Sunshine In A Dark Place

d'antoni.jpgBy Stefan Anderson

Just over a decade ago, Mike D’Antoni was the head coach of the infamous Run-N-Gun Phoenix Suns in the late 2000’s, that made a lasting imprint on the NBA.Years removed the league, we missed D’Antoni’s offense in the NBA and pondered why such an explosive offense hasn’t been brought on by other teams. Now, the Marshall product has now returned to bench with the league’s worst team the Philadelphia 76ers, bringing a bright spot to the gloomy franchise.

We have seen this time and time, where D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy, that has birthed a new generation of basketball. The system focuses on playing with more space, a faster pace, allowing point guards to push the ball and getting shots early in the shot clock working to get more possessions out of each game.

The system has allowed many guards to flourish over the years. Examples are:

  • Prior to being traded for Carmelo Anthony in 2010-11, Raymond Felton was having his best NBA season. During the 54 games he played with the Knicks, Felton was able to put up 19.0 points per game and average career high 9.0 assists.
  • Can’t forget about that kid named Jeremy Lin, who had New York City in a frenzy under D’Antoni. “Linsanity” also had a great year under D’Antoni averaging 14.6 ppg and 6.2 apg.
  • D’Antpni most successful project thus far would be Steve Nash. Nash would go on to nab two MVP trophies under D’Antoni direction averaging 17.5 and 11.2 during his tenure with D’Antoni.

It’s shown that guards have benefited from D’Antoni success and his new point guard experiment Ish Smith has grown since his arrival. Smith has gone on to average 16.8 ppg and 8.3 apg since D’Antoni arrival. In his second tenure with the Sixers, Smith has gone on to have five game where he accounted for 10 assists or more.

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Not only did Smith improve under D’Antoni but the Sixers as a whole also have grown since December 18th.

Philadelphia prior to D’Antoni:  91.4 ppg on 81 FGA, 41% FGP, 32 % 3PT, and 18.7 apg

Philadelphia after D’Antoni: 99.7 ppg, 84.4 FGA, 45% FGP, 33% 3PT, 23.3 apg and winning 4 games during the 14-game stretch.

With point guard play and high offense being on demand, it doesn’t make sense why the offensive guru wasn’t given a chance prior to. Although Philadelphia is far from contenting again, this experiment it should allow him to find another opportunity elsewhere and possibly help solve the conundrum in City of Brotherly Love.

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NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

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By Stefan Anderson

With the 2014-2015 NBA season starting shortly, here at the Starting Point, we will give our preview and what to expect for the upcoming season.

We will start our preview in the Eastern Conference with the Atlantic Division.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are still riding the emotional high of reaching the playoffs and winning the division for the first time since 2007.  Adding players like James Johnson and Louis Williams to their bench to give an added dimension the Northern Neighbors. Lookout out for Demar Derozan to have a breakout season following his rejection from the USA World Cup team and Kyle Lowry will be amongst the top tier of Point Guards in the league.

I expect to see the Raptors back in the postseason this year and if the team can stay healthy can be fighting to win the Atlantic division once again. Dwayne Casey has established the hard-grit, winning culture that should have Drake and the T.Dot happy excited this season.

Brooklyn Nets

We have seen the Nets make the playoffs every season since switching states, but the 2014-2015 season brings a lot of question for the Brooklyn. The departure of Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce took away to of Brooklyn’s leaders and makes their playoff hopes even more distant. King’s County team might still have the answer bringing in savvy vets like Jarrett Jack and Marcus Thorthon to help their bench situation but are the main concern for the Nets. With an aging Kevin Garnett, a inconsistent Deron Williams and injury prone Brook Lopez , that leaves a lot of the load for Joe Johnson and the supporting cast.

I do not see the Nets making the playoffs this season and this will be the beginning of the darker days in Brooklyn after trading all of their chips away to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Boston Celtics

Being NBA royalty, it’s astonishing to the Boston Celtics struggle the way have over the past few season. It has been a rebuilding situation since the Big 3 split up and went their separate ways. Drafting Marcus Smart and James Young gives Boston more young pieces to build with or either package in a trade to regain a big name in Beantown. The Celtics still lack “that guy” to help overcome their woes in the Eastern Conference. If Rondo gets traded for some pieces, what can happen with the young core(Bradley, Green, Sullinger), Boston can remain to prominence.

This is another year in the rebuilding process of Boston and the Brad Stevens experiment, can lead to something special but I highly doubt it this season.

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are coming off of the hangover season after being the 2 seed in the year previous. New York, under the regime of Phil Jackson and company .look to bring a different brand of basketball playing the Triangle Offense and Carmelo Anthony looking to reach success like the predecessors (i.e. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan).

The question that remains with the Knicks is defense, health and size, lacking a real rim protector, injury prone stars, and no real defensive player the Knicks has to shore up those holes while learning a new offensive system. I can see the Knicks potentially slipping into the postseason at a lower seed.

Philadelphia 76ers

Tanking is it real or is it a theory? We will find out this season as Philadelphia has yet to put together a winning roster after seeing one of the worst records last season. Nerlens Noel will be the bright spot for Philly this season; his defensive presence will bring him to Rookie of the Year and give the Sixers hope going forward.

This a definitely a “rebuilding “season for Philly and will get them another good draft pick as they gear up to make a great team featuring MCW, Noel, and Embiid.

Atlantic Division Standings

  1. Raptors (Playoffs)
  2. Knicks (Playoffs)
  3. Celtics
  4. Nets
  5. 76ers