East or West: Who Will Top the NBA and Who Won't Even Make The Playoffs

Ben SofferContributor IOctober 16, 2008

Eastern Conference

This offseason, many teams made crucial accusations to better themselves as a franchise, Many did the exact opposite, and some left their already-perfect teams as they were.

Just like the San Antonio Spurs, the Celtics are on their way to become a well oiled machine, and stay atop their conference for a long time. I predict they will get the first seed in the East, with a record of 68-14.

The Detroit Pistons will once again be one of the elite teams in the East, and in the NBA. Their combination of deadly shooting from Rip Hamilton and Billups, and the versatility of Prince and Wallace, will give them the second seed in the East, with a record of 56-26.

The Magic are one of the most exciting teams in the East. With the combination of deadly three-point shooting from Lewis and Turkaglu, and the the monster, tanklike attitude Dwight Howard possesses, the Magic will get the third seed in the playoffs, with a record of 55-27.

With the amazingness of LeBron James, and with the help of offseason accusation Mo Williams, the Cavs will get the fourth seed in the playoffs with a record of 50-32.

With the second-overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Miami Heat selected PF Michael Beasley. At the end of last season, they also  acquired Shawn Marion. The combination of the two, in addition to MVP-candidate Dwayne Wade, will make this team a  competitor again in the East.

They would be rated higher than the fifth seed but I  don't know how the two big guys, Marion and Beasley, will play with each other. They will have a record of 47-35. 

Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers surprised the NBA and slipped into the seventh spot in the east. With a solid 40-42 record, the only thing missing from the energized, confidant 76ers team was a power foreword better than Reggie Evans.

Their front office took care of that this offseason by making probably the biggest acquistion this year in Elton Brand. Brand it a talent hard to find, with an array of post moves, a deadly midrange "J", and a knack for collecting lots of rebounds. I predict the 76ers will get the sixth spot in the East with a record of 43-41.

The late run of the Atlanta Hawks gave them the eighth seed in the playoffs last year. The versatility of Josh Smith, the passing and leadership of Mike Bibby, and the sharp shooting of Joe Johnson make this a playoff team once again. They will grab the eighth seed in the East, and have a record of 40-42

Not the biggest pick up of the offseason, but a vital one±the New York Knicks signed defensive point guard Chris Duhon. Duhon will fill the void at point and provide much-needed defense for the Knicks team.

Along with the developing David Lee, Jamal Crawford, and the always solid Zach Randolph, the Knicks look to have a bright future ahead this season. I predict the Knicks grab the eighth seed in the East with a record of 39-43. 

The Toronto Raptors acquired PF Jermaine O'Neil from the Pacers this offseason. I think this will be detrimental to the Raptors' run-and-gun style of play, and will ruin Chris Bosh's season. I think this team will just miss the playoffs.


Western Conference

With the return of Andrew Bynum, there isn't much to say about the Lakers besides the word "perfect." They have a great backcourt of Bryant and Fisher, a superstar SF in Lamar Odom, and a PF-C combination of Gasol and Bynum that cant be beat. They will get the first seed in the West with a stellar 70-12 record.

When you mention the name Chris Paul, the things that come to mind are MVP,  distributor, and just plain amazing. Besides Paul, the Hornets have three-point specialist Peja Stojakovic and big man Tyson Chandler. This is the reason the Hornets will grab the second seed in the West with a 65-17 record.

The Utah Jazz have one of the best PG-PF combos in the NBA with Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. In addition they have sharp-shooting Kyle Korver, and big man Paul Millsap. They will get the third seed in the West, and have a record of 59-23.

With the stellar offseason accusation of defensive specialist and three-point star Ron Artest, the Rockets looks to get back to the years of Sam Cassell and Hakeem Olajuwon. If McGrady and Yao stay healthy, this team could do even better than I am predicting. They should grab the fourth seed in the West and have a record of 57-25.

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker are a dynamic trio that can't be stopped, but with the uncertainty surrounding Ginobil's health, the Spurs will get the fifth seed in the West, and have a record of 55-27.

Former MVP Steve Nash, and potential MVP for this season Amare Stoudemire team up with up-tempo, great shooting role players to make the Suns hard to beat this season. They will rack up the sixth seed in the West, and have a record of 52-30.

With the stellar offseason accusations of Baron Davis and Marcus Camby, the Clippers look like a playoff team this year. With Camby and Kaman down low, who knows if anyone will be able to penetrate to the basket? They will grab the seventh seed in the West, and have a record of 49-33.

With all the tightness of the Western  Conference, it looks like Brandon Roy and his Blazers wont be making the playoffs 'til next year. The Mavericks will have Kidd for the whole year. Dirk is amazing, and if Howard stays out of trouble this team will once again be a contender in the West.

They will make the playoffs, but not by much as they will edge the Blazers by two games, leaving them in the eighth seed, with a record of 44-38.

What to say about the Denver Nuggets? With the egotistical superstar in Carmelo Anthony, the aging all-star in Allen Iverson, and Camby nowhere to be seen in Denver, there is no shot for this team to contend. They will finish with a record of 41-41.

The Lakers will not meet the Celtics in the NBA finals this year, but they will meet the Detroit  Pistons, and the Lakers will be victorious in five games.