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NBA Western Conference Predictions

This is part two of my NBA predictions.

I like to check back at times along the year to see how far off I am and what changes need to be made due to trade or injury.

Southwest Division

1) San Antonio Spurs 57-25 – Aging San Ant. ‘done did’ themselves well this off season They aren’t a perfect team, but they have two, perhaps three, key acquisitions in McDyess, Jefferson, and Blair. This team is back in the mix for the whole schnoggy.

2) Dallas Mavericks 50-32Shawn Marion finally gets a team and system that should let him flourish a bit like the old days. Why does it seem inconsistent Drew Gooden rarely impacts a game relative to his numbers? Kidd’s not what he was defensively, but he’s still pretty darn good at the other end. What this team really needs is a crushing post player who demands a lot of attention or, less likely, an alpha star to make Dirk the best second option in the game.

3) New Orleans Hornets 47-35
– I say that Okafor helps compared to Tyson Chandler, but for some reason I really can’t explain, I see this team treading water. I like Julian Wright, but I’m not sure he should be a starter yet. Mo Pete should be an off the bench player. Peja’s losing it. Maybe that’s why.

4) Houston Rockets 37-45 – With no go-to guy in sight, I see a tough year for this team. If I’m wrong, give Rick Adelman all the credit for making a team of supporting role players manufacture wins where they shouldn’t. Ariza tries to become a top scorer? He’s looking good so far. Is the apocalypse near? Aaron Brooks looks like he is growing as well. Scola is a great role player that will struggle a bit as a primary option with no other players on the floor to draw double teams.

5) Memphis Grizzlies 32-50 – This team intrigues with Allen Iverson and Zach Randolph added without any major loss (Warrick). They are a talented, if selfish team. They could end up quite a bit better than 32 wins if the two budding stars in Gay and Mayo accept Iverson as the leader and main scorer. I’m guessing that might be problematic. Thabeet has ‘project’ written all over him. Iverson has a small tear in his hamstring right now.

The other divisions are after the jump...

Northwest Division

1) Denver Nuggets 50–32 – K-Mart is talking tough. But that is what he does. This core has been an underachieving group for years, IMO. It took an aging Billups to give this team an intelligent, fearless leader. Ty Lawson could help a lot, IMO. They need a change of pace from the deliberate Billups to get some easy buckets. Lawson can give them that. Lots of talented veteran players, but I question their heart and commitment to win it all. Carmelo Anthony needs to step up as a defender and leader to change this team’s karma.

2) Portland Trail Blazers 50-32 – nice overall team who are not quite ready to challenge. Newcomer Andre Miller coming off the bench is a surprise move. McMillan’s preseason experimenting to get Oden more involved wasn’t well received and it showed in the results. Oden’s health and growth and getting Miller more involved pushes this team forward. Otherwise they tread water this year. Strong bench again.

3) Utah Jazz 48–34 – Boozer and Milsap mean a strong tandem at PF. Deron Williams is a stud. Kirilenko starts until CJ Miles returns. Okur fits here well and Fesenko, and Koufas may help. Maynor is supposed to be pretty good. Sloan is considered a great coach. So why does this team always have a terrible road record?

4) Oklahoma City Thunder 29-53 – multiple ‘studly do-rights’ in growth mode here. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, and now James Harden make a great core of very talented youth. Scary good future. They may make the jump sooner, and will surprise some teams this season, but I’m expecting another year of learning. Really cool team to watch, though.

5) Minnesota Timberwolves 22-60 – poor Al Jefferson. New, untried head coach in Rambis, two new talented point guards in Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions, injured Kevin Love, Hollins and Jawai as the back up bigs, with decent but not great other role players. Defense will be an issue. I thought they should have gone with an experienced coach, but we’ll see.

Pacific Division

1) L. A. Lakers 62-20 – a big year by Bynum makes this team so much better. We’ve been saying that for a while, haven’t we? He is still young and it could happen this season. Artest for Ariza? More of a trade off than one might think. I’m not an Artest fan, but he gets away with stuff defensively that he shouldn’t and that will be important come playoff time. Kobe keeps this team on target all season.

2) Phoenix Suns 42-40 – Nash goes back to run and gun. He, Grant Hill and Amar’e will keep the Suns afloat, if not really relevant anymore. Channing Frye should thank his lucky stars. He died and went to ‘good shooting, soft rebounding/defending big man’ heaven. He is not as good as he will seem here, but he’ll put up some good numbers.

3) L.A. Clippers 37-45 – this is ‘Denver lite’ - a talented team with good bigs and a stud at PG that will underachieve compared to its talent. Kaman looks like he will return to his career year form. Eric Gordon is a young star in the making They should be a .500 plus team with the right coach and attitude. They have neither. Blake Griffin could change that, but I doubt it. A motivated Baron Davis could make a big difference. He and Dunleavy are said to have bridged their differences. We’ll see.

4) Golden State Warriors 31-51 – Welcome to the whacky farm. Experience a rebelliously aging Don Nelson while you can. Anthony Randolph is a talent in basketball purgatory.             

Self centered, but talented Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette fit this erratic team where players are stars one day and on the bench the next. Stephon Jackson trade rumors are heating up. Talented, but undulating ship of fools. It’s shame because once-upon-a-time Don Nelson could really coach.

5) Sacramento Kings 20-62Paul Westphal’s job is to keep things positive and keep the young players’ development moving forward. Perhaps he should call Doc Rivers for advice.

I like a number of players here such as Kevin Martin, Jason Thompson, Tyreke Evans, and Spencer Hawes. Evans will have to limit his turnovers as he grows as an NBA player. That may take a while, but he looks like a solid draft choice. After Kevin Martin, there isn’t a solid second option offensively yet.

That is it. Agree or disagree. What do you think? Where am I wrong?

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