The Baseline with Laz Jackson: NBA Season Review.

Now that the NBA Season has come to a (most-anticlimactic) end, it’s time for me to go back a see how little I actually know about the sport of basketball. In October, I made a some predictions about the upcoming NBA season. (See the originals starting here) Let’s see how wrong I was here:

Eastern Conference:

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

Motto: ‘We’re the Champs. Deal with it.”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: SF James Posey.

Ceiling: 60-22, 1st Seed in the Eastern Conference, NBA Champions.

Floor: 45-43, 7th in the Easter Conference, 1st round playoff exit.

Actual Result: 62-20, 2nd Seed in the Eastern Conference, 2nd round playoff exit.

What I said:

Yes, they are the champs. Yes, they lost nothing except a year of their youth and James Posey’s playoff experience. Yes, KG is still hungry, and yes, they can do it again. But it all depends on team health. See the Floor? That’s if KG gets hurt. I love Pierce, he stepped up huge in the Finals, but if KG gets hurt, this team turns into every other MJ/Scottie type team in the league, and plays as such. KG is the nuclear reactor at the heart of that team. Dude got ROBBED for MVP last year.

Yes, you WILL get them next year, Paul.

Yes, you WILL get them next year, Paul.

What I meant to say:

Yes, they were the champs. Yes, they tried to put Stephon Marbury as Sam Cassell. Yes, they did give us one of the better rounds of playoff basketball in recent memory. But it all depended on team health. When KG went down, then Leon Powe after him, their title window closed. Closer to the ceiling in wins, closer to the floor in playoff results. Cries from Boston: “Wait ‘till Next Year!”

New Jersey Nets

Motto: “Now with 100% less Jason Kidd baby mama drama!”

Major Acquisition: SG/SF Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Major Loss: SG/SF Richard Jefferson.

Ceiling: 50-32, 4th Seed in the Eastern Conference, Second-Round exit.

Floor: 38-44, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 34-48, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Young team, got younger in-season by trading Jason Kidd for Devin Harris (who I am a fan of). The team is best described the same way as its best player: Potentially Dangerous. Vince Carter could carry this team on his back and take them to their ceiling. Or he could hurt his ankle again and sit out a month. Eh, who are we kidding, he’s not in a contract year, of COURSE he’s going to take two months to heal his ankle. Look for CDR to take that Richard Jefferson role in the offense, though. I’m a fan of the Detroit native, what can I say?

What I meant to say:

I’m sorry, Devin Harris is a beast. Single-handedly destroying any credibility Cuban/Avery had as talent evaluators sounds good. Brook Lopez showing flashes of being a legit big man sounds better. But finishing under the floor AND giving Yi Jianlian minutes? Disappointing. The team has a solid core, but is missing two more pieces (Vince Carter’s killer instinct and point guard depth).

New York Knicks

Motto: “No Isiah Thomas. We Swear. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW!!!”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: None (and that’s a BAD thing).

Ceiling: ??????

Floor: 19-63, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 32-50, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Welcome to the black parade. Without the stormcloud that was Isiah Thomas, the future of this team looks bright. However, this is the present. Nobody on this team scares me offensively (ooohhh, Jamal Crawford. I’m scared [/sarcasm]) and the defensive presence of Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph couldn’t stop Darko. Yes, it’s so bad, they don’t even get a ceiling. Guys: ya gotta crawl before you can run transition D, so GET TA CRAWLIN’!

What I meant to say:

Dumping Zach Randolph? Great. Dumping Stephon Marbury? Even Better. Picking up Larry Hughes Expiring Contract? Best. D’Antoni’s system makes everyone better, and with a competent GM, they could be places SOON in the lowly East. Unfortunately, SOON doesn’t mean RIGHT NOW, and they weren’t great this past season.

Philadelphia 76ers

Motto: “We’re the… *counts slowly* 5th best fast-break team in the league!”

