Around the NBA


Jerry Bembry's picks

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division 1. New York Knicks 2. Miami Heat 3. New Jersey Nets 4. Orlando Magic 5. Washington Wizards 6. Boston Celtics 7. Philadelphia 76ers

Central Division 1. Indiana Pacers 2. Atlanta Hawks 3. Milwaukee Bucks 4. Cleveland Cavaliers 5. Detroit Pistons 6. Charlotte Hornets 7. Chicago Bulls 8. Toronto Raptors

Western Conference

Midwest Division 1. San Antonio Spurs 2. Utah Jazz 3. Houston Rockets 4. Minnesota Timberwolves 5. Denver Nuggets 6. Dallas Mavericks 7. Vancouver Grizzlies

Pacific Division 1. Los Angeles Lakers 2. Portland Trail Blazers 3. Seattle SuperSonics 4. Phoenix Suns 5. Sacramento Kings 6. Golden State Warriors 7. Los Angeles Clippers


Tim Duncan, power forward, San Antonio Spurs: As a rookie, was one of the NBA's top five players.

Scottie Pippen, small forward, Houston Rockets: Has to overcome off-season back surgery.

Shaquille O'Neal, center, Los Angeles Lakers: ers: Game's most dominant big man.

Rod Strickland, point guard, Washington Wizards: Last year's assists leader.

Latrell Sprewell, shooting guard, New York Knicks: Michael Jordan's retirement makes him the game's top shooting guard.

Most underrated

Theo Ratliff, forward, Philadelphia 76ers: Hard work earned him long-term deal with Sixers.

Sherman Douglas, point guard, Los Angeles Clippers: les Clippers: Was hoping to go to Washington as a starter, but settled for L.A.

Bo Outlaw, forward, Orlando Magic: A workaholic.

Howard Eisley, point guard, Utah Jazz: With this likely being John Stockton's final season, he's the Utah point guard of the future.

Loy Vaught, power forward, Detroit Pistons: tons: Provides needed toughness for team lacking a physical center.

Wilting under the pressure

Karl Malone, Utah Jazz: Still waiting for him to show for the duration of an NBA Finals.

Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat: Immaturity cost Miami in last year's playoff series against New York.

Cliff Robinson, Phoenix Suns: Shot 27.3 percent in last year's playoffs.

Del Harris, Los Angeles Lakers: After two postseason disappointments, pressure is on this coach to win.

Rookies to watch

Vince Carter, forward, Toronto Raptors: After averaging 12.3 points in three years at North Carolina, the true skills of the No. 5 pick of the NBA draft will surface in the NBA.

Larry Hughes, guard, Philadelphia 76ers: The skills of the draft's No. 8 pick are there. And fans will see them on the nights that Allen Iverson is in a sharing mood.

Dirk Nowitzki, center, Dallas Mavericks: Playing for a horrible team will allow the 6-foot-11 German (ninth pick) to get plenty of playing time.

Paul Pierce, forward, Boston Celtics: Will get his share of minutes in Rick Pitino's rotation.

Mike Bibby, guard, Vancouver Grizzlies: Drafted second, there's no pressure on Bibby with this young team.

Pub Date: 2/05/99

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