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NBA AM: Logjams Heading Into Training Camp
Posted By Lang Greene On August 30, 2013 @ 8:37 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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After a summer filled with activity, NBA training camps are set to open in a month. With that being said, there are numerous situations to watch as guys attempt to carve their respective spots into the rotation next season. The odd men out could be headed to the unemployment line, trading block or a season of riding the pine.
Here are some situations worth watching, whether logjams, competition for starting spots or battles for reserve minutes:
After spending the past six seasons expected to contend for a title, the Celtics are now seemingly at the start of a rebuilding project. There is still a decent mix of talent on the roster, especially at shooting guard, but the playoffs may be a stretch for this unit.
Boston features five guys who will be seeking to earn consistent minutes in the rotation. Bradley and Crawford are in contract years with plenty on the line, while the talented Brooks fell out of Brooklyn’s rotation last season after a promising rookie campaign. Lee made 39 starts for Boston last season and is under contract through 2016. Bogans is also under contract through 2016, but his deal is non-guaranteed after this season.
On paper the Cavaliers look stacked at center with a former All-Star leading the crop. But the problem is Bynum hasn’t played a NBA game since May 2012 and Varejao has missed 149 games over the past three seasons. Zeller showed promise during his rookie season and followed it up with a solid showing during summer league. If all three guys are healthy, there will be a stiff competition in Cleveland for minutes in the middle.
Lawson is the clear leader of the Nuggets and will be the key to their playoff aspirations, but the battle for minutes between Miller and Robinson will be one to watch. The Nuggets signed Robinson to a two-year deal this summer. Miller’s deal runs through next season as well, but is non-guaranteed. Miller, 37, has missed only seven games during his 14 year career.
The addition of All-Star center Dwight Howard in free agency has fans in Houston singing optimism. If the Rockets are to make noise in the improving Western Conference their point guard production will be an integral part of the success.
Lin started all 82 regular season games for the Rockets last season, but Beverley stepped up huge during the playoffs and will look to steal even more minutes from the incumbent starter. The presence of Brooks will add even more competition. Brooks averaged 19.6 points per game in 2010 on his way to winning the league’s Most Improved Player award.
For the first time in franchise history the Clippers will enter a season with legitimate championship hopes. All-Star guard has been locked into a long term deal and the team invested heavily in head coach Doc Rivers to lead the effort.
One area to watch will be at shooting guard. The team acquired Redick in a sign-and-trade deal over the summer but the veteran has only 54 career starts in seven seasons. Crawford has established himself as an elite reserve in recent years but has 39 career starts should Rivers look to add experience to his first unit.
The Bucks acquired Butler earlier this week from Phoenix to add more experience to their wing attack. Butler is a former All-Star but is coming off his lowest scoring output since the 2004 campaign. Delfino signed a three-year deal this summer but is expected to miss the start of the season after suffering a fractured bone in his right foot. Antetokounmpo was Milwaukee’s first round pick in this past June’s draft, No. 15 overall. The rookie has loads of potential and represents the future, but whether he can send the veterans to the bench so early in his career remains to be seen.
The Knicks are expected to be among the top five teams in the Eastern Conference this season. How far the team can go, outside of Carmelo Anthony’s talent, may hinge on their power forward group.
Stoudemire has been unable to remain healthy over extended stretches in recent years, but still was highly productive (21.8 points Per 36) last season despite a minutes restriction. Martin proved to be a solid late year signing last season and was re-signed this summer. New York is banking on Bargnani, a former overall No. 1 pick, to add another scoring option in the rotation next to Anthony.
The Suns have decided to blow up the roster and invest in a youth movement and it is evident when viewing the team’s talent pool at point guard. The team acquired Bledsoe from Los Angeles (Clippers) and he is fully expected to become the team’s floor general of the future.
However Dragic is still present, owed $22 million through 2016 and put up very strong numbers last season in 77 starts for the franchise. Marshall, on the other hand, was rumored to be available for the right package
Sacramento will enter the season with a new coach, Mike Malone, and with that being said the point guard competition will be open. The team acquired Vasquez who came into his own last season with the Pelicans and he may enter camp as a slight favorite. Thomas started 62 games last season and averaged 15 points and over four assists as the lead man. Fredette appears to be the odd man out of the mix but Kings officials won’t publicly admit their desire to move him.
Despite Struggles, Wizards’ Vesely Has No Intention Of Leaving NBA
The Washington Wizards are primed to compete for an Eastern Conference playoff spot next season behind the core of John Wall, Brad Beal and Nene. One player looking to step up and earn a bigger spot in the rotation is forward Jan Vesely.
Vesely, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2011 draft, has struggled mightily while attempting to adapt to the speed and physicality of the NBA game. However the forward has completely ruled out returning overseas.
“I didn’t talk with anybody,” Vesely told RealGM.com. “My goal remains the same to stay in the NBA as long as I can.
“The main thing is that in Europe I was playing as a small forward, and in the NBA I was moved to four position. In summer league, I even played as a center sometimes. So I had to fight with big guys. Coach puts me on the floor, so I have to adjust my game and play for a position.”
The Wizards have reached the playoffs since the 2008 campaign. Vesely averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds last season on 50 percent shooting.
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