Tristan Thompson

tristan-thompsonTristan Thompson still hasn’t signed on with the Cavaliers, this coming off a season where he helped the Cavs to a finals berth and made a big name for himself as one of the best offensive rebounders in the league as well as a strong defender. Reports came out early in the moratorium period that a 5 year 80 million dollar contract was all but finished but as with any business, it ain’t over til the dotted line is signed. When that contract was on the table I was under the impression that they were overpaying for a career 10ppg and 8rpg player who will be, at best, their back up PF and sharing minutes with Anderson Varajao. So when reports came out that he was holding out for a 5 year 94 million dollar deal I was floored. Sure he’s good, he’s a valuable piece on a championship caliver team, but he’s not worth 19 million per year. Not when you have Kevin Love playing in front of him. How can you justify paying a player 19 million to play 20 minutes a game off the bench?

The newest twist in this story is Rich Paul, Thompson’s agent, coming out and saying if the Cavs don’t accept their deal and Thompson is than forced to play on the qualifying offer next year, Thompson won’t be playing for them after next season. This could have big consequences on Thompson for his potential future earnings. Taking a 14 million dollar loss now to be a big part of a championship caliber team for 5 years will do much more for his resume when his next deal comes up than being a bust on a big contract. Just ask Josh Smith how he’s enjoying playing for the minimum.

My advice for Thompson is to beg for that 80 million dollar deal back and sign that sucker and re-up for another big deal in 5 years.

USA Mens National Basketball Team

Well the mini-camp just finished up last night with the blue vs white scrimmage, if you can call it that even, and much has been discussed about big time stars participating in a seemingly meaningless event. After Paul George’s horrific injury last year in a similar event and with the news this year about Dante Exum tearing his ACL playing for the Australian National Team, the topic has been whether or not it’s a good risk for these mega stars to take. My answer is, yes… and no. Yes in the sense that I think NBA superstars should participate in FIBA and Olympic events and no in the sense that superstars in their later years should not. Let me explain.

There is no reason for Lebron James, who has played in 5 straight NBA finals, needs to suit up for the National team anymore. He’s been there, done that, and picked up two Olympic golds and one bronze. There is no reason for any star over the age of 25 to play; so here’s what I propose:

Make the team a 25 and under team with two spots open for exceptions. By exceptions I mean, two spots for veteran players who did not participate when they were 25 and younger but have turned into great NBA leaders and solid role players. Players like Tyson Chandler or Andre Miller (yes I know Tyson played earlier). And with 25 and under they can still make a formidable squad. Here’s what the team could look like:

PG – Kyrie Irving, John Wall

SG – Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo

SF – Kawhi Leonard, Jabari Parker

PF – Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns

C – Demarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond

Sprinkle in a vet or two and I think you have a very solid team with a great chance to win gold. Let the older players focus completely and solely on winning that NBA championship.

Let me know what you guys think!

2015 Off Season

I’ve decided to come back again and write about the game I love and see where this blog can go. This off season has been very eventful with plenty of stories dominating the headlines. From big free agent signings to the USA mini-camp and a certain Cav’s contract holdout. I’m going to touch on each of these topics and more in the coming days as well as try to keep on top of any new storyline that has to do with basketball.

To start I’d like to talk about which free agent signings are studs as well as a few that I think were duds.

Studs:

Lamarcus Aldridge – Of course every free agent discussion about this off season needs to start with the big dog himself. LamarcuLA Spurss is one of the best big men in the game today. He’s a lock to give you 20 and 10 and he’s no slouch on defense. What I love most about this signing is that he has a very similar game to Tim Duncan, skilled low post player who’s able to step out and hit a 15-20 footer. It will allow LA to take some minutes from TD and allow TD to finally pass on the burden of banging with the big boys to another player. With their current crop of talent, the Spurs look to be a favourite in the uber competitive Western conference.

Demarre Carroll – This was a really good pick up for the Raptors. They’ve been good enough to get a top 4 seed in the East, but not good enough to punch through to the second round. What has dogged them for years now is not having a big bodied small forward who can match up with Lebron, Melo and yes, Paul Pierce. They’ve got him now in the Junk Yard Dog 2.0 who will instantly be a fan favourite in Toronto if he can bring that gritty defensive play. I’m looking for the Raptors to take another step forward this year and break the 50 win mark and at least advance in the post season.

