Here are my annual pre-season predictions - a little late again. To repeat, the win/loss total equal 1230, just like the real season. I am almost always more optimistic about teams to start and always have to take wins away after my initial predictions. This time I had to whittle over 45 wins off before I got to the final predictions - which start below.
Like every year, most are in line with conventional wisdom, but I have a few that depart from that each year as well. See if you can find which teams I depart from the general consensus. As always, feel free to disagree with my choices and let us know why you do.
Celtics – 58-24
While I have most of my predictions set before the season starts, 63-19 for the Cs, the 1-1 start made me take away 5 wins, still a solid record. They will play harder for some HC advantage and will be deeper than last season at center and PG. The Celtic train might rattle a bit but it will be pushing ahead at full speed this year. The O’Neals will have bumps and aches along the way, but they will give the bruises to the other teams.
Amare, Raymond Felton and Anthony Randolph added. David Lee and Chris Duhon removed. That is a net plus, right? I like Landry Fields so far. They will play more defense this season. Turiaf and Mosgov will man the middle, allowing Stoudamire to play the 4, his natural position.
This is the season where D’Antoni can no longer be said to not have the players though Raymond Felton is a solid player but not a great point guard. Danilo Gallinari must expand his game, Anthony Randolph must figure just what his game is, and versatile Wilson Chandler can play much better defense than he has been asked to. These are all part of D’Antoni’s responsibilities.
Nets – 34-48
The Nets added talent with Troy Murphy, Derrick Favors, Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, and Jordan Farmar. Coupled with a solid core of Devan Harris, Brook Lopez, up and coming Terrance
76ers - 33-49
Really can’t figure this
Incorporating Elton Brand has been a bust. They went from a fast break
Raptors – 17-65
See the rest after the jump.
Milwaukee Bucks – 48-34
Is this really a 50 win
Basketball Reference says they were the 2nd best defense in the
Chicago Bulls – 47-35
Does Boozer change this
Indiana Pacers – 33-49
Hopes are pinned on Darren Collison making good on the promise shown last season when Chris Paul was out. There is no reason why he shouldn’t, if O’Brien unleashes him a bit. Danny Granger is still the man. Little inside game for this
A three point shooting, defensive oriented
Detroit Pistons – 32-50
Decimated by injuries last season, I’m not sure they are all that good when healthy. Rift between Stuckey and Kuester doesn’t bode well. Very few roster changes, so they are counting on a healthier year from all. I see mediocrity unless ‘Big Game Ben’ Gordon returns to his Bulls playoff form.
Same as last season, they need help in the middle. Best offensive rebounding
Cleveland Cavaliers – 31-51
Losing Lebron was huge. They also lost Shaq and Z, handing over the center position to Ryan Hollins and Anderson Verajeo. Hickson will take the next step developmentally and Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams must carry a heavy scoring load. Gibson could surprise and Sessions will score but isn’t a good floor general. Byron Scott gets my respect for taking over whether Lebron was coming back or not.
Miami Heat – 64-18
Talent-wise, there is no reason why they can’t win 64 games or more. It may take a while to get it together, but this
Orlando Magic – 56-26
The forgotten contender. Not much changes here unless Howard shows an improved offensive game. The big question is who hits the big shots on this
Atlanta Hawks – 50-32
A slight move back? Maybe I’m wrong. New coach Larry Drew will open up the offense and change the switching defense. Will the players respond with a better season? They should. But it is tougher division and conference than a year ago. There is a reason why Shaq chose Boston for less money. Young athletic group that needs something to get to the next level – perhaps a frontline center or Jeff Teague taking a big step forward? That the offense won’t revolve around Joe Johnson as much may take a while, but should be a good thing.
Charlotte Bobcats – 36- 46
You have to remember where this
That they could have had Brook Lopez instead doesn’t matter now. To keep away from the luxury tax Felton and Chandler were sent packing. Now they are weak at center and point guard. But Brown will make the best of what he has, as he usually does. Here comes that word – scrappy. Yes ‘s’ is the first letter, not ‘c’.
Washington Wizards – 31 – 51
Well, there is talent here in super rookie John Wall, Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche, Josh Howard, Kirk Hinrich, and Al Thornton. Arenas and Howard have spent a lot of time off the court the past few years. Can Arenas play second fiddle to Wall? Can Flip Saunders mold this into a competitive
There you have the East. Tomorrow the West. Let me have it. Where am I wrong... or right? Feel free to add your own thoughts.