Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008-2009 Hollinger Team Forecast (ESPN)

By Sean Mackey

John Hollinger of ESPN posted his season previews for the Eastern Conference yesterday afternoon. He's got the Bulls coming in tied for 9th place with the Miami Heat. That's a fair assumption being that no analyst can seriously predict where Chicago will pan out this year. A lot of the other predictions are complete head scratchers though such as Charlotte and Indiana possibly sneaking into the playoffs. I don't see either of them getting into the playoffs before the Wizards. I also think the 76er's are ranked too high in all seriousness. Yeah, they got Brand, but will he stay healthy? Here's how the rest of the east shakes out.

1. Boston Celtics
2. Detroit Pistons
3. Philly 76er's
4. Orlando Magic
5. Toronto Raptors/Cleveland Cavaliers
7. Indiana Pacers
8. Charlotte Bobcats
9. Chicago Bulls/Miami Heat
11. Washington Wizards
12. Milwaukee Bucks
13. Atlanta Hawks
14. New York Knicks
15. New Jersey Nets

Here's the overall outlook that was posted by Hollinger for the

Chicago still has as much young talent as any team this side of Portland, and its potential for cap space in 2009 and again in 2010 (when Hughes comes off the books) makes its future a lot brighter than its present. But we're dealing with 2008-09 here, and it could be another rocky year in the Windy City. While winning the lottery helps, NBA point guards typically need at least a year before their play really zooms upward, so Rose may have his struggles -- especially since he played only one year of college ball and needed half of that season to get his bearings. It's a similar situation up front, where Thomas and Noah are undoubtedly talented but still learning how to be pros, and giving up both pounds and experience to their opponents every night. It doesn't help that two of Chicago's best players play the same position, meaning they have to either go small to get Deng and Nocioni on the court at the same time or, more logically, trade Nocioni for a true frontcourt player. Either way, it seems more likely that they miss the playoffs than make it. There are a great many wild cards here -- how well Rose plays, how well the young bigs adjust to their increased roles and how Del Negro handles his first coaching assignment -- but ultimately too many of those have to turn in Chicago's favor to consider it likely that the Bulls will return to the postseason.

Prediction: 39-43, 4th in Central Division, T-9th in Eastern

Throw us a comment, let us know what you think of these rankings!