When a typical fan thinks of bold sports predictions or guarantees, nothing is bigger than Joe Namath’s prediction that the Jets would upset the Colts in Super Bowl III. I’ve only had two such moments in my life: First, I predicted that the Huskies of the University of Connecticut would upset the Duke Blue Devils for the NCAA Title before the NCAAA Tournament began in 1999. Then in 2004, I called a Detroit Pistons defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers in five games prior to the start of the NBA Finals.
What did both of these predictions have in common? Richard Hamilton, and for this he will have a special place in my heart, forever. Now this isn’t enough for me to begin a professional sports betting career but let’s look at some predictions by yours truly for this upcoming season.
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1. Miami will NOT Three-Peat
The Miami Heat is poised to accomplish what no other team has done since the Lakers 10 seasons ago. In order to complete the three-peat, they have added a few players that can definitely help them on their playoff run: Greg Oden, Michael Beasley and Roger Mason Jr. And though they lost Mike Miller for luxury tax reasons in the form of the Amnesty Clause, the Heat have more than capable fill-ins with James Jones and Rashard Lewis.
However, there are two reasons why the Heat will not win it all this season: A stronger Eastern Conference and just the sheer difficulty of winning three in a row. The Brooklyn Nets are a team of grizzled veterans that were brought together specifically to take down the Heat… AK-47, KG, Paul Pierce to go along with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. They are big, physical, and have plenty of scoring, just enough defense and a plethora of experience to push the Heat to the limit.
Also the Indiana Pacers added Luis Scola and Chris Copeland to bolster their bench, along with Solomon Hill – the rookie from Arizona — whom the coaching staff has been raving about. Oh and a certain former All-Star named Danny Granger should be back as well.
On top of these two loaded teams, we can’t forget about the Chicago Bulls, who are ecstatic to have Derrick Rose back after a full season without him. In order to get through these three obstacles, the Heat will require another historic season from LeBron James, a relatively healthy season from Dwyane Wade and a consistently productive season from Chris Bosh. If any one of these three players doesn’t fulfill their end of the bargain, this might be the last time we see this version of the Heat core.
2. The Wizards WILL make the playoffs
“Laugh it up, fuzzball” is not only a famous line by Han Solo from Star Wars, but also a line that John Wall and the Wizards hope to be able to say in the face of naysayers when April rolls around next year. The trendy pick for the new upstart team in the Eastern Conference most likely to make the playoffs is the Cleveland Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving’s imminent ascension into a top five point guard in the NBA. But here is why they won’t make that leap: Andrew Bynum might NEVER play again, Anthony Bennett still doesn’t have a position on this team and Dion Waiters has never won on any level in his career.
Another perennial playoff team, the Atlanta Hawks will take two steps back and slide into the lottery this season. Sure Paul Millsap is nice piece but a frontline of Elton Brand, Millsap and Al Horford isn’t scaring anyone, especially when your backcourt consists of Jeff Teague, Lou Williams (coming off an ACL injury) and Shelvin Mack. The Wizards will get outstanding play from John Wall, Brad Beal and the combination of Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza but it will be the added depth provided by Eric Maynor, Glen Rice Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. that will make the difference. Of course this is all assuming they stay healthy and out of trouble, I mean, this is the Wizards we’re talking about.
3. Chris Paul will win the MVP
This is the year, finally. The Los Angeles Clippers will win 60-plus games in the regular season, take the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference on the strength of their improved outside-shooting (J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Reggie Bullock), the overall development of their young big men (Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan), the addition of key veterans (Darren Collison, Antawn Jamison) and a coach (Doc Rivers) that actually knows what he’s doing. But make no mistake, this team will be spearheaded by the leadership and overall brilliance of Chris Paul, who’s only short-coming in his career is an inability to carry his team deep into the playoffs. Chris Paul will once again lead the league in assists and steals and claim the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.