I might edit this tomorrow with the West. RIght now (time permitting this is the East with my awards). I posted this on a Tripp Dubb thread today already, but thought why let it disappear....
Enjoy. Comments/Thoughts are appreciated. I'll UPDATE THIS WITH FINAL hopefully tomorrow with the West. 1 game won't change my opinion anyway (posted this on opening day).
Here's my final preseason East:
1. Celtics. Won’t win 66, might push for 58-60 though, will be one damn tough out in the playoffs presuming the big 3 stay healthy. The Loss of none other than PJ Brown might hurt them more than you'd think after how great he played in spots in the playoffs last year.....he turned it up a notch (after not doing anything but suffer our young guys development 2 years ago in Chicago) in the playoffs too....
2. Pistons. Every year I want to right them off, and every year they disappoint in that I can’t. This year they are younger (Stuckey and Johnson coming on) and deeper (Maxiel and the very talented and forgotten Argentine Walter Hermann getting bigger roles). They’ll be solid.
3. Magic. One of the toughest big 3 in the league. Pietris might help, and actually they might start playing some Hedo at the Pt forward spot….which would be interesting. If Howard improved a bit more, he could become the best player in the entire Eastern Conference…..and yet this team might still struggle until they get a real PG. I like my Hinrich for Hedo trade (and Hedo’s expiring deal). We use him as our SG….
4. Raptors. I would put them higher, but I don’t think Mitchell’s much of a coach. I unlike Matt I guess, still think the O’Neal, Bosh, Calderon trio will be tough to stop, but like he said, they have to stay healthy and that’s always a bit iffy thing with O’Neal. Parker, Bargnani and the rest should fill in the blanks rather nicely…..but ultimately it’s on that big 3, and if they play to their abilities, there is no doubt that that big 3 lead by the young KG (Bosh) wouldn’t be as dominant as the aging Celtics big 3.
5. 76ers. Brand and co have a good solid base of young, athletic players. It’s on Brand, and I don’t know. I think I’m rating them high here, but so be it.
6. Cavs. I like the Mo Williams signing, I really do, especially next year after they rid themselves of Wally and can get some more PF/C depth. My concerns now are that they have 3 real post players (Varejao, Big Z, and I guess Ben Wallace)…..They want to play James at times as a PF, which would be awesome if they had a Ben Gordon, etc. Mo Williams isn’t a Gordon, Redd, Carter, etc….he’ll give them some offense, solid offense, but will lessen their D…..James’s offense might suffer a bit more with him having to play the more physical PF’s, even though James is a beast. If they had a big time scorer SG who will command double teams, then James should move to the PF spot to overpower the other teams defense…..but I just don’t think they have it. James’ll make them compete, and look out next year if they can add maybe an Odom, or make a splashy trade this trade deadline. THey most definately are 1 piece away (either a decent 30 MPG PF/C or a star SG)…..both are very attainable after thsi year, or quite possibly in the deadline (though I think that’s a bit less likely). RIght now they can’t play 2 of their PF/C’s together (Wallace and Varejao on the court is an offensive nightmare)….shouldn’t play Wallace more than 15 MPG, though they’ll have to play him closer to 25-30 at least given their lack of depth…..and Big Z’s age and former injury histories have to creep up eventually or be a risk. I picked them here thanks to James, but I think they are vulnerable enough to not make the playoffs, though they could go straight up to the top woh-yeah (added a bit of Tom Waitsian Jazz)….
7. Bulls. Why the hell not, we are one of the most talented teams out there, just quite a bit misfitted. I like Rose’s energy and leadership right away. I liked Noah on the floor last year (but not so much yet in the preseason)….Tyrus looks to have made a leap in the offseason that I hope will continue in the regular season….our gluttony of guards makes it hard to get minutes to everybody, but if it does pan out we’ve got the deepest 48 minute guard rotation in the league to work with with 5 starting caliber guards….but that there lies in the problems too. Noc and Deng are solid SF’s too for 48 minutes and likely to amongst the better duos at one spot in the league. If they can avoid the seemingly bad (especially after last year) internal problems, this will be low…..but I can see them dropping to 11th-12th, just as quick as I see them rising to 5th. Still I’m betting their in as they are as talented as any in this conference for all 5 positions (even C and PF we have talent, just untapped potential talent).
8. Hawks. So maybe Woodson and Smith can’t coexist to take this team to the level they should be playing at. If Acie Law can make Bibby expendable, they can get another piece and really surprise. The talent is there, but these guys seem to be even more immature than the Bulls. I expect a breakout season from Marvin Williams that’ll more htan make up the loss of Josh Childress. They are another wildcard (the East seems more full of htem than many). They’ll sneak in the last week of the playoffs and finish dare I say it with a .500 record in the 8th spot in the East. The East won’t eb the Least…
9. Heat….thanks to Wade, unthanks to everyone else. Beasley will be solid. Marion won’t fit, Haslem at C shows why they can’t be a playoff team without a trade, and everyone else are D leaguers. D. Wade deserves much much better, and the East is too tough. If Livingston can play again though, I like them a lot next year....(I don't think he'll do anything until late this year and believe they inked him in for 2 years)...
