2006-2007 NBA Season Preview

I always hate reading NBA preview columns, because writers try to preview the whole NBA in a thousand words or less.That doesn’t allow nearly enough analysis to say anything important or insightful about even one team.

That said, I will instead be a revolutionary and do an NBA PLAYOFF preview column, 6 months in advance. I’ll go through the contenders, pretenders, and phonies in each conference. And for a few teams, I’ll give a quick, pithy, worthless sentence about why they’re placed where they are.

Western Conference

Contenders: San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas

These are the three teams from the West with a shot at winning the title.If Amare stays healthy and is even 75% of himself from the 2004-05 season, they’re the favorites to win it all. Watch out for San Antonio, though. Parker, Ginobili & Duncan are all good and tough.

Pretenders: Denver, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Sacramento, Houston, Utah, New Orleans

Out of these seven teams, only five will make the playoffs. You could make a legit argument for why each should make the playoffs, but given the top three teams and only eight available spots, somebody will be missing the dance who should’ve been invited.

Whoever wins the Northwest division, Utah or Denver, will get the third playoff seed because of the silly NBA rules.Look for Houston to be real good with new additions Shane Battier and Bonzi Wells if T-Mac and Yao don’t get injured for too long.

Phonies: Memphis, Seattle, Golden State, Minnesota, Portland

Memphis has made the playoffs a few years in a row, but without Gasol for an extended stretch, they’re done. I still love you though, Jerry West. The other four teams are doing some interesting things, but they just play in too tough of a conference.

Eastern Conference

Contenders: Cleveland, New Jersey, Chicago, Detroit, Miami

Five teams who will duke it out all year for the no. 1 seed, just to lose to the West in the NBA Finals. Ben Wallace will help Chicago, but not enough to win a title this year.If Shaq’s healthy and Riley keeps Williams, Walker, and Payton happy, Miami should win, but those are two big ifs. Lebron doesn’t have a good enough team to win it all yet, even if he is good enough.

Pretenders: Washington, Indiana

They should make the playoffs, but aren’t going to beat any of the top five teams.

Phonies: Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Orlando, Boston, Toronto, New York

These six teams will duke it out for the last spot. Milwaukee made it last year, just barely. Philly [Iverson, Webber] and New York [Marbury, Francis, Frye, Curry] have the talent, but that didn’t work out last season. Cutting Jalen Rose is a good sign for Knicks fans, and Isiah is holding this team accountable.Celtics fans remember to take a moment of silence for the late Red Auerbach, who created the first great American sports dynasty.

Greg Oden’s Future Team: Atlanta or Charlotte

Conference Finals: Phoenix over San Antonio. Miami over Chicago

NBA Finals: Phoenix over Miami