Major Acquistion: PF Elton Brand.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 47-35, 6th seed in the Eastern Conference.

Floor: 39-43, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 41-41, 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, 1st round playoff exit.

What I said:

Good team, didn’t lose anything and gained a lot of presence down low with the signing of Elton Brand. Remember when Andre Iguodala was killing the Pistons in the playoffs? Yeah, expect more of that. This team is young, good, and in the right division to makes some noise. Now if only they could shoot from the outside… or execute a bit better in the half-court offense.

What I meant to say:

Actually, barring the Elton Brand stuff (he was injured/ineffective 90% of the season, and I didn’t know he was still hurting) I think I pretty much nailed this squad, right down to the playoff seed.

Toronto Raptors

Motto: “Don’t tell anyone… but we could do a LOT of damage.”

Major Acquisition: PF/C Jermaine O’Neal.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 55-27, 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, East Finals exit.

Floor: 45-42, 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, first round exit.

Actual Result: 33-49, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Ok, this is my sleeper. I love their point guard Calderon, I LOVE the fact they got Jermaine O’Neal to take some of the post pressure off Chris Bosh, they can go inside, they can go outside, they can run, they can execute in the half-court, they can play transition D, they can play half-court D, but the thing holding them back is that they’re not KNOWN for any one thing. I think this is the year they become known for half-court execution on both sides of the ball, and hit that ceiling.

What I meant to say:

Ok, this team is asleep. Calderon got hurt, Jermaine O’Neal was completely ineffective on both sides of the ball, they couldn’t go inside, they KINDA went outside, with Calderon out they couldn’t execute, they fired their former Coach of the Year, and this team de-railed. I could not have been more wrong about this team. But my man-crush on Chris Bosh persists… I really want him to come to Detroit.

Pretty much sums up the Raptors' season.

Pretty much sums up the Raptors' season.

Central Division

Chicago Bulls

Motto: “Mess with the Bull, and you get… to watch us shoot 45% from the floor!”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: Does trading Happy Ben Gordon for P.O.’ed Ben Gordon count?

Ceiling: 50-32, 5th in the Eastern Conference, Second round playoff exit.

Floor: 35-47, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 41-41, 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, First round playoff exit.

What I said:

I love Ben Gordon. I respect his game, and the fact that he can get hot instantaneously. But, dude doesn’t want to play here. So, he’s going to be dogging it. The front office did nothing about the Luol Deng/Larry Hughes/Ben Gordon/Thabo Sefolosha (yes, he’s good, trust me) shooting guard/small forward logjam. And drafting Derrick Rose only makes that worse (he can’t play the point yet. YET. Call me after 30 games). So we have a team full of perimeter players, and few post guys. Wait… it’s the East. That could work.

I GUESS he earned $11 million per...

I GUESS he earned $11 million per...

What I meant to say:

I love Ben Gordon, but I don’t want him to the Pistons for $11Mill per. Just sayin’. Luol Deng got hurt, Larry Hughes got traded, and Thabo didn’t develop, so the logjam worked itself out. Getting Salmons and Miller at the trade deadline helped. And (*Warning* Understatement Approaching) Derrick Rose… CAN play the point. Giving the defending champs all they could handle put the East on notice.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Motto: “We have LeBron. ‘Nuff said.”

Major Acquisition: PG Mo Williams.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 58-24, 2nd in the Eastern Conference, lose in the NBA Finals.

Floor: 52-30, 4th in the Eastern Conference, second-round exit.

Actual Result: 66-16, 1st in the Eastern Conference, lost in the Eastern Conference Finals.

What I said:

In trying to keep LeBron happy and in Cleveland, the front office actually made the team better. Shocking. LeBron is better, Mo Williams lets Boobie come off the bench, Big Z and Big Ben can still play a little (for 25-32 min a night), and Sideshow Bob still pisses off everyone, so this team has the potential to go places. Or LeBron can drag them places. It’s up to them.

