Posted on: October 13, 2010 3:07 pm
2010-2011 NBA Atlantic Division Preview
As the phrase has long been applied to life is recited: for every action there is a reaction. Three teams in this division were greatly affected by free agency this summer, even though they all ended up empty handed when it came to their pursuit of any of the prized free agents this July. Two of the teams, though, plotted for two years with hopes of landing LeBron James, only to be spurned as he left for the Miami Heat. Another one of the teams had one of the prized free agents, and his leaving for the Miami Heat left them in freelance as well. Meanwhile, the three-time defending Atlantic Champions lost in the NBA Finals and had to react promptly. The loss of Kendrick Perkins did not help either in the NBA Finals or at the start of this season, and the Celtics looked to add to their list of established veterans for what feels like one last run at a championship. And then there’s the Philadelphia 76ers. After years of being an afterthought in the league, one of the league’s most prominent cities is taking huge steps towards relevance again. They reached back and hired Doug Collins to return to Philadelphia to help advance this process and it will be interesting to see how those new players mesh.
All in all, the Atlantic Division had a lot of turnover on most of the rosters and could see significantly new change among the production of three of the worst teams from last season in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. With all three of those teams now positioning themselves for victory and with Boston continuing to add players primed for one last run, the change could be even more evident in the coming seasons. But even though there’s a reaction for every action, the Celtics reacted accordingly to last year’s NBA Finals loss to the Lakers, and are still the team to beat in the Atlantic Division.
1) Boston Celtics
Incoming Players: Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody, Semih Urden, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Von Wafer, Delonte West
Outgoing Players: Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine, Michael Finley, Shelden Williams
Team Report: The Celtics walk into this season as the clear favorites in the division and are among the favorites for an NBA Championship this season as well. The Celtics were up by 13 points in the 3rd quarter of last season’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals before conceding to the Lakers in a heartbreaking defeat. A lot has been made of their age in recent years, but they showed last postseason that they’re one of the few teams capable of flipping a switch on and off. Whether they would want to walk that tightrope again this season remains to be seen, but the players on the team don’t necessarily give any encouragement of a change of the times coming in Beantown.
Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal are the most high profile additions to the team. The two big men fit right into what the Celtics are looking for: smart, seasoned veterans willing to use what’s left of their ability to contribute to the ultimate goal of the team. Both come at an opportune time as well with the injury to Kendrick Perkins. Perkins injured his knee in Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals and should be out until January. His loss will be greatly felt across the board in Boston, but the Celtics will hope it’s offset by the continued improvement from point guard Rajon Rondo. While it’s hard to argue that at least Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren’t more important to a championship for the Celtics, it’s also hard to argue that Rondo isn’t currently the team’s most talented player. Overall, the Celtics still enter this season with a chip on their shoulder and with a lot to prove. They also are the most stable of the rest of the teams in the division, and that’s why they’ll be winning the division title come next April.
2) New York Knicks
Incoming Players: Larry Fields, Andy Rautins, Jerome Jordan, Timofey Mozgov, Kelenna Azubuike, Patrick Ewing, Jr., Raymond Felton, Roger Mason, Jr., Anthony Randolph, Amar’e Stoudemire, Ronny Turiaf, Shawne Williams
Outgoing Players: Earl Barron, David Lee, Chris Duhon, Sergio Rodriguez, J.R. Giddens, Al Harrington, Jonathan Bender, Tracy McGrady, Eddie House
Team Analysis: The Knicks have been bad for years now, it seems. Since 2004, the Knicks have regularly been among the worst teams in the league. A fantastic city and fan base has really been negated by the lack of overall production on the court and the turmoil that occurred off of it. However, after Isaiah Thomas left New York, Donnie Walsh was hired to clean the mess. He hired Mike D’Antoni, rid himself of some of the ridiculous contracts on the team, and built towards the famed 2010 NBA Free Agent class. The Knicks have been telling their fans to accept defeat the last two seasons, a hard sell to New Yorkers, because a great star was on the horizon. After whiffing on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the team signed Amar’e Stoudemire to a big max contract this offseason instead. It still may be a hard sell to New Yorkers that he was worthy of being the light at the end of the tunnel.
But the Knicks made other moves this offseason to reshape the roster. They brought in the extremely promising Anthony Randolph over in a trade with Golden State and hope that he can partner up with Stoudemire to create the ideal frontcourt for head coach Mike D’Antoni. But, for the first time since D’Antoni was hired in 2008, the pressure is now on for him to win in New York. After being patient with a struggling team the last two seasons, the Knicks were told they would be much better in 2010. It’s fair to say they will be much better, but it’s debatable if they’re a lock to make the postseason. D’Antoni has h is work cut out for him, as do the rest of the Knicks franchise.
