July 30, 2014

2009-10 Collaborative NBA Preview

Editor’s note: The complementary portion of this preview — the Western Conference — can be found at Cavalier Attitude. Cavalier Attitude’s Amar Panchmatia, a good friend of this site and one of the most passionate Cavs writers you will ever find, details each of the 15 teams from top to bottom in the West.

Last season we saw the Cavaliers run through the regular season en route to a 66-16 record, a Central Division crown, and the top seed not just in the Eastern Conference but in the entire NBA. It was all for nothing, however, as the Orlando Magic broke our collective hearts in the Eastern Conference Finals.

This offseason we saw a lot of teams make multiple moves in attempts to improve, while other teams were simply looking to cut costs. As a result, we had a shift in philosophy and a wide chasm developed between the haves and the have nots. The question is, though, how will this change the balance of power in the Conference?

Below is our preview of the Eastern Conference, and please be sure to also check out Amar’s breakdown of the Western Conference. The NBA season begins tonight, and before long, these previews will be distant memories as we get wrapped up in the day to day minutia of the NBA. But for now, we hope you enjoy these previews.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

1. Boston Celtics

2008-09 Record: 62-20 (1st Atlantic, 2nd East)

Players Lost: Leon Powe, Mikki Moore, Stephon Marbury

Players Drafted: Lester Hudson

Players Added: Rasheed Wallace, Sheldon Williams, Marquis Daniels

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Rajon Rondo
G- Ray Allen
F- Paul Pierce
F- Kevin Garnett
C- Kendrick Perkins

Synopsis:

While Rasheed Wallace is busy running his mouth about the Celtics challenging the Chicago Bulls’ all time single season record of 72-10, it seems like many outsiders are writing this Celtics team off because of their age. This is a dangerous team to overlook, and if the rest of the NBA teams buy into this “Celtics are too old” myth, then perhaps the Celtics really will be close to that 72 win mark.

The bottom line is, this team is stacked. The Celtics starting 5 is maybe the best starting 5 in the NBA, and with the additions of Rasheed, Williams, and Daniels, they added some depth to go with the likes of Eddie House, Glen Davis, and Bill Walker.

More so than age, injuries are the biggest X-Factor for the Celtics. I realize age and injuries often go hand in hand, but beyond KG’s health and Ray Allen’s health and Rasheed Wallace’s, there are injury concerns for many of the younger guys as well, including Rondo, Big Baby Davis, and Shelden Williams.

For the Celtics, this season will be like performing a high wire act in trying to keep everyone healthy at the same time. If everyone does indeed stay healthy, there’s no reason the Celtics can’t reclaim their crown at the top of the Eastern Conference. However, as much as they are talking about going after 72 wins, you can’t help but think they’d be better served to save something for the playoff run, especially in the top heavy East. Much like the Cavaliers, I expect to see them take some games easy in the regular season and their record may reflect this fact.

2. Toronto Raptors

2008-09 Record: 33-49 (4th Atlantic, Out of the Playoffs)

Players Lost: Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono, Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai

Players Drafted: DeMar DeRozan

Players Added: Jarrett Jack, Hedo Turkoglu, Devean George, Antoine Wright, Reggie Evans, Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Jose Calderon
G- DeMar DeRozan
F- Hedo Turkoglu
F- Chris Bosh
C- Andrea Bargnani

Synopsis:

After an insufferably miserable 2008-09 season for the Raptors in which the team failed to make the playoffs, the players seemed to regress overall, and they saw Chris Bosh begin to hint maybe he wasn’t feeling so content in Toronto anymore. Perhaps, then, it was out of desperation that GM Bryan Colangelo decided to overhaul the roster, but whatever the reason, this is a new Raptors roster this year, and it seems to be a much improved one at that.

I realize I’m higher on the Raptors than a lot of people seem to be, but I really like their additions a lot. Bosh and Calderon were already established studs, but adding Turkoglu from underneath Portland’s nose was a nice pull by Colangelo. Picking DeMar DeRozan with the 9th overall pick could work wonders for the Raptors. DeRozan is one of the most versatile and athletic players coming in to the league this year, and he will be an excellent fit into the system Toronto is trying to build. I know the concerns over DeRozan’s shooting ability and ball handling skills, but every time I saw him play I saw a guy who was hard to take your eyes off of. He makes plays, and with a solid support system to keep him from trying to do too much, I think he’s going to work out in Toronto.

