Updated 2013 Win-Loss Record Predictions for Every NBA Team's Final Two Months

Eric EdelmanCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2013

Updated 2013 Win-Loss Record Predictions for Every NBA Team's Final Two Months

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    The regular season isn't the end all, be all, but it certainly let's us know what to expect come playoff time.

    By that logic, we can expect the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder to come out guns blazing when the "real" season begins.

    Those three squads are just in another stratosphere competitively, and all of them have established their dominance through regular-season consistency.

    Now that isn't to say title hopes are dashed for the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks, but as the season rolls along, pretenders are exposed and the real champs seem to flex their muscles. 

    We've seen hot teams, like the aforementioned Knicks and upstart Golden State Warriors, come back to Earth a little bit, but will they break out of their cold streaks?

    Maybe, maybe not—ultimately, it depends on the multitude of variables that present themselves during the closing months of the 82-game campaign.

    So, that being said, let's pinpoint how every team will likely finish at the end of the season. 

Miami Heat

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    If you had to pick a single word to sum up their season, it would be just that—dominance.

    Across the board, the Miami Heat do not have the most "balanced" starting five, per se, but there is no question no one aside from Oklahoma City could even dream of matching up on the perimeter with Miami. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are once-in-a-generation type players, and to have both of them on the same squad is a nightmare for the opponents. With LeBron as a viable MVP candidate and the quest for another ring on the line, there is no question he is on a mission every night to dominate both sides of the floor.

    The revolving-door-like dynamic of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole ensures there is always a physical point who can run the floor, and Chris Bosh's offensive versatility helps spread the floor and create for himself scoring-wise. Shane Battier high-arcing three-pointers and a refined bench that includes Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen means the Heat won't be lacking in the shooting department. Predicting their final record isn't a question of whether their opponents can stop them, it is rather a question of: Will the Heat stop themselves?

    If they play to their opponent and don't hustle, those are games where they struggle. If they are lazy on rotations and come out lacking effort-wise, the hungrier team will indeed win. If they take it easy in the closing weeks to stave off freak injuries before playoff time, that will certainly be a factor, but you can expect LeBron to keep them rolling to generate momentum come April. 

    The Heat will continue their hot play and finish the season strong. 

    Final projected record: 56-26

New York Knicks

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    Thanks to an early 6-0 start and double-digit wins against the Miami Heat, there was legitimate talk of the Knicks being the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. As of late, however, they have looked anything but.

    The Knicks have lost four out of their last five games, going back to February 6, and have looked to be out of whack on both sides of the ball. Early in the season, the Knicks just flat out hustled. They rotated strong, they shared the ball and, most of all, they defended. 

    With Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith being on the same squad, there is no question there won't be a shortage of scoring, but consistent defensive efforts aren't always guaranteed. This is a squad that has shown flashes of greatness, but ultimately appears too flawed to seriously contend for a title. 

    While a few bad games doesn't portend a catastrophic implosion, it should still remain a cause for concern. Sure, they have a nice record, but their losses seem to stem from a collective lack of focus, something that is often a greater problem than a lack of talent or personnel.

    This is a team with some nice pieces here and there, but they just aren't good enough to beat a team like Miami in a seven-game series when the postseason begins.

    They are a streaky squad that could easily catch fire again, but as of now, it remains to be seen how they bounce back from the recent road bumps.

    Despite the slump, New York gets hot again to close out the season, but a true playoff test awaits.

    Final projected record: 49-33 

Brooklyn Nets

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    Similar to the Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets are a squad prone to streaks—both cold and hot. 

    While they have certainly done well, considering their squad generated most of their offense off isolation basketball, they are a team that has failed to demonstrate a Miami Heat-esque dominance over opponents. 

    Okay, admittedly, no one expected Joe Johnson and Deron Williams to be menacing by any means, but the fact remains that nobody in the league is scared to face this squad come playoff time. Their regular season at this point has been stretches of hot shooting, and they have also seen stretches of stagnancy. After Avery Johnson was effectively canned due to a terrible streak of bad losses, it was clear they were a team in need of a shot in the arm.

    Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo has done a great job as far as improving the flow of the offense a little more, but he can only do so much with the personnel he has. They are a "good" squad, but not a great one. On paper, they could definitely win a first-round series, but they lack the physicality (perimeter-wise) and talent to win a championship at this point. They have a nice contingent of "glue" guys, Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace bring effort every night, but that isn't enough to win a title in this era.

