Here Comes the 2010-11 NBA Season!

With the 2010-11 NBA season here I was reflecting back on all the posts I intended to pen before today.  I decided to compile the answers I provided for the ESPN.com Summer Forecast (if you missed it or simply want to take a lap around the summer pool for a refresher, click on this link and follow the links on the sidebar for the other sets of predictions).  I do not get to write about the league as a whole as much as I would like and this is my chance to dazzle you all with my significant knowledge of teams other than the Nuggets.  Or not.  Well, here we go anyway.

2010-11 Predicted Records – West
Team Record Division Conference
Los Angeles Lakers 55-27 1 1
The Lakers are the team to beat, but a year later and after winning consecutive titles, will they be healthy and hungry enough to return to the finals for the fourth straight season?
Oklahoma City Thunder 54-28 1 2
I am a big believer in Kevin Durant. He showed progress in his passing, rebounding and all around stud-ness in the World Championships. I have heard that the top players will not be completely healthy again, but why not? They are all young and durable.
Dallas Mavericks 53-29 1 3
You know what you are going to get from the Mavs. An impressive regular season and a postseason that is less so.
Portland Trail Blazers 53-29 2 4
Even when they are battling injuries left and right they win 50. Just a solid team, but I have a hunch that We have already seen Brandon Roy’s career year in 2008-09.
Denver Nuggets 52-30 3 5
This was my prediction over the summer when I still thought Melo would take the money and stay in what is clearly the location that gives him the best chance to win. Obviously, my opinoin has changed since then. It is impossible to predict Denver’s record as we do not know when Melo gets traded. I suspect he is dealt soon after December 15 giving them a couple of months to be good and four more to be bad, my prediction is 40-42
San Antonio Spurs 52-30 2 6
I expect a nice contract season from Parker and as long as Parker, Ginobili and Duncan are all reasonably healthy, this team will win 50.
Houston Rockets 51-31 3 7
I love the way Houston plays and that is thanks to Rick Adelman who preaches team defense and ball movement. I expect Yao to make an impact, but I am not sure if simply cutting his minutes down will keep the big man upright for the playoffs.
Utah Jazz 50-32 4 8
The Jazz will win, there is no doubt, but they need to be careful what they wish for in acquiring big Al Jefferson. The offense is predicated on earning easy baskets through executing their flawless system of screens and cuts. Jefferson might gets some easy looks for himself, but could they come at the expense of the plethorea of easy shots for the many?
New Orleans Hornets 44-38 4 9
A healthy Chris Paul makes New Orleans a tough out, but this team peaked three seasons ago, and Paul knows it. Some may recall that after Kenyon Martin rendered David West impotent in the 2009 playoffs I proclaimed West would never again be an All-Star. I think at this point we can call that one good.
Memphis Grizzlies 43-39 5 10
The Grizzlies are a much imporved team, probably better than either of their two playoff seasons with Pau, but they are not a playoff team and they are pretty well locked into the current roster for the forseeable future, that is if they can keep Marc Gasol from fleeing for greener pastures.
Phoenix Suns 42-40 2 11
I was broken hearted seeing Steve Nash in tears following the Suns loss in the Western Conference Finals last spring. My heart breaks for him again realizing he needs to get out of Phoenix if that is not going to be his last shot at a title and knowing he is not going to tap out. Let me be the first to call for him to be dealt to Orlando for Jameer Nelson and cap filler.
Los Angeles Clippers 37-45 3 12
How good can Blake Griffin make this team? Hopefully he can stay healthy so we can find out.
Sacramento Kings 35-47 4 13
I like what is going on in Sacramento. Two tremndous young players and plenty of financial felxibility. Can we please get them a new staduim? Even if it is 30 miles away like Auburn Hills to Detroit. My vote is for Dixon. Sounds like a nice place.
Golden State Warriors 34-48 5 14
With Don Nelson now gone I am afraid we may have lost our late night League Pass buddies. The Warriors were always fun to watch fall behind by 20 at home to the Sixers or Kings and then roar back as the arena erupted. Then again, with some (hopefully) competent leadership now in place, maybe the Warriors will be entertaining for being competitive every night.
Minnesota Timberwolves 22-60 5 15
