With the NBA offseason activity beginning to wane heavily this week, albeit for a few signings still up in the air- Brandon Jennings/Nikola Pekovic notably. And on the eve of the NFL and college football's annual takeover of all things media, I think it's finally time to make some predictions for the upcoming NBA season given that the majority of rosters are somewhere between working rough draft and fixed. Now before reading this column, I need you guys to realize a few things: 1) I'm making NBA predictions in JULY and literally ANYTHING can happen before the season to derail these predictions. 2) These are 100% serious. I am not here to troll or make fun of anybody. That would be churlish and a waste of time. 3) I encourage you to respond with how you feel about my predictions. So without further ado, I present to you a running column that will include a Fanpost for each and every NBA team, "The Flagrantly Early, Incredibly Half-Baked NBA Predictions Series."
No. 1: Kyrie Irving will be the most fun player to watch in the entire NBA
This is not so much a prediction as a moment to harp or reflect on Kyrie's greatness, and sacrifice sheep to Baal in prayers that he stays healthy for 82 games. Last season he averaged approx. 23/6/4 (p/a/r) and was top 10 PER, Estimated Wins Added, and Value Added amongst PGs. The great thing about Kyrie is not just his highlight reel ability, it's that he's actually really good in addition to all the spectacular moves and plays he makes, which can't be said for a lot of guys. Kyrie's also got a great personality as shown in the hilarious Pepsi uncle Drew commercials as well as here. And you just know a guys good, when all your NBA junkie friends start drooling when you say his name, then all your non NBA junkie friends perk up agree he's alright. Kyrie is scary good at such a young age and he's shredding people's view that younger guys can't be impact players right away. He's the antithesis of Austin Rivers. Anyways, I doubt anybody this year will be more watchable. Kyrie himself is a phenomenal reason to invest in NBA League Pass. I can't wait to see his greatness.
No. 2: Anthony Bennett will prove to be subpar
The 2013 NBA draft's surprise #1 pick comes into this upcoming season with very mixed outlooks among NBA followers. Some say he's going to be Larry Johnson 2.0, but I doubt he'll get off to as good of a start as LJ did. Others are worried about his shoulder, and whether missing summer league will hurt him or whether he'll even be in shape come training camp. I admit I'm a firmer believer in that second camp. Bennett's not going to be absolutely horrible and given Cleveland's outlandishly poor depth at the forward positions I think he will get plenty of opportunity to prove himself. He will play backup PF and some stretch SF when Mike Brown wants to go bigger, but it just makes a lot of people wary. From the outset, Bennett's not a step right in and play kind of guy. Plus he's already rumored to be overweight and his fitness level is an enormous concern if he's going to be having to guard SFs like Paul George. Realistically, no one's saying Anthony Bennett will be a Rookie of the Year, but it scares me how little veteran presence the Cavaliers have to guide this guy along, to teach him the ropes. Andrew Bynum is a notoriously immature bozo. Varejao can't speak a lick of english. Thompson, Zeller, Waiters, Irving are all his age. Jarrett Jack's like the only true veteran presence they've got and I think he will do way more for Irving than anybody else. Anthony Bennett is truly one of the big question marks for the Cavs moving forward this season. He's got big boon or bust potential. I just think a lot of things- maybe too many- have to go right for him to live up to the #1 pick billing.
No. 3: Andrew Bynum just committed robbery AGAIN
The red flags are everywhere on Andrew Bynum. To start, he's played the full 82 games only once in his career and that was 7 years ago in his second year when almost half of them were as a reserve. Furthermore last year the guy didn't even play; he completely screwed the 76ers who were banking hard on him. Bynum made Doug Collins hate coaching basketball and sent Philly into tank mode all in a year's work. The guy must hate brotherly love. Moreover, he's one of the few guys Phil Jackson, the ultimate Zen master, couldn't stand coaching. The biggest issue with Bynum to me is that when you look at the detractors from when he was drafted back in 2005, they were he's incredibly immature, he's lazy, he's entitled, and he doesn't stay in shape. Those are things that are so easily overlooked when's he dominating down low and being the 2nd best center in the league, but they are all ring true even still. He hasn't matured at all or become any more of a professional since his first season, and he had the best coach ever mentoring him.
Now, he reunites with his former coach Mike Brown, who obviously loved him when he average 18/11/2 (p/r/b) back in 2011-2012 for the Lakers. Yet I don't think the Cavaliers are getting that guy; they're getting a shell of him and for $6 million at least to boot! I get that it's low(er) risk-high reward, but the Cavs could've at least gotten someone with modicum of consistency at center. Four of last seasons top 10 PER centers were free agents this summer (Andray Blatche, Nikola Pekovic, Brandon Wright, and Al Jefferson), and maybe those guys don't fit the bill for what the Cavs sought out or need. But they all played 60+ games last season something that can't be said for Anderson Varejao or Andrew Bynum. Best case: Andrew Bynum plays and is a dominant force. Realist case: He plays himself into shape, gets half a season of work, brings optimism to 2014 season. Worst case: Bynum never suits up. After hearing this quote I think we're headed for worst case, "Health is going to be an issue. There's nothing I can really do about it. It's arthritis in the knees. Cartilage is missing. That's not going to regrow itself. Maybe in the future, the next three to five years, there may be something out there that really does help. For right now, it's a waiting game." - Andrew Bynum, December 2012.