Expendable Players for Each Team at the Deadline

With the trade deadline now just hours away, who are some of the guys on each team who could be in a new jersey come their next time on the court.

 

 

Griffin at his introductory Pistons press conference.

Photo Credit/detroitnews.com

 

 

Atlantic Division: 

Smart during a dead ball

Photo Credit/usatoday.com

 

Brooklyn Nets: DeMarre Carroll, Joe Harris

After a bad stint in Toronto, Carroll has played his way into starters minutes in Brooklyn and despite his overpriced contract, should be an option for contenders. Harris is no star for the Nets but he’s been a surprising bright spot for the young team, stroking it from deep almost as good as anyone in the league. With a low salary at $1.5 million, any contender would be happy to have Harris’ sharpshooting in a offense-driven league.

New York Knicks: Courtney Lee, Michael Beasley

Lee is having likely the best season of his career and with Hardaway Jr. set as the future 2 in New York, look for the veteran to possibly be moved. Despite his tunnel vision and lack of defense, Beasley is one of the best bench scorers in the league, something several teams are looking for.

Philadelphia 76ers: Timothy Luwawu-Cabarrot

The Sixers are likely to stand pat at the deadline this year having already moved Okafor to Brooklyn, but if there was a moveable piece on the team that could attract buyers, Luwawu is the most likely candidate.

Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas

Valancunias’ playing time has been dropping over the past few years and with the coming up of young big men Poeltl and Nogueira, the Raps could deal him, though with the season they’re having it’s likely he’s in Toronto until at least the summer.

Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier

The Celtics could make a number of moves on Thursday but Smart is the most likely player to be headed out of Boston. It’s highly unlikely Rozier is going anywhere as Danny Ainge loves the young guard but if a superstar deal is in place it’s possible he’s involved.

 

 

Pacific Division:

Randle and Clarkson after a play.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

Sacramento Kings: George Hill

The Kings may opt to move their veteran point guard to acquire a few assets and move forward with De’Aaron Fox for the future.

Phoenix Suns: Alex Len

After several years in Phoenix, Len has yet to fully grab hold of the starting job. He’s not being thrown around in too many trade rumors but he’s a possible trade piece for the Suns.

Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson

Randle and Clarkson have been involved in rumors for months but Magic and the Lakers haven’t come up with a deal yet. The two could garner attention from several teams and result in some young assets and draft picks for LA.

Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, Avery Bradley

DJ and Lou should be moved by LA by today along with possibly Avery Bradley in a different deal. The Clippers could end up with some high draft picks to get their rebuild on if they sell a few of their older starters.

Golden State Warriors: Javale McGee

Though it’s likely McGee stays with the Warriors given rookie Jordan Bell’s current injury, he’s been on the trade block for a while and may be in a different uniform in a few days.

 

 

Southeast Division: 

Walker, Howard, and Batum on the bench.

Photo Credit/swarmandsting.com

 

Atlanta Hawks: Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova

Both these players have shooting ability that any team would love to have and should be on the move if the Hawks are smart.

Orlando Magic: Everyone

The Magic are loaded with talent but have yet to fully find an identity. Aaron Gordon is clearly their most valuable piece but even he shouldn’t be untouchable at this point. With  new front office in place Orlando should be selling at the deadline.

Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Nic Batum

Though at this point it seems unlikely, Charlotte could move their top 3 players in an attempt to gain a top draft pick or a few young players. Michael Jordan doesn’t seem keen on the idea but it’d be smart for the mediocre franchise to shift in a different direction.

Miami Heat: James johnson, Justise Winslow

It’s likely one of these forwards are moved at the deadline. The Heat would receive more for Winslow but could dump the contract of Johnson while he’s still moveable.

Washington Wizards: Kelly Oubre Jr. 

The Wizards are another team that will probably be quiet tomorrow but with Otto Porter ahead of him for the future and the fact he’s still on his rookie deal, the Wizards should listen to offers for Oubre.

 

 

Central Division: 

Photo Credit/factoryofsadness.com

 

Chicago Bulls: Justin Holiday

The Bulls have already made the trade they needed to make by moving Mirotic recently. If they were to deal someone else, Holiday is a possibility with Zach Lavine just coming back.

Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson

Detroit has also made a recent trade with the acquisition of Blake Griffin. The team should now listen to offers for Stanley Johnson as the young forward hasn’t exactly panned out how they wanted it.

Indiana Pacers: Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young

These are two veterans who can still contribute as starters or off the bench. The Pacers are actually looking at a playoff spot this year but with some young stars ready to step up they may deal some older players if the right offer comes.

Milwaukee Bucks: Mirza Teletovic

Teletovic isn’t a highly desired player but his shooting ability could make him available for a low 2nd round pick at a deadline deal with a contender.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Everyone but LeBron

The Cavs have clear problems right now and to fix it, no matter what direction they decide to go in, anybody but the King should be available.

 

 

Southwest Division:

Evans dribbling.

Photo Credit/sbnation.com

 

Dallas Mavericks: Wesley Matthews

Despite his contract, several teams may be interested in a 3 and D guard who can come off the bench or start for a contender.

Memphis Grizzlies: Tyreke Evans, James Ennis III

The Grizzlies have recently stated that they’d like to keep Marc Gasol rather than dealing him, but they should listen to offers for these two cheap but valuable forwards, especially Evans.

New Orleans Pelicans: None

After the Cousins injury, New Orleans has already transformed their roster a bit and it’d be a surprise to see them move anyone else unless a drastic change in direction would be in place.

San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green

The Spurs rarely make mid-season trades but reports are that they are currently in talks with the Clippers to try to acquire Avery Bradley with Danny Green and a pick.

Houston Rockets: Ryan Anderson

There’s speculation that Houston is interested in George Hill, but the deal seems to have not gained much traction. They would likely need a 3rd team if they wanted to move Anderson’s contract and bring in a different player for the playoffs.

 

 

Northwest Division: 

Mudiay dribbling up the court.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Utah Jazz: Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors, Joe Johnson

Hood and Favors are both players that could bring in a first rounder for the Jazz and allow them to fully start the Mitchell-Gobert era. Johnson has reportedly been looking for an exit from the team, but expect him to be more likely bought out in a few weeks rather than traded at the deadline.

Portland Trail Blazers: Shabazz Napier

Napier is having the best season of his career and has been in trade rumors for months. If Portland does deal him they can expect a lot in return.

