Oct. 31, 2006 -- Preseason is the time for predictions, to prove one's basketball knowledge. With only hours until Opening Week: It's Game Time tips off the 2006-07 NBA season, a distinguished panel of NBA.com writers, NBA TV personalities, NBA Radio hosts and NBA legends get in on the fun and publicly proclaim who they think will win it all this season. Phoenix is a hot pick to advance past the Conference Finals and take home the crown and the Spurs are also predicted to return to glory. Miami is predicted to heat up again as well. LeBron looks to be the man for MVP, Brandon Roy could become ROY, and several coaches are being picked. Below is a look at who this crew believes will come out on top next spring:

NBA Expert
Atlantic
Central
SE
East Champ
NW
Pacific
SW
West Champ
Finals Champ
MVP
Rookie of Year
Coach of Year
Rich Ackerman
NBA Radio

Nets

Bulls

Heat

Heat

Jazz

Suns

Spurs

Spurs

Spurs

James

Roy

Skiles
Rick Barry
Hall of Famer, NBA Radio

Nets

Bulls

Heat

Heat

Nuggets

Suns

Spurs

Spurs

Spurs

Duncan

Roy

Popovich
Maurice Brooks
NBA.com

Nets

Pistons

Heat

Heat

Jazz

Suns

Spurs

Suns

Suns

Nash

Roy

Sloan
Jeff Dengate
NBA.com

Nets

Pistons

Heat

Pistons

Nuggets

Suns

Spurs

Spurs

Spurs

James

Morrison

Popovich
George Gervin
Hall of Famer

Nets

Cavaliers

Heat

Heat

Nuggets

Suns

Spurs

Spurs

Spurs

Duncan

Morrison

Johnson
Gail Goodrich
Hall of Famer, NBA TV

Nets

Cavaliers

Heat

Cavaliers

Nuggets

Suns

Spurs

Spurs

Spurs

James

Gay

Skiles
John Hareas
NBA.com

Nets

Bulls

Heat

Heat

Nuggets

Suns

Spurs

Suns

Suns

James

Morrison

Skiles
Frank Isola
NY Daily News, NBA TV

Nets

Pistons

Heat

Heat

Nuggets

Suns

Rockets

Spurs

Spurs

James

Roy

Van Gundy
Rick Kamla
NBA TV

Nets

Cavaliers

Heat

Heat

Timberwolves

Suns

Spurs

Suns

Heat

James

Roy

Brown
Bob Lanier
Hall of Famer

Nets

Cavaliers

Heat

Cavaliers

Nuggets

Suns

Mavericks

Suns

Suns

James

Morrison

Brown
Dave McMenamin
NBA.com

Nets

Cavaliers

Heat

Heat

Nuggets

Suns

Mavericks

Mavericks

Heat

Bryant

Thomas

Scott
Rob Peterson
NBA.com

Nets

Bulls

Wizards

Heat

Nuggets

Suns

Mavericks

Suns

Suns

James

Roy

Skiles
John Schuhmann
NBA.com

Nets

Cavaliers

Heat

Nets

Denver

Suns

Spurs

Spurs

Spurs

James

Gay

Popovich


Breaking Down Their Picks

Maurice Brooks : Call it the year of the Suns. Although I chose his teammate, two-time MVP Steve Nash to three-peat for the award, the real most valuable player in the league might be Amare Stoudemire. His health, or lack of, could be the single most important factor in Phoenix’s hunt for an NBA title. With or without him, Nash will continue to be the engine that propels the league’s most explosive offense. All of my choices for division winners seem to be pretty clear cut except for my pick of Utah to win the Northwest. Carlos Boozer missed 49 games a year ago and the Jazz still finished just three games behind the Nuggets. Andrei Kirilenko is a beast and along with rising point guard Deron Williams will help Jerry Sloan get the Coach of the Year award that has somehow managed to escape him. Besides being loaded with talent, Brandon Roy is going to get every opportunity to succeed in Portland and that will help him earn top rookie honors.

Dave McMenamin : I like the Heat because I just don't see Wade slowing down. He saved his best ball of the season for Games 3-6 of the Finals when he was supposed to be beat down and have nothing left in the tank. I don't buy the argument that he is going to be tired this season from his experience with the U.S. National team. Give me a break, this is a fine-tuned, highly-skilled athlete. Heat over the Mavs in a rematch and we all get the treat of Shaq's Finals press conferences again. The Hornets have made the moves to become a playoff team and their coach on the court, Chris Paul, will get their man on the sidelines, Byron Scott, the coach of the year award. Oh, and Kobe for MVP. Well, I look at it like this; Denzel Washington should have won the Oscar for Malcolm X, and the Academy made up for it down the line by giving him a statue for Training Day. That's like Mamba being snubbed in '05-06. KB24 will still put up 30-plus, the Lakers will get about 50 wins, and the voters will make up for last season by getting his name inscribed in the Maurice Podoloff trophy this year.

Rick Kamla : Most of my picks are pretty straight forward. I've got Miami winning the East and Miami winning it all. I'm actually on an island with that, most people don't think they're going to do it. Phoenix winning the Pacific, San Antonio winning the Southwest, blah blah blah. New Jersey winning the Atlantic, I mean a monkey could make these picks. I've got Cleveland winning the Central over Detroit, I don't think a lot of people agree with me there. I think Cleveland is going to be in the Eastern Conference Finals and ultimately lose to Miami. I wish I could put an asterisk by the Suns, I can't, but if I could put an asterisk by the Suns I would. If Amare is going to be Amare, they're going to beat the Spurs. If not, they won't. MVP I've got LeBron James because it's an absolute slam dunk that he wins MVP this year. I thought he was the MVP last year in a tight year with Nash. This year it's going to be clear-cut LeBron James. Brandon Roy, Rookie of the Year ... Rudy Gay, to me, could come on and challenge him for that because I think he's going to get a lot of minutes in Memphis and my guy Randy Foye from Minnesota could challenge as well, but I think Roy is going to get major minutes and be a major part of what Portland is doing from Day 1. I think Mike Brown is going to get a ton of credit for what he does with Cleveland this year. I think they're going to win like 55 games. I think he did a great job with them last year in his first year and I think he is going to do a better job in year two and win Coach of the Year.

Rob Peterson : Yeah, yeah, I've already heard it from the drones in the NBA.com cubes: Washington? Yes, I think the Wizards will sneak away, by a game or two, with the Southeast Division title. I have a feeling D-Wade's tired from 12 months of brilliance and Shaq may downshift into regular-season neutral. Doesn't mean much, though, as the Heat get steamy in the postseason and win the East. Don't believe me? You should. I called Kobe's 81 last year. Honest.

John Schuhmann : The Spurs will be focused and you know they'll come back strong after last year's disappointment, especially with a healthy Fundamental. The East is wide open and I like the Nets to be stronger in their second year together, with a stronger bench. I see the Cavaliers taking the very competitive Central, but they're still a year (and another complementary player) away from competing for the trophy. But 50 wins and a division title to go along with 31, seven and eight will be enough for LeBron to earn the MVP award. The absence of Pau Gasol will force Rudy Gay to come out strong in Memphis.