NBA Predictions 2011-12: Predicting the Record for Every Team Next Season
The big story in the NBA offseason is about the lockout that is currently going on after the talks between the players union and the owners failed to create a new collective bargaining agreement.
It will likely be the story that continues to dominate the headlines, as nothing can happen in terms of free agency or trades until they do sign a new deal.
With the new deal will possibly come new salary cap rules, new free agency rules and the possibility of revenue sharing between teams, which could be a godsend for smaller market teams who can't draw the same endorsements or sell the same amount of merchandise as some of the larger market teams.
However, all we can do until the new deal is signed is speculate, so that's what I plan to do for the time being. It may not be hard news, but it's something to debate about which is what sports are all about in the first place.
So, let's get the ball rolling on the Summer of Nothingness with a look into next season and what the record of each team may be come season's end (assuming no games are lost to the lockout of course).
Starting with the Eastern Conference.
15. Cleveland Cavaliers: 20-62
The Cleveland Cavaliers added Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson and traded JJ Hickson away to the Sacramento Kings for Omri Casspi.
They are making changes for the future, but it's going to take some time for their new plans to come together and make some serious impact in terms of wins.
Meanwhile, as the Cavs embark on another down season their fans can start a debate between drafting Harrison Barnes or Anthony Davis with their presumable No. 1 pick.
14. Charlotte Bobcats: 22-60
Michale Jordan officially did the smartest things in the history of the Charlotte Bobcats in the past few months.
Instead of consistently competing for the eighth seed in the playoffs, he blew up his team, compiled draft picks and took a chance on some good prospects in this year's draft.
Bismack Biyombo's progression will be fun to watch next season, as will Kemba Walker's development as an NBA player.
13. Toronto Raptors: 27-55
The Toronto Raptors may or may not be on a mission to trot out a 12-man roster of foreign-born basketball players with their recent draft of Jonas Valanciunas, so them getting much better this year is probably not going to happen.
I think they will be a bit better than last year, as some of their younger players are maturing and who knows, maybe they can convince Andrea Bargnani to crash the boards more often this year.
12. Detroit Pistons: 29-53
Stuck between mediocrity and terribleness (that may not be a word, but shut up) are the Detroit Pistons.
They are starting to get bad enough to get a higher lottery pick, but they are still too good to hope for a franchise player in the next draft.
Maybe they can get lucky in the lottery, but as of right now, they will probably be stuck outside the top five yet again.
11. Milwaukee Bucks: 31-51
The biggest move the Bucks made this offseason was trading away John Salmons and acquiring Stephen Jackson.
Jackson is a fine player, but his stats may be inflated a bit after being the No. 1 option on a mediocre Bobcats team over the past few years.
So the question is will Jackson make the Bucks a better team? As of right now I say no.
10. Washington Wizards: 35-47
I don't think the Wizards are going to be as bad as most people think they will be this year, but I still don't see playoffs in their future.
The consensus is with the Wizards that they are still at least a year away from threatening for a playoff seed in the East but will have an entertaining team nonetheless.
I agree that they are going to be wildly entertaining, but they should be good enough to make people think they could grab the 8-seed at some point.
9. Philadelphia 76ers: 37-45
They had a very good year last year, but with so many young players, it's hard to see them avoiding growing pains this year.
If they do end up trading Andre Iguodala away, I think it will hurt this team more than help them in the short run, although it may have a positive impact in the long run.
8. New Jersey Nets: 38-44
This is more of a vote of confidence in Deron Williams than anything else.
My biggest beef with the Nets this season before they got Williams was the lack of effort from a few players, namely Brook Lopez.
He gets his points, but he has stopped rebounding to the point that he is starting to look like Andrea Bargnani out there.
However, once Williams showed up and the team started playing more exciting basketball and hanging in games longer, Lopez started crashing the boards harder. Williams should make a huge difference next season compared to the small difference he made this year.
7. Indiana Pacers: 40-42
I love the effort that the Indiana Pacers put forth, and when a team plays with such effort they have a better chance of winning individual games.