    Regardless, expectations are realistic in Brooklyn; it isn't easy being in the same conference the Heat.

    Expect more streaks of varying offensive output, but ultimately, a respectable finish to the regular season in BK.

    Final projected record: 47-35

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Ah, finally, an interesting quandary—so, how will the Lakers finish the season?

    Well, that isn't an easy question. Oddsmakers and "experts" alike determined that acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard made Lakeshow the favorites to challenge the Thunder in the Western Conference, but we've all seen how this disaster turned out.

    Basketball isn't played on paper, and the mounting losses and a coach firing proved it. The Lakers just don't mesh well with one another. Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant have yet to consistently click with one another, and they just don't play defense at a level worthy of championship caliber.

    However, a recent occurrence might jolt the Lakers back on track, at least mentally. With the recent passing of the beloved Jerry Buss, will we witness a miracle-like second-half comeback to see Los Angeles clinch a playoff berth to honor the late Dr. Buss?

    Well, they have a chance...a 25 percent chance, to be exact. The Western Conference is about as predictable as Russell Westbrook's wardrobe, so who knows, anything could happen, but the reality is that the Lakers don't have a "great" shot as it stands. They need some other teams to struggle, and they need to pick up their effort and focus. 

    Let's rule on the side of optimism and give L.A. miraculous a best-case scenario; there's no way a team with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant on the same lineup could miss the playoffs, right? 

    Final projected record: 44-38

Charlotte Bobcats

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    What really needs to be said?

    It's the Charlotte Bobcats, ladies and gentlemen.

    A predictable struggle season with a few bright spots. Kemba Walker has picked up his game, Gerald Henderson looks like a legitimate NBA wing and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is raw but undoubtedly possesses elite level defensive talent. This team isn't competing for anything other than the worst record, but either way, it isn't like things can be any worse than they have been.

    Charlotte will continue to struggle in hopes of better lottery probability, but hopefully they can put an end to these nightmarish seasons at some point.

    Final projected record: 19-63

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Just like the Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder are a force to be reckoned with.

    Kevin Durant is virtually unguardable, and the same could likely be said for his backcourt partner in Russell Westbrook. Serge Ibaka's jump shot has looked surprisingly smoother, and the dynamic of Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin is working better than initially expected. They have flat out wrecked teams on their athleticism alone, and while their weakness still stems in the fact that they rely on a lot of isolation basketball, they seem to get away with it, considering the talent of their two scoring threats.

    Oklahoma City also plays defense, and they can easily turn their opponents' mistakes into easy offense on the break. Just as we saw a proverbial changing of the guard in last year's Western Conference Finals, we will likely see a similar show down this season. Again, like the Miami Heat, there doesn't appear to be any squad in their conference who could slow them down in a seven-game series.

    The Thunder, with last year's NBA Finals loss in mind, will continue to demolish the competition en route to an impressive finish to the regular season.

    Projected final record: 61-21

Indiana Pacers

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    The Indiana Pacers are playing solid basketball, and they can owe a lot of their collective success to a little bit of individual success, as well.

    Paul George has been impressive; the first-time All-Star this season is averaging 18 points, eight boards and around four assists, essentially supplanting the same output Danny Granger provided when he was healthy. David West and Roy Hibbert are also nice pieces, but this is still a squad not quite ready to contend for a title.

    They gave the Miami Heat a good scare in the second round, but their collective talent proved no match for the individual greatness of Miami. However, they have played well in recent matchups against Miami during the regular season, and they have the grittiness and toughness at every position to give Miami yet another scare in the postseason.

    They are a nice squad with tremendous potential, but again, expectations should remain grounded as far as a legitimate title shot is concerned. 

    The Pacers play hard each and every night, and that effort should carry all the way toward the end of the season. 

    Final projected record: 50-32

Orlando Magic

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    Now, it's hard to call a 15-win season a "good" one, but for the Orlando Magic, they have played better than the win-loss column indicates. In the aftermath of losing their franchise's central play in Dwight Howard, they have looked surprisingly resilient in certain outings.

    They are a youthful squad with decent pieces, like Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic, and despite the rough losses, they have battled hard on the floor consistently. They are obviously lottery bound, but as a team in transition, it could be much, much worse.

    Like similarly struggling teams, Orlando is just waiting for this season to end as soon as possible. 

