Nothing better than trying to predict the unpredictable. Your Denver Stiffs team, most of us, has our conference rankings and a little blurb about how we came to our ridiculous "predictions" for the Western and Eastern conferences. These could be brutal, maybe one of us has it all correct ... time will tell. On to the predictions!
Western Conference Seeding Predictions:
|Nate Timmons||Jeff Morton||Andrew Feinstein||Mike Olson||Colin Neilson||Kevin Nesgoda||Dontae Delgado||Chris Meirose|
|Spurs"]">1.) Spurs||1.) Spurs||1.) Spurs||1.) Spurs||1.) Spurs||1.) Spurs||1.) Spurs||Clippers"]">1.) Clippers|
|2.) Clippers||2.) Clippers||2.) Clippers||2.) Clippers||Rockets"]">2.) Rockets||2.) Clippers||2.) Clippers||2.) Spurs|
|Grizzlies"]">3.) Grizzlies||Thunder"]">3.) Thunder||3.) Thunder||3.) Thunder||3.) Thunder||3.) Blazers||3.) Blazers||Warriors"]">3.) Warriors|
|4.) Thunder||Nuggets"]">4.) Nuggets||4.) Warriors||4.) Nuggets||4.) Clippers||Mavericks"]">4.) Mavericks||4.) Warriors||4.) Blazers|
|5.) Warriors||5.) Mavericks||5.) Rockets||5.) Rockets||5.) Blazers||5.) Warriors||5.) Thunder||5.) Nuggets|
|6.) Nuggets||6.) Grizzlies||6.) Blazers||6.) Blazers||6.) Warriors||6.) Thunder||6.) Mavericks||6.) Mavericks|
|7.) Mavericks||7.) Rockets||7.) Mavericks||7.) Mavericks||7.) Nuggets||Suns"]">7.) Suns||7.) Rockets||7.) Rockets|
|8.) Blazers||8.) Blazers||8.) Grizzlies||8.) Suns||Pelicans"]">8.) Pelicans||8.) Grizzlies||8.) Grizzlies||8.) Thunder|
|9.) Rockets||9.) Suns||9.) Nuggets||9.) Pelicans||9.) Mavericks||9.) Rockets||9.) Nuggets||9.) Suns|
|10.) Pelicans||10.) Warriors||10.) Suns||10.) Warriors||10.) Grizzlies||10.) Nuggets||10.) Pelicans||10.) Grizzlies|
|11.) Suns||11.) Pelicans||11.) Pelicans||11.) Grizzlies||11.) Suns||11.) Pelicans||11.) Suns||11.) Pelicans|
|Lakers"]">12.) Lakers||Jazz"]">12.) Jazz||12.) Lakers||12.) T-Wolves||12.) T-Wolves||12.) T-Wolves||Kings"]">12.) Kings||12.) Kings|
|13.) Kings||13.) Kings||13.) Kings||13.) Jazz||13.) Kings||13.) Kings||13.) Lakers||13.) Lakers|
|14.) Jazz||14.) T-Wolves||14.) Jazz||14.) Lakers||14.) Jazz||14.) Jazz||14.) T-Wolves||14.) T-Wolves|
|15.) T-Wolves||15.) Lakers||15.) T-Wolves||15.) Kings||15.) Lakers||15.) Lakers||15.) Jazz||15.) Jazz|
Wow, so there's three of the eight writers predicting the Nuggets to miss the playoffs, including the big Stiff himself Andrew Feinstein. Let us shower Andy in rotten tomatoes at the first Stiffs Night Out this season. Perhaps Andy is taking the curmudgeon reigns from his Uncle Marty. We got to the bottom of why Andy feels this way on the latest CSG podcast, and we have more on the predictions below.
Jeff Morton and Mike Olson have the Nuggets rated the highest as the 4th seed (they are chugging that Nuggets Kool-Aid!), and Kevin "The Jerk" Nesgoda has the Nuggets ranked the lowest at 10th.
What the best playoff matchup from above?
Nate: Grizzlies vs Nuggets.
Jeff: Nuggets vs Mavericks.
Mike: Nuggets vs Rockets (Nugs homecourt advantage).
Colin: Rockets vs Nuggets (Rockets with homecourt).
Chris: Blazers vs Nuggets.
Now, let's move on ...
