NBA Power Rankings: 2012-13 NBA Season Predictions
2012-13 NBA Season Final Verdict
As the NBA Season approaches it is time to give out that final prediction. Which team will finish where and who will become this year's MVP. Will it be Kevin Durant or will it be LeBron James again for the fourth time in five years? How about Kevin Love? He may carry his team into the post-season for the first time since Kevin Garnett.
Last year was different. Last year was the the lock out season when the League decided to condense the season to 66 games in four months which had teams playing three games back-to-back-to-back. It was also the year that LeBron James won his first NBA Championship with the Miami Heat, but do people put an asterisk on that title? The San Antonio Spurs won their first NBA Championship in 1999 when they had a shorten season of 50 games due to a lockout and there's an asterisk on their season. However, they did not repeat that next season and this season could possibly be a repeat for LeBron and his Miami Heat.
Will the new look Dallas Mavericks make the post-season or will the Southwest Division be just a tough as it has been? How about the Chicago Bulls and their year without Derrick Rose? Can they still win the Central Division? All eyes will be on the new look Brooklyn Nets and their new “Big Three”. Do they have enough power to dethrone Miami? What about the Boston Celtics without their sharpshooter, Ray Allen?
One thing is for sure about this upcoming season is that everybody already has their picks in which two teams will meet in the NBA Finals in June. They are the Miami Heat and the new look Los Angeles Lakers. With the Lakers acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash they became an instant pick to face the Heat in the Finals and possibly winning the whole thing. However there are a few teams out there that could pass the Lakers in the post-season and they are not the Oklahoma City Thunder.
*NOTE: The Top 8 teams from each conference qualifies for the post season. The top four seeds belong to the three division winners and the next best record non-division winner.
Trouble In Portland
9. Memphis Grizzlies 42-40
I still believe that the Grizzlies is the one team in the West that has not improved any and losing O.J. Mayo doesn't help either. They will be an above .500 team, in my opinion, but they will still miss the playoffs and being at the 9th spot does not help in the draft lottery.
10. Golden State Warriors 37-45
They have great young talent, but I still do not think they are ready to make too much noise in the Western Conference. They still have another year or so to go before doing much damage in the NBA and remember Mark Jackson is entering his second season as a head coach and we do not know how he really is since last year was a lockout year. A full regular season could determine what type of coach Jackson can be with the Warriors and in the NBA.
11. Phoenix Suns 36-46
Losing Steve Nash may not mean too much to this team. They were able to recover from it by getting Robin Lopez, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Jermaine O'Neal this off-season. I have them winning 36 games because of these acquisitions, but with the right moves in next year's draft they could possibly be a playoff contender next season.
12. New Orleans Hornets 30-52
It's going to be a fun year watching rookies Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers build up a bond. The NBA Could be looking at the next “Kobe-Shaq” combo. Well maybe not to that degree of talent, but you get the picture. Even if Davis and Rivers become a great combination for the Hornets it may not be enough to carry them in their first year in the NBA.
13. Houston Rockets 27-55
The Rockets acquired Jeremy Lin and that's pretty much it. They traded a lot of their key guys for draft picks which I am assuming that they are gathering up picks to make some type of deal in the off-season next year and the year after that. Then again, they may still be optimistic in landing Dwight Howard next summer.
14. Sacramento Kings 26-56
A lot of people may have the Kings a surprise favorite in the West, but not this writer. There's an old saying that when you are stuck at the bottom it is hard to get out from that bottom. That's where the Kings are right now even with the talent they have. They will be lucky to win this many games.
15. Portland Trail Blazers 18-64
This is the one team that I am scared to put in the bottom of the Western Conference standings because I know how great they can be at home, but other than LaMarcus Aldridge I do not see anybody really stepping up for the Blazers.
