1. Hassan Whiteside- Miami Heat: With Dwyane Wade gone and Chris Bosh dealing with blood clots, Hassan Whiteside is the star player for the Miami Heat. This season he will have to step up even more than what he did last season, even though he had some killer stats. Whiteside averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game. He set career highs in his shooting percentage (.606), free throw percentage (.650), rebounds (11.8), defensive rebounds (8.6), blocks (3.7), and points (14.2). Whiteside ranked fifth in centers in double-doubles and first in triple-doubles. He also came off the bench for the Heat against the Wizards and scored 25 points and 23 rebounds in one game. This makes him the first player in Heat history to achieve those stats. Whiteside can play both sides of the floor and that’s why he will be a monster this year with the Heat.
2. DeMarcus Cousins- Sacramento Kings: A good big man is hard to find and the Kings are well aware of this. While most teams would get rid of players that would cause problems with their head coaches, the Kings have held onto DeMarcus Cousins. Ever since Cousins joined the team back in 2010, they have fired five head coaches. It was well publicized that Cousins and George Carl did not get along at during their run together. One thing for sure is, the Kings know Cousins is a great player and will keep him at all cost. Cousins led all centers averaging 26.9 points per game and ranked fourth in all players (above LeBron James). He also recorded 47 double-doubles for second consecutive year in a row. Cousins also broke a team record for twenty six thirty point games in Kings history. We will have to see how Cousins and his brand new head coach, Dave Joerger do this season.
3. DeAndre Jordan- Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan is a consistent big man for the Clippers. He shoots at a high percentage while maintaining his defensive presence. Last season he shot 70.3 percent from the field which made him the third player of all time to reach this mark. If those stats weren’t impressive enough, Jordan averaged over 13 rebounds and two blocks for the third consecutive season, which makes him one out of five players to do so since the 1973-74 season. Jordan is a good piece for the Clippers as he propels them offensively and defensively. Also, he is a great team player and the Paul, Griffin and Jordan trio have the potential of going deep in the playoffs and maybe even the Finals.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns- Minnesota Timberwolves: Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns also know as KAT averaged a double double for points per game (18.3) and rebounds (10.5) per game. Rookies normally take time to transition from the NCAA to the NBA but not KAT. He is making an immediate positive impact for the Timberwolves. Playing along Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, KAT is bound for success with the young Timberwolves team.
5. Andre Drummond- Detroit Pistons: When Andre Drummond signed a five year contract worth over $127 million, many questioned if he would live up to it. Over the past few seasons Drummond has made a name for himself and shown he is a top center. Last season, he set career highs in points per game (16.2) and rebounds per game (14.8). Drummond is ranked first for most double-doubles in the NBA since the 2014-15 season. Drummond also ranks second for most games with 15+ points and 15 rebounds by a Piston since the 1985-86 season. His accomplishment are impressive and it should be fun to watch Drummond this upcoming season.
Sixers’ Joel Embiid Calls Out Pistons’ Andre Drummond
There may be a rivalry brewing between Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Detroit Pistons center Andrew Drummond.
Embiid studied film of Drummond before their game Monday night and came away from the game, after dominating Drummond, convinced that the Detroit big man is not a good defensive player.
“Defensively, he doesn’t play any defense,” Embiid said, according to The Inquirer.
“When we started the game, he was being aggressive,” Embiid said about his matchup with Drummond, “and he was talking, too. … So what I was like [in my mind], ‘You want to do that? I’m going to kick your [butt] then.’ So that’s what I did.”
“In my mind, I was like, ‘You want to switch up, because you are playing against me. You want to be all physical and talk [trash],'” Embiid said of Drummond’s play. “So I was like, ‘You are going to get your [butt beat].’ I love that.”
Embiid’s play and the poor performance of Drummond helped the 76ers to a 97-86 win at Detroit.
Detroit head coach Stan Van Gundy was perplexed about how poorly his team played and spoke about it to the media postgame about the team giving up big leads early on in their games.
“It’s mind-boggling to have two games in a row where we weren’t ready to play,” Van Gundy said. “We have to figure out a way to fix that, whether those five guys can boost the intensity or if we have to change the lineup.”
With the trash talking Embiid has done about Drummond, Detroit and Philadelphia may have a little rivalry heating up, but Drummond needs to respond with a much better performance the next time he goes head-to-head with Embiid.
It will be interesting to see how the SBG Global Sportsbook rates this matchup and if there is any additional interest in it as the Embiid/Drummond rivalry brews.
For now, chalk a victory up for Embiid and the Sixers.
Phoenix Suns Talking To Detroit Pistons About Andre Drummond
The Phoenix Suns have been active during the hours leading up to the NBA trade deadline but acting in the role as sellers. The Suns are shopping center Tyson Chandler and guard Brandon Knight, but apparently are having a hard time finding suitors.
Per sources, the Suns have had “exploratory” talks with the Detroit Pistons regarding a trade for Andre Drummond.
