Saturday, October 28, 2006

2006-2007: Eastern Conference Preview

Once again the East gained the NBA title. It can't be said that the
East is the top conference from top to bottom, but it has to be said
that the best teams in the East are easily as good as the top teams in
the West. And the East keeps getting great draft picks, so the
conference should continue it's rise back to balancing out the East.

1. Shaq-fu delivered on his promise to bring a title to Miami. But
really it was the continued development of the new-Jordan, Dwayne
Wade, that brought the title to Miami. Wade continued to amaze in the
playoffs. He started hitting threes. He developed a bank shot
seemingly out of nowhere. Only Kirck Hinrich was ablet to contain him
at all as Wade could just will a basket whenever Miami needed. Unlike
the year before, Reilley didn't tweak this roster at all. I like
that. The only troubles are that Shaq probably packed on a few pounds
in the offseason, and Wade recently admitted to being tired after
going through the Finals and playing in the FIBA world championships.
He's bascially had no time off. If he or Shaq are worn down at
playoff time, all bets are off with this top dog status.

2. Detroit Pistons - This is still a team to be reckoned with, but
they lost their heart and soul in Ben Wallace. Hopefully this means
that Rasheed Wallace will take the time to reaquaint himself with the
area below the foul line. He should because he's an unbelievable post
player with so many moves he can't be stopped if he doesn't want to.
They still remain one of the best perimeter teams in the NBA with Rip
and Chauncey holding down the back court as well. I like their
chances of being in the Eastern Conference finals this year.

3. Chicago Bulls - They had a big offseason in getting Tyrus Thomas,
an animal with hops and defensive ability but little offensive game,
and Big Ben. Ben is slipping a bit, but he fits in with the team
oriented hard-nosed brand of basketball that these Bulls play. There
are no outsized egos. Kirck Hinrich is as unselfish as they come at
the point and he can score when needed and proved against the Miami
Heat that he's one of the leagues best perimeter defenders (the only
person to even remotely contain Wade). Now, add to all this that the
Bulls also own the Knicks pick this year, which will likely be a
lottery pick and you can see why the future is bright in Chi-town for
years. I still think they're a little too unseasoned to make a
serious run at the Finals as some have predicted, but that will depend
on how stellar Ben still is and what Thomas can give them.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - The King James era is now in full effect.
James willed his team to a nice defeat of the Wizards and nearly of
the Pistons, giving them all they could handle. Still this team is
quite a bit flawed as James doens't have a lot of help on the
perimeter. They're still lacking the elusive floor spacing shooter
(The Butler isn't it) and the low post game could use some work. Big
Z clogs the lane and doesn't bring enough post D. Sideshow Bob brings
great energy and proved in the playoffs that he's not affraid to step
up. But really, this is not a team that's ready to compete with the
big dogs. But look for James to have another great season and maybe
even an MVP season if Cleveland wins 50+ games and he can reprise his
incredible 30-6-6 season, or dare I say, improve on it.

5. New Jersey Nets - I think New Jersey had a great offseason. They
got lucky in the draft with Marcus Williams falling to them at 21.
Now they have a respectible back up to Jason Kidd who can likely
handle a Princeton-type offense. Kidd should be able to save
something for the playoffs. Richard Jefferson should be healthier.
And of course, the biggest thing is that this is a contract year for
Vince Carter. Look for him to have monster production and do a lot of
stupid fake motorcycle revving.

6. Indiana Pacers- Okay. This probably shouldn't happen. This team
is a mess. Stephen Jackson is blazing guns at strip joints not long
after taking part in the NBA melee at the Palace. But they brought Al
Harrington back into the fold to play a complimentary role to J.
O'Neal. I like that front court combo a lot. Carlisle remains a
great coach so I see them getting to the playoffs and then not making
much noise there.

7. Washington Wizards - Gilbert Arenas is the craziest player in the
league. He's very talented, but his team will never be great because
he dominates the ball. He single-handedly shuts down the beautiful
Princeton-style offense because he's not talented enough to run it.
And it's a shame because they have the kind of wing players you need
to run it. Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler can both shoot it, score
down low, and move without the ball. They can also handle the rock a
bit too, so there's no excuse for this team to not be running a motion
offense. But hey, Gilbert's got to get his and continue to prove that
everybody underrates him, from the NBA, to team USA. The problem is,
we all know exactly what he is.