10. Bucks. I don’t think they are a solid fit team yet. I think Redd is likely traded this year as he’ll be more Gordonized than Gordon with Skiles, and he’s a better player still than BG….their D is pretty awful still and will be until late Jan/Feb at least….then it’ll be avg. But they will play with Skiles’s trademark heart, and that’ll make them look better in the regular season win columns than they really are going to be.
11. Bobcats. They have talent, they really do, they need a trade more though….and I think they'll do something with a trade that'll bring them up a few wins in the much tougher East.
12. Wizards…I wonder if we’ll ever see the old agent zero again….I’m starting to think otherwise which is why they are down here. They looked absolutely awful against the Cavs on tv last week. I know it’s preaseaon but these guys looked disinterested and were totally going through the motions, which is a tough thing this early…..rumour has it too that Hughes might be headed back there for maybe Etan Thomas and Darius Songalia if he (cross your fingers) recovers quickly from that injury….what a shame that that injury happened….if that trade happened, that can’t make them better.
13. Knicks. They’ll run, they’ll steal some games, they’ll look good when Duhon has his 3 pt shot falling (every 6th game), but then they’ll regret having Duh as their major minutes PG as he’ll cost htem many winnable games with uncharacteristically questionable decisions when the game is on the line (uncharacteristic in that he doesn’t do that at all in the other 44 minutes of his games, but more often than not plays awful int he end of games).
14. Pacers. They overperformed last year. Granger’s good, TJ Ford’s quick, Murphy’s a joke, Dunleavy’s so far a one season wonder and even in that season he gave up probably pretty close to as many points as he scored, so Pacer fans overrate him. They have shooters though and speed so they could be better int eh win column than I have here if they’re hot, but they won’t be as dangerous really as the more talented teams above.
15. Nets. I’m so sick of all the Devin Harris crap. THe guy sucked on the Mavs and yet the Jersey press has infiltrated ESPN and forced them to say he’s the next Michael Jordan on a bad team (not quite to that extent but still). The guy’s a bust…..he was a high draft pick, not some 2nd round surprise, folks have to realize this and start calling him by his real game. He got beat off the street by a guy I believe in England for chrissakes….Vince’ll be traded and they’ll be in complete rebuild mold.
My seasonal awards:
1) LeBron James. The best player will finally win this award.
2) Chris Paul. Might be on the best team
3) Kobe Bryant. Might be on the best team
4) D. Wade. Might be the best player, won't win because his team will suffer.
5) Amare Stoudemire He's awesome, he really really is, his team though is very questionable this year given age and new philosophy that doesn't fit a veteran (hard to change) locker room or their best talents, but Stoudemire can possibly still change, and Phx better hope he does.
1) Lamar Odom. If he stays off the bench he gets here due to Manu's injury.
2) Kirk Hinrich. Yes, Kirk is coming off the bench, and if VDN watched Kirk play almost Kiddian against Scott Skiles and can channel the old Kirk of 2-3 years ago again, Kirk's a lock. He looked great against the Bucks. Unfortunately I think he's coming off the bench in lieu of THabo, not Gordon. I don't know why the Bulls don't play their best players......SG should be either Gordon or HInrich as it's still arguable who's better. Kirks D though in a supporting role and ability to run an offense will be nice to see.
3) AK47. Having someone this gifted come off the bench will really help the Jazz.
4) Manu Ginobili. When Healthy he's the best player in this group by a large margin (my #3 SG behind only Kobe and D. Wade). I just think he's hurt for a while.
5) Andres Nocioni. No I'm not being a total homer. The Bulls best strength currently is our ridiculous depth. Nocioni so far has looked much much much better with Rose than Deng and though the Bulls aren't about to let Deng sit after locking him in to a huge, and unworthy contract so soon, Noc will put up 15-7 and a couple blocks and charges and gritt off the bench.
3 Coaches of the year.
1) Byron Scott. These guys looked very well coached before meeting their athletic match against the Lakers last year. Look for nice adjustments, a healthy David West in the playoffs would have helped them too. Byron Scott and CP3's team ran beautifully.
2) Phil Jackson. My pick for best record. Phil's got the most perfect triangle offense team he's ever had with the combo of Pau and Odom more than making up for the perfect triangle player that was the great Scottie Pippen. Bynum and of course Kobe greatly help. They would be wise to make a play for Captain Kirk Hinrich by dangling Odom to the Bulls (they can't afford Lamar in the future and Kirk's salary is reduced each year until he's done)....plus he's still a young (27) PG who is a perfect Ron Harper esque triangle playing piece.....and note that when he plays hard he's really damn good.
3) Jerry Sloan. Sloan's a solid coach and should always be in consideration.
