Posted on: October 2nd, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

Projected Record: 38-44 (11th in West)

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Anthony Davis , Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, Danny Granger, Darren Collison

Is Anthony Davis ready to take the leap? (AP)

Head coach: Monty Williams
2013-14 record: 34-48
2013-14 ORtg: 104.7 (13th)
2013-14 DRtg: 107.3 (T-25th)
Players in: Omer Asik, Jimmer Fredette, John Salmons, Russ Smith, Patric Young
Players out: Al-Farouq Aminu, Brendan Haywood, Anthony Morrow, Brian Roberts, Jason Smith, James Southerland, Greg Stiemsma, D.J. White, rights to Dwight Powell
Projected Starting Lineup: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis, Omer Asik

Some teams have variance because of injuries. (Hello, Brooklyn!) Some teams have variance because of rookie head coaches. (Hello, Milwaukee!) But the New Orleans Pelicans have variance based almost exclusively on one factor: how far is Anthony Davis ready to climb?
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High Expectations For Kidd, Parker

For the first time since leaving the team, former Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd spoke a bit candidly about his departure from the team.

"Well, I think the business side takes place a lot of times," Kidd told Chris Broussard of ESPN. "We talk about the game, but sometimes the business gets in the way. Brooklyn thought that they could do better in the sense of Milwaukee having interest, and them okaying it, and then the two owners finding a way to make a deal."

That's a bit different than the reports, which indicate that Kidd went over general manager Billy King's head, seeking a presidential position in an attempt to usurp power from his boss after just one year of coaching. Kidd was reportedly rebuffed by the team's Russian ownership, and sought a job in Milwaukee after the Nets no longer wanted him around.

Kidd's version of events is that Milwaukee had the initial interest, and Kidd decided to pursue that thread once the Nets thought they could "do better."

The Nets let Kidd out of his contract in exchange for two second-round picks from the Bucks, and hired veteran head coach Lionel Hollins on the same day to a four-year contract. The Bucks fired Larry Drew to make room for Kidd.

 

Lionel Hollins

Lionel Hollins has a clear idea of what he wants to run in Brooklyn. (AP)

During a five-on-five drill at Nets practice, Deron Williams shot down the left side of the court, curling to the opposite block to set a screen for Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic. After setting the screen, Williams curled upwards, brushed Brook Lopez's shoulder, caught a pass from guard Joe Johnson on the right wing, and buried a three-pointer nothing but net.

On the next play, Lopez posted up his defender about above the left elbow, about 19 feet from the basket. "Get down, Brook!" Williams yelled.

After the play -- which ended with an open Lopez jumper, created by a double-team Williams drew inside -- Williams instructed his teammate. "You can't do that," Williams said, before pointing him closer to the high post and giving him further advice on positioning.

There's a reason Williams already looks more comfortable than in years past. For one, he's healthy, after offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle and loose a bone fragment in his right ankle. But just as important, he's been here before.
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While Andrei Kirilenko sat out for his third consecutive practice to rest his sore back, his Russian teammate joined him on the sidelines.

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Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by Alex Mazer Comments

 

Projected Record: 30-52 (12th in West)

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Kobe Bryant

Will Kobe Bryant accept another losing season? (AP)

Head coach: Byron Scott
2013-14 record: 27-55
2013-14 ORtg: 101.9 (21st)
2013-14 DRtg: 107.9 (28th)
Players in: Byron Scott (coach), Carlos Boozer, Jordan Clarkson, Ed Davis, Jeremy Lin, Julius Randle
Players out: Mike D'Antoni (coach), Kent Bazemore, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman, Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, rights to Sergei Lishouk
Projected Starting Lineup: Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill

The purple-and-gold will still fill the seats this season, but for the wrong reasons.

For teams that reach rock bottom, it’s easy to say that there’s no place to go but up. But the Lakers just aren’t that bad yet. They’re entering another tumultuous season where they refuse to admit defeat as Kobe finishes off his final years with the squad.

Here at The Brooklyn Game, we’re all about giving readers the story from multiple perspectives. In case their roster didn’t prove how horrid 2015 will be for the Lakers, here’s some of their key players showing off their skills through the magical form of animated GIFs.
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Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by Jaymz Clements Comments

 

Projected Record: 29-53 (13th in West)

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DeMarcus Cousins is all smiles (and selfies) with the media now. But can they win?

DeMarcus Cousins is all smiles (and selfies) with the media now. But can they win?

