As the least likely of the Sports Q&A tandem to even care about the NBA, its a daunting task to predict this season’s results, but here’s my take:
1. Chicago Bulls– The addition of Pau Gasol and the promise of a renewed D. Rose puts a team that has grown collectively over the past 2 seasons in a great position to rise to the top and attempt to step out of the MJ shadow.
2. Charlotte Hornets– The name change couldn’t have come at a better time. Adding Lance “Careless Whispers” Stephenson to the fold makes this a scary team that honestly may not hit its peak until two years from now.
3. Toronto Raptors– The only international team left in the NBA has a superstar in DeRozan and a cast of characters that definitely will show growth based upon last seasons roller coaster playoff run. As young as a lot of people think this team is, they have a wealth of experience.
4. Cleveland Cavs– The LB 2.0 Experiment has the makings of something beautiful or something hideous depending on your POV. If things go well then it could be a 3-5 year run similar to Miami’s recent run or it could start looking like the Celtics after their experiment exploded. If the team gels fast this could be the LBJ Love Fest Cleveland fans have longed for their whole lives.
5. Washington Wizards– The Wizards are an interesting team loaded with talented youth and wiley vets. Randy Wittman is going to have to find the perfect blend to make a deep run into the playoffs. They do provide some matchup nightmares for the top teams in the East.
6. Indianapolis Pacers– Even with the departure of Stephenson and the injury to George the Pacers are still loaded with talent. This season provides Hibbert/Hill/West to step their game up and solidify the foundation in preparation for the return of George. Expect Vogel to have his best coaching season ever or there will be a change in Indy.
7. Miami Heat– A new chapter begins in South Beach with new nucleus as well as a new, much smaller, fan base. This season will really solidify Erik Spoelstra’s coaching legacy. They should be be a year away from making a big splash in the East barring injury or retirement.
8. Brooklyn Nets– The guard heavy Nets must replace the scoring and leadership of Pierce and find a way to protect Joe Johnson from himself(shot selection). The frontline has the potential to be promising, but will they be healthy enough to finish the season?
1. L.A. Clippers– The Clips just need to transfer the regular season magic into the postseason. Doc Rivers knows what it takes, but can he change his team from being streaky to consistent?
2. San Antonio Spurs – The defending champs are built for the playoffs from the GM to the ball boy. Will this be the year the Spurs age actually shows on the court in the playoffs?
3. Oklahoma Thunder– The KD injury may be the best thing for the Thunder. Westbrook will show the true leader his is and display his true worth to the Thunder. Scott Brook’s squad will have to mature a lot this year.
4. Portland Blazers – LaMarcus Aldridge must find a way to make his teammates maximize their potential in order to advance deep in the playoffs. The backcourt will have to step up offensive and defensively to stop the premier scorers in the West.
5. Golden State Warriors – The best backcourt in the NBA Curry/Thompson need their counterparts to step up this year. Rookie coach Steve Kerr has an opportunity to evolve this team from being a 2K fav to to a NBA title favorite.
6. Phoenix Suns – The Bledsoe saga is now resolved and now he has to earn the money. The duos of the Dragic and Morris brother may aid in the speed in which the team evolves as a unit. This front court has more depth than any team in the West and could be the reason the Suns end up higher than a 6 seed.
7. Houston Rockets– Harden and Howard now have a veteran PG to take the reigns, but how much does Jason Terry have in the tank? This should free up Beverly to play SG in some spots considering his high volume of shots. This team will live and die by the front-court that appears to be thin outside of Howard.
8. Dallas Mavericks– Half of the Mavs roster is 30 or older which could loom problematic this season. The PG play is paramount and will give them the advantage most nights with the vet combo of Felton/Harris/Nelson. Dirk will still be able to dominate, but not on a nightly basis…too bad they can’t rest him how the Spurs rest Duncan.
So, how do your predictions compare???