Sunday, June 12, 2011

Part 5.5 of 6 Summer Plans - School's Out Fo Summa!

(part 7 will be summer plans for Mavs and Heat, coming soon)

San Antonio Spurs 61-21
(Knocked in first round by a Grizzlies who lost last game of season so they would play Spurs in first round, ouch- but Manu was playing hurt)

Notable Free Agents - Tiago Splitter
Core players still on contract - Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, George Hill, DeJuan Blair

Recap: The Spurs started the season hot and never cooled off. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat and the top teams in the league. Then the playoffs came around and perhaps the age of Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess caught up to them as Zach Randolph torched them offensively and Marc Gasol scorned them with rebounds. Throughout the season though, they got solid contributions from Tim Duncan although he is light years away from his prime. Manu Ginobili played great this season and Tony Parker, besides the playoffs also had a good year. Richard Jefferson did not.

Look for them to: 1. Stay the same. 2. Look for inside presence.

There's not too much the team can do other than try and get younger. The core is pretty set in stone but with Tim Duncan getting a lot older and becoming more and more like David Robinson circa 2002-2004, the team needs to get some inside scoring, something DeJuan Blair does not quite have in his repertoire. But hey, they had the 2nd best record in the league, just got ousted by an up and coming Grizzly 8th seed who had the inside presence the Spurs lacked. But this team will almost look exactly the same. Still waiting on Tiago Splitter...

Oklahoma City Thunder 55-27 (Kendrick Perkins to the rescue! Oh wait, Dallas already took care of the Lakers)

Notable Free Agents - Nazr Mohammed
Core players still on contract - Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha

Recap: Coming off gold medals in the world championships in Turkey, MVP candidate Kevin Durant got this team rolling. Then they really shook things up by trading Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins (and Nate Robinson), to compete with the bigs of the western conference (most notably, champion favorite Lakers and Pau Gasol). Well it didn't quite work out when Dallas took them out and Kendrick couldn't keep up with Dirk. Then again, it seems like no one can keep up with Dirk. In the playoffs, everyone was giving Russell Westbrook a lot of flack for not giving the ball to Kevin Durant enough, how he's a SG playing a PG, how he took too many shots. I guess it's somewhat true, he averaged 17 FG attempts during the season with 7.7 FT attempts. In the playoffs, those numbers jumped to 20 FG attempts and 8.3 FT attempts. Will a rough playoffs require a huge shake up?

Look for them to: 1. Re-Sign Nazr Mohammed. 2. Look for a low post scoring center. 3. Not trade Russell Westbrook.

First things first, Nazr played well and they can sign him for cheap to keep some front court depth available. But the team's big men are not low post scorers. Kendrick Perkins is a defensive center. Serge Ibaka is a defensive power forward with a nice jump shot but no post moves. Nick Collison is a hustle, offensive rebounder power forward, who can play great defense and take charges. Nazr Mohammed is old and is strictly there for, you guessed it, defense off the bench. They drafted Cole Aldrich last year and he is... YES A DEFENSIVE CENTER. Just like many other teams they will be looking for big men this summer in either trades or free agency.

As for Russell Westbrook, the Thunder had better be getting a GREAT point guard if they do decide to trade but I highly doubt they will. This core will be healthy and will start playing together for an entire season next year and the west is severely weak now, and all the good teams are old (Spurs, Mavs, Lakers). The Thunder are young and the team of the future, another year together will serve them well and they'll do just fine.

Chicago Bulls 62-20 (You have no idea how certain I was that the Bulls would beat the Heat in five games)

Notable Free Agents - No one
Core players still on contract - Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng

Recap: MVP, Coach of the year, best record in the league, taken out by the three heat. New coach, Tom Thibodeau took this first round fodder and made them into a defensive stopper team. Derrick Rose upped his game and came up with the MVP award. And the team just rolled through the season and got the top seed! What's not to like?

Look for them to: 1. Sign or trade for a shooting guard. 2. Make another run with this core.

They lost to the Heat because Derrick Rose is the team's engine. Without him on the floor or being involved in a play, the team flounders. He creates his own shot or gets someone else involved in the play. If he's held down, the team will lose. LeBron and Wade guarded Rose and the Bulls couldn't get anything going. If you look at the box scores, Rose would have like 25 shots and near 10 assists making him in that rare company of people who can't be blamed for not shooting enough and can't be blamed for not getting his teammates involved (LeBron, Kobe). But if he can work on his 3 point game, he'll have defenders being honest and not sagging off him on defense, always playing the drive.

As for a shooting guard, Keith Bogans could be upgraded. He's good on defense but not much of an offensive threat. If the Bulls could do anything to improve their lineup, it's the SG position and there have been talks about a possible Richard Hamilton trade with some other team who would end up buying him out, allowing him to sign with the Bulls. Rich get richer.

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