Denver Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried

The Nuggets are one of the deepest teams in the league and could benefit from letting go of some of these bench players that could get them multiple draft picks or talent in return. They’ve been in some talks with Cleveland about sending a few key role players to the Cavs if the Nets pick is in play.

Oklahoma City Thunder: None

OKC is an expensive team with key players that they won’t trade right now so it’s unlikely to see them move anybody even if they wanted to.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammed

After a few years in Minnesota, Muhammed has yet to develop much and will be out of Minnesota by the summer if not now. He’s a good scorer who could benefit a contender off the bench if the Wolves find a partner to take him at the deadline.

 

 

 

With Boogie Out, do the Pelicans Move Davis?

 

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All Eyes on Lonzo: Lakers Ball to Debut in LA

The first game of Lonzo Ball’s NBA career could be historic.

Ball In

The “Magic” Johnson era begins tonight. The legendary Lakers first pick makes his debut in Staples center against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ball played in two of the Lakers six preseason games, missing some time due to injury. In two games, Ball averaged 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 6.5 points per game.

Healthy and looking to make his presence felt, Ball takes the court in front of 21,000 filled seats. Millions will be glued to their television sets, smartphones, iPad or whatever device is available to witness the next generation Lakers star.

Historic Debut

Ball is praised for his unselfish play and ability to get his teammates involved by facilitating the basketball. His skills in the passing game have been compared to Jason Kidd. Ball’s self-less play could carve his name into the Lakers record books tonight.

Nick Van Exel hold the rookie debut record with 8 assists, a record that has stood firm since the early 90s. Ball is not focused on breaking the record, but is capable of achieving that feat without altering his game in any way.

Rookie of the Year

There are tremendous expectations set for ball. Odds are in his favor to win rookie of the year. Is it possible? Of course it is.

Lonzo could help restore the Lakers to relevance. If his contagious play and infectious energy can have his teammates play to their potential and beyond, Los Angeles could be a dark horse to make the playoffs.

LaVar Ball has emulated Nostradamus with his predictions prior to his oldest son being drafted by Magic. Ball exuded confidence when he predicted Lonzo would be picked by the Lakers and lead the Lakers to the Summer League championship.

Could his prediction of the Lakers making the playoffs come to fruition?

It won’t be easy as the level of competition in the Western Conference is ferocious. Some believe the Lakers will be good, but won’t contend in the West for another year or so. Lonzo and the Lakers aren’t listening to any outside noise and are focused on winning basketball games.

It will be interesting to see how the chips fall in the Western Conference. If Lonzo is instrumental in orchestrating a playoff push for the purple and gold, LaVar’s premonitions could be taken a little more seriously.


Stats referenced at FoxSports.com

Top 15 Centers in the NBA Heading into Next Season

Top 15 Centers in the NBA Heading into Next Season

The center position has seen a decrease in importance as the years have gone on. Let’s look at some of the best guys at the 5 as the season draws closer.

 

Just missed the cut:

Tristan Thompson

Mason Plumlee

Tyson Chandler

Marcin Gortat

Nikola Vucevic

 

15. Clint Capela – Houston Rockets

Clint Capela with teammate James Harden in game.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Capela will start at center again this season after taking over for Dwight Howard last year. With new star teammate Chris Paul coming to Houston to play with MVP candidate James Harden, along with several skilled shooters, Capela’s main job will be to protect the rim and provide a presence inside. The 23-year old Swiss big man has become the Rockets best defender and after a semi-breakout year last year, his strengths are just what Houston needs to compete with Golden State this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 12.6   RPG: 8.1   APG: 1.0   BPG: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.1  RPG: 9.3   APG: 1.2   BPG: 1.7

 

14. Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder

Steven Adams in the post against rival Houston Rockets.

Photo Credit/www.foxsports.com

 

Adams remains the third option for the Thunder following the trade for Paul George. The former Pitt star broke out during the 2016 postseason but didn’t completely live up to expectations last year. Adams defensive I.Q. and elite jump hook make him a big piece for Oklahoma City as they attempt to grab another West playoff spot this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 11.3   RPG: 7.7   APG: 1.1   SPG: 1.1

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 10.8  RPG: 8.3  APG: 1.4  SPG: 0.9

 

13. Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond getting ready to shoot a free throw.

Photo Credit/www.slamonline.com

 

Drummond and the Pistons had a down year last year and need to rebound this year if the core is to stick around for much longer. Van Gundy and co. traded for Avery Bradley this offseason, resulting in the loss of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Bradley and Drummond have the potential to be one of the East’s top small-big duos if Drummond is able to improve his notoriously awful free-throw percentage and mediocre defense.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.6   RPG: 13.8   APG: 1.1   SPG: 1.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.3  RPG: 13.9  APG: 1.0  SPG: 1.2

 

12. Dwight Howard – Charlotte Hornets

Dwight Howard being guarded by Myles Turner in the post.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

Dwight Howard has progressively gotten worse and worse as the past few years have passed. He’s still a double-double center and can hold his own on the defensive end, though his offensive efficiency and importance to his team have lessened.  The league wide play style nowadays doesn’t fit Howard’s and his footwork in the post definitely doesn’t help him at his age. It’s possible Howard sees a lift in his game this season with Charlotte, but don’t expect him to ever bring back his Orlando days.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.5   RPG: 12.7   APG: 1.4   BPG: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 12.9  RPG: 11.8  APG: 1.3  BPG: 1.7

 

11. Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers

Myles Turner driving to the basket on Kelly Olynyk.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Turner enters this year as the new #1 option for the Pacers after the Paul George trade. He and Victor Oladipo will have the keys to the franchise as their rebuild begins. Turner’s 3-pt shooting ability coupled with his shot blocking ability make him a rare talent in the league. As the Texas native looks to have more opportunities on offense this season, he could emerge as an Eastern Conference All-Star candidate this year.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.5   RPG: 7.3   APG: 1.3   BPG: 2.1

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 17.3  RPG: 9.4  APG: 1.7  BPG: 2.6

 

10. Brook Lopez – Los Angeles Lakers

Brook Lopez at his Lakers press conference after the trade.

