Oct 22, 2010

2010-11 New Jersey Nets Preview

 This is an NBA Preview I wrote for my fill time employer SportsNetwork.com... As many of you know I have recently accepted a full time writing and editorial position and will be covering the league on a full time basis this season.

Original Link Here

(Sports Network) - To say that the 2009-10 season was a disappointment for the New Jersey Nets would be an understatement.
It was known that the Nets were looking to rebuild in 2009 but not many on the team, nor in the organization, expected that rebuilding would come with the worst record in the NBA (12-70). The Nets spent most of the season trying to avoid history and finally achieved it on March, 29th as they beat the San Antonio Spurs for their 10th win of the season, avoiding the 1972-73 Sixers (9-73) for the moniker of worst season ever.

Despite a season of lost opportunities the Nets had many things to look forward to coming into this past offseason.
"If things go as planned we hope to bring a championship team in a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years," stated new majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov in his opening press conference.

Those words from the new owner started the beginning of what would be one of the biggest summers in the team's 34-year NBA history, or so they thought.

The long changeover to the Russian billionaire Prokhorov from former owner Bruce Ratner was finally approved by the NBA league office. The team left its longtime home of the IZOD center for its new temporary facility at the Newark, New Jersey Prudential Center, until the new Barclays Arena is erected in Brooklyn, and the team was looking for the stars to align with the NBA Draft Lottery in the much anticipated "Summer of LeBron" free agency extravaganza.

"I'm pretty sure I can convince the very best-of-the-best that the Nets is the place they want to be," reiterated Prokhorov when he discussed the free agent summer with the media.

Despite Prokhorov's plans for a summer to remember, many of his and minority team owner Jay-Z's, plans for the revival of the Nets fell way below expectations.

Oct 20, 2010

2010-11 Oklahoma City Thunder Preview

 This is an NBA Preview I wrote for my fill time employer SportsNetwork.com... As many of you know I have recently accepted a full time writing and editorial position and will be covering the league on a full time basis this season.

No team in the NBA's Western Conference did more to secure the future of its franchise during the summer of 2010 then the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Coming into the "Summer of LeBron," the Thunder had one thing on their mind: re-signing their own superstar Kevin Durant to a long-term deal. The move was not necessary, as Durant still had one more year left on his initial rookie contract, but in a effort to put the Thunder faithful at ease, the OKC brass made the move and signed Durant to a five-year deal that will keep the 22- year-old sensation in a Thunder uniform until the 2015-16 season.

Beyond the extension given to Durant the team also secured its front office future as they picked up the option on head coach Scott Brooks and secured general manager Sam Presti to a multi-year contract extension, all of which will allow the young organization to grow with the group of people that created one of the league's most dynamic franchises.

The Thunder were one of the NBA's Cinderella stories last season as the franchise improved to the much coveted 50-win plateau and made a legitimate run at dethroning the Western Conferences big dogs, the Los Angeles Lakers.

They had two of the team's leaders, Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook, spend the summer improving with Team USA at the FIBA World Championships and stacked their Summer League roster with some of their most highly touted young talent in an attempt to begin the 2010-11 season where they left off last year, on the verge of the primetime.

The last time we saw the Thunder was a David versus Goliath playoff series as they pushed the eventual champion Lakers to six hard fought games and proved that the future of the Western Conference is not located in California.

The Thunder will again come into the season as one of the league's youngest teams and an early favorite to possibly dethrone the Lakers as kings of the Western Conference. 

Oct 11, 2010

Philadelphia 76ers: Is Their Lack of Defense a Cause For Preseason Panic?

There is a common trend in the NBA about the weight fans and writers should put into the NBA Summer League and preseason performance. Most teams spend their summer league teaching young talents and spend most of the preseason working out their kinks, but the Philadelphia 76ers are already showing signs that the 2010-11 season may not live up to expectations.

With their offseason moves and the evolution of their young talent, a march towards the playoffs is what many writers felt was in their future.

Somewhere around 43-48 wins and a seven or eight seed seems like an expectation that the new look 76ers can achieve, but as someone (and probably one of the only) who pays attention to the NBA preseason, the Philadelphia 76ers may be showing signs that 2010-11 could be longer, and worse than their 27-55 record of last season.

As of Oct. 10, the 76ers are 0-3 in preseason action, including two losses to the New Jersey Nets. The team is averaging only 83 points a game and have yet to have a player finish with a double-double.

They have showed weakness on the defensive end ranking towards the bottom of the league in field goal shooting and defensive rebounds.

I know what you're saying, THE NBA PRESEASON DOES NOT MATTER, and for that you are correct, but consider this. Out of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Sixers will have the youngest back court in the league. The duo of Evan Turner (SG) and Jrue Holiday (PG) ranked with the youngest and least experienced players in the NBA.

Normally these players aren't the first who come to mind when you think about defense, that issue is usually designated for players like Elton Brand, Marreese Speight or Andre Iguodala but when both of these players are going to be crucial in a transition offense their lacks of steals and forced turnovers in the preseason get me a little worried.

Out of the mid and low post players (Brand, Iguodala, Speights), none has averaged over six rebounds a game and are the biggest part of fact that the 76ers are being out-rebounded by over 10 a game, and opposing teams are averaging over 55 percent on second-chance points.