Only time will tell whether Colangelo is doing enough to keep Chris Bosh in town, but as for the season at hand, I believe the Raptors made enough moves to get back into the postseason. Jarrett Jack offers some injury insurance for Calderon, but if Calderon can regain his form from 2 years ago, the Raptors could be a team to sneak up on some people this year.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

2008-09 Record: 41-41 (2nd Atlantic, 6th East)

Players Lost: Andre Miller, Theo Ratliff, Reggie Evans

Players Drafted: Jrue Holiday

Players Added: Primoz Brezec, Rodney Carney, Jason Kapono

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Louis Williams
G- Andre Iguodala
F- Thaddeus Young
F- Elton Brand
C- Sam Dalembert

Synopsis:

Just by virtue of having Elton Brand coming back you’d think the Sixers should be better this year. However, there’s that old adage that says if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. There is no neutral. Losing Andre Miller will hurt, and rookie Jrue Holiday will have to make an immediate impact for this team. It’s still a solid starting lineup, but there’s not a lot of depth here. Depth will likely come in to play with this team. I have a hard time believing in Elton Brand ever being healthy. This is still a young, explosive team with a wealth of athleticism. The problem is, they’ve yet to really put it all together. I just don’t feel they did enough in this offseason to take them seriously.

4. New York Knicks

2008-09 Record: 32-50 (5th Atlantic, Out of the Playoffs)

Players Lost: Chris Wilcox, Quentin Richardson

Players Drafted: Jordan Hill

Players Added: Darko Milicic, Toney Douglas

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Chris Duhon
G- Wilson Chandler
F- Jared Jeffries
F- Al Harrington
C- David Lee

Synopsis:

LeBron James, this could be your team. You could take less money to inherit this team if you’d like. Now, to be fair, the only guys who will actually still be under contract next year are Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hil, Wilson Chandler, and Toney Douglas, but you get the point. If LeBron goes to the Knicks, he’s got one heck of a rebuilding project to look forward to.

As for this year, this team is a bit of a mess. They want to get rid of Curry, Larry Hughes might get the Stephon Marbury treatment this year, and Danilo Gallinari is hurt again. There is some talent here, though. For all his flaws, Al Harrington is still a big time scorer and a legit player, David Lee is solid, Wilson Chandler showed a lot of potential last season, and Nate Robinson is an exciting player to watch. They’ll win some games and sneak up on some teams who overlook them, but this isn’t a playoff roster whatsoever. But in New York, that’s not their goal. It’s LeBron or bust for them.

5. New Jersey Nets

2008-09 Record: 34-48 (3rd Atlantic, Out of the Playoffs)

Players Lost: Vince Carter

Players Drafted: Terrence Williams

Players Added: Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, Courtney Lee

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Devin Harris
G- Courtney Lee
F- Bobby Simmons
F- Yi Jianlian
C- Brook Lopez

Synopsis:

Now this is how you build a team to attract LeBron James. Rather than going bare bones and clearing out anyone and everyone just to sign one player, the Nets are building a solid core of young and talented players who could grow and develop with LeBron into a perennial NBA Championship team. Guys like Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Brook Lopez, Yi Jianlian, and Terrence Williams are all players you can easily see developing into core pieces around LeBron, similar to the way the Cavaliers are currently constructed with guys like Mo, Delonte, Andy, Boobie, Hickson, Green, etc. To be honest, this team is the team that terrifies me more than any other team when it comes to 2010.

As for their play this year, I don’t see enough depth or consistent big time scoring to be a very good team. This team lacks a superstar and while they will probably play well in stretches, I think this is a roster that will mostly struggle as they are still a team searching for an identity.