What I meant to say:

LeBron is better on both ends of the floor, Mo Williams renders Boobie useless for reasons unbeknownst to me, Big Z can still play for 20 minutes a night, and Sideshow Bob still pisses off everyone, so LeBron had to drag this team places. That, and No One could beat a team shooting 45% from three over the course of six games.

Detroit Pistons

Motto:”Ready for another 50+ win season that ends in disappointment? Us too!”

Major Acquisition: PF Kwame Brown. AHAHAA, just kidding, none.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 55-30, 2nd in the Eastern Conference, lose in the NBA Finals.

Floor: 50-32, 4th in the Eastern Conference, second round playoff exit.

Actual Result: 39-43, 8th in the Eastern Conference, first round playoff exit.

What I said:

The “Death and Taxes” of the NBA. Consistent to a fault, right down to the game where Rasheed Wallace disappears after guaranteeing a win in the playoffs. You’ll cheer, you’ll bitch, and eventually you’ll wait for the cycle to begin again. Not much else to say, unless Rodney Stuckey maintains the level of play that he had in the playoffs. Then, that ceiling starts looking mighty close.

What I meant to say:

Trading Chauncey changed EVERYTHING. Rip and Iverson couldn’t be on the court at the same time because they both need plays run exclusively for them. Iverson and Stuckey couldn’t be on the court at the same time because that stunted Stuckey’s development as an actual point (can’t make the right decision if one of the top 75 players of all time is yelling for the ball), and Iverson couldn’t come off the bench because HE DIDN’T WANT TO. This team imploded, and it hurt to watch.

Indiana Pacers

Motto:”We have Larry Bird… in the front office!”

Major Acquisition: SG/SF Brandon Rush.

Major Loss: PF/C Jermaine O’Neal.

Ceiling: 52-30, 5th in the Eastern Conference, Second Round exit.

Floor: 40-42, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 36-46, out of playoffs.

HA HA HA.

HA HA HA.

What I said:

Young team, but definitely not a raw team. The addition of PG’s Jarret Jack and TJ Ford gives them a non-Tinsley route, and MAYBE Roy Hibbert can be an defensive presence. MAYBE. They have a similar problem as the Bulls: too many guys to fit that SG/SF tweener role: Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Marquis Daniels, and Brandon Rush. Potentially dangerous.

What I meant to say:

Danny Granger will make “The Leap”, but no one will notice because he PLAYS FOR THE PACERS. Maybe Roy Hibbert will be totally useless, MAYBE. A frontline of Jeff Foster, Rasho Nesterovic, Troy Murphy, and Josh McRoberts isn’t good enough even in the East. And, note to self, Don’t mention TJ Ford ever again. Seriously.

Milwaukee Bucks

Motto:”Seriously, we could be good!”

Major Acquisition: SG/SF Richard Jefferson.

Major Loss: PG Mo Williams.

Ceiling: 42-40, 8th seed in the East, first round exit.

Floor: 39-43, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 34-48, out of playoffs.

What I said:

While the addition of Richard Jefferson gives this team potential, the play of starting PG Charlie Bell is going to make or break this team. Someone has to get the ball to Jefferson and Redd. And this team had a lot of turnover in the offseason, so chemistry may be a factor.

What I meant to say:

When the immortal Ramon Sessions is your breakout player of the season, your top ten-pick is a complete bust (Joe Alexander, because I know you said “Wait, who?”), and Charlie Villanueva’s Twitter has more followers than people in the stands, I can say your season was a failure, no?

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks

Motto:”Remember? We took the NBA champs to seven games!”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: SG/SF Josh Childress

Ceiling: 45-37, 6th Seed in the Eastern Conference, first-round exit.

Floor: 34-48, out of playoffs.

Actual Result:47-35, 4th Seed in the Eastern Conference, second round exit.

