It was a very bad basketball decision to sign Kevin Love to a 4-year, $120 million extension. Being a team that barely sneaks into the playoffs or one that picks late in the lottery, is not a recipe for long term success. The Atlanta Hawks will receive the Cavs’ first round pick next year if it falls out of the top ten, and the signing of Love can only help make that a possibility.
The Pacers were one of the biggest surprises last season, but now the expectations will be pretty high with the upgrades they made to the roster. I love the additions of Tyreke Evans and Kyle O’Quinn, although I wasn’t quite as excited by free agent signing of Doug McDermott. Victor Oladipo had a breakout season which led to him winning the Most Improved Player Award. This season he’s my dark horse choice for MVP. Another key player will be 22-year old Myles Turner. He can look like a future All-Star at times and there’s still plenty of room for growth in his game.
The hiring of Mike Budenholzer as head coach is just what the doctor ordered for the Bucks. Way too much isolation basketball and very little ball movement was a big problem for Milwaukee, but that will be a thing of the past as Budenholzer is big on moving the basketball and lots of off-the-ball screens. Giannis Antetokounmpo’and Kris Middleton should really benefit from the new coaches’ system. The Bucks will also be better with the addition of free agent center Brook Lopez, who is a big upgrade over the likes of Thon Maker and John Henson. Lopez’s offensive skill set should benefit the rest of his Bucks’ teammates.
Stan Van Gundy is now in the Pistons’ past, which is good for their future, but it’s still not a very bright one when you look at the roster. I didn’t like the Blake Griffin trade when it happened and I’m no more optimistic that the Pistons are better off in the long run. I just can’t get that excited about a trio of Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. Stanley Johnson, who will entering his fourth season, will be a key player for the Pistons. Van Gundy didn’t always show a lot of confidence in him, but maybe the change to new head coach Dwane Casey will be the spark plug Johnson needs to turn the corner.
Wendell Carter, the 7th overall pick, was the fifth center selected in the lottery, but he was clearly the number one rookie in the summer league. The former Duke Blue Devil showed off his full offensive repertoire, hitting three’s, connecting from mid range, scoring in the pick-and-roll and was very effective in the low post with the ability to finish with either hand. Defensively he was a monster in the paint, which included five blocked shots in his pro debut. And yes, he can rebound, pass and put the ball on the floor. The Bulls look like they got a real winner.