3) Philadelphia 76ers
Incoming Players: Evan Turner, Tony Battie, Craig Brackins, Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni, Darius Songaila
Outgoing Players: Samuel Dalembert, Rodney Carney, Willie Green, Jason Smith, Francisco Elson, Allen Iverson
Team Analysis: The Philadelphia 76ers traded Allen Iverson in 2006 and have been largely irrelevant since. Sure they’ve made the playoffs a couple times since that trade, but they’ve been no real threats among the NBA’s elite and the team really wasn’t in Iverson’s last years with the team either. So it seems a tad ironic now that the 76ers are building towards and selling hope; again at a time when Iverson is leaving. The 76ers brought Iverson back last season in an attempt to sell tickets and regain relevance, but it went for nothing as Iverson couldn’t stay on the court due to injuries and other factors and was a large non factor in the team’s horrendous 27-55 season. After only one season, Eddie Jordan was fired and the 76ers again went back to the drawing board.
The Sixers interviewed a lot of candidates and wound up with Doug Collins as the team’s new head coach coming into this season. Collins isn’t “new” by any means. He’s been a coach for three different franchises before and had mild success with all of them. His name is largely important because of his broadcasting gig with TNT moreso than what anyone remembers him doing as a coach. But Collins is a 76er at heart. He was drafted by Philadelphia and made an NBA Finals with the team in 1977. He wants, just as much as the rest of the city, for the 76ers to be relevant. How quickly that happens will largely land on the shoulders of second overall pick Evan Turner. Turner is a “do-it-all” type talent who led the Big 10 in scoring and rebounding last season. The Sixers will look to him to possibly spearhead a new era in Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala remains the man in Philadelphia, but for how long is anyone’s guess. How he and Turner mesh this season will go a long way towards determining how quickly Philadelphia can turn around in a shallow Eastern Conference. The 76ers are still a team with a lot of uncertainty, but they’ll take that as long as it can generate a lot of excitement.
4) New Jersey Nets
Incoming Players: Derrick Favors, Damion James, Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Troy Murphy, Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Joe Smith
Outgoing Players: Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Chris Quinn, Josh Boone, Trenton Hassell, Bobby Simmons, Keyon Dooling, Tony Battie, Jarvis Hayes
Team Analysis: The Nets were close to becoming, historically, the worst team in NBA history last season. A late season “surge” by the Nets helped them avoid the NBA’s futility mark and allowed the team to finish 12-70 last season. There wasn’t a lot to be happy about in Jersey last season, but at least there’s hope on the horizon for this upcoming season. The Nets have a new owner now in the hugely interesting and insanely rich Mikhail Prokhorov as their brand new owner, the impending move to Brooklyn (which seems like it’s been in the works forever) is finally going to happen by 2012, and they’ve introduced a new coach to the team in Avery Johnson. Johnson, who won an NBA Championship as a player with the Spurs and went to the NBA Finals as a coach for Dallas, will at least command the attention and respect of the young talent in New Jersey.
Speaking of that new talent, nobody is more promising on the team than the third overall pick in the draft: Georgia Tech PF Derrick Favors. Favors has drawn early comparisons to Dwight Howard in terms of body structure and athletic ability, but is still very raw and will be brought along slowly by the Nets. The team lacked a lot of fortitude last season, and it’s no guarantee that they’ll develop that toughness just from the presence of their new coach. But they will be better. Troy Murphy, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow all make great additions to the team. Will it be enough to make them a playoff team? Probably not. But after last season’s 12 win season, everything is looking up for New Jersey.
5) Toronto Raptors
Incoming Players: Ed Davis, Solomon Alabi, Leandro Barbosa, Linas Kleiza, Julian Wright
Outgoing Players: Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, Rasho Nesterovic, Patrick O’Bryant, Antoine Wright
Play Analysis: Although the Knicks and Nets cut salary and lost games on purpose to be players this offseason, the Raptors signed and traded for talent to please one player who was going to be on the market: Chris Bosh. Bosh, however, never was going to stay in Toronto and he now resides in South Beach. The Raptors didn’t respond as harshly as Cleveland did with LeBron, but they’re going to move along with life after Bosh anyways. The talent that the team acquired last season did not gel at all, and with more turnover this season as well, chemistry will still be a huge problem with this Toronto team.
With the selection of Ed Davis in the first round, the Raptors hope to have found Bosh’s replacement immediately. Davis is a North Carolina product who is a very solid offensive talent. However, they can’t expect him to replace Bosh’s production right away. Andrea Bargnani should be primed for a huge break out year for Toronto, but I feel like that’s been said for about three straight seasons. But the talent gap between him and the next best player on the team is huge. The Raptors deserve credit for not going into complete firesale mode without Bosh and trying to still compete even though they lost their best player. But the moves they made this offseason won’t do much to help the team make the postseason. Coaching, chemistry and defense were the biggest problems last year; they’re still problems this season.
