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Archive for October, 2010

NBA Season Preview

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1. Boston Celtics                                                                                     

The Celtics may be old, but they still have a little left in the tank. They made a run at another championship last season and have added Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West, and Shaq. With Rajon Rondo entering his prime, the Celtics will make another run at the finals. And if any team in the East has a chance to stop the Heat, it’s the Celtics.

 

2. New York Knicks

The Knicks are going to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this season. Amar’e Stoudemire will be reuniting with his old run and gun coach Mike D’Antonio and Raymond Felton will man the offense. That should be enough to make the playoffs, but the addition of CP3 or Melo could push them into the Eastern Conference finals.

 

3. Philadelphia 76ers

The big question here is how much Elton Brand has left as a starting power forward in the NBA. Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young can score and defend, but I don’t think that there are enough pieces to this puzzle for a playoff berth. Evan Turner will contribute right away and bring some energy to the Sixers, but they are probably a few years away from contending in the East.

 

4. New Jersey Nets

The Nets are a young, athletic team, but still have a lot of growing up to do. Avery Johnson will try to lead them in the right direction, but there will be some bumps on this road. Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are All-Star caliber players, and will give the Nets the opportunity to win some big games. Rookie Derrick Favors will also bring some strength on the boards with his physical play down low. After winning only 12 games all of last season, there really isn’t anywhere to go but up.

 

5. Toronto Raptors

It looks like this is going to be a long season for the rebuilding Raptors. After losing Chris Bosh to the Heat and Hedo Turkoglu to the Suns, who will be scoring all the points? Andrea Bargnani can’t do it alone.

 

Central Division

1. Chicago Bulls

Losing Carlos Boozer for two months will be a setback for the Bulls, but they should be able to win some games in his absence. Derrick Rose is one of the premier guards in the league, and is only getting better. Once Boozer does come back, the Bulls will have a solid team built for a nice playoff run.

 

 

2. Milwaukee Bucks

The surprise team of last season should be getting better. After winning 46 games last season, 50 seems like a distinct possibility. Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings bring a nice inside/outside combination and Corey Maggette can still play. If the Bulls don’t win enough games while Boozer is out, the Bucks could steal the division.

 

3. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons are definitely in “rebuild mode”, but have some good, experienced players who are hungry for a postseason berth. Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, and Richard Hamilton bring valuable veteran leadership and the addition of Tracy McGrady could pay huge dividends. Ben Gordon is back from his injury and will bring some needed offense to the team. The experts think that the Pistons are nowhere near the playoffs, but I think they will sneak in and grab the #8 seed.

 

4. Indiana Pacers

Danny Granger is one of the best players in the league, but has had some problems staying on the court over the last 2 seasons. If he can stay healthy and Roy Hibbert continues to develop, things could be looking up in Indiana. Not too far up though. With Darren Collison, Mike Dunleavy, and Josh McRoberts filling out the starting five, the Pacers don’t have what it takes to make a run at the East.

 

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers will struggle to win games this year, and may need a few years to get back to where they were. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Lebron had on this team in terms of wins and losses. I think that a 40 game swing is possible and the Cavs will struggle to win 25 games. Mo Williams is not someone to build a team around.

 

Southeast Division

1. Miami Heat

LeBron, Bosh, and Wade will lead the Heat to a solid win total, but the only thing on Heat fan’s minds is a championship. Can three of the league’s best players bring one home? It will be tough in the East going through the Celtics and Magic, especially since the Celtics have the experience and size advantage down low. If the Heat don’t win a championship this year, it will be considered a failure by many. There are very big expectations in South Beach for the upcoming season.

 

2. Atlanta Hawks

After being swept out of the second round by the Magic, many people are wondering if the Hawks can get it done with their current roster. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford will be hungrier than ever to prove the experts wrong. I think they will win 50 games again, but the East is going to come down to Boston and Miami.

 

3. Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic have a solid team once again, but still haven’t added anything to get them over the hump. Dwight Howard is one of the most dominating players in the game, but his supporting cast is not championship worthy. Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis aren’t getting any younger and they do not match up with the Heat as well as the Celtics and Hawks do.

 

4. Charlotte Bobcats

The biggest question entering the season for Charlotte is the point guard position. Will D.J. Augustine and Shaun Livingston be able to fill his shoes? The Bobcats did not bring in enough to improve from last year’s first round exit and will struggle to make the playoffs again.

 

 

5. Washington Wizards

The Wizards landed the most exciting player in the draft, but that may be all they have going for them. Gilbert Arenas will join Wall in the backcourt, but the Wizards don’t have much else. They will be a fun team to watch, but the playoffs will have to wait.

 

Western Conference

Northwest Division

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder came out of nowhere last season, pushing the Lakers to 6 games in the playoffs. Kevin Durant has cemented himself as one of the best (if not the best) players on the planet, and he is only getting better. Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green are his sidekicks, and will help to challenge 50-55 wins in the wild wild West. It will be interesting to see how Cole Aldrich will factor into the equation, bringing a low-post game with superior shot-blocking ability.

