NBA Season Preview (In 500 words or less)

Nets:

Opening Day Starting Lineup (Pts/Reb/Ast)
PG: Deron Williams 21.0/3.3/8.7
SG: Joe Johnson 18.8/3.7/3.9
SF: Gerald Wallace 15.2/6.8/3.1
PF: Kris Humphries 13.8/11.0/1.5
C: Brook Lopez 19.2/3.6/1.2

Biggest Question: Is this team really rising?

Deron Williams had his worst season last year, Brook Lopez only played 5 games and can’t rebound, and Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson have both seen their production decline over the past 4 years.

Those are the bad things, but when you win 22 games the previous season, there aren’t many ways to go other than up.  This team has an answer at every position and has considerable upside if Brook Lopez brings up his rebounding numbers and they get good production once again from 2nd year player, MarShon Brooks.

Perhaps this will come down to the chemistry between Williams and Johnson.  They could be one of the best backcourts in basketball, or they could never fully develop.

Key Player: Deron Williams
Now that he has the players around him, will Deron Williams regain his status as a top 3 PG in the league?  Pressure will be on Williams to be the unquestioned superstar of a budding franchise in Brooklyn, with a new arena to sell seats in.  Can he live up to the hype that has followed him from Utah?

Prediction: 44-38

Knicks:

Opening Day Starting Lineup:

PG: Ray Felton 11.4/2.5/6.5
SG: J.R. Smith 12.5/3.9/2.4
SF: Carmelo Anthony 22.6/6.3/3.6
PF: Amare Stoudemire 17.5/7.8/1.1
C: Tyson Chandler 11.3/9.9/0.9

Biggest Question: “Could the Knicks BE any older?” — Chandler Bing…somewhere.

Jeremy Lin is gone.  Landry Fields is gone.  Amare is hurt (again), Felton was fat, J.R. Smith is crazy, and Iman Shumpert won’t be seen till 2013 and an undrafted rookie from their summer league team will be starting at PF for the time being.

And who have been added?

The league’s oldest team added Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas,  Rasheed Wallace, and 35-year-old rookie, Pablo Prigioni (Priggles).  A veritable all-star team in 2002, they make up a rough and tough bench for the Knicks, but how much can they be depended on?

Camby and Thomas will already have to play a lot of minutes with Amare out and Kidd’s role will change as Felton’s weight fluctuates.

A team that was nowhere near being able to contend with the Heat did not improve and may have taken a step back by getting older.  Their young potential all revolves under just one player, Shumpert.  This team may have maxed out last year and may not even have one of their big three, Stoudemire, playing for big chunks of the season.

But Melo may have found his stride once again at the Olympics, even breaking the maligned Stephon Marbury’s single-game scoring record.  Has he found leadership that will bring this team closer to the top of the Atlantic Division?

Key Player: Mike Woodson
Not a player on the court, but the player in the background, Mike Woodson has a ton of pressure on himself to mix and match his veterans with his superstars.  He was brought back after seemingly finding the correct strategy to deploy the enigmatic Carmelo Anthony and bringing some defense back to MSG.

At the same time, his scheme may have been the one-way ticket out of town for New York’s favorite Knick, Jeremy Lin, who took his money and ran to Houston.  If Woodson does not get similar production out of Felton and Kidd, cannot keep Melo happy, or cannot continue to improve the record of this team, he will be run out of New York sooner than later.

Prediction: 45-37

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