I know I promised you an NBA Finals prediction this week, but I had to call an audible. Longtime friend and basketball fan, Fabian McNally (@FabianMcNally on Twitter) and I spoke about a few NBA-related topics heading into the upcoming season. The conversation built until we decided to write down our thoughts, thus creating the official NBA season preview. We’re just a little longwinded, so catch part two next week. Here are our predictions for MVP and biggest surprise of the upcoming season:
2013-14 NBA MVP:
Fabian – If the MVP was simply the Player Who Played the Best This Year Award (a movement I’m 100% behind) this would be much simpler, but it’s not. Generally speaking the MVP is going to go to the player perceived as best (re: scores the most points, unless a point guard) on a team that wins 50+ games, the more wins the better. So, the MVP is going to come from one of the following teams: Miami, Brooklyn, Indiana, New York, Chicago, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Houston, Memphis, Los Angeles Not The Lakers.
No MVP for Melo because his numbers will always pale compared to KD or LeBron’s and both of their teams will likely have better records. The MVP won’t come from Houston because the media hates Dwight, and given how hard it was for Kobe to finally win one, I don’t see Harden getting one at this point. The Nets and Spurs have too much age and depth for any one player to be a realistic contender. It could be Derrick Rose, but (a) Thibodeau could/should be going easy on his minutes this year and (b) last time he won…well…it was embarrassing for everyone involved.
That leaves us with LeBron and Durant, once again, as the only real candidates. After finishing second to LeBron 3 of the last 4 years this is the year Durant finally wins one and here’s why: (a) He’s really, really, really good…not as good as LeBron, but he’s probably going to play more minutes and may end up generating more value (b) Westbrook is out which means more touches for Durant (yay Durant’s Stats) (c) Westbrook is out during a weak part of the schedule as the Thunder have 9 of their first 15 games at home and of the 6 road games, 4 are against lottery teams from last season (yay Team On His Back Fantasy Points).
Joe – Completely agree. Durant wins it. Only reasons I’d add are Media Fatigue and the Shadow of Jordan.
I think the media members who vote for the MVP like looking for a sexy story over picking the best player in the league. Selecting LeBron for the fifth time in six seasons won’t have the same sizzle. Especially if Miami throttles down during the regular season (understandable after three straight runs to the Finals), and especially if it means handing LeBron an achievement that Michael Jordan could never claim. Jordan won five MVPs, but not in such a small window.
It means something to the old guard media guys to hold off on elevating LeBron to that level.
Biggest Surprise of the Season:
Fabian – The Pelicans make the playoffs.
I know better than to get wrapped up in preseason performance…but the Pelicans are UNDEFEATED. In fact, if you ignore the ’12-’13 NBA season, and start from Fall 2011 teams featuring Anthony Davis are 51-2 across NCAA, Olympic and NBA Preseason competition. The Brow is just a winner.
Look, the team may or may not need Eric Gordon to play 60+ games for the first time since ’09-’10…and they may or may not need Tyreke Evans to learn a jumper…and they may or may not need Austin Rivers to be Not Terrible…and they may or may not need Jrue Holiday to play like he did the first 47 games of the year last year and not like he did in the other 251 games of his career…but I have that much faith in The Brow’s ability to fill the box score while Ryan Anderson rains 3s.
This is going to be a playoff team. Trust me.
Joe – I hope you’re right. I’m rooting for Anthony Davis and his unibrow. I also think he’ll be a star.
As far as my biggest surprise…and this kills me…I’m betting on the Thunder to stall out in the second round again this year.
I adopted the Thunder a few years ago while my Pistons were mired in uninteresting mediocrity (they are just mediocre now…but not boring!). They built a title contender with three under-25 All Stars, and great supporting parts.
Sadly, these guys are not those guys.
They kept Scotty Brooks, architect of the least imaginative offense in the league. Russell Westbrook is recovering from a setback after his meniscus surgery. The team gambled that Serge Ibaka could make a leap in production…and lost. They are counting on that same leap from Reggie Jackson (reasonable) and Jeremy Lamb (doubtful).
Add it together, and you have a team with holes masquerading as a true contender.
