The Atlanta Hawks season would be a bust if… The Hawks fail to advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Atlanta shocked the basketball world when it pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games in the first round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs. Last season, the Hawks outlasted the Miami HEAT to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1999. With six of the team's top eight scorers returning from last season and the additions of Jamal Crawford (19.7 ppg last season with Golden State), veteran forward Joe Smith and rookie Jeff Teague make the Hawks a formidable group heading into 2010.
The Boston Celtics season would be a bust if… The Celtics fail to secure home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. I'm sure Celtics fans think I'm selling this team short but the Eastern Conference is becoming increasingly more competitive and the Celtics are progressively more fragile with age. Boston is capable of winning a second NBA title in three years but durability is a concern for a team whose "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have played a combined 3037 games in their careers. If the Celtics hope to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown again in 2010, it will require the health of Allen, Garnett and Pierce.
The Charlotte Bobcats season would be a bust if… The Bobcats are not in contention for a playoff spot. Last season, legendary coach Larry Brown's first in Charlotte, the Bobcats won a franchise-record 35 games and finished just four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Last month, Charlotte traded Emeka Okafor to New Orleans for center Tyson Chandler in order to get out from under the 2005 Rookie of the Year's $72M contract, possibly to further enable owner Robert Johnson to sell the franchise he brought into the NBA back in 2004. The Bobcats have one of the youngest teams in the NBA with just two players (Raja Bell and Nazr Mohammed) over the age of 29 and anything less than a push for a playoff berth in 2010 will be a disappointment in Charlotte.
The Chicago Bulls season would be a bust if… This young team doesn't get out of the first round of the playoffs. Chicago, with a rookie head coach (Vinny Del Negro) and a rookie point guard (Derrick Rose), pushed the defending NBA Champion Boston Celtics to game seven in the team's first round series with the Celtics last season. Although Boston was without Kevin Garnett, the memorable series served as a coming out party for a Bulls team that few expected to challenge the Celtics, even without KG in the lineup. With another year of seasoning for Del Negro and Rose and the continued maturation of the Bulls other young players like Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, anything less than a first round victory for the Bulls will be a huge disappointment in Chicago.
The Cleveland Cavaliers season would be a bust if… The Cavs don't represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The Cavs 2008-09 season certainly sent the team back to Cleveland with a sour taste in their collective mouth when the third-seeded Orlando Magic ousted the top-seeded Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs have re-tooled their roster, bringing in three-time Finals MVP Shaquille O'Neal , defensive specialist Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and rookie Danny Green to help push LeBron James over the hump and bring an NBA title to Cleveland for the first time in franchise history. With James likely becoming a free agent at the end of the season, the Cavs must provide the league's reigning MVP and hometown boy a reason to stay in Cleveland and a trip to the Finals may be enough to do just that.
The Detroit Pistons season would be a bust if… The Pistons miss the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2001. In need of a shake-up after six straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons traded point guard Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets after just two games last season and fell from title contention, eventually being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs. With a new head coach (John Kuester) and a re-shaped roster including Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, the Pistons have ample fire-power but several question marks surrounding the team entering this season. Without a return to the post-season, the changes within the Pistons organization may extend into the front office.
The Indiana Pacers season would be a bust if… The Pacers fail to return to the playoffs after a three year absence from post-season play. Indiana finished 2009 just three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot last year despite losing Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and Danny Granger, the team's two best players, for significant stretches last season. With Granger blossoming into a star, Dunleavy back and healthy and the continued growth of center Roy Hibbert and swingman Brandon Rush, the Pacers must take a step forward and find a way to earn a playoff berth for the 2009-10 season to be considered a success.
The Miami HEAT season would be a bust if… The HEAT don't compete for the Eastern Conference crown. 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade will almost certainly test the free agent waters following this season and five-time All-Star has said publicly that, while he would like to finish his career in Miami, if the HEAT aren't contenders he will go where he has a chance to win another NBA title. Wade and the HEAT pushed Atlanta to seven games in the first round of the playoffs last season but another early exit from the post-season could facilitate Wade's departure a spurn a re-building period on South Beach.
The Milwaukee Bucks season would be a bust if… The Bucks don't see growth and promise out of the team's young players. With the departure of Charlie Villanueva to the Pistons via free agency and Richard Jefferson to the Spurs in a financially driven trade, Milwaukee has little hope of qualifying for the playoffs in 2010. The Bucks, however, have some talented young players on the roster around which the team can build moving forward. Center Andrew Bogut, 24, averaged a double-double for the first time in his career last season despite playing just 36 games last season and is blossoming into a solid starting center in the NBA. With point guard Ramon Sessions' future with the team in doubt, the Buck drafted Brandon Jennings with the team's first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and the combination of Jennings and Bogut give the Bucks some hope for a bright future, and lets not forget Michael Redd will be returning from a season ending knee injury as well.
