Posted on: October 21, 2010 11:38 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2010 11:48 pm
I called this past offseason for the Hornets one of, if not, the most important offseason in franchise history for the team. Coming off of a difficult collapse in 2009, injuries to Chris Paul forced the team to fall to 37 wins last season, resulting in the team's first appearance in the lottery in three years, signifying a dramatic fall from grace following the team's 2008 run to the Southwest Division Championship and to a game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals with the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. Just a few years removed from that, the Hornets are at a crossroads, even after this offseason, that will determine where the team goes from this point forward. Gone from that 2008 season are former coach of the year Byron Scott, long time General Manager and former Executive of the Year Jeff Bower and soon to be gone is the only owner the Hornets have ever known in George Shinn. The impending sale of the team to Gary Chouest, which may not be finalized until the end of this season, will finally solidify this past offseason of change for the Hornets front office. When new head coach Monty Williams was hired, followed by the hiring of new General Manager Dell Demps, everyone of the assistant coaches, medical staff, scouting team, etc. were let go. Some of them had been with the team since its inception in Charlotte. But desperate to turn a new leaf, the Hornets made their moves with Williams and Demps, and the two are young, promising guys at their respective spots with the right people vouching for their abilities. That change was followed on the court, as the Hornets engaged in a number of trades that will result in at least eight new players making the roster for this season. It's still very much up in the air how all of these moves will translate on the court for the Hornets. The team has seemingly had one of the thinnest front courts in the league for years now, and that will be the same case this season. The team's ultimate success still depends almost entirely on Chris Paul, and Paul's' reported frustrations with the team are going to loom over the franchise until he's either traded or signs a new contract. But that's still two years from now, and the Hornets still moved along as a team dedicated to winning now. With pending cap relief coming up this offseason, how the team performs at the start of the year will depend largely on whether they're buyers or sellers at the trade deadline and will have a huge effect on how the team opperates from here on out. If this past offseason was one of the most important for the Hornets, this actual season will be no different. There are no guarantees it will be the most successful, but a lot is hinging on the performance of this team this season.
For the record, new additions will be italicized and rookies will have their college statistics, which will be denoted by an asterisk.
PG: #3 Chris Paul (45 Games, 18.7 PPG, 10.7 APG, 4.2 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 84.7 FT Pctg., 40.9 3PT FG Pctg., 49.3 FG Pctg.) – Coming off of his best season individually in 2009, the frustration Paul was showing at the beginning of last season was quite evident. He had gotten into on court altercations with Al Harrington, was frequently showing discomfort on the court and was very vocal in his displeasure with Byron Scott being fired going as far as to say the team should have consulted with him before the move. Two separate injuries followed, including one the day immediately following Scott’s departure, possibly creating the most frustrating season in Paul’s career. A sprained ankle and a torn meniscus kept Paul out of 37 games, and the Hornets’ win total dropped as a result.
A lot will be asked of CP3 again this season as he enters clearly as the number one player on the team. The fact that the team traded Darren Collison, last year’s first round draft pick and Paul’s primary back up, to make attempts in improving the roster brings further emphasis on the importance of a healthy Chris Paul. Before his injuries last season, he was displaying an improved three point shot and was correcting all of the holes in his offensive game. Seeing him play a healthy amount of games this season should help the team’s defense improve as well. Paul’s on court performance is crucial for the team, but he’s in a position where he shouldn’t be asked to do as much as he was in 2009. How quickly he gels with the new teammates, how well he’s recovered from the knee injury and how well he handles adversity this season all deserve close attention this season.
#33 Willie Green (73 Games, 8.7 PPG, 2.1 APG, 1.8 RPG, 83.3 FT Pctg., 34.6 3PT FG Pctg., 45.7 FG Pctg.) – Whether Hornets fans like it or not, Green enters this season as the Hornets back-up point guard. Green, in the final year of his contract, was picked up in a trade with Philadelphia and immediately became the team’s most trustworthy option as a reserve point guard. Whether or not he’s a true point guard, whether or not he’s efficient enough to run an offense for an extended amount of time and whether or not the team hopes to deploy him in this role all season are questionable. Even with Green on the roster, the Hornets had Jannero Pargo, Mustafa Shakur, D.J. Strawberry and, eventually, Curtis Jerrells all in training camp to compete for the reserve point guard job. In my opinion, the team wants one of the young guards to step up and claim the back-up job, but is keeping Green as a safety net. Green is a capable back-up in this league. He shoots a decent percentage and he could, at the very least, provide veteran experience as a reserve to start the season. However, I’d imagine the team truthfully wants Jerrells to claim Green’s spot by December or January.
#0 Curtis Jerrells * (39 Games, 16.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 77.1 FT Pctg., 36.7 3PT FG Pctg., 42.7 FG Pctg.) – Although last year was Jerrell’s first year in the league, he spent the majority of the season in the NBA’s D-League and therefore retains rookie eligibility in this season, his first with the Hornets. Jerrells went undrafted in 2009 and spent last season for the D-League’s Austin Toros, which happened to be the team that Demps GMed while he was working for the Spurs organization. About a week ago, the Hornets acquired Jerrells for a second round draft pick from the Spurs and he figures to be in the team’s future plans. Former coach Greg Popovich has gone on record as saying Jerrells is a “real NBA point guard” and the team is high on him as well. Whether or not he reciprocates those expectations right away remains to be seen, but there are high hopes for Jerrells in terms of his future as a reserve for the team behind Chris Paul. His progression is something to keep an eye on.