Of course all teams have flaws, so the Thunder could exploit playoff matchups to advance, but we saw what a Durant-dominant Thunder looks like last year. Amazing stats for KD (possibly MVP-level as you mentioned), but diminished team success.
Hopefully I’m wrong.
That’s it for part one of our season preview. Who do you have taking the MVP this year? What will happen that will go against conventional thinking? Hit the comments and let us know!
im all in for anybody but lebron mvps…..itd be nice it kd won but russell gon russell. my ABL MVP vote would go to Chris Paul especially with doc knowing how to build an offense around a point guard. my surprise team is the timberwolves, i really like their team and people seem to forget that rick adelman used to be really good at his job, they can sneak in as a 6th-7th seed assuming they stay healthy or dont trade kevin love to the lakers because….lakers.
I said this yesterday about a chick…
"She's trying to improve her ways by staying out of the club, not drinking so much and working out because she's getting older. But got damn the club is like her crack house. She goes missing because things get rough and you know exactly where you will find her, in the club doing sh*t she shouldn't be doing."
All that to say… ill advised FGA are Russell Westbrook's crack house. When things get rough, he just jacks them up at a high rate. He led the league in FGA last year. How he did that is beyond me…
Yeah I just found out Westbrook led the league in FGA. My flabber was gasted.
I stand by the Durant pick for MVP, because I think Durant will eat while RW is hurt, and it may take Westbrook a little bit of time to get going.
Wouldn't surprise me if Rose or CP3 challenged though.
Not surprised at all that RWB led the league in FGA….all those 1 man fast breaks how could you NOT lead the league in FGA? Lolol.
If Lebron wins another MVP it will be more ridiculous than when they kept handing them out to Nash a decade ago. (even though we know this had everything to do with them not wanting to give it to Kobe). I think Durant can win an MVP, but I don't think he will because of Russy. I like Derrick Rose coming back and getting his Bulls to the league's best record and Conference Finals. There are some dark horses too: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving.
Whatever they do… just don't give it to Lebron again. They refuse to acknowledge that team could still make it to the second round of the playoffs without Lebron like he the end all be all for that team. (Real talk, the team's first and second strings could make the playoffs without Lebron playing.)
The Pelicans ain't making the playoffs and you can write that down. Anthony Davis is okay, but he also doesn't get the attention that stars get on the court. Once that happens, then we'll see how he reacts to double teams every night and his weaknesses get exploited.
The surprise is going to be the Lakers and Wizards.
The funniest part of this NBA season will be the NY Knicks. I can't see a player wanting to stay on a team that goes from the 2 seed to the 5/6 seed with no real path ahead for getting back to 2 in the next 4 years. Melo gone people.
You think the Lakers will surprise by being even worse than we all think? Bold take. Hadn't heard that before, lol.
I would agree with the Wizards, but their bigs are already hurt (counting Nene as injured because he'll be on the DL by January). It gets ugly when you look at their bench. They'll challenge for the 8th seed, which is progress…but I think they are lacking the depth to push any higher.
MVP-wise…I know the team is still pretty good without him, but LeBron is the best player on Earth. Just like Jordan could/should have won it over and over. LeBron may not get it this year, but it won't be "ridiculous" if he does.
Every year they go into this big debate about what that award is supposed to mean. They swear up and down it's not about the best player in the league and then we as fans try and say that's what it is about. Based on that logic, no reason why Rose won an MVP or Nash. That's why I think it's best that Lebron doesn't get the MVP anymore.
Re: Wizards… there will be injuries, those are a part of the game. I think the backcourt can win some games for them on its own. Don't sleep on that bench though. Can't front like Maynor, Webster, Otto and Al Harrington couldn't do some damage on the court. Al Harrington alone is one of those players who can flex on a team's second string at any moment.
Agree that the MVP debate means whatever a voter thinks it does. Which is why we get the best "story" as the winner.
I'm saying the Wizards are ALREADY injured (namely Emeka Okafor). That's what gives me doubts. I like Maynor and Harrington off the bench. I'm always bearish in rookies (pause?), so we'll see how Otto pans out. Webster sucks. Plus, no team with Jan Veseley can succeed.
