NBA Season Preview: Who will rise, who will fall?

NBA Season Preview: Who will rise, who will fall?

Squares.

It’s that time a year, again. Trees are draped in a kaleidoscope of ambers and bronzes. Crisp breezes chap lips. And with each passing week comes an additional layer of clothing. It’s fall, y’all. It’s fall. And what does the onset of fall signal?

BASKETBALL SEASON.

The crowd goes wild!

Owwwwwww!

I’m excited. You’re excited. I just bought NBA 2k14. Oww!

Anyway, me and Q Guru took some time to weigh in our preseason predictions: Who will fall? Who will rise?

Let us know what you think.

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What Western Conference team do you think will make the biggest leap this season?

Dwight HowardQ Guru: I think this season we’ll see a major leap in the Western Conference standings by the Houston Rockets. The addition of the 3-time DPOY, Dwight Howard, should prove to be a very fruitful investment, especially alongside the bearded assassin that is James Harden. Last season Houston was a team that was all about offense, leading the league in Points Per Game, so they clearly have things figured out on the offensive end. Bringing in a big man to patrol the paint will help them shore up things on the defensive end immensely. And D12 will see plenty of lobs and easy throw-downs thanks to Harden’s outside jumper and penetration. I think the Rockets are due to jump 3-4 spots in the rankings this season.

Rockets vs. WarriorsMicRNS: Though the Rockets are a good pick, I may have to run with the Golden State Warriors on this one. During the offseason they picked up exactly what they needed: Andre Iguodala i.e. perimeter defense. Not only does ya boy, Iggy, add a much needed defensive presence to their squad, he also gives the Warriors some versatility; my man’s a swiss army knife. He can play on ball, he can shoot the passing lane, he can pass the rock, he can shoot the J, he can throw it down — he’s like Lebron . . . if you cut him in half. He’s going to do for the Warriors exactly what he did for Denver — force turnovers, allow them to get out into the open floor, and run, which is where they’re most comfortable. With rumors of Andrew Bogut and David Lee reporting to training camp at 100%, Klay Thompson having another year under his belt, Harrison Barnes having another year under his belt (especially after that monster showing in last years playoffs), Mark Jackson having another year under his belt, and Steph being Steph, it should be a great year for Warriors. I see them jumping 3-4 spots in the West this season.

Also — them Pelicans. Tyrke Evans? Jrue Holiday? A 2nd year Anthony Davis? A stronger and more confident Austin Rivers (based purely off his summer league play)? I see them rising quite a bit this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they snuck in at the eighth seed, especially since the last four spots are such a toss up out west. Minnesota? Portland? Dallas? LA? All of them have a fair shot.

What Eastern Conference team do you think will make the biggest leap this season?

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Q Guru: I think I’m going to cheat on this one by naming two teams. The first of which being the Chicago Bulls. During the 2012-13 season we saw the D Rose-less Bulls pull off and upset in the first round, and also give Miami some trouble with their physicality. With the return of Derrick Rose the Bulls should be poised to secure a top-3 seed for the playoffs and be a perennial title contender. As for the second team, I’m going to show some love to the underdogs and say that the Washington Wizards are likely to make the biggest leap. John Wall has spent much of his first 3 seasons battling injuries, but when he returned at the end of last season you saw the team take their play to a new level. Now I say this with the caveat that BOTH John Wall and Bradley Beal can stay healthy. If that happens I believe that we’ll see Washington in the playoffs for the first time since Gilbert Arenas turned the Wizard’s locker room into a gun show. I think that we’ll see the Wizards leap to the 7th seed this season.

John Wall running

MicRNS: Y’all may not know this . . . but I’m a HUGE fan of John Wall. I have extremely high hopes for the young man. This is his year. Mark. My. Words. He’s going into his 3rd year — healthy —  and finally has a supporting cast worth mentioning. Martell Webster probably had the most redemptive year out of any other player in the league last year. He reminded people that he could play, and play well . . . when he’s not on the IR. Bradley Beal and Wall have had an off-season to get acclimated to one another’s game. Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. were two VERY good pick ups, considering the Wiz are weak at the Small Forward. They both have size, athleticism, can rebound, play D, stroke it from three, and both have relatively high ceilings, in my opinion — let’s just hope they continue to perform at the next level. With the East being as weak as it is, the Wiz should at LEAST be able to nab that eighth spot. I’d go as far as to say they could grab the 5th. But again, I’m a John Wall fan.

What Western Conference team do you think will make have the biggest decline this season?

