The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

2008 NBA Draft Recap and Early Projections: Part Two

Eastern Conference – Southeast Division

Orlando (52-30, #3 seed and lost in five games in the Conference Semifinals)

The #22 selection in the draft (Courtney Lee out of Western Kentucky)

Key contributors for the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Jameer Nelson, SF Hedo Turkoglu, PF Rashard Lewis, and C Dwight Howard. Key unrestricted free agents include PG Carlos Arroyo, SG Keith Bogans, PG Keyon Dooling, SG Maurice Evans, C Adonal Foyle, and PF Pat Garrity while C James Augustine is a restricted free agent and C Marcin Gortat has limited salary protection.

Report Card: Issue number one for the Orlando Magic this off-season is shoring up their backcourt. Once they do that, and hopefully resign players such as Keith Bogans, Keyon Dooling and Maurice Evans, the Magic will be just as good as they were this past season. That consistent approach, along with a freak of nature known as Dwight Howard at center, should help then win the division yet again.
Projection: #1 in Southeast Division, #3 in East, between 45-49 wins.

Washington (43-39, #5 seed and lost in six games in the first round)

The #18 selection in the draft (JaVale McGee out of Nevada)
The #47 selection in the draft from Boston (Bill Walker out of Kansas State)
Traded away cash considerations to the Boston Celtics for Walker.

Key contributors to the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Antonio Daniels, SG DeShawn Stevenson, SF Caron Butler, PF Darius Songalia, C Brendan Haywood, SG Nick Young and C Andray Blatche. Key unrestricted free agents include PG Gilbert Arenas, PF Antawn Jamison and PG Roger Mason.

Report Card: Rumors have it that the Wizards are on the verge of resigning Antawn Jamison to a four-year, $50 million contract and resigning Gilbert Arenas to a six-year, $100 million contract. If this happens, the Washington franchise will be able to keep together the trio that has led them to the Eastern Conference Playoffs three years in a row in Jamison, Arenas and Butler. Those three are All-Star caliber players when completely healthy, but I do not see things working out all fine and dandy for the Wizards. An injury or two will happen, and most likely a trade will prevent all of these fat contracts from appearing on the same roster. I am way down on this team, especially in comparison to the promise of the other teams in this division.
Projection: #5 in Southeast Division, #14 in East, between 28-32 wins.

Atlanta (37-45, #8 seed and lost in seven games in the first round)

Key contributors to the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Mike Bibby, SG Joe Johnson, SF Marvin Williams, PF Al Horford, C Zaza Pachulia, and PG Acie Law. Key restricted free agents include SF Josh Childress, F Jeremy Richardson, PF Josh Smith, SG Salim Stoudamire, and SG Mario West.

Report Card: Whenever I have started a dynasty anytime recently in a basketball video game, I have decided to start with the Atlanta Hawks. Sure, I dislike the fact Zaza Pachulia is their center, and the fact they had no draft picks this season, but I really like the young and emerging talent on this team. Al Horford should have been the Rookie of the Year this past year, Joe Johnson is on the Olympic team, Josh Smith is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and Marvin Williams and Josh Childress are just starting to blossom. I think this team showed a lot of potential in their seven-game series against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, and has nowhere to go but up.
Projection: #2 in Southeast Division, #6 in East, between 41-45 wins.

Charlotte (32-50, #12 in conference, five games out of playoffs)

The #9 selection in the draft (D.J. Augustin out of Texas)
The #20 selection in the draft from Denver (Alexis Ajinca out of France)
The #38 selection in the draft (Kyle Weaver out of Washington State)
Traded away a future, protected first-round pick to Denver for Ajinca.

Key contributors to the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Raymond Felton, SG Jason Richardson, SF Gerald Wallace, PF Sean May, C Nazr Mohammed, and SG Matt Carroll. Key unrestricted free agents include SG Derek Anderson, PG Early Boykins and PF Othella Harrington while C Ryan Hollins and PF Emeka Okafor are restricted free agents.

Report Card: The acquisition of rookie D.J. Augustin from Texas practically assures that the Raymond Felton era in Charlotte is over, and is the first big move for the new Larry Brown tenure for the Bobcats. Just like the Atlanta Hawks from a year ago, there is way too much young talent on this team for them not to radically improve. It might be difficult to instantly make the playoffs, but I believe Larry Brown is the type of coach that will be able to build this team from the ground up to being playoff caliber within a year or two. Keeping Emeka Okafor is a must, and then continuing to give minutes to Richardson, Wallace, and May will be helpful to creating a system of success for the youngest franchise in the NBA.
Projection: #4 in Southeast Division, #11 in East, between 33-37 wins.

