New Jersey Nets

Three Players to Watch (Brooklyn Nets)

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 Next: “Hello Brooklyn, how ya duin” (Lil Wayne Voice)

1. Tyshawn Taylor

The seasoned college prospect fell to the 41st pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and was surprisingly traded by Portland to Brooklyn for cash considerations. Cash considerations? Consider this…Tyshawn Taylor will receive some chances to help the Nets next season. Averaging 15.5 ppg in Orlando Summer League competition Taylor provided leadership, a clear ability to score the basketball at the next level, and most importantly wasn’t afraid to take control of the flow of the game while on the court. Although he only handed out an average of 2.5 assists per game in summer ball, his overall game play can easily make him a reliable option of the bench for Head Coach Avery Johnson if called upon. Don’t be surprised to see Taylor sent to the D-League early on into the year, but come the middle of the season he should rise if given the opportunity.

 

2. Brook Lopez

Go ahead big fella, pick out some new Brooklyn Nets gear that fits. Looks as if you’ll be sticking around after all…

Two words can describe the Nets feeling when it comes to Brook Lopez next season: fingers crossed. After playing in just the first 5 games of the last year’s season, the Nets ultimately decided to shut Lopez down after a severely sprained right ankle. Despite much court time the Nets still elected to re-sign Lopez to a 4 year, $61 million dollar contract extension. Re-signing Brook Lopez and missing the boat on acquiring Dwight Howard the Nets will heavily rely upon Lopez to have a major bounce back year. As the current Nets roster stands, Lopez is arguably their only true center and will obviously need to avoid foul trouble. With the relocation to Brooklyn that included a new logo, new image (Jay-Z convinced the league to allow them to have primary black jerseys), re-signing of Gerald Wallace, and trading to acquire Joe Johnson the Nets have huge expectations this coming season. It’s time that owner Mikhail Prokhorov sees a drastic improvement in team success considering the amount of money he’s been willing and able to fork out over the course of the past two years. Add Lopez to that list and the 24 year-old should definitely feel some pressure to perform.

3. Joe Johnson

NBA fans should be very curious to see how D-Will & “Iso Joe” share the ball next season

It’s safe to say most people like Joe Johnson. He’s not really the type of guy you can really hate on outside of the fact that he’s become famous for delivering clutch, cold-blooded daggers to your team in your own building for years now. But while he executes everything so calmly with ease, it’s hard to understand how on earth “Iso-Joe” is the NBA’s highest paid player. Johnson is an All-Star that got paid Superstar money. In Atlanta, Johnson was an annual All-Star and Brooklyn can expect no different. However, it will be interesting to see how well Johnson’s game can gel in the backcourt with Deron Williams. Both players love and are used to having the ball in their hands. It should be very interesting what transpires at the end of close games and how the Nets offense flows next season. If everything goes as planned, the Nets will somehow sneak their way into the 2013 NBA playoffs. In order for that to even a slight chance of happening, Joe must continue to be Joe while also adjusting to sharing a backcourt with Deron Williams. Easier said then done.

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2010-11 NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (50-32 last season)

Don't let their age fool you, they still have what it takes.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo

Shooting Guard: Ray Allen

Small Forward: Paul Pierce

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

Center: Jermaine O’Neal

Key Reserves:

Guard: Delonte West

Forward: Glen Davis

Center: Shaquille O’Neal

The Celtics are coming off a great year in which they made it to the finals and lost in Game 7.  They were a surprise to everyone in the playoffs as the No. 4 seed while most people thought the Cavaliers or Magic would make it. The key for the Celtics is to stay healthy.  Five players are 32 years of age or older (Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and both O’Neals) and limiting minutes will have to be in the works for Doc Rivers.  The second unit will also have to be fired up most nights because they are a very important part to the success of the team.  If the Celtics want to make another run at the championship, the entire squad must be healthy and whole in April.

New York Knicks (29-53 last season)

Amar'e is "The Man", but Felton could be the key to the offensive.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Raymond Felton

Shooting Guard: Wilson Chandler

Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari

Power Forward: Amar’e Stoudemire

Center: Timofey Mozgov

Key Reserves:

Guard: Roger Mason Jr.

Guard-Forward: Kelenna Azubuike

Forward: Anthony Randolph

Ok, so no Lebron James for the Knicks, but they did acquire Amar’e Stoudemire who will have to carry this team on his back.  Look for Stoudemire to put up better numbers than he did in Phoenix.  Some people think he won’t play better because Steve Nash is what made him good, but I don’t believe that at all.  Another key addition is spark plug, Raymond Felton.  Felton knows how to win basketball games and will be an improvement from Chris Duhon.  Things are looking up for the Knicks and if Amar’e can stay healthy and his knees don’t give out on him, I believe the Knicks will make the playoffs.

