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Lostradamus' NBA Preview Part 2: Second Season Stuff
cam223@cornell.edu
| October 28, 2008
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So many stories to follow, so many teams that could potentially make the playoffs. Thereís so much talent in the NBA today that the quality of the league has improved to what it used to be in the 80ís, when the league was a lot smaller and there were deeper benches. All the developing talent is allowing for talented starting 5ís that can make noise, and while you wonít have the depth of the 80ís, you will have the talent spread allowing for more teams to have the potential to make noise in April. The East is no longer a cakewalk, and not just because they have 2 of the last 3 NBA champs. They have some great rookies (Beasley, Rose), some new acquisitions (Elton Brand), and already good teams picking up pieces (Cleveland, Toronto). By my count, only 7 teams in the league have zero chance of making the post season: Knicks, Pacers, Wolves, Thunder(?), Kings, Warriors, and Grizz. Everyone else has at worst a shot. These playoff races are going to come down to the last week of the regular season, and seeding in the West wonít be settled until the last day. Speaking of which, letís start with the West: '''1 ñ LA Lakers:''' Kobe. Pau. Bynum. Christ the Kingís own Lamar Odom off the bench. In theory, the return of Andrew Bynum should be what the Lakers need to get them over the edge. It was the Celtics attacking the middle at will (and the whole giving up thing) that cost them the ring last year. Kobeís eager to prove he can win without Shaq. Thatís at least good enough to get them the top seed, right? '''2 ñ New Orleans Hornets:''' Check out this starting 5: Perfect PG in CP3, Mo Pete and David West as guys who can score and finish, as well as go outside, Peja as one of the best shooters of all time, and Tyson Chandler as the great energy/defense guy who can also finish. And donít forget the James Posey acquisition, whoís quickly becoming the Robert Horry of his generation (Rings in Miami and Boston). They wonít be in the hunt for the 1 seed because theyíre beating each other up in the Midwest, but theyíll come out on top of that division. '''3 ñ Houston Rockets:''' Part of that Midwest division. The only reason they donít win the division is because Yao and T-Mac go down with their inevitable injuries. The only reason theyíre this high is Ron Artest, whoís in a contract year (best behavior, numbers, effort) on a contender (so heís happy) playing for his favorite all time coach (Adelman, who he offered to forfeit his salary for if the kings kept him when they were together in SacTown). '''4 ñ Portland Trailblazers:''' A four seed because theyíll win the Northwest, but still a year or two away from championship contention. Gotta get that playoff experience in though. Oden, Roy, and the continued development of LaMarcus Aldridge will make this a scary team and a tough out every night. Channing Frye coming off the bench is a plus, and two great rookies in Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless make this a scary talented team in the future. '''5 ñ San Antonio Spurs:''' Champions every odd numbered year. This is 08-09. HmmÖ With Manu out until December and time not being gentle with them, they may be in too much of a hole to win the division. ButÖ A fresh Manu for the home stretch and playoffs, plus Duncan and Pops as two of the all time greats, Tony Parker as a great PG, and then thereís all that playoff experience. Would you want these guys in the first round? Or any round, for that matter? '''6 ñ Utah Jazz:''' Boozer and Williams are the new Stockton and Malone, but this is a stacked West. Theyíll make it, and might be able to recreate last years success against Houston in the first round because of T-Macís curse, but other than that I donít know what else they can do. Looming on the horizon: many of these guys can opt out soon. '''7 ñ Phoenix Suns:''' Sunsets are usually a thing of beauty. Not the case in Phoenix, where 3 of the top 4 are all over 34. Between that and Terry Porterís philosophy change from offense to defense, this team is in flux, and an aging Shaq and Nash wonít play D, and Amare is not someone to build a defensive team around. '''8 ñ Dallas Mavericks:''' They squeeze in with a new coach in Rick Carlisle, who is an upgrade over an Avery Johnson that lost his players. But this team is still broken from their playoff collapses in 06 and 07, and mortgaging their future for Kidd will end up not being worth it. '''Just Missed Out:''' Denver, who with a stellar offense will get wins and be close, but losing Camby kills an already horrible defensive team. Donít be surprised if they squeeze in at the 8 seed, but donít be surprised if they blow it up like it looks like theyíre doing. Moving on to the East: '''1 ñ Boston Celtics:''' The Boston Three Party wonít get 66 wins, but theyíll still be the cream of the crop in an improved east. Although these guys are a year older, and Paul Pierce has to back up some gaudy summer comments, expect KGís leadership and Rajon Rondoís development to