Tag Archives: Al Jefferson

Eastern Conference Southeast Division Preview

By: Evan

The Miami Heat clearly rank supreme in the Southeast division as well as in the Eastern conference.  Having won back-to-back titles, they  show no signs of slowing down. LeBron James is dazzling basketball fans around the world, making them wonder if he really is the best to ever play the game.  The Heat will win this division, but there is hope for some other teams  in the Southeast, like the Wizards, who have a chance to make the playoffs.  Let’s look at how the division will play out (*denotes playoff team).

1.) *Miami Heat

LeBron James is on top of the basketball world, but will he stay there?                                         Courtesy of ESPN

If I were a betting man, my money would be on the Miami Heat to pull a three-peat and win the NBA championship. They have all of the pieces and even found a way to improve their team from a year ago. They signed Greg Oden, an injury plagued center who has not lived up to his #1 overall pick six years ago, and Michael Beasley, a talented but immature small forward who was once considered the best player coming out of college. These are two low-risk, potentially high reward picks could significantly help Miami’s bench.  Of course, distractions are part of the game, and there will be a huge focus on LeBron’s  impending free agency and whether he will return to South Beach next year. The X-factor for the Heat is Dwyane Wade’s health.   Although Dwyane is working with Tim Grover, the legendary trainer who has worked miracles with athletes and their injuries, he still has a lot of miles on his knees and has clearly shown deterioration in his explosiveness.  Chris Bosh is another important player for the Heat as he stretches out opposing defenses with his mid-range game, opening up the hole for LeBron and D-Wade to attack. If Bosh improves on the defensive side of the ball, the Heat will be tough to beat.  The Miami Heat has great talent off the floor as Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have brought in viable role players who have meshed with the big three quite well.   Riley and Spoelstra will be busy managing the media scrutiny about LeBron’s free agency while also formulating a plan for the future in case LeBron decides to leave.  Watch for the Heat in the headlines as they create a lot of excitement on and off the court.

2.) *Washington Wizards

The Wizards have one of the youngest and most talented backcourts in the NBA.                                                                                           Courtesy of Nike Talk

The Wizards take a big step and reach the playoffs this season with their young stars starting to pay dividends.  After  John Wall returned from a serious knee injury last year, the Wizards finished the season with a .500 record, which would have been good enough to make the playoffs considering the Bucks got in under .500.  John Wall received his much-desired max contract extension, they drafted Otto Porter, a versatile wing player who can defend and Bradley Beal showed significant improvement as the season wore on. The Wizards also have some expiring contracts in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza that could be traded for some younger assets to help the Wizards in the long-run. But the Wizards lack post presence, as Nene has not been able to stay healthy, Emeka Okafor is not the player he once was, and the Wizards don’t have any reliable back-ups.  This put the onus on Wall, Beal and Porter to carry the offense and both Wall and Porter are inconsistent shooters, which is partially why the Wizards ranked 27th in field goal percentage last season. If the Wizards can attack more, and trade Okafor and/or Ariza for a viable big man, the Wizards could vault themselves from an 8th seed to a 6-7th seed.

3.) Atlanta Hawks

The Paul Milsap signing was a solid move for the Hawks.                                            Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

The Hawks are positioned for a rebuilding year as they let Josh Smith go to Detroit and they fired Larry Drew.  And while the Hawks  have a solid core of Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Lou Williams, they are still several significant upgrades from making the playoffs. In the NBA, there are teams who are consistently mediocre with little potential of advancing but are not the dregs of the league.  The  Atlanta Hawks are the quintessential example. They missed out on Chris Paul and Dwight Howard but signed a nice complimentary piece in Paul Milsap while also re-signing Kyle Korver. The Hawks also had a nice draft by selecting Dennis Schröeder, a talented point guard who could be a surprise ROY and might even take over the starting job from Jeff Teague. He still needs time to adjust to the NBA game but has the potential to be a cornerstone of this franchise. The Hawks are young and need more pieces to be contenders.

