Thoughts of The Day 

Thoughts of the Day: 2013-2014 NBA Preview

Today’s edition of Thoughts of the Day is the NBA Preview Edition! Like past season previews, I have 20 predictions for the 2013-14 season, from division winners to end-of-season awards to eventually, my NBA Finals pick. (For detailed division roundtables, follow this link and click on Michael Sykes’s name to view them all: Who’s going to be crowned as champion in June? Who will be named MVP? 20 predictions, let’s do it!

  • 1. The Brooklyn Nets will win the Atlantic Division. With one of the best point guards in the game in Deron Williams, and the additions of Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn is the class of the division. They have a one-year window to win a title, and Billy King has thrown all of his chips into the middle of the table. Joe Johnson will fill up the stat sheet along with Brook Lopez, and Tyshawn Taylor cannot be overlooked in that rotation.

  • 2. The Indiana Pacers will win the Central Division. The Pacers took the Heat to seven last year, and could have won the series if not for LeBron’s easy layup to win Game 1. This team has all the talent to win an NBA title, and when Danny Granger comes back they’ll be even stronger. Does that mean they’ll win it all this year? No, but they’ll be a favorite in the East once again. The Pacers-Bulls division race should be epic down the stretch, Chicago is not far behind in terms of talent.

  • 3. The Miami Heat will win the Southeast Division. No shocker here. No player in this division can successfully guard LeBron, and I expect Miami to pull off another massive win streak in the middle of the season once again. Look for Atlanta to finish second, but the Heat win in a landslide.

  • 4. The Oklahoma City Thunder win the Northwest Division. Look for the Thunder to struggle a bit in November without Russell Westbrook, but dominate the division once their point guard gets back. Kevin Durant is motivated to get back to the Finals, and Scott Brooks remains one of the best coaches in the NBA. Denver finishes second, but the Thunder will be too powerful for Ty Lawson and company.

  • 5. The Los Angeles Clippers will win the Pacific Division. It’ll be a shootout when the Clippers face the Warriors this year, but the new mindset on both sides of the ball with new coach Doc Rivers will give LA the edge. Look for Blake Griffin to benefit most from Rivers’s system, drastically improving his defense, which definitely needs work. As long as CP3 stays healthy, the Clips will be playoff-bound and Pacific Champs.

  • 6. The Houston Rockets will win the Southwest Division. While the San Antonio Spurs are still the most complete team in the Southwest, Gregg Popovich has shown he doesn’t care about the grind of the regular season as much as making sure his players are rested for the postseason. Last year that strategy worked out perfectly for San Antonio, to the tune of an NBA Finals appearance. The team that will take advantage? The Rockets. Dwight Howard impacts this division immensely on the defensive side of the ball. With the high-powered offenses in the West, Howard’s defense may be an equalizer in some tight contests down the stretch. Add Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons in the backcourt, and Houston will have liftoff this year.

  • 7. Stephen Curry will score 63 points against the Raptors on March 2. Steph is bound to have a 60-point game this season, and the best bet is against a defense like Toronto’s. Bold and specific prediction? Yes, but that’s how we do things at My Mind on Sports.

  • 8. Kevin Durant will win his fourth scoring title. With Westbrook out the first month, and no big scorer to complement him, KD will lead the league in scoring once again. He lost by six-tenths of a point to Melo last year, but this year Durant will regain his crown.

  • 9. LeBron James will win NBA MVP for the third straight year. LeBron is on another planet, and he won’t return to Earth this season. Without James, the Heat aren’t two-time defending champs. He’s still the best player, the Heat are still the best team, and LeBron will be receiving the Podoloff trophy for the fifth time in May.

  • 10. Dwight Howard will win the Defensive Player of the Year. The Rockets will win the Southwest because of defense, not offense. Dwight takes this defense from mediocre to one of the best in the league; he’s a major upgrade over Omer Asik.

  • 11. Victor Oladipo will win Rookie of the Year. The former Hoosier will win this one running away. He’s the only ROY candidate that had a strong summer league, and he’ll win a starting job pretty quickly over Arron Afflalo. Anthony Bennett has breathing issues, Ben McLemore struggled adjusting to the Kings’ system in summer league, and Kelly Olynyk will not have as much of an immediate impact. It’s almost unanimous among NBA experts: Oladipo will win Rookie of the Year.

  • 12. Tyreke Evans will win Sixth Man of the Year. The Pelicans have such a deep young team that Evans will not start for them, making him one of the favorites for Sixth Man honors. He can score from anywhere, he’s one of the most explosive guards in the league, and he’ll put on a show off the bench for New Orleans. While Jamal Crawford has a good chance of winning the award as well, Evans will get the nod.

  • 13. Jimmy Butler will win Most Improved Player. Butler is one of the most exciting young players in the league, and Derrick Rose’s return will have a positive impact on his production. The 24-year old swingman will team up with Rose to form a dominant duo, and possibly beat out the Pacers for the division title. His offense is still developing, and his defense is quietly becoming one of the best in the league; just ask LeBron. MIP goes to the young guard/forward from the Windy City.

  • 14. Doc Rivers will win Coach of the Year. Once Rivers became Clippers head coach, he made it clear that the “Lob City” era  was done at the Staples Center. The team will be playing a more conventional offense and a more consistent defensive scheme under his tutelage. As I mentioned before, this benefits Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and the whole Clippers roster.

  • 15. Surprise All-Star: Jose Calderon. The point guard depth out West is tremendous, but look for Calderon to sneak in. His combination of excellent speed, good three-point range, and uncanny passing ability will make the Mavericks an exciting team to watch.

  • 16. The Heat will have the best regular season record in the East, while the Thunder will have the best regular season record out West. No huge surprises here. But will best conference record mean an NBA title?

  • 17. The Heat come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah get off to hot starts and Chicago takes a controlling series lead, but LeBron James pulls off a signature comeback to bring Miami back to the NBA Finals.

  • 18. The Clippers beat the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers go to their first NBA Finals in franchise history, beating the Spurs in six games. Chris Paul has a dominating series, with 34 points in the clinching Game 6.

  • 19. The Heat win their third straight NBA championship, defeating the Clippers in 5. CP3 and Blake will go on a nice run, but they are no match for LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Allen and the Heat. LA wins Game 3, but gets overpowered in a disappointing Finals loss.

  • 20. LeBron James wins his third straight NBA Finals MVP. Expect anything different?

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2 Thoughts to “Thoughts of the Day: 2013-2014 NBA Preview”

  1. Matt

    Hard to disagree with most of these. The only predictions I really disagree with are Jose Calderon being an all-star, and Jimmy Butler winning MIP. I just don’t think Calderon is nearly good enough to be an all-star. My surprise candidates are Evan Turner and Ersan Ilyasova. If Ilyasova can fend off John Henson for the minutes in Milwaukee, he could surprise a lot of people. Per 36 minutes after the all-star break last year, he averaged just under 20 and 10, while shooting around 50% from the field and 45% from 3. Turner is a choice simply because he’s the most likely candidate to take over that Philly team this year.

    I also think that the two of them could very well be competing for MIP. Ilyasova averaged 13 and 7 last year if I remember right. 18 and 10 is not unreachable for him if he gets the minutes. Turner and Gordon Hayward are both guys that could put up around 17, 5, and 5 this year.

  2. Matt

    I’ll also add that I think Pau Gasol could surprise people and get back to the All-Star game after a poor year a season ago.

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