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Nothing to sweat about: Gophers play through misses to beat Miami Ohio. Your fall guide to plus concerts, plays, movies and more coming to Twin Cities. With First Kiss, University of Minnesota apple growers find their sweet spot. Amy Schumer deals with bugs, marriage and sex at Treasure Island Casino gig. And, more importantly, how will he handle all of the attention that's coming to him now that Anthony is gone? Aldridge and the Spurs are now entering the third season of what's become an uneasy partnership between the talented scoring big man and the league's most buttoned-up franchise.
Guys like Aldridge are basically players from another era in today's NBA, and how he adjusts to playing center full-time is the latest possible flashpoint here. Since arriving in the NBA, Walker has kept improving, overcoming his lack of size to become the leader of the Hornets. But despite a terrific season a year ago, and his first all-star appearance, Charlotte missed the playoffs.
Now he'll try to both match that performance from last season and turn the Hornets back into something like the win team they were two seasons ago. It seemed like the Suns might trade Bledsoe when they shut him down for the final few weeks of last season. Instead, Bledsoe is once again back in Phoenix, and with a young team that's seemingly going nowhere soon, he'll remain one of the most speculated players about a potential trade throughout this season.
Entering last season, Middleton seemed like he'd miss the entire year after a bad hamstring injury suffered during the preseason. Instead, he came back around the all-star break and became a big piece of Milwaukee's push to the playoffs and competitive first round series with Toronto. With a full summer of good health and work on his game, can he take another step forward this season?
Bradley was traded by Boston as part of some salary cap maneuvering to sign Gordon Hayward this summer. Detroit brought him in to replace Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who the team let walk after not offering him a long-term contract. Now Bradley, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, will get a chance to both earn himself a big check and try to reset a Pistons team that desperately needs it.
The issues with Howard are well documented. But those personality issues have overshadowed the fact that he remains an effective player — particularly for a Charlotte team that can pair him with Cody Zeller for 48 minutes of quality center play.
The lack of that after Zeller's injury prevented Charlotte from making the playoffs. After needing to miss part of the regular season last year because of a medical issue involving his wife, Holiday came back and played quite well, eventually earning himself a large contract to re-sign with New Orleans. Now he, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will try to change the narrative around the Pelicans and get them back into the playoffs.
Lopez has toiled in relative obscurity during his career in Brooklyn, but that will no longer be the case after being dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason. Now a year from free agency, Lopez will need to stay healthy in order to try to land another big contract when he hits the open market.
And while he isn't a player that logs high minutes anymore, he showed in the playoffs that he's still capable of being hugely effective when it matters most. Barnes came to Dallas last season needing to prove to people he was more than a bit part of Golden State's run to dominance the prior two years. And, to his credit, he did that, largely living up to the max contract he was given by the Mavericks and showing improvement in many facets of his game.
As the Mavericks continue to rebuild, however, they'll be hoping he can keep growing. By deciding to re-sign Porter after he received a max contract in free agency, Washington committed to paying the luxury tax for the first time under owner Ted Leonsis. Porter needs to return the favor by continuing to improve upon the career year he had last season, when he shot over 43 percent from three-point range. With the "your turn, my turn" era leaving with Dwyane Wade last year, Dragic again began to look more like the player he was in Phoenix.
Now, as the Heat have committed to the core of the team that went in the second half of last season, Miami will be hoping he can perform at an all-star level this season. Gordon's signing last summer was questioned after his myriad injuries in New Orleans.
The Clippers decided to remake their team after trading Chris Paul just before free agency by signing Gallinari to play next to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in their frontcourt. There are questions here — specifically the fit next to Griffin, given both are better as power forwards, and their respective injury issues — but there's no questioning Gallinari's ability to be an impact player when he's available.
The Hornets took a hit this preseason when it was announced Batum would miss weeks after tearing a ligament in his elbow. When he returns, Charlotte will be hoping he can help ease the burden on Kemba Walker to be the hub of Charlotte's entire offensive output.
Green is one of the elite "3-and-D" players in the league, and with Kawhi Leonard limited in camp and Tony Parker still rehabbing from offseason surgery, the Spurs will certainly need his shooting to be ready to go right from the start of the season.
There are few players in the NBA more divisive than Wiggins. For some, he's a budding star, a point scorer with loads of athleticism and room to grow. For others, he's an empty calories player, one who puts up hollow stats that don't contribute to winning teams. With the addition of Jimmy Butler to the core of Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, this is the time -- as he moves toward signing a contract extension -- for Wiggins to show which side of that argument is right.