So bad. Yes Kahn is collecting some talent, but not talent that fits together. Now the light at the end of the tunnel, the arrival of Ricky Rubio, has dimmed considerably. With Rubio’s recent struggles for all to see at the worlds that light might just be a lantern hanging on the wall instead of the sweet caress of daylight.
2010-11 Predicted Records – East
Miami Heat 59-23 1 1
Injuries are already pecking away at this team, and it has to be somewhat of a red light that the big two and a half have played something like three minutes together in the preseason due to various bumps and strains. Wade does not have the history of an iron horse and Bosh has had some injury struggles in Toronto. Still, as long as these guys play together for 65 games, they are going to win 50 of them and as long as two of them are on the floor together they should still be pretty darn good.
Orlando Magic 59-23 2 2
The Magic are as good as ever and despite missing chances to focus solely on his game after filming a movie in China with Carmelo and skipping the worlds Dwight Howard is still a force unlike any other. Did I mention these guys should pursue Steve Nash after the Suns start out 5-10?
Chicago Bulls 52-30 3 1
The Bulls are the team I pick to take the bigget step forward outside of teams who signed LeBron James. I anticiapte a big season from Derrick Rose and Boozer is a great addition for what the Bulls have been lacking. I also like the signing of Kyle Korver. Add in some defensive improvement thanks to the mastermind that is Tom Thibodeau.
Boston Celtics 50-32 1 4
The Celtics are the new Spurs. They may take a couple of embarrassing shellackings during the regular season and you will want to write them off a couple of times, but they will win 50 and be a factor in the playoffs.
Milwaukee Bucks 50-32 2 5
How long before Skiles burns these guys out? With some fresh blood and some improvement from the group of young bucks who are back for more I do not think it will be this season. Winning makes it easier to accept what the coach is pushing and I expect the Bucks to win quite a bit. All you need to know about Milwaukee you saw in their win at the Pepsi Center last season. After pulling out an overtime win in Sacramento they rolled into town on the dreaded Pacific time to Mountain time overnight treck, the scenario that typically guarantees the Nuggets a W, and outplayed the Nuggets from start to finish.
Atlanta Hawks 48-34 3 6
Rougly the same bunch as last season. Likely a similar reasult.
Washington Wizards 44-38 4 7
When I made this prediction, I was looking forward to a backcourt of Gilbert Arenas and John Wall simply demolishing teams on the offesnive end of the court. Not sure that is going to happen after Arenas’ shaky preseason and injury concerns plaging him into the regular season.
New York Knickerbockers 41-41 2 8
The Kncks will be better just not very much better. Amare is a great talent, but I epxect a drop off in his efficiency without Nash and the three point gunners that surrounded him earning him easy looks whenever he wanted them. I do not think Knicks fans are going to be overly excited about their team come January.
Charlotte Bobcats 35-47 5 9
Love the way they play, but they are a point guard away from being a tough palyoff team. I still think they make sense as a destination for Chauncey after the Nuggets cut bait on Melo.
New Jersey Nets 32-50 3 10
The Nets are a team that would have been better off sitting out free agency and preserving their cap space. They are in short term digs in Newark and while no one likes to see a team struggle so badly, are they really better off with the money and long term deals they dished out in the summer? It does not make them much better and might handcuff them financially in a year or two when they are searching for one final piece to build a contender.
Indiana Pacers 31-51 11 1
Not much you can say about the Pacers. Bland and so mediocre. At least they are finally going to have some payroll flexibility after this season.
Detroit Pistons 30-52 4 12
I cannot blame Joe Dumars for trying to rebuild the Pistons when he did. He just did a horrible job executing it. So many bad decisions. I believe I could make a pretty good argument Dumars has been worse than Kahn the past couple of years.
Philadelphia 76ers 30-52 4 13
Elton Brand is a shadow of his former self. Andre Iggoudala is a complimentary player forced to be an alpha dog. Not sure why Doug Collins was brought in and now the number two pick in the draft and the biggest reason for hope amongst Sixer fans is looking like a bit of a bust. At least Jrue Holiday looks like a nice player.
Cleveland Cavaliers 27-55 5 14
Ugh. How did LeBron make this bunch look so good? I loved J.J. Hickson on draft night and I like him more now. He is going to be solid so at least they have one piece to build around.
Toronto Raptors 24-58 5 15
Double Ugh. What an ugly roster. Good thing Canadians are mild mannered.

