Oct 28, 2008
NBA Season Preview
My NFL picks have been awful, and subsequently pulled down. Sorry. I don't want to think about how bad it's been for me. Though, someone has been enjoying my recent bout of bad luck; let's just say their name starts with a 'B' and ends in an 'ookie'. Ugh. Anyway, my favorite time of the year is here, and no, it's not the inevitable Bud Selig meltdown that reminds us that mental patients shouldn't run professional sports - it's basketball season!
Looking back at my predictions from last year, I didn't do TOO badly, so hopefully this short team by team breakdown holds up a little too.
Boston - The champs are back. They reloaded, kept KG and Pierce happy, and Ray Allen is too OCD not to be ready. They lose the pre-game Posey hugs, and held on to Cassell, but I still look for good things as they hang #17 tonight.
Philly - Ignore the fact that Elton Brand has looked slow in the preseason, that they can't run with him on the floor, and that he is coming off of a torn Achilles tendon. Focus on the Andres and Lou Williams to be the most exciting show in town, until the play in...
Toronto - Love the addition of Jermaine O'Neal, if indeed he has anything left in the tank. Will free up Bosh from playing in the middle, which he isn't that great at, and with Calderon at the point, they will be the 7-Seconds or less Raptors...or maybe 10-Turnover Toronto. We'll see.
New Jersey - Devin Harris will be an All Star in a few years, despite video evidence to the contrary. His supporting cast isn't terrible, and I'd put the over-under of games Vince tanks at 30 (take the over).
New York - Mike D'Antoni claims he loves the 'challenge' this Knicks roster presents to his style of coaching. If by 'challenge' he means that they couldn't possibly fit his system any worse, than this is a hell of a 'challenge'. At least he'll have comfortable evenings on his bed of money.
*Breaking News* - Eddy Curry is stunned not to be in rotation. Rest of the world is stunned he is stunned.
Cleveland - What do you mean they signed Mo Williams? What do you mean this might mean LeBron will stop outside shooting? What do mean they are still the second best defensive team in the East?
Detroit - It hurts me to say it. We're officially on the downside of the 'cockiest guys who only won 1 ring' era. Billups seemed more than a little off as the season wore on, and Rasheed Wallace + new coach = lot's of great television.
Chicago - Derrick Rose looks good. Really good. That said, there is a logjam at the guard position, and if cooler heads prevail, it could be a decent running team. Why didn't D'Antoni take this job again? (Glances at aforementioned piles of money) Right...
Milwalkee - Richard Jefferson, come on down! Still don't like the guy, but I enjoy the addition of Scott Skiles on the bench for the defense, and Andrew Bogut might convince me he's not terrible.
Indiana - I was wrong about them last year, so maybe I'll be wrong this year. But, if I'm not, this team should play 0 nationally televised games. ZERO.
Orlando - Dwight Howard has been found after vanishing in the medal rounds of the Olympics, we can all rest easy. I love their front court of DHow, Rashad "Wait, how big is my contract" Lewis and Hedo Turkaglu, and their big reserves ain't bad either. Too bad no one is backing up Jameer Nelson adequately. Huh. There's something I never thought I'd say.
Miami - Dwayne Wade effectively ruined the best thing I was ever going to write. I have been working on a DWade - Penny Hardaway piece since I started this stupid blog last year, and in one Olympics, he rendered it all moot. Their coach looks like Steve Pizzi.
Atlanta - Maybe the best starting 5 in the division. I mean that. They can play fast (Bibby, Smith), they can play half court (Johnson, Horford) and they can play adequately (Williams). The problem is you can't play just 5 players over 48 minutes.
Washington - Injury bug. I think the preseason stuff is going to put them in a hole that will be insurmountable once Caron and Agent Zero make it back.
Charlotte - Larry Brown baby. He hates young players and excels with vets who play defense. What about that roster made him think this was a good fit?
Eastern Conference Playoff Seeds
Utah - Williams getting hurt early won't matter as much as one would think; this is a veteran team that played lights out last year after getting Korver from the Sixers. If they can hold on to Boozer, and keep him happy, look for another deep run out of the most inappropriately nicknamed team in the NBA.
Portland - Holy crap. I guess the Tampa Bay Rays model of success can work in other sports (if you're really bad long enough, you will stockpile enough picks to be good). Without Greg Oden, the flirted with the playoffs, with him, they're on the third date with the playoffs. Count them in.
Denver - Count them out. Look, their defense wasn't as bad as everyone tried to make it seem (fastest pace in basketball = everyone is going to score, check their per-possession numbers), but moving your best two defensive pieces in Camby and Najara won't help things. AI might get moved this year again.
Seattle - I don't want to hear it. They never moved, they never adopted that ridiculous moniker, and they never robbed a historic NBA city of their team. My only regret is that I can't pick them last in this division because of...
Minnesota - Good God. I was right about them last year, and I'll be right again this year. ZERO times on my TV this year, God willing. In a related story, Kevin will not be able to make it to the ring ceremony in Boston tonight, but rest assured, his ring is in the mail.
Lakers - Well, speaking of GMs on other teams deserving of playoff bonuses, Chris Wallace come on down! If you can convince Lamar into being happy coming off the bench (and you know Phil can), then this scary team just got scarier. By the way, Kobe Bryant is the best player in the world. There. I said it. Don't believe me? Look at how everyone else deferred to him during crunch time in the Gold Medal game this summer. Even Bron-Bron.
Pheonix - Old. Old old old. We buried the 'seven seconds or less' Suns last year, could this be the year we bury them altogether? Motivated Shaq, healthier Amare and Steve Nash bring this crew to the playoffs, but not much further. Oh, and Terry Porter's 'new, defensive minded approach'? I give it a month.
Clippers - I like the size inside with Kamen and Camby, but I don't like Baron Davis on the injured list. They don't play enough D as a team to make the playoffs, but maybe Baron getting hurt early will serve them down the stretch.
Golden State - Who's left? Baron bolted, Monta is suspended for 30 games, and Corey Maggette is their number 1 guy to start the year. I'll let that sink in for a while.
Sacremento - You can bet on NBA games in the Palms now!!! Except for Kings games. Which means you'll have to go elsewhere to bet against Kevin Martin and his team.
New Orleans - Chris Paul might be my favorite player in the world right now, and not just because he's amazing in NBA 2K9. They lost some point guard depth with Pargo leaving, but things that keep Chris Paul on the floor aren't a bad thing. They're a good thing.
San Antonio - They are only here because I can't put the Rockets higher than 3rd. No Manu early means the Spurs will be leaning on Duncan a lot sooner than usual, and that adds to his opportunity to get burned out sooner. Plus, I still hate Tony Parker.
Houston - McGrady! Yao! Artest! Now there's three players you can win a lot of games with... too bad they've won a combined 1 playoff series...and that's from when Artest was with the Pacers. Plus, all the health issues between McGrady and Yao, I just don't like them to advance past round 1.
Dallas - Wait, did this division send 4 teams to the dance last year? Look for Mark Cuban to look more and more disheveled as he realizes he gave away a future All Star for a Hall of Famer past his prime, who's style of play is diametrically opposed to Dirk Nowitzki's.
Memphis - O.J. Mayo! Marc Gasol! Mike Conley Jr.! Maybe in a few years fellas, until then, enjoy getting to see most of the U.S. on the company dime.
Western Conference Playoff Seeds
ROY - Michael Beasley; runner-up - O.J. Mayo
Defensive Player of the Year - Kevin Garnett; runner-up - Marcus Camby
Coach of the Year - Nate McMilllian; runner-up - Jerry Sloan
MVP - LeBron James; runner-up - Chris Paul