30 players to watch carefully in the 2012-13 season – Part 2 – Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Golden State
From rookies to superstars, 30 players to follow up in the upcoming season, one for every franchise.
If you missed the first part click here.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Omri Casspi.
That Kyrie Irving is going to be the leader of this team is out of question. In his first season Irving has avaraged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and almost 4 rebounds per game. He also had the best 3p% (0.399) among the players who really played for this team – D.J. Kennedy only played two games and shot two for four beyond the arc, which for the stats mean he has a 0.500 shooting percentage.
Going beyond the obvious, it is clear that Kyrie will need some help. The Cavaliers ranked among the worst offensive teams and, to make things worse, they have lost their second best scorer, Antawn Jamison, who joined the Los Angeles Lakers. This should mean that the supporting cast will have more shots to take – 16 shots take on average by Jamison last season- and, among them, one could particularly benefit from this situation.
Omri Casspi was a bit disappointing in the last couple of seasons. After a promising rookie year in Sacramento – 10.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assist per game (12.2, 5.7 and 1.5 as a starter)- all his stats dropped year after year. But this could be the year for a U-turn for the first player from Israel to be picked in the first round of a draft.
Dallas Mavericks: OJ Mayo.
In a certain sense the same situation as above. The difference is that OJ Mayo moved to a new team in order to have sporting revival.
After 164 games as starter in his first two NBA seasons OJ Mayo has seen his role being downsized. The growth of Mike Conley and the addition of defensive specialist Tony Allen have reduced his minutage on the floor and therefore also his offensive figures.
The Grizzlies, who tried to trade Mayo several times, probably did not see Mayo as the solution to their problems. Mark Cuban’s team, on the other hand, has shown to trust the combo guard who is likely to become Mavs’ starting guard after Jason Kidd and Jason Terry’s departures, respectively to the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics – a team that was interested in Mayo, too.
In Dallas Mayo could find the minutes he needs to make a difference for the team. The Mavs will need his athleticism and play-making skills, bus most of all his baskets from inside and outside, when the opponents will be too concerned in double-teaming Dirk Nowitzki.
Denver Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari
The Nuggets have added a piece that, in our eyes, fits perfectly in George Karl’s system. A system that does not involve a super star but a bunch of guys who are able to play the game. Andre Igoudala embodies that kind of player, a team-devoted, complete and talented player but that is usually not considered among the stars of the League. He will join the bunch of players mentioned above, i.e. Ty Lawson, Corey Brewer, Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee and so on.
But if Denver wants to reach the next level they will need some sort of go-to-guy when the games get thrilling. Danilo Gallinari has all that it takes to be that guy, even if he is not Carmelo Anthony. The process should have been finished last year but for some reason it did not happen. Gallinari had injuries (ankle and thumb) who stopped him and, overall, he was not able to perform as he hoped to, despite his 14.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. But he is given another chance in the upcoming season and Gallinari, who can score from every position, has enough experience and is very confident, will probably not miss it again.
Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe
The Pistons finished last season ninth in the East with a 25-41 record, 10 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers, who clinched the last playoff spot. The W-L %, 0.379, was slightly better than the season before, 0.3666, but still not enough.
The Pistons are a young team and it is interesting to notice that last year the player who stayed most on the floor was veteran Tayshaun Prince, with 33 minutes on average. But the guy who led the Pistons in most stats was Greg Monroe.
Greg Monroe finished his second NBA season marking career high in points, rebound, assists, steals, and blocks, playing only four mintues more per game than his rookie year. He led the team with 15.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, was second in blocks, 0.8, and fifth in assists, 2.3(!). Not bad at all, for a 21 years old center.
The big man with gentle hands keeps growing and there is still room for improvement, especially on the defensive side, an aspect of the game that he needs to master more. But if the team grows alongside Monroe, then the Palace of Auburn Hills fans will definitely enjoy the show.
The big, obvious, question here is whether or not Stephen Curry will stay healty for an entire season, or, at least, most of it. In last year’s short version of a NBA season, Curry played only 26 games, 23 as a starter. And when he did play, the fear of a new injury limited him. Curry finished the season with his worst NBA figures, 14.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 rebounds. Good numbers nevertheless, but the skinny guard can improve them without problems if he is healthy.
Also because this will be, for Stephen Curry, the first season without Monta Ellis in the team. Ellis moved to the Bucks to create another terrific guards-duo with Brandon Jennings.The conseguence is clear: more responsabilities and the team’s reins for Curry.
Curry will be supported by Klay Thompson in what is going to be another interesting guards-combination at the Oracle Arena (as long as the Warriors will play there). Thomposon, 2011 11th overall pick, had a good first season (12.5 points and 0.414 3P%), and will try to make the fans forget Ellis. The franchise-guy, however, will obviously be Stephen Curry. He knows he can become that man, he knows he is ready. The question is whether his body will agree with him or not.