 

2. Utah Jazz

The Jazz did lose Carlos Boozer, but replaced him by adding big man Al Jefferson. He is about as underrated as it gets, and will provide a solid presence on the block. Deron Williams continues to get better and Jerry Sloan just doesn’t lose much. The Jazz play better than almost any other team at home, and will make a push at the division title.

 

3. Portland Trail Blazers

If the Blazers can avoid injuries this year, they will challenge for a division title and a high playoff seed. But with the future of Oden and Przybilla uncertain, it will be a much harder task. Brandon Roy is one of the best in the game and newly acquired Wesley Matthews will provide another scorer and solid defense. This team is close, just not close enough with what they’ve got.

 

4. Denver Nuggets

If I was convinced that Carmelo Anthony would be wearing a Nuggets jersey come February, I would probably have them much higher. But, I am not, and I think he will have a new home before the trade deadline. Chauncey Billups is still one of the best point gaurds in the league and Al Harrington brings another scoring option, but the Nuggets are looking at life after Melo unless something changes.

 

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are long removed from their days of contending with KG. Michael Beasley was a solid addition and could have a big year with a heavier workload than he had in Miami. The T-Wolves just don’t have what it takes to play with the big boys in the West.

 

 

Pacific Division

1. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are fresh off another championship and Kobe is going to be hungry for another. Looking to show that they are still the best team in the league, the Lakers are poised for another championship run. Gasol, Odom, and Artest are as good as it gets when it comes to a supporting cast. But, it’s never an easy road making it out of the star-studded Western Conference.

 

2. Phoenix Suns

The departure of Amar’e will be difficult to deal with, but Hedo Turkoglu could resurrect his career playing alongside Steve Nash. He has the ability to make other players better and will get them the ball exactly where they want it. Channing Frye and Jason Richardson will look to help keep the Suns relevant, but it won’t be easy.

 

3. Los Angeles Clippers

This may seem like a crazy pick, but the Clippers have what it takes to contend. Blake Griffin is coming off knee surgery and will be ready to prove he was worthy of the #1 overall pick a year ago. With Baron Davis and Eric Gordon in the backcourt and Kaman on the block, the Clippers could surprise a lot of people and make a trip to the playoffs.

 

4. Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings are a young team. They have a superstar in the making in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins may have been the best player in this year’s draft. Having said that, the Kings will struggle to contend in this division and make a run at the playoffs.

 

 

5. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are another young and exciting team to watch. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis are one of the better backcourts in the league, and the addition of David Lee will help. This team is still a couple players away from contention, but this is a solid group to build around.

 

 

Southwest Division

1. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are one of the oldest teams in the league and the window for another championship is closing. It may already be closed. Still, there aren’t many teams with this much experience and Tim Duncan is still the most fundamentally sound big man in the game. The Spurs should be motivated after last season’s second round exit against the Suns, and that may be all they need to regain their championship form. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are still capable of leading them to a long playoff run.

 

2. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are always right there in the West, but never seem to do anything. They should have beaten the Heat in the finals a few years back, but other than that, they just haven’t done much. Granted, it is hard to win in a conference with Nash, Duncan, and Kobe. But how many times are they going to win 55 games and lose in the second round? It seems like this year will be no different than the others.

 

3. Houston Rockets

The Rockets could be another surprise team in the West, with Yao Ming coming back from injury and Courtney Lee and Brad Miller joining the team. Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks are about as good as it gets for a backcourt and will have no problem scoring loads of points. Brooks is one of my favorite players to watch in the league and brings it every night. If Yao can play like he did pre-injury, the Rockets will be making moves in the West.

 

4. New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets are another team that can contend, but may not have enough to keep point guard Chris Paul happy. This is another situation similar to the one in Denver with Carmelo. Trevor Ariza was a nice addition, but he may not be enough to give the Hornets post-season life.

 

 

5. Memphis Grizzlies

This young team has a lot of good pieces to make a run at the division, but that run may not come this year. O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Zach Randolph are all great scorers, but can they play any D? Rookies Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez should get a chance to play and contribute right away. Look out for this team in the years to come.

 

 

Eastern Conference Playoffs

1. Miami Heat

2. Boston Celtics

3. Atlanta Hawks

4. Orlando Magic

5. Chicago Bulls

6. Milwaukee Bucks

7. New York Knicks

8. Detroit Pistons

 

Celtics over Heat

 

Western Conference Playoffs

1. Los Angeles Lakers

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

3. San Antonio Spurs

4. Dallas Mavericks

5. Utah Jazz

6. Portland Trail Blazers

7. Houston Rockets

8. Phoenix Suns

 

Thunder over Lakers

 

NBA Championship

Boston Celtics over Oklahoma City Thunder

All-NBA First Team

Kevin Durant

Deron Williams

Kobe Bryant

Dwight Howard

Chris Paul

All-NBA Second Team

LeBron James

Amar’e Stoudemire

Steve Nash

Carmelo Anthony

Brandon Roy

All-NBA Third Team

Dwyane Wade

Dirk Nowitzki

Tyreke Evans

Derrick Rose

Brook Lopez

 

MVP – Kevin Durant

MIP – Hedo Turkoglu

6th Man – Ben Gordon

Defensive POTY – Josh Smith

Rookie of the Year – DeMarcus Cousins

 

Matt Benedetto © 2010

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