(Photo credit: Dan Lippitt/NBAE/Getty Images)
Chauncey Billups returns to his former championship city for the 2013-’14 season and will join some young players that have been proving themselves to be threats in the near future; maybe even this season.
Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, 20 and 23 respectively, are a pair of guys that are part next generation of great players in the NBA, earning Detroit the eight spot in an ESPN INSIDER ranking of the top fifteen teams in terms of under-25 talent. The Cleveland Cavaliers are also on this list, boasting the fourth best young talent behind OKC, New Orleans, and Utah.
Player-for-player out of this young generation, these two sides in Detroit and Cleveland have advantages in different areas. As mentioned before, Greg Monroe with his 16 and (almost) 10 a game average from last season, has shown how he can play and at only 23, he can only get better. Many people seem to be making the case for Munroe as an All-Star, but most agree he must leave Detroit to accomplish this. This season might prove that this is simply not the case. It all depends on how Drummond and himself share the front court. If they can find a way to implement the two young players in a two-headed post attack. If Greg Munroe can improve his mid-post shooting and Andre Drummond learn how to effectively use his 7-6″ wing span, they could cause problems for a lot of opposing teams’ big men. The addition of Brandon Jennings should add to the fuel behind the Detroit attack, who were in the bottom third of the league in offensive output. Siva’s minutes could go either way, depending on the play of Chauncey Billups and whether or not Siva can prove to be as reliable as he was at Louisville. Rookie Tony Mitchell will fight for front court minutes with his physicality, and only time will tell if he can live up to his potential and consistently hit the outside shot. Bringing in a guy like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will help balance the inside-outside game, with an underrated three-ball and an athletic player willing to crash the glass.
On the Cavaliers side, the obvious is the rising star Kyrie Irving coming into fruition. After his play with the US National side this summer, everyone seems to be in agreement of just how special of a player Irving is. The what-ifs are the rest of the young batch the Cleveland Cavaliers boast. Tristan Thompson seems to be coming into his own, especially, it seems, after his switch of shooting hands. There is not too much statistical evidence on any improvement other than shooting 78% from the line in nine games with Team Canada.
Both Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters joined those among the US intrasquad scrimmage. Tyler Zeller played solid and looked good in pick-and-roll situations which is great news playing with Kyrie in the upcoming season. Dion Waiters looked inconsistent, but there is a lot of potential there and could be formed into a more all-around player with defensive-minded Mike Brown as the new head coach. Waiters can be explosive and is very effective of the dribble, having the ability to pull-up and finish at the rim with his incredible athleticism. Rookie Sergey Karasev adds a big three-point threat, and what he lacks in defense is made up by fellow rookie Carrick Felix, who impressed in Las Vegas this summer. And of course Anthony Bennett has the ability to be whatever he wants to be on the offensive end and will need more discipline on the defensive end.