October 28, 2010

The best NBA season preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

The NBA season has officially tipped off and what kind of blog would this be if we didn’t run some sort of predictions and picks post? Not a very good one, I’ll tell you that much.
In the Association this season, more so than I can remember in any league in recent memory, there are so few top-heavy contenders that every prediction for the Conference winners will likely be one of three teams in the East, or one of two teams in the West.
Let’s start in the east where Dwyane Wade’s Miami Heat were finally able to bring in some help for him. All-stars Chris Bosh and LeBron James should be the best complimentary players that Wade has had since Shaq was in town in 2006 – when the Heat just happened to win the title. It’s just a shame that the new Big Three couldn’t beat the old version on opening night. In my mind, it posed a few questions about what might happen in May if these two juggernauts meet.
The Boston Celtics, though, just kept on getting older this off-season by signing the aforementioned Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal to shore up their rebounding while Kendrick Perkins is injured. Adding those two to the Big Three plus Rajon Rondo makes the defending Eastern champs deadly, but can theses geezers last an entire season with energy to spare in the playoffs? That’s the big question in Bean town.
The last of the three true contenders is the Orlando Magic, who has the best big man in the game – Dwight Howard. He has even spent his off-season training with Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the best bigs to ever play. If he can dominate inside and on the glass, the Magic will be a force to be reckoned with. Of course, if we get the Dwight of old, it’ll be another year that the team can’t live up to its potential.

Out in the West there are only two teams that are being talked up as contenders – and one of them are the defending champions. The Los Angeles Lakers opened their season in style by coming back to beat the Houston Rockets after getting off to a slow start. The Lakers no doubt have the doubt get through the season – even with Andrew Bynum’s health concerns – but do they have the leagues to make a third consecutive trip to the Finals? Kobe, Pau and Co. are show going to try.
Then there’s the young upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. Led by perhaps the best scorer in the game, Kevin Durant, these guys showed they have the potential to make a great run this season. He’ll be great enough to lead this squadron and should get a lot of MVP consideration when all is said and done. The Thunder are probably the only team that can really test the Lakers atop the West. Teams like the old-school Spurs, uber-deep Trail Blazers and new and improved Utah Jazz could be up there, but none have the overall talent to really break through.
It should be an interesting season, to say the least. There’ll be some action at the top and a lot of mediocrity – especially in the East.
And, if you’re a Raptors fan, well buckle up and I hope you bet the under on their season wins total of 27.5. This squad will be lucky to get to 25. At least they’ll have a great battle with the T-Wolves and Nets for the best lottery odds.

And finally, some predictions for 2010-11…
MVP: Kevin Durant – LBJ and Wade steal votes from each other, Dwight’s not offensive enough and Kobe will see limited minutes at some points.
Defensive player: Dwight Howard – The most dominant big there is, but don’t count out KG.
Rookie: John Wall – I like Blake Griffin, but we’ve all witnessed the Clippers curse.
Worst record : Minnesota Timberwolves – They seriously look aimless and probably won’t win 20.
Surprise team: Washington Wizards – Their three-guard lineup featuring Wall, Arenas an Hinrich is interesting.
Disappointing team: Denver Nuggets – Trade winds are already swirling; we could see a firesale.
West: Lakers over Thunder – Next year, the Thunder are a year away.
East: Celtics over Heat – I’m sure the Heat will bond over the season, but their lack of depth scares me.
Final: Lakers over Celtics. Sure, it’s the boringest pick you can make – a return match – but it’s what I believe.
Finals MVP: Who else?
Will there be a lockout after this season: A resounding yes. The league is going through the same thing the NHL did. Hopefully, they learn from ice hockey’s mistakes.

1 Comment

  1. The best NBA season preview…

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