New Jersey Nets (12-70 last season)

Harris and Lopez could be that one, two punch that lead the Nets to victory.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Devin Harris

Shooting Guard: Anthony Morrow

Small Forward: Travis Outlaw

Power Forward: Troy Murphy

Center: Brook Lopez

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jordan Farmar

Guard-Forward: Terrence Williams

Forward: Derrick Favors

Avery Johnson is looking to turn things around for this young New Jersey team.  They aren’t going to blow you away with their offense, so defense must show up for them to win games.  Brook Lopez and Devin Harris are the most important players on the team and having them healthy all season will sway this group into a possible playoff berth.  The Nets will need an incredible season to reach the playoffs but anything can happen.  Give them another couple years, let Derrick Favors get some seasons under his belt and be ready for a powerful Nets team in the future.

Philadelphia 76ers (27-55 last season)

A star in college now has to learn to take a supporting role.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jrue Holiday

Shooting Guard: Andre Igoudala

Small Forward: Thaddeus Young

Power Forward: Elton Brand

Center: Spencer Hawes

Key Reserves:

Guard: Evan Turner

Guard: Louis Williams

Forward: Andres Nocioni

The first thing that comes to mind when I look at this starting five is that there isn’t a solidified shooter.  Andre Igoudala is probably their best shooter and he isn’t very reliable from outside.  Either Jason Kapono or Jodie Meeks will need to earn a spot in the rotation and provide for them what Kyle Korver used to.  This is a fairly young team and the faster Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner develop their offensive games, the better the Sixers will be.  Elton Brand is a team chemistry destroyer, and this is why I do not see the 76ers having a great season.

Toronto Raptors (40-42 last season)

Can Bargnani show the fans of Toronto why they drafted him number one?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jarrett Jack

Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozen

Small Forward: Linas Kleiza

Power Forward: Reggie Evans

Center: Andrea Bargnani

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jose Calderon

Guard: Leandro Barbosa

Forward: Amir Johnson

The Raptors had a terrible offseason losing Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh.  Their whole team is mixed up and they will most likely be one of the worst teams in the league.  The only positive feeling I can say about this team is that things can only go up after the season starts.  One of their young players will certainly need to step forward with a larger role.  I see that player to be Andrea Bargnani.  He was a number one overall pick and has a really good skill set.  Also look for the Raptors to possibly pick up a star closer towards the trade deadline thanks to their Bosh trade exception.  

2010-11 NBA Preview-Overview

The NBA season is less than a week away and many are getting excited for what should be a fantastic thrill ride.  I will be posting division previews sporadicly during the course of this week and into the weekend.  Stay tuned for analysis on your favorite team, but for now, here is a division breakdown with projected records and the four important awards handed out at the end of the year.

Eastern Conference

Can New York make the playoffs thanks to Amar'e?

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (51-31)

New York Knicks (36-46)

New Jersey Nets (32-50)

Philadelphia 76ers (29-53)

Toronto Raptors (25-57)

Central Division

How will the Cavs fare without LeBron?

Chicago Bulls (50-32)

Milwaukee Bucks (47-35)

Indiana Pacers (32-50)

Cleveland Cavaliers (30-52)

Detroit Pistons (29-53)

Southeast Division

Wall and Arenas will be a fun duo to watch!

Miami Heat (61-21)

Orlando Magic (54-28)

Atlanta Hawks (46-36)

Washington Wizards (37-45)

Charlotte Bobcats (36-46)

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (52-30)

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31)

MVP! MVP! MVP!

Utah Jazz (47-35)

Denver Nuggets (41-41)

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60)

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (59-23)

Phoenix Suns (46-36)

Los Angeles Clippers (36-46)

Sacramento Kings (30-52)

Golden State Warriors (28-54)

 

Southwest Division

How many games will Yao play in?

Dallas Mavericks (51-31)

Houston Rockets (47-35)

San Antonio Spurs (45-37)

Memphis Grizzlies (41-41)

New Orleans Hornets (37-45)

 

My pick for the NBA Finals is Lakers over Heat in a seven game series.  Here are the awards for the end of the season.

MVP: Kevin Durant

Most Improved Player: Hedo Turkoglu

6th Man: Jamal Crawford

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin

Top 3 Teams in Play for Carmelo Anthony

Despite the fact that the New York Knicks “were” the favorable destination for 2011’s top free agent in Carmelo Anthony it looks as though the Nuggets aren’t interested in becoming trading partners. As Sam Amico reported via Twitter this past Saturday the Nuggets will try to trade Carmelo to three teams: Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, and the New Jersey Nets.

Which team will I pick?

There’s no doubt in my mind that Melo will in fact be traded before this year’s trade deadline. For one Carmelo has pretty much painted a clear picture to the Nuggets organization that he doesn’t have much interest in signing an extension. For two Carmelo continuously speaks to the media discussing his future plans in which he recently just expressed his interest in possibly joining the Houston Rockets.

