Despite Hurricane Sandy wrecking the east coast and leaving many of my NYC brethren without power, nothing could take away my excitement for the start of the 2012-2013 NBA season! With three games scheduled to kick off the season tonight, I figured now is as good, and credible, of a time as any to post my preseason award predictions.
While most of you probably know where I stand heading into the season from reading my response to the NBA GM survey, this is a condensed version, as well as me just stating my predictions for the record…because you know, people are going to go back and check when the awards are announced next May.
Without further ado, I present my predictions for the 2012-13 NBA Season’s Awards
MVP: LeBron James, Miami Heat
I think James Harden being traded from the Thunder to the Rockets puts more weight on Kevin Durant’s shoulders, which could lead for him to really push James this season, but I don’t think anyone is in as good of a position to be incredibly successful as LBJ. Coming off of his long awaited first championship, the burden has been taken off of the best player in the league’s shoulders. Gone is the pressure, gone is the hatred, and gone is the label that he shrinks in the clutch. The Heat won last season’s championship playing a less conventional brand of basketball, not going with traditional position lineups, but using skill-sets to their advantage. Expect that trend to continue this season, with James playing the point power forward, which is where he’s at his best.
The reigning MVP has continued to climb to the top of the league, practically since the day he was drafted, and with a less challenging Eastern Conference, he and Miami should be at the top of the league again come June. It’s tough to fathom any player doing so in today’s NBA, but this could be the season James averages a triple-double.
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers
If Serge Ibaka was overlooked last season when Howard was practically out of the picture, I don’t see why that won’t happen again this season. Howard was the three-time reigning DPOY heading into last season, and with a little more help with the Lakers– Metta World Peace is still a reputable defender, Pau Gasol provides great length, and that Kobe Bryant fella is no slouch – he should return to piling up the awards. As long as his back has healed properly, Howard is one of, if not the biggest threat in the paint in the league, as he’s a top rebounder and shot-blocker year-in and year-out. He wasn’t brought to L.A. for his offense, and being on one of the West’s best teams will only showcase his dominance further.
Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
I love the potential that both Damien Lillard and Bradley Beal have – not to mention Jonas Valanciunas – but Anthony Davis is the real deal. Davis has been the best player on each level he’s played the last two season, and while that isn’t likely to be the case for him in the NBA this season, he will make an impact for the Hornets from day one. A ferocious shot-blocker and rebounder, former NBA head coach Larry Brown predicted before Davis was drafted, that whatever team he went to would immediately be a 50-win team. I don’t know that I would go that far with the Hornets this season, but expectations are high for Davis for a reason, and he’ll prove from day one why he’s received so much praise the last couple of years.
Sixth Man of the Year: Ray Allen, Miami Heat
I don’t know that the Celtics made a mistake letting Ray Allen go, especially since they replaced him with both Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, but Miami made one of the best pick-ups of the offseason by signing him. We’ve seen shooters like Mike Miller, James Jones, and Shane Battier flourish playing with LeBron James, imagine what the best shooter in the history of the league will do. Allen will be coming off the bench, but was told he’d still receive starter minutes, and with the possibility that Dwyane Wade could miss time because that’s what Dwyane Wade tends to do, this is a great situation for a savvy veteran looking for a bounce-back season, as well as revenge against his old team for not believing in him.
I like Antawn Jamison on the Lakers a lot as well, but with so many guys who need the ball in their hands to be effective on that team, he might get lost in the shuffle coming off of their bench.
Most Improved Player: Omer Asik, Houston Rockets
I really wanted to pick either Raymond Felton or Klay Thompson for this award, but I don’t know that either will be applicable for the award considering Felton just had a down season in 2011-12, and Thompson really proved what he’s capable of when he was allowed the opportunity to start games. The Rockets signed Omer Asik because they thought he could be to them what Marcin Gortat has been for the Suns, and so far he hasn’t let them down. Asik has averaged 7.7 points and 11.6 rebounds this preseason, just a bit higher than his career averages of 2.9 and 4.4 with Chicago. He’ll be afforded the chance to play big minutes, which will lead to a spike in his production, which in my opinion, will lead to him winning this award.
Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
It’s going to be a difficult season for the Bulls missing Derrick Rose until at least mid-February, but Chicago’s shown that they can play without Rose in the past. The Bulls went an impressive 18-9 last season without their star, and it’s mainly because Tom Thibodeau gets his guys to play defense better than any team in the league. Most are predic