Bernucca: 10 Predictions for the 2013-14 Season

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crystal ballThis is the time of year where everyone and their mothers offer up a series of fearless prognostications about the upcoming NBA season.

Here’s what I can tell you about my skills at predicting the future. If I was really any good at it, I wouldn’t be wasting it on the NBA season. And neither would anyone else.

I am not reading tea leaves, interpreting tarot cards, gazing into crystal balls, holding seances, poring over analytics or buying classified information on the black market. I am doing what virtually all of my colleagues do – making a somewhat educated guess.

While detractors may argue that even blind squirrels stumble upon the occasional acorn, I would like to point out that I didn’t do so badly last season. Make of it what you will.

Our staff here at Sheridan Hoops will be making its award and champion predictions later this month. For now, here are my 10 fearless predictions for the 2013-14 NBA season. ICYMI, Sheridan’s ran yesterday.

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Eisenberg: Projecting Dennis Schröder’s Translation to the NBA with Analytics

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In Elton Brand’s 14 NBA seasons, the two-time All Star has played alongside some of the league’s most respected point guards. From Sam Cassell to pre-injury Shaun Livingston to Andre Miller to Jrue Holiday, Brand has grown accustomed to excellence from his floor generals.

So when Brand signed with Atlanta over the summer and was told to check out the highlight reel for his new teammate, a 19-year-old who had been nicknamed “Baby Rondo,” he was understandably skeptical of the moniker.

“People were like, ‘This kid’s just like a young (Rajon) Rondo,’” Brand said. “And I was like, ‘Come on, guys. You can’t compare him to Rondo just because they both have long arms.’”

However, after two weeks of practicing with the now-20-year-old Dennis Schröder , Brand has been won over:

“I was wrong,” Brand admitted. “I can definitely see where those comparisons come from now. It’s uncanny.”

Ask around the Hawks’ locker room and the consensus is clear: Schröder is not your typical 20-year-old. 

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Geltzeiler: Five Players Who Could/Should Have Breakout Seasons

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crystal ballBefore last season began, I wrote a piece predicting 5 players who will have breakout seasons, 5 players who will get traded, and 5 players who will have the biggest impact on the title picture.

I whiffed so badly on the players who will be traded and the players that will impact the title picture, that I’m not even going to try again.

However, I was 2 for 5 on my five breakout players (Ty Lawson and Paul George), which would win me a batting title in Major League Baseball, so I’ll give it another try.

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Sheridan: 10 Predictions for the 2013-14 season

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crystal ballIt’s prediction time, and as I have always liked to say: Predictions are like armpits: Everyone has them, and all of them stink. Take it from a guy who picked Spurs in 7 last season.

Yes, that one missed – but find me a guy who predicted that Gregg Popovich would have an extreme bout of cranial flatulence with the championship within his grasp at the end of Game 6, and then I’ll drop the armpit line. I still can’t get over the size of those brain farts. Even Dwight Howard was impressed.

This week we are rolling out a series of columns from our senior columnists.

Everybody is making 1o predictions, and the idea is to be serious but also to have some fun. At the end of the season, we’ll take a look back and see who was especially sage-like.

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Schayes: When Rookie Hazing Went Underground

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dannyschayesThe start of training camp is always a special time. Every team is undefeated and optimism fills the air. Players have been working out all summer with the anticipation of getting on with it. Many teams schedule special getaway experiences for team bonding and focus time. Two-a-day practices are hard enough without having to go home and deal with the kids and the house.

Pat Riley used to take the Lakers to Hawaii for training camp to get away from it all. The Denver Nuggets used to go to Alamosa and later Colorado Springs to train at 8,000 feet to really get in shape. Same for the Suns, who would leave cozy Phoenix and take a trip up to Flagstaff for some high altitude training.

When I was a young player for the Utah Jazz, they had a different idea. Frank Layden was the coach and general manager and had this notion (the only polite word I can think of) to make training camp travel so onerous that the regular season would seem easy.

Anyone who has followed an NBA season knows that it is filled with constant travel and sleep deprivation. What could possibly make that seem easy?

