Fiction:Joe Johnson, Lockout Poster Child, is entrenched in the 20-5-5 part of his career. Josh Smith apparently wants out and he can submarine this team, but since the other teams in this division are...uhhh...rough around the edges, Atlanta can likely slop their way in. I am surprised they don't plan to bring Crawford back. He seems like somebody they need, especially since Marvin Williams is completely unreliable! Kirk Hindrich being hurt doesn't help either. They should amnesty Williams, but they won't.
Michael Jordan will actually attend games this year.
Fact: Let me start off by saying I am fine with MJ being a "Hard-Line" owner. He's an owner, not a player, and he must do whatever he thinks is best for his team. I don't agree with the hard line stance, but that doesn't mean he has to break away because he's a former player. Folks have to stop worshiping the image of MJ on his shoe. He's been out of the league for 11 years. In any case, Terrell's boy Corey is the latest scorer to take the reins of this team. Their future rests with their draft picks (both past and present, and I like Kemba Walker as a bench combo guard). If they pan out, Charlotte will actually be decent. They have the young legs advantage.
Miami will win the NBA Title.
Fact: I don't like predicting title winners before the season starts because of injuries, Ewing Theories, and Leaps (like Rose last year), but if Miami does not win the NBA Title this year, they have some soul-searching to do. They have the tools to dominate the NBA this year and Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh SHOULD be hungry after no-showing the Finals. They also have the type of team that can add the right pieces (Eddy Curry isn't one of them) and make their team significantly better (like a Shane Battier). They also have a benefit of a crippled Magic, decrepit Boston, and a West that will be a dogfight. Be prepared for all the Hateration 2.0...This Time, It's Personal!
J-Wall will make The Leap.
Fiction: I think John Wall will be great. for PGs to make a jump, they have to be preternaturally talented (Chris Paul, Derrick Rose) or their team has to get better (Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker). Wall is somewhere in the middle, and his team will still be bad. So it will be tough. They have some atrocious players (Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Jevale McGee) and some decent ones (Jordan Crawford...and maybe Jan Vesely's GF). I actually think they should hold on to Lewis because the FA class is not good and they are not knocking on the door of the playoffs. So they can wait for a team to dump a contract or two, then trade Lewis if needed.
Orlando will rebuild.
Fact: Look, same with Paul. You have to trade Howard. The Nets' package of Brook and picks is weak. You can get more. LA does not have enough for a deal. Wait it out, but make a deal. Orlando's time has gone. They have bad parts, made dumb trades, and tried unsuccessfully (and repeating) the Cleveland/James thing. This goes to a bigger point. GMs, I know players put pressure on you to say "make me happy" and you say "your entourage gets free massages with happy endings courtesy of us", but guys, that does not mean you kill your flexibility by making bad moves. Understand how players mesh. Basketball is a team sport unlike any other, and you need to build the best team. They should amnesty Arenas...oh wait...they did. Nevermind.
Team seed (from 1-15): MIA, CHI, ATL, BOS, PHI, NYK, IND, NJN, ORL, CHA, MIL, WAS, DET, TOR, CLE.