Even though they aren't the most skilled team out there they should have a chance to sneak into the playoffs in the East, which should be weak near the bottom yet again.
Roy Hibbert really looks like he is ready to step up to the next level, and the rest of the team should follow his lead, getting them a playoff spot in the process.
6. Atlanta Hawks: 42-40
The Hawks have tried to hang onto their status as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference for the past two years, and now it's starting to look to be in vain.
Joe Johnson had a down year last season, and I'm not sure it was just a fluke. He is entering his 30s and could now be past his prime, although a surge in output is not out of the question.
There have also been whispers and shouts about them trading Josh Smith, which could end up being deadly to the Hawks in the win column.
5. Orlando Magic: 48-34
Orlando has the huge task of trying to convince Dwight Howard to stay with their team, all the while trying to keep them in the top half of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
If they let Jason Richardson walk in free agency it could either be a move that changes their philosophy completely, making Dwight Howard the center of their offense, rather than the four other shooters around him, or it could be a disaster, leading to their demise.
4. New York Knicks: 49-33
The Knicks probably won't be doing much in terms of signing free agents this summer (or fall or winter, whenever the lockout ends), but they have their team together for another year, which should be good for a lot of improvement alone.
Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire will be able to work out the kinks in their playing together that they showed off last season which could rocket them up the Eastern Conference standings.
3. Boston Celtics: 54-27
They are old, and they can't keep up with the young'uns in the East anymore, but that doesn't mean that they are done altogether.
The Boston Celtics still have what amounts to four of the 50 best players in the NBA today, and they have been playing together long enough, so they know how to play together to the get ultimate result possible.
If Boston can find a way to add a legitimate big man who isn't named Nenad Krstic then they could contend for another title this year.
2. Chicago Bulls: 61-21
They had the best record in the NBA a year ago, and they should be able to get back up to 60 wins this year.
Chicago proved that they are going to be a forced to be reckoned with in the upcoming years in the East, especially with Derrick Rose at the helm, and they should be able to repeat their regular season success from a year ago.
Now, let's just see if they can get over the hump that they hit in the playoffs.
1. Miami Heat: 64-18
The Miami Heat don't have a legitimate starting center or point guard, but they do have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and as we saw last year, that is good enough to be one of the best teams in the NBA.
The Heat have a season of playing together under their belts, and as long as injuries or some unforeseen personal problems don't get in the way, Miami should have a good chance at the best record in the NBA.
But, are they going to be able to handle the pressure of the Finals if they make it again this year?
15. Sacramento Kings: 22-60
The Sacramento Kings have made quite a few changes to their roster over the past few years, but there are still a few things that trouble me with the Kings.
They now have three players who are a black hole on offense. That is they need the ball in their hands to score, with Tyreke Evans, John Salmons and Jimmre Fredette, and if they re-sign Marcus Thornton it will be four.
Adding JJ Hickson is a nice move, but I just don't see them being very good this year.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves: 28-54
That's right ladies and gentlemen! I don't think Minnesota will be the worst team in their conference next year. David Kahn must be doing something right...right?
They have made some nice moves that should get them to be an improved version of the bad team they were last year, and with some fine players coming in, they could be even better than I suspect.
Let the Ricky Rubio/Derrick Williams/Kein Love Era begin!
13. Golden State Warriors: 30-52
I'm not going to buy into the idea that a team with a black hole scorer as their No. 1 option and not a single defender on the whole team can be very good.
Sure, they will be another excinting Warriors team that could score 120 poitns on any given night, but they could also give up 120 points on any given night, and when it comes down to it, that's just not good basketball.
12. Phoenix Suns: 31-51
This is based on my belief that someone in Phoenix will be smart enough to have the idea to trade Steve Nash.
If Nash doesn't leave after this season, then he is blindly dedicated to a team going nowhere, and he can kiss any shot at a title goodbye.
They should follow the trend of trading away your superstar in the last year of his contract to get some value out of him, but hey, the NBA is run by some interesting minds.
11. Denver Nuggets: 36-46
Losing Nene is going to be way too much for the Denver Nuggets to overcome.
