Its that time of year again. Instead of doing a heavy themed preview, this one is going to be designed for your readability (is that a word) and give you comprehensive predictions of all the playoff teams and all the major awards that will most likely not be accurate, but I promise that you’ll have quite the enjoyable time reading them. I’ll start with a good news and bad news item for every team for the coming season and then predict the playoffs and the end of season awards. All team blurbs are in order of predicted finish.
Toronto Raptors- The good news is that they re-signed Kyle Lowry in free agency to try to maintain last year’s positive momentum. The bad news is that they’ve made only nominal roster upgrades. Should be enough to win the division.
New York Knicks- The good news is that Carmelo Anthony is back and the Phil Jackson era has begun. The bad news is that they don’t have a rim protector or adequate defensive personnel. The worry for new head coach Derek Fisher is that both of the guys not named Phil Jackson who have hung their hat on the triangle offense failed miserably and they both happen to be sitting on Fisher’s bench as assistants.
Brooklyn Nets- The good news is that Deron Williams claims to be 100% and they should have Brook Lopez back. The bad news is that they lost valuable perimeter depth in the offseason and health status of both Williams and Lopez is about as reliable as Alex Rodriguez passing a PED test. (too soon?)
Boston Celtics- The good news is that with their very good draft this past year they finally have two athletic young building blocks in Marcus Smart and James Young. The bad news is that they can’t get a decent offer for Rajon Rondo and he’s not helping by falling in his shower. They’re still paying Gerald Wallace and they don’t have much else outside of Smart and Young, no matter how many times Tommy Heinsohn compares Kelly Olynyk to Dirk Nowitzki.
Philadelphia 76ers- The good news is that the Sixers are virtually a lock for another top ten draft pick last year and the cheese steaks are really good in Philadelphia. The bad news is that the Sixers have had 4 first round picks in the last two years and only one of them will be starting the season on the floor for them. Furthermore, the one first rounder who is starting the season is the one who missed the entire year last year. This is a horrible basketball team and a franchise who’s direction and strategy are questionable at best.
Chicago Bulls- The good news is that Derrick Rose is back and they signed Pau Gasol as a free agent, which gives them the low post presence they were sorely lacking. The bad news is that they may be one starting caliber wing away from being an NBA finalist and they’re only as good as Rose’s knees are healthy.
Cleveland Cavaliers- The good news is Lebron James. Enough said. The bad news is that they lack a legitmate rim protector and Kyrie Irving is an irreplaceable part who is injured quite often. The Cavs can much more afford an injury to Kevin Love than they can to Irving because of where their depth lies.
Detroit Pistons- The good news is that Stan Van Gundy is the new boss in every way, which means that the Pistons kick off a new era of accountability. The bad news is that the roster is much the same as last year and although there is some talent up front, they are still void of the requisite perimeter talent on both ends of the floor to be a playoff team.
Indiana Pacers- The good news is that they still the strong front line with Roy Hibbert and David Wes, but that’s where the good news ends. The bad news is that they lost Lance Stephenson to free agency and Paul George to a horrific broken leg during a scrimmage for the FIBA World Cup. They haven’t adequately replaced either and will literally go from the penthouse to the outhouse. Last season, they were a legitimate title contender and this season they’re destined to be a lottery dweller.
Milwaukee Bucks- The good news is that they drafted future star Jabari Parker 2nd overall in this past year’s draft and he leads a talented stable of young players for their new head coach Jason Kidd to develop. The bad news is that they are nowhere close to being a playoff team and still will lose plenty. It could be worse. They could be the Sixers.
Washington Wizards- The good news is that John Wall and Bradley Beal are a year older and more developed players. Also, Paul Pierce is the kind of veteran leader this team needs. Plus, their monster front line of Nene and Marcin Gortat are back. The bad news is that some injuries are going to challenge their depth early, but this is a very good basketball team.
Miami Heat- The bad news is that Lebron James left to go to Cleveland. The good news is that Chris Bosh is back and this team is angry. The Heat are going to play with a hunger this season that we haven’t seen from them in a while. This team is Luol Deng and all the guys James didn’t want to play with.
Charlotte Hornets- The good news is that Lance Stephenson represents a major wing upgrade and gives the team two potential high end wing defenders in Stephnson and Michael Kidd Gilchrist. The bad news is that Josh McRoberts was an enormously important piece for them and they’ve come nowhere close to adequately replacing him.
Atlanta Hawks- The good news is that Al Horford is back healthy as is the same group that pushed the Indiana Pacers to the brink in the 1st round. The bad news is that this team is still nowhere close good enough to compete to come out of the conference and are firmly entrenched in NBA purgatory, not bad enough to have a chance at a high draft pick, not good enough to compete.
Orlando Magic- The good news is that they have a wealth of interesting young players that will eventually be part of the solution. The bad news is that they’re still not close to a playoff team and they risked poisoning their young locker room with a veteran in Ben Gordon that leaves locker room wreckage in his wake.
Oklahoma City Thunder- The bad news is that Kevin Durant is missing the first two months of the season with a broken foot. The good news is that this will provide opportunities for some of the Thunder’s young guys to establish themselves are viable reliable rotation players. This is a golden opportunity for Perry Jones and Jeremy lamb to grow their respective skill sets with expanded roles. If the Thunder want to come out of the West, they’re going to need contributions from Jones and Lamb in the playoffs.
Portland Trailblazers- The good news is that the same young group who got to the 2nd round is coming back. They also added a few bench pieces in Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. The bad news is that they haven’t improved as much as a few others in the West and they’re not sneaking up on anyone this year.
