Doug Collins breaks down the Western Conference

In a conference call for TNT publicizing the start of the NBA season, analyst Doug Collins broke down the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Lakers: “I think they are absolutely loaded. If Kobe (Bryant) stays healthy, coming off the brilliant season he had last year. They get Andrew Bynum back. I’m looking forward to seeing Bynum and (Pau) Gasol together. Imagine a team that is able to bring Lamar Odom off the bench, a bench that I think is the best in the NBA. They are my favorites to win the Pacific (Division).”

Phoenix Suns: “(The Suns) are going to be very interesting with a new style. How many games will Steve Nash miss, they are talking about him playing in 70 games. Instead of cutting his minutes, have him miss some games along the way. How many games will Shaq (O’Neal) miss? This is an older team with a new coach and a new style. They are going to very interesting to watch.”

Read the rest after the jump...

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2008 NBA Team-by-Team Preview

Ron Artest is a Rocket, Jermaine O’Neal is a Raptor and Mo Williams is a Cavalier. Richard Jefferson is a Buck and Corey Maggette is a Warrior. Baron Davis signed up to play with Elton Brand in L.A., but Brand bolted for Philly to play with AI2 instead. And Andrew Bynum is back from injury, trying to figure out how to co-exist with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. There, you’re all caught up on most of the big summer news from the NBA.

Want more? We’ve got you covered. Our team-by-team preview breaks down each franchise’s offseason movement and outlook, along with a player (or situation) to keep your eye on. We also ask “The Big Question” that is haunting each team as it enters the season.

For the last two weeks, We’ve been previewing each team from #30 to #1, posting three team previews per business day, starting with the league’s bottom feeders – we’re looking at you, Thunder – and finishing up with the cream of the crop. So who will be #1? The Lakers? The Celtics? Or will there be a surprise at the top of our preseason power rankings?

Click here to see the entire preview.

Reggie Miller breaks down the Eastern Conference

TNT NBA analyst (and former Pacer) Reggie Miller broke down the Eastern Conference in a conference call that the network held to promote the launch of the season.

Boston Celtics: “James Posey (leaving the Celtics and) going to the (New Orleans) Hornets (as a free agent) is my only question mark with the Celtics. Who is going to be the guy coming off the bench to supply all that energy, that defense and take the big shots for the team?”

Philadelphia 76ers: (Head coach) Mo Cheeks got (free agent) Elton Brand and they re-signed Andre Iguodala. Now they have a player (Brand) in the closing moments who you can throw the ball down (to), command a double team, get fouled, make free throws and can make big plays.”

Read the rest after the jump...

2008 NBA Preview: #1 Los Angeles Lakers

Offseason Movement: The Lakers re-signed Sasha Vujacic and signed Chinese guard Sun Yue. They probably overspent on Vujacic (three years, $15 million) but had to compete with European teams for his services. Vujacic had a great year shooting the ball, but didn’t play particularly well in the Finals, especially on defense.
Keep Your Eye On: Lamar Odom
It’s not clear how Odom is going to fit in with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum on the Laker front line. It’s going to be tough for Kobe Bryant to find any room to drive when the three big men are on the court at the same time, so the most likely scenario has Odom or Bynum coming off the bench. It’s going to take some time Bynum and Gasol to get used to playing with each other, and if Odom is the one coming off the bench, he’ll have to adjust to a sixth man role. The good news is that if things aren’t working by the trade deadline, they can probably unload Odom for a good player that is a better fit.
The Big Question: Is Bynum’s return enough to get the Lakers over the hump?
Conventional wisdom states that if you take a team that lost in the Finals the previous season and add an up-and-coming seven-foot center to the rotation, then the team will inevitably be better. While that’s certainly a distinct possibility, there’s no guarantee that Bynum will jive with the rest of the rotation. Just because the Lakers are better on paper, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to once again run the gauntlet that is the Western Conference playoffs. A lot of things had to go right for the Lakers to make the Finals last year, and a lot of things have to go right for them to make a second straight trip.
Outlook: Despite some training camp kinks that need to be worked out, there is no team in the league with more talent top to bottom. They also have one of the best coaches in the league, so the Lakers are the odds-on favorite to with the title, and rightfully so. Still, there are a number of roadblocks they’ll have to overcome. First, Phil Jackson must find a way to use Gasol, Bynum and Odom to the best of their abilities without limiting what Kobe can do on the drive. Second, Kobe must stay healthy, which means the problem he has with his shooting hand can’t bother him too much and those knees have to stay relatively pain-free. And lastly, they must show better toughness if they meet the Celtics again in the Finals. Bynum brings a lot to the table, but he’s not going to make this team tough by himself. The Celtics were hungrier than the Lakers last season, but now the roles are reversed. If Jackson can get Odom, Bynum and Gasol to play together well, or if the Lakers can trade Odom for a better fit, they should make it to the Finals again. There is just too much talent here; they should be able to figure it out.

2008 NBA Preview: #2 Boston Celtics

Offseason Movement: The Celtics were unable to re-sign James Posey, who ended up signing with the Hornets. GM Danny Ainge did re-sign Tony Allen, Eddie House, and Sam Cassell, while also signing Darius Miles and Patrick O’Bryant. Out of the draft, the team ended up with shooting guard JR Giddens and small forward Bill Walker.
Keep Your Eye On: The bench
Even more than last season, Boston is going to need a regular lift from its bench. With Posey gone, someone will have to pick up his defensive-mindedness and shooting touch. The bench projects to be very young, but with youth comes energy, and the Celtics will need it this season.
The Big Question: Now that the Big Three won a title, will they be as focused?
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to Boston with one thing in mind – a NBA championship. Paul Pierce set aside his ego for the same reason. Throughout that season, the Celtics were focused on a singular goal, but now that they have their rings, will they be able to bring that same intensity every night? Hunger can really bolster a team’s success, and Boston will somehow have to manufacture that hunger this season. That’s a tough thing to do.
Outlook: The C’s are still the class of the East, but will face a bigger test within the conference given the improvements that the Sixers and the Heat have made, along with the continued maturity of the Magic and the Cavs. James Posey was so crucial to the team’s playoff success that one wonders if the team will be overcome that loss and stay as focused as they were last season. They are the odds-on favorites to win the East, but it’s shaping up to be a very interesting season in Beantown.

Related Posts