In addition to regular season records there were a number of other categories we were asked to project.

Category Answer
Rookie of the Year DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins is going to be a double-double machine from the second he steps on the court. He has great touch around the rim and has displayed some nice touch from the perimeter. To be honest, if Blake Griffin is healthy he will probably be the pick, but I am not going to bank on Griffin being healthy any more than on Josh McDaniels.
Best Newcomer LeBron James
Even without Bosh LeBron with Wade makes Miami a contender. How can you not be intrigued, good or bad, by how Miami’s season goes?
Worst Newcomer Hedo Turkoglu
Toronto fans were practiclaly gouging their eyes out whenver he took the court. I love Nash as much as anyone, but if he can make Turkoglu look anything close to a player equal to his contract we should give him some kind of basketball Nobel prize. I expect to see Suns fans as disappointed in Turk as Toronto fans were and I am not talking two years from now.
Returning Player Most Want to See Blake Griffin
He can rebound, score, pass and throw down like few others in the league. I pray he stays healthy for at least one season to see what he can accomplish. At one time I wrote that Griffin looked like a stud simply because of the caliber of the other draft picks in his class was so low. Boy was I wrong. This guy is a unique talent.
MVP Kevin Durant
LeBron can act indignant all he wants. No one cares more than Durant and if he takes as big of a step as I believe he will, and we saw glimpses of what he can do in Turkey, I cannot wait to see how amazing he can be.
Team Turmoil Denver Nuggets
Even though when I made this prediction I expected Melo to remain a Nugget, I expected the constant questions to weigh the team down. Now it looks like Denver is poised to take the biggest plunge out of any team in the West. I cannot imagine keeping Chauncey around once Melo is dealt and from there the ground is the limit.
Team Turnaround Chicago Bulls
I already wrote about how I love the Bull’s offseason additions, both on the court and on off. Even with Boozer out with an owie pinky I expect the Bulls to do well.
Best Management Change Golden State Warriors
Following up the previous regime in Golden State is like following William Hung on American Idol.
Worst Management Change New Jersey Nets
Mikhail Prokhorov sounds like fun, but Billy King? Really? I bet King was bummed he was not able to pry Willie Green from the Sixers.
Best Coaching Change Chicago Bulls
My pro-Bulls bent continues. The history of assistant coaches who are specialists on the defensive end is not great, but I think with the Bulls offensive talent if Thibodeau can get them playing good, defense the Bulls will be in great shape.
Worst Coaching Change Los Angeles Clippers
Vinny Del Negro may not have been quite the disaster he was made out to be, but was anyone sad to see him go? Even so, not sure why he got a second chance to quickly.
Best Free Agent Signing Bulls – Carlos Boozer
Boozer has his limitations, but with the track record of big time free agent signing what it is, and by that I mean not good, this one is both a decent value and fit.
Worst Free Agent Signing Knicks – Amare Stoudemire
Amare is a force, but he does not rebound, nor does he play defense. He is not the corner stone of a championship team, but he is paid like one and with no other top notch free agents he is thought to be one by default. With his injury history I think the Knicks are going to deeply regret this signing in a couple of seasons.
Whose Team is the Heat Dwyane Wade’s team
The Heat are 100% Dwyane Wade’s team.  LeBron proved he did not want his own team.  Once you give that up, you do not get it back, ask Roy Tarpley. Also, Wade and Haslem were just voted captains. It is not like there were a lot of holdovers from the old Heat roster who could override the new guys. Haslem simply earned more votes than LeBron. If there are going to be chemistry issues you can start with the vote for captains.
Will LeBron Average a Triple Double Absolutely not
If he could not do it in Cleveland when he was the only playmaker on the team how will he do it in Miami with Wade eating up his passing opportunities?  I am also not sold he will feel the need to mix things up inside night in and night out to averrage double digit boards.
Most Wins for Miami in a Season 65-69
What are the chances they get board with the regular season?  Probably equal to the chances Blake Griffin gets injured, the Pacers end up being wildly mediocre and David Kahn does something that makes us all scratch our heads.
Titles for the Heat 2
Someone, somewhere will rise up to challenge these guys although that team will not feature a frontcourt of Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.  It probably will feature Kevin Durant.
Heat: Good for the NBA or Bad Bad for the NBA
Everyone loves to hate somebody, and the Heat give NBA fans that fix.  Plus there is a great deal of attention on the league this season to see how the Heat do. However, if this leads to a new era of two or three or four super teams battling it out in the finals the regular season becomes meaningless along with the other 26 teams in the league. If there were any Bobcats fans, they would know what I am talking about.
Will There be a Lockout Yes
I voted for the option that read: Lockout all of 2011-12 and postseason. I was at the peak of pessimissm when I answered this question. Chris Sheridan made a compelling case why the league and players will reach a compromise early next summer, primarily with the NFL facing the same issues David Stern will not lose a chance to eat into their market share should sports fans be without pro football next fall. Still, I expect some games to be missed because of the state of the economy and the fact the owners are going to demand one of the three big concessions, a one third reduction in salary and benefits, a hard cap and non guarnateed contracts, they have demanded early on in the nogotiations. I cannot see the union agreeign to any of those, while the owners have the biggest stick in negotiations. It could, and probably will, get ugly.
Melo’s team in 2011-12 Denver Nuggets
Obviously I was dead wrong. An indescribable surge of optimism must have overtaken me.
Chris Paul’s team in 2012-13 Dallas Mavericks
I played a hunch here, but a few weeks later, here is my rationale. With Melo in New Jersey and Amare fighting injuries I think Mark Cuban finally pulls off a big deal and lands a superstar to run with Dirk as his career winds down.
East Champion Miami Heat
In the NBA you need to get scoring out of your wing players to win. Who can else can throw atheltic defenders like Wade and LeBron at opposing twos and threes? They are weak in the middle, but with talent like this, you can win without stellar bigs.
West Champion Oklahoma Cith
Most people are dismissing the Thunder this season. My point of view is look at what a difficult series they gave the Lakers last season. I do not think the Lakers are going to be better this season because Kobe is wearing down. I do think the Thunder will be better and I expect them to prove it. We saw how Carmelo Anthony was able to figure out how to score on a defender after getting enough chances at him. Early in Carmelo’s career Bruce Bowen gave him fits. After matching up against him in a playoff series, Melo absolutely owned Bowen. I believe Durant is capable of learning how to score on a tough defender in Artest as Melo did with Bowen. Maybe this is wishful thinking as I am hoping and praying that Durant fills the role of foil for the Heat, but I honestly beleive he is not far away.
NBA Champion Miami Heat
The Thunder may be able to get past the Lakers, but not the Heat. This version of the Heat is not going to be their best team. As John Hollinger pointed out a few weeks ago. They will be able to add more players every year. Even so, this is the perfect time for Miami to put this team together. I think Boston and the Lakers will take a step back, while teams like the Bulls and Thunder are not quite there yet. Orlando will be the biggest challenger, but I do not think they will be able to score with LeBron and Wade hounding Vince Carter and the other perimeter scorers the Magic possess.
Player of the Decade Kevin Durant
Durant is 22 and already one of the best two or three players in the NBA. He loves the game and is going to work his tail off every season to get better. LeBron may be upset about everything people are saying and tweeting about him, but until he proves it in the offseason and starts adding to his game I will be dubious of how much he really wants to dominate.
Team of the Decade Oklahoma City Thunder
I expect the Thunder to be one of the top four teams in the NBA this season along with the Heat, Magic and Lakers. They still have cap flexibility and players are going to want to play with the core they have in place. I think we could have a replay of the Celtics and Lakers in the Thunder and Heat. I give the Thunder the edge because of youth, health and Durant.

