Most Improved Player Of The Year Will Come From The Bulls, But It Won’t Be Jimmy Butler
Most improved player of the year is always one of the hardest awards to pick. There’s a group of only a few guys who could be MVP, we all know who the hot rookies are coming into this season, but to decide who was not all that great last year, but suddenly is going to skyrocket this year, well that’s no easy task. Still, many experts have been saying throughout this offseason that they think the Bulls’ Jimmy Bulter will make a run at the award. That’s a sensible pick. After all, Butler is moving from the bench into a full-time starter role (or so it seems), which is a big indicator of contention for this award, and he showed last year that he has the talent to be an impactful starter in the NBA. With the added experience and added minutes, it’s a no-brainer that Jimmy is going to have a great season.
Still, as much as Butler is going to improve, it’s one of his fellow players off the bench who will make the biggest strides this year. Taj Gibson will win Most Improved Player of the Year. Thibodeau has said multiple times throughout the offseason that Gibson was playing like the best player in Bulls camp. On a team that includes four former all-stars, one of whom won an MVP award, Taj Gibson was playing the best. Let that sink in. Yes, he’ll be coming off the bench at the start of the season, but I honestly don’t think that will last. Boozer has been better than people give him credit for the last few years, but I think the time may have finally come where the younger PF has surpassed his elder. Taj also has a killer jumpshot, which he hasn’t fully utilized the last few years due to how effective he is in the post. I have a feeling he’ll be spreading the floor a bit more this year, knocking down more long twos, and even the occasional three. His scoring will go up, while his lock-down interior defense continues. It’s going to be a long year for opposing big men when they come to the United Center, and Taj will be rewarded justly.
The Lakers Will Make The Playoffs
The biggest disappointment of the 2012-2013 season was definitely the Lakers. The team finished the worst they had in five years despite adding huge pieces that should have completed the puzzle. Unfortunately, they were adding pieces from a 10 piece ages 3+ puzzle to their 40,000 piece 3D model of a ship. It simply didn’t work, and it looks like despite the fact that the most overrated player in the NBA (more on that later) is gone from their team, they aren’t going to be any better. Kobe is out, and he may be out for a long time. The Vegas line on the team is 33.5 wins, which, for those who aren’t clear, will not make the playoffs.
That all being said, this team is going to be much better than last year. Kobe is out for a while, but he’ll be back this season. He’s Kobe Bryant. And when he is, probably around Christmas, this team won’t be so far out of contention that it’s hopeless. They have one of the best second units in the NBA, and that does a lot, even when there aren’t as many superstars eating up minutes on the front end. With guys like Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, and Chris Kaman coming off the bench, the Lakers will have a wonderful balance of scoring, defense, and athleticism that most other teams just can’t compete with outside the starting five. In terms of the starters, I’ve never been a fan of Nick Young. I think he’s a reckless player who takes horrible shots all the time. He’s the sort of player that was perfect for the Wizards. But there’s no denying he’s got talent, and with veterans like Steve Nash and Pau Gasol to show him the way smart basketball is supposed to be played, I think this is finally the year where he blossoms into the sort of player that doesn’t induce cringes every time he touches the ball. As long as these Lakers can stay relatively healthy, the playoffs are well within their reach.
The Dwightmare is over, and the team will be better for it.
Omer Asik will have more rebounds and blocks per minute than Dwight Howard.
Dwight Howard has won defensive player of the year seemingly every year since he entered the NBA. He’s been regarded as one of the toughest interior defenders by analysts and fans alike, the sort of guy who makes you shoot a lot more threes. Well I’ve got news to share – He’s not. Dwight is an utterly mediocre interior defender. He’s as soft as anyone, and simply had great defensive numbers for all those years due to no one else getting rebounds around him, and players rushing past the sloth-like exterior defense of all the Magic teams. But Dwight simply isn’t the sort of player who scares people away from driving the basket. The Joakim Noahs, Roy Hibberts, and Marc Gasols are much better, despite a lack of numbers, since players know better than to challenge them by the hoop. Dwight causes no such hesitation, which should shoq you instantly how much those outside the game have overrated him.
Omer Asik on the other hand, is an incredibly strong interior defender, and yet with Dwight’s addition to the Rockets, it looks like Asik will either be spending most of his time at the 4, or packing his bags for a very long vacation from the Lonestar State. Knowing that Asik won’t get nearly as many minutes as Dwightsasterous, it’d be stupidly bold to say Asik will get more rebounds and blocks per game. What will happen though is Asik will have much better numbers per minute on the floor in both categories, and perhaps a few others as well. As dreadful of a free throw shooter as he is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he bests Dwight in that category. It may be moot, as I see Asik getting traded a fair bit before the deadline, but he is without a doubt the better defensive center of the pair.
Michael Beasley Will Log More Minutes Than Dwayne Wade
There’s no denying that Michael Beasley has talent. There were many who thought the Bulls should’ve drafted him over Derrick Rose. While those people were clearly wrong, at the time, considering Beasley’s upside, it wasn’t an absurd belief. His NBA career has been a tumultuous one, that’s for sure, but talent doesn’t just disappear. Now that he’s in Miami, the distractions may not be gone, the pressure is. Many chalked Beasley up to a flop and he obviously isn’t expected to carry the load here in South Beach. That should lead to much better results out of Beasley. He’s not going to play up to what was once thought to be his potential, but he’ll play well, and perhaps even start scoring at a decent rate. For that reason I think Beasley will work his way into the regular rotation for the Heat.
But Beasley isn’t going to play as much as a healthy Wade will, that’s just ridiculous. Unfortunately for Dwayne, we won’t see a healthy Wade too frequently this season. At the start of the season Wade made be in the starting line-up for his usual minutes, but he looked terrible last post season. His knees were gone, and his game went with him. There were a couple bright spots, but I was never fully impressed by what Wade was bringing to the court during the playoffs. With how Wade look last season, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s hardly on the court this year. I see nagging injury after nagging injury keeping him off the court, and the Heat playing well enough that there’s no reason to rush him onto the court when he’s less than 100%. The result, Michael Beasley will end up with more minutes than Wade.
Flopping Will Actually Be Fined
Now I know this has been talked about for years, and it’s supposed to be happening currently, but let’s be real, the league isn’t handing out fines nearly as often as it should be for flopping. Players are flying around the court more than if Arsenal played the cast of Peter Pan. Time and time again major NBA stars have gotten the slightest of shoves, or no contact at all, and they’ve fallen to the ground in a heap of supposed pain and dismay. It was even apparent the first night of the season, with many of the usual offenders doing everything they could to make sure the calls went their way.
Change is coming though. David Stern is on his way out, and while Adam Silver is no imposing presence, anyone will be more forceful than Stern has been on the matter. His attitude toward flopping has completely contradicted his last name. Silver should want to show that he’s deserving of being the new commissioner, and the best way to let people know that he’s here to stay is to enforce the thing many fans want the most: strict penalties for flopping. I see the fines amping up as the season goes on, with them being thrown out probably far too often by the time the playoffs roll around. Plenty of NBA superstars may go broke due to the fines they’re going to rack up, and the league will be all the better for it.