Well after a long summer of a whole lot of player movement (see my off season cheat sheet), the season is finally upon us. Embrace it. Cherish it. For it may be the last season before a possible lockout! But that's not what this post is about. These are my predictions on widely discussed topics as well as some other random predictions for specific teams.
Let's get the boring predictions out of the way.
MVP: Kevin Durant of the Thunder. LeBron coming 2nd in voting. Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade coming in 4th and 5th or vice versa. Kobe 5th at best. I doubt he'll play the whole season, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum... "too much" help and voters will go for the feel good story of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the more-quiet-than-a-mouse-after-a-thunderous-dunk-humble Kevin Durant.
Defensive player of the year: Dwight Howard of the Magic. He'll lead the league in blocks and defensive rebounds. And then who? Are there any more impact making defensive players? Shane Battier? Anderson Varejao? Howard will run away with this award.
Rookie of the year: Blake Griffin of the Clippers. I'm biased. I have Clipper season tickets and have seen more Blake Griffin games live from this and last year before he got hurt but he's just simply put: beastly. Powerful on the LeBron scale without the ball handling skills, but has more post moves than his unfair NBA comparison Carlos Boozer. Griffin will be better than Carlos Boozer when it's all said and done in 10 years. 2nd place John Wall. Clippers will have a far better record than the Wizards who have 3 point guards, one of whom is so out of touch with reality he seems to be in a 24/7 daze (Gilbert Arenas). Griffin's 18 points and 12 rebounds for a 45 win team will impress more than Wall's 15 points/7 assists on a 25 win team.
6th Man - Jamal Crawford of the Hawks. He'll have the same role this year as he did last year and if the Hawks owner keeps not re-signing him to an extension, he'll be playing for a contract this summer (unless he demands a trade). Jason Terry on the Mavericks is always a contender and could swoop in and take the award.
Most Improved Player - Any good bench player who becomes a starter or any starter who gets a lot more minutes. I have mad beef with this award, but I would have to go with Kevin Love. On a horrible, horrible team and they just got rid of Al Jefferson. He's the only big guy who can grab rebounds (unless Darko Milicic proves his 20 mil contract) and will be counted on for a lot more scoring than he had gotten last year. I'm telling you. He always had the ability. I watched him at UCLA, it's just now he'll get the minutes which means he'll get the stats... which means he'll get the award!
Executive of the year - PAT RILEY! LeBron, Wade, and Bosh and yeah, a completely new team.
5. Nuggets (if Carmelo stays, if not, 8th or lottery)
8. Clippers (Rockets as well if Denver falls out)
Finals Matchup - Lakers vs. Celtics
Finals winner - Lakers
Finals MVP - Pau Gasol
Now some predictions you may not have thought about:
- Steve Blake will be starting for the Lakers in place of Derek Fisher within 25 games of the season.
- Toronto will have the worst record in the league and will be praying for the first pick in the draft (or Minnesota, or Detroit).
- Marcus Camby will average double digit rebounds for the Trailblazers, AGAIN, whether or not Oden plays the whole season.
- Kobe will hit the league limit in technical fouls and will be have to be suspended for at least 1 game. So will at least two Boston Celtics, Matt Barnes, Vince Carter and Amar'e Stoudemire.
- Carmelo Anthony's desires to be out of Denver will show in his game, kind of the way LeBron's Game 5 and Game 6 against Boston in the playoffs played out (until he's traded, if he's traded).
- Gilbert Arenas won't suit up for at least 10 games and NOT because of an injury.
- Tiago Splitter for the Spurs will play magnificently for his draft position and for coming out of nowhere (well not NOwhere but from Europe).
- Jermaine O'Neal will be instrumental in the Miami Boston series should they meet in the playoffs. Oh, and Rondo will average about 13+ assists in that series.
- Houston's playoff chances will all depend on the health of Yao Ming's foot. No Yao, no playoffs.
- Cleveland will set the noise-o-meter record when LeBron is announced for the starting lineups in the Miami @ Cleveland game.
That's all I got so far but I'm sure I'll be posting more predictions on here and on my twitter account @betweenbaseline