Saturday, November 3, 2007

Haphazard NBA projections

Alright, so I wanted to do an NBA season preview. I believe the word preview has something to do with seeing things before they happen--at least trying to do so. Now that the season has already started, I think I will do a sort-of preview anyway.

Division standings (playoff seed in parentheses)

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
1. Boston Celtics (3) - The Big Three will make Boston tough to compete with in this division (I'm a rocket scientist, I know).
2. New Jersey Nets (6) - Tough pick for second place between the Nets and the Raps, but I stuck with Kidd, Carter, Jefferson and Krstic. Maybe I've been drinkin' a little too much of the ESPN Kool-Aid.
3. Toronto Raptors (8) - If All-Star Chris Bosh stays healthy, Bargnani continues to develop and the role players buy into the team concept like last year, this should be a playoff team.
4. New York Knicks - Plenty of talent (even ask Steph), but they may be on the outside looking in once again come playoff time.
5. Philadelphia 76ers - Won't make the playoffs. And Andre Iguodala got robbed in the 2006 dunk contest.

Central Division
1. Chicago Bulls (1) - You mean I just picked against Detroit? Well, they do have Deng, Gordon, Hinrich, Nocioni, Wallace and a cuppla recent lottery picks in Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah.
2. Detroit Pistons (2) - They still have one of the best starting lineups in the league. Are they hungry enough for a championship after being unceremoniously bounced out of the Eastern Conference Finals by Wonder Boy and the Cavs?
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (5) - The aforementioned LeBron needs Sideshow Bob to sign and something (anything) productive from Irishman Larry Hughes.
4. Milwaukee Bucks - They actually have some good pieces in place. Michael Redd is their scoring star, former No. 1 draft pick Andrew Bogut is improving, Mo Williams got some All-Star consideration last year, Desmond Mason is back, The Eyebrowless Man should be in an old movie with Charlton Heston and Yi Jianlian is a big "?"
5. Indiana Pacers - Last year, they missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade. They won't make it back this year, and their star, J.O., has been on the trading block.

Southeast Division
1. Miami Heat (4) - Wade begins the season hurt, Shaq is often injured and past his prime (but he can still dance), and somehow I am picking them to win their fourth straight division title.

2. Orlando Magic (7) - They made Rashard Lewis the most overpaid player in the Association and the perimeter complement to emerging big man Dwight Howard. Howard is a beast and Jameer Nelson is solid, too.
3. Washington Wizards - They have a good Big Three of their own--Agent Zero, Jamison and C-But (sorry for the nickname, Caron). They aren't especially adept at playing defense--or even wanting to play defense. That and their lack of an inside game will be their undoing when they lose in the first round or miss the playoffs entirely.
4. Atlanta Hawks - Like the Knicks, the young Hawks have plenty of talent; however, they will remain playoffless in the new millennium, at least through 2008.
5. Charlotte Bobcats - Injuries to May and Morrison hurt (no pun intended), but they still have Okafor, J-Rich, G. Wallace, Felton, Brezec and Fabio. They still have dues to pay, though.

Western Conference

Southwest Division
1. Dallas Mavericks (2) - Everyone says they are a regular season team and that they can't win the big one and Dirk isn't a real superstar in crunch time. This may be unfair to a team and a player that have had plenty of success. Still, they'll have to hear it until they prove otherwise.
2. San Antonio Spurs (3) - Yeah, it took some deliberation here, but I figure the Mavs have more motivation than the Spurs to win now--but look for the Spurs to go further in the postseason than Dallas.
3. Houston Rockets (5) - You could say it's a three-team race for the division title now that the dreaded Texas Triangle is tougher than ever.
4. New Orleans Hornets (7) -At the tender age of 22, Chris Paul is one of the top point guards in the league. If Peja can make a comeback, the Hornets could snag a playoff berth.
5. Memphis Grizzlies - If nothing else they have some of the most interesting names in the NBA: Darko, Pau, Stromile and Gay. They'll definitely win more than last year, though, when they had the worst win-loss record in the game.

Northwest Division
1. Utah Jazz (4) - I pick them to repeat their division championship because Coach Sloan won't let them slack off (too much). However, Boozer and D-Will need to bring their A-games all season long and AK-47 needs to pull his head out of the trash can. Or something like that.
2. Denver Nuggets (6) - These cats are a popular pick for the division title, in large part because of their two phenomenal scorers, 'Melo and AI. Kenyon Martin returns from injury to join Camby and Nene on the frontcourt.
3. Portland Trail Blazers - Losing top draft pick Greg Oden is huge, but fellow youngsters LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy, last year's ROY, should help carry the load for a team with a bright future.
4. Seattle Supersonics - No more Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis, but the team is building around No. 2 draft pick Kevin Durant and No. 5 pick Jeff Green. And they might move to Oklahoma City.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves - Yeah, the team's not that great, but at least they have a bona fide superduperstar in KG. What? You mean he got traded?

Pacific Division
1. Phoenix Suns (1) - This is by far the easiest division champ to predict--even more so than Boston. Nash. Stoudemire. Marion. Barbosa. Bell. Hill. Diaw. But they still won't get by San Antonio if they meet in a seven-game series.
2. Golden State Warriors (8) - They traded away J-Rich for a youngster named Brandan Wright. Hmm...We'll see if they can match their 2007 playoff run. I'm a bit skeptical.
3. Los Angeles Lakers - What will they do with Kobe? Either way this team is first-round playoff fodder at best.
4. Los Angeles Clippers - With Elton Brand down for maybe the whole year, it figures to be a long one for the Clips.
5. Sacramento Kings - Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In 2002, Sac-town was thisclose to winning a title. That was also the year the Raiders were AFC champs. Go figure.

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