But the third and final reason has to deal with the team that currently holds the rights to their franchise player, the Denver Nuggets.  Don’t forget they have their own agenda, their own goals, their own future to look forward too, as does Anthony. I can assure you the Denver Nuggets will take notes and examine what just happened to Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers with “The Decision”. There’s no way Anthony will depart from Denver without the Nuggets receiving some valuable compensation.

While Anthony may in fact have his own preferences of teams, the Nuggets also have their own. In which case brings up a very interesting story to follow: How will the Nuggets successfully pull off a blockbuster trade to their liking?

It begins with narrowing down the teams you’re interested in doing business with and they’ve already established that in the Timberwolves, Kings, and Nets. It’s been noted all offseason long that the Denver Nuggets have been out searching for a young power forward to replace their current aging and overpaid power forwards in Nene Hilario and Kenyon Martin. Each of the three teams mentioned as Denver’s favorite trading partners can offer the ideal young power forward the Nuggets have been searching for.

Love could be the piece to bring Melo to Minny.

In Minnesota it’s Kevin Love, a young post man currently a member of the young Team USA team participating in Turkey. Love’s a player who has expressed mixed emotions upon being a member of the Timberwolves. Most recently told reporters at Team USA camp that he felt “unappreciated” by the Timberwolves organization.

Meanwhile in Sacramento, the Kings have put themselves in a great position to be attractive trading partners by having successful draft nights the past few years. They have an oversized load of young post players that show tons of potential. With the variety of different big men they’re able to offer, there’s no question they’ve got the best chance of landing Carmelo Anthony.

In New Jersey, it comes down to the vision and decision-making of new owner Mikhail Prokhorov. After Prokhorov struck out on reeling in a big name star in this year’s historic free agency, he may become impatient, and make an over-the-top offer for Anthony’s services. If he does that I can promise you he’ll be doing the Nuggets some favors (pun intended).

So let’s review each of the Nuggets’ preferred trading partners and evaluate the talent they’re willing to offer in return for Denver’s superstar. It’s important to consider that it’s not likely ANY of these trades go down without Carmelo accepting a rarely used (in mid-season) what’s called an extend-and-trade.

Each of the three teams listed will want assurance that they’re not trading young big man for a “rent-a-player”. In most trade circumstances, the NBA is not like Major League Baseball where you give away a top prospect in exchange for a star you’re unlikely to resign (cough…Brewers…cough). With that in mind, Anthony will basically have an artificial no trade clause. So in the end, can the Nuggets REALLY pull a trade off with one of the following teams? Let’s examine:

Minnesota Timberwolves: While Sacramento is clearly the favorite for Carmelo Anthony in terms of the Nuggets’ preferences, let’s not forget that for Wolves GM David Kahn it may not be tough throwing him into a deal. With the additions of Anthony Tolliver, Michael Beasley, and Darko Milicic this offseason, it’s likely Love won’t even be returning next season. The Timberwolves can offer a below average package for Anthony most likely sending Kevin Love, Corey Brewer, and probably a future first round pick that can be sweetened if Kahn makes it not lottery protected.

Favors could be the big man to bring New Jersey a big piece.

New Jersey Nets: As mentioned above, if Prokhorov does get desperate, the Nets may have a nice shot at landing Melo. Not only can they off a variety of young pieces, but New Jersey is a place that Carmelo may have interest in signing and staying long term. While the Russian man may gamble & goes all in with his young talented chips, the question that arises is if Denver is willing to gamble as well. The Nets have already come out and said they’re not willing to add Brook Lopez into any kind of deal for Anthony. So even if it sounds outrageous the Nuggets would have to acquire Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and maybe more. If a deal anywhere close to this nature, consider it a done deal, and it could be realistic “IF” (a big “if”) Carmelo agrees to do a extend and trade scenario.

Cousins is one guy who will not be included in any deal for Melo.

Sacramento Kings: Much like the Nets, the Kings also have a ton of potential pieces. But make no mistake, the Kings may be able to offer more variety of bigs, but there’s no way they’ll be willing to include DeMarcus Cousins in any trade talk. It’s clear newly acquired Samuel Dalembert will play a big role along with Jason Thompson, Donte Greene, Carl Landry, Omri Casspi and Hassan Whiteside being potential guys sent in the proposal. The Kings would love the idea of a Tyreke-Melo-Cousins trio heading towards the future. And the Nuggets may have enough interest in Dalembert’s huge expiring contract , along with Carl Landry’s. Also, don’t rule out Omri Casspi and Kings rookie Hassan Whiteside. Casspi can fill the starting small forward position and Whiteside is a young Marcus Camby in the making (Camby won 2007 Defensive Player of the Year with Denver).

This is obviously all speculation and nobody knows what may happen this upcoming season in the high country. But I’m willing to bet NOTHING HAPPENS until at least December 15th which other newly signed free agents become available for trade. That gives plenty of other teams possibilities to get involved and who knows, maybe even the Nuggets’ preferred three teams will get together to and work out a three team trade of some sort.

