Are there any surprise players or teams out there to look for which may surprise in the 2015/16 NBA Regular Season? Let’s investigate, speculate, postulate and make a pick or three.
1—Prized Free Agent LaMarcus Aldridge Will Sign With the San Antonio Spurs
With the majority of quality current Free Agent players likely staying with their current teams, Portland Trail Blazers Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge (23.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg), a four-time NBA All-Star, has seemingly become the prize catch this NBA Offseason. The 6-foot-11-inch, 240-pound Aldridge has already talked to the Lakers (80/1 to win NBA Championship, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) immediately after the Free Agency period began at Midnight, and the Atlanta Hawks (20/1), Houston Rockets (20/1), Toronto Raptors (30/1), Phoenix Suns (80/1), Dallas Mavericks (40/1), New York Knicks (80/1) and his current team, the Portland Trail Blazers (40/1) have all been rumored to have interest in the 9-year veteran. But it seems the 29-year-old Aldridge—a product of the University of Texas and native of the Lone Star State—is a perfect fit with the San Antonio Spurs (8/1, bet365), a team which will surely be intent on making one last push in the 2015/16 NBA season with the aging Tim Duncan-Tony Parker-Manu Ginobili triumvirate. And with brilliant Head Coach Gregg Popovich being able to make the ultimate sell to Aldridge and the Spurs, a team with a realistic chance at actually winning a championship, expect him to warm to the idea of heading to the Spurs and the Southwest Division. This morning, San Antonio reportedly traded C Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks (33/1, Ladbrokes), so, getting another big body in the paint has to be a priority for San Antonio which signed star Kawhi Leonard to a 5-year $90 million deal on Tuesday and re-signed Danny Green on Wednesday.
2—DeAndre Jordan Will Flee Clippers, Be Mediocre With Lakers, Mavs or Rockets
Unrestricted Free Agent C DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) reportedly has four NBA teams—his present Los Angeles Clippers (11/1, Paddy Power), the Los Angeles Lakers (66/1, William Hill), the Houston Rockets (18/1, Ladbrokes) and the Dallas Mavericks (33/1, Ladbrokes, William Hill)—on his radar and the 6-foot-11, 265-pounder should get the majority of the (Free Agency news-hype, we have nothing else to talk about) attention should Aldridge sign somewhere early on. Jordan should fetch a max contract somewhere as his athleticism and Rebounding (15.0 rpg in 2014) are hard to find in NBA Big Men these days, but the 26-year-old’s problems making Free-Throws (41.7% career) is well-known now and the Houston native may simply want out of Lalaland for his native Texas in hopes of shedding some of that FT stigma. Jordan will reportedly meet with the Lakers—Kobe Bryant has already called Jordan according to reports—Mavericks and Rockets all later today (Wednesday, July 1), and then talk things over with his current team, the Clippers, on Thursday. Staying with the Clippers—a favorite to many in this Land-A-Jordan process—makes sense on the level that Jordan (11.5 ppg in 2014, 2.2 bpg) already knows the team, management and now likable team owner Steve Ballmer and his role alongside star PG Chris Paul and SF Blake Griffin. Playing for the Lakers would let Jordan stay in town (Los Angeles), simply switch Locker Rooms at the Staples Center and play with the aforementioned Bryant and top pick Russell. Heading to Houston would let Jordan play for a legitimate contender, in his hometown of Houston alongside SG James Harden, while the fellow Lone Star State’s Mavericks have put together a virtual Dream Team of owner Mark Cuban, star Dirk Nowitzki and Jordan buddy Chandler Parsons—who has reportedly had dinner with Jordan five straight nights now—to try to seduce the Texas A&M product. (No word on if a bouquet of roses was involved.) But, as often happens after players sign their biggest contract in their lives in professional sports, Jordan will probably prove to be more mediocre than great wherever he signs with his Free-Throw and outside shooting being a big liability, making him into almost a one-dimensional rebounder if he can’t ultimately evolve, something harder for a 7-year NBA veteran with habits he is now accustomed to. And once that Big Payday happens, who knows where the old “I need to prove something” work ethic goes.