I am bullish on the Bulls and Kevin Durant. I believe he is a special player that only comes along every few years who is not only talented, but driven and possessing a killer instinct that allows him to will his team to victory. I cannot wait to see how good Durant is in five years considering how special he is now.

If you are looking for some more up to date Nuggets coverage from a season preview standpoint, you can check out this post. Due to the unknown future of Carmelo Anthony it is almost silly to try to preview this season from a team standpoint so I did not do my regular preview type post.  You can read my submission to Celtics Blog’s season preview series here.

Andrew over at Denver Stiffs took the time to rank all 30 teams by conference as well.  You can check out his list here.

By the way, can we get some more Nuggets blogs out there?  Obviously I do a great job of covering the team (tongue pressed firmly in cheek) and Denver Stiffs is a very good fan site.  Aside from that there are only  two Nuggets blogs which are kept updated, Nugg Love and the Nugg Doctor.  If you know of a consistently updated Nuggets blog, please let me know about it.

J.E. Skeets previews the Nuggets season for The Basketball Jones (which now is a TV show – way to go guys!) as only he can.

And of course, we cannot complete any post without doing our part to feed the Carmelo Anthony media frenzy.  I answered a couple of Carmelo Anthony questions for Rahat over at the TrueHoop Network Rockets blog Red94.net.

The season is upon us and I doubt there will be a dull moment for Nuggets fans.  You can look forward to a season full of Daily Dime Live, game recaps, more Carmelo trade rumors and we are adding a couple more writers to help keep the coverage flowing.  Thanks for reading and gird your loins for a bumpy ride.

