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

 

Projected Record: 44-38 (9th in West)

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Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic are just three of Phoenix's talented guards. (AP)

Head coach: Jeff Hornacek
Projected record: 44-38 (9th)
2013-14 record: 48-34
2013-14 ORtg: 107.1 (8th)
2013-14 DRtg: 103.8 (13th)
Players in: Alec Brown, Tyler Ennis, Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Tolliver, T.J. Warren, rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic
Players out: Leandro Barbosa, Dionte Christmas, Channing Frye, Emeka Okafor, Ish Smith, rights to Alex Oriakhi
Projected Starting Lineup: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, Miles Plumlee

Just one year ago, ESPN analysts came to the overwhelming conclusion that the Phoenix Suns would be the worst team in the Western Conference.

This is the same Suns team that ended up winning 48 games and the hearts of League Pass subscribers everywhere. It's comical now that Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com called the 2013-14 Suns "boring" and "talent-deprived," but maybe he was onto something:... ">MORE →

Posted on: October 2nd, 2014 by Ryan Carbain Comments

 

Projected Record: 38-44 (10th in West)

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Kenneth Faried

After shining for Team USA, Kenneth Faried looks to break out this season. (AP)

Head coach: Brian Shaw
Projected record: 38-44 (10th)
2013-14 record: 36-46
2013-14 ORtg: 103.3 (T-16th)
2013-14 DRtg: 105.4 (21st)
Players in: Arron Afflalo, Erick Green, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic
Players out: Aaron Brooks, Evan Fournier, Anthony Randolph, Jan Vesely
Projected Starting Lineup: Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Javale McGee

Last year, the Denver Nuggets lost their star GM, fired the incumbent Coach of the Year, and then went to assemble one of the most disparate rosters in the NBA. For their efforts, the team dropped 21 games in the standings.

The team's top-five rated offense fell out of the top ten, and a surprisingly above-average defense – rated 11th in the league – fell to 21st. Injuries hurt: Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Javale McGee, and diminutive sixth man Nate Robinson missed roughly 200 games combined.

If you're a Nuggets fan, you're probably encouraged. Kenneth Faried, once a potential cut from the USA men's national basketball team, performed better in FIBA play than just about anyone not named Anthony Davis.

Better yet, the team expects to come to camp healthy.

The Nuggets took advantage of a penny-pinching Bulls franchise to swap the rights for their 12th pick, Doug McDermott, for two picks in on the deepest drafts in recent history, nabbing Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic and former MSU shooting guard Gary Harris. They then reunited with Arron Afflalo, only parting with struggling prospect Evan Fournier and the team’s 56th overall pick, well below Afflalo's market value.

But still, the team does not make sense.

Their draft picks lack a chance to grow. Afflalo joins a loaded wing position that includes the returning Gallinari, multi-talented Wilson Chandler, and sharpshooting Randy Foye – likely burying Gary Harris. Nurkic stands behind McGee and Timofey Mozgov, two bonafide shot blockers, on the depth chart.

At power forward, the similarly skilled Faried and J.J. Hickson expect to share time, except Faried delivers far more than Hickson, for a fraction of the price.

Nate Robinson offers scoring punch off the bench but sits on the depth chart as a backup point guard, a position where he remains derelict at the required duties.

A starting five of McGee, Faried, Gallinari, Afflalo and Lawson seems balanced. The bench, in particular the versatile Wilson Chandler, has some talent. But, even if healthy, do you think this roster can crack the top-10 in an ultra-competitive Western Conference? Me neither.

They won’t always be an easy win; particularly off back-to-backs and extended road trips. This is a team that can run you off the floor with Faried and Lawson able to wreak the most havoc. (The team ranked 2nd and 3rd in terms of pace the past two seasons.)

Faried and Hickson can also feast from time-to-time on the offensive boards while visiting teams struggle to take in the thin Rocky Mountain air.

The team can space the floor: Gallinari, Afflalo, Foye, Lawson and Robinson are all respected beyond the arc. It has legitimate rim protection: McGee and Mozgov are both They have multiple players who can lead the team scoring on any given night.

But that's the best-case scenario. The team lacks a big respected from 18 feet and out, players like McGee, Hickson and Robinson are notorious for uneven play, and certain bench units will struggle. Lest we forget, they play out West.

