Bradley Beal Leads the Changing of the Shooting Guard
By Moke Hamilton
It was one of the more frigid January nights in the nation’s capital, but inside of Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center ensued a battle that nary a paying customer believed they would witness.
It was 2013 and the 4-28 Washington Wizards were seen as nothing more than an undisciplined bunch being led by John Wall—another entitled pro athlete who was given too much, too soon.
Kevin Durant—the man whose homecoming this night was—was the opposite.
Durant was the quintessential stud. Hard working, dedicated to his craft and doing whatever was necessary to win. As a resident of the Western Conference, he was making his annual trip to the District of Columbia.
Unfortunately for him, a rookie shooting guard that few had ever heard of ruined it; some kid named Bradley Beal.
2014-15 NBA Fantasy Focus: Sleepers
By Susan Bible
Forget pumpkins, fall festivals and football. This is the time of year to get your fantasy basketball strategy in order. Those who play the game have already made a mental list for draft day of their favorites in all positions. After the initial critical rounds have flown by, the field is open to round out your roster. Before automatically reaching for the obvious intermediate-type players, consider taking a chance with an unexpected pick. Basketball Insiders is here to help you analyze those sleeper picks that can potentially yield a surprise advantage while assembling your team for the 2014-15 NBA season.
As always, when we talk fantasy basketball here, it is based on nine-category fantasy scoring leagues that account for points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
These are our sleeper picks to seriously contemplate this season:
Dalembert Recalls Iverson Alley-Oops, Discusses New Role on Knicks
By Jessica Camerato
It has been four years since Samuel Dalembert played for the Phialdelphia 76ers. After nine seasons with the same organization, he has since suited up for the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and, currently, the New York Knicks. Even though he has donned numerous uniforms, he is still frequently associated with his first team.
“Another home again,” he said. “Everybody says (it seems like I was just with the 76ers) because I spent almost 10 years in Philly.”
The 76ers drafted Dalembert in 2001 and traded him to the Kings in the summer of 2010. During that time in Philadelphia, Dalembert developed a rapport with Allen Iverson on the court. The dunks became seamless – the crafty point guard to the anticipating big man.
How Big Is Kevin Durant’s Injury?
By Steve Kyler
With the news yesterday that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant may miss up to eight weeks after a Jones fracture (a small crack at the base of the small toe) surfaced in his right foot, the question becomes does this really matter in the grand scheme of things for the Thunder?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Last season in the Western Conference the difference between first place and home court throughout the playoffs was just three games. The Spurs ended the 2013-14 season with 62 wins versus the Thunder’s 59 wins. The season before the gap between first was just two games in the West with the Thunder notching 60 wins compared to San Antonio’s 58 wins.
So how does Durant missing most of November impact the Thunder?
Stan Van Gundy Settling In
By Yannis Koutroupis
Despite being given complete control of the Detroit Pistons this offseason, there wasn’t a reasonable method for Stan Van Gundy to make significant changes. There were plenty of opportunities, like trading Josh Smith to the Sacramento Kings or letting Greg Monroe leave via restricted free agency (where there was reportedly two teams willing to give him a max offer but didn’t due to a belief that the Pistons would match). However, none of those made enough sense for Van Gundy to pull the trigger, so instead he’s taking an approach similar to what Masai Ujiri did when he took over the Toronto Raptors last year.
Ujiri was expected to come in and clean house when he got the job in the summer of 2013, but wanted to see what they were capable of from an inside vantage point before making any roster-altering decisions. Early in the regular season, it was clear that Rudy Gay just didn’t fit with the personnel around him, and that is when Ujiri decided to act. He traded him to the Kings, which many viewed as the start of a massive rebuilding project, which typically occurs when a struggling team undergoes a change in management. Ujiri had an offer from the New York Knicks for starting point guard Kyle Lowry that he strongly considered, but during that process the team started to excel. Now, without any major moves outside of the Gay trade, the Raptors are viewed as one of the premier teams in the East, and Ujiri’s patience and faith is a major reason why.
Six Things to Know: NBA Southeast Division
By Cody Taylor
When looking at the Southeast Division, there is one obvious loss in the division: LeBron James. With the Miami HEAT losing James, the division is practically there for the taking. Outside of the Orlando Magic, the rest of the four teams all have a legitimate chance at winning the division.
While the talk of the division won’t be dominated by James and the HEAT this season for the first time in a long time, there are other things to keep an eye on as the season shakes out. Here are six things to know about the Southeast Division:
Six Things to Know: NBA Central Division
By John Zitzler
This week Basketball Insiders takes a look at six aspects of each division that may be flying under the radar. We kicked our series off with the Southeast Division, now we take a closer look at the Central Division.
The biggest news in the Central Division was of course made by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The return of LeBron James and the acquisition of Kevin Love makes them immediate title contenders. Other major headlines include three coaching changes: Jason Kidd in Milwaukee, David Blatt in Cleveland and Stan Van Gundy in Detroit. The Pacers also lost their star, Paul George, after he suffered a broken leg this summer while playing in a scrimmage for Team USA. While these events may have drawn the most attention, there are number of other items throughout that division that are worth mentioning. Here are six other things to key an eye on in the Central Division in 2014-15.