    Final projected record: 24-60

Boston Celtics

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    Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are still rocking green jerseys, so another "last hurrah" of sorts appears to be in the making this upcoming postseason. Both aged vets are staving off Father Time as long as possible, but despite being past their prime, there is no question they will give it their all in support of a title run, even if it is very improbable. 

    The unfortunate news of Rajon Rondo tearing his ACL is catastrophic for a Boston Celtics squad who relies on his distribution, but knowing their collective resiliency, they will battle through. They have a few nice youthful pieces in Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee, but their future appears to be rather grey at the moment.

    Depending on Rondo's future health and the eventual fates of Garnett and Pierce, Boston is a team that needs to assess when it may be time to accept the fact that their window for contention has closed.

    Either way, they're going to do their best to maintain a foothold on their playoff berth going into the postseason.

    Final projected record: 42-40

Golden State Warriors

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    The Golden State Warriors are a good example of a team who started out hot, only to cool down in recent weeks. Despite a recent six-game slide, they finally snapped the cold streak with a win against Phoenix. Regardless of the recent win, this is a team that can ill afford another bad stretch— especially in the ever-changing Western Conference.

    David Lee and Stephen Curry have been a pair of bright spots, and Klay Thompson is proving to be one of the better pure shooters in the league. This is a fun team to watch; they play up-tempo basketball, they shoot a lot of threes and, most of all, they have an excellent chemistry with one another.

    They don't play defense at an elite level to seriously contend for a title as it stands, but they are on the right track to building a dangerous core worthy of contention at some point. Despite the recent slump, Golden State gets back on track and returns to their early season form.

    Projected final record: 44-38

Atlanta Hawks

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    Predicting where the Atlanta Hawks will finish record-wise may prove easier than predicting where Josh Smith ends up.

    With the trade deadline drama finally past the Hawks, they can at least temporarily focus on basketball again. Then again, Smith will certainly field dozens upon dozens of questions in regards to his upcoming free agency. Despite their success on the floor, the media don't really seemed concerned with the Hawks' fate because it's frankly rather predictable.

    They are obviously not an "elite" team by any means, and they have been a fringe contender for years going back to when Joe Johnson was still on the squad. Al Horford has been a force on the block, and fans in the ATL would be wise to appreciate their duo of talented big men while they are still together, assuming Smith returns post free agency, of course. 

    Atlanta will play well now that the drama is at least temporarily tempered, but a solid regular season will only lead to more questions in the offseason.

    Final projected record: 45-37

Denver Nuggets

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    Like the Warriors, the Denver Nuggets are a prime example of great collective basketball. They are a team without a superstar of sorts, but they make up for their lack of star power with solid talent at each position in the lineup.

    Their dynamic offense is spearheaded by the swift dribble of Ty Lawson, and the ever versatile Andre Iguodala holds his own, along with the likes of JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari. Kenneth Faried also continues to emerge as one of the league's brightest young talents. With the amount of immense talent across the board, this is obviously a team constantly capable of knocking on the door of contention, but in a league dominated by superstars, they sometimes struggle to go far once the regular season is closed.

    Denver plays great ball, and they will continue to do so as the regular season comes to a close. If they see a team like Memphis in the first round, they would probably get a favorable matchup, so they would likely prefer to hover around the four and five seeds, but then again, the Western Conference is widely competitive top to bottom.

    Denver will sustain their current momentum and keep rolling in preparation for a hopefully improved playoff campaign.

    Final projected record: 50-32

Los Angeles Clippers

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    When you have arguably the greatest point guard of his era on the floor, your chances of success are pretty solid. Chris Paul epitomizes everything you want in a leader—talent, toughness and tenacity.

    His gritty demeanor rubs off on the rest of his squad, and it's no question that he plays an integral role in reshaping how this once abysmal franchise is perceived. Aside from Paul, they also feature a super-athletic frontcourt that includes Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan—both of which have made considerable strides in improving their individual offensive games. 

    Despite their advances, this is a team that still fails to scare people; some recent matchups against San Antonio and Miami appear to have exposed them once again as pretenders. There is no question they have depth and talent, but if a team continues to take the ball out of Paul's hands and force others to make plays, their serious lack of half-court fluidity exposes them as a jump-shooting team prone to stagnancy.

    They are going to play out what has been a fantastic regular season, however; there is no doubt about it. Expect the Clippers to still finish strong regardless of how their detractors feel.