SG: #8 Marco Belinelli (66 Games, 7.1 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 83.5 FT Pctg., 38.0 3PT FG Pctg., 40.6 FG Pctg.) – No member of the Hornets roster is having as productive a preseason campaign as Belinelli. Acquired from Toronto for the frustrating unproductive Julian Wright, Belinelli has also struggled with expectations throughout his career and really disappointed in Toronto last season. But the team planned for Thornton to come off of the bench all along, and Belinelli has gone through a lot of the sets with the first team. He’s shooting the ball really effectively from beyond the arc in the preseason and is showing capabilities as a ball handler that people expected of him when he was a lottery pick in 2007. He unquestionably now enters the season as the Hornets starting shooting guard and can develop into a real wild card for the team. If he builds off of his promise early, then the Hornets can have a surprisingly efficient starting five with an explosive Marcus Thornton as a change of pace reserve for the second unit. At worst, Belinelli figures to be a three point specialist for the team, but all hopes are for Belinelli to remain as the team’s starting shooting guard for the duration of the season.
#5 Marcus Thornton (73 Games, 14.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.6 APG, 81.4 FT Pctg., 37.4 3PT FG Pctg., 45.1 FG Pctg.) – Contrary to Belinelli, Thornton is having one of the most disappointing preseason campaigns for the Hornets. Coming off of a surprising rookie season where the Hornets saw him emerge from second round draft pick to solid reserve to key contributor down the stretch, the team hopes to deploy him in a sixth man role similar to that of Manu Ginobili, Jason Terry or Jamal Crawford’s. All hopes should, and most likely are, for Thornton to finish games for the Hornets but the team wants to use his playmaking and explosiveness to spearhead the second unit. Thornton has struggled with his shot all preseason, and questions are already rising about the shin injury that forced him to leave the Summer League early. But still, the team will take its chances with Thornton as the season approaches and his efficient shooting from last season will be expected and should truly benefit the team moving forward. At only 23, Thornton is still in the team’s future plans. He’s been vocal about his struggles with the team moving Collison to Indiana in an offseason trade, but I wouldn’t attribute that with his early season struggles. He seems erratic out there and may be struggling with the added expectations. I expect him to settle into his new role this season after a few games.
SF: #1 Trevor Ariza (72 Games, 14.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 64.9 FT Pctg., 33.4 3PT FG Pctg., 39.4 FG Pctg.) – Coming off of a season where he was a key member of a Lakers starting line-up that won the 2009 NBA Championship, Ariza was handsomely compensated by the Houston Rockets last season and, with the injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, was quickly given the role of the go-to guy on the team. Ariza struggled in that role, however, as his efficiency and his shooting percentages decreased across the board. The Hornets still see his potential as a defensive specialist and fast break partner with Paul to trade All-Rookie First Teamer Darren Collison to acquire Ariza. In doing so, the Hornets assume the remaining four years on Ariza’s contract and are vocal about him being in the team’s future plans. In New Orleans, Ariza can return to being the third or fourth option on a team, a role he’s probably better suited for, and should be able to prepare for the shots to come to him as opposed to looking for them. He may never shoot at that consistent three point rate that he did in the 2009 postseason, but he’s still a capable player behind the arc who the team can feel comfortable enough with to help spread out a defense. Ariza is the big acquisition for the Hornets this past offseason and a lot is expected of him. He’s shown before that he’s capable of playing off of a great player, and if he does so at a more efficient rate than he did with Houston last year, the Hornets will benefit greatly because of it.
#16 Peja Stojakovic (62 Games, 12.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 89.7 FT Pctg., 37.5 3PT FG Pctg., 40.4 FG Pctg.) – Signed to a five year, 65 million dollar contract in 2005, Peja has seen his points per game average and a lot of his percentages decline every year of his contract with the team. The Hornets see his expiring 15 million dollar deal as a huge trading piece should the team find another franchise desperate for cap relief, but also see his importance as a three point specialist with the squad. Even with his declining numbers, the Hornets are a better team with Peja on the court. Last year’s 14-23 record without Chris Paul should be viewed with an asterisk. The team was 9-8 without Paul on the court while Peja was still in the lineup. When Peja missed the final 20 games of the season, the team went 5-15. He’s still a very important player for this team. Peja was tried as a reserve last year when the team unsuccessfully attempted to make Julian Wright the starting small forward. He was still efficient enough in his reserve role where the team should feel comfortable deploying him in that same spot this season, but his back still brings questions about how well he can come into a game and be effective after extended periods of rest. Whether or not he’s a key contributor or nothing more than an expiring contract to either be traded or absorbed internally this season depends largely on how well he starts the season. He’s played a sufficient amount of minutes this preseason and is still showing his range, but nothing is a guarantee in terms of his longevity of health.
#20 Quincy Pondexter * (36 Games, 19.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 82.7 FT Pctg., 35.3 3PT FG Pctg., 52.8 FG Pctg.) – Acquired in a draft night trade along with Craig Brackins for the draft rights to Cole Aldrich, Pondexter was supposed to enter this season with Brackins as two young, capable players in a new Hornets rotation. Brackins was traded in the Willie Green trade with Philadelphia, and the Hornets soon acquired Trevor Ariza, halting Pondexter’s quick ascension to an everyday status. Pondexter is still a capable player. He can run the floor really well, is a good enough playmaker at his position and is a capable jump shooter. The team also has high hopes in his defensive ability. He showed a lot of potential in the summer league, especially with his playmaking and defense, and will be brought along slowly for the Hornets. With Peja most likely gone either before the end of this season or by the end of this season, Pondexter figures into the Hornets future plans. Monty Williams has had success with SF projects before during his tenure in Portland, and Pondexter will be exactly that for most of this season.
