2015 NBA Preseason Outlook: A Breakdown of Every Team

Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday we were watching Steph Curry and the Warriors celebrate their championship in Cleveland? Well, the NBA season in upon us already, with the Clippers in their new uniforms taking on the Nuggets at the Staples Center. Time sure does fly. If you’re like me, you’re getting just as hyped up to seen the changes around the league, the many teams with new uniforms, and the rookie class come in and try to prove themselves. So much to talk about, so little time.

Will the Warriors make a run at a repeat? Will LeBron win his first title with the Cavs? Will Derrick Rose recover from his Orbital Bone fracture just to have his knees fail him one more time? Here are my thoughts on every teams chances in the upcoming 2015-2016 season.

GTY 474748494 S SPO BKO BKN USA TX

(Photo: Ronald Martinez, Getty Images)

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

Key Additions: David Lee, Amir Johnson

Key Losses: Brandon Bass

Star Player: Isiah Thomas

The Celtics are still a young team, but making the playoffs last season shows that this team is close, and Brad Stevens rebuild has worked. They added David Lee, a veteran fresh off his championship run with Golden State. He saw reduced minutes as the Warriors went small and Draymond Green filled their power forward role, but Lee is still capable of making major contributions. Amir Johnson will add depth to the front court, and the Isiah Thomas – Avery Bradley back court is one of the best young guard combinations in the league. Marcus Smart and James Young have more experience under their belt as they look to contribute as well. The young Celtics are tranding up for sure, and maybe they could show Philly a thing or two about rebuilding. Look for them to secure a higher seed in the playoffs in the weak Eastern conference.

Brooklyn Nets

Key Additions: A whole new bench, Andrea Bargnani, Shane Larkin

Key Losses: Mason Plumlee, Deron Williams

Star Player: Brook Lopez

Holy cow, talk about an overhaul. The Nets roster features twelve new faces, including three rookies. And after all that, they probably look worse than last year. Say what you want about D Will, the guy was still a playmaker. Yes, he is out of his prime. But he was the closest thing to a superstar the Nets have had since they were playing in New Jersey with a guy named Vince Carter. Brook Lopez is still a dominant scoring center, but with the next two options being Joe Johnson, a guy they tried to deal and couldn’t because he’s old and has a big contract, and Jarrett Jack, a solid pass first point at best, the Nets maybe in for a long season. Its all about the future in Brooklyn, look for them to limp the whole way through.

New York Kncks

Key Additions: Aaron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Kristaps Porzingis

Key Losses: Andrea Bargnani, Tim Hardaway Jr.

Star Player: Carmelo Anthony

Moving on to the main basketball attraction in NYC, the New York Knicks. Well, maybe not so much. Even with how bad the Nets look, the Knicks might look even worse. Sure, they added a solid combo guard in Aaron Afflalo and a proven starting center in Robin Lopez (they even signed the greek freak 2.0! Giannis’s brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo!), but that is it. Afflalo is not much better than Hardaway Jr. if at all, and he’s considerably older. And Robin isn’t even the best Lopez in the city. They hope their first round draft pick Kristaps Porzingis can learn behind the other Lopez, but that will take time. Things are looking bleak for Knicks fans. No playoffs this year, and Melo’s chances to get a ring look worse the longer he stays in New York.

Philadelphia 76ers

Key Additions: Jahlil Okafor, Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas

Key Losses: Jason Richardson

Star Player: …….

This is why they’ve been flopping all these years, right? The 76ers come into the season with seven rookies on the roster. Yes, you read that right, seven. They’re first round pick in last years draft, Joel Embiid, will miss his second season in a row after getting surgery on his foot. But that’s okay, because the city of brotherly love is packed with young front court players. The combination of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor could be a scary front court duo for years to come. Okafor has the ability to score in the post effectively, while Noel serves as an elite rim protector. They both excel where the other struggles. However, they’re still both very young. And they have no veteran presence either, unless you count Carl Landry. They finally seem to have the pieces they’ve been so desperately losing for, but it’s still going to be a few years before they finally develop into what the 76ers need. Another year down the drain in Philly.

