MY 2013-14 NBA PREDICTIONS
MVP: (LeBron James, Heat): Simply put, he's the best. He gets better every year and he's a wonderful team player. He's the most impactful guy night in and night out; he does it all. I love his development with his low post game. He's a gym rat and loves to play. His leadership skills are growing with his maturity.
Most Improved: (Anthony Davis, Pelicans): Injuries were an issue last year for Davis but this guy is the real deal and I think we'll see significant growth in all aspects of his game this season. He's a top-notch rebounder and shot blocker and his overall offensive skills will take a big step as he gets stronger. The year under his belt around the league will benefit his perspective.
Rookie: (Cody Zeller, Bobcats): He's likely not the most talented rookie but he'll get significant playing time in Charlotte and teaming with Al Jefferson in the front court with him will give him a top-notch back-to-the-bucket post player to settle into a nice role. He runs and jumps and has the skill set. He plays hard and will get lots with his effort. He's ready for the next level and his polish will help him. They're committed to him and he'll get loads of chances to shine.
Coach: (Rick Adelman, Timberwolves): A healthy Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio and the addition of Kevin Martin is huge for this team. He's a creative offensive coach with the right temperament to help players take the next step in their development. He's one of the most underrated coaches in the NBA that we've seen over the years. His experience and calm demeanor will bring out the best in this squad.
Eastern Conference Playoff Teams 1-8: Heat, Bulls, Pacers, Nets, Knicks, Hawks, Wizards and Raptors.
Western Conference Playoff Teams 1-8: Clippers, Thunder, Spurs, Rockets, Warriors, Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Mavericks.
Eastern Conference Finals: Heat over Bulls in 7 - Too much of the King.
Western Conference Finals: Clippers over Spurs in 6 - Chris Paul gets to the promised land; Doc Rivers leadership shows the 'other' LA team how it's done.
NBA Finals: Heat over Clippers in 6 - Experience, savvy, three-point shooting, defence, role definition, and that guy that wears No. 6 make it all happen.
Toronto Raptors (8th Place in East/39-43): They must get through the month of November in respectable shape and the Top 8 guys have to stay healthy. Bottom line, this is a good to very good starting unit and they'll have to play major minutes and limit the exposure of the bench to have a chance. I see lots of close games on the horizon but I feel confident that they have the role definition and increased talent level and maturity to pull out some of the ones that got away last year. I really liked how Dwane Casey coached his team in the last three weeks of the season last spring and more of the same is needed. Ride those starters every minute you can, keep the rotation tight and develop a sixth sense amongst the prime guys with complete understanding in crunch time what each guy's job is. That minimizes late game issues. Decisive and sharp. Less is more.