We made it! The season finally started! Maybe it’s just me but that seemed like the longest off-season in the history of off-seasons. As always, you can find an Eastern Conference Roundup each Wednesday on DBB making sure you’re up to date with all the need-to-know and good-to-know Eastern Conference headlines.
News and Notes
With the departure of Amir Johnson to the Boston Celtics, a starting position opened up in Toronto’s frontcourt and essentially, it was Patrick Patterson’s to lose. Well, it seems like he lost it. Coach Dwane Casey has elected to go with Luis Scola at the power forward position. Patterson offers the outside shooting that could ideally open the floor giving true big man Jonas Valanciunas room to operate and Kyle Lowry space to drive. 2Pat lost the job with subpar preseason play. Offensively, Scola is going to be asked to do non-box-score things as scoring opportunities should be gobbled up by Lowry, Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozen. At 35 years of age, things could get interesting on the defensive end for Scola as he’s not exactly the most fleet of foot. Should the Scola experiment turn south for the North, Toronto’s power forward roster also includes James Johnson and reclamation project Anthony Bennett.
The Wizards are following the pace and space trend and in doing so, they are sending Nene to the bench in favor of staring Kris Humphries….but this ain’t your slightly older brothers Kris Humphries we’re talking about, this is Humphries 2.0, the one with a three point shot (allegedly) in his arsenal. In his 11 year career, Humphries has attempted 26 three pointers and with the reputation of being a banger, this is quite the transition but as the saying goes "It’s fairly easy for old dogs to learn new tricks". For what it’s worth, Humphries did hit 10 of 28 three’s he attempted in the preseason in his new title as a stretch four.
In continuing with our power forward shuffle, new coach Fred Hoiberg is going with Nicola Mirotic in the starting unit in place of Joakim Noah. The move to sit Noah, who as recently as the 2013-14 season was Defensive Player of the Year and in MVP consideration, is rather ballsy for Hoiberg but it seems like he has the backing of Noah. Mirotic offers the coveted outside shooting which caters to Hoiberg’s motion offense, but the concept of defense can be lost on the second-year player. Noah, on the other hand, is the epitome of defensive effort, but injuries have slowed him down on both ends of the court.
On a scale of 1-10, the Raptors’ and Wizards’ move is about a 4; it’s the Bulls one that’s intriguing. Does the pairing of Mirotic and Pau Gasol on offense outweigh the shortcomings those two offer defensively? As an outsider, Taj Gibson and Gasol seem to fit better. Again, sitting Noah is a bold move and similar to the one then rookie head coach Steve Kerr did with David Lee (starting Draymond Green). I’m firmly seated on Hoiberg’s bandwagon; the notion that college coaches or rookie coaches can’t deliver is an expired theory. It’s the coach in question that matters, not where he comes from.
2nd-year forward Jabari Parker has been ruled out for opening night. Parker tore his ACL in December of 2014. A timetable for a return has yet to be determined.
An ACL tear isn’t the death sentence it once was but it’s still a major surgery. It seems the Bucks are being extra cautious with Parker’s return. Milwaukee is full of interchangeable parts and depending on the lineup, there are a handful of candidates that could see extra minutes.
***Injury hunch*** There is no indication, just my gut feeling. Chris Bosh (blood clots) and Dwyane Wade (knee) both missed significant time last year and most of the negative chatter in regards to the Heat involves their health concerns. I’d be willing to bet that Bosh is done with his scare and you can pencil Wade in for 60ish games. The one name that never comes up in Heat health talk is Hassan Whiteside. If there is one guy whose health could fail them, I’d put money on Whiteside. He came from, essentially, nowhere last year and now will be asked to play 30 plus minutes a night. That’s a big adjustment for a seven footer. Again, there has been no reports but feel free to use my hunch as your own at the water cooler.