Paul Pierce – Maybe this signing has flown a bit under the radar but to me this signing can finally put the Clippers over the edge in the West. As Raptors fans know all to well, Pierce is a big game player. He may not get big numbers during the season any more and will most likely average under 10ppg this year, but we all know that come playoff time he’s going to have his game face on as well as get his team mates prepared. He’s a proven leader and reunited with Doc I think the two of them will be able to push Chris Paul and Blake Griffin into the Western Conference Finals at the very least.

Anthony Davis – If the list starts with Aldridge, it has to end with the resigning of Davis. This kid has superstar written all over him and he’s ready to take the league by storm. Locking him up for the foreseeable future was a move the Pelicans couldn’t afford not to do. The Pelican’s have a very talent young team with an experienced coach in Alvin Gentry who, I think, will squeeze the most out of Davis. If the Pelicans can keep the injury bug at bay, look for them to leap into the top 4 in the West.

Duds:

Enes Kanter – This is a move the Thunder almost had to do but probably wished they didn’t. They had to retain him because they gave up so much forKanter him in the trade last year. 4 years for 70 million was too much to give to possibly the worst defensive big man to play the game in decades. Yes he’s skilled offensively and can give you 20 and 10 on a good night, but on a team where you have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who are the last two scoring champs, scoring isn’t a priority, low post defense is. Which is why I think Steven Adams will be the starter and will be getting the big time minutes to close out games. So the Thunder are essentially paying a back up center 17.5 million/year to not play very much and to not sniff the court in the 4 quarters.

Wes Matthews – Another 4 year 70 million dollar deal gone bad. You never really know how a player will come back from an achilles injury and to pay a shooting guard exiting his prime max money to find out is a deal destined for disaster. I get why these deals are made, they’re made out of desperation, in Dallas’s case, they need to capitalize on Dirk’s final years but rolling the dice on an injured shooting guard very rarely works out and will only cripple the team moving forward.

Injury Update – Russell Westbrook

Well the reports are out that Russell Westbrook could miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks after fracturing his hand last night in the game against the Clippers. This just adds to an almost laughable list of injured players for the OKC Thunder. A team who, in the summer, was gearing up for a run at a championship and who I thought still had that ability. Now their chances of even making the playoffs took a major hit. Reggie Jackson is still out as well as Anthony Morrow so this team will have a tough time putting the ball in the basket with their best offensive players being Serge Ibaka and Perry Jones. Yes Jones put in 32 points last night, but can he sustain it? Can he be the number one guy on an NBA team? I’m not to sure about that. I’ve said it before, this team will need to hover around .500 until Durant gets back to have a shot at the playoffs and with Westbrook out, that looks like an impossibility.

Developing the Development League

It’s time for the NBA to really focus on developing its development league. The NBA should really encourage each team to own one exclusive D-League team. The positives are well known as each team will be able to staff and fill the roster of their own minor league team and develop coaches and players in their own system. Many teams are already on track with this forward thinking but there are many who are still lagging behind.

After this is done I think the next step would be to change the draft. Right now you must be at least one year out of high school and 19 years old to enter the NBA draft. The typical route is to head to the NCAA for a year or two than enter the draft and start your pro career. What we have been seeing lately, however, is top talent playing overseas to earn a paycheck right from high school before entering the draft. Players such as Brandon Jennings and most recently Emmanuel Mudiay. What I am proposing is this:

Allow players to enter the NBA draft right out of high school. However, they must now wait at least three years to play in the big leagues. If they enter the NBA draft right out of high school they will be sent to the team’s D-League team to develop and mature for three years while earning a paycheck. Players can still head off to the NCAA to get a college degree but if they enter the draft before 3 years, they too will be sent to the D-League.

This is done for one major reason, to teach these young players how to be professionals before hitting the biggest stage in basketball. They will be able to earn a living while playing the game they love but won’t be in the spot light. They will be learning how to handle their finances, adjust to the travel and play against top young talent to mold their games and develop before entering the NBA.

The NBA is the only major professional sport in North America that has teenagers playing in it. The MLB has minor league baseball where even the top picks stay for a few years, the NHL has the AHL along with the NCAA and Junior hockey leagues developing their young talent and the NFL also has a 3 year wait time for their players before they can enter the league.

This is something that both the NBA and it’s players will benefit from.

Should the NBA bring back the territorial draft pick?

Seriously though, it’s an idea I’ve had rattling around in my head for a while now. Ever since the discussion started about how the lottery should be changed so teams are less inclined to tank yet the bad teams are able to improve through the draft. Now hear me out and I’ll let you know why I think the territorial draft picks could fix the vast majority of the problems being discussed.

