The 2012/13 NBA season is finally upon us! Here is my 100% guaranteed gold standard regular season predictions. From last to first, 5 teams a post. Think I’m wrong? Tell me in the comments.
30. Orlando Magic
Rejoice Charlotte fans the 2012/13 NBA season will see the Bobcats reign as Wooden Spooners come to an end! Oh how times have changed in Orlando. Dwight Howard has made his move to Hollywood and the Magic have been left with an assortment of veterans and career journey man. Arron Afflalo is coming off a career year in Denver averaging career highs in points (15.2 per) and field goal attempts (11.3). Those numbers are sure to increase again as Afflalo somehow finds himself the focus point of an NBA offense. We can also expect the trend of dipping shooting percentages again this season (47.1% FG and 39.8% 3PT) as Afflalo becomes the primary focus for opposing defenses.
The Magic do have some handy players in Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Al Harrington but they would all be better suited as a 3rd or 4th option on a good team than trying to lead a team like Orlando. Nelson will give the team another solid shooting option and is a decent passer, and what Big Baby lacks in skills he makes up for in effort but this team is destined for the lottery. They gave up a number one pick in Dwight Howard but come this time next season my bet is they’ll be boasting another number one pick.
29. Charlotte Bobcats
Things can only get better for the Bobcats after their record breaking season last year, but probably not much better. In the offseason the Cats brought in Ben Gordon who should shoot his way through the last year of the $55 million atrocity of a contract that he signed in 2009. While the number 2 pick in the draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should fill up the boxscores with his versatility and defense. If MKG can develop a reliable midrange jumper he’ll give defenses headaches this year.
One of the biggest problems the Bobcats faced last season apart from their inability to win a game was who would be their point guard of the future. In the end DJ Augustin was let go to Indiana seemingly leaving the starting role for Kemba Walker. However, the signing of Ramon Sessions again casts a shadow over who will start at the one. Walker’s rookie year was a solid one posting 12.1 points, 4.4 assists and 0.9 steals in 27.2 minutes a game. Lets not forget though that last season Sessions was the starting point guard on the Lakers and probably wont take lightly to playing second fiddle to asecond year player on such a bad team. Sessions is more of a pass first point posting 6.2 assists per in his stint with Los Angeles and he also shoots a better clip from the field than Walker. It will be interesting to see if Charlotte goes with youth or experience to run the show next year. Either way we can rest easy knowing they will still probably be one of the worst teams in the league.
28. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are a prime example of why signing a group of me first players never bodes well in a team game. Tyreke Evans (16.5), DeMarcus Cousins (18.1) and Marcus Thornton (18.7) can all put points on the board but that does not always equal wins. Each of these players are a virtual black hole on offense. Throw Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas into the mix and the only time there’s enough balls to go around would be practice.
All of this aside, Cousins looks set for a break through season, expect at least 20 and 10 from the big man. Rookie Thomas Robinson should help provide some help down low and battle for minutes at the four spot with Jason Thompson. Robinson brings toughness, heart and is probably the rookie people most want to see succeed after the heartache he has dealt with.
One big question facing the Kings is whether or not Evans can adjust to playing at small forward. After averaging a record tying 20,5 and 5 in his rookie season at point guard Evans has been pushed to shooting guard and now small forward thanks to the additions of Thornton and Thomas. His numbers have slowly slipped with each position move. Evans’ biggest strength is his ability to get to the ring. Having to play more and more off the ball has forced him to take more jump shots which is not one of his strengths – he hit only 26.4% of jumpers last season. Evans’ ability to finally adjust to playing at the 2 and 3 is something to watch, we may see him in a different uniform at some point during the year if he doesn’t.
27. Washington Wizards
The Wizards went through one of the biggest lineup changes in the league since last season. Out went resident knuckleheads JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche, itchy trigger shooter Nick “SwaggyP” Young and the $21,136,631 man Rashard Lewis. In came veterans Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Nene and Martell Webster, as well as sharp shooting rookie, Bradley Beal. The Wizards are clearly trying to shake the stigma of being one of the leagues stupidest teams by shedding some inexperience in favor of proven vets and brain cells.
John Wall is still the face of the team but it is becoming increasingly unclear whether or not he truly is a franchise player. Wall’s numbers took a small dip across the board last season, but none were more noticeable than his 3 point shooting – down from 29.6% in his rookie season to a dismal 7.1% his sophomore turn. The 2010 number one pick has all the tools to establish himself as one of the leagues premier point guards. Expect his numbers to improve this season now he is surrounded by some more competent finishers and team players.
26. Phoenix Suns
As a Suns fan it kills me to write this, but the post-Steve Nash era will have to get worse before it gets better. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. For the past few season Phoenix has been hovering around the 8th seed in the West solely on the back of Nash and his ability to make players like Channing Frye and the ghost of Michael Redd look like reasonable players. With mediocre seasons comes mediocre picks in the lottery. Couple this with the Suns lack of draft smarts over the past few years – see Robin Lopez pick 15 in 2008, Earl Clarke pick 14 in 2009, as well as trading Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo on draft night – and you’re destined to the cycle of late playoff seeds and late lottery picks.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Suns though. The loss of Nash should be slightly sweetened by the return of Goran Dragic (who should never have been traded for Aaron Brooks) to Arizona. Dragic proved last season that he is belongs in the NBA averaging 18 points and 8.4 assists starting for the injured Kyle Lowry last season. Two other free agent signings from the offseason, Michael Beasley and Luis Scola add depth and scoring to a revamped starting lineup. While Marcin Gortat should continue to add to the 31 double doubles he posted last season – equal for 7th best in the league.
Suns GM Lon Babby has done well to remodel this team without completely bottoming out. They’ve stock piled picks and cap space and hopefully they receive a favorable pick in the draft next year and their time in the leagues lower ranks will not be a lengthy stay.