Friday, April 01, 2005

Foolish Fearless Forecasts?

In the first half of the season, as many of you will remember (all 4 of you), I ran a regular '5 on 5' column where in one of the sections, I made "5 Fearless Forecasts". I decided that in light of April Fools Day, today wouldn't be a bad time to look back on those predictions and see how foolish I really was. I'm only going to go over the 25 predictions I made during the month of November because 25 is a solid number and I don't want to completely waste mine or your time by just droning on and on like I always do. Also note that I'm preparing to bring back this column on Monday, so check back then...APRIL FOOLS (there's my cop-out in case I get too loaded this weekend).

November 2, 2004

"1. Despite an extremely tough schedule to begin the season which includes a 6 game west coast trip, expect the Raptors to come out swinging. This team is a lot better than people give them credit for, and with Sam Mitchell steering the ship steadily and Vince Carter bouncing back this season, do not be surprised to see the Raptors settle into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race."

In Retrospect- This was my first prediction? Yeesh. Actually, to mine and Toronto's credit, the Raptors did win their first 3 games. Of coure they went on to lose 5 of their next 6 and never see the happy side of .500 again. Playoffs? Fugetabatit.
Consensus: FOOL

A long time ago, both Sam Mitchell and I were fired up about the Raptors' chances of making the playoffs. Now we're both left looking utterly foolish. At least I'll still have a job come May. (Whew! That was harsh.)

"2. Nate McMillan will be the first coach fired this season. The Sonics are simply not talented enough to keep up with the western powers, and McMillan is reportedly on thin ice with management anyways. It would be a shame to see McMillan take the fall because he has done a terrific job with what he has, but to expect him to improve upon last season’s modest win total (37 wins) might be too much to ask."

In Retrospect- Okay, I totally botched this one. Anthony and I missed the boat on Seattle for at least the first month of the season. But who didn't? If Nate McMillan doesn't get 'Coach of the Year', all hell will break loose at NBA Source.
Consensus: FOOL

"3. Trevor Ariza will one day prove to be the second-round steal of the 2004 NBA Draft, but that one day will not happen this season. Ariza, the 6’8 forward out of UCLA who dismissed advisors who suggested he stay in school for his sophomore season, finished 3rd on the Knicks in both scoring and rebounding and led the team in steals in the preseason. The problem is Lenny Wilkens will have a difficult time finding minutes for Ariza who sits behind Mike Sweetney and Jerome Williams, both also forwards coming off the bench."

In Retrospect-
Ariza has dropped hints of his potential all season long and has actually surprised some by creating a regular role off the bench for himself. His outside shot still needs some serious work, but he can already finish with the best of 'em and his outstanding instincts on defense will only become more of an asset as he builds up his thin frame and continues to learn how to use his tools/
Consensus: To Be Determined

"4. High School rookies will continue the trend of making an impact right away. Top pick Dwight Howard will start at power forward for the Magic, and if the preseason is any indication, he could be the frontrunner for ‘Rookie of the Year’; Byron Scott will likely start J.R. Smith with confidence (11.1 PPG, 12 3PM in preseason) in New Orleans as starting shooting guard David Wesley nurses a sore hamstring; Shaun Livingston will play plenty of minutes for the Clippers as oft-injured starter Marko Jaric struggles with a broken thumb; Al Jefferson will be called upon off the bench in Boston where the frontcourt remains thin; and while Josh Smith, Robert Swift, and Sebastian Telfair may struggle to find PT early on, their respective teams are all projected to miss the playoffs and will likely ship their young guns out for battle later in the season."

In Retrospect- I'd say I nailed this one. Dwight Howard, J.R. Smith, and Josh Smith will make either the 1st or 2nd All-Rookie Team and each has super-stardom written all over them. Shaun Livingston has been very impressive when he's actually been healthy; Al Jefferson has seen his minutes slide since the acquisition of Antoine Walker, but he was giving the C's great production off the bench prior to the trade; Sebastian Telfair has had his ups and downs since inheriting the starting role a month ago, but he's flashed potential; and Robert Swift has showed great quickness for a big man in regularly being the first Sonic off the bench to hi-five teammates during timeouts.
Consensus: Expert

"5. Shaquille O’Neal is going to make a huge impression very quickly. The Heat open the season against four Eastern Conference opponents where Shaq will lay the smack down immediately as he marks his territory in the East. Then Miami hosts Dallas in a game in which Shaq will likely have a little extra for a team that failed to pony up for the big fella this summer in the Shaq trade sweepstakes. After bruising and abusing the Mavs, Shaq takes his crew into San Antonio where he will undoubtedly look to deliver the West’s best a message: the beast is now in the East."

