Basketball is back. For a Mavs-only preview, fellow MavsFanatic writer Michael Lark has got you hooked up. Go ahead, click it. I won’t go anywhere, promise.
Okay, hey welcome back. Let’s take a look at all 30 teams and my projections for each conference’s standings with a little bit of info that you get to keep FOR FREE!!!
Note: Only players worth mentioning are in the “Coming” and “Going” sections, leaving some blank. Worth mentioning to the team, so yes,Jeremy Lamb somehow made the list.
Enjoy! Oh yeah, potential Mavs bias warning… jerks.
15: Philadelphia 76ers
Coming: Jahlil Okafor (Draft), Carl Landry (Trade), Nik Stauskas (Trade), Kendall Marshall (Free Agency)
Eventually someone important in Philadelphia is going to get tired of all the waiting. If it’s Head Coach Brett Brown, who was unhappy about last season’s trade of Michael Carter-Williams, then the 76ers have a big problem. Sure, Dario Šarić and hopefully Joel Embiid are set to join the club from their international club and foot surgeries respectively in 2016-2017, but what’s in front of us is another very, very long season full of losing for Philadelphia.
14: Brooklyn Nets
Coming: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Trade), Andrea Bargnani (Free Agency), Thomas Robinson (Free Agency), Shane Larkin(Free Agency), Chris McCullough (Draft)
Going: Deron Williams (Buyout), Mason Plumlee (Trade), Alan Anderson (Free Agency), Mirza Teletovic (Free Agency)
Oh boy, the Nets are going to be bad this year. I’d like to say that the beginning of the end was trading three first round picks for one year ofPaul Pierce and another half a year for Kevin Garnett, so that’s exactly what I’m going to say. This team is a mess and rebuilding without many young part. To add insult to a probable Brook Lopez injury, the Celtics still have this team’s first round picks for 2016 and swap rights in 2017. And Billy King still has a job…
Actually, that was a little cruel. He stole Bargs from the Kings this summer at the last minute! Way to go, GM!
13: Orlando Magic
Coming: Mario Hezonja (Draft), C.J. Watson (Free Agency), Shabazz Napier (Trade), Scott Skiles (Coach)
Going: Mo Harkless (Free Agency)
Ok first off, I love this Magic roster. The makeup of it is brimming with excitement. Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo and now Mario Hezonja make for a growing crop of draft picks that are going to make up one hell of a core. Just not yet. Thing to watch for:Nikola Vucevic taking another step, hopefully not hindered by Scott Skiles historically slow paced, big man depressing offense, because Vucevic is an all-star.
12: Indiana Pacers
Coming: Monta Ellis (Free Agency), Jordan Hill (Free Agency), Myles Turner (Draft)
Going: David West (Free Agency), Roy Hibbert (Trade), C.J. Watson (Free Agency)
Is there such thing as “Too Much Monta?” Well, there wasn’t for the 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks, and this year’s Indiana Pacers are counting on him performing in a big way. The Pacers are rebuilding as well, but it’s expected to be quick. After a devastating leg injury limited the face of the franchise, Paul George, to just six games last year, he is indeed back. The makeup of this team still isn’t very overwhelming, unless Jordan Hill averages 20/10 in place of the departed Roy Hibbert and David West. Oh, and Paul George is a power forward now! Even though he doesn’t appear too thrilled about it.
11: New York Knicks
Coming: Arron Afflalo (Free Agency), Robin Lopez (Free Agency), Derrick Williams (Free Agency), Kevin Seraphin (Free Agency),Kyle O’Quinn (Free Agency), Kristaps Porzingis (Draft), Jerian Grant (Trade)
Going: Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Trade)
Hold the presses, the Knicks made an awesome trade this offseason. Tim Hardaway Jr., via a three-team draft night trade with Atlanta andWashington, netted the Knicks pick #19 and Jerian Grant, doubling up an impressive rookie class with the enigmatic Kristaps Porzingis, selected 4th overall. I’m totally team #Knickstaps. Book it, he’s going to be really, really good. Great would be ideal for them Knicks. Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez make this team immensely better and if Carmelo Anthony is healthy, a playoff push in an improving but still feeble Eastern Conference could be in the mix for New York.
Oh wait, Derek Fisher is the coach. Pass.
