Top Five Bold Predictions for the 2014 NBA Season
Jalen Rose already stole the thunder (pun intended) this off-season with some very bold predictions for the 2014 NBA season.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: You want to put your money on something no one else will? Keep reading and thank me later.
In Grantland’s NBA team previews, Jalen first predicted Michael Jordan to make a comeback at age 50—something HoopsVibe’s Joseph Sobczyk analyzed in more detail. Then he followed it up with a two-part explosion in the Thunder preview: Durant will leave OKC and join his buddy, James Harden, in Houston…and Westbrook will leave for LA to join fellow UCLA alumnus Kevin Love on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Okay, so maybe I can’t predict something quite as bold as that—but here are some predictions for the 2014 NBA season that might surprise you:
5. Dwight Howard will make more than 60 percent of his free throws
The last time that Howard made more than 60 percent of his free throws was back in his rookie year…and he’s been on a steady decline since then. Every Laker fan will woefully recount his sub-50 percent shooting from the line in 2013. But with Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon helping Dwight work on his game, there might be some room for the former Defensive Player of the Year to show Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that his potential has not reached a “shelf-life.”
4. Greg Oden will play in at least 40 games
The last time that Oden played in the NBA was the 2009-10 season and the last time he actually played a full season was the year prior, 2008-09 (61 games). There’s a lot to wonder about the man who’s probably too big for his own body, but somehow LeBron James and the Miami Heat have shown that they can find something of value in players who other team give up on (see Chris Anderson).
3. The Oklahoma City Thunder will not be a top-three seed in the West
I am a huge believer in Kevin Durant. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the second best player in the NBA and probably the best scorer in the game. You shouldn't be able to do what KD can do at 6'11''. But there's this one thing nagging on such a great player, and it happens to be his teammate. Russell Westbrook has taken more shots than Kevin Durant for the past two season and I find that utterly ridiculous. A three-time scoring champion is not taking the most shots on his team. It's laughable.
I think Durant bails on OKC at the end of his contract (like Jalen Rose predicted) because of Westbrook, even though he would never say that. But he can't leave just yet, but he will endure a year that is not on-pace with the rapid growth that the Thunder had accumulated over the final years that James Harden was on the team. And I will continue to say that Kevin Durant cannot win a championship with Russell Westbrook.
2. Andrew Bogut will be a top-three center in the NBA
After recently signing a three-year extension worth up to $42 million, the Warriors have a big man that they can rely on…if he stays healthy. To his credit, both of his major injuries were flukes—not the type of thing that you worry about on every twist or tweak (unlike his teammate, Steph Curry). Now whether you take this prediction to Vegas or the best basketball betting odds at 888sports.com is up to you but I think Bogut will shine in his first healthy year in a long time and prove that he is well worth that extension. If he can improve his free-throw shooting, he might even jump ahead of Dwight Howard and/or Marc Gasol.
1. LeBron James and the Miami Heat will win a third consecutive NBA championship
This may not come as much of a surprise to people, but even NBA.com writer Sekou Smith said that he’s taking the field over the Miami Heat. I’m sticking with my guns for this year, however, because it’s hard to bet against the best player in the game, LeBron James. Even if Dwyane Wade isn’t the Flash he usually is, LeBron (and Bosh) can make up for any deficiencies. I’ve been two-for-two in predicting the 2012 and 2013 NBA champions with my pre-season picks, and I’m taking Miami again in 2014.
The scary thing about this is that another Finals MVP puts LeBron without question in the conversation for top-five greatest players of all time.
Photo credit: Wenn photo database