Standings! Playoffs! Champion! Award Winners! They’re all here! Let’s get right to it:
1. New York Knicks
Two of the best scorers in the league playing together for a full year in Amare and Carmelo and they get some much needed defensive intensity with the addition of Tyson Chandler. I’m probably biased because I’ve always liked him, but I think Baron Davis wakes up and tries his ass off. He’s always seemed like a guy who elevated his play when it mattered and playing big games in Madison Square Garden. Landry Fields is a great chemistry guy who can do the little things and Toney Douglas has a ton of upside and at the very worst is a knockdown 3 point shooter.
Biggest concern: The health of Amare and Chandler.
2. Boston Celtics
3. Philadelpha 76ers
Jrue (not a typo, the man’s name is Jrue, pronounced like “Drew” but with a J instead of the D) Holiday is primed for a breakout season at the point. He’s only 21 and is heading into his 3rd NBA season already. Elton Brand finally appeared to be recovered from injuries that held him back for 2 years and while he’ll never be the way he was in his prime, he’s still a very solid PF. Andre Igoudala is one of those guys that seems like he’d be way better as the wingman for a star player than as the number 1 option on a team, but he’s still very good. Thaddeus Young is one of the better 6th men in the league. They need last year’s second overall pick, Evan Turner to show the skill he showed in college to elevate this team to the next level (and I don’t think he will).
Breakout Player: Jrue Holiday
4. New Jersey Nets
Already dealt a massive blow when Brook Lopez got a foot injury that is supposed to keep him out for most of the year. He was either their 7″0 center who can score in the post or their big trade chip for Dwight Howard and now both of those are gone. I don’t know what happened to him last year, but he regressed in my eyes. A 7 footer who plays 35 minutes a game should get more than 6 boards a game. Deron Williams is one of the top 3 point guards in the league, but outside of him, it gets ugly fast for the Nets. Guess who is listed at the top of their PF depth chart right now. Just guess. Go ahead.
Fun Fact: With Deron, Shelden, Jordan and Shawne on the team, the Nets lead the league in guys with the last name Williams. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
5. Toronto Raptors:
If Andrea Bargnani is your best player, you probably suck. The bright side here is that Demar DeRozan took a big step forward last year and should take another this year and Ed Davis should begin to break out as well. Jerryd Bayless should be starting over Jose Calderon, but he probably won’t. The Raptors will still have one game this year when they inexplicably beat the Celtics by like 15 points. This happens every year.
Breakout player: Ed Davis
1. Chicago Bulls
Hardcore analysis: Derrick Rose is ridiculously good. I love the way this team is put together. Everyone has their role. Rose runs the show on offense and is the best scoring point guard in the league. Boozer scores in the low post and gets boards. Noah gets boards and protects the rim. Deng plays great D and scores from the wing (and is still only 26!). Rip Hamilton should be a very good addition if he has anything left (which I think he does) because he can take some of the scoring load off of Rose. The bench is very deep with C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik forming an awesome second unit. I love this team.
2. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers seem to have finally recovered from when their brawl with the Pistons (the infamous Ron Artest running in the stands incident) that occured 7 years ago. I love that the brawl has its own Wikipedia page. They were legit championship contenders at the time and have sucked ever since. I think that starts to change this year. Danny Granger has beena very good scorer who has been known for years in fantasy basketball circles, but others probably don’t know much about him. David West is another very underrated player who can score and rebound. Roy Hibbert won’t blow you away but he’s 7″2 and competent, which is a nice combination. There is only one guy who i drafted on all 3 fantasy teams (yeah, I have 3 fantasy basketball teams…) this year and that man is Paul George. He grew 2 inches in the offseason! He’s now 6″10! He was already extremely talented and now I think he’s ready to break out and give them another version of Granger (big dudes that can shoot).
Breakout Player: Paul George
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Will Brandon Jennings take a step forward and will Andrew Bogut stay healthy? If yes, then the Bucks will be decent. If not, it’ll be ugly. Jennings pretty much stayed the same last year after his solid rookie year but needs to keep improving. Bogut is a beast when healthy, but hasn’t played more than 66 games in the last 3 years. The rest of the roster is pretty unispiring. Although they have Stephen Jackson, who is now playing for his 7th team in 11 years.
Random Prediction: Stephen Jackson causes problems by complaining for a new contract. He does this every year. Might have something to do with the whole 7 teams in 11 years thing.
4. Detroit Pistons
What a weird team. What the hell is Joe Dumars doing? Didn’t he used to be good? They have 2 PGs who aren’t really PGs (Rodney Stuckey and 1st round pick Brandon Knight). They resigned Tayshaun Prince instead of just letting Austin Daye play (which would seem to be the wrong move if you’re rebuilding). The Charlie Villanueva (35 million) and Ben Gordon (55 million) contracts sucked at the time and look worse now. They gave Jonas Jerebko (?!?!) like 4 million bucks. I don’t get it. I like Knight (but don’t get why they picked him if they like Stuckey as much as they do) and think Greg Monroe is going to break out this year, but its gonna be an ugly season in Detroit.
Breakout Player: Greg Monroe
5. Cleveland Cavliers
Not much to say about Cleveland. They’ll be at the top of the lottery again this year. Just an awful team. There is hope for the futrue with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, but they both should be sophomores in college right now and are gonna have growing pains. Antawn Jamison will be this years “guy who gets bought out in February and helps a contender”.
1. Miami Heat
For a team as hyped and as good as the Heat, there really isn’t a ton to say. LeBron and Wade will be LeBron and Wade. Chris Bosh sucks. Shane Battier will help both off the court and on. Center is still a huge question (hello Joel Anthony!) and so is PG (hello Mario Chalmers. They will be ridiculously good again and I will hate them for it.
2. Orlando Magic
I think Dwight Howard stays all year and that’s why I have them this high. I don’t really love anyone else on their team other than Jason Richardson. Jameer Nelson is a decent point guard but nothing special. Hedo seems just about cooked. Ryan Anderson is a good compliment to Howard, but I wonder how good he’d be without playing next to an all-world center. Oh and they GAVE GLEN DAVIS A 4 YEAR 26 MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT! What? Is this real life?
3. Atlanta Hawks
Paying Joe Johnson 6 years and 119 million dollars will never lead to your team going anywhere very far. You simply can’t pay a guy like that that much money and be anything better than decent. They better hang on to their amnesty clause, because they’re gonna need to use it on him eventually. I like Josh Smith (still only 26!), but don’t like that he started shooting 3s again last year. You can’t shoot 3s Josh. Stop it. Al Horford will be Al Horford which is never a bad thing. I also like Jeff Teague a lot now that Bibby is gone. Marvin Williams will continue to make me wonder how the hell he got drafted ahead of Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Breakout Player: Jeff Teague
4. Washington Wizards
Of all the breakout guys in the league, John Wall is going to be the biggest. I think he’ll be in the “top 5 PGs in the league” discussion after this year. He’s that good. Unfortunately, the rest of the team isn’t. All I can say about Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford so far is that they are really good at scoring points in blowouts. I like JaVale McGee and his nickname (the JaValevator!) and think he and Wall are the building blocks here.
Breakout Player: John Wall
5. Charlotte Bobcats
Ugh. I think Kemba Walker will have a nice rookie year because someone on this team needs to score. Other than that….
With the number 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Bobcats select Anthony Davis, Kentucky!
Playoff teams: Miami, Chicago, New York, Boston, Orlando, Indiana, Atlanta, Philadelphia
Conference Finals: Bulls over Heat
The loss of Chandler and JJ Barea will be huge for them, but they made other additions that should keep them in the elite. The stole Lamar Odom from the Lakers for nothing in one of the most bizzare moves of the offseason. I also like the addition of former Celtic great Delonte West for the bench. I don’t like the Vince Carter addition because I think he’s a complete loser in every sense of the word. Dirk is still elite and Marion and Kidd are still solid. Losing Chandler and having Brandon Haywood and the immortal Ian Mahimni will stop them from repeating as champions, but this is still a very good team.
I like their starting 5 as much as anyone’s in the entire league. Conley is a solid PG, Mayo is a very good SG, Rudy Gay is fantastic and Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol might be the best big man combo in the league. Tony Allen is a nice defensive stopper off the bench, but with the injury to Darrel Arhur, they are painfully thin everywhere else on the bench.
3. San Antonio
Duncan, Parker and Ginobili return for their 78th consecutive year this year. This group reminds me of the Celtics in that they are talented, but freaking old. I think Brazilian big man Tiago Splitter will breakout this year as they rest Duncan frequently and Kawhi Leonard will contend for Rookie of the Year.
Breakout player: Tiago Splitter
The Rockets have a ton of really nice players, but none that you get overly excited about. Kevin Martin is a great scorer, but I’m honestly not sure that he could cover me. Luis Scola is probably one of the more underrated offensive big men in the league, but again, not so much on the defense. Chase Budinger is a good shooter who is “deceptively athletic” which is sports announcer code for “a white guy that can jump high”. Their centers are the 2009 draft bust tag team of Hasheem Thabeet (2nd overall) and Jordan Hill (9th overall).
5. New Orleans
The Hornets are obviously going to be worse after trading Chris Paul, but even though I have them in last here, I don’t think they’ll be a disaster. Eric Gordon is an electric scorer who is ready to take the next step and be their new superstar. Kaman and Okafor are solid bigs who should complement each other well (Okafor on D, Kaman on O). I’m a big fan of the other guy they got in the Paul trade, Al-Farouq Aminu as well. He/s young (21) and big for an SF (6″9) and showed flashes in LA. I think if given the playing time, Aminu will become a nice wing man for Gordon.
