Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Western Conference Predictions

Yep, bored again at work.

Here's how I think the West will shake out.

1. Los Angeles Lakers
I hate the Lakers. Hate em. Unfortunately, they are not only the team to beat this year, but next year as well. And quite possibly the year after that. No, it's not because of Kobe. Or team chemistry. It's about Andrew Bynum. Look at the Lakers' record last year - with Bynum in the lineup this was a +.500 team. When he got injured the team was merely .500 (as they were the previous year). When Gasol arrived they were +.500 again. Now Bynum is back, and that makes the Lakers a +65-win team. Brutal.

2. New Orleans Hornets
With the best player in the game (Chris Paul), the most underrated big man (Tyson Chandler), and new addition James Posey, who has proven to be a productive bench player, the Hornets should have no problem finishing in second again.

3. Utah Jazz
The Jazz were fourth last year and are returning pretty much the same team. This is an easy pick, and I'm putting them third not because of any improvement, but rather because the Spurs have fallen out of the top tier.

4. Dallas Mavericks
I fully expect Dirk Nowitski to bounce back from a bad shooting year. That alone will net the Mavs several more victories.

5. Houston Rockets
The Rockets drafted very well, picking up a monster rebounder in Joey Dorsey. They also swiped the extremely productive Brent Barry from the interstate rival Spurs. The Rockets have productive players galore, just no truly dominant ones. But those players go a long way since there's no dead weight.

6. San Antonio Spurs
This is still a great team, they're just really going to miss the big minutes Brent Barry used to deliver. Now they're going to look to the mediocre Michael Finley to replace that production - hilarity will ensue. (Also it looks like Manu Ginobli is out for the first 15-20 games. That's going to hurt them in the final standings for sure.)

7. Pheonix Suns
Poor Pheonix. I was really rooting for them to win a championship... they were unsuccessful a few years running and then ditched Shawn Marion. Shaq is, well, Old Shaq, but he played pretty well with the Suns last year, just not up to Marion's level. And Nash is one year older. As Dave Berri said, these Suns are setting...

8. Portland Trailblazers
Picking the last playoff team in the West is really, really tough. I'm going with Portland by default - they were only 10 games out last year and are adding Greg Oden. Problem is he'll probably replace last year's leading rebounder Joel Pryzbilla. There's a lot of other things that can go wrong with this team, too. I just don't trust them. But I trust the next few teams less.

9. Golden State Warriors
Another tough call here. After losing Baron Davis the Warriors picked up Corey Maggette and Ronny Turiaf, then lost last year's most improved player (although he didn't win the award) Monta Ellis for three months to a dubious injury. Hmm. The new signings are strong, but it seems all too likely that Turiaf will come off the bench behind the overrated Al Harrington (although you never know with Don Nelson). Bottom line - if Ellis comes back healthy the Warriors should finish just out of the playoffs. Again.

10. Denver Nuggets
Good God, this team gave away their best player and got nothing in return. Ok, let me rephrase that - they gave away their most productive player. Marcus Camby is a rebounding and shot-blocking God. Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson are both vastly overrated (although they've played much better in recent seasons, particularly this last one). Still, you can't lose your best player and expect to get better. Sure, Nene's back, but I see this team finishing out of the playoffs.

11. Los Angeles Clippers
A few of the teams at the bottom of the West have gotten stronger, but still suck. They just suck less. This is true of the Clippers, who probably had the strangest offseason of any team. First, they signed Baron Davis. Huge. Then, they somehow lost Elton Brand. Hugely disappointing. Then they lost Corey Maggette. Not good. Then they were gifted Marcus Camby. Huge. The net effect is this - the Clippers have one of the best trios in the entire NBA (Davis, Camby and my man Chris Kaman). Problem is, they have almost no productive players after this. There's no doubt the Clippers will be better than last year, but that just isn't saying much.

12. Sacramento Kings
I don't really know what to say about this team. They're not very good. Kevin Martin is spectacular, but they paid a ton of money for Mikki Moore, who pretty much blows. They claim to have a lot of young 'talent', but in reality they just have a lot of young players.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin McHale should not have a job. Still, it seems like he got an offseason right for the second time in his career (the first being when he drafted Kevin Garnett). Trading OJ Mayo for Kevin Love on draft night will go down as the steal of the draft. Love projects to be a dominant post player, while Mayo looks more like the consummate inefficient 'scorer' who does little else (aside from committing a lot of turnovers). McHale somehow managed to grab Mike Miller in the draft as well, but then went and traded newly-drafted Mario Chalmers to the Heat for no good reason. He would have helped this team a lot. Like the Clippers, this will be a better team than last year, but it doesn't mean much.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder
Weird writing that name. Let's face it - this team sucks. The only thing to hope for is a drastic improvement in Kevin Durant's game, but not so drastic that they lose out on draft position. Their recent draft picks are unlikely to do anything this year.

15. Memphis Grizzlies
Last year Memphis traded away Pau Gasol, a proven productive player, for lottery tickets. Then the offseason saw them trade a sure thing in Kevin Love, as well as their other proven productive player in Mike Miller, to Minnesota for Disaster Transport (Cleveland joke) rookie OJ Mayo. I hope you enjoy watching Mayo score 20+ points a game, Memphis, cause that's all he'll do, and his point average will probably surpass his team's season win total.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This is a bit premature, but I'm bored at work right now. Here are my predictions for the 08/09 NBA regular season:

Eastern Conference:

1. Boston Celtics
I fully expect Boston to repeat as the best team in the East. Their only significant loss (James Posey) has since been mitigated by the addition of Darius Miles. Miles has been fairly productive in the past as a role player. Basically the less shots he takes, the better.

2. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are also returning pretty much the same team. The biggest potential difference is the question mark at PF - I hear there is an open competition between incumbent starter Antonio McDyess, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson. Johnson has posted stellar numbers in limited minutes, so if he gets significant playing time the Piston's fortunes could see an improvement over last year (possibly overtaking Boston if Miles plays poorly).

3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Come on baby! With the confirmed re-signing of Delonte West I fully expect this to be the best Cavs team of the LeBron era, provided that Mike Brown makes intelligent playing time decisions (a big 'if'). If West, new addition Mo Williams and Wally split guard minutes, and Z, Varejao and Wallace split forward/C minutes, this team should be a lock for 50 wins and the third spot in the East. Should.

4. Orlando Magic
This isn't much of a stretch as the Magic were third last year. As long as Monster Man-Child Dwight Howard remains healthy they should have no problem staying on top of the Southeast Division.

5. Philadelphia
This pick probably won't surprise anyone, as the addition of a hopefully healthy Elton Brand should enhance an already .500 team. In the East that's pretty much all you need to snag the 5th playoff spot. If they can somehow finagle a real shooting guard this team will easily finish second to Boston in the Atlantic.

6. Miami
That's right, last year's worst team in the league is going to see a dramatic turn of fortune courtesy of a stellar draft. Michael Beasley will almost certainly go down as the best player of the 2008 draft, while Mario Chalmers will prove that he should have been a lottery pick (just take a look at his consistently strong numbers all three years of college). Add them to a starting five that includes the severely underrated Shawn Marion, an expectedly healthy Dwayne Wade and the solid Udonis Haslem (maybe, I guess the center position is in question) and you have a team that will surprise most pundits.

7. Indiana
This may be a stretch, but Indiana did have one of the best off seasons of any team in the league. First of all, they shipped off the way overrated Jermaine O'Neal and received a productive TJ Ford in return. Just replacing O'Neal with solid draftee Roy Hibbert should provide a significant boost, but I suspect this may be mitigated somewhat by the play of Mike Dunleavy, who had his (by far) best season as a pro last year. If he can maintain that level of productivity I fully expect Indiana to make the playoffs, if not, they just might finish 9th.

8. Toronto
This is a tough one. A lot rests on Jermaine O'Neal - will he play better on a new team? Or will he be expected to score (at his usual poor FG%)? One benefit of the trade is that it puts the drastically underrated Jose Calderon in line to receive massive minutes, but will that be enough to offset O'Neal's production (or lack thereof)? Overall I see this team dropping a bit.

9. Washington
Another tough one, especially since they finished 5th last season. Basically I'm betting that Antonio Daniels +1 year of age will not be able to hold up as well as he has in the past. I'm also betting that Caron Butler will not be able to match his career-best numbers from last year. Losing Gilbert Arenas for a month doesn't really factor in to my analysis, but his play upon his return sure does. He'll get his minutes back, but will he be his old self? Keep in mind - while Arenas is a very good player, he is nowhere near the level of his superstar status production-wise.

10. Chicago
It's pretty much a crapshoot down here in the bottom half. The Bulls are a strange one - no team deviated from expectations more than them last year. They should have competed for the top spot in the Central Division; instead they couldn't keep their head above .500, leading to some drastic deals (including the fantastic - for me - deal with the Cavs). Now they've gone and drafted an overrated PG who will, at the very best, go through some growing pains in his first NBA season. They got rid of their best post player in Ben Wallace, but did draft the solid Joaquin Noah last year (who should see significant minutes this year). I also expect Luol Deng to rebound from a disappointing and injury-plagued season (enough so that I'm going to roll the dice with him on my fantasy team again this year).

11. New York
No, this will not be D'Antoni's doing. A healthy Quentin Richardson and the addition of the underrated (how many times have I used that word?) Chris Duhon should be enough to give the Knicks a few more wins as well as the coveted 11th spot in the East. Congratulations.

12. Atlanta
You know, I really think Atlanta won't be this bad... but the loss of Josh Childress is just crushing. He got 30+ minutes per game off the bench, and now his stellar production is just plain gone. I do expect the Should-Have-Been-Rookie of the Year Al Horford to join the '2nd-Tier Elite' group of big men this year, so that increase in production will help. But the loss of Childress is just terrible, because who are they going to give those minutes to? Acie Law? Flip Murray? Ouch and ouch.

13. Charlotte
Sean May should be back, but so will Adam Morrison. Net effect = frown face.

14. New Jersey
This team could actually go anywhere. They drafted pretty well, but will Chris Douglas-Roberts actually get minutes as a rookie? Will the newly-added Jianlian Yi improve upon his lackluster rookie campaign? Will the replacement for Richard Jefferson actually play better than him (he was terrible last year)? If all these answers are 'yes' then I will almost certainly be wrong. But if they're all 'no' I might have nailed it.

15. Milwaukee
This team is just bad. Their 'star' can only score (Michael Redd), their big man is just a shade better than mediocre (Andrew Bogut), and their big addition (Richard Jefferson) has been injury-plagued recently and has given no indication that he will ever be his old productive self again. Keep in mind, if Jefferson can return to form this team will not be the worst in the East. I wouldn't bet on it though.

I'll do a Western Conference preview tomorrow, or some other day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm Back

Yes, it was great. No, I don't know where to even begin. 10 cities in 20 days. Met some great people, drank some great beer, what else can you ask for?

Seriously thinking about doing an EP with a song for each city/country (like a much more modest version of Sufjan Stevens' 50 States album series). Of course, I have another EP to get out the door first. Just a few songs away...

Monday, September 8, 2008


That's where I am right now. About to head to Sarajevo. Very beautiful countryside, very bombed out and bullet riddled buildings.

Cheap beer too.