The Suns are likely offering a package including Knight, Chandler and may include one of their draft picks and may also add either Alex Len or forward Tj Warren if talks progress.
Drummond, 23, is already one of the NBA’s best big men and would give the Suns another franchise building block to go along with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker. Phoenix also desperately needs to shore up it’s defense and with Chandler so important to their defense it is unlikely that the Suns deal the big man for a deal that doesn’t include an elite building block such as Drummond.
At this time the talks are only “exploratory” but it is believed that the Suns could offer the best possible package to Detroit for Drummond if he is truly available.
Zach Lowe of ESPN recently talks about Drummond’s availability.
“Detroit has quietly explored the trade market for each of its franchise centerpieces, according to sources across the league, and come away disappointed with the potential return. (Van Gundy himself has said anyone is available for “the right price.”)
Any Drummond deal at the deadline is an extreme long shot, but Jackson remains in play for Minnesota, Orlando, New Orleans, or some mystery destination.They have their tense moments. Both are close with Tom Gores, the Pistons’ owner, and each freely admits they talk with Gores about the other in terms that might not always be the most flattering.”
Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy has explained, Detroit has held trade discussions about every player on its team and most of those discussions revolve around top players
2016 NBA Breakout Players
With opening night of another beautiful NBA season upon us, let’s take a look at some players who could really take a step forward this year:
Myles Turner – The 11th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Turner offers a combination of shooting and rim defense that is ideal for today’s NBA. He shot 42.5% on attempts between 16 feet and the three-point line, proving his stroke can translate at this level. In his rookie season he averaged 14.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes of action as the power forward (via NylonCalculus). When moved to Center in smaller, spacier units, though, his averages ballooned to 17.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks. Indiana allowed reliable veteran Ian Mahinmi to walk in free agency because they knew they needed to open up a bigger role for their young emerging star. Turner has every opportunity to see a breakout sophomore campaign.
Devin Booker – This one feels a little bit cheap since he actually already broke out over the second half of last season, when he averaged over 18 points per game. But he’s the odds on favorite to win Most Improved Player this season so I better put him on this list. He dominated his preseason outings and has already bumped Brandon Knight, who Phoenix gave up a lot to get, to a sixth man role. Booker shows a good understanding of the timing of the NBA game and always seems to be under control – and he can rise up and shoot from anywhere. Of the 74 Kentucky guards on the Suns’ roster, Booker is the best.
Josh Richardson – Opportunity breeds productivity. Miami is desperate for wing scorers, and Richardson has shown flashes of being able to do just that. He started to receive normal minutes over the second half of last season and, in his final 19 games, he shot 52.8% from deep on 3.8 attempts per game and scored double figures in 12 of those games. He has been hampered by a right knee injury in the preseason and will miss the first few games, but when he returns to full strength he should have no problem jumping over the likes of Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson for regular playing time on Miami’s wing.
Tobias Harris – Tobias has been searching for the right fit his entire career. Is he a small forward or power forward? Which wing players in Orlando can he play with? His midseason trade to Detroit solved those issues. According to basketball-reference, he spent 98% of his time at power forward in Stan Van Gundy’s schemes, stabilizing his role. He averaged 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 33.4 minutes per game. He also shot a career high 37.5% from behind the arc, and matched a career high assist rate with a career low turnover rate. Oh, and his offensive rating of 120 was 12 points higher than his previous career high. Harris (who oh-by-the-way is somehow still just 24 years old) has finally found his perfect fit with Stan Van Gundy in Detroit, now it’s time for all that talent to shine.
Justin Anderson – We’re digging a little deeper for this one. Don’t expect him to get national recognition in any awards races, but he’ll expand his role in Rick Carlisle’s rotation. Think Al-Farouq Aminu level improvement. In a tiny five game sample size, during the Mavericks’ short playoff stint last season, Anderson averaged 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.1 blocks on 46% shooting, per 36 minutes. This displays his versatile skill set and a small glimpse of his potential. But what’s most important here is that Carlisle trusted the rookie with 19 minutes per game in the playoffs. Take a gander at Dallas’ makeshift roster and you’ll see a barren wasteland on the wing. Anderson will get his opportunities, and Rick Carlisle is a wizard at turning crude parts into a well-oiled machine. Anderson upped his three-point shooting from 26% last season, to 30% in the playoffs, to 36% in his seven preseason games. If he can stabilize that percentage to be league average, he becomes a valuable 3-and-D wing for a Mavs team in desperate need of that.
The Lakers’ small-ball unit – D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng, Julius Randle
After helping create the death lineup in Golden State, new coach Luke Walton will bring those same small, spacy, playmaking lineup ideals to Los Angeles. And boy does he have some exciting, young pieces to play with. Russell is one of the smoothest pick and roll operators this side of James Harden, and Brandon Ingram has a world of talent just waiting to be unlocked. This team will struggle in the aggregate, but there will be stretches where they look like the next big thing. The Lakers need to preserve their young core and allow internal development to bring them back to prominence.
Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24
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