2009-2010 NBA Forecast & Almanac


2009-2010 NBA Forecast & Almanac
M.D. Wright
10.30.09

The NBA is back! We have been waiting for this day since the NBA Draft in June. This season should be very exciting, with intriguing trades, free agent moves and subplots with the final four teams in each conference only getting better (although it is debatable with the Cavaliers). I will break down each conference, by division and provide a little synopsis of where they are projected to go this year, with the moves they made in the offseason.

First, the prediction of the order in which they will finish:

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Atlantic Division
1. Boston.
2. Philadelphia.
3. New York.
4. Toronto.
5. New Jersey.

Central Division
1. Cleveland.
2. Detroit.
3. Chicago.
4. Milwaukee.
5. Indiana.

Southeast Division
1. Orlando.
2. Washington.
3. Miami.
4. Atlanta.
5. Charlotte.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Northwest Divsion
1. Portland.
2. Denver (tie).
3. Utah.
4. Oklahoma City.
5. Minnesota.

Pacific Division
1. LA Lakers.
2. LA Clippers.
3. Phoenix.
4. Golden State.
5. Sacramento.

Southwest Division
1. San Antonio.
2. Dallas.
3. New Orleans.
4. Houston.
5. Memphis.

Now, for how the teams may have improved (or taken a step back, depending…) this offseason. If a team doesn’t warrant mention, believe me, I won’t mention them ha.

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics.

The Celtics did not trade Rondo, which would’ve been a stupid move. They picked up Rasheed Wallace and get Kevin Garnett back somewhat healthy. Their health and depth will be key all season in back to back games and in the playoffs, because guys like Ray Allen and Garnett are aging; with over 2,500 games under their belts combined. Barring major injuries, they are the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

New Jersey Nets.

Not sure what their plan is. They basically gave Vince Carter away for emerging Courtney Lee. However, they have no real nucleus. It’s just stand back and hope Devin Harris can make a bunch of 3rd tier players into NBA forces.

New York Knicks.

The Knicks aren’t as bad as people who never even watch them think, but they have a couple of major holes (no real center, no stud offensive player), plus they don’t play defense in critical moments (i.e. closing games with the lead). But they do not have a 2010 1st Round draft pick. They have to count on being able to sign two superstars with their cap space. But in the meantime, they can score and are entertaining.

Philadelphia 76ers.

Not sure what they have. Sweet Lou Williams is fun to watch. Will Brand slow them down? Iguodala is not a top tier player, although he masquerades as one and tries hard to dispel the facts. They don’t do anything great. They’re like the NBA version of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Toronto Raptors.

Not sure what to make of them, either. They took two major steps back last year after making progress with their young guys. Bosh is probably going to leave. This team is unwatchable.

Central Divsion
Chicago Bulls.

They have emerging PG Derrick Rose, but they let Ben Gordon walk for nothing. They have tons of youth, but no real veteran leadership. They can run for days, but don’t expect them to be any more than .500.

Cleveland Cavaliers.

They’ll win 60-65 by just stepping on the court with LeBron. But they aren’t title contenders. Shaq should retire, first of all. Mo Williams lost any heart he had in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Anthony Parker is good, but again, he’s still not going to be enough to push the Cavs past Orlando or Boston and definitely not the Lakers. Delonte West is having personal issues and isn’t starting. Zydrunas Ilgauskas does his job and he’s healthy, but they really haven’t done anything to surpass Boston, Orlando or Los Angeles.

Detroit Pistons.

The Pistons made a few nice moves, and a few questionable ones. Their run with the 2001-2008 team was obviously over, so they began by trading Billups to Denver. They continue by letting Rasheed Wallace leave in free agency. In the process, they pick up Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, and move Rodney Stuckey over to PG. Rip Hamilton returns to starting off the ball. The Pistons need a big man to be taken seriously, however. The UConn Connection will be great to watch and great for fantasy basketball.

Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers have a nearly all-White lineup ha. Not a bad thing, just funny how it all came about. All jokes aside, Danny Granger is a MAN. And Troy Murphy, the Notre Dame product, is a double double machine. Not much else noteworthy about them, however.

Milwaukee Bucks.

What on EARTH are they doing? Do they even have a plan?

Southeast Division
Atlanta Hawks.

No improvements. Bringing Joe Smith in does not an improvement make. They still lack leadership. They still play poor halfcourt ball. They still play lackadaisical and unfocused defense. They’ll still win 47 games, but so what. Doing the same thing every year seems to be a trademark for Atlanta pro sports teams.

Charlotte Bobcats.

What if Michael Jordan cared? How long before Larry Brown quits? Just when you thought they would turn the corner, they make moves that set the team back. 59 points… for AN ENTIRE GAME THAT MATTERED? Unforgiveable.

