Boston - 63-19 Go three deep for stars. Wallace fills a nice piece and the bench is still solid. Will Davis pout all season hampering their success? Probably, but it won't matter.
Toronto - 49-33 Adding Turkoglu was a nice coup. Bosh, Turk, and Bargnani are a nice three who can do many different things. Depth will be an issue. Sure, they paid a lot but you have to when you play in Toronto. On top of that, they got a player to take their money which shows good promise for smaller, colder, non traditional markets. That's good for the league.
Philadelphia 76ers - 40-42 losing Andre Miller will really hurt this team but they'll pile up a bunch of wins vs. the Nets and Knicks whom they should be better than by default.
New Jersey Nets - 30-52 Lopez, Harris, Williams will show the cupboard isn't as bare as it looks. Still they are very young and inexperienced and there isn't much depth beyond Alston and Alexander off the bench. This is all about 2010 and wooing LeBron though. Will 30 wins and Jay-Z be enough to do it?
New York Knicks - 25-57 traded or released most of the junk from the Thomas era. Like the Nets this is all about 2010 and they cleared space to enter the LeBron sweepstakes. Not much here. Gallinari is a bust as I thought he'd be and Chander and Lee are nice players at best with not much help, as always.
Cleveland LeBrons - 54-28 Let's call them what they are. Adding an aging Shaq is nice only paper and if it's 1997 as he wasn't the right fit. Now he's simply out for a ring but 12 points and eight rebounds a game isn't going to do it and at 0-2 already they have 12% of their total loses (16) from last year. The player they actually need is the one they had in Boozer. Should they be able to keep LeBron and flip Shaq for free agent to be Boozer come 2011 then they'll have a shot at winning the Championship. Their window shut in their own conference when KG got healthy for Boston as their no longer the best team in it. I think the LeBron farewell tour began this week and he'll go to NJ with the deep pocketed Russian owner.
Detroit Pistons - 45-37. Adding Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva is nice for depth but where is the PG? Will ball hogging be an issue? As always they are the nicest regular season team money can buy. Don't be surprised if Indy jumps them but their improved depth, even if its not in all the right places, should get them a playoff spot-and a 1st round exit.
Indiana Pacers - 38-44 Danny Granger and Co. are improving each year. Finally starting to get nice depth and good drafts. Adding a PG behind Ford would really help if and when he goes down due to his small frame. At least a year or so away not to mention another player or two.
Chicago Bulls - 35-47 losing Ben Gordon is really going to hurt the team depth not to mention the spark he often gave when entering games. Who did they draft to replace him? Who's gonna help Rose? They barely made the playoffs last year and that was with him.
Milwaukee Bucks - 24-58. Bucks have some nice pieces Bogut, Redd, some nice potential Alexander and Jennings and some nice depth in Defino and Warrick. So whats the problem? Its still very thin, young, and inexperienced, and the price slashing (Villanueva, Sessions) not only hurts as they were better than the players relied on to replace them, but it also means no help ($$$) will be coming in to help them if someone goes down. Could be the Wolves of the Eastern Conference.
Orlando Magic - 56-26 Carter, Lewis, and Howard are the 2nd best big three in the league behind Boston. Carter can't do everything Turkoglu can but he brings heart, flash, and can score in bunches so it wil be fun to watch. I'm not as high on him or them as Jamal Mashburn was in the NBA KIA Preview on Tuesday, but they'll still be very good. Adding Matt Barnes and Anderson adds some nice depth, different skill and needed size which was evident in their Finals loss to the Lakers last spring. They need to get even bigger to really break through. Another 6'11-7'0 footer would really help. Can they be creative and get Chris Bosh?
Atlanta Hawks - 48-34 Sure they got Johnson, Bibby, and Josh Smith. Not sure if adding Crawford will help the team but he doesn't fit in long term anyway. Teague should add nice depth as he learns from Bibby. Joe Smith is just filler. How does he keep finding work?
