Merry Christmas, folks! You should be with your families, but I imagine you'll also be watching a lot of NBA. Here's your open thread to do it. I'm running the ship on the mothership today, but I'll try to pop in every once in a while to say hello.
Below the jump, some season predictions:
15. Charlotte Bobcats: 12-54 (15-67): Kemba Walker is this team's top scoring threat, and he's a small guard who is a rookie. This is going to get ugly.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: 14-52 (18-64): I think Kyrie Irving will be great, but not this year, and the rest of this team is just as bad as it was last year.
13. Toronto Raptors: 19-47 (23-59): Dwayne Casey is a great defensive coach, but you also need good defensive players, and this roster has none.
12. Washington Wizards: 21-45 (26-56): More on this tomorrow.
11. Detroit Pistons: 21-45 (26-56): There's talent here, and having a competent coach can only help, but the roster is still incredibly imbalanced, so that talent won't show itself in games as much as it should.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: 25-41 (31-51): Might be a bit harsh, but I'm getting a lot of bad mojo from Stephen Jackson's status here. Still, though, this is the one team that could sneak into the playoffs as is. Beno Udrih is going to be an especially helpful addition.
9. New Jersey Nets: 30-36 (37-45): This all assumes Dwight Howard comes here right at the trade deadline.
8. Orlando Magic: 32-34 (39-43): Ditto.
7. Atlanta Hawks: 35-31 (44-38): Jeff Teague and Tracy McGrady will make up for the loss of Kirk Hinrich for a month, which means this is the same team we've always seen.
6. Philaelphia 76ers: 37-29 (46-36): I think people are sleeping on the 76ers and I think they have as good a chance as anyone of winning the Atlantic. They have great continuity, and three players in particular -- Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner -- are due for big jumps this year.
5. Boston Celtics: 38-28 (47-35): The truncated schedule is going to hurt them, but come May, they're still the Celtics.
4. New York Knicks: 39-27 (49-33): This requires a major leap of faith, so I'm not wild about this pick. But adding Tyson Chandler will make a major difference, and if it works anywhere for Baron Davis, it'll be here. I could see the Knicks imploding too.
3. Indiana Pacers: 41-25 (51-31): They're so deep, and depth wins in a shortened season. I have some concerns about the health of David West and how he fits in with this team, but I think they'll be really good.
2. Chicago Bulls: 50-16 (62-20): Probably better than last year thanks to the Rip Hamilton addition. Smart gamble there in signing him.
1. Miami Heat: 53-13 (66-16): Still feel like Miami rolls over everyone this year, though that Bulls-Heat series is going to be a war.
15. Sacramento Kings: 23-43 (28-54): They have talent, but none of it plays together and they're poorly coached. I'd be shocked if Paul Westphal lasts the season.
14. New Orleans Hornets: 24-42 (30-52): I could see the Hornets being decent because Monty Williams does good work with undermanned rosters, but the West is just too stacked.
13. Utah Jazz: 25-41 (31-51): Moving in the right direction, but for now, there's too much roster duplication, especially up front.
12. Phoenix Suns: 26-40 (32-50): The slow slide to mediocrity continues.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves: 28-38 (35-47): These guys are going to be awesome to watch, and Rick Adelman will improve them tremendously, but they're still a bit too weak defensively to make the playoffs.
10. Golden State Warriors: 28-38 (35-47): Same as usual.
9. Houston Rockets: 29-37 (36-46): They kind of belong here.
8. Portland Trail Blazers: 40-26 (50-32): Spots 8-2 in the West could go in a lot of different directions, so take these all with a grain of salt. I'll reluctantly put Portland here because of the early-season injury of LaMarcus Aldridge, which will set them back a bit. I also think they'll miss Andre Miller more than they realize.
7. Memphis Grizzlies: 40-26 (50-32): Great starting lineup, great story, but they lack depth. The loss of Shane Battier, the injury to Darrell Arthur and even the recent trade of Greivis Vasquez will hurt just enough to drop them to No. 7 in the conference.
6. San Antonio Spurs: 41-25 (51-31): Sure, they're older, and the shortened season will hurt teams like them, but they still won 61 games last year and have most of their guys back.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: 42-24 (52-30): Kobe will find a way, but this isn't a title contender anymore.
4. Dallas Mavericks: 42-24 (52-30): I'm a little nervous how these new pieces will actually fit. Tyson Chandler was a major loss. Lamar Odom is a great player, but where does he fit in? They'll find a way to win, but I don't see a repeat.
3. Denver Nuggets: 43-23 (53-29): Bit of a surprise pick, but keep in mind how deep they are. Depth will win this year, and with Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer all in the fold, the Nuggets are deep. They'll be bumped up even more if they get Kenyon Martin back in March.
2. Los Angeles Clippers: 44-22 (55-27): I make this pick with a lot of trepidation. Defensively, they'll struggle a bit, and I'm not wild about Caron Butler's fit. But as long as they have Chris Paul healthy, they'll be among the league's best offensive teams, and that'll be enough to lift them.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder: 49-17 (61-21): Still feel like they have a lot of questions to answer, but in a weaker West, they should be the best team.