PF: #30 David West (81 Games, 19.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 86.5 FT Pctg., 50.5 FG Pctg.) – The Hornets longest tenured player (he’s the only player on the team that was with the franchise before the temporary two year relocation to Oklahoma City and who was with the Hornets when they still played in the Eastern Conference), West returns this season still as the Hornets second option. For the past five seasons, Paul and West have been the go-to guys for setting the tone on offense and the same will be expected this season. Despite a second consecutive season in terms of a decrease in his points per game and rebounds per game averages, West assumed a bigger role in the offensive execution once Paul went down to injury last season. As a result, West saw a career high in assists. Whether or not his game is ready for a steep decline is up for debate, and this being basically a contract year for West (he has a 7 million dollar player option for next season), one could assume that West will be at his best for one last pay day for his career. West is still an efficient option in the offense. He shot at a 50 percent rate last season and still has plenty of range on his jump shot. His defense on the ball struggled big time last season and a lot of that probably had to do with Collison and Thornton’s inexperience on defense allowing so many easy drives to the basket last year. But if West can hold his ground defensively in the paint, it would set the tone for the rest of the team. A lot will be expected of West, again, this season. I wouldn’t be so concerned with his missing games this preseason (Monty is said to be caution with minutes to his starters in the preseason) and I wouldn’t say he’s ready for a decline in production just yet.
#14 Jason Smith (56 Games, 3.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 69.0 FT Pctg., 43.1 FG Pctg.) – Acquired in a trade that sent Craig Brackins and Darius Songaila to Philadelphia, Smith was seen as a disappointing first round project in Philadelphia but has been given new life in New Orleans. He’s surprised many fans with his strong play in the preseason, showing a very unexpected rebounding rate per minute and still showing a good enough mid range game that the team touted when he was acquired. Whether or not that carries over into the regular season is huge for the Hornets, as Smith is basically the only option as a reserve power forward. His position on the team is very creaky for the Hornets, as he’s not done a lot to calm worries about his consistency and reliability in his two years with the league. But the front office is praising Smith for his work this preseason and he’ll at least be given a clean slate in New Orleans this year. If he struggles, the team will be left without many options for the front court, and could be forced to move Stojakovic for another option. Whether or not Smith can prevent the team from having to go to those measures remains to be seen.
#44 Pops Mensah-Bonsu (20 Games, 1.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 54.2 FT Pctg., 39.4 FG Pctg.) – With the team on a non guaranteed contract, Mensah-Bonsu will probably be retained due to the team’s thin options at the power forward spot. Another D-League player for the Austin Toros, Pops has played well enough in the preseason to at least get a look in the regular season. He’s struggled to stick with any of the teams he’s played with for his career but has shown signs of being a viable reserve big man. Whether or not he can parlay that into a consistent run or even a consistent season with New Orleans is questionable at best and realistically unexpected. But because Jason Smith is the only other option as a reserve power forward, I’d expect Mensah-Bonsu to make the roster and at least get a chance to establish himself in the team’s rotation.
C: #50 Emeka Okafor (82 Games, 10.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 56.2 FT Pctg., 53.0 FG Pctg.) – Acquired last offseason from Charlotte, Okafor came into New Orleans with a lot of expectations and didn’t deliver on any of them. Whether it be because of injuries keeping him from training camp reps with the roster, him missing the entire preseason, him never developing a rapport with Paul, him being in and out of Jeff Bower’s rotations or any combination of those things, Okafor saw a career low 29 minutes per game last year and his production dropped as a result of it. This offseason, however, Monty has said to be committing to getting Okafor the ball at a more consistent rate. He’s still not going to blow anyone away as a low post option, but he’s durable and strong enough to where he can hold his own down in the paint and also be a viable defender around the rim. He’ll never live up to his paycheck, but he is still an efficient enough option at the center position in the league and is arguably a top ten player at his position. With Williams’ dedication to getting Okafor involved more with the team, we should see a more lively Okafor and, certainly, a more productive Okafor on the court for the Hornets. A big season from him could make all the difference from this team being a fringe playoff contender to a very good Western Conference squad.
#34 Aaron Gray (32 Games, 3.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 71.4 FT Pctg., 51.2 FG Pctg.) – Acquired from Chicago during last season for Devin Brown, the White Panther (as he’s affectionately known amongst Hornets fans), became the team’s best option as a reserve center immediately and did a fine enough job in that role to be given a new one year deal to keep the same position this year with the Hornets. Gray is, at the very least, a big body down in the paint, although his lack of speed still allows elite centers that extra burst to the basket more often than not. He lost a lot of weight this offseason (rumored around 30 pounds) and is still light on his feet and is good enough at holding his position around the basket, but Monty has been vocal in his desire for Gray to be quicker up and down the court. Whether or not he can really change something like his speed remains to be seen, but Gray is still a good, if not very good, back-up center for the team.
#28 D.J. Mbenga (49 Games, 2.1 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 47.4 FT Pctg., 46.6 FG Pctg.) – Recently signed to a one year contract for this season, Congo Cash (the name his former Lakers teammates gave him), steps in as competition for Gray for the reserve center job. Mbenga has had his cup of tea in the league. He’s mainly a hustle guy, has never been a consistent player in a rotation, but at least has two championships with the Lakers to show for his stay in the league. He’s 7 foot and he’s a decent rebounder, but I’m not sure how successful the team will be with Mbenga consistently getting heavy minutes. At the very least, he’s a body to push Gray and keep him staying in shape and keep him competitive. He’s another big body on the team, giving them three 7 footers on the bench. Only problem is, none of the three seven footers are all that incredibly talented.
Head Coach: Monty Williams (First Head Coaching Job) – Monty Williams is the youngest head coach in the league. While that’s pretty cool in terms of the potential stability he can bring to the team, realistically you have to expect some growing pains from a guy in his first year on the job. He’s got an impressive pedigree. After retiring as a player, Greg Popovich himself sought out Monty to be an assistant, and Monty won a ring as a member of the coaching staff for the 2005 Spurs team. He’s done fantastic in terms of player development and defense for the past couple of years in Portland, and he’s a very young, very hungry, very promising head coach. All things considered, he seems like a very good guy for the job. He’ll have to deal with Chris Paul’s ego, he’ll have to deal with a roster that’s fairly young and inexperienced, and he’ll have to do it in his first year. However, if everybody comes together really early, it’s nothing but a huge sign moving forward for the potential of this team. I have faith in Monty’s abilities as the head coach. But, being that it’s his first job, you still don’t really know what to expect. Here’s to a promising first season.
