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: Heat will 3-Peat... or die trying
Most good things come in threes, whether it be feet in a yard, fine suits, or even the Hanson brothers. This year the Heat will go for their third straight NBA championship, and barring fate maliciously turning against them they will win it all again. Returning are their core of LBJ, Wade & Bosh who are still All Stars and showing few signs of regression yet, as well as the motley crew of Chalmers, Cole, Allen, Battier, Andersen, Haslem and some other dudes who don't do too much. They've got nine pros they went to war with this summer, and they will live or die by them again next year. Given, that's easy to do when you've got the greatest player on the planet.
Yet, as many Eastern conference teams tinkered and made splashes to close the gap, it just doesn't look conceivable that any of them will make it unless the Big 3 just fall apart physically. We know Wade's been struggling with his knee in the playoffs the past few years, so Spo would prove wise to hold him on a minutes restriction; that's an easy fix. Yet, one fluky fatal blow to the Big 3 and the ship is going to sink. They're a worse team and widely vulnerable without all 3 guys playing at a high level (see: 2012 Pacers series, 2013 Spurs). So let's keep our fingers crossed, do a couple voodoo chants, and hope's up that LBJ stays indestructible. If it happens, the Heat will capture another title.
No. 2: Riley's amnesty of Miller proves wise
The loss of Miller is kind of hard to swallow as a fan because the guy's a folk hero; he had a couple of incredible games with the Heat including the 7/8 Game 5 in the 2012 NBA finals and fun moments like the infamous shoeless 3. I loved Mike Miller's stretch in Miami as much as the next guy; he's a savvy vet, crafty sharpshooter that plays like a a lovable bastard at times. But let's be real the Heat aren't exactly folding without him, the guy had a bad back and would've cost Miami quadruple what he's worth. It was wise for Riley to keep emotion out of this decision.
Despite all the skrilla it saved the Arison family, that was a savvy move that could potentially allow Miami to get even better. Should they sign Oden, he'd certainly be an upgrade at the center position although you can't dog on Birdman's impressive playoff performance. Or they could grab a capable shooting guard/small forward like Gary Neal, Gerald Henderson, or Mickael Pietrus who would all be quasi-insurance policies for Dwyane Wade allowing him to play less minutes during the regular season to keep Flash fresh. Either way that extra $3 million they gained in the Miller amnesty to spend on a new piece to the 3-Peat puzzle will pay dividends and remind us why Riley's the greatest.
No. 3: LeBron will average a triple-double or come damn close
Only one player in the history of basketball has ever averaged a triple double. That was Oscar Robertson in the 1961-1962 season where Oscar destroyed the league getting 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game. No one has done it since, and it looks untouchable. But if anyone were going to do it, wouldn't it be LeBron? James averaged 27/8/7 (p/r/a) last year which is reasonably within striking distance. What if LeBron just said 'screw it' I'm going to make a run at Big O's triple double season and actually followed his stats close enough to know when to add an extra rebound or assist? What else does LBJ have to do in his career now that he's a repeat title winner besides garner incredible statistical mention (and of course win more titles)? He's got 4 MVPs, came damn close to facilitating the longest win streak this past year, and has done everything but pad his stats a little. Is it not conceivable that LBJ would be the GOAT should he win a 3 peat while having the statistically greatest season of all time? I say he can and he will, or at least come damn close. We are all witnesses.