Every season there are teams we expect to perform within a certain range and then there are those that are intriguing because we don’t know where to place our bets.
No one knows exactly how a team will do, but you can usually peg a few as playoff locks or contenders. There are those other teams that make certain off-season moves that could really pan out or could explode in the organization’s face. They’re fun to watch just to see how the moves turn out.
1. Brooklyn Nets: The Nets openly pined for Dwight Howard but were rebuked at every turn. The Nets decided to make moves while waiting to make another Dwight run and ended up retaining Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and adding Joe Johnson. At first look there were snickers about such a lineup, especially when it looked like a paltry haul in comparison to the Orlando center they really wanted. This team does have some good hoops possibilities in it though.
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They have a great PG in Williams and he can make those around him better. They kept Wallace who can provide assistance in multiple areas even if he’s not quite the Crash of old. Lopez has been the tailend of jokes since his third season, but he’s clearly a talented big man on offense. If he can regain the ability to rebound he’ll be more than a solid player. He has rebounded in the eight range before and I think he can get into the nine range after playing only five games this past season. There’s no doubt he can score and he should be able to put up 20 a game. If he improves his defense then all the better.
Then there’s Iso Joe who carries the distinction of a less than favorable contract. Many believe he’ll be nothing more than a Iso waiting to happen on repeat every time he gets the ball, but I think he’ll look forward to working with a competent pg again. Johnson can create his own shot, but won’t be forced to do so every time down the court. He’ll also be an option for kick out threes. He’s a capable passer so that will be a plus in the play making area. I think Brooklyn will finish in the upper half of the East and could potentially move on to the second round. Outside of that I don’t see a sustained effort.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves already have Kevin Love who is fun to watch and Ricky Rubio who always has a wow moment waiting. Before Rubio went down Minny was in the playoff picture for the eighth seed. Over the off-season the T’Wolves added Andrei Kirilenko for two years at $20 million. AK-47 spent the lockout shortened season in Russia which seems to have re-energized him. When he left the NBA he wasn’t the same player who menaced opponents in every imaginable stat category. He won’t necessarily be AK of old, but he’ll provide a solid presence on the court and in the locker-room. Watch how well he does or maybe doesn’t do will be a top story to pay attention to, at least for me. While Rubio will still be recovering when he gets back he will still inject play making into the lineup, and there will still be Love double-doubles to witness.
3. Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets were fun to watch last season and a decent team. They managed to push the Lakers to a seventh game in the first round of the playoffs although they were ultimately sent packing. Denver didn’t feature a central player, but showed off a capable top to bottom team. Excitement was never lacking when the Nuggets played due to players like Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried. A mid-season addition of JaVale McGee added to the highlight possibilities. As part of the four team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers the Nuggets landed Andre Igoudala. Iggy won’t or at least shouldn’t become their number one option because his effectiveness lies in spreading his energy on defense and offense. Iguodala will guard the best wing players on the opposing team and will also slash and run the open floor on offense. With the way the team is made up it might be the real lob city out west.
These are the three teams I have a special interest in seeing this upcoming season. Not because I have an invested interest, but I want to see how they do with the changes they made.