Saturday, October 24, 2009

NBA Predictions: 2009-10

Eastern Conference

1: Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs spent their offseason getting King James a supporting cast that will motivate him to stay in Cleveland. I think it worked very well. Adding Shaquille O'Neal and Anthony Parker make their starting lineup one of the best in the league, and adding some punch to their bench by getting Jamario Moon and benching Ilgauskas for O'Neal, Cleveland is now probably the best team in the league

2: Boston Celtics: Although using the aging Rasheed Wallace to replace the up-and-coming Leon Powe, they also added swingman Marquis Daniels and forward Sheldon Williams to boost their bench a little bit. As long as Garnett stays healthy long enough to hold off Orlando, the Celtics should edge out the Magic for 2nd in the east

3: Orlando Magic: Although the Carter trade was a great trade for the Magic, gaining a 20 ppg scorer and Ryan Anderson, a young 6'10" forward who can shoot, they lost a young star in Courtney Lee and a solid point guard in Rafer Alston. However, the reason that Boston is better than them is because Carter can't play defense, and Hedo Turkoglu was almost as good offensively and better defensively, but the battle of Boston and Orlando will certainly be an interesting one

4: Detroit Pistons: Detroit had a huge offseason this year, signing Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, and got Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox to replace Wallace. They have a versatile set of guys to give other teams headaches, and will push the top teams, but their lack of a true big man besides the aging Wallace will cause trouble and hurt their chances

5:Atlanta Hawks: Adding Jamal Crawford to the mix of Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, and Al Horford makes a deadly starting lineup for them, and their bench is solid as well. They won't beat the Magic, Celts, or Cavs, but with the great young team that they have, they will be dangerous in the future

6: Miami Heat: Beasley's troubles aside, the Heat have a strong supporting cast for their superstar that they want to keep, Dwyane Wade. But unlike the Cavs, they did not get enough support for Wade in the offseason, and thus Wade did not extend his contract. Look for them to push themselves because the Heat would fall apart without Wade

7: Chicago Bulls: Losing Gordon hit the Bulls hard, and the fact that they did not do anything about it is not good. Derrick Rose has proven he can lead this team, but Gordon helped in the clutch a lot, especially in the playoffs. They have a solid team, just the other teams in the east have more great players. In a few years, however, the Bulls will be a force to be reckoned with.

8: Toronto Raptors: Toronto replaced Parker with Turkoglu, a very smart move, but their backcourt is still pretty weak. A big reason that they will edge out Washington for the 8th spot is because their frontcourt is stacked. The frontcourt trio of Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Barganani is tough to beat, but this team has been projected to do well in a weak division and not lived up to its expectations.

9: Washington Wizards: Flip Saunders has his work cut out for him given the Wizards reputation of losing, but he has a bunch of stars that makes this team a contender. Gilbert Arenas' injury was a huge reason for Washington's woes last year, but the entire team needs to help him out and step up their game in doing so

10: Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger needs help carrying this team. They have potential, and most of their team has not been in the league very long, but they can be good in the future. They could make a run for the playoffs, but they need big production from everyone else on their team.

11: Charlotte Bobcats: The reason that Indiana will end up beating the Bobcats is that Indiana's big star averages 25 ppg while Charlottes go-to guy, Gerald Wallace, averages around 16. Charlotte has more depth than Indiana, but they will not benefit from replaceing Emeka Okafor with Tyson Chandler. They have a bunch of solid players, but they just don't have enough to make a run yet

12: New Jersey Nets: Lawrence Frank has tried to start orienting the offense to showcase Brook Lopez, which could start an excellent duo of Devin Harris and Lopez and take some of the weight off of Harris' shoulders. They have a young group of guys that need to step up their game to help their team win, like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Bobby Simmons, Courtney Lee and especially Yi Jianlian. The Nets are one of the many teams in the league with a young team with great potential for future success, just they need to prove themselves

13: Philadelphia 76ers: The 6ers have the players to potentially take them far, but they do the best when 1 of their best players, Elton Brand, is injured. Brand is a great and experienced power forward. If he can produce and stay healthy the 6ers can be a solid team, but they definitely need some work

14: New York Knicks: The Knicks have 4 solid players and not much else. Al Harrington, the leading scorer, barely averages 20 points. Without Harrington, Double-Double Machine David Lee and guards Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson, the Knicks would be nowhere.