Eastern Conference Seeding Predictions:
|Nate Timmons||Jeff Morton||Andrew Feinstein||Mike Olson||Colin Neilson||Kevin Nesgoda||Dontae Delgado||Chris Meirose|
|Cavaliers"]">1.) Cavaliers||1.) Cavaliers||1.) Cavaliers||Bulls"]">1.) Bulls||1.) Cavaliers||1.) Bulls||1.) Cavaliers||1.) Bulls|
|Wizards"]">2.) Wizards||2.) Bulls||2.) Bulls||2.) Cavaliers||2.) Bulls||2.) Cavaliers||2.) Bulls||2.) Cavaliers|
|3.) Bulls||Heat"]">3.) Heat||Raptors"]">3.) Raptors||3.) Wizards||Knicks"]">3.) Knicks||3.) Wizards||3.) Wizards||3.) Raptors|
|Hawks"]">4.) Hawks||4.) Wizards||4.) Heat||4.) Raptors||4.) Wizards||4.) Raptors||4.) Raptors||4.) Wizards|
|5.) Raptors||5.) Raptors||Hornets"]">5.) Hornets||Pacers"]">5.) Pacers||5.) Raptors||5.) Heat||5.) Hornets||5.) Hornets|
|6.) Hornets||6.) Knicks||6.) Wizards||6.) Heat||6.) Hawks||6.) Hornets||6.) Hawks||6.) Heat|
|7.) Heat||7.) Hornets||Pistons"]">7.) Pistons||7.) Hornets||Nets"]">7.) Nets||7.) Nets||7.) Heat||7.) Nets|
|8.) Knicks||8.) Hawks||8.) Nets||8.) Hawks||8.) Pistons||8.) Hawks||8.) Knicks||8.) Hawks|
|9.) Pistons||9.) Pistons||9.) Knicks||9.) Nets||Magic"]">9.) Magic||9.) Pistons||9.) Nets||9.) Pistons|
|10.) Nets||10.) Nets||10.) Hawks||10.) Knicks||Bucks"]">10.) Bucks||Celtics"]">10.) Celtics||10.) Pistons||10.) Knicks|
|11.) Bucks||11.) Celtics||11.) Pacers||11.) Pistons||11.) Celtics||11.) Magic||11.) Pacers||11.) Celtics|
|12.) Celtics||12.) Magic||12.) Celtics||12.) Bucks||12.) Pacers||12.) Knicks||12.) Magic||12.) Magic|
|13.) Pacers||13.) Pacers||13.) Bucks||13.) Magic||13.) Heat||13.) Pacers||13.) Bucks||13.) Pacers|
|14.) Magic||14.) Bucks||14.) Magic||14.) Celtics||14.) Hornets||14.) Bucks||14.) Celtics||14.) Bucks|
|76ers"]">15.) 76ers||15.) 76ers||15.) 76ers||15.) 76ers||15.) 76ers||15.) 76ers||15.) 76ers||15.) 76ers|
The Bulls and the Cavaliers should just play right now for the Eastern Conference Finals, right?! No? Okay. The 76ers have to set some type of horrible record this season. Carmelo Anthony's Knicks are viewed quite differently above, as are the Hawks. The Pistons seem to be thought of as a fringe playoff team, thanks to Stan Van Gundy.
Now here's how we came to our conclusions:
West: It's gonna be a bloodbath. Trying to find a spot for the Nuggets in the top eight proves very difficult, but I see good things for the team. I'm not quite sold on the Clippers, but they should be good. I really liked that Warriors team during Denver's 57 win season. The playoff series killed me, but that team is on the rise and I think Steve Kerr is going to do wonders for them. Spurs are still the Spurs and the Grizzlies are good and they have scoring help in Quincy Pondexter and Vince Carter (Vince really reinvented himself).
East: Lots of rebuilding teams and lots of middle of the pack squads. I hope the Wizards and Raptors continue to be teams on the rise. The Cavs are must watch TV.
West: The West will again be difficult this season. I expect the Spurs to be nearly equally as good as last seasons championship run. The Thunder will struggle without kevin Durant this season but MAY make a comeback one KD returns. The Nuggets will undoubtedly be the surprise team of the conference.
East: Chicago and Cleveland will battle it out for top seed in the conference with Cleveland prevailing. Miami will be better than people think. Indiana will struggle without Paul George and a slow, sludgy offensive scheme.
West: Unlike the Eastern Conference, which underwent a seismic power shift when LeBron James and Kevin Love colluded to join the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Western Conference powers essentially stayed put, with the exceptions being marginal improvements made to both the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets rosters. Unfortunately for our beloved Nuggets, it's hard to fathom which team among the conference's "Top 8" slides backward, combined with the continued improvement sure to be seen from both the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans making the ever-so-tough Western Conference ever-so-tough yet again. However, Phoenix and Portland won't surprise anyone this year, which might give Denver a crack at getting back into the playoffs. This is why the Nuggets need to return to home dominance by playing fast, using their youth / depth / athleticism to their advantage, stop worrying about building a "championship culture" and just worry about making the playoffs.
East: For LeBron James to downplay that his Cleveland Cavaliers aren't yet ready to compete for championships in the still-pathetic Eastern Conference is nothing short of laughable. Yes, the Chicago Bulls - with former MVP Derrick Rose seemingly back in pre-injury form - should be improved over last season, but other than the Bulls every other Eastern Conference team essentially stayed put roster-wise, sans modest upgrades by the Charlotte Hornets and a huge downgrade for the Miami Heat by losing James over the summer to Cleveland. Throw in the still-tanking Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics and the Eastern Conference once again will be a feasting ground for easy wins for teams actually attempting to make the playoffs.