Top 3 Rookies:
1) Derrick Rose: he's electric and has already grown in leaps and bounds. His D is even coming around. He'll get turnovers like a SG, but will get everything else like a top tier PG in year 1....he's the best new player this year barring injury.
2) Rudy Fernandez--athletic, ridiculously athletic, with some professional experience. He's the Blazer's best rookie at least in year 1.
3) O.J. Mayo-Beasley won't get as much burn if he messes up next to Wade and with Marion around....Mayo will, and he'll score quite a bit....which always helps in the ROY awards.
1) Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich might just get this because he played well below his skill level last year. He might get this despite being traded from my Bulls. He's a much better player than he played and if he regains his form from 2 years ago, he's there. He might/should even improve upon his old numbers. He comes in respected because of what he proved he could do, but on a pure number and play from last year (where he gave up in the hope Skiles would be canned and his assistant would be canned) to where he'll be this year, he definately should be in the mix of most improved.
2) JR Smith. A young, athletic kid with real headcase issues....but he's awfully talented. Can he live up to the talent? My vote is yes, and he'll get plenty of opportunities with his contract and A.I. on his way out.
3) Marvin Williams. I think he's on the all breakout list this year....or else he's officially all bust, but I don't buy that.
4) Rudy Gay. Came on quite a bit last year, if he keeps it up he could get some votes in the all star voting, but his team will likely be rough so I don't think he makes it in.
5) Tyrus Thomas. I'm a Bulls fan, but this kids upside is phenomenal, and if he plays like he did in the preseason, he's not just #5 MIP, he's all star quality. But I digress, it was only preseason and for every ooh wow oh my God he's awesome Tyrus game, his history shows he'll have more than his share of what was that moments....but Skiles is gone, and I think VDN will let him get a chance to work through the mistakes.....it's criminal how little the Bulls have worked on developing Tyrus. Imagine if Tyrus comes on and then Rose hits his speed. The Bulls will have an unstoppable duo of Derrick and Tyrus (Derrick can play 1 of course, but with his athleticism some 2)....Tyrus can play 3 and 4 and even spots of 5 (simply due to his ridiculous athleticism). Even with Rose, Tyrus is still our most athletic player and is definately a top 5 athlete in the league....let's just hope he learned the game. I'd love to see 1 on 1 with Josh Smith....if Tyrus improves like he's shown....
All Bust 5:
1) Shaquille O'Neal--folks in Phx now expect a lot out of him with their defensive minded coach. Me? I see an overweight, old guy who'll play 55+ games.
2) Gilbert Arenas. He's already in this top 5 simply by being out until at least late Jan.
3) Rashard Lewis. If he doesn't take the Turkoglu mantle that he's paid to do he's on this list for the next 5 years. He's a good player, but for that money, not worth the dough....and he needs to be at least their #2 guy with Turkoglu's contract in the wings and the Magic strapped because they dramatically overpaid for Lewis.
4) Rasheed Wallace. I've loved him as a player, and for a while you knew he just dogged it. He was still an all star last year, which might not have been quite deserved, probably came from his year before performance. But I know this is his last year and because it's a contract year some are saying he'll play to his former abilities and talents a bit more....but I think the age has crept in. THankfully the Pistons have Maxiell, Hermann, Johnson to more than fill in. It's a shame too for Sheed, a hall of fame talent, who was good, damn good but has not lived up to what he could have been.
5) Elton Brand. Folks want to see the Brand of 2-3 years ago, the former MVP caliber Elton Brand. He's a good player, he'll nip at 18-30 in the league's best players, but that's not what the expectations for him are. It's nice to see him though on a team that's built to compete (since the Bulls at that time weren't and the Clippers later were even worse off--because at least the Bulls had a few years of almost respectability post Jordan).
All Surprises for this year (final area)
1) Mavs will perform well and challenge for their division. I predict 54 wins from them, as Josh Howard has looked better than ever, and Dirk is well Dirk. When they've run with their starters at the start of the games, Kidd has played quite well, and Carlisle is an underrated coach. I think they'll improve over last year.....and that's a far cry from what many think.
2) Cavs will stay in the 44-45 win mark. They'll still be deadly because of LBJ, but that thin front line in a tougher East will definately be tough for them to be the regular season stars folks want them to be. They'll start the year well, but the thin front line will hurt them come mid season due to injuries. They will be tough in the playoffs though.
3) Raptors will make it to the ECF. Bosh-O'Neal-Calderon will be incredibly tough to stop by late season.
4) The Rockets still won't make it out of the first round of hte playoffs. The Artest-TMAC-Yao-Battier experiment that looks so good on paper will again be ended by some injuries.....and they'll lose again to either the Jazz or Mavs.
5) The Nugetts will make the playoffs. Don't count out a team with all the talent of Melo-A.I.-JR Smith and even the presumably will sometime be healthy Nene and still if he has anything left after the injuries KMart 100% out....they'll nip into the 8th spot.