NBA Season Predictions

27 10 2008

Whew… finally finished the mammoth NBA Season Previews for each team. 19,487 words worth of NBA goodness – it almost killed me ūüėČ Not quite, but you get the idea. For the past week I’ve been sick off work and it’s been a real effort to get them done – hell I haven’t even done my own writing over the same period. Still, got it done and that’s the main thing ūüôā

Before we get back to the regular programming, my picks for the NBA award winners:

MVP: LeBron James – he’ll be utterly dominant this season and I expect him to lead the Cavs to second in the East. That should ensure he gets the trophy.

Runners up: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Deron Williams

 

Defensive Player of the Year:  Kevin Garnett Рhe won it last season and he should win it again. The Boston Celtics will have the best defence in the NBA once again.

Runners up: Ron Artest, Josh Smith, Greg Oden

 

Rookie of the Year: Greg Oden – he’ll struggle for the first couple of months to get used to the pace of the NBA game but sometime late in December he’s going to figure it out and be a dominant force, especially on the defensive end.

Runners up: Michael Beasley, Rudy Fernandez, Kevin Love

 

Sixth Man of the Year: Rudy Fernandez – the Spanish rookie shapes as the next coming of Manu Ginobili, a game changer off the bench and with Ginobili sidelined until mid December, Fernandez should shine.

Runners up: Manu Ginobili, Tony Allen, Leandro Barbosa

 

Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan – it’s a travesty that Sloan has never won Coach of the Year. If the Utah Jazz are as good as I expect then he should get it this year.

Runners up: Rick Adelman, Gregg Popovich, Nate McMillan

 

Most Improved Player: LaMarcus Aldridge – probably the biggest beneficiary of a healthy Greg Oden is Aldridge who should benefit with a bit of open space around him to launch his slingy jumpshots.

Runners up: Devin Harris, Jordan Farmar, Randy Foye

 

Also my predictions for the season ahead:

Eastern Conference

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Detroit Pistons
  4. Orlando Magic
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Toronto Raptors
  7. Miami Heat
  8. Chicago Bulls
  9. Atlanta Hawks
  10. New York Knicks
  11. Milwaukee Bucks
  12. Washington Wizards
  13. Indiana Pacers
  14. Charlotte Bobcats
  15. New Jersey Nets

Western Conference

  1. LA Lakers
  2. New Orleans Hornets
  3. Utah Jazz
  4. San Antonio Spurs
  5. Houston Rockets
  6. Portland Trailblazers
  7. Phoenix Suns
  8. Dallas Mavericks
  9. Denver Nuggets
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves
  11. Golden State Warriors
  12. LA Clippers
  13. Sacramento Kings
  14. Memphis Grizzlies
  15. Oklahoma City Thunder

Playoffs:

Round 1

(1) Boston Celtics defeat (8) Chicago Bulls in 4 games

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers defeat (7) Miami Heat in 5 games

(3) Detroit Pistons defeat (6) Toronto Raptors in 6 games

(5) Philadelphia 76ers defeat (4) Orlando Magic in 6 games

(1) LA Lakers defeat (8) Dallas Mavericks in 5 games

(2) New Orleans Hornets defeat (7) Phoenix Suns in 6 games

(3) Utah Jazz defeat (6) Portland Trail Blazers in 4 games

(4) San Antonio Spurs defeat (5) Houston Rockets in 7 games

Round 2

Boston Celtics defeat Philadelphia 76ers in 6 games

Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Detroit Pistons in 7 games

LA Lakers defeat San Antonio Spurs in 7 games

New Orleans Hornets defeat Utah Jazz in 7 games

Conference Finals

Boston Celtics defeat Cleveland Cavaliers in 7 games

New Orleans Hornets defeat LA Lakers in 6 games

NBA Finals

Boston Celtics defeat New Orleans Hornets in 5 games

Paul Pierce is awarded Finals MVP

 

And there’s my picks. Let’s see how they pan out ūüėõ





Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview

27 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview concludes with the Memphis Grizzlies:

Memphis Grizzlies

2007-08 Standings 22 – 60, 14th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 23 – 59, 5th South West Division, 14th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Marc Gasol, Hakim Warrick, Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, Mike Conley

Sixth Man:  Darko Milicic

Hope those shoulders are broad enough to carry the hopes of all the fans in Grizzlies land.

