Sports Spectrum NBA Capsules

Sports Spectrum NBA Capsules

ATLANTIC DIVISION

BOSTON CELTICS
2010-11 Record: 56-26 (1st in Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division and 3rd in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat N.Y. Knicks 4-0; Lost to Miami 4-1 in conference semifinals.
Outlook: Will be in the mix again this year, but they won’t be good enough to win a title. It’s too tough in the new “NBA Super Team” era to have three aging superstars without enough talent surrounding them. They do still have power forward Kevin Garnett (14.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg), small forward Paul Pierce (18.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), and shooting guard Ray Allen (16.5 ppg) along with a strong point guard Rajon Rondo (11.2 apg, 10.6 ppg). It might not be enough when they have to count on injury-prone center Jermaine O’Neal (5.4 ppg, 3.7 apg) to be their big-man.

NEW YORK KNICKS
2010-11 Record: 42-40 (2nd in Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division and 6th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to Boston 4-0 in first round.
Outlook: Small forward Carmelo Anthony (25.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and power forward Amar’e Stoudamire (25.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg) welcome the addition of defensive-minded center Tyson Chandler (10.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg). Don’t be surprised if New York becomes the Dallas Mavericks of last season and their role players make a bigger impact than many expect.

PHILADELPHIA 76ers
2010-11 Record: 41-41 (3rd in Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division and 7th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to Miami 4-1 in first round.
Outlook: In this abbreviated season, expect this young team to make a run with point guard Jrue Holiday (14 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4 rpg) steering the ship and 13-year veteran power forward Elton Brand (15 ppg, 8.3 rpg) providing leadership on and off the court. If this team gets hot, they may be tough to beat. Oh, and don’t forget about small forward Andre Iguodala (14.1 ppg, 6.3 apg, 5.8 rpg) and shooting guard Jodie Meeks (10 ppg, 40 percent from 3-point rage).

NEW JERSEY NETS
2010-11 Record: 24-58 (4th in Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division and 12th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: It will be interesting how much point guard Deron Williams’ time with Besiktas of the Turkish Basketball League helped because he’ll have a few more games under his belt and he’ll be game-ready, unlike other stars. Look for center Brook Lopez (20.4 ppg, 6 rpg) and forward Kris Humphries (10 ppg, 10.4 rpg), if he can get the short-lived wedding to Kim Kardashian out of his mind, to help this team even more as it plays its last season in New Jersey before moving to Brooklyn.

TORONTO RAPTORS
2010-11 Record: 22-60 (5th in Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division and 14th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: There’s no coincidence that the team most lacking in star power finished last in the division last season. The Raptors will be led by 7-foot center Andrea Bargnani (21.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg), shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (17.2 ppg) and point guard Jose Calderon (9.8 ppg, 8.9 apg) and will be looking to finish out of the cellar.

CENTRAL DIVISION

CHICAGO BULLS
2010-11 Record: 62-20 (1st in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 1st in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat Indiana 4-1; Beat Atlanta 4-2 in conference semifinals; Lost to Miami 4-1 in conference finals.
Outlook: Common sense tells us that the Derrick Rose-led Bulls will make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals again. But who knows what could happen in this season’s shortened schedule? Rose (25 ppg, 7.7 apg, 4.1 rpg) will need to encourage the Bulls to a fast start, but it won’t be difficult with the bravado of center Joakim Noah (11.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg) and the talent of small forward Luol Deng (17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and the always-cool power forward Carlos Boozer (17.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg). Playoffs? No doubt. Making it to the conference finals? It’s not a given.

INDIANA PACERS
2010-11 Record: 37-45 (2nd in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 8th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to Chicago 4-1 in first round.
Outlook: Free-agent signee power forward David West (18.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 50.8 percent FG shooting) could help Indiana make it past the first round of the playoffs this season (and surely have a record better than .500). Small forward Danny Granger (20.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg), point guard Darren Collison (13.2 ppg, 5.1 apg) and center Roy Hibbert (12.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and among the best in blocks averaging 1.8 per game) should provide intrigue to a weak Central Division.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS
2010-11 Record: 35-47 (3rd in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 9th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Could be the surprise team of 2011-12, especially with shooting guard Stephen Jackson (18.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) joining the Bucks after being traded from the Charlotte Bobcats. The lineup is solid, with Jackson, point guard Brandon Jennings (16.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.8 apg), power forward Drew Gooden (11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), center Andrew Bogut (12.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.6 blocks per game) and small forward Carlos Delfino (11.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 apg).

