Due to some popular request I will now share my predictions for the NBA season. I know we are 6 or 7 games in but it is a long season and there is much basketball to be played. This should be a great season. In my opinion, the league is as strong as I can remember it being. There are loads of stars, a few superstars, and some very deep teams. This all points to this being a great season of hotly contested ball into June.
Western Conference Prediction:
This conference still in my opinion holds a slight edge over the East, but the East is not far behind. I feel it boils down to a main trifecta that are in contention. You of course have the defending champions led by Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and the newly added muscle of Ron Artest. Also I feel the Spurs are ready to make another run at the title. The addition of Richard Jefferson was a great one with a proven tough wing player who can slash and score in the half court and on the break. In addition, a player that I feel has really flown below the radar is Dejaun Blair. Though undersized he comes out of the rough and tough Big East and will provide some key minutes for this team as the year goes on and will come up big on the boards with his raw effort. Then finally the 3rd contender has to be the Denver Nuggets. Last year this team finally put it together. They are loaded with talent and got a taste of what high level playoff basketball is about last year. Chauncey Billups is an outstanding floor leader and proven winner. Not to mention Carmelo Anthony provides one of the best rebounding and scoring small forwards in the game. Look for the speedy Ty Lawson out of North Carolina to provide more of an impact than most are expecting. This will help rest Chauncey for the deep playoff run.
Sleeper alert: Look out for the Portland Trailblazers to turn some heads this year. The addition of Andre Miller, a proven vet, dramatically improves the backcourt. This team is loaded at the guard position with the likes of the wily veteran Steve Blake coming off the bench and one of the best up and coming players in the League Brandon Roy at the shooting guard position. If Greg Oden can ever learn to score and compliment the very talented Lamarcus Aldridge, this team could sneak into the Western Conference Finals. Good luck to their Coach Nate McMillan in his 5th season with the team. Also the Jazz could turn some heads with arguably the best coach in the League Jerry Sloan. They will probably finish in the top 6 in the West and could surprise some people come playoff time.
So in the end I have the Lake Show defeating the Spurs in a thrilling 7 game series and heading to the Final for a 3rd straight year.
Eastern Conference Prediction:
The East has definitely closed the gap on the West and is nearly on even footing with them. They are a little behind in depth of their 4 through 8 teams, but are very tough at the top. In my opinion this conference will also be a 3 team race. Those 3 teams are obviously the Celtics, Magic, and Cavaliers. These 3 teams were the teams to beat last year and things will be no different this season.
The Celtics will be awesome. If Kevin Garnett can stay healthy, this could be the year where the Celts get back to the Finals. Kevin Garnett just makes such a difference with his ferocious defensive presence and ability to score come playoff time. Paul Pierce, in my opinion has been one of the most underrated players in the League for a long time. And as always, the third musketeer, Ray Allen will be ready to stroke from the outside at will. Lastly the pick up of Rasheed Wallace was in my opinion the best acquisition made by any team in the East this off-season. Though Wallace is not the player he once was, he has great playoff experience and will really help the Celts off the bench down the stretch. The Magic, though I think the loss of Hedo Turkoglu was a big one, definitely like having Vince Carter, a proven scorer being added to their lineup. I feel Hedo had ice in his veins in the playoffs though and I do not know if Vince can play down the stretch like they need to get back to the Finals. Dwight Howard will have to really continue to improve his play on the offensive end for this team to have any hope of returning to the Finals. Finally, the Cavaliers, with arguably the best player in the game in the last year of his contract did seem to get way better with the addition of future hall of famer Shaquille O’neal and shooting guard Anthony Parker. Unfortunately, with typical Cleveland luck, they didn’t. Shaq is not a shell of the player he was and will not make this team any better than the team that led the league in victories last season. Lets just hope Shaq can run up and down the floor and not clog up the King’s lane. Sorry Lebron, you are going to keep getting better, but I do not foresee you winning a title in Cleveland this season.
Sleeper Alert: Though the East really drops off after the top 3 teams in my opinion, one team that I think is capable of making a run to the Conference finals is the Atlanta Hawks. This team has shown glimpses the past couple of years and has continued to improve. I feel that Marvin Williams could possibly turn into an All Star caliber player this year, but the real key for this team is to keep Josh Smith focused. Smith has amazing athletic ability and at times lets this take precedence over playing fundamentally sound basketball. Though this team is not that deep, with the avoidance of injuries, and foul trouble in the playoffs, look for them to make some noise.
My final prediction out of the East is the Celtics taking down the Magic in 6 games.
Then finally I got the Lakers beating the Celtics in a vintage 7 game Bird/Magic type series. Kobe will thrill the crowd, gaining his 5th title and prove that he really is a top 2 shooting guard of all time.
The League will shake up after this season though and I feel the power will really shift with the outstanding free agent class headlined by LBJ, Wade, and Bosh. So enjoy this year, because the League will have a dramatic power shift for 2010-2011. Maybe the East will take over and be the stronger conference again?..
Stay tuned for Edition 54.