The NBA season is about to tip off in a few weeks. It is during this time of year when speculation surrounds every team and how they will perform. Fans from every team once again get to hold onto the hope their team will be able to make a run. Perhaps this will be their year?
Right now every team has a shot, as every team is 0-0. Some teams are perceived to have a better chance than others, but there is no telling what will happen during the season. Who will rise to prominence and who will fall from grace is anyone's guess.
The only thing known for sure is with a 66 game schedule, there will be 990 wins and 990 losses. Who wins and loses those games is yet to be seen.
Here is how I see the records falling when the last whistle is blown at the end of the regular season:
The Celtics are getting old. There is not doubting that. The youngest of the Big 3 is Pierce who is 34 years old. All three are still effective when healthy, but will they all be able to make it through a shortened yet more intense season? With Rondo apparently being shopped around there may be some locker room issues as well. The Celtics were good last season with a record of 56-26. This year I believe they simply will not be able to win at the same pace for a couple of reasons. First the skill set of the Big 3 will be slightly more diminished from last season as they get older. Second because I feel they will play fewer minutes in order to keep them as fresh as possible for the playoffs. After all who cares how many games you win in the regular season if when you get to the playoffs you're worn out and simply cannot compete at the same level?
From the sound of it Tyson Chandler is going to sign with the Knicks (http://espn.go.com/new-york/nba/story/_/id/7330900/tyson-chandler-dallas-mavericks-nears-deal-new-york-knicks-sources-say). If this happens it would be huge for the Knicks as their defense is their current Achilles Heel. Chandler would bring a defensive presence they Knicks are in need of. His ability to defend the paint will take a lot of pressure off Amare, which in turn could help his offensive game.
Offensively the Knicks should be able to keep up with anyone. Carmelo and Amare are two prolific scorers who make this team dangerous. After playing a full season together is see the Knicks continuing to improve and winning the division. Their record last season was 42-40. I see that drastically improving.
The 76ers were 41-41 team last season and made it into the playoffs as the 7th seed. In the playoffs they held their own against the Heat despite being eliminated in five games. The difference this season and why they could improve will be Evan Turner. He did not do a whole lot during the regular season during his rookie year. Towards the end of the year he began playing better as his minutes increased. He played solid in his first playoff series and I fully expect him to blossom this season. He has too much skill not to continue to improve.
Before the lockout there was a lot of speculation about trading Andre Iguodala. I have not heard many rumors recently, so am unsure whether he is still being shopped. There is also speculation the team may use their amnesty clause on Elton Brand. If they lose both Brand and Iggy it could be beneficial down the road, but keep them from taking the next step this season.
This season is HUGE for the Nets. They traded away a lot in order to bring in Deron Williams. In order to keep them from only renting him for one season in order to be mediocre they need to do something to convince Williams to stay. The Nets finished 24-58 last season. Lopez saw his numbers increase as he went from a score first PG in Harris to an elite pass first, yet scoring threat in Williams. However, if the Nets are going to bring in some elite talent via trade Lopez will almost assuredly be included in the deal. The Nets should improve with Williams playing the whole season, but unless a deal is struck to possibly bring in Dwight Howard it most likely will not be enough to extend their season.
The Raptors have a couple decent young pieces in Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis, but they simply are no good and I do not see that trend ending anytime soon. Rookie Jonas Valanciunas will not be able to help much this season as he won't even be in the country. The team finished 22-60 last season and not much should change this year. With teams within the division becoming more competitive the Raptors may even take a step backwards this season. But this may not be too bad with the potential in the upcoming draft.
Record last season 62-20. The Chicago Bulls are home to the reigning MVP and..... Well that is the question for the Bulls going into this season. Will anyone be able to step up and help Rose score? Carlos Boozer was brought in for that purpose, but underachieved last season. I see Boozer bouncing back offensively this year. Defensively Boozer will still be awful, but luckily he has Noah to help hide his deficiencies. As long as Boozer does not stub his toe, thus causing him to miss half the season he should bounce back. I see the Bulls slipping a little, but still being contenders for coming out of the East.