Overall: The Hornets are bringing in eight new players this season. Chemistry may be a very tough problem in the early stages of this season, but the team is young and talented enough to get past that. If they hit a prolonged rough patch, we’ll see if anyone starts pouting, if Williams becomes inconsistent with his rotations, etc. There are a lot of question marks with this team. But the potential is there. The way it’s assembled, this team isn’t a championship squad. They simply don’t have the length to compete with the best teams in the league. But they’re athletic enough to hustle on defense, talented enough to get the ball in the basket and, if healthy, they could really surprise teams this year. People always write the Hornets off as some kind of one year fluke. It should be noted that the only year the Hornets have not had any major injury problems in the past five years was that 2008 season. Maybe that does or doesn’t mean that the team competes for the division title again, but there’s no reason that can’t be a realistic goal. The Spurs, Rockets and Mavericks are obviously sexier choices for the division title, but the Hornets have the bodies to compete with any of them, and they have the best individual player out of any of those teams on their roster. Paul’s attitude and commitment are huge, as is Monty’s ability to handle all of the new players on the roster. But if this team gets off to a huge start, they could really do some damage. Probably no more than a 5 seed or so, but definitely a playoff team none the less. They’re most likely another year away from being serious threats, but that’s no reason that the team can’t be really good this year.
Tags: Aaron Gray, Al Harrington, Chris Paul, Cole Aldrich, Craig Brackins, Curtis Jerrells, D.J. Mbenga, D.J. Strawberry, Darius Songaila, Darren Collison, David West, Emeka Okafor, Hornets, Jamal Crawford, Jason Smith, Jason Terry, Julian Wright, Lakers, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, Marcus Thornton, Mavericks, Peja Stojakovic, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Quincy Pondexter, Rockets, Spurs, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Ariza, Willie Green, Yao Ming
Posted on: April 16, 2010 2:05 pm
It's playoff time! At this point, the stakes are high and offseason paychecks and inseason acquisitions are expected to be rewarded with postseason success and jobs will be secured and won with big playoff appearances. There are a ton of great matchups and the NBA really got it right with the sixteen teams that made it. There's not one matchup, maybe outside of Cleveland, that looks like it won't be a fantastic matchup. But here we go, this is GoHornets21's 2010 First Round Playoff Preview.
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Chicago Bulls - A really intriquing matchup here. The Cavs ended this season with the most wins in the league for the second consecutive season. The Bulls looked dead a few weeks ago, only to experience a resurgence and have straked their way into the postseason. The Cavs have coasted for awhile now and LeBron James hasn't even played in a couple of weeks. Likewise, the team will be integrating Shaquille O'Neal back into the lineup after missing two months with a right thumb injury. The Bulls, though, are experiencing their own bit of inner turmoil after a reported confrontation between head coach Vinny Del Negro and VP of Basketball John Paxson dominated the headlines in Chicago. The Bulls are playing great basketball, but they don't have the horses to keep up with Cleveland. The fact that they have a head coach that, in all likelihood, won't be there next season doesn't do much to help the team's psychi. Derrick Rose will make things interesting, this won't be a sweep, but Cleveland has time to get their players back, figure out their rotation and still win this series.
(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Oklahoma City Thunder - A classic matchup of youth vs. experience here. The Thunder are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 (when the team was still in Seattle) and are in the playoffs as the youngest team in the NBA. Facing them are the defending NBA Champions; who struggled in the last month of the regular season. The Lakers are banged up across the board and look vulnerable here in the postseason and the Thunder are young, fearless and dynamic across the board. But what is the Lakers biggest strength, size, is the Thunder's biggest weakness. Unfortunately, the Thunder are a bit overmatched in their first playoff series going up against the champs.
(4) Denver Nuggets vs. (5) Utah Jazz - Two really tough teams to figure out go to battle in this series. The Nuggets have really struggled ever since George Karl's unfortunate cancer diagnosis back in February and have gone through moments where they looked like the same, immature, selfish Nuggets of years past. The Jazz have gone through stretches this season where they look great, stretches where they look bad, and stretches where they just look lost. Add Carlos Boozer to the team's indecisiveness, as he's a game time decision for the playoff opener. However, I think the Nuggets longer spell of mediocrity is a sign of things to come with Dantley at the helm, and unfortunately they really miss their general.
(3) Phoenix Suns vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers - Probably the NBA's hottest team, the Phoenix Suns finally look like a formidable team again for the first time in a few seasons. Now with an added attitude on defense, the Suns look as complete as they ever have since the seven seconds or less days. Still lethal on offense, the Suns will follow Steve Nash's lead in hopes of taking advantage of a Bradon Roy-less Trail Blazers squad. Without Roy, the Blazers will look to other players to step up; as they have all season long battling the injuries the team has. However, they look to be too overmatched against Phoenix at this point in time.
Tags: Al Horford, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, Bobcats, Brandon Jennings, Brendan Haywood, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Dan Gadzuric, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, George Hill, Gerald Wallace, Hawks, Heat, James Harden, Jason Terry, Jazz, Jerryd Bayless, Joe Johnson, John Salmons, Jose Juan Barea, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Garnett, Kirk Hinrich, Kurt Thomas, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Louis Amundson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Matt Bonner, Mavericks, Mehmet Okur, Michael Beasley, Mo Williams, Nate Robinson, Nuggets, Paul Millsap, Paul Pierce, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Robin Lopez, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Steve Nash, Suns, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Tyson Chandler
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:54 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2009 7:45 pm
Team By Team Previews
1st Round Matchups
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Detroit Pistons - The Pistons bring their experience to Cleveland to stand opposite the Cavaliers. The Cavs are really riding a huge wave of momentum into the postseason, the complete opposite way which Detroit is entering the playoffs. The Cavs have beaten the Pistons the last time they played in the postseason as well, and there's no reason for Detroit's intimidation factor to affect Cleveland. This is a solid matchup for the Cavs, because their lack of size won't affect them as the Pistons, likewise, lack significant size in their frontcourt.
