So let's assume you stepped into your time machine and traveled to the end of June. You turn on ESPN and see the headline "Dwight Howard and the Rockets complete upset of Heat with thrilling game 7 victory in Miami". You're response wouldn't be something to the effect of "whoa!"?
I really think OKC and Houston are depending on young guys to step up. Jeremy Lamb and Reggie (Jackson? Drawing a blank) need to fill that void left by Harden/Martin in ways we have not seen from them. In Houston, D-Mo or Jones have to break out as a starting big. A trade is possible on both teams to shift the balance, but till then, they both have question marks.
I'm going to be optimistic, if not a bit of a homer, and include both teams. So my list goes...
I'm not sold on the Nets putting so much stock in KG/PP. Not sure they move the needle enough at this stage. Also not sold on the Bulls staying healthy. It never happens.
Thunder have fallen out of it for me. Sure they will win 55+ games perennially but come playoff time the predictable offensive of relying on two stars just dies. They also have a mediocre coach who makes a lot of simple mistakes. They have lost a lot of key pieces in the last few years so unless all of the role players like Jackson, Lamb, PJ and Adams really explode and fill in well for previous players... I see another step back. Factor in that Westbrook is out the first 6 weeks of the season and I could easily see OKC not being a HCA team with all the deadly western conference teams.
I'm not including the Nets because although the talent is there, they have an EXTREMELY old and fragile team. I will be shocked if even 75 percent of their core is healthy come playoff time. I also think they won't mesh quick enough because of so many players that contrast in playstyle and personality. I think skillset wise it's a great balanced mix but mentally it's going to be tough. I also don't believe a rookie head coach can control that much talent, with such a vocal locker room. He will likely lose the locker room halfway through the season.
I'm shocked very few of you are including the Warriors. This team was a few breaks from the freaking WCF last year in just their first year in the playoffs as a group. They looked like THE best team in the playoffs a lot of the time and went out and got even better this summer by quite a bit. If they can stay healthy (big if) they absolutely are true title contenders, as much as it pains me to say it .
Last edited by Clippersfan86; 10-08-2013 at 11:59 AM.