DeShawn Stevenson

Three Players to Watch (Atlanta Hawks)

The “Three Players to Watch” series is brought to you by the OuttaTownClowns, covering each of the league’s 30 teams providing you with insight on three guys that should demand your attention next season. As you can always expect at the OTC, not every player noted are a team’s top player, instead it may just be a player’s particular situation that’s worth following if you’re a die-hard NBA fan. Up first, the Atlanta Hawks featuring the Three J’s: Jeff, John, and Josh…

1. Jeff Teague

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Teague’s future in Atlanta after next season is definitely up in the air

A quick glance at Teague’s year-by-year regular season statistics shows steady improvement each year. Naturally his overall statistics also have to do with receiving increased playing time that hit an all-time high this past season as Teague started in all of the Hawks 66 games last season averaging 33 minutes per outing. However it’s likely Teague won’t be seeing yet another improvement in his performances next season due to the Hawks offseason moves. This summer the Hawks’ two biggest additions came at the guard positions adding Devin Harris via the Joe Johnson trade with Brooklyn and signing free agent guard Louis Williams. It’s unclear as to whether or not the Hawks organization are left unconvinced Teague’s their point guard going forward in the future; but this upcoming season surely is a make or break season for Teague that should determine whether he’ll be considered starter quality or one of the NBA’s best backup point guards come next offseason. Unfortunately Teague may be facing a challenge too tough to overcome, as it’s likely his minutes of opportunity will be decreased with both Harris and Williams on board. In order to prove his worth as a starter Teague must continue to improve his three-point shooting percentage (34% last season) and most importantly his distribution rate as he averaged just below 5 assists per game last season. It’ll be tough and interesting task to watch Teague try to improve yet again next season.

2. John Jenkins

ImageUndoubtedly one of the more NBA-ready rookies in this year’s draft class Jenkins will get a chance to shine in the Hawks rotation next season. Reviewing the Hawks depth chart that includes Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson, there’s a decent chance you may even see Jenkins starting in the shooting guard slot if Head Coach Larry Drew decides to go against the idea of a Teague/Harris backcourt that would lack the 3-point shooting threat that Jenkins certainly provides. Just recently, Jenkins received 48.6% of his peers votes as best shooter in a rookie poll that was released by NBA.com. Jenkins led the nation in three-pointers made per game last season connecting on nearly 4 treys a game. If Jenkins can quickly transition his consistent long range shooting ability to the NBA, he’ll earn a spot on one of the NBA All-Rookie teams.

3. Josh Smith

Last year he was an All-Star game snub, this year he enters a contract year. Watch out folks, Josh Smith is on a mission to get paid! Fantasy basketball players should jump on the opportunity of drafting this guy early into the first round. Last year J-Smoov nearly averaged a double-double putting up 18.8 ppg and collecting 9.6 boards a game, not to mention also averaging 1.4 spg and 1.7 bpg respectively. With the departure of Joe Johnson, Smith will average 20 points and 10 rebounds a game with ease next year. Rest assured he’ll also continue to hold down a 1.5 steals per game average and don’t be a bit surprised to see him get raise his blocks average to 2 per game. With that here’s the first bold statistical prediction for next season: 22.5 ppg, 11 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 2.1 bpg= Josh Smith.                                                       

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J-Smoov will produce eye-popping numbers this season

NBA Playoff Predictions 4-18-10

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers

A Must-See First Round Matchup

The matchups at every position are intriguing to say the least, but can a young team like the Thunder really compete in big game situations against the team that knows how to do it best? While I’d like to think they can, past history would prove otherwise. Despite the Lakers struggles to put all the talent together on a consistent night-to-night basis along with battling injuries they’ll prevail in Game 1 at home and carry forth as the series moves along. But don’t sleep on the series, this series offers the rest of the league and it’s fan a glimpse of the future in the NBA.

Lakers- 106 Thunder- 98

Charlotte Bobcats at Orlando Magic

The Owner & His Captain: Can they lead the movement?

With one of the best regular season home records in the NBA, the Magic shouldn’t disappoint in Game 1. With that being said, taking a quick look up and down the Bobcats roster that task will be far from easy. The Bobcats will come out ready to play and will make this a very exciting series to watch. It’s also valuable to note that the Bobcats have a variety of SEASONED big men to throw at Dwight Howard. If “Captain Jack” can rally the crew behind his long range three pointer, this series could easily forced a heated Game 7. Center & Point positions are my favorite matchups to watch Dwight/Gortat vs. Ratliff/Chandler & the matchup of two very similar point guards Jameer Nelson vs. Raymond Felton (similar style of play & physique).

Magic- 101 Bobcats- 93

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

Mountain Dew is also refreshing but drinking 2 liters before games is just insane

Wait…shouldn’t we typically see this series in a later round? The answer to that question makes me feel so ancient but nonetheless life goes fast. This series will be quite the sight to see and I believe the term “refreshed” sums up the matchup. The Mavericks “refreshed” their roster with the late additions of Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson. On the other hand, the Spurs decided to “refresh” their roster before the ’09-’10 campaign even began adding two important pieces for the playoffs in Antonio McDyess and Richard Jefferson. But despite the preseason additions, the Spurs are just now feeling like a “refreshed” roster. They’ve battled with injuries of Parker/Ginobili while also battling the sluggish play of Jefferson. The return of Parker/Ginobili is scary one-two punch and with the drastic performance improvements Jefferson’s made lately, this series will be as interesting as it always has been. This year the series is just delivered to NBA a bit early, but hey it’s kind of refreshing!

Mavericks- 94 Spurs- 88

Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns

Umm...yeah self explanatory: Just another day at the office for STAT

Without Brandon Roy, the Blazers will get manhandled in Game 1 in Phoenix but it’s definitely too early for me to commit to a Phoenix Suns sweep. The Bucks and of course the Blazers are two teams that unfortunately seem to always be forced to adapt to key losses but they do so very well. I see that being no different, even if that Blazers loss is the team’s leader and best player. This is a prime opportunity for Aldridge to step up and I’m sure that’s an overused statement that’s dragged on around the city of Portland for years now. Aldridge will continue to be a often forgot about player until he can prove that he should be mentioned along with the league’s best power forwards. Coincidentally, he’ll have to prove that by matching up against arguably the league’s best power forward in Amare Stoudemire. The Suns power forward is on a mission and has his eye on the prize, that prize….(drum roll please)….is a new contract (NOT a championship, sorry Phoenix). But Amare will be an ultimate beast this series and if you don’t believe me just ask Dante Cunningham!

Suns- 112 Blazers- 102