Until then, take this situation for what it’s worth, embrace the hype, the hoopla, and the rumors.

NBA’s Top 10 Free Agents Most Likely to Leave Their Current Teams Next Summer

Melo is likely to join Stoudemire in New York

1. Carmelo Anthony (Unrestricted): At this point it’s more than clear that it’s going to take a miracle for the Denver Nuggets to resign the face of their franchise. Melo has declined to offer any signs of interest in remaining with their ball club. It’s been reported that Anthony is already in the process of selling his estate in Littleton, Colorado. He just recently held his wedding in New York and there have been multiple reports of friends close to Anthony saying he wants to play for the New York Knicks. To back those reports up, Amare Stoudemire upon signing with the Knicks also stated that both Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker are interested in joining him in New York. And on top of all of that Anthony is from the East Coast.

Possible Destinations: New York Knicks & New Jersey Nets

Eva Longoria wants to be "Spiked Out" with Spike Lee himself in New York

2. Tony Parker (Unrestricted): It’s hard to imagine Tony Parker leaving his fellow pals in San Antonio but it seems as though it’s becoming more and more likely. According to Parker’s wife, actress Eva Longoria, Tony wants to play for the New York Knicks. Seems like a great fit for both Tony and Eva as they go about their careers.

Possible Destinations: New York Knicks

3. Jeff Green (Restricted): Don’t sleep on Jeff Green as a free agent next offseason. There may not be too many better fits for Green’s style of play and Oklahoma City already has a nice chemistry, but at the end of the day money talks. Being a restricted free agent will leave the Thunder organization in a tough situation next offseason. Green will receive plenty of interest from around the league, especially if his Thunder team goes onto improve and build upon last season’s success. Thus leaving Green in a great position to consider all options, stay patient, and wait for that one team that’ll overpay him. From there he’ll sign the offer sheet and place the ball on the Thunder’s court.

Possible Destinations: Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets

4. Troy Murphy (Unrestricted): One year is all it will be in New Jersey for Murphy. After this upcoming season, he’ll take his services elsewhere and most likely he’ll try to become that missing piece to helping a team become one with NBA Finals potential. In doing so, Murphy and his agent can’t expect anywhere near a similar contract as his previous deal but he’ll still get paid nicely.

Possible Destinations: Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder

Tayshaun's Most Memorable Moment

5. Tayshaun Prince (Unrestricted): He’ll most likely be moved around next season’s trade deadline but nonetheless Prince’s tenure in Mo-Town has come to an end. The team has been exploring their trade options with their long time small forward for quite some time now. Much like Murphy, Prince most likely will join a playoff team that immediately improves their title chances adding the defensive veteran.

Possible Destinations: Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors,  Utah Jazz

6. Thaddeus Young (Restricted): Unless the 76ers decide to trade Andre Iguodala, expect to see Young go his separate ways. Like Jeff Green, Young is a restricted free agent that still hasn’t reached his prime. He won’t be offered nearly the same amount of money, Green will be offered, but he’ll get enough that Philly will have no interest in matching the offer.

Possible Destinations: Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz

7. Samuel Dalembert (Unrestricted): Sac-Town is overloaded in the post with tons of young talent: DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, and Hassan Whiteside. Dalembert will be a very interesting free agent to keep on your radar next offseason. On one hand he’s a very unique talent whose game doesn’t get credited enough due in large part to his horrible contract. He’s 6’11, very long, runs the floor extremely well for his size, and is great shot blocker. But on the other hand, he’s a guy that’s going to demand a lot of money that he won’t deserve in the long run.

Possible Destinations: Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors

Landry will be a wanted man next offseason

8. Carl Landry (Unrestricted): As mentioned above, the Kings are overloaded in the post, the departure of both Dalembert and Landry not only seems very realistic but the best thing for the Kings future. For Landry, he’ll be able to find a home where he’ll be much more effective. He also will have a lot of options to choose from.

Possible Destinations: Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets

9. Andrei Kirilenko (Unrestricted): After next year in Utah, gone are the days of not knowing when or for how long Kirlenko will be healthy. He’ll be a mystery man come free agency not knowing if he’s healthy, how many year’s he’s got left in him, and most importantly how much he’s even worth.

Possible Destinations: Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Hornets, Boston Celtics

Redd's definitely worth a gamble next season for the veteran's minimum

10. Michael Redd (Unrestricted): The Michael Redd era in Milwaukee has come to an end. After suffering multiple knee injuries over the course of the past few years, Redd has been nearly nonexistent on the floor and remains nonexistent as the Bucks move towards the future. Next season, if and when Redd returns back healthy, he’ll need to show the league he’s still got something left to offer off the bench. But there’s no doubt that a team will give him a chance for the right price next offseason.

