I didnt know where to post this, so yes i made a new thread
CONF TEAM W L PCT 09 W 09 L 09 PCT
Los Angeles Lakers 62 20 .756 65 17 .793
Our forecasters say the champion Lakers will edge the Cavs for best record in the NBA and home court throughout the playoffs, which will come in handy if we get a Kobe-LeBron showdown. That's the only close race the Lakers will be in, according to our panel, which doesn't seem too worried about potential disruptions by Ron Artest.
San Antonio Spurs 54 28 .659 54 28 .659
The aging Spurs appear to be back in business, though in fact they somehow managed 54 wins and the No. 3 seed last season before being bounced in Round 1. This time around, their hopes rest on a return to health by Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili and the additions of Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair.
Portland Trail Blazers 52 30 .634 54 28 .659
Can Portland become the proverbial "team nobody wants to face" in the Western Conference playoffs? Or are they ready for true contender status? Expectations are large, as are the variables: Can Greg Oden find himself? How will Andre Miller's go-go style mesh with the walk-it-up Blazers? And who's the starting point guard, anyway?
Denver Nuggets 51 31 .622 54 28 .659
The Nuggets won't sneak up on anyone this year, and perhaps they won't need to. With largely the same roster as they had in May, Denver is counting on good health and the further development of Carmelo Anthony to stay among the West's best. If these predictions hold, they might get a playoff rematch with the Lakers.
Dallas Mavericks 50 32 .610 50 32 .610
The Mavs had a topsy-turvy summer that, according to our panel, will leave them right where they were last season: 50-32, and in the middle of the pack. They brought back Jason Kidd and acquired Shawn Marion and Drew Gooden, but lost a battle of wits with Orlando for Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat. Expect the moves to keep coming.
Utah Jazz* 47 35 .573 48 34 .585
Utah was a trendy name a year ago, but barely rates a mention now, for a couple of reasons: The team is coming off a disappointing season, and the Carlos Boozer situation is unresolved. But the Jazz still have a potent roster led by Deron Williams, and the dark-horse label seems to fit this team as well as any other in the West.
New Orleans Hornets* 47 35 .573 49 33 .598
It was a disappointing season in New Orleans, relative to the high expectations they started with, but they still won 49 games and they still have Chris Paul. The Hornets are another of the West's "if everything breaks right" contenders, as they need Julian Wright, Ike Diogu and Hilton Armstrong to do more to justify being lottery picks.
Phoenix Suns 42 40 .512 46 36 .561
The Suns were a lottery team last season, but a good one, winning 46 despite a coaching change and an eye injury to Amare Stoudemire. Now Shaq's gone, and the speed game is back, led by Steve Nash. If Amare returns to full health, the Suns will light it up again. But will that be enough for more than 8th best in the West?
Houston Rockets 37 45 .451 53 29 .646
The Rockets were a remarkable story last season, taking the Lakers to seven games without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Now Houston is in a transition year, as Yao appears out for the season and T-Mac's return is iffy. One thing does seem certain: The Rockets will scrap and claw and make every opponent's W well-earned.
Los Angeles Clippers 33 49 .402 19 63 .232
Giddy Clippers fans might not appreciate this forecast, but keep in mind: A 33-49 record would be a 14-game leap, and L.A. has been such a disheveled franchise it's going to have to prove itself to our panel. That said, some see the Clips winning as many as 50 games, thanks in large part to the arrival of Blake Griffin.
Oklahoma City Thunder 32 50 .390 23 59 .280
No West bandwagon is more crowded than OKC's, with our panel seeing the team that started 1-16 a year ago making the leap to mediocrity. Given the age of Kevin Durant (20), Russell Westbrook (20), Jeff Green (23) and newcomer James Harden (20), it's not hard to see what the excitement is about. But it will be hard to see them on TV.
Golden State Warriors 31 51 .378 29 53 .354
Golden State celebrated its crowning as Team Turmoil with another heaping helping of controversy, as putative team leader Stephen Jackson reportedly asked to be traded to a good team. The talent of such youngsters as Monta Ellis and Anthony Randolph is undeniable, but clearly our panelists just do not trust the Warriors to pull it together.
Minn. Timberwolves 26 56 .317 24 58 .293
Minnesota's noisy offseason of trades, controversial draft picks, the firing of Kevin McHale, the hiring of Kurt Rambis and a failed bid to sign Ricky Rubio is likely to be followed by a quiet season on the hardwood. The immediate future is about getting Al Jefferson healthy and seeing what youngsters Kevin Love and Jonny Flynn can do.
Memphis Grizzlies 25 57 .305 24 58 .293
The talent base is improving thanks to youngsters Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, Hasheem Thabeet and Mike Conley. However, the arrival of Zach Randolph, our pick for Worst Newcomer, means that chemistry will continue to be an issue in Memphis, which also has its sights set on the 34-year-old Allen Iverson. Go figure.
Sacramento Kings 21 61 .256 17 65 .207
The Kings take the honors as the NBA's worst team, both in last season's standings and this season's projections. Reasons for optimism include a return to health for Kevin Martin and the arrival of Tyreke Evans, but even that is a bit troubling, as they might end up playing the same position. Expect another long year in Sac-Town.
