Monday, November 05, 2012

2012-13 NBA Preview Wrap-Up

Before we get into the playoffs and awards, here's a quick recap of how each division should play out:

1. y-New York 57-25
2. x-Boston 46-36
3. x-Toronto 46-36
4. Brooklyn 37-45
5. Philadelphia 39-43

1. y-Indiana 48-34
2. x-Milwaukee 47-35
3. x-Chicago 45-37
4. Cleveland 26-56
5. Detroit 19-63

1. z-Miami 65-17
2. x-Atlanta 52-30
3. Washington 43-39
4. Orlando 30-52
5. Charlotte 18-64

1. y-San Antonio 53-29
2. x-Dallas 50-29
3. Memphis 43-39
4. Houston 38-44
5. New Orleans 37-45

1. w-Denver 56-26
2. x-Oklahoma City 53-29
3. x-Minnesota 53-29
4. x-Utah 49-33
5. Portland 33-49

1. y-LA Clippers 55-27
2. x-LA Lakers 49-33
3. Phoenix 29-53
4. Sacramento 29-53
5. Golden State 23-59

2012-13 NBA Preview: Pacific Division

Wins Produced Order of Finish
1. LA Clippers 55-27
2. LA Lakers 49-33
3. Phoenix 29-53
4. Sacramento 29-53
5. Golden State 23-59

I feel like the world will almost certainly end if things do in fact play out this way, but the Clippers project as the stronger LA team on the strength of a still-improving Blake Griffin (and DeAndre Jordan, for that matter), a full training camp and off-season of Chris Paul, and an upgraded backcourt rotation that will include Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups instead of Randy Foye, Nick Young, and Mo Williams.  The backcourt will also be bolstered by expanded minutes for Eric Bledsoe, and Matt Barnes and Grant Hill will be an upgrade over Bobby Simmons and Ryan Gomes behind Caron Butler.  The x-factor will be if Lamar Odom can approach his 6th Man of the Year performance in 2010-11, or if his putrid showing in Dallas is a sign his career may be done.  Oh, and Vinny Del Negro could always screw things up completely.

2012-13 NBA Preview: Northwest Division

Wins Produced Order of Finish
1. Denver 56-26
2. Oklahoma City 53-29
3. Minnesota 56-26 53-29
4. Utah 49-33
5. Portland 33-49

This division is stacked, as even last place Portland has enough young talent to exceed their projection by a pretty good margin.  Denver has a fantastic collection of young athletes, and the addition of Andre Iguodala gives them a defensive presence that has been missing.  Oklahoma City probably cost themselves a title shot by trading James Harden, but Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb should make up enough of Harden's production that they won't completely fall off a cliff (Kevin Durant will have a lot to do with keep the Thunder afloat, as well). Minnesota will be without Kevin Love for close to two months following his knuckle pushups injury, but there schedule is weak enough and their supporting cast is improved enough that Rick Adelman should be able to keep things hovering around the .500 mark until Love returns.  Utah's collection of young big men is unparalleled in the NBA, and if Enes Kanter or Derrick Favors bust out, the Jazz could end up stealing this division.  Mo Williams isn't a pure point guard, but neither was Devin Harris, and Mo and the also-newly-acquired Marvin Williams will give Utah better spacing than they had last season.  Portland has a fine young nucleus of LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, and if Damian Lillard is anywhere near as good as he projects to be (and early returns are very promising) the Blazers will have one of the better young cores in the NBA.  The problem is, the Blazers still might have the 5th best core in their own division, meaning that the Northwest should be the class of the NBA divisions for the next few seasons.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

2012-13 NBA Preview: Southwest Division

Wins Produced Order of Finish
1. San Antonio 53-29
2. Dallas 53-29 50-32
3. Memphis 43-39
4. Houston 38-44
5. New Orleans 37-45