CENTRAL DIVISION

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

2008-09 Record: 66-16 (1st Central, 1st East)

Players Lost: Joe Smith, Tarence Kinsey, Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Lorenzen Wright

Players Drafted: Danny Green

Players Added: Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Leon Powe, Coby Karl

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Mo Williams
G- Anthony Parker
F- LeBron James
F- Anderson Varejao
C- Shaquille O’Neal

Synopsis:

Win a ring for the King. That’s it. That’s what this entire season is all about. The last year the Cavaliers are guaranteed to have LeBron James on their roster, so they have to make it count. Danny Ferry acted accordingly in the offseason, making the big trade for Shaq, overpaying Varejao to keep him here, and bringing in outside support in Parker, Moon, and Powe. With rumors that the Cavaliers are close to signing Antonio Daniels, the roster could get even deeper. Depth and versatility is the name of the game with this roster. This is hands down the deepest team in the NBA in my opinion. Depth is only an advantage if you can utilize it, however, and that will be the Cavaliers’ mission this regular season.

Whether or not Delonte West plays this year will be on ongoing story line, as will the chemistry between LeBron and Shaq. The Cavaliers will still need to get Z to be productive in a new role coming off the bench, and they will desperately need Daniel Gibson to get back to his rookie season form. The emergence of JJ Hickson will be another storyline to keep an eye on, as will Mo Williams’ attempt to rebound from his dismal postseason performance. This team has no shortage of story lines this year, and this is shaping up to be a wild and crazy roller coaster ride of a season in Cleveland.

2. Chicago Bulls

2008-09 Record: 41-41 (2nd Central, 7th East)

Players Lost: Ben Gordon, Tim Thomas, Anthony Roberson

Players Drafted: James Johnson, Taj Gibson

Players Added: None

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Derrick Rose
G- John Salmons
F- Luol Deng
F- Tyrus Thomas
C- Joakim Noah

Synopsis:

I said earlier that if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. And all the Bulls did this offseason was lose Ben Gordon. And yet I think this team will be even better this year. So how is this possible? Well, one is the development of Derrick Rose, and two is a full season of John Salmons. We saw Rose blossom right before our eyes in the 7 game opening round series against the Celtics last year, and I expect that development to continue. Derrick Rose is becoming the preeminent PG in the Eastern Conference and he is going to give teams serious problems all year long, not only with his ability to get to the basket, but also his ability to distribute the ball and find open shooters and open cutters.

John Salmons is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and the Bulls move to acquire Salmons and Brad Miller last year was a really nice move. Salmons gives the Bulls a complete backcourt, and Miller was effective with the Bulls last year as well. Miller will be back, as will Luol Deng who will need to stay healthy and focused and prove that he really is as good as showed earlier in his career. This team has some depth with Hinrich, Miller, and Aaron Gray coming off the bench as well. The biggest concern will be the consistency play in the frontcourt. Thomas and Noah are talented players, but they are anything but consistent at this point in their careers.

3. Indiana Pacers

2008-09 Record: 36-46 (4th Central, Out of the Playoffs)

Players Lost: Marquis Daniels, Jarrett Jack, Rasho Nesterovic, Jamaal Tinsley

Players Drafted: Tyler Hansbrough, AJ Price

Players Added: Dahntay Jones, Earl Watson, Solomon Jones

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- TJ Ford
G- Mike Dunleavy Jr
F- Danny Granger
F- Troy Murphy
C- Jeff Foster

Synopsis:

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m going to be way off on the Pacers. They’ll finish below the Pistons and out of the playoffs again. Every year I get suckered into believing in this roster. The problem is, there’s no real reason why this lineup shouldn’t work. You have a legit star in Danny Granger, who just might be one of the 10 best players in the NBA, and you surround him with above average players at every position (well, ok, maybe not Foster so much, but you get the point). Troy Murphy is a double double machine, Dunleavy (when healthy) is a decent enough complimentary scorer, and TJ Ford (when healthy) is an elite PG.