First of all I want to point out that in my league these picks won’t be able to be used every year. In my league teams would have to wait 5 years between using these picks and they would replace that teams first round selection for that year and if a team does not have a first round pick they can not use the territorial pick.

Imagine a league where Kevin Durant is on the Wizards, or Kevin Love playing for the Lakers. The NBA right now is full of stars and superstars switching teams in the prime of their careers, jumping from city to city to team up with other stars. This could potentially stop a lot of that movement. Players would be more reluctant to jump ship from their hometown teams while entering their primes (except for Lebron, but at least he came back right?). Rivalries would be formed as players play not only played for their NBA teams, but for the pride of their city.

The biggest issue about the lottery process today is that teams are rewarded for tanking. Just look at the 76ers and how they are blowing up their roster to try and pick up a #1 pick. Now lets use this last years draft as an example. There would be no more “tank for Wiggins or Parker” going on because they would be snatched up by the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls. Now that those two prized players are off the table the bottom of the league doesn’t look so good does it? This will encourage teams to push for playoff spots as the top players in the draft will most likely be taken by their home town teams.

The most positive thing about this whole idea though may be that it will encourage NBA teams to invest in their cities. Fund youth leagues, train coaches, set up more camps for high school players. Teams will want to invest in their city basketball leagues in hopes that the next big player will come from their area and they are able to pick them.

As for the specifics on how to divide the territories up and who decides where a player is from, I’ll leave that up to the league to decide. I just think this will create a much more exciting NBA with teams and their cities really coming together now that they will have homegrown talent playing for them.

Breaking Down Western Conference Teams

1. LA Clippers LA Clippers

The Clippers will come out on top in the battle for the Western Conference. The main reason for this will be their drive to prove doubters wrong. The pressure has been on Chris Paul to step up and advance in the playoffs and the heat will be at it’s highest this year. There are no more excuses for the Clippers as they bring back Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan down low as well as sharpshooter JJ Redick and defensive stud Matt Barnes to round out the starting 5. Off the bench look for Jamal Crawford to continue to do what he does best, score and Spencer Hawes was a very good pick up for this team as he will be able to space the floor and give their bigs time to rest on the bench.

With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the way this team will be very good and this will be the year that the Clippers break through and make it one step further. However, I have them falling to the OKC Thunder in the Conference Finals. With Steve Balmer now as the new owner I look for this team to stay competitive for years to come.

Starting 5

Chris Paul: 18ppg, 4rpg, 11apg, 2stl

JJ Redick: 13ppg, 3rpg, 2apg

Matt Barnes: 9ppg, 5rpg

Blake Griffin: 24ppg, 10rpg

Deandre Jordan: 11ppg, 13rpg, 2bpg

2. Golden State WarriorsGS

The Splash Bro’s are back and expect to see more “splashing” than ever before. Stephen Curry is one of the top point guards in the league and Klay Thompson is knocking on James Harden’s door for title of best shooting guard in the league. I’m looking forward to seeing what Steve Kerr will do differently with these guys than what Mark Jackson did but I feel like Steve Kerr is a better fit. The one area where Curry can improve is in his turnovers per game which was about 4/game last year. If he can clean up that area and Thompson can continue to improve on both sides of the ball this duo will be close to unstoppable. Harrison Barnes will most likely get the start at SF for this team which is a very smart move by Kerr. This allows Barnes to play alongside the other starters and get his open shots as opposed to being the focal point off the bench. Sliding Andre Iguodala to the 6th man spot will allow him to be more of a play maker for their second unit. David Lee is an above average PF and Andrew Bogut is a very good center who, if healthy, can challenge for defensive player of the year.

Their second unit will be a strength this year as they will not only have Iguodala making plays, they also have Shaun Livingston running the point and if he can play like he did last year they will be set at the PG position. They also have former sixth man of the year Leandro Barbosa who is always a threat to score quick buckets as well as Draymond Green and Marreese Speights to back up their big men.

This team is deeper and better than last years team and as long as Curry and Bogut can stay healthy come playoff time, are always a threat to make noise in the postseason.