Hope those shoulders are broad enough to carry the hopes of all the fans in Grizzlies land.

The South West Division has four teams with their eyes on the NBA championship. The Mempis Grizzlies are not one of them. However they did contribute mightily to one of the NBA finalists last year. Yep, without the midseason trade of Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies to the LA Lakers it is doubtful the Lakers would have made the Finals against the Boston Celtics. Pity then that Gasol was traded away for nothing, er I mean Javaris Crittenton, Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, two draft picks and the rights to the other Gasol, Marc.

Brown and McKie are no longer with the team and Crittenton projects as the third (!) best point guard on the Grizzlies roster. The only positive aspect of the trade is Marc Gasol. Doubts remain whether Gasol will live up to his brother’s contribution, sure he played well in the Olympics but to me he seemed slow and ponderous. At least he’ll get lots of playing time, his backup is the poster child for underachievement and thwarted hopes, Darko Milicic. Milicic, for those few of you who don’t know, was selected second by the Detroit Pistons in 2003 ahead of Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. The other three are all All Stars, Milicic, not so much.

The Grizzlies do have a lot of young talent. Rudy Gay is probably the pick of the bunch. He is a rising star and there is an outside shot he could make the All Star game this year. He already averages over 20 ppg and should develop into the go to scorer for the Grizzlies in the coming seasons.

Gay will eventually be challenged as the star of the team by OJ Mayo. At least that’s the plan. Mayo was acquired in a draft day trade for Kevin Love and Mike Miller. Mayo has the potential to be an explosive scorer and he’ll get plenty of minutes and opportunity to prove himself on what projects to be a woeful roster. The loss of Miller will probably hurt the Grizzlies. He provided them with a reliable outside shooter and veteran leadership.

The point guard spot is taken by Mike Conley and the second year man will be looking to make the spot his. I feel he probably needs a better veteran backup than Kyle Lowry, Crittenton and/or Marko Jaric.

Coach:

Marc Iavaroni is the second year coach here. Unfortunately after the Grizzlies suffer a few multiple game losing streaks I’ll think he’ll be looking for a new job.

Bench:

When Darko Milicic projects as your sixth man you know your roster lacks depth. Veteran gunner Antoine Walker is here but its doubtful how much leadership he will provide the youngsters.

Star Player:

Rudy Gay is the Grizzlies star though OJ Mayo has the potential to usurp him eventually. At least the two of them will get plenty of shots to prove who is the alpha male here.

Team MVP 

Can Marc Gasol replicate what his brother produced in Memphis? If he can then the Grizzlies will win a few more games than most people expect but even with Pau around the Grizzlies were woeful.

Final Prognosis:

The Grizzlies best case scenario would be for the kiddies to develop some this season and they don’t win enough games to spoil their lottery chances. It’s going to be a looooong season in Memphis.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

26 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview continues with the Dallas Mavericks:

Dallas Mavericks

2007-08 Standings 51 – 31, 7th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 45 – 37, 4th South West Division, 8th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Erick Dampier, Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd

Sixth Man:  Jerry Stackhouse

If Jason Kidd can recapture his form from a few years ago then the Dallas Mavericks will remain a contender, otherwise look out below.

If Jason Kidd can recapture his form from a few years ago then the Dallas Mavericks will remain a contender, otherwise look out below.

The Dallas Mavericks are a team on the slide but they remain seemingly unaware of it. In 2006 this team made the NBA Finals where they were defeated by the Miami Heat in six games. The following season they had one of the best regular seasons in history, finishing 67 – 15. Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki won the MVP but unfortunately they met the upstart Golden State Warriors in the first round and were bounced from the playoffs. In retrospect they perhaps should have retooled the team then. Instead they waited till midseason and traded point guard star of the future, Devin Harris to the New Jersey Nets for former Maverick Jason Kidd. The trade didn’t work and the team were bounced from the first round of the playoffs again. Instead of retooling the roster in the offseason, the Mavericks have kept mostly the same roster together, the only major change is new coach Rick Carlisle.

