Actually I can tell you that I have the Wolves in next spring's playoffs, but I can also say that that is partly because the Western Division has declined dramatically in the past year or 2. The East, paradoxically, isn't much better. It's more a case of the Haves vs. the Have Nots. The Haves have it.
The defending NBA champion Miami Heat should be favored to at least cruise to the NBA finals this year. They're the class of the East with LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, now joined by Ray Allen who left the Boston Celtics to join the Heat. Wade and Bosh have been fragile, however, but if the Heat should falter, who is ready to fill the gap?
Nobody. Indiana looks like #2 in the East but it's hard to picture Roy Hibbert, David West, Danny Granger, George Hill and Paul George in the NBA finals. Atlanta looks like #3 but its hard to see Zach Pachulia, Roy Horford, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague and DeShawn Stevenson in the NBA finals.
The Celtics are all the way down to #5, trailing the Knicks in the Atlantic, though Amare Stoudamire's continuing injury problems could be trouble. The Celtics are now Rajon Rondo's team, not Ray Allen's (gone), Paul Pierce's (old) or Kevin Garnett's (also old), and they'll contend, but the decline will continue.
Then there's the Bulls, the NBA's winningest team the past 2 years. They'll be without Derrick Rose for an indeterminate time and a guard pairing of Kirk Hinirich and Rip Hamilton does not give great confidence. I mean, maybe the old guys have one more campaign in them, I don't know.
So in summary:
1. Miami 58-24. LeBron is East MVP. But moved to the power forward spot. How out of position will that prove to be? Dwayne Wade is the best "2" when he's healthy. Not a powerhouse, but who is?
2. Indiana 51-31. Roy Hibbert (post) and Danny Granger (small forward) are both the best in the East at their positions.
3. Chicago 47-37. Depends on how soon Derrick Rose gets back. Could be a threat come playoff time.
4. Atlanta 45-37. Horford and Smith are a great forward pair. The guards, not so much.
5. New York 43-39. Did they really prefer Raymond Felton to Jeremy Lin?
6. Boston 42-40. Rajon Rondo is the best "1" in the East but his supporting cast is ancient.
7. Brooklyn 41-41. New home, new look with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Still weak up front.
8. Philadelphia 40-42. No Ike. Makes playoffs only because nobody else can.
9. Milwaukee 38-44, has the potential, I guess,
10. Washington 35-47
11. Toronto 34-48
12. Detroit 32-50
13. Orlando 31-51, and that is being generous.
14. Cleveland 25-57. Kyrie Irving brings hope for the future.
15. Charlotte 20-62, and that is being generous.
Oklahoma City should be a shoo-in even without James Harden. They replace him with Kevin Martin, which is not shabby at all. Who is their biggest threat? Well, how about "none of the above." But it has to be somebody, right? So Clips or Lakers? The Lakers of course have Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, now, and Antoine Jamison ready to take over at the small forward for Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest and widely know today as Metta World Peace of ****) when the inevitable meltdown comes. But, hey, Kobe and Nash are a year older and it's doubtful that Howard is a year more mature, so I wonder. The meltdown might extend beyond Mr. Peace.
Then there's Dallas, but Nowitzki's knees are an issue, and there's San Antone, but Mr. Duncan's body is an issue. I mean, it's 50 years old, is it not? But either could get hot come playoff time.
1. Oklahoma City 64-18. Durant and Westbrook are plenty tough, Harden is barely missed.
2. L.A. Clippers 62-20. Chris Paul makes it happen.
3. L.A. Lakers 60-22. Too bad they couldn't assemble Dwight and Steve with Kobe about 4 years ago.
4. Dallas 56-26. Depends on Nowitzki's knees, but Kaman, Marion, Carter, Mayo are tough even if Dirk is out.
5. San Antonio 55-27. Timmie a little long in the tooth. Nowhere near the depth that Dallas has assembled.
6. Memphis 50-34. Gasol, Randolph, Rudy Gay a solid front line. Guards not so much.
7. Utah 45-37. Slipping, but slips in.
8. Minnesota 40-42. A record like that hasn't made the Western Division playoffs in decades. Rubio and Love come back in the nick of time.
9. Houston 38-44. A totally new look built around guards Jeremy Lin and James Harden. We'll see.
10. Sacramento 36-46. Young. The future is in the future.
11. Golden State 34-48
12. Denver 32-50
13. Portland 30-52
14. Phoenix 26- 56. Bye-bye, Steve. Hello, rebuilding. Around Michael Beasley? Good luck with that.
15. New Orleans 20-62
The top 8 advance except San Antone upsets Dallas.
Then Miami and Chicago, and OKC and the Lakers. Then Miami and OKC. This year OKC reverses last year's outcome.
MVP both regular season and playoffs--Kevin Durant
C- Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers
PF- LeBron James, Miami
SF- Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
PG- Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers
SG- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City
C- Andrew Bynum, P:hiladelphia
PF- LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland
SF- Carmelo Anthony, New York
PG- Rajon Rondo, Boston
SG- Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
C- Roy Hibbert, Indiana
PF- Al Horford, Atlanta
SF- Danny Granger, Indiana
PG- Deron Williams, Brooklyn
SG- James Harden, Houston