NOTE: We're skipping the rest of the West teams because of time. For the record, here's how I think they'll all finish.
New Orleans: 44-38.
San Antonio: 61-21.
The season is one weeks away, but most of the rosters are set, barring the requisite Michael Jordan comeback rumor (just kidding, but only a little). We have an idea where our team stands, but we can't really know unless we discuss everyone else. In that spirit, I'm going to throw up a "competition discussion" thread for each of the other 29 teams over the next month or so. We'll go in alphabetical order from A to Z. Today's team: New Jersey.
Last year's record: 41-41.
Playoffs: Beat Toronto 4-2, lost to Cleveland 4-2.
In: Jamaal Magloire (free agent), Malik Allen (free agent), Sean Williams (draft), Darrell Armstrong (free agent), Robert Hite (free agent).
Out: Mikki Moore (free agent), Eddie House (free agent), Hassan Adam (free agent).
Projected starting lineup: Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, Nenad Kristic, Jamaal Magloire.
Bench (in no particular order): Marcus Williams, Darrell Armstrong, Robert Hite, Antoine Wright, Bernard Robinson, Botsjan Nachbar, Jumaine Jones, Josh Boone, Malik Allen, Jason Collins, Sean Williams.
So what do we think? Can they get back to the conference finals with their Big 3? When will Jason Kidd slow down? Was it wise to re-sign Vince Carter? Should they have tried harder to get Jermaine O'Neal? Can they say their frontcourt is improved? Will we regret passing on Sean Williams?
Can this team please stop fooling themselves into thinking they're a conference title contender. During these past couple years, they've caught a lot of breaks, and still haven't managed to be an important player in the conference. Don't even give me the Kristic injury last year -- not only is he overrated, but Mikki Moore was basically the same player last year.
I do think their surrounding cast is a bit better than last year, to be fair. Jamaal Magloire isn't a very good player anymore, but he is better offensively than Jason Collins, and I don't think they lose much defensively. I don't really believe in Sean Williams, but in him and Josh Boone, one of those guys will contribute. And you can't forget about Kristic, who is decent, if not spectacular.
But any gains there will be lost by their Big 3 slipping. Don't get me wrong, Kidd and Carter will still be good, but I can't see them being any better than last year (Kidd especially). Meanwhile, Jefferson has officially morphed into an overpaid, oft-injured wing, and they really should have moved him this offseason. The fact that nobody really wanted him should say something.
I think they're right on the bubble in the playoffs, and I could see things going either way. For now, I'll say 41-41 again.
Other CDs, with mine and Jake's projected record alongside. Yours, of course, are in the comments of those posts.
Charlotte: 42-40/39-43. Of course, this news changes everything. Now, I say the Bobcats finish 35-47.
Golden State: 36-46/35-47.
LA Clippers: 23-59/19-63.
LA Lakers: 42-40/42-40.