NBA Predictions 2011-2012: Complete Records, Playoffs Seeds, All Major Awards

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 16, 2011

NBA Predictions 2011-2012: Complete Records, Playoffs Seeds, All Major Awards

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    These are the most complete NBA predictions you'll find for the 2011-2012 season. 

    Over the next 56 slides, you'll find a plethora of information. 

    First, you'll see the projected standings of the Eastern Conference, including the predicted record and justification for each and every team. The same information will follow for the Western Conference. 

    But since there's more to the league than just the regular season, I've also included predictions for each postseason series from the first round through the NBA Finals. 

    After that, you'll find all the major awards in the NBA: NBA Finals MVP, regular season MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, scoring champion, Coach of the Year and Most Improved Player. 

    Finally, I've included all of the major All-Something teams: All-Defensive First and Second Teams, All-Rookie First and Second Teams, All-NBA First, Second and Third Teams and the All-Star Team for each conference. 

    Enjoy the predictions!

Eastern Conference No. 15: Charlotte Bobcats

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    It's going to be difficult to be a Charlotte Bobcats fan this season. 

    Reggie Williams should earn a starting nod over Gerald Henderson by the end of the season and the sooner that happens, the better for the Bobcats. 

    Regardless, it's going to be a tough season, and the Bobcats will have to entertain themselves with the exploits of Kemba Walker during his rookie season. Walker is a bona fide stud and will be fully capable of winning a few games by himself as a rookie. Unfortunately, top pick Bismack Biyombo will not be joining the Bobcats this season

    With Corey Maggette, Boris Diaw and Tyrus Thomas joining the cause, there isn't any hope for the playoffs whatsoever. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 13-53

Eastern Conference No. 14: Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers may have landed Kyrie Iriving with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, and then added Tristan Thompson just a few picks later, but that's not going to keep them from being the NBA's cellar-dwellers this season. 

    A lineup of Irving, Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao to start the season is anything but inspiring. 

    This team could be worth watching just to catch the two talented rookies, but it could also be worth watching to see the highlights that their opponents will inevitably produce.

    With Christian Eyenga and Manny Harris coming of the bench, there is still potential in Cleveland. There just isn't enough talent for Dan Gilbert to be satisfied yet.  


    2011-2012 Prediction: 13-53

Eastern Conference No. 13: Toronto Raptors

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    I may be a little bit higher on the Toronto Raptors this season than most people, but that's primarily because I'm a believer in some of their young talent. 

    DeMar DeRozan is in line for a breakout year after adding some scoring punch to his game last season. The athletic guard is going to have a number of highlight plays and help the Raptors cause quite often this year. 

    Another player who's going to become a much bigger name is Ed Davis. Lining up at center for the Raptors this season, Davis is a name you want to remember. 

    Linas Kleiza is likewise going to improve and Jose Calderon is an underrated point guard. 

    The Raptors won't be good, but they won't be the worst team in the league anymore. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 15-51

Eastern Conference No. 12: Detroit Pistons

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    It's a true testament to the futility at the bottom of the Eastern Conference that the Detroit Pistons are only the third-worst team in this half of the league. 

    But that said, there is a lot of potential in Detroit. 

    Brandon Knight could make a huge impact for the Pistons during his rookie season and he'll join Rodney Stuckey (when he signs with the Pistons as I expect him to eventually do) in a talented but unpredictable backcourt. 

    Greg Monroe is in line for a huge season and will prove to be one of the more valuable centers in the NBA this season. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 23-43

Eastern Conference No. 11: New Jersey Nets

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    If the New Jersey Nets manage to land Dwight Howard, they'll shoot up the standings. But now that Superman looks likely to remain with the Orlando Magic until the trading deadline, it's all about Deron Williams this season. 

    Williams is an absolutely incredible point guard and he's single-handedly capable of carrying this team for some of the season. But with a condensed, brutal schedule, even Williams is going to wear down. 

    Marshon Brooks is also going to be a high impact rookie for the Nets. The shooting guard will likely start the season out backing up Anthony Morrow, but he may be starting by the end of the season.