    Final projected record: 58-24

Philadelphia 76ers

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    For the Philadelphia 76ers, 2012-13 has been a forgettable season. After making the playoffs last season and advancing to the second round, Philadelphia has clearly regressed this year. Obviously, the absence of Andrew Bynum is mostly responsible, but either way, missing the playoffs doesn't feel good, regardless of the reason.

    The Sixers don't have much else to play for other than pride or a better shot a the lottery, so at this point, it would be best to assess Bynum's health and readiness level, and hopefully turning things around come next season. Jrue Holiday made major strides individually, so at least that remains a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre season. 

    Whether they opt to play for pride or call it quits, they don't have much else to play for at this point. 

    Final projected record: 33-49

Chicago Bulls

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    With beloved point guard, Derrick Rose, absent all season from last year's untimely knee injury, the Chicago Bulls have done fairly well. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng had All-Star worthy seasons, and they continued to compete at a high level despite a shake up in their personnel. Thanks in large part to the outstanding coaching of Coach Thibodeau, this is a team who has remained focused in the face of adversity.

    They don't have any shot at a title this season, but wherever they finish in the postseason will still be a great show of confidence in the absence of Rose. Although he isn't with them this season, they have played well in another season where he's been gone for long periods at a time. With Coach Thibs still pulling the strings and fiery competitors like Carlos Boozer and Noah on the floor, this is a team that will compete until the end of the season without question.

    Final projected record: 48-34

San Antonio Spurs

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    In many ways, coach Gregg Popovich is like General Patton reincarnated in basketball coach form. Fiery, sarcastic and supremely confident, Popovich is a reflection of the San Antonio Spurs personnel he coaches.

    Popovich, like Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, has seen many battles, and this season presents yet another challenge they will surely attack head on. It's more of what we can expect from the Spurs—immaculate execution in the half court, incredible depth, constant focus and a championship-or-bust mentality.

    This is a team that executes as well as they do in the half court on the break, a team that is just as deadly offensively as they are defensively. They just play basketball at a high level, and they do so in an old-school fashion.

    You won't see alley-oops or crushing dunks, but you will lots of extra passes and unselfishness all-around. This is a team that will compete at a high level every game no matter what, but then again, Pop is no fool—we might see a few games where the likes of Manu, Parker and Duncan sit in favor of resting them.

    Final projected record: 64-18

Memphis Grizzlies

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    By trading away Rudy Gay, the Memphis Grizzlies effectively conceded their season before it officially ended. This is a team, even with Rudy Gay, that likely would've finished one-and-done in the first or second rounds no matter what, so dumping Gay may not have made a difference either way, but it still says a lot about their front office.

    Such a move, although likely beneficial in the grand scheme of things, is an acknowledgement of failure, and such a move perpetuates a culture of low expectations within an organization. Then again, it's a fair assumption the players weren't exactly surprised, considering how things have gone in recent seasons. 

    Memphis is a team walking on a treadmill of sorts. Every year it's a similar result—make the playoffs, early exit, make the playoffs, early exit—you get the picture. They are a team that boasts one of the better frontcourt duos in the league with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who are both bruising bigs with nice offensive games.

    Despite their talent, it would be a good bet that Memphis will take it easy to close the season in lieu of the inevitable fate that awaits them—another early exit come playoff time. 

    Final projected record: 48-34

Washington Wizards

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    Okay, they have a bad record, sure, but win-loss aside, the Washington Wizards have actually looked encouraging lately. After a recent four-game win streak, they kind of returned to Earth a little bit, however.

    Now on a three-game slide, the Wizards are expected to have some ups and downs, considering they are team still trying to find a semblance of chemistry. The youthful pairing of John Wall and Bradley Beal has looked nothing short of electrifying, but collectively, they still have a ways to go.

    Next year, hopefully, Beal and Wall will continue to make strides, and if they get a good spot in the lottery, hopefully they can add more talent via the draft, but as of now, they are simply playing for pride. 

    They have the offensive spurts to beat some people, but expect plenty of tanking to ensue as the season winds down.

    Final projected record: 25-57

Sacramento Kings

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    The future of the Sacramento Kings remains unknown, but it's a virtual lock that they will have yet another abysmal season record-wise. The Kings have talent in the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, but collectively, they do not have much semblance of chemistry. More akin to a collection of individuals than actual teammates, this is a squad mired in mediocrity that could really use a collective overhaul, as far as leadership is concerned.

