-New Orleans Pelicans-
The biggest concerns for a ball club that features more pure basketball talent on it’s roster than many others
could be it’s prevention of health concerns to arguably it’s most productive and affective player…Anthony Davis.
Since cutting down the nets in The Big Easy in 2012, we are yet to have seen the expected future face of the franchise
play a full season. A huge burden was lifted off of Davis’ shoulders thanks to the offseason acquisition of Omer Asik,
an overachieving Center whom was seemingly anxious to count down his last days in H-Town. After only playing 22 games
last season due to neck and spinal injuries, stretch-4 long distance shooting threat Ryan Anderson has proved to be
one of the most reliable and consistent at the position in league play. Again, he’s got to stay off the IR.
If so, this could present scary matchups for opposing frontlines. Can Jimmer Fredette and Russ Smith prove to doubters
that undersized point guards still have a place in the league behind Jrue Holiday? Will this be the season that Austin Rivers
show N.O. fans that he was worth the hype? Has Eric Gordon reached his ceiling of development? How much will Al-Farouq Aminu
be missed on Bourbon Street after bolting to Dallas?
Don’t expect much to change in the playing style for the Mavs…lots of offense and minimum defense. Changes have been made
however to the roster starting with arguably one of the best defensive frontcourt players in the Association, Tyson Chandler.
TC returns to the same organization that he hoisted a World Championship in 2011. Question marks flare at point guard
as veterans Raymond Felton and Jameer Nelson compete for the starting position role although, it’s likely that Monta Ellis
can make up for the lack of their scoring if need be. The perfect combination of youth and veteran leadership gives Mark Cuban’s
Mavs balanced experience providing plenty of energy and confidence from it’s youth (Jae Crowder, Chandler Parsons, Ivan Johnson
and Ricky Ledo) while leadership is heavily relied upon Richard Jefferson (13 seasons), Devin Harris (10 seasons), Rashard Lewis
(16 seasons), and whom else other than the man himself: Dirk Nowitzki (16 seasons)
Is it possible to leave out one of the best scoring (9th, 104.4ppg) and rebounding (2nd, 45.4rpg) teams from just a season ago?
Kenneth Faried who likely has the best knack for rebounding, energy, work-ethic and effort of any Power Forward in the NBA
has become a goldmine and very valuable piece to those in the Mile High city. We may not have seen anyone with similar rebounding
techniques since Dennis “The Worm” Rodman. Ty Lawson is finally being provided some assistance in the backcourt after adding
fiesty journeyman Nate Robinson and rookie first round pure shooting Gary Harris to Aaron Afflalo who is seemingly getting
much better each and every season. Another journeyman J.J. Hickson will help provide some beef up front, taking the load off
of Faried in what I like to call ‘Glue & Guts, Hard-Hat Construction Workers’. Athleticism and shooting from Wilson Chandler
should certainly put a smile on Brian Shaw’s face.
Forget all about the offseason distractions in the front office, this team is ready to hit the hardwood and put the ball
into the basket. 2x NBA All-Star Al Horford returns to the starting lineup after 2 contiuous seasons hindered by pectoral
injuries, joining Paul Millsap in the frontcourt and possibly considered the best undersized duo by position that nobody
is talking about. Don’t sleep on one of the better up and coming NBA point guards that this league has seen in recent seasons
Jeff Teague, whom watching him grow has become a much developed scorer and tempo controller after assuming the role;
hence the primary reason why ATL is amongst the best in sharing the basketball (2nd, 24.9apg). Do-it-all fairly well forward
Mike Scott has returned after a near exit along with 3-point shooting record holder Kyle Korver. Lastly, rookie Forward
Adreian Payne is seemingly a perfect fit for the fundamental/basic system that Head Coach Mike Budenholzer has put in place
considering his abilities to rebound effectively, block shots and stretch defenses with extensive shooting.
-New York Knicks-
A team that features one of the best in the Association: The Zen Master, Phil Jackson. Becoming President of where he once won
titles is obviously a big deal in the ‘Big Apple’ but biiger questions lie ahead beginning with rookie Head Coach Derek Fisher.
Derek just completed his final season competing in the same league where typically, the adjustment and easy transition is
easier said than done. The obvious is Carmelo Anthony which whom returned after flirting with the option of bolting to join Kobe
or LeBron. Besides his obvious scoring contributions, surprisingly, NYK ranks in the Top 10 defensively last season.
The biggest surprise to back Melo may just be an NBA Draft steal Cleanthony Early of Wichita State who may raise some eyebrows
this season as Tim Hardaway Jr. did only a year ago. J.R. Smith seems ready to elevate his game once again as he did a couple
years ago when he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Add a finally healthy and productive Amar’e Stoudemire & Iman Shumpert
and better days are on the way for Spike Lee’s favorite team.