by Craig Kwasniewski
The Association Blog is up a ready to go for the 2008-09 season! I'm rested, I'm rejuvenated and I'm just about over Game 4...
So let's get this thing rolling with 5 predictions for the 2008-09 season (BTW - for those of you keeping score at home, I was an embarrassing 2 of 5 in my predictions last season):
1 - Houston slightly edges out Philadelphia as most overrated. The easy pick for most overrated team is Philly. Elton Brand coming off a serious injury joining a team with zero perimeter shooting and a point guard notorious for being a great player on a bad team but a below-average player on a good one. That's an easy first round exit!
Nope, Houston wins the award for most overrated team of the season. Fresh off another yet another first round exit, destroying along the way all the good memories of that winning streak (seriously what was it: 17, 23, 87? I really don't know. All I know is I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!) the Rockets bring in Ron Artest.
Size up the rings, roll out the parade and drop a banner! Forget that the current dynamic duo is injury prone and have never advanced beyond the first round IN THEIR ENTIRE CAREER. Forget that their head coach while a good regular season coach is notorious for getting a case of sphincter-itis beyond April. Forget that the point guard should be running along side Tha Professor at Rucker Park instead of lining up against CP3, Deron Williams, Tony Parker and Steve Nash. Oh and forget that your NBA title hopes fall on the shoulders of Ron Artest.
2 - The Boston Icon Curse is VERY real! No I'm not talking about the quality of women from Beantown. The new curse involves the sporting icons from Boston. SNAP!!! Tom Brady blows out his knee, then POP!!! goes the Papi's wrist (along with a very clutch .186 in the postseason)... So which "icon" on the Celtics gets it? Obviously to everyone not named Paul Pierce (who's STILL thinks he's an elite player, though he somehow forgot all those "elite" seasons before Garnett bailed his ass out), a KG injury would severely hamper any shot at a repeat. Look I'm not wishing any injuries on the Celtics, but still....
3 - San Antonio's every other streak ends. If the pattern held to form the Spurs would be NBA champs in 08-09. They won titles in 02-03, 04-05 and 06-07 impressively with mid-February runs after coasting though the first half of the season. Manu's hurt, they lack that "it" energy guy they seem to always find and their veterans are O-L-D. The Spurs are at their best with Duncan resting through All-Star break riding Manu's energy through the first half. Now they have to hope Duncan has a full 82 games in him this year. I can't see it happening. We're two years away from the phrase, "Tim Duncan's corpse."
4 - LeBron James will win the MVP! Hard to believe but with all the Chris Paul love LeBron James is officially under the radar. It's like the NBA media is strictly monogamous, they can only drool on one guy a year. Last season they "dated" LeBron, then Kobe and CP3 now they're in a fully committed relationship with Paul and have issued an MVP Save the Date for May. Did they not see King James in the Olympics? The guy seems prime and ready for a massive season (like Jordan in 1987). Remember, the Cavs came a few minutes shy of knocking of the Celtics literally weeks after retooling their roster? Now LeBron gets a full season with this roster and he looks prime to take the MVP.
5 - Lakers will beat the Cavs in the Finals. Cleveland has the right pieces and more importantly the Celtics lost two HUGE components in James Posey and PJ Brown from last season's title. LeBron will prevail in a hard-fought 7 game series over Boston to earn a place in the Finals.
The Lakers will struggle early on trying to fit Andrew Bynum into the same roster that won the Western Conference but things will start to turn around in December. They have the deepest team in the NBA, despite being crushed by Tom Thibodeau in the Finals (come-on we all know Doc did nothing) they still have one of the best coaches ever, they got a full preseason of Pau Gasol and oh and by the way, they still have the best closer in the NBA. Do they have that toughness necessary to win a title? Can they win with two 5's on the floor? Will Kobe hold up after a long and busy off season? Will Odom's and Bynum's contract situations be distracting? Will the Buss family hold together or will they unravel like is years past? This is LA, there's always drama and the Lakers seem to rise above it. Their depth will allow Kobe to rest up and get them through the annual rash of injures that come in early January. And they will win the 2008-09 NBA Title!