Washington Wizards - 47-35 when healthy-Arenas, Jamison, and Butler can do big things (maybe even 2nd round) as that seems to be their max. Jamison is already hurt and you have to figure Agent Zero is going to miss about a month or so at some point crushing their usual fast start getting expectations high. Foye and Miller don't wow me as doesn't always underachieving Flip Saunders whose just blah and never gets the most out of his players. However, they add nice depth, something this team never seems to have enough of. Could they surprise? Sure, but everyone has to be healthy and getting along neither of which I see happening.
Miami Heat - 38-44 Despite their lack of talent, Wade will keep them in games in his final season in Miami before he goes home to Chicago in 2010 if New York doesn't grab him first. The record may be too generous. Headcase Beasley doesn't appear to have the heart, or consistency at this point to be reliable and Richardson is going to hurt chemistry with bad shots. Nice starting five but little to no depth or experience.
Charlotte Bobcats - 32-50. Swapping Chander of Okafor is probably a good move but right now there are people playing out of position Diaw at PF? Bust Stephen Graham starting over Ronald "Flip" Murray? Henderson fills a nice role but this team always has too much of a local, and thus college basketball look and feel which distracts the team. Ownership/sale issues could also hinder the team's performance as an x-factor all season long.
Portland Trailblazers - 52-30 all those good drafts (minus Oden) finally pay off. Miller adds just ridiculous, envious, luxury depth but more importantly, valuable leadership and experience on a very young team. If Oden can get it together, this is your team of the now, not the future. If they stay injury free, could be the Magic of 2008.
Denver Nuggets - 50-32 Led by Carmelo, they have Martin, Smith, and Billups. Lawson's gonna learn from one of the best in Billips. Not much more to say here except wait until the playoffs.
Utah Jazz - 45-37 Williams leads a young team with free-agent to be, Boozer (have I stressed that enough?), Korver, and Maynor are intriguing new pieces. Especially Maynor although I question how much he's going to be able to play here. Solid team but likely a bottom seed at best.
Oklahoma City Thunder - 35-57. Durant, Green, and Westbrook form a good, young, three. Krstic was a steal and will continue to be. If Harden can develop quickly, could jump Utah and steal the 8th seed but the division is much improved, along with them so the wins will have to come from outside it and I still think they are one good draft, maybe lucky lottery away from really doing some damage. Still, its coming together a lot quicker than I thought it would. Seattle has got to be mad.
Minnesota Timberwolves - 30-52. Let me just say, this could be the most exciting 30 win team in league history. Everything is new from the GM on down, with new coaches in experienced Rambis who gets to show what he can do from under Jackson's shadow. My guess is he learned a thing or two and is perfect for a young team that will make its mistakes. Laimbeer and Theus add depth in coaching even if their coaching resume are thin, still their playing experience will go along way with a young team that will absorb it all in with a sponge. They'll win some games they shouldn't on paper, they'll lose some 110-108 thrillers. You haven't heard of 3/4 of their roster and they don't know any better. Still the fan base is energized and have no expectations making the players jobs a lot easier. Check back in 2-3 years, with or without Rubio. See the Blazers or Hawks of today . That's gonna be the Wolves if fans are just patient. Flynn will add flash as a franchise piece. Jefferson and Love are nice pieces but not the answer which could come in 2010 when the team has around $13M to spend on a player-Ginobili would be the player I'd target. Hollins and Sessions will be worth watching progress.
San Antonio Spurs - 60-22 Duncan has lost a step which Jefferson will fill so nicely most fans won't even notice. Now they have a Big Four with Parker and Ginobli. If all four can stay healthy, they could be playing in June.
New Orleans Hornets - 49-33 Paul, West, and Okafor. That's not even the Big Three with Stojakovic still in the wings. They go four deep but Okafor and Chander do the same thing but the latter meant more to this team. How long Okafor takes to get chemistry is the question, along with his health.
Dallas Mavericks - 44-38 Only because I expect them to beat up on the rest of the division which should be mediocre at best thanks to Yao's injury and New Orleans' loss of "heart" player Chander who did the little things. He was the soul of that team. Marion was a great find. Can they keep Dirk? That's the question. A different team than the flashier ones we've got used to seeing, still with the new element in Marion, mixed with Kidd, Terry and Dirk, they should get at least the playoffs.
