Predictions made by Frank Fleming on October 30, 2007 at 11:10 pm EST.
2007/08 NBA PREVIEW
Scoring Champion: LeBron James Cavaliers
Coah of the Year: Doc Rivers Celtics
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Durant Supersonics
Most Improved Player: Darko Milcic Grizzlies
6th Man: Manu Ginobilli Spurs
Defensive Player of the Year: Bruce Bowen Spurs
NBA MVP: LeBron James Cavaliers
Miami Heat 47-35
Last year injuries hampered the Heat all season as they were never fully healthy. While Dwyane Wade should be back to full health, the fate of Shaquille O'Neal is more complicated as his injuries are more of that of someone breaking down, and at 35 his best days are clearly behind him, as the Heat are good but not championship material.
Boston Celtics over Chicago Bulls
Phoenix Suns over Dallas Mavericks
Phoenix Suns over Boston Celtics
San Antonio Spurs 57-25
Ho Hum the Spurs won again, the type of dynasty that makes you yawn, not that they are not good, but the win so businesslike it's boring. Only one problem this year its an even year and the Spurs have been in on the odds out on the evens, so look for them to come up short again as they try to win two in a row.
Indiana Pacers 28-54
Just a few years ago the Pacers were considered an elite team in the East, but then Ron Artest happened, and an ugly melee in Detroit started a downfall that has yet to reach rock bottom. While the Pacers should languish in last place all season, the worse is yet to come, look for Jermaine O'Neal to be on the block and dealt at the deadline.
New Jersey Nets 46-36
Health could be a big factor in New Jersey as the Nets still remain capable of making noise in the East, but with the Celtics now fully loaded their likely not to come close to winning a division title while the Raptors could give them a challenge for second place in the Atlantic and the battle for a more favorable playoff match up.
Cleveland Cavaliers 52-30
Yeah they got swept in the NBA Finals, but there are still plenty of great things ahead for the Cavs, who should be among the top teams in the East, with LeBron James among the top candidates for MVP. Look for them to take home the Central Division in a tight race with the Bulls and Pistons.
Philadelphia 76ers 26-56
Allen Iverson is gone, and so is any chance the 76ers have of making the playoffs anytime soon. Its rebuilding time in Philly, and the young talent has yet to arrive, and what's there for fans this year is as bad as bad can be look for plenty of losses and plenty of changes throughout the season.
Washington Wizards 43-39
Health will tell the story of the Wizards this season if Gilbert Arenas can stay healthy and play at the top of his game all season, they should challenge for the Southeast Division. However, if Arenas misses any time, or the Wiz continue to struggle on defense they could end up on the outside looking in.
New York Knicks 32-50
Some think the Knicks have done enough to reach the playoffs as Sports Illustrated has them finishing ahead of both the Raptors and Nets in the Atlantic Division. Ok now that you stopped laughing you can learn the truth; the Knicks Suck, they are a bad team with overpriced players, and they are going to lose 50 games again.
Chicago Bulls 50-32
The Bulls can be back in the playoff picture, especially if they can pull the trigger on a rumored Kobe Bryant trade. However, who would go who will they have to give up? Even without Kobe the Bulls should be near the top of the East as players like Ben Gordon continue to develop into stars.
Boston Celtics 54-28
Last year the Celtics were dead, Danny Ainge was about to be run out of town on a rail. What a difference a year makes the Celtics are the trendy pick to win the East thanks to the addition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, as for Ainge can you say Executive of the Year. Look for the Green to be back in style in the NBA as the Celtics go deep in the playoffs.
Orlando Magic 44-38
If it all clicks in Orlando the Magic, could be a sleeper in the Eastern Division challenging the Heat for the Southeast Division. However, if it don't they could be allot of unmeaning games in April. Look for April to be a battle for the Magic as they edge their way into the 8th Seed.
Milwaukee Bucks 36-46
The Bucks were the type of team that symbolized some of the weaknesses in the East as they made the playoff while finishing last in the Central Division in 2006. However, with the East getting stronger the Bucks have stayed level and what would have gotten them into contention then gets them an empty season in 2008.
Charlotte Bobcats 22-60
How do you know a team is going to have a bad season? When injuries start eating away at the team before the regular season even starts and with Sean May and Adam Morrison out for the season, look for the Bobcats to look like an expansion team again as they enter the dreaded 60-loss zone.
Atlanta Hawks 38-44
The Hawks just a few years ago were in the toilet as they finished below the expansion Bobcats, while the playoffs are not likely in Atlanta the Hawks appeared to have turned the corner thanks to players like Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams. Look for them to be a dangerous team in the second half.
Detroit Pistons 49-33
The window of opportunity is not closed yet in Detroit, but it's getting ready to close, as the Pistons remain a team that can get on a roll and win it all. However, day to day in a tough division can they beat younger more talented teams? The answer is no as they will place 3rd in perhaps the best divisional race in the NBA..