Possible Destinations: Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks

Play Like There’s No ToMORROW

By: Ross Geiger

Morrow's the best signing the Nets made all summer

Each NBA offseason, signings and minor trades happen that quite frankly go unacknowledged and rightfully so. This year was no different with many deals reached based solely on the decision to save money during tough times or to save up for future free agents. But one trade in particular that can be labeled as “minor” demands some note righty involves a team which struck out this summer.

The New Jersey Nets swapped a future second-round draft pick on July 13th and return received Anthony Morrow from the Golden State Warriors. Morrow, a former undrafted NBA prospect has quickly become one of the league’s bright young sharp shooters. A career 47% shooter from long range, Morrow has packed his bags taking his game to a Nets team that was begging for the services he offers nightly.

To top it all off, the departure of Courtney Lee is simple reflection Terrence Williams’s impressive summer improvements and of course the addition of Morrow into their rotation. While Williams is the front-runner for starting shooting guard spot on opening night, there very well could be a change of plans as early as within the first handful of games. As mentioned in a recent post, Williams is an ultimate sixth man off any bench in the league with his ability to play multiple positions. One important ability that Williams lacks is an outside spot-up shot.

Morrow is a volume, shot friendly shooter that stretches the opposing defenses as well as help star guard Devin Harris and even Williams tally up the assists. Nets fans will soon realize and strangely appreciate two things about Morrow brings to the table no matter the opponent. He’s never seen a shot he didn’t like and he plays at such a high level as if there virtually was no tomorrow.

The 24 year-old nicknamed “A-Mo” is a hungry player with a huge chip that continues to rest on his shoulder; even more so then ever after proving himself as a member of the Warriors and being flipped for something as small as future second rounder. The move to New Jersey can be seen as trade that benefits both worlds as both the Nets and Morrow have a land of opportunity to grow together.

Morrow must've majored in "Opportunity" at Georgia Tech

Attending Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Morrow has mastered the gift of opportunities. His first start with the Warriors went from a Don Nelson experiment to memorable night in the NBA World on July 25, 2008. Morrow torched the Los Angeles Clippers that night with a video game type box score, dropping 37 points connecting on an unbelievable 15-20 attempts. It’s impressive enough that Morrow set an NBA record putting up the most points ever scored in a game by an undrafted player in his rookie, but as the cherry on top he also grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with the 37 points.

From that point forward, there was no looking back for Morrow going onto to finish the 2008-2009 season as the first rookie and first Warrior ever to lead the league in three-point field goal percentage, hitting 86 of just 184 attempts.

Heading into next season, the Nets hope and expect much of the same from their newest acquisition. The expectations and production have changed in the matter of just one quick year in the league for Morrow. But one thing has yet to change, he’ll continue to do what he does best. Prove the doubters wrong shot after shot, opportunity after opportunity, and do so playing like there’s no tomorrow.

Morrow lives on in New Jersey next season

A 2-7 Off Suit, Grading the NBA’s 4-Team Deal

By: Ross Geiger

Larry Bird plays his hand right yesterday

It’s commonly known that the hand of a 2-7 off suit is the worst hand in poker, but yesterday that hand flopped the NBA a very interesting day of trading. Two different trades involving seven players occurred between six different franchises. The team, which held the worst hand in poker, was Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers, but after the flop, a turn, and the river, Pacers General Manager Larry Legend won the pot. Here’s the breakdown from the Winners to the Losers.

The Winners:

Indiana Pacers: Last year the Pacers nearly dealt Troy Murphy to the Milwaukee Bucks in deal that would’ve sent them Ersan Ilayasova. Well what a difference a little patience can do to improve your franchise. While it was never clear whether or not the Pacers would be able to find any takers for Troy Murphy and his large expiring contract, they were able to score big time by being involved in this 4-way swap. Murphy departed to New Jersey while the Pacers received Darren Collison and James Posey from the Hornets.

The Future of Indiana Pacers Basketball

Talk about an upgrade, Darren Collison? Are you kidding me, the Pacers were ultimately handed a gem of point guard who’s now in a great spot in Indy. Not only will he be given the reigns from day one but he’ll become a cornerstone piece of the Pacers future. The Pacers franchise now has that point guard they’ve been missing, a guy they can grow and develop with. I commend Bird for being able to pull of this move; this undoubtedly will make up for many of his head-scratching draft picks in year’s past.

New Jersey Nets: Don’t get me wrong, Courtney Lee is a very good role player and will be one for many years to come, but he’s a very expendable player if the right deal comes around. As the Nets continue to focus on the future after striking out in the LeBron sweepstakes, this was a deal that makes a lot of sense. Not only did they acquire Troy Murphy and his near $12 million dollar contract coming off the books next season, they also made room to play Terrence Williams. As I mentioned in my recent post on Most Improved Players next season, Williams was a guy that has tremendously improved. Clearly, the Nets saw that (as did I) during his summer league play and made trading away Lee a no-brainer. Now Williams will be given an opportunity to start at the shooting guard position and he should flourish there.