Photo Credit/www.latimes.com

 

Lopez comes home to LA this season to join the young Lakers. The big man will be expected to bring his outside scoring ability and leadership to Hollywood. The former Stanford star became the Nets all-time leading scorer last year and is improving his long distance jumper year by year. If Lopez is able to sustain that 3-pt% and possibly become a more prominent rebounder, he should be the go-to guy in Los Angeles this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.5   RPG: 5.4   APG: 2.3   BPG: 1.7

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 18.9  RPG: 7.6  APG: 3.1  BPG: 1.5

 

9. Al Horford – Boston Celtics

Al Horford driving on Derrick Rose.

Photo Credit/www.bleacherreport.com

 

Horford is now the third piece of the new big 3 in Boston along with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. The big man won two National Championships at Florida and enjoyed a successful career in Atlanta before going North to Boston last year. Horford is a bit undersized at the center position and it shows in his rebounding numbers. He makes up for it with his playmaking ability and shot from deep. He’ll need to use both of these skills next season to give the Celtics a chance to get passed the Cavaliers and to the Finals for the first time since the Paul Pierce era.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.0   RPG: 6.8   APG: 5.0   BPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.2  RPG: 7.3  APG: 4.6  BPG: 1.1

 

8. DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers

DeAndre Jordan boxing out Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Jordan and his partner down low, Blake Griffin, will be without their point guard and leader this season as Chris Paul left for Houston earlier this summer. Jordan has climbed to the top of the league over the past few years and made his first All-Star appearance last season. His defense, especially his shot blocking ability have made him the player he is, though his offense is limited and he’s rarely used in plays on that end. With the departure of Paul, Jordan may see an increase in his individual numbers but the Clippers look to be on the outside looking in in the Western Conference.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 12.7   RPG: 13.8   AGP: 1.2   BPG: 1.7

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.1  RPG: 13.9  APG: 1.1  BPG: 2.0

 

7. Hassan Whiteside – Miami Heat

Hassan Whiteside dunking over Karl Anthony-Towns.

Photo Credit/wwwyoutube.com

 

Whiteside became the leader of the Heat last season after Dwyane Wade made the decision to go home to Chicago. Whiteside has emerged as a top NBA center over the past few seasons after not being able to get his feet under him early in his career. Nearly leading Miami to the postseason last year, look for another big statistical year from him. Expect another double-double year from Whiteside and likely a playoff spot for the Heat in the weak East.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 17.0   RPG: 14.1   APG: 0.7   BPG: 2.1

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.7  RPG: 14.3  APG: 0.9  BPG: 2.6

 

6. Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol being guarded by his brother Pau.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Gasol enters this season without his usual frontcourt partner Zach Randolph. The 7-foot Spaniard isn’t big in the rebounding category, but he makes up for it with his playmaking and defense. He’s helped lead Memphis to 7 straight playoff appearances and become one of the best centers in the league, surpassing his brother. If Gasol continues to make plays out of the post and maintains his percentage from deep, look for a similar season from him.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 19.5   RPG: 6.3   AGP: 4.6   BPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 20.6  RPG: 7.2  APG: 4.1  BPG: 1.4

 

5. Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic taking the ball up the floor against the Indiana Pacers.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

After making the All-Rookie second team in 2015-16, Jokic burst onto the scene this year as really a point-center. The Serbian big man has been a second round steal for the Nuggets and become their star this past season. What separates him from most other guys in the middle are his guard skills at his size. He can handle the ball well at 6’10” and make plays out of the post for guys on the perimeter. He’s got a new partner now in Paul Millsap and with an improving young team around him, look for Jokic to take Denver back to the playoffs.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 16.7   RPG: 9.8   APG: 4.9   SPG: 0.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 18.7  RPG: 11.1  APG: 5.9  SPG: 1.0

 

4. Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert blocking a shot against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Gobert is now the man in Utah after Gordon Hayward’s departure to Boston back in the summer. His efficiency on both ends of the floor get him this high on the list. The Frenchman is a tremendous low post scorer and has also become one of the top 3 defenders in the league after finishing as a finalist for the DPOY award this past season. Gobert needs to be even greater this season to give the Jazz any shot at the postseason, though it doesn’t look too good for Utah right now.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.0   RPG: 12.8   APG: 1.2   BPG: 2.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.3  RPG: 13.7  APG: 1.1  BPG: 2.8

 

3. DeMarcus Cousins – New Orleans Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins being guarded by Heat center Hassan Whiteside.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

Boogie and AD enter this season as the clear cut top frontcourt in the league and will have the highest expectations of each of their young careers. Cousins has been developing a three point jumper over the past few seasons. He’s not automatic from deep, but his range could come in handy for a Pelicans team in need of shooting. Cousins’ playmaking ability is also a huge and unique part of his game that will benefit some of the new backcourt players this season in New Orleans. Boogie must continue to show versatility on offense and play energetic defense to help get the Pels back to the postseason in the final year of his contract.

16-17 Stats (NOP): PPG: 24.4  RPG: 12.4  AGP: 3.9  SPG: 1.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 26.3  RPG: 11.8  APG: 4.1  SPG: 1.4

 

2. Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid taking a jumpshot over Thunder center Steven Adams last season.

Photo Credit/www.philly.com

 

Embiid broke out last season after not playing a game his first couple years as a member of the Sixers. The wait paid off for the Cameroonian big man. He’s now the leader and star of a young, talented team with Philly poised for the playoffs this year. Embiid’s advanced metrics were crazy last season and his offensive and defensive efficiencies were some of the best in the league. While climbing to the top of the league, Embiid still wasn’t 100% and played on limited minutes before being shut down for the year. Embiid will come back even stronger and better this season for the Sixers and thats scary news for the rest of the East.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.2   RPG: 7.8   APG: 2.1   BPG: 2.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 23.6 RPG: 10.2  APG: 3.3  BPG: 2.8

 

1. Karl Anthony-Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl Anthony-Towns driving to the rim.

Photo Credit/www.cbssports.com

 

KAT comes in at number one on this list. Since he’s been a rookie, Towns has shown the whole league his ability to dominate on the offensive side of the ball and lead the young Timberwolves. Now that he has veteran guard Jimmy Butler in Minnesota with him, Towns will look to make the next step with teammate Andrew Wiggins and take the Wolves all the way back to the postseason. Towns greatest attribute is his ability to get his shot off easily and efficiently down low, and occasionally stretch the floor with an improving 3-point jumper. The Kentucky product majorly improved last season, increasing his points and rebounding totals, showing his rookie year wasn’t a fluke. Defense is a facet of KAT’s game that is solid right now, but if there’d be a part of his game he could improve, emphasis on defense would be it. If Towns’ cleans up a few things in his game and keeps up his work ethic, he could be the league MVP soon.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 25.1   RPG: 12.3   APG: 2.7   BPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 27.6  RPG: 13.9  APG: 3.4  BPG: 1.8

 

Here are my top 15 point guard rankings:

Here are my top 15 shooting guard rankings:

Here are my top 15 small forward rankings:

Here are my top 15 power forward rankings:

 

Top 15 Power Forwards in the NBA Heading into next Season

The power forward position features some of the most versatile guys in the NBA. Who cracks the top 15 heading into the season?

