HHY 2007-2008 NBA Preview
I am truly excited about this NBA season. I don’t know why. I bought an 11-game season ticket package with the Bulls, so maybe that is part of it. But I haven’t been this interested in an NBA season since Michael was still in town.
I am putting out this preview, complete with predictions, with a disclaimer: I’m not an NBA expert. While I feel very confident about my baseball and football knowledge, I am not quite as confident when it comes to the Association. I understand the game, for the most part, but I had to go to the WWL to check the division realignment that took place like four years ago. Oh well.
So here’s the preview. Of course, these picks are subject to change should a certain two-guard in Los Angeles get dealt.
Eastern Conference–Atlantic Division
Boston–This one is relatively easy. I’m not in the camp that this Celtics team will challenge the 96 Bulls’ 72 wins, I do think that the big three are good enough for 55-57 wins in the Eastern Conference. I am interested to see if
Jesus Shuttlesworth Ray Allen is truly done or if he finds new life playing with Garnett and Pierce.
Toronto–I love this Raptor team. I was tempted to place them above Boston, but I’m trying to write with my head and not my gut, which is ample. Chris Bosh is a beast, but supporting characters TJ Ford, Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani, and Jose Calderon are quick and solid shooters. If Toronto can improve their defense, they will be a major Eastern force.
New Jersey–This is where the division starts to fall off. Jason Kidd started to fall off last year, and while Vinsanity and Richard Jefferson had decent seasons, Nenad Kristic was the Nets’ second leading scorer. Ick. 45 wins would be stellar for this team.
Philadelphia–After the trade of Iverson, the 76ers actually improved. With the addition of first round pick Rodney Carney to the solid Andre Iguadala and Andre Miller, the Sixers may sneak into the playoffs. But I don’t see them having enough offense to be a force.
New York–This is a great fantasy team. Zach Randolph. Stephon Marbury. Jamal Crawford. Eddy Curry. Quentin Richardson. David Lee. This team has a ton of talent, and it may be a stretch to say they’ll finish below New Jersey and Philly. But I predict the poor cohesion and coaching of the Knicks will keep them out of the playoffs and near the bottom of the conference.
Chicago–No, this is not with my heart. I think the Bulls will put it together this year en route to 53-57 wins, which should be good enough to win this division. Luol Deng is ready to make the leap to one of the 10 best players in the East. If Tyrus Thomas can overcome rumors that he is in Scott Skiles’ doghouse and be a force off the bench, Chicago would be the deepest team in the division.
Detroit–The Pistons began to show their age a bit last year, and while they may have been the better team, they got outplayed by LeBron and the Cavs in the East Finals. I see them getting 50 wins and being a team that will contend for the conference title, but I don’t see them being a better regular season team than the Bulls.
Cleveland–I love LeBron. What he did in the postseason last year was very Jordanish. But I see a letdown for him and the Cavs this year. Its quite a burden to have to carry a team game in and game out, and after 100-plus games in 2006-07, I think the lack of depth will take its toll this year.
Indiana–After a poor 2006-07, the Pacers look to slip into the playoffs this year. Jermaine O’Neal may be dealt around the trade deadline, but the Pacers have enough young talent to finish ahead of the team below them. Will they make the postseason? Not sure about that.
Milwaukee–The Bucks are horrible. Yes, Michael Redd can score in bunches and on the right team where he isn’t the second option, Andrew Bogut might be a nice player. But unless first round pick Yi Jianlian adjusts to Wisconsin and blows up to Rookie of the Year proportions (doubtful), this team won’t win more than 35 games.
Washington–This division sucks, but I love Agent Zero. Hibachi could drop 55 on you. He could also drop a 1-for-17 on you. But that’s cool. The Wiz also have Caron Butler, Antwan Jamison, and rookie Nick Young, and thats enough to win this division.
Miami–The Diesel is pretty much finished, but he’s got enough in the tank to play 40 or so games and combine with a healthy D-Wade to contend for a top four spot in the conference. But the Heat are real old. Did you know Anfernee Hardaway is on the roster? He and Shaq are trying to get Dennis Scott out of retirement.
Orlando–Dwight Howard is a beast, and he no longer has to look over his shoulder for the intimidating presence of Darko trying to take his job. If Dwight can get some help from Hedo, rookie James Augustine and the rest of the Magic, they could surprise some peeps and perhaps win a playoff series. Probably not, though.
Atlanta–The Hawks have never been good, I don’t think. I know they won a bunch of games in the 80s. I think the Bulls played them in the playoffs a few times in the 90s. And although they have a ton of young talent, the Hawks are not ready to contend, even in the East. Their roster is like a who’s who of good college talent from the earlier part of this decade, though. So they got that going for them.
Charlotte–Apparently Morrison is hurt. Not like it matters. I don’t think I’ve been more wrong about a player than I was about Sean May. Sure, injuries have hurt, but I believe he’s not good. I was sure he was going to be a beast. The Bobcats do have Emeka Okafor and Jason Richardson, but thats just enough to struggle for 30 wins.
Western Conference–Northwest Division
Utah–This team looks like clearly the class of this division. If Andre Kirlienko comes back to his 2006 form, this team is a little talked about contender for the NBA title. As is, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are both all-stars, and Mehmet Okur is a solid post player. The Jazz are a good, good team who has an outside chance for 60 wins.