At least the Mavericks still have a superstar centrepiece in Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki remains a top 10 player in the league. He is arguably the best shooting big man ever and when his shot is falling is unstoppable. Unfortunately he goes missing at times – can you see Tim Duncan leading the San Antonio Spurs to the best record in the NBA and then allowing his team to be bounced in the first round? Perhaps it’s the toll of playing most offseasons for the German national team? Saying that though I still consider Nowitzki a franchise player, the question is whether he is surrounded by the right players.

The highest profile of Nowitzki’s sidekicks is Jason Kidd. Kidd is a future Hall of Famer. He should have won an MVP trophy for leading an inferior New Jersey Nets team to the Finals twice. Four years ago this would have been a great acquisition for the Mavericks. Unfortunately Kidd has worryingly shown his age over the past year or two and he is a shadow of his former self. The one positive however is that he has a massive expiring contract and if things aren’t going well for the Mavs then it wouldn’t surprise to see him moved before the trade deadline.¬†

Josh Howard is an All Star talent with an unfortunate knack of getting into All Star class trouble off the court.¬† Before the playoffs last year he admitted to using marijuana in the offseason then in September he disrespected the US national anthem and flag. Not a good look. Unfortunately such acts have damaged Howard’s trade value so it looks like the Mavericks are stuck with him. On the plus side he is an exceptional do-everything talent and if he can get his head right he ensures the Mavericks remain contenders.

The other notable talent on the Mavericks if Jason Terry. A slight player, Terry is a streak shooter capable of taking over a game every so often. He’s probably better coming off the bench but can perform the starter’s role admirably.

Coach:

Rick Carlisle has his work cut out for him. Somehow he must keep the Mavericks in contention (there is still a belief in Mavericks land that they are contenders) while getting them to forget the failures of the past couple of years. He has a talented group of assistants with him and it will be intriguing to see the schemes they create.

Bench:

On paper the Mavericks have a solid, well rounded bench. Jerry Stackhouse is the designated sixth man while they also have defensive stoppers in DeSagana Diop and Devean George with a dashing swingman in Gerald Green. However Stackhouse is past it and Green has proved woefully erratic, failing to stick with even poor teams such as the former Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Star Player:

Dirk Nowitzki is the star here. While his MVP is tarnished by the subsequent loss in the first round he is still a transcendent scorer.

Team MVP:

Jason Kidd is critical to the Dallas Mavericks hopes this season. If he can recapture the form of season’s past then the Mavericks will remain in contention. However this is doubtful. He was always a poor shooter but he compensated brilliantly in other ways. Can he do it again?

Final Prognosis:

Unfortunately the Dallas Mavericks are doomed to another season of disappointment. It wouldn’t surprise to see them hovering around the .500 mark midseason and then pulling off a blockbuster trade or two. I still expect them to make the playoffs but they’ll be bounced in the first round again.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





Houston Rockets Season Preview

25 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview continues with the Houston Rockets:

Houston Rockets

2007-08 Standings 55 – 27, 5th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 53 – 29, 3rd South West Division, 5th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Yao Ming, Luis Scola, Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady, Rafer Alston

Sixth Man:  Shane Battier

Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady are the superstars on which the Houston Rockets are resting their hopes. Let's hope they stay healthy this season.

Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady are the superstars on which the Houston Rockets are resting their hopes. Hopefully they'll stay healthy this season.

The South West Division is so tough and competitive that the Houston Rockets, my third ranked team, are the favourites in many people’s eyes to win the NBA this season. They possess a dominating centre in Yao Ming, a superstar backcourt player in Tracy McGrady and a lockdown defender in Ron Artest. They also possess a deep and varied supporting cast – Shane Battier, Steve Francis and Carl Landry would start for many other teams in the league, and a skilled and veteran coach.

So why don’t I rate them more? In a word: injuries. This team has suffered terrible injuries in the past few years to their two key players, Yao and McGrady. Last season the Houston Rockets rattled off a 22 game winning streak yet after 12 wins Yao went down with a season ending injury, effectively ending their championship hopes. This is a pattern that has repeated for the past few seasons as Yao has averaged 53 games each season during that stretch. McGrady has also suffered from numerous injuries in his time in Houston and has averaged 61 games a season over the same stretch. Odds are that one or both of the two stars will miss a lot of games this season.

