Who Wins the 2012 NBA Title?
This week’s HOOPSWORLD poll asked readers to chime in on which team would win the 2012 NBA Championship. The choices were as follows:
1) The Dallas Mavericks
2) The Miami HEAT
3) The Chicago Bulls
4) The New York Knicks
5) The Oklahoma City Thunder
6) The Los Angeles Lakers
Almost included in the poll were the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies, though each gave me pause for different reasons. First of all, if the Grizzlies can keep Marc Gasol in town and merely swap Shane Battier for Rudy Gay, they should be better than last season, when they were one small step away from the Western Conference Finals. That said, the return of Gasol is anything but certain, and without him the Grizzlies will be grasping for a playoff spot, not contending for a championship. As for the Spurs, this looks to be the year age finally catches up. Antonio McDyess has retired and Tim Duncan is in his final season. If they get healthy at the right time the Spurs might make one more run, but it seems unlikely.
So, without further ado, here are your picks for the 2012 NBA Champions:
7) Coming in last with just 7% of the vote are the Oklahoma City Thunder. A little hard to figure this one, as the Thunder made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals last season before losing to the eventual-champion Dallas Mavericks. They are a young team that will only be better as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and a host of budding young talent come together for a full season. Still, 93% of those taking part in our poll chose someone else to win the title.
6) The bottom of the poll held another surprise, with the defending NBA champions getting just a small percentage more than the Thunder to come in fifth. Considering the way the Mavs rolled through the Lakers and took out the impressive young Thunder and the heavily-favored HEAT, it seems off to find them hanging near the bottom. But near the bottom they are. To be fair, they do have significant unanswered questions, and could have trouble bringing back Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and JJ Barea if the new CBA limits spending in a significant way. If, however, the Mavs come back with all three of those free agents, they should have a strong shot at repeating.
5) The up-and-coming New York Knicks grabbed the fifth spot in our poll, no doubt with the prospect of a healthy Chauncey Billups returning to the lineup looming large. The Knicks also need a better option at center, but with Amar’e Stoudemire healthy again, Billups back in the mix, and Carmelo Anthony still one of the premier scorers in the NBA, the Knicks should be tough. It won’t hurt that Mike Woodson joined the coaching staff to try and inspire some interest in defense from Mike D’Antoni’s run-and-gun team.
4) Derrick Rose couldn’t have been much better last season, and if Omer Asik hadn’t gotten hurt in the conference finals we might have seen a different match-up in the final round. Joakim Noah simply ran out of gas, and without him at his peak the Bulls couldn’t get past the Miami HEAT. The Bulls are looking to address their primary weakness, which is at shooting guard, and if they can do so there is every reason to believe Rose can lead them to the Finals. But they won’t get there without a fight from the HEAT, and would then most likely have to contend with a more experienced team from the West. The Bulls claim third.
3) Believe it or not, even with last season’s top contenders on the list the “Other” option took the third spot in our poll. Drop down into the comments section and make your case. If you chose “Other,” who is the “Other”?
2) It shouldn’t come as any surprise to find the defending Eastern Conference Champions sitting in the second spot in our poll with 24%. The Miami HEAT led the poll for much of the week before the top spot was overtaken on Thursday afternoon. Dwyane Wade. LeBron James and Chris Bosh got all the way to the Finals in their first year together, and are expected to do even bigger and better things going forward. It wouldn’t be a shock to see them win it all this season.
1) Coming from behind to take the lead were Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, with 25% of the vote. The Lakers ran out of gas last season, but many feel that with an entire summer and extended time off due to the lockout, the Lakers could come back as strong as ever. Kobe’s desire to catch Michael Jordan with his sixth NBA championship is the driving force behind the Lakers, and it’s a powerful force, indeed.
Be sure to check out the new poll on the HOOPSWORLD main page and tune in next Friday for the final results!