Predictions

Three Players to Watch (Boston Celtics)

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. 

1. Avery Bradley 

Last season proved to be a growing year for Bradley as he became a much more impactful piece to the Celtics puzzle. Provided with more playing time and trust from Head Coach Doc Rivers the Celtics combo guard turned some major weaknesses into some potential strengths this coming season. Having always been a great on-ball defender, Bradley improved his shooting stroke. In specific he showed a more consistent ability to hit the corner three ball and forced defenses to respect his off the dribble midrange game. It’s also worth noting that these are two improvements that “regular season” Rondo has yet to display. While there’s no debate Rondo is far and beyond the better ball handler, Avery is giving his Celtics coaching staff flexibility when it comes to using newly signed veteran Jason Terry. It’s likely Bradley will be given the head nod as the starting shooting guard, allowing Terry to continue to do what he does best as the sixth man. NBA fans should keep a close eye on Avery’s progress next year. He’s the league’s best on-ball defender when pressuring full court and to see him also add an offensive game is a joy to watch if you’re a fan of following player development.

2. Jared Sullinger

Sullinger couldn’t be in a better situation…

Dropping as low as Sullinger did in the draft was huge blessing in disguise for one of the best players college basketball had to offer last season. Getting in with the tradition of Celtics basketball is a perfect fit for the young power forward and being mentored by one of best power forward’s in league history won’t hurt him either. If he can avoid the injuries, Sullinger has a chance to provide a big impact in year one and will be counted upon to contribute on the offensive side of the floor. The Celtics are hoping that he can exceed the level of play of both Brandon Bass and former Celtic Leon Powe combined. Considering what the young big man did at the college level and in Orlando Summer League it looks as it that won’t be too hard to live up too as he begins his journey in the NBA.

3. Kris Joseph

Joseph will get his chance to be a contributor off the Celtics bench

Don’t sleep on this experienced college player who’s proven to be a winner at the college level. Yes, he didn’t have the most impressive college numbers, no he didn’t have the most impressive summer league, but as the current roster stands he will be counted upon to help fill some minutes while the aging Paul Pierce rests. Having a great support system around him in Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett can pay huge dividends in Joseph’s first year success. He definitely will get his chance to prove he not only belongs in the league, but also prove he can provide a positive impact on the team from day one.

 

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

Ross Geiger’s Q & A with Rap Star Phreshy Duzit

Phreshy Duzit

The OuttaTownClowns are pleased to present Ross Geiger’s exclusive interview with Phreshy Duzit. Signed to Atlantic Records, this bright, young rapper out of Brooklyn is currently in the process of preparing to drop his debut album. Phreshy already owns and operates his own record label entitled “Self Made Celebrity” and dropped his highly anticipated mixtape, “No Assembly Required”, this past year. As his popularity continues to sky rocket, Phreshy has been featured in songs by mainstream artists such as Colby O’Donis, Trey Songz, and was recently in the studio with J. Cole.

Along with being one of the hottest young artists in the rap game, Phreshy Duzit is also an avid NBA fan. Ross caught up with Phreshy to talk NBA hoops as well as what the his future has in store. Check it out:

RG: What’s your favorite NBA team?

Phreshy: I was always a Sixers fan but as of lately I’ve been a fan of the Celtics.

RG: Being from New York (and maybe even a Knicks fan) what are your thoughts on Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks as whole this upcoming season? Will it be another disappointing season or is this Knicks team a borderline playoff team?

Phreshy: I think they’re slowly making the right moves to be a powerful team.  I think they’ll make the playoffs, it should be a good look for the city.

RG: Who’s your favorite player in the league and why?

Phreshy: Iverson has and will always be my favorite player, now that he’s taking time off I like Kevin Durant.

Brooklyn's Hottest Young Rapper

RG: What are your thoughts on the hype surrounding rookie sensation John Wall form his on the court skills to his own “John Wall” dance?

Phreshy: That dude’s incredible. Enough said. I just seen a little kid “John Wallin” on YouTube, so it must be the next best thing.

RG: In your opinion, who are the top 3 players in the league today?

Phreshy: Lebron, Kobe & D. Wade…. Not in any particular order though… Haha

RG: What’s your take on the whole LeBron James decision to join up with NBA stars in Miami?

Phreshy: I’m not mad at the decision, I’m just mad at everybody hoppin’ on the Miami bandwagon.

RG: Who are you predicting to win the NBA Championship?

Phreshy: Miami

RG: Being “Phresh” yourself, what team has the freshest jerseys?

