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The point guard position in the NBA is highly stacked with elite players and those who are ready to break out. Jrue Holiday showed steady improvement in his second season in the league, turning heads with his great motor and high basketball IQ.
He didn't show much during his lone season with the UCLA Bruins, but Philadelphia took a chance with the project player, which has paid off so far. After leading the 76ers back to the playoff picture in 2011-12, Holiday will continue to expand his game in an effort to be mentioned with the NBA's elite.
Bonus prediction: Andre Iguodala ends up with the Golden State Warriors.
Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash Plays His Last Season with Current Team
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It's a big possibility that Steve Nash might retire with the Phoenix Suns, whether they are contenders or not. While that is noble of the future Hall of Famer, he must know that his career wouldn't be the same without an NBA championship.
On the flip side, it would also benefit Phoenix long term to trade their star point guard.
After making it to the Western Conference Finals two years ago, the Suns failed to even make the playoffs once Amar'e Stoudamire moved on.
Stoudemire helped make this team a legitimate threat in the West, but, without him, Phoenix couldn't hang with the elite teams.
Nash has one more year on his contract before he can test free agency. It would be great to see him retire with a team that he had so much success with, but the desire for a championship might play a part in Nash's decision.
Averaging 14.7 points and 11.4 assists last year, Nash still has the ability to be a key difference maker for a contending team.
Bonus prediction: Grant Hill will opt to sign elsewhere post-lockout.
Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy Doesn't Retire, Come Up Big off the Bench
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Count Brandon Roy in as a player who had a promising career derailed by injuries. After four impressive NBA seasons and three All-Star appearances, it looks like leg injuries got the best out of the former Washington Huskie last year.
However, Roy can still be a major factor of the bench for the up-and-coming Portland Trail Blazers.
In 47 games last season, Roy only managed to average 12.2 points a game. While that isn't necessarily superstar material, he's still got the ability to be a valuable scorer off the bench or in big situations.
With Wesley Matthews showing true promise in his second professional season, he can help take on a big scoring load that Roy has had for the last few seasons.
Portland could go as far as pushing Roy towards retirement. While that might not seem too realistic, Roy might instead take a pay cut to become a valuable member off the Trail Blazers' bench.
If so, Roy will become a top choice for the NBA Sixth Man Award.
Bonus Prediction: LaMarcus Aldridge finally gets an All-Star nod.
Sacramento Kings: They Win 40 Games This Season
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I'm high on a lot of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA, but the Kings could have what it takes to win 40 games this season.
They have a young powerful center inside with DeMarcus Cousins. With a little work on his scoring efficiency and becoming a smart defender, Cousins could be a top-five center in the NBA. He will continue to get looks inside, but shouldn't force opportunities that don't exist.
After a Rookie of the Year performance, Tyreke Evans actually showed signs on regressing in his follow-up season.
He only averaged 17.8 points a game on 40% shooting, and watched his turnovers increase slightly. Maybe it's a sophomore slump, but look for a healthy Evans to bounce back in a big way.
With these two leading the future, they will likely get plenty of solid support from the rest of the cast.
Jimmer Fredette is a nice pick-up that can spread the floor and score from virtually anywhere on the court. Whether his playing style can translate to the pro level has yet to be seen, but pure shooters are always a welcomed asset.
The trade for J.J. Hickson didn't gather as much hype as it should have. At 23 years old, Hickson showed great strides in becoming a valuable player in the NBA. After averaging 13.8 point and 8.7 rebounds a game, he will be a nice partner for Cousins inside.
If John Salmons can be a productive role-player and Jason Thompson can progress, they will have a solid, deep roster with the potential to shock the world.
Bonus prediction: The Kings move to Anaheim after the season.
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan Retires After the Season
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Tim Duncan is arguably the best power forward to ever play the game. While never the most exciting player on the court, Duncan was a skilled fundamental forward with the gift to be a true leader.
After being the first pick of the 1997 draft, Duncan helped create a dynasty in San Antonio by winning four championships during his time. He also further cemented his legacy by winning two MVP awards along with multiple accolades over his career.
As good as Duncan has been over the years, he didn't seem to be himself last season.
Averaging 13.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a game, last season was the first year that Duncan has failed to average a double-double. Besides that, Duncan only played 28.4 minutes a game, the first time he has never played 30.0 in a season.
While his fundamentals are still there, he's slowing down physically and is showing true signs of decline over the past few seasons.
Duncan is eligible for free agency after the 2011-12 season, but could opt to retire or move elsewhere depending on where the Spurs stand among the NBA power rankings.
Bonus prediction: Tony Parker is traded mid-season after a sub-par team performance.
Toronto Raptors: DeMar Derozan Averages 25 Points a Game
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In his two NBA seasons thus far, DeMar DeRozan has gained a reputation for being one of the sickest rim-finishers in the league. However, touching up his offensive arsenal would really benefit him in the long run.
While DeRozan uses his athleticism to find ways to score, he is brutal when it comes to simple jumpshots. In fact, last season he shot a treacherous 10% from beyond the arc.
Improving on his range will open up different scoring opportunities for the slasher, and 25 points a game wouldn't be out of the question. Shooting an appropriate percentage from the field is a must if DeRozan wants to help the Raptors contend.
He's got the athletic ability and potential, but becoming a better shooter could be make-or-break for his career.
Bonus prediction: Andrea Bargnani moves back to the power forward position.
Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter Will Be Labeled a Bust
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Enes Kanter has a lot of potential in the NBA, but also has the cons that will affect him in negative ways.
Let's start off with some good notes.....
Kanter is a big, physical player who can hurt you in the post or with a face-up jumper. He's a nice finisher around the basket and has the skills needed to play a team-based game.
Now for the bad.....
While Kanter can be an offensive asset, he is limited athletically and doesn't impose much of a threat defensively.
Stronger, more agile players will constantly eat him up in the post or even blow past him for an easy score. Kanter isn't the strongest rebounder or shot blocker, and can slow a fast-paced team down considerably.
Kanter is much better suited with a European league based off of his skill set, and will unlikely translate well in the NBA.
While having the ability to be a good role player off the bench, Kanter will not live up to his draft hype.
Bonus prediction: Al Jefferson will be moved to open up time for Kanter.
Washington Wizards: John Wall Averages a Double-Double
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While it's often cliche to say, I'll say it anyways: for John Wall, the sky is the limit.
Wall is one of the quickest players in the NBA from end-to-end, and is in the midst of developing an all-around dangerous game. Improving his mid-range game and cutting down the turnovers could be the keys for Wall breaking out, but he is still lethal if you don't pressure him.
With his team improving, Wall will have plenty of go-to targets offensively.
JaVale McGee is learning to establish himself inside, and is also one of the most athletic big men around. He had some of the best finishes in the NBA last year, and also is one of the more exciting players to watch on a fast break opportunity.
Andray Blatche is often underrated, but remains a good shooting threat for a power forward. Sometimes he is overly-aggressive, but, with the right mindset, he can be a solid difference-maker.
While being a terrible contract signing, Rashard Lewis can still knock down three pointers, which helps spread out the floor. He uses his size to shoot over smaller defenders, and can also get by slower ones for an easier shot.
Nick Young shows the potential to score 20 points a night with a little more seasoning, and would be a great player to bring back. A Wall-Young backcourt could be a staple for Washington's future success.
Wall's passing ability should shine with the mentioned options above. Look for him to average 10 assists along with putting up 20 points a night.
Bonus prediction: JaVale McGee also averages a double-double.