Starting 5

Stephen Curry: 23ppg, 4rpg, 8apg

Klay Thompson: 20ppg, 4rpg, 3apg

Harrison Barnes: 11ppg, 5rpg, 2apg

David Lee: 16ppg, 9rpg

Andrew Bogut: 9ppg, 10rpg, 2bpg

3. San Antonio SpursSA Spurs

The defending NBA Champs won’t repeat. They won’t even make it out of the first round. You heard it here first. They will still be a 50 win team and still get the 3rd seed in the playoffs but Duncan is slowing down and so is Manu Ginobli. Yes, people have been saying that for years but father time will catch up to them this season and other than Tony Parker, they don’t really have anyone else to step up for them. And yes, I haven’t forgotten about Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi is a very good player and for half of the series against the Heat, he was the best player on the floor. He can’t do that for a whole season though, he’s just not programmed to the “the guy”. Despite these things the Spurs will always be tough to beat, depth has always been a strength and Gregg Popovich is a genius at squeezing the most out of all his players. The biggest reason this Spurs team won’t win 60 games again isn’t that they are aging however, I don’t think they will get it because it doesn’t mean as much to them as it does the Clippers or Warriors. The Spurs will coast at times and this will cause them to drop a few spots in the standings.

The player to watch on this team is rookie Kyle Anderson. This system fits him perfectly and having Boris Diaw there to help this young kid mold his game will only be beneficial.

Starting 5

Tony Parker: 17ppg, 6apg

Danny Green: 11ppg, 3rpg

Kawhi Leonard: 14ppg, 6rpg

Tim Duncan: 13ppg, 8rpg

Tiago Splitter: 8ppg, 7rpg

4. Portland TrailblazersPortland

Portland will be a very good team again this year. They addressed their biggest weakness last season by bringing in Steve Blake and Chris Kaman to come in off the bench. I’m also expecting CJ McCollum to really stand out this year and provide their second unit with some much needed scoring from the back court. He dealt with injuries last year that kept him out to start the year and had a hard time adjusting on the fly. Now that he has a training camp and preseason under his belt I think he can start to live up to some of his potential. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard remain the staples of this franchise and this team will only go as far as they can take it. LA will continue to be a 20 and 10 guy but Lillard will take another step forward in his development this year. Lillard has had a chip on his shoulder ever since his high school days that drove him and his latest will be being cut from the USA World Cup team. He wants to be seen as a top point guard in the league and will come out swinging this year.

Starting 5

Damian Lillard: 22ppg, 4rpg, 7apg

Wesley Matthews: 15ppg, 4rpg, 2apg

Nicolas Batum: 16ppg, 7rpg, 4apg

LaMarcus Aldridge: 23ppg, 10rpg, 1.5bpg

Robin Lopez: 9ppg, 8rpg

5. Dallas MavericksDallas

The Mavs are improved across the board, for every player they lost in the off season, they replaced him with an upgrade. The Chandler’s boost the Mavs starting lineup in a big way. I am a big Parson’s fan, I think he is the ultimate 3rd option and is a big reason why I have Houston falling out of the playoffs. He is an all around player that has a high IQ. Tyson Chandler is a clear upgrade over Sam Dalembert and can hopefully bring some of that championship swag back to Dallas. In the back court they have a trio of point guards who can all get the job done and Monta Ellis who grew up a lot last year on a winning team.

This is a veteran team with a lot of experience that I feel can make noise in the Western Conference. They have the potential to get a higher seed as well as go far in the playoffs. They just have to make sure that they team can stay fresh and healthy for the stretch run.

Starting 5

Jameer Nelson: 12ppg, 3rpg, 5apg

Monta Ellis: 19ppg, 3rpg, 5apg

Chandler Parsons: 17ppg, 6rpg, 4apg

Dirk Nowitzki: 20ppg, 7rpg

Tyson Chandler: 8ppg, 9rpg

6. Oklahoma City ThunderOKC

There would be no way they would be this far down the standings if Kevin Durant was healthy to start the year. Unfortunately that isn’t the case and KD will most likely be out until January as the OKC Thunder have said they won’t be rushing him back. If the Thunder can tread water and stay around .500 or a few games above there they should be in good shape to finish out the year as I believe they will be better than ever once KD returns to the lineup. Russell Westbrook is arguably the best PG in the league and Serge Ibaka is always a threat to be the top defender in the NBA. Plug in an improving young big in Steven Adams as well as Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Morrow and they have a great team moving forward.

Steven Adams is a player who can be one of the most improved players in the league and he will be the starter from game one. He is a big tough kid who isn’t afraid to get dirty and is a very skilled player in the post.

