HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
The Amar’e Stoudemire Deception?
By Bill Ingram
Every year about this time the Ingram family takes part in what is now a third-generation tradition, and thanks to the wonders of digital media it is no longer constrained by the network television schedule. When I was a kid, I had to wait for one of the channels to air, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” but my daughter has no such disadvantage. Any time she wants to watch Snoopy rise out of the pumpkin patch we just fire up the Apple TV and off he goes.
One of her favorite parts is the scene where Charlie Brown tries to kick the football, which Lucy is dutifully holding. The two have a long history together, in which Lucy always pulls the ball out at the last second and Charlie Brown goes flying through the air and lands flat on his back in disgrace. This time, however, Lucy swears, even produces a signed document stating that she will not pull the football. Charlie Brown gets his running start, gleeful that he is finally going to get to kick that football and, of course, Lucy pulls it at the last second, sending my daughter into fits of hysteria, like the ones I had as a kid.
Which brings us to Amar’e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks.
Are Playoffs the Only Goal for Blazers?
By Eric Pincus
After missing the playoffs two years in a row, the Portland Trail Blazers are focusing now on a postseason berth.
Should a third-straight lottery appearance be considered a failure or are the Blazers ahead of schedule?
Portland began the rebuilding process in 2011 after getting knocked out in the first round three years in a row (2009-11). General manager Neil Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts were brought in last summer — along with unanimous Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, drafted with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Suddenly the Blazers had a very potent one-two punch with Lillard and All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, along with two strong wing players in Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews.
More Of The Same With The Grizzlies
By Steve Kyler
The Memphis Grizzlies went to the Western Conference Finals last season, the deepest the team had ever gotten as a franchise, so when the Grizzlies opted not to re-sign head coach Lionel Hollins it was immediately assumed the team would go backwards under new head coach and former assistant coach Dave Joerger. However, the mindset behind the hiring of Joerger was to keep much of what worked, but focus on improving in areas where the Grizzlies were deficient and the biggest area of weakness was the pace of their offense.
A season ago the Grizzlies averaged 93.4 points per game, fourth worst in the NBA, tying them with the Charlotte Bobcats. It was Memphis’ defense that won them games, however in the postseason Memphis’ slowed-down pace cost them in the playoffs, as they were swept in the West Finals by the Spurs because they simply couldn’t score.
Increasing the pace of play has been a key emphasis for Joerger in his first year as the head coach of the Grizzlies.
Breaking Down the NBA’s Central Division
By Joel Brigham
This week HOOPSWORLD will be rolling out a series that breaks down each division in the NBA as we come to the end of the preseason. While not everything that happens in those games is entirely indicative of what’s to come when the real games get underway, but we have seen enough from players and teams to get some sense of where these organizations are headed in 2013-14.
We’ll start with the Central Division and then hit up the other divisions later in the week, so make sure you check back the next few days to get your full breakdowns for each team in professional basketball.
Carter-Williams Takes 76ers’ Reins
By Alex Kennedy
Unlike many of the rookies in this year’s NBA draft class, Michael Carter-Williams will be handed the reins and a starting job from day one of his NBA career. Not only is Carter-Williams the Philadelphia 76ers’ point guard of the future, he’s their point guard of the present.
The 11th overall pick in the draft will have every opportunity to succeed in Philly, leading a young core that also includes Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Nerlens Noel, Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes – all of whom are 25 years old or younger. While the 76ers may not win many games this year, it’ll be an excellent chance for Carter-Williams to develop as a point guard and prove himself as a rookie.
Analyzing the Annual GM Survey
By Yannis Koutroupis
As they do every year, NBA.com polled all 30 NBA general managers on a variety of topics, 56 to be exact, related to the upcoming season. It’s always interesting to get inside the head of team’s top decision makers, especially when they’re protected by anonymity to ensure their honesty.