(4) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Miami Heat - Dwyane Wade and the Heat are a tough out for anybody in the postseason, including an unproven playoff team like the Hawks. The Hawks are still a tough team to take seriously, although we all should, and they can look at that as a rallying cry. This is the most even matchup in the entire Eastern Conference, and the Hawks fantastic play at home should help this squad get out of the first round for the first time since 1999. Dwyane Wade and company will put up a fantastic effort, but I look for every home team to win in this series.
(3) Orlando Magic vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers - This is a matchup of slumping teams running head to head and will probably provide the least interesting of all of the playoff matchups in the NBA. The 76ers, even though they'll throw Samuel Dalembert and Theo Ratliff at him, really have no answer for Dwight Howard. Andre Iguodala will have to do it by himself and I don't believe he's the kind of player capable of doing that. Also, his dissapointing performance in last season's playoffs has to weigh on his mind. However, Hedo Turkoglu's injury is something to look for in Orlando.
(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Chicago Bulls - Without Kevin Garnett, the Bulls lack of inside scoring can really be masked in this first round matchup. These two units play spectacular basketball at home and can really put points on the board. The key will be which team can make the defensive stops when it's necessary to get them. The defending champions, even without their defensive leader Garnett, have experience doing so and can really put the inexperienced Bulls on the ropes. I look for the Bulls to put up a great fight, and push the C's to seven but I look for the Celtics to somehow prevail.
(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Utah Jazz - The Lakers get the unfortunate task of facing the inconsistent Utah Jazz in the first round. The Lakers should be confident, seeing as how Utah simply cannot win on the road, but the Jazz always give the Lakers fits. Kobe Bryant and company, though, should replicate last season's conference semifinals and really look to push Utah to the limit. Nobody outside of Deron Williams is really playing consistently for Utah, and he simply cannot do it alone. The Jazz will put up a fight in every single game, but they don't have the weapons or the confidence to pull games out.
(4) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (5) Houston Rockets - The Rockets were coming into the postseason on a huge positive note, but stumbling to the 5th seed and having to face Portland is not what the Dr. ordered for a team looking to make it out of the first round for the first time since 1998. It's all mental with the Rockets, and Yao Ming should really be a force, but Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden are big enough to stay in front of Yao and really alter his shots. With that being negated, the Rockets must rely on Ron Artest, Aaron Brooks and Von Wafer and none of the three shoot consistently enough to match the late game heroics of Brandon Roy.
(3) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Dallas Mavericks - The Spurs pulled off an amazing run to win the Southwest Division, but if there's one team that always troubles the Spurs it's the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks have peaked at the right time and are entirely capable of winning games in San Antonio. Tim Duncan always plays fantastic ball against Dallas, but the same can be said for Dirk Nowitzki matching up against San Antonio. The role players will be huge in this matchup, as will Tony Parker, but the Mavs role players (Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Brandon Bass) should give the Mavericks the edge they need to pull the upset.
(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets - This is a fantastic matchup here as the Hornets and Nuggets engage in a tightly contested head to head battle. Chris Paul may be too quick for Chauncey Billups to guard one on one, and if the Nuggets go to Anthony Carter that will give the Hornets the advantage defensively seeing as how Carter struggles with his shot. The Nuggets frontcourt could provide a lot of problems for the Hornets, especially Chris Andersen, who can really provide problems for Tyson Chandler and Sean Marks. When called upon, though, the acquisition of James Posey will pay off with his defense on Carmelo Anthony in this tough matchup.
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (4) Atlanta Hawks - The Cavaliers will still be riding that wave of emotion heading into the semifinals after their dispatching of the Pistons. However, they're going to run into a tough, battle tested Hawks squad that could steal a game in Cleveland. Joe Johnson and LeBron James give the fans quite the one on one matchup and fans will be tuned in to watch those two go at it. However, Cleveland's role players outshine Atlanta's in critical spots and the Cavs will escape in seven.
(2) Boston Celtics vs. (3) Orlando Magic - Without Garnett, Dwight Howard looks to dominate against Boston and may very well do so. These two squads meet head to head and give a fantastic first four games in this series and the series should head back to Boston tied at 2 apiece. However, the Celtics will miss Garnett as they look fatiqued from a tough series with the Bulls. That gives the Magic an opportunity to steal a game and close out the series in Orlando. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen will really shine in this series, but Boston's lack of options will do them in.
(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (4) Portland Trail Blazers - Coming off of facing the Jazz, the Lakers match up with another hated rival in Portland and have to be worried about this contest. The Lakers struggle against Portland, especially at Portland, and the Trail Blazers are one of the dangerous teams playing with no expectation to win. The Trail Blazers should give the Lakers lots of fits, but the Lakers have the best player on the court in Kobe Bryant, and have players outside of Kobe who can hit the big shot to win crucial games. The Blazers really will give the Lakers all they can handle and should take them to seven games.
(6) Dallas Mavericks vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets - In this matchup of underdogs to advance, the Hornets and Mavericks both should count their blessings to be so close to the conference finals. These two teams will meet up for the second straight postseason, providing a lot of intense moments of basketball. However, the Mavericks have always struggled with the combination of Chris Paul and David West. Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Brandon Bass always give the Hornets trouble, but Nowitzki will be guarded closely by James Posey and the Hornets can allow Peja Stojakovic to run relatively free, giving the Hornets the series victory.