10: Charlotte Hornets
Coming: Nicolas Batum (Trade), Spencer Hawes (Trade), Jeremy Lamb (Trade), Jeremy Lin (Free Agency), Frank Kaminsky(Draft)
Going: Lance Stephenson (Trade), Mo Williams (Free Agency), Noah Vonleh (Trade), Gerald Henderson (Trade)
My super sleeper team of last season, the Hornets have fallen a long ways. Check these numbers: 37%/31%, 42%/32%, 39%/33% and 39%/30%. Those are Kemba Walker’s field goal and three point percentages in years 1-4 of his career. Not good. Not good at all. Even with an admirable trade for Nic Batum, this team is an Al Jefferson injury away from bottoming out. Jefferson hit the glass at his lowest pace in eight seasons last year. And Jeremy Lamb is set for minutes…uh oh.
9: Detroit Pistons
Coming: Ersan Ilyasova (Trade), Marcus Morris (Trade), Steve Blake (Trade), Stanley Johnson (Draft)
Going: Greg Monroe (Free Agency)
2014-15 With Josh Smith: 5-23
It stands to reason, even with the loss of Greg Monroe and Brandon Jennings still recovering from an Achilles injury, that the Pistons are going to take a big step forward this year. Playoffs would be gravy, 40 wins or more…uh, Cane’s sauce? Stanley Johnson is one of the more intriguing rookies this season, poised to own a starting role by mid-season. Bear Down, Arizona.
8: Milwaukee Bucks
Coming: Greg Monroe (Free Agency), Greivis Vasquez (Trade), Rashad Vaughn (Draft), Chris Copeland (Free Agency)
Going: Ersan Ilyasova (Trade), Zaza Pachulia (Trade)
Greg Monroe (Free Agency), Greivis Vasquez (Trade), Rashad Vaughn (Draft), Chris Copeland (Free Agency)
Going: Ersan Ilyasova (Trade), Zaza Pachulia (Trade)
Speaking of Greg Monroe, he made the trip west over Lake Michigan and adds to one of the big NBA teams on the rise. Michael Carter-Williams under the tutelage of Jason Kidd seems like a match made in heaven for the dynamic but offensively questioned third-year guard. The Bucks will get the former number two overall pick back sometime soon after Jabari Parker played just 25 games in 2014. Khris Middleton can ball. John Henson can block most any ball. Another step forward for Milwaukee.
7: Boston Celtics
Coming: David Lee (Trade), Amir Johnson (Free Agency), Terry Rozier (Draft), R.J. Hunter (Draft)
Going: Brandon Bass (Free Agency)
My 7th seed prediction has more to do with the strings Head Coach Brad Stevens pulls and less to do with the roster. The free acquisition of David Lee was a nice touch to an offseason where they also added two solid rookies and Amir Johnson. Just how much of a step can Marcus Smart take his sophomore year, and also they totally stole Isaiah Thomas at last year’s Trade Deadline. I like this team. I love this team’s coach.
6: Atlanta Hawks
Coming: Tiago Splitter (Trade), Tim Hardaway Jr. (Trade), Justin Holiday (Free Agency)
Going: DeMarre Carroll (Free Agency)
Last year’s darling team, the Hawks won 60 games for the first time in franchise history and finished atop the East…in the regular season. The Playoffs were a different animal. Both Brooklyn and Washington took ATL to six games before LeBron’s Cavs pulled a clean sweep in the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m afraid Atlanta is due for a big step back in 2015-16, even with a lot of returning parts and the addition of Tiago Splitter to the frontcourt. However, they lost DeMarre Carroll to the Raptors and did not replace him. Did not. That’s gonna sting. Here’s to Kyle Korver playing 70 games and the Hawks winning 50.
5: Washington Wizards
Coming: Alan Anderson (Free Agency), Gary Neal (Free Agency), Jared Dudley (Trade), Kelly Oubre Jr. (Trade)
I love John Wall. But past him, there are so many question marks. Talent is less of a factor than health, and it isn’t close. Nenê is seldom healthy and reportedly losing his starting spot to Kris Humphries. If Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal, especially if finally Bradley Beal can stay healthy, the Wizards will assuredly have their rightful place in the Eastern Conference top 5. But if one of them goes down, enterOtto Porter Jr. and hold your breath.
