Dwane Casey and Jeff Hornacek Named Coaches of the Month

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The Toronto Raptors' Dwane Casey and the Phoenix Suns' Jeff Hornacek were named Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month. They've had quite different seasons, but the starting point for the success of both is the same.


Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview: The Tremendous Tank

Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Get ready, Philadelphia 76ers fans. Your team is going to lose s̶o̶m̶e̶ a lot of games in the 2013 – 2014 NBA season. There is one word that comes to mind when describing the theme of the 76ers year ahead – tank. The season begins on Wednesday, October 30 when they host – wait for it – the two-time defending NBA champions, Miami Heat. That should be a fun game, but for now, let’s take a dive and look back at the interesting 76ers offseason and their coming season.

Key Offseason Moves: After the failed Andrew Bynum experiment, the 76ers are in a clear rebuild mode. On draft night, they traded All-Star guard Jrue Holliday and the 42nd pick, Pierre Jackson to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Nerlens Noel, the 6th overall pick and a 2014 first-round pick. Just five selections later, Philadelphia drafted Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick.

After their 34-48 2012 – ’13 campaign, coach Doug Collins announced his resignation. One month later, in May, the 76ers hired Sam Hinkie as their General Manager and President of Basketball Operations. In August, Hinkie brought on longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant Brett Brown as their head coach.

The 76ers also made a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason, receiving 20-year-old guard Tony Wroten in exchange for a future second-round pick and a trade exception.

Other additions to the roster (though it is not final): F Royce White, G James Anderson, F Tim Ohlbrecht, F Arsalan Kazemi. G Darius Morris, G Khalif Wyatt

Projected Starting Five: PG – Michael Carter-Williams SG – Darius Morris SF – Evan Turner PF – Thaddeus Young C – Spencer Hawes

Can Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner lead the young squad?

Young, 25, and Turner, 24 are considered veterans on their young Philly team. Turner averaged 13.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season, all career-highs. The 2010 2nd overall pick is entering his fourth and final year of his rookie contract and while he has played decently, has yet to live up to his lofty expectations after coming out of The Ohio State University.

This will be Young’s seventh season in the league. He holds career averages of 13 points and 5.4 rebounds, while shooting over 51 percent from the field. The pair of players who have spent their whole careers in Philly are more crucial now than ever. Young and Turner will both have to pick up their defensive roles and put more of the offensive bulk on themselves. The two must also build on their team leadership from years past and become more vocal.

How badly do the 76ers want Andrew Wiggins?

One of the main reasons teams decide to tank (although it is rarely admitted) is to have the best chance to receive the number one overall  selection in the upcoming draft. Heading into the 2014 draft, Andrew Wiggins is considered by most to be the best talent available. No player has gotten this much hype since LeBron James was drafted right out of high school in 2003. Even if, by some miracle, Philadelphia is playing some quality basketball, expect Brown to continue to put young, unproven talent on the court in the hopes of losing many games to have the best chance of drafting Wiggins.

Season Prediction: 16-66, fifth in the Atlantic Division

The 2016 – 2017 Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview is going to look a lot different. By then, a possible trio of Wiggins, MCW and Noel can be tearing the league apart. For now, however, the 76ers are just a bad team. They lack talent and experience to put together a respectable squad for this year. It does not help that many of their neighbors in the Atlantic have gotten stronger. The Brooklyn Nets brought in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce this offseason, the New York Knicks are coming off their 54-win season and have added pieces while the Toronto Raptors will continue to improve as Rudy Gay becomes more comfortable with the team. Get ready, Philadelphia. You’re in for a long, long ride.


Boston Celtics Season Preview: The Rebuilding Process

Can the Celtics count on Rajon Rondo as their point guard for years to come? Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

For years, the Boston Celtics were defined by their maturity and hard-nosed defense. Entering the 2013 – ’14 season, the Celtics will have a new identity – one that has yet to be defined. With the season less than one month away, let’s delve into Boston’s roster overhaul and predict how their season will end up.

Key Offseason Moves:

On draft night in late June, the Celtics sent future hall-of-famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets along with three-point threat Jason Terry for Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and three-first round picks.

After Doc Rivers left the Celtics organization to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston signed Brad Stevens, former head coach of Butler University to a six-year, $22 million contract.

Questions Heading Into The Season: 

Is Brad Stevens a good fit as an NBA head coach? Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Can Brad Stevens succeed at the NBA-level?