Eastern Conference Finals
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (3) Orlando Magic - LeBron James should really dominate in this matchup, as the Magic simply have no answer for him. Courtney Lee will provide the best line of defense, but having to rely so many minutes to a rookie could hurt the Magic on the offensive side of the basketball. Dwight Howard may go off in this matchup as well, but his role players will be hard pressed to knock down the jump shot consistently against the fantastic defense of Cleveland's.
Western Conference Finals
(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (7) New Orleans Hornets - The Lakers, after two extremely draining matches will now be faced off with the postseason's cinderella team. However, the Hornets will be vexed from their two tough series as well, and their lack of size will finally come back to hurt them. Players like Odom and Bynum always perform well against the Hornets lack of height and the Lakers have more options to turn to than the Hornets do. They'll both be tired, but the Lakers have much more talent than New Orleans does and that will be enough for the Lakers to advance.
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (1) Los Angeles Lakers - And now for the matchup that the nation, David Stern and ESPN want and that haters across the world will despise. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James will match up head to head in a battle between the two best teams in the NBA all season long. Coming into the finals, both teams will have been tested although the Lakers will have had the tougher time getting there. The Cavaliers can use Los Angels' fatique to their advantage for at least the first game of the series, but after a co uple days rest, the Lakers should shock Cleveland in game 2 on their home court. Once the series returns to Los Angeles, the Lakers should really use their size to their advantage and pound it into the paint against Cleveland's smaller lineup. LeBron's heroics will be tested against the defense of Trevor Ariza and the Lakers bench will do just enough to send the series back to Cleveland with the Lakers ahead 3-2. With a fantastic sixth game being held in Cleveland, the game of the year will come down to the wire but the Lakers prove to be too much for Cleveland and take the series.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Al Horford, Andre Iguodala, Andrei Kirilenko, Andrew Bynum, Anthony Carter, Brandon Bass, Brandon Roy, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Paul, Courtney Lee, Daniel Gibson, David West, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Glen Davis, Greg Oden, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, J.R. Smith, James Posey, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jazz, Joe Johnson, Joel Przybilla, Jose Juan Barea, Josh Howard, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Kwame Brown, Kyle Lowry, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mo Williams, Nuggets, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Rajon Rondo, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Rockets, Roger Mason, Ron Artest, Ronald Murray, Samuel Dalembert, Sean Marks, Spurs, Theo Ratliff, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Trevor Ariza, Tyson Chandler, Von Wafer, Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:45 pm
Rookie of the Year:
Most Valuable Player:
Coach of the Year:
Executive of the Year:
Defensive Player of the Year:
Sixth Man of the Year:
Most Improved Player:
Tags: Brandon Roy, Brook Lopez, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Paul, David Lee, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Knicks, LeBron James, Magic, Marcus Camby, Mavericks, Mo Williams, Nene, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook, Spurs, Thunder, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Travis Outlaw
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:42 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2009 11:56 pm
1) Cleveland Cavaliers - The Cavaliers were the best team throughout the entire season, expressing dominance at home, boasting the greatest player in the game and a fantastic group of shooters that could really spread the floor. Their commitment to defense, though, is what's been the true reason for their elevation of play.
Tags: 76ers, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bynum, Andris Biedrins, Antawn Jamison, Bobcats, Brandon Roy, Brandon Rush, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh, Clippers, Corey Maggette, Danny Granger, David Lee, Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Gilbert Arenas, Glen Davis, Grant Hill, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jameer Nelson, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jazz, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Jose Calderon, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol, Mario Chalmers, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Conley, Mike Dunleavy, Mike Miller, Monta Ellis, Nate Robinson, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Millsap, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Rafer Alston, Rajon Rondo, Ramon Sessions, Randy Foye, Raptors, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roy Hibbert, Rudy Gay, Shaquille O'Neal, Spencer Hawes, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Suns, Thunder, Timberwolves, Tony Allen, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wilson Chandler, Wizards
Posted on: April 9, 2009 10:55 am
Well now that teams are clinching divisions and spots in the postseason I thought it would be cool to go ahead and preview each team that is going to be a part of the 2009 NBA Postseason. I will do one for each team as they clinch a playoff spot and since we already have teams that have clinched, we will start with them. Now we will continue with the last team to wrap up a playoff spot in the Western Conference: the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavs also bring a very solid bench with them to the postseason. Even though Jason Terry is the third best player on the team the Mavericks bring him off of the bench in a strategic move and it fits his role best, because all Terry has been in his career is a shooter anyways. In this role, he can step into either guard position and simply light it up from all areas on the floor. Also, the team brings the aforementioned J.J. Barea and also brings a great big man off of the bench in Brandon Bass. Because of this, the Mavericks are deeper than most teams that play the full court style and they don't necessarily tire at the end of games.
Speaking of Terry, how awful is this team's lack of a shooting guard or center? The reason they run as often as they do is because it allows them to mask that the team doesn't have a true wingman or a true center. Erick Dampier has been a horrible signing through and through and he doesn't have the presence, nor the minutes, to really make a difference out there. He shows up in stretches, but for the most part the Mavericks only play him around 15-20 minutes and then play either Nowitzki, Bass, or Ryan Hollins at center, and none of those players are effective at the center position. Those matchups can work well on offense, but they're going to hurt you on defense. Also, because the team brings Terry off the bench, they start Antoine Wright. Wright usually draws the task of defending the other team's best wing man, and he's adequate in that role but because the team has to play Terry off of the bench they give up a lot on the defensive end. Also, Wright's not effecient enough offensively to really rack up big minutes because the Mavericks need everyone to be involved. Aside from Terry, the Mavericks lack of depth is shown in their wingman and center spots, where players like Hollins, Gerald Green and Devean George are listed on the bench.
Why They Will Win It
Why They Won't Win It
The next team to clinch will be covered in the next preview.
