The Chrony’s 2003-2004 NBA Preview

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Chris Bellamy

Midwest: Dallas

Pacific: Sacramento

West playoff teams: San Antonio, Minnesota, L.A. Lakers, Phoenix, Houston, Portland

Atlantic: New Jersey

Central: Indiana

East playoff teams: Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, New Orleans, Orlando, Cleveland

East Finals: Philadelphia over New Jersey

West Finals: San Antonio over Dallas

NBA Finals: San Antonio over Philadelphia

MVP: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia

Rookie of the Year: Carmelo Anthony, Denver

Coach of the Year: Jeff Van Gundy, Houston

Most Improved Player: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio

First Blazer Arrested: Ruben Patterson

Biggest Name Who Will Get Traded: Vince Carter

Don’t give me that look. I know my picks are unpopular with a lot of people. And I also know that I’m an idiot-just ask my adorable little assistant.

Anyway…I was all ready to pick Dallas. I had written it down. They were going to win it all. And then came the Antoine Walker trade. I’m sorry, but that’s just a little too much.

For all the selflessness Mark Cuban had brought to the team, he just tried to do a little too much with that one. The Mavs are now the deepest team in basketball. But with all the new faces, it may take a good long while before they finally mesh-though I guarantee you, no one wants to face them in the playoffs.

Still, I’m rooting for the Mavs. I would love to see them win it all-if for no other reason than I can’t bear to watch another godforsaken Spurs squad take it all-but, unfortunately, I honestly believe that’s how it’s going to play out.

As for the Lakers-I know, I know, they’re the easy pick. But somehow I just don’t see four of the biggest egos in a league full of egos somehow coming together and becoming role players for the greater good. It’s just not that easy. And that pesky little rape trial doesn’t help any, either.

Over in the East, the Nets are still the best team-but Allen Iverson, finally happy now that Larry Brown is gone, can carry a team like very few others. Still, the West is just a little too much for even Him.

Asad Kudiya

Midwest: Dallas

Pacific: L.A. Lakers

West playoffs teams: Minnesota, Sacramento, San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix, Portland

Atlantic: New Jersey

Central: Indiana

East playoff teams: Orlando, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit

East Finals: T-Mac over Detroit

West Finals: L.A. Lakers over Sacramento

NBA Finals: L.A. Lakers over T-Mac

MVP: Tracy McGrady, Orlando

Rookie of the Year: LeBron James, Cleveland

Coach of the Year: Rick Carlisle, Indiana

Most Improved Player: Zach Randolph, Portland

First Blazer Arrested: Qyntel Woods

Biggest Name Who Will Get Traded: Rasheed Wallace

This will be one of the greatest seasons we have seen to date, with some of the most stacked teams in the West to go along with the most exciting players in the East.

It’s a shame the Western Conference Finals has turned into the NBA Finals, but what the hell can we do except just watch as the Lakers will win the title.

But don’t think I like the Lakers-for you see, I pray every single day that they lose in the playoffs. It would be too funny. Almost like watching the Yankees lose to the Marlins.

Tracy McGrady will take his team to the Finals, but it’s a shame they are going to get swept. Oh well-watching the Jazz miss the playoffs for the first time in a long time will cushion my anger when the Lakers win it all again.

Mathew Ouellette

Midwest: Dallas

Pacific: L.A. Lakers

West playoffs teams: Minnesota, Phoenix, Houston, Sacramento, San Antonio, Memphis

Atlantic: New Jersey

Central: Detroit

East playoff teams: Boston, Indiana, Orlando, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York

East Finals: Indiana over Detroit

West Finals: L.A Lakers over Sacramento

NBA Finals: L.A. Lakers over Indiana

MVP: Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana

Rookie of the Year: LeBron James, Indiana

Coach of the Year: Jeff Van Gundy, Houston

Most Improved Player: Yao Ming, Houston

First Blazer Arrested: Zach Randolph

Biggest Name Who Will Get Traded: LeBron James…to the Celtics…for Vin Baker

After a year off, the Lakers are way overdue for a championship, so they will cruise through the West, destroying everything in their path. Dallas might pose a challenge in a shootout series, but if the Lakers decide to play defense, the Mavs are all done.

The Nets will win the Atlantic, but will lose to the Pacers in the conference semifinals. The Pacers will then ride the momentum of their win-and the goodwill of Basketball Jesus-to the championship, where Satan will defeat Jesus in four games.

I don’t really know if O’Neal has an MVP in him yet, but his numbers last season were close. Basically, I’m throwing all my eggs into the Pacers’ basket and banking on miracle from the messiah.

As for my projected trade, well…I’m hoping Danny Ainge can get the Cavaliers’ president drunk and goad him into a ridiculous bet, or maybe he could just drug him. Either way, I think LeBron would look excellent in green.

