NBA Preview 2013-2014

NBA+Preview+2013-2014

Photo courtesy of cbssports.com.

Jacob Borowsky ('16)/ Eastside Sports Editor

After an eventful off-season, the NBA returns tomorrow when the Orlando Magic play the Indiana Pacers at 7:00 p.m. During this off-season, many different trades and signings were made. Some of the highlights were: The Detroit Pistons traded PG Brandon Knight to the Bucks for PG Brandon Jennings. The Pistons also signed PF Josh Smith to a $54 million, four year deal. Dwight Howard signed a four year, $88 million deal with the Houston Rockets. The Heat added SF Michael Beasley, who is on his last limb in the NBA after many off-court and on-court problems, and PF Greg Oden, the #2 draft pick in 2007, who has only played 82 games in the NBA due to a plaguing knee injury. The Los Angeles Clippers named Doc Rivers their head coach. In the move of the off-season, the Boston Celtics traded SF Paul Pierce, PF/C Kevin Garnett, SG Jason Terry and PF/SF D.J. White to the Nets for PF Gerald Wallace, PF Kris Humphries, SF/SG Keith Bogans, SG MarShon Brooks, SF/PF Kris Joseph, and three future draft picks (as well as the option to switch picks in the 2017 draft).

The 2013-14 season looks like it may be spectacular. The upcoming draft class is the strongest since 2003, the Rockets look phenomenal with their new additions of Howard and SF Omri Casspi, the Bulls have PG Derrick Rose back, and the Heat are raring for a three-peat. My predictions for whether any of this will happen below:

Awards:

MVP: SF LeBron James. LeBron is the most dominant player in the game right now. He is the king of basketball. No one in the world is playing better than he right now, and some think that no one in the world has played better than LeBron, ever. While this is an entirely different dispute, it is clear that LeBron is the best player in the league, and deserving of the MVP award. Unless LeBron misses significant time due to an injury, which is highly unlikely as is because of his sheer strength and amazing will to condition for every game, no one in the league can take this from him.

Defensive Player of the Year: C Joakim Noah. Last season, Noah made his first NBA All-Defensive First Team, as well as his first NBA All-Star appearance. Noah boasted 7.2 RPG and 2.1 BPG, but played in only 66 games, missing significant time in the regular season and during the playoffs. However, Noah is still becoming better, and if his health is not an issue, he can make a run for DPOY.

ROY: SG Victor Oladipo. Oladipo, the #2 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft out of Indiana has already shown he has explosive ability this pre-season. Many were surprised when the Cavs passed on Oladipo, vying instead for SF/PF Anthony Bennett. He’s an athletic guard, who can move to PG if need be, which is just what the Magic need to contend in the future. He seems much more mature than the other rookies, both on the court, and in his work ethic. Oladipo seems like the clear-cut pick for ROY.

Sixth Man of the Year: 6MOY may be the hardest award to predict this season. SG J.R. Smith, who was the obvious choice last season, will be out with a knee injury for up to four months. Jamal Crawford, who many were calling the runner-up last season, finds himself among many other potential sixth men on his own team, and with his age will likely have to contend for the spot on the Clippers. SG Tyreke Evans was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans this off season, and may need time to adjust to the role after years of starting for the Sacramento Kings. SG/SF Klay Thompson and SG Harrison Barnes will fight for the sixth spot this season, so neither is a clear candidate for the award, when otherwise they both may have been. All of these factors lead me to believe that Heat SG Ray Allen will win 6MOY. Ray Allen is in the perfect role with the Heat right now. He will come off the bench, become an option from outside, and force defenses to either play up on his, in which case he can dish the ball to LeBron for the drive and score, or play off, in which case he will drain threes. Last season, Allen made possibly the most clutch shot of all time, a three-pointer with five seconds left in game 6 of the NBA finals to send the game into overtime. Allen looks fit for his age, and ready to win another world title.

Most Improved Player: PG Eric Bledsoe. This is the toughest of all the awards, because there are so many players in the league who played poorly last year and are priming for a much better season this year. Bledsoe, now with the Phoenix Suns, will have a starting job. Many people forget that Bledsoe is still surprisingly young at 23, and is still on his way up. The team will be abysmal this year, but Bledsoe should succeed as potentially the best player on the team.

Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers. After switching coasts, Doc Rivers finds himself with the talent-packed LA Clippers. Rivers, a players’ coach & former player himself, will find much success with the team, and hopes to prove that this Clippers team can succeed in the playoffs, something they have not done with this team yet.

Playoffs:

EAST: (1) Heat, (2) Pacers, (3) Bulls, (4) Nets, (5) Knicks, (6) Pistons, (7) Cavaliers, (8) Wizards

The East is unfortunately bad. Besides the seemingly-unstoppable Heat, and the Pacers and Bulls, who are the only teams able to stop the Heat, the division is very weak. The Knicks, Pistons, Cavs, and Wizards would all fail miserably in the Western conference. Any of those four teams can make the playoffs with a record barely above or even games under .500.

WEST: (1) Clippers, (2) Spurs, (3) Thunder, (4) Rockets, (5) Warriors, (6) Grizzlies, (7) Pelicans, (8) Mavericks

The Western Conference is stacked throughout with solid teams. It’s unfortunate that many teams which could slide easily into the playoffs in the East, like the Lakers, Timberwolves, or Blazers may find themselves missing the playoffs by a longshot in this powerful Western conference. Any of the top five seeds can take the number one seed, and luck will play a role in which team gets it. It would seem, however that the Clippers, with new coach Doc Rivers, are the best team in the conference, closely followed by the Spurs and Thunder.

FINALS: Heat over Thunder, 3-2.

The Heat will three-peat this season, beating the Thunder in the finals like in 2011-’12. The Thunder, with Russell Westbrook healthy once again, should find success in the playoffs. The Spurs will leave the playoffs early when the younger Thunder team surprises them with their quickness, and the Clippers will lose in the semis due to incompetence from the veterans. While it surely will not be easy, the Heat will oust the Bulls and Pacers for the second year in a row in the playoffs. The Heat are just a more well-rounded team. It also does not hurt having the best player in the league on the team. The Heat will win the NBA Finals as the Thunder run out of steam at the end of the run. LeBron will play hungry, as he now, more than ever, wants to win and challenge Michael Jordan’s position as the greatest basketball player of all time. James will win his third straight NBA Finals MVP as the Heat take home the title, completing the three-peat.