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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SH Blog: LeBron wants to be the greatest of all time, Kobe says he and Howard were never going to work

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NBA Media Day is in full swing for teams all around the league, which means plenty of status updates on players, coaching plans, headline-worthy quotes and more. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so we’ll get right to it:

  • aingeDanny Ainge realizes that the Celtics roster needs work, from Mark Murphy of Boston Herald: “The C’s are loaded at both forwards spots with Green, Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace and (for now) Kris Humphries. Green’s versatility could actually find the scorer playing some off-guard this season. The off-guard spot is otherwise inconsistent with Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks the best scoring candidates, and with Courtney Lee returning from one of the most disappointing seasons of his career. “I wouldn’t say this is a perfect mesh of players, but I would like to see how they play together, and win jobs and opportunities, and just how players fit our system and Brad’s style of play,” Ainge said. “I like the competitiveness in camp, and I also like the team because there are so many questions to be answered, so many unknowns.”
  • Steve NashSteve Nash believes there are many question marks for the Los Angeles Lakers heading into the season, from Sean Deveney of Sporting News: “There is no comparing this year’s Lakers camp to last year. “It’s different,” Nash said. “It’s 180 degrees from last year. But you have got to embrace every year for what it is, the challenge. Maybe we will surprise everybody and turn into a completely different team than everyone expects.”… “I think it is really important for us at this point to just embrace these low expectations and try to find a real chemistry and build ourselves into a team that has some confidence,” Nash said. “We have so many new players, we have so many question marks with myself, Pau and Kobe’s health. Let’s not get to talking about championships right now. Let’s try to have a good camp and try to build a team and a chemistry that has the opportunity to go out there and beat people and win some games and get on a roll.”
  • Mike D'AntoniNash also says the Lakers never really ran Mike D’Antoni’s system last season, from Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA: “We didn’t have any basics last year,” D’Antoni said. “We told them the whole approach last year, but we couldn’t break it down. These guys have been going, 90 percent of them, for a month and a half (learning) the little things we’re doing, so it’s pretty smooth. They’re pretty far along.” They’re far along because there was a lot of ground to cover after the Lakers never fully took to D’Antoni’s style of play last season. ”We never really ran Mike’s system last year,” Nash said. “It was more a hybrid. I think that’s part of finding an identity is that through personnel, no training camp and very little practice time with all the injuries, it was hard to get Mike’s system going. It was hard to find that identity. So we already are starting to form an understanding of what he wants and how we’re going to play, which is greater than last year.”
  • DeAndre JordanDoc Rivers will count on DeAndre Jordan to make a huge different on the defensive end this season, from Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com: ““Oh, I think it’s huge for us,” Rivers said. “I think he will be consistent. I’m looking at DeAndre Jordan as an All-Defense player. I think he should be on the All-Defense team. I think he should be a candidate to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. And that is going to require consistency for him to do that. We need him to be the captain of our defense, so I’m putting a lot on his plate. All the other stuff will take care of itself. If he does that job, I’m not that concerned about everything else.”… Where does this confidence come from? “I’ve seen his body,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if it was a year ago or two years ago, playing against him, I looked him and I thought, ‘Man, this kid should dominate defensively.’ I wasn’t here last year. I don’t know what happened with that. I can say this: He was focusing on offense, trying to be defense. He was focused on a lot of stuff. All I’m trying to do is narrow his focus. I’m trying to make it easier for him.”
  • JR SmithJ.R. Smith was apologetic for failing his drug test over the summer, from Marc Berman of New York Post: “The worst thing is I feel let my teammates and coach down,’’ Smith said Monday on Knicks Media Day. “I let Mr. [James] Dolan down. I’m looking to move forward from it. As soon as I’m able to play, I’m hoping to have a good season.’’… Knicks coach Mike Woodson didn’t sound happy about Smith’s suspension. “I don’t condone anything like that,’’ Woodson said. “J.R. knows he made a major mistake. I haven’t heard his comments, but I’m sure he’s apologized to the guys because we made a commitment to win. Hopefully it’ll be a learning experience.’’ Woodson also expects Smith to be ready for the season opener. An independent doctor hired by the NBA will give Smith a physical to determine if he indeed is ready to play before the suspension kicks in.”
  • GarnettKevin Garnett is not fond of the idea of sitting out back-to-back games, from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN: “Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Garnett said his talk with first-year coach Jason Kidd about possibly not playing both games of back-to-back sets “didn’t go too well.” ”I’m just being honest,” Garnett said in front of several laughing reporters during a news conference Monday at the team’s media day. “But I understand what he’s saying. He’s just making sure I’m durable and can get through an entire 82-game season. ”So I’m totally understanding of what it is. … He’s looking to better me, so I’m gonna try to be receptive to that.” Nothing has been finalized with respect to the issue, Garnett said. ”We’re still in wait-and-see mode,” Garnett said. “I just don’t want to be told anything. Hopefully I’ve earned the right to have an opinion in something that I’m doing. But more importantly, from a chemistry standpoint, I think it’s important for me to be out there with everybody, and I think it’ll speed the chemistry process up more quickly.”
  • WoodsonMike Woodson’s contract for next season has been picked up, from Nate Taylor of The New York Times: “Steve Mills, the Knicks’ new general manager, spent much of the last four days talking with Coach Mike Woodson, discussing the future of the team, where it can improve and how to handle the roster. Mills, who replaced Glen Grunwald on Thursday, made his first major decision Monday. He elected to pick up the option on Woodson’s contract for the 2014-15 season, a move that gives Woodson more stability in the organization… “I’m very excited about Mr. Dolan and Steve Mills giving me an opportunity to come back another year,” Woodson said at the news conference. “I tried to deal with my situation year to year. It’s never been about me in terms of what I do. It’s strictly about the team and what we’re trying to pursue.”

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SH Blog: Spoelstra agrees to extension with Heat; Finals to return to 2-2-1-1-1 format

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Have you seen Chris Sheridan’s preseason 2013-14 power rankings yet? Here they are. Go do that.

SH Blog: Kobe doesn’t care about Howard’s departure; Rose plans not to miss a practice

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act_greivis_vasquezThe 2010 draft class is up for extensions this fall. John Wall, Larry Sanders, and now Paul George have signed.

Five Things to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers

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kobeinjuryIt’s going to be an interesting season for the Los Angeles Lakers. It is a time of obvious transition, but for a team that’s accustomed to being on top, it’s going to be much different than that.

After a season in which they struggled to simply reach the playoffs, things might be even more frustrating for the Lakers in 2014. So before we dive into the upcoming season, a quick look at all the turmoil from a season ago should help make the picture a little clearer.

In 2012-13 the Lakers had some issues. They fired a coach, had half their team miss serious time due to injuries, saw their longtime owner pass away and ultimately got swept in four blowout games against the eventual Western Conference champions in the first round.

Then, to top it all off, they lost their future cornerstone, Dwight Howard, to the Houston Rockets. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very good season.

Now things are even more uncertain.

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