An Introduction

Hey all, I’m Danny, the third member of this blog triumvirate. My posts on this space will cross a few genres, like the rest of the folks here, but my primary focuses are sports, music, and pop culture, with a hodge podge of other stuff as well. For my inaugural post here, I’m adding my NBA predictions from the beginning of the season. As with any set of predictions, some are already horribly wrong, but that’s part of the process.

Eastern Conference

  1. Chicago Bulls- Not a huge fan of the team as constituted, but they are the best team in the East, especially in terms of projected regular season success. They have enough depth, with Nocioni, Duhon, Thabo, and Noah along with a blossoming core that will continue to get better. Also, there is the distinct chance that they get Kobe (my deal: Gordon, Nocioni, Tyrus, with filler and picks for Kobe), which improves their chances so long as they don’t give up Mr. Deng.
  2. Detroit Pistons- Flying seriously under the radar. They have a very compelling group of guys, with the core of Billups, Rip, Tayshaun, and Sheed and the support of the criminally underrated Jason Maxiell along with the versatility of Rodney Stuckey, which combined with the rest of the bench should keep Detroit much better rested going into the post season.
  3. Boston Celtics- If they had better perimeter defense and depth, they’d be higher on this list. GPA 3.0 will accomplish great things, but they need another year of Kevin McHale’s help to build a rotation where an injury to one of the big three won’t have the dramatic consequences it would have now. Rajon Rondo will be the key to this team, and I think he will do very well because he can distribute on a faster-paced squad and his D will help. Also, watch out for Leon Powe and Glen Davis- they can do great things if they get the chance.
  4. Toronto Raptors (#5 seed)- A team that can go in a million different directions. The Bargnani/Bosh frontline provides a dimension that no other team can come close to matching in terms of the combination of youth and talent, but they need more rebounding from the 3 spot than any of their options will give them. Could end up being a tough out in the playoffs as players get a better sense of their roles and TJ Ford continues to come into his own.
  5. New Jersey Nets (#6 seed)- A team to watch out for. Despite my hatred for Vince Carter, the Nets can do some real damage in the playoffs because they finally have a little depth at the big man spots and can use Boki Nachbar to exploit the attention given to Kidd and Carter.
  6. Washington Wizards (#4 seed)- I’ll always wonder what this team could have been with a legitimate Center. The major story surrounding this year’s Wizards team is whether Gilbert Arenas’ coming opt out will affect the team at all. Nick Young’s amazing mid-range game could help open up the floor if he can get minutes away from DeShawn Stevenson. Don’t be surprised if Dominic McGuire and Olekisy Pecherov get some minutes on this squad- both can contribute in a meaningful way as role players.
  7. Cleveland Cavaliers- Some teams can do nothing in an off-season and make it work for them. Cleveland is not one of those teams. While they did make the Finals last year, they lost two important contributors without improving the team at all. Some may point to Cedric Simmons as a potential Varejao replacement, but it’s worth noting that the Hornets (who only have 4 big men on roster) traded him for a player they intended to cut- not the most ringing endorsement. The stage is already being set for King James’ big exit to Jay-Z’s Brooklyn Nets.
  8. Miami Heat- Amazingly ate a little bit of long-term money to get a meaningful contributor in Ricky Davis and the overpaid chucker known as Antoine Walker off the roster, whose subtraction may prove to be more important than the addition of Davis. Their success hinges on the health of Dwyane Wade, but this year’s bottom half of the East will allow them to squeeze on through. The trade also could open up some limited minutes for Alexander Johnson, who has amazing potential despite being cut by Memphis in a shocking move.
  9. Milwaukee Bucks- One year (and a new coach) away from surprising a whole lot of people. They have an abundance of talent in their top 8, but it tails off a little too significantly for them to make the playoffs this year. If Bobby Simmons can become the 3 that he was for the Clippers, the lackluster D from Redd and the Yi/Charlie V two-headed monster could be a smaller drag on the team’s potential.
  10. Charlotte Bobcats- Made an intriguing move adding Jason Richardson, but their pick and money could have been much better served going to the front-court, which was limited long before Sean May’s overhyped injury. If Sam Vincent realizes that he has to play Okafor and Hermann as his crunch-time front court and Jared Dudley can get the chance to play out of position at PF and delivers, they may be able to have the privilege of getting knocked out by the Bulls in Round 1.
  11. Atlanta Hawks- Acie Law may have had the biggest balls in college basketball last year, but that does not make him the distributor that the Hawks need to be a legitimate contender for the playoffs. While Al Horford will end up being a solid pro, he is too small to be a legit Center so the Hawks face a strong limitation there.
  12. New York Knicks- It says a lot when a team that has as much young talent as the Knicks do fills in a spot this low. It’s a shame that they have so much money invested in their starters, because David Lee, Mardy Collins, and Renaldo Balkman can play. The two-man frontcourt black hole will be fascinating as well.
  13. Orlando Magic- Say hello to the most overrated team in the NBA. What happens when a team starts two complimentary shooters who can’t rebound or play reliable defense at the 3 and the 4? They get dominated. While I love Stan Van Gundy and his fit for their talent, Jameer Nelson will take them nowhere and their lack of a lead scorer (no, Rashard Lewis does not fit that bill) will take them only so far as a double-teamed Dwight Howard can, which is the lottery for now.
  14. Indiana Pacers- I love Jim O’Brien, but when a team is considering starting the backcourt of Jamaal Tinsley and Kareem Rush, something is seriously wrong. Luckily for their fans, they’ve got potential in Ike Diogu, David Harrison, and Shawne Williams to tide them over until Jermaine O’Neal is traded and they add a lottery pick to the mix.
  15. Philadelphia 76ers- Poor Andre Iguodala. The guy is ready to break out and the team desperately needs forward help and BK drafts two raw guys in Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith and trades away their backup Center for Reggie Evans.

