NBRPA Members preview the 2012-13 NBA season

October 31, 2012

Our Brian Gaughan talked to several NBRPA Members connected with each NBA team to preview the upcoming season. Here are their thoughts on what to expect in the NBA in 2012-13.

Atlanta Hawks
“Can you go back in time to the 1977-78 season? If so, that is where you will find the 2012 -2013 Atlanta Hawks. Like back in time the Hawks were one of the teams that made some great offseason moves. It won't show up in the standings early, but just like in the 1977-78 season – picking up the likes of Tree Rollins and Eddie Johnson – the Hawks will show some bite. A .500 season would be nice.”

                                                                                         – Tree Rollins – Player (1977-88)

Boston Celtics
“The Boston Celtics have once again assembled a competitive roster for this upcoming
season. Returning veterans will continue to provide the talent and leadership required
to vie for another championship ring, but the road is never easy. They will need their
young players to rise to the challenge and perhaps overachieve to seriously challenge
the defending champion Miami Heat – but another playoff appearance is almost assured.”

                                                                                      – Dave Cowens – Player (1970-80)

Brooklyn Nets
“The Nets have moved again and the excitement is renewed. With Deron Williams joined by Joe Johnson, the Brooklyn Nets will be explosive offensively. The real question is will Spike Lee support a team in his native Brooklyn?”

                                                                                            – Bob Elliott – Player (1978-81)

Charlotte Bobcats
“The Bobcats are poised to have an improved season with the additions of Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, and rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They have added quality play in the backcourt with the free agent additions. They will be a great compliment to the seasoned veteran play of Matt Carroll, Brendan Haywood, Tyrus Thomas, and DeSagana Diop. There is a chance for them to have a strong improvement from last season looking forward to the 2012-13 season. Look for new head coach Mike Dunlap to bring energy and enthusiasm. His focus will be defense to energize this team and give them chances to win. Expect a much improved team this year.”

                                                                               – Sam Vincent – Head Coach (2007-08)

 Chicago Bulls

“The last two years, when the Bulls had the best regular season record, will be hard to repeat with Derrick Rose out of the line-up for at least the majority of the year. Hopefully Derrick will return stronger than ever and as soon as possible, but until then the rest of the team gets a chance to show what they can do. It will be important for the Bulls to escape any further injuries to the remaining core of the team – Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and the returning Kirk Hinrich – and for those players to be consistent. The Bench Mob has changed, but will need to be as effective as they have been in the past. Tom Thibodeau and his staff have done a great job coaching and their emphasis on defense is going to be more significant than ever with Rose gone. Don’t count them out yet!”

                                                                                       – Dave Corzine – Player (1982-89)

“The Bulls are facing a difficult task this year, trying to maintain their position as one of the league's elite teams while playing without Derrick Rose for much of the season. They'll have to continue to defend at a very high level to win games and have success, but the loss of Omer Asik hurts their defense in a big way. It's up to the front line –  Gibson, Deng, Noah and Boozer –  to help this team maintain its defensive identity while awaiting Rose's return.”

                                                                                           – Steve Kerr – Player (1993-98)

Cleveland Cavaliers
“The Cavaliers will surprise a lot of teams. They are young and talented. If their young guns are able to stay healthy they have a great approach they can compete with an experienced coach in Byron Scott. Kyrie Irving has one year under his belt, and if he stays healthy, he can be a top point guard in the league. The key to their success will be the continuance of their young players developing and their key guys staying healthy.” 

                                                                                        – Phil Hubbard – Player (1981-89)

Dallas Mavericks
“Dallas guarantees to be a veteran, experienced, gutsy, hard-working group for the 2012-13 season. The experience of Dirk, Elton Brand, Vince Carter, and Chris Kaman promises this team to be competitive and entertaining night in and night out. Added with the athleticism of Darren Collison, Jae Crowder, and OJ Mayo his is a team that can get up and down with the best. Expect to see this team finishing strong and competing for a spot in the playoffs.

                                                                               – Sam Vincent – Asst. Coach (2006-07)

 Denver Nuggets

“The Denver Nuggets are about to enter a season of great change and promise. They are led by All=Star and Olympian Andre Igoudala, have a large front line, and veteran point guard in Andre Miller. While there are still making major changes in the wake of the Carmelo Anthony trade, look for the high energy Nuggets under Coach George Karl to make a lot of noise in the West.”