Jan Veseley is like those ropes that people put on their kids at theme parks… only there for the amusement of negros.
Yeah they are already injured but they had Emeka slated as the third Center a minute ago for that very reason.
Wait…I'm confused….you like Derrick Rose to win MVP, right? However, you stated that LeBron shouldn't win it and one of the reasons suggested was that because that team could still make it to the second round of the playoffs without LeBron.
Color me confused, but the Chicago Bulls didn't have Derrick Rose last year and that team made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs sooooo…..why should Derrick Rose be deserving of the MVP then using one of your reasons against LeBron? Couldn't we apply the same logic to Rose?
Don't try and front me on my blog! Just kidding…
While that's true about the Bulls making it to the 2nd round, they hobbled their asses into that second round against a weak East. The Heat could do that with the East being at full strength without Bron. There's no secret that when playing Rose is responsible for a higher amount of Chicago's offensive production than Lebron. There's a stat somewhere that we can find to support that.
My bad brother!! lmaoo.
Well, there is a stat(s) that we can find, but the one I found supports James…by a lot…in the previous 2 seasons that Rose played.
Using John Hollinger's statistical formulas the 3 main stats would be PER, VA (Value Added) and EWA (Estimated Wins Added) . Basically, it says LeBron adds more points to his team's season total which translates into more wins, also.
"The Heat could do that with the East being at full strength without Bron."
You just made a pretty compelling case for the Heat to win a third championship in a row! lol.
But to be fair, and to your point, what I think you're trying to convey is the fact that the Bulls are inconsistent at best scoring wise and reallly don't have many other options come crunch time to get them a bucket whereas, obviously, Miami can turn to other options outside of LeBron to help them score at a more regular pace…..can't argue with you there.
Chicago had a top 5 offense in the last year Rose played. This is based on points per 100 possessions.
Different team, but the key pieces are still there.
Right….when Rose played. Last year they were 24th in the league in off. efficiency (based on points per 100 possessions, naturally) . I guess that was more the context I was basing it around.
Considering my boy D. Rose is back and put up 32 points on Friday and 24 points last night, I am putting my money on this kid to win MVP.
I agree a healthy Rose is an MVP contender, but I hope Thibs eases back to keep the whole team fresher for the playoffs. No need to play 40-44 minutes a night for all 82 games.
If the Pellies make the playoffs, I'll walk to New Orleans naked, holding a broom.
My recent post This Is It | 10.22.13: Has Jay-Z Become Fat Elvis?
Do I have to provide the broom or will you provide your own?
A broom cost $7 around my way. Just in case y’all get broke around May.
Miami 3-peat. I don't really see how anyone beats them. Chicago is built for the regular season only as we've seen the last couple of years, there's never been enough offense on that team and when your primary scorer is a little guy (read:Iverson) you don't tend to win rings.
Indiana is good but seem to only play great when matched up with Miami because of their size advantage.
Brooklyn seems like age might hurt them down a long stretch of the season & I'm not sure how Joe Johnson & Paul Pierce co-exist, their essentially the same type of player.
The Knicks are only built for the regular season, like an all offense version of Chicago with Melo in D-Roses spot taking too many shots.
Bulls win it all
And will take down Miami in 7 in the ECFinals
Everything else really doesn’t matter, like MVPs.
My team this year will be the Warriors. If Curry ankles can hold up. I Like them losing to OKC IN the WCFinals.
I am looking for the Lakers to come up. Somehow, someway.
I am interested in the Knicks & the Rockets. Sexy teams
Who do you have taking the MVP this year?
I'll just be lazy and go with the default option of LeBron James. LBJ is kind of like the college football's Alabama. They're basically number 1 because they have been the best and until someone conviningly knocks them off that's where they will stay….oh and they're really really really good and back it up consistently.
I've noticed many people are ignoring the defensive side of the ball in the MVP discussions…out of the other MVP contenders do any of them come anywhere near James defensively? Anyone else come in as runner-up for DPOY by a show of hands? Anyone? Bueler? Ok just wondering, lol.
What will happen that will go against conventional thinking?
The Lakers will not only make the playoffs, but will somehow…some way win the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes! lol