Obama would obviously win the election. The economy would take some time to recover. The Lions would continue their terrible ways, while the Colts continued to do well. This has been quite the year for certainty here in America. Politically, socially, and athletically.
In the NFL, it was quite plausible to predict who the good and bad teams would be—the Colts, Saints, and Patriots in the top tier; the Lions, Raiders, and Browns in the bottom. The only faint surprise I have received thus far in football has been the lack of skill displayed by the Steelers.
In baseball, the teams in the playoffs (or at least most of them) could have easily been predicted prior to the season.
They were all certain.
However, this NBA season continues to surprise me. Who will take home the trophy? Obviously, there are the teams who will undoubtedly do well (i.e., the Celtics, Lakers, Cavs, and Magic), but there are also countless other teams who bring something special to the floor every night.
Look at any ESPN show, or cover, about the beasts of the east in basketball. You will most likely see the duo of LeBron and Shaq on the cover, or, perhaps, the big threesome up in cold Boston. But let's not forget the East holds one of the up and coming teams in the Hawks, the playoff-errific duo of Carter and Howard, and much more.
See the same show or cover highlighting the Best in the West, and there are maybe two or three teams they'll ever talk about. The defending champions, the Spurs, and, perhaps Nash and Stoudemire's ball club in Phoenix.
They'll mention these few teams in the league and completely disregard the other twenty-something who hold a chance. They'll generally only mention these few teams when discussing the NBA Finals. Possibly for advertisements and income, but also just out of general habit. Us real NBA fans eat this "only a couple of teams can win this year" parody quickly; we want more.
But we listen; we listen to these commentators go on about how simple it will be for the Lakers to re-peat, how LeBron and Shaq won't be stopped, how the Spurs will be hungry for more. But in our hearts, we know that, out of nowhere, some teams will just crawl right under this TV bull and sneak into the championship race.
Who are these teams that might compete, you ask? Well you deserve to know. In the West, right under our eyes, my guess-timate for the winners of this year's NBA Finals have been sniffing and winning around the league. The Nuggets—the duo of Anthony and Billups has almost been working to perfection and the consistent play of Martin and Nene put Denver almost atop the league. Though struggling early on in the season, the Jazz are becoming the Sloan team we have grown accustomed to. Winning the tough games, the natural double-doubles from Boozer and Williams, and fantastic bench play.
Before I end, I'd like to mention the Blazers. Though hit hard by the injury to Oden, the Blazers continue to impress with Roy, Miller, and the under-rated Aldridge. With no teams paying much attention to Portland, they could slip by right under our eyes.
Switching gears towards the East, once again I seek to find the teams that no one is noticing, but that could easily make a surprise playoff run. Right now, other than the Hawks, no other teams are looking spectacular that the experts haven't already predicted.
Yet many teams could wake up and carry a large run. The Bulls are starting the season on a disappointing note after a dramatic playoff loss. They are a team that is now being harshly criticized, yet they have not yet to played at full power. Rose is still overcoming an ankle injury, Salmons is in a disappointing stage of his career, Gordon has left, and only Noah is still grabbing boards. But beware! Like last year, this Windy City team will always be there for a fight.
My second surprise team in the East is the Miami Heat. Another group of underachievers throughout the first quarter of the season, but also another team that could make a drastic turnaround. If Wade continues his stellar play, and Beasley gradually matures his game, Spoelstra (in my opinion, the best coach in the league) and the Heat could easily crawl up to be one of the top four teams in the East.
I must include my hometown team, the Washington Wizards. Although they are struggling at the moment, they are bound to make an extreme change. Losing the last five games by approximately 10 points, the Wizards clearly tend to fall apart in the clutch. My prediction? If the big three stay healthy, the Wizards will finish in the top six of the East, winning over half of their games.
All these teams are, at the moment, extreme underdogs. But they are the teams that could, and will, make for an exciting surprise in the postseason. The NBA is no longer a league of five, and won't be for a very long time.