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article imageOp-Ed: 10 bold predictions for the 2013-14 NBA season

By David Silverberg     Oct 29, 2013 in Sports
Tonight the NBA regular season begins, and I look into the crystal basketball to predict the major storylines you'll soon be hearing about, from Derrick Rose's stunning comeback to the West Coast trade bound to shake up the playoffs picture.
When the 2013-14 NBA season kicks off tonight with the exciting matchup between Chicago and Miami, many questions are left unanswered, more so than in most years. How will Chicago's Rose come back from last year's injury-heavy bench-warming? Can disappointing teams such as the Toronto Raptors claw back into the playoffs? How long will Pau Gasol stick around L.A? And will we see a revitalized Dwight Howard as Houston's new star centre?
See below for my bold predictions, and have your say in the Comments:

Dwight Howard will dominate in Houston

Despite the terrible year Howard endured with the Lakers, Howard will find a comfortable home in Houston. With James Harden slashing to the bucket and drawing defenders, Howard will see a lot of easy passes and dunks, if not offensive rebounds.
Don't worry about his ego, his teammate clashes; the Rockets will cater towards Howard's dominance in the middle. I predict 15 double-doubles for Superman, and I can see the Rockets riding on Howard's defensive presence to hold teams to under 100 points per game.

Steph Curry will make his first All-Star Game

It still boggles my mind why Curry has been snubbed from the All-Star Game. The son of sharshooter Dell Curry will once again put up huge numbers with the Golden State Warriors, and this time voters will side with consensus and elevate Curry to All-Star status. No more bridesmaid disappointment, Steph!

Jason Kidd will be an incredibly fast-learning coach...and fun to watch

As the new coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Kidd rocketed to the suit and dress pants faster than any other NBA player. He was playing last year for the Knicks, so he knows the on-court schemes better than most coaches (who aren't running with the ball against the league's best). He will an inspiring mentor to Nets PG Deron Williams, who could use a bit of veteran leadership on such a young team.
For the fans, Kidd will show his personality more often than not when he interacts with refs, so we should get some great entertainment from this enigmatic player-turned-coach.

Andrea Bargnani will be the worst pick-up of the summer

You want him, New York? Have fun with Il Mago, the former Raptors forward who never lived up to expectations. Last year's 39% FG percentage was his career worst, and the seven-footer has never averaged more than 5.7 rebounds/game. If the Knicks implode like I expect they will come mid-season, Bargnani will face the brunt of the criticism, and if he thought Toronto was hostile towards lame-duck players, New York will be a buffet's worth of tomatoes heading his way.
And speaking of Toronto...

The Raptors will make the playoffs

Some hometown pride here, but with good reason: Toronto will earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08 on the back of some developing players who will shine this season. Jonas Valanciunas won over NBA heads after his stunning EuroBasket tournament performance, and he'll continue getting touches and making buckets this season. Terence Ross will not only dunk like the Slam Dunk winner than he is, but also work on his outside shooting and become a short-range threat defenders will have to respect. Tyler Hansborough and Landry Fields were smart defensive additions, and the grit displayed by the likes of Amir Johnson and Quincy Acy will pay off in much-needed hustle plays. These guys won't be incredibly fun to watch, but they'll earn the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference, but will see a quick exit when they go up against the Miami Heat in the first round (more on the East later).
Lakers forward Pau Gasol (left) in a game versus the Washington Wizards
Lakers forward Pau Gasol (left) in a game versus the Washington Wizards
Keith Allison

Say bye bye to Gasol, L.A.

Pau Gasol's days in a Lakers uniform are numbered. The Spanish forward will be traded before February, and L.A. will recognize his trade value is low: he is entering his 13th season and has played in 950 games. Then again, Gasol is one of five players in NBA history to post career averages of at least 18.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. So there's an upside to a team looking for a great interior presence (hello, Orlando?) and L.A. will trade to get a young point guard to join the squad. L.A's Steve Nash is no slouch, but he doesn't have the speed and energy to get the team up and down the court quickly. Could we see a Jameer Nelson-Gasol trade shake up Orland and L.A? That's where I predict Gasol will end up in '14.
Gasol's departure will spell the end to the Lakers' playoff chances, and they'll slump to 10th in the West; more cohesive teams such as the Warriors and Mavericks leapfrog over L.A. late in the season to secure playoff spots.

The Philadelphia 76ers will be the worst team in the league

When your team's big-name players are Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, it's not going to be a pretty season. Philly traded talented PG Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for the draft rights to Kentucky alum Nerlen Noel, who ended up being selected 6th overall, and a 2014 first-round draft selection. But now that Noel is taking the season off to rest his injury, Philly is basically waving the white towel and hoping for a rebuilding year in 14-15. Andrew Wiggins, hope you like Philly cheesesteaks.

Slow-clap to Derrick Rose for winning MVP

Sorry, Lebron, Durant, Chris Paul. This is Rose's comeback year and he's going to make it count. Beside being in top form during preseason games, Rose has a deep hunger to prove his critics wrong, to rebound from his terrible injury-ridden 2012-13 season to give the Bulls that much-needed scoring threat from the point guard position. Rose will be third in the league in scoring, and will reach the line more than LeBron. Rose will have his best year of his career, and will take home another MVP trophy, but that's not all Rose will do for Chicago...

The Chicago Bulls will win the East

As defensively stronger than the Heat, the Bulls will win the East, but by only two games. The Heat's second place finish will be due to the lack of interior defending, but also thanks to injuries that I predict will plague the team's back court. The Bulls, on the other hand, will be stellar on the inside with Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson turning away cutting drives and lay-up attempts. The Bulls will be second in the East in rebounding (Indiana will take first) and with Rose's return, their scoring punch will be a knockout the East just won't be able to overcome. But I don't think the Bulls will have enough late-round playoffs experience to beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

In a Thunder-Heat Finals, the Thunder will win their first NBA Championship

I did say these were bold predictions, right? NBA fans will revel in a Finals rematch when 2014 sees a vengeful Thunder square off against the Heat. But this time, star point guard Russell Westbrook will be on court to martial the high-octane offense, and Kevin Durant's range and athleticism will prove too much for the Heat's wings. It'll go to seven games but OKC will finally hoist that trophy and brandish some new fancy rings.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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