Misc, NBA, Sports

NBA Award and Playoff Predictions

The NBA Season begins tonight! Well, it’s about that time that we make our award and playoff predictions. In our piece yesterday we seeded all of the playoff teams for the 2013-2014 NBA Season. Without further delay here are our predictions.

MVP

By this point of his career it should be evident that LeBron James is unquestionably the best player in the NBA and is one of the ten best players that has ever lived. This year James is trying to do something that no one in the history of basketball has ever done: Win 5 MVP awards in 6 years. To say that winning five in six years is impressive would be the understatement of the century. While James should be the prohibitive favorite for years to come, I believe the NBA writers, who vote on the award, will give the award to someone other than James, much like they did in 2011 when Derrick Rose won the award. This year I believe the recipient of the MVP award will be Kevin Durant. Durant is widely considered to be the second best player in the NBA and has been for at least the past two seasons. The reason that Durant will win the MVP this season has more to do with the fact that LeBron isn’t going to win it more than Durant is going to win it. That being said, Durant has been a viable candidate for the past two seasons and will have himself another incredible season. Look for Durant to carry the workload while his teammate and partner-in-crime, Russell Westbrook, is sidelined with a knee injury. Kevin Durant is going to lead the Thunder to the best record in the Western Conference while averaging the legendary 40/50/90 stat line. It is finally Kevin Durant’s turn to hoist the MVP trophy.

Voting

1. Kevin Durant

2. LeBron James

3. Derrick Rose

4. Chris Paul

5. Steph Curry

Rookie of the Year

It has been said by analysts that the 2013 NBA Draft was one of the most talent poor classes in years. It is hard to argue with the fact that the depth of talent was lacking in this years rookie class. However, there are still a ton of viable candidates who will have an enormous impact on their teams this season. The player that will rise to the top of the class will be Orlando’s Victor Olapido. Ever since I saw him play against Michigan last season for Indiana Hoosiers I had this vision of him turning into the next Russell Westbrook. In fact, I have written that I believe Oladipo to be Westbrook 2.0. I have soften in that stance because Russell Westbrook does things on the court that humans shouldn’t be able to do, much like Derrick Rose. While Oladipo might not even turn into the top five to ten player like Westbrook has, he will almost certainly, in my mind, turn into a top twenty player within the next couple of seasons. Let’s call him Russell Westbrook 1.79. Olapido is a fantastic defender and has the elite athleticism to get to the rim whenever he wants. He will bring intensity to the Orlando Magic that they are sorely lacking. While he needs to improve on his shooting, I believe that he will have a very meaningful impact on the Magic this season.  Moreover, Oladipo has essentially been given the keys to the Orlando Magic’s car and will be asked to steer it all season long. No other rookie in the NBA will be more responsible for his teams successes or failures than Oladipo. I believe he will rise to the challenge and will earn the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.

Voting

1. Oladipo

2. Ben McLemore

3. Michael Carter-Williams

4. Anthony Bennett

5. C.J. McCollum

Breakout Star

There are a ton of candidates to consider for this award that I made up five seconds ago. The idea behind the award is to reward a player who has made the biggest “leap” this season. I guess there is already an award for this and it is called the “Most Improved Player” award. I like Breakout Star better. Adam Silver, can you fix this for me? Thanks.

The Breakout Star award would have been awarded for Paul George last season and I believe that he is the perfect example for this award. So who will be the next Paul George? The answer is Kawhi Leonard. We have talked about Leonard extensively this offseason and for good reason. Did you see him in the NBA Finals? Let’s take out the miss free throw at the end of Game 6 that could have clinched a 5th title for the San Antonio Spurs and talk about how great Leonard was in the Finals. He was the only person on the floor who could slow down LeBron James, he hit big shots and created plays for his team in late game situations. If the Spurs are going to compete for a championship again this season, Kawhi Leonard is going to be the reason that they are in contention. While I don’t think Leonard has as much of an upside as Paul George, I do believe that Leonard is going to be an All-Star caliber player this season and will earn his place in the “Big Three” along side Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

Sixth man

The race for the 6th man award this season comes down to two players and one of them is currently a starter. The race is between Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers and David Lee of the Golden State Warriors. In the end, I believe it is Lee, who is currently the starting PF for the Warriors, that will earn this award. Looking at how the Warriors are currently constructed and knowing how Mark Jackson wants to push the pace on offense, it would make sense for the Warriors to go small. That means that the starting lineup should consist of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. Obviously this puts Lee squarely on the bench at tip-off. However, Lee should be an invaluable piece for the Warriors all season long and will prove to be a phenomenal 6th man. Usually 6th men are known for coming off the bench and igniting an offense when a teams best player hits the pine. In this case I believe it will be David Lee’s rebounding and overall skill set in high-pressure situations that will earn him the award.

