Will he stay healthy? Photo courtesy of desipio.com
Aren’t we all excited for the next season to come? It’s about a week away. And waiting for a week, we have lingering questions we want answered. We can’t have all of them answered, but we here in Up and In will give you some of it, to cure the itch of waiting.
Appreciate to the folks who posted their questions. Here’s all of the ones we got.
What’s your take on the Tristan Thompson and Harrison Barnes situation?
Seems like both teams are not willing to overpay for their players who were good parts of their success, but is asking for money that is more than what they are worth, production wise.
Tristan Thompson in the end, may end up getting the money is asking for. He may get overpaid, but as explained in the very first post Up and In this season, Timofey Mozgov may end up asking for more money, and Cleveland would just rather invest in a young player who can play Center and still has potential to get better.
As with Harrison Barnes, rejecting a $64 million offer from the Warriors is a risky bet to make. He’s going to have to play on a much better level if he thinks he’s worth more than the money that was put on the table. And it’s likely that the Warriors will just let him go, via trade, if he wants more dollars. The Warriors are cap railed in the upcoming seasons, with Steph Curry lined up for what could be a massive extension in 2 years, along with trying to keep Free Agents in Mareeses Speights, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli all set up to be needed to retain as well. Barnes will be the odd man out if he’s going to demand more dollars. The idea of slotting Andre Iguodala and developing young guys in James Michael McAdoo and 2015 first round pick Kevon Looney to replace Barnes as the athletic combo forward makes it even easier the let Harrison go if they can’t come up with an agreement.
Who’s going to be MVP?
If the Pelicans win 50 games, you’re looking at Anthony Davis. But if they don’t, the race will be down to LeBron James, James Harden along with Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the outside looking in.
Will Miami Heat be the #1 seed in the East?
They certainly have the talent and the bench to do so, but it’s hard to trust their health concerns. Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside should stay healthy unless there’s an accident on the court. But Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng has history of missing games.
Add to it that the competition against the Cleveland Cavaliers for that number #1 seed would still be fierce, healthy or not. The verdict is no, but they could just miss the #1 seed by about 2-3 games. It’s possible, but we’ll put it as a no. 2nd seed is very likely.
Will this be the last season for Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan?
No for Tim Duncan. He signed for two years, there’s no reason other than injury for him to not play that out.
As for Kobe Bryant, he’s a winner. And if he stays healthy all year and miss the playoffs (or make it but get an early exit), expect him to come back for another year. He’s not going down losing.
Can the Los Angeles Clippers win the NBA title?
There’s tough competition against the Warriors, the Spurs and the Rockets in that Conference. They did bolster their bench kept the core that won 56 games last year. But what does Paul Pierce have left? Which Lance Stephenson will we get? Will Josh Smith be inconsistent once? Will Jamal Crawford bounce back after a very inefficient last year. And do we expect regression from Chris Paul, who’s now in his 30’s?
With those many questions, it’s tough to pick them as a title favorite. So, the answer is possible, but likely no. They definitely have the talent, the structure and the star power, but to many if’s needs to be answered first, and that’s never good for betting on a team making the title run.
Is Bobby Portis the still of the draft?
There’s an 8/10 chance that he could be. He may not get enough playing time to showcase his skills, as he’s playing behind Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic and even possibly Taj Gibson. But the pre-season has showed us his motor, his tenacity on the boards and his skill set which he showed he can shoot three’s, grab offensive boards and run the floor well. He has the potential to be a good 15/8 guy, but we won’t see it this year. In the next year or two, when he gets his floor time, there’s a very high possibility that we could say he’s the biggest steal of the ’15 Draft.
What’s your take on Rashad Vaughn, Myles Turner?
Rashad Vaughn is a project. He’s got the shooting skill to thrive in the NBA, and the athleticims to develop into a classic 3 and D player, but he’s a long way to go to being that.
Myles Turner has showed good promise in the Summer League, and should contribute right away for the Pacers. Potentially, he could be a double-double guy if he develops well. He’s got a great skill set for a big guy, especially being able to shoot. His ceiling has to be around a guy who can drop around 14 points, grab 7 rebounds, be a stretch big and block a shot or two.
What’s your take on the Monta Ellis – Paul George combo in Indiana?
Monta Ellis is a blessing for the Pacers, who had struggled to score. Paul George will not have to carry the load offensively on his own anymore, and with Monta being able to pass as well, they could be a very good combo in the East. May not be enough to reach the Playoffs, but would be a great combo that fits well together.
What’s your take on the Sacramento Kings and that mess, and can you fix it?
This is going to be a long response.
The Kings have sported a squad that has full of talent. On paper, those players could contend for a Playoff spot. A core of Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins could easily win 30 games. They have a deep bench in Marco Bellineli, Darren Collison, Kosta Koufos. Another year of Ben McLemore who had a decent season last year and slowly developing into a good wing player. Add first round pick Willy Cauley-Stein to add rim protection. So that team has the talent.
The problem is fit and personalities. Rondo is known to have a mind of his own. DeMarcus Cousins can be volatile, and who knows how well they get along with Head Coach George Karl, let alone get along with Rondo, who may have the ball in his hands most of the possession. Three 7 footers that play the same position, one All-Star, one is a rookie who needs time to develop, and one who’s a solid starter, and a great backup. They’re all going to get minutes, but they all won’t fit together, and will clog the lanes for each other.