Crowder should be a very nice fit in Cleveland, slotting next to LeBron James to provide another solid shooter and defender who can take on an opposing wing player instead of The King. His presence will do something that the Cavaliers couldn't do last year — allow James to not have to defend someone like Kevin Durant for 48 minutes in a playoff series. It may not be enough to swing that series Cleveland's way, but it is an important role that the Cavaliers have now managed to fill.
Hill has long been one of the more underrated guards in the league, thanks to his understated game and his ability to both play on and off the ball, shoot well from distance and defend either spot. Now he's been brought to Sacramento to mentor De'Aaron Fox — which could potentially make him a trade candidate later this season if Fox begins to look like he's ready to take over the team. Ibaka re-signed for three years in Toronto, joining up with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to try to keep the best era in Raptors history going for a couple more years.
The interesting question to ponder is whether Ibaka will play primarily as a center, or if he'll line up more often than not next to Jonas Valanciunas.
Utah decided to replace George Hill with Rubio, a move that will likely mean the Jazz are a very different team this season.
Unlike Hill, Rubio is an iffy shooter who thrives with the ball in his hands, which should require some changes in Coach Quin Snyder's preferred system.
But Rubio is a gifted passer, and he's also a much better defender than many give him credit for. Adams looked like a budding star with the way he pushed around both the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference playoffs in , but he took a step back last season. Now with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony on the roster, will he continue to stay in the background, or return to the brute form he showed in the postseason two years ago?
Tom Thibodeau seemed set on replacing Ricky Rubio for most of last season, and quickly did so at the start of free agency by trading Rubio to Utah and then signing Teague. With Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins on the roster it's unclear how often Teague will have the ball in his hands, but as Thibodeau's hand-picked point guard, he should play plenty of minutes and have a big role. Whiteside still remains a controversial player within the NBA.
He puts up big numbers, and did so again last season, but questions remain about if he can be a reliable long-term fit for a team trying to win. If he can prove it this year in a weakened East, perhaps the all-star bid he's previously sought will be within his grasp.
A perfect fit for the modern NBA, Capela is the defensive anchor of a Houston team that desperately needs one. Now paired with both Chris Paul and James Harden, Capela should be the recipient of plenty of lobs at the rim for easy dunks, and if he can improve his free throw shooting even slightly, he'll quickly turn himself into a really valuable player.
It will be interesting to see if he can hold up once again under the strain of having to make up for the defensive lapses of those around him on the perimeter in Houston. Favors dropped a long way from last season not because of anything to do with his game, but due to a seemingly never-ending series of injuries. If Favors can stay on the court for a full season, he'll both set himself up for a fat contract next summer as a free agent and potentially bounce back up the list again.
As the definition of a stretch-five in the modern NBA, Turner has a chance to become an elite player at both ends of the court. While any team would be happy to land Chris Paul, losing Beverley is a blow for the Rockets, who benefitted greatly from both his cheap contract and his ability to be a perfect fit next to James Harden as a guy who could guard the opposition's best perimeter player while also spacing the floor.
It will be interesting to see what his role becomes with a Clippers team that has several varied options in the backcourt, as well as a star in Blake Griffin who likely will pick up some of the facilitating role Paul vacated when he left for Houston. An up-and-coming young player that is still gathering attention, Harris is both a good defensive player and capable of shooting 40 percent from three-point range at shooting guard, making him highly valuable.
The Nuggets look like a team primed to break back into the playoffs for the first time in five years, and Harris is a big reason why. Hence his new four-year contract. Booker burst onto the scene in a big way last year by scoring 70 points in a loss to the Boston Celtics, and remains one of the most intriguing young talents in the league — especially when he enters his third season at 20 he turns 21 on Oct.
Booker has become the face of the franchise in Phoenix, but now the Suns have to figure out the pieces to properly build around him. There is no more polarizing pick on this list than Embiid. When he's healthy, he's clearly a guy who should be at least spots higher. But he's only played 31 games over his three NBA seasons — all last year.
He enters this season as one of the most compelling players in the league, both to see if he can stay healthy and if he can play up to the massive contract extension he was just handed.
Caldwell-Pope's departure from Detroit this summer came as a surprise, but he found a nice landing spot in Los Angeles. The Lakers could use a defensive presence next to rookie Lonzo Ball, and if Caldwell-Pope can turn his pretty-looking jump shot into proven production this season, he should cash in next summer as a free agent.
But Gibson is still a quality player, and should help shore up what was a surprisingly bad defense under Thibodeau last season. A stalwart in Cleveland the past several years, Thompson appears headed for a bench role this season.