After an unusually long off-season, 2010-11 is finally here! And we better enjoy it. While the Miami Heat will dominate everyone’s attention the larger story is that the 2011-12 season is very much in doubt. The labor stoppage seems likely and won’t be pretty. But let’s not worry about the future. This season is one of the more anticipated season in a while. The Heat’s new core is probably the most covered pre-season team since the 1995-96 Bulls that featured Michael Jordan in his first full season after retirement and the addition of Dennis Rodman. Can the Heat get the same result that the Bulls did? IWill we get the dream Finals between Miami and the Lakers? Possibly and POssibly. Here’s our quick look at projected standings:
1. Miami Heat: Sure there could be growing pains getting the stars to jell but they are a good defensive team and they are too talented to struggle for long.
2. Orlando Magic: Miami’s biggest threat in the East. If they can get scoring from the wings, they could be in the Finals.
3. Boston Celtics: Still really dangerous but you can’t fight age forever. Doc Rivers will really have to monitor minutes again to be ready for April.
4. Chicago Bulls: Big drop off in talent here after the top three. There is talent here but shooting is still an issue. The weak division should guarantee a top four seed.
5. Atlanta Hawks: Hated their off-season moves and they could feel a squeeze when Al Horford’s contract comes up but they still can make the second round for now.
6. Milwaukee Bucks: They are due for some regression because of the loss of Luke Ridnour and the fact that John Salmons was playing over his head. Still, a playoff team though.
7. Philadelphia 76ers: Of the bottom feeders, the Sixers should get the biggest improvement because Doug Collins always improves team defense and Philly has a ton of room for improvement in that area. Collins is sure to grate on the roster eventually but his teams usually improve quickly.
8. New York Knicks: Finally, a return to the playoffs. The team will still be weak but 40 wins and quasi-positive feelings are coming. Getting Melo would bump them up slightly. Continue reading NBA Predictions 2010-11…
New Jersey Nets
9/7 Waived Sean May
9/10 Signed Joe Smith
9/24 Signed Eddie Gill
The Nets initially took a flier on May but he looks like he won’t be healthy any time soon if ever. Instead, Smith comes to town. Smith had his worse pro season in terms of PER and minutes played. He wasn’t terrible and it is possible that the deep Hawks frontcourt relegated Smith to a smaller role and caused him to have a much lower shooting percentage than he would’ve had with more opportunities. For the Nets, getting a competent defender and decent player is a nice move. The upside here is negligible but keep in the mind the stuff that the Nets tried to pass off as forwards last year.
As for Smith personally, it is easy to forget that a few years ago he was the number one pick in the draft over Antonio McDyess, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, and Jerry Stackhouse. Smith also won’t be remembered as one of the great top picks either. At the time, he played Tim Duncan tough for Maryland and when TD declined to go pro, Smith took the lead over Wallace, who was considered too wacky. We know Smith hasn’t lived up to his billing but how does Smith actually compare to other top picks? Not too well. Here’s the list of top picks from 1985 (when the lottery began) to 2000 for some perspective (it’s a bit early to look at players after 2001):
(Bold denotes player is still active)
9/2 Signed Etan Thomas
Only 32, Thomas hasn’t been healthy or very good since 2006-07. While he was a nice player at one point, it’s hard for me to believe that he can get back to that level from four years ago. The Hawks have plenty of big bodies already so Thomas will just be another six fouls and if he still has some skills it’ll only be gravy.
9/1 Signed Delonte West
On the surface, West’s return to Boston is a nice bench player for a contending team. But this represented a nice decision for the Celts. Boston has opted to let Tony Allen go for West. Allen is more athletic and a better defender than West but West is also a nice defender and is much more effective in the half court (he has a surprisingly good post up game too).
In terms of cash, Allen received three years and $10 million while West is on a one-year $1 million deal. There is a pretty good argument that West is better than Allen without considering money issues. Given the cost disparity, West over Allen makes all the sense in the world. Continue reading Transactions: 8/17-9/28 Part 1…