STAYING: Nicolas Batum, Treveon Graham, Frank Kaminsky, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, Johnny O’Bryant, Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller.
ADDED: Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), Michael Carter-Williams (Chicago), Dwight Howard (Atlanta), Mangok Mathiang (Louisville), Malik Monk (Kentucky), Marcus Paige (Salt Lake City Stars) and Julyan Stone (Reyer Venezia).
GONE: Marco Belinelli (Atlanta), Spencer Hawes, Roy Hibbert, Miles Plumlee (Atlanta), Brian Roberts (Olympiacos), Ramon Sessions (New York), Briante Weber (LA Lakers) and Christian Wood (Fujian Sturgeons).
STRENGTHS: They are enjoying the prime years of elite point guard Kemba Walker … He comes off his most efficient season in the NBA and at age 27 the best may be yet to come … On paper, big man rotation is quite intriguing … Cody Zeller is an underrated player who has excelled on both ends of the floor and made the team much better in limited playing time … A bigger role should be in the cards for him … Dwight Howard gives them quite a defensive presence and Marvin Williams is a quality stretch four due for a bounce-back year … Pretty decent starters at the wing in do-it-all Nicolas Batum and lock-down defender Michael Kidd-Gilchrist … They wouldn’t dream of making the postseason in the Western Conference, but could realistically make a playoff run in the lowly East.
WEAKNESSES: Health … Batum will start the season injured and Howard, Zeller and MKG are not exactly iron men having missed a combined 211 games the last three years … Not deep enough to make up for the absence of key players … Batum and Zeller might have to play a bit out of position at shooting guard and center, respectively … Chemistry problems ahead with Howard there? … They are by no means offensive juggernauts … They could use more outside shooting.
PREDICTION: 3rd in the Southeast Division, 7th in the Eastern Conference.