Toronto Raptors

Key Additions: DeMarre Carrol, Corey Joseph

Key Losses: Lou Williams, Tyler Hansbrough, Amir Johnson

Star Player: Kyle Lowry, DeMar Derozan

“I got a club in the Raptors arena, championship celebrations during regular season.” That’s a line from the teams ambassador, Drake, on his new collab tape with Future, What A Time To Be Alive. Could this be the last year the Raptors try to give Drake a real championship celebration? It  just may be, at least with these core players. They’ve been bounced by Paul Pierce two years in a row. Luckily he’s out west with the Clippers now, but he’s not the only thing holding the Raptors back. Outside of Lowry, this team struggles shooting the deep ball. They’re a run and gun team without the deadly snipers to provide the kill shots. They addressed that in the offeseason, signing Hawks breakout small forward DeMarre Carrol and Spurs sharp shooting guard Corey Joseph. Both have been in winning cultures, and hope to provide that mentality to this team. All that being said, it might not be enough to get over the hump. Are they a playoff team? Without question. A legitimate championship contender? Ehhhh. Drizzy might be listening to Hold on Were Going Home rather than Trophies.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls

Key Additions: Fred Hoidberg

Key Losses: Tom Thibodeau

Star Player: Derrick Rose(?), Jimmy Butler

The Chicago Bulls come into the season with basically the same roster. They added Jordan Crawford and lost Nazr Mohammed, two changes that will go almost unnoticed in Chicago. The main change is head coach Tom Thibodeau is out and Fred Hoidberg is in. Hoidberg is Brad Stevens esque, coming to the proffesional level after turning an Iowa State team into a top seed in the NCAA tournament year after year. No changes on the roster? No problem, because that means Jimmy Butler is returning after his breakout all-star campaign a year ago. The big question with the Bulls is the same every year; can Derrick Rose stay healthy. He is already slated to miss the next two weeks of training camp and preseason games due to a fractured orbital bone in his face, but barring any setbacks we should see a masked Rose on opening night. But can he stay healthy? Since winning the MVP four seasons ago, the star point guard has played in just 100 out of 312 possible games. He’s watched over two thirds of his teams games from the sidelines. You have to feel for the guy. He is the best talent Chicago has seen since Michael Jordan himself, and he can’t control that he gets hurt. But Bulls fans must be frustrated seeing their franchise player in a suit and tie more than in the red and white jersey. Undoubtedly, the Bulls are a playoff team. How far they make it all rests on Rose.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Key Additions: Mo WIlliams, Richard Jefferson

Key Losses: Kendrick Perkins

Star Player: LeBron James

Could this be the year the Cleveland sports fans finally see there championship drought end? No Cleveland professional sorts team has won a title since 1964, the longest active drought for any major city. They were close to ending it last year, but fell just short to the Warriors. That team was devastated by injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in the playoffs, yet they still came so close to knocking the MVP and the splash brothers off. So it’s championship or bust, right? Not so fast. Kendrick Perkins leaving may be bigger than most people think. They lose a veteran and a key player off the bench for their front court. They regain Anderson Varejao from injury, but who knows how effecctive he’ll be after basically missing all of last year. We may see the Cavs take a play of out the Warriors playbook and go small at times, playing Kyrie, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, and Kevin Love at the same time. That sounds exciting, but they better be careful. LeBron James has taken a lot of wear and tear already in his career, and you would rather not see him banging in the post too often. This year will be a balancing act and a real test for David Blatt. Can he find a lineup thats effective and not damaging to his stars? Can he find time for Dellevedova and Mo Williams coming off the bench? Will Mosgov and Tristan Thompson accept their new roles off the bench after producing in big ways as starters last year? It will certainly be interesting to see. In the end though, this team can go as far as LeBron can carry them, which is promising for any team.

Detroit Pistons

Key Additions: Ersan Ilyasova, Danny Granger, Marcus Morris

Key Losses: Greg Monroe, Caron Butler

Star Player: Andre Drummond

The Pistons certainly looked to take a step back to everyone around the league when they watched Greg Monroe take a max deal in Milwaukee. However, it could turn out to be just the change this team need. It could also be just as bad of a loss as everyone sees it. There is no doubt the Andre Drummond-Greg Monroe front court combo didn’t work. Both work primarrily close to the basket, and that left the lane totally clogged. Bring in two players completely opposite of that in Ersan Ilyasova and Marcus Morris. Stretch fours who’s shooting ability can do exactly what they need to do; open the lane for guys like Brandon Jennings and Reggie Jackson to slash their way in. Danny Granger may be a shell of what he once was, but he can still provide decent shooting in a reserve role. And the rookie Stanley Johnson is very athletic and strong. He probably has one of the highest ceilings from his draft class. The two major factors in how this season will go is Andre Drummond and the cohesiveness of Brandon Jennings and Reggie Jackson. If drummond can polish his post game and the Jennings-Jackson duo works in harmony, this team could make the playoffs in the east. If not, its back to the bottom for Detroit.

