Friday, August 14, 2009

The teams looking up

The Timberwolves are doing a pretty good job of remaking their team

There are seperate groups in the NBA:

The ones with all the stars and greats that add more and more talent every year to boost their chance at winning a championship. That includes:
San Antonio Spurs
LA Lakers
Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers
Orlando Magic
Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers

The ones that are pretty much stuck in the middle, the ones with some good talent and a couple of all-stars. The ones that have the potential to play hard against better teams. This includes:
Denver Nuggets
Toronto Raptors
Utah Jazz
Atlanta Hawks
Washington Wizards
Detroit Pistons
New Orleans Hornets

The ones that could be middle-class teams, but to do so need to step up their game a little bit more. This includes:
Chicago Bulls
Philadelphia 76ers
Miami Heat
Phoenix Suns

The ones that started over a year or 2 back, and are looking to just keep getting better and better so they can catch up to the other teams. This includes:
Indiana Pacers
LA Clippers
Golden State Warriors

Oklahoma City Thunder

And then there are those other ones.....the ones that either just barely started over, or the ones that just plain out suck and not successful at all. This includes:
New Jersey Nets
Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies
Sacramento Kings

Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets
New York Knicks
Charlotte Bobcats

And these guys are the ones that I mainly wanted to talk about.

These last guys are in for a whole lot of losing in the future. New Jersey has gradually given away all of it's franchise faces, from Jason Kidd to Richard Jefferson, and recently Vince Carter. They grabbed a bunch of new faces and are starting over with Devin Harris and Yi Jianlian as the faces of the franchise. Around them is lots of young talent that is still growing. Like Brook Lopez, Terrence Williams, Sean Williams, Courtney Lee, Josh Boone, Chris Douglas-Roberts, etc. plus a couple veterans like Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, Eduardo Najera, Keyon Dooling, Jarvis Hayes, but none of them is really a star player. Harris and Jianlian could be future all-stars, maybe even Lopez, but the rest are basically just have games like the bench guys for the championship contending teams. It'll be fun to watch the Nets, but they are in for 3 or 4 losing seasons in the future.

The Timberwolves are in a similar position like the Nets, they gave up their superstar Kevin Garnett to the Celtics back in '07. The longest tenured Timberwolf was drafted in 2007, and that is forward Corey Brewer. And, only 5 players remain from last year's roster. That would be Brewer, Brian Cardinal, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, and with free agent forward Rodney Carney on hold. Jason Collins probably isn't returning as a T-Wolf next season. They could actually be pretty good this season, with future point guard Johnny Flynn excited to play NBA ball, Al Jefferson coming back alot healthier than last year, getting Kurt Rambis as their head coach, Brewer coming off an injured season, Kevin Love going into his sophomore season, and they have veteran help from Chucky Atkins, Darius Songaila, and Damien Wilkins. It actually doesn't look too bad for them, even though they won't make the playoffs for a while because of the tough Western Conference (Phoenix didn't make the playoffs last year and they won 46 games), these guys will be up from last season's 24 wins.

The Grizzlies and Timberwolves, in my opinion, are the ones who are on the top of this class of bad teams. They have picked up key assets that will help them in future years, and just need a few more pieces to complete the puzzle. Memphis has O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay as it's big name players. With Mike Conley at point guard, Pau Gasol's brother Marc Gasol and #2 pick Hasheem Thabeet at center, Darrell Arthur and Zach Randolph at PF, Gay and draft pick Sam Young at SF, Mayo at SG (they need more depth there), and have backups for Conley like Marcus Williams and Marko Jaric, and Jason Williams could be signed to a contract soon. It looks good for Memphis. They have good young guys on their roster that are steadily improving, and if they just get the right pieces, they will be a decent playoff team, or maybe even contenders. But, like the T-Wolves, they won't be a playoff team quite yet, until they pick up the right guys throughout the offseason.

The Kings made a good job in drafting Memphis guard Tyreke Evans. He is happy and ready to play for Sacramento, and is a defensive minded combo guard that can drive to the basket and draw contact some of the time. The Kings still have many, many more years until they will make a playoff spot, but they are doing a good job of picking up the right guys. They also grabbed Omri Casspi and Jon Brockman in the draft, two guys that will be hard-working bench players for the Kings, and traded for Spain guard Sergio Rodriguez, while also signing F Sean May. They aren't big names talent-wise, but they will contribute to Sacramento well off the bench. Evans and Kevin Martin are the ones who are most likely to do the most for the Kings, with Andres Nocioni, Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, and Francisco Garcia the ones who will also help. The Kings are not a very good team, but they just need to add more and more players and get rid of the other ones, and just keep going and going, and eventually, they will be a good team again.

