Predictions made by Frank Fleming on October 30, 2005 at 12:15 am EST.
2005/06 NBA PREVIEW
Scoring Champion: Kobe Bryant Lakers
Coah of the Year: George Karl Nuggets
Rookie of the Year: Deron Williams Jazz
Most Improved Player: Kwame Brown Lakers
6th Man: Antoine Walker Heat
Defensive Player of the Year: Ron Artest Pacers
NBA MVP: Tim Duncan Spurs
Miami Heat 67-15
One word comes to mind when looking at the Heat and that's unstoppable. A year after falling in Game 7 of the Conference Finals the Heat are even stronger, Dwayne Wade is only going to get better, while the addition of Antoine Walker gives them a long range shooter they were lacking last year, as the Heat are poised to go all the way to the top.
Miami Heat over New Jersey Nets
San Antonio Spurs over Phoenix Suns
Miami Heat over San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs 63-19
The defending champs may be even better with the addition of Michael Finley. Look for them to dominate the Western Conference which no longer has the number of elite teams it had a few years ago, as they easily win the Midwest Division and roll into the playoffs with a 60 win season.
Indiana Pacers 58-24
A year after missing almost the entire season, following the near riot in Detroit, Ron Artest is back and with a whole new eve of discipline if the time of taught him any lesson. Artest's should be enough to carry the Pacers to the top of the Central Division. However, in the postseason they will miss Reggie Miller's knack for the big shot.
New Jersey Nets 52-30
Jason Kidd is healthy from the start and Vince Carter is recommitted while Richard Jefferson is also healthy again, as the Nets are back and ready to challenge for the Eastern Conference Title. Look for the Nets to dominate the Atlantic Division as their triumphant of stars take them back to the Conference Finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers 46-36
After last year's second half collapse saw the Cavs miss the playoffs after spending the entire season in playoff position, LeBron James will be facing a must deliver season, as the pressure will be on King James to finally taste the postseason in his 3rd season in the league, and anything less would be an abject failure
Philadelphia 76ers 44-38
The classy Maurice Cheeks returns to the team where he became a legend this time as a Coach trying to turn around a team that has been on the decline the last two seasons. The addition of Cheeks can only help Allen Iverson as the 76ers should be a factor in the race for the Atlantic, and could possibly win if AI plays all 82 games.
Washington Wizards 42-40
After winning their first playoff series in over 20 years the potential for a letdown is great in Washington, as the loss of Larry Hughes will surely take away some of the Wizards magic. However, with Gilbert Arenas leading the way and the Coaching of Eddie Jordan they should be able to conjure up a playoff appearance.
New York Knicks 41-41
The addition of Quentin Richardson gives the Knicks a downtown assassin, while Eddie Curry if he is able to overcome heart troubles gives the Knicks a solid center-man. On top of the buzz surrounding the homecoming of Coach Larry Brown, a Brooklyn Native should be enough to carry the Knicks to .500 which will bring the playoffs.
Chicago Bulls 39-43
The Bulls saw allot of career years from several players spring them back into the playoffs. It will be hard to see them matching these numbers, and it will be hard to imagine the Bulls back in the playoffs add in the loss of Eddie Curry who was a key to their run last year, and the Bulls have a tough hill to climb.
Boston Celtics 37-45
The Celtics took advantage of a bad division last year to slip into the playoffs, this year the Atlantic is stronger and they are not. Look for the Celtics to struggle all season as Paul Pierce becomes the centerpiece for many trade deadline rumors, as the Celtics lone star could become the final piece for a playoff team in February.
Orlando Magic 33-49
Grant Hill the star crossed star who after excelling at Duke became an All-Star in the NBA, before becoming the modern Bill Walton unable to stay healthy will likely be playing his final games as injuries have reappeared, which means the Magic will disappear from the NBA playoff picture.
Milwaukee Bucks 30-52
The drafting of Andrew Bogut should make the Bucks better, but in a strong division it wont show much as the Bucks will not be able to escape the cellar, as Bogut will need allot more help before the Bucks are going to come anywhere near the playoffs look for them to be a non-factor all year.
Charlotte Bobcats 25-57
The Bobcats have a new arena a pair of Tar Heel Rookies in Raymond Feltona nd Sean May and a solid young team led by reigning Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafore. However they have a long way to go before they too can sniff the playoffs they won't be a pushover as the second year Bobcats continue to make strides.
Atlanta Hawks 18-64
After going 13-69 there is no place to go but up. However, as far as the Hawks are concerned there is not much there for them to move up with. The addition of Joe Johnson will help, but this team is still a doormat as Atlanta's Phillps Arena becomes the place to be for quiet contemplation, with empty seats all around.
