NBA Checkpoint: A Sneak Peek at the Divisions
The NBA season is moving fast, already almost over 10% complete with the regular schedule. Hey, didn’t the season just start a little over a week ago? ANYWAY, a look at the division level and see teams strong out of the gates and those already digging a hole.
THE EASTERN CONFERENCE
Clearly the New York Knicks have been anointed as early favorites despite a sub (and sinking fast) .500 effort to start. Look at the rest of the division and it’s easy to agree. Should the Knicks make a play for Steve Nash they will escalate from division favorites to conference contender, but until then they will need to hold off the scrappy Philadelphia 76ers (TOO young) and hope the Boston Celtics (TOO old) don’t find the fountain of youth.
This one is easy. The Chicago Bulls were expected to dominate the Central and that looks to be a lock. The question of what happens if Carlos Boozer improves his play has been answered. The Bulls will comfortably run away with their division, leaving the Milwaukee Bucks, a team establishing themselves as the best of the worst, and a pesky Indiana Pacer team that is not ready to compete with the elite, in the dust. Detroit and Cleveland are also in this division, in case you forgot. It just doesn’t get more top heavy than the Central.
This could get interesting. The Miami Heat are hot (pun not intended, but recognized), but Orlando and Mr. Dwight Howard are hanging tough. How bizarre if Howard and the Magic have their most success to date and win the Eastern Conference? Good bizarre. An even bigger surprise has to be Tracy McGrady’s impact with the Atlanta Hawks, making this division the toughest in the Eastern conference, which unfortunately isn’t saying much. In other news, Washington and Charlotte will use 2012 to battle for the label of worst NBA team.
THE WESTERN CONFERENCE
In two years this division is going to be amazing. Oklahoma City is actively making the leap into the top of the league. Portland is deep and in a shortened, compacted season, that may pay off. On some nights it looks like Minnesota is also on their way, other nights, not so much. Two years these two teams (and the Lakers after they get Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose) will be battling for not only the division, but the Western Conference. Also, don’t forget about Denver, they are easy to forget and are always competitive. Okay, maybe THIS year this division is going to be amazing!
Definitely the NOW division, boasting two competitive L.A. teams and a much improved Golden State Warrior team looking to return to the playoff picture. With the Clippers now as MUST SEE NBA it appears the curse has shifted, albeit temporarily, to the Sacramento Kings (don’t worry; I predict this will return to the Clippers…it has to.) What looked to be a promising young nucleus of Evans-Cousins-Jimmer is already falling apart. Did anyone bet Cousins would be the issue? Oh yeah, everyone did.
Seeing the San Antonio Spurs at the top is not strange. Out of the gate New Orleans and Houston followed, but we knew it was only a matter of time before they would make the switch with Memphis and Dallas. Memphis is already making their move, if Dallas doesn’t make their move then look forward to super-entertaining tweets from Mark Cuban for the balance of the season. I do expect San Antonio to hold on, even without Manu, at least for a while. I mean, even if Lob City wins 50 games during the regular season which team do you pick in a playoff showdown: Spurs or Clippers? Me too…
By: David. S. Grant
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