Michael Beasley was a great college player when you consider the numbers he put up as a freshman; there’s no denying the kid has talent, however I’m not necessarily sold on him as a power forward. He seems more like a hybrid type of forward that you play either at the 3 or the 4 depending on matchups which in this case is perfect for the Heat because they still have Shawn Marion (One has to ask: what’s in the water in Phoenix? Why do all-star caliber players feel they are better off playing without Steve Nash; it’s like Steve Nash is Suge Knight and t he Suns are Deathrow, west side biatch!!! Back to our regularly scheduled program). Dwyane Wade will finish second in scoring in the league, will lead the league in turnovers and will miss 15 games. Add it all up, the Heat finish eighth in the conference; if they get a point guard they would finish higher up, but w’ll stick with what we have right now.
7. Washington Wizards (42 – 40)
So the Wizards were ecstatic about their off-season because they re-signed Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. So this makes them a contender right? WRONG!!!! I’ll agree that this team has been banged up these past two years in the playoffs and therefore has not been at full strength in the postseason; but one has to ask: is it a trend? In the event that it is not a trend, were they even that good to begin with to max out those two players? Has anyone seen Agent Zero play since the Cavs series to know if he’s not damaged goods? Call me crazy but why max them out if they can’t even take you to second round?!? That being said, the Wizards will average around 105 points per game and will have three players average over 20 points per game, might put fans in the seats but won’t get out the first round.
6. Philadelphia 76ers (45 – 37)
The Sixers have been getting a lot of love in the media and amongst their fans and rightfully so. They wanted their guy and did everything possible to get him. However, they seem to be perhaps one player away; and they might not get that player considering the ridiculous amount they gave Iguodala (he’s making franchise player type money and yet might never make an all-star game; add to that the fact that he only showed up for one game in the series against the Pistons and you see in the error in their ways). While we’re on the subject, signing a player to an all star contract in the hopes that he will play like an all star for you will now be known as the Rashard Lewis contract. The Sixers should be a good defensive team and a solid defensive rebounding one as well; which should lead to transition baskets. Where they will get in trouble is in the halfcourt sets; other then Elton Brand, they do not have a go to scorer or clutch scorer for that matter; which will doom them when it’s time to close out games.
5. Toronto Raptors (47-35)
Chris Bosh will come out with Jermaine O’Neal and terrorize frontcourts in the NBA. CB4 will average a KG (25-12-5) and will for the best defensive frontcourt tandem in the league. Jermaine O’Neal will miss around 10-12 games but he will nevertheless be rejuvenated and highly effective on offense and defense. His biggest contributions should come in his defensive presence as he changes a few shots and reminds a few players that he owns the paint. Furthermore, the Raptors should be a good shooting team and will have good steady point guard play. Chris Bosh should prove to be a go to scorer but the hope is that now Calderon will be able to take over at the end of games and consistently come up with the best play; his ability to do so will determine if the Raptors are good or great this year.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (51- 31)
The Cavs added Mo Williams in the offseason to shore up the point guard position. He should be able to run the offense when Lebron is out of the game and most importantly make open shots. This does however make Delonte West expendable (remember, he’s the only other guy that showed up in game 7 against the Celtics besides LBJ) and we have yet to see Williams on a big stage in the playoffs. The Cavaliers recipe for wins is simple: defend (always keeps them in games until the end), rebound at both ends and get Lebron to close it out. This formula has worked for the past three years and will probably work this year once again; however they will need more to contend. Ben Wallace won’t give them much this year and Ilgauskas is on the decline. They will have enough to make it out the first round perhaps, but not enough to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Unless Danny Ferry does something about that, we might be looking at another year of Eminem featuring D12 while the whole world keeps hoping to get Renegade (you the know, the song Eminem ft Jay-Z; look it up if you’re clueless).
3. Orlando Magic (55 - 27)
Soulja Boy Off In This Hoe
Watch me Crank It
Watch me Roll
Watch me Crank Dat Soulja Boy
Then Super Man Dat Hoe
Now, Watch me You...
(Crank Dat Soulja Boy)
Expect Dwight Howard to keep singing to this tune (face it people,it's not a song) all the while jumping over people for vicious dunks and higlight rejections. The addition of Pietrus helps the Magic defend good perimeter players and gives them some additional scoring punch. They should have a good regular season and beat teams they are supposed to beat handidly with D12 attracting such a big crowd that his teammates constantly get open looks. The Magic might run into trouble with good post defenders (think Cleveland, Boston, San Antonio for instance) which will not always throw double teams at him. Ultimately, they will be a good team with a good regular season that may even end up facing off against Detroit and winning (mind you, Rashard Lewis will have to toughen up and then some for that to happen) but they are not as of yet a contender for the crown.
2. Detroit Pistons (56 – 26)
All this talk of possibly making trades and blowing the team up has gone no where up to this point in time. The Pistons team as currently constructed is built to have very good regular season but lose out in either the second round or east finals depending on the matchups. So there comes a point in time where you have to ask yourself: are we playing for a title or are we playing to show up and just give a good series? I liken them to the Wizards; meaning they have kept all of their core guys together and have made some small tweaks but in the end the result is the same. Joe Dumars is smart for not giving his guys away but then again he has to at some point get something for them and restart or make a blockbuster trade to get them over the hump. Let’s be real, every year that goes by, his guys lose trade value and it’s not like any of them have great trade value (save for Billups and Wallace for the right taker). He can stand pat and give Pistons fans a solid regular season and disappointing playoff run or blow it up, get draft picks, have a bad year or two and then sign the right guys(let’s face it, if there’s anyone that understands the whole GM gig it’s Dumars, dude never overspends) and have the team eventually contend for a title. That being said, he might see what happened to Isiah Thomas and just be terrified of his fate of he does that. Time will tell.
1. Boston Celtics (60-22)
They bring back the same cast that one the title save for a few players like PJ Brown, Sam Cassel and James Posey. They will try to win again with the same core of guys obviously and try to double up. The guy that will hold the team together once again will be KG. The Celtics will win less games then last season but will sit atop the league with the best overall record in basketball ready to embark on another strong postseason run.
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