Sound personnel moves do not necessarily turn a good team into a champion. The Garden will be jumpin' this season, but banners won't fly until 1993-94.
Is there any reason to suspect that the Los Angeles Lakers without Magic Johnson this season will he any better than the Los Angeles Lakers without Magic Johnson last season ?
No. They finished eighth in the West in 1991-92, and they'll suffer the same fate this time around. If general manager Jerry West has made the right choice, as he usually does, in No. 1 draft pick Anthony Peeler, L.A. will have one of the most exciting new players in the league to re-energize its once-again ordinary backcourt. But there is still the important matter of the leadership gap left by Magic's sudden re-retirement on Monday. Veterans James Worthy, Sam Perkins, A.C. Green and Byron Scott weren't able to fill it last season—individually or collectively—and incumbent point guard Sedale Threatt has the position only by default, being more suited to playing the two-guard spot. Only the Lakers' well-tested strength of character will enable them to make the playoffs, if indeed they do that.
Along with the teams already mentioned, who else will make the playoffs? (List them from best to worst, please.)
I'll tell you. The West playoff teams will be Phoenix, Portland, Utah, Seattle, Golden State, San Antonio and the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Clippers endured too many changes to be able to build on their success (45-37) of last season. Sacramento needs at least one more defensive stopper before it can even consider making the Magic Eight; maybe next season. Denver needs one more season (if not two or three) to Mutombo their way toward the top. Minnesota and Dallas? Puhleeze.
In the Last: Chicago. Cleveland, New York, Boston, New Jersey, Indiana, Miami and Atlanta will make the playoffs.
What, no Pistons? That's right, no Pistons. Not this year. The former Bad Boys are just plain ol' bad. The only thing that can save them is a sudden and complete mending of the fences between the disenchanted Dennis Rodman, who finally showed up Monday for his first preseason practice, and his teammates (page 114).
It's a safe bet that Milwaukee coach Mike Dunleavy will get the new-look Bucks on the playoff trail, but not this year. Same old story for the Bullets—coach Wes Unseld doesn't have quite enough to work with. Charlotte (provided it gets Alonzo Mourning signed) and Orlando will be extremely competitive and could easily make the playoffs if Indiana, Miami or Atlanta falters. Frankly, there's not much at all that separates the bottom nine teams in the Hast.
Who has the best chance to be rookie of the year besides Orlando 's Shaquille O'Neal?