Much to the surprise of nobody, the Miami HEAT were voted as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2013-14 NBA Championship. The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs received votes as well, but 75.9 percent of the GMs chose the defending champs to three-peat. That’s a slight increase over last year’s 70 percent vote, but oddly enough in the vote over just who will win the Eastern Conference, the HEAT received 10 percent less votes than they did last year.
Breaking Down the NBA’s Atlantic Division
By Moke Hamilton
This is the second of HOOPSWORLD’s division-by-division previews as we come to the end of the NBA preseason.
Although what happens in the preseason is not entirely indicative of what is to come when the real games get underway, we have seen enough from players and teams to get some sense of where these organizations are headed in 2013-14.
In the first installment, we took a look at the Central Division and continue along by breaking down the NBA’s Atlantic Division.
Pacers Respond To Derrick Rose
By Lang Greene
The return of former league MVP Derrick Rose to the court has been one of the preseason’s most talked about storylines. Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 campaign recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs and has looked impressive during the preseason.
Prior to his injury, Rose had led the Chicago Bulls to the NBA’s best regular season record for two consecutive years. With Rose out of the lineup last season, the emerging Indiana Pacers captured the Central Division crown and pushed the eventual champion Miami HEAT to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pacers have entered this season with legitimate title aspirations. But despite Indiana’s recent success, Rose recently refused to acknowledge Indiana as a true rival of the Bulls.
Rose’s comment caught the attention of Pacers starting point guard George Hill and the veteran still cannot understand how Rose didn’t come to the conclusion that the teams do have a budding rivalry.
Advice For The NBA’s Worst Teams
By Travis Heath
Many say the NFL is the land of parity. I would humbly submit that it is instead the land of mediocrity due in large part to the hard salary cap. Even so, it’s great fun to be a fan of a team in the league because virtually every franchise has a legitimate chance of making it to the playoffs and, once in the playoffs, winning a Super Bowl.
Life is much different in the NBA. Only a handful of teams have a legitimate shot of winning it all. Further, it’s fairly easy to decipher which teams those are before the first ball is tossed up in the preseason.
Conversely, there are teams in the league that have virtually no shot of making it to the postseason. These franchises are easy to pick out because those at the top are touting three-year or even five-year plans.
So what is one to do as a fan of one of these inevitable cellar dwellers? Rather than praying for wins that won’t come, what follows are a list of qualities and ways of interacting that good rebuilding franchises would be apt to adopt based on the psychological literature.
Fantasy Hoops: Sleepers & Undervalued Assets
By Tommy Beer
Each October there are players who don’t possess the requisite name recognition to be viewed as top-tier talents, and consequently slip further than they should in fantasy drafts. However, by the time April rolls around, many of these players are often found on teams that finish in first place after drastically outperforming their average draft position. Shrewd GM’s can take advantage of their league-mates reluctance to think outside the box by targeting these select few.
Below we have listed a handful of undervalued commodities on the precipice of breakout seasons in 2013-14:
Breaking Down The NBA’s Pacific Division
By Jabari Davis
We continue the week-long series that started with our breakdown of the NBA’s Central and Atlantic divisions, with today’s feature on the Pacific Division. While the preseason action is far from an exact indication of what will actually take place in the regular season, the games do provide a bit of insight into how teams may develop from a chemistry perspective.
With so many new coaches and players having changed locations, lingering and new injuries as well as pending returns of key players, the balance of power within divisions and conferences could have shifted drastically within a single offseason.
Fantasy Hoops: Sneaky Plays
By Susan Bible
Thinking outside the proverbial box is an asset to any fantasy basketball owner on draft day. We all want a roster full of proven stars, but as the rounds fly by, owners are charged with weighing risks, then taking risks, in making those late-round decisions. Wise owners don’t immediately discount rookies, veterans and the wide-or-narrow implications of injuries without deep analysis.
HOOPSWORLD decided to take a different approach in identifying certain players who are probably nowhere near the top of fantasy owners’ cheat sheets. These are guys that have real potential to contribute this season; it may work out, it may not, but they are worth consideration. We call them sneaky draft plays.