Join me as I count down my predictions of the regular season finishes for the 2012-13 NBA season, at a rate of three teams per day. Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.

30. Orlando Magic
If you’re a Magic fan, you should not be upset by my forecast that your team will finish with the worst record in the NBA next season. When your best player is Arron Afflalo and your second-best player is a toss-up between Al Harrington and Gustavo Ayon, you have to know you’re going to be terrible. So why not go completely in the tank and root for your team to put itself in the best possible position to win the 2013 draft lottery?

Typically, a team this bad is populated with young players still trying to find their way in the pros, but the Magic roster consists mostly of veterans who would be useful pieces on a good team if they were required to play roughly half as many minutes as they’ll be expected to play this season. As for Hedo Turkoglu, this is the last fully guaranteed year on his contract so I expect he’ll head back to Turkey after this season to play out his remaining basketball days smoking Marlboro Reds as a player/coach for Anadolu Efes S.K.

29. Charlotte Bobcats
Why do I think the Bobcats will finish ahead of the Magic in the standings? Because it’s a potential contract year for Ben Gordon (next season is a player option), that’s why. It’s going to be fun to try to figure out which GM is going to witness Gordon scoring 18 points per game off the bench this season and subsequently talk himself into signing Gordon to a four-year, $40 million deal.

I expect Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to be a boxscore slut and I assume Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo will make noticeable improvements in their sophomore seasons. Underrated Bobcats storyline: Will DeSagana Diop’s 12th NBA season be his last? With the expiration of his contract, he will have earned $47 million while averaging around two points per game over his career. Size matters, y’all.

28. Houston Rockets
After years of stagnation, Rockets GM Daryl Morey has finally put this team in a position to “bottom out” this season and try to land a future superstar in the draft. That certainly seems to be where this team is headed after shedding four of its five best 2011-12 players in Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic and Samuel Dalembert. After finishing 42-40, 43-39 and 34-32 over the last three seasons, the Rockets need to break out of their cycle of mediocrity and start trying to build a real contender.

It remains to be seen how the Jeremy Lin signing will turn out, but I’m convinced that Morey’s signing of Omer Asik will pay huge dividends for this team in the future. He’s one of the best defensive and rebounding centers in the league, and if he can raise his offensive game to something approaching decent, the Rockets will be paying just over $8 million per season for a top 10 center. I expect his emergence to be a rare highlight for this team as they settle into the Western Conference basement.

Next in the countdown: 27-25

Comments (48)

  1. It is NOT the contract year of Ben Gordon. He has a player option for 2013-14 season and is scheduled to make $13.2M.

    http://shamsports.com/content/pages/data/salaries/bobcats.jsp

    • I’m going on the assumption that he won’t pick up that option, but I should have mentioned that in the post.

      • Why would Ben Gordon NOT pick up his player contract at 13.2 million?? there is absolutly zero chance another team will pay him more than that….

        • He definitely won’t make more than that in a season, but there’s something to be said for going for the guaranteed money in a longer contract. I’ve seen players make that kind of decision before — Richard Jefferson comes to mind.

          • Fair enough, but I still don’t see him Opting out…

            BEST CASE for BG would almost be a mid-level exception contract…? maybe Im just under-rating the guy, but in my mind he’s just an all offense chucker.

  2. I’m assuming that Phoenix is #27 then?

  3. Very much agree with Orlando, Bobcats will finish better than worst five, Jeremy Lin is overpaid from a basketball point of view not from a commercial one AND waiting for the review of the Detroit Pistons :)

  4. Is boxscore slut good or bad?

  5. Don’t know why everyone is all of a sudden thinking that Asik will be good. He is a serviceable defensive big man at best and a solid defender, but far from able to develop into a top 10 center. The Rockets way overpaid for Asik.

    • Yep I agree with that, and there’s still a risk that Lin was a product of circumstance. It’s about time the Rockets bottomed out and I’m hoping for a re-brand too.

    • Most centers are overpaid, right? I’d rather overpay Asiks good fundamental defense and 7.5/13/2.5 blocks per 36 than 3 million more for deandre Jordan’s horrible fundamentals, 9.5/11/2.7 blocks.

