Tag Archives: Chandler Parsons

Western Conference Southwest Division Preview

By: Evan

The Southwest division will be one of the most intriguing divisions in the NBA with the potential for three different teams to win the division. The San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies all have talented teams that made significant runs in the playoffs last season and will look to make even deeper runs this season. The most significant change for the Rockets is the addition of Dwight Howard, who signed a four year $88 million dollar deal with the potential opt-out after year two. With a core of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons, the Rockets are looking to win a title.  But they need to best the Spurs and Grizzlies, two experienced teams with elite players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.  It should be an exciting season, now let’s look at some predictions. *Denotes playoff team

1.) *Houston Rockets

The Rockets have a formidable starting lineup, one that can shoot and score inside.                    Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

Dwight Howard is a tremendous addition to an already talented Rockets starting lineup, providing a low post presence that will take some pressure off of James Harden and Chandler Parsons on the perimeter. The main issue for the Rockets will be establishing a pace as last year they averaged 106 points per game, good for second in the league, but D12 likes to body his defender in the post and slow the game down. If Kevin McHale can set the tone and find a balance, the Rockets will be tough to beat.  Another key will be Jeremy Lin’s growth from last season as the media world focused on him and his play regressed from his days in New York. If he can eliminate some turnovers and improve his 34% 3-PT shooting, the Rockets will have a scoring threat from almost every position. As Jon mentioned before, James Harden has seized the opportunity to lead a franchise as he posted a ridiculous stat line of 26 ppg 5.8 rpg and 4.9 apg, all career highs. Look for him to better his assist numbers as well as efficiency since Dwight Howard will draw some double-teams in the post. This team is dangerous and when they make the playoffs, they have a shot at knocking off the Heat.

2.) *San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich were one rebound away from a fifth NBA championship.                                                                                                               Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

The only reason why the Spurs are not the top team in this division is their age.  Popovich likes to rest his older players during meaningless regular season games, which lowers their seeding.  After the disappointment of losing in the Finals last year, it will be tough for the Spurs to get back as so many other teams improved.  Last year might have been the last chance for this current Spurs’ core to win a championship, but that has been said for a few years now, and the Spurs have continued to excel.  This year the plan will be similar for Pop — give Kawhi Leonard more of Tim’s minutes and hope Tony and Manu stay healthy.   It will be interesting to see the growth of Kawhi Leonard, a player who was considered a role player, now being called on to take the reigns from one of the greatest big men of all-time, TIm Duncan.  Kawhi has emerged as a tremendous two way player with terrific athleticism, defensive intensity and an underrated 3-PT shot. The other player to watch is Tony Parker, who made a solid case for MVP last season, putting up 20.3 ppg 7.8 apg and shooting an insane 52% from the field. If he can replicate his play then Houston and San Antonio could switch spots come May. For Spurs’ fans, its all about the playoffs.  If the Spurs stay healthy, they might have another run left in them.

3.) *Memphis Grizzlies

Can Gasol and Z-Bo lead the Grizz to a title?                                                               Courtesy of Grantland.com

The Grizzlies are another interesting team that had a shot at the NBA finals last year when the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was injured.  The Grizzlies needed an elite 3PT shooter last year so they added Mike Miller, a stud shooter who is prone to injury and is also a liability defensively. I don’t think he is enough to make the Grizzlies true contenders to represent the West in the Finals.  But now let’s look at the positives, they have Z-Bo and Gasol, two elite post players who compliment each other’s game very well as both are good passers and can make a 15 foot jumpshot. They also have Tony Allen, probably the best perimeter defender in all of basketball, but he can’t score, making him a non-entity on the offensive side of the ball.  The other player worth noting is Mike Conley Jr, a solid point guard who played well last season, but was eventually overwhelmed by the elite point guard play of Tony Parker in the Western Conference Finals. This Memphis team might need to make a mid-season trade for a perimeter scorer if they have any hopes of making a long run in the West. The Grizzlies are good but not good enough to be a top four seed.