Tags: 76ers, Al Harrington, Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Andres Nocioni, Andy Rautins, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Randolph, Antoine Wright, Avery Bradley, Bobby Simmons, Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Chris Duhon, Chris Quinn, Courtney Lee, Craig Brackins, Damion James, Darius Songaila, David Lee, Delonte West, Derrick Favors, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Ed Davis, Eddie House, Evan Turner, Francisco Elson, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, J.R. Gidden, Jason Smith, Jerome Jordan, Joe Smith, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Julian Wright, Kelenna Azubuike, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Keyon Dooling, Knicks, Leandro Barbosa, LeBron James, Linas Kleiza, Luke Harangody, Marco Belinelli, Nets, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Raptors, Raymond Feleton, Rodney Carney, Ronny Turiaf, Samuel Dalembert, Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams, Solomon Alabi, Spencer Hawes, Spurs, Timofey Mozgov, Tony Allen, Tony Battie, Tracy McGrady, Travis Outlaw, Troy Murphy, Von Wafer, Willie Green, Yi Jianlian
Posted on: June 7, 2010 8:19 pm
What's up folks? I've actually never done a mock draft before, but I did a lot of reading up on prospects for the Hornets appearance in the lottery and I'm goign to give it a shot now. Forgive me if you think this totally sucks. Don't be afraid to criticize, definitely don't be afraid to praise and I hope this generates some conversation heading forward on this dead day in between NBA Finals games. So here goes out.
By the way, I'm only going to mock draft the first round.
1) Washington Wizards - John Wall, PG, Kentucky - Seems to be the no brainer pick here. I'm not really excited about Wall's prospects going forward, but I've been wrong on his type before (Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade) and he could continue to prove me wrong. Overall, though, front offices are in love with him and he becomes the new face of a team that really needs a new start.
2) Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State - I'm aware of the comparisons to Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, but with the consensus being that Wall and Turner are the two can't miss prospects from this draft, I think Philadelphia has to stay at this place and take their chances with him. Also, if they have to move Young or Iguodala then I don't think they'll hesitate. It's not as if those guys did anything for team success this season.
3) New Jersey Nets - Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech - The Nets rebuilding process may be slow and tedious, but he fits in nicely with Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Courtney Lee. It continues to give New Jersey a nice little core with a lot of promise going forward, which may make them a more appealing destination next offseason.
4) Minnesota Timberwolves - Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse - Sorry, BNW, but this looks like the pick here. Unless the team parts ways with Al Jefferson or Kevin Love going into the draft, the necessity of taking DeMarcus Cousins here just isn't necessary. Even though he's the better prospect, Minnesota would have a complete logjam without any fluidity in their frontcourt. Johnson also allows for Corey Brewer to go to the bench for Minnesota where he can be more of an impact player.
5) Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins, PF, Kentucky - The Kings wind up with the most promising player in the draft at the 5th spot. Cousins has a lot of upside but there seems to be questions regarding his attitude. Some think those red flags are unfair, but they do exist. Cousins will have to work on staying out of foul trouble and on his conditioning (he didn't play a lot of minutes his one year in college) but he should be great if he doesn't become a problematic player.
Now we have a general idea of how the top 5 is going to play out. The rest of it is all subjective.
6) Golden State Warriors - Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown - I see the Warriors taking Monroe here to fit in nicely with their frontcourt. They already have the athletic big men in Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph, they have their explosive frontcourt with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis and Monroe can fill in at either PF or C (in a pinch) for the Warriors.
7) Detroit Pistons - Al Farouq-Aminu, SF, Wake Forest - Probably the best player available at this point, Aminu will be able to step into Detroit (a team largely in need of talent) and contribute immediately. He could be the eventual replacement for Tayshaun Prince (who may not even be with the team by the start of the season) and could turn into a nice player at a big position of need.
8) Los Angeles Clippers - Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas - I don't think Henry deserves to go this guy, but the Clippers could use a conventional shooting guard that allows for Eric Gordon to come off of the bench. With Blake Griffin debuting next season and with Chris Kaman under contract, the need for a big guy isn't huge but they could take one here. However, I see them taking Henry at this spot.
9) Utah Jazz - Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas - The Greg Osterag comparisons are entirely unfair (and, I would claim, racially motivated). Aldrich is a great shot blocker and tough defensive presence that the Jazz sorely need at their center position. He's a legit center who may never star in this league, but he can make a big difference right away for the Jazz.
10) Indiana Pacers - Epke Udoh, PF, Baylor - While picks like Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough haven't payed immediate dividends, a pure shooting guard or point guard would be a better fit for the Pacers at this point. However, there really isn't one available. For this reason, I could see the Pacers trading down (I know a lot of mocks have Heyward going here, but Indiana won't reach that high) but if they stay here, they'll Udoh and he can be a big upgrade over Hibbert right away.
