Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Western Conference Predictions 2008/9

The big Qs- Is Bynumite the missing piece? Does Posey put the Hornets over the top? Are the Spurs done? Is this the year Ron Ron eats a baby?

Pacific Division
Los Angeles Lakers (62-20)

With Bynum back in the fold, they'll finish with the best record in the league. But without dealing one of their PFs (Odom, Gasol) for a versatile 3 (like Marion), they won't have the defensive balance to win a title. I also wonder who'll fill in for Turiaf as the energy guy off the bench. I'm seeing a Game 7 loss in the Western Conference Finals. And another MVP for Kobe, bad pinkie and all.

Phoenix Suns (58-24)
Even with all the chaos Steve Kerr hath wrought, this team still has Nash, Amare and Barbosa. That should be good enough for their customary heartbreaking loss in the 2nd round of the playoffs. The most interesting plotline here: is this Shaq's last season? And if so, what's his legacy- Most Dominant Ever or egomaniacal stooge?

*Note- Shaq just announced he plans to play two more seasons.

Los Angeles Clippers (45-37)
The Baron/Brand Conspiracy Gone Wrong was the story of the summer. And I'm still amazed that they got Camby from Denver for a 2nd round pick. Things were actually looking good until they signed Ricky Davis and Jason Williams, the basketball equivalent of having SARS and Avian Bird Flu in the locker room.

*Note- Jason Williams announced he's retiring. Add another couple wins to LA's predicted total.

Golden State Warriors (28-54)
Went from tantalizing to terrible in a month. This Monta Ellis fiasco couldn't come at a worse time. And if they were gonna spend that much dough on Maggette, why didn't they just pay Baron in the first place? A real botch job by Mullin. Silver lining: rookie Anthony Randolph was dominant in Summer League (but then again, so was Koko Archibong).

Sacramento Kings (19-63)
No cowbells ringing this year. Their two best players, Kevin Martin and John Salmons, play the same position. They traded Artest for an old, hobbled Bobby Jackson. Brad Miller still can't guard a chair. Bye bye, Reggie Theus. Nice knowing you. Maybe you can go back into modeling.

Southwest Division
New Orleans Hornets (60-22)

They won't sneak up on anybody this year. But the addition of Posey provides another tested playoff performer and perimeter defender, both important qualities they lacked. Another season of chemistry between CP3, West and Chandler leads to Byron Scott's first championship as a coach.

Houston Rockets (58-24)
The fragile bodies of Yao and TMac keep Houston from being a true contender, even with madman Artest on board. And Rafer Alston isn't a leader by any stretch of the imagination. Their roster is deep, though. If all the cards fall into place, they could be scary. More likely, they play well in spurts that coincide with the everchanging moods of Ron Ron.

San Antonio Spurs (54-28)
First, the bad: Ginobili's injury means they'll start slow. Bruce Bowen is 37 so his days as a stopper are coming to an end. Michael Finley remains one of the least effective starters in the league. The good: Duncan's still only 32. Parker's still Parker. Popovich remains one of the game's best coaches. Ditto for Buford as GM. So even with bad omens everywhere, they could still hoist another trophy in June.

Dallas Mavericks (46-36)
Jason Kidd is a shadow of his former self. I'm a Carlisle fan but I don't see how much more he can get out of this aging bunch who seem to have left their collective heart in Miami two years ago. They still play pansy-ass, jump shooting basketball, not a recipe for success in a man's league. Dirk continues his downward career arc from 'the next Larry Bird' to 'the next Tom Chambers.'

Memphis Grizzlies (12-70)
Worst team in basketball, right here. Other than Rudy Gay, they've got nothing. OJ Mayo will have every opportunity to show the world what a slightly-above-average basketball player he is. Subtract an additional three wins if the Zach Randolph trade goes through. Mike Conley continues to develop...very...slowly. As Yoda would say, 'Unwatchable, they will be.'

Northwest Division
Utah Jazz (55-27)

So predictable, so efficient, so boring. Another solid year for DWilliams and Boozer. Another year of hard fouls from Harpring. Another year of wifeswapping for Kirilenko. Yawn.

Portland Trail Blazers (50-32)
Tough luck: as soon as Oden comes back, Brandon Roy goes down. Expect things to start clicking around mid-season as Rudy Fernandez gets comfy and everyone's healthy at the same time. Still think they should've kept James Jones, though. Oden averages 13/10/3 to edge Beasley for ROY.

Denver Nuggets (38-44)
Blow 'em up, start over. Without Camby in the middle, this team will give up 180 points a game. No way they finish the season with Melo, Iverson AND George Karl on the payroll. When your biggest offseason move is giving a fat contract to JR Smith, you know you're fucked. Maybe Kenyon Martin will punch Nene again. At least that'd be exciting.

Minnesota Timberwolves (24-58)
Let the Kevin Love era begin. I'm sure he'll win a handful of games with his artful outlet passes alone. I keeeed, I keeeeed. It'll be more of the same drudgery in 'Sota as McHale proves again his complete ineptitude at drafting. Mike Miller seems to be making a career of scoring points on dreadful teams. He's like the Kelly Tripucka of this generation.

Oklahoma City Thunder (18-64)
Fuck Clay Bennett. That douchebag doesn't deserve Kevin Durant. Or sold out arenas. May the ghost of Detlef Schremph eternally haunt this franchise.

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