      The thing people forget about Asik though, he’s almost 27, there seems to be a Perception of him- and to an even greater extent- Pekovic- as these guys who are raw now but will blossom over time. I think Pekovic is already a top 10 center without question, and Asik while worth his contract, won’t be a top 10 guy. I can see him playing another decade plus and being a contributor the whole time though

    • I don’t think it’s an “all of a sudden” situation with Asik. He simple hasn’t gotten the minutes necessary to produce big numbers. Of course it’s only preseason, but his stats so far have been promising,

      Preseason stats: 8 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in only 24 minutes per game. Also important to note, he’s only averaging 1.8 fouls, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t stay on the court for full starter’s minutes in the regular season.

  6. My prediction (w/o significant injuries occurring)…

    30: Orlando Magic
    29: Charlotte Bobcats
    28: Washington Wizards
    27: New Orleans Hornets
    26: Houston Rockets
    25: Cleveland Cavaliers
    24: Chicago Bulls
    23: Toronto Raptors
    22: Golden State Warriors
    21: Phoenix Suns
    20: Detroit Pistons
    19: Boston Celtics
    18: Dallas Mavericks
    17: Sacramento Kings
    16: Portland Trailblazers
    15: Philadelphia 76ers
    14: Atlanta Hawks
    13: Utah Jazz
    12: Minnesota Timberwolves
    11: New York Knicks
    10: Memphis Grizzles
    09: LA Clippers
    08: Milwaukee Bucks
    07: Brooklyn Nets
    06: San Antonio Spurs
    05: Denver Nuggets
    04: Indiana Pacers
    03: Oklahoma Thunder
    02: LA Lakers
    01: Miami Heat

    • lol @ the pacers #4

      • I really like the Pacers. They have size and athleticism, plus they play smart and like a team because they’re coached well. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be a top 5 team. I think they will only grow and get better this year after having an excellent season last year.

    • LOL @ Bulls #24, even without Rose. He missed a third of last season, still #1 seed…

      • I think the Bulls will fall back big this year. An aging Richard Hamilton and Carlos Boozer will see regression this season. While Marco Belinelli can be a huge offensive plus on the shooter side, he also will probably bring a negative effect on the defensive side, plus without an terrific penetration it’s unlikely he’ll get the big open shots on the perimeter unless the other team is playing terribly undisciplined. How high is Taj Gibson’s ceiling? Could he be expected to subplant Boozer if Boozer isn’t having a good season? I’m not confident that Luol Deng’s wrist isn’t going to affect his play, I saw a pretty big drop in his shooting percentages last year after he sustained the injury. Hinrich isn’t very athletic and never had a good first step in order to penetrate a defense with, plus now well see what he can do after a shoulder injury two years ago and a hamstring injury late last year. It appears as though his effectiveness isn’t what it use to be when he was last on the Bulls. I think the Marquis Teague or Nate Robinson will eventually take over for him at the point… letting him come off the bench as needed. Finally, Joakim Noah, despite being a near automatic double-double machine and a very active defensive player, but I also think he has a ceiling and he’s pretty much at it already. Not-to-mention, he’s always dealing with some kind of nagging injury thing because of how aggressive he is with his play… will he play all 82 games this year… I doubt it. I very well could be hugely mistaken with the Bulls, but I think they have the potential to plummet in the power rankings more so then any other team. Maybe Jimmy Bulter and Marquis Teague prove to be excellent additions and shape the Bulls into a contender or at least keep them in the playoff hunt until Derrick Rose can come back, if he can come back, this season.

        • correction: …without a great penetrator it’s unlikely…

        • That’s all fine, but the way Thibs coaches would make it pretty hard for the Bulls to miss the playoffs. Rip Hamilton, Rose missed huge chunks of last year, plus Deng had all the issues with his wrist and Noah missed time as well. It’s going to be similar this season, and even if they miss the playoffs I don’t see anything as low as #24

    • LOL @ most of this guy’s list, tbh.

    • Bucks at 8 and Nets at 7? What?!

      • If the Bucks can put together the kind of defense they had two years ago with the offense they had last year, they are going to be a dangerous team. I like what they have done this offseason. They have added length, size and depth to the team. Look at what they’ve done so far in the pre-season, albeit against lower level teams and it’s only the pre-season, but they’ve been very good on the defensive size forcing opponents to shoot pretty bad percentages and ill-advised shots. They’ve got a ridiculous amount of blocks thus far… we’ll see where it goes going forward, but this is simply my prediction… if they can pair the offense they displayed last year with a defense close to what they should two years ago, they will be a very good team. The Nets on the other hand have some pretty nice pieces now and I think they should be able to lead them to a remarkably improved record. I choose to reflect a best case scenario record for them, but I realize that it’s a very bold prediction.

