Author’s Note: I am writing this after a hard night out on Oxford St where I got thoroughly pissed and had one of those life-changing discussions with a cab driver home using my rudimentary Hindi. So read into it what one will.

Basically, in addition to the official NBAMate Round Table preview (coming later today) of a season we never believed would happen, I am providing the dear readers of this blog with my own season preview.  A breakdown on every team with my prediction on what the year ahead will bring them. Though I am slightly intoxicated, the great Hunter S Thompson did his best writing while not just pissed but addled by every drug known to mankind at the time. So, without further ado, aided by the tunes of Rise Against and Four Year Strong, let’s rock and roll.

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: The compressed season will kill them. Probably the last shot for this team to win a title as currently constructed but they won’t do it.
Prediction: 42-24, fifth seed and first round playoff loss.

New York Knicks: Wrong coach for the wrong team. A potential champ on paper if Tyson Chandler fits, as he should, but need a new coach before titles are on the horizon.
Prediction: 45-21, third seed, second round and out.

New Jersey Nets: All depends on Dwight Howard. They get him they’re an instant title contender – they lose him they’re struggling to make the playoffs and Deron may be on the way out.
Prediction: I think Dwight either gets traded to the Lakers or stays in Orlando for the year. In that case = 30-36, no playoffs and Deron heads to his hometown of Dallas in 2012.

Philadelphia 76ers: Some nice talent, but no star to bring it all together. A potentially feisty playoff opponent though – just like last year.
Prediction: 35-31, 7th playoff seed, first round and out.

Toronto Raptors: Have already acknowledged this is a rebuilding season. Will mostly be working to get a top draft pick and waiting for Jonas Valanciunas next year.
Prediction: 15-51, a top-5 lottery pick.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: Not convinced Rip Hamilton solves their 2-guard issues. Still, Derrick Rose + Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes will keep them as a top-2 seed. Don’t rule out a trade for Dwight.
Prediction:46-20, 2nd seed, Eastern Conference Finals.

Indiana Pacers: A team built to capitalise on a compressed, crazy season. Lacking a star, but full of young talent who play hard every game and don’t have any obvious weaknesses.
Prediction: 43-23, 4th seed, second round playoff exit but they’ll push Miami to 7.

Milwaukee Bucks: Would love to see Bogut finally get his dues now that his elbow has healed. Plenty of complimentary pieces but no star. Brandon Jennings will need to step up and find some consistency if they are gonna be a playoff team.
Prediction: 33-33, 8 seed, may steal a game from Miami which will be their season highlight and especially when the Bogeyman blocks LeBron.

Detroit Pistons: Does Joe Dumars have a clue anymore? Does he not realise that you don’t succeed in this league through mediocrity? A few nice pieces (I really like Brandon Knight) but no idea what holds them together.
Prediction: 22-42, top-10 lottery pick.

Cleveland Cavaliers: I think Kyrie Irving will be better than people realise, but he won’t save this team immediately – and Tristan Thompson was a horrible pick at 4. They’re gonna suck.
Prediction: 12-54, top-5 lottery pick and up to 7 Dan Gilbert letters.

Southeast Division

Miami Heat: Who can stop this team in the East? No one really. Chicago can defend them but can’t outscore them. Dwight Howard (Wherever he plays, whether it’s NJN or Orlando in the East) can dominate them but rarely does. My pick for the title.
Prediction: 54-12, top seed and NBA Champions.

Orlando Magic: Their season fully depends on how long Dwight sticks around. I think Otis Smith is dumb/stubborn enough to keep him till the end of the season and risk he walks.
Prediction: 39-27, 6th seed, first round and out.

Atlanta Hawks: Nothing really changes. Still good enough to make the playoffs and maybe steal a series – still not good enough to sniff a title. Probably will give this team another go before rebuilding sometime next year.
Prediction: 35-31, 8th playoff seed, first round and out.

Washington Wizards: Heading in the right direction but it all comes down to whether John Wall can become the superstar everyone thinks he can. Not a great supporting cast either.
Prediction: 23-43, top-10 lottery pick.

