Eastern ConferenceAtlantic Division
1. Boston Celtics - There's not really that much debate about this one. The additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to accompany Paul Pierce is going to be something special.
2. New Jersey Nets - Richard Jefferson is going to be the wild card for this team if he's healthy I can see them going far, they still struggle to find a low-post presense, but I think Jamal Magloire will be a decent addition.
3. Toronto Raptors - They were a surprise team last year, and I think that TJ Ford will continue to blossom after a few years of injuries. Chris Bosh will also continue to develop into an All-Star Power Forward and Andrea Bargnani looks to be a special player as well.
4. New York Knicks - They have talent, they just can't seem to put it together on the court. The addition of Zach Randolph to accompany Eddy Curry is going to be huge for them, but Stephon Marbury is going to need to stop whining and start playing.
5. Philadelphia 76'ers - The sixers have a good foundation settling around Andre Iguodala, but I think that Thaddeus Young is going to need to contribute a lot as a rookie for them to do anything. I don't expect much from them this season.
1. Chicago Bulls - The Bulls have a very young, talented roster and if they get Kobe or if they don't get Kobe, they'll still be #1 in this division. I expect Luol Deng to pick up where he left off last season and have a very productive year.
2. Detroit Pistons - The Pistons are getting older, but I still think they have a very sound team and are going to give opponents their troubles night-in and night-out.
3. Cleveland Caveliers - LeBron James will once again carry this team, but I don't know if they have a good enough supporting cast surrounding him to do anything substantial. After reaching the Finals in '07, I see them having a disappointing season (as a team) in '08. But I think LeBron will generate MVP buzz once again.
4. Indiana Pacers - They too have a good group of younger players, except they just don't seem to keep their head screwed and let their emotions get the best of them. Jermaine O'Neal needs to stay healthy for them to be effective. Danny Granger is going to excite people that have never seen him play before.
5. Milwaukee Bucks - Although I think they have a better team than they did last year, I just don't know if they'll be able to beat out any of their division counterparts. I think they can be a surprise team this season, so this 5th ranking is definitely just temporary.
1. Orlando Magic - I really like what the Magic have right now. They added Rashad Lewis to an already stable lineup and Jameer Nelson is going to have his fair share of players that can help him rack up assists. Dwight Howard is a beast, and I expect (very) big things from him this season.
2. Miami Heat - Even with Dwayne Wade out of the lineup for a while, I still see the Heat making a splash in the East. The only thing that will hold them over though is if Shaquille O'Neal can stay healthy and in the lineup until Wade comes back. Ricky Davis is going to have a solid season with the Heat.
3. Atlanta Hawks - The Hawks have an extremely talented young team. Acie Law was a consistent performer in college and I expect him to be an important piece to their team. Al Horford has looked good so far in pre-season and may give the Hawks their best low-post player since Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
4. Washington Wizards - They have a good team, but Gilbert Arenas needs to just shut up and play. He grabbed the attention of many fans last year, but he is letting it go to his head in a hurry. The Wizards are going to need to keep him out of the media.
5. Charlotte Bobcats - The Jason Richardson trade looks to be a great move right now after they found out Adam Morrison would miss the rest of the season. Richardson will give them another high-flying exciting player, but I still think that they need another player to step up. Emeka Okafor has been solid, but not elite. Raymond Felton looks ready to have a breakout season.
1. San Antonio Spurs - Do I really need to explain this ranking?
2. Dallas Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki had a great season, but someone else is going to need to step up and help him out. Josh Howard needs to stay out of trouble and I like what Devin Harris can bring to their offense.
3. Houston Rockets - Tracy McGrady will need to (more than ever) stay healthy this season. The Rockets have one of their best teams I've seen and if he can stay healthy, I see them going far. Steve Francis needs to step up and make the starting lineup, he's still their best point guard.
4. New Orleans Hornets - Chris Paul is an amazing point guard and I really like his future. David West impressed many last year, but he needs another productive season.
5. Memphis Grizzlies - I expect them to have a better team than last season, but I just don't see them being a contender. Pau Gasol is going to be traded this season, I think that's a fairly safe assumption.
