So, I know the season started yesterday, but I had wisdom teeth pulled, and was actually in a drug induced sleepy haze most of the afternoon/evening so I didn't get a chance to put this up. But, as always, here's a few predictions for what I'm expecting to happen this year.
LeBron James will win the MVP. This seems like an obvious prediction, but I'm not super confident about this. I worry we're going to get into a Jordan-esque situation where people just get tired of giving him the award every year even though he clearly deserves it every year. I think if anyone else puts up a season that's 75% of what James does, he'll get serious consideration instead of LeBron. The thing is, I can't really see that happening this year. No one on the Lakers will stand out. Durant and Westbrook will start in a bit of a funk due to the Harden trade (more on that later). Rose is out. Rondo and Deron Williams won't have good enough team records. Tony Parker could see some votes if the Spurs excel and he clearly establishes himself as a leader. Chris Paul is probably the biggest threat to LeBron's 4th award in five years, but a lot of things are going to have to happen. That team is going to have to be completely cohesive from the get-go. Remember, they've got a lot of new players on that team, with a lot of guys coming off the bench who are of starting caliber and aren't used to playing off the bench. (Grant Hill, Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups, possibly Caron Butler... plus Jordan Crawford and Lamar Odom who were both 6th Men of the Year, which means at least one has to be a 7th man, and I don't know if either will like that much.) Basically, I have no idea who their starters are, or what their rotation looks like, and I'm not sure Vinny Del Negro does either. If Paul can orchestrate that team to a stellar season while putting up stellar numbers, he'll probably win the award. But, that's a big if.
Anthony Davis wins Rookie of the Year. I'm tired of trying to get cute with this award prediction. He's clearly the best. NBA teams have gotten smarter since the 90's when any random lottery pick had equal odds of taken this award. Excluding 2009, where the #1 pick couldn't win the award because he missed the season (Griffin), the #1 pick has won the last four awards, and six of the last eight. (Or I should say a #1 pick has won it, Griffin and Wall were both eligible in 2010.) I see no reason for that to change this year. The only real dark horse contender is Damian Lillard, but I don't see him being that much better than Davis.
Dwight Howard wins Defensive Player of the Year. He's job with the Lakers is to dunk, rebound, and block shots. That's all he has to do, and that's what he seems to love to do. So, I see no reason for him not to win this.
Most Improved Player? I'm gonna say James Harden. Not necessarily that his skill set improves that much, but his numbers are going to go through the roof as the star in Houston. I'm thinking 25 points per game is a conservative guess for him, and his rebound and assist totals should double. (If the voters want to go the traditional route, than I have no idea. I'll say... Jordan Hill. Who knows?)
I think Jason Terry will excel in Boston. I'm penciling him in as Sixth Man of the Year this year.
Okay, All-NBA teams:
James Harden (yes, I think he'll be that good for Houston)
Anthony Davis (I do think Davis will be impressive, but I also don't think the Knicks will do well enough to merit two All-NBAers)
Honorable Mentions: (Or guys that I think will do awesome but I couldn't find room for.)
Nowitzki, Aldridge, Duncan/Parker/Ginobili, Nash, Jefferson/Millsap, Bogut & Curry if healthy, Iguodala, Ty Lawson, Greg Monroe, Marc Gasol, the collective Indiana Pacers, the Josh Smith-Al Horford combo, the hopefully back to 100% Ricky Rubio and Derrick Rose, and Arron Afflalo (Kidding! Sorry Orlando fans...)