37-45 record last season. Despite being eight games below .500 last season the Pacers were the 8th seed in the East, thus is the life for the Eastern Conference after the top 4 teams. The Pacers are a team with a bunch of nice pieces to put around you star player(s), but lacking a star player. Danny Granger is their best player. Don't get me wrong he is a very good player, but he is not a star. Roy Hibbert has had a solid career thus far, but is not a build your team around player. This season should be much of the same for the Pacers.
35-47 record last season. Andrew Bogut is perhaps the most underrated big man in the game. Every aspect of his game is solid, but lately he has been unable to remain healthy. The Bucks are a team you can't sleep on with Bogut in the lineup, but also not a team you feel should beat you. Aside from Bogut there is not a ton of talent on the team. Brandon Jennings will look to show he can play in this league after a lackluster sophomore season. The Bucks should improve this year, but are not much of a threat.
30-52 record last season. Greg Monroe looks to build off an excellent rookie season. He has shown he can be a productive big man in this league and is a nice piece to begin rebuilding. It will be interesting to see Rookie Brandon Knight performs as I look at him as a boom or but prospect. Tayshaun Prince resigning with the club will help them, but it will not make much difference as this team has a long ways to go.
19-63 record last season. Drafting Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson to the roster this season will help the team in the long run, but will do little to help the team this season as the cupboard is still rather bare in Cleveland. That is aside from the old players who are well past their prime, yet still making money as though they were 27.
58-24 record last season. I can almost hear the blood boiling in the veins of fans, particularly those in Cleveland, yet can hear the creaking of the wheels on the bandwagon as it is weighed down the more people jump on. The Miami Heat. The most polarizing team in the league. Two of the top four players in the league and another superstar depending on who you talk to. Year two of the Heatle experience should provide less of a roller coaster through the regular season. They are now more familiar with each other and how to better coexist. They will be a force to be reckoned with. This season as much as anyone does not want to admit it it appears only the Heat can stand in the way of the Heat.
52-30 record last season. Orlando is the home of the most dominating big man in this generation...but for how much longer? Trade rumors have been popping up all over the place as to where Howard will go. Similar to the Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony last season I do not see how this does not become a huge distraction hanging over the team. With or without Howard I see the Magic falling off considerably this season.
44-38 record last season. It does not appear as though Crawford will be returning to the Hawks, which hurts the club. It also may appear as though Josh Smith wants out, also not a good thing. A team which last season had a lot of talent despite only being six games above .500 could suddenly find themselves losing major pieces. The Hawks underachieved with a solid roster, I don't see them doing much with less talent.
34-48 record last season. The Bobcats seem to be slowly getting better. I simply cannot take the team seriously for the simple reason that their mascot makes me think of a little league soccer team. In fact I think my soccer team was the Bobcats when I was eight years old. The only interesting thing coming out of Charlotte this season is to see how rookies Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo perform. Walker let UConn to an NCAA Championship last year and many are eager to see how his game translates. Biyombo was a huge anomaly coming into the draft. These two are both boom or bust players and they could be what makes the Bobcats relevant in a few years or simply be forgotten in a few years. Either way I don't see them making much of a difference this season.
23-59 record last season. The only interesting thing coming out of the capital regarding the NBA this season is John Wall and highlight dunks of Jan Vesely. Many of the Wizard highlights this season will be Wall driving to the basket and dishing it off to Vesely, allowing him to posterize some poor soul. Those will be pretty sweet highlights, but unfortunately for Wizard fans still does not bring many wins.
55-27 record last season. I think the Thunder will come out of the West this season. Although in order for that to happen Westbrook needs to stop trying to prove he is every bit as good offensively as Durant by throwing up a shot every possession. He simply is not Kevin Durant. Durant is the best player on the Thunder and the quicker Westbrook realizes this the better off he will be. Westbrook is a deadly second option and could post great numbers by allowing teams to focus on Durant and taking his guy 1 on 1.
50-32 record last season. The Nuggets may be in a bit of trouble this season as they have some of their key players from last season stuck playing in China. J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin do not have exit clauses in their contracts, so they won't be in Denver at the start of the season. This will hurt the team as they continue to have success post Carmelo, without a star player to lead them.
48-34 record last season. The Blazers are a solid team, but most likely not a real threat. I see them as the team in the bottom half of the seeding in which none of the top seeds want to face. They have talent, yet seem to be missing that one piece to push them over the edge into true contenders.
