|Let's Get Stupid|
10) New York
Notes: LeBron James is trying so very hard to soften expectations for what he can do with a new roster, but the plain and simple fact is that no one cares about any of that noise. They want a championship, expect it, and know he's not getting any better or younger. Cleveland's time is now... Chicago is better even if PG Derrick Rose isn't 100%, or what he was, because Pau Gasol is a lot better than Carlos Boozer, and the club is still coached like mad. But they need Rose to be special to win it all, and he won't be... Miami is going to be a lot better than people expect, especially C Chris Bosh, who is ready to put up first team All-NBA numbers again. They'll also have tolerable depth with new Fs Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts. The problem is that G Dwyane Wade has be his old self, and he's not... DC is on the rise, but won't defend enough... Toronto's a nice club, but don't have top-tier star talent to win games they should not... Brooklyn could be a top-4 team if they stay healthy, but won't... Charlotte's going to be a problem, especially on defense, but Lance Stephenson can't stay focused all year long... Detroit is a mild surprise for the final playoff spot. I like their coaching situation now, and didn't last year.
Of the also-rans, Indiana will try like mad but not get there. New York will have some runs, but not nearly enough. Atlanta's lost some bench depth and coherence due to bad off-season PR. Orlando should be better on talent and is not, because they don't defend. Boston can't really figure out this tanking thing, and Milwaukee won't be happy for hiring Jason Kidd. My Sixers will be better than last year, with a worse record. Hard to do, but needs to be done.
1) LA Clippers
2) San Antonio
3) Oklahoma City
5) Golden State
10) New Orleans
11) LA Lakers
Why the Clips? Because they care about the regular season and are going to spend the year in Ding Dong The Donald's Dead glee, especially at home, and the other top contenders know enough to pace themselves for the playoffs. The Spurs are deep and forever, and will spread the minutes and do what they need to do. OKC will miss Kevin Durant for a while, but close with a rush, and maybe be better off in the long run, in that they might actually start playing like a team on offense. Houston won't mind Chandler Parsons for Trevor Ariza, so long as Terrence Jones develops and Patrick Beverly takes over at the point. Golden State will rise with actual coaching and better substitutions, but this conference is just murderous. Portland needs to get deeper, but the home court is real, and they'll be good enough. Dallas got better in the off-season, but not dramatically, so this is more of a stasis year for them. Phoenix was the surprise team that failed at the close last year; I like them to stay healthier and get over the finish line this year.
Outside of the playoffs is the constantly difficult Grizz, who are aging in just bad enough ways to make the first round a lot easier for some lucky high seed. I like the Pelicans to really push forward this year, with F Antonio Davis getting real MVP consideration, but the bench is just not good enough to cover any injury or road work. I might have the Lakers too high, in that I really think they could be terrible, but just can't see Kobe Bryant allowing that much suckage, and I also think his comeback will be strong. Denver needs a new coach that will let them run, and a new training regime that might keep them on the floor. Minny's an entertaining mess, but too young to win in this conference. Utah might compete for a playoff spot in the East, and will not suck, but the won-loss record will barely reflect that. Sacramento is going to stink and threaten to move, like, well, nearly every year.
Cleveland over Detroit, Chicago over Charlotte, Miami over Brooklyn and Washington over Toronto
Cleveland over Washington, Miami over Chicago
Cleveland over Miami
LA Clippers over Phoenix, San Antonio over Dallas, OKC over Portland, Golden State over Houston
Golden State over Clippers, San Antonio over OKC
San Antonio over Golden State
Finals - San Antonio over Cleveland
So, yeah, LeBron loses to the Spurs in the Finals. The more things change...
MVP - James
Rookie of the Year - Andrew Wiggins
Coach of the Year - Steve Kerr
Sixth Man - Jamal Crawford
First Team All-NBA - James, Durant, Davis, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul
Second Team All-NBA - Russell Westbrook, John Wall, LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony and Serge Ibaka
Third Team All-NBA - James Harden, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin and Chris Bosh
Enjoy the games, everybody.