In Retrospect- Boy, I really went out on a limb with this one. The Heat did indeed win their first four games before losing to both Dallas and San Antonio. Remember that the Heat only started the season 11-7, but Shaq has since shifted the power to the East where Miami looks like a serious title contender.
Consensus- Wuss

November 9, 2004

"1. The Utah Jazz will continue to be a force to reckon with in the West. Off to a blazing start by demolishing the Nuggets, Lakers, and Warriors, the Jazz have combined a tenacious defense and a disciplined offense to overwhelm their opponents. While teams like the Lakers, Nuggets, and Rockets struggle to find a comfort zone while implementing new players and schemes into their attack, the Jazz should continue their hot start and could end up leading the western pack for awhile with a very favorable schedule (12 of next 19 against non-playoff teams from last year). With Carlos Arroyo returning from a sprained ankle as early as this Saturday, and newcomers Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur continuing to adjust to Jerry Sloan's system, there's even reason to believe that the Jazz aren't even playing up to their full potential just yet. Watch out for this team."

In Retrospect- The Jazz would end up getting to 8-5 before their season went to hell: Kirilenko's injury, Arroyo being tossed into Sloan's doghouse before subsequently being shipped to Detroit for a bag of pretzels, Boozer's injury, and now Kirilenko's injury again. At 22-49, it's safe to say the only force the Jazz have in their favor is the amount of lottery balls they'll have compared to other teams.
Consensus- FOOL

Jerry Sloan's relagation of Carlos Arroyo to his doghouse led to the point guard's trade out of Utah. It also forced Sloan to hire a casting director to find a player out there who could at least pretend to be a starting point guard in the NBA. To this date, the role has not been filled.

"2. Jamaal Tinsley will lead the NBA in assists. With Jason Kidd out until at least mid-December and presumably being traded to a new team, it's unlikely that the star point guard repeats as the NBA assist leader this season. So who will inherit the covetted title? Look no further than Tinsley. People tend to forget that he averaged an impressive 8.1 APG his rookie season in 2001-2002. Injuries, a suspect shot, and questionable decision-making has resulted in Tinsley losing some minutes over the past two seasons. But by the halfway point of last season, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle had renentrusted Tinsley to start at the 1 and play 35+ minutes a night. Larry Bird was so impressed with his play that he annointed Tinsley as the team's "next all star" and awarded him with a 6 year contract extension worth $40 million. Tinsley has delivered thus far, leading the NBA with 31 assists through 3 games."

In Retrospect- Tinsley ranks 14th in the NBA in APG, but doesn't even qualify because he's missed so many games. Now we have to remember that I made this prediction prior to the melee on November 19th, so I was under the thinking that he would have Artest, JO, and Jackson by his side all season. It turned out Tinsley took on more of a scoring role without them and thus his assists dropped off big time.
Consensus- Inconclusive

"3. The Hawks are going to lose more games than anyone, including the Bobcats. Dating back to the preseason, Atlanta has now lost 10 consecutive games; now when you can't even pull off a win in exhibition, there has to be something really wrong with your team. Heading into Tuesday's home opener against the also winless Cavs, the Hawks are giving up an average of 108 points and losing by 22. Being led by two players who are known for their lackadaisical defense(Walker and Harrington), I don't see the Hawks stopping anyone defensively. And with a starting lineup containing two players on the verge of collecting social security (Kevin Willis and Kenny Anderson), you have to wonder how the Hawks will keep up with teams dropping 100+ on them every night."