The Losers:

New Orleans Hornets: They traded away James Posey and his horrendous contract, but they not only brought in another bad contract, they traded away one of their top young pieces. Let’s remember folks, Chris Paul may have said he’d like to remain a Hornet after his sit down meetings with the franchise, but there’s no guarantee he’ll stay. And if Trevor Ariza is the Hornets way of proving to Paul that they’re focused on winning, that’s a complete joke. In fact, Ariza even being considered a go-to player is a complete joke, Ariza’s one of the most overrated players in the game. He proved nothing being “the man” last year in Houston and there’s always a reason Rockets General Manager Darryl Morey does trades. He’s one of the wisest men in the business. In the end, I see the Hornets not only losing out in this deal but I also feel Ariza isn’t quite the convincing piece Paul was looking to add to his Hornets roster.

Ariza needs Kobe to pick him & his game up again

Houston Rockets: On one hand the Houston Rockets didn’t lose, they were able to trade-away their contract mistake in Trevor Ariza, but on the other, how is Courtney Lee going to help this team. Lee is very strong defensively and definitely helps out from that aspect but they now need an increased scoring role from Kevin Martin. With that being said an increased scoring role for Martin means staying healthy, which is always a difficult task. The Rockets might possibly be the most interesting team in the league outside of the mess in Toronto next season. Houston’s a team with a bunch of solid role players and if the can gel as one, they have the potential to be above average in the West. It’ll be interesting to see how Lee factors into their game plan next season.
The Other Deal:

Hornets were working hard on the phone lines yesterday also agreeing upon a deal that will send Julian Wright to the Raptors for Marco Bellinelli. My quick insight on this deal is that it may be a small, non-affecting deal, but it provides great opportunities for both parties involved. Wright needed a change of scenery and will get that as a member of the Toronto Raptors. For the well-traveled Bellinelli, he’ll be playing next to one of the best (if not the best) point guards in the business. Marco will be spoon fed plenty of wide-open three point attempts next season. If he fails to connect from long-range, this could be his final appearance in the NBA. Good, small gamble by both teams.

Did You Know Julian Wright Has His Own Southwest Airlines Commercial?

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Most Improved Team

Forget Evan Turner, Here's the 76ers' Top Young Talent

PG: Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers

The NBA’s youngest player in the league last season now has a year of experience in his back pocket heading into the upcoming year. Last year Jrue Holiday’s immediate, first year production turned a lot of heads and Holiday was the biggest bright spot on the Sixers 2009-2010 season. In Orlando Summer League, Holiday was a first team selection at the conclusion of the league, leading all scorers with 19.3 point per outing. There’s little to no doubt Holiday will be the 76ers’ starting point guard next season under the supervision of new head coach Doug Collins.

Last Year: 8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.1 spg

’10-’11 Projection: 13 ppg, 4 rpg, 7 apg, 1.5 spg

The NBA's Ultimate 6th Man

SG: Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets

The second year man out of Louisville is on the verge of making the Nets’ Travis Outlaw signing look silly. Sadly, Travis Outlaw became the Nets’ biggest free agent signee this historic offseason, signing a 5-year $35 million dollar deal with the club. Adding Outlaw to the roster for that kind of money of course means he’ll get the starting job at the small forward position. But that’s not a concern to Terrence Williams who’ll be the ultimate sixth man for the Nets next season. Williams is a very rare point forward who’s capable of legitimately playing three positions: point guard, shooting guard, and small forward. With that type of ability along with the talent and potential that Williams possesses, he’ll be one to watch out for next season. His 2010 Summer League performance in Orlando was clear indication that he has in fact made strides in his overall game. Along with Holiday, Williams was also named to the league’s first team averaging 18.8 ppg and 5 apg.

Last Year: 8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.9 apg

’10-’11 Projections: 11 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 apg

As Alicia Keys Sings: "There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York"

SF: Anthony Randolph, New York Knicks

If you’re a member of the Golden State Warriors and you’re not named Stephen Curry the best thing for your career would to be dealt elsewhere. Finally, that time came for Mr. Randolph, a player who has always been just a trade away from having the opportunity to fulfill his potential. There wasn’t any better of a fit than New York for Randolph where he’ll immediately become a big piece of next year’s Knicks squad. Not only will Mike D’Antoni’s system naturally inflate his numbers, but Randolph stands as a great complimentary piece to Amare Stoudemire. If Randolph is as effective as I project, he very well could become the NBA’s Most Improved Player next season.

