Marcin Gortat

2010-11 NBA Preview: Southeast Division

Miami Heat (47-35 last season)

Miami is still Wade's town.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Carlos Arroyo

Shooting Guard: Dwayne Wade

Small Forward: LeBron James

Power Forward: Chris Bosh

Center: Joel Anthony

Key Reserves:

Guard: Mario Chalmers

Forward: Mike Miller

Forward: Udonis Haslem

I’m sick of having to play the injury card, but it really is that important to a team.  The big three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh must stay healthy for the Heat to win, but three players cannot win a championship.  The role players (Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem) must step in and deliver if this team wants to win an NBA championship.  The most important thing for the big three to control is their egos though.  Does anyone care about the last shot?  Or how many touches?  Or who averages the most points?   Time will tell if they coexist.  Regardless, they are strong enough to win their division.

Orlando Magic (59-23 last season)

Arguably one of college basketball's greatest players, Reddick will make huge strides this season.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jameer Nelson

Shooting Guard: Vince Carter

Small Forward: Mickael Pietrus

Power Forward: Rashard Lewis

Center: Dwight Howard

Key Reserves:

Guard: J.J. Reddick

Guard-Forward: Quentin Richardson

Forward-Center: Marcin Gortat

Get ready Magic fans, because Dwight Howard is coming off a summer spent with free throw shooting and Hakeem Olajuwon.  Will Dwight finally have a couple moves up his sleeves other than the occasional baby hook at times?  We’ll have to see if this possible MVP candidate can up his game.  The main focal point around this team is at shooting guard though.  Vince Carter is either going to cash in and have another solid season, or check out and become that veteran off the bench.  J.J. Reddick is slowly starting to get ushered in for the appropriate time to fill the starting shoes.  He is on the cusp of taking that next step and this could be the year.

Atlanta Hawks (53-29 last season)

With Mike Woodson gone, Josh Smith can breathe a sigh of relief. NO MORE YELLING!

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Mike Bibby

Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson

Small Forward: Marvin Williams

Power Forward: Josh Smith

Center: Al Horford

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jeff Teague

Guard: Jamal Crawford

Center: Zaza Pachulia

I really like this team and they are still very young especially if Jeff Teague takes the starting job away from Mike Bibby.  Bibby was very inconsistent last season and the most unproductive starter.  Teague definitely has the skills to start with a solid shot and a superb passing ability.  Joe Johnson got paid big time so hopefully he doesn’t go on cruise control until the playoffs because he is the glue to their offense.  If the Hawks want to go far in the playoffs, they need to pray they don’t meet Orlando.  Dwight Howard always has field days against Atlanta because they have no one to stop him.

Washington Wizards (26-56 last season)

Agent Zero no more, now number 9.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: John Wall

Shooting Guard: Gilbert Arenas

Small Forward: Al Thornton

Power Forward: Andray Blatche

Center: Javale McGee

Key Reserves:

Guard: Kirk Hinrich

Forward: Josh Howard

Center: Yi Jianlian

This will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this year.  With John Wall and Gilbert Arenas in the backcourt, who knows what jaw-dropping things can be done.  Arenas must stay healthy though (again with the health, it really is important).  Andray Blatche is also going to love having Wall pass him the ball.  Blatche is going to put up the numbers that he did after the All-Star break last season (20+ ppg).  Javale McGee has a ton of potential to be a very good center.  He is just starting to grow into his body, and his lankiness will cause a lot of blocks and altered shots in the key.  The Wizards have a definite shot at a playoff berth, but I think they are a year or two away.

Charlotte Bobcats (44-38 last season)

The league's best shot-blocker and rebounder, pound for pound.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: D.J. Augustin

Shooting Guard: Stephen Jackson

Small Forward: Gerald Wallace

Power Forward: Boris Diaw

Center: Nazr Mohammed

Key Reserves:

Guard: Gerald Henderson

Forward: Tyrus Thomas

Forward: Derrick Brown

The Bobcats are still a good team, I just feel that this division is stacked and they will be at the bottom of it.  I believe the loss of Raymond Felton will have a huge toll on the offense.  He doesn’t get the credit he should deserve and D.J. Augustin won’t be that problem solver.  Stephen Jackson is also at that point on a team where the honeymoon could be over.  He never seems to last long on teams because of his fiery and aggressive attitude.  With Jackson and Gerald Wallace this team still has a shot to be a very good defensive unit.  Look for Tyrus Thomas to also chip in both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.  As for the playoffs for the Bobcats…not happening.


Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 NBA Rookie Disappointments


There’s honestly not one point guard that you can fairly say they’ll be a draft disappointment. Considering where each of this year’s point guard prospects were selected, you got to like the potential upside they all offer.

Turner's role with the 76ers will be as awkward as that hat looks atop his head

SG: Evan Turner, Philadelphia 76ers

A variety of reasons land Turner in this slot: 1) He far from impressed in Orlando Summer League ball 2) While the 76ers have a fresh, new coach in Doug Collins it doesn’t change the fact that Turner will struggle finding his niche role with his team 3) If John Wall can play up to his expectation level and Turner struggles, unfortunately, unfairly he’ll be looked down upon. There’s no doubt Turner becomes a solid player in the NBA, but he’s going to be a young player that will grow with time. So from jump, Turner may be perceived as a draft disappointment.

This may in fact be the only memory of Aminu that I'll still hold at the end of the season

SF: Al-Farouq Aminu, Los Angeles Clippers

If you’re looking for this past year’s draft’s biggest disappointment look no further, Aminu can be added to the list of terrible Clippers’ draft picks. Who knows what the Clippers see in Aminu’s future as an NBA player but I can assure you he’s not worth using your 8th pick on him. His immediate role with the Clippers is limited and very well in question after bringing in Ryan Gomes and resigning Rasual Butler. Both Gomes and Butler will make it extremely difficult for Aminu to find time. Most likely Aminu becomes a guy who never gets his opportunities early on and never recovers from the lack of experience as a rookie. His best bet is to find some time in the D-League and then to go from there because he’s far from NBA ready nor is he ready to be called 8th pick worthy, regardless of draft class.

When you're picked before tons of players you probably shouldn't be, it's common practice to hug the commissioner rather than shake his hand

PF: Ekpe Udoh, Golden State Warriors

With the 6th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select…umm who? Though you all know I cover the NBA draft extensively and clearly know who Udoh is, predictions aside, I’m shocked Warriors went this route. Maybe it makes more than perfect sense to draft Greg Monroe so instead they decided to take the risky pick in Udoh in hopes that he surprises us all. Udoh will be newly signed David Lee’s backup and will continually remain his backup until the Warriors feel he’s ready to play some minutes at center. If and when that time ever becomes a possibility is much like Udoh’s true potential, up in the air. Until Udoh shows us why he’s worthy of consideration as high as pick #6 he’ll remain a big disappointment in my book.

Ewing: "Dude, are you seriously this bad?"

C: Daniel Orton, Orlando Magic

Now I understand why he was the second-to-last pick in the first round, I understand he was given some attention being a member of the Kentucky Wildcats youth, but what I can’t grasp any understanding in deciding to take a gamble with Orton over Hassan Whiteside. Worst-case scenario for Whiteside is best case scenario for Orton, that’s how bad Orton is. I mean come on, the highlight of Orton’s Summer League in Orlando was him getting tossed for fighting with the Pacers’ Josh McRoberts. For Orton’s sake, I hope he can maybe learn a thing or two from fellow teammates Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat, but I also hope he knows how to save his money. Outside of his rookie contract, I see him finding a tough time finding a job in the league.

This is Part 5 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 6 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

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