T.J. the Sports Geek’s 2012-13 NBA Preview

Here is my first ever NBA Preview for all 30 teams in the NBA and how I think the season will go.

Let’s start with the Western Conference…

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (62-20)

Coming off losing in the NBA Finals,the Thunder look to return and possibly win a championship. Back is essentially the same roster and coach Scott Brooks, who got a new contract in the offseason. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook,and James Harden have some competition with the Lakers for vying to represent the West in the 2013 Finals. I definitely think they can get back to the Finals if not win it, but it’s going to be harder.

2. Los Angeles Lakers (59-23)

Three ,maybe four future Hall-of-Famers are starting for the Los Angeles Lakers. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are the new faces in Lakerland. Nash,38, has maybe his last shot or two of finally winning an NBA championship to complete his great career and that is the Lakers’ mission. Kobe Bryant might be in his last couple of years as he has hinted he might retire. Pau Gasol was retained and Andre Bynum has left and Howard has come in. But will Howard stay beyond this season? Winning it all might just do the trick!

3. San Antonio Spurs (56-26)

If there’s one thing the Spurs keep doing well,it’s winning. it doesn’t matter how old or how young they are, this team puts together a lot of winning seasons. This season will no doubt be different,but will it end with the team being in the Finals or with a championship? I won’t go that far. The Thunder and Lakers are much better teams, but the Spurs could surprise people with a Finals appearance at best.

4. Denver Nuggets (55-27)

Armed with some pretty sweet looking alternate jerseys, the Nuggets will look to improve on last season and they already have with acquiring Andre Iguodala from the 76ers over the summer. Iguodala should help ignite a team that really didn’t have a big superstar last year but took the Lakers to seven games in the first rouns in a great series. They do now and they also have Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee to compliment him. I also like Kenneth Faried quite a bit. George Karl’s squad is definitely better than last year’s on paper, let’s see if they can get it done on the court.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (50-32)

The Clip Show will continue to be great. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and crew have taken a tarnished franchise and turned them into winners. Lamar Odom is a Clipper again and he has to prove that he is the player he was with the Lakers before his disasterous season in Dallas. I’d like to see them be better than fifth as they are listed here, but it felt right to keep them at this spot. Griffin’s gotta stop being such a flopper,though. Good lord!

6. Memphis Grizzilies (48-34)

The Grizzlies have turned a culture of losing around…for the most part. Zach Randolph, Mike Conley,and Marc Gasol have been solid for Memphis. My big thing is that they haven’t added too many pieces to help them get to the next level. They’ll no doubt get to the playoffs again, but I don’t see them winning 50 games this year.

7. Dallas Mavericks (45-37)

I wanted very badly to not put the Mavericks in the playoffs because there is a team Golden State that’s on the rise, but they are the Mavericks and they’re always competitive enough to qualify for the postseason. They are definitely not the team that won it all in 2011, but they still have Dirk Nowitzki who is still pretty good. Elton Brand has come aboard, but he is 33 now and his points per game have trailed off. They still have Shawn Marion who is still pretty good,too. Cuban’s bunch might make the playoffs,but they also might miss them.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40)

I thought the Timberwolves would make a run at the playoffs last season, but Ricky Rubio was lost for the season with an ACL injury that would end Minnesota’s playoff hopes. The Timberwolves’ roster looks very talented. Kevin Love,Derrick Williams, Rubio, and even Brandon Roy who came out of retirement at the ripe old age of 28. Love is out with a broken hand for the first six weeks of the season, so they may just barely qualify for postseason play. I’d love to see if Roy and Rubio can stay healthy. It’s a big question mark,but I think Love and company can put together a great season. Rick Adelman is a great coach and he puts together winning teams.
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9. Golden State Warriors (41-41)

I very badly want to put the Warriors in the playoffs, but I just don’t see it happening yet. If they stay healthy (particularly Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry) a Warriors postseason appearance won’t surprise me. For years they have lacked a feasible front court to compliment an outstanding backcourt and there’s potential to have it now with Bogut, David Lee, and rookie Harrison Barnes. I think Golden State will be playoff ready next season.

10. Utah Jazz (40-42)

Though the Jazz have a pretty good front court in Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson, I don’t think the back court is decent enough to get back to the playoffs. They will be competitive and flirt with the postseason, I don’t think they will get there. I wish I had more to say about the Jazz,but I really don’t.
11. Houston Rockets (39-43)

The Rockets had their best chance to return to the postseason last year. I am very unsure that Jeremy Lin and Kevin Martin can get them there. This team doesn’t look that much better if you ask me. Lin cannot do this all by himself.

12. New Orleans Hornets (36-46)

Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers are now in New orleans hoping to give this franchise some new life. Combined with Eric Gordon, the Hornets should be much improved this season. I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs,but something good will be brewing in the Big Easy.

13. Portland Trail Blazers (33-49)

I like LaMarcus Aldridge very much, I really do. If he was on a better team, he’d be talked about much more. However, the Blazers are in rebuilding mode when just a couple years ago they were a hot young up and coming team. It may be a season or two before they reach the postseason discussion in the NBA.

14. Sacramento Kings (26-56)

I absolutely hate to predict this for my hometown team,but it’s all bad when a team who hasn’t had a winning record in six years combined with a heartless ownership group that has driven away the fan base with a bad product, ridiculous ticket prices, and has one foot out of the city. They do have some exciting young talent and will be more competitive, but I don’t see anything that makes me think they’re going to win more than even 30 games. I hope they do because I like Keith Smart as their coach,but it is wishful thinking. This also may be the last year the Kings are in Sacramento and it won’t end very good.