4.) *New Orleans Pelicans

This core of Pelicans should give the Big Easy something to be excited about.                                                                          Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

The newly named Pelicans are young, and a sleeper team.  The team has a terrific young core with Jrue Holiday 23, Eric Gordon 24, Tyreke Evans 24, Ryan Anderson 25 and Anthony Davis 20.  New Orleans’ biggest move was trading away next year’s first round pick to Philly for Jrue Holiday, a surprising move for some as the first round pick in 2014 could be a star, but New Orleans opted for a proven All-Star in Jrue Holiday. NOLA also signed Tyreke Evans, who was in a dreadful situation in Sacramento and although he has regressed since his standout rookie season, with more shooters and playmakers, he should be able to find more ways to score. The key will be Eric Gordon, an oft injured shooting guard who has past history of being a 20 point scorer and could improve the Pelicans’ playoff hopes if he stays healthy. The other integral member of this squad is last year’s #1 overall pick Anthony Davis, who was the most efficient rookie last year with a PER of 21.86 good for 15th in the entire NBA. He is a menace on the defensive side and his offensive game has clearly improved since his Kentucky season and Davis could be an All-star. The main problem with this team is the lack of girth up front as Davis isn’t your ideal big man with size and strength.   Davis is more finesse and quickness than power.  If  NOLA  trades one of their shooters like Ryan Anderson for a defensive big man, the Pelicans would have a solid team at all positions. The Pelicans should improve greatly from last season, and develop nicely as these young, talented players mesh well.

5.) Dallas Mavericks

Should the Mavs trade Dirk? Courtesy of ESPN

The Dallas Mavericks have gone from NBA champions in 2011 to the edge of irrelevance in 2013-2014. Most of this is due to the missed opportunities in free agency including the Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Now the Mavericks have constructed a team with Dirk at the helm and Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis as secondary players, a team that will be lackluster defensively to say the least. Mark Cuban won’t settle for medicority and that is why I posed the question, should the Mavs trade Dirk? The team publicly has said they want Dirk to retire a Maverick but if a borderline-championship team offers valuable picks for an aging veteran, the Mavs would be unwise to pass on the opportunity.    Dallas is not a serious contender, and they are in a rebuilding mode whether they know or accept the fact.   If this is Dirk’s last season as a Maverick, he will probably land with a contender by Christmas, and Dallas will look to get some new talent in the stacked 2014 draft.

Stats from ESPN

What is the Future of USA Basketball?

By: Evan

The USA Basketball team will face a serious remodeling and rebuilding in the next two years under Jerry Colangelo. Although Coach K is returning for an opportunity to win his third gold,  the future is far from certain. Coach K will have to adjust to new players that are younger and less experienced than the veteran core such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams, and Carmelo Anthony. Despite the fact that Chris Paul, Kevin Love and Kevin Durant have committed to return in 2016, a significant part of the team will be exposed to the international game for the first time. Team USA is potentially looking at 6 or 7 changes to the roster and the loss of great leadership from LeBron James and Kobe Bryant that is invaluable when playing savvy international squads. Let’s look at some viable options for the roster in 2016.

Point Guards:

CP3 will have to accept a leadership role in 2016                      Courtesy of USA Today

Chris Paul: After Coach K committed to another run at gold, Chris Paul seems to be committed as well. This might be more important than Coach K’s return especially due to the fact that this the team will be void of real leadership. Chris Paul has always played well in the international game and is a defensive menace for opposing point guards. Hopefully Chris will grow as a leader for the Clippers and this development will carry over into the Olympics.  Chris will play a role similar to Jason Kidd in 2008, primarily a leader,  and secondarily, a scorer and defender.

Derrick Rose: Derrick Rose was a lock to be on the 2012 Olympic team before he tore his ACL in the NBA playoffs and now he will get his chance at Olympic gold. Derrick will only be 27 by 2016 and his game will return to superstar status as one of the elite athletes in the game. Derrick has some international experience, playing in the 2010 World Championships and he will cause havoc for the international opposition with his speed and agility.  Derrick’s jump shot has improved, making him an even more deadly weapon for the USA team.

Kyrie Irving: By 2016, Kyrie Irving will be the best point guard in the NBA and the most complete player on the Olympic roster. Kyrie possesses innate basketball feel and is a ruthless competitor (see his challenge to Kobe Bryant in 2012) who will take over and be one of the key faces of USA Basketball. Kyrie will be 24 by the time the Olympics arrive and will not be at his peak by that time.   Kyrie can do anything on the court and can be an all-time great guard. Kyrie along with Kevin Durant, will be the faces of USA Basketball.

Russell Westbrook: Russell Westbrook, like Derrick Rose, is an off the chart athlete with room to grow. Westbrook has prior Olympic experience and although he did not play much, he was always a threat coming off the bench providing defensive toughness and speed. In 2016, Westbrook will need to score more as the team will be void of the 2012 team’s elite scoring prowess. The USA’s best weapon is its athleticism at all positions and Westbrook will be a integral member of the 2016 squad.

Shooting Guards:

James Harden looks to win another gold medal in 2016                                                          Courtesy of Blog.newscom

James Harden: Harden exploded this season in his starting role and emerged as one of the elite players in the NBA. Harden can shoot the lights out and will have to play with a more aggressive mentality in the Olympics. Harden has a game that is ideal for international play and will make life difficult for the opposition. Harden’s role as the star of the Houston Rockets will help him develop the edge that makes great leaders.

