Welcome to the NBA Season Previews, where the crew does the three-man weave today on the SouthEast Division. Enjoy as Earl, Joao and David kick off the NBA Season.
Joao: It is a battle between big men but I believe the biggest impact will come from Noah Vonleh, the 6’9″ former Hoosier who will play for the Hornets. While he is still raw (he is only 19, after all) his length and work on the boards will serve him well. The Hornets suddenly have somewhat of a crowded frontcourt and they will be able to slowly develop Vonleh while giving him extra minutes on losing nights.
Earl: Elfrid Payton of the Orlando Magic. I’m curious to see how he adjusts to the NBA. Prior to the NBA Draft I looked at some of his highlights from college and I thought he could be a Rajon Rondo type. He looks to be a fine athlete, and he has a nose for defense. Can he mesh with Victor Oladipo in the backcourt is the question I have. I’m not so sure but Orlando looks like they’re willing to struggle for another season or so, so he should get plenty of minutes to figure his game out.
David: Elfrid Payton is going to be a monster. If he can develop a jumper, then he could be a top 3 rookie for the year. The only two questions I have on him is his head coach, and his jumper. Defense is always loved in the NBA though, so he could be a keeper for years.
Impact Free Agent
Joao: It all boils down to Luol Deng and Lance Stephenson. Deng is replacing LeBron (gulp!) and Lance is in a position to become a superstar. I will go with Deng simply because he is a workhorse who will pick up some of the slack especially in nights when Wade’s knees aren’t working properly. As for Stephenson, the only reason why I did not pick him is simply because he is too volatile like we saw in last year’s playoffs; volatile in the way he approaches the game, someone needs to keep an eye on him, and we will see if he adapts to the new look Hornets.
Earl: Paul Pierce for the Washington Wizards. I wasn’t surprised the Brooklyn Nets let Pierce go, but I was suprised he linked up with the Wiz. I never expected that. However, Pierce fills the one hole they have at small foward, and he brings an experienced veteran persona to the team. A lot of people expect the Wiz to take the next step after the fine showing they had in last season’s playoffs, and if they do take that step it will be thanks to Paul Pierce.
David: Lance Stephenson. The last time the Hornets spent big money on a free agent they hit it big on Al Jefferson. If they go 2 for 2 on Lance? This could be a scary, scary team defensively.
MVP of the Division
Joao: John Wall. It was kind of surprising that he was snubbed from this summer’s US world championship team but there is no doubt that he is on the cusp of becoming an elite player in the league. The Wizards had a great playoff run last year and this season shouldn’t be different. What need needs to improve is his long range jumper, especially from beyond the arc, or else he will fade away before he hits 32. But, for now, the Wizards’ blur is definitely one of the most exciting and quick guards in the NBA.
Earl: Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat. Chris Bosh is going to need to return to the CB4 days back in Toronto to make this happen but I think he will take over the Heat franchise now that LeBron is gone. I look at the Heat and I still see a playoff team. Why? Bosh is why. He had to take the third wheel spot with James and Wade but now that LeBron is gone, he will step back up. Chris is a smart player. He was also an accomdating one. So while everyone put his contributions down, he quietly made himself into a better player. Now it’s time for that guy to emerge and put the negatives to rest.
David: Al Jefferson. The Bobcats were a JOKE, and Jordan’s ownership has been slightly better managed than your average Ebola outbreak. Big Al arrives and what do you know? They are a playoff contender, and people are suddenly caring about Kemba Walker!
Joao: Tough to pick a bust on a division with so many young players but I will go with Mario Chalmers. Chalmers just isn’t good enough and he will have less space to work with this season; look for Norris Cole to finally pick up some of Chalmers’ playing time. A second option would be Paul Pierce – Paul, please, retire already.
Earl: This hurts me to say this because I’ve been supportive of this guy since he was drafted by the New York Knicks but Channing Frye has to take this award. Why? He’s not an $8 million a year player and the Magic already have a team full of forwards. Now Channing is the only one that can shoot but does he do enough to make Orlando better? The answer is no.
David: I would go with Kemba Walker on this one, but I think they might take my #HomerHornet Card (Charter Member) and I’m a Jeff Teague guy, so I can’t go with him, Trevor Ariza is gone, so we can’t beat that Pin-ya-ta no more, and I am really tired of everyone beating on Dwayne Wade as going to be a shell of himself . . . hold up! Kemba signed for HOW MUCH?? Forget what I said- Its Kemba Walker!
|PG||John Wall||John Wall||John Wall|
|SG||Lance Stephenson||Bradley Beal||Lance Stephenson|
|SF||Luol Deng||Paul Millsap||Paul Millsap|
|PF||Chris Bosh||Chris Bosh||Chris Bosh|
|C||Al Jefferson||Al Jefferson||Al Jefferson|
|1.||Miami Heat||Washington Wizards
|2.||Washington Wizards||Miami Heat
|4.||Charlotte Hornets||Atlanta Hawks
|5.||Orlando Magic||Orlando Magic
Joao: No, I believe they did the right thing. A lot of people were down on Bosh last season (and even before that) but fact of the matter is that Chris had gradually less offensive plays designed for him. With LeBron out of the picture and Wade’s knees a question mark, I look for Bosh to lead this team and go back to the sort of numbers he posted during his last year in Toronto (over 20 PPG and 10 RPG). He isn’t extremely physical and sometimes falls too much in love with his new weapon of choice – the 3-pointer – but most people forget he is still 30. The Heat will be glad with the decision to bring him back.
Earl: No. The Heat had to do something. Wade was never going to leave, and they owed the guy something better than tanking at the end of his career. Bringing back Bosh, and signing Luol Deng at least makes the Heat a playoff team for the next few seasons. Yes, they won’t return to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight season but they can make the playoffs and make a run depending on playoff matchups.
David: I think the Heat have looked at Orlando, who have been trying to sell the Florida drawing cards for almost a decade- and not getting anything worthwhile, and now Cleveland is the hot destination place- yes, People are pushing to get to CLEVELAND now- apparently people like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over Disney world now- thats the only reason, right? So Miami has to have a drawing card STAR to build a team and to draw B-Level guys. Keep in mind the last time they tried to build with a draft pick was Michael Beasley at #2 overall.
Joao: This is one of those rigged questions but I do believe he is worthy of a maximum contract. Wall is already an All-star and he still has tremendous upside (better decision making and control, an improved jumper, etc), the Wizards are making the right choice in looking at him as their franchise player and building around Wall (no pun intended). Wall and Beal are already one of the NBA’s top backcourts and there is reason for optimist in Washington.
Earl: Yes he is. He’s the best player on that Wizards team, and he still has the potential to be even better. Playing with that supporting cast should bring the best out of him.
David: Here is what you need for a MAX-Level player. At least an All-NBA Second Team awardS -yes, plural. and at least 20% of your arena has to be wearing his jersey no mantter who the opponent is- unless he’s an all-timer, other than Duncan. If LeBron shows up and you don’t see maybe 10% Wall Jerseys, I can forgive. The Bucks show up and its less than 30%? He’s not a MAX guy.
Wall fits MAX Criteria on both counts.
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