29
Oct
07

2007-08 Preseaon Predictions

Before we get into my preseason rankings, I want to give the Kobe caveat. He will be traded, I have no doubts about that, and I’m sure he’s going to the east, unless the Mavericks grow a brain and trade Dirk for him (I hate Kobe and even I know they should do that). Obviously whatever team he goes to in the east becomes an instant contender and these rankings are pointless, to a degree. If he goes to the Bulls, I still think Boston will be better because of what they will give up to get Kobe (Three is better than one – unless the one is Michael Jordan, which Kobe IS NOT), so it may not change at all.

Let’s look at the East first:

1) Boston Celtics – The combo of KG, Pierce and Ray Allen is too potent for any team in the East. They are three unselfish, yet dominant superstars in the prime of their careers (Allen is the only one on the older side), so how can you pick against them. Also, the bench is not that bad.

2) Chicago Bulls – With or without Kobe, they are number two in the East in regular season play. However, they need Kobe to get over the hump in the playoffs and truly be a contender this year.

3) Detroit Pistons – I hate this pick, but the starting five is still intact and more motivated than ever. They have good young players coming off the bench, but Flip is not the coach for them, which is why they will not win the East this year.

4) Toronto Raptors – Everyone is discounting this team, AGAIN! They like it that way. The Raps are extremely good and fearless. Bosh will be an MVP candidate.

5) Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron has improved his shot, which means trouble for the rest of the league, but Varejao and Pavlovic were just that important to them. Even LeBron himself sees that, see his comments this preseason. Danny Ferry better get this resolved and those two guys with the team.

6) Orlando Magic – The loss of Grant Hill, Darko and Tony Battie will hurt, but they got Rashard and Dwight supposedly has a jump shot (I haven’t seen it yet, but that’s the rumor). Plus Stan van Gundy will get this team playing better than last year.

7) Washington Wizards – Same as last year, they’ll make the playoffs, but won’t contend. Kobe might be going here for Arenas, if that happens the Wizards move up substantially in my rankings.

8) New Jersey Nets – I know they have Nenad and Richard Jefferson back and healthy, but I hate the Magloire signing and the east got much much better, specifically their division.

9) Miami Heat – Wade will come back in January, and fight like hell to get them in the playoffs, but he’ll come up short because Shaq will probably be hurt when Wade comes back and they won’t have enough time to get the job done after they are both healthy. They’ll get close, though.

10) Atlanta Hawks – I wanted to put them in the playoffs more than any other lottery team, but I just can’t believe they will over take any of the top 8 teams. That being said, they will surprise a lot of people this year.

11) Milwaukee Bucks – Yi is starting? That’s all you need to know to realize they won’t be making the playoffs.

12) Indiana Pacers – Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy will have productive years, but the Pacers need more than those two, Jermaine O’Neal and Granger to get it done.

13) Charlotte Bobcats – The injuries of May, Morrison and future injuries of Okafor and Gerald Wallace really hurt this team.

14) New York Knicks – Does Isiah finally get fired this year??

15) Philadelphia 76ers – I love Iguodala and Andre Miller, but they are just too young everywhere else.

Now the West:

1) Houston Rockets – I know T-Mac and Yao have never been out of the first round, but it’s not just up to them this year. They are the most talented team in the league from top to bottom. Kudos to Daryl Morey.

2) Phoenix Suns – Grant Hill was a huge signing for them and they still have the best PG in the league.

3) Dallas Mavericks – They needed to do more than just send Terry to the bench in place of Stackhouse.

4) San Antonio Spurs – They always start off slow after winning a championship, but this year the Rockets and Suns are too good to let them make up all the lost ground.

5) Denver Nuggets – It’s a coin flip between them and Utah, but Denver has more talent with Kenyon Martin back (if he’s truly healthy), so they get the nod.

6) Utah Jazz – They are actually better, just not enough to improve on last year’s success.

7) Golden State Warriors – Nellie has this group of renegades playing with more confidence than anyone else in the league, that alone will carry them into the playoffs again.

8) Memphis Grizzlies – This is my surprise team of the league. They are a very very talented and well rounded team. Rudy Gay will breakout this season. I have high hopes for their future.

9) Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe is gone, and unless they get Gilbert Arenas or Dirk in return, they aren’t making the playoffs this year. They should be better off in the long run for trading Kobe, unless it really is a fire sale. We’ll have to wait and see.

10) New Orleans Hornets – Chris Paul is everything he’s advertised to be, but they just don’t have enough around him.

11) Sacramento Kings – They weren’t making the playoffs before Bibby got hurt and they certainly aren’t now.

12) Los Angeles Clippers – This starts the list of teams with no hope in the West. Brand might not be coming back until March. OUCH!

13) Portland Trailblazers – The only playmakers they have are Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, who are both sophomores in the league. Another high draft pick is in their future.

14) Seattle Supersonics – The only thing that matters this year is the development of Durant, Jeff Green and at least one of the 3 centers they have taken in the first round 3 of the last 4 years.

15) Minnesota Timberwolves – Al Jefferson will have a MONSTER season, but everyone else is still learning to play in the NBA.

The West was much easier to predict than the East, because so many western conference teams have mailed it in this year and declaring “rebuilding” while the East got stronger. Here are my picks for individual awards:

MVP – Kevin Garnett

Scoring Title – LeBron James

Rebounding Title – Dwight Howard

Defensive Player of the year – Josh Smith

Sixth Man of the year – Leandro Barbosa

Most Improved Player – LaMarcus Aldridge

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