NBA Predictions

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Dustin Dobbs ’10
Sports Editor

westWEST

South-West Division

  1. San Antonio Spurs– Richard Jefferson is a key addition and as long as Duncan, Parker and Ginobili stay healthy, they could be right there with the Lakers at the end of the season.
  2. Dallas Mavericks– The Mavericks will finish 3rd overall in the Western Conference. Their addition of Shawn Marion does not quite match that of Ron Artest (Lakers) and Richard Jefferson (Spurs).
  3. New Orleans Hornets– The swap of Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor seems almost pointless, but look for CP3 to lead them back to the playoffs once again.
  4. Memphis Grizzlies- As the notoriously reigning “Worst Team in the NBA,” consider it lucky that I do not put them in dead last. The only reason being the addition of Zach Randolph, and Allen Iverson. They will help, but the team won’t go far in the long run (especially since AI’s contract is only one year).
  5. Houston Rockets- With Yao Ming out for the year, and Tracy McGrady’s contract coming to and end, the Rockets will come far short of the playoffs even if McGrady manages to stay healthy. This franchise is heading in a bad direction, very quickly.

North-West Division

  1. Portland Trail Blazers– The return of their smooth offense will bring them back to the playoffs and in first place in the division. Rudy Fernandez, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldrige, and Greg Oden will take the court this time with new comer Andre Miller, who will only add experience to this young and talented team.
  2. Denver Nuggets– The race for the division title will be tight with the Trail Blazers, but the Nuggets will come in 2nd place, still making the playoffs. They did have an extremely above-average season last year, but Carmelo, Chauncey Billups and Birdman will bring them back to the playoffs.
  3. Utah Jazz– If Carlos Boozer does not get traded mid-season, all is good in Utah. Deron Williams will lead a strong back court, Andrei Kirilenko and Boozer will hold down the paint, and all eyes will be on rookie Eric Maynor to see what impact he can make.
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder- The tables have turned, and I believe the Thunder will finish the ’09-’10 season with a winning record. Durant will have a monster year, rookie James Harden will fit in extremely well, and Russell Westbrook is the prototypical young point-guard coaches dream of. They will come up short of the playoffs due to the incredible competition in the West, but watch out for them down the road in about 2-5 years, all the draft picks will pay off.
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves- What team drafts two point-guards in a row, with the 5th and 6th overall picks in the draft? And they can’t even sign one of them!? Clearly this team is not ready to contend in the NBA. Kevin Love, for your own good, get out of Minnesota.

Pacific Division

  1. Los Angeles Lakers– The swap of Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest clearly works in their favor. I see nothing stopping them in their path of a 2nd straight World Championship.
  2. Phoenix Sun– With the renewal of Nash’s contract, and Amare Stoudamire being healthy, the Sun could make a huge improvement from last year. They will barely make the playoffs, and will soon be golfing in Florida after an early first round series loss to the Lakers.
  3. Los Angeles Clippers- Blake Griffin seems to be the real deal and hopefully he can live up to all the hype and expectations. This would be a step in the right direction for the Clippers organization. The return of Baron Davis, Sebastian Telfair, Chris Kaman, and Marcus Camby, will only prove to be beneficial.
  4. Golden State Warriors- We finally get to see if the best Summer League team can translate it over to when it counts. Unfortunately, the young squad won’t be able to get it done. Watch out for the explosive and exciting Anthony Randolph throughout the season.
  5. Sacramento Kings- There is nothing to keep the Kings from once again being one of the worst franchises in the NBA. Tyreke Evans is certainly not enough.

PLAYOFFS

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Portland Trail Blazers
  4. Denver Nuggets
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. New Orleans Hornets
  7. Utah Jazz
  8. Phoenix Sun

FIRST ROUND

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Sun

Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs

New Orleans Hornets vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks

CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Hornets

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

New Orleans Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Champions)

EAST

eastAtlantic Division

  1. Boston Celtics– The addition of Rasheed Wallace only strengthens this already stacked lineup. Look for the Celtics to be a Championship contender if  KG stays healthy.
  2. Toronto Raptors– Three words: Hedo Turkoglu, playoffs.
  3. Philadelphia 76ers- Andre Iguodala will certainly have a lot on his shoulders this year. Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday are also key to this team’s success, unfortunately they will miss the playoffs this year.
  4. New Jersey Nets- Obviously not a playoff contender, and the loss of Vince Carter digs an even deeper hole in their franchise. However, one quick move to Brooklyn, and another quick call to Cleveland, and this franchise could be completely turned around.
  5. New York Knicks- Knicks fans…just hope for LeBron in 2010.

Central Division

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers– The addition of Shaq and Anthony Parker will only help LeBron and the Cav’s dreams of a World Championship. However, do not expect them to win as many games as they did last year (66), but they will be a Championship contender.
  2. Chicago Bulls– The loss of Ben Gordon is significant, but Derrick Rose will have to step up and keep this team at playoff caliber, which he will do.
  3. Detroit Pistons– Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva will help this struggling and declining team…a bit. I see them miraculously making the playoffs some how…as the 8 seed.
  4. Indiana Pacers- The Pacers added some key role players in the off-season, but they will still struggle, especially with Mike Dunleavy out for the beginning of the season.
  5. Milwaukee Bucks- Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva are gone, but rookie Brandon Jennings looks to fill some gaps as he will play along side veteran Michael Redd, and Andrew Bogut. The Bucks…will be…one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

South-East Division

  1. Orlando Magic- The Magic will probably finish as the 2 or 3 seed in the playoffs. With reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Dwight Howard, and the return of point-guard Jameer Nelson, the Magic will only be better.
  2. Washington Wizards– Yes, you read that correctly. The Washington Wizards, who won 19 games last season, will make the playoffs and could possibly be a dark-horse sleeper all thanks to the return of Gilbert Arenas.
  3. Atlanta Hawks– The Hawks will most likely return to the playoffs, and most likely have an above .500 record, but they will struggle in against the other Eastern Conference teams who all made much more aggressive off-season moves than just Jamal Crawford.
  4. Miami Heat- It is difficult, and nearly impossible for Dwyane Wade to have the same season as he did last year. I believe the Heat will slip a little bit, and fall out of the playoff race. They made no moves in effort to help Wade.
  5. Charlotte Bobcats- Tyson Chandler will certainly help the 7th best defensive team in the NBA (believe it or not), as will head coach Larry Brown. I don’t see them making any real progress though, winning between 25-40 games.

PLAYOFFS

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Orlando Magic
  3. Boston Celtics
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Toronto Raptors
  7. Atlanta Hawks
  8. Detroit Pistons

FIRST ROUND

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons

Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks

Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors

Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards

Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Cleveland Cavaliers (Eastern Conference Champions)

Boston Celtics

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