Predictions made by Frank Fleming on October 30, 2006 at 11:20 pm EST.
2006/07 NBA PREVIEW
Scoring Champion: LeBron James Cavaliers
Coah of the Year: Sam Mitchell Raptors
Rookie of the Year: Adam Morrison Bobcats
Most Improved Player: Darko Milcic Magic
6th Man: Bonzi Wells Rockets
Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Wallace Bulls
NBA MVP: LeBron James Cavaliers
Miami Heat 56-26
Coming off a championship the only question is can Shaquille O'Neal stay hungry. Over the long season the answer at time will seem no, but thanks to Dwayne Wade and a deep bench the Heat will stay at the top of the East and in the playoffs they will once again be the beast as they go back to the Finals.
Miami Heat over New Jersey Nets
Phoenix Suns over Dallas Mavericks
Phoenix Suns over Miami Heat
San Antonio Spurs 56-26
The Spurs hopes for another ring to jingle jangle jingle were short circuited by the Dallas Mavericks, this year expect much of the same as the Spurs really did nothing to improve in a Division that holds some of the best teams. Look for them to be strong again, but in the end they will be bounced again in the second round.
Indiana Pacers 40-42
Al Harrington is back but that Atlanta funk is still on his body, the Pacers who before last year looked like a title contender are little more then a pretender as the deal that sent Artest to Sacramento for Pejat Stojakovic never quite worked out. Look for the Pacers to be n playoff contention to the end when their bubble goes burst.
New Jersey Nets 53-29
Vince Carter is a potential Free Agent expect a MVP type season, as the Nets quietly have one of the best teams in the NBA. Look for them to be the biggest obstacle in the way for Miami in the Eastern Conference, as the Nets will be playing deep into the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers 50-32
Last year LeBron James got the Cavaliers into the playoffs this year he will bring home an MVP and a Division Title as the Cavaliers take another big step forward. However, come postseason time the Cavs will see that they are lacking that second player as they have trouble getting past the 2nd round.
Philadelphia 76ers 34-48
The only reason Allen Iverson is still with the 76ers is nobody in the NBA wanted him for the money he is making. Injuries are now beginning to take their toll on A.I., who is alone on a team without any other answers. Look for Iverson to limp through another season, but the frustration to boil over as the 76ers flirt with 50 losses.
Washington Wizards 42-40
Led by Gilbert Arenas the Wizards are still a strong team that can play with just about anyone on any given night, but those given nights don't come every day as the Wiz are rarely firing on all cylinders. Look for more inconsistency as they struggle just to make the playoffs.
New York Knicks 13-69
Every good drama needs some comic relief, unfortunately even in comedy there's tragedy as the class clowns of the NBA are also one of its cornerstone franchise in the New York Knicks. The wins will be few and far between as the death watch on Isaiah will begin after opening night, and the worst part is there's no hope anytime soon of it getting better.
Chicago Bulls 47-35
Big Ben Wallace in the Middle, means the Bulls are a serious contender again, look for them to challenge the Cavaliers all season for Central Division Supremacy. However, in the end the Bulls don't have that go to scorer, and Wallace is a liability late in games on the free throw line.
Boston Celtics 37-45
Look for a strong breakout season from Sebastian Telfair playing along side Paul Pierce, , but look for not many wins, as the Celtics are in yet another year of transition as a house cleaning will surely follow another season without the playoffs on the parquet floor as a new coach will be on the sidelines by Christmas.
Orlando Magic 46-36
The Magic is back in the Orlando! Well at least the Magic will be in the playoffs as their young team that was a hassle at the end of last season will now be a playoff team this year, as Dwight Howard and Darko Milcic are both poised for break out seasons, as they both will vie for Most Improved Player.
Milwaukee Bucks 38-44
Last year the Bucks were a surprise playoff team, this year they will be a disappointing team that takes a slight step backward, as the truth reveals the road to respectability is still a long way in Milwaukee, as they will miss the playmaking of TJ Ford, as Charlie Villanueva fizzles.
Charlotte Bobcats 33-49
Adam Morrison is going to be the breakout rookie, as the Gonzaga shooter now comes to ACC Country and wins over new fans insistently. Look for plenty excitement in Charlotte, as the Bobcats start learning to compete. However, as with any young team there will be plenty of growing pains as the Bobcats are still a long way away from the playoffs.
Atlanta Hawks 18-64
Al Harrington is gone now, and the Hawks are pretty much a stripped down expansion team. Look for the losses to continue to mount in Phillips Arena, aka the Empty Nest as the Hawks will be playing in front of empty seats so often that cob webs will begin to encompass rows of seating.
Detroit Pistons 45-37
The loss of Ben Wallace will be the story of the season in Detroit as Nazr Mohammed fails to fill the hole left by the departure of the free agent Center that has owned the Defensive Player if the Year Award over the last five years. Look for the Pistons to look very ordinary as they are at the bottom of the playoff teams.