Last Year: 11.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.6 bpg

’10-’11 Projections: 17 ppg, 8 rpg, 4 apg, 1 spg, 2 bpg

PF: JaVale McGee, Washington Wizards

Limitless Potential

It’s hard to argue anybody had a more productive summer than McGee. Not only did he continue to make giant strides in his Las Vegas Summer League games, but he also impressed many on lookers at Team USA camp. Heading into next season with the Wizards, McGee is expected to be the starting center within a very scary yet very questionable starting five. While his size and length will never be in question, his strength and body type will always be a concern. He’s far from a permanent power forward type player, but he definitely has the offensive ability that some power forwards in this league don’t have. For the next few years, McGee will be an improving young talent that will always have room to grow. No matter how good McGee gets, his unbelievable frame offers his potential limitless abilities though we all know the road must stop somewhere. As far as next year’s production is concerned, there’s no question his numbers will rise in all aspects of his game.

Last Year: 6.4 ppg, 4 rpg, 0.2 apg, 1.7 bpg

’10-’11 Projections: 10 ppg, 7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2 bpg

Poor Man's Dwight Howard is the Ultimate Compliment

C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan’s numbers will always suffer as he’s stuck behind one of the Western Conference’s top centers in Chris Kaman. But he’s nothing short of a poor man’s Dwight Howard who’s still very young and able to polish many rusty parts of his game. Whenever I watch Jordan play all I can think of is Dwight’s size, strength, and surprisingly “almost” as athletic. He’s poor in the fact that defensively he’s not nearly as effective nor as good of a rebounder, but he’s actually very close athletically. Jordan is a member of the same club Anthony Randolph just left, “A Trade-Away From Being Good”. One destination that makes perfect sense: Oklahoma City Thunder, if they were to get their hands on him, game over.

Last Year: 4.8 ppg, 5 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.9 bpg

’10-’11 Projections: 6 ppg, 5 ppg, 0.7 apg, 1.1 bpg

This is Part 1 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 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

Sean Williams Deserves a Second Look, a Second Chance

By: Ross Geiger

Area 51

He surely has tons of work cut out for him with hopes in making a finalized NBA roster next season, but Sean Williams definitely deserves some serious consideration from teams. Many NBA fans may label the 17th overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft a bust, but they do so for all the wrong reasons. Can you argue he’s a bust? Sure…But Williams is far from the typical “bust” because it’s not his production on-the-court that’s held him back, it’s his off-the-court struggles.

As an NBA player, Williams has done a fairly good job proving he’s worthy of the 17th pick regardless to what year you’d would like to turn the clocks back too. At 6’10, 235 pounds, Williams is a lean, mean defensive stopper who can offer much more than blocked shots in the years to come.

Finishing up his 2010 NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas this past week, Williams showed many signs and bright spots that all NBA teams looking for an athletic big man need to consider. Finding a guy whose as long, lean, and athletic as Williams isn’t something you typically find unsigned heading into the upcoming season.

He’s a post presence that runs the floor extremely well and is a well above average shot blocker. Williams’ value skyrockets when considering his timing and quick hands. As I mentioned in my Bucks Summer League Game 1 write-up, Williams has a great sense of when and when not to attempt to block a shot, he stays grounded at the right time and tends to pick the correct situations to challenge a shot attempt. Having that attribute is something even some of the league’s top shot blockers don’t possess. Throughout summer league, Williams also showed his willingness to sacrifice his body by stepping over in a help side position, squaring up, and taking the hit to the chest drawing an offensive foul on opponents.

Williams seems to have improved from the charity stripe

Offensively, Williams isn’t as bad as many may project, he has a variety of different weapons that helps state his case for being an offensive player that can do more than just clean up around the basket. His array of moves include a nice jump hook, a turnaround jumper on the block, and he even can step out to hit the occasional 15-footer. He also brings offensive value by improving and becoming a very respectable shooter from the foul line. While he’s only a career 60.3% shooter from the line, he seems to have improved to his free throw shooting as he went 10-14 (71.4%) from the line in Vegas this year.

Williams finished Las Vegas Summer League with averages of 7.2 point per game on 54% shooting, 4.4 rebounds per game averaging 2.4 offensive rebounds, and did so averaging 15.2 minutes per outing. Those numbers won’t blow any NBA GM or Scout away but there were a handful of in-game situations where Williams proved he still has much to offer in the league.

I’m not suggesting or predicting that Sean Williams will ever again earn a starting role in the NBA but he’s definitely got enough tools and talent to be on an NBA roster. Much like his note righty as a shot blocker, Williams must use the same instincts he holds as a shot blocker as a professional off the hardwood. He must prove he can stay grounded and show to an NBA organization that he’s no longer a public relations worst nightmare. But he can only prove this with a second chance in the NBA. From his play in the CBA last year to his summer league performances, Williams has made a strong case at earning a second chance. Don’t be surprised to see “Area 51” get that second chance in the upcoming 2010-2011 NBA season.

Sean Williams Top 10 Plays in the 2008-2009 NBA Season:

Milwaukee Bucks Summer League Game 1 Points of Emphasis

By: Ross Geiger

Game 1: Dallas Mavericks: 73 Milwaukee Bucks: 72 OT

After watching the Milwaukee Bucks lose a tough one in a very exciting battle with the Dallas Mavericks in their Summer League opener, I came away with five players that are worthy of some points of emphasis.