A Packed West
1. Los Angeles Lakers 58-24
There are probably 50% of the basketball fans that have picked the new looked Lakers to win the Western Conference and the NBA Championship. That's because they acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to go along side with their superstar, Kobe Bryant. There's no shame in picking the Lakers because they are a great basketball team on paper. Remember when the Lakers got Gary Payton and Karl Malone to go with Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal? They made it to the NBA Finals that year but were embarrassed by the Detroit Pistons by losing the Finals in six games. We shall see how great the Lakers are as the season goes. They may be great during the regular season, but lets see what they can do in the post-season and in the NBA Finals.
2. Los Angeles Clippers 56-26
Do not overlook the Clippers. They have a great team that they will put on the court this year and could challenge the Lakers for most of the season for the Division title. I mean look at their team they have Chauncey Billups, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, Grant Hill, Chris Paul and Lamar Odom. They have a great roster and I believe a better roster than the Lakers. Although I do not have the Clippers as the team that wins the Pacific Division they will be right behind the Lakers.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder 54-28
The Thunder have been overlooked in the West for this year and entering the season as the defending Western Conference Champions they are the underdog to the Lakers. They are a young team, but with a player like Kevin Durant, who will possibly be in the top two discussion in this year's MVP Race, the Thunder should still be on everybody's list as the favorites to win the West. However, being a very young team that just lost the NBA Finals we shall see how they react coming into this season. Will they take a step forward or a step back? We should know by the All-Star Break in February.
4. Dallas Mavericks 54-28
The Mavericks will be the sleeper team in the West this year even though most people do not think so. It might be a little bias on my part, but as long as they have Dirk Nowitzki healthy for most of the season the Mavericks should walk away with the Division title which will guarantee them one of the top seeds in the post-season. Even though they did not sign Deron Williams they were still able to clean up the mess by getting Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo to go along with Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Nowitzki. The Mavs may take advantage towards the end of the year as they did in 2011.
5. San Antonio Spurs 50-32
There will always be talk about the Spurs being a threat in the Western Conference. They are the Spurs and still coached by one of the greatest coaches of all time, Greg Popovich. Of course with a team that has Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker they will still be a championship contender. However, getting a little old in the legs with no young talent on the team may hurt them in the season and in the post-season, but they will still be a dangerous team as they have been for over a decade.
6. Denver Nuggets 48-34
The Nuggets are another sleeper team in the Western Conference. They became that by trading for Andre Iguodala to go along with Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, JaVale McGee and their other young talent. I believe that the Nuggets were missing that “all-star” talent that would push them to the next level in the West and trading for Iguodala do not be surprise if they make an upset in the First Round of the post-season this year.
7. Utah Jazz 43-39
The Jazz have good talent that they can put on the floor, but I think with a pack Western Conference it will push them back and keep them at the bottom seeding. Which is not a good thing for them since they will most likely be facing the Thunder, Lakers or the Clippers, but with Jamaal Tinsley, Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Derrick Favors and Mo Williams they could prove me totally wrong and be a higher seed than I have them.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves 43-39
Although I have the T'Wolves in the post-season this year it is not going to mean much when they face the Lakers in the First Round. This is the first step, however, to become the team they were when they had Kevin Garnett six seasons ago. As long as they have Kevin Love, another MVP Candidate, the Timberwolves will be just fine. They just need another key piece to push them over that hump.
Different Year But Same Result For Charlotte
9. Atlanta Hawks 38-44
By trading Joe Johnson away to Brooklyn the Hawks can finally build up a legit team that could compete in the East. However, this year is not the year. They still have Josh Smith, but I believe Devin Harris and Al Horford will not be much of a factor for the Hawks this season. Do not be surprise if the Hawks make a few trades before the trade deadline in February.
10. Washington Wizards 34-38
The Wizards have a lot of name talent on their roster like Jordan Crawford, Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, but for some reason I do not see the chemistry clicking in Washington. I think they will struggle for most of the season where they have a combination of a losing streak of 8-10 games and winning streaks of 5-6 games, but I do not see them doing any better than a 34-35 win team.
11. Milwaukee Bucks 32-50
The Bucks will be another disappointing team in the Eastern Conference. Other than Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings I do not see anybody else stepping up for the Bucks and that's why they will have to look for trades and next years draft and off-season to build this team up to a playoff contending team.
