Friday, October 3, 2008

NBA 08-09 season in just less than a month?


Didn't the Boston Celtics just won the 2008 NBA season like a month ago?

It seems like I never got to miss the NBA season. What would NBA players playing in that other season and winning it all. I'm talking about the 2008 Beijing Olympics were the NBA players were at win-or-go-home mode.

So, it's October and it's officially less than a month to go before the 82-game season kicks off. There has been a lot of offseason activity that's going to change the real season.

In the tradition of sports sites where they preview and rank the 30 NBA teams, here's my own version of ranking the teams. For ease of view, I'm ranking them by division.

The Boston Celtics division:
(note: I don't know each division's real name. Funnier to name it the way I'm naming it)
1. Boston Celtics - the defending champions showed that having 3 great players and 2 other mediocre players can win a championship. I doubt that everybody else is going to get surprised by this team. But they're still strong. They'll miss James Posey come playoff time and that's a story for another post.

2. Philadelphia 76ers - the Sixers get Elton Brand. They're getting back the rest of their core players. Brand has never been a selfish player that wants all the attention. He'll relinquish the scoring role to Andre Iguodala.

3. Toronto Raptors - the Raptors also beefed up in the offseason in getting Jermaine O'Neal. O'Neal has a lot going against him so it should help fuel his drive (and hopefully his body). The Raptors got rid of PG TJ Ford to get O'Neal. The trade is not disadvantageous for the Raptors because they have an excellent PG in Jose Calderon.

4. New Jersey Nets - the Nets are prime candidates to finish last in this division but who are we kidding from giving the last place to the Knicks. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if they'd suddenly win this division because Lawrence Frank has that notion to get his team going even if it's only just a season. They have the right blend of players to be surprising.

5. New York Knicks - eeyuck! There's no way that the Knicks will have a winning season this year. Not yet. They have to learn to play together.

Detroit division:
(I call this the Detroit division after how many seasons the Pistons have led this division)
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - will this be the season when the Cavs rule the division? Will this be the season that LeBron James wins it all? Won't he be too tired after the Olympics? Will he share the scoring responsibilities with Mo Williams? All these answers will lead to the Cavs winning the division finally. And maybe because the Pistons are in a turmoil.

2. Detroit Pistons - they just won't go away that easily. Maybe what will hinder them is the lack of experience of their new coach. Otherwise, everything else should be the same because everyone else is back for another season. And yeah, nobody got traded. Nice bluff, Joe Dumars!

3. Milwaukee Bucks - because no other team will come out of the cellar, I'll give the default 3rd place to the Bucks. Here's to Skiles and teaching this team to play defense. He's got the core group to get them over that defensive hump.

4. Indiana Pacers - they're not that organized yet. Larry Bird wants to get rid of the players he currently has in his team and that doesn't sound good to any coach.

5. Chicago Bulls - new coach. Let me restate that, new inexperienced coach. Good luck Vinny del Negro. You got to win over Ben Gordon, who is agreeing to only a one year contract. You got to win over Luol Deng who definitely wants to be recognized as the true team leader. You got to win over Joakim Noah who as a rookie already started getting in teammates' faces. Isn't that saying something about his future?

The other East division:
1. Orlando Magic - Dwight Howard rules this division! The man-child is primed for MVP consideration, finally. And with not much competition, it's a walk over.

2. Washington Wizards - after giving a huge contract extension to Gilbert Arenas, they find out that he'll miss the start of the season. They don't actually need him in the regular season. And they'll survive with what they currently have in Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Rest easy, Gilbert. The team needs you during the playoffs.

3. Miami Heat - I'd want to see the Miami Heat come back to win this division. But then again, if they do, I'd expect Pat Riley to suddenly take over just like the last time he took over for Stan van Gundy. Huh? Van Gundy didn't want to coach anymore? Nobody pushing him around to resign? So why the heck is he coaching exactly right now? Sheesh. 3rd place for Miami to temper down Pat Riley. Stay retired please.

