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View Full Version : The League's Downplayed Contenders



Il Mago50
09-21-2012, 07:49 PM
The whole off-season chatter has been dominated by the obvious handful of teams - OKC, LA and the Heat- but I'd like to bring light to the two teams I believe are not getting the attention they deserve, Boston and Denver.

Last season, Boston came within one game of beating the Heat with a six man rotation, of which Paul Pierce had an MCL sprain, Avery Bradley was not a part of, etc.

Enter the retooling of the team. The Celtics lost Ray Allen which is a tough blow but made up for it by adding pieces that I believe make them a much better team then last season. First of all, you bring in championship and clutch experience in Jason Terry who is a small downgrade from Allen at this stage in terms of outside shooting but makes up for it by his far superior ability to create his own offense and play off of the bench. Next, they added Courtney Lee who is another very good outside shooter and one of the better outside defenders in the league and brings more youth and athleticism to an older team.

To solve their rebounding woes, they drafted Jared Sullinger and his big frame along with Fab Melo (who probably won't be much of a factor this season) to add that size to rebound as well as score down low. As well, Jason Collins and Darko Milicic were added to provide interior defense which both excel at. Lastly, they brought in Jeff Green who provides a little of everything and if healthy, adds a lot of value to the team on both ends.

The Celtics now have a suffocating perimeter defense with Rondo, Bradley and Lee. They possess a great small forward duo in Pierce and Green. Down low, they have KG, Bass along with their new additions.

Simply put, the stars are all still there but the Celtics added plenty of youth and defensive potential to the team. If Rondo, Pierce and KG can mesh with the new guys, this is my favorite to make the Finals from the East.

KG/Milicic/Collins
Bass/Sullinger
Pierce/Green
Bradley/Lee
Rondo/Terry

And now the less obvious team: the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets came within one game from eliminating the Lakers in last year's playoffs. Their combination of depth, youth and athleticism gives a lot of teams problems but there is so much more to the team then that.

In the off-season, they acquired Andre Iguodala to improve their perimeter defense and give them probably the best defender in the NBA not named Tony Allen or Dwight Howard. Iguodala is a player that can excel in a system where he can play to his versatility instead of being relied on to score. He greatly improves their perimeter defense and gives them more options in terms of players who can have plays run through them.

Javale Mcgee is a player who obviously has a lot of animosity surrounding him. We're quick to forget that he might be one of the most freakish physical specimens that we've ever seen and he can play. I'm not saying I expect the man to suddenly put up high teen points and dominate but there is one area where he can dominate - defense. Simply put, if George Karl can get the most out of him on that end, the Nuggets suddenly have the second best shot blocker in the NBA and a guy who makes any perimeter player second guess driving to the basket. I believe he will break out on both ends as a guy that will put up 14-10-3 type numbers but even with a great defensive presence, he brings a ton to this team.

Finally, we examine the two borderline stars of the team, Danillo Gallinari and Ty Lawson. Both players are on the cusp of being all-star caliber players and if they improve, they give the team two stars on the offensive end.

Next, you have to look at the other guys. Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler are two very good, very versatile players who play gritty, defend, rebound and bring just about everything a team would want. Andre Miller brings just about everything you want from a vet - skill, leadership, and the ability to create. He is obviously no longer the player he once was but as a second unit PG, he might be the best one in the league. Next, a guy that was tapped as having star potential with his freakish physical skills, Anthony Randolph was added to the fold. He is a player that can defend, block shots and score in a variety of ways when things are clicking. He comes into a situation where he'll get consistent minutes on a team that likes to run and play up tempo which fits perfectly to his talents. Lastly, you have Mozgov and Brewer who add rebounding and defense to the team.

Simply put, this team is deep, young, talented and well coached. They match up very well against OKC and the Lakers as their size, depth and athleticism either neglects the strengths of OKC or gives them an advantage against the Lakers. If Mcgee, Lawson and Gallo improve this upcoming season, I think they are a legit contender to make the NBA Finals.

Mcgee/Mozgov
Faried/Randolph
Gallinari/Chandler
Iguodala/Brewer
Lawson/Miller

jerellh528
09-21-2012, 07:50 PM
i got boston in the finals, I predict wade getting hurt/ decline in play. You are right they took heat to the limit last year.

Hawkeye15
09-21-2012, 07:52 PM
great opening post, you hit on two teams that are very strong. There are some others obviously, you could do a write up on the Clippers as well.