Klay Thompson:  Some may argue Klay Thompson shouldn’t be on this list, but Klay will play a pivotal role as the spot up 3 point shooter for the 2016 squad. The 2012 team didn’t have a great 3 point shooter, which was over shadowed by the sheer talent on that team.   Klay will come off the bench and provide instant offense for the 2016 squad.   Klay Thompson is rapidly ascending as one of the best 2 guards in the NBA.

Small Forwards:

KD will take the reigns of USA Basketball from friend LeBron James Courtesy of Slate.com

 

Kevin Durant: This is a no brainer. KD is a star of the highest order and will also have to become a better leader in 2016. KD will obviously have to score in order for the USA to win gold and Jerry Colangelo has already states KD will be “The Face of USA Basketball”. As Kevin grows and becomes more and more efficient, the better off team USA will be. Hopefully KD stays healthy and locks in on winning.

Paul George: Paul George became a household name this year, winning the Most Improved Player award and carrying the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. Paul is already an elite defender and  has an ever evolving offensive game which utilizes his athleticism. George will probably play a role similar to Andre Iguodala’s on the 2012 team, shutting down the opposition’s best wing player.

Kenneth Faried: Kenneth Faried will be a high energy player, defensive stopper and prolific rebounder for team USA. Coach K and Jerry Colangelo have raved about Faried and his intensity. Faried needs to become a better free throw shooter so he can play late in games, but he could be the Tyson Chandler type player for 2016. Watch out for the Manimal in 2016.

Power Forwards:

AD and KLove will have larger roles in 2016. Courtesy of ESPN

Kevin Love: Kevin Love has the game best fit for the Olympics, playing a stretch 4 who can also rebound and pass. Love did not have a big role on 2012 team but look for him to shine in 2016. Love will bring experience and a stable presence in the locker room. which will be key for the younger players. Love is one of the best power forwards in the game and he should lead the T-Wolves into the playoffs while earning multiple All-star appearances between now and 2016.

Anthony Davis: Anthony Davis will only be 23 by the time the Olympics roll around in 2016, but he also brings experience from 2012. Everybody knows AD is tremendous defender with long lanky arms and a high motor, but the element of AD’s game that is most impressive is his ability to knock down 15 to 20 foot jumpers and even the occasional 3 point ball. He is starting to remind many why he was selected #1 overall and earned KG/Tim Duncan comparisons. He dominated the latest USA exhibition game with 22 points on 10 of 13 shooting with 7 boards in only 23 minutes. Davis should be a lock for 2016.

Center:

If he matures, DeMarcus could play a pivotal role in 2016 Courtesy of SI

DeMarcus Cousins: DeMarcus Cousins is a beast with an extremely high ceiling that could make him the best center in the league in 2016 (which is not saying much) but Cousins has had maturity issues that have stunted his development.  The turmoil in Sacramento may not have helped but this is a concern.   Hopefully Cousins will bring a positive attitude to team USA and show the world his talent and ability.  Cousins is a true post player who can also step out and make jumpers which is key to the international game. If Cousins can get his act together, watch out international centers because he is a handful.

Snubs or Potential Alternates

If Melo and LBJ return for 2016, Team USA would be a lock for gold                                                                                Courtesy of SI and CNN.com

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony: Obviously if either decide to come back for a fourth Olympic try, he will make the roster and provide scoring and even more leadership for 2016.  If one decides to come back, many believe so will the other as the two have a great relationship.

Will team USA give DWill one more shot? Courtesy of FightingIllini.com

Deron Williams:  DWill is a star when he wants to be and maybe he comes back for 2016 to win a third gold.  Deron would be behind a few younger and better players in the depth chart, but maybe Jerry Colangelo brings him back due to his experience.

John Wall:  If any point guard drops out of the Olympics 2016, Wall would be a likely pick. Wall is extremely athletic but he needs to improve his jumpshot if he wants to play for Team USA.

Stephen Curry:  If Steph stays healthy and his ankle holds up, he would be a great alternate for Team USA.  Steph is obviously one of the best shooters in the NBA , and would provide a reliable long-range threat from either guard spot.

Chandler Parsons:  Parsons is a poor man’s Paul George, a complete game but without PG’s athleticism.  Parsons is a reliable player who can defend and knock down shots.

Andre Drummond: Drummond has the potential to be Dwight Howard, minus the publicity nightmares.  But unfortunately both are plagued by poor free throw shooting, and Drummond needs to improve in this facet of the game.