4.) Charlotte Bobcats

Will Al Jefferson help the Bobcats move in the right direction? Courtesy of Rotoinfo.com

The Charlotte Bobcats have been the laughing stock of the NBA for years now as they have consistently drafted players who have turned out to be busts including Adam Morrison, Brandan Wright and DJ Augustin.  Fan attendance is low and the Bobcats don’t have a player worth advertising.  Insert Al Jefferson.  Although Jefferson may not be a star, he has a consistent game of 18 points and 9 rebounds per game, solid numbers for a new NBA game that focuses on perimeter play. This signing is  important for the growth of the Bobcats and for showing the fan base that the team can attract free agents.  But even with the Jefferson signing, the Bobcats don’t have enough talent to get out of the lottery, which is a good thing for them as they traded a protected 1st round pick to the Bulls back in 2010 and that pick still has protection until 2016.  The Bobcats also have a Blazers protected top twelve pick and a Pistons protected top eight pick that the Bobcats may get this year as the Blazers and Pistons look to make the playoffs.  Given how stacked the draft is expected to be, a midrange pick could turn into a star, so the Bobcats have a great opportunity on the horizon.  Multiple picks can change the course of their franchise in just one night. This might be the last year for Bobcat nation to root for tanking and hopefully owner Michael Jordan and GM Rich Cho can turn this team around.  As for this season, the Bobcats need Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to find a jumpshot, Cody Zeller to play physical against bigger players and for Kemba Walker to become a more efficient shooter.  I don’t like this team now, but next year, it may be an entirely different story.

5.) Orlando Magic

Will Victor Oladipo play the point or shooting guard for the Magic?              Courtesy of USA Today

The Magic will be one of the worst teams in the NBA, no doubt about it, but they do have some exciting young players such as Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Mo Harkless and Nikola Vucevic. These players will become complimentary pieces to the high first round lottery pick they will draft this year. The question becomes what kind of player will they draft, as Victor Oladipo has played point guard throughout the summer league as well as in preseason.  If the Magic get the #1 overall pick, there is no question who they will take Andrew Wiggins; if they fall to a lower spot, and they think Oladipo will be more of a shooting guard, then the Magic may draft a point guard, potentially Marcus Smart, a player they wanted last year who didn’t declare for the draft.  Other possibilities are Dante Exum, an Australian player with good height and play making ability or Andrew Harrison, a physical guard who can play both guard positions and will know how to play under pressure because he will star for the University of Kentucky this season. The Magic will also get the lesser pick of the Nuggets-Knicks trade that involved Carmelo Anthony, which could turn into another valuable asset. This season will not produce many wins for the Magic but the future is looking brighter.

 

Stats from ESPN/

Al Jefferson to the Bobcats

By: Evan

The Charlotte Bobcats will sign free agent Al Jefferson to a three-year $41 million dollar deal with a player option for the final year.  Jefferson was the face of the Jazz franchise and is now going to be the face of the lowly Bobcats, owned by Michael Jordan.  Jefferson was widely considered the second best center behind Dwight Howard in this year’s free agency. So what does this mean for the Bobcats and the Jazz?

Al Jefferson is headed to Charlotte

What is means for the Bobcats: The Bobcats now have an extremely proficient low-post scorer with averages of 17.8 ppg and 9.2 rpg over the course of last season. Although Jefferson has great post moves, he is a horrific defender who gets beat easily and is slow on help defense. Another negative is that Jefferson barely goes to the free-throw line with an average of 2.8 fta per game. With the Bobcats, these averages will be elevated considering the dearth of dependable scorers on the roster. The Bobcats are still headed for the lottery and a high position in the draft, making the Jefferson deal somewhat confusing. Another somewhat suspicious part of the deal is its length. A two-year deal with a player option for the third will not be enough time for the Bobcats to rebuild around Jefferson, potentially leaving the Bobcats in an awkward position come 2015. But all in all the Bobcats now have a reliable scorer and a big man to compliment Kemba Walker.

What it means for the Jazz: Jefferson leaving the Jazz is an addition by subtraction sort of move. The Jazz have two very talented and young big men in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors who were receiving minimal playing time. The Jazz are starting a youth movement, letting go of some good but older veteran players in order to develop younger and higher ceiling players such as Kanter and Favors. With rookie point guard Trey Burke, and the developing Gordon Heyward, the Jazz are moving in the right direction towards rebuilding. While Jefferson was a good player for the Jazz, it is time to move on and start anew with fresh and exciting talent.