DETROIT PISTONS
2010-11 Record: 30-52 (4th in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 11th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Bad Boys has a new meaning in Detroit these days, with a team that finished 22 games below .500. Leading the Pistons will be small forward Tayshaun Prince (14.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.8 apg), point guard Rodney Stuckey (15.5 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.1 rpg), shooting guard Ben Gordon (11.2 ppg, 2.1 apg, 40.2 percent from 3-point range), power forward Charlie Villanueva (11.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and center Greg Monroe (9.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg).

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
2010-11 Record: 19-63 (5th in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 15th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Can top pick Kyrie Irving help the Cavaliers out of the cellar? Maybe, but it will be a huge surprise if he helps them too much more than that (like a spot in the playoffs). Even with power forward Antawn Jamison (18 ppg, 6.7 rpg), center Anderson Varejao (9.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and shooting guard Anthony Parker (8.3 ppg), it could be a tough road this season once again for Cleveland.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

MIAMI HEAT
2010-11 Record: 58-24 (1st in Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division and 2nd in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat Philadelphia 4-1 in first round; Beat Boston 4-1 in conference semifinals; Beat Chicago 4-1 in conference finals; Lost to Dallas 4-2 in NBA Finals.
Outlook: The Big Three (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) couldn’t win a title, but they made it to the Finals. The only knocks on this Dynamic Trio were their inability to play under pressure (they started the season slow and couldn’t win under pressure against LeBron’s old team Cleveland), and they couldn’t win when it counted, in the title game against a much less hyped Dallas team. Unfortunately, those are the intangibles you need to win championships (exhibit A, B, C, D, E, and F are the Michael Jordan-led Bulls championship teams – Jordan was a great leader, he always wanted the ball on the last shot, and he thrived under pressure, all of those are lacking on this team, at least for now).

ORLANDO MAGIC
2010-11 Record: 52-30 (2nd in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 4th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to Atlanta 4-2 in first round.
Outlook: It seems inevitable that Dwight Howard will leave (he wants to be traded), but for now the Magic have the superstar center who averaged 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. His supporting cast of point guard Jameer Nelson (13.1 ppg, 6 apg), Jason Richardson (15.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and small forward Hedo Turkoglu (10.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 4.4 rpg) was helped by the addition of power forward Glen Davis (11.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg) through a trade from the Celtics. If Howard does get his wish, the chances for the Magic drop significantly. With Howard, they aren’t a favorite for the title, but at least they are a tough team.

ATLANTA HAWKS
2010-11 Record: 44-38 (3rd in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 5th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat Orlando 4-2 in first round; Lost to Chicago 4-2 in conference semifinals.
Outlook: A good team with no real big name megastars, but with the right matchups the Hawks could fly through the playoffs. Led by shooting guard and five-time All-Star Joe Johnson (18.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg), power forward Josh Smith (16.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 apg), center Al Horford (15.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.5 apg) and small forward Marvin Williams (10.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg), this could be one of the surprise playoff teams this season.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
2010-11 Record: 34-48 (4th in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 10th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: It seems odd for a Michael Jordan-led team to be near the bottom, but unfortunately Jordan can’t suit up. He just owns the team. Trades have devastated the lineup, but with coach Paul Silas and a shortened season, miracles can happen. Look for point guard D.J. Augustin (14.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.7 rpg) to possibly share time with former UConn star Kemba Walker, which could make for an interesting trade later in the season. Center Tyrus Thomas (14.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg), center Boris Diaw (11.3 ppg, 5 rpg, 4.1 apg), small forward Corey Maggette (12 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and shooting guard Gerald Henderson (9.6 ppg, 3 rpg) should help stabilize this team that remains in transition.

WASHINTGON WIZARDS
2010-11 Record: 23-59 (5th in Eastern Conference’s Central Division and 13th in Eastern Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Point guard John Wall (16.4 ppg, 8.3 apg) will need more help if the new-look Wizards (they brought back the old Washington Bullets uniforms sans the Bullets nickname) to the playoffs. Power forward Andray Blatche (16.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg), shooting guard Nick Young (17.4 ppg) and small forward Rashard Lewis (11.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) should be keys contributors.

SOUTHWEST DIVISION

SAN ANTONIO SPURS
2010-11 Record: 61-21 (1st in Western Conference’s Southwest Division and 1st in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to Memphis 4-2 in first round.
Outlook: Seems like pundits have been using the phrase, “aging Spurs” for years now, but they do keep winning. Unfortunately for them, not championships like they once did. An early exit from the playoffs isn’t likely again (they were upset in the first round by an upstart Memphis team), but winning a title is possible and would be a great way to go out (but, they’ve been saying that for years). The Spurs are led by unflappable power forward Tim Duncan (13.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg), shooting guard Manu Ginobili (17.9 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.7 rpg), point guard Tony Parker (17.5 ppg, 6.6 apg) and small forward Richard Jefferson (11 ppg, 3.8 rpg).

