Now that the playoffs are starting to heat up (as much as it is possible for them to heat up with multiple days of rest between the games), people will have very little reason to think about the 2009-10 regular season moving forward. Before we get to the point of forgetting the regular season entirely, here are a few hoopservations to keep in mind when the time comes to predict what will happen next year.
1. The Lakers finished #1 in the West, but they looked much more dominant in the beginning of the season than the end of it. The truth is that they’re an old team, and, unless they shake some things up, it’s hard to see them dominating next year.
2. The Clippers finished with a better record than seven teams in the league. That’s hardly impressive, but it means that they showed glimmers of hope (and raises some serious questions about those seven teams). They’ll be adding Blake Griffin, another lottery pick, and probably a free agent or two. If we can overlook the fact that they are the Clippers, there is reason to think they will be scary.
3. Cleveland is a good, but aging, team. Contrary to popular belief, LeBron is not surrounded by a bunch of stiffs. But they are getting older. If that aging roster stays the same, I won’t be picking them to win the East.
4. If we imagine that no teams make any roster changes, the three teams that should make the biggest jump next year are the Thunder, Clippers, and Blazers (the Thunder because they’re getting better by the day, the Clippers and Blazers because they’ll be getting their injured players back). The teams that should take the biggest falls are the Lakers, Cavs, Suns, Celtics and Bucks (the Bucks because they overachieved, the others because of age).
Of course, there is no reason to think that most, or even any, of the teams in the NBA will go into next season with the exact same rosters they have now. We’ll obviously have to look at the moves that get made and evaluate them once they are done. For now, it’s time to shift the focus back to the playoffs… Go Thunder!!