2014-15 NBA Predictions
It's a sign of the times. Superstar player joins team, then attracts other superstar players to join forces. There's not much parity in the NBA when it comes to legitimate championship contenders. And I expect teams like the Cavaliers to prove that once again this year.
In their case, LeBron James decided to break his bond with the Miami Heat and return home to Cleveland. As a result, Kevin Love's trade demands, combined with the intrigue of playing with James, also led him to Cleveland.
The Cavaliers are just one of a handful of teams that I feel have a legitimate shot to win it all this season. Also on the radar (according to Vegas) are the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.
The Indiana Pacers won't be able to keep up without Paul George for the entire season. And to be completely honest, the more I think about it, I'm not even sure I feel too comfortable calling the Thunder a "legitimate" contender this year. Sure, Kevin Durant is expected to only miss the first two months of the regular season after having foot surgery last week. But he's already telling the media that he's "not going to rush" his return to the lineup.
When you take into account that Durant just turned 26 and is up for a new contract after next season, just how long does "not rushing" mean? And listen, I wouldn't blame him if he missed more than two months in order to look out for himself. Do what you have to do, big dog. I'm just pointing out that the two-month timetable seems somewhat unrealistic, based on the factors I previously mentioned.
Speaking of questionable timetables, it would seem that Derrick Rose is past his injury issues, at least for now. Rose has missed the last two seasons with serious knee injuries. But his renewed explosiveness, along with the addition of Pau Gasol, could possibly give the Chicago Bulls the juice they need to finally live up to the hype that's been hanging over their heads in recent years.
You want a couple sleepers, outside my handful of "contenders?" I'm waiting for the Golden State Warriors to make a serious playoff run with the type of shooting they have in their backcourt. I would assume that as this season goes on, the Warriors will be happy they didn't trade Klay Thompson in the offseason.
Also on my sleeper list this year is the Houston Rockets. I'm one of the biggest Dwight Howard haters out there, but I have a feeling that Houston is somehow going to land Rajon Rondo during the season, if Rondo is traded during the final year of his current contract.
If that happens, Rondo gives the Rockets the type of distributor and floor general that can allow to James Harden to focus strictly on scoring and defense.
After all, championships are won with multiple superstar players. If Houston can land someone like Rondo, I wouldn't be shocked if they made a crazy playoff run.
But would they have enough to win it all?
Here are my 2014-15 NBA predictions:
Atlantic Division: Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks
Central Division: Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls,
Southeast Division: Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets
Northwest Division: Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder
Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers
Southwest Division: San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers over (8) New York Knicks
(4) Chicago Bulls over (5) Washington Wizards
(6) Charlotte Hornets over (3) Brooklyn Nets
(2) Miami Heat over (7) Toronto Raptors
Western Conference Quarterfinals:
(1) San Antonio Spurs over (8) Dallas Mavericks
(4) Houston Rockets over (5) Oklahoma City Thunder
(3) Golden State Warriors over (6) Los Angeles Clippers
(2) Portland Trail Blazers over (7) Los Angeles Lakers
Eastern Conference Semifinals:
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers over (4) Chicago Bulls
(6) Charlotte Hornets over (2) Miami Heat
Western Conference Semifinals:
(4) Houston Rockets over (1) San Antonio Spurs
(3) Golden State Warriors over (2) Portland Trail Blazers
Eastern Conference Final:
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers over (6) Charlotte Hornets
Western Conference Final:
(4) Houston Rockets over (3) Golden State Warriors
Cleveland Cavaliers over Houston Rockets