What I said:

Lots of potential here. Good mix of veterans that aren’t that old (Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby) and young guys who don’t play like young guys (Marvin Williams, Al Hortford). What they (almost) did to Boston last year put the entire East on notice: These guys are coming… just probably not this year. When they learn to play better half-court D, though…

What I meant to say:

Actually, much like Philly, I think I nailed this one. Need more depth (the loss of Josh Childress hurt them in the playoffs), but still a decent enough team in the East.

Charlotte Bobcats:

Motto:”We do more than just left turns in Charlotte!”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 40-42, out of playoffs.

Floor: 25-57, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 35-47, out of playoffs.

What I said:

OK, so Larry Brown is coaching again. I give him 30 games until he pisses Jason Richardson off. J-Rich and Mr. I’m-so-Underrated-I’m-Overrated Gerald Wallace head this team. Then we have… a sometimes ineffective Emeka Okafor, I-Cried-When-RaTM-Broke-Up Adam Morrison, and the actively being shopped Raymond Felton. Good times down south.

What I meant to say:

OK, 30 games into the season, J-Rich was traded to not make trouble, Raja Bell (Larry’s guy from the ’01 Sixers [oh yeah, getting flashbacks with that one]) made sure the locker room stayed on the straight and narrow, and DJ Augustin actually played pretty well for a rookie under Vet-Loving Larry Brown. Dangerous? Eh, not yet.

Miami Heat

Motto:”Did anyone else see how D-Wade played in the Olympics? Hell yeah.”

Major Acquisition: PF Michael Beasley.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 47-35, 6th in the Eastern Conference, second round exit.

Floor: 30-52, out of playoffs.

Actual Result:43-39, 5th in the Eastern Conference, first-round exit.

What I said:

Ok, so D-Wade, Shawn Marion, and Michael Beasley make a good core. There’s a HUGE X-factor in Shaun Livingston. And they have Super Mario Chalmers. The problems lie on the defensive end, where Zo ain’t coming back soon, and identity. Is this a running team? A half-court team? A Riley-team? Hope they figure it out in time.

What I meant to say: Ok, so D-Wade is a core unto himself, Shawn Marion underachieved (and then was traded for the underachieving Jermaine O’Neal… WTF?) and Mario Chalmers played pretty good basketball. (10 and 5/2 Assist:TO isn’t bad at all) But relying on two rookies (Chalmers and Beasley) in the playoffs proved to be a little much. As long as this team has D-Wade, though, they’re dangerous.

Orlando Magic

Motto:”Dwight Howard is better than you. And that’s hopefully enough.”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 55-27, 3rd in the Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Finals exit.

Floor: 48-34, 5th in the Eastern Conference, second round exit.

Actual result: 59-23, 3rd in the Eastern Conference, Lost in the NBA Finals.

What I said:

The motto is very, very true, Hedo stepped up in the playoffs, and Rashard Lewis is always a threat. The issues lie with the backcourt guys: can Jameer Nelson play smart PG, and can rookie Courtney Lee or Keith Bogans be enough of a perimeter threat to keep teams from clogging up Howard’s post? And I’m trying not to forget, Lewis can have an effect on that perimeter game as well. Definitely a team to watch.

Yeah, he proved he was worth what they're paying him this summer.

Yeah, he proved he was worth what they're paying him this summer.

What I meant to say:

So… I hear shooting 45% from 3 in maybe the biggest six-game series of your team’s history is pretty good. Courtney Lee (seriously, my favorite guy from that draft not named Derrick Rose) proved himself as a two-way player against Bos/Cle, and Rashard Lewis proved he’s worth his contract when he’s on (seriously, go look up what he’s owed for the next four years. Just google “Rashard Lewis contract” and go count the digits), but we learned Dwight needs a post move that doesn’t involve A: His left hand or B: A dunk. A team to watch? If for nothing else than their exciting style of basketball, yes.