The Bucks weren't too great last season, and they could get either better or worse this season, I would say worse. They lost two of their main go-to players in Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva to San Antonio and Detroit. They are going to lose Ramon Sessions to either Los Angeles Clippers or New York. But, they got two guys that will help them in the future in Hakim Warrick and draft pick Brandon Jennings. They have star Michael Redd, a great 3 point shooter. Kurt Thomas was told he was there to help with the younger players, and Amir Johnson could be the starting PF. Small Forwards Joe Alexander and Luke Mbah a Moute have the potential to be pretty good players, as does center Andrew Bogut. Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, and Sonny Meeks also could contribute well for Milwaukee. They are still a longshot to make the playoffs, but have some decent guys. They just need to get that superstar to get them to playoff mode. They could be getting him soon.

The Rockets would be a really good team if injuries didn't exist, but unfortunately for them, they do. Superstars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady are both injured. They have a terrific roster, but they need Yao & McGrady to get them back to contending mode. They could be an ok team this year, but I know that they will be extremely lucky to make the playoffs. They have talent in Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, David Andersen, Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier, Carl Landry, and Kyle Lowry, but most likely won't make the playoffs with that team. Them with their two superstars, would make them an amazing team. But unless a miracle occurs and they aren't injured anymore, they could have a few years of losing ahead of them.

The Knicks have been pretty quiet this offseason, in hopes of picking up a superstar in the offseason of 2010 like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, etc. They haven't made a move with free agent forward David Lee yet, and are close to re-signing Nate Robinson to a 1 year deal. I think they should hurry and grab Ramon Sessions before the Clippers do, so he and rookie Jordan Hill could help the person they are going to sign in 2010, to get the Knicks to the playoffs quickly. Danilo Galinari will also be one of the guys they need, and Darko Milicic & #29 pick Toney Douglas are potential contributing players. But, the Knicks shouldn't be having really high expectations like signing LeBron or Bosh. LeBron is most likely to stay with Cleveland, and Bosh laughed at the idea of joining New York. They will probably get a big name player, but it won't be a humongous superstar like James.

And, the Bobcats have the potential to be a decent, but not playoff, team. Gerald Wallace, Tyson Chandler, Boris Diaw and soon-to-be signed Ray Felton will help the Bobcats be a pretty good team. Outlined by Texas point guard D.J. Augustin, defensive pest Raja Bell, draft picks Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown, big man DeSagana Diop, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Alexis Ajinca, these guys are not bad, at all, really. With Larry Brown as coach, these guys won't be a very bad team.

Ok, and with all the hype of the 2010 offseason, I will give a brief list of the great players and good role guys (with the biggest name players in bold) who could be on new teams next season. (Ignoring the "restricted" or "ETO" or whatever title)

Joe Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Eddie House, Raja Bell, Tyson Chandler, Vladimir Radmanovic, Brad Miller, John Salmons, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Kenyon Martin, Kwame Brown, Ben Wallace, Chris Wilcox, Anthony Morrow, Kelenna Azubuike, Carl Landry, Luis Scola, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming (might not be able to become one due to injury), T.J. Ford, Rasual Butler, Marcus Camby, Sebastian Telfair, Ricky Davis, Adam Morrison, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant (staying with Lakers for sure), Derek Fisher, Rudy Gay, Mario Chalmers, Quentin Richardson, Jermaine O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade, Michael Redd, Luke Ridnour, Rafer Alston, Josh Boone, Devin Brown, Antonio Daniels, Peja Stojakovic, Eddy Curry, Chris Duhon, Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Darko Milicic, Shaun Livingston, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Willie Green, Jason Kapono, Channing Frye, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire, LaMarcus Aldridge (until he gets his contract extension), Travis Outlaw, Steve Blake, Michael Finley, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Chris Bosh, Ronnie Brewer, Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Matt Harpring, Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and DeShawn Stevenson. Ok, that wasn't very brief, but it's the guys who, if they choose to be signed by another team, would be probably the ones that are wanted.

As you can see, it will be a crazy offseason. Almost all those players will be in the free agent pool next year, with the others choosing to stay with their teams.

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