The Brooklyn Game projects this team to compete, but with scant chance at the playoffs, putting them at 38-44. The record may dip some of the team decides to sell off some of its more attractive contracts. Look for Chandler, Mozgov, Afflalo and Foye on the block near the trade deadline. But with this team, 38 wins seems about right.

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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?

Davis has already had an unprecedented stretch in his first two seasons. His player efficiency rating through his first two seasons of 24.4 is the highest of any player through the age of 20. That's higher than Shaquille O'Neal, higher than LeBron James, higher than Chris Paul, higher than everyone who's played that young. Davis put up a 20-10 season in just his second year and led the league in blocks, swatting away 2.8 shots per game. If his improvement from year 1 to year 2 is any indication, he could cement himself as the best big man in the game this season.

But he and the Pelicans still play in the Wild Wild West, where the Phoenix Suns won 48 games last year and still couldn't make the playoffs. It'll take more than Davis's heroics to vault the Pelicans, who have won fewer games in the last two seasons (61) than the Spurs did last season alone (62), into the best of the West.

They've got talent. Ryan Anderson is back after a scary neck injury that sidelined him for a full season, and the shooter that was once a throw-in by the Nets in a trade to shed Vince Carter's salary has become one of the league's best deep threats, hitting over 38 percent of his three-pointers in each of the last four seasons. Omer Asik is one of the league's preeminent interior defenders, and the Pelicans got him for a pick, meaning no immediate tradeoff on the floor. Jrue Holiday was an All-Star in the East and could develop some serious chemistry with Davis in the pick-and-roll, Eric Gordon can shoot, and Tyreke Evans is also a basketball player with some discernible skills.

But all five of those guys surrounding Davis have serious injuries in their past, and just one or two bad strokes of luck could torpedo their season.

If health permits, It'll all come back to Davis, who could develop into a top-3 player this season and catapult this roster into the playoffs. But beyond their talented front six, New Orleans's bench leaves much to be desired; Austin Rivers struggled mightily in his rookie season and didn't fare much better in the follow-up, Alexis Ajinca and Jeff Withey aren't cutting it as backup centers, and Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons will fight for the title of "biggest ballhog that once torpedoed Sacramento's offense."

It's easy to be high on their talent. If their top six guys can stay healthy all year, they could sneak into the bottom rung of the playoffs. But with so many talented teams in the West, it's an uphill climb for any team, and one with enough questions as New Orleans most likely won't make the cut.

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Embed

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.
... MORE →

 

While Andrei Kirilenko sat out for his third consecutive practice to rest his sore back, his Russian teammate joined him on the sidelines.

... MORE →

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.

Jeremy Lin:

Jeremy Lin

He probably can’t do that this year, considering that Kobe is his teammate, but this should work…

rockets-jeremy-lin-three-dance

if there are some made threes to celebrate, like from Nick “Swaggy P” Young:

Nick Young Celebration

Just ask Iggy Azalea if you want to hear more. That’s about all the Lakers are getting from his new 4 year, $21.5 million contract.

Kobe Bryant:

Does anything really need to be said about the Black Mamba? I’ll just let Kobe answer that question himself.

kobe-finger-wag-kobe-bryant-gifs

Robert Sacre:

Well… he’s a really good cheerleader.

sacre4_original_original

I mean, really good.

Sacre celebrations

Steve Nash:

He’s the oldest player in the NBA and quite fragile, so if he does reinjure himself, he'll be restricted to just peek-a-boo.

Steve Nash

And maybe some Gangnam Style, if he still thinks that’s cool.

Steve Nash Gangnam Style

Ed Davis:

Players like to posterize him.

Ed Davis Posterized

Carlos Boozer:

Speaks for itself.

Carlos Boozer blocked

Carlos-Boozer-Accidentally-Hits-Ref-in-Groin

In simplest terms, the Lakers will play under Kobe’s command, as long as Kobe plays. Lakers newly hired head coach, Byron Scott vacillates with his philosophies every team he’s with. He can teach this squad whatever he wants, but that really won’t matter. Kobe will still gut out everything he has until he physically can’t while Robert Sacre cheers from the sidelines.

That's about all Byron Scott can hope for.

Byron Scott

Soon, this will be the reaction from fans of the other 29 teams, while watching the 2015 Lakers highlights.

lakers

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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
... ">MORE →

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.
... ">MORE →