Phreshy: Celtics. Classic

RG: Do you wear jerseys?

Phreshy: No longer wearing jerseys… That was when I was in Middle School.

RG: Ever considered writing a song with hopes to get it in an NBA video game?

Phreshy: Yea, definately.  You’ll hear some in next years video games.

RG: When does the debut album drop?

Phreshy: Single dropping this month. EP dropping in December and the Album will be set to release probably about 6 months after.

RG: Any basketball references in the album? If so, can you hook us up with one basketball-related punch line?

Phreshy: Get that EP, you’ll hear a couple!

RG: Well thanks for your time Phresh!

Phreshy: Appreciate it fam.

For more on Phreshy Duzit follow him on Twitter: @SMC_PHRESHY and be sure to check out his website: www.SelfMadeCelebrity.com

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 All-Rookie First Team

Wall will be well rounded on the nightly stat sheet

PG: John Wall, Washington Wizards

Believe it or not, as good as John Wall is, his numbers will suffer much like the “Miami Heat syndrome”. With both Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas on board, his numbers across the board may suffer but that’s perfectly okay. Having two solid, veteran guards around the top pick will help develop his overall game and they should help relieve some of the pressure.

’10-’11 Projections: 17.5 ppg, 5 apg, 4 rpg

Could earn a opening night starting nod

SG: Paul George, Indiana Pacers

After watching the Pacers play in Orlando Summer League, I got to say I thought Lance Stephenson would start, but since then a variety of different things took place. The Pacers acquired Darren Collision, Brandon Rush was suspended 5 games, and the biggest issue was of course Stephenson getting in trouble with the law. After digesting all that took place in the course of just one month, it looks as though Paul George will have a nice opportunity to earn the starting shooting guard spot to start off the season. If George does in fact beat out Dahntay Jones for the starting role, expect to see George put up a fairly decent line. The biggest concern with George is retaining some consistency game-to-game he struggled to keep his shooting touch throughout Summer League, but that’s common among many rookies. If he does in fact earn a 1st Team honor at the end of the season, his numbers won’t overly impress you but his value to his team’s success could play a big factor if the Pacers make noise next season.

’10-’11 Projections: 9.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 1.5 apg

Wolves must make room for Johnson to join the starting lineup

SF: Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves

Even with the offseason addition of Martell Webster and Michael Beasley, the Wolves will find time for their top pick in Wesley Johnson. Say so long and farewall to former Wolves lotto-pick Corey Brewer, he’ll remain on the trading block until someone bites. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if David Kahn ends up packaging Kevin Love along with Brewer. Earlier this summer Love told the media he didn’t feel appreciated in Minnesota and he may continue to feel that way if Beasley turns his career around with the Timberwolves. Look for Kurt Rambis to move Beasley to the power forward position, allowing Johnson to operate in the starting small forward role.

’10-’11 Projections: 11.5 pgg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg

Monroe will shine in Detroit, could be the overall team difference maker

PF: Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

Quite possibly my pick for the 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year, Why? There’s no doubt Greg Monroe will be in the Pistons’ starting five next season. Preferably at the power forward spot, but with Charlie Villanueva on board, it may force Monroe to move to the center. But nonetheless, Monroe was very impressive in Las Vegas Summer League and looks to be a NBA-ready force that can make big contributions during his rookie season. If Monroe can live up to my words, the Pistons might not be so bad after all.

’10-’11 Projections: 14.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 4.5 apg

Cousins will answer all questions on the floor, no need to ask him any

C: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

Although the Kings frontcourt is filled with talent, DeMarcus Cousins is the cream of the crop. His size, strength, talent, and potential are unmatched in the post. Much like Tyreke Evans, Cousins should find success as the newest member of the Sacramento Kings. Definitely will be in the Rookie of the Year discussion at the end of the season.

’10-’11 Projections: 16 ppg, 6 rpg, 1 apg

This is Part 3 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.

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

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.

Scottie Reynolds: Rise Like a Phoenix

By: Ross Geiger

Eighteen and a half points per game, forty percent from long range, his team’s go-to player, his school’s second all-time leading scorer, the face of his school’s basketball program, he is Scottie Reynolds. The 6’2, 190 pound point guard had a spectacular college career at Villanova, now Reynolds continues his spectacular story.

It’s starts as birth born in Huntsville, Alabama where his teenage mother gave him up for adoption. Growing up in a warm household, Reynolds was brought up well, and his upbringing carried over to the basketball court. In the state of Virginia, Reynolds is widely regarded as one of the top scorers in basketball history. As a senior at Herndon High School in Herndon, Virginia, Reynolds averaged 28.4 points per outing, dropped 4.5 assists, and was a thief snagging an 4 steals nightly.

