Well, tonight marks off the official tipoff of the NBA season. Am I excited? Not at all. But that will be explained on a later date. For now though, those of you who actually consider the NBA basketball get to boast in its “Glory.” So without further complaints, let us begin our look into the Eastern Conference for the 08-09 season.
1. Boston Celtics-Who could blame me? The Celtics are the defending champions. Coming off a remarkable 66-16 season, the Big 3 (Garnett, Pierce, Allen) look as good as ever. Rajon Rondo is coming off a career year, as well as bench sensation Eddie House. They have depth, which could ultimately lead them to another world title. My Prediction: 59-23.
2. Detroit Pistons-Working with a 3 guard rotation for the first time in franchise history, the Pistons look stacked once again heading into this year. Now that the Flip Saunders era has ended, Michael Curry has been ushered in, ready to give Chauncey Billups that ring he’s placed oh so hard for. Rip Hamilton looks great as usual, with Tayshaun Prince becoming a star. Perhaps Rasheed Wallace will avoid some technicals this season. My Prediction: 57-25.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers-They tried to make them go to rehab, but they said Mo, Mo, Mo. Yes, Mo Williams, the new PG in town, finally gives superstar LeBron James the talent needed to carry this team. Wally Szczerbiak looked decent after a late season trade, but he will need to step it up. Ben Wallace and Big Z expect to be solid this season, which could give the Cavs some light to finally collect that much desired NBA title. My Prediction: 52-30.
4. Philadelphia 76ers-The 76er’s got even better this year, adding big PF Elton Brand to their already decent lineup. I truly believe that in a semi-week conference this year, Philly can improve drastically on their 40-42 record from last year. AI looks spectacular as usual, and Andre Miller proves to be a great PG. Throw in Samuel Dalembert, who alongside the presence of Brand can now focus on defense, this team can really compete. My Prediction: 48-34.
5. Orlando Magic-Hedo Turkoglu established himself as one of the surprise players of last season. The bottom line though is that this team has talent. They just need to figure out how to use their undiscovered depth. Jameer Nelson, while very talented, isn’t much of a go-to-guy. They have J.J. Redick, who was one of the top scorers in NCAA history, sitting and rotting on the bench. Stan Van Gundy is a smart man though, and expect this team to make another strong run in the East. Oh, and they have Dwight Howard not to mention. Enough said. My Prediction: 45-37.
6. Toronto Raptors-José Calderón comes in as the official PG this season after trading T.J. Ford to obtain Jermaine O’Neal. The players love José, so that should provide great help in the guard position. Chris Bosh continues to be the beast of the East, and may find more points than ever before with more coverage on O’Neal. Sam Mitchell is a great coach, so expect another playoff run from this team. My Prediction: 41-41.
7. Atlanta Hawks-With Mike Bibby coming in for his first full season in Atlanta, the Hawks look like a legit playoff contender. While I still believe they are far from a championship run, they have a great lineup. Al Horford established himself as a threat in the league, and Josh Smith and Marvin Williams are great contributers as well. While they are vulnerable in areas, expect a solid season from this group of players. My Prediction: 38-44.
8. New Jersey Nets-Believe it or not, I think the Nets can actually make a run this year. No I do not say this as an optimistic fan, but as a believer in rebuilding. The Nets dumped off another piece of the original Big 3, sending Richard Jefferson off to Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. Yi could be the big man the Nets have needed, and Simmons brings veteran leadership. Devin Harris is one of the quickest guys in the NBA, and Vince Carter can step it up (if he wants too). My Prediction: 37-45.
9. Miami Heat-The Heat believed that bringing in Michael Beasley would assist their attempt at rebuilding, but I just don’t feel this team is quite there. Wade will be solid as usual, but many questions at bench bring concern. Also, a new coach in Erik Spoelstra. A few more years Heat fans. My Prediction: 33-49.
10. Chicago Bulls-Vinny Del Negro looks to make a comeback and bring these attempting-to-surge Bulls into the playoffs. Unfortunately, this team has no depth at the big man spot. Tyrus Thomas is good, as is Drew Gooden (no pun intended). But the NBA takes depth to some degree, and this team lacks it. My prediction: 31-51.
11. Washington Wizards-This one will come down to when Agent Zero comes back. DeShawn Stevenson established himself as a solid Guard last season, and Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler continue to be amongst the best. Yet injury and age dwells on this team, and Eddie Jordan could be on the hot seat by season’s end. My Prediction: 30-52.
12. Milwaukee Bucks-One would think this team would be great. Ridnour, Redd, Jefferson, Villanueva and Bogut. Good lineup right? Once again though, no depth. This team has virtually no bench, and a new coach may not exactly help. This team has a lot to overcome, so we’ll have to play it as “wait and see.” My prediction: 28-54.
13. New York Knicks-Not even Mike D’Antoni can save the ailing Knicks. In fact, I don’t know what can. Now that Isiah Thomas is finally out of the picture, the Knicks can focus, but too many questions with Starbury, Richardson, and Randolph hurt this team. Anyone remember Eddie Curry? My Prediction: 25-57.
14. Charlotte Bobcats-Even with one of the most experienced coaches in NBA history, the Bobcats have little hope. Yes they have a solid Center in Emeka Okafor. Yes Jason Richardson is a star. But they have nothing more. This team needs depth, and they can’t keep building through the lottery if they expect to win anytime soon. My Prediction: 23-59.
15. Indiana Pacers-Flat out, this team is the worst in the East. Even with T.J. Ford, this team has NO help. I’ll even put you to a challenge. If you can name one player on the Pacers (without looking it up), comment this page with their name. This team is hopeless, and will face some painful years ahead of them. My Prediction:19-63.
Join me again later on as we check out the Best of the West!