I guess it’s time for me to make an NBA prediction.
This years NBA Finals will be the Oklahoma City Thunder vs the Chicago Bulls.
When it comes to the East. I had a hard time. I was flip flopping between the Heat and Bulls.
The Bulls added Rip Hamilton, who isn’t the Rip we know, but shooting guard was their biggest weakness. He should do much better as a role player in this offense than he was as a main piece in Detroit. Rose will be able to get him the ball in good spots. Add him to a starting lineup of Rose, Deng, Boozer, and Noah and you’ve got a good 5. Their biggest weakness will be defense at the 2 and 4. Brewer coming off the bench will add some defense when it’s needed. Gibson and Korver will add some nice bench depth.
The Heat were close. So close. We all see last year as a colossal failure, but it wasn’t. I mean, they didn’t get one of their 8 rings, but they were right there. They lost Bibby, but they added Battier and Curry. They also lost Haslem for most of the season last year. Their biggest weakness is depth, obviously most of the salary is spent on the big three. Chalmers can play the point, he’s not great, he’s manageable, but he wouldn’t start for most teams. Look for the Heat to try to add a point guard during the season, if they can find one. The other glaring weakness is at center. Haslem is pretty good, but at 6’8” he’s not going to be their starting center. It’s possible (but unlikely) that Bosh will play center and Haslem to play power forward, but expect Curry and Anthony to spend most of the time at center. The real question is, can Curry even move? I won’t believe it until I see it. What the Heat really needs is a strong defender at center and a distributor at the point, they don’t need to add a thing offensively. The player that will make a difference is Battier. Battier is a good leader, a good defender and he can hit some shots on the outside. The problem I have with their bench is that it’s mostly outside shooters. Jones, Miller, House, Battier. They will always have to have at least one of the big three at all times to drive the offense through.
When it comes down to it, the Bulls fixed their biggest need, the Heat didn’t do much to improve center or point guard.
What worries me about the Celtics is age. That’s obvious. I worry that the big 4 can’t stay healthy and the schedule will hurt them. Last year they had trouble in back to backs and this year will be even worse. I like the talent as much as any team, maybe even the best, it’s just the fatigue that will drag them down. What they have this year more than recent years is bench depth. For years they’ve been looking for a backup for Rando, someone who can distribute. House and Robinson were both scorers. They now have that in Dooling. They also have Wilcox and Boss coming off the bench, the Celtics didn’t have great rebounders coming off the bench in the past. Glen Davis has been seen more often getting in fist fights with his “friends” than he was seen battling under the basket. The Celtics also added Sasha Pavlovic to play off the bench with Marquis Daniels. The Celtics have at least 5 solid players coming off the bench. Besides fatigue, the biggest question for the Celtics is can they really rely on Jermaine O’Neal? O’Neal hasn’t played over 70 games since 03-04. Lucky he won’t have to play more than 70 this year, but that’s not the point. If he can go back to his numbers as recently as two years ago, he can get 7 rebounds a game, 1.5 blocks and 13 points a game, the Celtics would take that.
I don’t love the Knicks moves, Tyson Chandler is good, but has he been completely overhyped. His career is 8 points a game, 8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. I hate to break it to you, but that’s even worse than Jermaine O’Neal. I’ve never really been pumped about Mike Bibby, but I don’t expect him to be the starter once Baron Davis comes back. Davis should help out the Knicks a lot. Toney Douglas and Landry Fields will provide nice numbers at the 2. Overall I don’t love the bench depth. They don’t have much besides Douglas and Bibby (once Davis comes back). Jeffries adds some D, but that’s it.
In the West I feel pretty confident in the Thunder making a deep playoff run.
The starting five of Perkins, Ibaka, Durant, Harden, and Westbrook is great. Their bench has Maynor, Mohammed, Robinson, Sefolosha, Collison, Cook, Aldrich, Ivey. I think Reggie Jackson was a good draft pick too.
This team has top scorers, great defenders, there isn’t much of a weakness on the Thunder and they are only going to get better. My only concern is with Perkins’ injury history, but we have no reason to believe it will continue.
The Lakers, Mavericks, and Spurs have all taken a step back.
The addition of Ford will help the Spurs but it’s not enough to make a finals run. Like the Celtics, the Spurs have some veteran that will need some resting.
The Lakers gave away Odom for nothing, are weak at point guard, and lack bench depth. Metta World Peace doesn’t strike fear into opponents like he used to, unless it’s in the stands.
The Mavs lost Chandler, Barea, Brewer, Butler, Stojakovic among others. Adding West and Odom isn’t enough to counter act that.
Two teams in the West that have improved are the Clippers and the Grizzlies.
The Clippers won the offseason bringing in Paul, Billups, and Butler. These moves won’t be enough to make a huge jump to the finals. The Clippers will be greatly improved, just not enough.
The Grizzlies have a good young team but losing Darrell Arthur will be a huge loss. Conley, Mayo, Gay, Randolph, and Gasol is a good starting 5. Their bench has Allen, Henry, Pargo, and Young, that’s solid. The Grizzlies will be one of the teams to beat in the West.