Offseason roundtable (cont.)
Amick: I'm bending the rules a bit here, but this vote goes to Boston's additions of shooting guards Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. You can never have enough scorers when a point guard like Rajon Rondo is running the show, and the 35-year-old Terry (15.1 points last season in Dallas) and the 26-year-old Lee (11.4 points in Houston) should do more than enough to make up for the loss of Ray Allen to Miami. Defensive-minded starter Avery Bradley will fit nicely at that position, too.
Forrester: Lost in the subhead of the Howard trade was Denver's acquisition of Iguodala. If GM Masai Ujiri dreamed up the perfect complement for a team that played at the second-fastest pace in the league last season yet ranked only 19th in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions), he might have come up with Iguodala. He didn't come cheap, but he'll have no trouble finishing off Ty Lawson's charges up the floor, and he relishes the opportunity to defend the best opposing wing player game in, game out (Iguodala held small forwards -- against whom he primarily played with the Sixers -- to an 8.7 Player Efficiency Rating last season, with 15 representing an average player). The move, along with the return of center JaVale McGee, could have the Nuggets comfortably among the West's top four with a puncher's chance of scaring the Thunder or Lakers.
Jenkins: Assuming LeBron James approaches this season the way he did the Finals, drawing constant double teams in the post and firing to the perimeter, Allen will enjoy a lot of open three-pointers in Miami. For all the Celtics' threats, they don't have players who require quick doubles the way the Heat do. Allen will be the ultimate beneficiary.
Mannix: Darren Collison isn't Deron Williams, but he was having an OK season before being unceremoniously dumped from Indiana's starting lineup last year. Collison is young (25) but has been an effective starter for most of his three NBA seasons. The Mavericks still have plenty of offensive firepower; don't be surprised to see Collison have another strong season and Dallas sneak into the top five in the Western Conference.
Thomsen: You have to start with Allen, who makes a championship team better by becoming the No. 4 option in Miami. He was tough enough to guard in Boston, and now it's going to be even harder to deal with him in the last two minutes of a tight game alongside James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. At the same time, I can see how Boston's move for Lee gives the Celtics hope: They pushed Miami to a Game 7 last season with a decimated bench, so what if contributors like Lee, Terry, Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Chris Wilcox are healthy and able to take pressure off Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce throughout the season?
To turn the question the other way, I also like the fact that Oklahoma City didn't mess with its core rotation. Rookie forward Perry Jones and center Hasheem Thabeet will fit in along the edges as long-term projects, but the Thunder maintained their investment in their ever-improving foundation. Their underrated move was to show patience and wisdom, because to make any changes to their core would have set them back.
Amick: Sacramento point guard Aaron Brooks. I liked the move when the Kings first brought him on board, but the competition at his spot could result in a rough year for the 2010 Most Improved Player, who spent last season in China. Former second-round pick Isaiah Thomas ignored all the Jimmer Fredette hype and seized the starting position last year. He's capable of holding on to the job this time around, too, meaning Brooks, who is essentially entering his walk year because his two-year, $6.6 million deal has a player option in the second season, could be left searching for minutes behind Fredette, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons and Marcus Thornton.
Forrester: Jeremy Lin. No, it wasn't smart for New York to set him free, but a Rockets team still searching for a blockbuster deal may not be the ideal atmosphere for Lin to recreate his magic. Realistically, the Rockets know they weren't signing the next Nash, but the fanfare about his departure has raised expectations to a likely unreasonable level. Further complicating Lin's progress is the fact that he's swapping the big-man tandem of Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler for an as-yet undistinguished Patrick Patterson and an effective but limited Omer Asik. Kevin McHale understands the NBA mindset as well as anyone coaching today, but there's only so much a point guard can do without reliable talent around him. Lin may yet prove to be worth the hype, but it won't be easy.
Jenkins: Howard will need an adjustment period, especially on offense, given that he's coming off back surgery and will have to play alongside other legitimate stars for the first time in Los Angeles. There's a chance Howard will miss the start of the season, and in that time, Nash will surely establish a rapport with Bryant and Gasol. Howard may have to mesh on the fly. Of course, the Lakers won't need him scoring 20 points every game. As long as he protects the rim, and remains active on defense, he will fit in just fine.
Mannix: As a low-paid (by NBA standards) backup center, Asik looks great. But as an $8-million-per-year player, Asik's flaws -- basically, his offense -- will be talked about a lot. Unless McHale can inject some of his own offensive genius into Asik, it's hard to see the former Bull living up to that contract.
Thomsen: I wonder how it's going to play out for Raymond Felton with the Knicks. He had the best two months of his career in New York with Mike D'Antoni's offense, but now the Knicks are going to need him to organize their team while playing a slower and more traditional style. Jason Kidd is going to play at least half of each game at point guard, obviously, but if the Knicks can't find a way to bring out the best in both Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire when they're on the court together, then there is going to be a lot of second-guessing of their decision to let go of Lin -- which will lead to criticism of Felton as Lin's replacement.
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