OK – here’s where I put my money where my mouth is. My playoff predictions for the upcoming NBA season, in order of seed:
1) Phoenix Suns – With all the angst from last season, these guys have got a big chip on their shoulder that should translate to the best record in the league.
2) Dallas Mavericks – Just because they bombed out of the first round last year doesn’t mean they won’t be a force in the regular season. There’s nothing wrong with this team.
3) San Antonio Spurs – Every year I think “these guys are too old”, but they just keep getting it done. As long as Duncan and Parker are healthy, they’re the team to beat.
4) Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets will beat out the Jazz for the best record in the Northwest division. They’ve got an easy schedule through December, and they’ll finish strong as usual.
5) Utah Jazz – The Jazz had an interesting off-season that will impact their regular season performance, but they should manage to stay very close to Denver for the division lead.
6) Houston Rockets – Adelman’s clever offensive scheme will make Yao Ming the best player in the west (at least on paper), but there will be a learning curve.
7) Golden State Warriors – Assuming Baron Davis is healthy, Warriors run-and-gun basketball will challenge every team they play in the regular season.
8 ) Memphis Grizzlies – Pau Gasol can be a dominant player when healthy, and this team has a enough talent to make a grab for the last spot in the playoffs.
While I’m not going to predict how these seeds will perform in the playoffs until we get closer, I will officially declare my favorite to win the Western Conference. (drum roll…)
Phoenix. The Suns have everything they need to win, and they won’t be denied this year because of questionable calls. While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and say that Phoenix will also be the NBA champ in the upcoming season.
Also, my pick for last place in the Western conference goes to the Sonics. Between the lack of veteran talent, the lack of defense, and the ownership’s bid to move the team, anything more than a terrible season is wishful thinking.