Monday, February 21, 2011

Your Canon Review 2010-11 NBA Preview Midseason Review

With the NBA on its annual All-Star break, I figured it would be a good time to look back at the predictions I made back in October and see just how well I've done in predicting the 2010-11 NBA season up to this point. My guess is, not that well, but I guess we'll see. If you want, you can see my predictions at this page right here.

Eastern Conference (Conference Rank in parentheses)

Atlantic Division:

Predictions:                                Current Record:
1. Boston Celtics (3)             1. Boston Celtics (1)- 40-14
2. New York Knicks (7)        2. New York Knicks (6)- 28-26
3. New Jersey Nets (11)       3. Philadelphia 76ers (7)- 27-29
4. Philadelphia 76ers (12)     4. New Jersey Nets (12)- 17-40
5. Toronto Raptors (15)        5. Toronto Raptors (14)- 15-41

The Celtics may be a bit long in the tooth, but the NBA's best defensive team is chugging right along with the East's best record and four All-Stars (SF Paul Pierce, PG Rajon Rondo, SG Ray Allen, and PF Kevin Garnett). The addition of PF Amare Stoudemire has brought the Knicks back to respectability and should lead to their first playoff birth in seven years. How far the Knicks go may depend on whether they acquire SF Carmelo Anthony before the trade deadline and whether Amare's knees hold up, but even with Carmelo, it's hard to see the Knicks advancing past the second round. The 76ers have been somewhat of a surprise this year, as they've played really well as of late. With an excellent core of young players led by PG Jrue Holliday, the 76ers seem to have a bright future, although they're still likely a year away from seriously contending in the East. The Nets have seemingly concentrated all their efforts in trying to get Carmelo Anthony. As a result, this has been a lost season for the Nets. The Raptors should have a lot of room under the salary cap, so that's something.

Central Division:

1. Chicago Bulls (4)            1. Chicago Bulls (3)- 38-16
2. Milwaukee Bucks (6)      2. Indiana Pacers (8)- 24-30
3. Indiana Pacers (8)            3. Milwaukee Bucks (10)- 21-34
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (13) 4. Detroit Pistons (11)- 21-36
5. Detroit Pistons (14)       5. Cleveland Cavaliers (15)- 10-46

I expected the Bulls to be pretty good this year, but they've been better than I expected and are look to be legitimate NBA Title contenders. With PG Derrick Rose making the leap to superstardom, the Bulls have a 38-16 record despite missing PF Carlos Boozer and C Joaqium Noah for long periods due to injury. With Noah coming back after the All-Star Break, the Bulls will finally be able to field their whole team, a scary thought for their opponents. The Pacers seem to have found new life under interim coach Frank Vogel. Whether that lasts remains to be seen, but the Pacers really need C Roy Hibbert to become more consistent. The Bucks have taken a big step backwards and are the most disappointing team in the NBA, even with the strong defensive play of C Andrew Bogut. A lack of scoring (the Bucks are the lowest scoring and worst shooting team in the NBA) has been the main problem, and unless PG Brandon Jennings can develop into more of an offensive threat in the second half, the Bucks will struggle to make the postseason. The Pistons have an outside shot at the playoffs, as long as rookie PF Greg Monroe continues to develop. But the Pistons are also looking to trade SF Tayshaun Prince and SG Richard Hamilton, so chances are they're playing for next year. When LeBron James left Cleveland during the offseason, most experts expected the Cavaliers to struggle, and in that regards the Cavaliers haven't disappointed, embarking on a 26 game losing streak at one point this season. The good news is, there's nowhere to go but up for the Cavs.

Southeast Division:

1. Miami Heat (1)              1. Miami Heat (2)- 41-15
2. Orlando Magic (2)         2. Orlando Magic (4)-  36-21
3. Atlanta Hawks (5)          3. Atlanta Hawks (5)- 34-21
4. Washington Wizards (9) 4. Charlotte Bobcats (9)- 24-32
5. Charlotte Bobcats (10) 5. Washington Wizards (13)- 15-39

At the beginning of the season, some were saying that the Miami Heat would challenge the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-10 record. Well, that was a bit of an overstatement. Nevertheless, the Heat are still top contenders to the NBA title, even if they're not head and shoulders above the league. The Magic made two huge trades during the season to acquire SF Hedo Turkoglu, SG Jason Ricahrdson, and PG Gilbert Arenas. While the trades have made Orlando a more dangerous team on offense, they also left the frontline thin, as C Dwight Howard is putting in a lot of minutes. Orlando still can make a title run, provided that Howard isn't completely worn out come playoff time. The Hawks are equally capable of thrilling and frustrating their fans. Even though they have a new coach in Larry Drew, the Hawks have basically the same strengths and weaknesses as last year's team, and it's hard to see them getting past the second round of the playoffs. The Bobcats have a winning record since Paul Silas took over as coach and have a good chance to make the playoffs for the second straight year. They have no chance of getting out of the first round though, despite the best efforts of PF Gerald Wallace. I thought the Wizards would do better than they have this season, as the Wizards seem to have a lot of trouble winning road games. The Wizards are going to go as far as PG John Wall will take them, and despite his talent, he's had some growing pains this season, making the Wizards a very inconsistent team.