DALLAS MAVERICKS
2010-11 Record: 57-25 (2nd in Western Conference’s Southwest Division and 3rd in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat Portland 4-2 in first round; Beat L.A. Lakers 4-0 in conference semifinals; Beat Oklahoma City 4-1 in conference finals; Beat Miami 4-2 in NBA Finals.
Outlook: Led by solid playoff performances by power forward Dirk Nowitzki (23 ppg, 7 rpg, 2.6 apg), the surprise NBA Champs last season went from a No. 3 seed to dismantling Miami in the title series for the franchise’s first title. This team isn’t only Nowitzki’s team, though. Small forward Shawn Marion (12.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) was key, along with veteran point guard Jason Kidd (8.2 apg, 7.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg). Add to that trio former L.A. Lakers star Lamar Odom, who was a surprise grab after the lockout, and shooting guard Vince Carter (14 ppg) and this team could be nearly unstoppable this season.

NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
2010-11 Record: 46-36 (3rd in Western Conference’s Southwest Division and 7th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to L.A. Lakers 4-2 in first round.
Outlook: Gone are superstar guard Chris Paul (9.8 apg) and David West (18.9 ppg), but the offseason moves didn’t deplete the Hornets entirely. However, the moves depleted them enough to know that the Hornets will likely struggle and possibly be out of playoff contention. Shooting guard Eric Gordon (22.3 ppg), power forward Emeka Okafor (10.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and point guard Jarrett Jack (8.9 ppg) will be the new leaders of this team, and center Chris Kaman (12.4 ppg, 7 rpg) will provide a key inside presence if he can remain healthy.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
2010-11 Record: 46-36 (4th in Western Conference’s Southwest Division and 8th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat San Antonio 4-2 in first round; Lost to Oklahoma City 4-3 in conference semifinals.
Outlook: Power forward Zac Randolph (20.1 ppg, 12 rpg, 2.2 apg) will lead a team that won’t be able to surprise anyone this season after their upset of top seeded San Antonio in the playoffs and their near-upset of Oklahoma City in the conference semifinals. Things could get better, too, with small forward Rudy Gay (19.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.8 apg) returning after being out since February and missing the playoff run with a shoulder injury. Center Marc Gasol (11.7 ppg, 7 rpg, 2.5 apg), point guard Mike Conley (13.7 ppg, 3 rpg, 6.5 apg) and shooting guard Tony Allen (8.9 ppg) will be solid contributors.

HOUSTON ROCKETS
2010-11 Record: 43-39 (5th in Western Conference’s Southwest Division and 9th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Can the Rockets recover after Yao Ming’s retirement? Yes. They haven’t relied on Ming for a while because of numerous injuries, instead relying on power forward Luis Scola (18.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.5 apg) and shooting guard Kevin Martin (23.4 ppg, 2.5 apg) to provide scoring. However, look for point guard Kyle Lowry (13.5 ppg, 6.7 apg) and small forward Chase Budinger (9.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg) to contribute heavily after both were given starting roles for the majority of games near the end of the season. If center Hasheem Thabeet (1.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg) can develop from bust to just solid contributor, this team could make the playoffs and maybe even surprise some teams.

NORTHWEST DIVISION

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
2010-11 Record: 55-27 (1st in Western Conference’s Northwest Division and 4th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat Denver 4-1 in first round; Beat Memphis 4-3 in conference semifinals; Lot to Dallas 4-1 in conference finals.
Outlook: Can a team with Oklahoma City in its name win the NBA title? Well, this one can. They were in every game of the Western Conference Finals last year against Dallas, which would go on to win the NBA title. With small forward Kevin Durant (27.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) leading, and point guard Russell Westbrook (21.9 ppg, 8.2 apg, 4.6 rpg), despite his turnover tendencies, this team always has a chance. One key acquisition at the trade deadline was defensive-minded center Kendrick Perkins (8 rpg), who lost more than 25 pounds to get in shape for this season. Even though he only averaged 6 points per game last season, it’s no concern for a team that relies on Durant and Westbrook for the bulk of scoring.

