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.

18. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks announced that Dirk had surgery on his knee today, which will keep him out of action for about six weeks and probably lead to the Mavs missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000. They’ve had one hell of a run of success, but this team is unlikely to crack the top eight in the West with the big German sitting out the first month of the season..

Dirk’s absence will hurt them on the offensive end, and they’re almost certain to take a step back defensively now that Chris Kaman will take over the starting center role. Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi split the majority of the Mavericks’ minutes at center last season, and while nobody would confuse either of them with Tyson Chandler, they’re still significantly better defenders than Kaman. It will very interesting to see how Mark Cuban responds to missing the playoffs with this aging, declining roster.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves
Knuckle pushups, Kevin? Really? Even with Ricky Rubio expected to miss the first month-and-a-half of this season rehabbing his knee injury, I had the T-Wolves as a lock for the playoffs before Love apparently forgot that there’s only one Kevin in this league that knows how to do knuckle pushups without busting up his hand.

Unfortunately, the injuries to their star players have overshadowed the Timberwolves’ flashy signings of Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy this off-season, not to mention the emergence of Nikola Pekovic as an offensive force around the rim — he was the only starter in the league to grab more offensive than defensive rebounds. There is some real talent on this roster, but they need to get and stay healthy if Minnesota’s eight-year playoff drought is going to end.

16. New York Knicks
Not only do the Knicks have four of the six oldest players in the NBA (Kurt Thomas, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace) but their expected 13-man rotation will make them the oldest team in NBA history. Now, I get that experience is a good thing, but when four of your players are at least 38 years old, wear and tear has to be a concern. Then when you take into account the injury histories of some of their “younger” players like Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, it begins to seem like this team is held together with duct tape and wishes.

Even if they get lucky with their health, I continue to have concerns about how the Knicks’ offense can function effectively with both Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire on the court. While their Offensive Rating put them at 17th in the league last season, they finished seventh in that category in 2010-11 with Raymond Felton running the point. Not coincidentally, they’ve brought Felton back to try to reclaim that glory.

While I’m not particularly bullish on this team, I feel like they have the biggest distance between their ceiling and floor of any NBA team this season. If they’re healthy and everything falls into place, I could see them finishing as high as third in the Eastern Conference. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they crashed right out of the playoff picture in a mess of sprained ankles and broken dreams. Either way, I’ll enjoy watching the more grizzled Knicks playing with their shorts pulled up around their chests.

Previously in the countdown: 30-28 | 27-25 | 24-22 | 21-19

Comments (20)

  1. “It will very interesting to see how Mark Cuban responds to missing the playoffs with this aging, declining roster.”

    Well, good to know that’s been decided already. And saying that the reason they will miss is BECAUSE Dirk is having surgery that will allow him to play at his regular level that he hasn’t in a year and a half…sounds like someone just needed something to write about.

  2. Still no Hornets? Wow.

    • I was thinking the same thing, didn’t think adding anthony davis and rivers would bump them from the basement to instant playoff team

  3. This list is the most BS out of any preseason rankings I have ever seen. Whoever this Scott Carefoot character, you must be clueless.

  4. I completely agree with you Dan H.

  5. Dan H. is right on the button.

    This Scott guy is a Grade A moron

  6. how can you ignore all the other additions the mavs made this offseason?

    -adding OJ mayo, and Darren collison to the backcourt
    - Elton brand off the bench

    Not to mention Marion is still productive, and even vince can pull a 20+pt game out of his ass once a month or so. Not to mention Rick Carlisle is the coach. I’m putting the Mavs right up above the Jazz in the playoff rankings

    • Exactly, brand started for a playoff team last season. And while he didn’t carry his team there, he is more than capable of plugging that hole for the first month of the season. I think it unlikely the mavs miss the playoffs, and should be a lock or a 6 seed or better if dirk returns as scheduled

  7. “While I’m not particularly bullish on this team, I feel like they have the biggest distance between their ceiling and floor of any NBA team this season. If they’re healthy and everything falls into place, I could see them finishing as high as third in the Eastern Conference. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they crashed right out of the playoff picture in a mess of sprained ankles and broken dreams”.

    Pretty much nailed it with that paragraph. What a strange team. I feel like your analysis seems more fitting for a team that is closer to rank 12 or something of that nature but no real arguments here.

    A little off topic but are the Wolves still going to be a League Pass-worthy team this year? I’m only buying the choice package so I only get to choose 5 teams and I don’t know if they are “sponge-worthy” basically.

    • The T-Wolves are more Pass-worthy than ever now that they’ve added Kirilenko and Roy. Think about a lineup of Rubio, Roy, Kirilenko, Love and Pekovic and tell me you’re not intrigued.

  8. that moment when you realize all these posters are mark cuban!

  9. No bulls yet? Odd

  10. I don’t think anyone has ever gotten these preseason predictions 100% correct, considering the impossibility of foreseeing injuries, player development, etc. It’s just a fun thing to think about. It’s a weird thing for people to take so personally. It’s okay to disagree, but relax!

  11. The only defensive contribution Ian Mahinmi can bring is the 6 fouls he’s allowed to spend. It’s a shame on most nights he can’t spend most of them because he’s totally unserviceable on offense.

  12. I think the Mavs will stink it up chronically. The only mitigation on their backwards roster moves the past couple of seasons is the marvellous Rick Carlisle. Even with healthy knees Dirk’s devolution in to a stand-still jumpshooter is probably quite a bit closer than many think. He’s never relied on speed, but he’s a huge man and surely won’t have the lift necessary for his fall-aways or the fluidity to burn fours and fives off the dribble much longer. I’ll be utterly shocked if they make the playoffs.

  13. tell me you simply forgot about the hornets at this point..

    davis will be great but needs time.. rivers is turrible

  14. Give me some Raptor nouuuuuuuse!

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