Sunday, September 8, 2013

2014 NBA Awards Predictions


We’re still more than a month away from the 2014 NBA season commencement but every NBA fan—maybe with the exception of anybody living in Philadelphia—has to be excited for many exciting new stories to unfold. #TheReturn of Derrick Rose that has hit Facebook and Twitter hash tags will probably be the most intriguing one to watch. Rose is one of the NBA’s most electrifying players but his return from an ACL injury is still very much a question mark. For now, here's how I see the 2014 awards being doled out:

Rookie of the Year

Nerlens Noels now has the chip on his shoulder in addition to his talent to work with in his rookie season. Unfortunately for Noels, his ACL injury will keep him out until at least Christmas and as such, the ROY running. My pick to win it is the No. 2 overall, Victor Oladipo. The former Indiana guard is set to take the stage in an Orlando team that will struggle mightily in 2014 but he can be the bright spot in the post-Dwight Howard era in the way that Kyrie Irving blossomed in Cleveland in the post-LeBron era. Trey Burke (No. 9 overall) will also compete for the award but in the end, Oladipo will take it.

Coach of the Year

Warriors coach, Mark Jackson, will make a run at this award with a much improved team headed by the newest edition addition Dr. Dre—that’s Andre Iguodala, a combo of Dr. J and anDre, any takers? (Awkward pause.) Moving on…

While my hopes lean toward the Warriors coach earning the award for best coach in the league, I see it going to Doc Rivers in Los Angeles. He should be able to fix any problems in Lob City that did or did not exist between CP3 and Blake and will hopefully get rid of the “soft” label that Griffin has acquired. The West is loaded this year and the Clippers should be in the hunt…at least until the playoffs start.

Doc Jackson? Come on...you have to admit these guys look at least mildly similar.
Most Improved Player

He has that wide-eyed look about him, but Kawhi Leonard is a beast. Gregg Popovich and the Spurs may have been the perfect system for Leonard but he has taken advantage of it and is now a household name after playing some excellent defense on LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals. You know you’re good when the best player in the game has this reaction when you’re coming back on the floor:

  
Defensive Player of the Year

Dwight Howard is reviled in Los Angeles after a messy departure but at least there was no big “Decision” that was nationally televised. Now imagine if he went to the Celtics (an idea that I briefly entertained) then we’d have a whole different story. But for all the heat that D12 takes, he’s still a beast. He had a bad back and a bad year in 2013 but still managed 17.1/12.4/2.4. His defensive presence is as good as it gets. Maybe LeBron James finally pulls together a DPOY-worthy season in the eyes of the voters but for now, this is Dwight’s award to lose.

Sixth Man of the Year

With the addition of Dr. Dre, the odd man out of the starting lineup in Golden State will be Harrison Barnes. He is still incredibly enthusiastic and excited about this season as a Golden State Warrior. Check out his Facebook page and you’ll see just how involved he is with Dubs fans. Not only that, but Harrison Barnes did see how a position in the starting five meant relatively little last year when Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry came off the bench and played big minutes late in games. Either way, this guy is something special and yes, this is where I post the obligatory posterization:


Yup, the Warriors have this man coming off the bench.

Most Valuable Player


As much as his haters will deny it, LeBron James is creeping into the realm of greatest NBA player of all time. If he wins the 2014 MVP, he’ll tie Michael Jordan and Bill Russell at five and James won’t even be 30 years old. A very strong argument could be made that James has been the best player in the game in all nine NBA seasons since his rookie year (where he’s averaged 28/7/7) and that won’t change in 2014. Only health is in the way of his fourth MVP in the last five years.

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