Breakout player: Al-Farouq Aminu
1. Oklahoma City
Man, I LOVE the Thunder. Durant and Westbrook are obviously studs. Ibaka is athletic as hell and a shot blocking machine. My boy Kendrick Perkins should provide the toughness and defense they need. The SG spot is held down nicely by defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha and young, potential star James Harden. I love this team.
Portland has done a hell of a job building this team. I don’t think many teams would survive a guy like Greg Oden being a complete loss to this point and then Brandon roy having to retire, but the Blazers are still a damn good team. LaMarcus Aldridge keeps getting better and better and will take another step forward this year. Gerald Wallace is one of the more exciting players to watch in basketball and Wes Matthews is one of the better players no one really knows about. Jamal Crawford, Craig Smith and Nic Batum are fantastic weapons off the bench.
Despite having 3 guys from the team last year (Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin) stuck in China, Denver still has pretty sweet depth. Ty Lawson and Andre Miller will hold down the PG spot nicely, which is big for a team that plays as fast as Denver. Danilo Galinari is one of my big breakout guys this year and I think he’ll score a ton for this team. Kenneth Fareid is a rebounding machine and someone I was hoping would drop to the Celts in the draft. They also brought back both of their big free agents in C Nene and SG Arron Afflalo.
Utah is weird and needs to sort their roster out. Devin Harris is a solid PG, but then their 2 best players are big men (Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap) and two best young guys are big men (Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter). I think they need to clear up that logjam but trading one of those bigs for a wing.
They probably won’t win a ton of games, but Minnesota has a ton of young talent and should be very fun to watch. With Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, JJ Barea and Anthony Randolph Minnesota would probably have one of the best pick up basketball teams in the league, but in the NBA you have to play a little defense. These guys will score a ton of points and play crazy exciting games, but they
Sidenote: I’m mildly obsessed with Ricky Rubio.
Breakout player: Darko Milicic (just kidding)
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Look, I know the whole Chris Paul situation was incredibly effed up and a complete disaster for the league, BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t thoroughly enjoy the fact that Chris Paul was headed to the Lakers, the league canceled it and now he ended up on the Clippers. Hilarious. I love CP3 and think he is the best PG in the entire league. Now he gets to throw alley oops to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan? Not even fair. If Chris Paul made Marco Belinelli look good last year, imagine what he can do for Chauncey Billups? Mo Williams is a pretty damn good player and he’s coming off the bench.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
I don’t think these guys are going to be very good. Maybe that’s Laker hate talking, but they have an already injured Kobe, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum when he’s healthy and not suspended (so for like, 8 games) and…..what? Derek Fisher? Steve Blake? Devin Ebanks? Metta World Peace? It says a lot about how good Kobe and Gasol are that I have them this high. That is a TERRIBLE supporting cast.
3. Phoenix Suns
Poor Steve Nash. Just ask for a trade man. What a boring team and what a waste of Steve Nash’s talents. I love Steve Nash and it bums me out that the rest of this team is garbage so lets move on.
4. Sacramento Kings
This team is going to be fascinating to watch. DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton are all extremely talented, but also completely allergic to passing the ball. So they drafted a pass first point guard right? Nope! They drafted Jimmer Fredette, a dude who’s skill is bombing away from 30 feet! I loooove Jimmer, but I don’t get the fit on this team.
Random prediction: DeMarcus Cousins will be involved in at least 2 fist fights with either an opponent or teammate this year.
5. Golden State Warriors
I think my intramural basketball team from college could score with relative ease on the Golden State Warriors. This is a TERRIBLE defensive team. Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry (who I love) and David Lee are fantastic offense players but complete disasters on defense. I like rookie Klay Thompson, but again, no defense there either. The one guy who can play some D potentially is my most random breakout guy of the year, last year’s first round pick Ekpe Udoh. You heard it hear first. Dude can block shots.
Breakout Player: Ekpe Udoh
Playoff teams: Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas, Memphis, Portland, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver, San Antonio
Conference Finals: Thunder over Grizzles
MVP: 1. Chris Paul 2. Kevin Durant 3. LeBron James
Rookie of the Year: 1. Kemba Walker 2. Kawhi Leonard 3. Kenneth Faried
Defensive Player of the Year: 1. Dwight Howard 2. Serge Ibaka 3. Chris Paul
Most Improved Player: 1. John Wall 2. Paul George 3. Greg Monroe
6th Man of the Year: 1. James Harden 2. Thaddeus Young 3. Jamal Crawford
Bill Sall All Man Crush Team: Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Jimmer Fredette, Paul George, Kendrick Perkins.
NBA Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder over Chicago Bulls in 7