Entering his freshmen season with the Villanova Wildcats, it didn’t take Reynolds to long to adjust and went onto to be named the 2006-2007 Big East Rookie of the Year. As just a sophomore, Reynolds led the Wildcats in scoring totaling 15.9 points per game, helping make the push to a Sweet 16 berth. During his first year as an upperclassman, Reynolds took his team to even greater heights come time for the big dance. In the Elite Eight matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers, Reynolds known for his clutch performances drilled a game-winning bucket with 0.5 seconds remaining, which led ‘Nova to the 2009 Final Four in Detroit. As a senior, Reynolds helped his team to a 25-8 overall record, but unfortunately made an early exit as the #2 seed in the tournament. The disappointing loss to St. Mary’s in the second round not only put his dreams of winning an NCAA Championship to rest, but also held him short of becoming the Villanova’s program all-time leading scorer. Reynolds was just 21 points shy of the feat trailing only former NBA guard Kerry Kittles. But make no mistake, Reynolds received the well-deserved recognition he deserved as a senior being named to the 2010 AP All-American 1st team becoming only the fourth player in school history to do so.

After one heck of a career at Villanova, Reynolds was set on entering the 2010 NBA Draft and that’s where his story becomes even more spectacular. Reynolds, an AP All-American, surprisingly went undrafted on draft night. But please, don’t begin to feel sorry for the talented youngster; if anything this is a blessing in disguise. Though Reynolds made many of his accomplishment look easy during his high school and college days, this next step will be a bit more challenging to overcome. He’s an undersized NBA guard who many scouts question whether he’s got the capabilities to be an NBA floor general.

Reynolds entered NBA Las Vegas Summer League camp with a chip on his shoulder, out to prove the critics wrong as a member of the Phoenix Suns. In just three games (due to injury) Reynolds had some highs and some lows, yet showed enough upside that the Suns immediately offered him a training camp invite. His summer league line: 10.3 ppg on 47% field goals, 44% behind the arc, and was a perfect 100% from the charity stripe, to go along with 4.7 assists per game. In each of his three summer league games, Reynolds built upon each performance and by the his third and final game against the D-League Select team he scored 16 points and added 3 assists in limited minutes.

Best Be Sure He's Keepin' His Head High

A variety of NBA teams have extended training camp invites to Reynolds and he’s yet to make his decision. But I’ll be willing to bet, Reynolds’s story as an undrafted NBA rookie hasn’t quite ended yet in the Valley of the Sun. If and when Reynolds accepts the Suns training camp spot, I expect Reynolds to continue to grow as an NBA professional and will rise like a Phoenix as one of the most underrated NBA rookies next season. He’s in a great situation as member of the Phoenix Suns, not only can he learn from one of the best point guards the game has ever seen in Steve Nash, but his offensive game can flourish in the Suns style of play.

With the departure of Taylor Griffin (waived) this past week, I fully expect to see Scottie Reynolds a Phoenix Sun next season. From what I’ve been hearing the Phoenix Suns are very high on him and at this point I see it nearly a no-brainer that he makes the final roster. He’d most likely spend much of the year traveling back and forth between D-League and call-ups, but with Nash’s aching back always in question, you never know when he may be called upon. But if his time comes and his number is called, Scottie Reynolds will be ready to step up to the challenge that awaits as he has all his life. Making transitions look easy is something Scottie Reynolds has done his entire life, so why shall it stop now?

After all, NBA teams allowing him to go undrafted only fuels his fire. If there is one kid, one story to watch this season it may in fact be Scottie Reynolds. If there is to be another Wesley Matthews type scenario be in store this season, look no further.

This Week in Baseball: The Second Half

I know that technically, the second half started a long time ago, but this is when we get a look at what teams will really look like down the stretch. Now there are still guys like Pedro Martinez out there to be signed, but for the most part, we know what to expect. So ahead, we get to look at the races, the regular season awards, and much more. Get ready, baseball fans, October is coming.

TB and NY: You wanna piece of me?

American League

East

The Yankees and the Rays look like locks to make the playoffs to me. The Red Sox are getting Josh Beckett back, but the Rays and Yankees have been the two best teams in the East, and probably baseball, for much of the year now. The Yankees will win the division, as expected, and the Rays will need some nerves to hold the Red Sox off for the Wild Card, but I think they can do it. The East is really just a bloodbath. If Toronto or Boston was in the West and played those teams over and over, they would clean up, but they are stuck with the Evil Empire and the loaded little engine that could. Tough luck for them, but they will be watching the playoffs from their couches this year.