Charlotte Bobcats: I really don’t see any way this team is even competitive this year. My pick for a single digit win team. They really have nothing whatsoever to recommend except Bismack Biyombo.
Prediction: 7-59, top-3 lottery pick.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder: While I discussed why I don’t like this team in the season preview (poorly coached, seemingly no idea in crunch time especially on plays, the Durant-Westbrook thing) they’re still the most talented team in the West on paper.
Prediction: 56-10, top seed, second round and out.

Portland Trailblazers: Still a playoff contender but I just don’t think they have enough to go deep once they make it. Sad to see Brandon Roy retire as well – just proves how cruel the injury bug was. Not so bad to go out when your last memorable moment on a court was that playoff game against Dallas though.
Prediction: 37-29, 7th seed, first round and out but will push OKC hard.

Denver Nuggets: Can they continue the feel-good vibe post Melo trade from last year and continue to play fun basketball that can mask their lack of a go-to guy for the regular season? Probably. Can they go deep in the playoffs? Probably not.
Prediction: 40-26, 6th seed, first round and out.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Call me insane – I love this team this year. I think they have a crazy mix of very talented guys and, in Rubio, may have just found the piece they needed to bring them together. Count in their coaching upgrade and their youth/athleticism/depth in this tightly packed season…I’m watching this team very closely.
Prediction: 34-32. You’re damn right I think they’re a .500 team. I’ll stake my non-existent rep as a basketball analyst on it.

Utah Jazz: Weird team. Could easily make a playoff push if their mish-mash of talent can come together – but could just as easily suck. I’m gonna gamble on the latter.
Prediction: 20-46, top-10 lottery pick

Pacific Division

LA Clippers: Yeah, I’m all in on the Clip Show. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin instantly makes them a title contender IMO. If you have one star and a decent supporting cast you can call yourself legit – the Clippers have two and a good supporting cast.
Prediction: 50-26, No.3 seed, NBA Finals.

LA Lakers: I have been raised as a Golden State fan to be terrified of the Lakers – but Kobe is breaking down, Bynum will break down with this schedule, Gasol will be out of it for most of the year after the trade that never was, they have no depth or energy…fuck it. Unless they pull off a Dwight trade, they’re done.
Prediction: Barring a trade for Howard…God I feel scared saying this…36-30, 8th seed, gone in first round.

Phoenix Suns: The Atlanta of the West – good enough to be mediocre, not good enough for high picks, and since is the Western Conference mediocrity isn’t really enough. As hard as it will be – that team needs to trade Steve Nash and commit to a rebuild like they have in Toronto.
Prediction: 27-49, lottery pick.

Sacramento Kings: Nice collection of talent, just don’t know how it fits together. I think DeMarcus Cousins is due for a massive year now that he’s hopefully learnt the virtues of being a professional. Also, Jimmer Time.
Prediction: 28-48, lottery pick.

Golden State Warriors: I have no faith in my team this year. Questionable new HC, too many flawed players, no defense…I’m really hoping this is finally the year we just suck, get a high pick, trade Monta and Lee for whoever and just build around Curry and the drafted guy.
Prediction: 16-50, top-5 lottery pick.

Midwest Division

San Antonio Spurs: Just like the Lakers, I have a life of experience in avoiding the Spurs. But like the Lakers, their star is breaking down badly and the other veterans will follow. Compressed schedule will kill them also. I don’t want to touch them either way.
Prediction: 36-30, just miss playoffs, Tim Duncan retires in off-season.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs appear to be more focused on the 2012 off-season than retaining their title. I like Lamar Odom, but where does he fit on this team? Losing Chandler will also really hurt their defense.
Prediction: 50-16, 3rd seed, second round and out.

Houston Rockets: Same problem as ever – too many pieces, no star. Might be time to rebuild and suck for a few years.
Prediction: 39-21, 7th seed, first round and out.

Memphis Grizzlies: Question with the Grizz – how will Darrell Arthur’s injury hurt them? Can they handle the expectations that will be placed on the following last year? And will Zach Randolph care with his new contract? Like the Clippers, I’m going all in here.
Prediction: 51-15, 2nd seed, Western Conference Finals.

New Orleans Hornets: Time to face the post-CP3 era. A few nice pieces and a tough, defense-minded coach, but not enough to contend for the playoffs. A few high draft slots may help there in the future though…
Prediction: 24-42, lottery ticket.

There y’all have it. Now I’m gonna pass out in bed and hope the spell-checker has mercy on my soul for abusing it.


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