11) New Orleans Hornets - Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky - The idea of taking a small forward here is really intriguing, but the Hornets probably draft for need and take a big man here. Since I don't want the team to end up with Ed Davis or Larry Sanders, I'm going to pencil in Patterson here. Patterson has drawn a lot of comparisons to David West in that he wants to be a conventional PF but lacks the size to do it. However, being similar to David West is alright in this poster's eyes and, with West likely to opt out next summer, Patterson could wind up starting by next year for New Orleans.
12) Memphis Grizzlies - Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania - The Grizzlies probably don't need to add another big man, but I think the recent investigations with Zach Randolph are going to scare the team off of giving him the reported contract extension. For that reason, they may want to start looking for a replacement. Motiejunas is a complete opposite of Zach Randolph, but with Marc Gasol around the basket, the team can afford to take a chance on the sharp shooting, smooth 7 footer Motiejunas.
13) Toronto Raptors - Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall - With Chris Bosh likely leaving, Toronto may start to look forward for its frontcourt. Who knows where they'll be selecting depending on what trades they do or don't make involving Hedo Turkoglu, but there's no doubt the team needs a big man. For that reason, the Raptors take Hassan Whiteside here, who's a big project but worthy of the risk at this selection. Also, he's a legit center which would allow for Andrea Bargnani to play at his more natural power forward position.
14) Houston Rockets - Paul George, SF, Fresno State - I don't think that Yao Ming is healthy and nobody can say certainly that he is. However, the Rockets will go into next season with the idea that he'll be the team's starting center. As a result, the team isn't in need of drafting another power forward. Therefore, I see the team taking one of the fastest rising stars in the draft in George and plugging him in alongside Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin to form an explosive offensive trio.
15) Milwaukee Bucks - Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina - Although the Bucks aren't in desperate need of a big man, Davis can be plugged in to the rebuilding Bucks right away and immediately contribute for the team. Whether as a starter or backing up Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Davis would a nice compliment to Andrew Bogut in the frontcourt and would join an already young and impressive Bucks squad.
16) Minnesota Timberwolves - James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State - Ideally, the Timberwolves would love George to be here at 16th. Because he's not, the team goes for another wing man here with the 16th pick. Anderson has a nice offensive touch and can immediately step in as the team's starting shooting guard next season. He'd bring a long range shot that was missing in Minnesota last season and can even become an eventual solid man defender at the NBA level.
17) Chicago Bulls - Avery Bradley, SG, Texas - Regardless of which route Chicago goes in free agency, Bradley could step in and play the Ben Gordon role in Chicago. Kirk Hinrich may be better coming off the bench and, although similarly undersized, Bradley would be a better compliment in the backcourt with Derrick Rose than Hinrich is. Anderson would be a great fit here as well if I didn't have him going to Minnesota.
18) Miami Heat - Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky - Rumored to be a potential lottery pick, the size starved Heat will take a chance on the promising but largely unproven Orton. Although he only produced in spots last season for Kentucky, there seems to be a lot of potential for Orton. His lack of colleigate production will cause him to drop out of the lottery, but Miami will quickly take him here.
19) Boston Celtics - Gordon Heyward, SF, Butler - Although not your prototypical shooting guard, Heyward would be able to contribute in Boston right away. Really promising and possesing a really good fell for the game, Heyward would fit in with Boston and could eventually be groomed to supplant Ray Allen's shooting guard position, or be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce. Either way, the Celtics could use a young, talented wing player and Heyward fits the bill.
20) San Antonio Spurs - Damion James, SF, Texas - The Spurs will get a smart, four year senior who can contribute right away in Damion James. Needing an eventual replacement for Richard Jefferson (either this season or next season), James can play the small forward position and, while lacking the ball skills for the two guard spot, could play in that position in a pinch.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder - Larry Sanders, PF, VCU - Joining former VCU teammate Eric Maynor, Sanders could step in right away and contribute for Oklahoma City. Needing a legit PF, Sanders could join Serge Ibaka as a very promising front court going forward for Oklahoma City, which may be forced to let Jeff Green go due to financial limitations after they give the money to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
22) Portland Trail Blazers - Kevin Seraphin, PF, France - Without the necessary roster spots, Portland may seem content with drafting a foreign prospect and stashing him overseas for a couple of years. A talented big man, Seraphin won't take LaMarcus Aldridge's spot anytime soon but he could be a contributing piece for a thin Portland frontcourt.
23) Minnesota Timberwolves - Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada - Seen as a possible lottery talent, Minnesota will be extremely happy that Babbitt fell to them at 23. Babbitt is different from the earlier picks in that he can play a front court position if necessary (although his skill set is more natural for a SF).