Dwight Howard: Dwight will be 31 by 2016 and he could also become a free agent so the chance of a return in 2016 seems unlikely. But, hey, nobody knows what Dwight will do.

Does the addition of Dwight Howard make Houston a championship contender?

By: Jon

After two years of the “Dwightmare”, sources are reporting that Howard has signed for th max with the Houston Rockets. Only a year ago, many NBA experts thought that the Rockets had almost no chance of landing the prized center. However, a year has gone by and everything has changed in the NBA. Many people believed that Howard’s roller coaster journey had ended three times, when ESPN reported he was traded to the Nets, when he opted in to stay with the Magic, and finally on August 10, 2012, when he was part of a four team deal that sent him to Los Angeles. However, we were all wrong; the roller coaster ride was just taking another curve. After a disastrous season, the Lakers fired their coach after 5 games, Howard was forced to play with back pain, Lakers faced crippling injuries, Kobe never accepted Howard’s playful demeanor, Kobe hurting his Achilles, and finally Howard’s ejection in Game Four of the first round of the NBA playoffs, many experts believed that Howard would not be returning to the Lakers. Although Kobe had the last word and the Lakers could offer $30 million more dollars than the Rockets, the tumultuous situation caused Howard to reevaluate his options and leave Tinseltown. Although Howard does deserve blame because of how he handled the situation, NBA fans should respect him for giving up $30 million dollars and a chance to live in LA because he felt more comfortable in Houston.

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Although the Rockets will have a lot of expectations and talent, they will not be my favorite to win the Western Conference. When Howard is healthy, he is one of the most dominating players this game has to offer. However, his status is uncertain because back injuries do not just heal themselves, especially for big men. Howard was not the same player we saw in Orlando because of the back injury. Although Howard had a great season compared to other centers around the league, 17 ppg, 12 rpg, 2 blk, Howard did not have the same quickness or athleticism because of the back injury. Even if Howard returns to full strength, I do not believe that the Rockets will be the top team in the league or the West. Personally, I do not think Houston’s personal will be good enough to lead Howard to his first championship. Besides for James Harden, one of the league’s brightest stars, the Rockets are devoid of star power. Although many people feel that Chandler Parsons will be a star in the league, I do not share the same opinion. The Rockets will be forced to change their style of play, which will affect their supporting cast. The Rocket players were able to put up gaudy numbers because of their “run and gun” offense, which led to a lot of open transition threes and layups. However, the Rockets will no longer be able to play at such a speed because it does not fit Howard’s game. As seen with the Lakers, Dwight is completely ineffective in that style of play. Players, such as Parsons and Lin, will be a lot less effective in their new style of play. Although Parsons will be successful as a three point shooter, Parsons will be unable to put up the same points or assists numbers, which will denigrate his value as a player. Lin will not be the same player, when the Rockets change their style of play. As seen in New York, when the Knicks were forced to play slow, Lin was not as effective as a player because of his disability to go left and separate from defenders. Lin is not a good shooter, which is what the Rockets will need to spread the floor for Howard and Harden.

James Harden
James Harden

I still believe that the Rockets will be fighting for a top 4 position in the West. I would not be surprised if the Rockets finished 4th, however I would be surprised if they finished first ahead of OKC, Grizzlies, and Spurs. OKC beat the Rockets in 6 games, even though they did not have Russell Westbrook. I would choose Russell Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka over Howard, Harden, and Parsons. Houston will face tough battle with the Grizzlies, Clippers, and Spurs in the playoffs. The Rocket players have never won, which could be a major problem during playoff time. The Grizzlies and Spurs would have big men that could defend and neutralize Harden and Howard, Grizzlies: Allen and Gasol and Spurs: Leonard and Duncan. I would take the talent and experience of the Grizzlies and Spurs over the Rockets currently, but things can change.

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant

However, the Rockets will have a chance of bringing the title back to Houston if they can sign Josh Smith. After reports surfaced that Howard would be signing with the Rockets, Omar Asik stated that he would not play with Howard because they share similar positions. Atlanta does not want Smith back on their team, especially for the salary he is commanding. Atlanta and Rockets have expressed interest in a possible sign and trade. The addition of Smith would give the Rockets with one of the most athletic and dynamic rotation in the league. Although many of their players have never won and their bench would be non existent, there starting five should enable them to reach the NBA Finals. In order to overtake the throne, the Rockets must add veteran free agents, who can come off the bench and provide quality minutes. Especially if the Thunder or Spurs do not add another borderline All-Star, expect the Houston Rockets to come out of the West and face the Heat in an epic final.

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Future Lineup:

Lin

Harden

Parsons

Smith

Howard

Stats and pics from ESPN.com