Well, everyone else is doing it. So why not us? With the NBA season exactly a month away, and 2k14 already out, now is as good a time as any to slowly roll out how we (or I) feel about the upcoming season. Will the Heat three peat? Will the Pistons make more than 15 3s all year? Is Kobe now sponsored by Audi? Did Prokhorov buy the Devil’s soul? Can I stop asking stupid questions? For this and more keep checking in daily for the Great White Hype’s NBA Daily Preview.
I thought long and hard about how to organize this. Should there be a logical order to how I reveal the teams and their subsequent ratings or do I just get on my soapbox and shout? I went with the latter… but at least it’s in alphabetical order.
Other previews: Brooklyn/Charlotte
Dennis Schroder (Draft), Paul Millsap (FA), Elton Brand (FA)
Key Lost Players
Josh Smith (FA)
Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver
Projected Starting Five
The key question here is: can the Hawks survive without Josh Smith’s 2.6 3pt attempts per game? I’m betting yes. It’s his defensive presence and the ability to turn any shot into a blocked attempt that will hurt them more. They are less intimidating defensively and have a new head coach, which are the two big issues going into training camp. We’ll see how the staff deals with this.
Small ball is not really a strange sight in Georgia, and it looks like that will keep happening. Hortford will still be playing in the middle, but this time he will have a much more methodical partner in Paul Milsap, who was one of the sneakiest signings of the off-season for any team. Expect their offensive efficiency to improve as they will likely go inside out through Al and Paul (Ironically, this is the second Al that Milsap plays second fiddle to down low). There will be a few plays drawn up for Kyle Korver and Lou Williams to float out and nail threes. They will be the two primary beneficiaries of the new system.
In my eyes, the Hawks haven’t made too much shift in one direction or another. Yes, they’ve lost an All-Star in Josh Smith, but they have done serviceable job to cover up. They will live and die by their post-players. The living will most likely be on offense where the dying will definitely happen on the defensive end. Still, a lot of people are chattering about the birds not making the playoffs this year. With so many teams downgrading in the Wiggins Sweepstakes (otherwise known as Riggin’ for Wiggins) it’s hard not to see Atlanta push for their customary 5-6 spot in the East.
Can Jeff Teague become a good point guard to lead this team?
Short Answer: Probably not
Long answer: He’s going to need a much better shot and improved decision making. We will see how he reacts as the Hawks slow down to near a crawl to accommodate their front court strengths.
Is Shelvin Mack still in the NBA?
The Kyle Korver-Ashton Kutcher Comparison getting old chart.
The pack your bags prediction: None. The Hawks just don’t have that many attractive trade pieces. Although if the going gets really tough it will be Al Hortford by default as the birds will dump everything and try to be the late horse in the Wiggins race.
The delicious expiring contract: By default. Elton Brand. Also, about as delicious as a McDonalds dollar menu item that’s three-days-old.
Key Player: Al Hortford
The big is now the center of all attention on this team and will have a chance to prove he’s worth it. He no longer has to compensate for Josh Smith’s erratic decision making, so that’s good. The East is fairly undersized as well, meaning Al should make easy living downstairs. Potentially even break into the All-Star starting five at C.
The where did he come from prediction: Dennis Schroder
We already established that Teague is not a franchise point guard. He is a serviceable general, but I don’t see him as a long time solution. This means the young German will get major burn on the court. When it’s all said and done Schroder can have a better career than Teague, and we may start to see a glimpse of that as early as this year.
Best sly fantasy pick up: Kyle Korver
I am not sure if this is really sly, but Korver is going to have a great year. He is a 3pt guy, and with Josh Smith no longer taking 2.6 attempts and with Atlanta going even more inside out, watch for Korver to get a tonne of open looks.
Best case scenario: Milsap/Hortford/Brand becomes one of the most interesting front court rotations in the league.
Worst case scenario: They really just can’t defend anything down low.
Riggin’ for Wiggins Odds: 50:1
Prediction: 44-38, 6th in the East
Final word: This is the franchise that survives just south of the middle when it comes to Eastern Playoff standings. How long will the fans stay satisfied with such mediocre results?
