OKLAHOMA CITY, December 18, 2011—Albeit shortened by the lockout, the NBA regular season is set to tip-off on Christmas day. It’s going to be a mad dash for the playoffs with 66 games crammed into the schedule, with teams playing back to back to backs some weeks.
This time frame is actually kind of nice. The country is too focused on football in late October/early November when the NBA season usually starts, Christmas is a marquee date for opening day and having the regular season end later in April pushing the finals back to the last week in June is great.
There have already been some major stories with the Chris Paul trade and Kobe Bryant getting divorced. We’ll see how much affect it has on the season.
My NFL predictions column may have been one of the worst in history, so let’s see if that streak can stay alive with an NBA preview and predictions.
So here are more somewhat bold predictions:
The Clippers will finish with a better record than the Lakers.
Not sure how much of a bold statement this is. Right now the Lakers are better because they still have Kobe and Pau Gasol. The fast paced schedule is better for the a younger team like the Clippers. Give the Clips some time to gel and by the end of the season they will be over their Staples Center roommates.
Kobe will demand a trade.
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Kobe Bryant is furious about the CP trade to the Clippers and the Lamar Odom trade to Dallas. Kobe has asked to be traded before and it didn’t happen. Him being angry could go one of two ways. Either he pouts and tries to force them to get rid of him or he goes on a tear and plays lights out. Kobe isn’t the player he once was and he claims to be healthy for the first time in five years so this could go either way. In the end, the Lakers won’t trade him because they could never get equal value for him and LA needs a star.
The Rookie of the Year will be a Timberwolf.
Derrick Williams was the second player taken in last year’s draft while Spain’s Ricky Rubio is finally coming stateside. The two of them together could be a nice combination. Either of them could have a great year to lock down the ROY award. Throw in Malcolm Lee in the mix as well.
The East is better than the West now.
There are four teams that have a real shot of making the finals from the East in Boston, Miami, Chicago and Orlando (if they keep Dwight Howard). You could maybe throw New York in that argument with the acquisition of Tyson Chandler.
Look at the West. The Mavs lost Chandler, Caron Butler and JJ Barea. Half of Denver’s players are in a Chinese prison (they are stuck in contracts to play in China and can’t get out). San Antonio’s old. The Lakers are all single and sad. Portland, Oklahoma City and Memphis should be good, but better than the top four in the East?
MVP: Kevin Durant
Finals: Heat over Thunder
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