Tis the season. Of basketball, that is. It's upon us once again, and I am finally able to feel like a legitimate font of knowledge for at least one sport (I fake my way through football).
Last year was a great year for the league in general...Celtics/Lakers revisited....a dozen players that could co-exist to win gold in Beijing...Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest more than 100 miles away from each other the vast majority of the time. Even as a Timberwolves fan, I was able to take solace in the team's "only slightly-below-average" performance in the second half of the season (as opposed to "abyssmal," I guess..).
One of the other sub-texts to last year was the stellar-ness (word?) of the West versus the relative mediocrity of the East beyond the top three teams. I see that balancing out a bit this year, with Phoenix and Dallas taking slight steps back, and teams like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and maybe even Miami looking playoff-bound in 2009. Here's what's gonna happen in the Association in 2008-09:
PREDICTED RECORD (playoff seeding in parentheses)
Atlantic Division Central Division Southeast Division
Boston (1) 58-24 Cleveland (2) 54-28 Orlando (3) 49-33
Philadelphia (4) 51-31 Detroit (5) 48-34 Atlanta (7) 44-38
Toronto (6) 44-38 Chicago 37-45 Miami (8) 40-42
New Jersey 20-62 Indiana 35-47 Washington 39-43
New York 20-62 Milwaukee 22-60 Charlotte 34-48
Southwest Division Northwest Division Pacific Division
New Orleans (1) 57-25 Utah (3) 52-30 Los Angeles Lakers (2) 56-26
Houston (4) 55-27 Portland (6) 50-32 Phoenix (7) 48-34
San Antonio (5) 51-31 Denver 46-36 Golden State 40-42
Dallas (8) 44-38 Minnesota 33-49 Sacramento 31-51
Sea.. Oklahoma City 26-56 Los Angeles Clips 29-53
There's your standings. Second part will be up soon with awards, season factors, and playoffs. Feel free to rip....nnnnow.