 

Just missed the cut:

Patrick Patterson

Taj Gibson

Jon Leuer

Thaddeus Young

Larry Nance Jr.

 

 

 

15. Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets

Kenneth Faried hammers down a one-handed dunk for the Nuggets.

Photo Credit/www.autodo.info

 

Faried was involved in some underground trade rumors earlier in the summer but it looks as though he’ll begin the season in Denver. The Morehead State product hasn’t exactly improved much since his first few years in the league but remains a guy who could be an important energy guy for a playoff team, and with the Nuggets improvements this offseason, it looks like he has the opportunity to have that role off the bench. Look for slightly worse numbers this year from Faried, but he will surely be an important piece for Denver behind Paul Millsap.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 12.5   RPG: 8.7   APG: 1.2   BPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 8.2  RPG: 7.6  APG: 1.4  BPG: 0.7

 

14. JaMychal Green – Memphis Grizzlies

JaMychal Green attempts a layup over Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Green is currently in a sticky situation heading into next season. He and the Grizzlies didn’t come out of the summer with a contract extension as Memphis tested the market, winning big by now being able to bring Green back for next year on an RFA contract and giving themselves a year to decide whether to give him a long-term deal next summer. The 27-year old is coming off easily his best season as a pro and with Zach Randolph out of Memphis, could be set for an even bigger year.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 8.9   RPG: 7.1   APG: 1.1   SPG: 0.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.7  RPG: 8.3  APG: 2.4  SPG: 0.9

 

13. Ryan Anderson – Houston Rockets

Ryan Anderson celebrating after hitting a 3.

Photo Credit/www.sportingnews.com

 

Like Green, Anderson was involved in some trade rumors this summer, mostly related to Carmelo Anthony. Assuming he’s in Houston at the start of the season, he’ll likely start again at the power forward position and be another floor spacer for James Harden and Chris Paul. Anderson shot an impressive 40.3% from deep last season and will be expected to carry that percentage into this year and help the Rockets grab a home playoff spot in the West.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.6   RPG: 4.6   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.4

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.9  RPG: 5.2  APG: 1.1  SPG: 0.3

 

12. Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers

Julius Randle takes a jumpshot over Spurs guard Tony Parker.

Photo Credit/www.lakersnation.com

 

Randle will start at the 4 again this year ahead of Larry Nance Jr. The new-look Lakers now feature a new point guard in Lonzo Ball and will look to further develop talented starters in Brandon Ingram as well as Randle. The 22-year old is currently in the best shape of his young career and after coming off another strong rebounding year, could become a top 10 power forward by midseason.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.2   RPG: 8.6   APG: 3.6   SPG: 0.7

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.1  RPG: 9.7  APG: 3.9  SPG: 0.8

 

11. Gorgui Dieng – Minnesota Timberwolves

Gorgui Dieng attempts a left-handed layup above the rim.

Photo Credit/www.minnpost.com

 

Dieng enters this year as the Wolves likely starting power forward over Taj Gibson. Coming out of Louisville, his athleticism and defensive potential were his calling cards, though over the last few seasons he’s showcased an improving 3-point shot and with a Minnesota team expecting to contend this season, Dieng will need to keep his percentage from deep up close to 40%. The T-Wolves aren’t exactly a bad team from behind the arc, but if you look at other top teams around the league, the shooting ability in Minnesota is a bit below average. If Dieng can become almost a stretch 4 for the team, he could be looking at a starting job alongside KAT in the frontcourt for years to come.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 10.0   RPG: 7.9   APG: 1.9   BLK: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 9.6  RPG: 8.1  APG: 2.4  BLK: 1.6

 

10. LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs

LaMarcus Aldridge high-fiving Kawhi Leonard in a game against the Sacramento Kings.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Aldridge has just moved farther and farther down this list over the past couple years. He’s still a valuable piece for the Spurs and likely the second most valuable player in San Antonio, but he’s not the perennial All-Star he used to be. Aldridge’s defense has never been a strength of his, much like his playmaking ability. For the former Texas big man to stay out of the rumor mill and help San Antonio keep a top spot in the West, he needs to post tremendous mid-range shooting numbers and be stronger inside on offense.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 17.3   RPG: 7.3   APG: 1.9   BLK: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 15.8  RPG: 7.1  APG: 1.9  BLK: 1.0

 

9. Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors

Serge Ibaka celebrating after a play against the Cavaliers.

Photo Credit/www.thestar.com

 

Ibaka came to Toronto in a midseason trade from the Orlando Magic. He joined Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan to form a big 3 in the East and the team was able to keep the crew together to contend again this year. Ibaka came into the league as an elite defender and shot blocker and still carries those attributes, though over the past few years he’s improved his three point shot immensely. The Spanish big man shot around 40% from deep last season and has become one of the best stretch 4’s in the NBA. If he keeps his defensive intensity and 3-pt% up expect the Raptors to be a top team in the East again.

16-17 Stats (TOR): PPG: 14.2   RPG: 6.8   APG: 0.7   BLK: 1.4

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 13.9  RPG: 7.1  APG: 0.8  BLK: 1.6

 

8. Harrison Barnes – Dallas Mavericks

Harrison Barnes attempts a jumpshot against the Bucks last season.