24) Atlanta Hawks - Eric Bledsoe, SG, Kentucky - With Joe Johnson probably leaving and with Mike Bibby no longer blowing anybody away, Atlanta needs to turn its attention to the backcourt with the 24th pick. Bledsoe may be very similar to Jamaal Crawford in that he's an undersized two guard who likes to score a lot, but the team may not have a long term need for Crawford either after this season.
25) Memphis Grizzlies - Willie Warren, SG, Oklahoma - Seen as a possible lottery pick last season before deciding to stay at Oklahoma, Warren will be able to step in and be a nice combo guard off the bench for Memphis. Jamaal Tinsley isn't going to lock down any spots on the bench, so the guard spots should be wide open and Warren's scoring would fit rigiht in with what the rest of the Grizzlies are doing.
26) Oklahoma City Thunder - Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia - Joining Sanders, Ebanks looks like a solid second first round pick for Oklahoma City. He may be too similar to Kevin Durant, but he can be a nice back up for Oklahoma City at both the SG and the SF positions. He's a really smart player that's a fine rebounder for his position and also shoots a high percentage from the field. That'd fit right in with what Oklahoma City's doing.
27) New Jersey Nets - Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati - There have long been attitude issues with Stephenson and questions about his character, but Stephenson is an extremely talented player who can shoot from NBA range and has great size for a shooting guard or small forward. It's a risky pick for New Jersey, but his upside has impressed scouts thus far and he may be worth the risk at 27.
28) Memphis Grizzlies - Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State - Another player whose stock dropped after he decided to stay in college instead of entering last year's draft, Brackins is a hard workign big man who could provide some grit and toughness for the Grizzlies. After having taken two prolific scorers with their other first round picks, Brackins is the kind of low post, hard working presence the team could use.
29) Orlando Magic - Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis - Although Orlando would like to take a big man here to move Rashard Lewis to his natural SF position, they take Williams with hopes that he can become the eventual replacement for Vince Carter. Although lacking a great midrange game, Williams is a fantastic open court player and has no problem finishing around the basket. He's also a great on ball defender and can learn even more in the Magic's system.
30) New Jersey Nets - Armon Johnson, PG, Nevada - A tough point guard who could give the Nets another young, promising player, Johnson can step in and give New Jersey depth at the point guard position right away. He's a solid, solid pick this late in the first round as well.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Anthony Randolph, Ben Gordon, Blake Griffin, Brandan Wright, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Clippers, Corey Brewer, Courtney Lee, David West, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwyane Wade, Eric Gordon, Eric Maynor, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jamaal Tinsley, Jazz, Jeff Green, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, LaMarcus Aldridge, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Magic, Marc Gasol, Mike Bibby, Monta Ellis, Nets, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roy Hibbert, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Spurs, Stephen Curry, Tayshaun Prince, Thaddeus Young, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Tyler Hansbrough, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: May 25, 2010 5:27 pm
I figured since I didn't do a playoff preview this season for each team as I did last year, I'll do a fun little countdown to this year's draft, since that's where my team is going to be instead of the postseason. Sorry for the delay today, instead of working my usual nights I was asked to cover a morning shift and am just now getting on. Don't worry, the countdown still goes on as usual. Much like 2009, this draft that is coming in at number four is kind of hard to fully evaluate since it's only two years old (as opposed to 2009's one). Early prognosis, however, is that this draft was really, really solid and should produce quite a bit of players who will produce for a long period of team. In case I haven't given it away, the 2008 NBA Draft will be coming in at number four in our countdown.
Top Ten Drafts of the Last Ten Years
Tags: 76ers, Alexis Ajinca, Anthony Randolph, Bill Walker, Blake Griffin, Bobcats, Brandon Rush, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Clippers, Courtney Lee, D.J. Augustin, D.J. White, Danilo Gallinari, Darrell Arthur, DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Rose, Donte Greene, Eric Gordon, George Hill, Goran Dragic, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, J.J. Hickson, J.R. Giddens, Jason Thompson, JaVale McGee, Jazz, Jerryd Bayless, Joe Alexander, Kevin Love, Kings, Knicks, Kosta Koufos, Lakers, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Magic, Marc Gasol, Mario Chalmers, Marreese Speights, Michael Beasley, Nets, Nicolas Batum, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Robin Lopez, Rockets, Roy Hibbert, Rudy Fernandez, Russell Westbrook, Ryan Anderson, Serge Ibaka, Sonny Weems, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards
Posted on: October 2, 2008 11:50 am
Edited on: March 21, 2009 1:22 am
Well with the season nearing and with all of the players basically signed up to play for the upcoming 2008-2009 NBA season, I'm going to throw my predictions out there (even if it is too early). Their playoff seeding will be by the team name.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (3) - Obviously the addition of Elton Brand was huge for this team but it will be interesting to see how he meshes with this up tempo type team. Andre Miller is getting up there in age and Andre Iguodala had an awful postseason so there's room for skepticism but for some reason everything just looks as if it will mesh. Maurice Cheeks will have pressure to get out of the first round and if he can't deliver then he may be gone by next season.