As long as the Rockets stay fit they are title contenders. Even more so now that they have added the mercurial Ron Artest to their lineup. Artest is the most controversial figure in the NBA, as known for his antics as he is for his stellar defensive play. But hey it worked for Dennis Rodman and the Chicago Bulls. The Rockets will be hoping that that is Artest’s attitude as well.

The Rockets have enviable depth at most positions. Backing up Artest is Shane Battier, a superb defender in his own right who provides a cool head off the bench. Behind Tracy McGrady is former All Star Steve Francis and Brent Barry while the power forward position is loaded with starter Luis Scola backed up by one of the most efficient forwards in the league in Carl Landry. When Yao sits one of the two will slide across to centre and the Rockets will go small.

The most dicey position on the court for the Rockets is the point. Rafer Alston is the starter but he blows hot and cold. It wouldn’t surprise to see Brent Barry play some time there as the season goes on.

The Rockets have the stated aim of competing for the championship this season. Certainly if everyone is healthy no team would fancy facing the Rockets in the playoffs. With Ron Artest they have a fearsome defender who can lock down the opponents best player as well as providing valuable offence when needed.

Coach:

Rick Adelman is a vastly experienced coach entering his 18th season in the league. He has over 800 wins and he will appreciate this is his chance to win his first championship.

Bench:

The Houston Rockets have one of the deeper benches in the league. In Shane Battier they have a legitimate contender for Sixth Man of the Year but they also possess other weapons in Brent Barry and Steve Francis. The Rockets depth carried them to a 22 game winning streak last season, lets see if they can carry them to a championship.

Star Player:

Yao Ming is the biggest (literally) player in the game. The pride of China, he has been an All Star every year he has been in the league. He would settle for missing out on the All Star game for his first title this year.

Team MVP:

How Ron Artest adjusts to his new team and role will be vital for how the Houston Rockets progress this season. Artest can dominate the game in different ways – let’s hope they’re all on the court this season.

Final Prognosis:

For me there are too many question marks surrounding the Rockets. If everyone is healthy for the whole year I firmly believe they will win the Western Conference. More likely one or more of their key guys will be injured and they’ll make the playoffs mid table. I still expect them to get out of the first round though.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

24 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview continues with the San Antonio Spurs:

San Antonio Spurs

2007-08 Standings 56 – 26, 3rd Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 54 – 28, 2nd South West Division, 4th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Fabricio Oberto, Tim Duncan, Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley, Tony Parker

Sixth Man:  Manu Ginobili

Without Manu Ginobili for the first part of the season, Tony Parker will have to take on more of the load offensively.

Without Manu Ginobili for the first part of the season, Tony Parker will have to take on more of the load offensively.

The San Antonio Spurs are the closest thing currently to a dynasty in the NBA. With Tim Duncan on board they’ve won multiple titles (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and been quite simply the banner team for success. Sure there have been pretenders, Detroit in the Eastern Conference has been the other consistently excellent team during that period but they managed one title, the Spurs four. ¬†The only thing that has eluded them has been back to back titles. If 2008/09 follows the pattern of previous seasons then the Spurs will be winning title number five next June.

The success of the Spurs hinges on two men: coach, Gregg Popovich and future Hall of Famer, Tim Duncan. Both men are intrinsically linked and are the only constants in all the Spurs titles. The first title in 1999 was won with David Robinson as the other half of the twin towers. Robinson retired after his second championship in 2003 and Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker became Duncan’s primary sidekicks.

Tim Duncan is one of the best players in the NBA. Seemingly the perfect big man, the only weakness in his game is his erratic free throw shooting. He dominates with consistency and class and is a true franchise player.

Duncan’s primary sidekicks remain Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Parker is one of the quickest players in the NBA and it’s still hard to believe he is still only 26. While perhaps not as good as Chris Paul and Deron Williams he is still capable of taking over a game down the stretch as he can get in to the paint at will.

Ginobili is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and it says something about his character and the culture of the Spurs that Ginobili is willing to come off the bench for the good of the team. However there is a nagging sense that injuries and age is catching up with Ginobili. He will be missing from the lineup until at least mid December as he recovers from surgery on his ankle.

Bruce Bowen is the designated stopper of the Spurs. Typically Bowen guards the opposition’s best perimeter player, whether that is Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or Paul Pierce. He does this through a variety of legitimate and dirty tricks. He also remains a capable outside shooter from the wings. Ime Udoka is his designated heir.