The New Jersey Nets season would be a bust if… The Nets aren't in contention for a playoff spot in 2010. In the last year and a half, New Jersey has traded off the massive contracts of Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter and are set to have over $23M in cap space heading into next offseason. Despite being without the aforementioned trio of stars that were expected to be the core of this team for the foreseeable future, the Nets should remain competitive in 2010 with All-Star point guard Devin Harris, burgeoning center Brook Lopez, Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams on the roster this season. While the Nets are likely a year or two away from competing for an Eastern Conference crown, a berth in the 2010 NBA Playoffs isn't out of the question.
The New York Knicks season would be a bust if… The Knicks squander the cap space the team has created for the summer of 2010. New York has several talented, young players on this squad as the organization looks to the future, including first round draft pick Jordan Hill, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, David Lee and Nate Robinson. A playoff appearance this season is almost entirely out of the question but the future is bright in the Big Apple with a young core and a proven commodity in Mike D'Antoni coaching the squad. While 2009 is likely a wash, patience in the key for Knicks fans with cap space a plenty and a tremendous free agent class coming available next summer.
The Orlando Magic season would be a bust if… The Magic aren't back in the NBA Finals come June. Head Coach Stan Van Gundy's team surprised just about everyone outside of the Orlando locker-room when the squad upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals and the Magic became a legitimate threat to win it all for the next few seasons with Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard leading the team. Ownership saw an opportunity to claim the first NBA Championship in franchise history and opened the checkbook once again, bringing in Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes and re-signing Marcin Gortat this offseason. Anything short of another run to the NBA Finals would be a disappointment for the Magic in 2010.
The Philadelphia 76ers season would be a bust if… The team misses the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Sixers have a nice mix of young talent and proven veterans on the roster but have a glaring hole at the point guard position that could very well keep the team from reaching the post-season in 2010. Power forward Elton Brand, swingman Andre Igoudala and up-and-comer Thaddeus Young give the Sixers a chance to win on a night in and night out basis but with point guard Andre Miller now running the show for the Portland Trailblazers, consistency on the offensive end will be a huge concern for new Head Coach Eddie Jordan, one of the best offensive coaches in the NBA. Without a floor general, the playoffs are far from a guarantee in the City of Brotherly Love but anything short of a post-season berth will be a letdown in Philly.
The Toronto Raptors season would be a bust if… Toronto misses the playoffs. General Manager Bryan Colangelo's squad misses the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Raptors fans are excited about a transformed roster that saw the additions Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan and Hedo Turkoglu to the fold with Olympic gold medalist Chris Bosh and point guard Jose Calderon but expectations may be too high for a team that won just 33 games a year ago. With so many new faces, the departure of defensive stopper Antony Parker and a new coach in Jay Triano, the Raptors must find a way to come together quickly if the team expects to make much noise in the playoffs this season. While a deep run in the playoffs isn't likely, anything less than the playoffs would be disastrous for Toronto.
The Washington Wizards season would be a bust if… The Wizards don't return to the playoffs after a one year hiatus. The Wizards made four consecutive trips to the post-season prior to a dismal 2008-09 season in which Eddie Jordan was fired after a 1-11 start and the Wiz posted a 19-win season, the second fewest wins in franchise history. Injury problems have kept this Wizards club from reaching its full potential over the course of the last few seasons but chemistry could be just as big a factor in 2010. New Head Coach Flip Saunders will have to bring together a group of players that haven't logged many minutes together and also includes newcomers Randy Foye and Mike Miller. If the Wizards can't stay healthy and find a way to gel, 2010 will be a bust.
It is nearly impossible to predict what will happen over the course of an 82-game regular season, and not everyone can or will make the playoffs, but examining what is a realistic goal for each team is a good starting point. With a new season upon us, hope springs eternal for each and every team in the NBA. Which teams will reach those goals is another story all together.
Miami Expectation is too high.......I Don't even see playoffs this year.
New Yorks is the most realistic.
Cav's expectations aren't to get to the Finals , they are win or LeBron is leaving, they should be praying every night
that they win the championship come June
imo, every season is a bust if you dont win a championship...
^ Damn Right...........but Clevland not winning has a higher risk than any other team
NEW JERSEY WILL BE 1 OF THE SURPRISE TEAMS THIS YEAR...I THINK THAT SHOULD'VE KEPT RYAN ANDERSON AND GOT RID OF YI....ANDERSON SEEMS LIKE A STAR IN THE MAKING..I HOPE SOMEONE WILL BE SMART ENUFF TO PRY HIM FROM ORLANDO ....THE EAST WILL BE EXCITING TO WATCH THIS YEAR..ALL THE TOP TEAMS HAVE LOADED UP EXCEPT MIAMI....I THINK CLEVELAND SHOULD ADD SOME MORE 3 POINT SHOOTERS..TO OPEN THE FLOOR FOR THE KING & THE 7 FOOT KONG....THEN THE CROWN IS THEIRS
Magikknick your right, but also like a team such as Charlotte or Milwaukee you're at least hoping for a better season.
wheres the western coference one?