In Retrospect- This wasn't exactly a bold prediction on my part, but a lot of pundits had the Bobcats finishing with the worst record and there was a time when the Hornets had the look of an NAIA team. Nevertheless, Atlanta is 11-60-- 4.5 games behind Charlotte and a lock to finish with the worst record. Bravo.
Consensus- Expert

"4. Chris Webber will (surprise!) be the first marquee player to land on in the injured list for a significant amount of time. Webber has already been complaining about his bum knees after just three games, perhaps an excuse for his 40% shooting and the Kings' 0-3 record, but also maybe because Rick Adelman is playing him 37 minutes a game after allowing C-Webb to participate in an unusual abundance of minutes during the preseason. Anyone who watches Webber can just tell that the guy is not the same player as he once was; he has lost nearly all of his vertical ability and laterally he just does not move as swiftly as he once did for a power forward. Considering that Webber hasn't played more than 70 games since before the new millenium, and that he usually goes on hiatus during the first half of the season, I'd say it's certainly a strong possibility that he goes down in the near future."

In Retrospect- Baron Davis took the cake on November 17th when New Orleans placed him on the injured list with an inflamed disk in his lower back. Needless to say, it was all downhill from here for New Orleans. Webber has actually avoided his annual hiatus on the injured list all season long, though he's likely out for the next 3 to 4 weeks with a sprained shoulder (and no, I'm not joking about that).
Consensus- Acceptable Error

"5. Ray Allen will be the first marquee player to be traded this season. My gut tells me that Kidd comes back in mid-December, takes about a month to show he's fully recovered and then is shipped off to (Fill in Blank) a few weeks before the February 24th trading deadline. With that in mind, the Sonics will have tanked by December (9 of next 14 on road), and with Nate McMillan already thrown to the wolves, GM Rick Sund will be ready to make another major change in personnel. By keeping Allen, a player that has not been as popular as expected with the Sonics organization or its fans, the Sonics almost certainly eliminate any cap room they might have this summer as Allen is demanding a max contract. By trading Allen and taking on draft picks or expiring contracts, the Sonics can free up close to $18 million in cap room. Look for the Sonics to try and send Allen to the Blazers for Shareef Abdur-Rahim (expiring contract), Travis Outlaw (future prospect) and a draft pick or two."

In Retrospect- Once again I took a shot at the Sonics and ended up falling flat on my face. Allen has become somewhat of a savior in Seattle, having his best season ever and leading the Sonics to the Northwest Division Title. Though when all is said and done, Allen is still a candidate to be traded this summer in a sign-and-trade deal. Stay tuned.
Consensus- FOOL

Ray Allen and the Sonics have done a tremendous job of making me look like a jackass all season. At least I didn't pick them to finish dead last in the West like Anthony did.

November 16, 2004

"1. Yao Ming will have a MONSTER week. The Rockets have 5 games this coming week, 3 against teams that don't play defense (Atl, NYK, LAC), and 4 against teams with significantly undersized centers (Atl, NYK, LAC, Por). After getting off to a sluggish start, Yao has scored 25+ in 3 of his last 4 games and seems poised to take his numbers to another level this season."

In Retrospect- I think I was so psyched about having Yao going 5 times on my fantasy team this week that I decided it was worthy of a 'fearless forecast'. Whatever. His numbers for the week- 21.6 PPG, 58.3 FG%, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG. That beats his averages for the season (18.2 PPG, 54.8 FG%, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG), but the Rockets did only go 2-3 during the stretch.
Consensus- Respectable

"2. Tough luck for Mike James because Maurice Williams will not relinquish the starting point guard spot in Milwaukee. Though he can't shoot for his life (35.5 FG% and has not even attempted a 3-pointer), Mo has settled in admirably for the Bucks as a playmaker (8.8 APG) and is proving to be a real steal after being signed away from Utah late this summer for just $5.5 million over 3 years. Though James (also a free agent acquisition for Milwaukee) should still see significant playing time upon his return, he may have to become more adept at the 2 guard as Williams is quickly making people forget about the injured T.J. Ford and beginning to inherit the coveted label of "point guard of the future"."

In Retrospect- Mo Williams never did lose the starting spot as he has started every single game at the 1 for Milwaukee this season. Whether that has anything to do with the Bucks' crappy record (27-44), well, I suppose that's a safe assumption. But it's hard to fault a 2nd year point guard with a weak supporting class. To Mo's credit, he has played very respectably since the All-Star break (13.4 PPG, 49.2 FG%, 43.8 3PT%, 7.1 APG) and still appears to have a bright future.
Consensus- Expert

"3. The New Orleans Hornets will beat the New York Knicks for their first win of the season--on December 8. Ouch. At 0-6, yet having played every game competitively since their opening loss to the Mavs, it would seem that Byron Scott's crew would be do for a win. Not so fast; check out the remaining November schedule. They play just two games this week, both at home, but against Phoenix and Minnesota. The Hornets then travel to to the West Coast for 8 days to play 5 games against the Jazz, Warriors, Suns, Lakers, and Nuggets. It actually doesn't get much easier to begin December, where the Hornets will once again play 5 games in 8 games, this time all against playoff teams from a year ago. Oh, and to remind you-- Baron Davis is out with a back injury (uh-oh)."