4: Miami Heat
Coming: Gerald Green (Free Agency), Amar’e Stoudemire (Free Agency), Justise Winslow (Draft)
Going: Shabazz Napier (Trade)
Love this team. Hate Dwyane Wade. Love this team. Love the Gerald Green addition, love the Justise Winslow draft pick, love the Amar’e signing, extra-love the Goran Dragic trade from last season. Chris Bosh is back and healthy. Hassan Whiteside enters a contract year with perhaps more to prove mentally than physically. If Luol Deng and that Wade guy can stay healthy, this is one of the premiere Eastern Conference teams.
3: Toronto Raptors
Coming: DeMarre Carroll (Free Agency), Cory Joseph (Free Agency), Luis Scola (Free Agency), Bismack Biyombo (Free Agency),Anthony Bennett (Free Agency), Delon Wright (Draft)
Going: Lou Williams (Free Agency), Amir Johnson (Free Agency), Greivis Vasquez (Trade)
Toronto fans seem to hate Terrence Ross. The 8th overall pick in 2012 (Andre Drummond went 9th) has not turned out to be a capable NBA starter. Hopefully he can fulfill an NBA role as a 6th man because the club signed DeMarre Carroll to start alongside DeMar Derozan.Kyle Lowry has slimmed down, like way down. Drake’s new uniforms may take this team past the first round after all.
2: Chicago Bulls
Coming: Bobby Portis (Draft), Fred Hoiberg (Coach)
I’m not even going to bother with Derrick Rose. If he’s healthy, fantastic. NBA Title contention is real for the Bulls if D-Rose can return to anywhere near his 2011 NBA MVP form. However, it’s the ridiculous front court of this Bulls team that impresses me the most. Pau Gasol,Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and my man Nikola Mirotic are four bigs than would all have starting roles on other teams, yet will feature two back-ups. Not even mentioned is rookie Bobby Portis. Big fan. Everyone’s eyes are on new Head Coach Fred Hoiberg, who replaces Tom Thibodeau after five seasons and a tumultuous exit. They’re probably on Derrick Rose, too.
1: Cleveland Cavaliers
Coming: Mo Williams (Free Agency), Richard Jefferson (Free Agency)
Going: Mike Miller (Free Agency)
Reloaded. Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and hey! Tristan Thompson is back as well. The Cavaliers will run a $65 million dollar luxury tax into 2015-16, higher than 8 team’s entire payroll, but the goal is clear. Re-sign LeBron James again. I mean, win an NBA Title.
Mo Williams is back, too. The guy Danny Ferry thought could be Robin to LeBron’s Batman. And we wonder why he left in 2010.
15: Denver Nuggets
Coming: Emmanuel Mudiay (Draft), Mike Miller (Free Agency), Mike Malone (Coach)
Going: Ty Lawson (Trade)
Ty Lawson’s summer of DUI’s really hurt this team. Really hurt them. They got a first round pick and two players they’ve already waived from Houston for the former face of the franchise. It’s Emmanuel Mudiay’s team to claim now and Mike Malone takes over after being kicked to the curb in Sacramento. Honestly, you can do so so so much worse than what Denver has on the table, but somebody has to finish last and the upside for this team just isn’t very good.
14: Minnesota Timberwolves
Coming: Karl-Anthony Towns (Draft), Andre Miller (Free Agency), Tayshaun Prince (Free Agency), Nemanja Bjelica (Free Agency), Tyus Jones (Trade)
WOW! The Timberwolves were allowed won a draft lottery! Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns now form one of the most promising young tandems in the league. It’s going to be a good year for the Timberwolves. Nowhere to go but up, and they start to ascent this year. CanRicky Rubio stay healthy?
RIP Flip Saunders.
13: Los Angeles Lakers
Coming: D’Angelo Russell (Draft), Roy Hibbert (Trade), Louis Williams (Free Agency), Brandon Bass (Free Agency), Larry Nance Jr. (Draft)
Going: Ed Davis (Free Agency), Jordan Hill (Free Agency), Jeremy Lin (Free Agency)
So like, is Kobe Bryant still the go-to guy? This team puts up a good front. Back to back lottery picks with tons of upside (Julius Randle, Russell) and some nice free agent signings (Sweet Lou, Bass). However, as long as Kobe thinks he’s still the guy, this team will continue to be held back by his delusions of grandeur.