    This team doesn't have much upside, but they aren't going to be the 12-70 Nets of old. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 27-39

Eastern Conference No. 10: Washington Wizards

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    The Washington Wizards are going to be a playoff team in the future. We just aren't far enough into the future quite yet. 

    John Wall is insanely good, and he very well could be an All-Star as soon as this season. 

    With JaVale McGee, Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely lining up alongside Wall, this team is all about upside and athleticism. 

    They're going to be quite fun to watch, even when they're not winning games. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 32-34

Eastern Conference No. 9: Milwaukee Bucks

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    You might not need to Fear the Deer as much this season as you used to. 

    I'm still not convinced that Brandon Jennings is ever going to maximize his potential. He's just not a good enough shooter quite yet to make too much of an impact in a positive way. 

    Andrew Bogut is another great talent at the center position, but is anyone ready to bet on his health yet? If you are, seek help for your gambling problems. 

    The acquisition of Stephen Jackson is going to help this defensively-oriented team win games with their offense, but they'll end up falling just short of the playoffs. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 33-33

Eastern Conference No. 8: Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Philadelphia 76ers have to play in a tough division now that the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks have both improved, but they will join the aforementioned two squads among the plethora of teams expected to improve during the 2011-2012 season. 

    I'm not afraid to admit that I love almost every player on this squad. 

    Nikola Vucevic is one of my favorite sleepers in the rookie class and the underrated seven-footer should be able to help mitigate the detrimental impact that the incredibly soft Spencer Hawes sometimes has during games. 

    Jrue Holiday is going to continue to improve and should be one of the better point guards in the Eastern Conference this season. He's joined by Thaddeus Young, another player who's going to break out in a big way this year. 

    And of course, you can never forget about Andre Iguodala. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 36-30

Eastern Conference No. 7: Indiana Pacers

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    Danny Granger is back. 

    Roy Hibbert is primed to become one of the best centers in the NBA. 

    David West signed with the team during the free agency period and should perform remarkably better than last year's combination of Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts. 

    Paul George and George Hill are also only going to get better. 

    It's safe to say that the Pacers are ready to be considered fringe contenders. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 37-29

Eastern Conference No. 6: Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks' biggest loss of the offseason was Jamal Crawford, a player capable of either winning a game or losing a contest single-handedly on any given night. 

    To make up for the loss, the Hawks signed veteran shooting guards Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse. They also added Vladimir Radmanovic to space the floor and drafted underrated big man Keith Benson in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. 

    Al Horford is only going to get better. Joe Johnson can't possibly play as badly as he did last year and will be fully healthy this season. Josh Smith showed up to training camp lighter than ever and should be an All-Star this season. 

    But the biggest improvement in Atlanta is going to be that of Jeff Teague. The young point guard was sensational during the playoffs and should play a featured role in the Atlanta offense during the upcoming campaign. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 38-28

Eastern Conference No. 5: Orlando Magic

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    I guess the Orlando Magic have had a successful offseason since Dwight Howard is still going to be lining up for them when the regular season starts. 

    But other than that, the Magic haven't done much to make their team better. The biggest upgrade the team made was swapping Brandon Bass with the Boston Celtics for Glen Davis. They also re-signed Jason Richardson. 

    Exciting, I know. 

    The Magic are going to be good because of the greatness of Dwight Howard, but they aren't going to be able to make a push into the elite group of teams in the Eastern Conference. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 39-27

Eastern Conference No. 4: Boston Celtics

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    A lot of people are ready to write off the Boston Celtics this year because of the brutal 66-game schedule and the advancing ages of the team's core, but I'm still feeling this season as their last hurrah. 

    The only moves the Celtics made this offseason of any significance were trading Glen Davis for Brandon Bass and drafting two Purdue Boilermakers in E'twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. But none of the three new players will make much of a difference this season. 

    It's still all about Rajon Rondo and his ability to distribute the ball effectively to Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett

    They're no longer a truly elite team, but they'll still be competitive in the Eastern Conference, especially in their weak division. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 41-25

Eastern Conference No. 3: New York Knicks

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    The New York Knicks may have made the best free agent signing of any team in the NBA this offseason when they inked Tyson Chandler to a big deal. 