Photo Credit/www.mavsmoneyball.com

 

Barnes had a career year last season in his first campaign with the Mavs as he posted nearly 20 points a contest and was arguably the most important player in Dallas. After years in Golden State playing at the 3 for the Dubs, Barnes logged several minutes at the 4 for the Mavericks this past season. His size, athleticism, and shooting ability seem perfect for a modern day NBA power forward, and Rick Carlisle used him there efficiently. With a young Mavs team around him, I can only see Barnes going up and again setting career highs this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 19.2   RPG: 5.0   APG: 1.5   SPG: o.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.7  RPG: 6.2  APG: 1.9  SPG: 1.1

 

7. Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks

Jabari Parker sets to take a free throw in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

After a strong start with Milwaukee this past year, Parker suffered a season ending injury, the second big road block he’s had to go through in his young career. Despite another hiccup, expect him to come back strong and ready to help Giannis lead the Bucks this season. The Duke product has proven himself to be a young star as he continues to showcase his efficient scoring ability and all-around game while Milwaukee continues it’s rise in the East. If IT4 is out for an extended period or the new Boston stars can’t figure it out right away, watch out for Parker, Giannis, and the Bucks as a possible dark horse in the East.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.1   RPG: 6.2   APG: 2.8   SPG: 1.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.3  RPG: 6.7  APG: 3.2  SPG: 1.4

 

6. Paul Millsap – Denver Nuggets

Paul Millsap driving to the rim.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Millsap comes to Denver this season after a sign-and-trade during the summer. He joins Nikola Jokic in the Nugget frontcourt to form a dynamic duo in the West. After several years with the Hawks in Atlanta, Millsap heads back West and it looks as though Denver is primed for a playoff appearance this season. The 32-year old power forward’s offensive versatility and outside shooting ability make him a perfect fit and if he’s able to keep up his All-Star level play this year, look for Denver at the top of the standings.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.1   RPG: 7.7   APG: 3.7   SPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.7  RPG: 8.1  ARPG: 4.2  SPG: 1.3

 

5. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis flying in for a dunk.

Photo Credit/www.hoopshabit.com

 

With Carmelo Anthony’s future still uncertain, it’s unclear whether Porzingis will be fully handed the keys to the franchise this season or not. Whether Melo is in a Knicks jersey come opening night or not, expect Kris to put up career highs across the board this year. The 22-year old Latvian has been working out with Dirk Nowitzki this summer and has also showcased his skills for his National team during the offseason. If Hornacek makes Porzingis the number one option flat out this season, look for him to make his first All-Star appearance in the NBA.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.1   RPG: 7.2   APG: 1.5   BLK: 2.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.3  RPG: 10.7  APG: 2.1  BLK: 2.2

 

4. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin being guarded by Jazz' Joe Johnson.

Photo Credit/www.sbnation.com

 

Griffin recently signed a new 5-year deal with LA this summer shortly after the departure of Chris Paul. Blake and DeAndre still form one of the best front courts in the league and with new guys around the perimeter, the Clippers could possibly find a way back to the postseason, though the chances aren’t great by the looks of it. Griffin was absent from the All-Star game last season and struggled with injuries again. Despite this, the former OU star maintained solid numbers and did enough to get the Clippers a home playoff spot in the West. It’ll be an adjustment for Griffin this year as he learns to play again without Paul at the point, but look for similar numbers from him.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 21.6   RPG: 8.1   APG: 4.9   SPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.4  RPG: 8.7  APG: 4.3  SPG: 0.8

 

3. Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers

Kevin Love talking with teammate LeBron James during dead ball.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

With Kyrie out of the Land and Isaiah Thomas likely out for an extended period, Love will start the season as the #2 option for the Cavs. After a few down years to start his career in Cleveland, Love came into his own last season and tallied the votes to be an All-Star starter before getting hurt. It was his first double-double average since joining the Cavs and many began to find more confidence in the UCLA product. If LeBron puts more trust in K-Love this year and Love is able to sustain his percentage from deep while avoiding injury, the Cavs are likely the favorite in the East again.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 19.0   RPG: 11.1   APG: 1.9   SPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.3  RPG: 10.7  APG: 1.8  SPG: 0.9

 

2. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green celebrating after a play against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Green helped his Warriors get their 2nd NBA title in 3 years back in June. The Dubs are again expected to dominate and are favorites for the Ship in 17-18 as well. Green may be the least talented of the Golden State big 4 but you can make an argument that he’s the most important. While he won’t give you 20 points a night, the 27-year old can guard all 5 positions and play point guard on offense at 6’7″. Green has the ability to put up a triple double on any given night and posted the second best plus/minus in the league last year only behind teammate Stephen Curry. Look for Green to again help lead the Warriors this season and be in the conversation for DPOY.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 10.2   RPG: 7.9   APG: 7.0   SPG: 2.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.7  RPG: 8.8  APG: 7.5  SPG: 2.2

 

1. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis throws down a dunk over Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Photo Credit/www.complex.com

 

Unlike previous years, Davis starts this season with high expectations. He and his frontcourt partner Demarcus Cousins are the best pair of big men we’ve seen in years and with newly re-signed point guard Jrue Holiday, should challenge for a playoff spot this year. The Pelicans didn’t live up to expectations post All-Star break last season but now that they’ve had time to gel, all the pressure is on them to compete in the stacked Western Conference. AD carries a set of skills that are rare to see in a big man as he’s able to use his length and athleticism to dominate on defense and offensive versatility to put up big numbers on that side of the floor. After logging a career high 28 points a game last year and taking home the All-Star game MVP in New Orleans, look for huge numbers again from him and better team success from the Pels.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 28.0   RPG: 11.8   APG: 2.1   BLK: 2.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 27.6  RPG: 11.9  APG: 2.7  BLK: 2.8

 

Here are my top 15 small forward rankings:

Here are my top 15 shooting guard rankings:

Here are my top 15 point guard rankings:

 

Top 15 Small Forwards Heading into Next Season

The small forward position is one of the most star studded in the league today. Who makes the cut for the top 15 leading into the season?

 

Just Missed the Cut:

Evan Turner

Wilson Chandler

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Robert Covington

Joe Ingles

 

15. Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets

Trevor Ariza taking the ball up the floor to make a play for the Rockets.

