Ball is Back

andrew lief

Now that basketball is back, every team is hoping to make the playoffs and compete for a championship, except the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns.  This should be one of the best seasons in a while, with so many great young players and with so many intriguing storylines.

Let’s take a look at each of the divisions heading into the 2013-14 season:

The Atlantic Division will be a battle between the two New York teams, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks.  The Nets added Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to team-up with Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to make the best starting five in the NBA. The addition of Pierce and Garnett will provide leadership, which will make them one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.  The Knicks traded for Andrea Bargnani who, if healthy, will be able to knock down three-pointers when opposing defenses key on Carmelo Anthony.  If he does get hurt again then the Knicks offense will be nothing more than isolations from Anthony and J.R. Smith.  The Toronto Raptors can compete for the seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference as long as they don’t trade Rudy Gay.  The Boston Celtics will go into full rebuilding mode and trade Rajon Rondo once he’s fully healthy.  The Philadelphia 76ers will be the worst team in the NBA and tank for Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins.

In the Central Divison the Chicago Bulls will go back to their old form with “#TheReturn” of Derrick Rose from a torn ACL. His return will make them the biggest challengers to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers were one game away from the NBA Finals last year and while their bench has improved with the addition of Luis Scola and Danny Granger returning from injury, their season will end prematurely because of the improvement of the Bulls. The Detroit Pistons will be the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and have one of the best frontlines in the NBA with the addition of Josh Smith.  The Cleveland Cavaliers will compete for one of the last playoff spots, but are still a year or two away with their young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett. The Milwauke Bucks will not make the playoffs after losing Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Reddick.  However, O.J. Mayo will put up big numbers and Larry Sanders will continue to be one of the best defenders in the league.

In the Southeast Division the Heat will be the best team in the NBA again, but the gap between them and the second best team in the east will be closer this year. The Atlanta Hawks will trade Al Horford to allow the team to get a better pick in this year’s draft.  The Washington Wizards will make the playoffs after having a full season with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The recent addition of Marcin Gortat will provide stability on their frontline.  The Orlando Magic will be better than last year, but their young team will need to spend some time developing and building chemistry before they can become a playoff team.  The Charlotte Bobcats will again be a lottery team because of their poor drafting history.

The Oklahoma City Thunder again will be the class of the Northwest Division; despite Russell Westbrook being out until December, Kevin Durant will put up huge numbers in his absence.  Finally having a full season with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio the Minnesota Timberwolves will make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.  After losing Andre Igoudala in free agency, after firing George Karl and Danillo Gallinari being out for an extended period of time the Denver Nuggets will fail to make the playoffs.  The Portland Trailblazers will improve in the second season of the Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge era, but will need another wing player in order to make the playoffs. The Utah Jazz will be one of the five worst teams in the league after losing Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson this summer.

The Los Angeles Clippers will win the Pacific Division again and will win the Western Conference this season.  The additions of Reddick, Jared Dudley and eventually Emeka Okafor when he is bought out from the Suns will allow them to get over the top.  The Golden State Warriors will be the most fun team to watch in the entire league with the trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Igoudala. Every basketball fan is just praying Curry’s ankles will stay healthy for the entire season.  The Los Angeles Lakers will fail to make the playoffs this season and will attempt to sign LeBron James or Anthony next summer.  The Sacramento Kings will improve this season with the additions of Grevis Vasquez and Ben McLemore to go with DeMarcus Cousins, but are still too young to be a playoff contender.  The Suns have officially given up on their season last week when they traded Gortat and they are now focused on the draft, with the possibility of them having four first-round picks.

The Houston Rockets will win the Southwest Divison because of their acquisition of Dwight Howard last summer.  Howard and James Harden will become the best guard-center duo in the entire league. The San Antonio Spurs won’t play as well as last year and with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili being another year older there’s no way they return to the NBA Finals.  The Memphis Grizzlies will not make the Western Finals again and will realize firing Lionel Hollins was a huge mistake.  The Dallas Mavericks will make the playoffs after missing them last year because of a motivated season from Dirk Nowitzki.  The New Orleans Pelicans will be much improved because of the acquisitions of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, but will have to trade Ryan Anderson for Omer Asik before they can become a playoff team.

Southeast Divison:

Miami Heat: 62-20

Washington Wizards: 44-38

Atlanta Hawks: 39-43

Orlando Magic: 35-47

Charlotte Bobcats: 28-54

Atlantic Division:

Brooklyn Nets: 56-26

New York Knicks: 48-34

Toronto Raptors: 41-41

Boston Celtics: 30-52

Phildadelphia 76ers: 12-70

Central Division:

Chicago Bulls: 58-24

Indiana Pacers: 55-27

Detroit Pistons: 45-37

Cleveland Cavaliers: 42-40

Milwaukee Bucks: 34-38

Southwest Divison:

Houston Rockets: 54-28

San Antonio Spurs: 52-30

Dallas Mavericks: 45-37

Memphis Grizzlies: 42-40

New Orleans Pelicans: 38-44

Pacific Division:

Los Angeles Clippers: 58-24

Golden State Warriors: 52-30

Los Angeles Lakers: 41-41

Sacramento Kings: 31-51

Phoenix Suns:  13-79

Northwest Division:

Oklahoma City Thunder: 55-27

Minnesota Timberwolves: 45-37

Denver Nuggets: 37-45

Portland Trailblazers: 35-47

Utah Jazz: 26-52


Eastern Finals:  Heat over Bulls

Western Finals:  Clippers over Rockets

NBA Finals:  Heat over Clippers



MVP: Kevin Durant

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Rookie of the Year:  Ben McLemore

Most Improved: Enes Kantor

Comeback Player of the Year: Kevin Love

Sixth Man of the Year: Harrison Barnes

Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers