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2009, October 20: ESPN.com – NBA Preview 2009

October 21, 2009

nbalogoJalen Rose’s 2009-10 Predictions: NBA Awards
Rookie of the Year – Tyreke Evans
Most Improved – Ramon Sessions
Sixth Man – Manu Ginobili
Coach of the Year – Stan Van Gundy
Defensive Player of the Year – Dwight Howard
MVP – Dwight Howard

Jalen Rose’s 2009-10 Predictions:
Predicted Finish for Eastern Conference: 2009-10:

#1 – Cleveland Cavaliers… LBJ is the best all-around player in the game. He probably could average a triple-double. Shaq wants his fifth ring. Mo Williams can play with the best of them at the point. Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker will have perimeter impact. 
#2 – Orlando Magic… Howard will lead the league in rebounds, blocks and dunks. His offense is improving. Carter is an underrated playmaker who will have huge scoring nights. Lewis and Bass will allow the Magic to play big while spreading the floor, and Nelson showed what he can do at the point.
#3 – Boston Celtics… The return of KG and all he brings to the table at both ends will be the key for the Celtics. Pierce and Ray Allen are both clutch and they need to re-sign Rondo ASAP. Wallace can play power forward and center and is a matchup nightmare. 
#4 – Chicago Bulls… If Deng is back playing at a high level the Bulls will be in the mix in the East. The sky is the limit for Rose and Salmons and Hinrich will be productive every night. 
#5 – Atlanta Hawks… Contender is the next step for this group led by Joe Johnson one of the most complete talents in the game. Josh Smith and Al Horford have huge upsides. They have a player in Jamal Crawford, who can get buckets and break down a defense. 
#6 – Washington Wizards… New coach Flip Saunders will make sure he tailors his offense to suit Agent Zero, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. This will be the most improved team in the league. 
#7 – Miami Heat… Beasley and Chalmers had successful rookie seasons. Wade competes on every play and is still improving, which is scary. Haslem will battle and knock down the mid-range jumper. 
#8 – Toronto Raptors… The signings of Hedo and Jack will get this team back into the postseason. Calderon doesn’t make turnovers. Bosh will be 20 and 10 (thinking about the summer of 2010 — should he stay or go?). Expect his shot-blocking and D to improve.
#9 – Detroit Pistons… Prince is steady. Hamilton and Gordon will light up the scoreboard. Charlie V not only has versatility, he also has the ability to score in bunches. Daye will be a productive rookie. 
#10 – Philadelphia 76ers… Eddie Jordan will start to implement his Princeton-style offense. Brand is a force in the paint and plays as hard as any player in the league. Iguodala is an improving shooter who can finish above the hoop, and he still has upside. 
#11 – Charlotte Bobcats… They will battle for the eighth spot all season. Wallace is an overlooked player who contributes in a lot of ways. Will the team re-sign Raymond Felton? Tyson Chandler will run the floor, protect the rim and rebound. 
#12 – Indiana Pacers… Danny Granger has emerged as a top small forward. Troy Murphy is automatic from 3 at, or near the top, of the key. Mike Dunleavy hopes to shake the injury bug. 
#13 – New York Knicks…  The majority of the players are on one-year contracts. Fun-and-gun will be on display. Lee will be among the league leaders in double-doubles. Harrington will be the team leader in scoring, while Chandler continues to really impress. Robinson is a sixth man of the year candidate. 
#14 – Milwaukee Bucks… In the offseason this roster had a massive overhaul. As long as sharpshooter Michael Redd is on the roster and Andrew Bogut is patrolling the paint, coach Scott Skiles will get this team to play hard. Brandon Jennings is a blur and has a natural feel for the game at the point. He could be ROY.
#15 – New Jersey Nets… Move to Brooklyn? Devin Harris is one of the top point guards in the East. Chris Douglas-Roberts will prove his worth and surprise a lot of naysayers.

Predicted Finish for Western Conference: 2009-10:
#1 – Los Angeles Lakers… Every player in the league will still give Kobe the ball at crunch time. Gasol is an All-NBA performer. Odom along with Artest will provide all kinds of post-up and perimeter problems on both ends of the floor. They need Bynum to dominate. 
#2 – San Antonio Spurs… They are motivated and healthy. Pop has his championship-caliber core back in Duncan, Parker and Manu and they added quality depth with the additions of Jefferson, McDyess and Blair.
#3 – Dallas Mavericks… On the offensive end Dirk is the most gifted all-around PF in the NBA. Marion provides a boost to this team with his speed, scoring, defense and rebounding. Terry is the barometer of the team and makes big shots. Can Josh Howard play at an All-Star level? 
#4 – Denver Nuggets… Melo and Billups get a full season to wreck havoc. Nene is as efficient and effective as any center in the league. J.R. Smith shows flashes of greatness. Anderson with Martin provide energy and toughness. Karl is in the final year of his deal. 
#5 – Utah Jazz… Will Boozer be traded? This team takes advantage of its home court as well as any team around but must find a way to play better on the road. They have great size and depth and Williams is the second-best point guard in the league (Paul).
#6 – Portland Trail Blazers… Oden will need to develop into an anchor that can stay out of foul trouble. He has to contest every shot and go after every rebound. Roy is the third best SG in the game — behind Kobe and Wade. Aldridge has All-Star potential. 
#7 – N.O. Hornets… When healthy Okafor has been a rebounding and shot-blocking force. Paul will dazzle and be in the MVP conversation. Will Peja return to his form from a few years back?
#8 – Phoenix Suns… This is where the overall balance of the West takes a dip. Will Amare be traded (New York in 2010?)? Nash can still drop dimes and put up numbers on the offensive end. Barbosa gets his game back to his Sixth Man of the Year form. Can the fun-and-gun style win a title?
#9 – L.A. Clippers… On paper this team should take the final playoff spot. If it’s to happen, Baron and Camby have to lead the way. Kaman is proven. Gordon and Thornton score in flurries and Griffin will provide a workmanlike attitude and fresh face. 
#10 – G.S. Warriors… They must decide if Jackson is part of the past or the future. Morrow will light it up when he gets going. Will playing the point affect Ellis’ ability to score big numbers? Biedrins is productive and efficient. Curry will show a soft touch from 3. Lots of scoring … not enough wins. 
#11 – Minnesota Timberwolves… With a healthy Jefferson, don’t be surprised if they beat out the Suns and/or Clips to make the playoffs. Sessions is a stud and will be the most improved player in the league. New coach Rambis put together one of my favorite coaching staffs (Laimbeer/Theus). Love will average a double-double. 
#12 – Memphis Grizzlies… Gay and Mayo will be the headline performers. Randolph scores and grabs rebounds at will. Can Conley hold down the point? A.I. will have something to prove to all the teams that overlooked him in free agency.
#13 – OKC Thunder… They have a young exciting core in Durant, Westbook and Green. Rookie James Harden will slash to the basket and perform like a top rookie in this year’s class.
#14 – Houston Rockets… No Yao Ming possibly for the entire season. McGrady is recovering from surgery and both players will be free agents after the season. Ariza was a good signing, but this season wins will be hard to come by. Brooks will have a breakout year.
#15 – Sacramento Kings… Kevin Martin can score with the best of them. Evans will be the Rookie of the Year. Sergio Rodriguez will continue to improve.