Jackson could earn a jersey with the Bucks this season, but he won't be wearing #00, that belongs to Drew Gooden

1. Darnell Jackson: Leading all scorers with 17 points in the contest, Jackson’s NBA experience really paid dividends. Going 8-15 from the field while collecting 7 boards all came under composure. Many of the young players came into the game with debut butterflies but it was evident that Jackson’s adapted to the summer league experiences. He led by example in 25 minutes of play and played under control the entire time, only committing 2 fouls as well. It’s still very early in a long process but his Game 1 play definitely helps his case in grabbing one of the last few spots on the Bucks roster this season.

2.  Larry Sanders: Despite what many take from Sanders’ pro debut, I actually feel I saw more positives than negatives today. Yes he struggled offensively but we knew that was his biggest weakness coming in. Having only connected on 4 of his 15 shot attempts Sanders must improve upon finishing at the basket while absorbing contact, along with better shot selection. As far as the shot selection goes, that can easily improve as the games move on, he was trying to impress as any brand new top pick would in their debut. But as I mentioned there were tons of positives from this year’s 15th overall selection. Sanders is very active on both ends of the floor, alert at all times, and always attacking the glass. Those intangibles are things that will most definitely find him earning some floor time under Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles this year. Though it’s only one game and my first look at the Bucks rookie if I were to give you an outlook on Sanders’s first year with the Bucks here’s my evaluation: He’ll play spot minutes, be a spark plug used at the end of quarters giving guys quick breathers, instant energy. A very realistic first year comparison in terms of production and play I’d say he’ll be a lot like Suns forward Lou Amundson. With that being said, he obviously carries way more potential and talent moving forward with a bright future in this league. Just be patient and give him some time to transition and adjust to the NBA level of play.

An NBA Type Talent With Off-the-Court Question Marks

3. Sean Williams: Being a guy always high on the potential of Area 51, I definitely won’t count him out on making an NBA roster this season. If he can prove (and keep) his head on straight (which is a big if) there’s no question he’s an NBA type talent. He’s long, runs the floor like gazelle, can clean up around the rim, and of course he lives up to his nickname “Area 51” protecting the paint by swatting away shots. What I liked in his first game with the Bucks was his patience, his control, and his willingness to move the ball. On top of that he impressed me with his 15 foot look that he drilled and also threw his body around a bit and took two charges. Williams has a great sense of when and when not to attempt to block a shot, he stays grounded at the right time and tends to pick the correct times to challenge a shot attempt. That feature of knowing when to block a shot could really benefit Bucks draftee Larry Sanders who doesn’t have the slightest clue when there’s a time and a place to leave his feet. Bucks fans, it’s a long shot, but don’t count out Williams on maybe earning that last roster spot. I wouldn’t bet on it, but his talent is intriguing and if there’s any organization that can help Williams change his off court habits it’s in Milwaukee. There’s no doubt the Bucks are great situation for Sean Williams future, the question is whether or not Williams is worth risking the team’s locker room atmosphere. If Xavier Henry or Paul George would have fallen to the Bucks at 15, I think Sean Williams maybe makes the team. But with Sanders on board, along with Tiny Gallon whose close with Brandon Jennings, I see Williams unfortunately not getting his second chance with the Bucks.

4. Deron Washington: A second round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in last year’s draft, Washington’s got an idea of what summer league’s all about this year. That showed in today’s game as Washington went 4-8 from the field, hitting 1 of 2 attempts from downtown, and 2-2 from the charity stripe. His contributions helped keep the Bucks in the ballgame and he hit some big shots. Washington finished with a solid 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, to go along with 2 steals. With continued play like this, Washington should find himself a nice look overseas next season.

The Former Marquette Standout

5.  Dominic James: The former standout point guard from Marquette is entering his redemption year after suffering a summer league ending injury just a day or two before he was set to participate in summer league last year with the Bucks. James didn’t have a pretty game by any means but his hard nosed, full court pressure defense and his efforts in getting good looks for those around him gives him my nod for my 5th and final spot. His highlighted plays include a buzzer beating high fade away jumper to end the first quarter of play, a nice no look dish hitting Darnell Jackson after drawing too, and his hustle play in which he sprinted all the way down on the defensive end, ultimately sacrificing his body leaping over the media table on the baseline. James isn’t quite a NBA level talent, but this type of play will definitely help his chances overseas, giving him more better opportunites in the future. I’m sure we’ll see Mr. James on an NBA Summer League roster next year as well. In the end, it’s great to see the Milwaukee Bucks giving exposure to Wisconsin area players: Dominic James, Jerry Smith, and Franklin.

The Bucks look to bounce back from their overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow against the Memphis Grizzlies. Game time is set from 8 ET and will be televised on NBATV.

Follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: (@RossGeiger)