3. Toronto Raptors (6) - Picking up Jermaine O'Neal gave them virtually a Chris Bosh carbon copy as both have similar games. Still the addition of another big man will always help and if O'Neal can be healthy and man down the center position (two tall tasks), if Chris Bosh plays like he did in the olympics, and if Jose Calderon plays like he did last season then this team could surprise. Too many if's for me, though.
4. New Jersey Nets - Even though this team was virtually in firesale mode this offseason I really liked the moves that they made. They picked up Yi Jianlian and I think he's going to be a great player in the league. Devin Harris is coming into his own as a point guard and the additions of role players like Bobby Simmons, Jarvis Hayes, and Eduardo Najera will keep this team playing hard. Is it just me or does anyone else see Vince Carter having a great season this year?
5. New York Knicks - Mike D'Antoni's gimmick offense worked when it had talent on his team. People forget how "great" his offense was when Leandro Barbosa was running the point the year before Steve Nash arrived. I don't know how he's going to involve Zach Randolph, Eddy Curry and company but if the offensive genius can do it then he'll have to do it with Chris Duhon at point guard. Good luck with that.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (5) - The addition of Mo Williams was drastically overrated as his style doesn't look like it will match up with LeBron James. Maybe they know something I don't, though. It looks like a shoot first point guard who didn't really run an offense (Delonte West and Daniel Gibson) were already on the roster so it looks like he was brought in for his gaudy stats. Unless LeBron James truly can do it all and play center then this team will have no inside presence. Zydrunas Ilgauskas tries but he's too old to be a dominat presence. Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao don't deserve mention.
3. Indiana Pacers (8) - For the first time in a couple years I see the Pacers coming into the season with a direction. It may not be talented enough to make a huge splash but the playoffs are every bit a possibility. Mike Dunleavy finally came into his own last year and now the key is doing it on a good team. Danny Granger is as talented as they come and the additions of T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic will help make this team better than it was last year when it fielded Jamaal Tinsley and Jeff Foster in those spots. Foster is better off the bench and the Pacers could be in position to make a legitimate run at the postseason.
4. Milwaukee Bucks - Scott Skiles was a huge addition for this team. He'll be able to get the pass-first point guards like Ramon Sessions and Luke Rindour get the ball into Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson. Michael Redd is still a one trick pony and any team with him as your best player is not going to go anywhere deep in the postseason so the key is to get Bogut going this season. Now's as good a year as any.
5. Chicago Bulls - Last year I had them in the confrence finals, this year they still haven't proven to me they've overcome last year's turmoil. I said it would be interesting to see how everyone responded to almost being traded for Kobe Bryant and sure enough they collapsed. Was last year just that or is that mental weakness and turmoil still in the clubhouse. Vinny Del Negro as your head coach is a head scratcher and who knows where this team is headed this season. I don't think it's the postseason. Joakim Noah should have an awesome season, though.
2. Washington Wizards (7) - Losing Gilbert Arenas and replacing him with Juan Dixon isn't a blueprint for success and neither is dedicating all your money to two players on a team who haven't gotten your team out of the first round the past few seasons. This is a team destined for mediocrity and even though I love the games of all three members of the big three, they just don't spell championship success for a team. Caron Butler is great and I think with Arenas missing most of the season he can lead this team to the postseason.
3. Miami Heat - Dwyane Wade has made me a believer. After watching him in the olympics I can't wait to see him do it for a whole season. Problem is it's not likely he'll do it for more than 65 games. This year, though, they have Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley to pull some weight but the lack of a point guard or center could definitely kill this team. Spoelstra is a great selection as coach, though.
4. Charlotte Bobcats - Larry Brown was a fine addition to this club and they finally have a legitimate head coach. They just don't have legitimate players on the club. Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace don't mesh well together and Emeka Okafor would be better serves as a power forward on a contender. He's a fine player who was wrongfully given great player expectations. The selection of D.J. Augustin over Brook Lopez makes me scratch my head but it goes to show how much they don't think of Raymond Felton. Adam Morrison and Sean May's production expectations are anyone's guess.
5. Atlanta Hawks - My how they've fallen. Say what you want to about Knight but when he was fired I mentioned how bad of a move it was. Next thing you know this team lets Josh Childress leave, horribly mishandles the Josh Smith contract situation and are going to throw out a frontcourt of Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Al Horford. An aging Mike Bibby and floundering Joe Johnson won't save this team from taking a humongous step back from last season's promising playoff appearance.
2. Houston Rockets (3) - The addition of Ron Artest is big and I really do look for Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming to have huge seasons. This team will mesh together very well and the flexibility off the bench with players like Shane Battier, Chuck Hayes, and Carl Landry (whose offer sheet I expect them to match) give this team a lot of depth and talent. But I still can't see a team with Raefer Alston at point guard winning a championship.