Toronto Raptors 45-37
The Raptors were the biggest and best surprise in the East last year as they captured the Atlantic Division title. However, there flaws were exposed in the postseason as they suffered a first round exit at the hands of the Nets. The Nets should be a good rival for the Raptors once again as they will be neck and neck all season for playoff seeding.
Denver Nuggets 52-30
Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony together for a full season could be fun in Denver as the Nuggets could be the sleeper team in the West. However, they are still in the west and there are still four or five teams as good or better then they are meaning any title hopes are unrealistic.
Phoenix Suns 63-19
If ever a team was owed, it is the Phoenix Suns, who had any chance of beating the Spurs taken away last year by a rule that punished human instincts of helping a teammate who was mugged, and that's not including the game called by disgraced ref Tim Donaghy. Look for the Suns to rise to the top at last.
Houston Rockets 50-32
Is this the year the Rockets finally lift off past the first round? That's the only question fans in Houston want to know. They know they can make the playoffs and win around 50 games, but the postseason will be the true test, and in the Western Conference it may still be hard with the big three plus the improved Nuggets and Jazz.
Seattle Supersonics 24-58
Oklahoma, where the win comes sweeping down the plane, will be in the hearts of Sonics players as lawsuits surround a team that could be leaving Seattle following the season. It's always tough to win under these circumstances, as crowds could well be sparse if fans begin to feel jilted. Look for Kevin Durant to be the lone bright spot as the Sonics.
Dallas Mavericks 62-20
Last year the Mavericks steam rolled the NBA posting a league best 67-15 record, then in the playoffs it was one and done as they were upended by the Warriors. However, the Mavs were indeed still Superman in the playoffs; they just met the Kryptonite team, as the same Warriors swept them in the regular season. Expect the Mavs to go far this year, unless of course they see the Warriors again.
Minnesota Timberwolves 19-63
Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale teamed up to bring the Celtics two title in the 80s, and working together they have improved the Celtics again. One problem McHale is the GM of the Timberwolves, who could not find any players to help Kevin Garnett, and now has nothing, and nothing is what the T-Wolves will get as they will not break the 20-win mark.
Los Angeles Lakers 35-47
This is the story of Kobe Bryant, if he want he can carry the Lakers into a low playoff seed again, or he can take the Lakers to new depths if he goes into operation shut down, sulking his way for a trade. Unfortunately for Lakers fans it looks like the latter as was criticized often for his lack of effort in preseason workouts. Don't be surprised if this story ends early with Kobe shipped off elsewhere during the season.
OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS
Golden State Warriors 44-38
The Warriors were not a fluke last year; they are indeed a playoff contender, which can give good teams a scare because of their fearless play. However, in the Western Conference it will be hard to imagine them going to far higher then the 8th seed. Maybe if they were in the East it would translate better, but for them it must be a goal to scare someone again.
Sacramento Kings 28-54
The Kings of the early 2000's are dead, and the days of Cowbells ringing madly in the playoffs are just a memory as the Kings are back in the dregs of the bottom feeders. So in a move to pay tribute to those terrible Kings teams of the 80s and 90s they hired Reggie Theus as their coach. Perhaps they should have kept Rick Adleman two years ago, look for the Kings to play like they did when Theus was their top player.
Utah Jazz 48-34
Last year the Jazz got the break of all breaks when the Mavericks were stunned by the Warriors as they faced an 8th seed in the second round to reach the Western Conference Finals. A break like that won happen two year in a row, as the top heavy West will smother a solid but flawed team like the Jazz into the back end of the playoffs.
Memphis Grizzlies 42-40
The Grizzlies were an absolute disaster last season as they started slowly and never recovered. However, behind every bad season there is a reason, and the loss of Pau Gasol buried them. This year expect things to be different as Gasol is healthy and the Grizzlies are stronger with players like Rudy Gay and Darko Milicic who poised for break out seasons.
Los Angeles Clippers 32-50
The Clippers are no longer NBA laughing stocks, but their dreams of making the playoffs again are already on life support with Elton Brand out until midseason, and Shaun Livingston still recovering from knee surgery. By the time either is ready to return it will be too late as the Clippers will be sunk in the Pacific.
Portland Trailblazers 32-50
When the Trailblazers drafted Greg Oden with the top overall pick, Portland was thrown back into Blazermania, as dreams of a return to Rip City along with reigning Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy. However, lost for the season in the summer to knee surgery now has Blazers fans gulping and thinking Play it again Sam Bowie. Look for another long season in Portland.
New Orleans Hornets 46-36
Back in New Orleans full time the Hornets are ready to buzz into the playoffs. Look for Peja Stojakivic to have a strong season, getting the ball from Chris Paul who will quickly become a fan favorite in the crescent city, as this team begins to resemble the Sacramento Kings team that Peja led not to long ago.
Coaches Who Will be Fired
Lwarence Frank Nets
Phil Jackson Lakers
Eddie Jordan Wizards
Isaiah Thomas Knicks
Randy Wittman Timberwolves