Can the Lakers repeat? Can the Heat live up to their gigantic expectations? Can Durant lead the Thunder to the top of the West? Will CP3 and Melo play well after expressing disappointment with their teams? How will Shaq help the Celtics? These are just some of many questions being asked entering the NBA season. So, what are the answers?
Division Ranking (Conference Ranking). Team Name - Description
1(2). Boston Celtics - The addition of Shaq sure doesn't make this team any younger, but it does make them better as they go for one last title run.
2(7). Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner will help this team get over the hump and back into the postseason.
3(11). New York Knicks - Amare Stoudemire will help NY get some star power, but they'll still be a good deal away from a playoff caliber team, assuming Melo isn't traded there.
4(14). New Jersey Nets - This team simply doesn't have enough talent to make it in this league, again, assuming Melo isn't traded there.
5(15). Toronto Raptors - The departures of Bosh and Turkoglu left this team in the dust with no one to lead them anywhere.
Division MVP: Paul Pierce
1(4). Chicago Bulls - Once Boozer takes the floor—the Bulls will be tough to stop, leaving other teams helpless defensively.
2(6). Miluakee Bucks - This young team will continue to impress this year as star PG Brandon Jennings develops more and more.
3(8). Cleveland Cavaliers - In the first year of the Post-LeBron era, Cleveland will surprise many by making the playoffs and setting up a first round matchup that is...interesting at the least(you'll know what I mean as you read on).
4(10). Detroit Pistons - This team will surprise some with the help of Tracy McGrady by playing admirably but not admirably enough to make the playoffs quite yet.
5(13). Indiana Pacers - With Danny Granger as their lone star, this team will have extreme troubles this year and for many years to come.
Division MVP: Derrick Rose
1(1). Miami Heat - This is an easy one (you know, with LeBron and what not). But, as I said earlier, they've got an...interesting first round vs. the Cavs.
2(3). Orlando Magic - The Magic have a great team and cannot be forgotten in this competitive Eastern Conference.
3(5). Atlanta Hawks - They'll get a solid playoff seed but won't do much better than last year after making very little changes in the offseason.
4(9). Charlotte Bobcats - They have relatively the same team as last year, much like the Hawks, but will fall just short of the postseason this year.
5(12). Washington Wizards - John Wall is just about the only bright spot on this team but could have a good co-star if Arenas could ever get his life straight.
Division MVP: LeBron James
1(2). Dallas Mavericks - With Dirk secured for a while, this talented team can make another run at it, hopefully with a better result.
2(6). San Antonio Spurs - This is a very good team that can sometimes get lost in the mix, but they will struggle a little in the rapidly changing Wild West.
3(10). Memphis Grizzlies - Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo will continue to play out of their heads, but the rest of the team will continue to be sub-par.
4(11). Houston Rockets - This injury-plagued team is rapidly losing stars and could lose their biggest—Yao—if he injures himself again.
5(13). New Orleans Hornets - With star PG Chris Paul disgruntled, this team will have no chance at returning to their 2007 form.
Division MVP: Tony Parker
1(3). Oklahoma City Thunder - Rising star Kevin Durant will bring this team where everyone is expecting them to be—near the top of the West.
2(4). Denver Nuggets - Melo will remain with the team and gain hope quickly in a season that will determine this franchises future.
3(7). Portland Trail Blazers - This is a highly questioned team, but a very good one as they try and get their first playoff series victory in who knows how long this season.
4(8). Utah Jazz - Sure, they lost Boozer, Korver and Ronnie Brewer to the Bulls, but they replaced them all perfectly with Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward; this will still be a team with potential.
5(14). Minnesota Timberwolves - Led by youngsters Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, they'll have no chance in this talented division.
Division MVP - Brandon Roy
1(1). Los Angeles Lakers - They'll easily get the first seed in the West, but can they make it to the finals as easily?
2(5). Phoenix Suns - The additions of Turkoglu and Childress (once he gets back from injury) will more than replace Amare.
3(9). Los Angeles Clippers - Blake Griffin will do more than impress in his first year, but the Clips will slightly get edged out by Utah.
4(12). Sacramento Kings - Tyreke Evans will continue to play well, but his lack of support will ultimately lead to Sacramento's downfall.
5(15). Golden State Warriors - Their new retro look won't help them when it comes to talent on the court.
Division MVP: Blake Griffin
1. Heat def. 8. Cavaliers 4-1
2. Celtics def. 7. Sixers 4-2
3. Magic def. 6. Bucks 4-3
5. Hawks def. 4. Bulls 4-3
1. Lakers def. 8. Jazz 4-3
7. Trail Blazers def. 2. Mavericks 4-2
3. Thunder def. 6. Spurs 4-2
4. Nuggets def. 5. Suns 4-2
First Round MVP: LeBron James
1. Heat def. 5. Hawks 4-1
3. Magic def. 2. Celtics 4-3
7. Trail Blazers def. 1. Lakers 4-3
4. Nuggets def. 3. Thunder 4-3
Second Round MVP: Brandon Roy
1. Heat def. 3. Magic 4-3
4. Nuggets def. 7. Trail Blazers 4-1
Conference Finals MVP: Carmelo Anthony
And the Winner is...
A crazy postseason in the West sets up a star-studded final—Anthony, James, Wade, Billups, Bosh, Harrington and more.
Denver will surprise many by taking the first game in Miami, but LeBron will respond with great performances in the next two games, taking each of them and the series lead.
Bosh, Haslem, Howard and the rest of the Heat's front court will take center stage in the next game as they dominate down load to take a strangle-hold on the series.
Billups will follow that up with a three-pointer extravaganza to take the next game.
Game 6 will be an OT thriller with Melo and Harrington using jaw-dropping chemistry to edge out the Heat and send the series to Game 7. It will be close going into the fourth but will be owned by the Big Three in the final quarter as the Heat live up to everyone's lofty expectations.
The Nuggets, though, have to be satisfied with this finish as it all but ensures Melo's return the next year. For the Heat, it's a teary celebration for the whole city as LeBron and Bosh celebrate their first championships and are left itching for more.
Finals MVP: LeBron James