    Chandler is the perfect center for the New York Knicks: a defensively-oriented rebounding stud who doesn't need to score a lot to be happy. He'll blend in perfectly with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire and make the Knicks remarkably better on the defensive end of the court. 

    Iman Shumpert has a high ceiling but probably won't contribute much during his rookie season. Toney Douglas and Landry Fields will likely be big contributors during the 2011-2012 season though. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 42-24

Eastern Conference No. 2: Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls had the top record in the Eastern Conference last season, and they're not going to get worse this year. They just won't improve quite as much as the Miami Heat. 

    Derrick Rose is the NBA's reigning MVP and he's poised to back up that award with another sensational season alongside the Bulls' plethora of young talents, namely Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. 

    If Carlos Boozer stays healthy this year, a big if, the Bulls will reap the benefits. 

    Additionally, the signing of Rip Hamilton will finally give this team the shooting guard it was lacking. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 50-16

Eastern Conference No. 1: Miami Heat

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    Remember how poorly the Miami Heat started out last season? That won't happen again. 

    LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are all used to playing with each other now. They're more motivated than ever to win a title and end the ridiculous amount of hatred spewed in their general direction. 

    After re-signing Mario Chalmers and drafting Norris Cole, the Heat have a solid albeit unspectacular rotation at the point guard position. Plus, the addition of Shane Battier will do wonders both on the court and in the locker room as Battier is a top-notch defender and one of the most cerebral players in the league. 

    With everyone in better shape than ever before, including Eddy Curry, who dropped 70 pounds, the Heat are on a mission this year. 

    If anything, I'm worried that this prediction may be too conservative. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 56-10

Western Conference No. 15: Minnesota Timberwolves

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't going to be a terrible team this season. They just have the misfortune of playing in the Western Conference, as almost every team in the conference is going to be at least decent. 

    Minnesota has an insane amount of talent on their squad. It just won't all come together this season. Kevin Love is an established star, but Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams and the rest of the forwards have a long ways to go to realize their true potential. 

    Ricky Rubio is the other big addition to the team, but he's basically going to be a much worse version of Rajon Rondo this season. He can't shoot at all and his passing is magical. He's just not as developed and his defense is much worse. 

    The Timberwolves are going to be fun to watch for brief spurts, but they won't win many games. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 17-49

Western Conference No. 14: Sacramento Kings

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    The Sacramento Kings are much like the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have a lot of young talent that hasn't reached its full potential quite yet. But the Kings are just a little bit further along than the Wolves. 

    DeMarcus Cousins could turn into a star this season. I'm fully expecting for him to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game if he can keep his head on straight. The former Kentucky Wildcat has a ridiculous amount of skill. 

    At the point guard position, Tyreke Evans is going to be looking to rebound from a disappointing sophomore campaign, one plagued by injury. If he regains his 20-point, five-rebound, five-assist form from his rookie season, the Kings could exceed these expectations. 

    Marcus Thornton is an underrated scorer, J.J. Hickson and Donte Greene are intriguing young pieces and Jimmer Fredette could be a terrific rookie. He could also be a huge bust. We're just not sure yet. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 21-45

Western Conference No. 13: Phoenix Suns

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    It's a shame that Steve Nash is too good a person to demand a trade. Instead, he'll suffer through his last productive season with an untalented Phoenix Suns team. 

    Sure, Grant Hill is returning, but the 39-year-old is no longer an impact player. 

    Marcin Gortat is going to break out in terms of national recognition this year and average a double-double, but he's not a true difference maker. 

    The biggest additions of the offseason were...wait for it...Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price. 

    It's safe to say that the Suns are on the decline. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 23-43

Western Conference No. 12: Denver Nuggets

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    The Denver Nuggets may have been just fine without Carmelo Anthony for the end of last season, but it's going to be tougher to survive a full season with the services of one of the premier players in the NBA. 

    This is especially true when half of last year's roster will be playing in China. 

    If Arron Afflalo re-signs with the team, they'll be in better shape. That's just not a guarantee quite yet. 

    Somewhat surprisingly, Nene Hilario will be returning to the Mile High City and he's a player that the Nuggets couldn't afford to have lost. Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari are also brimming over with potential. 