The remainder of the Spurs are a mix of veteran role players and intriguing talent. Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas are the kind of no nonsense veterans that the Spurs value – they seldom make mistakes and know how to play with the superstars on the team.

The San Antonio Spurs will again be dangerous this season. It’ll be interesting to see how they cope with the rising powers such as the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets.

Coach:

Gregg Popovich is arguably the best coach in basketball. Every year people whisper that maybe this is the year that they will finally slip back but every year they are contenders come the playoffs.

Bench:

Manu Ginobili better get healed quick as there is a worrying look to the Spurs bench. However it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the newish players on the roster, the rookies such as George Hill develop into something. After all this is a franchise renown for finding gems at the tail end of the draft.

Star Player:

Tim Duncan remains one of the best players in the NBA and arguably is a top 10 player of all time. Everything the Spurs do revolves around him.

Team MVP:

Manu Ginobili is the key to the Spurs. He gives them an x factor that few teams can match. Arguably it was his banged up body in the playoffs that cost them a chance at defending their title. Let’s hope that the ankle surgery he underwent will have him right for the season.¬†

Final Prognosis:

The San Antonio Spurs will contend for the title again. Personally I’m hoping that they make it through the West to face the Celtics for the title. I would love to see Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan facing off for the title. I don’t think it’s going to happen though.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

23 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview begins with the New Orleans Hornets:

New Orleans Hornets

2007-08 Standings 56 – 26, 2nd Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 60 – 22, 1st South West Division, 2nd Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Tyson Chandler, David West, Peja Stojakovic, Morris Peterson, Chris Paul

Sixth Man:  James Posey

The Hornets big 3 of David West, Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul will be hoping for more success this season.

The Hornets big 3 of David West, Tyson Chandler and Chris Paul will be hoping for more success this season.

Last season was a great one for the New Orleans Hornets. They returned to New Orleans after a forced absence due to Hurricane Katrina and there were doubts that the team would stay long term. At first attendance at the Hornets home games was tepid but in March and April they picked up and the franchise registered a number of sell outs. The reason for the upswing in support? The outstanding play of the Hornets which resulted in them finishing the regular season in second place in the ultra tough Western Conference.

The Hornets are led by the outstanding point guard, Chris Paul. So good was Paul that he finished second in MVP voting behind Kobe Bryant. Paul is diminutive yet he is ultra quick and ultra skilled and often leaves opponents gasping at air. He is capable of taking over a game with his scoring and his passing and it is Paul who makes everyone else on this team competitive.

Paul is helped out by another All Star, power forward David West. West experienced a mostly healthy season and as a result averaged 20 ppg and just under 9 rpg. West possesses an outstanding shooting stroke and as such is a perfect complement for Chris Paul’s game.

Holding down the middle is Tyson Chandler. Chandler is incredibly limited offensively, relying on put backs off offensive rebounds and lobs from Paul to slam home. But offence is not why he’s in the team, he’s there to rebound and provide a defensive presence in the middle. Surprisingly for a player of his length and athletic ability he’s a poor shot blocker.

Peja Stojakovic is a shadow of his former All Star days with the Sacramento Kings but he remains an outstanding shooter and as such he is a useful third or fourth option.

The big off season pickup was the Boston Celtics glue guy James Posey. Posey is a big time player, a superb defender, a capable outside shooter and a player willing to take the big shots. The Hornets overpaid for Posey but they are looking at Posey putting them over the top, it’ll be interesting to see if the gamble pays off.¬†

The Hornets play in the toughest division in basketball. Of the five teams, four are legitimate title contenders. They proved themselves last year, this year it’s about making the Western Conference Finals at the very least.

Coach:

Byron Scott won the 2008 NBA Coach of the Year for his efforts coaching the Hornets last season. He seems perfectly suited to his Hornets team and it seems that he is set for a long stint with a club. However he experienced similar success with the New Jersey Nets before being fired so nothing is certain in basketball.

Bench:

Outside of new acquisition James Posey, the Hornets bench is terribly thin. If they suffer injuries to any of their big three, Paul, West and Chandler, then they will struggle. In an added bonus they feature the only current kiwi in the NBA, Sean Marks (hey, it’s important to me!)