Head coach: Michael Malone
2013-14 record: 28-54
2013-14 ORtg: 102.9 (T-19th)
2013-14 DRtg: 106.3 (23rd)
Players in: Deonte Burton, Darren Collison, Wayne Ellington, Eric Moreland, Nik Stauskas, Jeremy Tyler, rights to Alex Oriakhi
Players out: Quicy Acy, Jared Cunningham, Aaron Gray, Travis Outlaw, Isaiah Thomas
Projected Starting Lineup: Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins

Theory: did the Sacramento Kings let point guard Isaiah Thomas walk to their division rival Phoenix Suns because they drafted him thinking he was Pistons legend Isiah Thomas and wanted to cop to their mistake? Because that's the only explanation that makes sense.

With Thomas out the door, the Kings turn to former Clippers backup Darren Collison, apparently figuring, ‘Hey, why not replace an undersized, offense-first point guard who struggles on defense with another worse one?’

Worse, with the eighth pick in a loaded draft class, the Kings took a shooting guard… the position they filled with their 2013 lottery pick. Nik Stauskas might be better than Ben McLemore, but it’s still an odd move, especially when they could’ve picked either point guard Elfrid Payton — an obvious position of need for the team — or power forward Noah Vonleh, who's an instant defensive upgrade over Carl Landry and a better long-term prospect next to DeMarcus Cousins than Jason Thompson.

Instead, their point guard combo is made up of Collison and Ray McCallum Jr., while at shooting guard, they’ve got two super-talented shooters who won’t be able to log big minutes together.

There's plenty of depth in a frontcourt rotation consisting of Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Derrick Williams, Reggie Evans, and $19.3 million worth of Rudy Gay, but all hope of a Kings resurgence after eight playoff-free seasons rests almost exclusively on the broad shoulders of DeMarcus Cousins.

If Cousins rounds out his game to include some vestige of defense (something Mike Malone was brought in specifically to help with) and becomes a leader for the team, rather than a constant distraction, new Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé will feel much better about his $534 million investment. Hopefully Cousins's part with Team USA for the FIBA world championships helps the maturation process; especially considering he has the potential to be the game’s most dominant big man not named Dwight Howard… and he’s only 24.

In the meantime, the Kings will be a young team trying to figure out how to play defense under Malone, all the while trying to figure out how to pass the ball. Collison may help a little with playmaking, but they’ll miss the underrated energy and drive Isaiah Thomas brought to the team, while hoping like hell that the Stauskas/McLemore duo works, and that the Cousins/Gay duo displays more of the promise they had towards the end of last season. If either of the oft-rumoured trades for Rajon Rondo or Josh Smith happen though, their entire outlook changes.

Best Case: Trade for Rondo and Smith and make the playoffs… but more likely, 10th in the west; Cousins, Gay and any sort of improved defense could make the Kings a frisky outsider for a low playoff seed, but the Western conference is populated entirely by hellfire and exploded dreams

Worst Case: Cousins sulks through the season until Reggie Evans puts him in a headlock, and Stauskas is crushed underneath the two of them… and the Kings still end up with only the 9th pick in the 2015 lottery.

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Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by Benny Nadeau Comments

 

Projected Record: 28-54 (14th in West)

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Andrew Wiggins

With Kevin Love gone, the Timberwolves turn the page, with #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. (AP)

Head coach: Flip Saunders
2013-14 record: 40-42
2013-14 ORtg: 105.6 (10th)
2013-14 DRtg: 104.1 (T-14th)
Players in: Anthony Bennett, Zach LaVine, Glenn Robinson III, Andrew Wiggins, Mo Williams
Players out: Dante Cunningham, Othyus Jeffers, Kevin Love
Projected Starting Lineup: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, Nikola Pekovic

Q&A With Chase, A Young Timberwolves Fan
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Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by Benny Nadeau Comments

 

Projected Record: 26-56 (15th in West)

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Alec Burks , Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors

Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, and Derrick Favors have their work cut out for them in the West. (AP)

Head coach: Quin Snyder
2013-14 record: 25-57
2013-14 ORtg: 100.6 (25th)
2013-14 DRtg: 109.1 (30th)
Players in: Quin Snyder (coach), Trevor Booker, Dante Exum, Carrick Felix, Rodney Hood, Steve Novak
Players out: Tyrone Corbin (coach), Diante Garrett, Richard Jefferson, John Lucas III, Erik Murphy, Brandon Rush, Malcolm Thomas, Marvin Williams
Projected Starting Lineup: Trey Burke, Alex Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter

I’ve felt the same way about the Jazz every year since Deron Williams left: where are they going?

Paul Millsap left for nothing. Al Jefferson left for nothing. Derrick Favors’ annual scouting report still reads: “loads of potential, gets in foul trouble too easily;” a problem that's plagued him since the Nets drafted him in 2010. It's easy to believe that this is the 5th NBA season for DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall, it's harder to say that about Favors. You can’t help but wonder what’s taking him so long.

