The NBA season unveils tonight, so it’s a good time to make our predictions, with every division included.
1. Thunder 57-25: I had OKC at 54 wins, but that was before Russell Westbrook started dunking. Give the Thunder three more wins.
2. Timberwolves 45-37: Minnesota will be a far cry better, not just because of the additions like Kevin Martin, but because Kevin Love might stay healthy.
3. Trail Blazers 44-38: I like what Terry Stotts is doing in Portland. Good starting lineup, and now the bench is growing some fangs.
4. Nuggets 40-42: Denver was the 3-seed last year, can you believe it? But I don’t like much of anything about this team, including the removal of coach George Karl.
5. Jazz 18-64: Utah is starting over. Sort of sad for a franchise that most years found a way to stay competitive, even in post-Malone/Stockton.
1. Grizzlies 58-24: I like everything about this team. Even the loss of coach Lionel Hollins might not hurt. Memphis was more than happy to promote assistant Dave Joerger.
2. Spurs 56-26: The rocks of ages. They will be tough to beat come spring.
3. Rockets 52-30: Houston will be better. But how much better? If the Rockets could find a way to trade Omer Asik for another piece, that would help a bunch.
4. Pelicans 41-41: An excellent upgrade. New Orleans has a nice core with Eric Gordon, Jrue Holliday, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, etc.
5. Mavericks 34-48: Dirk Nowitzki has to be standing around, saying, “Where I am?”
1. Clippers 58-24: Doc Rivers will bring some toughness and direction to a talented roster. But can the Clips make the transition to playoff basketball this quickly?
2. Warriors 53-29: I like this team. Lots of different parts for Mark Jackson to play with. Andre Igoudala wasn’t exactly needed, but he will help.
3. Lakers 34-48: When Kobe gets back and teams with Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, LA will be able to score. But these Lakers will stop no one.
4. Kings 30-52: Just a bunch of guys. Some of them — DeMarcus Cousins, Carl Landry — can play, but Sacramento is mostly irrelevant.
5. Suns 21-61: Why would I pick Phoenix to have a better record than Utah? Because the Jazz always knows what it’s doing better than do the Suns. And losing is the best thing for both this year.
1. Netropolitans 51-31: This team won’t jell quickly, with so many new faces and old players. Not even sure it ever will jell.
2. Knickerbockers 48-34: This franchise requires a culture change. Which probably means this franchise requires an ownership change.
3. Raptors 32-50: Jonas Valanciunas is quite the center prospect. OK. I think I’ve just listed every reason for Toronto optimism.
4. Celtics 28-54: Boston is trying to be as bad as it can be, but in this conference and this division, you still can stumble your way to almost 30 wins.
5. 76ers 12-70: One of the worst teams of all-time.
1. Bulls 62-20: Chicago has a team to be reckoned with. Tough, tenacious and Derrick Rose. And the league’s best coach.
2. Pacers 57-25: Indiana has a team to be reckoned with. Tough, tenacious and a bunch of good players. But no Tom Thibodeau.
3. Bucks 40-42: Milwaukee tries. I’ll give the Bucks credit for that.
4. Pistons 39-43: Detroit has remade itself to be mediocre. That usually never works out.
5. Cavaliers 38-44: Everyone believes Kyrie Irving is going to be a breakout star. I don’t have any great reason to disagree.
1. Heat 60-22: Miami will take a few games off. Chicago won’t. So the Bulls get the No. 1 seed.
2. Wizards 38-44: Washington has gotten better. It would have been hard to stay the same.
3. Hawks 32-50: I like Atlanta’s future. I think Danny Ferry knows what he’s doing. But this is the retooling year.
4. Bobcats 27-55: Charlotte’s out of last place! Charlotte’s out of last place!
5. Magic 25-57: More wandering through the wilderness for Sam Presti protege Rob Hennigan.
1-Clippers over 8-Blazers
4-Spurs over 5-Warriors
3-Thunder over 6-Rockets
2-Grizzlies over Timberwolves
1-Bulls over Cavaliers
5-Knicks over Nets
3-Pacers over Bucks
2-Heat over Pistons
Spurs over Clippers
Grizzlies over Thunder
Bulls over Knicks
Heat over Pacers
Grizzlies over Spurs
Heat over Bulls
Heat over Grizzlies