Join HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy for his weekly NBA chat this Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. Submit your questions early because this chat fills up fast!
Hi Alex. Do you really think the Nets can live up to their expectations this season?
Hey, what’s up everyone? Thanks for stopping by and submitting your questions. After a very interesting offseason, training camps are finally underway and the season is less than a month from kicking off. There’s plenty to talk about so let’s get started.
Every team is optimistic right now and setting the bar high. That’s what happens every October when players show up for media day. Every team believes this is their year and that they can emerge as contenders – partly to sell tickets and get fans excited, party because they’re overrating the roster.
I think the Nets will be a very good team and I think they’ll go on a deep postseason run. But will they win the championship this year? No. I think they’re a notch below teams like the Lakers, Heat and Thunder. I expect them to be the most improved team this season since they won so few games last year, but I’m not sold that they’re a contender. This Sunday, we’ll be doing a roundtable where our writers weigh in on the Nets and Knicks and what to expect from both teams during the 2012-13 season. Make sure you check that out.
Do you think this is Boston’s Final run at the NBA title?
The Celtics are like the Spurs – it’s always dangerous to count them out. For the last few years, we’ve talked about Boston’s window closing, but every year they manage to win a bunch of games and exceed expectations in the postseason. I don’t think this is their final run, especially since Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Bass, Lee, Terry and Bradley are under contract for several more seasons. As long as this core is together, they’ll have a shot. It’ll be extremely difficult for them to compete with Miami, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, especially as their best players continue to decline, but they’ll be in the mix.
How do you think the Orlando Magic will fare this season, the first without Dwight?
I think it’s going to be an ugly year in Orlando. I just covered the Magic’s media day and there was a lot of talk about “patience” and the “long-term plan,” which is another way of saying that this is going to be a losing year. Right now, the Magic are saying that they hope to win right away, but everyone knows their goal is to develop their young talent. Even Magic GM Rob Hennigan didn’t deny that the team may trade away their veteran pieces at the deadline to create minutes for their young guys and increase the likelihood that they’d get a top pick. I don’t think the Magic will be the worst team in the league since they have talented veterans like Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington, etc. With that said, I think they’ll be a lottery team and they could become significantly worse if Hennigan decides to move some of those veterans prior to February’s trade deadline.
Is Dwight Howard and CP3 pulling a Deron Williams in which they’ll re-sign with their own teams to get more years and money during the offseason?
Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are waiting until after this season to sign new deals because it doesn’t make sense financially for them to sign extensions. Rather than extending their current deal for three more years and $60 million, Howard and Paul can sign a new five-year deal worth about $117 million next offseason. Superstars won’t sign extensions under this collective bargaining agreement – it’s bad business. They’ll do exactly what Deron Williams did last year: Play out the season, let their contract expire and then weigh their options. If a player wants to re-sign with their current team, they’ll wait to sign a new contract rather than extend their existing one.
When scouting… do you rely on other people’s opinions often? Or are you stubborn and absolutely have to see it for yourself? Because A LOT of news/analysis/opinions i feel all come from the same brain trust or pool of knowledge. It drives me crazy. My philosophy is… watch the game… watch the player… form your own opinion. Your thoughts?
For me, it’s a combination of both. I always like to see a player so that I can form my own, unique opinion. That’s why every year during the pre-draft process I travel to the IMG Academy in Florida, Impact Basketball in Las Vegas and other training sites around the country to see the prospects up close and get a feel for their game. With that said, I also talk to scouts, executives, coaches and players to see what they think. They see things differently than I do so I like to pick their brains and compare their opinions with my own. I agree that a lot of media members will regurgitate the same information, which is frustrating. I try not to do that.
Hoopsworld released an article that Magic GM Rob Henningan was in ‘win now’ mode. Do you think that’s best for the team long term to play their mediocre veterans while benching their young talent? Will this strategy ultimately cost them the chance to get a top 5 pick in 2013?
No general manager is going to walk into media day and say that they plan to suck. Rob Hennigan is entering his first year in Orlando and he has to say that the team will try to compete and win games, especially since they have to fill up their new arena on a nightly basis and that’s not easy to do when a team is rebuilding. I’d be surprised if Orlando doesn’t try to trade their veterans at the deadline. The long-term goal is to develop the young talent and build through the draft. Even if they don’t want to admit it, everyone that I’ve talked to has made it clear that that’s the master plan.
Hi Alex who grabs the 8 seed in the west? Will Steph Curry play 70 games next year?
I think it’ll come down to the Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. One of those teams will sneak into the playoffs and it’ll likely be the team that can stay healthy.
As far as Stephen Curry goes, I think he needs to play 70 games this year if he wants a big payday next summer. He’s in a contract year and he needs to prove that he can stay healthy. During his first two years in the league, he played 80 games and 74 games so 70 games is definitely possible. He says he’s feeling good, but we’ll see if that continues.