Denver Nuggets- The good news is that Danilo Galinari will be back from injury and they brought Arron Afflalo back from Orlando. They also have excellent depth and one of my favorite centers in the league in Timofey Mozgov. The bad news is that the West is brutal which will make it difficult for a good deep Denver team to make the playoffs and even if they do get there, they’ll be cannon fodder for a top seed in the 1st round.
Minnesota Timberwolves- The good news is that this an exciting young team that will feature the last two number one overall picks in Anthony Bennett and superstar to be Andrew Wiggins. They also have a young stable of other talented players that will be a blast to watch. The bad news is that they’re not going to win enough games to sniff the playoffs, but the future is bright.
Utah Jazz- The good news is that they have some young building blocks in Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Dante Exum, and Rudy Gobert. They also have an good young coach in Quin Snyder. The bad news is that they’ll still be pretty bad. They’re nowhere ready to even approach mediocre.
San Antonio Spurs- The good news is that the team that destroyed everyone last season to win the title returns in full. They were so much better than everyone last year and they haven’t lost anyone meaningful (Patty Mills returns later in the season), their chances to repeat re legitimate. The bad news is that they count on a few old guys who are going to be one year older.
Dallas Mavericks- The good news is that they’ve added a few enormously important pieces in Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons. They still have Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle. This will be a very good basketball team. The bad news is that they don’t have a big time point guard in a league filled with big time point guards. Not sure with the pieces that they have if they’ll really need one.
Memphis Grizzlies- The good news is that they’ve added Vince Carter to their wing rotation and they get Quincy Pondexter back from injury. They also return the same core as last year and hopefully will keep their most important players healthy. The bad news is that they didn’t retain their best perimeter shooter in Mike Miller. Because of their strengths, this may be the team in the league whose fortunes are more tied to their ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter more than any other.
Houston Rockets- The bad news is that they parted ways with Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in the offseason and only replaced them with Trevor Ariza. Considering how often they used the depth last year, this could be an issue that rears its ugly head all year. The good news is that Dwight Howard is settled and comfortable and should go back to being the dominant animal he was in Orlando.
New Orleans Pelicans- The good news is that Anthony Davis is about to become the third best player in the league and they have a dynamic core around him, especially after adding Omer Asik to play next to Davis. The bad news is that, as I continue to repeat, the West is brutal and their dynamic core is littered with guys who have historically had injury issues. If guys Like Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans can stay healthy, they have a chance to make the playoffs.
Los Angeles Clippers- The good news is that they added a few key pieces to last year’s terrific but ‘a little too thin at the wing’ team. Spencer Hawes is going to be their most important acquisition by far and helps make them a legitimate title contender. The bad news is that they still play in the same conference as the San Antonio Spurs and the Spurs are still a little better.
Golden State Warriors- The bad news is that they bring back mostly the same group that went out in the first round last season. They made one bench upgrade in Shaun Livingston, which I guess can qualify as good news. Speaking of good news, they’re bringing back a young core who will generally be a year better. With a new head coach in Steve Kerr and a more free flowing offensive system that emphasizes more passing and cutting, Golden State’s highly skilled perimeter players, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes should thrive together. If the Warriors can keep Andrew Bogut healthy, they can be as good as anyone.
Phoenix Suns- The good news is that head coach Jeff Hornacek’s team will continue to pursue an up tempo style of play with multiple point guards on the floor and their big free gent acquisition Isaiah Thomas will be a big factor. Bringing back restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe was even more important. If they can re-sign Goran Dragic at the end of this season when he opts out of his contract, they’ll have completed one heck of a point guard trifecta. The bad news is that they lost Channing Frye to free agency, who has their most important big man last season. They’ll try to compensate by using Markieff Morris more and indoctrinate 2nd year center Alex Len. Morris will do very well but the jury is still out on Len.
Los Angeles Lakers- The good news is that Kobe Bryant will be back from injury and they have a really nice rookie in Julius Randle who will be competitive for rookie of the year if they give him the minutes they should. The bad news is just about everything else. This is a subpar roster that was constructed largely with the priority of bringing in guys who are only going to be signed for one year. They can’t guard anyone and their new head coach Byron Scott has very little confidence in his team’s ability to hit threes.
Sacramento Kings- The good news is that starting center DeMarcus Cousins is on the verge of stardom. The bad news is that they really don’t have any other above average players among their other young guys. Rudy Gay and Cousins are not leading them to a playoff birth in the West and their readiness to address the here seems to have had an adverse effect on their future. They’ll be much closer to the bottom of the conference than the top.
East Playoff Teams
- New York
West Playoff Teams
- LA Clippers
- San Antonio
- Golden State
Chicago over NY
Cleveland over Atlanta
Washington over Charlotte
Miami over Toronto
LA Clippers over Portland
San Antonio over Houston
Dallas over Memphis
Golden State over OKC
Chicago over Miami
Washington over Cleveland
LA Clippers over Golden State
San Antonio over Dallas
Chicago over Washington
San Antonio over LA Clippers
San Antonio over Chicago. The one thing Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich done is repeat. They still have the best team and the bests system. The triumvirate of Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker has one last run in them together before Father Time catches up.
Rookie of the Year- Andrew Wiggins
Defensive Player of the Year- Dwight Howard
6th Man of the Year- Wilson Chandler
Most Improved Player- Jonas Valanciunas
Coach of the Year- Rick Carlisle
1st Team All NBA