1. Denver Nuggets - Many think that playing with Carmelo Anthony is going to hurt Allen Iverson and he won't be as effective as he has in seasons past. But I disagree. Just because he likely won't score close to 30 points, I still think he'll get his fair share of steals and assists to help be a consistent contributor.
2. Utah Jazz - Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer carried this team on their backs last season and if Andre Kirilenko can produce instead of whine, then I like their chances of going far this season.
3. Seattle Supersonics - Although both Rashad Lewis and Ray Allen are gone, they did a good jobe of replacing them with rookies Jeff Green and Kevin Durant. Green likely will start the season on the bench, but I expect him to make an impact at some point this season. And Durant is just such a special player that he'll cause defenders trouble all season.
4. Portland Trailblazers - After the draft, I predicted that the Blazers would be a surprise team this season, and they still might, but with Greg Oden officially out for the entire season, I don't like their chances. Last seasons Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy has been battling injuries through camp and his heal could cause him to miss some time this season.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves - Before I go too far into this, I really want to stay optimistic about the Wolves this season and think that they could surprise, but realistically I just don't see it happening. The Wolves have a great foundation of Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer and even Rashad McCants, but they lack another go-to guy which they'll likely get with their high first round pick next season. Possibly center Roy Hibbert from Georgetown. I like the direction we're going, and I'm happy that McHale didn't pussy-foot around while he dismantled our roster, he pretty much did it all this summer and I like that. Hopefully he can build it as well as he dismantled it. But for that part, I'm not as optimistic.
1. Phoenix Suns - I think that the Suns are still the best team in the NBA, but their championship hopes are dwindling with Steve Nash now 33 years old and his lingering injuries probably causing him problems this season as well, I think that this is a make or break year for the Suns. The addition of Grant Hill will give them yet another great player, but he too has injuries that will haunt him. Shawn Marion is the NBA's most underrated player, and they should do anything they can to try and re-sign him.
2. Warriors - The Warriors came on very strong and the end of last season and really surprised many in the playoffs, I think that they're going to be a great team as long as they can keep their "nose clean" and stay out of the night clubs. Baron Davis really played hard and will look to have another impressive season.
3. Lakers - Any team with Kobe Bryant on it will definitely be considered an immediate contender. I'm really getting sick of the drama with him and the Lakers and I hope they ultimately end up trading him. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they don't really have a great foundation for a team that is likely going to start rebuilding. I think their best bet is to try and surround Kobe with talent, before trying to move him.
4. Kings - The Kings will be without Mike Bibby for a while, but they still have a solid team. Kevin Martin will look to continue his progress into one of the NBA's elite scorers. Brad Miller needs to have a good season other wise Spencer Hawes will likely take over. If Shareef Abdur-Rahim can stay healthy, they'll likely be close to making the playoffs.
5. Clippers - After a couple promising seasons, the Clippers are back to where most of them have seen them the most, at the bottom. Elton Brand looks to be out for half the year, Shaun Livingston is still rehabbing from last years devastating knee injury and Sam Cassell is probably on his last leg. The only thing that can save this team is if they use their heads and start Al Thornton over Tim Thomas. Thornton had a great preseason and is an important part to this teams success in the future.
ChampionshipPhoenix Suns over the Oralando Magic in 6 games.
The Suns really are going to come out swinging this season and although the Spurs are still the team to beat in the West, I feel the Suns will end up victorious. The Magic are definitely a "sleeper" pick to win the championship, or even to make the playoffs, but I expect big things from them this season. Call me crazy, but I'm taking a shot with them.
League MVP: Dwight Howard. He focused on the offensive side of his game this off-season and I think it's not too unrealistic to see him averaging around 23 points, 14 rebounds per game.
League ROY: Kevin Durant. I wanted to make another "sleeper" pick such as Al Horford or Al Thornton, but Durant is probably the most realistic. Horford and Thornton will probably both develop buzz as well, but I think Durant is going to end up being the player that everyone thinks he is.
Any thoughts? Opionions?