    There's no true alpha dog in Denver this season and that's going to come back to bite them. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 24-42

Western Conference No. 11: Utah Jazz

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    The Utah Jazz are finally going to feel the repercussions of no Deron Williams for an entire season. They'll have to make do with a backcourt of Devin Harris and C.J. Miles with Raja Bells and talented rookie Alec Burks coming off the bench. 

    It's the frontcourt that makes the Jazz. 

    Gordon Hayward is going to break out this season, and Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are already established big men for the team. If Derrick Favors improves dramatically and Enes Kanter makes good on his draft position, there could be a big competition for playing time in Utah. 

    I have to find one negative here though and that's the loss of Andrei Kirilenko. AK47 is going to show just how valuable he was to the team as the Jazz struggle in his absence. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 27-39

Western Conference No. 10: Golden State Warriors

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    I have a lot of confidence in Mark Jackson, the new head coach of the Golden State Warriors. He should finally be able to bring some sort of defensive attitude to a team that has previously struggled to understand what the concept actually means. 

    There isn't a single player in the fourth decade of his life, making Kwame Brown and Louis Almundson the two oldest players on the roster.

    As expected, the offense is going to be stellar once more. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis form one of the premier backcourts in the NBA and Dorell Wright can knock down any and all three-point shots. A healthy David Lee only adds to the versatility of this offense.

    They'll win games thanks to their offense and young legs, an invaluable asset as the condensed season proceeds.


    2011-2012 Prediction: 30-36

Western Conference No. 9: New Orleans Hornets

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    There's going to be a drop-off in New Orleans after the loss of Chris Paul, the best point guard in the NBA. But the Hornets are still going to be a sneakily good team in the Western Conference, hallenging for a playoff spot all season long.

    They'll also get to wait and have a high pick in the loaded 2012 NBA Draft, thanks to the unprotected Minnesota Timberwolves pick they got from the Los Angeles Clippers. 

    Jarret Jack will take over from CP3 and show once more why he's one of the more underrated floor generals in the league. 

    Without David West, Eric Gordon will have to shoulder the scoring load, and he'll have an even easier time breaking out to the extent that people were expecting even when he was still in L.A. 

    Al-Farouq Aminu has a lot of potential and Chris Kaman will be a solid, although unspectacular center for the Hornets. 

    If anything, the Hornets got better than they would have been without trading away Paul. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 31-35

Western Conference No. 8: Houston Rockets

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    Even without Yao Ming on the squad, the Houston Rockets are going to be a solid team that should back its way into the postseason. 

    Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic are going to form a great rotation at point guard, a job made much simpler by the presence of the incredible scoring talent known as Kevin Martin. 

    Luis Scola is a top-notch player as well, and will likely perform well in obscurity for yet another season. With the addition of Chandler Parsons and Marcus Morris, as well as the expected breakout of Chase Budinger, the Rockets could be quite good. 

    They won't be fun to watch and there won't be any All-Stars on this squad, but they'll win games. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 32-34

Western Conference No. 7: Memphis Grizzlies

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    The Memphis Grizzlies were a force to be reckoned with in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, even without the services of their injured best player, small forward Rudy Gay. 

    Gay is back in business and ready to pick up where he left off as one of the elite young players in the NBA. 

    Other than that, the Grizzlies didn't really lose or pick up anyone worth mentioning. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 34-32

Western Conference No. 6: Portland Trail Blazers

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    The recent addition of Jamal Crawford was the good news that the Portland Trail Blazers so sorely needed. 

    Other than that, this offseason was terrible for the Blazers. They had to deal with the unexpectedly early retirement of Brandon Roy and his degenerate knees. That had to get excited about the possibility of a healthy Greg Oden before learning that he had suffered a setback and would miss the entire season.

    They even had to learn that LaMarcus Aldridge had health problems and would need to miss training camp until the start of the regular season. 

    Despite all of those problems, the Blazers are going to be a very solid team. 

    Aldridge is a legitimate star, and Gerald Wallace is not too far behind. Wesley Matthews is going to be absolutely incredible without Roy blocking his path. Raymond Felton and Nicolas Batum are going to be solid players, and Nolan Smith will contribute during his rookie season. 