West: Why? Well, the Spurs, duh. Clippers finally rise, especially with OKC's slow start. The Thunder are back in time to squeeze past the Nuggets, but barely. Denver reclaims its mojo of two years ago, Portland is narrowly behind in a surprisingly deep Northwest. Dallas benefits from the Chandlers (Parsons and Tyson), the Suns turn up the heat, and Anthony Davis makes his first of many playoff appearances. Golden State finds itself on the outside looking in in a deep West, and Houston's wheels come off due to missing a third scorer and alienating the rest. Memphis has its first setback year in a while (a la Nuggets '13-'14), and Minnesota, Utah, the Lakers and Kings all fight over the table scraps.
East: The Bulls are going to look like geniuses for the Gasol pickup, and Cleveland will struggle just enough in piecing it together early to miss the top seed. Washington will look even better with another year's cohesion, and the Raptors will prove last year was no fluke. The Heat have enough talent left to stay in the picture, and Charlotte should continue to gel. The Hawks and Brooklyn round out the playoff teams, narrowly squeaking in over the Knicks, who will have some angry customers after another year out of the playoffs. Indiana won't do well with their multiple issues and injuries, and Detroit sits atop the dregs of the Milwaukee/Orlando/Boston crap-fecta. Philly wants to be at the bottom, so we'll allow it.
West: I won't fall for your tricks this season, Spurs - you guys are the front runner in the West until Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan are no longer a part of the organization. Every year that I count them out, they inevitably end up quietly crushing the rest of the conference beneath Pop's impeccable coaching, Duncan's ageless skill, and under-the-radar rookies. Rounding out the top 4, I absolutely expect the Rockets, Thunder and Clippers to secure home court in the first round. The rest of the pack - consisting of the Blazers, Warriors, our Nuggets, and the Pelicans - might surprise a team or two and take a higher seed, but you just can't count out the Spurs while that team's core is still intact.
East: While it's created some good storylines, I can't help but feel cynical about LeBron James homecoming to Cleveland. He clearly saw the writing on the wall in Miami with an aging Dwyane Wade and fading supporting cast. Thus, the Cavaliers instantly become the favorites to come out of the still-putrid East and even win it all. As in most seasons, the rest of the East is an utter crapshoot, and I would be not at all surprised to find this list entirely backward at the end of the year. I'm fairly sure that the Bulls with Pau Gasol and a returning Derrick Rose have a strong chance at the #2 spot. Melo will probably find a way to bring the Knicks back to relevance after that fat contract, and I'm secretly hoping that the Wizards make a deep playoff run behind Bradley Beal, John Wall, and our old friend Nene. The rest of the top 8 probably have no shot at upsetting the top 4, with the lone exception of a feisty Toronto team. Outside of that, it's no secret that the rest of the East is still far inferior to even the dregs of the Western conference, and will likely stew about with the possibility of sneaking into the 8 seed with 25 or 30 wins. Blech.
East: There are only two teams that have a shot to represent the East in the Finals this season. The Pacers would have been considered had they not lost Paul George. I have the Bulls just ahead of the Cavs because of a bit more continuity, younger legs and depth. After this it is a total crap shoot as to where teams will land. There is going to be some fun things happening at the bottom of the conference, look for a couple teams to take a step or two forward.
West: The Nuggets are a playoff team. The question is are healthy? Can they improve a few notches on defense? What about the rotation? Many of those questions are in the process of being solved on paper, but the regular season will tell the real tale. Houston and Memphis are the teams most likely to see their spot taken by the Nuggets.
West: That 8th position in the West is where a lot of the excitement will be. Suns, Grizzlies and Pelicans could readily push the Thunder there depending on the length of time Kevin Durant is out. If Russell Westbrook misses more than a week along the line, the Thunder will drop out of consideration.
Clippers will take the best record in the West as Coach Pop limits minutes in San Antonio for one final Finals push. I could also see the Warriors and Blazers swapping places in the rankings, and Nuggets and Mavs too for that matter. Realistically, I think top 6 teams in the West are a step above the next 5 teams, who are also a step up from the remaining 4. Should be very competitive, and a lot of fun to watch!
East: I think the Bulls grind themselves to the best record in the East. My question is, if they'll still have enough in the tank come playoffs? Cleveland is the obvious trendy choice, but they have more parts to sort out with their transitions in the off season than the Bulls do. And in a 7 game playoff matchup between the Bulls and Cavs, I question whether the Cavs can handle the Bulls inside game and defense.
Once you get past the Hornets on this list, I begin to yawn. Snoozers and chuckers abound. The Pistons/Knicks/Celtics are of interest only to see if they implode. I've gone on record elsewhere on this - Bulls vs. Clippers in the NBA Finals.
That's all she wrote folks! How do you see the seedings playing out?