DENVER NUGGETS
2010-11 Record: 50-32 (2nd in Western Conference’s Northwest Division and 5th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to Oklahoma City 4-1.
Outlook: In a shortened season where winning quick and getting on hot streaks is key, expect to see this team vying for a spot for the playoffs despite the lack of megastars. Denver center Nene (14.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg) led the league in field goal shooting (61.5 percent) and small forward Danilo Gallinari (15.6 ppg) can shoot the three while also maintaining a solid average at the line (86.2 percent). With Ty Lawson (12.8 ppg, 4.3 apg) at point guard and shooting guard Arron Afflalo (12.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.4 apg) helping open up the floor, it provides more opportunities for power forward Al Harrington (10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS
2010-11 Record: 48-34 (3rd in Western Conference’s Northwest Division and 6th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Lost to Dallas 4-2 in first round.
Outlook: Lamarcus Aldridge (21.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.1 apg) will likely carry this team because he has something to prove after last year’s All-Star game snub. But this lineup has more than Aldridge, with the addition of point guard Raymond Felton, who can shoot (15.5 ppg) and dish it out (8.3 apg). Also, shooting guard Wesley Matthews (12.2 ppg, 2.7 apg), center Marcus Camby (10.3 rpg), who has filled in nicely when Greg Oden is out (which has been often), and small forward Gerald Wallace (15.7 ppg, 8 rpg, 2.4 apg), a late addition through trade with the Bobcats last season, will help this team possibly make a deep run through the playoffs.

UTAH JAZZ
2010-11 Record: 39-43 (4th in Western Conference’s Northwest Division and 11th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: This team is solid, should definitely be five games or more over .500 and fill one of the last playoff spots. Take a glance at their lineup and you hope you’re looking at the next John Stockton-Karl Malone-Jeff Hornacek type team: Center Al Jefferson (18.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg), power forward Paul Millsap (17.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.5 apg), point guard Devin Harris (15.8 ppg, 7.1 apg), Raja Bell (8 ppg, 2.6 rpg), and second-year small forward Gordon Hayward (of Butler fame), who had a superb April when he averaged 16.4 points.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
2010-11 Record: 17-65 (5th in Western Conference’s Northwest Division and 15th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Will this team win more than 17 games this year? Probably, but more importantly they will thrill fans more than they have since Kevin Garnett departed. Why? Because Spanish sensation, and much-hyped, point guard Ricky Rubio has finally made it to the U.S., nearly two years after the Timberwolves drafted him. All-Star power forward Kevin Love (20.2 ppg, 15.2 rpg) should dominate again, and small forward Michael Beasley (19.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg), center Darko Milicic (8.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2 bpg), who has gone from bust to solid inside player, and shooting guard Wesley Johnson (9 ppg) will contribute heavily to helping the Timberwolves climb out of the Western Conference basement.

PACIFIC DIVISION

LOS ANGELES LAKERS
2010-11 Record: 57-25 (1st in Western Conference’s Pacific Division and 2nd in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Beat New Orleans 4-2 in first round; Lost to Dallas 4-0 in conference semifinals.
Outlook: Some of the starting cast on the floor is the same, but noticeably missing is Lamar Odom, Brian Shaw and future Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson. For a team that was blanked by upstart Dallas 4-0 in the semifinals, that doesn’t bode well. Look for things to get even more shaky in the post-Jackson era. Still, though, this team has megastar shooting guard Kobe Bryant (25.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.7 apg), power forward Pau Gasol (18.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg), center Andrew Bynum (11.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2 bpg) and point guard Derek Fisher (6.8 ppg, 2.7 apg, 1.2 spg).

PHOENIX SUNS
2010-11 Record: 40-42 (2nd in Western Conference’s Pacific Division and 10th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Mark it down, the Suns will make the playoffs this year. The high-paced offense doesn’t have to take many, or any, off nights with the shortened season. With All-Star point guard Steve Nash (14.7 ppg, 11.4 apg, 91.2 percent from the free-throw line), running the offense, everyone gets involved, including center Marcin Gortat, who averaged 13 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks after playing a reserve role for the Magic. Pencil in small forward Grant Hill (13.2 ppg, 2.5 apg, 4.2 rpg), and starting power forward Channing Frye (12.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and shooting guard Shannon Brown (8.7 ppg), and this offense could get people excited about the NBA again.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
2010-11 Record: 36-46 (3rd in Western Conference’s Pacific Division and 12th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: With shooting guard Monta Ellis (24.1 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.1 spg) and point guard Stephen Curry (18.6 ppg, 5.8 apg, 1.5 spg) running the floor, and small forward Dorell Wright (16.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) not afraid to pull the trigger from 3-point range (with 516 3’s attempted, he led the NBA), it would seem this team could thrive. But the Western Conference is loaded, so they’ll need more from power forward David Lee (16.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 3.2 apg) and center Andris Biedrins (7.2 rpg, 5 ppg) to have any chance of making the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
2010-11 Record: 32-50 (4th in Western Conference’s Pacific Division and 13th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: Does All-Star point guard Chris Paul make this team a championship-caliber team? No. But, now the Clippers at least have a chance to make the playoffs. Talking playoffs is one thing, but talking championships is reserved for the elite and the Clippers aren’t in that realm yet. Sure, Paul (15.8 ppg, 9.8 apg, 2.4 spg), power forward Blake Griffin (22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 50.6 percent from the field), shooting guard Chauncey Billups (16.8 ppg, 5.4 apg, 91.6 percent from the free-throw line) and small forward Caron Butler (15 ppg, 4.1 rpg) all make this team an exciting team to watch, but that’s it. They’ll be exciting, but they won’t have enough to win a championship.