In Retrospect- The Hornets picked up their first win November 22nd at Utah after having started the season 0-8. The Knicks did beat them on December 8th (86-79) and the Hornets subsequently wouldn't win their third game of the season until January 8th as their record improved to 3-29. Ouch.
Consensus- Acceptable Error

"4. The Chicago Bulls will beat the Philadelphia 76ers for their first win of the season--on December 10. Double ouch. In the past five seasons, the Bulls have gone 0-32 in their early season road trip. On Tuesday, the winless Bulls kick off a 7-game road swing in Sacramento with stops in Golden State, Denver, Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix, Utah, and Cleveland before returning home for 2 games against the Lakers and Heat."

In Retrospect- The Bulls picked up their first victory only two days after the Hornets notched their first-- also at Utah (can you guess that this is where Utah's season went horrifyingly wrong?). The Bulls did go on to lose that game against Philly (93-88), but since an 0-9 start, have been one of the best teams in the league by going 40-22.
Consensus- FOOL

"5. Manu Ginobili will be on the West All Star Team. After leading Argentina to the Gold Medal at the Olympics in Athens this summer, many expected Ginobili to break out this season despite the signing of Brent Barry who was expected to cut into Manu's minutes. And Barry has taken away some of Ginobili's playing time (30 MPG), but it hasn't made a difference from a production standpoint as Manu's numbers are otherworldly (20.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 3.0 SPG, 54.2 FG%, 50.0 3PT%). Despite the presence of Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Ray Allen as surefire All Stars at SG in the West, it will be virtually impossible to leave Ginobili off the squad if he continues to play close to the level he's producing at right now."

In Retrospect- Ginobili's numbers have tailed off (16.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.7 SPG, 47.6 FG%, 36.9 3PT%) since that blazing start, but he was indeed named to his first All-Star team back in February right alongside Kobe, T-Mac, and Ray Ray.
Consensus- Expert

November 23, 2004

"1. The Clippers will remain competitive throughout the season, but will still miss out on their first postseason bid since 1997. The key factors to consider here are that the team has kept its two best players (Brand and Maggette) together for 3 seasons now, there are a few younger guys (Simmons, Jaric, Wilcox) that appear to be maturing and ready to contribute on a regular basis, and they have an experienced playoff-tested player (Kittles) and an experienced playoff-tested coach (Dunleavy). The talent is certainly there to compete; Brand and Maggette alone will win some games for the Clips and the supporting cast is strong enough to do their part in playing competitive basketball against anyone in the NBA. The team has to stay healthy and confident to maintain their respectable start; an injury to Brand or Maggette will devastate the balance of the team and a losing streak could certainly eliminate any winning atmosphere a team so accustomed to losing may have developed. But the Clippers have a good chance to win 35 games and appear to finally be headed in the right direction."

In Retrospect- The Clippers have played competitive basketball all season long (32-40) and had they known how to close out games, could easily be 40-32 and right in the thick of the playoff race. They should attain the 35-win mark I set for them and I fully expect them to make a more serious run at the playoffs next season.
Consensus- Expert

"2. Though the Knicks just took care of them handily in MSG, the Cleveland Cavaliers are suddenly emerging in the East and capable of making a serious run towards the title in just a year, maybe two. The reason behind this is quite simple: LeBron James. At just 19 years old and in only his second year in the league, the King is posting jaw-dropping numbers (25.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 6.1 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 47.8 FG%), but more importantly, leading the rising Cavs to victory consistently. Despite seeing their 6-game win streak come to a halt against the Knicks, LeBron has instilled a winning swagger on his team and has brought out the best in his 3 most important teammates: Jeff McInnis, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Drew Gooden--all playing the best basketball of their careers. If LeBron can continue to rewrite the books on young players' progression and maturity, then Cleveland will undoubtedly continue this upward trend and find themselves in title contention much sooner than anyone anticipated."