Western Conference

  1. Dallas Mavericks- They have limitations, most notably the SG position, but they are built for regular season success as long as Dirk stays healthy. Nick Fazekas was a stud for Nevada, but probably won’t get many minutes as he develops, especially with Brandon Bass playing well in front of him on the depth chart.
  2. Phoenix Suns- They’ll miss the interior presence of Kurt Thomas (or anyone besides Amare for that matter), but their talent will still take them a long way in terms of the regular season. Guys like DJ Strawberry and Alando Tucker could help lighten the load on Nash and Marion during the regular season so they stay fresher for the playoffs, but I doubt we’ll see that.
  3. San Antonio Spurs- Why is the best team in the NBA at #3 in the conference? Because seeding for the playoffs isn’t as important to them as having all their stars in the right place going in, which is the right move given what they have. Fabricio Oberto has an important year ahead of him to establish his worth and long-term role on the squad, especially with the potential of Tiago Splitter coming over for 2008-2009.
  4. Utah Jazz- People talk about the West as the “Big 3”, but it should be a “Big 4”, at least now. The difference in quality from the Mavs and Suns to the Jazz is minimal, and the coaching is equal as well. That said, the Jazz are either going to need health from their top guys or a Millsap-like emergence of another bench player to have the level of success they are capable of. Watch out for Kyrylo Fesenko- he could be a legit player and make it into Jerry Sloan’s notoriously tough rotations earlier than you think.
  5. Memphis Grizzlies- The sleeper. People forget how good this team was in 2006-2007, the year before Pau Gasol got hurt. While they did lose Shane Battier from that team, they have added numerous important contributors from Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry to the enigmatic Darko Milicic. The man who may loom large for the Grizzlies is Pau’s buddy Juan Carlos Navarro, who is the only other legit competition to Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year at the outset.
  6. Houston Rockets- Definitely a talented team, but they are vastly over-hyped by the media. If T-Mac and Yao can stay healthy for an entire season they could do significantly better than this, but if Ken Griffey Jr. could stay healthy he’d be the Home Run King and I don’t see us taking the crown off of Barry Bonds’ oversized head. The pivotal thing for the Rockets is if someone can step out from the PG logjam and establish themselves as deserving of starter minutes. Aaron Brooks could be that guy if given the chance, as he fits much better drilling threes with T-Mac as the primary ballhandler and Battier playing good team D.
  7. New Orleans Hornets- Have the starting line-up, but the depth (especially at the big-man slots) to make it safely through the grind of a full-season at their full potential, paralleling Houston in a way. It is amazing that David West gets as little notoriety as he does. The kid from Xavier can play. The X-factor? Morris Peterson, who doesn’t mesh well enough with Peja to be the long-term answer, but should be a solid enough contributor all the same.
  8. Golden State Warriors- In some ways the most enigmatic team in the NBA. While some of the logic behind putting Al Harrington on the second line is clear, as he can actually create offense to a degree, the Warriors do not have another player who can play the position, so they will be at a terrible loss there, especially against teams like the Nuggets, Spurs, Jazz, and Grizzlies. Despite being the league’s Most Improved Player last year, Monta Ellis is going to have to settle into a role both for this team’s success and his long-term status in the league. He has the talent and the attitude, but his game needs to fit more cohesively for a team to sign him to the big-money deal this coming off-season.
  9. Denver Nuggets- Simply put, the hardest team for me to predict. It wouldn’t be surprising for them to finish anywhere from #4 to here, but their appalling lack of defense on the perimeter will be killer this season. Their front-court depth is very nice (with a fantastic Steven Hunter trade), but that won’t be enough. As much as I’d love to hype up Bobby Jones as a potential solution, it seems clear that he won’t get a completely fair shot at trying to be the stopper and team player he is capable of being.
  10. LA Lakers– An amazing mish-mash of talent that doesn’t seem to logically fit. They blatantly ignore the fact that they have players who can contribute significantly now in Kobe, Odom, and Walton, but hold on firmly to Andrew Bynum, who will be very good in the future but needs a year or two more in the oven. The longer management stalls in choosing a timetable of contention, the longer they’ll stick around the playoff/high-lottery fringe.
  11. Portland Trailblazers– Better and worse than people think. LaMarcus Aldridge is still a big softie (as is Channing Frye), but another season of Brandon Roy combined with solid PG play from whoever gets the minutes and the contributions of Joel Przybilla will win them a few games that are surprising. Joah McRoberts could emerge as a very good PF option off the bench with his amazing talents which were wasted at Duke, which would also allow the Blazers to move Channing Frye in the quest to get a Small Forward who fits the team.
  12. LA Clippers- This is relying on the idea that management won’t have the intestinal fortitude to do what’s right and try to get what they can for Elton Brand and Corey Maggette who will both opt out and probably try to head elsewhere. Al Thornton will turn some heads with his production this year, but he has a relatively low celing, not that it matters in the short-term.
  13. Sacramento Kings- It really is a shame that they lost Spencer Hawes for the year. He will be a solid NBA player, especially if the Kings can work to get a banger to compliment him on the inside (Ronny Turiaf this summer would be a fantastic option). Yet another Western Conference team which will be defined by the move they do or don’t make, this time with Ron Artest. The most interesting part of that saga is that he actually fits well with recently extended Kevin Martin on the floor, though it is clear he may not be worth the headaches, especially for a team where the Kings are in the rebuilding process.
  14. Seattle Sonics- Kevin Durant will be a very good NBA player, but he is not a Shooting Guard and will never be. Drafting a natural SG like Corey Brewer or a C like Spencer Hawes would have made significantly more sense than getting another SF in Jeff Green. Also, any team that starts Robert Swift has depth issues, regardless of what Mr. Hollinger says. Johan Petro and Mickael Gelabale are talented players who need a chance to shine and hopefully will get the minutes this year.
  15. Minnesota Timberwolves- They may not be good this year, but Al Jefferson, Brewer, and whoever their next GM drafts in the lottery could combine to make a core that challenges the Blazers a few years from now. People talk about the big trade of Ricky Davis as being a boon for Gerald Green (which it is), but watch Rashad McCants carefully. The kid has buckloads of scoring potential and will finally get the chance to realize it on a team with no expectations.
Regular Season Awards
MVP: Kevin Garnett, Celtics
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant, Seattle
Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan, Jazz
6th Man: Manu Ginobili, Spurs
Defensive Player of the Year: Emeka Okafor, Bobcats
Most Improved Player: Ronnie Brewer, Jazz
NBA Playoffs:
Eastern Conference
Chicago vs. Miami- Chicago in 5
Detroit vs. Cleveland- Detroit in 6
Boston vs. New Jersey- Boston in 5
Washington vs. Toronto- Toronto in 6
Chicago vs. Toronto- Chicago in 5
Detroit vs. Boston- Boston in 7
Eastern Conference Finals
Chicago vs. Boston- Chicago in 7
Western Conference
Dallas vs. Golden State- Dallas in 7
Phoenix vs. New Orleans- Phoenix in 6
San Antonio vs. Houston- San Antonio in 5
Utah vs. Memphis- Utah in 5
Dallas vs. Utah- Utah in 6
Phoenix vs. San Antonio- San Antonio in 5
Western Conference Finals
San Antonio vs. Utah- San Antonio in 5
NBA Finals
San Antonio vs. Chicago- San Antonio in 7