Memphis Grizzlies - 26-56 Iverson, Gay, Randolph, Mayo on the same team? Are there going to be enough basketball's for everyone to get their shots? Too many SG's on this team that lacks size despite Thabeet who I don't think will have any offensive game. He's gonna be a statue in the middle and should pick up some quick fouls meaning its fun and gun time for this mess.
Houston Rockets - 23-59 Maybe McGrady? For how long until he gets hurt? Ariza took the money when he had it made in L.A. No Yao, Artest=lottery team. The cupboard isn't bare Battier, Brooks, Scola but who plays behind them as they have horrid depth and experience. This record is assuming McGrady misses his usual 20 games. Remember when Robinson got hurt and the Spurs won 20 games? That could be Houston now. They aren't that bad on paper, even without Yao, but now Ariza has more of a role which I doubt he can handle.
LA Lakers - 65-17. The league's best coach, (clutch) player-unlike LeBron save for one lucky last second shot in the playoffs, one of the best benches in the league, Gasol, Fisher, Odom, Artest, I could go on and on but the announcers will do that for you all season anyway.
LA Clippers - 50-32 Is this what the division has come to when the other team from LA is 2nd? Remember that year they went to the 2nd round of the playoffs and took the Suns to the limit? That could be again this year if Griffin can come back healthy and dominate as I expect him to do.
Phoenix Suns - 42-40 Amare's swan song starts now. A move to the East would really make things interesting. Shaq's lack of impact (and fit) with this team, evidenced by its lack of success was an indicator of where this team is going. The starting five is still flashy but worse than its been in years and this time, there's no depth.
Golden State Warriors - 35-47 Steph Curry wil challenge Griffin for Rookie of the Year but will Stephen Jackson cause problems? Rumors have Anthony Randolph being mis-used already and with Don Nelson you just never know when he's going to go off and suspend someone like Jackson, Randolph, or Ellis when this team really needs them. They need to get bigger and desperately get some depth.
Sacramento Kings - 21-61. Kevin Martin and not much else. Tyreke Evans is going to get plenty of playing time, thus he'll get his points if you can put up with the Iverson like missed shots, poor shooting nights and ball hogging like his early Philly days. But on this team, don't you have to take over if no one else will, especially if they can't? When bust Sean May is a starter, you know your desperate. Will they be in Las Vegas soon?
1. Boston vs. 8. Philly, Boston in 4
2. Orlando vs. 7. Detroit, Orlando in 5
3. Cleveland vs. 6. Washington, Cleveland in 6.
4. Toronto vs. 5. Atlanta, Toronto in 7
1. Boston vs. 4 Toronto Boston in 5
2. Orlando vs. Cleveland Orlando in 6
Eastern Conference Finals
1. Boston vs. Orlando Boston in 7
1. Lakers vs. 8. Dallas, Lakers in 4
2. San Antonio vs. 7. Utah Jazz, San Antonio in 4
3. Portland vs. 6. New Orleans, Portland in 6
4. LA Clippers vs. 5 Denver, Denver in 7
1. Lakers vs. 5. Denver Lakers in 5
2. San Antonio vs. 3. Portland San Antonio in 5
Western Conference Finals
1. Lakers vs. 2. San Antonio, Lakers in 7
NBA Championship 1. Boston vs. 1. Lakers Lakers in 7
MVP: James, Cleveland
Coach of the Year-Triano, Raptors, Exec. of Year-Colangelo, Raptors
Rookie of the Year-Griffin, Clippers, runner up, Flynn Timberwolves, Lawson, Nuggets in the discussion along with
6th man-Miller, Portland if he isn't starting by then as he should be.
Defensive player of the year-Howard, Magic
Coaches to get fired: Adelman, Rockets, Nelson, Warriors (resigns?), Larry Brown Charlotte (resigns/retires), Frank, Nets (new ownership will want their own man, their record will make easy firing), Mike Brown, Cavs in a disappointing shakeup?