This team lost some depth this year in losing Jarrett Jack and Marquis Daniels, and depth is important on this team because they have so many fragile bodies. Who knows what Hansbrough will bring to the team, but there’s not a whole lot of talent coming off the bench here. Dahntay Jones is an elite defender, but he can’t shoot. Roy Hibbert is solid. Brandon Rush has been underwhelming, but still has potential. The point being here, depth is probably what’s going to derail this thing. That, and the fact that this lineup hasn’t worked for 3 years, so why should it work now? But I’m a sucker for this lineup so I’ll still my neck out and say this is the year they stay healthy and squeak into the playoffs.

4. Detroit Pistons

2008-09 Record: 39-43 (3rd Central, 8th East)

Players Lost: Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Amir Johnson, Arron Aflalo, Walter Sharpe, Fabricio Oberto

Players Drafted: Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers, Jonas Jerebko

Players Added: Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, Chris Wilcox, Ben Wallace

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Rodney Stuckey
G- Richard Hamilton
F- Tayshaun Prince
F- Charlie Villanueva
C- Kwame Brown

Synopsis:

My how the mighty have fallen. It would be hypocritical of me to say that acquiring Charlie Villanueva doesn’t matter, especially when I was really hoping he was going to come to Cleveland this offseason. But I’ll say it anyway. The Pistons getting Villanueva doesn’t matter. In Cleveland, he was coming in to fill a very specific role. In Detroit (and with the money he got) he’s going to be asked to be more than what he really is, and I’m not sure how well it’s going to work.

None the less, getting Villanueva and Gordon were nice moves and all, but when we heard about how much money the genius Joe Dumars was going to have to spend, I think people expected the splash to be a little bit more than what it was. Beyond that, they lost a couple key players in Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, along with Arron Aflalo and Amir Johnson. They didn’t do much to address those losses. Chris Wilcox is a serviceable player, but Ben Wallace better hope just wearing that Pistons uniform again brings out the old Big Ben, because as we saw first hand last year, there is nothing left in that tank.

I don’t like this team on paper at all. Any time you have Kwame Brown in your starting lineup, your roster has issues. I don’t like the depth on this team and the vaunted Pistons defense looks to be a shell of what it once was. It’s possible all the moves they made in the offseason will work out, and if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s Joe Dumars. I just don’t see it right now.

5. Milwaukee Bucks

2008-09 Record: 34-48 (5th Central, Out of the Playoffs)

Players Lost: Ramon Sessions, Charlie Villanueva, Keith Bogans, Richard Jefferson, Malik Allen

Players Drafted: Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks

Players Added: Hakim Warrick, Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino, Kurt Thomas, Walter Sharpe

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Brandon Jennings
G- Michael Redd
F- Luc Mbah a Moute
F- Kurt Thomas
C- Adrew Bogut

Synopsis:

So, you take the worst team in the division, and then you remove 3 of their 4 best players in Sessions, Jefferson, and Villanueva. In their place you add Hakim Warrick and Kurt Thomas? Ouch. Brandon Jennings could be good, a healthy Redd and Bogut would be nice, but there is just no talent on this roster at all. Luke Ridnour has been disappointing as had Joe Alexander. It looks to be a long, painful year for Bucks fans.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

1. Orlando Magic

2008-09 Record: 59-23 (1st Southeast, 3rd East)

Players Lost: Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, Hedo Turkoglu

Players Drafted: None

Players Added: Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes, Jason Williams, Ryan Anderson

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Jameer Nelson
G- Vince Carter
F- Rashard Lewis
F- Brandon Bass
C- Dwight Howard

Synopsis:

I’ll be honest. When I found out that the Magic got rid of 3 guys who absolutely killed the Cavaliers in the ECF last year, I was ecstatic. In their place, they added Vince Carter (a guy the Cavaliers have had some moderate success keeping in check in recent years), Brandon Bass (a decent but not spectacular role player in Dallas), and Matt Barnes (an overrated player who basically has had one decent season and that’s it).

That was my first impression, but if preseason performance means anything, I was way wrong. The Magic obliterated anything and everything in their path, going 8-0 in the preseason and just killing everyone they played. Vince Carter looks rejuvenated and is playing like an elite superstar again. Brandon Bass has been spectacular. Jameer Nelson is back, with Jason Williams offering support off the bench. Oh, and then there’s still Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard just doing what they do. This team is stacked. They’re deep, hungry, motivated, and out to prove a point. I still think the Cavaliers have the depth and versatility to match up with the Magic a little better this year, but this Magic team looks like a team that could run over the rest of the competition in the East.

