I'll preface this post by stating I openly admit to having little to no confidence in my predictions, nor do I claim to have any professional experience in making them.
I read the previews out there, I listen to talk radio and I use the old gut.
That being said, the NBA season tips off tonight, with Boston looking to defend it's title and the Lakers looking to dethrone them behind first time MVP Kobe Bryant.
LeBron and the Cavs will looking to finally get over the hump, while out west the power may have shifted away from the Spurs-Mavs-Suns trio while being replaced by the Hornets-Jazz-Rockets three-some.
In the east, my Knicks will be better but still on the outside looking in at season's end, while teams like Philadelphia, Toronto and Orlando will look to take another step towards deeper playoff runs.
I don't want to get too specific, after all I do this for fun, so without furthter adieu, here is how I foresee the 2008-2009 season taking shape...
Eastern Conference Playoff Teams:
Boston- The defending champs won’t miss James Posey as they are still the most talented starting five in the NBA.
Cleveland- LeBron and his new look squad will reveal themselves as Boston’s biggest threat.
Detroit- Contract year for Rasheed, and assuming he stays, Detroit, despite a new coach, will continue their winning ways.
Toronto- This is Chris Bosh’s team, and as a result, expect Jermaine O’Neal to quietly put up numbers closer to the ones he put up during his best days in Indiana.
Philadelphia- A new "Brand" of basketball, Elton’s presence will propel Philly into the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Orlando- Still young and now with some playoff experience under their belts, Orlando might need a deadline deal to push them into the second round.
Chicago- Last year proves to be a fluke, as this team has too much talent not too make a postseason return with the help of Derrick Rose.
Milwaukee- Scott Skiles can coach, and this retooled team will be the biggest surprise in the NBA’s minor leagues…err…Eastern Conference.
Western Conference Playoff Teams:
L.A. Lakers- Kobe, Kobe and more Kobe. Oh, and a healthy Andrew Bynum, a full year with Pao Gasol and that ‘Zen-guy” head coaching.
Utah Jazz- Deron Williams and Carlos are legitimate stars, and Jerry Sloan just wins. That continues this year.
New Orleans- Everybody wants to talk about the Posey signing, but I’ll keep it simple. Chris Paul will score more, and win more.
Houston- Biggest move of the off-season was adding Ron Artest. A healthy year from Yao and T-Mac equal realistic title dreams.
San Antonio- Missing Manu Ginobili will hurt this team early, but having him healthy down the stretch will ensure they’re still playing after the regular season ends.
Dallas- Avery Johnson gone, core of the team remains the same. Kidd another year older, but a full year running that offense will be enough for a first round exit.
Portland- Greg Oden finally makes his NBA debut the year after he’s drafted, while Brandon Roy is an MVP candidate. This team finally takes the next step.
Phoenix- It may take more than 7 seconds or less, but the Suns will figure out a way to sneak into the playoffs as this team can still score with the best of them.
MVP: Chris Paul
Defensive Player: Ron Artest
Rookie of the Year: Michael Beasley
Most Improved Player: Devin Harris
Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan
6th Man of the Year: Jason Maxiell
Knicks: 36-46, 10th in East
Nets: 30-52, 13th in East
2008-2009 NBA Champion
(drum roll please)
Check back in April to see if I have a future in fortune telling or selling fortune cookies.
Either way, it's great to have the NBA back.
Let the games begin.