The 2012-13 NBA season is here and as usual I’ll be putting on my Carnac hat and making predictions about all things NBA. Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Kevin Love, and other big name stars will be watching from the sideline when the season tips off tonight due to injury. The landscape of the league and its postseason will be affected by missing All-Stars racking up DNP’s, but no star will be more missed than Chicago’s Derrick Rose.
The Bulls, a team that finished with the league’s best record in the last two seasons will now be fighting to make the playoffs. On the flipside the Nets have relocated to Brooklyn and stocked up on stars. The Deron Williams led team is poised to take Chicago’s slot near the top of the Eastern Conference.
In the West the Los Angeles Lakers added one of the best point guards and the absolute best center in the game, improving their championship chances. Is Steve Nash too old to be a factor for the Lakers? Will Dwight Howard’s refusal to sign an extension with L.A. disrupt the teams’ chemistry?
Will losing James Harden hurt the Oklahoma City Thunder? Can Lebron and the Heat repeat?Time will tell. Until then, here are my predictions for the 2012-13 NBA season:
Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
Kentucky big man Anthony Davis is a no-brainer to be selected for Rookie of the Year. After winning an NCAA title and rubbing shoulders with the big boys in the 2012 Olympic Games, Davis’ confidence is off the charts. Davis averaged nearly 15 points and 10 rebounds in preseason action, showing he’s capable of a double-double every night. Barring injury or a surprise performance from a fellow rookie Davis should walk away with the 2013 Rookie of the Year trophy with ease.
2. Damian Lillard (Portland Trailblazers)
3. Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte Bobcats)
5. Dion Waiters (Cleveland Cavaliers)
6th Man of the Year: Ray Allen (Miami Heat)
For the first time in his illustrious career Walter Ray Allen is coming off the bench. That’s OK, because he’s backing up a couple of guys named LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Allen is sure to be on the court during crunch time thanks to his shot making ability. With Wade, James, and Chris Bosh on the floor teams will have to pick their poison, leaving Ray Allen open to bury three-point shots. This will be the easiest season of Ray Allen’s 16-year career. All he has to do is make open jump shots and there is no one in the history of the game better than Ray at doing that.
2. Jamal Crawford (Los Angeles Clippers)
3. Kevin Martin (Oklahoma City Thunder)
4. Jason Terry (Boston Celtics)
5. Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls)
Most Improved Player: Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers)
With Andre Iguodala out of the picture in the City of Brotherly Love Evan Turner will thrive and finally play up to his potential. The second overall pick in the 2010 Draft has no more excuses. The newly acquired Andrew Bynum will be the focal point of the Sixers offense but Iggy is gone, Lou Williams is gone, it’s up to Turner to be the dominant perimeter player to compliment Bynum. With a long playoff run in 2012 under his belt and the coaching of Doug Collins I expect Evan Turner to be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
2. Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
3. DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
4. Courtney Lee (Boston Celtics)
5. James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Executive of the Year: Mitch Kupchak (Los Angeles Lakers)
Mitch Kupchak is hands down the 2013 Executive of the Year. The Lakers GM pulled off the trade that landed L.A. Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark in addition to signing Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, and Jodie Meeks to modest deals—not bad. Kupchak’s wheeling and dealing has made the Lakers championship favorites in the eyes of many.
2. David Kahn (Minnesota Timberwolves)
3. Gary Sacks (Los Angeles Clippers)
4. Pat Riley (Miami Heat)
5. Sam Presti (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)
After owning the Defensive Player of the Year awards for three straight years Dwight Howard had a down year and the trophy was given to Knicks center Tyson Chandler in 2012. Howard is out of Orlando, healthy, happy, and hoping to reclaim his crown as the league’s best defensive player.
2. LeBron James (Miami Heat)
3. Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)
4. Tony Allen (Memphis Grizzlies)
5. Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls)
Without Derrick Rose for the majority of the season the Chicago Bulls aren’t likely to contend. People forget that they are starting the season with former All-Stars in Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Richard Hamilton. Having Kirk Hinrich handling the rock and Joakim Noah manning the paint will make the Bulls a fun team to watch. There won’t be much flash without Rose but Chicago will play defense and they will grind out tough wins. Chicago lost key members of their bench in the offseason only to replace them with lesser versions. If Tom Thibodeau can whip this crew into shape he’ll walk away with his second Coach of the Year award.
2. Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs)
3. Doc Rivers (Boston Celtics)
4. Eric Spoelstra (Miami Heat)
5. Avery Johnson (Brooklyn Nets)
Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Kevin Durant is the three-time reigning scoring champion of the NBA and I don’t see 2013 being any different. Durant is coming off of a 4-1 loss in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat and is eager to redeem himself. LeBron James is his friend in real life, but on the court Durant believes he’s currently the best player on the planet. With the trade of James Harden and a slight chip on his shoulder Durant will take on more of the scoring load for OKC and go on to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
2. LeBron James (Miami Heat)
3. Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
4. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
5. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Eastern Conference Standings Prediction:
1. Miami Heat (se)
2. Boston Celtics (a)
3. Brooklyn Nets
4. Indiana Pacers (c)
5. Chicago Bulls
6. New York Knicks
7. Philadelphia 76ers
8. Atlanta Hawks
9. Milwaukee Bucks
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
11. Washington Wizards
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Toronto Raptors
14. Orlando Magic
15. Charlotte Bobcats
Western Conference Standings Prediction:
1. Los Angeles Lakers (p)
2. San Antonio Spurs (sw)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (nw)
4. Los Angeles Clippers
5. Memphis Grizzlies
6. Denver Nuggets
7. Dallas Mavericks
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
9. Utah Jazz
10. Portland Trailblazers
11. New Orleans Hornets
12. Golden State Warriors
13. Sacramento Kings
14. Phoenix Suns
15. Houston Rockets
Eastern Conference Champion: Miami Heat
Western Conference Champion: Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Champion: Los Angeles Lakers