They added Trey Burke last year, and he could be pretty good down the line. But it might take him another four years. And then who's still around? Favors? Kanter? The Utah Jazz are full of players that any team would be excited for, but their entire team is filled with these players, so they never amount to anything. The roster is a jar full of tasty trail max without any of the superstar chocolate pieces to push them over the edge into deliciousness.

Help, however, may be on the way in the form of Australian guard Dante Exum. If his game translates anywhere close to as well as his current Foot Locker commercials, the Jazz could be onto something. Exum is a big, strong guard that can get to the basket and score with consistency. Consistency, in fact, is an important word for the Jazz in 2014-2015. Without it, Hayward was forced into many 8-for-19 shooting nights en route to 24+ point blowouts.

If Exum can hold his own, Burks takes the next step and the team as a whole stops leaning on Hayward for 25 points a night, then this Utah team could trend in the right direction this year. Of course, that is asking Kanter not to go on cold streaks so long that the coach opts for Marvin Williams and Jeremy Evans instead.

In some alternative universe, the Utah Jazz fulfill their potential, make the Western Conference semifinals, and the most interesting thing about their team is no longer the discrepancy in spelling between Burke and Burks.

But here’s the deal with Utah: I just don’t get them. Hopefully, with the leadership of newly appointed coach Quin Snyder and Gordon Hayward’s near-max contract, along with Exum, Favors, Burke and Kanter, the Jazz can finally start making strides towards becoming a relevant NBA team again. It’s well stated, mainly by Jazz fans themselves, that Tyrone Corbin was an awful coach, marred by poor rotations and an inability to manage games and his young players—so have they finally hit the reset button for the last time?

Having young players with inexperience is no longer an excuse in the NBA, just look at the Phoenix Suns last year, a roster with far less raw talent than Utah, the same one that missed Eric Bledsoe for 39 games, and they almost made the playoffs in the treacherous Western Conference.

They ranked 29th in the NBA in points per game and 25th in points per possession just ahead of a Chicago Bulls team that ranked below watching painting dry on a list of pleasurable activities. Even worse, they were dead last at 30th in points allowed per possession and their pace was slightly slower than the creaky retirement home the Nets ran in Brooklyn.

In the Western Conference, that’s a recipe for disaster.

What the Utah Jazz really need more than anything else is a reliable post scorer to take off the pressure from their young core of Exum, Burke and Hayward. Hey, Al Jefferson would be a perfect fit.

Wait. Shoot. Back to square one. Again.

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AP

AP

RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brook Lopez didn't have much to say, and he knew it. "Get ready for Thrillsville," he deadpanned as he sat down to speak with the media Tuesday afternoon.
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Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

Projected record: 56-26 (1st in East)

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Kevin Love, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving

Possibly the most explosive "Big 3" in the NBA. (AP)

Head coach: David Blatt
2013-14 record: 33-49
2013-14 ORtg: 101.3 (23rd)
2013-14 DRtg: 104.8 (T-17th)
Players in: David Blatt (coach), Joe Harris, Brendan Haywood, LeBron James, James Jones, Alex Kirk, Kevin Love, John Lucas III, Mike Miller, Erik Murphy, Malcolm Thomas, rights to Edin Bavcic, rights to Ilkan Karaman
Players out: Mike Brown (coach), Anthony Bennett, Luol Deng, Carrick Felix, Alonzo Gee, Spencer Hawes, Scotty Hopson, Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, C.J. Miles, Tyler Zeller
Projected Starting Lineup: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao

You already know what happened. Let's get right to it.
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Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by Ryan Carbain Comments

 

Projected record: 54-28 (2nd in East)

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Derrick Rose

After a rough FIBA World Cup, former MVP Derrick Rose looks to prove he still has it. (AP)

Head coach: Tom Thibodeau
2013-14 record: 48-34
2013-14 ORtg: 99.7 (T-27th)
2013-14 DRtg: 97.8 (2nd)
Players in: Aaron Brooks, Cameron Bairstow, Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, rights to Milovan Rakovic, rights to Tadija, Dragicevic
Players out: Lou Amundson, D.J. Augustin, Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Jimmer Fredette, Mike James, Greg Smith
Projected Starting Lineup: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah

This is not an article about Derrick Rose’s knee.
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Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

Projected record: 47-35 (3rd in East)

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DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry

Can these Raptors bounce back from crushing defeat at the hands of Brooklyn? (AP)

Head coach: Dwane Casey
2013-14 record: 48-34
2013-14 ORtg: 105.8 (9th)
2013-14 DRtg: 102.4 (T-9th)
Players in: Bruno Caboclo, Will Cherry, Jordan Hamilton, James Johnson, Lou Williams, rights to DeAndre Daniels
Players out: Dwight Buycks, Steve Novak, Julyan Stone
Projected Starting Lineup: Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas

The Raptors are the anti-Nets.

That's probably a good thing.
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