The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Revisiting preseason predictions is something that most forget to do, unless you got something right. Although this post isn’t one that gloats about how close it was to predicting what happened last season, there is some valuable information that comes from it. Among them are things like how most projections saw the Jazz winning very few games if they played Rudy Gobert the number of minutes he played, and while it’s easy to say that Hassan Whiteside’s production was easy to predict due to his athleticism, nobody was giving him a chance before the Heat did. Finally in the most surprising news of the day, the Thunder won more games than they would have knowing the extent of Kevin Durant’s injury all because they didn’t play Kendrick Perkins.
Two players that have a lot to prove next season are Tobias Harris and Carmelo Anthony, although for two very different reasons. Harris is coming off a summer in which he signed a contract that pays him $64 million over four seasons. Harris averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds while maintaining a true shooting percentage of 55 percent – the highest of his career. Harris seems to be trending upward, and the same can’t be said for Anthony.
Two seasons ago, Melo averaged almost 29 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game with a true shooting percentage of 56 percent – also the highest of his career – on a Knicks’ team that won 54 games. While he was still excellent the next season, his team only managed to win 37 games in a weakened Eastern Conference, and was only able to play 40 games this past season before being shut down due to a knee injury. Melo will have to prove that he is one of the top players this season with a roster that is in a constant state of flux.
A “chucker” in the NBA is normally given to a player that shoots in isolation attempts without making a high percentage of those shots. This list gives a new definition to the term. While shooting a high number of shots is considered, there is no weight given to whether the shots go in or not – as Stephen Curry finishes fifth. Nurse also looks at whether or not a player is taking a contested shot and usage rate of a player. Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Russell Westbrook and J.R. Smith finish off the list, which should surprise nobody.
Most of what Sam Hinkie does now is criticized for one reason or another. As an unabashed fan of what Hinkie is doing, the contracts he’s signing second-round players to is the current trend among NBA general managers. Hinkie stockpiled second-round draft picks in the hope that one or more of them will turn out to be useful rotation players (although few ever are). In doing so, he’s signing the players to cheap contracts that aren’t guaranteed after the first season. This gives the 76ers the control if the player is obviously a bust after the first season. However, if the player shows potential after the first season, the team can choose to keep him around on an incredibly cheap, multi-year contract.
With seven spots seemingly spoken for in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the rest of the conference has hope at getting swept at the hands of the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs (except for the 76ers). The Pistons may have the best case in the conference with one of the league’s best coaches, a 22-year old big man that improves every season in Andre Drummond and a roster that may finally fit what Stan Van Gundy wants to do. The Magic may not have the best chance to make the playoffs, but among teams that aren’t locks in the East, they may be the most entertaining next season. With the majority of the core under 25, the future is bright for the Magic.