With the 2011-12 NBA season ready to get underway on Christmas day, I think it’s as good a time as any to give you my final predictions for all NBA Awards, Conference standings, and who I think will represent the East and West in the NBA Finals. I’ll also throw in some bold predictions from my crystal ball of wisdom.
I’m not saying that they are playoff material, but they will at least be competitive this season. Eric Gordon is a machine on the offensive end, and a top-5 scoring season is very much possible playing for this team. Jarrett Jack won’t have New Orleans forgetting about Chris Paul, but he can be a serviceable point guard who can get to the rim and hit the open shot. With this abundance of young talent, as well as two possible lottery picks in this summers draft, a playoff appearance next season could be within reach.
I realize that I am not pushing the envelope with this prediction. The Wolves have 2 talented rookies in Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams who both have an equal shot at gaining Rookie of the Year honors. The consensus online picks for the award so far appear to be Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. Irving only played 11 games at the college level, so I’m still up in the air on whether he can be successful in the NBA. I also think that the Bobcats will be so terrible and unwatchable, that no one will notice any success Walker would have. Since I believe the Wolves will find much greater success this season than they have in years past, I would think the league would notice and give the award to one of the 2 rookies who will be responsible for that change.
The Lakers are in trouble. We’ve just finished the preseason, and already Kobe Bryant is injured. This shortened season isn’t going to allow a player like Bryant the chance to rest and heal up. Even a standard 2-week absence could cost you 12-13 games in this compressed format. Kobe Bryant isn’t a young man anymore. He is still one of the best players in the league, but at his age and with his health problems, he can’t carry the Lakers like he has in the past. The Clippers are finally relevant in the NBA. Chris Paul will make this team extremely better in a short period of time, but let’s not forget some of the other signings Los Angeles made this offseason that will make them better. Chauncey Billups may have wanted to sign with a contender, but being picked up by the Clippers gives L.A a motivated veteran who can spread the floor and still shoot the lights out. Caron Butler also comes over from the defending champions and immediately becomes the starter at the small forward spot. Fans forget how great a player Butler is because of his injuries last season. He can be the perfect scoring compliment to Paul and Griffin on the offensive end. The Clippers are young, talented and want to win right now. With the Lakers early injury and chemistry problems, I believe this will be a long year for the purple and yellow. Of course, everything changes if the Lakers make a deal for Superman himself.
Last years playoffs was the first sign that the youthful, athletic teams of the NBA were ready to take over. Now with a shortened schedule and compressed games, that will fully come into fruition. The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs last season, and they did it without arguably their best player in Rudy Gay. With Gay back fully healthy to assist one of the best front-courts in the NBA (Gasol and Randolph), the Grizzlies will realize their full potential, shock the Basketball world and come within games of reaching the NBA Championship series.
- Chicago Bulls
- Miami Heat
- New York Knicks
- Boston Celtics
Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat over Chicago Bulls
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- San Antonio
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
Western Conference Finals: Oklahoma City Thunder over Memphis Grizzlies
I love me some Oklahoma City Thunder this season. I don’t think I will ever be sold on the Miami Heat as champions until Lebron James begins to play and act like he wants to be a champion. Oklahoma City making the Western Conference finals last season was not a mirage. They really are that good. That 5 man core of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Harden and Perkins can win multiple championships if they stick together. I believe the start of that run begins in 2012 when Oklahoma City wins the NBA Championship.
NBA Awards Picks
Oklahoma City Thunder: F Kevin Durant
Minnesota Timberwolves: F Derrick Williams
Orlando Magic: C Dwight Howard
Oklahoma City Thunder: G James Harden
Los Angeles Clippers: Vinny Del Negro
Detroit Pistons: C Greg Monroe