Barring any injuries or chemistry issues, if Nash-Kobe-Ron-Pau-Dwight gel perfectly, how can this team be beaten? Don’t get me wrong I believe MIA & OKC are still the teams to beat but how could they defend all 5? Sure Lebron & Durant present an individual daily mismatch but the Lakers are teams mismatch, an advantage at almost every position.
They don’t have any glaring weaknesses, which is why this team is so scary. The Lakers are the best team on paper entering the season. They’re going to be incredibly difficult to beat, especially in a seven-game series.
Bradley Beal… aka batman is my darkhorse for ROY!!! Do you think he’ll get any love for the honor?? Also, do you have anything to say to the haters that he’s too small for the SG spot??
Just look at the shiny max deal EG got in NOLA, thanks my man
Bradley Beal will certainly be in the mix along with other rookies who are expected to play a big role right away like like Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jonas Valanciunas and Dion Waiters. Sometimes the Rookie of the Year race comes down to which player plays the most minutes and attempts the most shots. I’m a big fan of Beal and I think he’s going to do very well in Washington. He’ll have every opportunity to succeed with the Wizards. I’m not concerned about his height. He’s been successful at every level and I think his game will translate well to the NBA.
Mr. Kennedy who are your top 5 candidates for Most Improved this year?
The Most Improved Player award is so tough to predict. The winner always seems to come out of nowhere and have a breakout year, like Ryan Anderson last season. If I had to pick five candidates, I’d go with Nikola Pekovic, J.J. Hickson, O.J. Mayo, Arron Afflalo and Omer Asik. All of those guys are in situations where they’ll be asked to produce more this year and they could see their numbers increase significantly as a result.
Hi Alex luv your chats brotha! Keep up the great work!!
Q for ya, looking at this roster there’ a lot of redundant talent in the frontcourt. If Favors breaks out like EVERYONE is predicting, do you think they’re more likely to move Al Jeff or Millsap? I’d move Jefferson because A.) he’s a more expensive expiring contract, and B.) Favors had much higher statistics as a starting C. Do you agree?
Al Jefferson is a bigger expiring contract, but I think Paul Millsap has more value. I do agree that Utah needs to trade one or the other though to make room for Derrick Favors. He was productive last season when given minutes and he’s definitely a big part of their future. The Jazz have tried to sign Millsap to an extension, but he has made it clear that he wants to test free agency. Rather than losing him for nothing, it may make sense for Utah to deal Millsap before the trade deadline to ensure that they get something in return for him.
What would be the weakest link for Lakers bench? Back up PG? Do you think Chris Douglas-Roberts will make the roster and will be a good addition to Lakers bench and how?
Back-up point guard is definitely the weakest link for the Lakers bench. Steve Blake is inconsistent and Chris Duhon was terrible last year in Orlando. Jodie Meeks is a solid back-up shooting guard who was a starter until this season, Devin Ebanks has produced when given consistent minutes, Antawn Jamison is obviously a very good reserve and Jordan Hill emerged as a contributor for the Lakers last season. Two through five is great, but the Lakers’ back-up point guards are mediocre and may be an issue.
If Tyreke “finds” his jumper and DMC becoms the “beast” we think he can be, do you think the Kings have a chance o make some noise? Possibly 8th seed?
The Kings will show improvement, but I can’t see them making the playoffs. There are too many good teams in the Western Conference. Sacramento seems headed in the right direction, but I think they’re still another year or two away from getting into the postseason and making noise in the West.
Has Alec Burks been handed the starting SG spot in Utah or will he have to beat out Randy Foye for it?
After watching him absolutely dominate the competition during the Orlando Summer League, I’m hoping that Burks is handed the starting shooting guard job. He worked very hard over the offseason and he’s clearly more of a long-term answer than Randy Foye. If it were my team, I’d start Burks, but I don’t know what the Jazz plan to do. If Burks does end up starting, I do think he could be poised for a big season.
If the line for wins on Golden State this year was .500 or 41 wins. Would you personally bet on the over or the under? Talent says yes, injury possibilities make one hesitant. Which way would Alex Kennedy lean?
It could go either way. As you said, they have the talent, but they’re relying on two stars who are extremely injury prone in Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut. With that said, I’d lean toward over because they really improved their bench over the offseason. Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Carl Landry and Andris Biedrins is an excellent second unit. Because the Warriors are two deep at every position, I think they’ll be able to overcome some injuries. If Curry and Bogut are sidelined for long stretches, they’ll be in trouble, but if they can stay relatively healthy then this team could be very good and make the playoffs.
Gallinari has clearly been hyped up a lot as being full of untapped potential. Do you this is the year my Gallo finally steps up and unleashes it all?