Photo Credit/www.thedreamshake.com

 

Ariza may see his role decreased a bit this season as Chris Paul and P.J. Tucker settle in Houston. However, his versatile defense will be counted on by Mike D’Antoni to keep opposing offenses in check to allow Harden and Paul to do their thing on the offensive end. The 32-year old shot 34% from the arc last year and will need to at least sustain that rate this season to give the Rockets any chance of dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the West. Expect another solid season from Ariza and possibly a couple DPOY votes.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 11.7   RPG: 5.7   APG: 2.2   SPG: 1.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 9.8  RPG: 5.3  APG: 2.9  SPG: 1.7

 

14. James Johnson – Miami Heat

James Johnson looking to drive past his defender into the paint to make a play for the Heat.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

With Kelly Olynyk now in Miami, I suspect Johnson will start at the three this season. He had a breakout year for the Heat in 16-17, putting up career highs across the board and being an advanced metrics superstar, having a more positive plus/minus than star teammate Hassan Whiteside, leading the team. Johnson’s defensive versatility and offensive playmaking ability make him extraordinarily valuable in today’s NBA. Miami came just short of a playoff appearance last season after turning it on post All-Star break and challenging for the 8 seed. If Johnson and his fellow teammates perform as they did last spring, the Heat should be in the postseason this year.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 12.8   RPG: 4.9   APG: 3.6   BPG: 1.1

17-18 Projected Stats: 13.9  RPG: 5.2  APG: 4.3  BPG: 1.0

 

13. Andre Iguodala – Golden State Warriors

Andre Iguodala celebrating after hitting a three-pointer.

Photo Credit/www.warriorsworld.com

 

Iggy will again be an important piece to a star-studded Warriors roster this season. The 33-year old is one of the best bench players in the league and always seems to find his game come NBA Finals. Iguodala’s perimeter D and ability to run the offense when he’s on the floor should log him 20+mins a game again and get him into the conversation for Sixth Man of the Year.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 7.6   RPG: 4.0   APG: 3.4   SPG: 1.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 6.9  RPG: 4.1  APG: 3.8  SPG: 1.2

 

12. Danilo Gallinari – Los Angeles Clippers

Danilo Gallinari taking a fadeaway jumper over a defender.

Photo Credit/www.sbnation.com

 

Gallinari joins the Clippers after being involved in the Paul Millsap sign-and-trade. Los Angeles lost Chris Paul this summer and in an attempt to continue to contend in the West, they put together a trade with the Hawks and Nuggets to acquire Danilo Gallinari. The Italian forward spent the last three years in Denver starting at small forward on a young Nugget team. Gallinari’s size and scoring ability will be valuable for The Clippers this season as they attempt to sneak into the playoffs for the 7th straight time.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.2   RPG: 5.2   APG: 2.1   SPG: 0.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 17.9  RPG: 5.7  APG: 3.8  SPG: 0.5

 

11. Rudy Gay – San Antonio Spurs

Rudy Gay during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/www.slamonline.com

 

Gay recently signed a two-year deal with the Spurs after spending the last four seasons with the Sacramento Kings. The Connecticut product will likely come off the bench for San Antonio and give Pop and the Spurs much needed scoring in the second unit. It’s possible we see him play some power forward beside Kawhi Leonard as well, which could be a scary duo. With the Rockets becoming so much stronger this offseason, San Antonio will need Gay’s offense to win the Southwest division again.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.7   RPG: 6.3   APG: 2.8   SPG: 1.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.9  RPG: 5.5  APG: 3.1  SPG: 1.2

 

10. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony taking the ball up the floor and directing the rest of the offense.

Photo Credit/www.blazersedge.com

 

We’ll have to wait and see whether Melo is still in the Big Apple come opening night, though as of now he’s an aging above-average starter on the most dysfunctional team in the league. The Anthony-New York homecoming years ago has obviously not ended up panning out ideally. It’s fair to say Anthony is a bit “overrated” at this point in his career, though some of the criticisms applied to him are somewhat ridiculous. Under the right system (Mike D’Antoni), I believe Melo could be one of the best stretch fours in the league where his spot-up shooting would be showcased and his defense would be less susceptible to being exposed. The smart move for the Knicks would be to trade Anthony. If he stays, expect a similar, inefficient year. If gone, he likely will see a number decrease, though will enjoy more team success away from New York.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 22.4   RPG: 5.9   APG: 2.9   SPG: 0.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 19.7  RPG: 6.5  APG: 3.1  SPG: 0.9

 

9. Jae Crowder – Cleveland Cavaliers

Jae Crowder celebrating after converting an and-one against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Photo Credit/www.celticsblog.com

 

Crowder was just traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers as a piece of the Isaiah-Kyrie deal. The forward out of Marquette shot an impressive 40% from deep last year and will be expected to bring that efficiency to the land. We all knew of Crowder’s elite defense before, but his jumpshot is really starting to come into fruition. It’ll be interesting to see if he starts at the 2 or backs up King James off the bench.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.9   RPG: 5.8   APG: 2.2   SPG: 1.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 12.8  RPG: 5.9  APG: 2.7  SPG: 1.3

 

8. Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

Wiggins enters his 4th NBA season on one of the most star-studded teams in the league. We’ll likely see the Kansas product put up 20+PPG for the third straight year in 2017-2018. The new big three of Butler-Towns-Wiggins should get the Wolves back in the postseason for the first time in a while. For Wiggins, he’s got all the tools to someday be an MVP but must improve his shooting percentages and turnover efficiency to get to the very top.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 23.6   RPG: 4.0   APG: 2.3   SPG: 1.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 24.1  RPG: 4.7  APG: 3.9  SPG: 1.6

 

7. Otto Porter Jr. – Washington Wizards

Otto Porter Jr. pointing as he runs down the floor.

Photo Credit/www.thehoopdoctors.com

 

Porter recently signed a new 4-year max contract with the Wizards this summer. He’ll stay in Washington with star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal to try and avenge their game 7 loss in the 2016 playoffs. The Georgetown product had an incredibly efficient season in 16-17 as he shot over 50% from the field and improved his percentage from deep by nearly 7%. I think we could see an increase in his numbers next year and along with it see the Wiz grab another home court playoff spot.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.4   RPG: 6.4   AGP: 1.5   SPG: 1.4

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 17.6  RPG: 6.9  APG: 2.4  SPG: 1.8

 

6. Gordon Hayward – Boston Celtics

Gordon Hayward attempting to drive around Hawks guard Shelvin Mack to get into the paint and make a play.