Voting

1. Lee

2. Crawford

3. J.R. Smith

4. Nick Young

5. Jarrett Jack

Surprise Team

There is always that one team that surprises everybody during the NBA regular season. Last year the surprise teams were the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks. The Warriors came out of essentially nowhere to make it to the Western Conference Semifinals where they gave the Spurs one hell of a series. The Knicks were a playoff team but not many expected them to grab the two seed in the East. This year the Surprise team will either be the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons or the Washington WhizKids (yes, that is the proper spelling!).

The Detroit Pistons are my selection because out of the three teams they have the best chance to advance in the playoffs. The additions of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings complete what should be one of the most intriguing starting lineups in the league. Just think about the possibilities! Jennings, Smith, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and either Chauncey Billups or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are going to be on the court at the same time! This could either be an incredible two-way team or it could be an unmitigated disaster. Either way….LEAGUE PASS ALERT! I happen to love this roster and believe that they can compete for the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference if all goes right.

Flop Team

Last years flop team was undoubtedly the Los Angeles Lakers. While the Lakeshow made the playoffs, mostly due to the heroics of Kobe Bean Bryant, they did not compete for a championship despite being the preseason co-favorites along with the Miami Heat. This years flop team also will come out of the Western Conference.

The Memphis Grizzlies are going to be the biggest disappointment in the NBA this season. The Grizz made it to the Western Conference Finals last season before being swept unceremoniously by the Spurs. Most experts expect the Grizz to again contend deep in to the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference. I simply don’t believe that this version of the Grizzlies have the depth or talent to play night in and night out with the best in the west. I expect Memphis to have a subpar first half of the season and to trade away Zach Randolph for some young pieces that they can pair with Marc Gasol. This team will still make the playoffs, but they will not be competing for any championships any time soon. That window closed last season.

Coach of the Year

I’m sorry to cut this explanation short but the Coach of the Year is going to be Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls. I understand that Erik Spoelstra and Doc Rivers will be in contention for this award all season; however, there is no better coach in the NBA than Thibs outside of maybe Greg Popovich. The Bulls will end the regular season with the best record in the NBA and that alone will propel Thibs to the top of the list.

Voting

1. Thibodeau

2. Spoelstra

3. Rivers

4. Popovich

5. Frank Vogel

NBA 1st Team

G: Derrick Rose

G: James Harden

F: LeBron James

F: Kevin Durant

C: Marc Gasol

NBA 2nd Team

G: Chris Paul

G: Steph Curry

F: Paul George

F: Carmelo Anthony

C: Dwight Howard

NBA 3rd Team

G: Kyrie Irving

G: Kobe Bryant

F: Blake Griffin

F: Pau Gasol

C: Roy Hibbert

Playoffs

After the Heat won their second title in June I wrote about the comparisons between the 2011-2014 Heat and the 2008-2011 Los Angeles Lakers. The elusive NBA “Three-Peat” has only been accomplished by 4 different teams in the history of the NBA. I believe this years version of the Miami Heat will fall short of the Three-Peat and will not make it to the NBA Finals. Why? While it is tough to bet against LeBron James, it seems to me that the amount of games played by this team over the past four seasons will take it’s toll come playoff team. I do not believe that the Heat have enough depth or talent on the bench to take home the championship this season and I do not think that Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh will be healthy enough come playoff time to take down the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls, in my opinion, are the team best positioned to take down the reigning champs and win the 2014 NBA Title. Derrick Rose will finally be crowned the new king of Chicago.

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Lastly, because I enjoyed the Grantland NBA Season preview I wanted to give a shout out to Jalen Rose. GOT TO GIVE THE PEOPLE….GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9DIN0nFHvs

Regardless of what happens this season, we are in store for one of the best NBA season in recent memory. Here’s to hoping all of the stars get and stay healthy this season.

 

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