Two weeks away before the lockout officially starts. The wonderful 2011 NBA Playoffs still in my mind, and can’t help but thinking about next year. Mostly about LeBron James and the Heat and how the summer will change things there, but the Bulls, Lakers, Tunder and of course the new champs are also there and here. If we don’t have a lockout.

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Heat, LeBron, The Rest – What a way to finish this year , huh? I’m pretty sure LeBron is going to stay quiet this summer. He has to, right? That anti-climatic finish to what was a pretty impressive playoff run for LeBron James did draw the usual criticism – can’t do it in crunch time and the rest. Well, he did a pretty bad job in the Finals. I don’t know if it was the pressure and criticism that got to him, or plain exhaustion, mental, physical. He just looked tight, unable to break loose. The Mavs aren’t that good of a defensive team in my opinion. It’s going to be a long summer for the trio. I still think their the no.1 or no.2 favorites to win the NBA title next season with the current rosters. Lessons learned the hard way pay off in the future.

One step further next year?

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Rose and Bulls – Derrick Rose won’t win the MVP next year. I’m willing to be my entire piggy bank content on that. But how will he be next year? Just as good? Better? The Bulls were closer to the finals than that 4-1 series against the Heat might suggest. The defense was great most of the time, but the offense got stuck. Rose didn’t have someone else to be consistent offensively, and eventually, it was easy to shut him down when you knew he’s the only option. Boozer will hopefuly have a full season, injury free, and Noah should be even better next year. Maybe small adjustments, but I like the Bulls’ team. More of internal adjustments than a need to really shuffle the cards.

Nowitzki and his new best friend

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Nowitzki and the Mavs – They’re still celebrating in Dallas, for good reason, winning the first title in this city since the Stars in 1999. Nowitzki is now propelled to legendary status, one of the top 3 power forwards of all time in many books suddenly. He was always this good, but winning gives you that extra bling I guess. Old, weary,  these guys shouldn’t have a chance next year. They weren’t suppose to do it this year either, right?

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Bryant, New Starts in LA – There’s going to be a trade there, I can feel it. Once (if…) the lockout thing clears up, the Lakers are going to make some big move. Howard? who knows. The biggest question is how steep will Bryant’s continued decline be and if Mike Brown can get these guys to be passionate about the game.

Blake Griffin – The future of the Clippers was incredible in his rookie season. Everything they and we dreamed of for this phenom. Working hard at a few moves beside his elevation and Griffin can be an MVP candidate very very soon. Making the Clippers a popular team around the league deserves a few votes for sure.

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Knicks Festival – Donnie Walsh did a great job in re vamping the Knicks and actually making them a playoff team for the first time in ages. D’Antony deserves a lot of credit as well. I wonder how a full season with Carmelo and Stoudemire look like. Exciting at times, terrible as well on quite a few occasions. Without any defense and depth, two All-Star won’t pull this wagon too far, just like last year. Will there be a third All-Star joining them?

Point Guard Heaven – The toughest top 5 list to make next year – Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook – who’ll be considered the best when next year starts and ends?

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Oklahoma City Thunder – Durant for MVP? He was a popular pick before the 2010-2011 season started, but scoring “only” 27.7 points per game while having Westbrook beside him disappointed a lot of people. Still good enough to lead the league in scoring, still good enough to take the Thunder to the conference finals. Yeah, he and and his agent zero sidekick were kind of smothered by the Mavs, but the Thunder made another step towards the bright future we all knew they had. Probably the favorites to win the West next year.

Last Spurs Hoorah? – Pop got 150% out of this team during the regular season. There was nothing left when the Grizzlies showed up in the first round of the NBA playoffs. I can’t see them winning another 61 games, not even 55. Too many guys need to stay healthy which is hard when you’re over 30. Tim Duncan shouldn’t even start anymore, despite all he’s done and still doing. Problem is there’s no one better on this team, and there’s no trade value to get from anyone. Kind of reminds me of the Celtics in the very late 80’s and early 90’s. Riding towards the sunset, knowing its going to end very soon.