Photo Credit/www.sportingnews.com

 

Like Porter, Gordon Hayward signed a 4-year max deal this summer, though in this case, Hayward signed with a new team. The Boston Celtics scored big on the Butler product as he will be reunited with his college coach Brad Stevens. As the Kyrie trade recently went down, The Celts now have a big 3 of Irving-Hayward-Horford to attempt to compete with Thomas and James in the East. Hayward seems to improve by the year and now finds himself with All-Star and playoff experience as he comes to Massachusetts. If Boston stays on its game we could see a new team representing the East in the Finals this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 21.9   RPG: 5.4   APG: 3.5   SPG: 1.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.3  RPG: 5.8  APG: 3.7  SPG: 1.1

 

5. Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder

Paul George driving by Julius Randle in a game against the Lakers.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

George was another star dealt this summer as he was moved from the Indiana Pacers to join Russell Westbrook in OKC and form a new dynamic duo in the West. The Thunder now look destined for another playoff appearance with their two stars. It’s likely we see George’s numbers decrease a little due to now having the reigning MVP on his team, though he’ll be happy to experience more team success and space on the perimeter in Oklahoma. It’s highly doubtful we see a down year efficiency-wise from PG-13 given he stays healthy.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 23.7   RPG: 6.6   APG: 3.3   SPG: 1.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.9  RPG: 6.7  APG: 3.2  SPG: 2.1

 

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbling on the perimeter while he scans the defense.

Photo Credit/www.bleacherreport.com

 

In my opinion, Giannis comes into this season with the best chance to win the league MVP. The Greek Freak has had a tremendous start to his career as the Bucks risky pick has turned into a superstar. There’s really nothing he can’t do as his body type and play style fit perfectly into today’s NBA, leading his team in all major statistical categories. The 22-year old has elite playmaking ability at nearly 7 feet tall and of course has the ability to block shots and rebound at a high level at his size. If he’s able to improve his 3-pt% as he did last season, expect Giannis to be #1 on this list in just a few years.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 22.9   RPG: 8.8   APG: 5.4   BLK: 1.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 25.8  RPG: 9.7  APG: 6.3  BPG: 2.2

 

3. Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard getting ready to shoot a free throw.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Leonard and the Spurs nearly took a game against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals before the superstar suffered an injury. Expect the Klaw to come back strong and ready this season to attempt to help San Antonio take home another Southwest Division title. Leonard seems to improve year by year and his scoring numbers have only gotten better as his young career has gone on. Most don’t think of Kawhi as a three point shooter, though his percentages would suggest otherwise. He’s shot an impressive 41.2% from deep over the last two seasons, improving on offense while maintaining his stellar defensive play. I’m expecting Leonard to finish at least top 3 in MVP voting this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 25.5   RPG: 5.8   APG: 3.5   SPG: 1.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 27.2  RPG: 6.1  APG: 3.4  SPG: 2.2

 

2. Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors

Kevin Durant running up the floor on offense looking to make a play for the Warriors last season.

Photo Credit/www.bleacherreport.com

 

KD got his title this past June when the Warriors knocked off the Cavs to win their second title in 3 seasons. The Dubs look primed to do exactly that again this year, led by their big 4. Durant had arguably his most efficient season in 16-17, making use of the space in the middle of the floor and open shots that weren’t always there for him in Oklahoma City. He again showcased his one-of-a-kind scoring ability and also introduced us to his shot-blocking ability, logging several minutes at the 4 for Golden State. Durant and the Warriors come into this year as the heavy favorites again and barring injury, expect KD to have another MVP caliber season and lead Golden State to another championship.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 25.1   RPG: 8.3   APG: 4.8   BLK: 1.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 27.3  RPG: 8.2  APG: 5.0  BPG: 1.7

 

1. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavs Small Forward LeBron James driving to the rim around new teammate Isaiah Thomas.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Although the two guys listed above the King could easily hop into this top spot or already be there, LeBron is the best bet as the #1 small forward in the league. James shows every year why he’s one of the best to ever do it by posting stellar numbers across the board seemingly all year long while grabbing his team a top spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. LBJ has some new teammates coming to Cleveland in Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. I’m sure he was fairly happy with the news they were getting an All-Star point guard and above average 3 in return for Irving. James will again be able to run the majority of the Cavs offense and find Thomas, Love, Smith, and Crowder out on the wing. After a messy and uncertain summer, Cleveland and LeBron look like they now have the team they’ll be going with this next season. Expect James to again have a tremendous year and for the Cavaliers to be the favorites in the East, though a second title seems like a stretch for this year.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 26.4   RPG: 8.6   APG: 8.7   SPG: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 26.9  RPG: 7.9  APG: 9.2  SPG: 1.0

 

 

Here are my top 15 shooting guard rankings:

Here are my top 15 point guard rankings:

Kyrie to the Clippers?

Kyrie to the Clippers?

According to sportingnews.com, Cavs guard Kyrie Irving has reportedly mentioned a desire to play in LA for the Clippers. He’s given his word to people around the league and insiders now believe this is his most preferred destination at this time.

 

Photo Credit/www.slamonline.com

 

We all know of Kyrie Irving’s summer trade request by now. He’s voiced his displeasure in Cleveland and at this point, with him being distant from the Cavs front office and losing relationships with his teammates, it’d be surprising if Irving is in a Cavalier uniform come opening night. We’ve now seen multiple possible trades and several potential destinations for Kyrie to land, but nothing has gone through yet.

 

Photo Credit/www.sportingnews.com

 

The latest rumor involving the All-Star guard is a possible trade to the Los Angeles Clippers. This actually seems fairly realistic relative to the Irving trade simulations we’ve seen in recent weeks. With the Chris Paul trade going down around a month ago, LA got several productive role players in return. Some of these players include Pat Beverley and Lou Williams. If the Cavs were to trade Irving to the Clippers, i’d say it’s highly likely those two are involved. Getting a defensive stalwart in Beverley in the backcourt is just what the team needs, as the Cleveland defense has been horrendous in years past. We could see Milos Teodosic joining the Cavs in this trade as well, getting LeBron the “playmaker” he’s been craving. The Cleveland backcourt would be much deeper and defense would of course improve. No trade Cleveland can make will be ideal, as they’d love to keep their young, clutch guard, but all things considered, the Clippers might be the team to deal with here.

 

Photo Credit/www.clipperholics.com

 

Assuming Cleveland does trade Kyrie before the season starts, they must get pieces back that can pair with LeBron James to get back to the NBA Finals. Everyone except for James, of course, should be expendable at this point. Losing Irving will hurt the team in the future but getting to 4 straight Finals would be by far the most impressive accomplishment in the franchise’s history and with LeBron possibly leaving for good next summer, they should make this season count. Kyrie has been working out in Los Angeles this summer, and loves the environment. He may get the opportunity to be there for a while.