How about a 19-day preseason road trip to such hot spots as Marietta, Ohio, and Chattanooga, Tennessee? We traveled on planes that were so small that the in-flight meal was the airline captain pulling back a curtain and handing us a box of donuts. Really. We had to tell the airline staff our weight so they could seat us around the plane so we could fly level. Really. We had to crawl up the aisle to get to our seats because the cabin ceiling was so low. Really. Remember, this wasn’t a Division III school, this was the NBA.

In the early 1980s, the draft was 10 rounds, so we had a lot of rookies. Luckily, my first year we had so many rookies that the veterans ran out of things to do before they got to me, the first-round pick. It was very normal for a rook to get a call at midnight to go get some pizza. The next day it was to go to the laundromat and wash the practice gear. Now you know how the veterans kept their cars so clean. 

The trainer had 10 minutes per player blocked out for taping ankles. It went in reverse order of seniority, so with 18 players in camp, the low draft picks had to be in the training room three hours before practice to get taped. That was twice a day. And if you were a minute late, there was some other diabolical fate awaiting you.

Chattanooga,_Tennessee_SkylineOur stop in Chattanooga was five days, and was it booorriiing. This was pre-internet, pre-video games, pre-cable TV, and even pre-multi screen theatres. We tried everything to kill time in the city. We already had been on the road for 11 days and used up every time-killer we had brought with us.

The first thing that we found that sounded remotely interesting was the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Museum. It boasted the largest miniature train set in the world, plus a vintage train exhibit. That managed to occupy us for about 75 minutes. Then it was back to the room. I must share with you that my roommate was Mark Eaton. We had 14-plus feet of player jammed into a double-double room. It was quite a sight.

After another day going stir crazy, we found about this attraction called Ruby Falls. It was billed as the Largest Underground Waterfall in America. While an underground waterfall sounds like an oxymoron, we were just desperate enough to give it a try.  After all, the largest anything should be at least a little interesting, right?

We stuffed ourselves into a cab and Mark and I were off on this adventure. We arrived at the Lookout Mountain ticket office and paid our five bucks. The entrance was an elevator ride into the mountain. What they didn’t think to tell us was that to get to the actual falls, we had to walk three-quarters of a mile through a cave lined with bare bulbs hanging from a wire.

MarkEatonPart of the time-killing exercise was taking the stalagmite and geology tour on the way. Problem No. 1 was that the tunnel was over seven feet high about a third of the time. The rest of the trip was spent slouched over trying not to burn our heads on the light bulbs. Scraping body parts on protruding rocks also was a pretty common occurrence.

But at least they were interesting rocks.

Problem No. 2 was that the tunnel was only wide enough for one person. The way in was the way out. That means that every time you had to pass another group, it was like playing Twister trying to slide by each other while not getting burned or scratched. And yes, people were fat back then, so use your imagination.

After an hour we finally arrived at the Falls. We were now feeling the excitement. This had better be worth it! We entered a large cavern that was pitch black. It sounded like a guy peeing in a puddle. It surely was not getting confused with the roar of Niagara Falls.

Then the music starts and they hit the lights. “Ta-da, ta-da, ta-da” comes blaring out of a bad speaker. Then the lights come on fully and we see Ruby Falls in its full splendor. It’s a four-foot wide stream of water landing in a pool about 10 feet wide. It sounds like a man peeing in a puddle, because, well, it was about as impressive as a man peeing in a puddle.

Mark and I looked at each other with the “Is that it?” expression on our faces. Then it hits us. That’s not it.

We still have to walk three-quarters of a mile back to the elevator.

Of the 30 years of pro ball between us, Ruby Falls is among our most memorable NBA experiences. We still tell the story and laugh our heads off every time. Who needs dumb video games?

MORE FROM DANNY SCHAYES:

CAN CHRIS PAUL LEAD THE NBPA BACK FROM THE DEAD?
ADAM SILVER NEEDS TO EMBRACE THE NBA’S LIVING PIONEERS
THE FRANCHISE PLAYER IS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
WHY THE CHAMPIONSHIP FORMULA ALWAYS WORKS (UNTIL IT DOESN’T)
HOW DO HEAT COMPARE TO GREATEST TEAMS EVER?
ON NBA COACH OF THE YEAR, AND COACHES IN GENERAL

Danny Schayes is a retired 18-year-veteran of the NBA, a professional broadcaster and aspiring author now penning NBA columns for SheridanHoops. Follow him on Twitter.