Happy Halloween! The Stack is scary good with the NBA preview blog post that you demand...well maybe. Then again, maybe not. We have some bootiful predictions for some fans while others will be sorely disappointed. Let's not waste another moment. Grab some candy, pull all of the ghosts and goblins together and take a look at the 2012-13 NBA preview for today, Halloween, Wednesday, October 31:
I'll keep this short. Let's face it, the eastern conference is weak. Very weak. The Miami Heat are the clear favorites in the eastern conference. They're the defending NBA champions and are already off to a 1-0 start this year following their 120-107 win of the Boston Celtics last night. In fact, the Celtics may be the team that can compete with them the most, and I don't buy that the Celtics are all that good.
Listen, the Celtics do have their stars in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, but Garnett and Pierce are getting older. They don't have those young legs anymore to be playing as many minutes as they used to. And yes the Celtics had a good draft getting Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger, but those guys have some growing to do. The Celtics have a great team, don't get me wrong, but they can't compete with the Heat and expect to beat them in a best-of-seven series in the playoffs. They just can't.
Other teams in the east will be better. The Philadelphia 76ers should be a better team with a legit big man in Andrew Bynum provided that he stays healthy and remains mature on the court. The Brookyln Nets should be very good this year after keeping Deron Williams and re-signing Brook Lopez. MarShon Brooks is a great young talent too. The Indiana Pacers will continue to improve and build off of their impressive performance in the playoffs from last year where they nearly knocked the Heat out of the playoffs. The Chicago Bulls will be ok, but Derrick Rose isn't playing right away so that will hurt this team.
And then you have the New York Knicks. This team would have made the playoffs this year, but without as much hype that not Linsanity is gone (more on him in a bit). With Amare Stoudemire out for six weeks following surgery to repair an injury to his left knee, the Knicks are going to be just average this year, but you know what...that will be good enough to make the playoffs.
Here is the rankings in the NBA's eastern conference...
Elite: Miami Heat
Mild contenders: Boston Celtics
Interesting teams that could make some noise: Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers
Average teams: New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks
Should be better this year: Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons
OMG when does our season end: Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats, Orlando Magic
It's going to be that type of year for a bunch of teams in the Eastern Conference. The five best players in the conference are
1. LeBron James (Miami Heat)
2. Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics)
3. Derrick Rose...when healthy (Chicago Bulls)
4. Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat)
5. Andrew Bynum (Philadelphia 76ers)
I know I'm missing some players and you probably disagree with plenty of them. I won't argue that. Could have put someone from the Pacers on there or Josh Smith from the Hawks, but these are the best of the best in this conference.
Now as for the playoff teams and as long as at least get the playoff teams right, I'll take that over the seeding...
*1. Miami Heat
*2. Boston Celtics
3. Philadelphia 76ers
*4. Indiana Pacers
5. Chicago Bulls
6. Brooklyn Nets
7. New York Knicks
8. Atlanta Hawks
I've already said it, so it should come as no surprise, the Miami Heat win the eastern conference and represent the east in the NBA Finals.
The far more difficult conference is the western conference where there are conceivably eleven or twelve teams that have a realistic shot at the postseason. Of course, no team did more this offseason than the Los Angeles Lakers who have bolstered their roster with some very good, although aging players. I guess Dwight Howard can't be considered that old, though his back issues may make him look old early on and perhaps throughout the season. Add to Howard the acquisition of Steve Nash and the Lakers did pretty good for themselves in the offseason as they try to take back the west from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder were prohibitive favorites in most people's eyes to win the western conference again prior to the Lakers adding Howard and Nash. Even with those two now in Laker purple, there were still plenty of folks who liked the Thunder's chances. But then late last week the Thunder traded James Harden, the sixth man player of the year from last year, to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb, two first round draft picks and a second round draft pick. I'm still having a hard time making out if the Thunder are winners or losers in this trade. Yes if Harden wouldn't accept your deal, then you had to move him, but he was such a vital role player on your team last year. Apart from the NBA Finals where he choked, he was the best bench player in the NBA. But the Thunder got a lot for him and several other pieces they traded and if he wasn't willing to sign an extension with the Thunder, then it was a good deal for them.
We shouldn't forget to talk about L.A.'s other team, the Clippers. Yes the Clippers are back and ready to go this year. A full offseason for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to build more chemistry should yield some phenominal results.
There are plenty of other intriguiging teams in the west as well. The Memphis Grizzlies really could be a sleeper in the west this year. The Minnesota Timberwolves have a real shot to make the playoffs this year for the first time since 2004-05. Of course, they need to get Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio back and healthy for that to happen. Denver will be very good again. They always have a good team with head coach George Karl. San Antonio because of head coach Gregg Popovich will be right up there as well. Even the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets will be interesting this year. Golden State with second year head coach Mark Jackson has a shot at the postseason and the Rockets with Jeremy Lin and all of the new pieces they've assembled should make for an exciting and interesting year in Houston. New Orleans has a new owner in Saints owner Tom Benson which should liven up a fan base, plus two good rookies in Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers.
Here are the rankings in the western conference...
Elite: Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers
Mild contenders: Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs
Interesting Teams that could make some noise: Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets
Average teams: Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers
Should be better this year: Utah Jazz, New Orleans Hornets
OMG when does our season end: Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns
Tough to pick the top five best players in the west, but here they are...
1. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
3. Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
4. Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)
5. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
I'm sure there is plenty of disagreement here. The west is loaded with plenty of talented players.
Again now, just like with the east, I'm more worried about picking the playoff teams than I am about the seeding though I hope they are in the right order
*1. Oklahoma City Thunder
*2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Los Angeles Clippers
*4. Denver Nuggets
5. Memphis Grizzlies
6. San Antonio Spurs
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
8. Houston Rockets
I do think the Jazz, Mavericks and Warriors all have very realistic shots to get in. Heck even the Trailblazers do as well, but I just feel that the eight teams mentioned above are in best position right now. It's going to come down to the Lakers and Thunder in the western conference. You know it is. I know it and you know it. For some reason, I will take the Lakers even though picking against the Thunder really is eating at me. It will not shock me if the Thunder reperesent the western conference in the NBA Finals, but I'll take the Lakers...for now.
So the NBA Finals will be between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, a ratings bonanza for the NBA. Lakers made all of those big acquisitions, but it won't matter, because the Heat are the better team and they made one addition better than any other and that is getting Ray Allen away from the rival Celtics. He will be the difference maker in making the Heat repeat NBA champions.
NBA MVP: LeBron James (Miami Heat)
Rookie of the year: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
comeback player of the year Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves)
coach of the year: Rick Adelman (Minnesota Timberwolves)
biggest positive surprise team: New Orleans Hornets
biggest negative suprise team: New York Knicks
There you have it...the 2012-13 NBA season preview. Hope you all enjoyed and at least agree with some of my picks. Happy Halloween!
Coming up Thursday: Thursday night football preview plus other top sports stories.