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Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith.
Now or never. The 27 years old forward, with the departure of Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets, will see his role as first player of the team strengthened. Some of the pressure will be on Al Horford, too, but Josh Smith, on his final contract year, has the quality and the talent to reduce the gap with the very best players in the league, and, therefore, become the go-to-guy in every situation – and also increase his market value.
Last season Josh Smith, who did not miss any of the 66 games, increased his points and rebounds figures, finishing with 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, almost a double-double. The points per game dropped a bit, while the rebounds increased, during the five playoff games- he was out for one game due an injury- against the Boston Celtics. That was his shortest playoff run ever. Now he might have realized that the best thing would be to move somewhere else, after having showed all his skills in the next season.
Boston Celtics: Jeff Green.
When the Boston Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for Oklahoma’s Nenad Krstic and Jeff Green, they were obviously were hoping for a better sporting profit. Perkins, after leaving his best on court friend, has become a leader in the second best team in the NBA while Jeff Green, after 26 difficult games, had to miss all the 2011-12 season because of a heart surgery.
In those 26 games Green showed difficulties in adapting in the C’s system, very different from the one he was used to with Kevin Durant and Co. Green’s PPS dropped by 0.356 (also because he played less minutes)but his FG% increased from 0.437 to 0.485.
Of course the Boston Celtics did not know about Green’ health problem –while the Thunder might have known. So they are not to blame for what happened last season and the good thing is that Green is back and that he is healthy. But if, as expected, the Green will give J Green a new, rich contract, he will have to do something to prove the front office right.
The talent is out of doubt. Jeff Green is very versatile, can play in different positions, can score, rebound and pass the ball. But the time has come for him to become decisive and take his responsibilities. In order to do so, two things have to come together. Firstly, Doc Rivers, a very wise coach, and his staff will need to help the guy, make him feel comfortable and make him fit in the system. Secondly, Jeff Green has to convince himself of his capability.
Will this be the right season?
Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams.
What should be obvious, might be worthy repeating again. A new location, a new arena and a new logo will not be enough for a NBA title. I am sorry Nets fans if you thought the contrary.
Mikahil Prokhorov’s promises have brought, this summer, two talented players to the roster, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace. But they are not Dwight Howard and, therefore, the PG out of Illinois will be again the sole leader of the team.
The Team USA gold medallist scored 21.0 points per game during the last season, his second highest career average, but the assists per game fell drastically. After his rookie year, the only one with less than 30 minutes per game, William always finished his seasons averaging between 9.3 and 12.8 assists per match. During last season, however, he dished out “only” 8.7 winning passes per night. These numbers could reveal a lack of trust in the teammates, first of all, but also in the management. Lack of trust that could lead to discontent and trade request? We do not know that, but we suggest the Nets’ fans to enjoy their hero as long as they can. If he will stay and lead the team to a bright future, even better.
Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker.
While it will interesant to see how the second overall pick at the last draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, will impact the game, and how new added Ramon Sessions can help this team, this should be the season of Kemba Walker proving that is the present, and the future, of b-ball.
Walker finished his rookie season with good stats, everybody however knows in what team he was playing and what they managed to do (7 victories).
12.1 points, 4.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 27 minutes per game. He shot 0.305 from beyond the arc but his FT% was not exceptional (0.789). Kemba Walker is expeceted to confirm those numbers in his second year, but also to up them. The questions is whether or not he can do so in a more competive and more organized team. If, obviously, the Bobcats will become more competitive an organized.
In his first year Walker has shown his ball-handling and penetration skills and his speed. The 2011 NCAA champion knows how to go to the rim but in order to become a bigger threat he needs to work on other ways to score and learn how to be a PG who controls the game and knows when to speed up and when to slow down.
Chicago Bulls: Luol Deng.
Will Derirck Rose return and be as decisive as he was before the injury? We think so and therefore we focus on another player.
Luol Deng has costantly grown since his firts year in the League. Maybe not in the stats, that lighlty swinged up and down through the years, but in what stats cannot count, like leadership, confidence, defensive presence, dirty work and so on. And so Deng’s first All-Star selection came as no surprise.
After the Olympics, where he might have realised that Team GB is still far behind other countries, Deng will focus only on the upcoming season and give, as usual, everything he has.
Without D-Rose all the other players need to step up, Deng in primis. More than they did against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Is Luol Deng ready to take the team on his strong shoulders?