The Amico Report: On Bobcats, Cavs, Wizards and West
AUG 14, 2013 6:47p ET
Question: How much improvement should Bobcats fans expect this season? - James McBee
Answer: People like to rip on the Bobcats, but they should be improved. First, you have to expect youngsters like Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to be better. Second, Gerald Henderson finished strong last season. Third, I liked the choice of Cody Zeller in the draft -- and mostly, the signing of Al Jefferson in free agency. The Bobcats may not be playoff-bound, but their days of being a joke are over.
Q: Who is your surprise team in the East? Cavs, Wizards or Raptors? - @iSwishKidz
A: Of the ones you listed, I’ll go with the Wizards. I say that because I’ll be surprised if the Cavs DON’T make the playoffs (with or without a healthy Andrew Bynum). Anyway, I really like the Wizards’ young trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal and rookie Otto Porter. As for the Raptors, they’ll be dangerous, especially if Jonas Valanciunas continues to show the improvement he displayed in summer league. But final answer: Wizards.
Q: When does NBA training camp start? - @CavsSportstalk
A: While no official date has been released, I suspect most teams will hold their media day Monday, Sept. 30, with training camp to begin the following day (Oct. 1). Not everyone starts on the same day, mind you.
Q: Who got overpaid the most this offseason? - Jared K. Mueller
A: Well, Josh Smith is getting $13.5 million from the Pistons next season. I’d say he’s a candidate, but you look at some of the people who are earning more (read: Emeka Okafor) and maybe Smith’s deal isn’t so bad -- especially if the Pistons provide him with a rebirth of sorts. So as much as I like the Wizards' John Wall, I’ll probably go with him. His reported five years and $80 million is based more on potential than what he’s actually accomplished.
Q: Still think the Nuggets are a top five team in the West even after what happened in the off-season? - @M1J91
A: My top five in the West as of today: 1. Spurs; 2. Thunder; 3. Rockets; 4. Clippers; 5. Grizzlies. So to answer your question, no. But I do think the Nuggets (and Warriors) are playoff teams, with the eighth team TBD.
Q: Lot of predictions keeping the Hawks in playoffs. Considering the Wizards, Cavs, Raptors and Pistons pushing and Hawks didn’t get better, is that fair? - @Kenby92
A: Well, maybe. So far, those other teams only improved on paper. So much more depends on chemistry (and, of course, good health and luck). Free-agent signee Paul Millsap may be a better fit for the Hawks than Josh Smith was. We won’t really know until they roll out the ball. But like the teams you mentioned, I think the Hawks stand a chance to be better. I really, really like their coaching hire (Mike Budenholzer), that’s for sure.
Q: How good is Cavs rookie Anthony Bennett going to be? I go back and forth all the time! - @iamacavalier
A: That’s a great question. Without seeing Bennett play against guys trying to just MAKE the NBA in summer league, it’s extremely difficult to tell. On the bright side, at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Bennett is already built for the league. He’s also pretty skilled. The key will be how quickly he can adapt those skills to a more physical and much faster game than he ever saw at UNLV.
Q: What do you think of Tristan Thompson switching hands? And who do you think is the Cavs’ starting five? - Matt Elliott
A: To me, it says you drafted a project at No. 4 if the guy is switching his shooting hand entering his third NBA season. And man, it really makes me miss the days when top-five picks were ready for the league on draft night. This isn’t intended to trash Thompson, and I admire his attempts to always improve, but this is unheard of and downright weird to me. Not to say it won’t work. Maybe it will. I just don’t like it.
As for part two of your question, it doesn’t matter what I say without a day of practice under a new coach (Mike Brown). But I’ll go with Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao, Earl Clark, Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving.