Tag Archives: Joel Embiid

Eastern Conference Preview: Atlantic Division

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  The Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference took a turn of events in the previous season with the Toronto Raptors winning the division with ease, while the New York Knicks & Brooklyn Nets struggled to play catch up after horrific starts to the season. There were many changes to each team in the division, which may have an impact on who wins the division. In addition, like any division race, the Atlantic will have an effect on the entire Eastern Conference playoff picture.

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Toronto Raptors

After trading Rudy Gay, the Toronto Raptors made progress during 2013-14 season. Despite an early first round exit in the playoffs to division rival Brooklyn Nets, they were able to win its division led by first time all-star Demar DeRozan the point guard Kyle Lowry. The addition of Lou Williams and the continuing improvement of Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas improves the arsenal for head coach Dwayne Casey as they look to take the next step.

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New York Knicks

The saying “In Phil we trust” has many faithful Knicks fans cheering ecstatically for the upcoming season. Phil Jackson will continue to run basketball operations along with the re-signing of Carmelo Anthony and the debut of the new head coach Derek Fisher. The Knicks are looking forward to the upcoming season led by Anthony working himself into great shape after last year’s disappointing season riddled with injuries and lack of discipline. With the addition of Jose Calderon and a rising star in Tim Hardaway Jr. coming into his own, expect New York to rebound from the debacle that was last season.

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Philadelphia 76ers

The future is bright for the Philadelphia 76ers going forward as as they continue to rebuild. Head coach Brett Brown will have the reigning Rookie of the Year point guard Michael Carter-Williams, he will receive some front court enforcement from Nerlens Noel and the team’s number one pick Joel Embiid waiting in the wings to make his debut. He will also have the courtesy of coaching six rookies that may lead to long gruesome 82 game season. With the teachings of Brown coming from the coaching tree of Greg Popovich, they will continue to improve everyday as a team.

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Boston Celtics

The growth of second year head coach Brad Stevens will be key as he was put in a comfortable situation with little pressure with the Boston Celtics. Acquiring young assets through the NBA Draft with the likes of Marcus Smart & James Young adds to the core of players featuring Avery Bradley and Jeff Green. With that being said, what happens to Rajon Rondo? The four-time NBA All-Star has expressed his feelings about being traded. We will have to await if general manager Danny Ainge is willing to give up its franchise player for the value he is offered.

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Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are looking forward to moving on from the Jason Kidd head coaching experiment after Kidd decided to taking his head coaching abilities to the Milwaukee Bucks during the offseason. Being replaced by former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, the team will look to get off to a faster start to the season. They will also look to have a full healthy team with Brook Lopez returning and Deron Williams being a hundred percent after having a subpar season to his standards. The Nets will have to play at a high level consistently throughout the season in order to compete in an improved Eastern Conference.

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Risk or Reward: Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects

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We are just a few days away from the 2014 NBA Draft, many prospects have made themselves a household name during team workouts which has improved their draft stock. It is casual for general managers and talent scouts to get caught in the moment of what a player is capable of when nobody impedes their progress. Here are the top five players to keep an eye on while we await draft day.

 

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report

 

5. P.J. Hairston

 

During his time span at North Carolina, sharp shooter P.J. Hairston was becoming a focal point of the Tar Heels’ success. Many would believe Hairston was sorely missed by the Tar Heels in powder during the early portion of the season. However, off-season troubles would derail his college career where the repercussions led to the dismissal from the team this past season. Making the leap to the NBA D-League, Hairston has shown his talents that may translate well to the next level averaging 21.8 points per game in 26 games with the Texas Legends. His ability to perform will not be in question, rather the growth of maturity are bound to raise caution flags to teams.

 

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

 

4. Aaron Gordon

 

Freshman phenom Aaron Gordon has made himself a hot commodity in the draft process with his athletic abilities that has drawn many comparisons to Blake Griffin. Is that enough to qualify him as a potential lottery pick? The Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year has displayed his exceptional work ethic along with his versatility as he shows promise to excel at the next level on both ends of the floor. In order to succeed that, he must improve his offensive repertoire outside the paint and a much needed tune up at the free throw line. Can Gordon become a franchise player, or a role player that never could become a star is the question surrounding this Wildcat.

 

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

 

3. Zach LaVine

 

Coming off the bench for UCLA Bruins this season, Zach LaVine would show flashes of talents in spurts early in his one and done season, averaging 10 ppg on 45% shooting. He has appalled us with his leaping ability at NBA Draft Combine and workouts that has put his name into the lottery discussion. It would not be the first time a player coming off the bench would go on to be selected as a lottery pick. It happened with Cleveland’s Dion Waiters. Even though inconsistency was on display, you could expect changes in the NBA with the  right coaching and playing system to fit LaVine’s open court uptempo game, he can flourish as a combo guard at 6’5″. Or perhaps become the next Austin Rivers. Patience will be key with LaVine because of being a raw talent.

 

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2. Dario Saric

 

The name Dario Saric has surfaced throughout the NBA Draft process of being a top 10 pick. In fact, just before last year’s draft he pulled his name off the big board.

What do we know about him?

He is a 6’10” swing man who can play both forward positions  at an efficient rate while being able to handle the ball. Averaging 15.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg in 47 games overseas, the Croatian playmaker is fluid offensively along with a great feel of what’s going on at all times on the court. However, his inconsistency on offense and being a liability on defense may cause his stock to drop. Winning a championship and MVP at the age of 20, his experience and youth will not be undervalued in the NBA going forward.

What we do not know about Saric is the role he will play on a NBA team or when we will make his NBA debut when drafted after recently agreeing to remain in Europe for two more years. It will take the perfect system for Saric can utilize his skill set at the next level. It will be interesting to see what NBA team will commit to him with no certainty of when he will come to America to play. Think of Danilo Gallinari when you hear Saric’s name and ceiling as a player.

 

Denny Meddley- USA Today

Denny Meddley- USA Today

 

1. Joel Embiid

 

Joel Embiid has the potential to become the best player in this draft in many years to come. Being a game changer on defense now, his offensive game showed improvement throughout the college basketball season. With the back injury and now recently suffering a foot injury, red flags are raised around Embiid that could derail his draft stock. The names of Greg Oden, Yao Ming, and Bill Walton have been mentioned when talking about big men with injuries when it comes to drafting Embiid first overall. Yet, many teams should be weary of missing out on an opportunity to change a franchise around a position that has diminished over years.