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OutletPass
09-29-2003, 10:44 PM
Sorry for the late post...we've all had a touch of the virus this weekend...here goes:


Curry may become elite center
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Monday, September 29
Updated: September 29
11:11 AM ET


Training camps get underway around most of the NBA today -- at least for the young kids. A deal cut with the Players Association last February gave NBA veterans a long sought after concession -- the first few days off as training camp begins.

That means no suicides, rudimentary defensive drills or annoying questions from the media for the likes of say, the Lakers, whose starting five are all veterans with at least four years or more of experience in the league.

That means in places like L.A., Minnesota, Sacramento, Dallas, and New Jersey everyone in the starting five is sleeping in this morning. They can't come, even if they want to.

Players like Alonzo Mourning or Ray Allen, who have spent the majority of the summer working out in their teams' practice facility must vacate the premises for the next three days and wait for the young kids to do their thing.

I've yet to find anyone -- coaches, GMs, even players -- who likes the rule, which is a pretty good sign that something is going to change down the road.

Of course, it's often the young guys who need the most practice anyway and many teams aren't in the same situation as the Lakers. For a number of teams this season, the performance of a young player or two is going to make or break the season.

Last year it was young players like Gilbert Arenas and Amare Stoudemire coming out of nowhere to lead their teams to improbable runs. This year?

In the spirit of the pre-season and the optimism that exudes just about everywhere (unless you're in Utah standing around, staring at your roster right now and saying 'What the heck?') today Insider is going to break down 13 players who appear to be on the brink of breakout seasons.

Some are young, a few have some experience under their belt, all of them will make the difference between a successful run at the playoffs and the lottery this season.


Corey Maggette, G/F, Clippers -- Slowly, but surely, the 23-year old swingman from Duke is showing the promise he showed us in flashes in college. Maggette has got the athleticism and defense down pat. But it was the improvement of his perimeter stroke that really opened up the game for him last season. He's been working out all summer with Michael Jordan's trainer, Tim Grover, and the results are jaw dropping. With Lamar Odom, Andre Miller and Erick Piatkowski gone, Maggette is going to be THE option from the perimeter this season. It could lead to big, big things.

Lamar Odom, F, Heat -- All-world talent combined with a CBA brain have kept Odom from realizing his potential. He showed us the first signs that his head may finally be screwed on straight this summer when he basically stiff armed the Clippers and scared them away from matching the offer from the Heat. He seems to be enamored with Pat Riley and Riley seems infatuated with Odom. That's a really good thing. If Riley gets Odom focused and in shape, he could be a monster on this team. The Heat need a little of everything -- shooting, passing, rebounding. Odom can give them a lot of all four. He'll be a triple threat every night ... if he sticks with the system.

Yao Ming merely scratched the surface his rookie season.
Yao Ming, C, Rockets -- You may think Yao had his breakout season last year when he averaged 13.5 ppg and 8.2 rpg his rookie year in Houston. Think again. With new head coach Jeff Van Gundy already under Steve Francis' skin about giving the big guy from China A LOT more touches, Yao has the potential to turn into a 20 point a night scorer for the Rockets. Last season he was just dishing out the appetizer. With Van Gundy's inside out approach, it's time for the main course.

Eddy Curry, C, Bulls -- With coach Bill Cartwright claiming that the team wants Curry to be option No. 1 on offense, it's not a stretch to claim that Curry may join Yao as one of the few centers in the league capable of averaging 20 ppg. He has a scintillating array of post moves, including a nice baby jump hook that's basically unstoppable. Curry lead the league in field goal percentage last season, so it only makes sense that the Bulls will try to ride that horse as far as he can take them. The challenge for Curry now? Perfecting his passing out of double teams that will surely come this season. He's struggled in that area in the past (he averaged just .5 assists last season) and will have to improve if he wants to stay the No. 1 option in Chicago.