8. Milwaukee - Michael Redd proved more than worthy of his contract.
Andrew Bogut showed that he's going to be a commodity in this league
and because he can run the floor, the Bucks should be able to continue
their transformation into an uptempo team. There's a lot to like
about this team. So get some fried cheese, a $1 PBR, and tuck in
Milwaukee. This is the team to follow until the Packers can resurrect

Welcome to the Lottery (order not important)

Boston Celtics - Let's see. They brought in a point guard with an ego
and posse bigger than most in the NBA. Oh, he likes guns too. Did I
mention he may be implicated in ordering a shooting? And hey,
remember Tony Allen? He's implicated in a shooting too. What are
the other problems with this team? Well the biggest one is that they
have one legitimate NBA starter (any guesses who that is?). The
problem is that everybody else is either over the hill (Wally World,
Theo Ratliff) or entirely promise with no chance of becoming much
better (West, Jefferson, Green, Rondo, Telfair, Allen, Powe, Dickau).
Danny has built a great team for March Madness, but the problem is
that this is the NBA. Paul will continue to put up MVP type numbers,
work hard, fight off nagging injuries, and the result will still be
the same. Welcome to the lottery. Oh did I mention that the Celtics
raised ticket prices for a non-playoff team and have committed the
ultimate sin of getting a dance squad. Needless to say you won't find
me at any Celtics games anytime soon. Larry Bird is rolling over in
his grave.

Atlanta Hawks - What's that? Marvin Williams totally sucks? You mean
a guy who couldn't get off the bench in college shouldn't have been
the overall number one pick? Oh, he's got a broken hand right now?
Chris Paul is a future halll of famer? Nice job Atlanta. At least
Josh Smith is turning into a Kirelenko of the East. Joe Johnson
worked out okay, but he didn't translate into more wins. This team is
a total mess. Oh, they also drafted too much nerve tonic Griffey (aka
Shelden Willams), and he looks like a total bust. What a total mess.
Well, maybe they can land Ogden in the next draft.

New York Knicks - This should end Isiah Thomas' run as doing anything
in the NBA. He ruined the CBA, he ruined some pretty good Indiana
teams with some horrible coaching, and he help drive the Knicks into
what will be at least another ten years of nothingness. The biggest
NBA market will have no team for ten years. That hurts. Oh yeah,
Thomas shipped multiple lottery picks to the Bulls for Curry, who has
heart problems, and immeadiately rediscovered the buffet line after
getting his big money contract. Great.

Orlando Magic - Grant is the past. Dwight Howard is the current and
future. He is a total monster on the boards and keeps getting more
tricks in his offensive bag of tricks. Jameer Nelson proved to be a
great improvement over Francis. The only thing I question is using a
lottery pick on JJ Redick. They could have picked him up three years
from now for bargain basement prices. Well, unless DAnny Ainge is
still a GM. He would have given Reddick a 10 year max money contract
for being white.

Charlotte Bobcats - I wanted to put them in the playoffs, but it's not
time yet. They are testing my firmly held belief that drafting
college blue chippers and proven Madness commoditites is the way to
go. They've got 4 NCAA champs on the roster and added to that Adam
Morrison. This reminds me of the route the Bulls started taking a few
years ago. If they get a good coach, I think they're going to be in a
very good place soon. Plus, Gerald Wallace averaged 2+ spg and 2+ bpg
last year. That's simply amazing from your two guard. But they're
still too young, and Morrison is going to take a year or two to adjust
to the NBA, much like Dirk did.

Toronto Raptors - The good: Chris Bosh is a great power forward and
is young. He wants to be in Toronto. TJ ford could be Nash-lite.
Brian Collangelo has a proven track record as an NBA GM. The bad:
Well, Ford hasn't really lasted a whole season yet, and after Bosh,
the pickings are little bit thin as far as talent goes. Sam Mitchell
doesn't seem to be a totally stable coach. And that Italian player
they drafted is a ways off. But there's hope on the horizon.

Philadelphia 76ers - They couldn't unload Iverson this offseason.
Their attempt to make one more good run at it with Webber and Iverson
backfired miserably. Their stuck with surly and overpaid players and
aren't going to do anything this year. I think it will be a miracle
if they make the playoffs. I've also got the over/under at 3 bust for
pot this year for C.Webb. But his posse will take the blame. God,
it's great to be in the NBA.

No comments: