By Craig Kwasniewski
In lieu of a typical bloated NBA preview, here are a few things I think will happen this season:
1. Kobe will be traded to Chicago after December 15th. Wow, another Kobe trade prediction... how original! Yeah but in this case, it *WILL* happen. Laker idiot, Jim Buss loves hustling white guys and Andres Nocioni's new contract prevents any deal before December 15th. I see some sort of deal of Tyrus Thomas, Andres Nocioni and Ben Gordon for Kobe Bryant. Luol Deng will NEVER get traded to the Lakers!!! All Bulls GM John Paxson has to do is wait for the Lakers to panic and lower their demands. Expect a panic from the Lakers especially with a difficult early schedule, Odom still being injured and with all the Kobe distractions.
2. The Celtics will *NOT* advance to the NBA Finals. First off, let me say that I love that the C's are relevant again. And big ups to Danny Ainge for having the balls to roll the dice on Big Three, Part Deux. That being said, the C's are still coached by Doc Rivers and have a second year, unproven player at the point. Much like the 1997 Houston Rockets, the Celtics glaring weakness at the point will eventually be their downfall in the postseason. Plus Rivers will find a way to "Doc up" the season, because he's still the worst head coach in the NBA. Just because Garnett is playing for the C's doesn't mean Rivers suddenly got a prescription to smart pills. Once Rivers is fired, the C's will win it all... in 2008-09.
3. Yao Ming will be exposed as a fraud. Rich Adelman's high-post offense requires a big with high basketball IQ, who's a good passer and a has decent shooting range. I can't see Ming fitting into the fluid, heavy-backdoor cutting offense that Adleman runs. So expect another first round exit in the postseason for the guy. How many coaches do we have to go through to realize that just because he gets a bajillion web hits on NBA.com/china does NOT make him an All-Star?
4. You will be carpet bombed wil a TON of "Melo's finally getting it" stories... and Denver still loses in the first round. The Nike media machine will be in full force with Melo this season.... again. Expect a ton of "Melo and Karl are getting along better than ever" and "Melo's been a great leader" stories as the season goes along. But just like all of his previous playoff efforts, a healthy dose of George Karl choking, Kenyon Martin getting injured, Marcus Camby getting hurt and Melo getting frustrated will lead to yet another disappointing season in Denver.
5. The Phoenix Suns win the NBA Title. Here's a fact: the Spurs NEVER repeat as champs. Maybe it's the guilt of having 2 asterisks to their titles or they get complacent, but they never repeat. Dallas is in emotional shambles. So that leaves it to the Phoenix Suns. They were a few poorly officiated games from winning it last season and with Nash's leadership and another season of basically the same core of players, I see the Suns having the drive (and veteran depth with Hill) to win it all. Suns over the Pistons 4-2 in the 2007-08 NBA Finals.