I know everyone loves to forecast stuff at this time of year and sure it is fun to read about it and bicker. I did power rankings for the Beacon Journal's preview section, which never made it online, but I ranked the Mavericks the best in the West, the Pistons the best in the East and the Cavs sixth overall.
Realistically, though, I can't at this point say who my favorite is to win either side. There is too much parity at the top and too many unknowns, especially in the East. As for the individual awards, here's my take, followed by my prediction for the Cavs.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James. I voted for him last year and I see no reason why he shouldn't be the favorite this year. Though I expect it to become an arm's race with Kobe Bryant this year.
All-NBA Team: Kobe, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki. This seems fairly standard to me.
Most Improved Player: Carmelo Anthony. He will make his first All-Star team and I believe the Nuggets will become one of the West's best teams.
Sixth Man Award: Andres Nocioni. Anyone who reads this blog knows I love him as a player. I think the Bulls will be a great team and, if he remains as a reserve, he will share the credit.
Coach of Year: Don Nelson. Just watch him run his Warriors into one of the last playoff spots.
Rookie of the Year: Jorge Garbajosa. Who? Well, he plays for the Raptors and for the world champion Spanish national team. I doubt a foreigner who plays in Canada for a team that probably won't make the playoffs will get enough headlines to actually win -- Tyrus Thomas, Brandon Roy or Adam Morrison probably will -- but I think he's the most developed rookie at this point. So there.
Executive of Year: John Paxson. Yet another winner of this award will have to dedicate part of it to Isiah Thomas for what the Bulls VP did to him in the Eddy Curry trade, setting up this year's haul.
Comeback Player of the Year: Dajuan Wagner. This award actually doesn't exist in the NBA. But after everything he's been through, I have to root for him.
Cavaliers: 52-30. Second in the Central Division, third in the East.
Yes the Cavs will be better, but I don't think it will show much in the record. The East will be tougher across the board. The Cavs beat the Bulls four times last season, that won't happen again. Plus the Raptors and Bobcats, teams the Cavs also swept, are going to be better as are the Orlando Magic, who the Cavs took three of four from in 05-06. There just won't be that many easy wins out there.
My personal history is this: In 2003-04, I picked them to go 34-48 and they went 37-45. In 04-05, I picked 41-41 and they went 42-40. Last year I picked 47-35 and they went 50-32. So I have always slightly underestimated them.
Now, let me point out that the News-Herald's Bob Finnan is king of this corner. He has correctly predicted the Cavs record three years in a row. Exactly. And so I will inform you he has slated them to go 57-25, tying a team record. Meanwhile Branson Wright of the Plain Dealer picked them to go 50-32 again.
Now what do you think? Let's hear your predictions in the comments section.