keep them at the top. '''2 ñ Cleveland Cavaliers:''' LeBron will continue to be a beast, and Mo Williams will helpÖbut not as much as everybody thinks. Heís a shoot first PG, so if heís bringing the ball up he has to learn to understand this is Bronís team. On the plus side, heís also a great spot up shooter who will thrice when Bron drives. But heís overrated. They need to remember to keep Z involved, and when the going gets tough just give it to Bron and let him go. Will this be enough to keep LeBron from becoming a Brooklyn Net? I hope not. '''3 ñ Miami Heat:''' The Small Three of Wade, Marion, and Beasley will help Miami win the Southeast. The biggest thing is the healthy Wade, though. Now that he is explosive again, as he showed in the Olympics, any team will be hard pressed to stop him and the wreckless abandon he plays with. Throw in a healthy Sean Livingston acquisition at point and this team will make noise. '''4 ñ Orlando Magic:''' Dwight Howard will continue to emerge as one of the leagueís best, and this frontline of Turkgolu, Lewis, and Howard is one of the best in basketball. However, questions in the backcourt will keep this team down. '''5 ñ Detroit Pistons:''' Itís time. Sorry, Motown, but itís over. That improbable championship was great, and the 70 win pace in 04-05 was impressive too. But itís time to blow it up and rebuild. Billups is showing signs of age, and Wallace will be great trade bait. Dumars has also said no one is untouchable. Blow it up and start anew. Do you really want to settle for mediocrity? '''6 ñ Toronto Raptors:''' Great job acquiring Jermaine Oíneal and clearing up that backcourt committee all in one move. Now Calderon can shine, and Bosh and JO will be a tough frontline. Still, not enough to win the Atlantic, or rack up enough wins to keep pace with the others. '''7 ñ Philadelphia 76ers:''' Iím putting Philly here, but Iím not sold on this at all. This 7 seed will go to one of three teams: Philly, Hotlanta, or Chicago. Chicago has Rose, a new coach, and a talented team that underachieved and ignored their coach. Atlantaís got talent (I would hope so, with all those lotto picks) and Bibby in a contract year, and they took the champs to the limit in the first round last year. Iím putting Philly here because they made it last year, Andre Miller is a very good PG, and Iggy now doesnít have to carry the team. However, remember Brand is coming off a torn Achilles, is aging, and has always pretty much been a 20-10 guy on bad teams. And donít forget, the Clippers tried the Miller/Brand Combo, with a doeverything swingman in Lamar Odom way back when. Howíd that work out? In the Lottery. Not Powerball, just the lottery. I think an older, smarter pairing might be able to succeed in the weaker east, but donít be surprised if they fail. '''8 ñ Charlotte Bobcats:''' I know, I had Chicago and Hotlanta as potential 7ís. I donít think any of those will make it, just if they did they would have better records than Charlotte. Iím not saying this because of the ìsaviorî Larry Brown. In fact, I think heís the wrong guy for the job, since he has know idea how to handle young talent (Read: 2004 Olympics), and thatís exactly what this College All Star team is. However, a healthy Okafor, May, and Morrison, coupled with solid leadership from Richardson (I hope) and energy guy Gerald Wallace, and this team has too much potential talent to miss the playoffs in the east. If anything, Larry Brown will be a hindrance towards these guysí confidence. How long do you think heíll stick around? Iíll take the under on a season and a half. '''Just Missed Out:''' Philly and Atlanta, for the reasons mentioned above, and the Wizards, who will get the injury bug. Donít be surprised to have Milwaukee and underrated New Jersey, making noise. '''West Conference Finals:''' Lakers over Hornets '''East Conference Finals:''' Celtics over Heat '''Finals:''' Lakers over Celtics
Share Your Thoughts
Eugene Karlik from WVBR | November 1, 2008, 3:07pm
Philly becomes the 7 seed and still misses the playoffs? Impressive. As far as the Bobcats, I'm not sure in what universe Wallace-JRich- May-Okafor is a better core than Johnson-Williams-Smith-Horford. How will Utah have a worse record than Portland? They are currently better at every position save the 2 and have one of the greatest coaches of all time.

bhe3@cornell.edu from wvbr | October 29, 2008, 10:21pm
The Miami Heat 3rd? I'm down in South Florida now and even the most positive of heat fans (who haven't jumped off the bandwagon) are praying the Heat will even make the playoffs. I just don't see the heat pulling it together Los

Carlos A. Molina from WVBR | October 29, 2008, 5:36pm
I think the 5th anniversary patch they're rocking will push them over the top

Jay Sage from WVBR | October 29, 2008, 1:33pm
8 - Charlotte Bobcats...Los, you just brightened up my otherwise miserable day, you did. But I don't see it happening. I'll predict 31-51. Jordan and company will regret taking Augustin instead of shoring up that frontcourt. And even if Morrison is healthy, expect 10 ppg , 3 rpg and a horrendous 3 point %.
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