Posted on: December 29, 2008 1:47 am
Coach of the Year:
Rookie of the Year:
Most Improved Player:
Sixth Man of the Year:
Posted on: December 15, 2008 1:57 am
Edited on: March 21, 2009 1:25 am
1. Boston Celtics (1) - This team is absolutely on a roll and every bit as dominant as last season's champions were. Kendrick Perkins is a force down there in the middle and the bench, despite Kevin Garnett's in game criticism, is fantastic. Players like Glen Davis, Eddie House and Leon Powe have spearheaded a very fun team over in Boston.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (2) - A quiet week for the Lakers, despite their loss to Sacramento. They seem to be in cruise control at the moment and aren't as smooth and dominant as they were at the beginning of the season, but they're still winning and are still 20-3. I was surprised by Luke Walton's promotion to the starting lineup, and even though coach Phil Jackson stresses Vladimir Radmanovic is not in the doghouse, the team's depth at the small forward position may leave him on the outside looking in. Something to keep an eye on.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - A loss at Atlanta keeps this team from jumping up in the rankings but they're still playing fantastic ball and are still looking every bit as talented as both Boston and the Lakers. I understand and agree with the high praise for Dwyane Wade but LeBron James is currently in another atmosphere. He's playing tremendous ball and they're getting great production out of everyone else on the team. Zydrunas Ilgauskas' injury is something to keep an eye on but the team is still playing good ball.
4. Orlando Magic (4) - They've solidified their spot with a fantastic road trip this week. Tough wins at Portland and Utah couldn't be overshadowed by a tough, last second loss without Dwight Howard to Phoenix. Rashard Lewis is carrying this team currently and even with Hedo Turkoglu playing inconsistent ball, they continue to quietly win and that seems to be enough for them.
5. Denver Nuggets (5) - Carmelo Anthony is currently on fire. His 33 points in one quarter against Minnesota on Wednesday was the highlight of a quiet two game week for the Nuggets. This team continues to roll along with Chauncey Billups and are even getting good minutes out of their big men. Their lack of depth and inconsistent production out of those 4 and 5 positions may do them in but currently it's not so you have to keep them up here.
6. San Antonio Spurs (11) - Yeah they've shot up here quickly and the San Antonio Spurs have arrived. This team's offense is clicking and just as quickly as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili returned this team has reeled off a string of successive victories. They're going to be in the race all season and their slow start seems like it was years ago.
7. Atlanta Hawks (8) - Mike Bibby has played like his former self here lately and has eased some of the pressure off of Joe Johnson. The team's getting healthy and a big, impressive win over Cleveland helped the Hawks get some of their much deserved recognition.
8. New Orleans Hornets (9) - Friday's dissapointing third quarter at Boston has taken some eyes off of the fact that the Hornets have been highly successful the past three weeks. Tyson Chandler's stiff neck is room for concern but if he can return at full force the Hornets can work at reclaiming the spot they held last season.
9. Houston Rockets (9) - That loss to the Clippers was embarassing but we'll give them a break since they were without Ron Artest. The fact that Yao Ming has been the most consistently healthy out of the big three this season is room for concern but the team has stayed up around the top ten all season long and continue to play solid, cohesive ball.
10. Utah Jazz (10) - They looked great against Portland but couldn't take care of business against the Dwight Howard-less Magic at home. They still look like the class of their division but seem to be lacking something so far. Even though Paul Millsap continues to prove his early season production is no fluke, they're better suited with Carlos Boozer and need him to return.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (6) - The Blazer's big drop was more one of those "everyone else around you" situations more than their actual play, though their play hasn't been very inspiring this week. Brandon Roy has been amazing this season but aside from him, nobody else can consistently keep up. This team is deep but they're unpredictable. All of this will change as the season goes on as this team just needs to grow.
12. Dallas Mavericks (12) - You inhale and take a step back, and the Mavericks are right there. Again. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry are shouldering the load but they usually get somebody different to step up every single night. I'm pleased to see the increase in Brandon Bass' minutes and think he's more important to that team than his production shows. Carlisle needs to utilize him a little better.
13. Detroit Pistons (14) - Right now in Motown, there's no such thing as bad wins. This team is still trying (months later) to transition into the Allen Iverson era and even though their victory over the Charlotte lacked punch, this team has lost bad games and the fact that they won needs to be acknowledged moreso than how they won. Tayshaun Prince has fallen off big time since Iverson's arrival and I'm not sure if this small lineup that has him at the power forward position is going to help that, but Antonio McDyess' return gives this team some more front court depth. Rodney Stuckey has done great with the starting role, but you have to move either Iverson or Richard Hamilton to the bench. Their lineup stands no chance in the postseason.
14. Phoenix Suns (15) - I'm one of the few that doesn't like the arrival of Jason Richardson in Phoenix but I'm going to give it some time. The loss of two important role players in Raja Bell and Boris Diaw (regardless of fickle fans' loss of interest in the two) will hurt the team just as the loss of McDyess did to Detroit. Richardson is a scorer, but not much else, and I'm not too sure if he was any kind of missing piece to anything. Looks like a desperate move by Steve Kerr to me.
16. Miami Heat (16) - Dwyane Wade is trying to do it all by himself, but they can't get anyone else to step up and compliment the spectacular season the former Finals MVP is having. Coach Spoelstra and Wade actually have this team overacheiving but they should still stay above average all season long.
16. New Jersey Nets (13) - Welcome back to Earth, Nets. Vince Carter's 0 for 13 performance against Toronto highlighted a woeful week for the Nets. They've played over their heads this year but have been too good for me to drop them too far. I like what they're currently getting out of Brook Lopez.
17. Chicago Bulls (18) - I'm a little dissapointed in the season Joakim Noah is having for the Bulls as I felt with last season's late surge he would carry that over into this year but he seems to be lackadaisical at times out there. Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose are night in and night out doing it for Chicago and they have to be pleased with the recent production out of Drew Gooden. By the way, I like Luol Deng but they have to be displeased with his production given the contract that he received this offseason.
