Monday, November 8th, 2010

NBA Season Preview: East

NBA Season Preview

The NBA season is in full swing.

The NBA season is in full swing. After a summer full of major deals and movement, here’s how STUDY Magazine sees the Eastern Conference. Teams are listed in order of their anticipated finish.

1) Miami Heat
Looking beyond the free-agent bonanza of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, there may be issues lurking in South Beach. Their bench is alarmingly thin, comprised of untested rookies and fading veterans. While the additions of James and Bosh will pay immediate dividends, their lack of depth may hurt them come April.

2) Orlando Magic
The Magic possess the conference’s strongest overall starting five; their four divisional matchups against Miami will be must-see TV. While Dwight Howard is striving for his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award, the key for Orlando in 2011 will be Superman at the offensive end.

3) Chicago Bulls
Free-agent signee Carlos Boozer will miss the first month of the season with a broken right pinky finger. It’s up to either Taj Gibson or seven-foot rookie Omar Asik to offset his absence. A healthy Boozer will rejoin All-Star point guard Derrick Rose and energetic centre Joakim Noah for the push to the postseason.

4) Boston Celtics
The Celtics were out-rebounded 23-8 on the offensive glass by the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of last year’s Finals, losing by four points. With Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal (not to mention centre Kendrick Perkins, who was injured for Game 7), Boston is hoping their added bulk will supplement their chances to raise an 18th championship banner.

5) Milwaukee Bucks
A promising season from the upstart Bucks was derailed when centre Andrew Bogut dislocated his right elbow. Even without their Australian pivot, Milwaukee pushed Atlanta to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. If they stay healthy, the Bucks should win 50 games for the first time since 2001.

6) Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks were relatively successful under former head coach Mike Woodson, making the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, but never advancing past the second round. By firing Woodson and inking shooting guard Joe Johnson, Atlanta hopes that a trio of Johnson, Al Horford and Josh Smith can lead them further. In the top-heavy Eastern Conference, don’t bet on it.

7) Washington Wizards
There is a precipitous drop-off in quality in the Eastern Conference after the top six teams. John Wall should be enough to assure the Wizards return to the playoffs, assuming the enigmatic Gilbert Arenas doesn’t clash with Wall in the backcourt.

8) New York Knicks
To say the Knickerbockers have changed in the wake of the Isiah Thomas era is an understatement. No fewer than seven new players will play substantial roles, none bigger than Amar’e Stoudemire. New York’s fortunes will hinge on their lone returning starter, Danilo Gallinari, who enjoyed a breakout sophomore season last year.

9) Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Jordan’s ‘Cats stood pat after earning their first postseason birth in franchise history. The loss of Tyson Chandler to Dallas leaves a gaping hole to fill at centre. Put it this way: the rest of the roster isn’t good enough to hide the fact that Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop will patrol the paint for Charlotte this season.

10) Philadelphia 76ers
Andre Iguodola excelled in a secondary role for Team USA at the World Championships this past summer. However, having a natural second banana play a starring role doesn’t usually translate to a playoff berth. Heralded draft pick Evan Turner has looked shaky so far in preseason, raising questions about his fit within the organization.

11) New Jersey Nets
There’s nowhere to go in Newark but up (or to Brooklyn, but that’s another story entirely). If Devin Harris can return to All-Star form, Jersey could challenge for the seventh or eighth playoff spot in the East. The combination of Brook Lopez and promising rookie Derrick Favors will solidify the Nets’ interior game for the foreseeable future.

12) Detroit Pistons
Rip Hamilton. Tayshaun Prince. Ben Wallace. Tracy McGrady. If it were 2005, this team would contend for a championship. With their best days behind them, they’re lottery-bound.

13) Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland finished 17-65 in 2002-03, the season before a certain high-schooler swept in and resurrected the flailing franchise. LeBron James ditched the Cavs in free agency mainly because former general manager Danny Ferry never secured him a serviceable sidekick. That leaves Cleveland with a slim chance to back up owner Dan Gilbert’s claim that his club will win a championship before LeBron.

14) Toronto Raptors
While the departure of Chris Bosh is hardly welcome, it presents an opportunity to forge a new identity with a mostly unknown cast. However, that doesn’t distract from the dismal road ahead. Jose Calderon stumbled last season and was nearly shipped to Charlotte. It’s unclear whether Andrea Bargnani will ever live up to being a first overall pick. While Amir Johnson is a nice player, he’s not an NBA-calibre starting power forward. Or Chris Bosh.

15) Indiana Pacers
Their starting power forward is Josh McRoberts. `Nuff said.

Nick Faris
Author: Nick Faris
Nick currently works as an intern at Ottawa Life Magazine. After completing university, Nick hopes to pursue his dream of working in sports, either in the media or for a professional team.
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