Indiana Pacers

Key Additions: Monta Ellis

Key Losses: Roy Hibbert

Star Player: Paul George

The Pacers will be an interesting team to watch this year. Paul George is returning from injury, so their star is back at the helm for them. They added Monta Ellis in free agency, a big win in some regards.  Monta is proven scorer, and can provide highlight reel plays night in and night out. However, that is all Monta provides. He isn’t much of a defender, so Rodney Stuckey will still see playing time to help out on defense. Losing Roy Hibbert is going to effect them defensively. Hibbert is the leagues rim protector, and losing a 7’1″ tower in the middle of your defense is going to be a hard adjustment to make. Either Ian Mahinmi or Jordan Hill will have to step into the center role, each with pros and cons. You have to believe it will be Mahimni, as he has provided solid minutes for the Pacers when Hibbert was hurt just battling himself on the offensive end. Hill might just have to step into the power forward role that was vacated when Luis Scola left for Toronto. Indiana has an interesting team no doubt.. We will have to see how they all gel and work as a unit. Paul Geore will most likely have this team in the playoffs, but anything after that is just too hard to tell.

Milwaukee Bucks

Key Additions: Greg Monroe

Key Losses: Zaza Pachulia, Ersan ilyasova

Star Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo

I like the roster the Bucks have put together. Young, talented, and now they have their big man in the middle. Greg Monroe was one of the more underrated players when he was in Detroit, and now he looks to shine as the number one guy down low. Guards like Michael Carter-Williams and OJ Mayo provide a nice one two puch of slashing and shooting, while young guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker look to thrive as they did last year. Depth may be the only issue for the young Bucks of Milwaukee. The only notable players off the bench are Jerred Bayless, Greivis Vasquez, and Miles Plumlee. Thats not saying much, so they better Jabari can stay healthy, after missing the end of the season due to injury. Still, I think this team is what last year’s Hawks were. Look for Milwaukee to make an impressive run into the postseason.

Southeast Division

Alantla Hawks

Key Additions: Tim Hardaway Jr, Tiago Splitter

Key Losses: DeMarre Carrol

Star Play: Al Horford

The hawks were the surprise team of the whole NBA last year. In a league dominated by teams with a superstar and role players around them, this team had role players at every position, with not one bonafide “superstar.” Yet they were the top seed in the east, and no other teams starting five gelled as well as the Hawks five did. It shows when four of the five were named to the all star team. However, in that way of play, one injury can change everything. When Kyle Korver, the leagues top long range marksman not named Curry, went down against the Cavs, the season was basically over. They were swept with ease in the Eastern Conference Finals, and it wasn’t even a competition. DeMarre Carro capitalized and moved on, but the Hawks are out prove 2014 was no fluke. They have added Tim Hardaway Jr, which gives them a little more flash and a little more help at the three point line. Also Tiago Splitter with be a much needed defense and rebounding big man  off the bench. If this team can stay healthy, they may be in for a similar run that they pulled together last year.

Charlotte Hornets

Key Additions: Nic Batum, Spencer Hawes, Jeremy Lin

Key Losses: Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson

Star Player: Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson

A lot of new faces in Charlotte, but most seem to be great additions. Nic Batum is one of the most versatile players in the league, providing in almost every spot in the box score on a nightly basis. Jeremy Lin is a fantasic pick up to back up Kemba Walker, and Spencer Hawes will be a nice chage up off the bench for the big man Al Jefferson, as Hawes shootingg ability will help strecch the defense.. They’re only real loss was Lance Stephenson, who may just turn out to be a win for MJ’s Hornets, as he struggled mightly in his time in Charlotte. A lot of this season will depend on Kemba walkers shooting. The former All-American from Uconn has not been the lights out shooter he was in college. If the Hornets want to make that next step, Cardiac Kemba will have to shoot a much higher percentage from the floor, specifically from long range. If he can figure out a way to do that, this team will be fighting for a spot in the playoffs come April.

Miami Heat

Key Additions: Gerald Green, Amar’e Stoudemire

Key Losses; Shabazz Napier

Star Player: Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh

The Heat went from four straight finals runs to being out of the playoffs in their first year without LeBron James. To be fair, they were in a position to make the playoffs when Chris Bosh suffered one of the most unusual injuries to end his season; a blood clot. Dwayne wade is keeping his talents in South Beach, and the heat may try to make one more run at a title. gerald Green adds a lot of athleticism to this team, and also shoots the ball at a decent rate. He is a  very hot and cold type of guy though. At times he looked like a star in Phoenix, and at other times you saw why he spent a few years overseas. Hassan Whiteside is a bright young talent at center, looking like a dominant rim protector and a more than efficient rebounder. Amar’e Stoudemire will provide valuable minutes off the bench, and the Dragic-Wade back court can be very scary for opposing guards. They have the talent to get into the playoffs for sure, but even that isn’t a guarantee. I think the hourglass has run out for the last two remaining of the big three.

Orlando Magic

Key Additions: Shabazz Napier, Mario Hezonja

Key Losses: Mo Harkless

Star Player: Nikola Vucevic

This team hasn’t changed much from last year, as most of their players are still young and promising. Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo provide one of the most interesting and fun to watch back court tandems in the NBA. While Payton can pass, handle, and shoot with he best of them, Oladipo has that raw athleticism and speed to be one of the most exciting players on the court on any given night. Nikola Vucevic is one of the most promising young big men in the game, and front court mate Tobias Harris can swing from the three to the four and match up decently well on most players. I just don;t think this team is ready to take that next step yet. They’ll be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

Washington Wizards

Key Additions: Gary Neal

Key Losses: Paul Pierce

Star Player: John Wall

Possibly the most dynamic back court calls our nation’s capital home. John Wall and Bradley Beal work perfectly together to provide one of the most dazzling one-two punches this league has ever seen. Wall prefers to take defenders off the dribble and use his speed and athleticism to blow by people on his way to the bucket. He has worked very hard to improve his jump shot, but its just not there at a consistent level yet. Bradley Beal maybe the exact opposite. Beal is a deadeye from the three point line, and has been since his days under Billy Donavan at Florida. He uses that fear of his jumper to get by guys and get to the rack. He would prefer the jumper, but isn;t afraid to take you off the dribble either. This always will make this team a contender. However, the Wizards roster took aa steop back when Paul Pierce left for LA. they’ve added Gary Neal to try to pick up the shooting slack. But Gary Neal isn’t the truth. Gary Neal can’t call game. Or series. Gary Neal isn’t Paul Pierce. The team will have to rely on Beal and Wall more than in years past. They’ll still be in the hunt for the title com April and May, but don’t expect too much when you lose the Truth.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks

Key Additions: Derron Williams, Wesley Matthews

Key Loses: Tyson Chandler, Monta Elllis, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rajon Rondo

Star Player: Dirk Nowitzki

The Mavs had one of the biggest up and down offseasons in recent memory. One day they seemed to have DeAndre Jordan locked up, the next he’s back in LA. Jordan’s indecision seemed to caught the Mavericks big time, because they let Tyson Chandler walk away. They also ended the Rondo saga, an extremely talented player who never worked out in Dallas. They added Nets point guard Derron Williams, who looks to be an upgrade over Rondo, even though both have had trouble with their head coaches in the past. They also brought in stellar wing man Wes Matthews, coming off his season ending Achilles tear. He was playing his best basketball of his life in Portland before being sidelined, so if he can bounce back to the player he was last year, they may have found an upgrade over Monta Ellis as well. But do these roster moves mean they can compete to bring Dirk his second title? Unlikely. They still seem to be just a few pieces short of an elite roster. And without Jordan, the team’s front court isn’t getting any younger. Guys like Dirk, Zaza Pachulia, and Javale McGee are all past their prime. It will be interesting how this team comes together after two of their biggest headaches, Rondo and Ellis, found new homes in the offseason. Playoff berths are much harder to come by in the west, and Dallas will have to fight to the end to get there.