3—Wesley Matthews Will Sign With Mavericks, End Up Being The Belle of the Ball
The Portland Trail Blazers whole 2014/15 Regular Season totally hit the skids when oft-overlooked SG Wesley Matthews (6-5, 220 pounds) injured his left Achilles tendon. Not only was Matthews playing great Defense (3.7 rpg, 1.3 spg) and Offense (15.9 ppg) for the Trail Blazers (70/1, Paddy Power), but he was also a solidifying, heartbeat-type player on and off the court who had Portland playing some pretty competitive basketball before he went down and out for the season. Splat. And with Dallas reportedly ready to part ways with Problem Child SG Monta Ellis (18.9 ppg), signing Matthews, a six-year man out of Marquette, could provide a very welcome spark for the Mavericks and their fans who would love to win an NBA Championship again for aging 37-year-old club legend Dirk Nowitzki. The 28-year-old Matthews also reportedly being sought after by the Toronto Raptors, and his current team Portland would have a huge hole to fill, both on the Hardwood as well as in the Locker Room, should he leave, but Shark Tank Cuban and the Mavericks may be willing to pay up the $15 million a year Matthews is seeking in order to solve a big need at a big position in their Starting 5 for the coming season.
4—The Chicago Bulls Will Cut the Proverbial Cord With Star Guard Derrick Rose
Shocker. The Chicago Bulls (13/1, Paddy Power) have had to live and die by the Knees of 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose for several seasons now, so maybe it’s time for Chicago—which bailed on Head Coach Tom Thibodeau for Fred Hoiberg in the Spring—to start anew? Can you hear me now? Maybe trade or make the local (Simeon High School) boy Rose a Free Agent? Several teams would love to have a versatile PG like Rose (17.7 ppg, 4.9 apg in 2014) and bonafide NBA superstar on their roster to build around, so maybe see what the market will bear? Unloading Rose would definitely be a shock to many Bulls fans, and the organization does still owe Rose $20 million for the 2015 season and another $21.3 million for 2016 on his 5-year contract, so, finding a way to do this may take some creativity. But dealing Rose, and maybe even C Joakim Noah too may be the best prescription for Bulls General Manager Gar Forman, although most see Taj Gibson as the player who is most likely to be traded right now. And, with some rumors that Rose and fellow G Jimmy Butler (20.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg in 2014)—who Chicago offered a 5-year, $90 million contract to to stay put in the Windy City with the Bulls on Monday—don’t get along, maybe building around Butler is much better idea, meaning there could be much more action from Forman, Hoiberg and the Bulls this Summer.
5—Miami Heat #10 Pick Justise Winslow Will Win Be NBA Rookie of the Year
There will be a handful of Rookies in the NBA this coming season who will be able to have an immediate impact on the teams which drafted them and the Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow is one of them. The 6-foot-6, 222-pound Shooting Guard from Duke helped the Blue Devils win the NCAA College Basketball national championship this year and Winslow can score (12.6 ppg), rebound (6.5 rpg), dish the basketball (2.1 apg), steal the ball (1.3 spg) and even block the occasional shot (0.9 bpg), and the Houston native’s versatility should serve the rebuilding Heat—who took Connecticut PG Shabazz Napier (5.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.2 apg) with their first pick in last year’s NBA Draft—very well. Winslow (10/1, Bovada) is known for his Defense, and with his long arms with a Reach of 8’-8” and a Wingspan of 6’-10”—and the same body length and type as Michael Jordan had when he was drafted into the NBA—he will be able to play either Small Forward or Shooting Guard for Miami (30/1 to win NBA Championship, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). Winslow has also proven he can pop from 3-point range, so expect the Heat to try to give the 19-year-old as much playing time as possible this coming season.
Now granted, for Winslow—the 10th Pick in the NBA Draft last month—to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award this coming season will require overcoming a number of very talented human obstacles. NBA odds makers have made overall #1 Pick and Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky) the 11/2 favorite (Bovada) in this fun niche Futures market, with fellow big man Jahlil Okafor of Duke, taken by Philadelphia 76ers with the #3 pick following in the odds at 15/4. Ohio State PG D’Angelo Russell (4/1, #2 Pick Los Angeles Lakers) and Congolese PG Emmanuel Mudiay (7/1, #7 Pick Denver Nuggets) could also be in the running for this award, but Playing Time, average Points, Rebounds and Assists per game and impact on their new teams and the league will be the barometer for who ultimately wins this honor which was bestowed upon the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins (Kansas).
NBA Futures Book Pick: San Antonio Spurs 8/1 to win NBA Championship (bet365)
NBA Rookie of the Year Pick: Justise Winslow, Miami Heat, 10/1 (Bovada)