2. Atlanta Hawks

2008-09 Record: 47-35 (2nd Southeast, 4th East)

Players Lost: Flip Murray, Solomon Jones, Acie Law, Speedy Claxton

Players Drafted: Jeff Teague, Sergiy Gladyr

Players Added: Joe Smith, Jamal Crawford, Jason Collins

Projected Lineup:

G- Mike Bibby
G- Joe Johnson
F- Marvin Williams
F- Joe Smith
C- Al Horford

Synopsis:

Not a whole lot of change here, but the biggest offseason move was their ability to re-sign and keep all 3 of their big free agents (Bibby, Williams, and Zaza Pachulia). Picking up Crawford gives the Hawks even more firepower and Joe Smith will be a nice pickup for the Hawks. This is a very good team with a plethora of talent in Bibby, Williams, Horford, Johnson, and Josh Smith.

For Atlanta, their issues will be the same as last year. Joe Johnson is the most talented player on the team, but seems unwilling to establish himself as the unquestioned leader. As a result, the Hawks lack identity, something that was painfully obvious in their brief playoff series with the Cavaliers. Perhaps with the veteran leadership Joe Smith brings and with Marvin Williams taking the next step in his development this team can find their identity and build around Williams. If that happens, look out for the Hawks.

3. Washington Wizards

2008-09 Record: 19-63 (5th Southeast, Out of the Playoffs)

Players Lost: Etan Thomas, Darius Songalia, Oleksiy Pecherov

Players Drafted: None

Players Added: Mike Miller, Randy Foye, Fabricio Oberto

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Gilbert Arenas
G- Mike Miller
F- Caron Butler
F- Antawn Jamison
C- Brendan Haywood

Synopsis:

This position is solely based on an assumption of health for the Wizards, something that is already hanging by a delicate thread. Antwan Jamison is already out for a couple weeks to begin the season and with Gilbert Arenas, you feel like you’ll only believe he’s healthy for a full season when you see it.

None the less, when healthy, the Wizards have the backcourt depth and talent to put up some big time points this year. Arenas, Miller, Randy Foye, Butler, Jamison. These are all perimeter players who can score and hurt you in multiple ways. Very few, if any, teams have that kind of backcourt presence.

Where the Wizards will struggle will be on defense and in the frontcourt. JaVale McGee showed a lot of promise last year, and Haywood is what he is. Beyond that, though, there is not much to rely on there. Andray Blatche is ok, and Fabricio Oberto at least has a winning culture in his background, but I still see frontcourt presence and health being the 2 factors that prevent the Wizards from being that 4 seed in the East.

4. Miami Heat

2008-09 Record: 43-39 (3rd Southeast, 5th East)

Players Lost: Shawn Marion, Jamario Moon, Mark Blount

Players Drafted: Robert Dozier

Players Added: Carlos Arroyo, Quentin Richardson, Patrick Beverly, Marcus Thornton

Projected Starting Lineup:

G- Mario Chalmers
G- Dwyane Wade
F- Michael Beasley
F- Udonis Haslem
C- Jermaine O’Neal

Synopsis:

It’s hard to say what the Heat are trying to do, exactly, but I don’t see how this team doesn’t take a step backward this year. You know a division is deep when Dwyane Wade’s team is 4th in it, but the Magic, Hawks, and Wizards all made moves that make them better. The Heat lost Marion and Moon and did nothing to get better. Hoping Quentin Richardson remembers how to play isn’t a strategy.

Still, they have Dwyane Wade, and there is talent on this roster. Chalmers looked like the real deal last year, Michael Beasley (though troubled) is as talented as anyone, and Jermaine O’Neal is still a serviceable center when healthy. There are some good players coming off the bench, too, including Joel Anthony and Daequan Cook. The Heat won’t be a team you can mark on your calendar as an automatic win or anything like that, but they also lack the depth to be serious contenders in the East.

