What are your thoughts?
East (change in position from last season)
1. Miami (+1) The favorite to raise the trophy next year
2. Chicago (-1) With Boozer and the gap at shooting guard, there will be minimal improvement for this team
3. Orlando (+1) Orlando will rise up for Dwight and they will reach the Eastern Conference Finals
4. Boston (-1) Unlike wine, the Celtics don't get better with age
5. Indiana (+3) The addition of George Hill, and a more experienced Hibbert and Collison will bring more wins
6. Atlanta (-1) The Hawks are and always will be the Hawks, middling and disappointing in the playoffs.
7. New York (-1) Melo's inability to play defense, and a pouting D'antoni won't do any good for A'mare and NYC
8. Washington (+5) The most explosive team in the NBA, without a doubt. But does that translate to wins?
9. Philadelphia (-2) Iguodala is likely gone. Who will replace him?
10. Milwaukee (-1) An aging Stephen Jackson isn't a long-term solution. Or a short-term one.
11. New Jersey (+1) Can D-Will lead the Misfits to the playoffs?
13. Charlotte (-3) Who's even on this team?
14. Detroit (-3) They have some good combo guards, and a good young center, but they're aging and weak at the 2,3, and 4.
15. Toronto (-1) Canadians don't deserve much, but they deserve better than this.
In the East, I don't think there will be much debate that Miami will take the first spot, and most likely have the best record in the NBA. I believe they have the best chance to win the championship next year, and that the Bulls and Orlando will challenge them, but ultimately fall short.
The big surprises here are Indiana and Washington as my high jumpers. Indiana, with a full season under Frank Vogel, the addition of George Hill, and another year under the belt of Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison who both underachieved last year, should finally break through to their winning ways of the early decade. The number five spot may be too high of a jump, but I still see them improving in some way, and I wouldn't be surprised if Hill got the starting nod over Collison.
I also see the Wizards finally making the jump and I couldn't decide between Washington, Philly, and Milwaukee for the last spot, but I ultimately chose the Wizards because of athleticism and their coach. With an enviable core of Wall, Mcgee, and Rashard Lewis, the Wizards are full at every position with players like Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Jordan Crawford, and recently introduced draftees, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton. This team has undeniable athleticism and Flip, as we know, is a great coach and should be able to utilize their talent to overcome Milwaukee for that eighth seed.
1. San Antonio (-) You can never doubt this team, and with a young core of Gary Neal, Kawhi Leonard, Blair, and the next Spur star, Splitter, you kind of feel as though there's one last run in them. Or three.
2. OKC (+2) Westbrook seems like a problem, but this young team should make strides as his IQ improves
3. LA Lakers (-1) No Zen Master? Move 'em down a notch
4. Dallas (-1) They saved the NBA, but I doubt they can keep the core together with that kind of payroll.
5. Memphis (+3) The best big-man combo in the NBA should hit it off next year.
6. Portland (-) Felton was a great move, but I still feel bad for this team and their weak leg and knee bones.
7. Denver (-2) They'll be a lot of fun to watch, but who will be their go-to-guy?
8. LA Clippers (+5) As long as Gordon stays healthy, the playoffs are in grasp.
9. Phoenix (+1) With Nash, the Suns will be right in the mix, but they'll never get there for a couple years.
10. Sacramento (+4) John Salmons, Jimmer Fredette, and JJ Hickson. I think this team wants to win now.
11. Golden State (+1) They've got offense, but no defense. Let's see what Marc Jackson can do.
13. Minnesota (+2) We've got some talent, but the coach will be the big difference
14. New Orleans (-7) No David West? I guess its gonna be Emeka and the white backups again.
15. Utah (-4) I chose Kanter as my big bust of the draft. He reminds me of Pekovic and Koufos since he can't jump. And who would have thought that Devin Harris would be one of the worst point guards in the league one day? The funny thing is, if Sloan was coaching this team, it'd probably be ranked seven or eight spots higher.
Yeah, so I still have the Spurs at the top of the West. I think they've got a good combination of young and old, and they should be able to top the meteoric rise of the Thunder. I think the playoffs will be a different story though, and I see the Lakers, Mavs, or the Thunder coming out of the West. Its way too early to tell of course.
Anyways, my big jumps here are Memphis, LAC, and Sacramento. Memphis and LAC shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since Memphis purposely lost games last season to play San Antonio in the playoffs and LAC had a lot of injuries, a lot of rookies, and a fat point guard. Sacramento is my big gamble, but I like what the Maloof brothers are doing, since they're in win-now mode. They'll definitely improve with their newfound core and I expect them to be on the brink of contending.
My big drops are New Orleans and Utah. New Orleans will clearly drop with David West out of town, and I wouldn't be surprised if CP3 jumps ship mid-season and pulls a 'Melo. This will be a bad team with Belinelli and Emeka as starters, and no new draft picks. I like Utah and the big men that they have, but CJ Miles isn't a serviceable SG option and Harris had a middling season for the Nets and Jazz last season. Like i said, with the right coach, this could be a playoff team, but Corbin doesn't seem like the guy.
Obviously a lot of these predictions will be false, so lets hope the Timberwolves make the playoffs next year. Its only wishful thinking. What are your predictions for next season?