They were able to survive last year because they played a style of basketball that no other team in the league played, where they would trot out four quick playing ballers and Nene, who is an upbeat center in his own right and score at will while still playing some defense when it mattered.
Well Nene should be on the way out, and Denver should be on the way down.
10. LA Clippers: 38-44
The Showtime Blakers should be something to marvel at this year, just like they were this year but slightly better.
They all have a year to mature, DeAndre Jordan should be many million dollars richer and happier and who knows, maybe Mo Williams can channel his inner Andre Miller and learn the art of the perfect alley-oop.
9. New Orleans Hornets: 40-42
The Hornets surprised everybody by playing the Lakers as hard as possible last season, but I don't think they can keep that up for much longer.
If Chris Paul is on the way out then they will fall much farther, but they do have some of the dumbest owners in the NBA...namely all the NBA owners.
8. Utah Jazz: 43-39
Utah pulled off the best superstar trade in at least my memory, and they may just have done enough to recover and squeeze their way into the playoffs next season.
I really think Enes Kanter is going to be a great player for the Jazz and combining that with the progression of Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors could mean huge improvements for the Jazz.
Utah could also take the route of flipping their pieces for one of the players out on the market like Josh Smith or Monta Ellis which could be a huge improvement for them or doom them in the long run.
7. Houston Rockets: 44-38
I am always impressed with how Houston handles adversity, from their near playoff-busting roster last seaosn to their 22-game winning streak back in 2008 without the help of Yao Ming, Houston always seems to be overcoming hard times.
That's why I think this team is primed for a good year, they have gamers and grinders, pair that with Kevin Martin and the possibility of Johnny Flynn breaking out of his hell that he was in with the Timberwolves, and they make up my darkhorse team in the West.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: 48-34
Everyone picked Portland to beat the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs last season, then they didn't and everyone started freaking out, then the Mavericks won the Championship and everyone decided to stop overreacting.
Portland should continue to be a good grinding team, and if anything they should be able to get better, especially if Raymond Felton can play up to the level he did last year and Greg Oden gets healthy (that last one is a biiiiig if).
5. Memphis Grizzlies: 50-32
My adopted Western Conference team (this started in about March of this season) shocked the world by taking down the No. 1-seeded Spurs in the first round of the playoffs this season, starting the end of the Spurs Dynasty talk all across America.
Well, they should only get better from here, especially if they can either get farther in the regular season with a healthy Rudy Gay or trade him and make some improvements to the team elsewhere.
4. San Antonio Spurs: 50-32
The No. 1seed in the West last year looked terrible in the playoffs, prompting everyone to call it the end of an era.
Well, an era may or may not have ended, but that doesn't mean San Antonio is going to fall apart overnight. They still have a very good team and picked up a nice young player in Kawhi Leonard who should be able to play legitimate minutes next season.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: 56-26
With another step in their growing process, Oklahoma City should be able to contend for the top spot in the West, but I think they will fall just short.
I'm not sure yet if the idea of Russell Westbrook not knowing when to shoot or when to pass is overblown, but I do know that it could be a problem if it continues, so really the only issue on their minds should be continuing to grow as a team and eventu winning a championship.
2. Dallas Mavericks: 57-25
The Dallas Mavericks have a huge job to undertake this offseason with re-signing JJ Barea, Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler, but even if they just get Tyson Chandler back they should be able to be a mighty fine team next season.
Jason Kidd was miraculous for them in the playoffs and should be able to do the same next season, plus they picked up Rudy Fernandez, who should thrive in their offense that lives on ball movement and finding the open man.
And they always have Dirk Nowitzki, who is playing out of his mind.
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 60-22
Everyone may have freaked out after they were swept by Dallas in the playoffs, but everyone needs to just calm down and take a deep breath.
They still have Kobe Bryant, they still have Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom—they are going to be fine for the time being.
Plus, I actually belive that Mike Brown will be a good coach for them, and will give them an added edge on defense, something they sorely lacked last season—especially Gasol, who really needs to toughen up.