Washington Wizards

Motto:”Agent Zero is our hero, but our Butler is best.”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 52-30, 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, second round exit.

Floor: 38-44, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 19-63, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Yes, I know that ceiling is low, but listen. Arenas could get hurt again (Ask C-Webb how a bad knee can hamper a career). And while Caron Butler is my boy, I don’t think he can carry this team. He’s a Robin, not a Batman (But he’s a damn good Robin, make no mistake). And this team has no inside presence. Who’s going to rebound for you? Etan Thomas? Wrong Answer.

What I meant to say:

When injuries to Jamison, Arenas, Butler, Haywood, and the Hot Dog guy in section 113 happen, when you fire your coach 20 games too soon, when you won’t play the explosive seven footer you drafted in the top 20, and when Javaris Critterdon is playing meaningful minutes for your team, I’d say you had a bad year.

Western Conference:

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets:

Motto:”Winning 155-148 for three years.”

Major Acquisition: None

Major Loss: C Marcus Camby

Ceiling: 50-32, 8th in the Western Conference, first-round exit.

Floor: 41-41, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 54-28, 2nd in the Western Conference, Western Conference Finals exit.

What I said:

The major problem with this team is that they can’t play defense. Not WON’T play defense; CAN’T play defense. They lost their only good defensive shot-blocker/rebounder in Camby, meaning they’re leaning on Kenyon Martin, veteran-of-the-IL Nene, and Linas Kleiza (???) for rebounding/defense. Sure, they’ll win in the regular season (maybe), but that ceiling is being nice: this team is on its way down in the West.

WARNING: This photo may cause stomach pains and blood from the ears in Pistons fans.

WARNING: This photo may cause stomach pains and blood from the ears in Pistons fans.

What I meant to say:

The Chauncey trade did WONDERS for this team. Also, Nene stayed healthy (completely unforeseen) and ‘Melo’s participation on the Olympic team took him to another level offensively (namely, he learned that scoring 30 doesn’t always win your team the game). I’m still concerned about that lack of depth, but that’s something to attend to in the offseason.

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Motto:”We engineered a championship run last year! It was for the Celtics though…”

Major Acquisition: SG Mike Miller

Major Loss: SF/PF Antoine Walker

Ceiling: 39-43, out of the playoffs.

Floor: 30-52, out of the playoffs.

Actual Result: 24-58, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Yes, they have talent. The key is, it’s young talent. Mr. Miller adds veteran leadership, but with no TRUE point (Foye is an undersized 2, and Sebastian Telfair is… no. Just no) how is anyone going to get all that talent to gel on the court? This team is two years and a decent point guard away from making the playoffs. Coulda had Deron Williams, coulda had Deron Williams.

What I meant to say: Actually, I nailed this one. A good, young point guard could really help the Al Jefferson/Kevin Love development. Also, they need a head coach. Not much else to say.

Oklahoma City THUNDAARRR!!!

Motto:”No, we’re not the Hornets. Why does everybody keep asking us that?”

Major Acquisition: PG Russell Westbrook

Major Loss: Team Identity

Ceiling: 45-37, out of the playoffs.

Floor: 39-43, out of the playoffs.

Actual Result: 23-59, out of the playoffs.

What I said:

This just in: Kevin Durant is good. Like, future HoF good. Too bad I don’t see this team contending. Who rebounds/defends here? Chris Wilcox? Johan Petro? I-Was-A-College-Superstar Nick Collison? Not in the West. The Jeff

One more year for my supporting cast to develop, and noise WILL be made.

One more year for my supporting cast to develop, and noise WILL be made.

Green-Russell Westbrook- KD trio is one to watch out for, though. Again, wait two years for the team to gel and they could make the playoffs.

What I meant to say:

This team got derailed early by a 1-12 start (and the subsequent firing of PJ Carlesimo ) and never really got back on track. That trio is still pretty good, though, but my concerns about their interior defense remains…nothing that the development of Ibaka won’t take care of.

Portland Trail Blazers:

Motto:”If everybody picks us as a sleeper team, are we really slept on?”

Major Acquisition: PG Jerryd Bayless, Healthy C Greg Oden.

Major Loss: PG Jarret Jack.

Ceiling: 55-27, 6th in the West, first-round exit.

Floor: 48-34, out of playoffs.

Actual result: 54-28, 4th in the West, first-round exit.

What I said:

Okay, as we stated in the motto, this is everyone’s sleeper to do some damage in the West. Problem is, they’re not going to be higher than a 6 seed. That means playing Dallas/San Antonio/Utah/New Orleans, and that ain’t happening. Make no mistake, I LOVE this team. Experienced young talent across the board, a stud rookie point (with underrated vet Steve Blake behind him), big guys who can play both sides of the ball (LaMarcus Alderidge/Greg Oden) and a clear team leader (Brandon Roy). Damn, I love this team.

What I meant to say:

When Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Alderidge score 48 of 76 points in the last (playoff) game of the season, it means their depth failed them a little. The “stud rookie point guard” got very little burn and their interior guys failed to rebound against Yao. But make no mistake, I still LOVE this team for the future.

Utah Jazz:

Motto:”Winning consistently since before you were born.”

Major Acquisition: None

Major Loss: None

Ceiling: 58-24, 3rd seed in the Western Conference, NBA Champs.

Floor: 53-29, 5th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.

Actual Result: 48-34, 8th seed in the Western Conference, first-round exit.

What I said:

Yes, that’s the right Ceiling. This team is good enough to make it out of the West alive and feed on whoever comes out of the East. Will they? Probably not. But Boozer-Williams is new-age Malone-Stockton, Jerry Sloan always has his team ready for the regular season, and AK-47 looked happier last year.

What I meant to say:

They had the unfortunate draw of playing the Lakers in the first round. Sloan DID have his team ready for the season (33-8 at home) but Boozer was hurt (only played in 37 games) and their lack of bench production ultimately did them in. That ceiling? Yeah, I blew it.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors:

Motto: “We’re the second-best team in California! We play Nellie-Ball! We Matter!”

Major Acquisition: SG Corey Maggette

Major Loss: PG Baron Davis, SG Monta Ellis (for the first 30 games of the season)

Ceiling:49-33, 8th seed in the Western Conference, first-round exit.

Floor: 42-40, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 29-53, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Suspending your best player for the first third of the season is…unorthodox. I mean, I understand you don’t want your players lying to you, but… he’s your best guy. You have to give him a 10-gamer, hope you don’t stumble out of the gate, and deal. Aside from that, this is the perfect Nellie-Ball team. No rebounding to speak of, shooters everywhere you look, and the possibility of a Steven Jackson-Corey Maggette fight, which I would pay good money to watch.

THIS is more like it.

THIS is more like it.

What I meant to say:

Anthony Randolph looked like a black Dirk for the last half of the season. Unfortunately, Don Nelson coached on coast for the entire season, and Randolph got no playing time. No rebounding to speak of and shooters everywhere you look doesn’t equal good in the West.

Los Angeles Clippers:

Motto:”We had a big offseason… do we matter yet?”

Major Acquisition: PG Baron Davis, C Marcus Camby

Major Loss: PF Elton Brand

Ceiling: 40-42, out of playoffs.

Floor: 35-47, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 19-63, out of playoffs.

What I said:

The answer is no, you guys DON’T matter yet. Sorry. Several things about this team intrigue me: rookie Eric Gordon, the Marcus Camby/Baron Davis signings, Al Thorton’s development, which Tim Thomas will show up this year. But it’s the Clippers. I just can’t bring myself to put them in the playoffs. Plus, they have Ricky Davis… that’s good for at least three spats with Dunleavy right there.

