By: Opinionated MJ
Welcome to another installment of the “NBA Landscape” series. Let’s jump right in to a few intriguing teams going into the 2016-17 NBA Season. Representing the Eastern Conference, yes, the conference I think possibly has NO chance to stop Cleveland regardless of how interesting they may get. I Like these teams but I believe they’re still one major piece short. That piece could be the growth of a player already existing on their roster.
The Pacers have found themselves loaded with talent in their starting lineup now and actually look very scary with Paul George another year removed from injury and with an entire season of health under his belt. No Danny Granger curse here. The Pacers now consist of Paul George, Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague, Myles Turner, and Thaddeus Young just to name a few. They now have the depth that it takes to make a deep run in the NBA Playoffs. The only question is, will their new coach Nate McMillan be able to translate his defensive prowess into these players and onto the court while also finding an offensive system to get this collection of players to coexist in. I guess people will be saying Teague is declining because he won’t be finishing as much as he did in Atlanta, he won’t have to. Their X-factor that can bring them success is Myles Turner. He needs to grow and continue to expand his game. If he can successfully fit in around a bunch of ball dominant guards, this team can potentially contend against a LeBron James Cavaliers team. If not, they’re doomed to be defeated by King James as easy as Toronto and Atlanta have been in the past.
Very intriguing as well but they’ve also landed an ex-Hawk in Al Horford. I’m not too fond of that 60 win Hawks teams from 2 seasons ago because they still folded against LeBron when it mattered just as they did during the playoffs this past year. They still have Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Gerald Green, Avery Bradley, and the rookie Jaylen Brown. This team just keeps expanding their depth every year. I really think they just need to either find the formula the 2004 Detroit Pistons found by having depth and defense with sparky offense, or they need to try to find a way to land a superstar by DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES! Allegedly they could’ve landed Jimmy Butler, should’ve pushed for DeMarcus Cousins, and were in the running for Kevin Durant. A lot of people thought they would land Russell Westbrook but he decided to stay in OKC. I see Boston being more of the same since Al Horford doesn’t really want to play with his back to the basket. He’ll provide relief for Thomas. The Celtics need more perimeter defenders in case they fall to the injury bug again when it matters most. If you lose Bradley, Crowder, and even Thomas’ scoring when it matters most, you’re doomed. More depth may be the key. Maybe if Jaylen Brown can make an instant impact then they’ll be better than expected. He is their X-factor.
My lovely DETROITTTTTTTTTT BASSSSSSKETTTTTBALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!! I expect big things from this Pistons team coming into the 16-17 season. First things first, young Drummond. You must improve your free throws! This team is doomed unless… Stanley Johnson begins to find his inner Kawhi Leonard. I expect big things from him to go along with his attitude that he stands down to no man. I actually appreciate him for that reason. A lot of Cavs fans and NBA fans around the globe were saying that he should’ve kept his mouth shut. I beg to differ. What better to do being a #8 seed, underdog, gritty, new, young Pistons team making the playoffs for the first time in years and you get to see LEBRON JAMES as your opposition. It’s already win or go home. Sense of urgency from round 1! What better way to improve than to play against the absolute best team in the Eastern Conference and arguably the best player on the planet? Who better to talk smack to so you can be forced to elevate your game or be embarrassed. No matter the result, you win, due to the stage that this team is in. You automatically improve. He’s 19 (probably 20 now). He’s a kid! Already has the mindset of a man ready to put in the work to reach the goals and expectations set by his peers, the fans, and most importantly, his coach. Stan Van Gundy has a real diamond in the rough with Stanley Johnson. He IS the X-factor for the Detroit Pistons. I expect them to be top 4 in the East and as good as top 3. We stole Tobias Harris midseason, we’ve allowed Jackson a year to be the man running the show, we have Drummond who is capable of 20 & 20 on any night, and we also have Morris and KCP who can drop 20 without you expecting it at all. We have a well-rounded team. We just need Drummond to have a season where he plays better defense and can convert on 60-70% of his free throws. We were the BEST COMPETITION IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS against the Cavs. Everybody else tucked their tail in and cowered in fear. I say that with absolute confidence because it is true. LeBron hasn’t had any competition in the east but 1 team every year. The Heat were expected to be the competition but fell to the injury bug, piece by piece.
I’ll stop it at the Pistons. I’ll also get into the Knicks, Bulls, and express what I expect from teams like the Wolves, 76ers, Lakers, and more in upcoming articles. The Knicks are surrounded in mystique at this point. I also wouldn’t sleep on the Bulls. The defense I expect from them would resemble something like that of the Wade, Bron, Bosh Miami Heat. Durant, OKC, Pelicans, Jazz, Suns!! Can’t wait for this season!
Until next article!