RSS Feed for This PostCurrent Article

Predicting the 2009-2010 NBA Season – Western Conference

If you haven’t already seen it, check out my 2009-2010 NBA Season Predictions for the Eastern Conference.

First, some assumptions:

  1. That all the important players stay mostly healthy.
  2. That there aren’t any major trades. Obviously this will change, but when it does the rankings will be updated (if I have time).
  3. That some lame-o (who isn’t bold enough to publish their own predictions before the season begins) will criticize me when the season ends. Lame.

In order of how they’ll finish…

1) L.A. Lakers

Possibilities: Another trophy.

Problems: Point guards. On both sides of the ball. Quick guards like Brooks and Paul can carve them up. Fisher is getting old. Farmar isn’t the guy. (Good thing Kobe is more than capable of playing point guard.)

Prognosis: They are the best in the league. Bynum’s inevitable improvement will counter the inevitable decline of Derek Fisher, and anyone who thinks Artest can hurt this team is flat-out crazy. They are the team to beat.

2) San Antonio Spurs

Possibilities: Western conference finals likely. Championship? Maybe.

Problems: The aging process.

Prognosis: Awesome, awesome team that will defend as well as ever and find it much easier to score with R.J. at the 3.

3) Portland Trail Blazers

Possibilities: Western Conference Finals (WCF) possible. Championship? They got a shot.

Problems: There are two. First, they need Oden to get better in order to win big. Second, there’s the ever increasing size of each young player’s ego. Portland should consider trading off some young bench talent for a solid veteran who is willing to play a specific role.

Prognosis: Roy, Aldridge, Webster, and Oden will all improve. Considering how good this team was last year that should be enough to elevate them to 3rd best in the west. Add in Andre Miller – and his under-rated ability to lead a team – and Portland seems destined for a big step forward.

4) Denver Nuggets

Possibilities: WCF possible. Championship? They’ll need a little help.

Problems: First, there’s bench scoring. If J.R. comes off the bench, there’s no issue…but J.R. isn’t going to be happy. If JR starts, the 2nd unit has trouble scoring. Second, there’s Karl’s contract. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Karl is on his way out of Denver – are Denver’s players mature enough to keep from tuning him out despite that fact?

Prognosis: J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, and Nene should all take a step forward this year. If Denver finds value from one of their cheap players (likely Afflalo, Balkman, or Lawson) they can go far. If not? They’re a player away from being a championship caliber team.

5) Dallas Mavericks

Possibilities: 2nd round.

Problems: Where is the center on this team? If Dallas relies upon Gooden, Dampier, and sometimes Nowitzki, rebounding is going to be tough. Defense is going to be hit or miss. Any western conference team with a scoring big man (Denver, San Antonio, L.A., and perhaps Portland) will be very tough for them.

Prognosis: Dallas has lots of talent at positions 1-4. Kidd is a great leader. Rick Carlisle knows how to make due with tough line-ups. This is a good but not great team…subject to change. I see a major trade in this team’s future.

6) New Orleans Hornets

Possibilities: 1st round, perhaps 2nd. No chance at a championship.

Problems: 1) Who is their SG? Rasual Butler was average…and they replaced him with two players who couldn’t beat him out for a starting spot last year. 2) The secret is out on Chris Paul. He doesn’t like contact, and if you take away his drive and dish the rest aren’t good enough to beat you. 3) Who’s the third option? Okafor is a slug on offense, Posey isn’t focused unless a contract is on the line, and Peja is ready for retirement. Byron Scott’s poor player development strategy will finally catch him up with him this year.

Prognosis: Following a 1st round exit, Byron Scott will be gone. There’s also a strong likelihood New Orleans blows up the team and rebuilds around Chris Paul. Okafor, David West, and Posey are all tradeable. Anyone else think David West would be good for the Bulls?

7) Utah Jazz

Possibilities: 1st round exit, 2nd round possible.

Problems: Once Boozer is traded, isn’t this team just Deron Williams, two often-injured vets (Okur and Kirilenko) and a bunch of young guys? Milsap, Brewer, and Price are exciting young pieces, but it’s hard to believe they’ll contribute at the same level as their counterparts on other good teams. Utah didn’t defend all that well last season and they didn’t play well on the road – both of which are traits of a young team.

Prognosis: IF AK 47 and Okur can be healthy then who knows. Otherwise, the Jazz are a damn good team at home and an average team on the road. They should be in the mix for the 7th or 8th seed.

8 ) Clippers

Possibilities: 1st round, but lottery possible.

Problems: They need a lot of youngsters (Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, and Al Thornton) to play well to contend for a playoff spot. Ownership is ridiculous. The starting PG can’t stand the coach.

Prognosis: The Warriors are likely to self-destruct and there are a lot of good reasons for Sarver and Kerr to blow-up the Suns. By default, that leaves the Clippers.

The rest that won’t quite make it…

Phoenix Suns

Possibilities: Lottery, perhaps 1st round.

Problems: Steve Nash is old. The team has accepted the idea that “the championship window is closed.” The ownership is completely f$*#@d. Amare is their most important player (a recipe for failure). They don’t do defense.

Prognosis: They’re a slightly more talented version of Golden State with less depth…which means they’ve got a shot. The best move, however, would be to trade Amare at the All-Star break, hope for a good lottery pick, and then find Steve Nash a new home next summer.

Golden State Warriors

Possibilities: Lottery, perhaps 1st round.

Problems: Dysfunctional. No defense. The dysfunction: A lack of leadership, a coach who plays head games, poor ownership, and the best players (Ellis and Jackson) don’t want to be there.

Prognosis: Golden State has a good center in Biedrins, interesting options at power forward, and tremendous amounts of depth at positions 1-3. A trade for a solid veteran (Amare perhaps?) and subsequent renewed interest from Don Nelson could put this team in the playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Possibilities: Lottery, perhaps 1st round.

Problems: Youth and the lack of a real “big.”

Prognosis: Looking at this team alongside Phoenix and Golden State, it’s hard not to think they’ve got a real chance to make the playoffs. If Russel Westbrook takes a big step forward, they could definitely sneak in.

Houston Rockets

Possibilities: Lottery.

Problems: Who scores the points on this team? Brooks is solid, as are Battier, Ariza, Scola, and Landry…but none of those players can hang 30 points on you on any given night (even 20 points is a stretch).

Prognosis: If T-Mac is ever healthy, Houston would be good enough to win half of their games. Otherwise, Houston will struggle to score. Considering that the GM of this team has said they would be lucky to make the playoffs, the writing is on the wall.

Memphis Grizzlies

Possibilities: Lottery.

Problems: Only one – a meddling owner without a plan.

Prognosis: Allen Iverson surprises the league by coming off the bench, leading his team, and filling a valuable role.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Possibilities: Lottery.

Problems: None – they’re just really young.

Prognosis: Al Jefferson is an all-star. Minnesota will spoil an “easy” win for New Orleans in April.

Sacramento Kings

Possibilities: 1st overall pick in next summer’s draft.

Problems: Sacramento doesn’t want them.

Prognosis: Rafer Alston nixes a trade to Sacramento this season (if he hasn’t done so already).

Ballhype: hype it up!

Trackback URL

Post a Comment

  • Recent Posts

  • Latest NBA Rumors