EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW

Let’s start our preview with the Eastern Conference.  Overall, many teams here are a mess.  Unbalance of veteran and youth players, free agents gone for very little, and franchise crippling injuries.  Of course, this is home to the world champion Miami Heat, so that’s something…

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Two very veteran (READ: old) teams, two very young (READ: inexperienced) teams, and Jay-Z (READ: distraction). 

Boston Celtics

Jason Terry may be an upgrade to Ray Allen, but you can’t convince me overpaying for Jeff Green was the right move.  The C’s still rely too much on Kevin Garnett and his creaky body.  Last year was their final push.  Note that I believe I said the same thing last year, so you know…

Brooklyn Nets

New town.  New arena.  New slutty looking cheerleaders.  Throw in a Jay-Z christening of their new home, the resigning of Deron Williams, the Joe Johnson acquisition, and this looks like the coolest low playoff seed in the league.

New York Knicks

Adding Jason Kidd and letting Jeremy Lin leave was a major mistake regardless of the spin put on by the Knicks brass.  A’mare and Carmelo will have to make it work – if not, expect one of them to be gone by New Year’s.

Philadelphia 76ers

Did they add a healthy Andrew Bynum, or injured one?  Also, is Jrue Holiday ready to lead this team?  Lots of questions I don’t believe anyone has the answers to yet.  This team could finish anywhere from a second seed to missing the playoffs.  Stay tuned.

Toronto Raptors

IF they can stay healthy we may finally see what the youth movement of the past few years is all about.  A BIG IF!

CENTRAL DIVISION

Due to injuries and unbalance the Central is where to find the middle of the pack, plus Detroit and Cleveland.

Chicago Bulls

No Rose, no problem…unless you are talking a championship, then it’s a big problem.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The rebuild continues.  Hey, at least the people of Cleveland will have something other than the Browns to watch.  If any city needs a distraction…

Detroit Pistons

When you are banking on Greg Monroe to make the leap to superstar you are not in a good place.

Indiana Pacers

Good solid team, good enough to win the Central Division.  That’s probably it; hopefully that’s enough for them.

Milwaukee Bucks

Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis make up a thin back court.  The front court has two hundred options (Gooden, Henson, Przybilla, Sanders, Dalembert, Ilyasova, etc..).  Either Coach Skiles is going to do a lot of shuffling, or expect a trade coming soon!  I vote for the latter.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

With the defection of Dwight Howard, Miami may have a chance to win 70 plus games during the regular season.

Atlanta Hawks

Yes, Joe Johnson left, but I believe this is a good thing.  Don’t forget about the front court of Josh Smith and Al Horford – one of the best in the game today.  Miami’s only “challenge” in this division.

Charlotte Bobcats

Rumor has it Michael Jordan shot two under par at TPC Sawgrass earlier this month.  He also smoked three cigars during the round.  In case you can’t tell, I really have nothing to say about this team.

Miami Heat

Ray Allen will fit perfectly as a three-point specialist.  They are the favorites to repeat and should easily rise to the top of the East.

Orlando Magic

They gave away their franchise centerpiece center to Los Angeles.  To quote Yogi Berra: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Washington Wizards

I think I speak for many when I say, “They still have a team?”, then think about and wonder, “Is John Wall ever going to live up to the hype?”

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW

Comparing the West to the East is not apples to apples.  It’s more like apples (West) and maggot ridden rotten bananas (East).  Here’s a look at the Western Conference divisions.

NORTHWEST DIVISION

This is truly the up-and-coming division, featuring last years Western Conference champions and a lot of up and down (SEE: Old School) fast break basketball.

Denver Nuggets

During last year’s playoffs the Nuggets made a clear statement that they can play spoiler to the top seeded favorites.  Expect more of the same this year, adding Andre Iguodala only makes them better.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Assuming Ricky Rubio is back, we will get to see a full year of Kevin Love and Rubio playing a fast temp and exciting basketball for the first time in the land of lakes since…well since Marbury and Garnett.

Oklahoma City Thunder

This one is tough.  Have they peaked and regress or do they have one more level in them?  What about James Harden?  What about his beard?

Portland Trail Blazers

Tough division for the Blazers; Hey, at least people have stopped calling them Jail Blazers, right? (This has stopped, correct?)

Utah Jazz

Sometime in March four teams will be competing for the final playoff spot and Utah will be one of them.  This isn’t being psychic when it happens every year.

PACIFIC DIVISION

If you live in Southern California you have reason to be excited…if not, well, someone has to finish in the bottom of the conference and this year it’s your team.

Golden State Warriors

If Andrew Bogut plays healthy for the whole year I take back what I say and believe the Warriors my actual make the playoffs.  By the way…there is no way that happens.

Los Angeles Clippers

We know what Chris Paul brings to the table.  If the Clippers are going to advance to the next level it will need to come from Blake Griffin’s growth in the form of skills and maturity.  Last year’s “bad body language” during the playoffs should not happen EVER again.

Los Angeles Lakers

Can Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant co-exist?  Of course they can if it means they win a championship.  If not, expect problems…Kobe sized problems!

Phoenix Suns

With the loss of Steve Nash they have lost their identity; time to begin combing Canada for their next two-time MVP.

Sacramento Kings

Where are they moving to again?  Las Vegas?  If so, can we please move this along.

SOUTHWEST DIVISION

Three major playoff teams, one team loaded for a trade, and Anthony Davis.

Dallas Mavericks

Each year Mark Cuban and his Mavericks attempt to reload talent around Dirk Nowitzki hoping for one last run.  The one year I didn’t expect them to do it they won a championship.  I sort of feel the same way this year so watch out…

Houston Rockets

Yao Ming didn’t bring a title to Houston and there is a good chance Jeremy Lin won’t either.  Still, it should be a fun ride for all involved.  Question: Does Lin put up 30+ in one or both games against New York this year?

Memphis Grizzlies

A touch playoff team that doesn’t have “the man” to make it happen; in fact I would say Coach Hollins has gotten more effort out of his roster than other coaches dream.

New Orleans Hornets

Anthony Davis!  Unibrow Night!  Anthony Davis!

San Antonio Spurs

They will be in the playoff hunt, championship discussion, and receive very little media coverage…just the way they like it.

David S. Grant is the author of “Blood: The New Red”, follow David on Twitter @david_s_grant

All Images courtesy of Getty Images.