Baller1
09-21-2012, 08:01 PM
If any team other than the main three win, my money would be on Boston, Indiana, or LAC.

Il Mago50
09-21-2012, 08:09 PM
The Clippers are a team I strongly considered too but their kryptonite is too obvious to pick apart. Until Deandre Jordan improves his skill level or at least his free throw shooting, that team doesn't have a consistent defender down low. Blake Griffin isn't a great defender and he relies too much on athleticism at the moment which does limit his efficiency against teams with guys that can match his physical talents. They are a very good team though with Grant Hill and Crawford in the fold, there's no question though, they just lack interior prowess to match other contenders.

sixer04fan
09-21-2012, 08:16 PM
Denver is talented and deep, but this roster is not a true contender in my eyes. They still don't have a superstar. One guy that they can depend on to take over the game. When I look at Denver I see an outstanding supposing cast that's still missing a superstar player if they want to truly contend for a championship.

KB-Pau-DH2012
09-21-2012, 08:33 PM
The Clippers are a team I strongly considered too but their kryptonite is too obvious to pick apart. Until Deandre Jordan improves his skill level or at least his free throw shooting, that team doesn't have a consistent defender down low. Blake Griffin isn't a great defender and he relies too much on athleticism at the moment which does limit his efficiency against teams with guys that can match his physical talents. They are a very good team though with Grant Hill and Crawford in the fold, there's no question though, they just lack interior prowess to match other contenders.

What does his skill level and free throw shooting have anything to do with being a consistent defender down low?

Il Mago50
09-21-2012, 08:37 PM
Denver is talented and deep, but this roster is not a true contender in my eyes. They still don't have a superstar. One guy that they can depend on to take over the game. When I look at Denver I see an outstanding supposing cast that's still missing a superstar player if they want to truly contend for a championship.

I agree but I think that Gallo and Lawson are very close to that player right now. I don't think they'd be able to win the whole thing but I think they can at least get into the WCF.

kdspurman
09-21-2012, 08:59 PM
I'd have to say outside of the "Main 3" Boston & San Antonio will again likely be downplayed as usual, but I can see either of them surprising some folks.

Il Mago50
09-21-2012, 09:01 PM
What does his skill level and free throw shooting have anything to do with being a consistent defender down low?

He can't stay on the floor because of it

amos1er
09-21-2012, 09:11 PM
Contenders for what? The Conference finals?

goose14741
09-21-2012, 09:11 PM
Nice friggin post, beautiful writing

Dade County
09-21-2012, 09:41 PM
The whole off-season chatter has been dominated by the obvious handful of teams - OKC, LA and the Heat- but I'd like to bring light to the two teams I believe are not getting the attention they deserve, Boston and Denver.

Last season, Boston came within one game of beating the Heat with a six man rotation, of which Paul Pierce had an MCL sprain, Avery Bradley was not a part of, etc.



This was because of entertainment reason ...


NBA is for entertainment purposes only... Please don't be fooled anymore.

( NBA powers to be = Wade ) ( Secret society = Lbj ) ( Pat Riley = Boss )

It's just the way it is.

LJEATON26
09-21-2012, 09:55 PM
I think the Clippers are going to be right up there with the Lakers and the Thunder. They have really good depth and with Billups back from injury they are going to be really hard to guard.

StarvingKnick22
09-21-2012, 10:17 PM
The Jets...

Trueblue2
09-22-2012, 04:26 AM
If Billups can come back strong from his injury and Odom can look more like LAL Odom than Dallas Odom then the Clippers are definitely a dark horse contender. Remember how good they were doing before Billups went down?

airforceones25
09-22-2012, 07:26 AM
If Billups can come back strong from his injury and Odom can look more like LAL Odom than Dallas Odom then the Clippers are definitely a dark horse contender. Remember how good they were doing before Billups went down?

Clippers started 15-6 last year before Billups went down. Not bad considering they had zero offseason together and an out of shape CP3 to start the season. Clippers should most definitely be a serious dark horse this year. With all the key players returning and a whole offseason of training/chemistry building the Clippers can be very well poised to turn some heads this year. If Odom is a shell of his former self they can legitimately have 3 different 6th man of the year candidates between Odom, Crawford and young Eric Bledsoe. Barring significant injury the Clippers should have fresh legs for a deep playoff run as they go easily 12 deep. Willie Green shot 44% from 3 last year and he's going to be the 3rd guard off the bench. Lol

CP3/Bledsoe
Billups/Crawford/Green
Butler/Hill/Barnes
Griffin/Odom/Thompkins
Jordan/Turiaf/Hollins

SteBO
09-22-2012, 07:45 AM
Boston will continue to be a thorn in Miami's side. Both teams got better without question.

