Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Which non-L.A. team has improved the most since June?
Steve Aschburner: Indiana. I like what the Pacers have done in adding David West, in making Frank Vogel the permanent head coach (in NBA terms, anyway) with an upgraded staff and in challenging their core to improve from within. Even Danny Granger, an All-Star, is being nudged to grow his game, which sets a standard for the other guys. If George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough are on the second unit, that’s a pretty solid rotation. The key remains Roy Hibbert, who will put it all together one of these seasons. Unless he doesn’t.
Fran Blinebury: Putting Tyson Chandler in the middle of the lineup with the big guns of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Baron Davis should enable the Knicks to finally move up and out of the Borough of Mediocrity where they’ve been cozily living like it’s a rent-controlled apartment for years. Note that I said should.
Scott Howard-Cooper: The Pacers, beating out the Knicks. Indiana turned a mid-first pick in a bad draft into George Hill and later signed David West at the low risk of a two-year commitment. Not only two proven starters, but at very good prices.
Shaun Powell: Minnesota’s rise will look better than the reality because there’s only one way to go from 17 wins. Plus, they’re asking two rookies to do an awful lot of heavy lifting. Even if Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams help the Wolves win 20 times in 66 games, does that represent improvement? Certainly, to a degree. But genuine improvement might need two years, when Rick Adelman knows his personnel and if Kevin Love stays.
John Schuhmann: New York. Tyson Chandler isn’t going to make them a good defensive team by himself, but he will certainly give them a boost on that end of the floor. I think the addition of Mike Woodson on the bench will help their defense as well. And we can’t forget that they got Carmelo Anthony in February, so their offensive cohesion should be better. When it comes to winning percentage, the Knicks should have the biggest jump after the Clippers. Indiana, Minnesota and New Jersey should also be much improved.
Sekou Smith: I don’t get the LA hate at all (this East Coast bias has to end). But if we’re talking strictly about adding assets to reconstitute a team, it has to be the Hornets. They had to give up Chris Paul in that trade with the Clippers. But they walked away with three starters in Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Al-Farouq Aminu and then re-signed free agents Carl Landry and Jason Smith. What team in its right mind wouldn’t take a 3-for-1 trade? The Mavericks are a close second on my list, especially when you consider all that they lost via free agency (Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, Caron Butler, etc). Adding Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Delonte West alone is a solid summer haul.