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News » Best-case scenarios for perennial losers

Best-case scenarios for perennial losers

Best-case scenarios for perennial losers

The motivation supplied by getting low-balled last summer and wanting to be rewarded next summer will keep Lee among the dirty-work leaders inside. We can't imagine Nate shooting or dunking more in his contract drive, so he might try being one of the few Mike D'Antoni players willing to get nasty on defense.

The Knicks also suit up Al Harrington, Chris Duhon, Darko Milicic and Larry Hughes — all players working on the final seasons of their contracts. But won't having so many contract-hungry players create chaos on the floor? Heavens, no! This is the D'Antoni system that thrives on eager shooting.

That's why Danilo Gallinari, who played in only 28 games as a rookie last season, should help provide more victories.

Milicic and rookie Jordan Hill figure to make New York a little tougher inside, as could Eddy Curry if he's really able (with D'Antoni willing) to hustle up and down the court this season.

If all of these things add up and Jupiter aligns with Mars, the Knicks could even end up losing to LeBron in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves

It really shouldn't be difficult for the T-Wolves to surpass expectations, because not much is expected from first-year coach Kurt Rambis and his young players.

But inside scoring and rebounding beast Al Jefferson looks healthy and has returned to the Subway diet in his bid to get down to fighting trim. His co-workers are much more skilled than Jared, too.

Second-year post Kevin Love rebounds like a champ and shoots well enough away from the rim to clear space for Jefferson down low. Small forward Ryan Gomes understands that remaining viable in the league requires him to do things other players don't want to do.

The real key in Minnesota, however, is rookie point guard Jonny Flynn, who has the quickness, strength, skill and confidence to become one the best playmakers in the conference. If this happens sooner than later, the T-Wolves might be good enough to cough up their top-10-protected pick to the Clippers (remember the ol' Marko Jaric deal?).

Flynn looks good enough to get a shot for a teammate or himself whenever he wants. In this league, that's huge. But he needs to understand that instead of dribbling until the shot clock is on life support, it can be nice to just give Jefferson the ball as soon as possible and spot up if the opposing point guard leaves to double.

Expect Jonny to figure it out in short order.

Sacramento Kings

First-year coach Paul Westphal doesn't seem the type to upgrade the Kings' woeful defense, but he knows how to create scoring opportunities for his players.

It will help if he avoids using rookie Tyreke Evans at point guard any more than necessary; things might be even better if newly acquired point guard Sergio Rodriguez cuts down on the turnovers that hampered his quest for minutes in Portland.

Spencer Hawes and Kevin Thompson will be one season more experienced and better, with the silly Thompson-at-combo-forward experiment seemingly dead at this juncture (the guy's a four).

Anyway, the additions of Westphal and Evans could lead the Kings out of the peasant realm.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 6, 2009


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