This is laughable, but I’ll still try: The Humph (Trade), Gerald Wallace (Trade), MarShon Brooks (Trade), Kelly Olynyk (Draft),
Paul Pierce (Trade), Kevin Garnett (Trade), Jason Terry (Trade), Doc Rivers, Rajon Rondo’s will to live.
Strangely, despite all of the trade talk – Rajon Rondo
Projected Starting Five
It’s hard to say if the Celtics are going full-tank mode or are at least flirting with the idea of going for that eight seed. Given the relative “strength” of the East, it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.
With a new head coach, who has exactly zero years of NBA experience, it is hard to predict how good the Celtics can be this year (or how bad). It will all hinge on Rondo, who will be in no rush to come back. If he sits for longer than a month, rest assured, they’re tanking and developing young talent. If he comes back as fast as possible… I don’t know what the hell they are doing.
This team is very undersized this year and will be lacking any kind of leadership and mental toughness. An exceptional point guard, Rondo is hardly a mental leader. That, coupled with the non-existent shot outside of 12ft and no more great players to pass to, this may just be the worst season for the PG. With no shooters, this team has no ability to space the floor AND they lack a potent threat inside (I’m projecting Humph as starter for crying out loud).
This is a great set up for the new coach to experiment in, and sitting out Rondo can have far greater benefits for the team in the long run.
All of that being said, I do expect a number of solid performances down the stretch. The team is Jeff Green’s until further notice, and he started to explode last year. A versatile three, he may just carve a space for himself as an on-court go to man this year. If he can come back with a consistent stroke from behind the arc, we may even be talking All-Star reserves here.
Is Jeff Green ready to lead this team?
I’ve already established how little I expect from Rondo in terms of leadership. That and he’s more likely to take his sweet time. Jeff Green becomes the main target. If he can cope with the pressure it might be one of those special seasons at least for someone in Boston.
Can Kris Humphries be a serviceable starting center?
No, and no one cares. Olynyk has the job if he wants it.
The will he or won’t he guessing game: MarShon Brooks
Marshon can be a frustrating player, but he also has some hidden talent. He can actually be a better option at the two for Celtics than Courtney Lee. The only question here is can he finally get over the fact that he’s playing in Boston?
The pack your bags prediction: Rajon Rondo. As far as I can see, he’s as good as gone. He is this team’s best asset and with the Riggin’ for Wiggins fully in effect, this would signify an all-in move for the Celtics.
The delicious expiring contract: Kris Humphries. Can he get traded twice within 6 months? Probably. While I might not like him as a person (I don’t actually think of him as a person), Humph as his uses. He is a hustle guy, and he does a lot of small things well for you down on the block. He also frustrates opponents, because it’s insulting to be guarded by Kris Humphries. Pair all that with an expiring $12M off the books? Someone will bite.
Key Player: Jeff Green
There is a theme here, mostly because this is all the Celtics have. He has the potential to be an All-Star and finally the floor space to demonstrate it. That, will of course, require Green to deal with increased attention on the defensive end. How well he comes determines how many wins the Celtics can squeeze out this year.
The where did he come from prediction: MarShon Brooks
I still think if Brooks can put in a bit of an effort he can be a viable effort behind Jeff Green and a strong second option. It would be tough to him to break into the steady rotation, but with a new coach, every spot is literally up for grabs. All he has to do is be offensively better than Lee or Bradley, which isn’t all that challenging.
Best sly fantasy pick up: MarShon Brooks
I’m high on MarShon, what can I say? He should be available late but has the potential to produce when required.
Best case scenario: They trade Rondo and tank for Wiggins
Worst case scenario: Rondo comes back and as his last act of defiance wills the team into the playoffs. Then requests a trade in the off-season.
Riggin’ for Wiggins Odds: 9:1
Prediction: 21-61, Lottery
If they don’t trade Rondo, I would argue that a top 5 pick would do for the Celtics as this Draft is stacked and then they would really be looking for someone to pair with their All-Star PG.
If Rondo is gone, it’s Wiggins or bust.
Final word: It should be painful for the fans of the one of most stories franchises to watch this season. If it’s any consolation, us Laker fans are not in a much better situation.