5 teams on the rise this NBA season

 

Anthony Davis

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The NBA offseason has been filled with numerous trades, draft picks and signings, but which teams are poised to make the best improvements this season? Some teams have made themselves legitimate contenders and some are just trying to play meaningful games in April and further on. Here are five NBA teams who are ready to make a big impact, or in some cases any impact this season.

New Orleans Hornets (21-45 Last Year)

New Orleans struggled mightily last year as their star player Eric Gordon only played nine games. Once he went down things began to get ugly. The Hornets had an abysmal year after Chris Paul was traded away. Brighter days are ahead though, due to some lucky ping-pong balls the Hornets landed Anthony Davis and also drafted Austin Rivers. With New Orleans matching the offer to Gordon the team has the most promising core in the NBA. With this year being the first year that this core is together do not expect a playoff berth, but do expect them to be this seasons must watch on League Pass.

Toronto Raptors (23-43 Last Year)

Canada’s only basketball teams took some steps this summer to become a playoff team. The Raptors took a heavy swing at Steve Nash and missed. Landry Fields will be playing his first season under his very large contract and should make an impact. This year the Raptors took a surprising pick in Terrence Ross, who I believe will be amazing for this franchise. The biggest impact in Jonas Valanciunas, the 5th pick in last year’s draft. The Raptors are hoping this guy will live up to his potential this season. With high-flyer Demar DeRozan and excellent point guard in Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in 4 years.

Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40 Last Year)

This team is ready to become great. Kahn has made some nice moves this summer to make a scary looking young team. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love were lighting it up while the Wolves still couldn’t sniff a playoff berth. Summer signings in Brandon Roy, the Russian duo of Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved, and signing a  backup big man Greg Stiemsma  will make this team a lot more deeper. If Ricky Rubio can pick up where he left off and Brandon Roy can become his old self again, the Timberwolves will have no need to watch the 2013 draft lottery and will be ready to make some noise late in the season.

Golden State Warriors (23-43 Last Year)

Mark Jackson said the Warriors were going to make the playoffs last year, he should’ve waited a season to say that because this year’s team is more talented and deeper than last season. Andrew Bogut is a top 5 center in the league, with health pending. The Warriors do not have a star-studded team that is necessary to win in this lopsided NBA, but they have a deep enough team and amazing team chemistry to make the playoffs this year. You never know, maybe Golden State could pull off what they did in 2007 and get to the 2nd round. They have the tools to do so. Lots of questions can be asked about the Warriors but I think the two young men Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes will be hungry to help Golden State make the postseason.

Brooklyn Nets (22-44 Last Year)

This team is looking to make a giant step forward this season. The move to Brooklyn and the fact the Deron Williams did not move franchises over the offseason was a vital step. Pair one of the best point guards in the league with a prolific scorer in Joe Johnson and a solid front court player in Brook Lopez the new look Nets should see a vast improvement compared to finishing 22 games under .500 and causing some problems in the playoffs and have at least a fourth seed.

Morgan Grimmett is an NBA writer for The Sports Blitz and can be contacted at MGrimmett@TheSportsBlitz.com.

NBA Mock Draft (Part I)

Anthony Davis

With the NBA Draft only hours away, I figured I may as well present only ONE mock draft of the 1st round. Last year, my 2011 NBA mock drafts did not pan out as well as I would have hoped. Regardless of my poor NBA mock draft history, I have listed why each of these picks for each team would make sense. I am posting this on behalf of the current draft order as of 6 P.M. on Wednesday night, 24 hours before the 2012 NBA Draft.

Therefore, here are my first 15 mock draft selections for Thursday’s NBA Draft, enjoy!

1. New Orleans Hornets: PF Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Do I really have to talk about how Davis was named SEC Player of the Year or won the Wooden Award? Or should I talk about how he became the first Kentucky basketball player EVER to win the Naismith Award while winning a National Championship in his lone collegiate season? Point is, the guy is clearly the best player in the 2012 NBA Draft. If the Hornets can re-sign shooting guard Eric Gordon, these two could become a nice tandem down in New Orleans.  Read More…

4 things to watch for in the NBA Draft

Anthony DavisThe NBA Draft is soon upon us and is coming up faster than you think. The draft is going to take place just two days after game seven of the finals, if necessary. Which leaves us sports fans only two days to cram the most up to date knowledge about this years upcoming rookie class. With this in mind, here are four things to watch for on June, 28.

The number two pick in this year’s NBA Draft is something to watch for.  After Anthony Davis there really is no clear number two selection like there has been in recent drafts prior. This is definitely not due to lack of talent because this is one of the deepest drafts in the past decade. This is because any one from Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could easily be ideal selections. No matter who gets at the number two spot though, whoever it is will have their hands dealt trying to turn the Charlotte Bobcats around.