Utah Jazz Could Exceed Expectations
By Alex Kennedy
Entering last season, the Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Bobcats were projected to finish at the bottom of the standings. Both teams were extremely young and had first-time head coaches, so expectations were understandably low. However, Phoenix and Charlotte exceeded all projections, with the Suns winning 48 games and nearly earning the eighth seed in the competitive Western Conference and the Bobcats winning 43 games and making the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
The NBA can be unpredictable and there are a few of these overachieving teams every season. This year, the Utah Jazz could emerge as one of those squads that seemingly comes out of nowhere to turn heads. With a young roster and first-time head coach in Quin Synder, they have a lot in common with last year’s surprise teams.
NBA Rookie Extensions: Kawhi Leonard
By Nate Duncan
The 2014 rookie-extension class is one of the most interesting in several years due to the high number of quality players entering their fourth seasons. As most readers likely know by now, teams have until October 31 to reach extensions with first-rounders entering their fourth seasons or the players become restricted free agents next summer. This year, many of these players fall into the fascinating middle ground between total busts and obvious max outs, and their negotiations are further complicated by the unknown effect of the league’s recently-announced new TV deal.
Over the next couple weeks, we will take a look at some of the more interesting cases, beginning with a player whose negotiations are a lot more interesting than they would appear at first blush.
Former Laker Tony Gaffney Shares Kobe Bryant Stories
By David Pick
For journeyman forward Tony Gaffney, who bounced around four different Euro countries, the NBA surely isn’t his claim to fame.
With passport stamps from Israel, Turkey, Germany and Spain, the undrafted 6’9 defensive specialist enters his sixth season as pro. In between his stints abroad, Gaffney also registered 38 games with the Utah Flash of the D-League.
However, it was Gaffney’s five-month tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers that carved out the most unique chapter of his basketball journal.
For those who have forgotten, Gaffney stood out for the Lakers during the 2009 NBA Summer League en route to earning a spot at vet-camp. He was the last player cut from Phil Jackson’s roster.
The Shrinking Market For Rajon Rondo
By Lang Greene
Make no mistake about it, the Boston Celtics are in a state of rebuild. The memories of those epic playoff runs from 2008-2012 are quickly fading in the rearview mirror. Gone are stalwarts such as Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. That Hall of Fame ensemble has been replaced with names such as Brad Stevens, Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner.
Times are changing in Boston, but one name from those glory years still remains in the fold: point guard Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is entering the final year of his current deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will undoubtedly field questions regarding Rondo’s long term future with the franchise, much like he has the past two campaigns. However, those questions will be intensified as we approach the trade deadline. Teams rarely let talent, let alone top talent, walk out the door with the risk of receiving zero assets in return. That’s not the NBA way and that’s the decision Ainge faces over the next few months.
Six Things to Know: NBA Pacific Division
By Jesse Blancarte
This week, Basketball Insiders takes a look at six things to keep an eye on in each division. We kicked our series off with the Southeast Division, followed by the Central Division. Now, we take a look at the Pacific Division.
The Pacific Division again features two contenders in the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. The Warriors hired Steve Kerr to take over as head coach, while the Clippers got a new owner in Steve Ballmer as well as a few new role players. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns are looking to build off of last season’s surprising success after signing point guard Isaiah Thomas and re-signing Eric Bledsoe to a five-year contract. The Sacramento Kings enter this season led by DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, both of whom won gold medals this summer with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. Also, the Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of one of their worst seasons in franchise history, but bring back a healthy Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, along with some other key additions and a new head coach in Byron Scott.
A Look at Extensions, Options & Final Rosters
By Eric Pincus
The 2014-15 NBA regular season is less than two weeks away. While most general managers are close to finalizing their 15-man rosters, teams still have a number of items to resolve before November.
Teams have until Halloween to ink extensions with first-round picks in the final year of their rookie contract.
Thus far three extensions have been signed. The Phoenix Suns extended Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, while the Denver Nuggets extended Kenneth Faried.
The following players are eligible for a contract extension:
Saric Coming to NBA Soon?
By Joel Brigham
With two top-10 picks in this past summer’s draft, it looked as though the Philadelphia 76ers would end up with enough young talent to start turning things around, but instead of drafting, say, Dante Exum and Doug McDermott, players who could have helped immediately, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie went with an injured Joel Embiid and Euro star Dario Saric, who signed a new two-year contract with Turkish club Anadolu Efes days before the 2014 NBA Draft, essentially preventing him from playing in the NBA the next couple of seasons.
That plan hasn’t changed, despite recent rumblings that Saric already is unhappy playing in Turkey.
Saric’s father, Pedrag Saric, recently told a Croatian newspaper that his son was unhappy with his minutes. Having just been made a lottery pick and having been one of Euroleague’s biggest rising stars the last few years, it would make sense that Saric probably isn’t thrilled about riding the pine.
Fantasy: Top-150 Overall Rankings for 2014-15 NBA season
By Tommy Beer
It’s that time of year folks… With the commencement of the 2014-15 NBA less than two weeks away, the majority of fantasy basketball drafts will be held over the next 10 days. Thus, we are rolling out our most comprehensive and complete rankings to date.
Listed below are the official Top-150 overall ranks for the 2014-15 campaign.
Please note: These rankings are based on nine-category fantasy scoring leagues that account for points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
Beneath the rankings, I have listed a handful of players that just missed the cut. I have also included a few random stats and other interesting tidbits to help explain the thinking behind a handful of these selections…
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- Pistons’ Kelly Olynyk marries longtime girlfriend Jackie McNulty
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