EARLY 2008 Mock Draft

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State
  2. Seattle Sonics- Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis
  3. Sacramento Kings- Kevin Love, PF/C, UCLA
  4. LA Clippers- OJ Mayo, SG/PG, U$C
  5. Philadelphia 76ers- Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown
  6. Indiana Pacers- Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State
  7. Portland Trailblazers- Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy
  8. Orlando Magic- Brook Lopez, C/PF, Stanford
  9. New York Knicks- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
  10. LA Lakers- Serge Ibaka, PF, Congo
  11. Phoenix Suns (via Atl)- Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas
  12. Charlotte Bobcats- DeVon Hardin, C, Cal
  13. Milwaukee Bucks- Nicolas Batum, SF, France
  14. Denver Nuggets- Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
  15. Miami Heat- Kyle Singler, SF, Duke
  16. Golden State Warriors- DJ Augustin, PG, Texas
  17. Cleveland Cavaliers- Chase Buddinger, SG/SF, Arizona
  18. Washington Wizards- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
  19. New Orleans Hornets- Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana
  20. New Jersey Nets- Richard Hendrix, PF, Alabama
  21. Houston Rockets- Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG/SF, Memphis
  22. Toronto Raptors- Taj Gibson, PF, U$C
  23. Washington Wizards (via Mem)- Ante Tomic, C/PF, Croatia
  24. Boston Celtics- Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth
  25. Utah Jazz- Omri Casspi, PF/SF, Israel
  26. Detroit Pistons- Ryan Anderson, PF, Cal
  27. San Antonio Spurs- Kyle Weaver, SG/PG/SF, Washington State
  28. Chicago Bulls- Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville
  29. Seattle Sonics (via Phx)- Jamont Gordon, SG, Mississippi State
  30. Dallas Mavericks- Chris Lofton, SG/PG, Tennessee

Any comments, questions, or general ridicule are welcome and encouraged.

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