SACRAMENTO KINGS
2010-11 Record: 24-58 (5th in Western Conference’s Pacific Division and 14th in Western Conference)
Playoff Results: Did not make playoffs
Outlook: How much better will this team be with rookie Jimmer Fredette? Not sure, but it will be interesting to see how much playing time the Kings give him. If they do, then it will be intriguing to see if he can play in the NBA. Aside from that, the only interesting thing will be if the Kings can get closer to the .500 mark. Look for point guard Tyreke Evans (17.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.6 apg), center Demarcus Cousins (14.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.5 apg), small forward John Salmons (14 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg) and power forward J.J. Hickson (13.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg) to lead this team. And don’t be surprised if shooting guard Marcus Thornton (12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg) continues his scoring rampage from the end of last season when he averaged 21.3 points in 27 games for Sacramento after being traded from New Orleans.

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Top 25 players in league
1.
 Kevin DurantOklahoma City Thunder – can score from anywhere
2. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks – led team to a title
3. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls – wills teams to win
4. LeBron James, Miami Heat – has all the tools
5. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers – one of the best floor generals
6. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers – loves to shoot
7. Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat – solid scorer
8. Amar’e StoudamireNew York Knicks – reason why Knicks are title contenders
9. Kevin LoveMinnesota Timberwolves – gets it done inside
10. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers – making quick name for himself
11. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs – just wins
12. Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers – great complement to Kobe
13. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns – can score and help others score
14. Lamarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers – out to prove playoff snub was wrong
15. Carmelo AnthonyNew York Knicks – loves having Stoudamire in New York
16. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics – always a force inside
17. Nene, Denver Nuggets – ditto
18. John WallWashington Wizards – nearly averaging double digits in assits
19. Deron WilliamsNew Jersey Nets – time in Europe could give new perspective
20. Kevin Martin, Houston Rockets – loves to score
21. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics – great complement to Garnett and Allen
22. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics – ditto (except insert Pierce for Allen)
23. Zac Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies – out to prove Grizzlies are for real
24. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks – could be a six-time All-Star
25. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls – not afraid (on or off the court)

Others who just missed the cut
David West
Indiana Pacers
Manu GinobiliSan Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Emeka Okafor, New Orleans Hornets
Luis ScolaHouston Rockets
Russell WestbrookOklahoma City Thunder
Raymond FeltonPortland Trailblazers
Al JeffersonUtah Jazz
Marcin GortatPhoenix Suns
Monta EllisGolden State Warriors
Stephen CurryGolden State Warriors
David LeeGolden State Warriors
Chris BoshMiami Heat

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MVP prediction

Kevin Durant

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Predictions for title

East Finals: Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks (Knicks win 4-2)

West Finals: Oklahoma City vs. L.A. Clippers (Oklahoma City wins 4-3)

NBA Finals: New York Knicks vs. Oklahoma City (Knicks win 4-3)

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Top 10 things to watch this season
1. How much will Chris Paul help the Clippers (and will they usurp the Lakers for L.A.’s best NBA team?)
2. Can the Mavericks repeat or will it finally be LeBron and Miami?
3. How much will the Lakers struggle without former coach Phil Jackson and star Lamar Odom (now with the Dallas Mavericks)?
4. With the addition of Tyson Chandler, can the New York Knicks become the Dallas Mavericks of last season?
5. Will Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves) be all he’s been made out to be?
6. Will Portland’s Lamarcus Aldridge get the All-Star snub again?
7. Can a team from Oklahoma City win an NBA title?
8. Can Memphis capitalize on its surprising playoff run from last season?
9. Is this the last hurrah for the aging Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs?
10. Can Derrick Rose lead the Bulls to their first title since someone named Jordan led the Bulls to their last three-peat in 1998?