You take 302 more shots than your opponents. You make 11 fewer. You are the CLEVELAND CAVALIERS, suffering through the NBA equivalent of smoking more and enjoying it less. A trade for Melvin Turpin, a 6'11" offensive center, will allow promising 6'9" Roy Hinson, who blossomed late last season and was MVP of the Southern California Summer League, to play his natural position, power forward. New coach George Karl also hopes to get more speed from former-Hawk Davis.
The HOUSTON ROCKETS are unbeatable if you're tossing quarters up in the air. With basketballs it's another matter. To haul in 7-foot Akeem Olajuwon and 7'4" Ralph Sampson in consecutive drafts, the Rockets had to win two straight coin flips—and lose a lot of games. Sampson was the unanimous choice as the 1983-84 Rookie of the Year, but he often hoisted J's from the outer reaches. This year he'll play power forward to Olajuwon's pivot. Among the supporting players, none is more important than point guard John Lucas.
"We're guardedly optimistic," says CHICAGO BULLS general manager Rod Thorn. The guards to which Thorn unwittingly refers are Quintin Dailey, Ennis Whatley and Olympic hero Michael Jordan, whose acrobatics alone will double attendance at Chicago Stadium. With the arrival of 7-foot Caldwell Jones, obtained from Houston for Mitchell Wiggins, center Dave Corzine's minutes should go down (from 32.6 per game last season) and his effectiveness up.
The INDIANA PACERS are the best-off bad team in basketball. Their biggest advantage is their youth, which begins with 36-year-old coach George Irvine, extends across their tyro front line of Clark Kellogg, Steve Stipanovich and Herb Williams and runs through the rest of the roster, which averages 23.4 years. Irvine is installing a running game, figuring that former coach McKinney's half-court, patterned offense only highlighted Indiana's feckless guard play. Vern Fleming, picked only 18th in the first round, became an Olympic backcourt starter after the draft and will help immediately. The highlight of the season, though, will probably come on Feb. 10, when the Pacers host the NBA All-Star Game.
The GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS have succeeded in missing the playoffs for a remarkable seven straight seasons. Larry Smith boards with the best and Purvis Short shoots with the sweetest, but without an effective center (free-agent Joe Barry Carroll is being held out by agent Howard Slusher as they seek a reported $1-million-a-year deal) or a consistent scoring guard—even wide awake, Sleepy Floyd doesn't qualify—Golden State's fate is going to be eight.