5. Charlotte Bobcats

2008-09 Record: 35-47 (4th Southeast, Out of the Playoffs)

Players Lost: Emeka Okafor, Sean May, Juwan Howard

Players Drafted: Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown

Players Added: Flip Murray, Tyson Chandler

Projected Starting Lineup

G- Raymond Felton
G- Raja Bell
F- Gerald Wallace
F- Boris Diaw
C- Tyson Chandler

Synopsis:

The Bobcats fell just short of making their first playoff appearance last season, and I’m sure folks in the Carolinas were hoping the Bobcats would use this offseason to make up that difference. I’m not sure trading Okafor for Chandler accomplishes that.

Picking up Flip Murray was a nice move, but the Bobcats continue to be a bit of a head scratching franchise. The Okafor trade was presumably all about saving money, because there’s really no other reason to make that trade. And then they drafted Gerald Henderson from Duke, a move that smells like a publicity stunt to keep local interest high (this is the same franchise that also drafted Raymond Felton and Sean May from North Carolina).

Regardless, when healthy Felton is one of the better PGs in the East, and Gerald Wallace is a tremendous talent. But this is still a roster that is far from having the depth or talent to compete with the upper echelon teams in the conference. This Bobcats building project is still multiple years away from reaching the playoffs it seems.

Final Eastern Conference Prediction:

1. Orlando Magic
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Boston Celtics
4. Atlanta Hawks
5. Washington Wizards
6. Chicago Bulls
7. Toronto Raptors
8. Indiana Pacers

9. Philadelphia 76ers
10. Miami Heat
11. Detroit Pistons
12. Charlotte Bobcats
13. New York Knicks
14. New Jersey Nets
15. Milwaukee Bucks

_______________________________

Again, please remember to check out Amar’s ranking of the Western Conference teams over at Cavalier Attitude.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    I’m sure you wrote this up pre-large infant news, but he’s out for what Ainge calls ‘a while’ with a broken thumb. That’ll impact the Celtics a lot, I think. Rondo’s going into restricted free agency and people will likely badger the C’s and Rondo a lot about that too – which will be a fun distraction for them. No LBJ NYC NK level distraction, but a distraction nonetheless.

  • http://farmersonly.com Jordan

    You forgot to mention that Atlanta lost THE Mario West.

  • Oppie

    Great post. Very thorough. I think the only things I may disagree with is the Magic being #1. I would say it’s the Celtics or Cavs just b/c their divisions seem a bit weaker that the Magic would have the Hawks, Heat, and Wiz in division.

    Also, not sure if I buy the Bulls being 6, with the loss of Ben Gordon. Definitely think the Raptors should be hire than 7.

  • mitchum man

    My predictions for the season are as follows, cavs win 44 games, mike brown fired by the all star break, cavs make a lot of noise in the playoffs. I say this for 2 reasons. This is cleveland, Were bound to be disappointed. and shaq is generally not interested in the regular season.

  • mike

    i like devin harris alot. everyone likes to call him a young up and coming point guard. however, a few things worth pointing out. #1. is he head and shoulders better than mo williams? my answer to that is “no!.” is he better? maybe. alot better? hardly. harris gets the edge in scoring and assists. we are not comparing apples to apples and comparing them straight up is unfair. lets not forget that the only other legit option the nets had last year was vince carter. if devin harris plays for Cle, hes not scoring 21 points and 7 assists / game. in fact, i bet his number are closer to mo’s 18 points and 4 assists / game. on top of that, mo is a much better shooter (38% from three vs. 31% career avg.). FG% is about the same. mo is slightly better at FT%. defensively, harris gets more steals but neither is a defensive stopper at PG. all things considered, i would argue they are about on par with each other. #2. devin harris isnt really THAT young. mo is going to be 27 this december. harris is going to be 27 in february. both are young, but its patently unfair to refer to harris as a young up and coming guy and not mo in the same way. they are the exact same age!

  • Anthony

    Great comprehensive preview by WFNY and Cavalier Attitude.

    Less than 8 hours until “Come On, Cavs!”

