HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Five Players Losing NBA All-Star Status?
By Bill Ingram
Yesterday, HOOPSWORLD’s Joel Brigham selected five NBA players who he believes will be first-time All-Stars in the 2013-14 season. Of course, if five new All-Stars are going to take the court, it means that five players who were All-Stars in the past are going to be watching the proceedings in street clothes.
Here’s a look at five former All-Stars who may find themselves out of the limelight when the big event takes place in New Orleans in 2014.
Six NBA Storylines To Watch – West
By Jabari Davis
With the NBA finally on the precipice of returning to action, the landscape is literally filled with intriguing storylines to follow as we head into the season. Media days are scheduled to begin as early as this Friday for teams playing internationally during the preseason.
From the surprises throughout the 2013 NBA Draft, to the big-name free agents electing to relocate, to the flurry of unexpected transactions that have all taken place since late-June, there are essentially countless storylines to get excited about entering the 2013-14 campaign. Yesterday, Moke Hamilton looked at the top storylines in the Eastern Conference.
Today, we’ll look at the top stories we’ll be following in the Western Conference:
Ten Of The Best New Contracts This Offseason
By Mark Deeks
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed to save teams from themselves, and make reckless spending far harder to do. It works – most free agency contracts are now, frankly, well priced.
Here, in no particular order, are ten of the best ones from this past offseason:
Best Friends Reunite in Philly
By Alex Kennedy
Michael Carter-Williams dribbled the ball up the court and made eye contact with Nerlens Noel. They were the two most athletic and talented players on the court, but their biggest strength seemed to be that they were always on the same page. In this instance, they were in sync for an alley-oop. Carter-Williams waited for Noel to spin around his defender and then lobbed the ball toward the basket. Noel swiped the ball out of midair, slamming it with authority and shaking the backboard.
While this sounds like something out of a Philadelphia 76ers practice, this sequence occurred years ago. Long before Carter-Williams and Noel were teammates on the 76ers – long before Noel had the recognizable flattop – they were playing side by side on the same AAU team. The duo played for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club, one of the most prestigious AAU teams in the country. They were coached by Leo Papile and were a dominant duo, as expected.
The two players had an excellent connection on the court, but they were even closer off of the court. They were thrilled when, on draft night, the 76ers acquired both of them. After all of these years, they can’t believe that they’re reuniting in Philadelphia. Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie did his homework on the players and wanted them to be the cornerstones of his franchise for years to come.
End Of The Line For Danny Granger?
By Lang Greene
Last season, the Indiana Pacers were just one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since the 2000 campaign after pushing the two-time defending champion Miami HEAT to the brink in an Eastern Conference Finals matchup.
One player noticeably missing from the lineup was former All-Star forward Danny Granger. The veteran was limited to just five games in 2013 after battling patellar tendinosis in his left knee. Granger received a second injection last October for the condition but it didn’t alleviate the issue after his brief return to the lineup and surgery became the recommended option.
While all signs point toward Granger being available at some point during training camp, there are whispers around the league circulating that Granger is finished as a guy who can consistently play 30-plus minutes over the course of an 82 game season. Granger, as you may recall, was red flagged entering the 2005 draft for a separate issue with the same knee.
So while most are asking is Granger and All-Star forward Paul George can co-exist together, there are legitimate concerns on whether or not the veteran will even be able to return to form.
Thibodeau Preps For New Challenge
By Yannis Koutroupis
For Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, last season was all about survival. On paper the team’s potential took a major hit with Derrick Rose out due to a torn ACL, but Thibodeau’s proud and resilient squad still managed to win 45 games and a first round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.
Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that the Bulls are set to improve a great deal now that their leader and star player is set to make his return to the lineup after a year away from the game. However, Thibodeau isn’t making the mistake of thinking that Rose’s return will solve all of the team’s issues and automatically make them the best team in the Eastern Conference.
League Takes More Uniform Risks
By Joel Brigham
Earlier this week, news leaked out that the Miami HEAT and Brooklyn Nets were considering uniforms in which the backs of jerseys featured players’ nicknames rather than their legal surnames. LeBron James’ Miami jersey, for example, would have “King James” on his back rather than just “James,” and Chris Andersen would undeniably wear a jersey that featured the name “Birdman” on the back.
It’s a fun idea (even though it’s not a new idea), but it’s not the only change in NBA uniforms we’ll see this year. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the major uniform updates fans can expect for the 2013-14 season, which finally gets underway this Friday when some teams start training camp:
The NBA Media Labyrinth
By Travis Heath
It was a running joke as media members sat huddled in the corner of the visiting locker room. Which of the new guys would be stupid enough to approach Kevin Garnett prior to the game and ask for an interview? Usually he hangs out in the training room for the entire media availability so that he doesn’t even have to cross paths with someone holding a microphone. However, if someone did approach him, that’s when things got interesting.
You see, everyone knows Garnett “doesn’t talk pre-game.” And he’s not the only one. There are myriad of unwritten rules around star players in the NBA regarding when they will talk, when they won’t and to whom. Many fans may believe it is as simple as approaching a player, asking him to speak and then that player will simply sit down and speak for however long the reporter needs. If only the process were that simple.
Is Maxing Out Carmelo Anthony a Mistake?
By Tommy Beer
The New York Knicks franchise has finally sniffed success after a decade spent decaying in the doldrums.
Last season, the Knicks captured the Atlantic Division crown for the first time since 1994; they notched over 50 wins for the first time since 1997. Prior to last April, the Knicks hadn’t won a playoff series since Bill Clinton was in office.
The primary driving force behind the Knicks’ desperately-desired recent prosperity has been Carmelo Anthony.
Predicting The Major NBA Awards — Part 1
By Moke Hamilton
The 2010-11 NBA season shall remain the primary exhibit of why the game needs to be played.
After LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, the HEAT were expected to dominate. Absolutely nobody expected Derrick Rose to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 62-20 record and become the youngest MVP in league history.
That year, nobody had Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks besting the star-studded HEAT in the NBA Finals.
Last season’s meteoric ascent by the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol earning the honor of being named the Defensive Player of the Year are only the most recent examples of not counting eggs, or awards, before they hatch.
So with NBA training camps rapidly approaching, in the first of this two part installment, HOOPSWORLD takes a very early look at some of the candidates that may emerge for this season’s end of year awards.
Westbrook, Durant Confident Entering Season
By Susan Bible
Hold on to your seats, NBA fans, the return of professional basketball is right around the corner.
At the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Media Day the topic du jour was, of course, the status of Russell Westbrook. Thunder general manager Sam Presti recently confirmed that the Thunder’s starting point guard, last seen on crutches in the postseason, may not be cleared to play by the season opener.
Westbrook was asked that question directly.
“I’m not sure,” Westbrook said. “I just know that I wake up in the morning, get to my rehab, then go back to sleep and do it all over again. I’m just taking it one day at a time and try not to look ahead. When something like this happens, you have to take it slow. There’s no need for me to rush into looking ahead at the schedule.”
Westbrook currently holds the longest active streak of regular season games played in the NBA. Is that record destined to end?