Maymin vs. Maymin: 2005 Division Winners
It's not easy doing battle with your own brother, especially in an area as foggy and as prone to lightning changes as next year's divisional champions. Still, a Maymin (rhymes with rhymin') carries on...
DAN: Predictions for the Atlantic Division maybe the toughest of them all. Simply put, there are no good franchises here; either the organizations are still in the process of different executives taking the primary role or teams still didn't find that one Messiah that will take them to the promised land. Nevertheless, my prediction in the Atlantic Division, considering me having green blood and all, will be the Boston Celtics.
PHIL: Funny, I've got the same color blood. It must be genetic or something. Unfortunate rumors about doing a fire sale of all your young assets in exchange for a one-year rental of Shareef Abdur-Rahim notwithstanding, the C's have a solid lineup of Payton, Pierce, Davis, Raef, and Blount, with Welsch and Googs off the bench, not to mention Big Al and my favorite from last year, Kendrick Perkins, who was a runner-up to Kevin Garnett in versatility per minute (not enough statistically significant minutes unfortunately). Plus you've got studs in Banks, Allen, and West. That's quite a solid team. Michael Jordan had a lot less to work with. So let's go Pierce! Step it up! I also predict the Boston Celtics.
DAN: Shaquille O'Neal is back in the Eastern Conference and with him he brings confidence, poise, and a 7-foot 320-pound body frame. The Miami Heat are going to give tough competition with the dual combo of second-year star Dwayne Wade and Shaq-Attack. Come on, with teams like Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, and Washington, it's like an All-Star team playing the Atlantic Division. My prediction in the Southeast Division are the Miami Heat.
PHIL: Don't worry, they're not all ties. These are just the obvious winners. What more is there to say? Miami lost its toughest nearby competition (New Orleans) to the Western conference. Wade's a stud and Shaq's Shaq. Even an injury or two won't derail them big time. I suppose I could be contrary and say Orlando's gonna surprise everyone but I just don't see it happening quite yet. So I also predict the Miami Heat.
DAN: Here comes my true identity. Covering Hoopsworld in the Central Division, my true colors will unveil as I have all my faith in the Indiana Pacers. All I can tell Detroit fans is yes, miracles do happen. In Reggie Miller's final season, not only will he will eliminate ever competitor in the Central, he will take his team to the promise land. My predictions in the Central Division will be the Indiana Pacers.
PHIL: Finally, some action! I gotta stay with the Pistons here. Their frontcourt depth is unmatched in the league with the possible exception of Denver. And Darko Milicic is a stud, don't count him out. He's a little soft, a little too perimeter, but he's got range and touch like Nowitzki and he's a southpaw to boot. Picture-perfect form every time he so much as smiles at the ball. And don't forget that pretty much everybody is coming back.
DAN: Carmelo Anthony isn't a rookie anymore. Along with him, the Denver Nuggets acquired All-Star Kenyon Martin and resigned Marcus Camby. Still, that's no contest with the Minnesota Timberwolves. With the Big Three back and better than ever, this year will take Kevin Garnett to his ultimate destination. My prediction in the Northwest Division are the Minnesota Timberwolves.
PHIL: Hey now, watch your mouth. The Nuggets will rule. If they could run somebody athletic and young at the two-spot, I'm thinking someone like a Ricky Davis of the C's, who can also pass the rock with timely precision, they would be a championship contender. As it stands they are nobody's patsies. K-Mart benefited from J-Kidd, sure, but his defense is amazing. Western Conference fans will find out soon enough why Nets coach Lawrence Frank referred to him as SUPERMAN. I predict the Denver Nuggets.
DAN: Tim Duncan didn't win the MVP trophy three years in a row. And if I were him, I'd be offended. Still, the Houston Rockets acquired another ballhog from the Orlando Magic...oh wait, I mean Tracy McGrady. What wins ball games? Three-pointers that go in 40-percent on a good night or good, fundamental team basketball? My prediction in the Southwest Division are the San Antonio Spurs.
PHIL: I like the Spurs, I do, but the only problem is their two best players (Duncan and Ginobili) are going to be tired from the Olympics. That'll cost them a lot at the beginning of the season at least, if it doesn't become something major. Meanwhile, the Rockets' Yao Ming is becoming more American and more aggressive every hour. Will he pull a Wang Zhi-Zhi and defect to America permanently? Nah, but he's also going to be pumped, in-shape, and ready for this season. Plus, he's the only one tired from the Olympics on the Houston team. He's got Juwan Howard and Tracy McGrady, not to mention Jim Jackson, the nucleus of the team, and with triple-double-at-any-cost Sura co-manning the point, this could be a very special team for years to come. I predict the Houston Rockets.
DAN: The Los Angles Lakers lost Shaq-Daddy. The Phoenix Suns re-acquired Steve Nash. The Golden State Warriors lost Erick Dampier. And the Sacramento Kings are in the process of possibly losing Peja Stojakovic. By process of elimination, that leaves the Los Angeles Clippers for the Pacific Division champions. Still, even in the Clippers' prime, my prediction in the Pacific Division are the Los Angeles Lakers. Odom, Butler, Atkins, Divac. That's quite a team! Oh, and they also have Kobe.
PHIL: You make a good case but watch this: Steve Nash and Quentin Richardson in the backcourt. Amare and Matrix in the front. Yes, there's a small hole at center, but what the hey. Worst case you go to a small lineup and put Joe Johnson in at the two. That's your WORST case? That's a pretty darn good team, I think. The only competitors are the Lakers and Kings, but the Kings have a very high probability of imploding, and the Lakers are being managed by a rookie GM (Kobe Bryant) puppet-master. Just look at how Bryant got swindled by Boston.
In less than a year, we will see who was right and who was wrong, but most importantly... we'll see who won.