Up next, I preview the Southeast division with the assistance of Agnew, the megalomaniacal anthropomorphic eggplant living in my fridge. Why? Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Atlantic, Central)
Waiting For Groza: I can't wait to see the Heat play, and I'm sick of hearing about them. Are you in the same boat?
Agnew: Agnew is not in a boat! Agnew is not with a goat! Agnew thinks the Heat's lack of depth will prevent them from winning 70 games! But Agnew thinks they will batter the NBA into submission in the spring, and Agnew is never, ever, never wrong!
Waiting For Groza: Wade's hamstring problems and Mike Miller's injury have certainly demonstrated how vulnerable this team is to injuries without the kind of depth that contenders like the Magic, Lakers, and Blazers can boast.
Projected Record: 65-17, 1st in East.
Waiting For Groza: It seems like we're settling into the same routine with the Orlando Magic; they'll play excellent defense, hit their threes, have the best bench in the league, win around 60 games, and hope to avoid a healthy Celtics team in the playoffs.
Agnew: The Magic fill Agnew with disgust! While the other contenders were improving their teams, hoping to win this summer's arms race, who did the Magic add? Chris Duhon! Agnew's diligent research has identified Duhon as a point guard not good enough for the Knicks! The Knicks! Agnew thinks that this is the year Vince Carter finally bounces back to MVP consideration.
Projected Record: 61-21, 2nd in East.
Waiting For Groza: Even though the Joe Johnson contract was moronic, and the Hawks struggled mightily in the playoffs, everybody's returning from a team that won 53 games, including the ubertalented Josh Smith. Without any major upgrades, this team won't contend for a championship, but should make the playoffs easily.
Agnew: You know what Agnew likes? Ripping the souls from his enemies while hearing their beloved goldfish caterwaul in the background! You know what Agnew hates? Assuming players who have just had career years will continue playing at that level! Josh Smith, Al Horford, Joe Johnson, and Jamal Crawford all had their best years ever. If you think that will happen again, Agnew has some land in Florida to sell you, even if he can't understand why anyone would want to move to Florida!
Projected Record: 46-36, 5th in East.
Waiting For Groza: The Bobcats made the playoffs on the strength of great defense, and enough offense from Gerald Wallace and Captain Jack. After losing Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, can they do it again? I'm not optimistic, but if D.J. Augustin or Shaun Livingston can run the offense, and the Cats find a competent center, a repeat performance is possible.
Agnew: Agnew will devastate the hopes of Bobcats fans everywhere with seven words: Nazr Mohammed, DeSagana Diop, and Kwame Brown. Is Agnew good, or what?
Projected Record: 34-48, 9th in East.
Waiting For Groza: Coming off the kind of season that gives utter chaos a bad name, Washington has added John Wall and Kirk Hinrich to play alongside Gilbert Arenas. David Kahn, thou art an amateur! If Arenas, Josh Howard, and Andray Blatche play to their potential, the Wizards could challenge for a playoff berth. Unfortunately, it's more likely that something will go horribly wrong with at least one of those players.
Agnew: The Wizards are Agnew's kind of bad team! So many players who could be good, but won't. Is this the year Yi turns the corner? Will Josh Howard bounce back? Will Andray Blatche turn into an All-Star? Will Gilbert Arenas regain his form? Will JaVale McGee become a defensive stopper? Of course not! But you can fool yourself into thinking that it could! That's real wizardry! Agnew approves!
Projected Record: 26-56, 12th in East.
Tomorrow, we move on to the West!