Detroit Pistons 48-34
The Pistons came within one game of a second straight NBA Championship last year. However, just days after the season was over their leader was gone as the love em' and leave em' Larry left for his hometown Knicks. The Pistons will sorely miss the coaching of Browns as they lose their grip on the top of the East.
Toronto Raptors 14-68
The Raptors who were on the rise a few years ago are now as low can be. Vince Carter is long gone, and now Rafer Alston is in Houston Jalen Rose is lft behind and unhappy, while there is not much else, as they wasted a Lottery Pick on Charlie Villanueva. On top of this they lost a preseason game to a team from the Israeli Premier League, Oy Vei! The losses will be mounting.
Denver Nuggets 56-26
The Nuggets had a terrific second half last year turning a disappointing start into a second straight playoff appearance. This year with Coach George Karl there from the start, there is no disappointing first half as the Nuggets reach new heights winning their first division title in nearly 20 years.
Phoenix Suns 52-30
The Suns were able to rise from the bottom to the top last year thanks to a MVP season from Steve Nash. They will have a tough time equaling their 60 wins, as Amare Stoudamire will miss 4 months. However when he comes back the Suns should in position to climb back up to win the Pacific Division.
Houston Rockets 55-27
The acquisition of Rafer Alston will help the Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady take their career to new heights as it gives the Rockets a playmaker to help setting up scoring opportunities. However, don't look for them to rise too fast as the Rockets will not be able to beat the Spurs in the regular season or the playoffs.
Seattle Supersonics 48-34
The loss of Coach Nate McMillian will not hurt as Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis still are make up a solid team look for the Sonics to remain a strong team in the Northwest Division challenging the Nuggets all season. However when the playoff roll around they wont measure up to the rest of the Conference elites.
Dallas Mavericks 46-36
The Mavericks will sorely miss Michael Finley as they will not come anywhere near a team at the top of the conference. Maybe in the long run the new commitment to defense will work, but not this year as they need to scramble for a playoff spot and are bounced in the first wound.
Minnesota Timberwolves 45-37
The Timberwolves suffered through a major disappointment last year as Latrell Spreewell, and Sam Cassale moped and like a tumor infected the entire team taking a contender and making them a pretender. Now both are gone and Kevin Garnett is all alone. However, alone will suit KG just fine after dealing with Spree, as he gets the T-Wolves back into the postseason.
Los Angeles Lakers 43-39
The return of Phil Jackson will mean the return of discipline for Kobe Bryant, and a return to the playoffs for the Lakers. However, the Lakers will not be anywhere near elite status as they will be at the bottom of the playoff teams exiting quickly in the first round, while Kobe makes a serious run at the scoring title.
OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS
Golden State Warriors 40-42
After acquiring Baron Davis last year the Warriors finished the season strong winning 18 of 28. Now with Davis around for a whole season there is hope of a return to the playoff after a decade. However, Davis just is not durable to stay healthy an entire season, and without him playing strong for 82 games the Warriors will just fall short.
Sacramento Kings 39-43
That slamming sound was the Kings window of opportunity which is closed and sealed, without a light of hope, as the Kings who became a Western Conference Elite return to also ran status without ever having tasted the NBA Finals. The Kings are already beginning to focus on the future as they restructured a major part of their team.
Utah Jazz 37-45
With Deron Williams the Jazz hope to once again have a Guard to build a team around, while Williams will be good and could be a leading contender for Rookie of the Year, the Jazz don't have enough parts despite a solid year from Andrei Kirolenko yet to make it back to the playoffs in the tough Western Conference.
Memphis Grizzlies 32-50
The Grizzlies spent much of their first decade losing 5o or more games and not even coming close to the playoffs. However, the last 2 years they finally snuck into the playoffs, though they won nary a game getting swept twice. Now after a major overhaul the Grizzlies return to their losing ways as they are out of it early.
Los Angeles Clippers 30-52
From Merrian Webster's Dictionary -los.er \lu.zer\ n (1548) 1: one that loses esp. consistently. 2: one who is incompetent or unable to succeed: also: something doomed to fail or disappoint. 3: The Los Angeles Clippers land lords of last place in the Pacific Division, see picture to the left.
Portland Trailblazers 23-59
The Trailblazers are just starting a long road to rebuilding and they yet to have any foundation look for them to lose allot as they will be lucky just to avoid 60 losses, as Coach Nate McMillian will be longing for his days in Seattle while the Traiblazers are out of it in December.
Oklahoma City Hornets 17-65
The Hornets have no home as with every other New Orleans resident they were forced to find other accommodations. For them it's Oklahoma City. However, even if it was Mars it would not help this teams, as they are no better then they were last year, as they are clearly at the bottom of the West again.
Coaches Who Will be Fired
Rick Adelman Kings
Mike Dunleavy Sr. Clippers
Mike Fratello Grizzlies
Sam Mitchell Raptors
Byron Scott Hornets
Mike Woodson Hawks