As boring as it is to say, the Spurs are once again the team to beat in the Southwest, as Tim Duncan looks like he has at least one more season of borderline All-Star level play in him and Kawhi Leonard looks like he may be able to help Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili shoulder more of the load than any other supporting member San Antonio's Big Three has ever played with.  Dallas will continue to chug along behind the coaching of Rick Carlisle and an underrated roster (if 2012 Diminishing Skills Most Improved Player Brandan Wright continues to hit 12 of every 13 shots, he's going to make me look like a genius) around a wounded Dirk Nowitzki (which is the reason I sliced 3 wins off their win total).  Memphis seems like a team in need of a change, but there's enough talent that a deep playoff run isn't out of the question (given the Grizzlies can make the playoffs in the first place).  Houston GM Daryl Morey finally got the superstar he had been seeking in James Harden, but all of the talent he shedded in stockpiling assets to chase a star has ironically left the Rockets in the exact same position they've found themselves in the past three seasons.  The difference this year, of course, is that the future looks brighter in Houston with super young role players in place to support Harden's ascension into the league's elite.  New Orleans had an up-and-down off-season.  They have a new owner, a franchise player in Anthony Davis, and some fine supporting pieces in Ryan Anderson and Greivas Vasquez.  Unfortunately, they also threw nearly $60 million over four years at Eric Gordon, who probably isn't worth that even when he isn't dealing with injury drama (which is almost never), and wasted the 10th pick in a reasonably deep draft on Austin Rivers.  Rivers didn't have a position in college; I don't know what Monty Williams is going to do with him in the NBA.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Chicago 115 Cavs 86: Dog Poop

The Cavs were so thoroughly outplayed tonight, there is no need for any kind of breakdown.  Just dog poop.

2012-13 NBA Preview: Southeast Division

Note: My plan was to do a fairly lengthy write-up on each team, as I have done for the teams of the Atlantic and Central divisions.  Unfortunately, I'm out of time.  Instead, I'm just going to do a quick wrap-up of each division.

Wins Produced Order of Finish
1. Miami 65-17
2. Atlanta 52-30
3. Washington 43-39
4. Orlando 30-52
5. Charlotte 18-64

Spoiler alert: Miami is going to repeat as champions (as long as LeBron stays healthy).  Atlanta will surprise some by achieving the exact same results they have the past four seasons or so in an entirely different matter. Instead of the iso-heavy attack of the Joe Johnson years, Danny Ferry has constructed a team of sharpshooters (Kyle Korver, rookie John Jenkins, Lou Williams) surrounding Al Horford.  And I'm in the camp that says Josh Smith has a monster contract year.  Washington will probably fall short with John Wall and Nene already out.  The lineup they threw out opening night in Cleveland did not look like a contender for the NCAA tourney, let alone the NBA playoffs.  Orlando continues to do it wrong, as the train wreck return they received for Dwight Howard still leaves them with too much talent to truly bottom out.  Charlotte will be better than last year's historically awful team, but they will still be the worst team in the league.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looks like he's going to prove me wrong and put together a solid rookie season, but there's only so much one man (child?) can do.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

2012-13 NBA Preview: Central Division Wrap-Up

Wins Produced Projected Order of Finish
1. Indiana 48-34
2. Milwaukee 47-35
3. Chicago 45-37
4. Cleveland 26-56
5. Detroit 19-63

Wins Produced All-Central Team
PG George Hill, Indiana
SG Paul George, Indiana
SF Luol Deng, Chicago
PF Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee
C Joakim Noah, Chicago

Eye-Ball Test All-Central Team
PG Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
SG George, Indiana
SF Deng, Chicago
PF Greg Monroe, Detroit
C Noah, Chicago

Wins Produced and the Eye-Ball Test match up pretty well in the Central, with the obvious exception of George Hill over Kyrie Irving.  (Of course, Derrick Rose would make the team over both of them if he were healthy.)  I personally think Monroe is in for a monster year, but I don't think Ilyasova is necessarily a slouch.  Carlos Boozer is hated by even Bulls fans, but he is still a productive player who could find himself in the running for this team with a heavier scoring load this year.  Deng beats out a weak crop of small forwards (Danny Granger is his only legitimate competition), while Joakim Noah edges out Anderson Varejao and Roy Hibbert.  As I touched on in my Pacers preview, Paul George has the potential to be a major star, and he shouldn't have much competition at his position from his division-mates.