Miami (15-67, #15 in conference, twenty-two games out of playoffs)

The #2 selection in the draft (Michael Beasley out of Kansas State)
The #34 selection in the draft from Minnesota (Mario Chalmers out of Kansas)
A future second round pick from Cleveland
Traded away their two second round picks in 2009 to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Chalmers, and traded away the #52 selection, Darnell Jackson out of Kansas to the Cleveland Cavaliers for their future second round pick.

Key contributors to the team in 2008-2009 are projected to be PG Marcus Banks, SG Dwyane Wade, PF Michael Beasley, C Mark Blount, PF Udonis Haslem, and SG Daequan Cook. Key unrestricted free agents include C Earl Barron, SF Ricky Davis, SF Shawn Marion, and PG Jason Williams, while PG Blake Ahearn, PG Chris Quinn, F Kasib Powell and SF Dorrell Wright are restricted free agents and C Joel Anthony and F Stephane Lasme have limited salary protection.

Report Card: How can a team with Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley not contend for the playoffs? That is the question the Miami Heat management should be asking going into this off-season. If they can continue to make all three stars happy in an up-and-coming atmosphere, with a brand new coach in Erik Spoelstra, the Heat should easily return to the playoffs very soon. I think Beasley will be better than Rose in the NBA eventually, as big men from the college have higher success rates of becoming stars than do smaller guards. Mario Chalmers will be a perfect fit over time, and besides that all they need is another free agent or two to be much more competitive this season.
Projection: #3 in Southeast Division, #10 in East, between 34-38 wins.

Projected 2008-2009 Eastern Conference Standings:

Atlantic Division

Boston (1): between 55-59 wins (66 wins, #1)
Philadelphia (4): between 44-48 wins (40 wins, #7)
Toronto (8): between 38-42 wins (41 wins, #6)
New Jersey (13): between 30-34 wins (34 wins, #10)
New York (15): between 26-30 wins (23 wins, #14)

Central Division

Cleveland (2): between 46-50 wins (45 wins, #4)
Detroit (5): between 43-47 wins (59 wins, #2)
Chicago (7): between 40-44 wins (33 wins, #11)
Indiana (9): between 36-40 wins (36 wins, #9)
Milwaukee (12): between 32-36 wins (26 wins, #13)

Southeast Division

Orlando (3): between 45-49 wins (52 wins, #3)
Atlanta (6): between 41-45 wins (37 wins, #8)
Miami (10): between 34-38 wins (15 wins, #15)
Charlotte (11): between 33-37 wins (32 wins, #12)
Washington (14): between 28-32 wins (43 wins, #5)

All-Conference Awards

Most Surprising Team: Philadelphia 76ers (jump from #7 to #4)

Most Disappointing Team: Washington Wizards (fall from #5 to #14)

Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (the most VALUABLE player in the league)

Rookie of the Year: Michael Beasley, Miami Heat (more productive in college, will contribute immediately)

Most Improved Player: Marvin Williams, Atlanta Hawks (will make job from sixth man, to second best player on team)

Most Likely to Be Overrated: Richard Jefferson, Milwaukee Bucks (don’t believe me? Check out this post by Dave Berri)

Most Likely to Be Underrated: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls (his 13.025 rebounds per 48 minutes mark was very impressive for a rookie)

Note: The total wins I have projected for the Eastern Conference in these very early projections, are equal to the total number of wins accumulated by the Conference last season. Last year, the Eastern Conference won 192 out of the 450 inter-conference games played (a winning percentage of 0.427). While I do believe that the Eastern Conference may in fact be a little better this year because of the developing talent on a lot of teams, in comparison to the aging talent on teams out West (such as Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, etc.,) the period for adjusting that will be when I do my in-depth projections of the NBA in October. June/July is way too early to definitively say the Eastern Conference will be improved, and thus the win total stays the same.

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July 2, 2008 - Posted by | NBA Draft | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] had the Cavaliers down for about 48 wins in my mid-summer NBA predictions and they have exceeded all of my wildest expectations through 23 games this season. I can only hope […]

    Pingback by NBA Version of The Boots (written on Friday, December 12) « The Sports Report | December 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] Boston (stayed the same since July predictions; 66 wins, #1 in East last year) 2. Cleveland (no change; 45 wins, #4 last year) 3. Orlando (no […]

    Pingback by The Boots (November 4, 2008) « The Sports Report | March 4, 2009 | Reply


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