12. Detroit Pistons 26-56
The Pistons are in a rebuilding stage and will not be a factor in the East this year or next year for that matter. They do have some pieces like Greg Monroe, Corey Maggette, and Rodney Stuckey, but I still see them stuck at the bottom of the East. They are on the right track though.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers 25-57
There is a lot of young talent that the Cavaliers have, but with no key player other than Kyrie Irving they will yet again have another losing season. Now that LeBron James has won his NBA Title elsewhere it is time for the Cavaliers to start building instead of worrying about other teams defeating James and the Miami Heat.
14. Orlando Magic 20-62
The Magic have talent on their roster, but do not be surprise if they trade those talents away to start over. The fans of Orlando will see a sudden drop in their standings and what do people expect? Without Dwight Howard on the court and a brand new coach, Jacque Vaughn, the Magic will be having a very long season.
15. Charlotte Bobcats 20-62
The Bobcats finished last season with the worst winning percentage in NBA History (.106) and coming into this season the fans of Charlotte do not want to see another poor season by their Bobcats. Well I hate to say this, but the Bobcats will yet again be at the bottom of the list in the East. However, I have them winning 20 games which is a big improvement from last season, but just like the Magic the Bobcats will have a very long season as well.
All Eyes On Brooklyn
1. Miami Heat 65-17
Adding Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to their roster the Heat have made themselves a whole lot better than they were last year. I believe that the Miami Heat will fly right through the season and right into the post-season as the best team in the NBA. However, I do believe they will have injuries that will hold them back from winning 70 plus games, but they should still be able to win 60-65 games this season. As long as they have LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade the Defending NBA Champions will be an unstoppable force.
2. Boston Celtics 57-25
The Celtics to me are the “San Antonio Spurs” of the Eastern Conference. They have older players, but they have experience and that is why I believe that the Celtics will be a threat in the Eastern Conference. They may have lost Ray Allen to Miami, but signing Jason Terry should fill up that hole. As long as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce stay healthy the Celtics should win close to 60 games that is why I have them winning 57 this season.
3. Brooklyn Nets 53-29
The spotlight this year will be the team that moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn and a team that has already claimed themselves the best team in New York. There's no question that every media personal will be talking about the new Brooklyn Nets. Why shouldn't they? They kept Deron Williams and have Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Josh Childress to go along with veteran Jerry Stackhouse, so there's no doubt that the Nets will be the talk of the media. However, a team looking good on paper does not always mean they will be great on the court. We shall see how well these Nets will do throughout the regular season and the post-season. With their owner getting players with max contracts it's going to be hard to push the restart button if this does not work out.
4. Indiana Pacers 50-32
The Pacers were the sleeper team last year by advancing to the second round of the post-season where they took the Miami Heat to 6 games where they were eventually eliminated. This year may be the same since the top of the East is so powerful, but they should be able to win the Central Division since the Bulls are without Derrick Rose for most of the season.
5. Philadelphia 76ers 52-30
By trading for Andrew Bynum the 76ers have put themselves to be a 50 win team especially since they are an Eastern Conference team. They may not be able to make much noise in the post-season since they are going to need more than Bynum to take out the Heat, Celtics or the Nets, but it's a good start. They may also try to make a trade before February to help their team get to that next level in the East.
6. Chicago Bulls 47-35
With no Derrick Rose the Bulls may have an up and down season, but if Rose is able to return after the All-Star Break, there may still be time for them to make a run in the East standings. As long as the other key players like Joakim Noah, Nate Robinson, Carols Boozer and Luol Deng are not injured most of the season then the Bulls will still be able to win enough games in time for Rose to return to the line-up.
7. New York Knicks 45-37
People believe that the Knicks could be a team in the East that could take a top seed, but for some reason the chemistry between Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire is still not going to work out for the Knicks. They will make the post-season still, but I believe it is going to be a roller coaster ride with combinations of long winning streaks and long losing streaks.