Toronto Raptors 44-38
With T.J. Ford feeding the rock to Chris Bosh, look for the Raptors to emerge from a four-year playoff extinction as they will be the only team that could challenge the Nets for the Division Title in the otherwise pathetic Atlantic, and emerge as one of the biggest surprises in the NBA.
Denver Nuggets 48-34
Injuries hampered the Nuggets all season as they won the Northwest Division with a 44-38 record hardly fitting a first place team. This year they will win the division again, and actually look good doing so as Carmelo Anthony continues to develop into a star while his supporting cast all puts together stronger seasons.
Phoenix Suns 60-22
Last year without Amare Stoudemire the Suns were still able to rise to the top of the Pacific Division, as Steve Nash won another MVP, while players like Raja Bell, Boris Diaw, and Lendro Barbosa had breakout seasons. With Amare back the Suns won't be stopped look for the Suns to rise in the West and bask in the glory of a NBA Title.
Houston Rockets 45-37
Last year injures ravaged the Rockets early as they sputtered their way to last place. This year they are healthy and improved and will almost completely reverse their record as they will be a team nobody wants to see in the playoffs, as Yao Ming will take a major step forward thanks to the additions of Shane Battier and Bonzi Wells.
Seattle Supersonics 25-57
The Supersonics should start learning the words to Oklahoma, as there new owners will be looking to move the team as the Sonics struggle in the antiquated decade old Key Arena, as they want a new home, I guess they don't build them like they used to. Look for the losses and empty seats to mount.
Dallas Mavericks 57-35
Last year the Mavericks took a big step forward, winning the Western Conference and taking a 2-0 lead in the Finals, before getting burnt by the Heat. This year they will be just as good and will be a threat to go the Finals again, and if they get there again, there's no doubt they can complete the journey to Champion.
Minnesota Timberwolves 30-52
Timberrrrrrr! As with the 76ers the only reason Kevin Garnett is still in Minnesota is his contract, but as the season draws on, and the losses mount look for KG to be on the block, as the story at the deadline will be can the Timberwolves deal their big star as the house will be cleaned with massive changes by June.
Los Angeles Lakers 38-44
Kobe Bryant is starting the season with his healthy as a question mark, the longer he is less the 100% the worse the chances are for the Lakers, look for a disappointing season all around in Los Angeles, as the Lakers find themselves playing second banana all year to the Clippers while missing the playoffs.
OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS
Golden State Warriors 32-52
The last time the Warriors made the playoffs Chris Webber was a rookie and Don Nelson was their Coach, well Nelson is back and Webber is washed up and broken down in Philly. As for the Warriors, last place is beginning to look very familiar; at least they know how to make themselves comfortable down there.
Sacramento Kings 40-42
Last year after adding Ron Artest the Kings made a remarkable turnaround and snuck into the playoffs. However, it was not enough to save Coach Rick Adelman's job. Perhaps it should of as the Kings will miss Adelman as they struggle under new Eric Musselman whose name was already made headlines for all the wrong reasons after a preseason DUI arrest.
Utah Jazz 45-37
The big question in Utah is can the Jazz stay healthy, and with all the injuries they have been through the last two years that's an iffy proposition. However, thus far they look healthy and with the extra health the Jazz will challenge the Nuggets for the division title on the way to a return to the postseason jam fest.
Memphis Grizzlies 28-54
Shane Battier is gone, Pao Gasol is out at least two months, GM Jerry West is retiring, and Coach Mike Fratello is such a lame duck, TNT already has his telastrator waiting for him. The recipe for disaster is ready, as the Grizzlies are in for a long season, as the Grizzlies 0-12 in 3 playoff appearances sit one out.
Los Angeles Clippers 50-32
Last year the Clippers won a playoff series, and as far as anyone knows hell did not freeze over. This year they will prove it was not a fluke by winning 50 games for the first time in franchise history, as they begin taking celebrity fans away from the Lakers who will continue to look up at their Staple Center roommates.
Portland Trailblazers 18-64
Rebuilding the in the Northwest, the blue prints are done, but the foundation is nowhere to be seen as the Blazers resemble a hole in the ground. Look for them to take their lumps all season as the tractor seems stuck in the mud, but with a lucky lottery draw things can change fast, and at this point that's all Portland has to look forward to.
Oklahoma City Hornets 44-38
Things are looking OK for the Hornets as they more then doubled their 04/05 win totally last year thanks to Rookie of the Year Chris Paul. With the addition of players like Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson, and Tyson Chandler expect them to be even better this year as they make the playoffs, giving the NBA some tough calls to make regarding their future in Oklahoma City.
Coaches Who Will be Fired
Bernie Bickerstaff Bobcats
Dwayne Casey Timberwolves
Mike Fratello Grizzlies
Bob Hill Superonics
Doc Rivers Celtics
Terry Stotts Bucks
Isaiah Thomas Knicks
Mike Woodson Hawks