Houston Rockets

Key Additions: Ty Lawson

Key Losses: Josh Smith

Star Player: James Harden

The Rockets are looking to build off their best season in recent memory, and James Harden is going to be looking for that MVP title and to bring Clutch City a ring, Ty Lawson could make the Houston back court one of the most dynamic in the league. Lawson was the only constant in the plummeting Denver market, and is still a top point guard in this league. Losing Josh Smith is probably the first time a team has truly cared about losing Josh Smith. Smith and Dwight Howard were clicking on all cylinders in the playoffs before the Rockets lost to the eventual champion Warriors. If Harden plays like he did last year, he will most likely get that MVP, and may just be competing for the championship too.

Memphis Grizzlies

Key Additions: Matt Barnes

Key Losses: Kosta Koufos

Star Player: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol

In a league ruled by offense, flashy play, and highlight reel dunks, the Grizzlies live and die by the “defense wins championships” motto. They may not have a championship yet, but man, can these guy play defense. Tony Allen made waves by announcing to his opponents that he was “1st team All-Defense.” Then shortly after, the league named him first team All-Defense. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are trouble for any opposing front court, and Mike Conley looks ready to take that next step as an elite point guard in this league. A lot like the Hawks though, one injury can kill this team. They saw it in the playoffs last year with Mike Conley going down. The addition of Matt Barnes will help in the defensive and the depth category; he was a stellar wing defender for Doc Rivers for a few years in LA. Can this team get over the hump? I want to say yes. But that grinding style of play can take something out of you come playoff time, especially in the Westeern Conference. We’ll have to see if they can stay healthy.

New Orleans Pelicans

Key Additions:Kendrick Perkins

Key Losses: None

Star Player: Anthony Davis

The Pelicans beat  out OKC in the race for the eighth spot in the playoffs last year. They were then promptly bounced by Chef Curry in the first round. However, they had times where they looked really good against the Warriors. They led Dub Nation by 20 going into the fourth quarter in Game Three of the first round. Then they had times where they looked really bad. Of course if you blow that 20 point lead, it doesn’t do you much good. However, the Pelicans are on the rise. Anthony Davis is one of the best young players in the league, and, when healthy, is the choice by all experts to take LeBron’s throne as “Best Player On The Planet” when LeBron leaves his prime. They added Kendrick Perkins, which not only adds depth to thee front court but helps allow Davis to play the four instead of the five, his natural position. They’re sttill young and trending upwards, but don’t bet on them to be a title contender come playoff time. They should be a higher seed than eighth though.

San Antonio Spurs

Key Additions: LaMarcus Aldridge, David West

Key Losses: Marco Belinelli, Corey Joseph

Star Player: Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge

I think everyone saw this season going the same way. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich make one more run at a championship. The original big three either claim another title or fall just short, and in a blaze of glory, all four retire together. A fitting end to the Spurs dynasty, but leaving the Duncan-less Spurs in ruins. Then something amazing happens. San Antonio lands the biggest prize in free agency, LaMarcus Aldridge. Plans change quick I guess. Now the Spurs wen from a long shot contender to possibly one of the favorites in the West. Aldridge adds so much in terms of post play and scoring that Tim Duncan could even take a back seat if he wanted to. Not that he would ever want to. And with locking up Aldridige, they also secured a star for the future. He can learn behind Duncan about fundamentals and the winning culture, and they can build around LaMarcus like they did around Duncan. With Coach Pop confirming he’ll be back after Duncan retires, the Spurs may be potent for many years to come.

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets

Key Additions: Emmanuel Mudiay

Key Losses: Ty Lawson

Star Player: Kenneth Faried

It is finally officially the rebuilding era in Denver. No more Ty Lawson, the Nuggets are ready to build around rookie Emmanuel Mudiay. Kenneth Faried is still a talented player, and Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler are still around, but this team struggled not only with winning, but actually wanting to play last year. Byron Scott had no way of relating to his team, and he lost his locker room and his season in the process. Here is what people don’t understand. Flopping makes sense from a numbers stand point. They got the Lawson replacement they wanted and seem to be ready to build around him. But winning in any sport is not just based on numbers and talent. The best teams understand that winning is a culture. In the same way, losing is a culture. Just ask Philly. When you plug in so many young guys just to lose and lose and lose, they get used to losing. They almost forget how to win. That’s why you see such a need for veterans in the locker room. Having a guy to show your team how to win is almost as important as having that young talent to build off of. You’ll see that effect with the Wizards without Paul Pierce. This is bold, but I’m calling it. Denver will be the worst team in the NBA this year.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Key Additions: Karl-Anthony Towns