8. Toronto Raptors 44-38
The Raptors will be the sleeper in the Eastern Conference this year. With Landry Fields, Andrea Bargnani and John Lucas III the Raptors will surprise people and sneak into the Eastern Conference Playoffs as an 8th seed, but if they are the 8th seed they will be meeting the Miami Heat and it will be an early exit for the Raptors. However, they are on the right path in building a playoff contending team.
A New MVP
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
It is easy to just give the MVP award to LeBron James, but I believe with the hard work that Durant will need to do to keep the Thunder on top of the West the MVP Award should go to him.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
Out of the last four Rookie Of The Year Award three of them have been given to the player who was drafted #1 overall. This year is going to be the same. Anthony Davis should walk away with the votes for ROY.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR: Ray Allen (Miami Heat)
Ray Allen is not going to be a starter for the Heat and I believe the Heat will use him as the sixth man. If he is still that sharpshooter that we are all used to then Allen will be your sixth man of the year.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Clippers)
It's strange to say, but Lamar Odom should walk away with the Most Improved Player Award. Last year he had a horrible year with the Dallas Mavericks and it was because he was sad that he was not in Los Angeles. Well he is back with the team that drafted him in 1999. Being back in Los Angeles he should have a better season than he had last year and that is why Odom will be the Most Improved Player for this season.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LeBron James (Miami Heat)
If LeBron James is not going to win the MVP Award then we have to give him something right? I think LeBron will have his best defensive season of his career which will land him the Defensive Player Of The Year Award.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Vinny Del Negro (Los Angeles Clippers)
The Clippers are going to be a surprise team. Even though they already have the talent nobody has the Clippers as a threat in the NBA. I believe that the Clippers will battle all year long with the Los Angeles Lakers for the Pacific Division Title and that is why their head coach, Del Negro, will win the Coach Of The Year Award.
WESTERN FINALS: Los Angeles Lakers vs Los Angeles Clippers
Finally! It's going to happen. The Lakers and Clippers will finally meet in the post-season for the first time in their existence. I do not know about everyone else, but I would love to see a Staples Center Finals between these two.
The Lakers and the Clippers will be battling all season long for top of their division. I mean look at these two. The Lakers have Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake and Kobe Bryant. The Clippers have Matt Barnes, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Those two teams right there are without a doubt the best two teams in the Western Conference.
I believe that this series would go all seven games in an exciting series that fans have not seen in a long time. With that said. Your Western Conference Champions will be....
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Los Angeles Clippers
EASTERN FINALS: Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics
It's really not that hard to pick which two teams will face each other in the Eastern Finals and it may not be much of an excitement as it will in the West. Unlike the East the West is packed with great teams and the East is a conference that probably only have two other teams that could somewhat compete with the Heat.
Either way the Heat will probably most likely dominate the Eastern Conference Playoffs by destroying everybody that's in their way. I mean they do have the greatest basketball player on the planet today in LeBron James. While the Celtics may be old and I do call them the “San Antonio Spurs” of the East they should be okay going into the post-season. They may go all seven games to whoever they face in the second round which will probably hurt them going into the Eastern Finals when they face the Heat.
Your Eastern Conference Champions will be....
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Miami Heat
Two Rings For The King
Miami Heat vs Los Angeles Clippers
I'm sorry NBA Fans. There will not be a Finals match-up between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers this year. The Surprise team in the West that makes the Finals will be the Clippers. With the talent that the Clippers have this match up with Miami should still be a fun series to watch.
However, since the West is so packed with powerful teams the Clippers may run out of gas by the time they reach the NBA Finals. Unlike the East where the Heat is the only powerful team and will most likely sweep right pass the Eastern Playoffs.
Like I mentioned before the Finals should still be a fun series to watch. With LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh matching up with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin it should be a battle for the ages. I can see this series going to at least six or seven games, but in the end my choice to who will walk out with the Larry O'Brien Trophy will be...
2013 NBA CHAMPIONS: Miami Heat
FINALS MVP: LeBron James