Western Conference:
Southwest Division:

1. Dallas Mavericks (3)      1. San Antonio Spurs (1)- 46-10
2. San Antonio Spurs (6)     2. Dallas Mavericks (2)- 40-16
3. Houston Rockets (7)     3. New Orleans Hornets (6)- 33-25
4. New Orleans Hornets (8) 4. Memphis Grizzlies (8)- 31-26
5. Memphis Grizzlies (12)    5. Houston Rockets (12)- 26-31

At the beginning of the season, I thought that the Spurs were a bit over the hill and that while they would have a good season, it wouldn't be a great season. Well here we are at the All-Star Break and San Antonio has the best record in the league, and SG Manu Ginobili has never been better. Even though PF Tim Duncan has lost a step, the Spurs are very much in the Championship hunt. The Mavericks have received a big boost from the newly acquired C Tyson Chandler, and PF Dirk Nowitzki is his usual excellent self. The Mavs' have the pieces to make a title run, especially now that PG Roderique Beaubois is back from injury. PG Chris Paul and PF David West have powered the Hornets to a good start, and as long as they stay healthy, the Hornets should return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Grizzlies are getting the job done despite SG O.J. Mayo taking a step back. However, with SF Rudy Gay out for a month due to an injured shoulder, odds are that the Grizzlies will not be able to hold on to their current position of 8th in the Western Conference. The Rockets are a good team that would probably coast to a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, but despite the play of SG Kevin Martin and PF Luis Scola, the Rockets look like a team that will be on the golf course instead of in the playoffs come April.

Northwest Division:
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (1) 1. Ok. City Thunder (4)- 35-19
2. Utah Jazz (4)                 2. Portland Trailblazers (5)- 32-24
3. Denver Nuggets (5)                3. Denver Nuggets (7)- 32-25
4. Portland Trailblazers (10)       4. Utah Jazz (8)- 31-26
5. Minnesota Timberwolves (15) 5. Minnesota T'wolves (15)- 13-43

I predicted the Oklahoma City Thunder to finish with the Western Conference's best record during my NBA Preview, and I think I was a bit hasty and proclaiming them an elite team. That being said, the Thunder are still a very good team who could make some noise in the playoffs, but might need another piece or more time before becoming a legitimate NBA contender. Portland's had a lot of injury troubles this year, as C Marcus Camby and SG Brandon Roy have both missed large chunks of the season. However, the 'Blazers are still winning as PF LaMarcus Aldridge is having his best season yet and SG Wes Matthews is actually proving to be worth the big money contract he signed during the offseason. It's hard to predict the future for the Nuggets until the Carmelo Anthony situation is resolved, as there's no telling what the Nuggets roster will look like come Thursday (the day of the NBA trade deadline). The resignation of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan sent shockwaves throughout the NBA universe, and the Jazz haven't played well since Tyrone Corbin took over. The Jazz have enough talent to make the playoffs, but whether PG Deron Williams and company can pull it together remains to be seen. The Minnesota Timberwolves should thank God every day that they have PF Kevin Love, as without him this team would be dreadful. Well, more dreadful than they already are. At least they're not the Cavs.

Pacific Division:

1. Los Angeles Lakers (2)    1. Los Angeles Lakers (3)- 38-19
2. Phoenix Suns (9)                  2. Phoenix Suns (10)- 27-27
3. Los Angeles Clippers (11) 3. G'State Warriors (11)- 26-29
4. Sacramento Kings (13)   4. L.A. Clippers (13)- 21-35
5. Golden State Warriors (14) 5. Sacramento Kings (14)- 13-40

The Lakers got off to a hot start, but recent struggles have caused some panic for the defending champs. As long as SG Kobe Bryant, C Pau Gasol, and PF Lamar Odom are healthy, the Lakers still have to be among the favorites for the NBA title, not matter how poorly SF Ron Artest is playing. The Suns seem to be playing better as of late, and as long as PG Steve Nash is healthy, the Suns should contend for a playoff berth. The Warriors have an outside shot at making the playoffs this year, but they're going to need PF David Lee to step up his game to go with the stellar play of Gs Monta Ellis and Stephon Curry if they want to make the postseason. The Clippers have the most exciting rookie in years in PF Blake Griffin and a budding star in SG Eric Gordon, which makes for a solid foundation to build upon. They won't make any noise this year, but they should be a factor in the postseason picture next year. Then again, it is the Clippers so who knows what will happen. The Kings have an awfully young team, and as such have made a lot of mistakes that a young team tends to make.