Toastyy
09-22-2012, 11:21 AM
Heat<Pacers<Rest of eastern conference

Mr Costanza
09-22-2012, 11:31 AM
This was because of entertainment reason ...


NBA is for entertainment purposes only... Please don't be fooled anymore.

( NBA powers to be = Wade ) ( Secret society = Lbj ) ( Pat Riley = Boss )

It's just the way it is.

Lonely? Need attention? Sad really.

JasonJohnHorn
09-22-2012, 12:15 PM
Nice post... I'm not convinces either will be in the finals, though I'm more inclined to believe Boston than Denver. There is no doubt Denver has the talent, and if the 04 Pistons proved anything, it's that you don' need star power to win, BUT, the 04 Pistons didn't have teams as good the this year's OKC Thunder and LAL to compete with, not to mention the Clippers, not to mentioned the Spurs. And Memphis has a great line-up as well. Denver is going to have as hard a time getting out of the first round as they did last season.

Hawkeye15
09-22-2012, 12:54 PM
I'd have to say outside of the "Main 3" Boston & San Antonio will again likely be downplayed as usual, but I can see either of them surprising some folks.

San Antonio struggles the moment they run into super athletic teams, which is why I can't take them serious as contenders anymore. They are a regular season juggernaut however, which is why I am hoping the Wolves can somehow match up with them in the playoffs.

theheatles
09-22-2012, 12:55 PM
Bostons chances of beating Miami have decreased dramatically from last year...That was their chance with Bosh out most of the series and Wade hobbled. Now they lose, really their most dangerous offensive player in Ray Allen. Ray Allen was the reason why the Celtics were so good in set plays with the spacing and his ability to catch and insta shoot.

IndyRealist
09-22-2012, 01:01 PM
Boston
- Losing Ray Allen hurts. Terry was 47.1% on 2's last year, Allen was 46.3%. Is that "significantly better" at creating his own shot? Enough to be worth going from 45.3% on 3's to 37.8%? Where Terry will help is as a secondary ballhandler so Rondo can be off the ball. Doesn't make up for the loss of accuracy though. Courtney Lee is a very good defender but pretty average at everything else. Do you need yet another defender on a top defensive team?
- Jeff Green is below average. Scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks. He's average on 2's and way below average on 3's, yet shoots a lot of 3's. I'm not sure how "slightly below average at everything" equals "versatile".
- Darko is not an asset.

Denver: I love Denver. Really I do. BUT....
- Wilson Chandler is below average. He's had one good season in his career, and everyone hopes that was the rule instead of a fluke. He should not be taking minutes from Igoudala or Gallo.
- Anthony Randolph is below average. Fantastic athlete, no brain. But he's going to slip into Al Harrington's role and take minutes from Faried.
- Timofey Mosgov is not very good. At all. Kosta Kofous on the other hand performed very well in limited minutes. Who's higher on the depth chart? Kosfous is the better rebounder, shot blocker, and more efficient shooter. He gets more steals, turns the ball over at lot less, and fouls slightly less.
- Andre Miller is getting older. He's still a quality backup PG, but he regressed last year. More turnovers, more fouls, more 3's. I hope he bounces back and gets to playing his game again, but I suspect he's slowing down due to age.
- George Karl is not a good coach. Yes he's got a ton of wins and will get into the HoF. But Al Harrington got 1761 minutes last year, Faried got 1037. Don't give me the whole "rookie wall" nonsense, Faried is a cardio freak. They have to trade away bad players so Karl won't play them. And again, Kofous vs. Mosgov. I'd take Kofous any day of the week.

I realize for the most part I'm talking about backups here. But when the conversation is about contenders, backups matter. Starters make you a contender, but role players make you a champion.

kdspurman
09-22-2012, 02:59 PM
San Antonio struggles the moment they run into super athletic teams, which is why I can't take them serious as contenders anymore. They are a regular season juggernaut however, which is why I am hoping the Wolves can somehow match up with them in the playoffs.

