Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The 2011-2012 NBA Year In Predictions

So here we are, five days before the start of the NBA 66-game sprint season, and we're still shuffling out free agents, injuries, the intrigues of major trades, the importation of overseas talent in a few months and more, more, more. It's a fool's errand to predict what will happen, but you don't care about the NBA without an awful lot of foolishness these days. So let's have at it, shall we?

Eastern Conference

1) Miami 48-18
2) Chicago 46-20
3) Boston 40-26
4) Atlanta 39-27
5) Orlando 37-29
6) Indiana 36-30
7) New York 34-32
8) Philadelphia 33-33

Miami over Philly, Chicago over New York, Indiana over Boston, Atlanta over Orlando

Miami over Indiana, Chicago over Atlanta

Miami over Chicago

A few things... I hate picking the Celtics as 14 games over .500 in an off-season where they dangled their point guard off a bridge, and they lost depth with Jeff Green's ailment and Big Baby Davis leaving for greener pastures. But they know how to play together, they have a coaching and home court advantage, and the Ray Allen - Kevin Garnett - Paul Pierce troika are still too ornery to let the defensive intensity slide. But if any of those guys go down, look out below; as the 7-game difference between third and out shows, it's not going to take very much to be gone here. I'm probably also overvaluing Orlando, but think Dwight Howard Contract Year is a mighty powerful motivation. Indiana looks dangerous to me, I don't like the Knicks to stay healthy, and my Sixers could actually be a lot better than this, but probably won't be. As for the playoffs, the only upset is Indiana rolling out the old in the first round; otherwise, this is a lot of same-old same-old, which is what should happen in a year where talent moves aren't going to work very well, due to the awkwardness of playing with new players.

Western Conference

1) Oklahoma City 44-22
2) Dallas 42-24
3) LA Clippers 40-26
4) Denver 38-28
5) San Antonio 36-30
6) Memphis 35-31
7) LA Lakers 34-32
8) Phoenix 33-33

OKC over Phoenix, Dallas over Lakers, Memphis over Clippers, Denver over San Antonio

OKC over Memphis, Dallas over Denver

OKC over Dallas

Wow, is this going to be a train wreck. Even if a team starts to separate themselves, the schedule is going to murder everyone, and the teams that have depth (Denver, Memphis) don't quite have the frontline talent to win the fresh games. I like the Thunder to be the best of a very tight pack, with Dallas having their bacon saved by the Lamar Odom trade. The Clips are going to be everyone's fun team in the regular season, but look out for Denver, who are going to be an energy monster with an even greater home court advantage than usual. As for the Lakers... wow, I don't like their energy or their chances. But at some point, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol have to turn it around, and Kobe Bryant drags them over the finish line. To the mother of all vengeance sweeps from Odom and the Mavs.

The Finals... OKC over Miami. And LeBron James officially becomes known more as a punchline than anything else.

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

MVP: LeBron James

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

All-NBA First Team: Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Chris Paul.

All-NBA Second Team: Bryant, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade.

All-NBA Third Team: Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph, Paul Pierce, Danny Granger and Al Horford.

All-Rookie Team: Irving, Kenneth Faried, Derrick Williams, Ricky Rubio and Bismack Biyombo

Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers

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