                                                                                    – Danny Schayes – Player (1982-90)

Detroit Pistons
“The Detroit Pistons are a team hoping to feed off their strong finish to last season and have some promising young talent. This is still an unproven and young roster, but one with great potential......if they DEFEND! Backcourt strength with Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight is a positive. Tayshaun Prince and Jonas Jerebko (returning from injury troubles last year) provide stability and veteran leadership up front.Greg Monroe is probably their best player and had a solid first year – he will man the middle. Charlie Villanueva is the 6th man and needs to find his confidence. Keep an eye on two young guns; Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond. These two will be relied upon a lot for Coach Lawrence Frank, off the bench to supply athleticism and scoring. If the Pistons can stay healthy and find some consistency....they could surprise some folks.”

                                                                                      – Kelly Tripucka – Player (1981-86)

“With a new owner and a new coach the Pistons will be rebuilding again with old uniforms. This will have no change on their outcome. They will be lucky to win 30 games this year. Last year Detroit won 30 and they may need Mayor Dave Bing to be 25 again and put on uniform.”

                                                                                            – John Egan – Player (1961-64)

Golden State Warriors
“The Golden State Warriors and their fans need to pray a lot this season for the good health of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut. If either goes down with an injury, which has been their history, any chance to make the playoffs are over.”

                                                                           – Rick Barry – Player (1965-67 & 1972-78)

Houston Rockets
“The 2012 Houston Rockets are a very young team that must rebound, play defense and have low turnovers. The players who play will score enough points on offense and work on defense, in a few years the youth will shine.”

                                                                                            – John Egan – Player (1971-72)

Indiana Pacers
“Indianapolis is a great town with great support. The team is loaded at every position 1-5 with back ups that come in and give them great production. One of their flaws is that they need more stand-still shooters to extend and open up the lane. Indiana has a great organization from the GM to Frank Vogel, Brian Shaw and their coaching staff and the players buying into the vision of the team and the management.”

                                                                                     – Vincent Askew – Player (1996-97)

Los Angeles Clippers
"The Clips are great to watch. When they get healthy, WATCH OUT! for they will contend and surprise many. CP3 and Griffin together are amazing and Odom and Hill have gas in the tank – deep in the play-offs for sure."

                                                                                               – Matt Fish – Player (1994-95)

Los Angeles Lakers
"In true Laker fashion, Purple & Gold are storming towards championship contention! Acquiring chemistry early in the season will be key for the LakeShow. Look for Blake to play wonderfully behind Nash, and for Kobe to be Kobe. And last, but not least, Dwight Howard… Do I smell a second Defensive Player of the Year Award for the Lakers?!"

                                                                                   – Michael Cooper – Player (1978-90)

Memphis Grizzlies
“I think coach Holland has done a great job with the team in Memphis. If Randolph is healthy and Gasol continues to improve, I think that Memphis is one of the top four teams in West.”

                                                                                      – George Lynch – Player (1996-98)

Miami Heat
"Feel the Heat in Miami for the repeat. Get ready... one, two, three ... James, Bosh, Wade. Oh, and Ray Allen? Size the rings and enjoy a fourth MVP 'Beast Mode' LeBron. It may rain in Miami, but it is welcome, just like more championships and the sun as it heats up South Beach again."

                                                                                               – Matt Fish – Player (1996-97)

Milwaukee Bucks
“On paper, this is still a team that has a lot of weaknesses. The guard spots will be shored up if Brandon and Monta stay healthy. The forwards are a combination of skill sets, but with weaknesses on defense. Will Dalembert find a home in Milwaukee or play consistent enough to make a statement on defense? It will still be difficult for them to get to the playoffs, with a lot of the teams in the east getting stronger.”

                                                                                – Harvey Catchings – Player (1979-84)

Minnesota Timberwolves
"I truly believe Rick Adelman is one of the best coaches in the NBA. With the addition of Brandon Roy and young talent like Ricky Rubio and when Kevin Love comes back from injury, the Timberwolves are going to be a very competitive team for the 2012-2013 season."

                                                                                  – Micheal Williams – Player (1992-98)

New Orleans Hornets
“The "buzz" words you will hear this year for the New Orlean's Hornets will be "building for the future." With the selection of Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers with the first pick and 10th pick of the 2012 NBA draft the Hornet's sent a clear message that they are trying to change the "culture" of the Hornets with two players that will immediately make impacts on both sides of the floor. Add to that mix Eric Gordon, a player that has already established himself as one of the elite shooting guards in the NBA and the Hornets look to make some noise this season. The main question for the beginning of the season will be how quickly the two rookies will adjust to the quickness and the physicality of the NBA.”

                                                        – Stephen Howard – Broadcaster (2012-13 Season)

New York Knicks
“I like what they did during the off season with the addition of Jason Kidd, who will add some much needed stability, and Rasheed Wallace who will add toughness, defense and rebounding to help out Tyson Chandler, but Amare Stoudemires health will be the biggest factor in how far they advance into the post season playoffs.”