    A new front office would do wonders, and a new coach would help, as well. Coach Keith Smart has failed to consistently motivate this team, and it's obvious that there is no sign of any improvement whatsoever. You can write this season off as another disappointing year, and until there is a comprehensive refinement of the organization, we will likely witness more uneventful years from a franchise with a lot of wasted potential.

    Final projected record: 26-56

Utah Jazz

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    Another squad in dire need of a jump start, the Utah Jazz possess a lot of talent, but are still inherently flawed. A lack of a true point guard is still hurting them, and while their strength lies in their frontcourt, such offensive prowess will only get them so far. Adding Randy Foye and Mo Williams helped improve a little, as far as getting more shooters, but they will certainly need more of a balanced attack if they are to have any hope of improving.

    They also need defense, and they most certainly need to identify what phase of transition they're in—contention or rebuilding. The latter would mean their primary goal should be moving Al Jefferson in exchange for picks or younger talent, and it would also give them a chance to further cultivate Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, two extremely bright frontcourt pieces. They are a team that needs to stop with the one-and-done playoff years and get back to building a legit squad via the draft.

    They're good enough to compete at a high level, but a decent regular season doesn't mean much for this team, considering they seem to be stuck in limbo.

    Final projected record: 43-39

Portland Trailblazers

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    While the playoffs seems out of reach, yet again, for the Portland Trailblazers, they have at least made progress, as far as acquiring talent. A team with a notorious history for bad breaks via the draft, (see Greg Oden and Sam Bowie) they appear to have finally caught a break with Damian Lillard. He sports a vicious handle and trusty jump shot, and he just has superstar written all over him.

    The Blazers were a squad already with two solid pieces in LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, but to have a star guard like Lillard means the future is that much brighter for the franchise. As soon as he improves his decision making and evolves as a floor general, we could certainly see a solid mix of fundamentals and athleticism as far as Lillard's game is concerned.

    Look for the Blazers to finish the season by competing, with their bright rookie leading the charge.

    Final projected score: 37-45

Phoenix Suns

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    Similar to the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns had to deal with the frustrating prospect of moving on in the absence of major part of the franchise's past success. While the era of Nash has clearly passed, Goran Dragic has demonstrated he's capable of playing at a high level as his replacement. 

    Now this isn't to suggest that Dragic is anywhere near the caliber of Nash in his prime, but he possesses a lot of the same skills that made Nash such a great player. He is a very clever finisher, a willing passer and fearless despite his small frame. Aside from Dragic, the Suns have Michael Beasley, the troubled former No. 2 overall draft pick out of Kansas State with limitless offensive potential.

    They are a team with nice pieces here and there, but there's no question they're in full-on rebuilding mode.

    Final projected record: 28-54

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Injuries are an unfortunate part of sports, and the Minnesota Timberwolves understand that all too well. From untimely knee injuries to Ricky Rubio to hand fractures afflicting Kevin Love, they are a team that has been unable to keep all of their pieces on the floor with one another consistently. Rubio has emerged as a legitimate floor general, and hopefully for his sake, he can improve his game offensively so he can become a dual threat on offense. 

    What they lack in flash and scoring, they make up for in toughness and hustle, and Nikola Pekovic is a prime example. The addition of Andrei Kirilenko gave the T'Wolves an added wing defender, but they still have to find a way to shake this injury bug long term if they want to seriously compete. While this season might as well be thrown in the bushes, there is always another year that will afford the Wolves some hope at fielding a starting five at full health.

    Final projected record: 33-49

Toronto Raptors

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    Although any hope of the playoffs this season is all but gone, the future looks brighter for the Toronto Raptors. After years of fielding what might as well be Euro-League "All-Star" teams, the Raptors have thrown that old approach in the bushes in favor of a youthful, athletic philosophy. Part of their new identity includes Rudy Gay, a recent acquisition that surely changes their prospects looking forward. The acquisition of Gay gives Toronto a piece to build around, and it also establishes a clear leader for a team that has appeared to lack one for so long. 

    Considering they already had DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross on the squad, they truly have an athletically elite squad that could pose a threat down the road. They still have a few older pieces like Andrea Bargnani, for example, but they have done a great job of really evolving as a team. There is an extremely slim chance they make the playoffs, but there is an even better chance they finish off the season on a good note to set the tone for a new-look Toronto Raptors era that favors athleticism.