Before we go, here is one last set of links in the Celtics Blog season preview series for the Southwest Division:

Grizzlies:  Straight Outta Vancouver3 Shades of BlueSBN Recap

HornetsAt the HiveHornets247 SBN Recap

MavericksMavsMoneyball The Two Man Game

RocketsThe Dream ShakeSBN Recap

SpursPounding the RockProject SpursSBN Recap

All Previews at SBNation

  • DH

    Comments:

    OKC: If I was forced to pick a second favorite team, this would be it. What’s not to like? It’s a smart, athletic, unselfish team with a superstar whom every other superstar should emulate. But I think people are going overboard on their expectations for the Thunder. I think they might be a more likely candidate to take a small step back than a big step forward. It’s not that they’ve gotten worse. It’s just that they have a much bigger bullseye on their backs, and high expectations can be tough on a team that’s experiencing them for the first time. Also, they didn’t have to deal with adversity last year, and it’s rare to have such smooth sailing for two years in a row.

    Durant: I’m as impressed with him as everyone else is. But I think people might want to slow down a little on the expectations for him, too. He’s still pretty young, and he might have some bumps in the road ahead of him before he becomes the best player in the league (if he ever achieves that level). Right now, I would have to give the MVP edge to Kobe (as much as I hate to). I would say LeBron, but I agree with people who don’t think his contributions can stand out as much on such a loaded team.

    Cousins: Doesn’t Blake Griffin bring the same things to the table? And he’s more polished and much more emotionally stable. I think the ROY is Griffin’s to lose. Sure, he might get hurt. But so could Cousins and Wall (although they don’t have the Clippers Curse to worry about).

    Milwaukee: Everyone seems to have them down for 50+ wins. They have some good young talent, but I see them as another team that could take a step back this year.

    Clippers: It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were to sneak into the playoffs.

    Houston: My pick for the surprise team in the West. I think they could be as high as a 2-seed and could do some damage in the playoffs. Of course, Yao has to remain relatively healthy.

    Orlando: If anyone other than the Lakers can match up with Miami, I think it’s Orlando. I’m glad to see there’s someone besides me who rates Orlando highly.

    Lakers: NBA champs until proven otherwise. I think they made very smart moves in acquiring Blake and Barnes. And I think Miami will need more than a year together, and probably another piece or two, before they can knock off L.A. By the way, if L.A. plays Miami in the finals and I find myself rooting for either one of them, my head might explode. What a nightmare.

    Boozer: Best free agent signing? Not LeBron? I’m scratching my head over that one.

    Melo: I think he’s going to be outstanding (until he’s traded). I think he’s had a lot of time to reflect on what went wrong last year. I think he’s heard the criticism, and I think he will respond. Of course, I wouldn’t bet any money on it.

    Nuggets: I’m interested to see what happens with so many players essentially playing for their next contract. Who will respond by trying to inflate their stats? Who will be smart enough to realize that teams aren’t looking for me-first players? If the majority try to improve their value by playing smart and tough on both ends of the court, this team could be great until Melo is traded.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Hey DH, some of the questions were multiple choice and LeBron was not eligible for the best free agent signing, probably just to make sure there was some variety in the answers.

      As far as Carmelo goes, he started last season playing like a fiend on both ends of the floor and that faded. Part of my problem with him is he does not seem to be able to sustain a high level of play throughout the season. He definitely gets board playing D.

  • http://nerdnumbers.wordpress.com Dre

    Jeremy,
    You think losing Carmelo could cost the team 12 wins. While I don’t think he’s worth it, if his minutes are taken by Harrington and the Nuggets do something crazy like include Birdman then actually not an off assessment.

    In some self promotion, I blog for the Wages of Wins Network and while I do post about league wide stuff, I am a Denver fan and have posted a lot of Denver angles (http://nerdnumbers.wordpress.com/suggestions-to-the-nuggets/), also I have a weekly trivia question and as a spoiler if I can get a current or former Nugget (Marcus Camby is great) as an answer I try and make it happen.

  • Chris Coutts

    Hey Jeremy,

    Love your work, but have you been busy or something? I’ve never seen so many typos and grammatical errors on your posts!

    More seriously, though, you’re putting a hell of a lot of pressure on the Thunder. I’m really looking forward to watching them in action this season (having just invested in League Pass, so I can see games here in Australia that involve teams other than Boston, Orlando, LA or Miami)…

    And whilst Cousins was impressive, and will get plenty of opportunities for the Kings (let’s be honest – when your competition is Samuel Dalembert, you should be getting minutes), Blake Griffin has been a monster. I like a gamble, and early in the pre-season, I got odds of $4.00 against Griffin, whilst John Wall was paying $2.70.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. Your blog gives me a different view of my team – and can’t wait to see how our team looks come the trade deadline.

    Cheers,

    Couttsy

  • http://mugstats.com Daren Henry

    In the beginnings of this NBA Lockout several NBA and NFL athletes have teamed up to create this funny video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51rdAN0Y2xI