Your 2009-2010 NBA season preview

The NFL has a lot of bad teams. Entering Week Six, nine teams, the Bills, Lions, Panthers, Bucs, Rams, Browns, Titans, Raiders and Chiefs all had a combined five wins… and some of those teams had played each other! Any NFL preview of those teams at the beginning of the season turned out to be a tremendous waste of ink and cyberspace.

In the spirit of conservation and outright decency, sportschump.net’s NBA preview has decided to spare you the wannabes. We have chosen only to highlight those teams that have a legitimate chance to win the O’Brien Trophy. As is the case every year, the NBA will showcase a bunch of solid contenders. Unfortunately, they’ll also parade out there a bunch of teams taking up arena space until real entertainment comes to town.

Note the odds of each team winning an NBA title are listed in parentheses.

al-horford-hawksI’d like to think the Atlanta Hawks (+4500) could win a title this year. They’ve improved their win total each of the last five seasons and have developed a strong core of young talent. They took the Celtics to seven games in 2008, then advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2009 before getting swept by Cleveland. Atlanta’s good but last year’s post-season showed us the vast talent differential between the Hawks and the Cavs. There’s no reason to expect anything different this year.

joakim-noah-bulls1I’d like to think the Chicago Bulls (+6000) could win a title this year. They gave the KG-less Celtics all they wanted in a fantastic seven-game series last year before finally running out of gas. Luol Deng returns healthy, Derrick Rose will have another year under his belt and it looks like Joakim Noah is finally coming of age. But they failed to re-sign Ben Gordon in the off-season and will miss him more than they realize. Bulls fans better hope losing him is not a step in the wrong direction.

richard-hamiltonI’d like to think the Detroit Pistons (+6500) could win a title this year. They made some serious off-season acquisitions. They added Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Chris Wilcox to their roster. They still have Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince as well as Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell. But they have a first year head coach John Kuester who, despite his impressive resume, has no previous NBA head coaching experience. Pat Riley in 1981-82 was last rookie head coach to win an NBA title. I’m not saying the Pistons can’t win a title this year. I’m just saying they don’t have Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing for them.

andre-iguodala-76ersI’d like to think the Philadelphia 76ers (+4500) could win a title this year. They eagerly await the return of a healthy Elton Brand. They also have size down low with Marreese Speights and Stromile Swift. Andre Iguodala is a one-man highlight reel. Other than him, though, the Sixers should struggle with a lack of quality guard play.

dwyane_wade1I’d like to think the Miami Heat (+7500) could win a title this year but this team still relies way too much on Dwyane Wade. He’s surrounded by Jermaine O’Neal, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Quentin Richardson, Mario Chalmers and Jamaal Magliore, who are all decent players, but considering what they have to go against in the East, I’m not so sure that line-up strikes fear into the hearts of many.

chris-paul-hornets1I’d like to think the New Orleans Hornets (+2500) could win a title this year. They have one of the brightest young stars in the game in Chris Paul. But superstar point guard alone does not make a title. Just ask Allen Iverson. The Hornets traded Tyson Chandler straight up for Emeka Okafor in July but that’s not enough to make us think New Orleans is for real. Fans are much better off pinning their hopes on the Saints.

deron-williamsI’d like to think the Utah Jazz (+2000) could win a title this year. They’re always so close, but this is the NBA, not horseshoes. Deron Williams continues to rival Chris Paul as the best point guard in the league. Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer are all back. But they’re still inferior to the other Western Conference powers who all improved themselves dramatically in the off-season.

brandon-roy-trailblazersI’d like to think the Portland Trailblazers (+2000) could win a title this year. Now entering his fourth year in the league, Brandon Roy has increased his scoring output each season, as has LaMarcus Aldridge. But too many questions surround Greg Oden’s durability. Even with a healthy Oden, an NBA title would be a stretch for the Trailblazers.

I’d like to think the Phoenix Suns (+4000) could win a title this year but their window of opportunity slammed shut years ago.

Now that we’ve excluded the contenders light, we can also eliminate Toronto, New York, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Indiana, Washington, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Los Angeles (Clippers), Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Memphis from any legitimate title conversation.

Now that that’s over, let’s move on to the seven teams that have a chance to win it all.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

kevin-garnett-boston-celticsBoston Celtics (+295) – Memo to the Eastern Conference… Kevin Garnett is back. He alone makes watching basketball that much more enjoyable. The Celtics were not the same without their cog, best player and emotional leader when he went down with a knee injury last season. As a result, they were taken to the brink by Chicago, then ultimately defeated by Orlando. But KG appears 100% after successful arthroscopic surgery in the off-season. The Celtics return most of their core and are poised to make another title run. The big three are back in Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Additionally, the Rasheed Wallace experiment is about to begin. He’s already received a technical foul this preseason, proving he’s already in mid-season form. Despite his volatility, his addition to the lineup means Boston features four potential Hall of Famers in 2009. Rajon Rondo will play point and if he continues to improve as he has every season of his young career, the Celtics will be very tough to beat. Their supporting cast still includes Eddie House, Glen Davis and Tony Allen. It will be interesting to see how Shelden Williams fits in. He seemed like a sure thing coming out of Duke but has already played for three teams in three years. Expect the Celtics to make another deep playoff run come June.

