this is year 3 of the regular season prediction contest! To think, I have wasted nearly 3 years and 4621 comments worth of my life on this site and all I have to show for it is a fantastic online basketball community! This year, I will provide a free 12-pack of something nice for the winner. I am just getting into the beer scene here in Texas so I do not have the specifics yet, but it should be some of the good stuff.
To participate in the prediction contest, simply pick the top-8 teams in each conference and provide their records (try to follow my template below). The scoring will probably be similar to last year's but I will not provide the details at this time as there is little gamesmanship in this. The more commentary you provide, the better, since, as always, the real point of this contest is to inspire discussion.
1. Chicago Bulls, 67-15.
2. Miami Heat, 52-30.
3. Indiana Pacers, 51-31.
4. Brooklyn Nets, 47-35
5. New York Knicks, 45-37
6. Atlanta Hawks, 44-38
7. Toronto Raptors, 43-39
8. Cleveland Cavaliers, 43-39
1. San Antonio Spurs, 58-24
2. L.A. Clippers, 54- 28
3. Golden State Warriors, 52-30
4. Houston Rockets, 49-33
5. Oklahoma City Thunder, 48-34
6. Memphis Grizzlies, 47-35
7. Portland Trail Blazers, 43-39
8 New Orleans Pelicans, 42-40
It looks like there are a few predictions that will probably prove controversial. First, I have the Bulls as a historically good regular season team. The fact is, they are healthy, pissed and they have never looked so good. Further, half the teams in the league are tanking. The Bulls are going to come out with both barrels and are going to kick ass every night. If they are healthy in May and June, they are winning the championship. There is no team in the NBA that can stop them.
Okay, all homerism aside, the next controversial aspect of the standings are that the Heat have a full 15 fewer wins than the Bulls (seems right to me?). The fact is, they were beat up by their streak last year and have probably decided to be cautious in these matters. Further, I do not think that they can make it through this season without an injury to one of their major cogs (and I do not mean Oden!). They will be the Heat come playoff time but I think that they know how difficult a 3-peat is and will act accordingly.
The fact that people are actually ranking the Pacers ahead of the Bulls is insanity. They will die by our hands in the playoffs.
The Nets have enough continuity to be a good regular season team, in spite of all of the new pieces. At the end of the day, they are still maintaining 3/5 of their starting lineup and the players that they are adding are very savvy. That said, they will be good, not great, and may also die by our hands in the playoffs (which would be pretty sweet given the Noah-KG feud).
The Knicks will regress. They have not added the personnel that they needed. I kind've like the prospect of a Chandler/Melo/Bargnani/Smith/Shumpert starting 5 (assuming that Shump can run the point but, since he actually did it in college in contrast to Oladipo, he may be able to pull this off). That said, they will not have the defense to be a real contender and should spend the season bum slaying.
As far as the bottom 3 go, I have the Hawks because I do not actually see them slipping too much without Josh Smith (although a mid-season trade is a huge possibility for them). Millsap is good and may be a better piece for this team. As far as Toronto goes, I like what I am seeing out of Ross. Further, so much time has been spent arguing the 'contrarian' opinion that Rudy Gay sucks that we forget that he can contribute at a high level to the right team. That foreign geek that they have at center is kicking a ton of ass. This looks like it may just be a playoff team. I will give the last playoff spot to the Cavs but let me make one point perfectly clear : the Cavs will not beat the Bulls once this season and will be swept by them out of the playoffs. Kyrie Irving will weep and declare that his is not 1/10th the player that DRose is.
Okay, homerism over. I do not have Detroit making the playoffs as that game we played against them confirmed everyone's darkest fears about this lineup. You cannot have two stupid big men at the same time (Smith and Drummond). Further, playing Smith at the 3 turns him into the player that everyone hates. They are going to play very ugly basketball for the next season.
As far as the west goes, I think that we can all agree on the top 6, although the order may be shuffled. I see OKC engaging in a major regression, with or without Westbrook. You look at that roster and realize that they do not have that many good basketball players. They need to make some moves. I see Memphis as a more battered version of the team that they were last year. If they can make a mid-season move to address the incredible lack of shooting at the wings (and fucking hell they should certainly do so) than they could get into playoff contention. Maybe if Atlanta sucks they could possibly send Korver and Lou Williams over for expirings and draft picks? That would solve a lot of problems for both sides.
Denver is not making the playoffs. Their starting lineup will contain one actual basketball player (Ty Lawson) and a bunch of athletic freaks. Their starting front-court is a disaster. These are players with value in the right system but Keneth Faried and Javale Magee is just not a reasonable pair of starting bigs unless you really want that Wiggins kid.
Houston will be good, not great. DH12 is just too huge of an ass-clown.
Portland will make the playoffs as they have continuity and restocked talent. Minnesota will not as they have just gotten way too used to losing. New Orleans will as they have a very compelling starting-5 and may just get a breakout season by the brow.
Okay gang, that's it. Please provide your standings and justification. Sorry that mine was a novel but I have had a lot of thoughts on the subject. Go Bulls!!!!