4. Miami Heat
Explanation : The Nets have gained the most, not just from a talent perspective, but I honestly think Kidd will be the newest Avery Johnson (win big the first few seasons as a head coach then find himself without a job quickly as the team does worse each season). The Nets not only gained great frontline players, but the addition of both Terry and Kerlinko coming off the bench make them the team that wins the most regular season games. Chicago will get Rose back, find some health and challenge for the top spot in the East. Pacers keep playing strong with George getting better and better, not to mention if Granger comes back healthy they will add another all-star player to their roster. The Heat has Lebron but I think Bosh has lost "it". He is not a superstar anymore. Wade's physical play is admirable, but with smaller players it ages them quicker. I am not sure we will see the "all star" wade we are used to seeing. I think the troubles Miami will face along with a second round exit in the playoffs will play right into the "Lebron to LA" crowd.
The bottom four in the east that make the playoffs are second tier teams that will not advance but the Wizards and Cavs will be up and coming teams. Knicks will revamp as I don't think Carmelo will stay and the Hawks have just enough to make the playoffs but need a lot more if they actually want to make noise.
Explanation : The Rockets have a great blend of talent, depth, and experience. I think the return of the old Howard along with Harden sends them to the top. The Thunder and Spurs will duke it out for the next two slots as both teams are solid. Warriors finally make two playoffs in a row as they continue to build and get better. Grizzlies still have a very talented basketball team despite the change at coach, plus they defend the heck out of the ball. The T-Wolves finally stay healthy! Adelman steers this club into the postseason on the backs of Rubio and Love. But let's not forget that they have a heck of a center and I think Shabazz will be a great fit for this team. Here is where people think I am nuts, but I am not buying the Clippers. Teams are catching on on how to defend Lob City. Blake is not a superstar, although a fun player to watch on a highlight reel. Doc thinks highly of himself, but it will be somewhat fun to see this team underperform (if I am right). The Kings, Pelicans and Portland battle it out for the last playoff spot. Portland wins out this year, but that doesn't mean all three teams won't become a threat in the west sooner rather than later. Portland's backcourt along with Aldridge get them into the playoffs. Cousins proves a team can be built around him and the Kings finish the son strong but fall shy of catching Portland. The Pelicans trade at the deadline (getting Gortat for Gordon) comes to late. But they too have a bright future. And because of the strong draft the two teams that miss the playoffs stand the chance of benefitting the most.
The Jazz are well coached but their young big men still have a lot of growing and they find out very early that Burke is not the PG of the future. Mavs are hoping for help in the next free agent season, but Dirk is no longer a superstar and Ellis scores a lot on bad teams, but he doesn't help teams win. The Suns are a mess. And despite the Lakers tank job they are still not able to match the decent of the Nuggets that end in shambles. I don't think Kobe comes back as Kobe. Nash is no longer Nash, and Gasol has been declining. The Lakers have no one else to hang their hat on and they are already looking forward to the free agency period and praying for Lebron. I think Geroge Karl deserves a lot of credit for how good the Nuggets have been and the loss of Karl and the entire front office will be felt. We as Kings fans know what a bad and unstable front office produces. Yes I know the Nuggets have some solid talent, but I think George got the most out of them. Without Karl I think things go very badly for this team.
East 1st round
Nets over Wizard
Bulls over Cavs
Pacers over Hawks
Miami over Knicks
East 2nd Round
Nets over Miami
Pacers over Bulls
Pacers over Nets
1st round West
Rockets over Portland
Thunder over Clippers
Spurs over Wolves
Warriors over Grizzlies
Rockets over Warriors
Thunder over Spurs
Rockets over Thunder
Rockets over Pacers
It takes Howard only one year to prove people wrong. The Rockets will be tough but I think the Pacers will get a step further this year. The Lebron talk almost outstages the finals though.
1st Team All-NBA
2nd Team All NBA
3rd Team All NBA
MVP - Lebron James
Defense Player of the year - Dwight Howard
Coach of the Year - Jason Kidd
Rookie of the Year - CJ Mccollum
6th Man of the year - Jason Terry
Most Improved Player - John Wall
So what about our Kings? Here's what I think we find out.
1) A healthy front office is great for everyone!
2) Michael Malone and staff have a plan and can actually coach.
3) DMC can be a cornerstone of this franchise and under Malone he makes his first all-star game!
4) After grumbling about Ben McLemore for the first half of the season he makes a believer out of everyone by the end of the season.
5) We find out the Kings have a really bright future and a lot to build on as they have several tradable pieces and with some luck of the ping pong balls we get to add a great young player.
By the end of next season we learn that our future is very bright (and by next June we break ground on building the new arena which will transform the city!)
Here's to a VERY awesome season ahead!