Brad Stevens has already proved himself as a very successful college coach. He went 166-49 (a winning percentage of .772) at the helm of the Butler Bulldogs and steered the program to two straight NCAA title games. It was Butler’s first two NCAA Final Four appearances in their history. The question now, however, is whether he will be able to successfully transition from college to the NBA. From Rick Pitino to John Calipari to Leonard Hamilton, many college coaches who tested the NBA waters have failed. Yet, there are a select few who have flourished at both levels, such as Chuck Daly and Bill Fitch. While it will not be easy at first with the roster given to him, Stevens can certainly bring Boston back to relevance in the near future.

Can Rajon Rondo lead the Celtics?

Rajon Rondo, who suffered a torn ACL last season will most likely be out until December while recovering. Once he is back in the lineup, though, it will be very interesting to see how he plays with his new-look team. Before going down with his injury, the 27-year-old was averaging 13.7 PPG while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and dishing out 11.1 APG. With young pieces around the point guard such as Avery Bradley, Jeff GreenJared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics certainly have a bright future – just not a bright season ahead.

Season Prediction: 31-51, 11th in the Eastern Conference

While many are expecting the Celtics to hardly be able to compete this season, I predict more wins than most do for the team that has made the postseason six consecutive seasons. They will be unable to contend with upper echelon teams of the conference, but can surely place ahead of teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, and Charlotte Bobcats.


Brooklyn Nets Season Preview: A New Look

The Nets made a lot of noise this offseason, trading for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

As training camp is soon to begin, the start of the 2013 – ’14 NBA season will be underway shortly. There are a lot of new faces on new teams this year, and the Brooklyn Nets are no exception to those new faces. Let’s take a look at their offseason moves and how their season will play out.

Key Player Changes:

While the Nets lost quite a few talented players who played significant roles on last year’s playoff team, Brooklyn certainly got a lot better. On draft night in late June, the Nets made one of the biggest moves of the offseason. They traded away Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and three first-round picks to the Boston Celtics in exchange for future hall of famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, to go along with sharpshooter Jason Terry. They also picked up Andrei Kirilenko, who will play a decisive reserve role throughout the season.

Questions For The Season:

Can the veterans such as Pierce and KG stay healthy? Garnett, 37, and Pierce, 35 are two of the most important pieces in making this season successful for their new team, but getting through all 82 games could be an issue. Rookie head coach Jason Kidd realizes this, and has already stated that Garnett will “probably” not play in back-to-back games. Not only can this help prevent injuries, but it will keep him fresh as well come playoff time.

Brooklyn needs Deron Williams to lead them. Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Can Deron Williams be the star the Nets need him to be? Williams is coming off a great season, averaging 18.9 PPG, 7.7 APG while shooting over 45% from the field. While he has more talent around him than he has ever had before, the offense will still run through the 29-year-old point guard. Brooklyn is not getting any younger, and if they want to win, now is the time. Winning, however, begins with D-Will.

Can Jason Kidd Coach? With a proven, star-studded roster already intact, it will be interesting to see how Kidd, who competed against the Nets as a point guard just one season ago, will coach his new team. It will help having Lawrence Frank, who has served as head coach of the New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons as well as an assistant under Doc Rivers in Boston, right by his side throughout the season.

Season Prediction: 55-27, two seed in the Eastern Conference.

I do not foresee the Nets challenging the Mighty Miami Heat for the one seed in the conference, but Brooklyn is certainly capable of claiming the two seed. The competition, however, will be tough. Derrick Rose will be back on the court with the Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers will only continue to get better and the New York Knicks will also be in contention.


N.Y. State of Mind

Losers of 6 straight, and 9 of their last 10 games, the New York Knicks are in a bit of a, “funk,” so to speak.  Acquiring a major talent in one, Carmelo Anthony, just before the NBA Trade Deadline, seemed to be the next big step, in “Righting the Ship.”  However, the Knicks have found themselves in a worse predicament than they were before the deal.  A lot of people, namely “fans,” are suggesting that maybe that was the wrong move to make, in acquiring Anthony.  They feel that blowing up the team, and trading away its young talent, was a mistake.  A record of 7-9, and falling to the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, would also back those claims.  With the Knicks currently facing a potential playoff match-up with the Celtics, whom the Knicks are 0-3 against; the future doesn’t seem much brighter.

So who gets the blame in this situation?  We could point the finger at the Star Players, Melo & Amare, but they’ve performed consistently.  What about the bench…Or lack thereof?  Naaah, that’d just be a cop out of sorts and besides that only, consists of 3-4 players at max.  The finger can be pointed at the Front Office for making the deal, right?  Let’s face it; the Knicks weren’t exactly playing elite basketball prior to the trade.  Their record only stood, 2 games above .500, which isn’t saying much compared to where they are now.  There isn’t one specific, “Answer,” to the Knicks’ problems.  There are several things wrong with this team. Continue Reading