15: Milwaukee Bucks: I know I sound like a broken record, but the Bucks are another team with one superstar who needs support from his young supporting cast that has huge potential. The problem is that Michael Redd is the only proven scorer much of his supporting cast are hyped-up players who have yet to elevate their game to the potential they are expected to get. Being in the toughest division in the east doesn't help much either

Cavs over Raptors (4)
Celtics over Bulls (5)
Magic over Heat (6)
Hawks over Pistons (7)
Cavs over Hawks (5)
Celtics over Magic (7)
Cavs over Celtics (7)

Western Conference
1: San Antonio Spurs: This is going to be one of the closest battles for top seed in history. 2 deep teams with playoff and championship experience fighting it out for top spot. With virtually equal talent in coaching and starters with LA, the best bench in basketball will propel the Spurs to the top of the Western Conference

2: Los Angeles Lakers: The reigning champs added Ron Artest to bolster their defense, but they did not resign Trevor Ariza to do so. Artest is older and more hotheaded, but his skills are still there. They have a balanced team and will go hard, but they will come up just short

3: Utah Jazz: If the team is healthy, and that's a big if, they could even contend with the Spurs of the Lakers, but their history of injuries makes that unlikely. They did not make any new acquisitions in the offseason, but if the Jazz are healthy then they are great just the way they are

4: Dallas Mavericks: The only reason they are 4th seed is because the top 3 seeds have to be division leaders. Shawn Marion will give assist-master Jason Kidd another all-star to pass to, and Drew Gooden and Erick Dampier will team up to make arguably the most formidable center duo in the league, and all this together gives the Mavericks a top flite starting lineup. What is also scary is that they have a great bench to back up their formidable starting lineup

5: New Orleans Hornets: Replacing Tyson Chandler with Emeka Okafor was a great decision for New Orleans. Not only is Okafor a proven scorer, shot-blocker and rebounder, but he will help James Posey on defense and help David West down low. The fast scoring machine of New Orleans now has a solid defense as well. And when a group of scorers is lead by Chris Paul, a scorer who also averages 11 assists, anything can happen

6: Phoenix Suns: A big reason that the Suns missed the playoffs last year was because they lost their go-to-guy, Amare Stoudemire. They did lose Shaq, but Amare should have no problem replacing him. There are a lot of good teams in the west, so Steve Nash will need to pass around to all the Suns' scorers, and this offense-only team needs to lockdown on D

7: Denver Nuggets: The team that challenged the Lakers did nothing to improve their already great team. Getting Ty Lawson from the draft was a good move, especially since Chauncey Billups isn't getting any younger. Carmelo Anthony is nearing his prime, as if he's not great already. They are another team that needs to stay away from injuries. To push further in ahead in the talented west, they need to produce like they did last year and need to keep NenĂª and Kenyon Martin healthy

8: Memphis Grizzlies: Putting Allen Iverson on the bench is not a good move, but it really would not make too much of a difference. Bench or not, AI will teach young guards OJ Mayo and Mike Conley jr what he knows and that could improve upon an already excetional guard trio. Their great draft brought in Sam Young and Hasheem Thabeet, who should fit in nicely with the rest of the team. The addition of Zach Randolph was smart because he will use his experience to help better Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, Thabeet and Young. This is a great, up-and-coming team that could be on top in a few years

9: Portland Trailblazers: Brandon Roy, Rudy Fernandez and LaMarcus Aldridge form a strong and young big 3, but beyond that there really is not much else. Greg Oden was a disappointment, and the other good players that they have are very old. Andre Miller could teach Steve Blake a few things, and this team could really get going. But Oden is a huge factor in how this team fares throughout the season, because the blazers need a big man and he cannot get injured

10: Las Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin has a lot of talented big men in front of him, but he will definitely benefit from them by learning from them and soon become the starter here. They are no longer a doormat for the league and they could make a run for the eighth spot if Oden is injured and if Marcus Camby, Baron Davis, and Chris Kaman stay healthy

11: Golden State Warriors: The Warriors were hurt by Monta Ellis being injured for almost the entire year, and need him to if they want a chance at the playoffs, however unlikely that may be. They do have a solid team, but no men in the middle. They do need Ellis, yes, but the reason for their woes is because they do not have a true power forward and Andris Biedrins needs to improve, and fast

12: Oklahoma City Thunder: The youngest team in the league is definitely moving in the right direction. Jeff Green is adapting to his role as power forward and is becoming a Rashard Lewis type player, a decent-size guy who will give bigger, slower power forwards nightmares with his speed and versatile game. Nenad Krstic will have to be better than he ever has been without Jason Kidd giving him great passes. However, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Green give the young Thunder a sunny and bright future

13: Houston Rockets: Yao Ming out for the season spells trouble for Houston, who will also start the year without Tracy McGrady. They will be hampered by their lack of a center, and need Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola and Shane Battier to carry the team, but it's going to be a long season for the Rockets

14: Sacramento Kings: Kevin Martin is the lone star on this team, but there is some hope for the future. Spencer Hawes and Sean May make a talented tandem at center. Tyreke Evans was a great pick, and coupled with Beno Udrih makes a solid point guard duo as well. The problem is, right now the Kings are the worst team in a solid division, so they will have to wait a while to claim their throne

15: Minnesota Timberwolves: Al Jefforson is the entirety of the T-Wolves' team. They have a promising draft in Wayne Ellington and Johnny Flynn, but they just don't have the firepower to do anything in the west. They are young, however, and could have a good future, just there are so many holes to fill

Spurs over Grizzlies (5)
Lakers over Nuggets (6)
Suns over Jazz (7)
Hornets over Mavericks (7)
Spurs over Hornets (6)
Lakers over Suns (6)
Spurs over Lakers (7)

NBA Finals
Cavs over Spurs (7)

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