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Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Predictions for the 2012-13 NBA Season

The 2012-13 NBA season opens up this Tuesday, and I for one couldn't be more excited, even if my team (The Bulls) will likely struggle until D-Rose returns to save the day.  There have been a number of changes to "The Association" in the off season, making for a dramatic and exciting shakeup in the league's balance of power  Here are my predictions for how the season is going to play out.

1.) Miami Heat
The Heat are EASILY the best team in the East (probably the league), and are likely even better than last year.  With the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, this team is deeper than it has ever been.  And LeBron has awakened to his true potential.  Miami sails to the top seed in the conference.
2.) Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are my surprise team in the East.  Andrew Bynum is the second best offensive big man in the league (next to Blake Griffin) and Evan Turner is an emerging stud.  Mark my words, this guy is gonna be special.  That's why they were more than willing to part with Iguodala (a great player in his own right).  The 76ers have depth, size and speed.
3.) Indiana Pacers
I love the Pacers.  This team has the complete package.  Add a star scorer to the mix (maybe Rudy Gay?) and they could go all the way at some point.
4.) Boston Celtics
Everyone knows that the Celtics are old as dirt, but they still have a good roster.  Moving Garnett to center doesn't make a lot of sense by I can see why they did it.  The Celtics do have some young talent on their bench and eventually I see Fab Melo working his way into the starting rotation.  They're still good enough to make some noise in the East.
5.) Chicago Bulls
There is no team in the NBA that depends more on one guy than the Chicago Bulls depend on Derrick Rose.  Without him the Bulls are barely a playoff team.  Rose has it all: he can score, pass, defend, has speed, leadership, and all the intangibles you want in a team leader.  But since he's still out for at least a while, the Bulls will fall to #5 in the conference (and it PAINS me to say that, since they are my team).
6.) Brooklyn Nets
Everyone is talking about how great the Nets will be, and I am sure they will be better.  I, however, am not sold all the way.  This was a pathetic team who couldn't even get out of the cellar last year.  Yes, Brook Lopez is back, and Joe Johnson is a stud, but I don't see that being enough to launch this team into the top eschelon in the East.  But they do have a KILLER new stadium.
7.) New York Knicks
The Knicks are in trouble and they know it.  Amare may not be what he was ever again, and Carmello isn't going to fill the gap.  Felton will be solid (for a fat PG), starting in front of old fart Jason Kidd, but this team doesn't have much bite behind their bark.  A lot of names but no real game.
8.) Washington Wizards
This is the year that the Washington Wizards emerge.  John Wall is for real and I expect big things from him this year.  They are also a big team with Okafur and Nene starting in the post.  The Wizards should be exciting to watch this year.
1.) Los Angeles Lakers
"Showtime" is always a media favorite, and this year the Lakers look to have (at least on paper) what it takes to get back to the big dance.  The ageless Steve Nash, along with Dwight Howard will greatly improve this team.  I think that the Lakers are good enough to go all the way, and certainly good enough to win the West.
2.) OKC Thunder
The Thunder may have done the DUMBEST thing they could do in trading away James Harden.  I know he sucked in the Finals but this guy was a critical component to what OKC had going.  In basketball, chemistry is so very important, and Harden was a key ingredient.  Still, OKC isn't going to suck.  Durant is easily one of the top 5 players in the world, and Westbrook keeps getting better.  They are still very much contenders. 
3.) Los Angeles Clippers
Is there a deeper or more physical team than the Clippers?!?  These guys quietly had a FANTASTIC off season, adding Lamar Odom (who will be his old self now that he's back in L.A.), Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford.  And once Billups is fully healed, this team has not one but two stud field generals (Chris Paul).  Add in the best offensive big man in Griffin and one of the biggest up and coming centers in the league (DeAndre Jordan) and you have a mean roster.  Oh, and don't forget Turiaf and Bledsoe who will be awesome off the bench.  Folks, the Clippers are deep, tough, fast and exciting.  When was the last time somebody ever said that?!?
4.) San Antonio Spurs
They're old but they're always consistent...at least in the regular season.  The Spurs still have the depth, speed and experience to make at least their typical impact.  But this team isn't doing squat in the playoffs.  I think this is the final curtain call for the Spurs.
5.) Denver Nuggets
Adding Andre Igoudala was a brilliant move!  This guy is the second coming of Scottie Pippen. The Nuggets will be much better this year, even if they don't have a lot of size.  They should also be better defensively this year (which they deseperately needed).  I see them advancing at least one round in the playoffs.
6.) Memphis Grizzlies
Ok, so this is a team in turmoil, and I predict that Rudy Gay could be gone by mid-season.  But still, The Grizzlies are solid enough to make the playoffs in the west.
7.) Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lin isn't their biggest addition now; that label goes to James Harden.  The Rockets just got a lot better.  Still not good enough to really do anything, but they are a playoff team now.
8.) Minnesota Timberwolves
So normally I think the Timberwolves could go as high as #4, but with injuries to Rubio and Love, this team is only barely going to make the playoffs.  But mark my words; the Timberwolves are for real.  Once healthy, and with one more year under their belts, this team could be a contender.  Adding Brandon Roy (who was amazing in Portland before early retirement) was a stroke of genius.  The T-Wolves are going to be a force to reckon with for years to come in the West.  But this year they only barely make it due to injuries.
MVP: Kevin Durant
This is the year that Durant finally gets some hardware.  Everyone knows what a scoring machine he is.  Now with Harden gone, he's gonna have to do even more, and he will deliver.  Plus, he is due to win.
Defensive Player of the Year: LeBron James
Most people probably don't realize this, but LeBron has finished in second place for two years for Defensive POY.  We all know how good he is with the ball, but LeBron is just as good on defense.  I think he gets the deserved recognition this year.
Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis
He's already looking tough in the pre-season, and he held his own during the Olympics.  Davis is going to be a solid pro.  He's a future 20 and 10 guy. 
6th Man: Grant Hill
Now that he's coming off the bench for the first time ever, I think Hill will have more spring in his step and will likely contribute more than ever.  Hill can play a number of positions and has the experience and (still) the athleticism to be a big contributor in L.A.
Most Improved: Evan Turner
I said it earlier, Evan Turner is an emerging stud in Philly.  He may even be a future all star.  Watch this kid. He's for real.
Coach of the Year: Doug Collins
The 76ers are going to contend (as much as anyone can against the Heat) in the East.  They are much improved and Collins is a big reason why.  He got a lot out of this team last year and I expect the same this year.
Comeback player: Derrick Rose
He's got it all, and once he comes back, everyone will see just how important D-Rose is to the Bulls.  The best PG in the game today.
Eastern Conference Playoffs, Round 1:
Miami sweeps Washington 4-0
Philadelphia over the Knicks 4-1
Indiana downs Brooklyn 4-2
DA BULLS upset the Celtics 4-2
Second Round:
Miami over Chicago 4-2
Philadelphia defeats Indiana 4-3
Eastern Conference Finals:
Miami over Philly 4-1

Western Conference Playoffs, Round 1:
Lakers over Timberwolves 4-1
OKC sweeps the Rockets 4-0
Clippers over the Grizzlies 4-1
Denver upsets the geriatric Spurs 4-2
Second Round:
Lakers down the Nuggets 4-2
Clippers upset the Thunder 4-3
Western Conference Finals:
Clippers stun the Lakers and win the series 4-2...all games taking place at the Staples Center.  This marks the turning of the guard as the Clippers officially become the best team in L.A.

NBA Finals:
Miami repeats by downing the up and coming Clippers 4-1

There you have it!  Let the games begin.

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