It’s that time of year again, when we NBA writers make predictions we will wince at in a few months. When you can read our predictions and use those as evidence that we clearly hate your favorite team (pick a team, any team).
What follows are the ProBasketballTalk predictions for the 2012-13 season by myself plus writers D.J. Foster and Darius Soriano. Yes, we all see the same NBA finals. I really want to predict something other than the obvious, but sometimes things are obvious for a reason. Anyway, here are our picks.
Eastern Conference Standings:
Kurt Helin D.J. Foster Darius Soriano
1. Miami Heat 1. Miami Heat 1. Miami Heat
2. Boston Celtics 2. Boston Celtics 2. Boston Celtics
3. Indiana Pacers 3. Indiana Pacers 3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. New York Knicks 4. Brooklyn Nets 4. Brooklyn Nets
5. Brooklyn Nets 5. Atlanta Hawks 5. Indiana Pacers
6. Philadelphia 76ers 6. Chicago Bulls 6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Atlanta Hawks 7. New York Knicks 7. New York Knicks
8. Chicago Bulls 8. Toronto Raptors 8. Chicago Bulls
Western Conference Standings:
Kurt Helin D.J. Foster Darius Soriano
1. Los Angeles Lakers 1. Oklahoma City Thunder 1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 2. Los Angeles Lakers 2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. San Antonio Spurs 3. San Antonio Spurs 3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Los Angeles Clippers 4. Denver Nuggets 4. Denver Nuggets
5. Denver Nuggets 5. Los Angeles Clippers 5. Los Angeles Clippers
6. Memphis Grizzlies 6. Memphis Grizzlies 6. Memphis Grizzlies
7. Utah Jazz 7. Utah Jazz 7. Utah Jazz
8. Minnesota Timberwolves 8. Houston Rockets 8. Minnesota Timberwolves
Eastern Conference Finals:
Kurt Helin: Heat over Pacers
D.J. Foster: Heat over Celtics
Darius Soriano: Heat over Celtics
Western Conference Finals:
Kurt Helin: Lakers over Thunder
D.J. Foster: Lakers over Thunder
Darius Soriano: Lakers over Thunder
Kurt Helin: Heat over Lakers
D.J. Foster: Heat over Lakers
Darius Soriano: Lakers over Heat
Kurt Helin: Kevin Durant
D.J. Foster: Kevin Durant
Darius Soriano: Kevin Durant
Rookie of the Year winner:
Kurt Helin: Damian Lillard
D.J. Foster: Anthony Davis
Darius Soriano: Anthony Davis
Most Disappointing NBA Team:
Kurt Helin: Dallas Mavericks
D.J. Foster: Philadelphia 76ers
Darius Soriano: Dallas Mavericks
The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.
Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.
He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):
We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.
The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.
But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.
Not that Lin cares what I say.
When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.
But there were some great blocks.
Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.
Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.
Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.
Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.
That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.
But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.
Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.
I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.
Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).
Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.