Key Losses: Anthony Bennett

Star Player: Andrew Wiggins

This is a rare case of flopping done right. The T Wolves got exactly what they wanted when they competed with the Knicks to have the worst record in the NBA, a battle they won. The prize? #1 Pick Karl-Anthony Towns. The rookie from Kentucky has a very high ceiling. He is already a proven rim protector, and shows promise to become one of the best low post scorers in the NBA for years to come. They turned Kevin Love, a guy who clearly wanted out, into Andrew Wiggins, one of the most exciting young players in recent memory. The difference is the T Wolves have their veteran leader. Former MVP Kevin Garnett. One of the best player in league history, and possibly the third best player to jump from high school to the NBA (just behing LeBron and Kobe). He’s won in the past, and Minnesota will benefit from him for sure. Not this year though. Soon enough, this team will be a force. That’s as long as they’re able to retain Andrew Wiggins.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: Jeremy Lamb

Star Player: Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook

The Thunder realized how much they need KD last year. Russel Westbrook looked like some unreal freak of a basketball player, doing something that only one other has done. He joined Oscar Robertson as the only player to average 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists in a calendar month (The Big O had eight such months in his career. Eight.). However, with KD sidelined for most of the season, the Thunder failed to make the playoffs. The Durantula is back this year, and, if he statys healthy, he makes the Thunder and elite team and a championship contender again. This is a crucial year however. It’s a contract year for KD. With guys like Carmelo Anthony and John Wall ready to go all out on the recruiting trails to get the Slim Reaper to change sides, they have to compete now. They have to show him they are elite and legitimate contenders to win the NBA Championship, or he might just walk away.

Portland Trailblazers

Key Additions: Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis

Key Losses: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Aaron Afflalo

Star Player: Damian Lillard

The Portland Trailblazers were one of the most exciting teams to watch last year. Even after losing Wes Matthews, the Blazers went out and found a replacement in Aaron Afflalo. They were trending upwards and could’ve been the class of the west. Then free agency hit. Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. Rip City was the biggest loser in the offseason. Other than Big Game Dame, the Blazers lost their whole starting lineup, and their best back up in Afflalo. Portland looks way different. And way worse. A starting five of Lillard, CJ McCollum, Gerald Henderson, Ed Davis (or Mason Plumlee), and Chris Kaman will get blasted in the Western Conference. Such a shame. They were one of the most versatile teams in the whole NBA. Now they won’t even make the playoffs.

Utah Jazz

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: Jeremy Evans

Star Player: Gordon Hayward

The Jazz are hoping their team just magically gets better, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad. Gordon Hayward has been one of the most pleasant surprises, as the kid frrom Butler looked like a for sure bust and has somehow looked like a star for Utah. Derrick Favors is a solid four man, and Dante Exum and Trey Burke are promising young guards. Yes, they’re actually pretty good. But good enough? Not quite. Not in the West. Sure, they wont be one of the teams who are out of the playoff race before the season starts. heck, they could be close or even make the playoffs at the end off the season. However, when you are the only pro team in Salt Lake City, just making the playoffs shouldn’t be the goal. They need to be dreaming bigger than they seemingly are.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors

Key Additions: Ben Gordon

Key Losses: David Lee

Star Player: Stephen Curry

The MVP and the defending champs are ready to make a run at a repeat. The team is basically the same, only losing David Lee, who was overpaid for the role he was serving. Draymond is back. Iggy is back. The Splash Brothers are back. And Coach Kerr has to be salivating thinking about this season. There is no scouting report to stop Curry, you just have to hope he is cold. Even if he is, Klay Thompson is the next guy up. And Iggy after that. Their offense is just unbelievable. Their only problem anyone can see is their lack of size. They don’t care. They showed the Cavs they can go small, and the Cavaliers had to adjust their lineup accordingly. If I am any team out west, I would be scared of Dub Nation for years to come. Let’s just see how they deal when they have to pay Curry what he deserves.