    The Blazers are going to be contenders in the West all season long. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 38-28

Western Conference No. 5: Los Angeles Clippers

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    Blake Griffin is really good. 

    DeAndre Jordan could be really good. 

    Chauncey Billups could remain really good. 

    And oh yeah, the Los Angeles Clippers got Chris Paul.

    I'll be honest here, I'm just guessing at this record. The Clippers could be way better than the fifth-best team in the Western Conference but they could also fail to make the playoffs yet again. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 39-27

Western Conference No. 4: Los Angeles Lakers

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    The discontent in Los Angeles after the failed Chris Paul trade may end up causing the Lakers not to have quite as much chemistry and not win as many games. 

    Besides Kobe Bryant and the rest of the starting lineup, there's no one good on the Lakers. 

    Do you really want to count on Josh McRoberts as your best bench player? Yikes. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 43-23

Western Conference No. 3: Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks may be the reigning world champions, but Mark Cuban is going to have to deal with a few depressing realities. 

    First of all, the Mavs are old. Every member of the starting lineup is over 30 years old and that's going to hurt them as the games start to pile up. There's no telling how long Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, and Brendan Haywood can continue to play at the same level. I'm excluding Dirk Nowitzki from that because he's still going to be absolutely incredible. 

    The acquisition of Lamar Odom is going to help, but it won't mitigate the effects of age and the losses of Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 44-22

Western Conference No. 2: San Antonio Spurs

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    Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are almost to the AARP point of their careers, but they're still going to be productive players. The same can be said about Tony Parker (the productive part, not the AARP part). 

    Kawhi Leonard is going to have to play at an All-Star level though if the San Antonio Spurs are going to remain at the top of the Western Conference. No offense to the former San Diego State standout, but that's probably not going to happen during his rookie season. 

    There are quite a few young players on this squad, but they won't be making enough of an impact to give the Spurs a No. 1 seed. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 45-21

Western Conference No. 1: Oklahoma City Thunder

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    With the duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant lining up for the Oklahoma City Thunder, this squad has to be the favorite in the Western Conference. 

    Westbrook is one of the top point guards in the NBA, and Durant is one of the top contenders for a third straight scoring title. 

    As good as this team was last season, just imagine how incredible they're going to be if Serge Ibaka and his new mid-range jump shot breaks out and becomes as good on offense as defense. Just imagine how incredible they will be if James Harden's on-court greatness can match his beard. 

    This team, complete with the new slim-n-trim Kendrick Perkins, is not only going to be fun to watch, but they're also going to be incredibly good. 


    2011-2012 Prediction: 49-17

Eastern Conference Playoff Seedings

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    1. Miami Heat (Southeast Division Champions): 56-10

    2. Chicago Bulls (Central Division Champions): 50-16

    3. New York Knicks (Atlantic Division Champions): 42-24

    4. Boston Celtics: 41-25

    5. Orlando Magic: 39-27

    6. Atlanta Hawks: 38-28

    7. Indiana Pacers: 37-29

    8. Philadelphia 76ers: 36-30

Eastern Conference First Round Matchups

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    1. Miami Heat vs. 8. Philadelphia 76ers

    This matchup isn't even going to be close. The Miami Heat have three players better than anyone on the Philadelphia 76ers' roster.

    Miami Heat 4, Philadelphia 76ers 0 


    2. Chicago Bulls vs. 7. Indiana Pacers

    As much as I want to say that David West and the Indiana Pacers will surprise people (and this is out of an affinity for the Pacers and not a dislike for the Bulls), there's no way that they're going to hang with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. 

    Chicago Bulls 4, Indiana Pacers 1


    3. New York Knicks vs. 6. Atlanta Hawks

    The Atlanta Hawks aren't going to have a secret weapon like Jeff Teague this go-round in the playoffs. With a full season to mesh, the duo of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony is going to be a force to be reckoned with. 

    New York Knicks 4, Atlanta Hawks 1


    4. Boston Celtics vs. 5. Orlando Magic

    I'm predicting that the Boston Celtics will have either traded Rajon Rondo by this point or they'll be missing a crucial part of their team do to the likelihood of injury to an aging lineup. On the other hand, the Magic could be missing Dwight Howard. 