I agree and disagree to a certain extent. When you say the moment are you basing off of the OKC series? 2 years ago was Memphis (to this day we Spur fan still believe had Manu not been injured that series swings differently and their bigs exposed our "bigs") and prior to that they had been swept by the Suns. Outside of OKC I don't consider those others to be super athletic.

But they are headed in the right direction and I still think they have the right guys. Now, I don't think they are at the right level yet but I am pretty confident they will make a deal that will help out in areas they need it, mainly being needing someone to come in and protect the basket when Tim goes out cause the Spurs #'s with out Tim defensively are appalling.

The continued growth of Kawhi Leonard, TP continuing to play at a high level and guys like Green, and Splitter will continue to get better. Jackson (still hoping he doesn't get traded) is still a big game player as we saw in the OKC series and Diaw having a full pre-season to get further acclimated in the team will only help him even more. Aside from the Game 6 controversy, when you look at the OKC series, our young guys struggled in big game moments in Game 5. I'm not going to sit here and write them off and declare they can't beat any athletic teams, because they came so close.

I think (and it makes sense seeing all the combo forwards they're looking at and signing a guy like Derrick Brown) they realize they don't necessarily need 2 7 footers anymore. They need 3's who can play the 4 and 4's who can play the 3 effectively on both ends. They had it with Kawhi & Jackson but they need more if it as well as some athleticism at those spots.

Hustlenomics
09-22-2012, 03:37 PM
Bostons chances of beating Miami have decreased dramatically from last year...That was their chance with Bosh out most of the series and Wade hobbled. Now they lose, really their most dangerous offensive player in Ray Allen. Ray Allen was the reason why the Celtics were so good in set plays with the spacing and his ability to catch and insta shoot.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Fayzon10
09-22-2012, 03:59 PM
I agree with Denver but not Boston, I think the Heat has shown that they can handle everything that Boston throws at them.

MackSnackWrap
09-22-2012, 06:40 PM
heat didnt have chris bosh either

Aleksandar
09-22-2012, 07:03 PM
Nice read mate, but it's kind of a best case scenario. There is plenty of teams which could be awesome "if everything works out ideally".

And one minor thing: Darko Milicic and Anthony Randolph are trash. Just don't count on them.

smith&wesson
09-22-2012, 07:28 PM
alot of ppl are forgetting about the bulls. with a healthy rose they are contenders. alot of teams are being slept on

my predictions

lakers
heat
thunder
clippers
celtics
pacers
bulls
grizz
nuggets
spurs

top 10 teams. hard to predict the order they finish in because of injuries but i think all 10 teams have a reasonable chance with the top 3 being favourits ofcourse.

maddBat
09-22-2012, 07:58 PM
still dont know how they came out with sullinger and fabmelo in the draft. doc rivers alone will coach them to full potential. think about kg as vet presence. they will miss ray allen tho. purest shooter in the game.

maddBat
09-22-2012, 08:04 PM
n kinda homer pick- but nets bench can get them far.
cj watson/marshon/tele/evans/blatche
decent bench if they stay healthy

mrblisterdundee
09-22-2012, 09:22 PM
great opening post, you hit on two teams that are very strong. There are some others obviously, you could do a write up on the Clippers as well.

PG - Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Eric Bledsoe
SG - Billups, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green
SF - Caron Butler, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Travis Leslie
PF - Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom, Trey Thompkins
C - DeAndre Jordan, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins

Their depth is staggering, including two positions where a current all-star is the starter, and a former all-star is the back-up (I include Billups as a back-up at point guard too). Another position has two former all-stars starting and backing up.

Fly
09-22-2012, 09:38 PM
The Jets...

wut

SK6
09-23-2012, 12:29 PM
I think the Grizzlies and the Clippers in the West with the Pacers and the Knicks in the East as possible teams that could be serious contenders.

BoshsTalons
09-23-2012, 12:35 PM
I'm going to have to say the Milwaukee Bucks. They have the best guard tandem in the league and Monta Ellis is a top 10 player. They also have a great low post presence in Drew Gooden. He is such a great scorer and his defense is severely underrated. I wouldn't be surprised to see a resurgence from him, thrusting him into contention for DPOY. Plus, they have a super lethal shooter in Dunleavy. 20-8-3 numbers on 52% shooting is not out of the question. If all these pieces come together, I wouldn't be surprised to see them raising a trophy