Atlanta Hawks: Who will head coach Larry Drew start on the wings? Jeff Teague will likely beat out Devin Harris at the PG while Josh Smith & Al Horford are locked in at the PF-C. My guess is Lou Williams will start at the SG and Anthony Morrow slides down to the SF. This team needs scoring with the departure of Joe Johnson so they might as well start their biggest guns. Josh Smith also appears unlikely to get that contract extension he covets…will he be moody in training camp?
Brooklyn Nets: The team re-signed star Deron Williams and acquired star Joe Johnson…their starting backcourt now features 2 All-Stars. The problem is, there’s only one basketball. Neither guy has ever played with another star in the backcourt (other than on TeamUSA). How will they mesh on offense? Also, will Brook Lopez continue to improve despite geting a max contract? Kris Humphries also got a raise this summer ($12M/yr)….will he earn it?
Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett is on record saying that he doesn’t want to start at center this season. The only other 7-footers on the roster are Darko Milicic, Jason Collins, and rookie Fab Melo. What will Doc Rivers do? I predict Darko starting for a couple of months, and then KG bemoaningly sliding down to the ’5′ for another stab at a ring.
Charlotte Bobcats: Can rookie head coach Mike Dunlap command the respect of an NBA roster? In his advantage is that this roster is closer to a college team than a pro team judging by age.
Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer may make SuperStar money but his game these days is that of a role player. Taj Gibson, meanwhile, makes much less money but can affect the game in many more ways. Could Taj push ‘Booze’ out of the starting lineup? If I had NBA 2k13, I’d start Gibson.
injuries: Derrick Rose (knee)
Cleveland Cavaliers: Are Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters as good as advertised in the backcourt? I’m sold on ‘Uncle Drew’ but I don’t know about the new kid.
Dallas Mavericks: Can Rick Carlisle resurrect the defensive wizardry that got them the 2011 NBA Championship? Zone defense is nice, but Chris Kaman is no Tyson Chandler.
Denver Nuggets: Does this team have too many ‘bigs’? George Karl’s team is again 10-men deep (two at each position). Look for all emphasis to be on defense in training camp as last year their offense just fine (1st in scoring, scoring in the paint, scoring on the fastbreak, and assists).
Detroit Pistons: The team drafted Andre Drummond at center. He may be ready to start this season, which means Greg Monroe will moves to the PF. Greg says he’s excited to make the move. In this NBA, however, a 6’11″ 240 lbs forward is not a good look.
Golden State Warriors: Will this team ever be at 100% strength? Stephen Curry (and his gimpy ankle) says yes…history says no. When healthy, they boast star talent at every position, especially PG & C.
Houston Rockets: Will Jeremy Lin take control of this team and be their franchise player? (wow, what a difference a year makes…). He’s already preaching “ego-free” basketball…already a far cry from his Knicks days.
Indiana Pacers: How will center Roy Hibbert play with a new max contract? He’s always been a gym rat and a professional but how will he handle the increased pressure?
Los Angeles Clippers: Can Chris Paul get some reps before opening night? He’s currently participating in everything except scrimmages while still recovering from minor thumb surgery. Also, is Blake Griffin’s knee really 100% after his surgery?
injuries: Chris Paul (thumb)
Los Angeles Lakers: How will the team pick-up that new Princeton offense of assistant coach Eddie Jordan’s? Also, can Dwight get a game or two under his belt before opening night (he’s already start flip flopping on his return date)?
injuries: Dwight Howard (back), Steve Blake (foot)
Memphis Grizzlies: Will a healthy Zach Randolph re-assume the team’s leadership role from Rudy Gay? This team is best when Z-Bo is ‘the man’.
injuries: Darrel Arthur (leg)
Miami Heat: Can Chris Bosh really play center? Is Mike Miller really healthy?? Will anyone other than Lebron James play in the preseason??? Don’t expect many highlights this preseason as this group is still on the mend and will ease into things.
injuries: Dwyane Wade (knee), Ray Allen (ankle), Rashard Lewis (knee)
Milwaukee Bucks: Can Brandon Jennings & Monta Ellis establish chemistry with a full training camp together? If they’re right, the backcourt talent is overwhelming.
Minnesota Timberwolves: This team has a lot of young talent mixed with toughness inside, but can they stir the drink without the Spanish straw known as Ricky Rubio? He’ll be out until at least January after knee surgery.
injuries: Ricky Rubio (knee)
New Orleans Hornets: Is Anthony Davis ready to be a full-time player, let alone a franchise player? Someone’s gotta be the leader in camp.
New York Knicks: Who’s starting at SG? Shumpert & Brewer are both recovering from knee surgery, which leaves J.R. Smith as the only other 2-guard. Personally, I’d rather start Kurt Thomas at the ’2′. Meanwhile, will Kidd start ahead of Felton at PG? I say start them both until Shumpert returns. The volatile Smith must ONLY be used off the bench.
injuries: Iman Shumpert (knee), Ronnie Brewer (knee), Rasheed Wallace (conditioning)
Oklahoma City Thunder: Will the dynamic of this team be different? Serge Ibaka got paid, James Harden didn’t get paid, and Russell Westbrook is no longer a #2 option to Kevin Durant…they’re equals. The Thunder schedule will be helpful this preseason. The team doesn’t play its first exhibition game until Oct. 10th and then ends the preseason with a week of pracice. Scott Brooks is going to need the extra practice time if he’s to get the assist numbers of this team up from last year (they were last w/ 18.5 apg).
injuries: Kendrick Perkins (wrist)
Orlando Magic: Can Jacque Vaughn really coach? He’s been an assistant coach for a while, but I’ve never actually heard him speak in his entire career (playing included). Good luck “JV”.
Philadelphia 76ers: Is Andrew Bynum’s knee okay or will this be a lingering problem all year? Also, who is starting at SF…Thaddeus Young? Nick Young? Dorrell Wright? My guess is Thad.
injuries: Andrew Bynum (knee)
Phoenix Suns: Can small ball win without Steve Nash? Who better to try than Nash’s former understudy Goran Dragic…
Portland Trail Blazers: Is rookie PG Damian Lillard for real? He, and the team, seem to think so. He’s from Oakland so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt (see Payton, Kidd, Shaw).
Sacramento Kings: This is DeMarcus Cousins’ team now, especially after the team declined to extend Tyreke Evans. But is DC ready for the responsibility? He’s got leadership personality, but does he have the maturity? Also, how will ’Reke’ ball without the contract? More drama coming in Sactown…..
San Antonio Spurs: What lineup will Popovich use? We know Duncan & Parker are starting. We also know that Manu likely will still come off of the bench. Which scrubs will Pop dust off and prop up in the starting lineup this year? I don’t think the world can take another year of Diaw starting…..
Toronto Raptors: Can this team finally play some defense? Head coach Duane Casey has been begging for more D…luckily his contract is guaranteed. Speaking of ‘D’, Demar DeRozan is being pegged as the team’s franchise player (ahead of Bargnani). Is he ready?
Utah Jazz: Can PF Derrick Favors take the next step with Al Jefferson getting most the touches at C? Favors is more talented, but Al is more dependable.
Washington Wizards: Is John Wall ready to take next step? He’ll be out of the lineup till December with a knee injury….ouch. Nene, too, is slow to recover from plantar fasciitis. Will it linger all season?
injuries: John Wall (knee), Nene (foot)