 

Check out our Kyrie Irving trade request video from the sportsfanentertainment Youtube page down below for more on the rumors!

 

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 44-31

This draft class has been one of the most hyped in NBA history. How will early second round sleepers perform in their rookie years?

 

44. Damyean Dotson – New York Knicks

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Dotson has inked a three-year deal with New York since his drafting. The 6’7″ guard has great long-range shooting ability that could end up getting him some cash as an NBA player. Quickness driving to the rim is something he’ll need to work on with the Knicks.

PPG: 2.3   RPG: 1.6   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.2   BPG: 0.0

NBA Comparison: Rashad Vaughn

 

43. Isaiah Hartenstein – Houston Rockets

Photo Credit/www.spurstalk.com

 

Hartenstein is a very skilled 7-footer coming out of Germany. He’s got a pretty sweet stroke from long range along with the ability to make plays for others and rebound the ball. At this point, it’s unclear whether Hartenstein will play overseas or with the Rockets this season. The only contract they could offer would be a two-way, allowing him to develop in their G-League system.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

 

42. Thomas Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers

Photo Credit/www.247sports.com

 

Bryant recently signed a rookie contract with the Lakers. The Indiana product showed great energy and post strength in the Vegas summer league this year. Bryant joins a Los Angeles center rotation of Ivica Zubac and Brook Lopez.

PPG: 3.8   RPG: 2.9   APG: 0.2   SPG: 0.1   BPG: 0.7

NBA Comparison: Jordan Hill

 

41. Tyler Dorsey – Atlanta Hawks

Photo Credit/www.addictedtoquack.com

 

Dorsey signed a two-year guaranteed deal with the Hawks after being taken 41st overall. Out of Oregon, Dorsey brings shooting to the Hawk backcourt after the loss of Tim Hardaway Jr. If his defensive quickness on the ball can be improved, he could play off the bench in the league for a long time.

PPG: 5.2   RPG: 2.1   APG: 1.3   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.1

NBA Comparison: Nick Young

 

40. Dwayne Bacon – Charlotte Hornets

Photo Credit/www.charlotteobserver.com

 

The Hornets recently signed Bacon to a three-year deal. It’s likely he starts the season at 3rd in the shooting guard depth chart behind Nic Batum and Malik Monk. Bacon is a great outside shooter but lacks defensive intensity on the ball.

PPG: 2.1   RPG: 1.4   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.1

NBA Comparison: J.R. Smith

 

39. Jawun Evans – Los Angeles Clippers

Photo Credit/www.cowboysrideforfree.com

 

The 21-year old out of Oklahoma State has signed a three-year deal with LA. Evans was a star at Oklahoma State, averaging over 19 points a game last season. He could earn the backup point guard spot to play behind Patrick Beverley this year. While size is an issue, Evans’ scoring ability will make him a valuable player off the bench at the start of his career.

PPG: 5.2   RPG: 1.4   APG: 2.7   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.0

NBA Comparison: Lou Williams

 

38. Jordan Bell – Golden State Warriors

Photo Credit/www.goldenstateofmind.com

 

The Warriors appear to get a steal with this pick. Bell was mocked on some boards in the first round. His energy, defensive versatility, and I.Q. could prove worthy for Golden State off the bench in certain moments.

PPG: 2.3   RPG: 2.2   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.8    BPG: 1.2

NBA Comparison: JaMychal Green

 

37. Semi Ojeleye – Boston Celtics

Photo Credit/www.cbssports.com

 

The Celtics find a great bench shooter in this pick. Ojeleye shot over 42% from 3 last year at SMU and will be counted on by Brad Stevens to spread the floor when he’s brought in, though it’s likely we see him play more power forward with the Celts being so deep at the 3.

PPG: 3.1   RPG: 1.7   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.2   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Patrick Patterson

 

36. Jonah Bolden – Philadelphia 76ers

Photo Credit/www.libertyballers.com

 

Bolden will play in the EuroLeague this year instead of coming over to Philly in 17-18. The Australian forward does have a solid long-range jumpshot though he isn’t yet consistent on the offensive side of the ball. He could come play for the Sixers next year or a few years from now to back up Dario Saric.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Anthony Tolliver

 

35. Ivan Rabb – Memphis Grizzlies

Photo Credit/www.barstool.com

 

Many thought Rabb would enter the draft last year, and deciding to stay at Cal for his sophomore season definitely hurt his draft stock. His rebounding and athleticism will get him minutes in Memphis, but he needs to expand his game in the paint in order to ever achieve a starting job in the NBA.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 3.6   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.4    BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Gorgui Dieng

 

34. Frank Mason – Sacramento Kings

Photo Credit/www.247sports.com

 

The Kings have just recently signed former Kansas G Mason after selecting him 34th overall. The 23-year old is explosive and has a solid jumper which will help the Kings from 3 off the bench. Mason is able to run the floor efficiently and has experience in big games dating back to his years in college. He’ll likely be behind George Hill and De’Aaron Fox to start the season.

PPG: 5.4   RPG: 1.7   APG: 3.6   SPG: 0.8    BPG: 0.0

NBA Comparison: D.J. Augustin

 

33. Wesley Iwundu – Orlando Magic

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Iwundu is the do-it-all forward the Magic may need. His scoring, playmaking ability, rebounding, and solid defense make him a good fit for Orlando. Shooting remains in question but that could be the easiest fix for the Magic organization to tend to.

PPG: 7.2   RPG: 3.3   APG: 3.8   SPG: 1.2    BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: Andre Iguodala

 

32. Davon Reed – Phoenix Suns

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The Suns recently signed Reed to a 4-year deal. The former Miami guard is a solid playmaker and shooter at 6’6″, making him a possible backup for young offensive star Devin Booker. If Reed can be more explosive going to the basket he could give the Suns good minutes off the bench.

PPG: 1.3   RPG: 0.8   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.6   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Reggie Bullock

 

31. Frank Jackson – New Orleans Pelicans

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Jackson has been signed to a three-year deal by the Pelicans. He adds to a New Orleans backcourt of Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo, and Ian Clark. He’ll start the year third on the depth chart at point guard behind Holiday and Rondo. Jackson’s explosiveness and shooting ability will be valuable for the Pels this year as their frontcourt needs as much help as it can get.

PPG: 3.8   RPG: 1.2   APG: 2.6   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.1

NBA Comparison: Jordan Clarkson