Kevin Durant will win MVP. The Lakers and the Heat will meet in the Finals. The Sixth Man of the Year award will go to a volume scoring guard.
Predictions are fun, but when the entire NBA world is making the same ones, it gets kind of dull.
Without further ado, I present you the Noam Schiller Crazy Predictions for 2010-2011 — where nothing is orthodox, everything is surprising, and I hope you forget this come April.
The Pacers Will Make the Playoffs
I know. The Pacers? The team that has done nothing but stagnate in the least interesting way possible since 2007? The team who will be starting Josh McRoberts and one of the Brandon Rush/James Posey/Mike Dunleavey trifecta? Seriously, the Pacers?!
Danny Granger is a beast, and while he isn’t a franchise player by any means, he also isn’t nearly as bad as he was last season. Darren Collison showed while filling in for Chris Paul that he is more than just a per-minute wonder, and he can flourish in Jim O’Brien’s up-tempo system. And Roy Hibbert – oh, Roy Hibbert. Three years in, he should have the stupid high foul thing behind him, leaving only a deft touch and a strong high post game to go with a 7’2” frame. I see a great season from Roy, and he is my preseason pick for Most Improved Player. (Yeah, I know all the red flags – poor rebounder, too slow for the modern Al Horford-esque center, yada yada yada. These are my crazy predictions and you’ll have to tolerate my leaps of faith). And if they can swing a deal for another player who is actually worthy of starting (they have the expiring deals), then why not?
Most of all – the East gets quite murky once you get past the top 6 (Miami, Orlando, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee). The Knicks are probably the best of the remaining bunch, but they’re far from a lock. Besides that? Anybody but the Raptors could make some noise of varying degree – with noise being a Playoff push of under 40 wins.
Somebody will eventually be the least worst team.
This league has surprise, come out of nowhere, “they didn’t change their roster, why are they so good?” teams every season. I think this year, it’s Indy.
Jeff Green and/or Aaron Brooks Will Be Traded
These two players are in very similar situations and thus are paired together here. Both are young, supposedly on the rise, and have proven that they can be a major part of a good team. But both also have concerns regarding how good they can be for a full-blown contender, both have reputations far exceeding their actual pedigree, and both are up for extensions.
Sam Presti and Daryl Morey have each shown a knack for maximizing assets. As such, I think at least one of these very asset-y players finds a new team before the season ends.
Bill Walker Will Take Over as the Starting SG for the Knicks
Toney Douglas? Landry Fields? Wilson Chandler?
D’Antoni needs shooters. D’Antoni needs scorers. D’Antoni needs athletes. D’Antoni needs Bill Walker. Don’t ask me to be rational, it’s just the way things are.
The Spurs Will Turn Heads
I don’t think people realize just how much of a difference a healthy Tony Parker makes. He basically carried the team offensively in 2008-09. He’s a former Finals MVP, for Christ’s sake, regardless of how valid you thought that choice was. Sure, last season was bad, but plantar fascitis does that to you. Now he’s fine, and playing for a contract. He’ll be back at full strength.
Pair that with Duncan still being Duncan (he’s clearly not the same defensively any more, but on offense he’s still a beast, and he will get more rest with the new depth up front), a strong year from Manu (just a hunch from me), the fact that George Hill is a future Hall of Famer and Tiago Splitter finally coming over, and the Spurs will be Spurs-y once more, at least for one more year.
By the Playoffs, Miami’s Starting Center Will Be Tyson Chandler or Nazr Mohammed
I refuse to believe that the Heat looked at Erick Dampier and said “no thanks.” What makes more sense to me is the theory that Damp didn’t want to play for the minimum, since he was cut, not bought out.
Well, Nazr and Chandler could be bought out.
No, the Bobcats and Mavs won’t just give them away – but they are two centers with expiring contracts on teams with trigger-happy front offices. I think one of them gets traded to an also-ran, tests the free agent market, and settles on South Beach.
Andray Blatche will Continue to Toy with My Emotions
On some nights, he will look like this league’s best player. On some nights, he’ll look like what Gilbert Arenas left in his shoes.
I will be sucked in monthly, only to disgustedly throw in the towel after a contested 22-footer.
Greg Oden Will Finally Transform into Gregorious
No commentary here.
Hakim Warrick Won’t Replace Amar’e — But He’ll Do Surprisingly Well
Nobody will ask Hakim to defend. Just set picks for Steve Nash, and either roll for the dunk or pop for the mid-range shot. He is fully capable of doing both. For his entire career, he’s been around 19 and 8 per 40 minutes. He won’t get 40 minutes, but he’ll get 25 to 30, and extended usage, which is enough for me to see a 15 and 7 sort of season.
Carmelo Will Be Moved — And Chauncey Billups Will Follow
There is absolutely no point in keeping Chauncey on a bad team, further killing his aging value. Might as well just give the keys to Ty Lawson (although I would much rather keep Ty as my sixth man rather than my starting point guard), and let Chauncey get on with his life.
For a franchise in luxury tax troubles, I see the end for the hometown hero.
The Season Will Be a Blast
The Heat. The Lakers. The Celtics. The Thunder. The Magic. Tyreke. Rose. Blake Griffin. John Freaking Wall. This may be the last season we have in a while, but it will be one to remember.
But I’m sure you already knew that.
And Just for the Record …
MVP: Dwight Howard
DPOY: Dwight Howard
MIP: Roy Hibbert
6th Man: Manu Ginobili
ROY: John Wall
NBA Champs: Heat over Lakers
2010-11 Eastern Conference Predictions
2010-11 Western Conference Predictions