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  1. The Rooks

 

This year has a very exciting rookie class that will be sure to entertain.  Who won’t try and watch Kevin Durant?  Can this guy play at the NBA level?  He couldn’t take Texas too far in the NCAA tournament, but now the Sonics are building around him.  I’m  expecting him to be an 18 and 7 guy this year.  Beyond Durant, there’s the Mike Conley Jrs, Yi Jianlian and who knows, maybe even a little Greg Oden at the end of the season.

 

  1. Kobe to Explode

      I’ve said it a few times, but I don’t expect Kobe to go anywhere until the trade deadline.  But when that deadline arrives, it will be more of a blockbuster than KG himself (if that’s even possible).  As we know, Kobe is a man of the spotlight, and once the season starts, there’s only one way to stay in the light…produce!  I know the likes of Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson would agrue that this isn’t true, but to a real NBA fan, it’s all about who puts on the best show ON THE COURT, and Kobe will be the man, again.

 

  1. The Denver Nuggets

 I’ve probably been overdoing this a bit, but I’m a firm believer that the Nuggets have serious potential this year.  The West is still strong, even without KG, but the Nuggets field a team that has the proper weapons.  Since Allan Iverson headed to Denver, he’s gone under the radar.  After the half season of learning to play together (AI and Melo), I feel these two will FINALLY figure it all out and form a chemistry that will be second to none.  Wasn’t it just a couple years ago that everyone thought AI was the best player in the league?  He’s not that old yet, and he’s still one of the quickest players with the ball.  How can you deny these two?

 

  1. The BIG 3 in Boston

      Kevin Garnet, Paul Pierce and Scott Pollard…..I mean Ray Allan.  Three of the leagues best players somehow ended up on one of last year’s worst teams.  There’s no doubt that the Celtics will be this year’s most improved team.  It’s just a matter of how far they go?  I think its obvious that it all comes down to injuries.  If they can all stay healthy, the sky’s the limit.  With an injury to one of them, there’s not much to watch in Boston.  I say Conference Finals at max.

 

  1. The New York Knicks/Mafia

This would have been even more interesting of a point if Ron Artest was picked up by the Knicks.  Either way, they still acquired Zach Randolph.  Along with Eddy Curry, the two form a pair of the scariest looking guys you could ever pass on the street or on the court. On the court, if these guys can get it together, they have potential to be one of the best turnarounds in the league.  With the East still wide open, how can you deny these guys a playoff spot.  I’d take them right now (before the season starts) to finish the season ahead of Orlando.

 

  1. The Season Starts Sooo Soon!!!!

I couldn’t be more excited, and I know you can’t either.  Unfortunately for me, I started writing Clutch 3 in the offseason.  At times, material was limited and creativity started minimalizing ( although the Hottest Hoops Wife series was a smashing hit, and I will be doing my research for Episode 4, so watch out!) but I kept writing with the excitement in my mind, knowing that once the season starts, I won’t be able to stop writing.  This season promises to be one of the best in the past couple years, and I’ll be watching the opening tip off Wednesday night.  Will you?

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Although this isn’t as significant as yesterdays article about Joe Johnson, I would still consider Tracy McGrady overlooked by some experts in the wonderful world of fantasy basketball.  According to some of the boys over at Yahoo.com Fantasy Basketball, they collectively have McGrady ranked as the number 11 small forward.  Again, with so much talent in the league, this doesn’t seem too far off, considering McGrady’s injury woes.  Why I consider him a sleeper is because of a few guys that they have in front of T-Mac in their rankings.  The three guys in front of T-Mac are Caron Butler, Gerald Wallace and Paul Pierce.  Don’t get me wrong, these guys are quite deserving of a high rankings, but in my mind, not ahead of my man T-Mac.  Firstly, Caron Butler had his best season last year, only to lose it to an injury.  With averages of around 19 pts, 7.5 boards and 4 assists, these are quite impressive numbers that will put you near the top of any rankings.  When comparing to T-Mac’s 24.5 pts, 5 boards and 6.5 assists per game, how can you overlook the statistics.  Fantasy ball is very much about stats, but also about taking into consideration injuries.  Both these guys are susceptible to injury this year, which obviously lowers both their rankings.  If you cancel that fact out, statistically, you’d want T-Mac ahead of Butler.  Moving onto Gerald Wallace.  I haven’t seen someone move up the ranks so quickly from such a large contract signing.  There is a lot of hype and hope for this guy to have the season of his career, but I just don’t see it happening.  He isn’t a huge risk for an injury, so that obviously adds some value.  The one reason why I don’t see him putting up his 18, 7 and 2.5 this year is because his team just signed another scorer in Jason Richardson.  Gerald Wallace isn’t the go-to-guy anymore (or not necessarily).  His assists will probably increase, but his points will likely decrease slightly.  Again, I’d give the upper hand to T-Mac.  Finally, Paul Pierce.  This one is a little more borderline, and if your faced with this dilemma of either T-Mac or Paul Pierce, it will really come down to your personal preference.  The reason why I choose T-Mac is because he will remain the go-to-guy in Houston (sharing this privilege with Yao, of course).  As for Pierce, he will enter the season with two brand new all-star scorers in his lineup. Will his assists increase this year?  Absolutely!  Will his scoring average decrease?  More than likely!  The offense will obviously be ran through KG, therefore, Pierce isn’t your go-to guy anymore in Boston, but rather he’s now a great option.  Overall, I see T-Mac having a monster season, along with the Houston Rockets as a team.  I would say he’s capable of putting up 25, 6 and 6 this year.  As Yao usually gets injured, McGrady’s numbers could even grow larger. I don’t think T-Mac will get injured.  I think he’s hit a point in his career where he’s probably taken every precaution possible to prevent it from happening.  So, if your going to take anything from my ramble, make sure you don’t overlook McGrady in your fantasy draft, because this guy is coming to play!

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Photoes from AP.

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It’s a done deal, folks!  Our man Kevin Garnett is on his way to Beantown.  Personally, I couldn’t be more excited to have the Celtics back as a powerhouse ( even though I cheer for a different East team ).  Regardless, this type of blockbuster trade is what the NBA needed right now.  I haven’t heard Tim Donaghy’s name in 2 days!  I apologize for even bringing it up.  Now, onto the show, let’s look into the deal.  The T-Wolves get a lot of great potential, especially in Al Jefferson.  That guy’s phenomenal and is not even fully developed yet.  At the end of the day, he’s no KG.  As for the Celtics, they’re the true winners in this trade, in my opinion of course.  Firstly, I can’t get over the offensive power the Celtics have.  After many blog debates (including here on Clutch 3), I’ve come to this conclusion as to why these guys will be so success.  The Big 3 consists of one dominant post player (KG) and two perimeter players that can drive the lane (Allen and Pierce).  The primary option will be to post up KG.   With his skills, he will always require a double team.  When teams used to do that to KG, they might leave Ricky Davis or Troy Hudson open.  Now it’s a lot riskier.  What team would ever think about leaving Ray Allen open?  You’d have to be nuts.  Okay, even if they cover Allen, on the other side is Paul Pierce!  The Celtics have become a defensive nightmare for the opposition.  The best part about the Big 3 are the egos.  They aren’t young anymore and they are going to be focused on winning.  I guarantee any of the Big 3 will give up the ball if the other is open, even though it might not paten their stats.  Also, these guys aren’t old either.  People who say KG is out of his prime are crazy.  He’s still has years to go.  I really back Danny Ainge’s move in the front offices and send him my sincere KUDOS!