HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
2013-14′s Most Anticipated NBA Team?
By Bill Ingram
Whether or not you happen to be a fan of the Houston Rockets, odds are, as you look at all of the changes made across the NBA this offseason, you’re going to be keeping at least half an eye on the new dynamic duo of Dwight Howard and James Harden. Howard has been one of the top stories in the league for the last two seasons as he made quite a spectacle of himself and his decision about where to play long-term. The overall effect of that has been that he completely alienated fan bases in Orlando and on the Lakers’ side of Los Angeles. Now it’s time for him to put that drama behind him, and the Rockets have put a team around him that looks ready to help him do that in a big way.
Lakers Optimistic Despite Transition
By Jabari Davis
As we approach the dawn of a new NBA season players, coaches and fans alike wait with bated breath in anticipation. Media day, much like the first day of school, is where you are able to roll out the new clothes (or uniform), see both new and familiar faces, and approach the season with a rejuvenated sense of excitement over the uncertainties and unknown variables surrounding the team’s ultimate chances. One thing that is certain, this 2013-14 Lakers squad already seems to have a greater sense of togetherness than last year’s ill-fated team ever displayed.
The day was filled with terms like “we” and “together” and a general united front all the way down to the overall message each player/coach shared.
There were no 73-9 W/L predictions, although, admittedly, we miss you already, Metta World Peace.
There were no discussions over “whose team this was?” or “what player(s) would be taking the last shot?”
There wasn’t even too much of a focus upon what is likely to become a somewhat nauseating, season-long summer of 2014 free agency discussion.
Ten Of The Worst 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.
But not all of them.
After taking a look at the best contracts of the offseason last week, here, in no particular order, are ten of the worst ones from this past offseason:
The Rockets’ Honeymooning Period
By Yannis Koutroupis
We’re at the point of the offseason where every team is optimistic and thinks that they can either meet or exceed expectations. However, there may not be any team – other than the Brooklyn Nets – whose offseason improvements justify feeling that way more than the Houston Rockets.
The atmosphere surrounding the Rockets right now is as electric as it’s ever been, even dating back to Hakeem Olajuwon’s prime years. The drastic improvements the team made last year while ending a three-year long playoff drought coupled with the addition of All-Star center and defensive stalwart Dwight Howard has the city and team talking championship.
It’s rightfully so too, as this Rockets team undoubtedly has the potential to develop into a championship contender. And, there’s a certain amount of celebrating that should occur with the roster Daryl Morey and his staff, much of which got plucked away by other teams later in the summer, put together. To compare where they are now to a year ago when Kevin Martin was their best player going into training camp, it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come along. It took a series of calculated risks that could have ruined the master plan completely, but it all worked out in the Rockets favor and now they have one of the best teams in the West on paper
Orlando Magic Like Where They Stand
By Steve Kyler
As the Orlando Magic open training camp today, there are no delusions from management or the players that Orlando is a bona fide playoff contender, but what they do believe is that as a team and an organization, they are headed in the right direction.
“I’m seeing this season with great anticipation,” Magic CEO Alex Martins told HOOPSWORLD. “First of all, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since our new basketball operations team has been in place because they have accomplished so much in 12 months’ time, but I’m anticipating this season from the standpoint from the work that our players have put in this summer. I’ve watched them, on their own, working hard all summer long to improve their game. As you know, to make major leaps in improving your own game personally, you have to do it in the offseason. In the regular season it just doesn’t happen because of the lack of time, practices, and travel and games, so if you’re going to make major leaps in your game, if you’re going to personally improve, you have to do it in the offseason. Our guys have really put in the time and the effort, in my opinion, this off season to do that. You notice the difference in a lot of them physically and I do believe that once they get out on the floor you’ll notice the improvement in the skills in their game as well, so I really look with great anticipation for this upcoming season.”
The Magic did not make many splashy moves in the offseason, focusing more on the draft and internal development. Part of that development was urging their young guys to stay in Orlando during the summer and creating an environment for them to work in the Magic’s facility.
Clippers’ Fate up to DeAndre Jordan
By Eric Pincus
The Los Angeles Clippers opened training camp with media day on Monday, with hopes Coach Doc Rivers will propel the team well past the first round of the playoffs.
Last season the Clippers had one of the best years in franchise history with 56 wins, only to fall in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“We’ve proven we can win games,” said Rivers. “What we haven’t proven is that we can sustain winning in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Rivers, who replaced Vinny Del Negro, said on Monday that he believes the Clippers have a real chance to win their first NBA title.
