The best part about doing preseason rankings and predictions is being able to look back on all the things you ended up getting completely wrong. Examples: I’ve predicted the Bulls win the NBA Finals for the past three years, thought Detroit and Cleveland would make the playoffs a season ago and that’s just the Eastern Conference. Never do I want to talk about writing San Antonio off for the past five years ever again, either.
The next 10 predictions are supposed to be bold (#2 as you will see is not as bold as the others) and while I truly do expect a few to actually happen, “Goatstradamus” misses a few too.
10. Derrick Rose plays 75+ games, averages 22 PPG. and 7 APG.
Thought I’d get the homerism out-of-the-way as a quick as possible. I try to refrain from talking about him when I don’t have to as much as possible, partly because I’m becoming way too superstitious about an athlete. Last year I was convinced he was going to be back to normal, just like everyone else and then 10 games later…
If something like that happens (God forbid) again, I’ll be blaming myself 100% but I also think that my continuous belief and defense of Rose will pay off. The occasional hamstring soreness or knee soreness will keep him out a few games, along with set aside rest but other than that Rose has noticeably changed his style of play. He doesn’t force it as much as he used to. I’ve yet to see him attempt an emphatic dunk like his first three years in the league and ultimately I think he gets that he can dominate a game with various jumpers, floaters and layups without putting his body at risk.
9. Anthony Davis finishes 3rd in MVP voting
If somehow miraculously, the Pelicans make the playoffs, Davis has to be in serious contention for actually winning it. But as of now I have him behind LeBron and Carmelo Anthony (more to come on Melo) he’s going to be a 20-10 guy for the next decade as it is. I think he is already a lock to win DPOY as well. Anthony isn’t a secret anymore, yet he still is highly underrated. He runs the floor like a guard, a lockdown defender in the low post and for the past two seasons, scored the majority of his points on alley-oops, putbacks and dunks.
Entering his third year, he showed that he is beginning to develop a mid-range game and some offensive low post moves playing on Team USA, there is no reason not to rank ‘brow this high in the MVP race for the next ten years.
8. Roy Hibbert will be dealt by the deadline
The Pacers’ season will end up one of two ways. Option A: They play hard every night (much like the Bulls the past two seasons) use their interior defense to keep them in games and rely on a collective effort on offense every night. Option B: Realize with the loss of Paul George to a gruesome leg injury and Lance Stephenson to free agency, trade David West AND Roy Hibbert and tank their way into a lottery pick and pair the pick with PG-13 for the coming years. Guess what option I’m taking here. (Hint: In my Eastern Preview I decided with Option A).
7. Kobe and Melo go back-and-forth in an epic race for the scoring title
The Knicks and the Lakers won’t be very good as a whole in 2014-15, but they do have two of most prolific and sometimes biggest ball-hogging scorers in the league. Then again, look at both rosters, you can’t blame Melo or Kobe. If Melo wins it, the Knicks have a chance of sneaking in as the 8th seed in the playoffs, Kobe? Just keep getting that $30 million check and polish off a legendary career, regardless the Lakers won’t make the playoffs, just don’t tell Kobe that.
6. Dallas upsets either San Antonio or OKC in the playoffs
As projected in my Western Conference Preview, I have Dallas as the 5th seed, OKC the 4th. With additions of Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, the Mavs are equipped to make some noise this season and in the postseason. Much like in the 2011-12 playoffs when the Mavs won the title, they bullied OKC inside and Dirk was doing Dirk things to Serge Ibaka, this Dallas team may be as good as the one three years ago.
5. The Knicks will have Rajon Rondo on their roster before the season concludes
One way or another, Rajon Rondo will be leaving the Boston Celtics, the question continues to be, where? Houston could use a pass first PG like Rondo with Howard and Harden, but the Rockets let all their trade assets go. The only real sensible team seems to be the Knicks, who would like to get rid of Amar’e Stoudemire expiring contract and guard Iman Shumpert has been in trade rumors and has yet to sign an extension with the Knickerbockers.
In theory the trade works for both teams, the Knicks get someone who can get Anthony shots, although it remains to be seen how Rondo would fit within the triangle offense. The C’s in return get whatever is left of Amar’e and Iman Shumpert adds athleticism and defense to a backcourt with similar traits in Avery Bradley and Rookie Marcus Smart.
4. Dwayne Wade reinvents himself and proves he’s still a top guard for one more year
At 32, a few surgeries all over his body, it’s easy to think why you would write off Wade at this point in his career. Yeah he’s a Hall of Famer, there is very little for Wade to prove, other than the fact he can still carry a team without LeBron on it. We forget that when LeBron first joined the Heat, it was Wade taking the last shot, the go-to-man. Then he made a pretty incredible thing for an Alpha-dog type player in the NBA to do, he took the backseat to LeBron.
He missed games to rest his taxed body, which inclined many to think he is washed up. With LeBron gone, I believe the 11-year vet has one more year to prove that the guy we once called “Flash” is still a top guard in the league. Retirement may be in his near future, but before that, so is a possible 23-5-6 type year.
3. The Lakers will statistically be the worst defensive team in NBA history.
The Opening night starting five for the Los Angeles Lakers: Jeremy Lin, Kobe Byrant, Wes Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill. Kobe isn’t going to waste his energy and body playing defense when they are down 20 in the fourth. Carlos Boozer doesn’t know the first thing about defense and Lin is a complete liability. And it’s not like they have defensive specialists coming off the bench either, they have Robert Sacre and Nick Young instead. Showtime will be making history for all the wrong reasons on defense this coming season.
2. Cleveland and Chicago will go 7 games in the ECF (This isn’t bold, more so something myself and everyone wants to see)
This coming Friday, the first of a possible eleven match-ups takes place in Cleveland. That’s 528 minutes of Basketball you’re going to want to tune into if the most likely matchup Eastern Conference Finals goes seven. This prediction is not bold at all, but who wouldn’t want this? The possible storylines, the potential of an actual rivalry in the NBA again, Joakim Noah vs. The entire city of Cleveland? Must see TV if both teams stay healthy and as dominant as they are predicted to be.
1. The Clippers reach the NBA Finals
It goes completely against my early statement saying I would never ever go against the San Antonio Spurs. Then again, they have never repeated and while they did return the majority of their roster, the core is another year older, father time will win at some point, and it will be awful, because Ginobli, Duncan and Parker are a joy to watch.
Meanwhile for Lob City, despite lack of scoring and athleticism at the wing, CP3, Blake, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford all either are entering or are in the heart of the prime of their careers. The team is deep at nearly every position as I mentioned beforehand in the Western Conference Preview, and Doc Rivers and the entire organization has entered an era of stability under new owner Steve Ballmer. The chips are in place.
Today in some ways to me is like Christmas, it could not come soon enough. LeBron in Cleveland, Rose back again, Kobe and Wade out to prove their doubters wrong, Westbrook on his own in OKC, San Antonio possible repeat, the Knicks running the triangle offense, the 2014 Rookie Class, Anthony Davis dominating everyone. Those are just a few reasons to watch what should be one of the most captivating NBA seasons in recent memory.
Welcome back, Association.