12: Sacramento Kings
Coming: Rajon Rondo (Free Agency), Marco Belinelli (Free Agency), Caron Butler (Free Agency), Willie Cauley-Stein (Draft)
Going: Carl Landry (Trade), Jason Thompson (Trade), Nik Stauskas (Trade), Andre Miller (Free Agency), Ray McCallum (Trade)
DeMarcus Cousins is the best center in the league. But the Sacramento Kings are determined to drive him away. I’m afraid they’re a season away from that happening. Kings brass expects a Playoff team. To me, finishing 12th is an absolute ceiling. I love the Marco Belinelli signing, the Rondo acquisition will work out better than it did for the Mavs (not hard to do) and Willie Cauley-Stein seems like a good bet to break a string of rough lottery picks for the Kings that has featured the already-dumped Nik Stauskas, Thomas Robinson and Derrick Williams.
11: Portland Trail Blazers
Coming: Al-Farouq Aminu (Free Agency), Ed Davis (Free Agency), Noah Vonleh (Trade), Gerald Henderson (Trade), Mason Plumlee (Trade), Mo Harkless (Free Agency)
Going: LaMarcus Aldridge (Free Agency), Wesley Matthews (Free Agency), Nicolas Batum (Trade), Arron Afflalo (Free Agency),Robin Lopez (Free Agency)
After losing all but Damian Lillard from the starting unit, everyone thinks that Portland is in for a long season. If there’s a fan base as loyal and loud enough and radio announcers funny enough to help the team prove everyone wrong, it’s this fan base and broadcast crew for me. The Blazers front court is like a “Baby Bulls” front court. It’s definitely not what the Bulls have, but Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee and most importantly MEYERS LEONARD form quite a *google’s what a foursome is*….foursome. Al-Farouq Aminu and Gerald Henderson replacing Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews, especially the latter equation there, is going to make Portland hard-pressed to finish anywhere above this spot.
10: Phoenix Suns
Coming: Tyson Chandler (Free Agency), Mirza Teletovic (Free Agency), Devin Booker (Draft)
Going: Marcus Morris (Trade), Gerald Green (Free Agency), Brandan Wright (Free Agency)
Tyson Chandler. Twice.
It hurts, but it is what it is thanks to the Clippers center. I love Tyson Chandler, love him, his game, what he’s all about…but was it the right move? The Suns spent their money on a center, but they’ve been grooming Alex Len for two season, and he looks pretty capable of holding his own. Even still, the Suns have their two-PG backcourt, now featuring Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. Markieff Morris seems content to stay in Phoenix after his bro-bro was traded (#ITSABUSINESSNOTAGAME) and one, two or even three of T.J. Warren, Archie Goodwin and Devin Booker are going to be contributors. This is going to be a fun team.
9: New Orleans Pelicans
Coming: Kendrick Perkins (Free Agency), Alvin Gentry (Coach)
The Pelicans “coming” section says half the story. The other half: health. They are already hurt again. Tyreke Evans is already out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. Omer Asik calf. Norris Cole ankle. Quincy Pondexter knee. Add to that their other center Alexis Ajinca as well as black NBA Live Luke Babbitt and the Pelicans Achilles heel is already…partially torn. Jrue Holliday and his fishy medical records are a ticking clock when it comes to injuries, and Eric Gordon is probably already hurt and just doesn’t know it.
Then there’s Anthony Davis, who might already be the best player in the league at 22. Damn, i’m 22. Frick am I doing with my life? It wouldn’t surprise if Brow averaged 28 and 15 with 4 blocks and adds a three a night to his game. But in line with his comrades, Davis’ biggest weakness is his own body. Through his first three years he’s yet to play 70 games.
8: Utah Jazz
Coming: Trey Lyles (Draft), Raul Neto (Overseas)
The Jazz return pretty much everyone. Everyone except Dante Exum, who tore his ACL in August playing for the Australian National team. It’s a big, big blow but the Jazz are currently more of a system-based team than anything, and Trey Burke can’t be that bad. Trey Lyles was drafted 12th, Raul Neto and Tibor Pleiss come from over the water and the Jazz core of Gordon Hayward (<3), Rudy Gobert andDerrick Favors is one of the best in the league. Alec Burks returns from a 27-game season. Elijah Millsap at 28 is the team’s oldest player. Utah went 19-10 after the All-Star Break and held opponents to 89 PPG. This defense, anchored by Rudy Gobert, is one of the very best in the league.