15. Phoenix Suns (24-58)

Steve Nash and Grant Hill have left Phoenix and so have their chances of getting better. Now the Suns have a bunch of spare parts and plenty of rebuilding to do. It may take a few years and maybe a big time free agent to agree to come there. Expect a dismal year out in the Valley of the Sun.

1. Miami Heat (63-19)

The Heat were a very good team last year. Despite that not much they did was anything inspiring to me, they look to be just as good,if not better than last season. Ray Allen has joined the mix,but will a new place help rejuvenate his career? He looked like he should have retired last season with Boston, he looked like he was on his way out. The bench looks like it has improved over last season’s as well.

2. Boston Celtics (56-26)

Exit Ray Allen and enter Jason Terry. The Celtics are looking to get back to the Finals before Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce head to the retirement home. Rajon Rondo needs to be the leader of this team and do what he can to carry the Celtics. Rookies Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger provide some much needed youth to Boston as well. I don’t know if they’ll make it back to the Finals, but they’ll definitely make a push to.

3. Indiana Pacers (54-28)

Ah,a young team that next to nobody is talking about. I like the Pacers a great deal. I especially like Roy Hibbert who is one of the most underrated big men in the league. Combined with David West, Danny Granger,and Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana should be a team that can go deep into the playoffs. But they’ll only go as far as Hibbert can take them. They are,however,a team that might get easily upset in the playoffs.

4. New York Knicks (52-30)

The Knicks should be higher up on this list,but something about them just prevents me from doing so. They’re no doubt talented and loaded with it,but can that talent get them to a championship or even deep into the playoffs? I’m not so sure. Stay tuned!

5. Philadelphia 76ers (48-34)

I love the addition of Andrew Bynum to the 76ers. I think he brings a great physical presence and is another young face alongside Jrue Holliday and Evan Turner. Bynum also makes the 76ers a team that might contend for years to come should everyone there stay together. And don’t forget about Spencer Hawes, he’s turned out to be really good. Miss him yet, Kings fans?

6. Atlanta Hawks (47-35)

The Hawks’ roster isn’t as good as it once was,but they will still make the postseason. Al Horford needs to stay healthy if Atlanta has any chance of getting any better than the sixth seed I have them slotted at. They maybe should be slotted lower,but there are teams who made it last year that won’t this year, so the Hawks are good at sixth here.

7. Brooklyn Nets (45-37)

A new arena, a new city,and new players will breath new life into the Nets. Gone are the red,white,and blue colors and in are the new black and white colors that are in my opinion a downgrade. They did sign Joe Johnson and re-signed Brook Lopez and Deron Williams. Gerald Wallace is also there and the bench is also pretty decent. I look for them to make the playoffs and make some noise in Brooklyn.

8. Chicago Bulls (43-39)

Derrick Rose is still hurt and might not be back until February at the earliest. I don’t see the Bulls being as good as they were last season as a result. Carlos Boozer, Luol deng,and Joakim Noah are very good,but not at the level of Rose. I can maybe see the Bulls being as good as a sixth or seventh seed, but that’s if Rose comes back earlier than any of us think he will.
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9. Milwaukee Bucks (37-45)

Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are fantastic players,but the Bucks need more to get back to the postseason. I do like their drafting of John Henson from UNC,though. He should provide some help in the front court.

10. Detroit Pistons (35-47)

The Pistons have a lot of young talent that I like,but have yet to put it together. I do think something good will brew in Detroit, but it may be a year or two before there’s any playoff talk in Motown.

11. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-49)

The Cavaliers are two seasons removed from the LeBron era and I think the signs of improvement will a lot more visible with talented players like Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson beginning year two. This team is slowly but surely improving and may be in that playoff discussion sometime in the near future.

12. Toronto Raptors (31-51)

Aside from Landry Fields and Demar Derozan there isn’t much about this team that excites me or makes me think they’re going somewhere. How I even think they’ll win 31 games this year is beyond me,but they’re not the worst team in the league.

13. Washington Wizards (30-52)

I may be wrong about the Wizards, perhaps they will be better than where they’re listed. They do have a young team that I think will get better as the season goes along,but I am unsure of how much they will win. Something tells me not that much.

14. Orlando Magic (27-55)

Life after Dwight Howard begins this year in Orlando. Like Phoenix, they have a bunch of spare parts and not many All-Star caliber players. Magic fans may want to just watch a bunch of YouTube clips of Howard and maybe even Shaq. It just looks awful, yo!

15. Charlotte Bobcats (24-58)

Despite the Bobcats’ mistake of phasing out the color orange, the team is very young and even 23 wins will be a sign of improvement for this bunch, who only won seven in a shorter season last year. They do have a player with possibly the coolest name in all of sports, Bismack Biyombo. How can you not like that?

Western Conference

First Round

1 Thunder

8 Timberwolves

OKC Wins 4-1

2 Lakers

7 Mavericks

LAL Wins 4-1

3 Spurs

6 Grizzlies

SA Wins 4-1

4 Nuggets

5 Clippers

DEN Wins 4-2

Eastern Conference

First Round

1 Heat

8 Bulls

MIA Wins 4-1

2 Celtics

7 Nets

BOS Wins 4-2

3 Pacers

6 Hawks

IND Wins 4-3

4 Knicks

5 76ers

PHI Wins 4-3

Western Conference

Second Round

1 Thunder

4 Nuggets

OKC Wins 4-2

2 Lakers

3 Spurs

LAL Wins 4-1

Eastern Conference

Second Round

1 Heat

5 76ers

MIA Wins 4-2

2 Celtics

3 Pacers

IND Wins 4-3

Western Conference Finals

1 Thunder

2 Lakers

OKC Wins 4-3

Eastern Conference Finals

1 Heat

3 Pacers

MIA Wins 4-2

Oklahoma City VS. Miami

Miami wins 4-2

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