With the 2010-2011 NBA season tipping off tonight, here’s a look at the impact the 10 Longhorns in the league will have this year for their respective teams.
<strong>Miami</strong> - Dexter Pittman finds himself on the most talented team in the NBA and will learn from established bigs including Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard. The coaching staff will keep an eye on his weight, which was an issue at Texas, and take things slowly with Pittman as he adjusts to the speed and physical nature of post play in the NBA.
<strong>New Jersey</strong> - The Nets acquired Damion James in a draft-day deal with Atlanta, and he is part of a young core of players charged with turning around a 12-win team. James’ range improved with each year during his career at Texas. If he can knock down the 3-ball with consistency, he should see more and more playing time.
<strong>Cleveland</strong> - Daniel Gibson will have an expanded role this year as the Cavaliers scramble to fill the void left by LeBron James’ ugly departure. Gibson will be leaned on to pick up some of the scoring slack with James gone. In seven preseason games, he showed the ability to light it up, averaging just over 14 points in only 25 minutes of action per game.
<strong>Charlotte</strong> - D.J. Augustin was handed the reigns to Michael Jordan’s team over the summer and will look to lead the Bobcats back to the playoffs in his third year. Augustin’s numbers took a dip last year after a promising rookie season, but the coaching staff is confident Augustin is ready to be a reliable point guard.
<strong>Boston</strong> - Avery Bradley was limited in the preseason due to offseason ankle surgery, but the first Longhorn selected in the 2010 NBA Draft (No.19 overall) will get a chance to learn from Rajon Rondo, one of the best defensive point guards in the league. Bradley’s role on a veteran Boston squad will be limited, but the 19-year-old will learn from some of the NBA’s finest.
<strong>Portland</strong> - LaMarcus Aldridge has worked to become one of the best power forwards in the game and is a double-double machine. Aldridge, who is entering his fifth year, will look to lead the Blazers back to the playoffs and is one of a handful of Portland bigs who can challenge the Lakers’ size in the West.
<strong>Atlanta</strong> - Maurice Evans is in his third year with the Hawks and is the elder statesman among the 10 Longhorns in the league. Evans brings energy and tenacity off the bench for one of the most athletic teams in the association.
<strong>Indiana</strong> - T.J. Ford’s health will determine whether or not the Pacers can make it to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Ford was limited to 47 games a season ago, but if he can stay on the court in his third year in Indiana, Ford has the skills to get the franchise back on track. But given Ford’s history, that’s a big “if.”