  • mike

    mitchum – dont forget the cavs are getting shaq at the perfect time. he absolutely wants to get that ring to get ahead of kobe. he absolutely wants to stick it to dwight howard for stealing his “superman” schtick. and he absolutely wants another 2-3 year contract, and hes not getting it if he is “hurt” or “disinterested” this year. he is going to be a good soldier and do everything he can to make this work.

  • Swig

    Yay for basketball!!

  • Mike

    Devin Harris is a much better NBA player than Mo Williams. He can get to the rim, he draws fouls, and he is incredibly fast on the break. Meanwhile, Mo Williams is a one-trick pony, a shooter with no other discernible point guard abilities.

    Make no mistake, Mo Williams is an important weapon in the Cavalier offense. But he is nowhere near the player that Devin Harris is at this point in their respective careers. The fact that Williams was unable to create good looks for himself or anyone else in the Playoffs last season is clear evidence of his limitations.

  • Mike

    Also, while the Cavalier bench is much improved, the Cavs are not the deepest team in the league. Great benches always have a player who is a matchup nightmare for opposing reserves (Ginobili, Odom, Terry, Pietrus, what Devin Harris was with the Mavericks, potentially Rasheed Wallace for the Celtics).

    Unless Zydrunas Ilgauskas finds the fountain of youth (and the backup guards commit to getting him the ball) the Cavalier bench does not possess such a player. A bench full of C+ players does not make you a deep team.

  • mike

    hardly “much better.” i can live with slightly better. yes hes quicker. mo doesnt get to the rim? mo doesnt draw fouls? again – harris was scoring option 1b to vince carters 1A last year for the nets. harris wouldnt put up nearly the same scoring and assist stats playing with lbj. mo is hardly a one-trick pony. on top of that, assuming that were true, your point actually strengthens my position. mo is a better complement player for lebron than harris would be. i agree that harris is closer to a traditional PG than Mo is. harris probably has a better feel for the passing game and running an offense than Mo. Mo on the other hand is more of a SG-style PG. however, when playing with lbj, a team doesnt need a “traditional” pg. they need a PG who can (1) score, and (2) shoot well from outside. harris can score but hes not a shooting threat like Mo.

  • Roosevelt

    @4 Mitchum Man: The Cavs have too many intangibles for that to happen.

  • mike

    dunleavy is out at least the first 2 months.

  • Jay

    I’m extremely relieved that most of the national media is predicting the Celtics or Magic to represent the East in the Finals. This could only bode well for Cleveland. I was over-confident this time last year, being cocky to the point of putting in for a vacation day the Friday following the Cavs Championship for the parade (to which I’ve apologized numerous times to the sports Gods). So this year, I’m going in to the season with cautious optimism, plan on taking nothing for granted, and enjoying every minute of the Lebron & Shaq led Cavaliers Basketball season.

    LET”S GO CAVS!!!!!
    (*note – that’s not sarcasm font, just excitement)

  • DKH

    Thanks for the preview.

    @ #7 mike,

    Woo, contract year phenomenon!

  • mike

    DKH – you can count on it! id much rather have contract-year shaq than 3 years left and surly shaq!

  • Anon Imus

    It is pretty clear that the East has the big 3 – Boston, Cleve, Orlando and everyone else. Absent injuries, it would be utterly shocking for any of the 2nd tier teams to make the Eastern finals.

    With that said, while boston and Orlando may have positioned themselves better for the regular season, Cleveland has bolstered up for the playoffs. Shaq and Moon help us matchup better against the other big two teams. I would take a so-so regular season and a finals appearance over our 66 wins last season any day!

    My prediction – Cavs play uninspired reg season ball just barely clearing 50 wins. But buckle down for the playoffs and get to the finals. There, they will need to be on their A-game to beat a very good Lakers team. Forget LBJ and Kobe, Artest and West on the same court for a whole series — bring your bullet proof vests.

  • P@

    Only mistake I found was that Toney Douglas wasn’t added via free agency, the Knicks drafted him this year. The only reason I really noticed that is I am an ACC fan and watched Douglas torch other teams for a few seasons while he was at FSU. I think he’ll be a good backup and defensive stopper… good pick for the Knicks. I love this stuff… well done Rock!