4. Atlanta Hawks - just because we saw them make the playoffs this year doesn't mean they come back. They got in because this is the Eastern Conference where 8th place teams are one-hit wonders.

5. Charlotte Bobcats - what can Larry Brown do? Michael Jordan has to scout players properly otherwise Brown will end up with bad players. There's just so much a coach can do without getting the proper personnel in place. The Bobcats will compete. I'm sure Brown will make sure of that.

Texas division:
(ah, one of the most, if not the most, intriguing divisions in the NBA)
1. New Orleans Saints - they still have it. And James Posey will try to prove that he's got the championship touch a la Robert Horry.

2. Dallas Mavericks - I like Rick Carlisle. He did wonders for the Pistons. He might be a little bit controll-ish but he gets the job done. Dirk Nowitzki should be happy playing for him. And Jason Kidd will enjoy setting up all those plays.

3. San Antonio Spurs - Tim Duncan is still a dominant player. And there's no way that they will be ranked lower in the Texas Division. They'll miss Manu Ginobili but I can see them racking up the wins when he comes back. In the meantime, they'll bore you to death with their methodical game strategies.

4. Houston Rockets - where else would they be? It's a tough division. But considering how Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming have never finished the season together doesn't bode well for the Rockets. Hopefully Ron Artest can negate the possible loss from the two star players.

5. Memphis Grizzlies - I hope one day they'll do a Tampa Bay Rays impersonation and surprise everybod in the Texas division. They're young and inexperienced but hopefully they can run.

California division:
1. Los Angeles Lakers - the team with not much change in the offseason is sure to come back to lead this division once more. They will not surprise rivals anymore but they can still dominate. Now, if they can really get a decent point guard other than Derek Fisher...

2. Phoenix Suns - they're the lucky team to be 2nd place in the division. And that's because no other team is that good to keep up with the Lakers. The Suns have a new coach in Terry Porter and the same old bodies in Steve Nash and Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq isn't retiring yet and who knows what he went through in the offseason to be energized for the new season.

3. Los Angeles Clippers - I'll trust on Baron Davis to lead this team. Big men are the premium in this league and thankfully he still has Chris Kaman left. Losing Elton Brand isn't going to go well but Davis did just fine without a legit big man in Golden State.

4. Golden State Warriors - they lose Baron Davis but get Corey Maggette. And they still won't play defense this season. They didn't acquire a legit big man so they'll continue to run this season.

5. Sacramento Kings - the last place team by default. I'd expect them to be a competitive team just like the Charlotte Bobcats in their division. And I wouldn't be surprised if they'll pull of some sort of miracle a la Memphis Grizzlies wishing. Kevin Martin needs help. That's all.

The other Western division:
1. Utah Jazz - the Jazz win this division by default again. But they better be careful because the Portland Trail Blazers are up and coming. The Jazz still has to deal with AK47 Andrei Kirelenko. They can trade him now for serviceable parts.

2. Portland Trail Blazers - Greg Oden is still a rookie. The Blazers can surprise the Western Conference this year. They ran out of gas last year. They've added numerous weapons. Nate McMillan will be challenged to utilize everyone. Make them all happy coach!

3. Denver Nuggets - they lost Marcus Camby in a cost-cutting move. Camby was the only defender in the team. So, the Nuggets are back to becoming an offense-oriented team. Joy! My advice to the Denver organization, get rid of Allen Iverson now and buckle up for this season.

4. Minnesota Wolves - they get the benefit of the doubt here. They didn't lose a major player and instead added a serviceable Kevin Love. His impact is still questionable and hopefully Love doesn't spell out to BUST.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder - last place name gets last place position. Ugh. Why couldn't they find a different name. Sooners already taken? Kevin Durant is going to have a franchise-like season. He'll be considered as MVP if the Thunder end up out of last place.

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