Andrei Kirilenko, F, Jazz -- Kirilenko's stellar play at the European Championships this summer underscores something that international scouts have know for a while, the Jazz have been intentionally bringing Kirilenko along slowly. That's about to change. With their entire roster decimated by the loss of Karl Malone and John Stockton, there are no more reasons to hold Kirilenko back. He does just about everything well. He's a solid rebounder, shot blocker, assist man, defender and he proved this summer that he can be a dynamite scorer when given the ball. If Kirilenko can make a Nowitzki like jump this season, the Jazz aren't as in bad a shape as we all think

Mehmet Okur, C, Pistons -- There was a reason why Pistons president Joe Dumars started slashing payroll this summer. They are trying to get under the cap next summer to save money. But it isn't because of greed. Okur becomes a restricted free agent next summer, and after personally watching him dominate at the European Championships for Turkey, Dumars and the rest of the Pistons are pretty sure that Okur could emerge as the teams' starting center this season. He already showed flashes of that in the postseason last year. With a dominating summer performance under his belt, expect Okur to get big minutes, become the team's second leading rebounder and their best offensive threat in the low post this year.

Zach Randolph, F, Blazers -- Randolph's stellar play versus Dallas in the playoffs last spring turned a lot of heads. With Rasheed Wallace increasingly staying out on the perimeter, the Blazers need a low post scorer in the worst way. Enter Randolph. The plan is to start Randolph at the four this year and move Wallace to the three. Coach Maurice Cheeks is already in Randolph's ear about becoming a leader on this rudderless team. If he steps up, 20 points a night won't be the only thing Randolph delivers to the Blazers. He'll also put them in a position to make the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season.

Tayshaun Prince, F, Pistons -- Larry Brown loves him, and for good reason. Prince is everything people thought Mike Dunleavy Jr. was going to be. He's an excellent passer, good shooter and plays the game with unusual maturity for a kid just starting his second year in the league. To make things sweeter, he also uses those long arms to create havoc on the defensive end. Expect Brown to use Prince to initiate the offense at times in Detroit next season leading to increased production in points and assists for the second year forward.

Mike Dunleavy, F, Warriors -- Speaking of Dunleavy, new GM Chris Mullin (he gets the title whether he wants it or not) dismantled the Warriors roster this summer just so Eric Musselman had no choice but to play him. Dunleavy rebounded from an awful start last season to a decent finish. He was pretty good offensively in the summer league, but his field goal percentage and defense are still atrocious. If Nick Van Exel decides to take the year off, it's conceivable that he could end up being the number one option for the Warriors on offense this season. Now if he can just hold the guy he defends to under 40 points a night.

Jamal Crawford, G, Bulls -- Last season, Crawford spent most of the year looking over his shoulder at Jay Williams. When the Bulls finally let Crawford start, he averaged 20.3 ppg and 6.6 apg over the last 16 games. He no longer has Williams to worry about and rookie Kirk Hinrich looked 20 years away at the Rocky Mountain Revue this summer. If he can ever pry away the ball from the clutches of Curry and Jalen Rose, Crawford could be the guy who propels the Bulls back into the playoffs. He's the teams' best perimeter shooter and proved during the final stretch of the season that he's capable of running the offense it Chicago.

Vladimir Radmanovic, F, Sonics -- After complaining about playing time and playing out of position last season, Radmanovic finally has a chance to accept his position at the four and earn a significant role on the club this season. This year, coach Nate McMillan won't ask him to do so much offensively in the paint -- the team is pretty sure that Rashard Lewis is a better option posting up his defender. But he'll have to start knocking down open shots and defending the post well to hold off rookie Nick Collison. Radmanovic is capable of being a star and his decision to stay in Seattle all summer (and skip his national team duties for Serbia) have Sonics brass hoping that Radmanovic turns in a breakout year for them. If he does, the Sonics could be eyeing that seventh or eighth playoff spot in the West this season.

Jamaal Magloire could help New Orleans reach the next level.
Jamaal Magloire, C, Hornets -- He quietly emerged as one of the better defensive centers in the league last season. His rebounding and shot blocking abilities make him a key player in New Orleans. Will the offense ever come around as well? The early reports from Magloire's workouts are that he's got a much improved jump shot and has been working on some moves in the paint. If that translates into 15 points, 10 boards and two or three blocked shots a night, the Hornets will be mentioned in the same breath as the Nets and Pistons this season.