39-43 record last season. The Jazz, once considered a lock to make the playoffs due to the consistency Jerry Sloan brought to the organization for years is now going through major changes. Deron Williams was traded and how those assets develop will determine the direction of the team. Derrick Favors was the focal point of the deal and is loaded with talent but raw. Enes Kanter was selected with one of the picks received from the deal has not played organized basketball in over a year. I see the Jazz trading Milsap or Jefferson to let the young bigs develop and show they knew what they were doing with the Williams trade and causing the Jazz to start of extremely poor, yet as the season wears on and the team begins to develop starting to win some games late in the year.
17-65 record last season. Kevin Love was stellar last season, but there was little to nothing else to like about the team. Derrick Williams is hoping to change that as he comes in as the no. 2 pick in the draft. Ricky Rubio also looks to show he deserves the hype. Maybe they will in a few seasons, just not this year, and I don't ever see Rubio amounting to much.
57-25 record last season. The Lakers have been the topic of much trade debate as of late. Both in regards to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Either of these players would be an excellent pick up for the team. However, as long as no. 24 in on the court it is his team and they will be dangerous whether it is Gasol, Howard, or CP3 around him. Then again Kobe's has had knee problems recently and it will be interesting to see how he holds up in an accelerated 66 game schedule.
40-42 record last season. Steve Nash is enough to keep this team competitive, but he does not appear to have a lot of help around him. The Suns also do not have much room to go out and bring in help leaving the Suns with the question of do they trade Nash to a contender and begin rebuilding? or hold on to Nash and milk every penny they can out of him? With Nash the Suns are around .500. Without Nash well below .500.
36-46 record last season. The Warriors have who the best pure shooter in the rising generation on NBA players in Stephen Curry. He can score from anywhere on the court and has a smooth stroke to his shot. The problem is fellow guard Monta Ellis is also an all offense zero defense player and this does not help win too many games. There has been rumors of Ellis being traded in the past, and should help the team improve if they receive the right pieces. I do see the Warriors improving simply because Curry should be improving, but still not much of a threat.
32-50 record last season. I see the Clippers making the playoffs this year. Blake Griffin is a beast and should be even better this season. Eric Gordan has been rumored in potential deals to bring in Chris Paul, which would be a highlight reel every game with CP3 dishing to Griffin, but the Clippers may not be willing to add Gordan into the mix. Gordan had some injuries last season keeping him off the court for some time. This year he should be healthy and ready to help Griffin get the Clippers to the playoffs, perhaps to stay....which just doesn't sound right.
24-58 record last season. The Kings have DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans on the roster. Both are potential All-Stars, but need to control possession in order to be effective, Then to help the problem they drafted Jimmer Fredette the reigning NCAA Player of the Year....Who also needs to control possession to be effective. I'm not sure how this is going to workout, but it should be fun to watch.
61-21 record last season. The Spurs started off last season great, then as the season wore on so did the Spurs as they began to look their age and completely worn down by the playoffs. However as long as Tim Duncan wears the silver and black the Spurs have a chance. I do not see them having anywhere near the regular season they had last year, but still in the playoffs.
57-25 record last season. The reigning champions stumped the 3 headed monster in the Miami Heat last season. This season it will be much tougher as they appear to be losing Tyson Chandler. Chandler covered up Dirk's defensive deficiencies and defended the paint for the Mavs, which made all the difference. The Mavs do not win the title without Chandler and they won't this year either, although Dirk makes them dangerous.
46-36 record last season. The only story in New Orleans this season is not if the Hornets trade Chris Paul, but when and to who. There is simply no reason to keep CP3 as he is not going to resign with the club. Wherever they ship him will instantly be a much better team, but the Hornets are simply in a no win situation at this point.
46-36 record last season. The Grizzlies could be a dangerous team this season if they are able to keep Mark Gasol. Their run in the playoffs was without one of its top weapons in Rudy Gay who was out with an injury. Gay will be back this season at full speed and the Grizzlies will be looking to build off the momentum from the playoffs. The Grizzlies should be improved and will be a tough out come playoff time.
43-39 record last season. I expect the Rockets to have about the same success this season as last. The difference being with teams like the Nuggets and Hornets falling off, the Rockets will make the playoff this year.
They don't have a superstar on the roster, but have several capable players and Kevin Martin can be deadly offensively.