What I meant to say: I was right to be intrigued by Eric Gordon, my third-favorite rookie guard. Baron Davis was hurt early, the team (…and fans. And media.) quit on Mike Dunleavy. The addition of Blake Griffin will make this team better, but the firing of Dunleavy (that hasn’t happened yet) will make this team MUCH better.

Los Angeles Lakers:

Motto:”Bynum: Back With a Vengeance.”

Major Acquisition: None

Major Loss: None

Ceiling: 59-23, 1st in the Western Conference, NBA Champs

Floor: 55-27, 4th in the Western Conference, Loss in the Western Conference Finals.

Actual Results: 65-17, 1st in the Western Conference, NBA Champs

What I said:

Says it all.

Says it all.

All signs point to this being the class of the West. They have the single best player in the league (Kobe), it’s clearly HIS team (important for the man’s psyche) and they didn’t lose anything from last year’s team. Not much else to say.

What I meant to say:

See above.

Phoenix Suns:

Motto:”We’re slowing down… just like our Point Guard!”

Major Acquisition: None

Major Loss: None

Ceiling: 55-27, 5th in the Western Conference, second-round exit.

Floor: 50-32, 7th seed in the Western Conference, first-round exit.

Actual Results: 46-36, out of playoffs.

What I said:

The window on this team being championship-worthy is shut. Gone, kaput, see you later, babe. They have the talent to be competitive, but they’re too old (just like everything else from Arizona. Yes, Senator, I am staring DIRECTLY at you). Their best bet is to put it in neutral for two or so years, draft smart, put more pieces around Amare and Barbosa (who I would feel a lot better about if he didn’t disappear at times), and try to emulate the Jazz. What they’re going to do is push HARD this year (especially the Diesel) but they won’t make it. If this team had kept Joe Johnson happy… damn.

What I meant to say:

Nash aged noticeably (especially on the defensive end), they had a coaching identity crisis through the first half of the season, and they STILL just missed a playoff spot. Unfortunately, what I said in October still hold true: Their championship window is glued closed right now.

Sacramento Kings:

Motto:”You have absolutely no reason to watch us play. None.”

Major Acquisition: PG/SG Bobby Jackson

Major Loss: SF Ron Artest

Ceiling: 35-47, out of playoffs.

Floor: 30-52, out of playoffs.

Actual Result: 17-65, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Um.. yeah, the motto says it all. With the Definitely Insane Ron Artest gone, this team has nobody you should care about. Their best player is a 7 foot tall white dude who is known for his passing (Brad Miller). You can’t sucker me into watching this, no way.

What I meant to say:

…uh, they traded their best player (and their second best player) at the trade deadline, and I honestly NEVER saw this team play. I don’t know what they’re missing, I don’t know what they can do to get better, I just know they are in the wrong division if they want to make the playoffs anytime soon.

Southwest Division: So badass, it’s the only division that gets its own Motto.

Motto:”This is Texas. Of COURSE We’re Badass.”

Dallas Mavericks:

Motto:”We’re MAVERICKS! Just like McCain!”

Major Acquisition: None

Major Loss: None

Ceiling: 55-27, 5th seed in the Western Conference, Western Conference Finals exit.

Floor: 50-32, 8th seed in the Western Conference, first round exit, Mark Cuban kills a puppy.

Actual Result:50-32, 6th seed in the Western Conference, second round exit, Mark Cuban insults Kenyon Martin’s mom.

What I said:

New coach, same team. Avery WAS wound kinda tight, but I liked him, he got Dallas to play D. Anyway, this team is solid top-to-bottom. Dirk is still a top-10 guy in the league, Jason Terry still plays a good sidekick, and Josh Howard can light up… opposing defenses. ( Ha! See what I did there, I made fun of his weed… ahh, forget it.) There are just better teams in the West than them. That simple.

What I meant:

Jason Terry was an EXCELLENT 6th man. Dirk was still a top-10 guy in the league. And Kidd looked more comfortable under Carlisle. But they lost to a better team in the playoffs. That simple.