Marko Jaric, G, Clippers -- After watching Andre Miller struggle and stumble through the season, Jaric is itching to prove that he was the guy all along who can lead the Clippers. Jaric is a tough defender and a winner -- two qualities you don't find in abundance on the Clippers roster. He's versatile enough to play three positions and he has more championship experience than anyone else on the roster. If he develops into a true floor leader this year, the Clippers will be better than you think.

Around the League

Teams are pretty reluctant to pull the trigger on trades once training camp starts. The thinking is that once guys get to camp, a trade becomes too much of a distraction to the team and the chemistry that starts to develop. Most GMs are more comfortable waiting a few weeks and seeing what they have. Still that hasn't stopped the rumors from flying. Several guys who have been on the block all summer are apparently still in play. They include Antonio Davis, Dikembe Mutombo, Charlie Ward, Chucky Atkins and according to several league GMs, Kenyon Martin. Depending on their camp performances, players like Kwame Brown, may be in trouble if they don't improve in the next few weeks. Among the teams still looking to deal? The Grizzlies are still looking for a big man, the Jazz and Hawks need to add a few bodies and the Pistons are still trying to cut some cap.

Some times it pays to wait. Predrag Drobjnak's four year, $12 million dollar deal with the Clippers is almost too good to believe for several reasons. One, it is the Clippers writing the check. Two, it appeared that Drobjnak had joined several other free agents who had just overplayed their hand and run out of options. The signing is a good one for L.A. With Chris Kaman out for a while and only Melvin Ely and Wang Zhi Zhi manning the middle, they needed another body. While Drobjnak isn't a great defender or rebounder, he's talented offensively and was the master of the pick and roll in Seattle. Drobjnak's deal isn't quite as good as it looks on paper. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.

Stephen Jackson reportedly turned down a three year, $10 million deal with the Spurs. Now he's looking at a $1.2 million dollar deal with a dead end team like the Hawks? Some times it doesn't pay to wait. Dan Feagan strikes again.

When does it makes sense for a team to buyout a players contract? Two scenarios. One, the player is in the last year of his deal and there is literally no role for him to play on a team. Someone like Hubert Davis of the Pistons probably falls into a category like that. Two, the player is a locker room or court cancer and causes more harm than good. That's why you keep reading that the Bucks are thinking about dumping Anthony Mason and the two years remaining on his contract. He won't be alone. Signs are that Joe Forte also will be sitting on the curb by the end of training camp.

MavKikiNYC
09-29-2003, 10:56 PM
Left out WZZ.

Chicago JK
09-29-2003, 11:16 PM
Not a bad list by Ford. Curry and Chandler have a chance to become big time players this year. It will be interesting to see if they have the mental makeup to really become good.

don't really agree with Radman though. He has a lot of skill, but he is missing something to his game. Sorta similar to Tim Thomas. He wasn't very impressive in the summer league also.

EricaLubarsky
09-30-2003, 01:10 AM
Marko Jaric? Give me a break. I would put Weslch there if he was going to find any playing time.

thanks for posting this, OP and sorry to hear about the virus

madape
09-30-2003, 08:24 AM
Prince is everything people thought Mike Dunleavy Jr. was going to be

This may be true for those people who thought Dunleavy would be a steaming pile of dog shit.

MD Jr is a basketball revolution ready to explode upon the NBA.

Dooby
09-30-2003, 09:51 AM
Originally posted by: madape

Prince is everything people thought Mike Dunleavy Jr. was going to be

This may be true for those people who thought Dunleavy would be a steaming pile of dog shit.

Genius. How can someone not read this and laugh?

one long blue sock
09-30-2003, 07:43 PM
Stephen Jackson reportedly turned down a three year, $10 million deal with the Spurs. Now he's looking at a $1.2 million dollar deal with a dead end team like the Hawks
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He's a smart one

jayC
09-30-2003, 09:16 PM
Samething happened to kenny rogers. Rangers offered him pretty good money settled for considerably less. This one's on the agent.

The bulls could be a sleeper out east.

Fidel
09-30-2003, 11:04 PM
Originally posted by: madape

Prince is everything people thought Mike Dunleavy Jr. was going to be

This may be true for those people who thought Dunleavy would be a steaming pile of dog shit.

LOL Ape, good one.