The 2007-2008 NBA season was jam-packed with emerging stars, controversy, and once great franchises returning to glory. It will surely go down as one of the most memorable seasons the NBA has ever had. So what will the 2008-2009 season bring for an encore? It's never too early to begin predictions.
HOW THEY'LL FINISH
- New Jersey
- New York
Not many surprises here. Boston should breeze through the painfully weak Atlantic Division. Don't expect 66 wins from the C's again however, as I cannot imagine them getting through another season virtually injury free. Basically three tiers in this division as Boston is in its own class, Philly and Toronto will battle it out all year for second place, and New Jersey and New York should find themselves in the lottery yet again.
When making this pick I am going to make a prediction and say Cleveland tries to really make a splash this off-season by adding a true star alongside LeBron instead of role players. I'm looking at the possibility of adding a guy like Elton Brand or Michael Redd. Detroit should be a very solid team but there reign as the class of the East is winding down as each year passes. I don't think the addition of a young head coach to a veteran team is going to work out for the best in Detroit. Chicago is obviously the wild card in this division because of their potential. If they keep Deng, Gordon, and add Rose they have a very formidable group of talent but they don't have enough consistent scoring to compete for the division.
This was easily the toughest Eastern division to predict. Not only does every team have great young talent that could decide this is the year to develop, Washington will have tough off-season decisions with Jamison and Arenas being free-agents. Miami could also look a lot different with Marion as a free-agent and the possibility of trading the second pick in the draft. I could see Orlando, Miami, or Washington all winning this division depending on how the off-season shakes out and Atlanta or Charlotte could sneak into the playoffs depending on how their young players develop.
Another division loaded with young talent. I love Utah and think they should take care of business in this division. They are a title contender withthe amazing talent and leadership of Deron Williams. Obviously Portland is everyone's sexy sleeper this year because of the young talent. I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade their draft pick this year, regardless, the key is how Oden responds in his first year in the NBA, if he is healthy enough to put up about 14 and 10 they should do very well. Although I think Minnesota is still at least a year away, they could be a sleeper with the inside presence of Al Jefferson and the scoring threat of potentially O.J. Mayo. If Denver can't keep Iverson and possibly unload Camby look for Minnesota to possibly make a run for third place.
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Golden State
- Los Angeles Clippers
The Lakers should have no trouble at all in this division and will cruise to a huge margin most likely. I don't really like any other team in this division to do much. Phoenix should have enough established talent to take second but will not compete with the Lakers in the end. I only put Golden State below the Kings because of the possibility of Baron Davis moving on to another team. Even if he doesn't than the Kings will have a good chance of taking third because of some young talent mixed with some vets. The Clippers could be looking at a downright awful year if Brand leaves.
- New Orleans
- San Antonio
With a great young nucleus, New Orleans is poised to repeat as Southwest champs. Their run-and-gun style is perfect for regular season success. Yao Ming should be back to full strength and the Rockets only finished one game behind the Spurs without him for a lot of last year. I know that every year people say the Spurs are getting too old but I truly think that now their age is catching up to them slightly. Unfortunately, in this loaded division, a slight drop could mean the difference between first and third, or even fourth.
REGULAR SEASON AWARD WINNERS
Rookie of the Year- Michael Beasley: B-Easy is ready to contribute now and traditionally the Rookie of the Year goes to guys that can score a lot. Beasley will get a good opportunity to win right away if he goes to Miami and plays alongside Wade and Marion; a big turnaround could influence voters. If not Beasley look out for O.J. Mayo to turn some heads. Also very ready to play now and a great scorer, Mayo could get some attention from voters.
Sixth Man- Manu Ginobili: With a player as talented as Manu coming off the bench it is almost unfair to other bench players around the NBA. An All-Star in this league, Manu is an elite scorer and took the Spurs on his back at times last year. If Manu were to be injured, look for a player like Jason Maxiell get some consideration, as he is blossoming into a great sixth man.
Defensive Player of the Year- Ron Artest: A free-agent this year, look for Artest's number to be called upon by a team that needs a defensive stopper. After watching them be dismantled in the finals this year, it would not surprise me if the Lakers took the gamble on Artest. A team like that could really showcase Artest's defensive ability.
Coach of the Year- Mike Brown: There are many other coaches with big potential but I think that if Cleveland makes a big signing, than they will have the biggest turnaround among contenders this year. Another possibility is Nate McMillan.
Most Valuable Player-LeBron James: If his Cavs indeed win the Central, like I am forecasting than LeBron should be able to win this award. In the talks this year despite just 45 wins, its about time for James to win his first MVP. I see the top 5 rounding out in the remaining order: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Yao Ming, Kevin Garnett.
Eastern Conference (* indicates division winner)
- Boston Over Philadelphia
- Cleveland Over Chicago
- Washington Over Orlando
- Detroit Over Miami
- Boston Over Detroit
- Cleveland Over Washington
- Cleveland Over Boston
- Los Angeles Lakers*
- New Orleans*
- San Antonio
- L.A. Over Dallas
- New Orleans Over Portland
- Houston Over Phoenix
- Utah Over San Antonio
- Utah Over L.A.
- Houston Over New Orleans
- Utah Over Houston
Utah Jazz Over Cleveland Cavaliers
Finals MVP: Deron Williams
So that's all for now, the playoff tested, tough, and young Utah Jazz take home the title in the very early season prediction. It will be very interesting to see how the off-season plays out and next year should be a fantastic season.