3. San Antonio Spurs (5) - The models for consistency are getting up there in age and with Manu Ginobili's health being in question coming into the season you have to wonder what, exactly, this team is going to do this upcoming season. Tim Duncan may have a couple more seasons like last year stored up but it's not guaranteed. You know what you're going to get out of Tony Parker but the rest of the team is open to interpretation. Roger Mason's a nice pickup, though, and this team is still a legitimate title contender with Tim Duncan on the roster.
4. Dallas Mavericks (7) - I stated last year that no team with Dirk Nowitzki as its best player would win a championship. The Mavericks tried to adress this by giving up Devin Harris for Jason Kidd and again (as properly predicted) it blew up in their face. Josh Howard has become a public relations nightmare and you have to wonder if this team as presently constructed can ever recover from that series with the Warriors two seasons ago.
5. Memphis Grizzlies - O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley Jr. and Rudy Gay are going to make this team exciting and if Marc Gasol lives up to expectations and Hakim Warrick plays as he did at the end of last season this team has the makeup and talent to be every bit as pesky and annoying as last year's Sacramento Kings team was. Their lack of a bench will keep us from taking them serious (unless you want to mention Antoine Walker and Darko Milicic, then again why would you?) but this is a team with a very good direction who could be good again in a couple years.
2. Portland Trail Blazers - Getting Greg Oden back is huge and Bradon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge are already legitimate. This team, though, still seems to be lacking somethign to take that last step. They're going to push for a postseason spot but last year this team thrived on everyone writing them off. They can't get caught up in the hype surrounding them or else they'll fail to live up to those expectations.
3. Denver Nuggets - Having a frontcourt of Nene, Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen isn't the sturdiest nor most dependable assembly of big guys in NBA history and that alone is the reason why the Nuggets will miss the playoffs for the first time in five years. Allen Iverson was denied a contract extension and will probably finish the year on someon else's team. J.R. Smith is a good player but you have to scratch your head at the contract he was given. Who knows how focused Carmelo Anthony is and if his head will ever match his skill out on the court.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder - Kevin Durant is the real deal. Everyone who said he had a bland year last season didn't really watch him play. He and Jeff Green are good cornerstones for this team and players like Desmond Mason, Joe Smith, and Nick Collison will make this team more competitive than last season's Supersonics. I'm surprised Carlesimo was retained but you can't blame him for last season's debacle of a team. Sam Presti has this team in the right direction and in a few years they're going to be great. Kudos to those great fans as well.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves - New logo, new power forward, same Kevin McHale, same Timberwolves. Trading O.J. Mayo for Kevin Love is confusing regardless of the influx of guards on the Timberwolves roster. Mike Miller is a fine player and Al Jefferson is the real deal, but why Randy Wittman is a head coach in this league I'll never know. It's tough for me to see this team being anything better than what was on the court last season.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (6) - Yes I put them above Phoenix. Even though chemistry may be a problem they put a talented team together and it's a team full of players who look like they will fit together. Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby are going to be deadly inside presences (if Kaman is focused for 82 games) and Baron Davis and Eric Gordon should light it up on the offensive end. They're not going to win championships but this team is very talented and if Mike Dunleavy can't get them to be legitimate this season then he's just not the coach we thought he was.
3. Phoenix Suns (8) - Signs of Steve Nash's decline are in place and even though Terry Porter is going to be good for this team you have to wonder if it's too late for the Suns to contend for their title. Shaquille O'Neal is light years past his prime but is still a legitimate center and a fantastic role player at this stage in his career: when he's motivated. That's the problem. Amare Stoudemire is a top ten player in this league and if he ever learns how to pass or play defense then he's going to be something special for years to come. But he's developed a fantastic mid range game to offset what he's lost with those knee surgeries. Problem is, though, this team is not built around Stoudemire. In due time, though.
4. Golden State Warriors - The Warriors, last year, were the toast of the town. Losing Baron Davis and trying to replace his scoring with Corey Maggette will show up in the box score but not in the leadership or win-loss column. After being burned by Elton Brand and Baron Davis and also losing Monta Ellis for the beginning of the regular season Warriors fans have to be wondering what's going to become of that promise that was there at the end of the 2006 season. Brandon Wright and Anthony Randolph are very good players to grow with but Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington are just like Corey Maggette and nobody knows who's going to run this team.
5. Sacramento Kings - After last season's surprising season this team will not sneak up on anybody this year. Kevin Martin looks like this generation's Reggie Miller; in other words he can score and try on defense but not much else. That's not a knock on him as I think he's better in that role than Michael Redd is and he's somebody good to build around. I just don't know if they'll win a championship with him as the guy on the team. Giving Beno Udrih that long term contract is quite the gamble but if he plays like he did last season it will pay off. If not he's going to just be on the roster for three years until they release him. This team is still talented and I still love Reggie Theus but the perception is they're not a playoff team, yet. And I agree.
