FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS
Greetings from Halifax! Wonderful city - I'm enjoying my time here. Raptors training camp has been good so far. Two things I like: the improved talent level overall, and the solid depth/internal competition for minutes. Will that mean more wins and playoff contention? Only time will tell but things are looking up as far as what Dwane Casey has to work with.
1. ANDREW BYNUM (Sixers) - Oh boy. He will sit out most of October getting ready for the season. They rolled the dice that he was going to be an every day player and now this. Expectations are high in Philly. His health is critical to their success. He needs to play 70+ games or it will be a tough situation for all. Philly fans are brutally critical. Bynum better be ready to play/produce and have thick skin. Tough town, very demanding.
2. ERIC GORDON (Hornets) - Another organization holding it's breath regarding a knee. Gordon has experienced some knee pain and is being held out to give him some more recovery time. Hornets matched the Suns offer to keep him and have high hopes with Anthony Davis aboard. Gordon is a guy that can be a difference maker and in this league to have a young explosive wing you give yourself a chance to get W's. Big investment here and Gordon and Davis can start to get Hornets fans excited again after Chris Paul left. Margin of error here is not large and a team/city like this needs to catch a break and regain traction.
3. TOM THIBODEAU (Bulls) - You have a coach that has proven himself, don't lose him. Smart move by the Bulls locking him up long-term. Derrick Rose is out until mid-season and they've lost lots of proven depth - will be a different Bulls team this year just trying to stay afloat until Rose returns and make a playoff push. Had to make sure they had stability at the top - they got it.
4. SEATTLE - Thrilled for a nice city and good basketball town. New arena in the works and you can be sure we'll see an existing/new team there down the road. Long overdue. Glad cooler heads prevailed and they came together on solving the arena issue. By the way, I've said it many times - I think the Pacific Northwest can handle/thrive with another team nearby - Vancouver. It makes no sense to me why there is no team there again. The community and a local ownership group (Canucks ownership) have to see what's going on in Seattle and seize the moment.
5. RAPTORS - Made positive points earlier about them. Big test - 15 of first 22 games are on the road. Let's check in on December 11. Are they hanging around the .500 mark and healthy? If they are they've got a chance to start to get things turned around and be a playoff contender in April. 82 games - yes. Everyone plays them but the timing of the games is crucial as well. Young team that hasn't won - how resilient are they? If they can get through that stretch and be competitive their self confidence/belief can grow. Winning is very hard and fragile. Losing is something they've done a lot of lately and things snowball. How they hold up and learn early sets the tone and direction for later. Just some food for thought to focus on. It ain't easy, yet it can be done.