PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
2. OKLAHOMA CITY
HEAD COACH:Â GEORGE KARL
LAST YEAR:Â 53-29
BIGGEST ADDITION:Â AL HARRINGTON
BIGGEST LOSS: NONE
TOP DRAFT PICK:Â NONE
The Denver Nuggets basically stood pat in the off-season, but one loss is looming large, as they don’t appear able to sign Carmelo Anthony and that will really hurt them. This may be the Nuggets’ last chance to do something special. They have the PG in Billups, the strength in Nene, and Martin if they are healthy, to duplicate last year’s 53 wins. They also may have some inspirationl motivation with Coach karl battling cancer. The elements are there for success, and if this group realizes the sand is running through the hourglass, and steps up for 82 gams, thy could find themselves on a par with the Lakers, but it will take good health, and everything they have to do it.
HEAD COACH: SCOTT BROOKS
LAST YEAR:Â 50-32
KEY ADDITIONS:Â NONE
KEY LOSSES:Â NONE
TOP DRAFT PICK:Â COLE ALDRICH
This team was at rock bottom less than two years ago and off to a 2-27 start. Presto! Good draft picks, a superstar player and they are now becoming a bonafide contender as their young talent matures and comes of age. Scott Brooks has done a great job getting all the young talent on the same page, and the upside here is tremendous with Kevin Durant leading the way. If they can keep their corps of young, talented players growing and in tact, this team is going to be making a lot of noise in the NBA in the near future. They have the potential to grow from the 50 wins a year agoÂ to a threat come April.
HEAD COACH:Â JERRY SLOAN
LAST YEAR: 53-29
BIGGEST ADD:Â AL JEFFERSON
BIGGEST LOSS: CARLOS BOOZER
TOP DRAFT PICK:Â GORDON HAYWARD
Jerry Sloan has survived 23 years as a head coach in Utah. Many thought thatÂ when Malone and Stockton departed, he should too, in order to preserve his legacy. Most thought that Utah would fall off the mp, but not true. Last year they went on to win 53 games, and the outlook is bright to equal that this year. Carlos Boozer moves on, but Utah steals Al Jefferson from Minnesota -Â a younger player with a higher ceiling andÂ legit star power. Deron Willias is in the arguement of being the best point guard in the NBA, so the Jazz have that inside-out magic once again. I would not be surprised to see the Jazz back in the 50+ win column once again this season.
HEAD COACH:Â NATE MCMILAN
LAST YEAR: 50-32
BIGGEST ADDITION:Â WESLEY MATTHEWS
BIGGEST LOSS: KEVIN PRICHARD
TOP DRAFT PICK:Â LUKE BABITTÂ F
If you’re the Portland Trailblzers you have to feel confident that you can increase the win total from the 50 won just a year ago. This team was beset with multiple key injuries to star players, that reached seven deep into the roster, yet they still managed to come away with 50 wins. Based on that, this team can certainly add some to the win column, but it remains to be seen if they can stay healthy. They have proved to be an above average NBA team with health issues, so if they can manage to stay healthy this season they can approach the 60-win mark, and be a legit contender to dethrone the Lakers.
HEAD COACH:Â KURT RAMBIS
LAST YEAR:Â 15-67
BIGGEST ADDITION:Â DELONTE WEST
BIGGEST LOSS:Â AL JEFFERSON
TOP DRAFT PICK:Â WESLEY JOHNSON
Questions abound as to what this team is doing. They drafted two point gaurds last year in the first 10 picks of round one. They then shipped their only star quality player in Al Jefferson to Utah, with what appears to be much less in return. This team has a lot of potentially good young players but they are far from ready to make an impact that can be measured in a playoff appearance. That leaves this franchise bottled in mediocrity until they establish a firm direction. This team won all of 15 games a year ago, and even with the maturation of young players, a hole has been left inside and for them to reach 20-25 wins would be an achievement.