lebronCleveland Cavaliers (+200) – This LeBron James guy is good. He’s the reigning MVP and could be on the verge of reeling off a few more. He’ll be joined by another big name and former MVP this season. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Shaquille O’Neal is going to give a championship one more shot with King James. Point guard Mo Williams will have another year’s experience playing with LeBron. The Cavs also return Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao and picked up former Celtic Leon Powe. The Cavs proved inferior to the Orlando Magic last season but are hoping the Diesel will be the edge they’re looking for when it comes to matching up with Dwight Howard in June. Post-season seeding could be key for the Cavs. Whichever of the big three (Boston, Orlando, Cleveland) earns the best overall regular season record will garner home court advantage. That will force the other two to play each other before coming to Cleveland, where they only lost two games in the regular season all year.

65724_orlando_magic_vince_carter_press_conferenceOrlando Magic (+1500) – The Magic overachieved last year, reaching the Finals by knocking off both Cleveland and Boston. Ownership decided even that wasn’t good enough and made one of the league’s biggest off-season moves, trading Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie for Vince Carter. They also decided not to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu who came up huge for them last year. That means Vince has big shoes to fill and all eyes are watching. Expectations are already high. Jameer Nelson will return healthy and should lead an exciting Magic team that still boasts Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard. The Magic will also start Brandon Bass at power forward in the hopes of giving Superman some rebounding help. Coach Stan Van Gundy has already called out Vince Carter this preseason for his lack of defensive intensity but apparently they’ve kissed and made up. Remember, he called out Dwight Howard last year and Howard responded admirably. If this team can find a groove, they could very well be competing for another title.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Los Angekobe-bryant-four-nba-titlesles Lakers (+110) For those of you who weren’t paying attention, the Los Angeles Lakers won it all last year, giving Kobe Bryant his fourth championship and Phil Jackson his tenth. In the off-season, they added Ron Artest, the league’s best perimeter defender. They re-signed Khloe Kardashian’s husband, Lamar Odom, and still have the best Spaniard in the game, Pau Gasol. Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic all return from last year’s championship team adding to the many reasons the Lakers are a considerable favorite to repeat.

dallas-mavericksDallas Mavericks (+2500) – I’m torn on Dallas. On paper, they look pretty good. Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Tim Thomas, Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Erick Dampier. This is a team that should contend. They’ll likely win fifty games and be one of the top four seeds entering the post-season. But it’s what happens in June that matters most. This team is getting older and is slowly watching the sands of the hourglass. Thomas, Terry, Kidd, Nowitzki, Marion and Dampier are all over 30. It might be now or never for this Dallas team. Experience counts but so do aching bones.

chauncey-billups-carmelo-anthony-denver-nuggets

Denver Nuggets (+3500) – Will the Denver Nuggets ever live up to their potential? This team starts three top-three draft picks in Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin. Finally realizing the importing of the stop, Denver has dramatically improved their defensive woes. In 2007-2008, Denver allowed 107 points per game. Last season, they shrunk that by six. This team can score with the best of them but needs to bring that number down even more if they want to contend. Nene Hilario proved to be a capable center down the stretch last year. Chris Andersen was a huge emotional spark off the bench. JR Smith will have to work on his consistency. And rookie Ty Lawson could do worse than learning from Chauncey Billups. If you’re looking for a sleeper, Denver could be the pick.

Spurs Jefferson BasketballSan Antonio Spurs (+1300) – The Spurs aren’t spring chickens either, but they’re good and they’re no longer just the big three. Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan will be joined by Richard Jefferson who will help relieve much of the scoring load. While he’s no Bruce Bowen defensively (few are), Jefferson is a career 18 ppg scorer. Ownership wants to give Big Fundamentals at least one more solid shot at a title so they also picked up some size in Theo Ratliff and Antonio McDyess. The Spurs return Matt Bonner and Michael Finley as well. But as usual, the Spurs will come and go as does their health. They struggle when Ginobili is out of the lineup. The Spurs at 100% will give any team in the league a run for their money.

Just because Boston, Los Angeles and Cleveland are significant favorites to win it all does not mean the NBA season is a foregone conclusion. Even the big three have questions. Can the Lakers mesh with Artest, who’s always ripe for a meltdown? Can the Celtics stay healthy through June? Is Shaq enough to bring Cleveland to the promised land? And how will the other big off-season acquisitions help their respective teams?

Several teams have enough talent to make things interesting in 2009-2010. But I’ll take these magnificent seven against the field and bet the house on it. If only that were allowed.

14 thoughts on “Your 2009-2010 NBA season preview

  1. Chris

    It’s all about the pretenders and the contenders. In the East ….it’ll be about the Magic, Celtics and Cavs. With an honorable mention to the Nets, Pistons and Heat.

    In the West and begins and stops with the Lakers. If Kobe Artest Gasol and Odom are on top of their game. Then in all likelihood they’ll repeat.
    I’d like to think that my beloved Spurs can no doubt give ’em a run for their money. But that’ll be predicated upon Ginobli Jefferson and Duncan remaining throughout the season and into the playoffs. Beyond that I don’t really see anyone pushing those two.