Dion Waiters from Syracuse, one of the most intriguing prospects,  has had rising draft stock recently. So high that a team has promised to take him if he does not do any more workouts for teams and have limited participation in the combine. This is strange because Waiters was not supposed to get drafted in the top ten in some people’s draft boards, but it is looking like a team really wants Waiters and is ready to be a little risky to obtain him. Hopefully the GM behind this will be exposed on draft night by selecting Waiters earlier than some may have expected. It does not really matter which team he goes to, Dion Waiters has the ability to be one of the best guards of this draft class in the next five years.

The Portland Trail Blazers have finally signed a general manager. Rip City faithful are rejoicing by this front office move. Neil Oshley has his hands full on draft day. The Blazers have the 11th pick in a loaded draft and the 6th pick acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for Gerald Wallace. Portland also has many trade assets that could be of disposal. Over the past couple years Blazer’s front office have done lots of activity during draft night and expect this year to be no different what so ever. This is by far one of the most pivotal drafts in Rip City history and I have a feeling Neil Oshley will not mess it up by drafting a big man who will get injured, something Trail Blazer’s fans are still bitter about.

Boston Celtics have the number 21 and 22 pick this year and need something drastic to reload. Boston has expiring contracts with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. This could mean they need two draft picks to come in right away and contribute or need someone to be able to fill the starting role two years from now. Interesting scenario as well, what if Austin Rivers from Duke fell all the way to 21? Would Danny Ainge take him because of Doc? Would Austin feel resentful? Could Danny Ainge be looking to pull off some trade that makes the Celtics highly competitive next year? Only time will tell for all of these things to watch for in just under a week and a half.

Morgan Grimmett is a sportswriter for The Sports Blitz and can be contacted at MGrimmett@SportsBlitz.com, or can be followed on Twitter @MLeeGrimmett

NBA mock draft: 2012 1st round

Anthony Davis1. New Orleans Hornets- Anthony Davis PF (Kentucky): This is a no-brainer. It wasn’t a question of if Davis would be the first pick but who would get the lucky ping-pong ball to draft him. The Hornets will begin their rebuild with Davis, a future all-star, because of his defensive skills alone. If Davis continues to work on his mid-range jump shot and develop a post game…he could turn into a superstar.

2. Charlotte Bobcats- Thomas Robinson PF (Kansas): Although we have doubts on Robinson’s size, (6’8.75” with shoes) his heart, tenacity and strength will make him a good player. It is unlikely Robinson will be a bust but he isn’t the kind of player you build around. Barnes or Beal would be better picks here because of their ability to score. The Bobcats struggled mightily scoring last season. Also, look for the Bobcats to possibly trade out of this spot for more assets.

3. Washington Wizards- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SG (Kentucky): Kidd-Gilchrist is a great talent but is inconsistent shooting the basketball. He is a fiery competitor and is excellent on the fast break however. He and John Wall would make an exciting backcourt.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Harrison Barnes SF (North Carolina): When the Cavs had the 1st and 4th picks last year, they were disappointed that Barnes had decided to stay another year. Well, there’s a very good chance he’ll be there this year for them at number four. Barnes is a great shooter and has even more talent than he showed in college. He might not be the next Kobe but I think he’s a rich man’s Danny Granger, and that’s a pretty good player to pair with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Watch out for the Cavs in a few years, they seem to be on the verge of a Thunder-like rise.

5. Sacramento Kings- Andre Drummond C (Connecticut): The Kings apparently would like to trade back from this spot. If they stay, there are a lot of directions they could go. Despite the pick of Jimmer Fredette last season, they need a true point guard. Tyreke Evans is on the block. Marcus Thornton is producing at shooting guard and will be a King for five more years. So, the guard situation is a little messy for the Kings right now. Lillard would be a nice fit but I think they go for Drummond if he’s there. Drummond and Cousins would be dangerous together given their character issues. However, if both discover their potential (Cousins is well on his way) that could be a lethal duo. Read more here…

Will Anthony Davis be New Orleans’ Savior?

Anthony DavisNew Orleans as a city has experienced so many hardships ranging from natural disasters to sinking in the pits from the Bounty Gate scandal with the New Orleans Saints. I’m sure that is purely coincidental but the Hornets happen to beat out the NBA’s worst Charlotte Bobcats for the number one overall pick. Call it luck, fate, cheating it doesn’t matter…

It’s no secret that with the top overall NBA draft pick, the New Orleans Hornets will select Anthony Davis from the Kentucky Wildcats. Anthony Davis will bring his 14 points 10 rebounds four blocks and two steals to this team, that is in desperate need of his services. This kid has an amazing amount of potential and the ceiling for him could very well be high. When you think about it however, being only 19 years of age, he has a tremendous amount of pressure on him. Read more here…

Is Kentucky’s Anthony Davis the next Bill Russell?

Anthony DavisAnthony Davis of the Kentucky Wildcats will undoubtedly be the unanimous No. 1 overall draft pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. His play throughout his freshman year has been, how do we say? DOMINANT!Averaging 14 points 10 rebounds four blocks and two steals, how can you question his dominance on a basketball court? Leading Kentucky to a national championship, he has shown his impact on the game in many ways other than scoring. His stats from the championship game were six points 16 rebounds five assists six blocks and three steals. Read more here…