NBA Season Awards

17 04 2009

Well it’s the end of the NBA regular season so it’s time for my awards:

MVP: LeBron James

Runner up: Dwayne Wade

Most commentators are seeing this as a no contest – LeBron James has been the best player on the best team and at the same time has been utterly dominant. But to me this disguises the fact that he had a pretty good supporting cast. While none are exactly stellar (and yes I know Mo Williams was an All Star) they are all skilled role players and love playing with LeBron. Whether it’s the energetic pesky defence of Anderson Varejao and Delonte West or the spot up shooting of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wally Szczerbiak this is a team built to complement LeBron. What also can’t be underestimated is having virtually the entire team together for a season and a half. They know how to play together and the results have shown.

But for me what Dwayne Wade has done with the Miami Heat, leading them to the fifth spot in the East is just as astounding. Who else on the Heat is comparable to LeBron’s supporting cast?  Udonis Haslem is capable of accomplishing a Varejao kind of role and Michael Beasley has the potential to be an All Star but there is little else other than those two. You stick LeBron with Wade’s crew and I expect you’d see roughly the same record.

There are other notable candidates, especially Chris Paul with New Orleans who has almost as bad a supporting cast as Wade, Dwight Howard with Orlando, Paul Pierce with Boston (how Boston have been able to claim the second seed in the East with so many injuries is astounding) and of course the perennial Kobe Bryant with the Lakers.

But in the end LeBron wins it. He’s the best player, playing for the best team and doing it in such a dominating fashion – both defensively and offensively.

Coach of the Year: Mike Brown

Runner up: Stan Van Gundy

A few weeks back this award was going to go to Jerry Sloan for the way he got his team to compete despite all the awful injury luck they had. Then they limped their way to the playoffs, losing 7 of their last 10 games. So that forced a rethink and that means, Mike Brown, step on down. He coached the Cavs to 66 wins and a fearsome 39 – 2 record at home. This award should almost be as slam dunk as LeBron for MVP. His runner up: Stan Van Gundy for getting the Magic to 59 wins, about 9 wins more than what many expected.

Rookie of the Year: Derrick Rose

Runner up: Brooke Lopez

Derrick Rose had the pressure of being the number 1 pick AND playing in his home city and he didn’t disappoint. He managed to lead a flawed Chicago team to the playoffs in only his first year. He gave a tantalising preview of what should be a stupendous talent in years to come. In a deep draft Brooke Lopez showed that being drafted 10th was several positions too low. Lopez proved to be the centre the Nets were looking for both the present and the future.

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Runner up: Dwayne Wade

With Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan limited with injuries and the catching up of time, Dwight Howard stands out as the obvious candidate in this category. He lead the league in rebounds and blocks and while no one will mistake him for Bill Russell (would it hurt Howard once in a while to block the ball to a team mate?) he was the lynchpin on which the Orlando Magic defence relied. Dwayne Wade had a spectacular season (see the MVP runner up above) on offence AND defence. He was second in the league in steals and an astonishing (for a guard) 16th in blocks.

Most Improved Player: Kevin Durant

Runners up: Rajon Rondo, Devin Harris, Paul Millsap

I don’t know how much of Kevin Durant’s development this season can be attributed to his natural evolution or the firing of PJ Carlisemo. Whatever the case Durant has developed into a stud who will be making All Star games in the very near future. I had a hard time choosing between Rajan Rondo, Devin Harris and Paul Millsap for my runner up so I’ve decided to stick em all in. They all became critical players for their teams.

Sixth Man of the Year: Jason Terry

Runner up: Nate Robinson

Just as much as a foregone conclusion as the MVP. He averaged 19.6 points off the bench for the Mavs, good for 23rd in the NBA. He is the Mavs second best player and a game changer every time he comes on the court. Nate Robinson is a worthy runner up, a spark plug who can change how the game is played. He just wasn’t quite as good as Terry.  

And for interest here are my picks from the beginning of the season. I got one right. Ouch.

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Fave vs Fave – the Trail Blazers vs Celtics

6 12 2008

Well that was brutal. I’d circled today’s NBA game on ESPN as one of the few must see games. It featured my beloved Celtics up against the Trail Blazers, the team which is swiftly becoming my favourite out west (if only because the Timberwolves are so awful and we never get to see their games anymore). It shaped as a good-un, the Celtics were riding a 10 game win streak, the Blazers a 6 game streak.

In the end it was no contest, the Celtics handed out a beat down, and even a late game rally by the Blazers couldn’t disguise the gulf between the two teams. The Celtics displayed the swagger and intimidation they’ve earned as NBA champs while the Blazers showed just how far they have to go to be considered one of the truly elite teams.

Despite the beat down I still really enjoyed the game – it’s one thing to follow a team through boxscores and recaps, and quite another to watch them play. It showed me a few things:

  • KG is still the man though he seems to be settling for too many jumpshots, get on the block man!
  • The Celtics really love to trash talk and it was almost embarrassing watching the Trail Blazers try to answer back. Ultimately that seemed to take the Blazers out of their game.
  • Rajan Rondo is really really good this year, not quite in Tony Parker’s class offensively, but a superb defender and rebounder nonetheless.
  • I’ve realised that I have a man crush on Leon Powe. I just love watching him play.  
  • Despite the way the Lakers and Cavaliers are playing I’d still favour the Celtics in a series against them. The Lakers are too soft, the Celtics will just bully them like they do all finesse teams. The Cavaliers will have to play at the peak of their powers to match the Celtics and I don’t know if they could do that for seven games.
  • The Celtics are playing brilliant team basketball and that’s what’s beating teams at the moment. They really make the extra pass and rarely are they outhustled.
  • The Blazers are still really young. They need to acquire a hard nosed veteran to play alongside Oden and Aldridge. Can you imagine how much better they’d be with Garnett or Duncan in their ears?
  • The Blazers have the potential to be really really exciting. Against lesser teams they’ll rack up the points, especially with Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw off the bench.  
  • Greg Oden is still figuring out how to play the game at the pro level though I firmly believe he’ll be fine by the end of the season (assuming he stays healthy)
  • The Trail Blazers need a point guard. How good would they be with someone like Calderon or Nash? The starter, Steve Blake, is a solid back up but they need more of a floor general out there. I know the excellent Brandon Roy does a lot of the ball handling for them but it would probably be a good idea to investigate the options out there.




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.