As we creep closer to the opening tip of the 2012-2013 NBA season, it’s time to break down how I think the year will play out. I’ll be starting from the bottom up in each conference.
15. Orlando Magic
Last Season: 37-29 (6th in East)
PFPG: 94.2 (21st)
PAPG: 93.4 (7th)
Key Losses: Dwight Howard (trade w/ LAL), Jason Richardson (trade w/ PHI), Ryan Anderson (trade w/ NO)
Key Additions: Gustavo Ayon (trade w/ NO), Moe Harkless (trade w/ PHI), Al Harrington (trade w/ DEN), Aaron Afflalo (trade w/ DEN)
The Orlando Magic appear to be on the way to missing the playoffs for the first time in quite awhile. With the loss of Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson, Orlando is looking to rebuild over the next few years. There is some legitimate young talent on the roster with names such as Gustavo Ayon and Moe Harkless, but it won’t be enough to challenge in the Eastern Conference.
The Magic will also be dealing with a new coach in Jacque Vaughn who will replace ex-coach Stan Van Gundy. With all of the overhaul coming into the year, it will be tough to string together consistency and chemistry. While the team has some talent, it will be hard to build on it during the first year of a rebuilding plan.
14. Charlotte Bobcats
Last season 7-59 (15th in East)
PFPG: 87.0 (30th)
PAPG: 100.9 (27th)
Key Losses: DJ Augustin
Key Additions: Brendan Haywood, Ramon Sessions
The good news after finishing with the worst winning percentage in NBA history? It’s going to be hard to get any worse. The Bobcats could easily finish dead last in the NBA yet again, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt after a year of chemistry, and having a less rocky off-season than the Magic.
Jordan’s Bobcats were abysmal last year. The team finished the season on a 23 game losing streak, and have a shot to break the record for most consecutive losses when play resumes in late October. New Head Coach Mike Dunlap will have quite a challenge to make this team respectable again night in and night out. Hopefully with a new voice in the player’s ears, they will respond better on the court, but the severe lack of talent may not be enough.
In other news for the ‘Cats, they’ll be sporting new jerseys and colors this season. Ownership decided to get rid of the orange and implement Carolina Blue into the color scheme. It’s a step in the right direction, but to make this transformation complete, the team needs to get rid of the Bobcats name altogether.
15. Sacramento Kings
Last Season: 22-44 (14th in West)
PFPG: 98.8 (6th)
PAPG: 104.4 (30th)
Key Losses: None
Key Additions: Jason Thompson (Re-Sign), Tyler Honeycutt (Draft)
If there were a bottom feeder team that could score the basketball, it was the Sacramento Kings. If there were a bottom feeder team that couldn’t defend the basketball, it was the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings are a team that put great young talent on the court each night, but it doesn’t translate to wins very well. Because this is such a young team all-around, (coach included) a lot of immaturity comes out on the court which equate to losses. The Kings have one of the best skilled big men in the game in Demarcus Cousins, and a thriving young point guard in Isaish Thomas. The future of the team looks bright if the right pieces are put around them.
The only issue with the future of the Kings is where they will be playing. There has not been a concrete stadium deal in place for the city, so the Kings are still a threat to end up moving to Anaheim or places elsewhere. Seattle has been hard at work in setting up a new arena for NBA and NHL teams as well and will be in the market for a team in the next year presumably.
With all of that said, the West looks to be deep as usual, and it will be hard for the Kings to stay truly competitive on a consistent basis. They have the talent to shock some teams here and there and rack up some impressive wins, but that formula wont be sustainable over an 82-game season. Look for the Kings to have a firm grasp on that 15th spot in the conference.
14. New Orleans Hornets
Last Season: 21-45 (15th in West)
PFPG: 89.6 (29th)
PAPG: 93.4 (8th)
Key Losses: Chris Kaman, Brad Miller, Gustavo Ayon
Key Additions: Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Ryan Anderson (trade w/ ORL), Hakim Warrick (trade w/ MIN)
The Hornets have a legitimate shot to make some noise in the West. I don’t see them battling for a playoff spot but the team will be a tough out each game. They play strong defense and keep games tight and competitive. After losing Chris Paul to the Clippers at the beginning of last season, the Hornets stumbled out of the gate to a 4-23 start. As the season went on the Hornets essentially played .500 ball and finished a respectable 24 games under .500 (in relation to their start at least)
Hornets coach Monty Williams signed a multi-year extension in August which will keep some stability in the coaching department. The Hornets also worked a sign-and-trade deal to bring in Orlando big man Ryan Anderson. With the additions of Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, the team has a very solid foundation to build upon.
After writing all of this up and chewing on it I don’t think it would be far-fetched to move New Orleans up a few spots in the West. Needless to say, the Western Conference will be mighty tough to figure out until it’s all said and done.