In Retrospect- The Cavs have really stumbled in the second half of the season and though LeBron continues to play at an extraordinary level, it seems as though he's not surrounded by the right pieces just yet. The Cavs will likely make some major moves this off-season, so it's plausible that they could contend within the next couple of years, but certainly not with the current roster.
Consensus- FOOL

What in the hell happened to Jeff McInnis?! In the span of a month, he's not only lost his starting spot, but the free-agent-to-be has probably cost himself somewhere between $10 and $20 million.

"3. With Ricky Davis struggling to stay consistent and Jiri Welsch failing to make a splash in his role off the bench, Doc Rivers decided to switch their roles for Sunday's contest against the streaking Sonics. The result? Welsch contributed a respectable 12 points and 8 boards while Davis went off for 25 points on 10-14 shooting as the Celts hammered Seattle 101-82. Rivers felt that Davis was holding himself back as a starter, and encouraged him to do his best Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson impression as the 6th man on Sunday, resulting in Davis having his best game of the season. This move will likely remain permanent, and rightfully so as Ricky Davis will go on to win the 6th Man of the Year Award."

In Retrospect- Ricky D has been a Godsend for the Celts off the bench with Rivers preferring to save some of his energy for the 4th quarter when Ricky has continually stepped up for the Celts. Unfortunately, Ben Gordon has had more of an effect off the bench for the Bulls and has run away with the award. Ricky however, gets my vote for runner-up.
Consensus- Acceptable Error

"4. The Pistons fans will get what's coming to them. They got exactly what they wanted when Commisioner Stern single-handedly eliminated the Pacers from the Eastern Conference title picture, despite their shrewd and abusive role in the melee. But things have a way of evening out and whether this means a key player going down with an injury, the Heat taking down the Pistons in the Eastern Finals, or even a remarkable run by the Pacers to the Finals, Detroit fans will get their due."

In Retrospect- David Stern issued new guidelines following the melee which now limits the beer sales at all arenas, so I'm sure that has had an effect on a slew of Detroit fans. They have also been subject to the Larry Brown rollercoaster this season which will likely have him leaving Detroit at the end of the season. But there's two potential retribututions on the slate for Detroit: 1- A possible first round match-up with Indy that would result in the entire city losing its minds if the Pacers were to win; 2- A possible Eastern Conference Finals opponent that appears to be a far superior team-- the Miami Heat. We'll just have to wait and see.
Consensus- Inconclusive

"5. Shaun Livingston will continue to battle the injury bug until he develops his slight frame to withstand the rigors of an 82-game schedule and the physical play of the NBA. The 19 year-old point guard went down with a dislocated kneecap during Monday's practice and is expected to miss up to 8 weeks. I can't remember the last time I ever heard of such a serious injury occuring during a team practice--I mean all pratices are non-contact during the season. But Livingston, listed at 6-7 and a generous 175 lbs., is certainly the most likely candidate to suffer such a fate and now his development faces a frustrating setback. I understand the kid is just 19 years old and he hasn't filled out his frame just yet, but for the love of Tayshaun Prince, get Livingston into a weight room ASAP. This will not be the last time this happens so long as a boy is sent into a man's world."

In Retrospect- Livingston returned from his knee injury about a month ago before tearing cartilage in his shoulder only a week later. This kid is just an injury waiting to happen and this is an issue that needs to be addressed this summer before something catostrophic happens. It's really too bad because the Clippers could be challenging for that 8th spot had he remained healthy this season.
Consensus- Expert

Shaun Livingston needs to be put on the Robert Traylor diet-plan if he's ever going reaching his enormous potential.

November 30, 2004

"1. Indiana's surprising run is about to come to a screeching halt. Let's face it--the Pacers are running on fumes. Yeah they've played well since the suspensions were dealt out, but how can anyone possibly expect this team to keep it up? Did anyone remind them that they just lost their three best players? Truth of the matter is, Pacers are playing great team basketball and finding ways to score; everyone knew they would still be playing Carlisle defense even without O'Neal, Artest, and Jackson, but to throw a bunch of guys on the court with little experience playing in the NBA let alone together--that wouldn't be so easy. There's a few factors working against the Pacers right now: A) They are still lacking depth, and it will begin to show. B) 5 of their next 7 are on the road; 4 against Western Conference opponents. C) Opposing teams can now scout the Pacers after not having a clue what to expect before. I still think Indiana has what it takes to remain competitive and Carlisle will undoubtedly continue to get the most out of his guys, but look for their Central Division lead to quickly slip away."

