Apparently the NBA is no longer “Fannnntastic.” Fortunately, it’s now…
The NBA…where throwing games, fixing games, and fistfights with coaches happen:
There’s lots of talent in the draft this year, and that’s great news for teams like the Sonics, T-Wolves, Kings, Warriors, 76ers, Grizz (because their division is ungodly good), and perhaps the Wiz and Knicks. There are several stud freshmen that play PG and the 4/5 that might come out and give these teams some foundation pieces. That makes them all teams that could get a serious lift next season, even allowing for the fact that young point guards take time to develop.
As far as this year goes, at this point in the season, these are the potential championship contenders: Spurs, Mavericks, Suns, Rockets, Jazz, and the Celtics. Notice anything about that? The Celtics are the only legit TITLE contender in the East. That doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk for them, it means they’re the only team I can foresee having much of a chance at beating whichever stud survives the West deathmatch. Another thing, the Jazz are stacked, they have SEVERAL really good basketball players–think the Pistons of a few years ago, except instead of defensive cohesion they have offensive ingenuity.
Having said all that, I’m going to give you a rough sketch of the NBA standings come the end of the season:
West: In addition to the Spurs, Mavericks, Suns, Rockets, and Jazz, the Nuggets and the Hornets are very solid (but not beat the Spurs solid), and the Lakers, Blazers and perhaps the Clippers will compete for the bottom spot.
East: Without knowing the unforseen catastrophic injuries that will surely cripple at least a couple teams, this is my list–Celtics (prohibitive favorites), Pistons (steady as always), Magic (will probably win their division rather easily), Raptors, Nets, Cavs, Bulls (though they look quite bad right now), and someone out of the Hawks, Bucks, Pacers, and Bobcats.
I’d put money on a Spurs-Celtics finals, where the Spurs would be favored, but probably a bit too heavily, and the series would go at least 6 games, with the Spurs most likely to prevail, though it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a better rested Celtics team beat the Spurs in 7.
Here are some keys to the Celtics reaching their potential this season:
Tony Allen’s knees must get closer to full strength, not necessarily because of how capable a player he can be, but mostly because his presence will make it much easier to lower Pierce and Ray Allen’s minutes toward the end of the season, giving the Celtics a much better shot of doing damage in the play-offs.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis needs to get his minutes. If he can become a 10-15 minute a night type of guy, that will lower Garnett’s minutes as well, and give the Celtics one more legit post player. If Big Baby can develop like he has the ability to do so, the Ray Allen trade could turn out to be much better than it appeared initially, given that Davis was selected with the Sonics’ 2nd round pick acquired in the deal.
A whole lotta man.
So, if either or both of these previous things are to occur, the Celtics will become a deep enough team, with Eddie House, Tony Allen, James Posey, and Glen Davis all playing valuable minutes, with Brian Scalabrine and Scott Pollard chipping in with help when match-ups call for it. Let us hope.