Because Durant is out until 2015, Durant will be hitting his stride come April when other teams are starting to wear out and this team will grow in his absence giving them confidence that they can handle themselves without the best scorer in the NBA. They are my pick to take home the title this year,

Starting 5

Russell Westbrook: 25ppg, 5rpg, 8.5apg

Jeremy Lamb: 10ppg, 3rpg, 2apg

Kevin Durant: 28.5ppg, 7rpg, 5apg

Serge Ibaka: 16ppg, 9rpg, 3bpg

Steven Adams: 12ppg, 8rpg

7. Memphis Grizzliesmemphis

This is a very good team that has been together for a long time. Conley, Allen, Randolph and Gasol have lead this team to many wins over the year but they have never been quite good enough to get over the hump. Not much has changed except for the addition of Vince Carter who will be a very good player to bring in off the bench. Watch out for Jon Leuer who I believe can take a step forward in his development and surprise some people. He is a very good outside shooter and is very under rated.

They will be a 50 win team again and may take someone to 6 or 7 games in the playoffs but I don’t see them advancing and you may see some big moves from this team next summer to try and get better after a few seasons of barely making it into the playoffs.

Starting 5

Mike Conley: 16ppg, 4rpg, 7apg

Tony Allen: 10ppg, 4rpg, 2apg

Tayshaun Prince: 7ppg,:  3rpg

Zach Randolph: 17ppg, 10rpg

Marc Gasol: 15ppg, 9.5rpg, 3apg

8. Phoenix SunsPhoenix

Points guards, point guards, point guards. You can never have too many point guards, at least according to the Phoenix Suns. This team needs Eric Bledsoe to stay healthy this year and have Isiah Thomas buy in to being the leader of the second unit. They have a few young bigs that are very good in the Morris twins and Miles Plumlee and if Alex Len can show some of the potential that was the reason for him being picked 5th overall they will be set at the 4 and 5 spots. Gerald Green was a nice surprise for them posting some really big scoring numbers and PJ Tucker is a very good defensive wing player. This is a deep team lead by Goran Dragic that will make the playoffs. Keep this core together and you have a team that will continue moving up in the tough Western Conference.

Starting 5

Goran Dragic: 19ppg, 4rpg, 7apg

Eric Bledsoe: 18ppg, 5rpg, 6apg

PJ Tucker: 10ppg, 6rpg

Markieff Morris: 14ppg, 7rpg

Miles Plumlee: 11ppg, 9rpg

9. Houston Rocketshouston

The Houston Rockets are my pick to have the biggest drop off from the year before. They lost three players who played big roles for them last year in Asik, Lin and Parsons. They are asking Isiah Cannon and Donatas Motiejunas to step up and play big minutes for a team that wants to make the playoffs. James Harden will get his 25 points and Dwight Howard will have a big year for the Rockets and return to a 20 and 14 type player but that won’t make up for their losses from this off season. They play in the toughest division in the NBA and that will only make the road tougher for them.

Starting 5

Patrick Beverly: 11ppg, 3rpg, 4apg

James Harden: 25.5ppg, 5rpg, 6.5apg

Trevor Ariza: 12ppg, 4rpg

Terrance Jones: 12ppg, 7rpg

Dwight Howard: 20.5ppg, 14ppg, 2bpg

10. New Orleans PelicansPelicans

If this team can stay healthy for a year this can be a big year for them and they have a great shot at a playoff spot. That is asking a lot for a team that has a history of battling injuries though. They will continue to grow and develop as a team and they have a very nice core group right now with big time talent at each position and being able to bring Ryan Anderson off the bench will be huge for them. Asik was the biggest off season pick up for this team and allows them to move Anthony Davis to the PF position which will give him a bit more space to work with as well as gives him another defensive big to take the pressure off on the other end. Hopefully Eric Gordon can be that big time scorer again and Jrue Holiday can lead them from the point guard position. I will be following this team as the year goes on as they have the talent to be a playoff team but their health has let them down in recent years so hopefully they can turn that around.

Starting 5

Jrue Holiday: 16ppg, 5rpg, 8apg

Eric Gordon: 18ppg, 3rpg, 2apg

Tyreke Evans: 15ppg, 5rpg, 4apg

Anthony Davis: 21ppg, 11rpg, 2bpg

Omer Asik: 9ppg, 10rpg

11. Denver NuggetsDenver

This is a team on the upswing, they have a very good back court in Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo were fringe all-stars last year and on the wing they are bringing back Danilo Gallinari from injury that caused him to miss all of last year. It will take him a while to get accustomed to the offense and the flow of the game but once he gets going he is there best offensive player. Up front they have Kenneth Faried who is coming off a great summer with the USA team as well as a player that I think will finally break through in Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov is the ideal candidate to play beside Faried with his rugged style and low post skills. JJ Hickson, Wilson Chandler and Randy Foye are above average bench players and when Javale McGee comes back he will bring length and defense down low for this team. Also in the back court is Nate Robinson and rookie Gary Harris both of whom can fill the basket. This is a deep team but they just don’t have enough big time talent to take the next step in an incredibly talented Western Conference.