Denver–Can Iverson and Carmelo, with a season under their wings, play well together again and be a force in the West? Or will the team self-distruct? Third option: Iverson and Melo play well, and the rest of the team–who’s best player is either Marcus Camby or Kenyon Martin–shit down their leg. I will say this–if Camby and Martin stay healthy and find the fountain of youth, look out.
Portland–This is my big surprise. How can the worst team in the league a year ago, a team who lost number one pick Greg Oden for the season, improve this drastically? I really like Brandon Roy. I feel LaMarcus Aldridge will have an improved second season. And finally, the Blazers have decent depth and size. They could win 40-45 games and contend for the eighth playoff slot.
Seattle–How good is Kevin Durant? I don’t know. I think he could very well put up 27 points a game this year. I also think he has little help on the Sonics. Can fellow rookie Jeff Green be a player? This young of a team will show flashes of greatness but ultimately will struggle to win games, especially in the West.
Minnesota–After years of shopping Kevin Garnett, the Wolves finally dealt him before KG went on a killing spree. In return they got a solid young player (Al Jefferson) and a couple guys who I think truly suck. Minnesota did draft Corey Brewer, my favorite player outside of Durant in last year’s draft. He and Randy Foye could be a solid backcourt for a long time. But this year, the Wolves will struggle to win 30.
Phoenix–This Suns team is in its final go round here. Its put up or shut up time. And I think, after getting royally screwed by the league and its refs last year, that they will. Will they trade Shawn Marion? I don’t know. I do know that if they hold on to him, they are my pick to win the title.
Golden State–Everyone jumped on the Warrior bandwagon in the playoffs last year, as they hit shot after ridiculous shot and played solid defense in beating the top-seeded Mavs. I think they’ll ride that wave into a good 2007-2008, and with the addition of first round pick Brendan Wright, Golden State have an outside chance at 50 wins.
LA Lakers–I mean, if Kobe gets traded, this whole preview is up for grabs. For now, I’ll stick them in third in the division. It might be the best thing for the Lake show to trade Kobe; they can add to an already decent young nucleus and hope to contend for a title in 2009 or 2010.
LA Clippers–Throw the Clippers and the Kings in a hat, pull out a name, and choose who will finish four-five in the Pacific. The Clippers followed up a strong 2006 with a disappointing and injury plagued 2007, and now Elton Brand is hurt. With a lot of points (and shots) out there to be had, Corey Maggette could score 25-plus this year and be a prime deadline deal guy. Also, first rounder Al Thornton could be a poor man’s Brand and put up 18 and 10 and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Sacromento–The Kings really missed their window four or five years ago, and its a shame because the home crowd there was ridiculous. Now, they get to watch Mike Bibby, Ron Artest, and Kevin Martin run around and get 30 wins.
Dallas–I think Dirk and the boys were really embarassed last year (great insight), and could come back with a vengence this year, win 70 games and blow the rest of the NBA out of the water. Or, when they have their first tough road game at San Antonio or Phoenix, Dirk and the boys will have flashbacks and collapse. I think the Mavs will again win 60-plus games and fall apart in the playoffs. Maybe not in the first round, but they won’t beat a determined Suns team.
San Antonio–The defending champs, I believe, are done. Sure, they’re good enough to win 55 games and contend again. But the Spurs haven’t been able to repeat before (huge criticism, I know) and I think Duncan will have trouble health-wise this year. Mr. Longoria showed he is the best player on the team in the Finals, but for him and Tim to carry the Spurs for 100 games won’t work again.
Houston–If I could count on T-Mac and Yao playing 164 games this year at the level they eachare capable of, with full health, I would put the Rockets in the Mavs and Spurs class with ease. But they won’t. I think they’re a playoff team, but thats where it begins and ends with H-town.
Memphis–0-8 in the last two postseasons. Just go away, Grizz. Maybe its the constant ‘Pau Gasol is the Bulls’ answer’ talk here in Chicago, but I really don’t think much of this team. And I don’t think I should. After two quick exits the last few years, the Grizzlies will fail to even make the playoffs this year.
New Orleans–I’ll tell you what, this might be the worst team in the league. Yes, they were close to a playoff spot in 2007, but I really don’t think the Hornets are very talented. And I’ll tell you another thing: Tyson Chandler can suck a big, herpes infested dick. For four or five years, he was an absolute bitch for the Bulls. Missed numerous games because of injury, feuded with Skiles, bitched about his contract even though he was making nearly 8 figures. 5 points and 5 rebounds a game in 2006. The Bulls trade him like he wanted, then he proceeds to put up a solid 10 points and 12.4 rebounds a game in 2007. What a little bitch.
East Playoffs–Boston over Orlando, Chicago over Miami, Toronto over Washington, Detroit over Cleveland, Boston over Detroit, Toronto over Chicago, Boston over Toronto.
West Playoffs–Phoenix over Portland, Dallas over Golden State, Utah over Houston, Denver over San Antonio, Phoenix over Denver, Utah over Dallas, Phoenix over Utah.
NBA Finals–Phoenix 4, Boston 1
There ya go. Let me have it.