In Retrospect- Indiana went on to lose their next 6 games and saw their division lead go to the Cavs. They have remained in the playoff hunt all season long however, and Rick Carlisle deserves a ton of credit for the job he has done.
Consensus- Expert

"2. The Hornets won't surpass the 90-point mark until Baron gets back. This team is really going to struggle to score; first they lose Jamal Mashburn for the season, next Baron finds his usual place on the injured list, then Rodney Rogers joins Baron on the IL, and now Jamaal Magliore is out up to three months. Byron Scott is now left relying on three senior citizens (Wesley, Armstrong, and Brown) and a journeyman (Nailon) to carry the scoring load. Yikes."

In Retrospect- The Hornets were such an easy target during the early stages of the season, weren't they? They did actually score 91 on December 10th-- in an overtime loss at New Jersey. The Baron returned on December 22nd against the Lakers, and in the span from when I wrote this until that game, the Hornets eclipsed the 90-point mark 4 times in 11 games.
Consensus- FOOL

"3. The Washington Wizards, who haven't won more than 44 games since the 1977-78 season, will eclipse that win total and make the playoffs this season. I'll admit that I had my doubts about this club before the season began, but talent-wise, I knew they easily ranked with the top tier of teams in the Eastern Conference. Antawn Jamison (23.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG) and Larry Hughes (19.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.8 SPG) have simply been magnificent for the Wiz, Gilbert Arenas is still lighting up (20.8 PPG) and also beginning to show more poise at the point (8 turnovers in last 4 games after averaging 4.7 per game before), and each key member of the supporting cast (Hayes, Haywood, Jeffries, Dixon) has made significant contributions at some point during the team's 7-5 start. Eddie Jordan is doing a noteworthy job in just his second season and optimism will continue to grow for the Wiz once Kwame Brown and Etan Thomas (two major frontcourt factors) return from injury."

In Retrospect- The Wiz have been quite a story this year going from NBA anonymity over the past 30 years into an exciting team planted firmly in the 4th spot in the East. At 40-30, they should easily surpass the 44-win mark and have the potential to pose a threat to Miami in the playoffs if Jamison and Haywood can get healthy...APRIL FOOLS! (Lame, I know).
Consensus- Expert

"4. Assuming that Jerry West hires Mike Fratello to coach the Grizzlies, the Czar will have the Grizz playing good basketball again, but they'll still miss the playoffs. Fratello took both the Hawks and the Cavs into the playoffs in his first season, so expect him to have a positive effect on the team despite not having coached in five years. He also employs similar coaching strategies as Hubie with a heavy emphasis on defense and ball-control, so the team won't have to suddenly adapt to new playing styles and schemes. However, the West is loaded and with the Sonics and Clippers playing like they might remain steady throughout the season, the Czar will have quite a few teams to overcome if he is to get the Grizz back into the playoffs."

In Retrospect- Fratello has done a remarkable job in turning around the Grizzlies' season, especially considering the barrage of injuries he's had to deal with since taking over. There is still a chance the Grizz could end up missing the playoffs now that they're only two games ahead of a streaking Timberwolves team that has a much easier remaining schedule than they do.
Consensus- To Be Determined.

"5. Despite a loss Sunday night to the Timberwolves (a team that has owned them as of late) at Arco Arena that ended their 7-game win streak, Sacramento is still the team to beat in the Pacific and will win the division. Already with road wins against their chief competitors in the division (Suns and Lakers), the Kings have started to once again resemble the club that has been a force in the West for the past half-decade. Sacramento has the talent and the experience, something that the Lakers, Clippers, and Suns all lack as strong a combination of, to maintain the level of play it will take to offset the oncoming pressure from their division rivals. It will be close, but in the end the Kings should claim their rightful crown."

In Retrospect- The Suns have never lost steam, still holding onto the best record in the NBA, while the Kings decided to take a step back from championship aspirations by trading away Chris Webber once they realized he wasn't taking them to the promised land. Now with 11 games remaining, the Suns have already clinched the Pacific crown as the Kings are duking it out with Houston for the 5th spot.
Consensus: FOOL


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