7: Dallas Mavericks
Coming: Wesley Matthews (Free Agency), Deron Williams (Free Agency), Zaza Pachulia (Trade), JaVale McGee (Free Agency),Justin Anderson (Draft)
Going: Tyson Chandler (Free Agency), Monta Ellis (Free Agency), Al-Farouq Aminu (Free Agency), Amar’e Stoudemire (Free Agency), Rajon Rondo (Free Agency), Richard Jefferson (Free Agency)
Final Vegas Over/Under: 38.5 Wins
Pre-Season ESPN Power Ranking: 21st
CBS Pre-Season Ranking: 22nd
Mark Cuban’s Mavericks have never finished below .500. The O.J. Mayo team even finished 41-41. Wesley Matthews says “What Injury?” He actually did say that at the Mavericks Season Ticket Holder “Meet the Mavs” event. Chandler Parsons added “nobody believes in us.”
6: Houston Rockets
Coming: Ty Lawson (Trade), Sam Dekker (Draft)
Going: Josh Smith (Free Agency)
I hate the Rockets. I hate the way they play. I don’t respect it. I don’t respect James Harden or Derwight Howard and is it really a coincidence whoever joins this team becomes a flopper? With all that said, Daryl Morey is to be commended. He made the trade of the decade for James Harden, he lost won the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, and he potentially stole Ty Lawson this offseason. Honestly even if it doesn’t work, they have another point guard and gave up nothing. I like what Houston brings to the table and defensively they’re getting better, but I don’t think they are a serious title threat. It’s hard to call making the Western Conference Finals a fluke, but they owe a lot to the Mavericks and Clippers for being bad or being choke artists.
Please forward your hate mail to noreply@MFFL.com
5: Los Angeles Clippers
Coming: Josh Smith (Free Agency), Lance Stephenson (Trade), Wesley Johnson (Free Agency), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Free Agency)
Going: Matt Barnes (Trade), Spencer Hawes (Trade)
No further comment.
4: Oklahoma City Thunder
Coming: Cameron Payne (Draft), Billy Donovan (Coach)
Going: Jeremy Lamb (Trade)
Scott Brooks is gone. That makes the Thunder better. Billy Donovan is the new Head Coach. That makes them better. But the biggest thing for this star heavy, depth-challenged (though it’s a bit better this year) is the health of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. If they’re healthy, sky’s the limit. Like, if the sky was a 2 seed.
3: Memphis Grizzlies
Coming: Matt Barnes (Trade), Brandan Wright (Free Agency), Jarell Martin (Draft)
I’m always pro-Grizzlies because they play defense first but aren’t totally incapable on offense. Except for the times in the Playoffs when they are totally incapable on offense. They used the Luke Ridnour trade roulette to acquire Matt Barnes and also signed Brandan Wright. Re-signing Marc Gasol was a no brainer they got done and the Grizzlies will be great again. They just need to be able to score.
2: Golden State Warriors
Coming: Jason Thompson (Trade), Ben Gordon (Free Agency), Kevon Looney (Draft)
Going: David Lee (Trade)
Speaking of scoring, these guys do it better than anyone else. “The Splash Brothers” officially hit the global stage last year, winning the Warriors first NBA championship since the linear year of 1975. Seriously, 1975 always sounds sexy because it ends in 5. Same with 1985. 1965 got a raw deal and by the 90’s this wasn’t cool anymore. Oh yes, Warriors.
David Lee out and Jason Thompson in only makes them better. Big Jason Thompson fan, threw me a Gatorade towel once. Draymond Green got paid, Harrison Barnes is next…the question is whether it will be the Warriors or not. At what point does the do-no-wrong GSW Front Office draw the financial line?
1: San Antonio Spurs
Coming: LaMarcus Aldridge (Free Agency), David West (Free Agency), Ray McCallum (Trade)
Going: Marco Belinelli (Free Agency), Tiago Splitter (Trade), Corey Joseph (Free Agency)
So the Mavericks have been in the Free Agency game for five straight years and have Wesley Matthews to show for it. The Spurs went into this offseason trying it out and boom, they get a future Hall of Fame talent in LaMarcus Aldridge. David West also opted out of $13 million dollars to make $1 million with the Spurs. Those damn Spurs.