With the regular season less than a week away, my mental alarm clock went off for the third time, but this time I didn’t hit snooze. The prophecy said, “Bystradamus must finish his 2009-2010 NBA previews!” So, on with the show
EAST – Southeast
The Hawks unveiled their “ATL” jerseys, and with it, signed rappers T.I. & Big Boi from Outkast to replace Bibby &
Johnson as the starting back court. Atlanta is a loaded with crazy, athletic talent, and they are at their best when they utilize it in a high-energy, fast-paced game. Coach Don Nelson would love this team. Although they did a complete no-show against the Cavs in the post-season last time around, look for them to return to the playoffs this season and give those upper-echelon teams in the East a real run for their money. Ultimately, Atlanta is missing that one component that will take them from upstart team, to legitimate contender. Adding Jamal Crawford is a nice touch, but won’t do it. This team is pretty fun to watch nonetheless, and Al Horford is on my “Most Improved” list.
I have Atlanta making the playoffs with home court in the 1st round again this season –
I’m not sure where the Bobcats are heading, or looking to accomplish with that Okafor/Chandler trade, but it doesn’t look positive for me. Coach Larry Brown is a basketball genius, he’s the equivalent to the hardwood version of Albert Einstein, but even he can’t make E=mc2 out of this team. How Tyson Chandler is supposed to produce without Chris Paul feeding him is going to be interesting to see … I like Felton and Augustin in the back court. I like Gerald Wallace’s versatility on both ends. I think Diaw’s good. I really like Raja Bell’s overall game and defensive intensity, unfortunately he’ll be missing quite a few games due to injury which sets the Bobcats back even more … but, all these pieces don’t make a puzzle for me. I think they’re heading towards another mediocre season.
There’s only so much one man can do, and to do it again? If there was no such thing as a LeBron James, D-Wade would have easily taken home the MVP trophy last year. He did it all for the Heat: scored, grabbed boards, dished, got steals, blocked shots, sold concessions, ushered people to their seats, was the PA announcer – I mean, he did it all. How did they repay him? By not improving the team one bit. Safe to say this will be the last you’ll see of Wade in a Heat uniform. Enjoy this season South Beach, Florida, because after this, it’s the bottom for you. You take Wade out of the equation, and this team resembles the Charlotte Bobcats, if lucky. And watching Wade do what he did last year, it looked exhausting for him, I thank him, because he solely won my fantasy league for me, but I don’t know if he can repeat it. Does he have that kind of determination? And how serious is this team about basketball? Take a look at their roster link for their official website … I think they’re more concerned about auditioning for “Project Runway.”
The Heat (sadly) miss the playoffs this season, that means less Wade to see 😦
Superman, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis & Vinsanity! That’s a great start. Now solid role players in Gortat, Brandon
Bass, Pietrus and newly acquired Matt Barnes to name a few, and this team is going somewhere! People don’t realize how close Orlando came to defeating the Lakers and winning the title last June. Flashback: Courtney Lee hits that alley-oop lay-up off that brilliant in bounds play with .02 seconds left in regulation of Game 2, and Jameer Nelson doesn’t let Derek Fisher step into a rhythm 3 in Game 4, and the Magic are up 3-1. This team is “for real” and they’ve somewhat improved since last season, but so have the Celtics and Cavs. I like everything the Magic has done since falling short in the Finals last season, from who they acquired all the way up to their 8-0 pre-season. They’ll most likely hold the 3 spot again in the East, and in order to return to the “big stage” they’ll have to re-match with either or both the aforementioned Celtics & Cavs. This is where they’ll miss Hedo. Out of all the upgrades this team has done with their roster, you can’t replace Air Turkey with the former Air Canada. It will show up during money time.
Magic win the Southeast division and hold the 3 spot.
So you have the “Big 3”, that’s a given. Hopefully Agent Zero is fully recovered
and can get back to being the electrifying player we once remembered. Unfortunately for the Wizards, they need the Big 3 to all be healthy, and Jamison will miss a chunk of the season with a shoulder injury. I like the new additions: Mike Miller, Randy Foye and most importantly Fabricio Oberto, and no, that’s not a joke – Oberto is “most importantly“. Plus they’re coached by one of the best to do it in the regular season in Flip Saunders, but I say they fall short of the second season. They’ll barely get beat out by Indiana for the final spot, and to be honest, I can’t explain why I think this … On paper, Washington looks like a team to contend with, but from what I’ve seen from all the moving parts, it’s not enough to make the engine run through the long hall.
So with that said and done, the East is now a wrap – below is my projected playoff positioning for the conference:
- Boston Celtics
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Orlando Magic
- Atlanta Hawks
- Chicago Bulls
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
- Indiana Pacers