    Can anyone on the Bucs’ defense tackle ? And as for the idiot who believes that Ronde’ Barber is one of the elite cornerbacks in the league. What the hell has he been drinking ? Champ Bailey can run rings around Ronde, steal lunch and lunch bucket as well !


    Alan Parkins

  2. Al… the Bucs are awful. If they can’t beat the Panthers at home, one of the easiest games on their schedule, I’m hard-pressed to see who this team can beat.

    I think your Spurs will be fine if Pop can manage their minutes so the big four are all healthy in June. It wouldn’t even surprise me if RJ led the team in scoring.

  3. You know what I’m going to say, so I won’t bore you with the details. But I will say this. Rasheed has a lot more left in the tank than Shaq has. And unless Artest can hold it together for a full season(history is against him), the Lakers won’t get it done if they have to depend on him.

  4. Snake… I can easily see a scenario where the Lakers melt down with all the drama they have on that roster. Although Phil is a master at handling the basket cases and getting the most out of them.

    Re: your Celtics, I think more than ever that Doc will have to manage his stars’ minutes. You’ll need all three, or four now with Sheed, at 100% when the playoffs roll around.

    I also think the East is top heavy, with the top three teams in the East slightly better than the top three in the West?

    Agree or disagree?

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  7. Chris

    For the Spurs it’ll be about the likes of Duncan, Ginobli , Parker and Jefferson remaining healthy throughoutt much of the regular season. If they can get # 2 or # seed in the West. Then I’ll be happy with that and then see where it takes them from there.

    Shame about that U Conn player being stabbed on campus after the game ! What the hell is the world coming to if a student can’t even feel safe on his own college campus ?

    Coach says 2 teammates with victim during stabbing

    STORRS, Conn. (AP)—One teammate performed first aid while another comforted a University of Connecticut football player who was fatally stabbed during a fight outside a school-sanctioned dance over the weekend, their coach said Monday.

    Coach Randy Edsall wouldn’t identify the teammates or say how many players witnessed the fight that led to the death of 20-year-old Jasper Howard.

    “One had Jasper in his arms and the other was pressuring where the wound went in and had blood on his hands,” Edsall said. “And those two young men are pretty deeply affected right now.”

    The state’s medical examiner’s office said Monday that Howard died from a single stab wound to the abdomen. The death was ruled a homicide.

    Click link to read story in its entirety.

    Dropped this piece on the Redskins’ loss to the Chiefs. What a snoozefest ! Not one touchdown — just field goals and a safety was all that these two teams could produce.

    The President Says He Wants Healthcare Reform So What Does Mean For The Redskins …………..?

    Alan Parkins

  8. Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson all on the floor at the same time will be tough for any perimeter defense to handle.

    Actually, Al. I was just fine with that Chiefs-Skins game considering me and my boy won money on it with the Chiefs moneyline.

  9. Chris

    Well you must’ve made out like gang busters on that score ? The ‘skins were abysmally bad. And so too were the Chargers last night ! Who knew that the Broncos would’ve laid out such a can of whup a_s like that ?

    And man oh man was LT pi_sed or what once he was removed from the game ? He and Turner are going to heading for a big time showdown that’s for sure ! There’s talk that Merriman might also be on the trading block. Given that at 4:00pm today is the NFL trade dead line. I personally can’t see them giving up Merriman at all. Not unless a team is willing to give up at least a first rounder and two picks in the latter rounds at least.

    What’s this about the Glazers still owing the Tampa Bays Sports Authority over $ 5.2 million and they’ve not been approached by the city of Tampa to pay the debt as of yet ? It’s said to be at least 18 months overdue ? WTF is going on there within the city ? That money could be put to good use as it’s said that it goes towards the first responders such as the city’s police force and fire service. Is this what Iorio’s regime is now all about ? Kissing the a_s of both the Steinbrenner and Glazer families ? Just because they’re said to have a unique presence in the city.

    Alan Parkins

  10. The Broncos are for real, man. Jeff McDaniels has quickly made the drama he went through in the off-season an afterthought. Kyle Orton can manage a football game and Brandon Marshall is the real deal.

    I’ve often thought the Chargers window of opportunity closed a while back. Think they’d be any different if they had either Drew Brees or Marty Schottenheimer back?

    Interesting news about the Glazers and the city, man. I’ll have to look into that and get back with you.

  11. Chris

    That piece with the Glazers I heard on Silio’s show this morning on WDAE .

    As for the Chargers they’re as good as done. If they can’t win 9 games or more they probably won’t make the playoffs. The Pats have released Joey Galloway . What’s the bets that the Bucs’ll look to reacquire him cheaply ?

    Dropped these two pieces today .

    One is a review of last night’s game and the other deals with the NFL’s global ambitions.

    Can We All Agree That The NFL Is Here To Stay …. ?

    I Bitch Slapped Your Mama And She Enjoyed It So Get Over It !

    As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments.

    Alan Parkins

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