Shield your eyes Celtics and Lakers fans
Author: john loeppky – contributor
Given my NBA League Pass subscription, numerous basketball jerseys, and unhealthy obsession with everything hoops, I feel capable of predicting the standings at the conclusion of the upcoming NBA season. Below are my prognostications, which I will be mercilessly ridiculed for later.
East (The Shit Conference)
1. Cleveland: LeBron is back, Kyrie is primed for a season as the king of distributors, and Kevin Love is already salivating at the chance to throw monstrous outlet passes to number 23. That team could forfeit every game in December and still make the playoffs, is a bonus.
2. Chicago: With the inside-out presence of Pau Gasol paired with the explosiveness (we hope) of Derrick Rose, the Bulls are primed for a big run.
3. Toronto: The Raps have kept the same core intact as they work towards the opportunity to get past the first round, an achievement they did not attain last season when they lost to the Brooklyn Nets.
4. Brooklyn: Speaking of the NBA’s senior citizens brigade, they are one year older, one year closer to being sold, and Paul Pierce-less. This ranking presumes that Brook Lopez’s foot does not go the way of Stephen Stamkos’ leg.
5. Atlanta: The Hawks managed to piece together a 38-win campaign without the services of star centre Al Horford. With the Florida product back in the fold, Atlanta’s chances of a winning campaign have increased considerably.
6. Charlotte: With the addition of Lance Stephenson, the consistency of Al Jefferson, and the continued development of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Bobcats will scrape past Indiana for the sixth spot.
7. Indiana: Coach Frank Vogel’s crew will be limping all year without the all-around presence of Paul George for most (if not all) of the season. Throw in Roy Hibbert’s up and down nature, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.
8. Philadelphia 76ers: Just kidding.
8. Miami: Oh, what a difference a year makes. I might be low-balling them, what with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade still around, but I have a feeling that, by February, Bosh will have tried to invent a time machine so that he could sign with the Rockets when he had the chance.
West (The Good Conference)
1. San Antonio: Gregg Popovich will do a masterful job of coaching, Tim Duncan will put up stats, and the Spurs will rack up a few more historic victories.
2. Oklahoma City: Sans Kevin Durant in the early going, the Thunder are going to struggle, but will be in their usual position come playoff time.
3. LA Clippers: Lob City, run by Chris Paul (my MVP) will rule Los Angeles for a second consecutive year, adding bandwagon jumping Laker fans to their stands in droves.
4. Portland: LeMarcus Aldridge looks to be as deadly as ever from outside and with Damian Lillard manning the point guard spot, a playoff spot is almost assured.
5. Golden State: Big man (check) wing defender (check) electrifying backcourt (check). The bay area is ripe for a winner again this year.
6. Rockets: They may have lost a gamble in the off season, unloading talent in order to make space for a certain dinosaur lookalike from Miami who never arrived, but the Rockets still have more than enough to make noise in the playoffs.
7. New Orleans: Young and athletic, the Pelicans are propelled by “The Brow,” Anthony Davis. Fresh off an exemplary showing at the past summer’s FIBA World Cup, he looks to bring his team to the playoffs with enough clout to do some damage.
8. Phoenix: One game away from the playoffs last year, the Suns will actually get there this season, before being trounced by the Spurs.