Looking Ahead

futureBy Stefan Anderson

The 2014-2015 NBA Season is coming to abrupt ending, and 16 teams are gearing up for the postseason but there are other teams looking to expand on their progression this off-season. Like we have seen in teams like the Thunder, Wizards and Raptors, these are teams are on cusp of becoming the next franchises to make noise in the association. Let’s take a look at the budding talent arising for the upcoming season.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have already made the biggest step into the future this season, hence their social media tag #OwnTheFuture and at the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference the skies are the limit.  The wisdom of Jason Kidd was best suited for this young roster who accepts the knowledge of Kidd unlike the mature Nets did last season.  With glue guys like Zaza Pachulia, Jared Dudley and Khris Middleton, Milwaukee has the right mix of players to go alongside their young talent of Michael Carter Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Not to mention how good they can become when their top draft pick, Jabari Parker returns. With the great cast of characters, the Bucks will continue to remain amongst the best as they long as they keep the same team together.

Orlando Magic: The Magic have stayed at the bottom of the NBA’s totem pole since the departure of Dwight Howard, but after their years remaining at the bottom it appears that success will be in the near future for the Magic. It will all start after the Magic find the appropriate leader to propel them to the next level from the bench. On the floor, it is looking very promising with steady improvements of Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic, but the ceiling for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon is what makes its scary for the league. Orlando will be in the lottery once again and could put together a great team filled with young talent that can fight its way to the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves: After trading away their former All-Star Kevin Love, the T-Wolves found their answer with the acquisition of Andrew Wiggins.  Wiggins has shown that he is in fact the next great shooting guard the league has to look out for. Minnesota brought back their former leader in Kevin Garnett to be a mentor for the young talents like Ricky Rubio, Adrien Payne, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad who have all shown the great improvements this season will all be needed for the Wolves to make that next step. Pending their upcoming lottery draft pick, Minnesota will have a good amount of talent to attempt to steal one of the bottom seeds in the West.

Utah Jazz: The Jazz have been able to assemble talent through the draft because of their inability to gather talent through Free Agency. The Jazz have found a gem in Rudy Gobert, the center who gives Utah a prominent rim protector an makes life easier defensively. But their major issue is offensively where they lack with players like Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward, great players but  do not possess consistency to give that offense output needed on a nightly basis. If those two along with whoever they acquire in the offseason can boost their offense, the Jazz will be back in the mix for the first time in years.

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What A Day? : 2015 NBA Trade Deadline

trade deadline

By Stefan Anderson

The 2015 NBA Trade Deadline was an eventful day as many teams made the necessary changes for a late push, some positioned themselves for the NBA Draft, while others did not panic and not trade at all. Let’s discuss the Winners and Losers of the 2015 Trade Deadline.

Winners:

Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder trade disgruntled guard Reggie Jackson and replaced him with Kevin Durant’s University of Texas teammate D.J. Augustin. Along with Augustin, the Thunder were able to address two of their biggest fears outside shooting and post scoring by adding Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, and Steve Novak. OKC has put together a second unit that can help them produce points when Westbrook and Durant are not in the game and look to make that late playoff push with the roster additions.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have overachieved this season with their team play under the leadership of Coach of the Year candidate Jason Kidd. While holding on to a 6th in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks made some changes to help their roster, replacing center Larry Sanders with Miles Plumlee, who brings a needed rim protector since Sanders departure.  Also trading their rising star in Brandon Knight for two Jason Kidd-esque point guards in Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter Williams, the Bucks look to shock the world if they can uphold their success.

Philadelphia 76ers: Despite trading for Javal McGee, a known headache to say the least, acquiring picks has been the best thing for the 76ers to secure the future. The 76ers add 2015 first-round pick (lottery protected) from Thunder and a 2015 first-round pick from Lakers to add to their roster of picks they already own, will be interested to see what happens in the draft.

The Losers:

Denver Nuggets: With an apparent rebuild to come in the near future, the Nuggets did not make any necessary moves to help their future. They were able to dump the hefty contract of McGee but gave away a 1st round to do so. With many expiring contracts, the Nuggets could watch their roster fall apart this off season.

Boston Celtics: Although they added Isiah Thomas, they add another guard to their overstocked position. With so many draft picks it gives the Celtics more to discuss with all the draft picks and expiring contracts they already possess. Boston has yet to add a player or players with draft picks and are stuck trying to find pieces through a bunch of draft picks and their makeshift roster.

Brooklyn Nets: The Nets traded away a great mentor in Kevin Garnett and added some length and defense with Thaddeus Young but failed to help shape their future. The Nets look to stick with roster despite the play of their aging and fragile stars, holding on to the large contracts of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez.

Kudos to the Pistons and T-Wolves, bringing back pivotal pieces of their franchise, to help tutor and lead their respective teams with adding Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince.

NBA Preview: Central Division

centralBy Stefan Anderson

The Central Division brought the Eastern Conference’s best team last season and brought great competition amongst its members. With former MVP’s returning, new coaches and budding stars the Central Division should get interesting this season.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Return of the King, David Blatt and his new European style of coaching and Kevin Love, the Cavs look like they are built to take the Eastern Conference and potentially the NBA Championship. The Cavs still lack a rim protector but their offensive so overpowering that a true big would be overshadowed. Dion Waiters is poised to have a great season playing with great talent with James, Love and Irving.

The Cavs should be in a great position, but with injury prone players like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love who have yet to play a full 82 game season yet, could put a heavy work load on the King once again.

Chicago Bulls

Doug McDermott, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, the emergence of Taj  Gibson and Jimmy Butler, Chicago has assembled a surrounding cast to go along their premier players Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.  The Bulls are the other favorite out of the East, and their battles with Cleveland should be legendary this season.

Those regular season and postseason battle between them Cleveland should determine who represents the Eastern Conference in the Finals.

Detroit Pistons

Under the Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons experiment should see brighter days this season.  Pending what happens with 3 big men they shuffle through (Smith, Monroe, and Drummond); the roster should be back at a normal state. Look out for Andre Drummond to become the next prominent big man in the league and either Greg Monroe or Josh Smith to be traded by the Trade Deadline. Role players like Caron Butler and Jodie Meeks will have an impact in SVG’s system.

I believe this is the year that Detroit returns to the playoffs this year and can build off of it for seasons to come.

Indiana Pacers

With their star Paul George injured for the season, the departure of Lance Stephenson, what is next for the Pacers this season? Their locker room leader David West , is on record saying that would not contend this season, what does Indiana expect to achieve this season? Look for Chris Copeland to score a lot of points as he is known to do, and can Roy Hibbert look like the player everyone expects to him to be.

I do not see the Pacers returning to the postseason this year due to their various issues personnel wise but things can turn around but I don’t see it happening.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Greek Freak, prolific shot blocker Larry Sanders and the NBA’s newest star Jabari Parker, the Bucks have a great future ahead of them. Unfortunately for them ,they will have a lot of problems playing the Central Division. With new head coach Jason Kidd, it gives him a fresh start and opportunity to give guidance to the young talent in Milwaukee.

The Bucks are a season or two away from reaching the success they envision once again, but will be one of the scariest teams in the future.

Central Division Standings:

  1. Cavs (Playoff Team)
  2. Bulls (Playoff Team)
  3. Pistons (Playoff Team)
  4. Pacers
  5. Bucks