“I look at our team and I think we have a chance to do something,” said Rivers. “When you look at the players that are on the paper and if we can get them on the floor, and performing together, I think we can be a special team.”
The Clippers are loaded at both guard positions and at small forward. Blake Griffin is one of the best power forwards in the game. Chris Paul may be the top point guard in the NBA.
For the franchise to take the next step, center DeAndre Jordan needs to emerge as a consistent, dominant defender.
The Amar’e Stoudemire Tragedy
By Moke Hamilton
Standing tall and talented, with flashing bulbs and millions of eyes on him, Amar’e Stoudemire told the world of his decision.
With the hopes of a desperate fan base and the weight of 10 years of incompetent management, Stoudemire stood before it all.
With a $100 million smile, gray suit and blue dress shirt, he gleefully told the world that he had decided to try to lead a revival in New York City.
Now, just three short years later, his story has quickly become one of the modern NBA’s tragedies.
Will Ryan Anderson’s Tears Be For Naught?
By Travis Heath
“Tears are the silent language of grief.” – Voltaire
It is a subject that remains taboo in our culture. Some of my students dare not even say the word out loud. To engage in conversations on the topic can provoke extreme anxiety. However, failure to engage in such conversations should no longer be an option.
Let the word swim around in your consciousness for a minute no matter how uncomfortable it might feel. Resist the urge to let your mind distract itself or perhaps the tendency to avoid. Believe it or not, you have just participated in the first step towards tackling this problem.
The Golden Age of Point Guards
By Alex Kennedy
It’s often said that this is the golden age of passing in the NFL. Stars such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have put up monster numbers in recent years. Up-and-coming quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are experiencing success quicker than ever and leading teams to the postseason. NFL offenses are passing the ball more frequently and when they are running, the ball is increasingly in the quarterback’s hand thanks to the implementation of the read option.
A similar golden age of passing is occurring in the NBA, where teams are relying more heavily on point guards and the position is deep with talent. Stars such as Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams are in their primes and very important to their respective teams. There is also a wealth of talented young point guards throughout the league such as Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, John Wall and Damian Lillard among others. Point guards are no longer expected to just dribble the ball up the court and distribute the ball to their teammates; more and more point guards are not only their team’s facilitator, but also one of their best scorers. Shoot-first point guards like Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury changed the position and now the league is full of point guards who are elite offensive weapons in addition to being excellent at running an offense.
Schroder Represents Future For Atlanta Hawks
By Lang Greene
The Atlanta Hawks entered the offseason with an abundance of salary cap space and the goal of luring All-Stars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard into town. However, Paul opted to remain in Los Angeles and Howard decided to sign in Houston after briefly considering the Hawks during the free agency process.
Since then, the talk in Atlanta has largely been about the team’s marquee misses during free agency. However, in doing so, those observers may be overlooking a potential diamond in the rough that the club scooped in June’s draft.
The Hawks selected promising point guard Dennis Schroder with the No. 17 overall pick in this year’s draft. As training camp picks up steam, the rookie guard has made a solid first impression on veterans Elton Brand and Lou Williams – two players who have been around great talent. Both rave about Schroder’s poise and defensive prowess and each predict a very bright future
Dunleavy Already Fitting In With Bulls
By Joel Brigham
There are a million reasons that Mike Dunleavy, Jr. was the perfect signing for the Chicago Bulls this past offseason, so it’s hard to decide where to begin an exposition praising him for finding his way to the Windy City.
]For starters, Dunleavy is coming off a year in which he shot a career-high 42.8 percent from deep, giving the Bulls their first consistent three point threat since bidding adieu to Kyle Korver over a year ago. He’s very efficient offensively all-around and has a reputation as an excellent cutter. That should do wonders for the Bulls’ halfcourt game and keep defenders honest when considering double-teams for Joakim Noah or Carlos Boozer.
Also, on a defense-first team like Chicago, Dunleavy is a really good team defender and a respectable individual defender. Perhaps best of all, he was cheap, taking a pay cut despite more lucrative offers so that he could sign with a team in Chicago that would give him a real shot at a championship.
Fantasy Basketball: 2013-14 Top 150 Rankings
By Tommy Beer
Yes, it’s about that time folks. Training camps are in full swing, and actual preseason games tip off tomorrow night. This means that fantasy basketball drafts are right around the corner. But have no worries, the fantasy nerds here at HOOPSWORLD have been busy crunching numbers, analyzing trends, and have already begun crafting the industry’s best cheat sheets for your use on draft day.
Below is the first of many Top-150 overall rankings we will post throughout the 2013-14 NBA season.