    Boston Celtics 4, Orlando Magic 3

Eastern Conference Semifinals

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    1. Miami Haat vs. 4. Boston Celtics

    Once again, this one's not going to be close. The Miami Heat's Big Three is drastically superior to the Boston Celtics' Big Three. 

    Miami Heat 4, Boston Celtics 1


    2. Chicago Bulls vs. 3. New York Knicks

    Here's the only upset pick I'm making thus far in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Tyson Chandler will prove to be the difference maker and validate every penny that the New York Knicks spent on him. Many will also view this series as Iman Shumpert's coming out party. 

    New York Knicks 4, Chicago Bulls 3

Eastern Conference Finals

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    1. Miami Heat vs. 3. New York Knicks

    This matchup would be absolute must-watch television. 

    LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh against Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler? Yes please. 

    The Miami Heat are going to be on a mission all season and will stop at nothing short of a semi-validating championship. On the other hand, the New York Knicks are going to still be fighting to regain their relevance in the NBA. 

    As tough as it is to win in Madison Square Garden, it's going to be even more difficult to win in South Beach. Home court advantage is going to be the crucial advantage for Miami. 


    Miami Heat 4, New York Knicks 3

Western Conference Playoff Seedings

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    1. Oklahoma City Thunder (Northwest Division Champions): 49-17

    2. San Antonio Spurs (Southwest Division Champions): 45-21

    3. Dallas Mavericks: 44-22

    4. Los Angeles Lakers (Pacific Division Champions): 43-23

    5. Los Angeles Clippers: 39-27

    6. Portland Trail Blazers: 38-28

    7. Memphis Grizzlies: 34-32

    8. Houston Rockets: 32-34

Western Conference First Round Matchups

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    1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 8. Houston Rockets

    Remember what I said about the No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup in the Eastern Conference? The same may be true here. But the end of the season, James Harden/Serge Ibaka may very well be better than any player on the Houston Rockets. 

    Oklahoma City Thunder 4, Houston Rockets 1


    2. San Antonio Spurs vs. 7. Memphis Grizzlies

    At this point in the season, the youth of the Memphis Grizzlies is going to help significantly while the San Antonio Spurs' age is going to be catching up to them. I expect this to be a close, hard-fought battle from start to finish. 

    Memphis Grizzlies 4, San Antonio Spurs 3


    3. Dallas Mavericks vs. 6. Portland Trail Blazers

    As we learned last year, don't bet against Dirk Nowitzki in the postseason. 

    Dallas Mavericks 4, Portland Trail Blazers 2


    4. Los Angeles Lakers vs. 5. Los Angeles Clippers

    This would be the coolest first round playoff matchup ever: the battle for Los Angeles. Chris Paul almost single-handedly beat the Lakers last season and now he has significantly more help. He and Blake Griffin will officially become the kings of L.A. with a victory in this series. 

    Los Angeles Clippers 4, Los Angeles Lakers 3

Western Conference Semifinals

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    1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 5. Los Angeles Clippers

    This meeting of two of the most young and exciting teams in the NBA would be another series that you couldn't miss and still call yourself a basketball fan. As many alley-oops as DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin would throw down, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant would match. The Thunder just have too much talent to go down easily. 

    Oklahoma City Thunder 4, Los Angeles Clippers 2


    3. Dallas Mavericks vs. 7. Memphis Grizzlies

    As we learned last year, don't bet against Dirk Nowitzki in the postseason. 

    Dallas Mavericks 4, Memphis Grizzlies 1

Western Conference Finals

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    1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 3. Dallas Mavericks

    As we learned last year, don't bet against Dirk Nowitzki in the postseason. But at some point, you have to set aside that logic and now is that time. 

    After a grueling regular season and two playoff series, the Dallas Mavericks ancient roster is going to be struggling for breath up and down the court. On the other hand, the Oklahoma City Thunder are an incredibly young team that will have fresh legs even this deep into the postseason. 

    Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are both incredible talents while Serge Ibaka and James Harden aren't too far behind. Other than Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs don't have anyone quite on that level. 