Starting 5

Ty Lawson: 18ppg, 3rpg, 7apg

Aaron Afflalo: 16ppg, 4rpg, 3apg

Danilo Gallinari: 18ppg, 5rpg, 3apg

Kenneth Faried: 13ppg, 11rpg

Timofey Mozgov: 9ppg, 9.5rpg

12. Minnesota Timberwolvesminnesota

In the words of Andrew Wiggins, they “got a lot of freaks on this team” meaning one thing is for sure, they will be entertaining. The Bounce Bros will be taking lob passes from Rubio and Thad Young and Anthony Bennett will be partaking in the act as well. This is actually a very deep team with good players all down their bench. Where they fall short is in inexperience and star power. Wiggins will be a very good player this year as a rookie but is still a year or two away from being a true star in this league. Watch out for last years number 1 pick Anthony Bennett to have a very good year. He is healthy and in a very good position to succeed in Minnesota. The other player on this roster who can improve big time on last year is Gorgui Dieng and he may be the starter at the center position at the end of this year.

Starting 5

Ricky Rubio: 8.5ppg, 4rpg, 10apg, 2spg

Andrew Wiggins: 18ppg, 4.5rpg, 2apg

Corey Brewer: 13.5ppg, 4rpg

Thaddeus Young: 16ppg, 6.5rpg

Nikola Pekovic: 15ppg, 10rpg

13. Sacramento Kingssacramento

Demarcus Cousins is one of the best big men in the league and Rudy Gay is a very good wing player. The loss of Isiah Thomas won’t be as big as many think. Thomas was a black hole at times with the ball and the addition of Collison will mean more ball movement. Of course with Rudy Gay on the team the ball only moves until it hits his hands. With Demarcus Cousins still not matured and playing himself out of games and Rudy Gay shooting the team out of games at the same time, this will be another long season for the Kings. Where the future is bright however is at the SG position where they have two young talented players in Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas. Both of these guys can knock down the open shot and play team ball.

Starting 5

Darren Collison: 12ppg, 3.5rpg, 6apg

Ben McLemore: 13ppg, 4rpg, 3apg

Rudy Gay: 19ppg, 7rpg, 3apg

Jason Thompson: 10ppg, 7rpg

Demarcus Cousins: 23ppg, 12rpg

14. LA LakersLA Lakers

Despite what Kobe and the Lakers are saying, this is not a playoff team let alone a championship team. The addition of Carlos Boozer was a head scratcher this offseason as I think it will only get in the way of Julius Randle developing. They also brought in Ed Davis on a user friendly contract that I do agree with. Jeremy Lin is a good point guard and should do well working beside Kobe Bryant. Other than those players, they are very thin in the rest of the roster as their bench leaves much to be desired. This will be a long year in Laker land and a frustrating year for Kobe Bryant. No one likes to see an all time legend waste away on an awful year to finish out his career. Look for Kobe to shoot a ridiculous amount of shots, score a lot of points and the team lose a lot of games.

Starting 5

Jeremy Lin: 14ppg, 4rpg, 5apg

Kobe Bryant: 26ppg, 6rpg, 5apg

Wesley Johnson: 9ppg, 4rpg

Carlos Boozer: 12ppg, 7rpg

Jordan Hill: 14ppg, 8rpg

15. Utah Jazzutah

Another young team with potential talent at all positions, they just haven’t fulfilled that potential yet. Trey Burke and Alec Burks can be a very good back court and Gordan Hayward is a talented, all around wing player. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are two big post players than have shown flashes at times, just haven’t been able to put it all together. They also have another young big to keep an eye on in Rudy Gobert who is insanely long and has put up big numbers in the preseason. Rodney Hood was a steal where they drafted him and could be a very capable wing player this year for them. Dante Exum is a major question mark and could be a big time talent or an absolute bust. He is very raw and hasn’t performed well so far against top talent both in the World Cup and the preseason so far.

Starting 5

Trey Burke: 16ppg, 4rpg, 6apg

Alec Burks: 14.5ppg, 4rpg, 2apg

Gordon Hayward: 17ppg, 6rpg, 5apg

Derrick Favors: 14ppg, 10rpg, 1.5bpg

Enes Kanter: 12ppg, 9rpg, 1.5bpg