Tag: Greg Stiemsma

Omer Asik,Anthony Davis

67RIEFNS No. 25: Synergy of the Pelicans’ lineup


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

The immediate and widespread reaction to the Pelicans trading a draft pick that could fall in the top 10 for Omer Asik was that New Orleans overpaid.

And that was accurate.

The Pelicans – in a tough Western Conference, where just making the playoffs will take an extremely impressive season – dealt a pick unprotected for picks 4-19. It’s quite likely, that turns out favorably for the Rockets.

But the trade is done. Now, New Orleans just has a really good lineup.

The Pelicans, even if healthy, had a weak spot at starting center. A four-headed monster of Alexis Ajinca, Jason Smith, Greg Stiemsma and Jeff Withey did not cut it last season.

Worse yet, that center rotation left Anthony Davis to handle more pounding down low. Davis is pretty great, a true emerging superstar, but he’s not built to withstand so much physicality. Asik will gladly carry that burden.

Asik is far from perfect, but he fits incredibly well in New Orleans. He’s the missing piece that makes everything come together for a team that went 34-48 last season.

Just look at this lineup

  • Point guard: Jrue Holiday
  • Shooting guard: Eric Gordon
  • Small forward: Tyreke Evans
  • Power forward: Anthony Davis
  • Center: Omer Asik
  • Sixth man: Ryan Anderson

That’s a lineup with talent. That’s a lineup with balanced skills. That’s a lineup that strikes fear in opponents.

Holiday has already turned his impressive physical traits into stout defense, and his offensive game is solid and moving in the right direction. Gordon can space the floor, and Evans can use that spacing to get to the rim. Davis is a versatile offensive weapon, capable of scoring inside and in mid-range, and he has Defensive Player of the Year potential due to his length and agility. Asik is a physical banger who will grab rebounds and control the paint. Anderson, a talented stretch four, scores and rebounds, though his defense is underwhelming.

When combinations of those six play together, the Pelicans should be very good. Very good.

I’m still not sold they’ll make the playoffs in a deep Western Conference, so I wouldn’t have traded such a valuable pick for Asik. Especially with Davis on the roster, the goal should be contending for a championship in a few years, not sneaking into the postseason this year.

But the series is called “Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season,” not “Reasons I’m Wary About Three Years From Now.” So, the Pelicans lineup – with Asik bringing everything together and freeing Davis to soar even higher – easily makes the cut.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven

Last season: The Raptors had one of the most satisfying regular seasons in the league. Their 48-34 record was a franchise best, and fans really embraced the team after it traded Rudy Gay. The deal with the Kings cleared the way for the Raptors to elevate young and likable players, assembling a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas.

DeRozan became an All-Star. Lowry was even better. Valanciunas grew into a larger role, and Ross is following right behind him. Johnson was the glue that held everything together.

It really worked.

But Toronto ran into the experienced Nets in the first round of the playoffs, and Brooklyn upset the third-seeded Raptors in seven games.

Signature highlight from last season: The Raptors established an identity after the Gay trade – feisty and confident. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri showcased that when he addressed fans before Game 1 against the Nets, shouting “F— Brooklyn:”

If you want something on the court, Lowry made an awesome buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the Raptors’ Game 5 win over the Nets. That series really was something.

Key player changes:

Keys to the Raptors season:

Kyle Lowry (and everyone) staying hungry: Lowry got into better shape last season. He stopped frequently fighting with coaches, and he became a better teammate. That led to the best season of his career.

Oh, by the way, he was in a contract year.

Has Lowry really turned a corner, or did the prospect of a big paycheck just temporarily convince Lowry to change his act?

The answer to that question will determine the Raptors’ fate, not only this season but in coming years. They gave Lowry a four-year, $48 million contract this offseason.

Based on last year’s team success, they also generously re-signed Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez for north of $6 million per season each.

Will everyone remain as motivated as they were last year? Lowry will set the tone.

The value of continuity: On the flip side of the motivational question, the Raptors return their six most-used players from a season ago – DeRozan, Lowry, Valanciunas, Johnson, Ross and Vasquez. They can really settle into Dwane Casey’s system.

Really, the Raptors were two different teams last season – the one before the Gay trade and the one after. That second team had a limited amount of time to grow together, making up for it with a noticeable excitement for playing together. A little more seasoning could really pay dividends, especially in the postseason.

An improved bench: Lou Williams adds scoring punch, and James Johnson brings quality defense with some all-around offensive skills. Plus, Patterson returns to stretch the floor, and Vasquez is back to play behind and with Lowry.

Toronto’s bench is deeper and more complete, giving Casey potential to find some intriguing lineups and rest his starters.

Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross continuing to develop: Valanciunas looked like a future All-Star, and Ross had a 51-point game. Toronto couldn’t have asked for much more from those players in their second years.

But as Valanciunas and Ross step into their third seasons, expectations get higher. Both players must show the skills they flashed last season in more consistent doses.

Lowry and DeRozan are closer to their peaks, so the for the Raptors to reach the next level, the onus is on Valanciunas and Ross.

Why you should watch: If the Raptors merely copy what they do last season, they’re a lot of fun. They play physically and energetically, really forcing opponents to play their best. This is a team on the rise.

Prediction: 48-34, No. 3 seed in the East and a playoff-series victory. Matching their record and seed from last season might seem like a failure for the Raptors, but the East is deeper. A repeat would be a success – as long as the playoff outcome changes. Toronto is more experienced and more talented this season, and I think that gets them over the hump. The Raptors might not be in the same class as the Cavaliers and Bulls, but they’re my pick – over the Wizards, Bobcats, Heat, Nets, Hawks and whomever else – to rise to the top of that crowded next tier.

Lakers give Julyan Stone second work out

Julyan Stone; Danny Green

The Lakers have been nothing if not meticulous this offseason.

They waited far longer than any other team to hire a coach. They waited until LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony signed to move onto other free agents.

And they’re sure being thorough in their hunt to round out the roster.

We already know the Lakers have works out:

  • Michael Beasley
  • Dexter Pittman
  • Daniel Orton
  • Bobby Brown
  • Toney Douglas
  • Ben Hansbrough
  • Malcolm Lee
  • Greg Stiemsma (since signed with the Raptors)-

Add Julyan Stone to the list.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Free agent Julyan Stone will work out for the Lakers in Los Angeles this week, his second visit with the organization before meeting three other teams, league sources told RealGM.

Stone also has scheduled workouts with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat, sources said, attempting to solidify an NBA contract before training camps start. The Sacramento Kings remain a possible landing spot for Stone.

Stone held a workout with the San Antonio Spurs earlier in the week, and he’s received two lucrative offers from Chinese clubs.

A second workout would seem to indicate significant interest, but the Lakers have worked out Beasley twice and still not signed him. They’re just that methodical.

But Stone, who spent last season with the Raptors, seems to have a real shot. The Lakers have just 13 guaranteed contracts and could use more wing depth behind Kobe Bryant, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry. Stone is a solid defender, but he just can’t shoot.

Stone is right on the edge of deserving an NBA contract. Seems to make him a perfect fit with the Lakers at this point.

Greg Stiemsma signs one-year, $1 million deal with Toronto Raptors

New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets

Toronto has their young center of the future in Jonas Valanciunas, plus some other big men they like (Amir Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough, Patrick Paterson) but they could use a little depth in the “traditional center” department.

Enter Greg Stiemsma.

He has signed with the Raptors, the team announced Thursday. This is reportedly a one year, $1 million deal.

Last season Stiemsma had the chance to be the big man defensive center that New Orleans wanted to put next to Anthony Davis (a role now filled much better by Omer Asik). They just needed Stiemsma to defend and rebound, but the Pelicans were -8.8 per 100 when he was on the court, in part because Stiemsma was a turnover machine. More importantly he didn’t defend well (but did foul a lot).

Toronto is a playoff team and in the second tier in the East — they see themselves as a potential top four seed with home court in the first round and advancing to the second at least. That’s a good goal.

If you see a lot of Stiemsma on the court, they’re not going to make it. But if he is just that big at the end of the bench used situationally (behind Chuck Hayes), at this price it’s a fine pickup.

Lakers work out seven NBA veteran free agents beyond Michael Beasley

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers

Michael Beasley headlined the Lakers’ workout today, but he wasn’t the only free agent to audition for the Purple and Gold.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

The workout included forward Michael Beasley; big men Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, and Daniel Orton; and guards Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

It’s long seemed the Lakers are delusional about their 2015 playoff chances, and this workout group only furthers that theory.

Pittman, Stiemsma, Orton, Brown, Douglas, Hansbrough, Lee all have NBA experience, providing the illusion they’re decent end-of-roster plug-ins for a win-now team. But for the most part, those seven have used opportunities in the Association to show they’re not quite at that level. Each aged between 24 and 29, it’s unlikely any have taken a major leap since their last NBA stint.

I like Stiemsma and Douglas more than the rest, but the Lakers need more help on the wing than they do center and point guard – that is if they’re trying to win this season. The cat might be out of the bag, but tanking for their top-five-protected first rounder was probably their best course.

Instead, they’re searching for modest low-upside help. With 13 guaranteed contracts, they have room to sign two players (to minimum contracts).

So, they could wind up with Beasley and one other player in this hodgepodge.