Oct. 28, 2008 -- Preseason is the time for predictions, to prove one's basketball knowledge. With only hours until Countdown to Tip-Off '08 presented by Kia Motors begins the 2008-09 NBA season, a distinguished panel of NBA analysts get in on the fun and publicly proclaim who they think will win it all this season. The Lakers are the overwhelming favorite to win the championship, LeBron James is poised to collect the first regular season MVP award of his storied career and three different Portland Trail Blazer newbies were picked in the scattered Rookie of the Year race. Below is a look at who this crew believes will come out on top next spring:

NBA Expert
Atlantic
Central
SE
NW
Pacific
SW
East Champ
West Champ
Finals Champ
MVP
Rookie of Year
Coach of Year
David Aldridge
TNT

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Hornets

Cavaliers

Lakers

Lakers

James

Fernandez

McMillan
Charles Barkley
TNT

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Hornets

Cavaliers

Lakers

Lakers

James

Mayo

Brown
Art Garcia
NBA.com

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Rockets

Cavaliers

Lakers

Lakers

Paul

Oden

Adelman
John Hareas
NBA Entertainment

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Blazers

Lakers

Hornets

Celtics

Lakers

Celtics

James

Rose

McMillan
Rick Kamla
NBA TV

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Hornets

Cavaliers

Hornets

Cavaliers

James

Oden

McMillan
Dave McMenamin
NBA.com

Celtics

Pistons

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Hornets

Celtics

Lakers

Lakers

James

Mayo

Spoelstra
Cheryl Miller
TNT

Celtics

Pistons

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Rockets

Celtics

Lakers

Lakers

Bryant

Rose

Sloan
Gary Payton
NBA TV

Celtics

Pistons

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Hornets

Pistons

Hornets

Pistons

James

Bayless

Woodson
Rob Peterson
NBA.com

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Blazers

Lakers

Hornets

Cavaliers

Hornets

Cavaliers

James

Oden

McMillan
Ahmad Rashad
NBA TV

Celtics

Cavaliers

Wizards

Jazz

Lakers

Spurs

Celtics

Lakers

Lakers

Bryant

Beasley

Rivers
John Schuhmann
NBA.com

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Hornets

Cavaliers

Lakers

Lakers

James

Beasley

Cheeks
Kenny Smith
TNT

Celtics

Pistons

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Rockets

Celtics

Rockets

Rockets

James

Rose

Scott
Steve Smith
NBA TV

Celtics

Pistons

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Hornets

Celtics

Lakers

Celtics

James

Mayo

McMillan
Eric Snow
NBA TV

Celtics

Cavaliers

Magic

Jazz

Lakers

Rockets

Magic

Lakers

Lakers

James

Beasley

Van Gundy

Breaking Down Their Picks

Art Garcia: Here's some division analysis. Atlantic - Not enough around to challenge the Cís, but gotta like Philly; Central - LeBron has enough help to edge Pistons; Southeast - Dwight Howard alone makes the Magic contenders; Northwest - Is this the swan song for the Jazz as we know them?; Pacific - The best frontline in the NBA starts the season together; Southwest - The best division, hands down, goes down to the wire.

John Hareas: Running through the divisions: Atlantic - Yes, the Posey loss still hurts but being disrespcted and doubted is standard for this team, who will rally in their bid to be the first team since the 2002 Lakers to repeat as NBA champs. Ubuntu II; Central - Mo Williams means Mo LeBron on the wing and the break (ala Summer Olympics with U.S. Men's team). While LeBron is still looking for a top notch sidekick, he will no longer be looking for the MVP Award; Southeast - Rashard will continue his preseason scoring mojo while Dwight will finish second in MVP voting; Northwest - Brandon Roy will make his second straight All-Star appearance while the LaMarcus Aldridge-Greg Oden tandem will bring back Blazermania memories of Bill Walton-Maurice Lucas; Pacific Ė Andrew Bynum's return pays dividends for Pau Gasol as the Lakers runaway with the Pacific; Southwest - Hornets won't catch anyone off guard this season but will prove last season was no fluke and the James Posey acquisition will pay immediate dividends with his defense and timely three-point shooting, especially in the playoffs. Besides, no way Byron Scott lets the Hornets believe its own press clippings or rest on newfound status.

The Celtics and Lakers will meet for a record 12th time in The Finals and the Celtics defeat the Lakers in seven games, despite Kobe's MVP performance, becoming the first player to win the honors from a losing team since Jerry West (1969, also vs. Celtics).

For the awards, another historically significant season (31 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) for LeBron gives him his first MVP award in a landslide. Derrick Rose for Rookie of the Year because with no real expectations, the Bulls bounce back this season and Rose will be a big reason why. The Bulls hope they have a difference maker ala Chris Paul. Nate McMillan for Coach of the year (no longer the NBA's most underrated coach, Blazers not only make the playoffs for the first time since 2003 but advance to the Western Conference Semifinals).

Dave McMenamin: If the Phillies can snap Philadelphia's 25-year championship drought, then Kobe Bryant should certainly be able to get out from under Shaquille O'Neal's shadow and finally hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy without him. Then again, when I'm writing this the Fightin' Phils are only up 3-1 in the World Series and have to finish off a rained out Game 5. They could always collapse like the Lakers did against the Celtics in Game 4 of The Finals when they flubbed a 21-point lead at home. Yes, these are the thoughts that Philly fans are doomed to live with.

It's sort of a cop out to pick a repeat of the same Eastern and Western Conference reps in the championship round, but I think that Andrew Bynum really pushes L.A. to another level and I have a hard time picking against KG, Tom Thibodeau and the Celtics defense. I have to say that LeBron and the Cavs intrigue me and the Sixers, Raptors and Magic have good mixes of young and old talent which is always a good recipe for postseason success.

In LBJ's first five seasons in the league he's finished 9th, 6th, 2nd, 5th and 4th in the MVP race. This year he finishes first.

I've done a lot of rookie philosophizing in my days manning the Rookie Rankings and I've come to the conclusion that Rookie of the Year has absolutely nothing to do with team success, so I'm going with O.J. Mayo. The Grizzlies will be terrible, but he'll score a bunch of points and sign deals with Hellmann's and Tropicana in the same season, which will be some kind of record. For Coach of the Year, I like Erik Spoelstra if only because he looks about as young as me and it's no fun being the baby face in the locker room. In all seriousness, Miami only won 15 games last season, fifteen, so it's not out of the question that they will triple that win count this season thanks to Spoelstra leading a young bunch of guys with Dwyane Wade and Mike Beasley at the forefront.

Rob Peterson: Let's go through the divisions, shall we? Atlantic - Boston is still the class of the division, if not the Eastern Conference; Central - It's between the Cavs and the Pistons, but I think the Cavs squeak this one out; Southeast - Even with Gil, it would be tough for the Wizards. Miami may make a run, but I don't think they have enough depth; Northwest - I know, I know, I'm on the bandwagon, but the Jazz have trouble stopping people. The Blazers play stout D; Pacific - L.A. Lakers. And it's not even close; Southwest - They Hornets are good, but if they have a major injury, they're in trouble because their depth is lacking.

John Schuhmann: In the East, I think the Cavs will be a stronger offensive team and more important, return to being one of the best defensive squads in the league. I worry a little about LeBron James tiring after a long summer, but even a tired LeBron James will put up MVP numbers.

I think Philly will be up there with Boston and Cleveland as one of the best teams in the conference, earning Maurice Cheeks the Coach of the Year award. Without a point guard or center, the Heat probably wonít make the playoffs, but Michael Beasley will put up big numbers, and thatís what gets you the Rookie of the Year award.

Out West, I donít see any surprises, with last seasonís division winners repeating. Anything can happen, but itís tough to pick against the Lakers to win it all.