Central

I am going to stick with my pick of the Twins, though I would not be too surprised if the White Sox were able to hold them off. The Twins went and got their bullpen help in the form of Matt Capps, and I would not count them out for Pedro either. Remember, these are hardly the small-market Twins of the past. I just have a feeling that it is going to come down tot he final day yet again here with potential for another one game playoff. It is really a toss up for me, but I will stick to my original pick preseason and go with the Twins to win the central.

West

Nolan Ryan is the Rangers. Robin Ventura is the AL West.

At this point, if the Rangers lose, it is a monumental meltdown. They are making all the moves, holding all the cards, and pulling away from the now 3rd placed Angels. Cliff Lee gives them legitimacy at the top of the rotation, and they have added great depth with Jorge Cantu. I would once again not count them out for Pedro’s services, although money is very tight in Texas right now. It is worth noting that Oakland, one of my sleepers this year, is really making a push, but it will end in a moral victory and no playoffs.

MVP: Miguel Cabrera (DET) Honorable Mention: Josh Hamilton, Robinson Cano

Cy Young: David Price (TB) Honorable Mention: Cliff Lee (a very close second), Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester

Rookie of the Year: Austin Jackson (DET) Honorable Mention: Brennan Boesch (DET), Carlos Santana (CLE)

Manager of the Year: Ron Washington (TEX)

ALDS

Yankees over Twins in 3
Rangers over Rays in 5

ALCS

Yankees over Rangers in 6

National League

Oswalt has been great down the stretch throughout his career.

East

Now here is where things get interesting. The Mets are pretenders like we thought, but the Braves and Phillies look poised to fight to the death. 2nd is not a comfortable option either with Cincinnati in the picture and threatening to even upset the Cardinals (more on that in a moment). Roy Oswalt is in Philadelphia now, and if the hitting keeps up, we could see the second-half-surge Phillies we are used to. You might ask why they did not just keep Cliff Lee, and Ruben Amaro Jr. does not have an answer there, but as they move forward, they have a great shot at fighting to the death with the division leading Braves. I think the Phillies will win the fight, and will keep as close to possible with my preseason prediction with the Braves barely making it to the playoffs.

Central

Unfortunately, elation for the Braves means bad news for the Reds of Cardinals. They are locked in one of the better battles in baseball right now for Central supremacy, and it is pretty hard to separate the two at the moment. Will the upstart Reds upset Cardinals hegemony, or will the Cards hold off the feisty young challenger? I can honestly say I do not know for sure. I tend to lean toward the Cardinals because they have been there before, but if Pujols gets hurt or the bullpen has a rough week, it could very easily swing the Reds way. I will ultimately go with the Cardinals, but it is going to be one hell of a race. For that matter, that is true of the whole NL.

West

The Padres have knocked expectations of the the park.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but the Padres have this wrapped up. Their pitching is lights out (though Latos could be shut down as he is on an innings count), and their hitting is just good enough to get them where they want to be. Now, there is definitely some luck at play here as Troy Tulowitzki’s injury was perfectly timed to knock the Rox out of contention, and the Dodgers offensive swoon timed up with playing the Padres, but you have to credit the Padres at this point. They are the best team in that division, and though the Giants are sticking around, I just can’t see them catching the Padres.

MVP: Joey Votto (CIN) Honorable Mention: Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard,

Cy Young: Josh Johnson (FLA) Very Honorable Mention: Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Tim Hudson, Mat Latos (if he wasnt on an innings count)

Rookie of the Year: Jaime Garcia (NL) Honorable Mention: Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Mike Leake (CIN), Jason Heyward (ATL), Buster Posey (SF), Gaby Sanchez (FLA), Great year for NL rookies and pitchers.

Manager of the Year: Bud Black (SD)

NLDS

Phillies over Cardinals in 4
Padres over Braves in 5

NLCS

Phillies over Padres in 6

WORLD SERIES PREDICTION

I said it at the start of the season, and although it happened in a much different way than I thought, I am sticking to my beginning of the year pick.

Phillies over Yankees in 7\

See? The All-Star Game matters.

TO SEE MY BEGINNING OF THE YEAR PREVIEWS, CLICK HERE

Maybe there is some wishful thinking here, but the Phillies will walk away with the title.