HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
2012-2013 Miami HEAT Season Preview
The Miami HEAT enter this season as the defending champions, but don’t expect this group to get complacent. Almost immediately after the team’s victory parade ended, everyone in the organization got back to work. The players went through the same intense training programs that they completed last summer. The front office used the limited money they had to persuade free agents Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to turn down larger offers from other teams and come to South Beach. The coaching staff met to discuss how they can get the most out of the talent on their star-studded roster. While some teams would be content after winning a title, the HEAT understand that they are held to a different standard and it’ll take multiple rings for this group to live up to expectations and completely silence their critics. As has been the case since this team was assembled, anything less than championship for Miami will be considered a disappointment.
HOOPSWORLD takes a look at the 2012-13 Miami HEAT:
Five Guys Think…
The Miami HEAT were the best team in basketball last year despite all the injury issues they had late in the year. They very easily could have stood pat, banked on being healthy next postseason and still been the favorites. Instead, Pat Riley brought in two former All-Stars in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. This team is still facing immense pressure, but they’ve grown together, are more talented overall and head coach Erik Spoelstra finally is off the hot seat. The Southeast Division and the NBA championship are Miami’s to lose.
1st Place – Southeast Division
– Yannis Koutroupis
Jonas Valanciunas Injury Scared Coach Casey
By Stephen Brotherston
Organizations love it when their prized players show up early to workout and get ready for the season before they have to. However, the last thing any coach wants to hear in September is that a prized player was injured at one of those workouts. On Saturday, the Toronto Raptors rookie center, Jonas Valanciunas, scared head coach Dwane Casey and just about everyone else connected to the organization.
“It scared me because I was at the NBA head coaches meeting in Chicago and I get this email that he (Valanciunas) heard something pop,” said Casey.
“He was here Saturday morning shooting with (assistant coach) Scott Roth and he went up to go into his shot and he felt something pop and your first thought is it’s his Achilles tendon.”
A picture of Valanciunas wearing a walking boot made its way onto the internet and led to speculation that Valanciunas’ injury could be serious.
“At that time, I don’t think they knew what it was and the internet had the picture of his boot,” explained Casey. “They (coaches/trainers) didn’t know what it was and not to take chances, they put a boot on it.”
Any injury to Valanciunas is serious, however. The young center has been playing under FIBA rules his entire professional career and he has a lot to learn before the season gets underway.
Time For Two NBA MVP Awards?
By Bill Ingram
You could just about have flipped a coin. When the NBA MVP vote came down to Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant and Miami HEAT star LeBron James, you had to split hairs to justify choosing one over the other. Durant lead the NBA in scoring with 28.0 points per game, but James was in third with 27.1. James was a little more efficient from the field, shooting 53 percent to Durant’s 49 percent, but Durant was better from three-point range, 38 percent to 36 percent and from the free throw line, 86 percent to 77 percent. Durant was also better in the clutch, often taking and making the game-winner and averaging 50.8 points per 48 minutes of clutch time, while James managed just 33.2 points per 48 minutes of clutch time.
Durant was slightly better on the glass, averaging 8.0 rebounds to James’ 7.9 per game. James gained an edge in assist numbers, with his 6.2 per game to Durant’s 3.5, but the rest of the stats across the board were a wash, with Durant owning a slight edge in blocks and James holding a slight edge in steals.
Statistically, it was pretty hard to distinguish between LeBron James and Kevin Durant as far as which was the better player, and it came as little surprise when the two met up in the NBA Finals.
But which one was MVP?
Evans Eager For Season to Start
By Yannis Koutroupis
Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans is entering the most important season of his young career. The front office has opted to wait on giving him an extension, meaning his play this season will largely determine how long his next contract is and how much it’s worth.
While that decision has dominated the headlines, Evans’ offseason dedication has largely flown under the radar. He’s been working out extensively with the Kings’ coaching staff basically all summer.
“I feel great, I’m excited,” Evans said to HOOPSWORLD. “I can’t wait for the season to start. I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready to make an impact and show what I’ve been working on.”
This has been a productive offseason for the Kings as a whole, not just Evans. They started things off strongly by drafting power forward Thomas Robinson fifth overall. Robinson, who plays with a motor that never stops, has the ability to really help the Kings in the rebounding department, where they were out-rebounded by 2.1 boards per game on average last season.
Then, in free agency, they landed one of the best bargains out there in free agent guard Aaron Brooks. Brooks will provide depth at the point guard position behind Isaiah Thomas and ensure that Evans doesn’t have to play out of position any longer.
2013 Draft Obligations
By Eric Pincus
It’s never too early to look ahead to the NBA Draft. Of course, the 2012-13 NBA season is about to start, but it’s the job of each and every general manager to plan for the future.
Draft picks are often used as currency in the NBA, especially when it comes to superstar dealings (Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, etc.).
HOOPSWORLD has broken down in detail the NBA Draft Obligations for 2013, listing where each team stands with their own pick and potential swaps.
Oftentimes, picks come with protections.
The Houston Rockets may owe the Atlanta Hawks a first-rounder, but it’s lottery protected and the Rockets do not project to be a playoff team this coming season.
The Charlotte Bobcats may lose their own first to the Chicago Bulls (top-12 protected), but also gain firsts from the Portland Trail Blazers (also top-12 protected) and Detroit Pistons (lottery protected).
Scenarios complicate quickly. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the right to swap first-rounders with the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, the Cavaliers may have three firsts (Miami’s, Sacramento’s and their own). Cleveland can swap the lowest of the three if none of the protections are met.
2012-2013 San Antonio Spurs Season Preview
The San Antonio Spurs were in control of the Western Conference Finals. They possessed a 2-0 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder and looked like they were heading back to the NBA Finals, where they have never lost.
Since their last championship in 2007, there’s been a series of issues they could point to as why they weren’t able to win it all. In 2011-12 there was just one: The Thunder was better. They responded to falling behind 0-2 with four straight wins, leaving the Spurs shocked and disappointed.
In typical fashion, the front office didn’t overreact. Rather than looking to make any significant changes, they kept the team together and only added an earlier draft pick. That makes internal development vital as they look to keep their championship window open.
HOOPSWORLD takes a look at the 2012-13 San Antonio Spurs.
Five Guys Think…
Never count out the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich always manages to put a contender on the floor, even when it seems like his team’s window has closed. Last year, the Spurs exceeded all expectations and looked unbeatable at times. They’ll bring back the same team this year and are a legitimate contender in the Western Conference. The Spurs know what they’re going to get from veterans like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, but if their younger contributors such as Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter can take the next step in their development, San Antonio will be a very tough team to beat. The Spurs should win the Southwest Division and then, as usual, make a deep postseason run.
1st Place – Southwest Division