Preseason Picks: 

1. Kevin Durant, F, Thunder (28.9 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game)
2. LeBron James, F, Heat (26.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 7.3 assists per game, 1.6 steals per game)
3. Kobe Bryant, G, Lakers (25.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.8 apg)
Dark Horse: Dwight Howard, C, Magic (22.8 ppg, 13.8 rpg, 2.1 blocks per game)

Midseason Picks:

1. James 
2. Derrick Rose, G, Chicago Bulls (24.9 ppg, 8.2 apg)
3. Howard
4. Chris Paul, G, New Orleans Hornets (16.2 ppg, 9.6 apg, 2.5 spg)

The game's biggest star, James has brought his talents to South Beach and is every bit the player he was in Cleveland. Durant leads the NBA in scoring and has a chance to win the MVP, but there are other candidates with better cases than him. One of which is Derrick Rose, who has stepped up his game this season and has the Bulls off to a great start despite injuries to his two best teammates, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Kobe Bryant has been his usual stellar self, although the Lakers recent struggles have taken him out of the MVP picture for now. Howard is the game's best big man, and without his considerable talents the Magic would struggle to make the playoffs. Even though he leads the league in steals, Chris Paul doesn't have the best numbers, but he is the heart and soul of the New Orleans Hornets, and without his play the Hornets would be amongst the Timberwolves and Kings at the bottom of the standings.

Defensive Player of the Year:
Preseason Picks:
1. Howard, C, Magic
2. James, F, Heat
3. Joakim Noah, C, Bulls (24 games played, 11.7 rpg)
Dark Horse: John Wall, G, Wizards (1.7 spg)

Midseason Picks:
1. Howard
2. Rajon Rondo, G, Celtics (2.4 spg)
3. Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks, (2.8 bpg, 11.5 rpg)
4. James

Howard has won the past two Defensive POY Awards, and I see no reason why he shouldn't win his third straight award. As for the other contenders, Rondo has become one of the best, if not the best, on-ball defenders in the NBA, while Bougt is the NBA's leading shot blocker and James continues to reek havoc on the defensive end for the Heat. Noah has missed too many games due to injury to be considered for the award, while I was a little too high about John Wall's defense at this point in his career. To his credit, he would rank in the top 10 in steals per game if he played enough games to qualify.

Rookie of the Year
Preseason Picks:
1. Blake Griffin, F, Clippers (22.8 ppg, 12.6 rpg)
2. John Wall, G, Wizards (15.0 ppg, 8.9 apg)
3. DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, Kings (14.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
Dark Horse: Tiago Splitter, C, Spurs (4.1 ppg. 2.7 rpg)

Midseason Picks:
1. Griffin
2. Wall
3. Landry Fields, F, Knicks (10.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
4. Greg Monroe, F/C, Pistons (7.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

Blake Griffin has been so impressive and is so far ahead of the field that he could take the rest of the season off and win this award in a landslide. The only issue left to settle is who's second. Wall is 7th in the NBA in assists per game, but turns the ball over a bit too much for the Wizards' liking. Fields has been a surprise as the second round pick has started every game for the Knicks and played well. Monroe started slow, but has really come on as of late. Cousins has good numbers and has shown signs of brilliance, but he has also displayed some of the attitude problems that many experts feared he would show, and is awfully inconsistent. Splitter has no shot at this award as he doesn't play nearly enough minutes to make an impact for the Spurs.

NBA Finals Prediction: Heat over Lakers in 6 

As of late, I've made a trend out of changing my picks in the middle of the season, only to have those same picks come true at the end and making me look like a fool for changing my mind. So, even though I'm not really sold on either team's chances (although I do still think that the Heat will win, it's the Lakers getting out of the West that seems unlikely to me), I'm going to stick with my original selection. However, the Celtics, Bulls, Spurs, Mavericks, and maybe even the Magic have good enough teams to win it all this year. But at the end of the day, I still expect LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to carry the Heat to the title.

Well, thanks for reading the Canon Review NBA Preview Midseason Review. Remember, if you have an idea for a future review, or thoughts about this post, than share those ideas either by leaving a comment or sending me an e-mail at  

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