Eastern Confrence First Round
2. Orlando Magic vs. 7. Washington Wizards - The Wizards string of seasons backing into the playoffs and losing in the first round will be continued this season as Dwight Howard destroys Brendan Haywood and the Magic advance.
3. Philadelphia 76ers vs. 6. Toronto Raptors - The matchup of Chris Bosh vs. Elton Brand will be hyped uncontrollably and this series should be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, though, the addition of Jermaine O'Neal gives no new result for the Raptors as they bow out in the first round again.
4. Detroit Pistons vs. 5. Cleveland Cavaliers - Rasheed Wallace and company help the Pistons overcome LeBron James despite a valiant effort from the Cavaliers. Will be the best matchup of the first round.
Eastern Confrence Semifinals
2. Orlando Magic vs. 3. Philadelphia 76ers - This will be a great matchup of last year's two surprising teams. Stan Van Gundy will try to bombard the Sixers with three pointers while the Sixers will struggle to make some. Elton Brand and company will give a valiant effort but the Sixers will lose in the semifinals.
Eastern Confrence Finals
Western Confrence First Round
2. New Orleans Hornets vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks - A rematch of last year's first round matchup proves the same result. Brandon Bass and Dirk Nowitzki will go nuts but Chris Paul will run circles around Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic and James Posey will shoot the Hornets past the Mavericks in six games.
3. Houston Rockets vs. 6. Los Angeles Clippers - This will, again, be a very interesting matchup. The Clippers will steal a game in Houston and everyone will panic and remind themselves Tracy McGrady has never gotten past the first round. But then when the series shifts to Los Angeles McGrady will take over and Rafer Alston will knock down big shots to help the Rockets win this series in six games.
4. Utah Jazz vs. 5. San Antonio Spurs - A fantastic matchup in the first round will take place but this series will only be for the old school fans. A lot of tough, inside, rough and tough, physical games will take place but that benefits the Spurs. Tim Duncan and Carlos Boozer will be a good matchup as will Tony Parker's speed vs. Deron William's strength but Manu Ginobili will out shoot Kyle Korver to help the Spurs advance.
Western Confrence Semifinals
2. New Orleans Hornets vs. 3. Houston Rockets - This will (until the Western Confrence Finals) be the best matchup of the playoffs as the Rockets size and strength will matchup against the Hornets finesse style of play. Yao Ming will dominate as the Hornets leave Tyson Chandler one on one against the 7'6" superstar. Peja Stojakovic will be smothered by Ron Artest and Luis Scola will do his best to stay in front of David West. The Hornets will panic but James Posey and Julian Wright will slow down Tracy McGrady and eventually Chris Paul and David West will run the pick and roll to perfection to advance in seven games.
Western Confrence F inals
Tags: 76ers, Adam Morrison, Al Harrington, Al Horford, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Anderson Varejao, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, Anthony Randolph, Antoine Walker, Baron Davis, Ben Wallace, Beno Udrih, Bobby Simmons, Bobcats, Brandon Bass, Brendan Haywood, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Carl Landry, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh, Chris Duhon, Chris Kaman, Chris Paul, Chuck Hayes, Clippers, Corey Maggette, D.J. Augustin, Daniel Gibson, Danny Granger, Darko Milicic, David West, Delonte West, Deron Williams, Desmond Mason, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Eddy Curry, Eduardo Najera, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor, Eric Gordon, Gerald Wallace, Gilbert Arenas, Grant Hill, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hakim Warrick, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hilton Armstrong, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jamaal Tinsley, Jameer Nelson, James Posey, Jarvis Hayes, Jason Kidd, Jason Richardson, Jazz, Jeff Foster, Jeff Green, Joakim Noah, Joe Johnson, Joe Smith, Jose Calderon, Josh Childress, Josh Howard, Josh Smith, Juan Dixon, Julian Wright, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Kyle Korver, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge, Leandro Barbosa, LeBron James, Luis Scola, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol, Marcus Camby, Marvin Williams, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Michael Redd, Mike Bibby, Mike Conley, Mike Dunleavy, Mike Miller, Mo Williams, Monta Ellis, Nets, Nick Collison, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Rafer Alston, Rajon Rondo, Ramon Sessions, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Rasheed Wallace, Rasho Nesterovic, Ray Allen, Raymond Felton, Richard Hamilton, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roger Mason, Ron Artest, Rudy Gay, Sean May, Shane Battier, Shawn Marion, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Steve Nash, Suns, T.J. Ford, Tayshaun Prince, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Tyson Chandler, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian, Zach Randolph, Zydrunas Ilgauskas