CONF TEAM W L PCT 09 W 09 L 09 PCT
Cleveland Cavaliers 61 21 .744 66 16 .805
Let's talk Shaq, the Big Caveat Emptor: He has won four titles, is on his fifth franchise and has been swept from the playoffs six times. Reborn in Phoenix, he led the Suns to exactly one playoff win in two seasons. So will he break up the Cavs with laughter or just break them up? Can't wait to find out. (Why only 61 wins? See note above.)
Boston Celtics 57 25 .695 62 20 .756
Many think a healthy Kevin Garnett and a revitalized Rasheed Wallace will get the Celts back to the top. (See our East title picks on Thursday.) But KG's balky knee is unproven, and Sheed is a known coach killer who is coming off a lousy season and turns 35 this month. So some voters are still in wait-and-C mode.
Orlando Magic 56 26 .683 59 23 .720
Orlando's magical run to the NBA Finals didn't make a believer out of everyone, and the sorta-swap of Hedo Turkoglu for Vince Carter got mixed reviews (here and here). But some like what they see, including a starting lineup that features four recent All-Stars, and expect big things again in O-Town.
Atlanta Hawks 45 37 .549 47 35 .573
ESPN's panelists like the Hawks as the Beasts of the Rest in the East once again, expecting the additions of Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith to keep them in the No. 4 slot. If our Eastern Conference prognostications are accurate, the Hawks will again host the Miami Heat in Game 1 of Round 1 when the playoffs begin next April.
Miami Heat 44 38 .537 43 39 .524
A year ago, our forecasters were all over the place in trying to guess where the 15-67 Heat would finish in '09. Now that they have seen a healthy Dwyane Wade take his team to a 43-39 finish and the No. 5 seed, our panelists expect more of the same as Miami bides its time until the summer of 2010.
Chicago Bulls 43 39 .524 41 41 .500
Our voters have the Bulls winning as few as 30 games and as many as 55, and perhaps it comes down to what they think of reigning rookie of the year Derrick Rose, whose scintillating playoff performance was followed by a tumultuous summer. In any case, most of our panel is bullish on Chicago overall.
Philadelphia 76ers 39 43 .476 41 41 .500
Our panel is hardly in love with Philly, but it still sees the 76ers squeaking into the playoffs (with an average prediction of 39.4 wins). File under "Best Guess," though, because no one knows exactly what the arrival of new coach Eddie Jordan, the return of post man Elton Brand and the departure of point guard Andre Miller really mean.
Washington Wizards 39 43 .476 19 63 .232
To hopeful Wiz fans, the arrival of Flip Saunders, Randy Foye and Mike Miller along with an apparent return to health for Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood will make all the difference. But while our panel sees the Wiz as probable to make the playoffs (with an average prediction of 39.1 wins), it still doesn't see them as true contenders.
Toronto Raptors 39 43 .476 33 49 .402
If you have to be cruel to be kind, then our panel is killing Toronto with kindness. After Monday's prediction that Chris Bosh would depart in 2010, now our forecasters have the Raptors missing the playoffs by 0.1 wins (with an average prediction of 39.0 wins). We'll see if the addition of Hedo Turkoglu is the tonic in Toronto.
Detroit Pistons 38 44 .463 39 43 .476
Detroit fans are already defining success downward, and our panel says they have the right idea. If our forecast plays out, the Pistons will miss the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons, and will have a lottery pick to show for their hotly debated trade of Chauncey Billups and acquisitions of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
Charlotte Bobcats 35 47 .427 35 47 .427
Michael Jordan's Bobcats are stuck in purgatory, according to our panel: too talented and well-coached to be terrible and get a high lottery pick, but not talented enough to make their first-ever playoff run. So what does all that mediocrity and a swap of Emeka Okafor for Tyson Chandler get you? Another 35-47 season.
Indiana Pacers 33 49 .402 36 46 .439
For three straight seasons, the Pacers have been the East's best lottery team. Alas, our panel doesn't see their inglorious run of ninth-place finishes continuing, as Indiana looks like No. 12 material to ESPN's experts. The biggest issue seems to be a depleted talent base unreplenished since the Pacers' recent glory years.
New York Knicks 32 50 .390 32 50 .390
It has been a strange offseason in New York, with doomed bids to sign 1995 co-rookies of the year Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, a field trip to witness Eddy Curry's waistline and endless negotiations with free agents David Lee, Nate Robinson and Ramon Sessions. The reason, of course, is the summer of 2010. In the meantime …
Milwaukee Bucks 30 52 .366 34 48 .415
With questions about Michael Redd's knee, Andrew Bogut's back, Charlie Villanueva's replacement and the PG position, Milwaukee is one of the NBA's true mystery teams. Could coach Scott Skiles lead the Bucks to a surprise playoff run? Could they fall apart and lose 60 games? As the saying goes, that's why they play the games.
New Jersey Nets 29 53 .354 34 48 .415
No franchise has more uncertainty about its future than the one that has traded away Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter in the past two years and made many false starts in its bid to get to Brooklyn. But the silver lining is the Nets have some good young talent and should have a high lottery pick and lots of 2010 cap space
[ Edited by valrod33 on Sep 3, 2009 at 11:05:01 ]