    Oklahoma City Thunder 4, Dallas Mavericks 1

NBA Finals

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    1. Miami Heat vs. 1. Oklahoma City Thunder

    The Miami Heat are simply the most talented team in the league. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the two best players in the league and they're both still in their prime. Kevin Durant may be a close third, but this won't be the year that he takes over as the best the NBA has the offer. 

    Russell Westbrook is going to be the X-factor in this matchup, but even if he can torch Mario Chalmers, he won't be able to be quite as effective against the stellar Heat team defense, especially with the additions of Shane Battier and the surprisingly in-shape Eddy Curry. 

    The Thunder are one of the only teams that can truly test the Miami Heat, but even they won't be able to knock them down a peg this season. 

    Miami is going to be one step closer to the bold prediction the trio made before their first season together started. 

    I'm sorry Dan Gilbert, but your prediction about the Cleveland Cavaliers winning a title before LeBron is going to be invalidated this season. 


    Miami Heat 4, Oklahoma City Thunder 3

NBA Finals MVP

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    If the Miami Heat win the title, it's either going to be Dwyane Wade or LeBron James taking home MVP honors. 

    This year, it's going to be James. 

    The best player on the team, James, is already fed up with the hatred he's been receiving ever since The Decision. He's going to be on a mission from start to finish and won't be willing to accept anything less than an incredible performance during the NBA Finals. 

    He's finally going to put aside all of his demons and prove to the world that if something called "clutch" actually existed, he'd be one of the NBA's "clutch" players, much like he has been during the 48 Special and most playoff series of his career. 


    NBA Finals MVP: LeBron James

Regular Season MVP

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    After Derrick Rose won the MVP last season, two things were proven. First, a player could rise from stardom but not superstardom and win the award. Second, a young player could win the award. 

    Kevin Durant is already a superstar but he is still young. This is his year to become the NBA's newest MVP. 

    After his failure to learn that he needs to take over the game in the fourth quarter and not defer to Russell Westbrook, Durant will take the hint and become the unquestioned alpha male in Oklahoma City.

    The rest of league should be scared. 


    Regular Season MVP: Kevin Durant

Rookie of the Year

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    Seriously, just read any of my articles about rookies and you'll get my full opinion on this. 

    This is a spinoff of my own personal "Don't Bet Against Dirk in the Playoffs Rule," but don't bet against Kemba Walker. Ever. 


    Rookie of the Year: Kemba Walker

Defensive Player of the Year

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    Dwight Howard has been the Defensive Player of the Year during each of the last three seasons, and there's no reason that's going to change now. 

    Howard could receive a tough challenge from Serge Ibaka for the award, but the big man for the Orlando Magic is still the premier defender in the league. His ability to turn away shots is unmatched in the NBA, and he's a menace on the defensive glass as well. 

    If any player has the ability to change the game on the defensive end of the court, it's Howard. 

    Superman is the only player to ever three-peat in this respect. This year, he'll four-peat and match Ben Wallace and Dikembe Mutomob for the most Defensive Player of the Year awards in a career. 


    Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Sixth Man of the Year

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    This is a tough award to predict because we're not entirely sure who all will spend most of the season coming off the bench. 

    Playing behind Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, Lamar Odom seems like a safe pick to win Sixth Man of the Year during the 2011-2012 season. 

    He'll be playing with a new purpose in a fervent attempt to prove his value to his old club, the Los Angeles Lakers. Odom has a knack for putting up well-rounded stats and he's always been one of the more efficient players in the league. 


    Sixth Man of the Year: Lamar Odom

Scoring Champion

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    The young legs and incredible touch of Kevin Durant have to make him an unquestioned favorite for scoring champion this season. 

    Durant has been the high-scorer in the league twice in his first four seasons in the league and a third title is coming very soon. 

    There's just not much else to it. 


    Scoring Champion: Kevin Durant

Coach of the Year

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    If Erik Spoelstra leads the Miami Heat to the best record in the league and an eventual title, there's no doubt that he'll be the Coach of the Year. 

    Since I'm predicting that both of those things will happen, it seems only logical that I call the third as well. 

    For his job managing three stars, Spoelstra will take home this award. 


    Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra

Most Improved Player

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    I've avoided being a homer thus far in these predictions, but my Atlanta Hawks fandom is definitely getting the best of me here. 

    Jeff Teague proved during the last postseason that he's an incredible talent at the point guard position for the Atlanta Hawks. He couldn't be stopped when he was driving towards the rim during the playoffs and he's going to show off his skills quite a bit more this next season. 

    His slashing abilities were enough for him to average 5.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season. Those numbers are simply going to pale in comparison to his 2011-2012 stats. 


    Most Improved Player: Jeff Teague

All-Defensive Second Team

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    Kobe Bryant

    Making his 12th All-NBA team, Kobe Bryant will once more live up to his defensive reputation, even if it's not quite as deserved as some people think. 


    Tyson Chandler

    Now that he's in the best system possible for his talents, Tyson Chandler is going to exploit the New York media market and finally get the defensive reputation he truly deserves. 


    Kevin Garnett

    The Boston Celtics power forward has been a mainstay on these All-Defensive teams for over a decade now, but his age is going to push him back to the Second Team. 


    Joakim Noah

    The long-haired former Florida Gator is a menace in the paint on the defensive end of the court. With endless reserves of energy, Noah will not rest until he validates his spot on last year's All-Defensive Second Team with another selection. 


    Josh Smith

    The new slimmed-down Josh Smith is going to be a menace on defense for the Atlanta Hawks this season. He's already the youngest player to reach quite a few blocked shots milestones, and there's no reason that won't continue in 2011-2012. 


All-Defensive First Team

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    Dwight Howard

    He's going to be the Defensive Player of the Year. Of course, he belongs here. 


    Serge Ibaka

    Serge Ibaka is going to block shots. Then he's going to block more shots. Then he's going to block even more shots. And then he's going to block even more shots still. 


    LeBron James

    The most versatile defender in the league, LeBron James can legitimately guard any position on the court. He's a lockdown defensive player who has a flair for the dramatic run-down blocks. 


    Chris Paul

    The Los Angeles Clippers point guard still won't regain his former title of "best defensive floor general in the league," but he will steal the ball often enough and start enough fast breaks that he'll earn a nod on the First Team after a two-year absence. 

    Rajon Rondo

    The Boston Celtics point guard has gained a reputation as the best defensive guard in the NBA and it's for a good reason. He'll back it up with third-straight first team nod. 

All-Rookie Second Team

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    Tobias Harris

    Brandon Knight

    Darius Morris

    Marcus Morris

    Jan Vesely


    For more information on these rookies, please refer to my complete rankings and descriptions of the 2011-2012 rookie class, which you can find here.  

All-Rookie First Team

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    Marshon Brooks

    Jimmer Fredette

    Kyrie Irving

    Kemba Walker

    Derrick Williams


    For more information on these rookies, please refer to my complete rankings and descriptions of the 2011-2012 rookie class, which you can find here.  

All-NBA Third Team

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    Guard: Kobe Bryant

    Guard: John Wall

    Forward: Dirk Nowitzki

    Forward: Blake Griffin

    Center: Andrew Bynum


    I'm going to let this team and the next four just speak for themselves. 

All-NBA Second Team

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    Guard: Russell Westbrook

    Guard: Chris Paul

    Forward: Carmelo Anthony 

    Forward: Kevin Love

    Center: Al Horford

All-NBA First Team

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    Guard: Derrick Rose

    Guard: Dwyane Wade

    Forward: Kevin Durant

    Forward: LeBron James

    Center: Dwight Howard

Eastern Conference All-Stars

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    Starting Guard: Derrick Rose

    Starting Guard: Dwyane Wade

    Starting Forward: LeBron James

    Starting Forward: Carmelo Anthony 

    Starting Center: Dwight Howard


    Reserves: Chris Bosh, Al Horford, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Amar'e Stoudemire, John Wall

    Coach: Erik Spoelstra

Western Conference All-Stars

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    Starting Guard: Chris Paul

    Starting Guard: Kobe Bryant

    Starting Forward: Kevin Durant

    Starting Forward: Blake Griffin

    Starting Center: Andrew Bynum


    Reserves: LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Marcin Gortat, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, Russell Westbrook

    Coach: Scott Brooks