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Rollin Wit Da Homies
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Last night, on NBA Coast-to-Coast, they talked about the Bulls a lot and compared them with the Sixers. The general consensus opinion is that Philly is still dangerous with guys like Iverson and Webber still capable of playing well, but that their young players haven't stepped forward like they should have (Iggy, Dalembert, Korver). The Bulls, Greg Anthony noted, are probably the team best poised for the future. They are almost in the playoffs with absolutely no frontcourt whatsoever, according to Legler and Anthony, and that's a need that can be addressed in the offseason with cap and picks. Anthony also remembered to note that Gordon, Hinrich, Deng... all still getting way better.

Here's the question. Which teams in the East seem poised to be the young powerhouses of the future?

1. Orlando
Dwight Howard is probably the next big man superstar in the league. He's going to work hard at his game and begin to dominate more than he already is. If they keep Darko in town, and he continues to develop (you can only assume that it will be accelerated growth compared to what he's shown us so far), they have a killer 7-foot frontcourt defensively and strong young offensive players as well. Darko has shown one thing this year: he IS one of the most athletic international players, especially big men, that we've seen for a while. Not quite the next Dirk in terms of skill (haha), but certainly more athletic.

Jameer Nelson is quietly improving his game and showing that he can lead a team. Rangy shooter, and his numbers spiked after Francis was moved. When the coaches really commit to Jameer and make the team HIS team to run, this guy could be an 18/7 guy as soon as next season. We saw what he could do last time we played the Magic.

Hedo Turkoglu is also a fixture in the future of this team. A guy with his size, his talent, and his range won't be easily left out of this lineup. When he starts at SF, the Magic are 6-10, 6-11 (and I think Dwight's grown in the last two years), 7-0 up front.

Factor in that they've got their picks in this draft, some other really nice young talent (Ariza, Travis Diener), and other guys that can fill in the blanks (DeShawn Stevenson, Keyon Dooling, Carlos Arroyo), this team is locked and loaded for the future. The difference between them and us is the potential superstar talent they have in Dwight Howard, and in general, the fact that their promising talent is located in the frontcourt.

2. Boston Celtics
Really?! Yes. Why?

Well, let's look at what they have for starters. Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak are two of the most dynamic scorers in the league. Wally is as steady as they come in terms of outside shooting, he also likes to make his teammates better, and doesn't turn the ball over, considering how much he's handling it. Pierce speaks for himself... an MVP type player that has quite a few years left in his window of playing.

But their future is in the players that can surround Pierce. Delonte West has lived up to much of his promise this year, and if they can style him to be a true distributor and point guard, his shooting stroke and defensive intensity will give them a long-term complementary piece for Pierce in the backcourt. The really exciting thing is the two young players they have coming up at the G/F spot to rotate in with Pierce and replace Ricky Davis' scoring punch. Ryan Gomes has made teams take notice. I remember what he did at Providence... I could see him becoming a complementary scorer and sort of a Nocioni style player. And Gerald Green... this is where the money is. He's still pretty raw, but he's shown some killer ability and flashes to let the Celtics organization know that they did not make a mistake. In games where he's played over 15 minutes, he's averaging 12.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg on 59.5 FG%. He had some really sick dunks the other night and there's no doubt that this kid is brimming with potential.

And Al Jefferson, finally, has not been a complete waste. It sucks when Raef LaFrentz, Michael Olowokandi, Brian Scalabrine, and Kendrick Perkins are all getting evaluated when you are. But he's still the talented guy that they took out of high school, he's still super young, and he's good for 8 points and 5 rebs in 18 mpg. Those are pretty promising stats for a young developing player.

Pierce and Wally, surrounded by West, Green, Gomes, and Jefferson... if they stick with some of these guys, ship out some of the trash (Kandi, LaFrentz) for expiring contracts or draft picks or ANYTHING worth anything, they'll be set for the future. They also still have their first rounder this year, provided that they don't finish better than the bottom 10 teams in the league. If that turns into a Noah or McRoberts, this team is locked and loaded for the future as well.

3. Charlotte

I'd put Charlotte up here because a) I think that Okafor is going to make a raging comeback next season, b) I think Raymond Felton might still prove to be as good as Chris Paul at the point guard spot, c) they are going to add another sick young talent this year with their high draft pick, and d) Gerald Wallace is looking like he can become a two-way player and a serious star in the league.

This team is going to be anchored on defensive play. That's what's amazing. Felton, Wallace, Okafor.. that's enough to build your team around right there. As long as they don't screw things up, I think they're going to be a force in a few years.

4. Atlanta
They may manage to double their win total from last year (13), as they have 24 and a few games left to go. But they're actually built for success and showed several very good teams this year that they are not an easy win on everyone's schedule. Joe Johnson is a legit star in his own right, showing that he can still shoot the ball with range without Steve Nash, that he CAN handle the point guard spot or at least be a primary distributor at the wing position... basically, he's lived up to expectations. Atlanta went through hell to get him and he's trying to show that it was worth it.