Tye Smith

Midwest: San Antonio

Pacific: L.A. Lakers

West playoffs teams: Sacramento, Dallas, Minnesota, Phoenix, Houston, Utah

Atlantic: New Jersey

Central: New Orleans

East playoff teams: Philadelphia, Orlando, Indiana, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston

East Finals: New Jersey over Philadelphia

West Finals: L.A. Lakers over Dallas

NBA Finals: L.A. Lakers over New Jersey

MVP: Karl Malone, L.A. Lakers

Rookie of the Year: LeBron James, Cleveland

Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan, Utah

Most Improved Player: Andrei Kirilenko, Utah

First Blazer Arrested: Damon Stoudamire

Biggest Name Who Will Get Traded: Vince Carter

LeBron “King” James enters the NBA this year as the most hyped rookie of all time. Two nights ago, in James’ debut, he stunned even the most optimistic predictors of his future by playing like one of the best of all time.

If there is a reason to watch basketball this year, it’s LeBron. Not many 18-year olds sport a one-name moniker that’s rapidly embedding itself in the collective American subconscious. LeBron is already on par with one-name superstars like Madonna, Kobe and Prince, evidencing the fact that James’ star power has already far transcended the world of basketball.

Tuesday evening, my wife intentionally watched basketball for the first time since Michael Jordan’s heyday. She wanted to watch LeBron to see what all the hype was about-she found out in a hurry. James scored 12 points in the first quarter and looked every bit the man-child superstar we were told he would be.

The NBA has been desperately looking for something like this to happen. In the wake of Bryant’s rape crisis and rampant legal problems, the NBA needs LeBron in the worst way.

The league can take a deep breath now that he passed his first test with flying colors. Now it will have to hope that the positive of James’ promising career can in some way outweigh the lingering negative image of the NBA thug.

Mike Young

Midwest: Minnesota

Pacific: Sacramento

West playoffs teams: L.A. Lakers, Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix, Houston, Portland

Atlantic: New Jersey

Central: Detroit

East playoff teams: Indiana, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Orlando, Toronto, Miami

East Finals: Philadelphia over New Jersey

West Finals: Dallas over L.A. Lakers

NBA Finals: Dallas over Philadelphia

MVP: Tracy McGrady, Orlando

Rookie of the Year: LeBron James, Cleveland

Coach of the Year: Randy Ayers, Philadelphia

Most Improved Player: Marcus Camby, Denver

First Blazer Arrested: Rasheed Wallace

Biggest Name Who Will Get Traded: Kobe Bryant

This season in the NBA may be one of the most exciting seasons to date. The conclusion of the 2002-2003 season was a bit of a letdown, to say the least. The Western Conference playoffs were fairly exciting, but many a fan was left with a plethora of what-ifs.

What if Webber and Nowitzki didn’t get injured? What if the Timberwolves showed up for Game Six with the Lakers? What if the East had a team even close to the caliber of any of the eight teams in the West?

As a result of the moves made by many teams during the offseason, this year has several teams within reach of the prize. Dallas will finally see all its talent come together and dominate just in time for the playoffs. The Lakers will be good, but in the end Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Antoine Walker and Michael Finley will prove to be too much firepower.

My only hope is that we are not forced to watch a high school junior varsity version of a championship. Please don’t let the Spurs, Suns or Pistons make it to the championship. Please let the Lakers lose in the first round. Amen.

Ali Hasnain

Midwest: Minnesota

Pacific: L.A. Lakers

West playoffs teams: San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Seattle

Atlantic: New Jersey

Central: Detroit

East playoff teams: Philadelphia, Toronto, Orlando, New Orleans, Indiana, Cleveland

East Finals: New Jersey over Philadelphia

West Finals: L.A. Lakers over Dallas

NBA Finals: L.A Lakers over New Jersey

MVP: Gary Payton and Karl Malone, L.A. Lakers

Rookie of the Year: LeBron James, Cleveland

Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan, Utah-come on, he deserves it. Even if the Jazz suck. Which they will.

Most Improved Player: Desmond Mason, Milwaukee

First Blazer Arrested: Who to pick…? Oh hell, who are we kidding. The whole damn team will probably get caught in the same crack house.

Biggest Name Who Will Get Traded: Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Portland

I really, really hate to say this, but LeBron James will be better than Michael Jordan. LeBron James is not a human being. He’s an animal, and will have his way with the best-especially T-Mac.

And for anyone stupid enough to think that there are too many egos on the Lake Show, think again.

Yeah, I know this many superstars on one team haven’t seen glory in previous years, with the Houston Rockets being a prime example. But trust me, Gary Payton and Karl Malone are two of the classiest players in the history of this league, even with their occasional big-headedness.

Those two on a team would be enough for contention.

Add Baby Jordan (aka Kobe) and that human freight train known as Shaq, and not enough squabbling or legal trouble can prevent this team from taking it all.

And I’m not a Lakers fan.

Other than that, it’ll be the same stuff we see year after year.

Names like McGrady, Garnett, Duncan, Kidd and Iverson will have good seasons, and $10 says no one can name the starting five on the Eastern Conference All Star team, even after the selections are made.