                                                                                   – Emmette Bryant – Player (1964-68)

Oklahoma City Thunder

“Last year the OKC Thunder were the darlings of the NBA. Despite their youth, inexperience and a small market location they were able to make it all the way to the NBA Finals before losing to the eventual champs the Miami Heat. The Thunder's Big 3 of Durant, Westbrook and Harden gained valuable experience bringing home the gold during the Olympics while Serge Ibaka played a pivotal role for runners up Spain. It will be interesting to see if the Thunder will be able to take that next logical step as champions with even more expectations to start the season?”

                                                                       – Stephen Howard – Broadcaster (2011-12)

Orlando Magic
"It's 1 A.D. (After Dwight) for the Orlando Magic. Head Coach Jacque Vaughn and General Manager Rob Hennigan, both rookies, look to follow the Spurs/Thunder small market model of team building. Not a likely playoff team, the Magic will compete with heart and hustle this season. However, their future looks bright with a bevy of draft picks and salary cap room in the next few years."

                                                                                              – Greg Kite – Player (1990-94)

Philadelphia 76ers
“As we take a look at the Philadelphia 76ers, we see that they made a move to strengthen themselves in the post by picking up Bynum. The ongoing issue that you have is durability. He has been hampered by injuries for the last several years, so it will be important that he grinds it out and plays at least 60-65 games this season. If he is able to do that, it could make a big impact in the win column. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young still provide solid play at three key positions, but wily veteran Jason Richardson will be called on to give them some experience as well. I think they will finish strong with Bynum and end up second or third in the Atlantic Division on their way to possibly a playoff berth.”

                                                                                – Harvey Catchings – Player (1974-79)

Phoenix Suns
“The Suns are in rebuilding mode. This will be a rough season for them. They have a few pieces to the puzzle, but not enough to be successful this year. I hope not, but it looks as though they will be in the bottom of the division – fourth or fifth.” 

                                                                             – Bernard Thompson – Player (1985-88)

Portland Trailblazers
“The Trailblazers will surprise a lot of teams this year. I think they have a chance to make some noise in the Northwest division. There is a mixture of players with experience – LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum – and first/second year young guns, Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard. They should finish second or third in that division.”

                                                                             – Bernard Thompson – Player (1984-85)

Sacramento Kings
“The Kings will be challenged based on the tough Western Pacific division, however, the talented young guns of the Sacramento Kings will not be taken lightly. Yes, young guns as in fire power. Scoring ability from every position on the floor during the game and more fire power coming off the bench. Depth will be the focal point of the team outside of the super-talented DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. Young team, yes, but there's no longer that excuse NOT to win games. Expectations are to win 35 games and make a playoff run. Defense has been the focal point knowing the kings can score from all position. However, TEAM DEFENSE and protecting the house(lane area) and ball deflections is a must for the Kings. It should be an exciting 2012-13 season with ups and downs of adjusting to 82 games opposed to 66 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.”

                                       – Fat Lever – Director of Player Development (2007-Present)

San Antonio Spurs
“The San Antonio Spurs are a testament to the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. They have won 4 NBA Championships, three of the last 10 and have never lost a championship series. Consistency is their trademark and it will be more of the same this year. The big three are all back – as long as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are healthy the Spurs will be tough to beat. Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches in the league and has the depth on the bench to throw players at you in waves, which helps save the veterans' legs. They will definitely win a lot of games, but the question will be can they keep the aging big three healthy and fresh enough to make it through the long tough play-off run to the championship against younger teams?”

                                                                                       – Dave Corzine – Player (1980-82)

Toronto Raptors
"I'm truly excited about this year's "new look" Raptors. Having spoken with new floor general Kyle Lowry, Ed Davis and the incoming rookies at NBA Summer league Player Development, Raptor fans will be happy to see a high level of character that should translate on and off the court." 

                                                                                  – Jerome Williams – Player (2000-04)

Utah Jazz
“The Jazz will put on a show for the fans this year. They look to be running a lot more than previous years. They have the athletes to be an up-and-down type of team. The scoreboard will be lighting up in Utah and wherever they travel. The key to success will be to play tough on the defensive end and compliment their offensive fire power.”

                                                                                       – Rickey Green – Player (1980-88)

Washington Wizards
“If the Wizards get Nene and John Wall back soon, they have a chance to significantly improve last season's record. The addition of Okafor, Ariza and Martell Webster has made them more mature and stronger up front."

                                                                                          – Rich Rinaldi – Player (1971-73)