It’s definitely possible. He was playing at very high level last season before injuries slowed him down. This could be the year that he puts it all together and starts to realize his full potential. Then again, it could be the year that he takes a step back since he’ll have to coexist with Andre Iguodala and Wilson Chandler. We’ll see what happens.
What do you think of Damian Lillard? What do you think he will avg this year?
Damian Lillard is the real deal. I’ve been saying that since last season. He’s going to have every opportunity to succeed in Portland because he’ll be starting from day one and, for the first time in his life, he’ll be surrounded by players who are just as talented as he is. That wasn’t the case at Weber State. Because Lillard is a bit older and played several years at Weber State, I think he’s going to be able to come in and make an impact right away. If his performance in the Las Vegas Summer League was any indication, he’ll be an contributor and possibly a Rookie of the Year candidate. It’s tough to predict what he’s going to average, but I think he’ll have a very good year. Not only is he going to put up points, he’ll surprise people with his passing ability. Because everyone talks about his scoring ability, his skills as a distributor have been underrated.
Whats up AK? Do you think Denver has buyers remorse after signing Wilson chandler last year, and do you think they will look to trade him since they just picked up Iggy? Love his game but needs minutes to play.
It definitely seems like the Nuggets have a logjam at small forward. It wouldn’t surprise me if they look to move Chandler before the trade deadline because he seems to be the odd man out if Iguodala starts out of position at the two and Gallinari starts at the three. Then again, George Karl is excellent at finding lineups that work. They may stick with what they have and let Karl get creative with his units. Denver is definitely one of the deepest teams in the league entering this season.
Hi Alex. The Thunder’s youth, athleticism, talent, Finals experience, and depth will trump the Lakers. True or false and why?
False. The Thunder may give the Lakers a fight in the postseason, but I can’t see them beating them in a seven-game series. This seems to be the Lakers’ year. In one or two years, once Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are declining and OKC’s core is reaching their prime, the Thunder will win their ring.
Hi Alex, OUTSTANDING article last night on 25 players in ‘contract year’ mode for 12/13 season. Could you predict, say 5 of them that you think WILL have that ‘career year’ this season?
Thanks! I appreciate it. For those of you who missed the article, check it out here.
I think O.J. Mayo is going to have a big year since he’ll be starting in Dallas and taking on a bigger role. I think he realizes that he needs to have a breakout year if he wants to get paid next summer. It’s much easier to produce as a starter than as a sixth man because you know what your role is going to be each night and you play consistent minutes. Mayo should have a productive year and put up better numbers than he did as a reserve in Memphis.
I’m expecting a big year for Aaron Brooks since he’ll likely have a starting job once again and he has always been someone that’s produces when given the minutes and touches. Just two years ago, he nearly averaged 20 points per game and he was the NBA’s Most Improved Player. People have forgotten about Brooks since he had one bad year and then got stuck overseas, but I think he’ll bounce back and play well this season in Sacramento.
Nikola Pekovic seems poised for a breakout season. I mention in the article that he needs to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke, and I think that’s exactly what he’ll do during this upcoming season. Not only did he emerge as a significant contributor in Minnesota last season, his numbers actually improved toward the end of the season when Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love were sidelined. That proves he’s not just a product of the Timberwolves’ system. Pekovic should take his game to the next level this season and he may even be able to average a double-double.
J.J. Hickson will have every opportunity to succeed in Portland. He’ll enter the year as a starter and he’ll have the chance to prove that his impressive 30-game stint with the Blazers wasn’t a fluke. He was terrible with the Kings at the start of last season, but Portland is a much better fit for him and I think he’ll be able to have a big year. He signed a one-year deal this summer so that he could prove himself and improve his value heading into free agency next summer. He knows he needs to have a productive season and I think he’ll do just that.
Jeff Teague could have a career year now that the ball will be in his hands and the Hawks will be looking to get out in transition. With Joe Johnson’s departure, Teague will have a bigger role and more control over Atlanta’s offense. Either he’ll have a big year or he’ll struggle with the adjustment. We’ll see.
Select a Team
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans
New York Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs
Select a Team
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans
New York Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs
Despite the Cavaliers' slow start, the team remains determined to end their postseason drought ... Kevin Durant impressed with Thunder's bench
10:30am - Steve Kyler
3:00pm - Yannis Koutroupis
8:00pm - Jessica Camerato
11:00am - Nate Duncan
8:00pm - Bill Ingram
12:00pm - Travis Heath***
8:00pm - Lang Greene
1:00pm - Joel Brigham
3:00pm - Jabari Davis
1:00pm - Moke Hamilton
3:00pm - Larry Coon
8:00pm - Alex Kennedy
11:00am - Susan Bible ***
*** denotes chats that are held bi-weekly