My crystal ball tells me that this NBA season will be much different from the last. This is because a few teams are going to finally emerge into the upper echelon of each conference, providing some much needed excitement late in the postseason. This is the year Yao Ming becomes the superstar we’ve been waiting for all along and he and Tracy McGrady finally propel the Rockets into the thick of the Western Conference. The Eastern Conference is going to be even more entertaining, with the old guard the Pistons and the Heat falling off, being replaced by the likes of the Celtics and the Raptors at the top. Heck, even the Hawks are going to make the playoffs. At last, NBA fans will see a handful of teams able to compete for the crown. Please someone destroy the Spurs.
-Chris Hoffman

For years I thought that the W2W4 section in ESPN the Magazine stood for Week 2, Week 4. Turns out, it stands for what “to watch for.” What does that have to do with anything? Simple: Here’s what to watch for in the NBA. LeBron will finally show some displeasure with Cavs management. The Atlanta Hawks will finally live up to their potential, but the Warriors won’t, and they’ll miss the playoffs. While forming the league’s best duo with Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony will prove he’s every bit as good as draft mates LeBron and D Wade. An obsessed Steve Nash will carry the Suns = to a championship. Finally, Kevin Durant will drop 50 points multiple times, and I’ll drop at least 15 in an intramural basketball game.
-Alex Pavlovic

Apparently the Spurs won the championship again last year. I had to actually look it up because, you know, that whole “If a tree falls…” thing. It’s a star-driven league, and on the biggest of stages, Tim Duncan just doesn’t cut it – the guy makes Charlie Rose look like Chad Johnson. It’s time to get some new superstars on the court in June. One of the best bets is the Celtics and their “big four” of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Brian Scalabrine. If I had to pick a champion, I would pick them. They have everything going for them, including playing their home games in the current sports capital of the nation – there hasn’t been this much excitement in Boston since Sam and Diane were together on Cheers.
-Cassie Harris

With so much talk about the Boston Celtics these days, it’s almost as if the rest of the NBA is living in the darkness created by Charles Barkley’s shadow. Boston’s triplet may instill fear in opponents, but it turns out that the rest of the league actually has talented athletes who can challenge the Green Machine’s assumed dominance. My confidence in a Spurs Texas two-step in the Finals has not been shook at all, because Tim Duncan – a.k.a. the Double-Double – still roams the paint, Tony Parker puts his wedding jitters behind him and Manu Ginobili always rises (or maybe falls) to the occasion when needed. But what about Dwight Howard? Josh Smith? Deron Williams? These young guys are going to dominate the NBA like nobody’s business. Don’t forget about them.-Rob Garcia