Los Angeles Clippers

Key Additions: Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson

Key Losses: Matt Barnes, Glenn Davis, Spencer Hawes

Star Player: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

Could this be the year for Lob City? They better hope so. CP3 isn’t getting any younger, and they had to pay up for DeAndre Jordan to keep him from leaving. They added pieces that could help a lot, like veteran Paul Pierce, defensive specialist, and Josh Smith, a former all star who looked to find his niche in Houston last year. This is the year if the Clippers want to be a championship team. They’ve been better than the Lakers in recent years by a big margin, but still lack that first title for the franchise. The Truth, Paul Pierce, should be a fantastic addition. He rejoins Doc Rivers, the coach he won his title with in Boston. You know Pierce wants another one very badly, and this could be the year. Early projection? They make the Western Conference Finals, and a match up with GSW will be a blood bath indeed.

Los Angeles Lakers

Key Additions: Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, D’Angelo Russell

Key Losses: Jordan Hill, Jeremy Lin

Star Player: Kobe Bryant

The Lakers still aren’t used to being the other team in Los Angeles. As this seems to be Kobe Bryant’s last season in the NBA, the Lakers and Kobe are desperate for one last championship before the rebuild starts. D’Angelo Russell will be one of the more exciting rookies in year one, and he is my early favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors. But is he enough to take this team from a bottom dweller in the west to an actual contender? They added Roy Hibbert, one of the most, if not the most, prolific rim protectors in the game. They also bring in 6th man of the year Lou Williams to provide solid contributions off the bench. This team looks better on paper, but I’m not sold that they can be a force in that rough and rugged Western Conference. They might be one of the worst teams in their state. I think this team can fight off the likes of Utah and Minnesota to make the playoffs, and with Kobe anything is possible after that. However, Kobe’s last ditch run will most likely come up short, and may just be outed by the Clippers come playoff time. We rooting for number 24, but a 6th ring just seems too far out of reach.

Phoenix Suns

Key Additions: Tyson Chandler

Key Losses: Gerald Green, Marcus Morris

Star Player: Brandon Knight

The Suns have been just short two years in a row now when playoff time has rolled around. They were too loaded at point guard for so long, but now Goran Dragic is gone and in comes Brandon Knight. Knight is coming off the best season he’s had so far, and really showed why he deserved to be the Detroit Pistons Lottery pick a few years back. He started in Milwaukee, and he was absolutely dominating from a scoring stand poitn. He continued his domination even when he was dealt at the trade deadline to the Suns. With him and Eric Bledsoe in the back court, this combo can make any opposing coach have nightmares. They added Tyson Chandler, who will serve as an elite rim protector and a tenacious rebounder. Losing Gerald Green might hurt, but I think the weapons they’ve added will be just enough to get Phoenix over the hump. They’re a playoff team this year, mark my words.

Sacramento Kings

Key Additions: Rajon Rondo, Willie-Cauley Stein

Key Losses: Carl Landry, Derrick Williams

Star Player: DeMarcus Cousins

The Kings continue to baffle people around the league. Cousins wants out, no doubt about it. He’s cost multiple coaches their jobs in his very short career, yet the Kings front office is determined to build around Ace Boogie. They added Rondo, who also had troubles with his head coach in Dallas, to the point where Rick Carlisle benched the point guard in the middle of a playoff series. They have talent, don’t get me wrong. Rudy Gay has looked like the superstar he was supposed to be when Memphis payed him and Toronto traded for him. Ben McLemore is still trending upwards. But still, with all the turmoil and tension between Cousins and (insert any coach they hire here), the Kings will still be on the outside looking in.

PRESEASON AWARD FAVORITES

MVP: Steph Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, LeBron James

6th MAN OF THE YEAR: Reggie Jackson, Lou Williams, Jamal Crawford

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: D’Angelo Russell, Jahlil Okafor, Mario Hezonja

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Lance Stephenson, Draymond Green

COACH OF THE YEAR: Steve Kerr, Stan Van Gundy, Gregg Popovich, Rick Carslile

Who’s ready for some NBA basketball? Check back for weekly updates throughout the season.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s