Miami Heat.

Interesting team. Wade is a G. Beasley is ready to prove he’s not a lifetime stoner. Jermaine O’Neal is relatively healthy. Haslem is still there. They have young Chalmers and young Cook. This team can do damage as long as they are healthy. Could challenge the Magic for the division.

Orlando Magic.

Hard to tell yet whether Vince Carter will be an improvement over Hidayet Turkoglu, but HE SHOULD BE. This is his chance to prove he hasn’t taken the past 7 1/2 years off in the NBA. This is his best chance to win. He has a center who is entering his prime and is a beast. He has a serviceable PG and a matchup nightmare for other teams in Rashard Lewis. The Magic should win 60+ games and be back to the Finals if they play as well as they are capable.

Washington Wizards.

The Wizards can’t stay healthy. They get Arenas back, and dependable Butler is there, Haywood finally learns how to play and now Jamison gets hurt. Oy.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Northwest Division
Denver Nuggets.

They might be ready to go to the NBA Finals. They are healthy and added young Tywon Lawson. If they can keep all the egos in check and Carmelo Anthony continues as the best/easiest scorer in the league, the Nuggets CAN do it. Will they? Depends on the Lakers.

Minnesota Timberwolves.

Hard to gauge them. They effectively gave up on young Randy Foye. They have Kevin Love and Al Jefferson coming back healthy, but they completely screwed up their draft by taking Ricky Rubio who only wants to play in New York or Los Angeles. FAIL. They have Jonny Flynn, who is electric, but no real shooters who can stay healthy or defend. That’s going to kill them.

Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder will be much better this year. They have some pieces in place. High scoring Kevin Durant. Jeff Green, playing like he did in high school and at Georgetown. Russell Westbrook. And they have size across the board. 35-40 win team.

Portland TrailBlazers.

The Blazers were on the cusp last year. Again, health is the issue. Martell Webster missed 81 of 82 games last season. Greg Oden hopes to make it through the season. Brandon Roy is an absolute MANE. They can win the West.

Utah Jazz.

They are a decent team. They can’t win on the road, however. They just aren’t fun to watch at all. They have a couple of exciting players, however.

Pacific Division
Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors are a bettor’s best friend. Just wager on the OVER in any game they play and you’re good money, plus they’re fun to watch at that ha. They have Monta Ellis, Anthony Randolph, young Stephen Curry, Stephen Jackson and their role players, who all get good minutes. They’ll be in the running for the final playoff spot, but Don Nelson doesn’t seem to care about anything. He’s just… there. “Coaching”.

Los Angeles Clippers.

One upside to all that losing is high draft picks. They’re stocked with nothing but top tier 1st round picks. Young rookie Blake Griffin is out until about Thanksgiving with a recurring knee injury. But they have a svelte Baron Davis, rising stud Eric Gordon and the rest of their returning players including Al Thornton, Chris Kaman and a couple of under-the-radar signees including Ricky Davis. They could compete for the last playoff spot as well. They’re not going to lose 63 games this year.

Los Angeles Lakers.

The class of the league. They are the defending champions and got better by adding Ron Artest. When Pau Gasol comes back, the Lakers can win 70 games. It’s their title to lose.

Phoenix Suns.

They commit to defense. Somewhat. No more 140 point games this year with this outfit. Well, not every other game anyway ha. They’ll take a step back without a bona fide big man.

Sacramento Kings.

I have no idea what they’re doing.

Southwest Division.
Dallas Mavericks.

They’re my sleeper. Before they became EVERYONE’S sleeper.

Houston Rockets.

DEAR GOD.

Memphis Grizzlies.

All those high picks and trades have to start paying off soon, right? It doesn’t appear to be anytime this year, though. Iavaroni isn’t the guy to make this team into a real NBA team.

New Orleans Hornets.

These guys may miss the playoffs this year. What did they do to get better? Chris Paul can’t win alone. Tyson Chandler may want out of town after the team tried to trade him twice. They can’t beat the Spurs. They can’t run with the Lakers. They don’t match up with Denver. Dallas got better and can beat them now. Portland is too physical for them. Phoenix is a mirror image. Golden State can run them ragged. Doesn’t look good for Byron Scott and the boys.

San Antonio Spurs.

The real challenge to the Lakers is this team with their stacked deck — with Popovich’s coaching. Duncan is losing steam (even if people won’t admit it), but he has some players around him again in healthy Ginobili, Richard Jefferson and young DeJuan (don’t call me Mike Sweetney) Blair. We’ll see how this pans out. They always coast through the season and land the 2-4 seed, then go to work. The Spurs are to be taken SERIOUSLY.

Tim Donaghy eat your heart out!

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