Opening night is tonight, so I'm getting my predictions into the vault just in time.
We'll start with the West, which I could really care less about. I'm just giving playoff seeding, I'll go more in depth for the East below...Western Conference
15. BlazersEastern Conference
1. Bulls (50-32) -
No drastic changes here, but one key addition. Joe Smith is going to give them a toughness and scoring presence they didn't have at PF last season. Noah is basically a less-athletic version of Tyrus Thomas, and a wasted pick, in my opinion. This team didn't need to do much to pass the Pistons, another year of seasoning on their part and another year older for Detroit gets the job done this year.2. Pistons (48-34) -
They'll cruise through the regular season before their age shows in the playoffs, again. Rodney Stuckey's broken wrist will hinder his development, and his impact on the team this year. It's a shame, they could've used the infusion of youth. Hopefully Tayshaun Prince will catch legionnaire's disease, I hate that guy.3. Toronto (47-35)
- Bosh and Garbajosa stay healthy, Kapono lights it up from the outside. The best team in the Atlantic last year got better and stay on top.4. Cleveland (47-35)
- Give or take 3 wins, depending on how many games LeBron decides to show up for. 5. Miami (43-39)
- Dwyane Wade is this entire team at this point. You can't count on Shaq for more than 40 games (20 dominant games). Kapono's gone. Ricky Davis is garbage. J-Wil is a complete joke. Wade is the best player in the division, and he's motivated, so I think they edge out the Wiz for the Southeast title.6. Boston (43-39)
- Obviously, I'm not as impressed with the new-look Celtics as everyone else is. All I see is a team with three "Superstars" who have never made it to the finals. Kevin Garnett tore apart Minnesota by demanding inferior players remain on the roster (Hassell and Hudson), Paul Pierce plays at the speed of a Walrus and Ray Allen can't guard Willie Green. All three are an injury risk, and I'd put money on at least one of them missing significant time. Beyond the big three, they have a young point guard who can't shoot to save his life, a talent-less big man and James Posey, not to mention a horrible, horrible coach. This team has no depth and three empty uniforms as its centerpiece. They make the playoffs, barely, that's it. 7. Wizard (42-40)
- This team is neither here nor there. It's a contract year for Arenas, so he'll be lighting it up all year. Butler and Jameson will score a ton as well, but this team just can't defend. Weak conference helps.
8. Nets (42-40)
- Kidd is a stud, but this team is old, and injury-prone. Nenad's return helps them, but not as much as Vince Carter's apathy hurts them. He was lazy last year, in a contract year, just imagine the effort they're going to get out of him this year with a fat contract in his back pocket.
9. Orlando (41-41)
- Dwight Howard continues to mature into the best big man in the East. Rashard Lewis turns out to be a bust, scoring about 18 per game and contributing absolutely nothing else. Terrible signing Orlando will regret for years to come.10. Philadelphia (40-42)
- Check back later for my full Sixers preview.11. Atlanta (38-44)
- Al Horford is the first smart pick the Hawks have made in the last five seasons. He and Josh Smith make this team go, but I still worry about the point guard situation. Acie Law IV isn't going to distribute enough, but I see them taking a step forward this year.12. Charlotte (38-44) -
Jason Richardson was a nice addition, Adam Morrison was a tough loss. I think this team's season comes down to Emeka Okafor's ability to stay on the floor. He missed 15 games last year, 57 the year before. If he can stay healthy, they could be a playoff team, but I'm skeptical.13. New York (35-47)
- Last season, the Knicks won 32 games with horrible perimeter play, pitiful interior defense, great rebounding and good inside scoring. In the off season they traded for Zach Randolph, meaning this year they're going to have horrible perimeter play, pitiful interior defense, great rebounding and good inside scoring. Sound familiar? I'm giving them 3 extra wins over last season because they shouldn't be as ravaged by injuries, they could be much worse if fat Eddy and Randolph keep fighting over dessert.14. Milwaukee (34-48)
- I'm not sold on anyone on this team. When your "star" is a shooting guard who can't do anything but shoot, you have problems. I think Yi is going to be a bust, and Bogut doesn't impress me all that much.15. Indiana (20-62)
- By far, the worst team in the league. Not to mention the fact their best player is begging to leave.