To fix it… Well… It’s going to be a tough fix. It could help if WCS can learn how to shoot from 18-20 feet to provide spacing. He can defend quick PF’s with his athleticism, but his limited offense will clog the paint for Cousins to be able to beast his way inside. Rondo and the others need to gel together, and know that Rondo will be ball dominant. Trade maybe? But who?
Kings have the talent, but are a tight mess that needs smoothing.
Is the low-post back-to-the-basket big man going extinct or is he just on a break?
It has went away for the past few years, but Jahlil Okafor, along with Brook Lopez and DeMarcus Cousins should bring back the back to basket big man. Will it be successful in this new pace and space NBA remains to be seen.
Is the 2013 draft class better than we thought?
By a bit. Victor Oladipo has lived to the his hype so far. Nerlens Noel is showing what he could do, especially defensively. Otto Porter is developing rather well, and could be the SF of the future for the Wizards. Giannis Antetokounmpo is showing massive potential. Dennis Schroeder looks good as a PG, and still has upside. And Rudy Gobert is a heavy DPOY candidate.
For a Draft Class who a lot thought would have zero to no All-Stars. we’re probably looking at about 3 future ones. We still have to see with the rest, but it looked much better than everyone thought.
Is the 2014 draft class worse then we thought?
Andrew Wiggins looks like a superstar in the making. We’ve yet to see what Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid can do. Aaron Gordon is developing rather well. Marcus Smart is on his second year and already he’s being considered a really good defender. TJ Warren, Jusuf Nurkic and Doug McDermott are lined up for bigger roles in their teams. And even second round picks in Jordan Clarkson and KJ McDaniels are putting good production for their teams. There’s potential for Nikola Jokic to be really good.
There’s a big hype for this Draft Class, and it’s safe to say it’s living up to it so far. May take a while to produce the All-Stars, but it’s more when that if.
Which non-lottery pick from the 2015 draft class will be the biggest difference maker?
This can go back to the Bobby Portis question, as he has the tools to be the biggest steal of the draft if given playing time. But three other names could become great contributors for their teams that were not picked in the lottery.
Justin Anderson of the Dallas Mavericks comes to mind. With Wesley Mathews being out for a period of time, he could slot in at the SG/SF spot right away. A player who can shoot and defend, he can showcase his skills right away, and is a perfect fit for that Dallas system.
Don’t be surprised if Jerian Grant get some minutes. The Knicks PG situation is bleak with Jose Calderon the only one having any real value. Grant can provide good defense, while being unselfish. The Knicks could use more defense.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could be a defensive difference for the Brooklyn Nets as well. The kid is athletic, with high motor and loves to play defense. In his limited time, he’ll be tenacious on the ball, at the very least.
Watch those three names.
Mudiay or Russell, who will have the better rookie season?
It’s Emmanuel Mudiay. He’ll have much more free reign, therefore could post better numbers than D’Angelo Russell, who could also have a good season.
Mudiay is a prime candidate for ROY, he should have the better season just because he’ll get more touches, more chances to show his individual talents more than Russell.
Can the Bulls get over the hump? Can Derrick Rose stay healthy.
With a new coaching system, it’s hard to gauge what the Bulls can do. They definitely have the talent to oust the reigning East Champions, but their main concern is, once again, health. Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol have had lingering injuries in the last few years, and they are two of the main cogs for the Bulls. Jimmy Butler should miss less time now that his playing minutes should decrease, but his wing mate Mike Dunleavy is still questionable.
And then there’s Derrick Rose. Who’s to say he won’t break anything else? Expect limited minutes from Rose from the beginning, to ease him in. As for him staying healthy, it’s a total crapshoot, but he will miss some games, maybe double digits, but mainly because of rest and rehab. Him being hurt again, let’s hope that’s not the case.
So, will they get over Cleveland? If everyone is healthy, the Bulls are technically a deeper team than the Cavs, and should win a 7 game series against them. They have a LeBron defender in Jimmy Butler, they can defend as a unit, has a ton of range on offense too. They can beat the Cavs, they just have to be healthy.
Are the New York Knicks kind of sneaky good this year?
The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony, Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo. If they’re going to be sneaky good, those three better play like All-Stars this season. Kristaps Porzingis is a mystery, but don’t expect great numbers right away. What else can Jose Calderon can offer? And a bench of Sasha Vujacic, Langston Galloway, Lou Amundson, Derrick Williams, Kyle O’Quinn would do wonders either.
It’ll be the surprise of the season if they become a top 6 seed in the East.
Who can make it to his first All-Star bid?
The obvious answer is Kawhi Leonard. The reigning DPOY should be an All-Star this year, should be. Others in consideration will be Monta Ellis, Draymond Green, Nikola Vucevic, and Mike Conley.
Your Finals prediction is?
Cavaliers vs Rockets.
While I said that the Bulls can beat the Cavs, I don’t trust them being healthy. The Rockets on the other hand, needs to be healthy on their own right, but I trust them to keep fit more. They are deep, they can defend, they can shoot, and they have a scorer who can torch anyone on the league. If they are healthy, they’ll win the West. And LeBron will carry his Cavs team to the East.
Cleveland and Houston are your NBA Finals.
Thanks to everyone who posted the questions. This content is your content. Let’s get excited for the season to start, eh?