Picture and Stats from ESPN

Top NBA Free Agent’s Destination

By: Jonathan, THE Brooklyn Nets Fan

15. JR Smith – New York Knicks

JR Smith
JR Smith

After a break out regular season where JR Smith scored a career high, 18.1 PPG, he experienced a nightmare post-season. His horrendous post-season probably cost him millions of dollars. The Knicks cannot afford to let him go as their offense cannot thrive without another scorer besides Carmelo. After he opts-out of his current deal for $ 2.9 million, the Knicks will probably sign him to a deal ranging from $5-7 million a year.

The Nets would not have much interest in Smith as they already have Joe Johnson and Deron Williams who frequently shoot the ball.

14. JJ Redick – Oklahoma City Thunder

JJ Redick
JJ Redick

After a solid season with the Magic and Bucks where he scored a career high, 14.1 PPG, his shooting and scoring skills will be in high demand. As seen in the NBA Finals, every champion needs a reliable shooter that can stretch the defense and spread the floor. If Kevin Martin leaves the Thunder, Oklahoma City will need another scorer who can spread the floor for Durant and Westbrook.

The Nets should not have interest in Redick. Although they need shooting, he will probably be out of their price range.

13. Jose Calderon – Detroit Pistons

Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon

The veteran Spanish point guard has many different options this offseason. After another consistent season, Jose will be in high demand. I believe that Jose will return to Detroit because he has a lot to add to the team. The pass first point guard will drastically improve the game of big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. He can also teach young point guard Brandon Knight how to be an effective player.

The Nets have no interest in Jose Calderon. They have Deron Williams who played like the best point guard in the league after the All Star break.

12. OJ Mayo – Minnesota Timberwolves

OJ Mayo
OJ Mayo

The former Dallas Mavericks shooting guard has hit free agency for the second time in his young career. After signing a one-year deal with the Mavericks last offseason, he should be looking to cash in on a multi-year deal. The talented 25 year-old shooting guard had a comeback season. He will probably wind up with Timberwolves who would be able to boast a strong starting five (Rubio, Mayo, Williams/2013 pick, Love, and Pekovic). He can provide some valuable scoring to a team that can become stagnate at times.

The Nets should make a run at OJ Mayo this offseason. If he could be had at a discounted price, he would be a valuable 6th man playing at SG or SF.

11. Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs

Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili

The two time All-Star will either re-sign with the team that drafted him or retire this up coming offseason. After a forgettable finals, Manu will not make anywhere near the $14 million he made this year with the team. If he is willing to take less money, the Spurs will be able to possibly sign another valuable player who could lead them to the finals once again.

The Nets have no chance of signing Manu nor do I want him. He is a washed up star who has played a year too long.

10. Tyreke Evans – Utah Jazz

Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans

After winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2010, Tyreke’s production has steadily declined. Although a restricted free-agent, Tyreke will be leaving the Kings “toxic” organization. Evans has never been able to show off his true ability because of the constant fluctuation of the Sacramento Kings. With the Jazz, he will be able to grow with the young nucleus of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors and under the veteran tutelage of Mo Williams.

Evans would be useless with the Nets as the already have Johnson and Williams.

9. David West – Indiana Pacers

David West
David West

After an impressive playoff appearance, David West will be in high demand during the NBA offseason. After pushing the Miami Heat to a seventh game of the ECF without their best offensive playmaker, Danny Granger, the Indiana Pacers have a legitimate chance of knocking off the Heat next year. Indiana was able to expose the Heat with their physical play. This is why the Pacers MUST re-sign David West if they want any chance of upsetting the Heat. He can provide physically along with consistent rebounding and scoring.

The Nets would love to have a player like David West. The Nets have a desperate need at the power forward with the struggling Kris Humphries and the offensively challenged Reggie Evans. He can be like Reggie Evans except with the ability to put the ball in the basket.

8. Paul Millsap – San Antonio Spurs

Paul Millsap
Paul Millsap

Similar to David West, Paul Millsap is an undervalued, undersized power forward for the Utah Jazz. After being beaten by Miami down low repeatedly without Tim Duncan on the floor, San Antonio must reevaluate their power forward position. Millsap can be a great find for the Spurs as he would provided added toughness, rebounding, and scoring.

The Nets would love to have a player like Paul Millsap. Although there were rumors about him during the trade deadline, the trade never went through. He can be like Reggie Evans except with the ability to put the ball in the basket.

