The NBA Season is still young and TSS is keeping the ball in play. We hit you off with the West, now it’s time to bicker about the Eastern Conference Standings. The East is has a top heavy talent pool but it’s full of compelling storylines that’ll keep you tuned in. The Celtics are back, healthy and ready for another run at the chip. Meanwhile LBJ is still climbing for the mountain top while Orlando knows what it takes to get there. But screw all that serious stuff. Gilbert Arenas is back ladies and gentlemen. Who knows what kind of off the wall antics he’s capable of pulling this year? Hold that thought and check out our picks.
Atlantic Division – S. Cadet
1. Boston Celtics (59-23)
There’s no question about Boston’s dominance in this division. Hell KG could take the year off and they’d still cap the division. They haven’t suffered any drastic roster changes and even tried to resign Stephon Marbury. Thankfully he’s taking the year off to entertain/confuse the masses on Ustream. At any rate, the rest of the division is no match for The Boston Three Party © Scott Van Pelt.
2. Toronto Raptors (44-38)
The no defense playing Raptors will get a huge offensive boost from Hedo Tukoglu and they got a strong back up for Calderon in Jarrett Jack. And last I checked, Chris Bosh is still one of the best 4’s in the League. Bargnani didn’t have a bad year, although I always cringe at these towering European transplants that can’t grab at least 8 boards a game. It’s a shame really. At any rate, it’s back to the playoffs for these cats even though they lack toughness in the paint.
3. Philadelphia 76ers (41-41)
They’ll miss Andre Miller down the stretch when it’s time for the playoff push. Lou Williams is a decent backup point guard that can score but I’m not entirely sold on his ability to be a court general. Elton Brand is back and healthy but I’m not assured he’ll be the same 20 and 10 guy he used to be. Iggy and Thaddeus will have to work in overdrive if they want another shot at the playoffs. The burden will be on their shoulders as the team’s top scorers.
4. New Jersey Nets (38-44)
Devin Harris showcased true potential last year and Brook Lopez exhibited tons of promise. Other than that, most of the squad leaves much to be desired. Yi Jianlian is beyond soft as a power forward and has an inconsistent jumper. Courtney Lee has some upside and he’s a decent perimeter defender as well as their Lottery Pick Terrence Williams. Still this youthful squad lacks power in the paint when Brook isn’t on the court. They’ll struggle with poor rebounding and interior D throughout the ’09-’10 campaign.
5. New York Knicks (37-45)
Who didn’t see this coming? In all honesty the Knicks won’t be as bad as they’ve been in previous years. But the undersized squad can’t eat off heart (or lack thereof in Curry’s case) alone. They’re still rebuilding and show some promise for next year with the second largest salary cap space in the league behind NJ. On the bright side Nate Robinson will get his ESPN top play nods and Wilson Chandler is capable of an All Star year. Just don’t expect them to play in May.
Team To Watch – Toronto Raptors
Atlantic MVP Candidate – Kevin Garnett
Central Division – J. Tinsley
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21)
So, let me get this straight. LeBron won MVP and had one of the most impressive individual playoffs ever last season and he had to deal with thinking he may have had cancer? Thankfully, King James has that situation behind him and with some guy named Shaq as a teammate, the Cavs are arguably the favorite to represent the East in the Finals. Aside from Bron, Shaq and Mo, the Cavs are also much improved with defensive help in Anthony Parker (6’6) and JeMario Moon (6’8). The Cavs also find themselves being one of the deepest teams in the league, which is never a bad thing.
2. Detroit Pistons (46-36)
Sheed’s gone. A.I.’s gone. Chauncey’s been gone. Yet and still, the additions of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, along with an I.V. of new life with head coach John Kuester, the Pistons should have no problem improving from last season’s 39 wins. I’ve always felt Rodney Stuckey would be a very good point guard given the chance, and this season should afford him the opportunity. Detroit has a solid nucleus of players (including the return of Ben Wallace) which should help it garner a 5-7 seed in the playoffs come next spring.
3. Chicago Bulls (40-42)
There’s two things I know about MJ’s old club. They SHOULD have beaten the Celtics in that first round classic last year. And two, Derrick Rose will be a top three point guard in the very near future. While the Bulls are still very young, they’re also the same exact team from last year, minus Ben Gordon. I still believe, however, their ability to push the ball up the court will help them land the eighth seed in the playoffs. Chicago’s record could very well be better than the one I predicted, pending Loul Deng’s return provides significant results.
4. Indiana Pacers (35-47)
Truthfully, the Pacers could be better than my prediction alludes. On the flip side, they could also be worse. After drafting UNC legend Tyler Hansborough in the ’09 draft, one thing they will definitely be is tough down low. If Psycho T can compliment T.J. Ford, Troy Murphy and all-star Danny Granger, the Pacers have a solid core to build upon. Let’s not forget if former Georgetown standout Roy Hibbert can take up some space at the five, Indiana could be a surprise team. But, unfortunately in the NBA, “if’s” do NOT produce W’s. Until things look more certain in Indiana, I’ll keep them in this spot.
5. Milwaukee Bucks (28-54)
Why Michael Redd decided NOT to sign with Cleveland a few years back, I’ll never know. Even while I am confident the Bucks will find themselves in a similar position as the NFL team with the same name, the prospect of seeing Brandon Jennings in the NBA this season is exciting. However, after shipping Richard Jefferson to San Antonio and basically getting nothing in return (Bruce Bowen retired), look for another dismal season in Wisconsin.
Team To Watch – Chicago Bulls
Central MVP Candidate – LeBron James
Southeast Division – Jason H.
1. Orlando Magic (70-12)
Orlando doesn’t believe in the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s because they gave up the role players that made them Eastern Conference champions last year. With Hedo Turkoglu and Rafer Alston going to Toronto and New Jersey respectively, they added veteran Vince Carter in hopes of bringing a title to the “O.” The squad is solid with Jameer Nelson returning at full strength. The big three including Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus and the intimidating Dwight Howard round out a squad sure to go far in the East again.
2. Atlanta Hawks (63 -19)
Believe it or not but Jamal Crawford will be the key to success for the Hawks. Crawford, a starter in New York for years helps take on the load that fatigued Joe Johnson at the latter part of last season. Also an option to backup point guard Mike Bibby, Crawford adds depth to a squad needing some relief. With fresh legs the Hawks will be deadly especially when Josh Smith will get more open looks in the process.
3. Miami Heat (59-23)
Dwayne Wade is Miami. Well, maybe at least for one more year. After reminding the league that he was still that damn good, he still has to prove his validity in the monster contract season to come. With a supporting cast not as impressive as years past, hopefully vet Jermaine O’Neal can hold him down like another center with the same name. Either way you’ll definitely see Wade on the highlight reel.
4. Washington Wizards (34-48)
The Wizards hit the sports pages more for the injury chart than wins. Antwan Jamison proved that to be so as he recently went down with a shoulder injury. Caron Butler is the go to guy as confidence in Gilbert Arenas has dwindled with his own health in question. If this squad was in full strength they would definitely contend. But the key word is “If.”
5. Charlotte Bobcats (30-52)
With Michael Jordan and Larry Brown working together to make this team valid in the league they sure made a statement when trading their inaugural draft pick Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler. Sorry to say that statement fell to deaf ears. Adding Raja Bell and Boris Diaw last year made the squad more well rounded but that doesn’t exactly mean they’re a good team. Look for Raymond Felton to be the key player to determine if the cats are competitive or just plain stink.
Team To Watch – Atlanta Hawks
Southwest MVP Candidate – Dwight Howard
Previously Posted — TSS 2009 NBA Preview: Western Conference