    Final projected record: 36-46

Milwaukee Bucks

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    The Bucks are a peculiar example of a team with good pieces, but at the same time, inherently flawed. They have on paper what might be one of the most lethal offensive backcourts in the league, but they play a brand of basketball that will likely never consistently win games long term. To be a sub-.500 team and still cling to a playoff spot says a lot about the Eastern Conference, and it articulates what the Bucks represent every effectively.

    They are not a great team; Larry Sanders is a physical force, Brandon Jennings is a streaky ball-dominant guard and Monta Ellis represents a similar skill set as Jennings. Neither are outstanding defenders, and both are undersized guards who are trigger happy, so in the end, if they are not making shots, the Bucks are not winning many games. They are a team who live and die by isolation, off-the-dribble shooting basketball, and long term, that just isn't a winning strategy.

    The Bucks appear to be one of the more polished of the more mediocre Eastern Conference teams, so they will probably hang in there and scrape by with a playoff berth.

    Final projected record: 40-42

Detroit Pistons

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    Rebuilding is rough, and it's especially rough when you consider the rich history a lot of franchises have had. One franchise in particular that is coming to grips with the unfortunate process of starting over are the Detroit Pistons. After recent years that featured a solid core of Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons are back at square one.

    Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are all bright prospects, but they are all still raw pieces at this stage. Drummond, interestingly enough, seems to possess the biggest potential for dominance out of all the Pistons' prospects. They are still a young team that is making a lot of mistakes as per the growing process, but eventually we will see them shape into a refined squad.

    Final projected record: 31-51

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Witnessing the early stages of greatness is an incredible thing. As fans of the game, we are seeing greatness emerge before our eyes in a prospect like Kyrie Irving. After an era of LeBron James, Kyrie is poised to supplant James as the new star of Cleveland. He, along with Dion Waiters and a few other raw pieces, could very well become a dangerous core in the Great Lakes region.

    Irving possesses arguably the best handles in the league, and combine his lethal jumper and cunning moves and you have a recipe for a dangerous scorer. His ability opens up lanes for his teammates, and the frightening thing is the Cavs' star point guard is only 20 years old. Sure, their record isn't that great, but in due time the Cavs' youngsters will prove to be a formidable group.

    Final projected record: 27-55

New Orleans Hornets

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    Like the Cavaliers, the New Orleans Hornets (soon to be Pelicans, however) represent the future of the league. A core that features recent No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis, they are a squad with decent balance among their starting five. Eric Gordon, when healthy, is a high volume scorer, Greivis Vasquez is an extremely cunning finisher in the lane and Robin Lopez is a gritty hustler on the boards.

    Overall, they are nice group with a decent amount of balance, but they still lack consistency on the offensive end. They struggle with a lot of stagnancy at times, and because most of their offense is predicated off the jump shot, it results in long scoring droughts. Over time as their individual games continue to grow, they will certainly snap out of those lapses, however.

    Final projected record: 30-52

Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks' window for contention has undoubtedly closed. With a lot of their former pieces elsewhere, Dirk Nowitzki remains as one of the only remnants from their old squads who once legitimately posed a threat to win the title. Dallas seems to be in an awkward transitional phase from contention to rebuilding, and it's evident based on their current make-up.

    They still have pieces like Shawn Marion, Nowitzki and Vince Carter, but in the long run, Dallas does not have the talent to contend at this point in the Western Conference, let alone a Finals matchup with the likes of Miami. Their best bet is to rest their key pieces for the rest of the season and work on improving the younger pieces they have like O.J. Mayo, who has been a revelation this season.

    It's unfortunate for their sake that their window has closed, but ultimately, it is a part of the inevitable cycle within sports. However Dallas manages the rest of the season will speak to their intentions as far as handling the immediate future.

    Final projected record: 39-43

Houston Rockets

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    The Rockets are a really exciting squad to keep an eye on going forward. Not only do they score collectively at high volumes, but they are shaping up to look like a supremely balanced, versatile contingent. Jeremy Lin, despite his turnover problems, is a reliable, intelligent point, and combine his dynamic with the scoring prowess of James Harden and it makes for an interesting dichotomy.

    The recent acquisition of Thomas Robinson will only continue to help the Rockets improve, and despite some lapses throughout the season, they have proven to be one of the more promising young teams in the league. Combine Harden's experience with the overall talent of the squad, and there is no doubt they are going to stay the course and contend in the playoffs this season.

    They won't likely go far, but it will be a great stepping stone for their young core going into next season.

    Final projected record: 46-36