7. Brandon Jennings – Milwaukee Bucks

Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings

The Bucks cannot allow the extremely talented 23 year-old Jennings walk without gaining something in return. Luckily, he is a restricted free agent so they will have the power to match any offer. Unless the Mavs or Hawks swoop in and offer Jennings the max, I believe he will return with Milwaukee. If the problem arises again, they can always trade him during the trade deadline. Since it looks like Monta Ellis will not be returning, the Bucks must make it a priority to re-sign Jennings.

The Nets have no need for the inconsistent Jennings with Williams on the team.

6. Andre Iguodala – Denver Nuggets

Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala will almost certainly re-sign with the Denver Nuggets this offseason. Although he opted out of his deal, there is mutual interest between both sides so a deal will probably be complete. Iguodala is a perfect fit for the team as he is extremely versatile and allows them to play small and fast with his great defensive ability.

The Nets believed they had someone like Iguodala when they traded for Gerald Wallace. However, they have been badly mistaken.

5. Al Jefferson – Atlanta Hawks

Al Jefferson
Al Jefferson

With Josh Smith most likely leaving this offseason, the Hawks will have a need for a big man to complement Al Horford down low. Big Al will allow Horford to return to his natural power forward position and could create a lethal combination of size. The Hawks will have more than enough money this offseason and hope they can make a splash, like Jefferson, Howard, or Paul.

If the Nets had Big Al they would become extremely dangerous down low as him and Lopez could average 40 and 17 nightly.

4. Andrew Bynum – Charlotte Bobcats

Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum

Probably the most interesting free agent we have had in a number of years, Andrew Bynum has the potential to be an extreme steal or bust. When playing, he is a walking 20 and 10 who could be considered the best big man in the game. The Bobcats will have money to spend this offseason. Since they cannot attract big name free agent routinely, they should gamble on Bynum this offseason. If it is a success, he can possibly lead them to their first post-season win in franchise history.

The Nets had their chance of having Bynum, but did not want to Kidd for him.

3. Josh Smith – Dallas Mavericks

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

This offseason the Mavericks plan on making a huge splash in free agency. With millions in cap room, they have the possibility of landing two big free agents. Although Josh does not deserve a max contract, he will definitely be paid handsomely in the range of $12-15 million per year. If the Mavericks want to make a lot of noise, they can sign Smith and offer Jennings a max offer in attempt to pair them with Dirk. The Mavericks need to make the playoffs next year after the poor showing this past year.

The Nets attempted to trade for him this deadline. He could be incredibly useful for the Nets who need massive amounts of help on power forward and talent.

2. Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Hopefully the “Dwightmare” will finally end this offseason. For the past three years different teams, such as my Nets, have tried to lure the talented big man onto their team. (Magic made huge mistake not trading to Nets. Instead of having Aaron Affalo, they could be pairing vucevic and lopez down low, more salary cap relief, and more future first round picks). This past season Dwight hit rock bottom as the Lakers barely made the playoffs and he was constantly scutinized for his play and attitude. By going to Houston, he will be able to escape the media pressure of Tinseltown without losing too much money. Since Texas has no income tax, their standard of living is a lot less than LA, Dwight Howard would probably opt-out of the last year of his deal, the money issue is a non-factor. Howard will have his best chance at winning in Houston because of their young nucleus. The Lakers are a bad fit for Howard: bad coach, aging team, little room for improvement, and he does not like being in the spotlight. With James Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets can form a solid inside out style.

The Nets have almost no chance of getting Dwight Howard. Although many people hope that there is still a way we can do a sign and trade, the chance are slim to none. At least we have lopez who can average 20 and 7 nightly.

1. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul
Chris Paul

The best player this offseason as well as the best point guard in the league will remain in the City of Angels with the Clip. With the addition of Doc Rivers, the Clippers now have a legitimate leader of men who can bring the best out of his stars. Along with Blake Griffin and a solid bench, the Clippers have the possibility to reach the Conference Finals and maybe even the Finals, with Spurs getting old and a recovering Westbrook. Unless Paul can find a way to join with Howard in either Atlanta, Houston, or Dallas, his best destination is Los Angeles where he can with a budding star and a top level coach.