        • The Bucks can’t do that though. They traded a top 10- when healthy- defender for one of the worst defenders in the league. And they’re also playing Jennings and Ilyasova. That defense ain’t happening.

          Lol at the Nuggets at 5 and the rest of the list. Wizards were a better team than the Cavs last year and added some major help. Granted, this is on your assumption of no major injuries and the Wiz are shredded by injuries already with Nene, Seraphin and Wall hurt.

          Orlando whiffed way bigger, and they don’t have Pekovic. They have Vuvecic. It’s like saying Kobe when you mean Jamal Crawford haha. How do they sign Jameer and retain mediocre vets AND fail to get a marquee return for Howard or Anderson? I like Afflalo and Ayon but c’mon! Rockets roster is way more intriguing and flexible.

          Kings, 8 seed?! Wow. I have them as 3rd worst in the west. Of course, that only puts 3 teams between them and the playoffs. I just don’t see how they fixed their terrible chemistry. Great talent, total cluster F with no signs of hope.

          With everyone healthy, I’d rank last years bad teams
          Nets, Warriors, Wolves, Wizards, Raptors, Bucks, Blazers, Cavs, Pistons, Kings, Rockets, Suns, Bobcats. Magic in last. That roster is a mess.

          • Umm… I have Orlando as the worst team, so what are you getting at in your comments about them in reference to the Rockets?

            Also, I don’t have the Kings as the 8th Seed in the West. In fact I didn’t address playoff seeding I only created a power ranking, but typically power rankings are good reflections of which teams will get into the playoffs and correlated to the seeds in which they do. In any case, in the West I listed the Lakers, Thunder, Nuggets, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Jazz, and Trailblazers ahead of them. That would make the Kings the 10th best team in the West, not necessarily the 8th seed.

            I know that the NBA doesn’t see the year-to-year volatility in team power rankings as you might see in say the NFL, but I think you can count on some teams making moves in one direction or the other from year to year and I think that the Nets, Bucks, and T-Wolves are the most likely to see playoff bound improvements. The Warriors will certainly be a much improved team if Bogut and Curry can remain healthy, so they could also be one of those surprise teams, but that’s with a big “IF”. I agree that the Kings possess a ton of talent, but have had difficulty in getting it all to work together, but I think they will be improved as that young talent should be a bit more mature from last year.

            Regardless, this is only my prediction… I’ve obviously made some bold predictions in regards to it, but it wouldn’t be any fun without making some bold predictions.

    • Don’t laugh at his list until you make your own. I’m not going to spend too much time analyzing or looking at it but I hope the Raptors can be a top 20 team. Please no injuries!

    • Agreed.

      Buck are totally deeper than the Celtics, Clippers, and Bulls.

  7. Disagree with the Rockets this low. I have them in the #24 slot. Maybe I’m crazy, but they have some pieces and a good enough coach to beat teams like the Wizards and Kings and Hornets, I think. But just picking nits. 30 and 29 seem correct

    • No way the Rockets are better than those teams. Maybe the Wiz without Wall right now but not the Hornets with a healthy Gordon or Kings who should be able to slip into the 8th seed this year.

    • I agree. Terrence Jones I feel is going to make a big impact. They could be a Nuggets type team and just get up and down and get some wins that way. They certainly aren’t out of the bottom ten, but just as certainly are not in the bottom three in the league.

    • Agreed.
      Rockets have two average to above average NBA starters and two average NBA players. One of their youngster will blossom, just due to the playing time.
      Can’t finish below 25.

  8. I can’t wait until Joe Dumars talks himself into Ben Gordon for a second time.

  9. Still not sure who whiffed bigger in the whole Dwightmare: Houston or Orlando?

    The Magic will be terrible, but I don’t know if they’ll finish dead last. It might be a toss up between Houston and Charlotte again. I don’t think Ben Gordon is going to add 15+ wins to that team. Orlando is still chock full of rotation players (Big Baby, Jameer, Richardson, Turk, Pekovic, Ayon, Reddick). Houston is just in no man’s land. Lin was overhyped, Asik is over paid, and Kevin Martin will be traded this year. Aside from those three, its hard to think of other Rockets on the roster, other than the rooks.