I doubt Al Harrington will be back, but they'll be fine without him. Josh Smith, Josh Childress, and Marvin Williams are the future here. Childress is showing himself to be the ultimate utility player, Smith should probably be the power forward of the future on this team and has shown improvement in almost every area, and Marvin Williams continues to show promise. Zaza Pachulia and Salim Stoudamire are great support for this core group.

They still have a top pick in the draft this year and will add to their young core through free agency as well. They need a big man up front, and I expect that they'll be considering taking someone that can help them right away. If the Knicks pick is ahead of theirs, and we leave Aldridge on the board, I think he'd be the perfect fit for Atlanta's needs.



Are we in worse or better shape that some of these teams? I'm putting us right above Charlotte as the best future, mainly for intangible reasons like a winning culture, a no-nonsense coach, a defense that's already among the best in the league. But Boston and Orlando already have superstars or superstars in the making, and we can't match up to what that adds to a team.
 

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Anti Monday Morning QB
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I'd put us second after Orlando.

Boston could potentially have a brighter future than us, but I need to see Perkins and Jefferson play at least semi-consistently first.

Charlotte has Okafor, Wallace, and Felton. Give me Chandler, Deng, and Hinrich over those three any day of the week, not to mention Charlotte will most likely keep a low payroll for a least a couple more seasons.
 

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Rhyder said:
I'd put us second after Orlando.

Boston could potentially have a brighter future than us, but I need to see Perkins and Jefferson play at least semi-consistently first.

Charlotte has Okafor, Wallace, and Felton. Give me Chandler, Deng, and Hinrich over those three any day of the week, not to mention Charlotte will most likely keep a low payroll for a least a couple more seasons.
This is basically what I think except that Boston's young guys don't impress me that much. The only way I'd consider that a relevent young nucleas is if Gerald Green blows up. And he might.

I think Perkins and Jefferson - and Jefferson in particular - are wildly overrated.

Orlando is going to be really good.
 

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I'd say it's almost a dead-heat between us and Orlando. Howard is too good, too young, for me to honestly say that we're head and shoulders above Orlando, but I like our backcourt and SF core far more than Nelson and Turkoglu and we're a year ahead of them as far as when we will make our real splash. However, Orlando seems to have no trouble wooing guys with cap room, which they'll have next year, and they have the guy who could easily be the best player in the league in another 2-3 years already in place. We're better than them for now, but if Howard fulfills his potential and they put even decent pieces around him, they have an exceedingly bright future.

The other teams all have enough nice talent to become good teams sooner than we think, but I don't see them on the verge of putting it all together any time soon. Boston could become good quick if their young bigs figure things out and West continues to progress, but we know as well as anyone that relying on ultra-young big men to develop is a long process and there are no guarantees.
 

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Rollin Wit Da Homies
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I sort of overrate Raymond Felton, so that's my bias showing through. Okafor, also, is a defensive-minded intelligent player that can really show up big time in this league, if he can stay healthy.
 

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That'll do Pigley...
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You don't overrate Felton at all. He has the kind of quickness and talent to be a 20/10 kind of PG.

As for the Bobcats in general, I think people are selling them short as always. This team is discovering that they have a few guys who can play in Felton, Wallace, Okafor, May and Brezec. They need more help on the wings obviously, but they will have a full salary cap at the end of next season.

After 3 years in the NBA, they'll have almost 30 million dollars in cap room to spend. They can build a quality team without overpaying people and if they are wondering what kind of team they should put on the floor, if you've seen Felton, then they should be looking for two things on the wing: Athletes/finishers or shooters on the catch.
 

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Orlando - By next year (if not this year) they will be back in the playoffs. Within 3-5 they will be championship contenders, mark my words. My 2nd favorite team in the NBA right now, and Darko has nothing to do with it. Okay, I lie. My rooting for Darko to prove the haters wrong has EVERYTHING to do with it. My ultimate fantasy THIS YEAR: to see us swoop into the 6th spot and see Orlando take 8th. We eliminate NJ (hey, we can beat 'em! Just look at what happened last night) and they pull one of the greatest upsets of all time, with Darko seething full of revenge to beat his old team, and then by some god forsaken miracle Shaq twists his leg in the first game of our series against Miami, Orlando pulls another upset this time over Cleveland, and then in the conference finals we match up against each other. okay, anyway...

Boston - Pierce is going to age eventually. Not everyone can do it like AI, where you are just getting better and better as you get older. I think he's at his peak right now, and when he starts to fizzle they better have already something planned. If Ainge is smart he will unload him next year for a younger upgrade.

Charlotte - I thought they would improve slightly over last year, but they seem to have regressed. I'm a bit disappointed, although from a certain POV we did the same thing. But then again, they got more talent to work with, we weren't as fortunate.

ATL - The most depressing of scenarios. Their ownership battle is going to keep them from ever being able to properly have a game plan as to where they want to go. The same holds true with Portland. If they can resolve the ownership squabbles and get their **** together, they can build an excellent team around Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams and Josh Childress. They just need a good coach.
 

