Tuesday, October 31, 2006

'06-07 Season Preview--Predictions

Jay Aych's predictions:
Here we go with a straight-forward season forecast. Let me just say that picking the order of finish in the Central Division was damn near impossible. I wavered back-n-forth at trying to arrange the top 4 teams, and I think you can jumble them in any order you want. I can't foresee much separation between the Bulls, Cavs, Pistons, & Pacers and even a few games lost to injuries could effect the order. I might be going out on a limb picking the Pacers, but I feel their defense is close to being as good as the Bulls, and have more offensive talent. But Tinsley & O'Neal have to stay healthy, which could be asking alot.

Atlantic: (1) Nets (2) Celtics (3) Sixers (4) Knicks (5) Raptors

Central: (1) Pacers (2) Cavs (3) Pistons (4) Bulls (5) Bucks

Southeast: (1) Heat (2) Wizards (3) Magic (4) Bobcats (5) Hawks

East Conf:
1) Pacers
2) Heat
3) Nets
4) Cavs
5) Pistons
6) Bulls
7) Wizards
8) Magic

1st round: Pacers over Magic; Heat over Wizards; Nets over Bulls; Pistons over Cavs
2nd round: Pacers over Pistons; Heat over Nets
Conf Finals: Heat over Pacers

Southwest: (1) Mavs (2) Spurs (3) Rockets (4) Hornets (5) Grizzlies

Northwest: (1) Nugs (2) Jazz (3) T-Wolves (4) Sonics (5) Blazers

Pacific: (1) Suns (2) Clips (3) Lakers (4) Kings (5) Warriors

West Conf:
1) Mavs
2) Suns
3) Spurs
4) Nugs
5) Rockets
6) Clips
7) Lakers
8) Kings

1st round: Mavs over Kings; Suns over Lakers; Spurs over Clips; Rockets over Nugs
2nd round: Spurs over Suns; Mavs over Rockets
Conf Finals: Spurs over Mavs

NBA Champs: The field is as wide open as I can remember. I feel there are actually 10 teams who have the ability to get to the finals: Nets, Heat, Bulls, Cavs, Pacers & Pistons in the East and Mavs, Spurs, Suns, & the Rockets out west. Picking a clear-cut fav to win the East & the West might be the hardest it's ever been. I feel pretty good about picking the Spurs from the West, but don't have a strong feeling about who's coming out of the East, but right now I like the Heat to repeat as East champs.MY PICK: I just feel strongly that the Spurs will regain their crown with Duncan rested & highly hungry. Spurs over the Heat.

MVP: The usual suspects should be in the hunt again this year--LeBron, Wade, Dirk, Kobe, & Nash are the frontrunners. Guys like Melo, Brand, Pierce and even Vince have the potential to be in consideration by the end of the year. And if McGrady's back can hold steady, he can regain his MVP-level status. Also, let's not write off Mr. Duncan just yet--I really think he will look to tear it up this year and return to scoring 22-24 ppg. MY PICK: This is really splitting hairs, but I got to go with Lebron. I think Kobe is the best player in the NBA, but he is a little gimpy right now, so I have to go with the second best player, Bron.

Rookie of the Year: Well, to win this trophy it helps if the player starts or gets starter minutes, which eliminates alot of rookies off the bat. Also, it helps if the rookie is in a situation where they can put up solid stats and has a pretty significant role from the get-go. To me, this leaves only two possible rookies who fit these scenarios: Adam Morrison & Brandon Roy. What helps out Morrison is he is immediately Charlotte's best pure scorer and the Bobcats desparately need him to score right away. Roy looks to have the starting 2-guard spot, and after Zach Randolph, is probably the second-best option on the Blazers. I think Roy will fill out the stat sheet better, but Morrison will put more points on the board--the Bobcats need him to score around 18 ppg, if not 20 ppg. Two other sleeper picks: Rudy Gay, who's in a similar situation as Morrison, where he is his team's best pure scorer with Gasol out, and will have the opportunity to put up good scoring numbers. Also, don't forget about Utah's Ron Brewer, who should see big minutes at the 2 and has a great all-around game like Roy. MY PICK: I am leaning toward Brandon Roy who should stuff the entire stat sheet, while Morrison will be nipping at his heels by leading rookies in scoring, but doing little else.
M. Haubs in the house
I'm going to take it easy on myself and not try to pick divisional order of finish. Here we go:

1) Spurs
2) Mavs
3) Suns
4) Nuggets
5) Rockets
6) Clippers
7) Warriors
8) Lakers

First Round: Spurs over Lakers, Rockets over Nuggets, Suns over Clippers, Mavs over Warriors
Conf. Semis: Spurs over Rockets, Mavs over Suns
Conf. Finals: Spurs over Mavs

1) Cavs
2) Heat
3) Nets
4) Bulls
5) Pistons
6) Pacers
7) Wizards
8) Magic

First Round: Cavs over Magic, Bulls over Pistons, Pacers over Nets, Heat over Wizards
Conf. Semis: Cavs over Bulls, Heat over Pacers
Conf. Finals: Cavs over Heat

NBA Finals: Spurs over Cavs
MVP: LeBron James
Rookie of the Year: Randy Foye

- I basically came up with these seedings blindly, but man I sure fell ass-backwards into some compelling playoff matchups - Bulls-Pistons, Mavs-Warriors, Cavs-Heat. We can dream.
- It was really impossible to pick the East. I think, like Jay Aych, that the Pacers could win just as easily as my pick, the Cavs.
- I agree with Jay Aych that both the 'ship and the MVP are wide-open this year. That said, considering I had Cleveland leading the East, I had to go with LeBron as my MVP - that's a no-brainer if the Cavs get the 1 seed. But I do think that Duncan will be back in the mix this year.

Storylines I'm interested in:
-Will this be the year that Shaq hands off the torch as the league's best center to Yao?

-Which young team will emerge? There are several teams with a bunch of young potential - see almost every lottery team from the East, for ex. Which talent will take the next step? I say Orlando.

-How much Amare? I hate to be a hater, but I must say that I'm pessimistic that a player who is so athletic can come all the way back after microfracture surgery. I wonder - if Amare can't come back - if we'll start to ask why the hell anyone would agree to the procedure. It just don't seem to work, y'know. Hope I'm wrong.

-Who's the best player in the league? We're in such a strange period - usually the league's top player is fairly clear-cut, or at least it's no more than a group of about three. Right now, we have LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe and Dirk all staking a claim. I think Timmy will be back with a vengeance, KG's still in the house, and we haven't even gotten to the two-time defending MVP! Just wonder if we'll get any clarity this year.

-Where will The LeBron Saga go? Or, as Free Darko called it, the Jordan Narrative. As much as anything else, I love the NBA for its multi-year-long storylines. And in this era, the overarching story is whether LeBron can ascend to the Jordan-Magic-Bird-Russell-Chamberlain pantheon of uber-greats, don't you think?

-Are the Spurs a dynasty? Oh yeah, unless it's this: the dynasty that no one cares about. If they win, as we both predict, that'll be four titles in nine years, and three in five. That's kinda a dynasty, folks, esp. when you consider they were knocking on the door in '04 and '06, too. But I doubt anyone will care, although these cats are exactly the kind of hard-working team-oriented clean-image guys that people say the NBA is lacking....


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