Houston Rockets:

Motto:”This year…we make it out of the first round!”

Major Acquisition: SF Ron Artest.

Major Loss: PG/SG Bobby Jackson.

Ceiling: 56-26, 4th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.

Floor: 52-30, 7th seed in the Western Conference, first-round exit.

Actual Results: 53-29: 5th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.

What I said:

The addition of Ron Artest makes this team dangerous. However, it’s also what makes them very unpredictable. Other questions abound: Can Rafer play like he did during the win streak? Will the chemistry be affected negatively or positively by Battier coming off the bench? Can Tracy make it? Watch and see.

What I meant:

The Motto rings true! Artest was a help, not a hindrance. Aaron Brooks really came into his own after the Rafer trade, and they gave the NBA champs all they could handle for six-and-a-half games. When your best player breaks his foot midway through your biggest playoff series in 6 years and you still take it to seven games, you can’t be mad about how the season ended.

Memphis Grizzlies:

Motto:”Please… let us up. Please? *Ribs Crack* Oh, that wasn’t good…”

Major Acquisition: PG OJ Mayo.

Major Loss: SG Mike Miller.

Ceiling: 37-45, out of playoffs.

Floor: 30-52, out of playoffs.

Actual Results:24-58, out of playoffs.

What I said:

Ok, so I like Mike Conley. I like OJ Mayo. That’s it. They only reason I would watch this team is if OJ turns out to be a stud. This year. Not gonna happen.

What I meant:

When OJ turns out to be a stud, I will check on them periodically while reminding myself they will forever suck because no free agents will sign there.

New Orleans Hornets:

Motto:”You thought we were lucky last year. We’ll just be MORE lucky this year.”

Major Acquisition: SF James Posey

Major Loss: None

Ceiling: 58-24, 2nd seed in the Western Conference, NBA Champs.

Floor: 54-28 , 4th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.

Actual Result: 49-33, 7th seed in the Western Conference, first-round exit.

What I said:

Danger! Danger! Danger! Future of the league approaching! CP3 is Isiah Thomas v. 2.0, and as such he makes everybody around him better. Like, the hot dog guys in the first couple rows are great at what they do BECAUSE ofCP3. He’s that good. And they added James Posey for playoff experience, which that got plenty of last year. As long as Peja

"You wanted my big man gone. I'm done listening."

"You wanted my big man gone. I'm done listening."

doesn’t go sub-zero in the postseason, they’re as dangerous as anyone in the league.

What I meant:

They’d be as dangerous as anyone in the league… if CP3 (and subsequently, the team) didn’t quit on Byron Scott after the Tyson Chandler fiasco. If/When they get a new coach, they will be a team to watch once more.

San Antonio Spurs:

Motto: “03..05…07…09. ‘Nuff said.”

Major Acquisition: None

Major Loss: None

Ceiling: 56-26, 3rd seed in the Western Conference, NBA Champs.

Floor: 53-29, 6th seed in the Western Conference, second-round exit.

Actual Result: 54-28, 3rd seed in the Western Conference, first-round exit.

What I said:

Will they carry on tradition? It’s possible. The core of Ginobilli, Duncan, Parker is intact (well, Ginobilli is hurt for the

The only time this is going to happen now is in practice.

The only time this is going to happen now is in practice.

first 20 or so games, but that doesn’t matter, they play their best basketball late in the season) and that’s enough. One day, though, the rest of this team is going to get old. And that day is coming soon, sad to say.

What I meant:

They didn’t carry on tradition, but they did get kind of old. Last year, there’s no way Tim Duncan lets them lose to Dallas in the first round. This year… the man did his best, but he doesn’t have the 35-16-6-3’s in him anymore. This team will continue to be in the top of the West, but some new blood (Richard Jefferson? WHAT?) is necessary.

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