Star Player:

Chris Paul is an all NBA player. He’s the best point guard in the game today, having overtaken Steve Nash and Jason Kidd and ahead of Deron Williams and Tony Parker. The Hornets will go as far as he can take them.

Team MVP:

The Hornets have a few candidates here. Superstar Chris Paul is at the heart of everything they do while James Posey was arguably one of the most valuable players on the championship Celtics. But the true team MVP of the Hornets has to be David West. If he can have another season like last year then the Hornets are legitimate contenders. However his career has been marred by injury and if that befalls him this year then the Hornets could slump.

Final Prognosis:

The New Orleans Hornets will once again be one of the best teams in the NBA and if everyone stays healthy they stand a good shot of unseating the LA Lakers to represent the West.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

22 10 2008

My NBA South East Division preview continues with the Charlotte Bobcats:

Charlotte Bobcats

2007-08 Standings 32 – 50, 12th Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 25 – 57, 5th South East Division, 14th Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Nazr Mohammed, Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Raymond Felton

Sixth Man:  Adam Morrison

High flyer Gerald Wallace will be hoping to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to glory this upcoming season.

High flyer Gerald Wallace will be hoping to lead the Charlotte Bobcats to glory this upcoming season.

It’s about time that the Charlotte Bobcats started making some noise in the NBA. They’ve been in the league now for four years and the most wins they’ve accumulated were 33 two seasons ago. You can understand their first few years being poor as they had many of the dregs from other teams through the expansion draft, and they looked to accumulate cap room and young talent.¬† They have yet to even have an All Star selected. Four years in and Charlotte Bobcats seem no closer to a playoff spot.

This offseason they made an incredibly positive step in signing Larry Brown as coach. Typically his teams have done well within a season or two of the Hall Of Famer taking over, and the Bobcats will be hoping he has a similar effect in Charlotte. However his last stop was with the woeful New York Knicks and even Brown couldn’t work his magic there.

At least in Charlotte he does have some talent to work with, especially at the swingman positions. Gerald Wallace is one of the best two way players in the NBA. The small forward averages just under 20 ppg and is capable of defending the opposition’s best player. While it’s doubtful whether he will ever be an All Star he is still a valuable asset who would serve a championship squad well as the fourth option.

At the shooting guard slot the Bobcats play Jason Richardson, a high flyer with three point range on his shot. The Bobcats acquired him from the Golden State Warriors and the suggestion remains that he is better suited to the run and gun style of play that the Warriors prefer. Like Wallace he is a valuable piece but it’s doubtful whether he will ever be an All Star. ¬†Pity then that he is paid All Star money.

Another player overpaid is Emeka Okafor. He recently signed a six year $72 million extension. He’s a serviceable big but not worth that kind of money. He’ll give you 11 rpg and about 2 bpg but for that kind of money you expect some offensive production and he’s woefully inadequate there. Averaging around 14ppg.

The point guard slots are manned by young, Raymond Felton, and rookie, DJ Augustin, players. Brown is especially demanding on point guards and it will be interesting to see how they cope with his over zealousness.

Coach:

Larry Brown is a Hall of Fame coach and that immediately makes him an upgrade over Sam Vincent, their previous coach. But does he still have it? After all he couldn’t work his magic with the Knicks and he has a relatively inexperienced team to work with.

Bench:

Adam Morrison will be looking to prove his doubters wrong and be the effective player off the bench that the Bobcats need. Unfortunately he missed all of last season due to an injury so it’ll be interesting to see how he comes on this season. The remainder of the bench is young with Matt Carroll being the most experienced with five seasons in the league. Will they be able to cope with the demanding Larry Brown?

Star Player:

Jason Richardson is the star of the Bobcats though a case could also be made for Gerald Wallace. Richardson will be expected to carry the load offensively. Hope his shoulders are broad enough.

Team MVP:

Now that he has his big contract Emeka Okafor really needs to show that he was worth it. If he can add 5 or so points to his average (a big ask) then the Bobcats will be a dangerous team.

Final Prognosis:

I don’t give the Bobcats much show this season. They’ll win their share of games but it won’t be enough to lift them from the bottom of the league. Their best bet would be getting a high draft pick and trying to get a genuine star.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.