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Q Guru: Out west I think we’ll see the standings shuffled quite a bit this upcoming season. The Clippers, Grizzlies, Warriors, and Rockets all added talent that gives them each a chance to move up the standings a few pegs. And with teams being on the rise someone has to fall. I think that team will be the Denver Nuggets. Although Denver has a talented, young squad, I think that them — 1) missing Danilo Gallinari to start the season, 2) losing Andre Iguodala to free agency, and 3) letting George Karl walk just DAYS after winning the coach of the year award — may all turn out to be detrimental to their progress. I believe that they’re too talented to fall out of the playoffs altogether, but I do think we’ll see them fall from the surprising #3 seed last year to the #7 seed this year.
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MicRNS: I’m going to have to agree with Q Guru; the West is going to be all over the place. The Nuggets had a heartbreaking off season. Not only did they lose Iggy, but they lost Corey Brewer as well, and he played a huge part in their success regardless of what anyone has to say, especially their defensive success. I don’t think they’ll even be SNIFFING the 3 spot come playoff time. Not with the improvements everyone else made.  7th seed at best. Go Wolves!

What Eastern Conference team do you think will make have the biggest decline this season?

hi-res-143969613_crop_northQ Guru: This one is tough to answer because the Eastern Conference has been dismal essentially since Jordan left the Bulls. The conference appears to be on the rise now that many of the bottom dwellers have acquired young talent, but it’s still a long way from being anything close to the gauntlet that is the Western Conference. I believe that we could see any, if not all, of the bottom-3 seeds(Hawks, Celtics, Bucks) from last season fall out of the playoffs this year. But I feel inclined to say that the Knicks will have the biggest fall from grace this season. With the Pacers adding talent in CJ Watson and Luis Scola and getting Danny Granger back, the Bulls getting Derrick Rose back, and the Nets adding KG and Paul Pierce, I think those 3 teams will vie for seeds 2 – 4. And since the Knicks held the 2nd seed last season, that means that I’ll be expecting them to drop down to #5. Sorry Knicks fans, but I’m not sorry.
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MicRNS: Oh the tragedy that is the Eastern Conference. Wasteland after wasteland after wasteland out that thang. I’ll agree with Q Guru to some extent. The Knicks are definitely going to tumble, but I can’t say I have faith in the Nets. They’re looking pretty ancient these days. Sure, KG and Paul Pierce are perennial all stars, but they’re both on their last leg. We all know Joe Johnson and D-Will don’t play D. Brook Lopez is the slowest man in the NBA. Who’s stopping anybody? Defensive liabilities all around. But they’ll still be a top 4-5 seed. The down right travesty of the Eastern Conference is the Milwaukee Bucks. Two words: Andrew Wiggins.

Who will come out of the Western Conference this season?

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Q Guru: I’m a little hesitant to answer this question since so much has changed in the West since we saw Lebron James holding up the O’Brien trophy for the second year in a row. The Chris Paul fan in me wants to say that the Clippers will come out of the West this year, but it’s hard for me to bet against arguably the most lethal duo in the league in Durantula and Russel Westbrook. But with the Thunder losing Kevin Martin the load may be too much to bear while going through the Western Conference in route to the finals. It will be interesting to see if the other young talent forthe Thunder can step up for them this season, with Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III waiting eagerly to get more tick this season. I believe that they will, and I think that will result in another trip to the Finals for Durant and Westbrook.

kd_crop_northMicRNS: Man. There are too many variables out West. Will Blake Griffin be the man we all know he is? Will D’wight be just what the Rockets needed? Is OKC tired of losing? Will Golden State shoot their way into the finals? Will the Spurs continue to drink from the fountain of youth? Will Kobe purposely injure the star of every team en route to his 6th ring? No one knows. No one knowwsss. However, I’m running with Durantula and Co. Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III will provide plenty of fire power off the bench and OKC will continue to have, arguably, the best chemistry of any other team out west. This is far from their first trip around the block. Durant and Westbrook are winners. That’s the long and short.

Who will come out of the Eastern Conference this season?

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Q Guru: If I would have been asked this question a month ago I would have been hesitant. But with the addition of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley I believe that Miami is poised for another trip to the Finals. The statistics say that the
likelihood of a team making four straight trips to the Finals is extremely slim. But I think the Heat have added just enough to grind through another regular-season, and playoff battles with the Pacers and Bulls. I think we’ll be seeing Durant vs. Lebron part 2, but the ending will be the same. The crown will go to King James.

MicRNS: Lebron James.

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