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If you believe the conventional NBA wisdom that you MUST have one, and ideally 2+ stars to truly compete in the NBA, the Bulls have a tougher situation than many. They have good players and several of them, but no legit star. It's easier to build around a star (or 2) than to purposefully go out and get yourself an established star, much less one that has all the credentails and has a jib to match.

Paxson will go out with his cap space, young stable of good players and cap space and try his best to get a star who will fit. My guess is that he'll be frustrated in his attempt, and by default, will attempt to buck the conventional wisdom and win with a team that has no stars, but plays good tem basketball and defense.
 

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Orlando is DEFININTELY in the best position.

Howard & Milicic as your future starting frontcourt? That's really all that needs to be said.

I'd say we're 2nd. Hinrich/Gordon/Deng is as good of a young n talented backcourt as your gonna get.
 

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RipDirty said:
Talking about being built for the future. The Cav's are better than everyone on that list. Their core is just as young as ours and they have far better players.
Gooden will probably leave soon and once Lebron signs his extension they won't have any flexibility. They will be pretty much stuck with what they have.
 

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I think that because they're good NOW, people are forgetting Miami and Cleveland. If there is one thing I've learned here it is that Dwyane Wade has 0% chance of ever leaving Miami. Having Lebron or Wade (is either older than 24) on your roster automatically puts you ahead of not only Orlando (also ahead of us), not only Chicago, but the whole conference.
 

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lebron and wade definately take control of the conference soon here. but for us, we are in really good shape. i think luol deng is one of the most talented young players in the eastern conference. i realize that gordon is short but you cant deny that the guy has talent and he can score. tyson chandler is always going to get us rebounds and blocks no matter how much most of us bag on him. if we can somehow draft tyrus thomas and obryant our future shoots over orlando. i really like a team of hinrich, duhon, gordon, deng, noc, chandler, tyrus, obryant, etc.

however we cant deny that if lebron, howard and wade are the future or our conference.
 

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I think Okafor is going to have a tough career, injury-wise. Felton looks good, but they have a long way to go.

Atlanta needs so much still. Their brass has not shown me they can ID what they actually need.

Chicago, is very well positioned, but they have to use the caproom wisely, unlike the Jazz a couple years back.

Danny Ainge will find some way to mess up the C's further.

With some caproom this year and in the coming years, I think Toronto has a brighter future than most of those, mainly because the man in charge actually knows what he's looking for.
 

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I still think that Detroit isn't very old.

Tayshaun Prince is 26 years old, then they drafted Jason Maxiell (who they still like), Alex Acker and Amir Johnson, whom they've actually been grooming in the D-League. I think the Pistons are going to be around for a long time in this conference, as long as Dumars is there. He's going to be the Jerry West of his generation IMO.
 

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People are severely sleeping on the Bucks. Their whole rotation is young. Ford, Williams, Redd, Simmons, Magloire, Bogut, Gadzuric. All these guys are under 28. That's great guard play, great wings, great big men. Great balance and all young.

The Heat and Cavs have top five players who are both like 23 years old or younger. That gives them a huge advantage as it's much easier to build a top team around them. Wade and LeBron are special enough to be the sole reason their teams have bright futures.

Pistons will also be good for as long as Wallace and Wallace are intact. Billups, Prince and Hamitlon are all under 30, but Wallace and Wallace are both 31. I figure they'll be as good as they are now until they are 35 years old.

Whoever wins the Greg Oden sweepstakes will be at the top of the list also.

From there, it's a toss up. Obviously we can't tell what moves will be made for the future, so all we can do is look at what is there now, and the Bulls are in as good of a position as anyone to be a powerhouse in the east, but still it's going to come down to what Paxson does to make it happen.
 

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Sir Patchwork said:
People are severely sleeping on the Bucks. Their whole rotation is young. Ford, Williams, Redd, Simmons, Magloire, Bogut, Gadzuric. All these guys are under 28. That's great guard play, great wings, great big men. Great balance and all young.

The Heat and Cavs have top five players who are both like 23 years old or younger. That gives them a huge advantage as it's much easier to build a top team around them. Wade and LeBron are special enough to be the sole reason their teams have bright futures.

Pistons will also be good for as long as Wallace and Wallace are intact. Billups, Prince and Hamitlon are all under 30, but Wallace and Wallace are both 31. I figure they'll be as good as they are now until they are 35 years old.

Whoever wins the Greg Oden sweepstakes will be at the top of the list also.

From there, it's a toss up. Obviously we can't tell what moves will be made for the future, so all we can do is look at what is there now, and the Bulls are in as good of a position as anyone to be a powerhouse in the east, but still it's going to come down to what Paxson does to make it happen.
I see that core as a consistent playoff making core when they mature. I just don't see championship contender unless they get very lucky in the next couple of drafts.
 

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lougehrig said:
Gooden will probably leave soon and once Lebron signs his extension they won't have any flexibility. They will be pretty much stuck with what they have.
I'd love to be 'stuck' with players like Lebron, Hughes, Varejao, Z, Marshall and possibly Gooden if he doesn't get traded.
 
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