By Jason Leach
The NBA season is almost here and fans everywhere are excited! Many questions wait to be answered as the season approaches. Can Derrick Rose be the same player he was before tearing his ACL, when will the Lakers get Kobe back, how will Jason Kidd fair in his first year as a head coach and will the Heat 3 Peat? Here’s our prediction by division.
- Brooklyn Nets | the acquisition of KG, Pierce and Terry as the Nets starting 5 is arguably the best in basketball. Now the question is how will first year coach Jason Kidd and will their veteran bodies hold up over the course of the season?
- New York Knicks | the addition of Metta World Peace will add much needed toughness to the Knicks but with J.R. Smith missing the early part of the season, who’s going to help out Melo in scoring?
- Philadelphia 76ers | The Sixers have three talented rookies in Michael Carter Williams, Vander Blue and Nerlens Noel. If they’re able to adjust to the speed of the NBA, the Sixers could contend for a playoff spot.
- Toronto Raptors | Aside from Rudy Gay, there’s not much to get excited about with the Raptors.
- Boston Celtics | No Pierce, no Garnett, no Doc Rivers and no Rondo for the start of the season, the Celtics are clearly in rebuilding mode.
- Indian Pacers | They gave the Miami Heat all they could handle in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Now with a healthy Danny Granger and the acquisition of Chris Copeland to go along with star Paul George, the Pacers have as good a chance as anybody to ruin the Heat’s chance at a 3 Peat.
- Chicago Bulls | They showed tremendous heart in the playoffs last year as they were decimated with injuries. Now if Derrick Rose can return to his MVP form they will be one of the top four teams in the East. Their bench may not be as formidable this year with the loss of Nate Robinson.
- Detroit Pistons | With the addition of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, the Pistons will improve from their 29-53 record last season.
- Cleveland Cavaliers | How the Cavaliers fair this season will come down to the health of Center Andrew Bynum. If he can play close to a full season, the Cavs could sneak into the playoffs; if he can’t stay on the court expect a similar record to last year when they were 24-58.
- Milwaukee Bucks | Last season the Bucks were the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. While they lost a trio of talented guards in the offseason in Monta Ellis, J.J Redick, and Brandon Jennings, they acquired O.J Mayo and Gary Neal. But it still seems unlikely that the Bucks will make any noise in the East.
- Miami Heat | The Heat are simply the class of the NBA and the overwhelming favorites to win their 3rd championship in a row. With LeBron James the game’s best player and Dwayne Wade getting healthy, who can stop the Heat? Probably no one.
- Washington Wizards | The Wizards signed John Wall to a contract extension, now can Wall take the Wizards to the playoffs.
- Charlotte Bobcats | The Bobcats will be better this year with the acquisition of Al Jefferson. Now they need their young players such as Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to take their talents to the next level.
- Atlanta Hawks | Over the years the Hawks have slowly but surely cut their payroll. As a result, the Hawks will miss the playoffs this year.
- Orlando Magic | The Magic are still in the rebuilding stage in their 2nd season without Dwight Howard. It’s possible the Magic may consider trading some of their established players like Jameer Nelson and Glen “Big Bay” Davis as they continue to build for the future.
- Oklahoma City Thunder | In Kevin Durant the Thunder have the 2nd best player in the NBA and will probably have another 60 win season. Question for the Thunder is when will Russell Westbrook return from injury?
- Denver Nuggets | Losing Andre Igoudala is a huge blow, but the addition of Nate Robinson and his energy could make the Nuggets more dynamic.
- Portland Trailblazers | the Trailblazers improved their bench this offseason and now have their sights on making the playoffs
- Minnesota Timberwolves | Perhaps hearing that their star Kevin Love may leave if the Timberwolves do not surround him with more talent, they went out and signed Kevin Martin. However in a loaded Conference Timberwolves will more than likely watch the playoffs from home
- Utah Jazz | It was a long offseason for the Jazz as they lost their starting Center and Power Forward, the 2013-2014 could be a long season for the Jazz
- Los Angeles Clippers | With the addition of head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers are poised to win 60 games and contend for a championship
- Golden State Warriors | the combination of Stephen Curry and Andre Igoudala will wreak havoc in the NBA.
- Los Angeles Lakers | as long as Kobe Bryant doesn’t miss more than a third of the season recovering from his torn Achilles, he’ll have the Lakers in the playoffs.
- Sacramento Kings | with the guidance of Shaq, look for DeMarcus Cousins to have his best season of his career.
- Phoenix Suns | In a sign and trade they acquired Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler but that will not be enough to contend in the West.
- San Antonio Spurs | After a heartbreaking defeat in the NBA Finals last year, the core Spurs (Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli) are ready to make one more run at a title.
- Memphis Grizzles | The Grizzles have one of the best front courts in the league in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Now the question will be can they continue their success from a season ago under new coach David Joerger?
- Houston Rockets | There’s a lot to get excited about with signing the free agent of the summer in Dwight Howard. But they’re about a year away from being serious contenders in the West.
- Dallas Mavericks | It’s hard to imagine that just 3 years ago the Mavericks won the championship. The main acquisition they made this offseason was signing Monta Ellis.
- New Orleans Pelicans | the Pelicans have a lot of young talent in players such as Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, but the roster is too young to compete on a consistently.