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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

NBA season preview

Published: October 28, 2005
Section: Sports

Last season the NBA featured a full-fledged brawl, a championship going to the Spurs, and the MVP going to a Canadian, Steve Nash, for the first time. The off-season lacked strong free agent moves, but involved the movement of several major coaches and a thirteen man trade. Despite major moves, many teams are revamped and ready for action.

One revamped team is the Los Angeles Lakers. In the first major move of the off-season, the Lakers brought back Phil Jackson and the triangle offense. Then the Lakers traded Caron Butler for troubled big man Kwame Brown in the hopes Brown would become the new Shaq for the triangle offense. But this does not make the team any better. They only have three of their nine key members from the team that made it to the NBA Finals two years ago.

There are two teams that should improve upon injury plagued 04-05 campaigns. The Utah Jazz has a talented rotation, but Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko spent part of last year on the injured list. If healthy, the Jazz should be a good team. The other team that should improve is the New Jersey Nets. Last year, Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson spent part of the season injured and Vince Carter only arrived during the second half of the season. With the three of them healthy and Nenad Krstic improving, the Nets should be a contender.

After dominating the league last year, the Phoenix Suns wont do as well this year. Two off-season trades left the Suns without a strong swingman. First they traded three-point shooting stud Quentin Richardson to the Knicks for center Kurt Thomas. Then they traded Joe Johnson for draft picks. Then tragedy struck as Amare Stoudamire went down with a knee injury and will miss the first half of the season. These moves weaken the Suns, but they probably will still make the playoffs under Nash and Shawn Marion.

On the other side of the country, the New York Knicks couldnt do much wrong. They acquired the aforementioned Quentin Richardson for Kurt Thomas. Then they lured Larry Brown from Detroit to become the Knick coach. Then Isiah Thomas brought in the big man that the Knicks sorely lacked by trading Michael Sweetney, Tim Thomas and others for Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis. Even though sharpshooter Allan Houston retired a few weeks ago, the Knicks are now poised to make the playoffs and be a strong team once team chemistry is developed.

The one division that should have great competition is the Atlantic Division. Boston, New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia could all take the division. With one of the best 1-2-3 combinations in the league, New Jersey is a favorite to win the division. The retooled Knicks could finish 2nd in the division. Philadelphia is returning with all five of their starters, several of which are still young and improving daily. Boston is now a young team, but has a lot of potential and in the next few years should contend.

One team to watch this year is the Indiana Pacers. The face of the Pacers, Reggie Miller, turned in his sneakers for a TNT microphone. But Ron Artest, fresh off a season-long suspension, looks to play strong basketball with Stephen Jackson and a healthy Jermaine ONeal. The Pacers should return to their place of dominance.
Another team to watch is the Atlanta Hawks. The perennial losers of the NBA now have hope. They have a crop of young talented swingmen and have Joe Johnson to play the point. While Atlanta may not make the playoffs this year, hope is definitely on the horizon.

A third team to watch is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Reinforcements have arrived for LeBron James. After resigning Zydrunas Ilgauskas, they signed Damon Jones, Larry Hughes, and Donyell Marshall. Not only will rookie GM Danny Ferry contend for the award for best executive, but the Cavaliers will contend for the NBA title.

My pick to win the Western Conference is the San Antonio Spurs. The defending champions are returning with all of their key players. Then they improved. After Dallas waived Michael Finley under the one-time Amnesty Clause, the Spurs signed Finley. The Spurs have maybe up to ten players that could start for an NBA team. And almost unbeatable in the West.

But my pick for the team to win it all is the Miami Heat. The Heat greatly improved last year after acquiring Shaquille ONeal. Dwayne Wade is also young and becoming a star. Then the Heat traded Eddie Jones and others for Jason Williams, James Posey, and Antoine Walker in a 13-player deal spread across five teams. After Damon Jones left, Miami signed Gary Payton to backup Williams. Miami is so talented that they have two potential Hall of Famers in Payton and Alonzo Mourning and an all-star in Walker as backups. Wade, Shaq, and company should dominate the league this season and bring Miami an NBA title.

Atlantic Division
New Jersey Nets
Central Division
Detroit Pistons
Southeast Division
Miami Heat
Eastern Conference
Miami Heat
Northwest Division
Seattle Supersonics
Pacific Division
Phoenix Suns
Southwest Division
San Antonio Spurs
Western Conference
San Antonio Spurs
NBA TITLE: Miami Heat