October 29, 2009

NBA tip off 2009

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

Basketball may have tipped off two nights ago — and the Cavaliers are already 0-2 — but that doesn’t mean we can’t trot out a preview of the season for you. Let’s start with the Eastern Conference predictions and then head to the wild, wild West.

1. Orlando Magic — Adding Vince Carter to replace Hedo Turkoglu is an interesting swap. The Magic still have the best centre in the league and a style of play that rarely falters for them.
2. Boston Celtics — Health and age are going to be two big issues for this roster, but the shopped and besmirched Rajon Rondo can hold this team together and show the league exactly what he’s worth.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers — The Shaquille O’Neal experiment is going to end horribly. If the first two games that the Cavs have played weren’t enough evidence for you, then just remember that he’s an awful fit for this team and very limited defensively.
4. Atlanta Hawks — The Hawks should be the consensus best-of-the-rest after the East’s Big Three. I’m not sure what they can do to crack that group though.
5. Washington Wizards — Could be the biggest comeback team of the year, if they can stay off the injury list that is.
6. Chicago Bulls — After having one hell of a series with the Celts, Derrick Rose is ready to make the leap to superstardom. Losing Ben Gordon won’t actually hurt them too much and might even make the team more attractive to D-Wade this summer.
7. Toronto Raptors — The Raps are deeper this season, but can you build a winner around Chris Bosh, the worst of the Big 4 from his draft class. Turkoglu, their key signing, is already tired, what does that tell you?
8. Miami Heat — If Dwyane Wade can get even a decent performance out of the rest of his team, then a .500 record should be easy.
9. Philadelphia 76ers — The Sixers have a lot of young pieces to built around, but Elton Brand and Sam Dalembert weigh them down both on the floor and on the books with huge salaries and poor play.
10. Detroit Pistons — The Pistons almost have torn apart their entire core now and rebuilt with guys who don’t fit their system. Why? Who knows but it won’t rack them up wins.
11. Indiana Pacers — Danny Granger may be one of the best fantasy players out there, but that in no way means he can lead this team to the playoffs.
12. New Jersey Nets — The Nets only got younger this off-season and they’re still at least a season away from being a tweener for the post-season.
13. Milwaukee Bucks — Perhaps the least interesting team out there. The only thing that will get the Bucks in the headlines this season is when they inevitably deal Michael Redd or anybody else that overachieves.
14. New York Knicks — The Knicks have essentially already forfeited this season while waiting for the big LeBron sweepstakes of next summer. It will all be in vein too since he’ll never play for this piss-poor squad.
15. Charlotte Bobcats — When the owner doesn’t even care what’s going on with his team, why should anyone else?

As for the West, were there’s a lot more interesting in the middle of the contenders…

1. Los Angeles Lakers — Even if the defending champions lose one of their superstar — even Kobe Bryant — don’t you think that they’d still be good enough to win their division, taking the three seed?
2. Portland Trail Blazers — This team could either fall off and drop to the low end of the playoff seeds or make the leap to title contender. As long as they can stay focused, this is where they’ll end up.
3. San Antonio Spurs — They’re a better team than whoever wins the Northwest, but wins are harder to come by within a tough-as-nails Southwest. If they’re healthy when the post-season rolls around, they might not be stopped.
4. Denver Nuggets — They’re not going to be surprising anyone this season, but they’ve still got a solid core and made some sneaky, little good moves.
5. Dallas Mavericks — They got older with Shawn Marion and don’t seem to care. Now their lineup reads like a 2006 all-star team and they’re hoping that the chemistry comes together on the fly.
6. Utah Jazz — Even with Carlos Boozer trying to weigh the team down while making himself look good, the Jazz can still win 50 games.
7. Phoenix Suns — Losing Shaq was the best thing this team could have done. The only question now is will they deal Amare? Here’s hoping they get off to a quick start and can’t justify dealing the big man.
8. New Orleans Hornets — Getting Emeka Okafor is an upgrade over Tyson Chandler, but this team needs a coach that they’ll actually listen to, not another oft-injured big man.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder — They would be the perfect sleeper if people weren’t already banging on them to be on the edge of the playoffs. Kevin Durant could average 30 a game this season.
10. Houston Rockets — No Yao, McGrady or Artest means no playoffs for Houston.
11. Golden State Warriors — There has already been hardcore arguing and trade demand being thrown around. Has that ever been a good sign this early on?
12. Los Angeles Clippers — Like I wrote the other day, Blake Griffin’s injury will hurt this team for more than just the games that he misses. To think that everyone was so high on this team too.
13. Memphis Grizzlies — If they keep on developing Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo, they could have two blue-chippers. That doesn’t mean they’ll win more than 25 games this season though.
14. Minnesota Timber Wolves — Losing Kevin Love hurts, a lot, but at least they can look forward to watching Ricky Rubio develop in Spain and realize how badly their GM screwed up the draft.
15. Sacramento Kings — When Beno Udrih is the sixth best player on your team, you’re destined for 15 wins.

MVP: Dwight Howard.
Rookie of the year: Jonny Flynn.
Eastern Conference final: Boston Celtics over Orlando Magic.
Western Conference final: San Antonio Spurs over Los Angeles Lakers.
NBA final: Spurs over Celtics in Seven.

And, as an added bonus, The Intern has come out of hibernation to give his picks:
East: Boston over Orlando
West: San Antonio over Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Final: Magic over Spurs in seven
MVP: Carmelo Anthony
Rookie:  Blake Griffin


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  4. Hard to fathom that the San Francisco Giants were victorious in the baseball world series. Awesome for them! How many years has it been now? 50 years?

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