  10. Disagree with your Orlando prediction. While they don’t have true superstars, they do have decent NBA players at every starting position. They won’t be great, but I guarantee they show up every night and play tough. They have veterans who do know how to play in the league. They’ll beat the young teams and lose to the good ones.

  11. If Bobcats keep improving at this rate, they’ll be 2042 NBA Champions.

  12. Yippee. The raptors are not in the bottom three

    • They will be come April. And it’ll be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

      • We will see. Think they moved into that Blazers-Bucks circle of 8th pick boring hell. At least they will be more fun to watch, and sometimes that’s all that matters if you don’t want your team to be the Las Vegas MGM Grands

  13. I saw this on my Facebook feed yesterday and repeatedly tried to download a new podcast. Damn you, TBJ… start the season already!!! I have a serious Jones and am totally okay with a 30-minute show consisting mostly of Pun Guns and jokes about Al Jefferson’s $23K bed.

  14. Here is my list, personally I dont agree with L’s at all haha

    30: Orlando Magic
    29: Houston Rockets
    28: Charlotte Bobcats
    27: Phoenix Suns
    26: Detroit Pistons
    25: Toronto Raptors
    24: New Orleans Hornets
    23: Cleveland Cavaliers
    22: Washington Wizzards
    21: Sacremento Kings
    20: Goldenstate Warriors
    19: Milwaukee Bucks
    18: Portland Trailblazers
    17: Atlanta Hawks
    16: Utah Jazz
    15: Chicago Bulls
    14: Dallas Mavricks
    13: Philladelphia 76ers
    12: Minnasota Timberwolves
    11: Brooklyn Nets
    10: Indiana Pacers
    09: Memphis Grizzlies
    08: New York Knicks
    07: Boston Celtics
    06: Denver Nuggets
    05: LA Clippers
    04: San Antonio Spurs
    03: Oklahoma Thunder
    02: LA Lakers
    01: Miami Heat

    What do you guys think?

    • I can’t see the Celtics being that good this year. Ray Allen has left, and KG is older. Rondo will still do his thing, but Rondo is never going to be a scorer, and that means it will all be on Pierce, KG and Jet, all of whom can score, but with them all aging I just can’t see them being THAT good. They will make the playoffs, but I don’t see them doing that well.
      Also, am I the only one who thinks the Hornets will be pushing 8-11 place in Western Conference? I really like who they drafted and the additions over the summer.

      • I disagree. I think from top to bottom, this Celtics team is deeper than the one that won the title. Only thing that sucks, is the rest of the league is much better/deeper than it was back in 2008.

        Ray might be go0ne, but now they have Jet, Avery Bradley, and Courtney Lee which should more than make up for his departure. Sure, Ray is a sure-fire, first ballot hall of famer, but I’d rather has 3 more than capable players at that spot, than relying on one, old SG.

  15. I have faith in what the hornets can do this season man, youre not alone. Vegas had them at 26.5 -115 and I put a future on them. They made some really nice moves (anderson, lopez, rookies…) and even though you subtract JJ out of the equation at the 1, you mix back a healthy eric gordon which should have no problem matching or surpassing JJ’s production.

  16. My list.

    30. Orlando Magic
    29. Charlotte Bobcats
    28. Washington Wizards
    27. Houston Rockets
    26. Detroit Pistons
    25. Sacramento Kings
    24. New Orleans Hornets
    23. Cleveland Cavaliers
    22. Phoenix Suns
    21. Milwaukee Bucks
    20. Toronto Raptors
    19. Atlanta Hawks
    18. Portland Tailblazers
    17. Goldenstate Warriors
    16. Utah Jazz
    15. Dallas Mavericks
    14. Minnesota Timberwolves
    13. Philadelphia 76ers
    12. Chicago Bulls
    11. Brooklyn Nets
    10. New York Knicks
    9. Los Angeles Clippers
    8. Memphis Grizzlies
    7. Boston Celtics
    6. Denver Nuggets
    5. Indiana Pacers
    4. San Antonio Spurs
    3. Oklahoma City Thunder
    2. Miami Heat
    1. Los Angeles Lakers

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