18. Toronto Raptors (19) - This team has responded well to coach Triano and played some inspired ball this week. Jose Calderon has been solid this season, but so much more was expected after last season. He has struggled as the team's second option although he's still putting up the same numbers as last year. I'm surprised with Andrea Bargnani's decrease in minutes lately and wonder if the Raptors will look to move him at the deadline.
19. New York Knicks (17) - A Jerome James sighting! D'Antoni has finally started to play more than 7 people (it's too early for his typical short rotation) and the team got Jared Jeffries back this week. He's not a great player in any category but is versatile enough to where I could see him succeeding in D'Antoni's system. It was sad to see Cuttino Mobely to retire. He was always a classy guy and a fantastic shooter. His lefty release always looked like it was going in. I give best wishes to him and hope the enlarged heart condition doesn't substantially shorten his life.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (21) - Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson have been solid in the starting lineup for the Bucks this season. Ramon Sessions has quieted a little bit recently but this team still has stayed around .500 all year. They're not great in any facet of the game, but they're well coached and are solid in all areas. They're a fun team to follow.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (20) - The firing of Maurice Cheeks was pathetic. It's a shame that a team that gave an injured, overweight Elton Brand that type of money can blame Cheeks for being unable to work Brand into an offense that's better suited in the open court. Ed Stefanski should be ashamed of himself and I hope to see bad karma visit this team the rest of the season.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (26) - Don't look now, but outside of Boston and San Antonio, the hottest team in the league is the Memphis Grizzlies! Benching Rudy Gay seemed to spark the team a bit and they're even getting solid minutes out of Darko Milicic this week. O.J. Mayo has been nothing short out of tremendous this year and lately has played like the best rookie in the league. And that's no shot on Derrick Rose, just high praise for Mayo.
23. Los Angeles Clippers (27) - For one week, the Clippers were the team I thought they would be this season. With great wins over Portland and Houston this week, the Clippers looked like a talented cohesive team and like a team that could hang with the league's best. It's probably fools gold as far as the record is concerned, but Zach Randolph continues to be the team's best player and Al Thornton looks like a great player to build around for the next couple of seasons. For one week at least, Clipper land!
24. Indiana Pacers (22) - Their inconsistency and inability to get over the hump is killing me. Danny Granger is seemingly doing it by himself but this team is just bland all around. I had picked them to make the poseason this year, and they still may make a run at it, but they're lacking some serious energy and excitement on this team. This organization still needs that shot in the arm.
25. Golden State Warriors (24) - The Warriors won a couple games this week and that's reason for excitement in the bay area. Corey Maggette may be ruled out indefinitely and his scoring may be missed, but he hasn't seemed like much of a fit out there on that team. Kelenna Azubuike deserves a little bit of praise for his performance this season. It further heightens why teams showed interest in him in the offseason.
26. Sacramento Kings (28) - A victory over the Lakers gives this team a nice little boost and shows that they can still play hard for Reggie Theus. Kevin Martin is back to missing games after his short return and you have to wonder how serious that injury is. Brad Miller will most likely be gone by midseason and this team is still two years (including this one) away from being taken serious as postseason contenders.
27. Charlotte Bobcats (23) - I know I bashed Phoenix for the Richardson trade, but it's not as if I like it any better for the Bobcats. They lack scoring and, again, Michael Jordan is running an organization where pieces just don't fit. You can't make things work. His lack of dedication kills this team and the front office is so infatuated with his name that they won't properly evaluate his job. After all, if they did he would not have gotten the job in the first place after that fiasco in Washington.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (25) - Memo to Kevin McHale, improve this team or be shown the exit. Randy Wittman was let go this week and McHale now steps up. He was solid in the 2005 season but he's not that much of a coach. Al Jefferson, Randy Foye and Kevin Love (three players McHale has traded for) have all played better under McHale but I don't know if they can be enough for McHale to keep his job. Or rightfully keep his job anyways.
29. Washington Wizards (29) - Caron Butler is wasting away over there in Washington and their team's response to their struggles was not addressing their extremely small and thin frontcourt, but was instead a decision to add Mike James and Javaris Crittenton to a team that boasts a bunch of run of the mill guards in the first place. I'd like to see Crittenton to get an opportunity to flourish but this situation is no different from his situation in Memphis.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - Finally Kevin Durant is grabbing some rebounds and playing some down in the post. He's too talented to let his game be jump shooting and taking possesions off on defense. Jeff Green has been tremendous this week and I was surprised at Russell Westbrook being benched today. They're playing more competitive lately and the talk of them being unable to win 9 games this season is ludicrous. They'll win at least 10 games this season and this team is talented, just extremely raw. They need more time.
Tags: 76ers, Al Jefferson, Al Thornton, Allen Iverson, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Antonio McDyess, Ben Gordon, Bobcats, Boris Diaw, Brad Miller, Brandon Bass, Brandon Roy, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Clippers, Corey Maggette, Danny Granger, Darko Milicic, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Elton Brand, Glen Davis, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jared Jeffries, Jason Richardson, Jason Terry, Javaris Crittenton, Jazz, Jeff Green, Jerome James, Joakim Noah, Joe Johnson, Jose Calderon, Kelenna Azubuike, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, LeBron James, Leon Powe, Luke Walton, Luol Deng, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Mavericks, Mike Bibby, Mike James, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Paul Millsap, Pistons, Raja Bell, Ramon Sessions, Randy Foye, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Richard Hamilton, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Ron Artest, Rudy Gay, Russell Westbrook, Spurs, Suns, Tayshaun Prince, Thunder, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Tyson Chandler, Vince Carter, Vladimir Radmanovic, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph, Zydrunas Ilgauskas