Predicting the Major Award Winners for the 2012-13 NBA Season
With free agency winding down, NBA teams are beginning to take shape for next season.
While late June and early July is the time when franchises re-evaluate their options and make changes for the future, now is when teams begin to focus more on the upcoming season.
With the 2012-13 season coming up sooner than one might think, here are my current predictions for the winners of the NBA's major regular and postseason awards.
Executive of the Year: Dell Demps
Dell Demps has done an outstanding job in New Orleans, even if he can attribute some of his successes to garnering the top pick in the 2012 Draft.
Anthony Davis aside, Demps has assembled a young core of Austin Rivers, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.
While the Hornets will struggle to make the playoffs next season in a deep Western Conference, look for them to be in the hunt for the No. 8 seed.
Demps has New Orleans on the right track.
Coach of the Year: Mike Woodson
Without Mike Woodson, the New York Knicks might not have made the playoffs last season. With Woodson, New York had an 18-6 record but ended up being throttled by the Heat in five games.
Even so, expect New York to have a better record this season, especially since the Bulls will be without Derrick Rose for most of the season and teams like the Pacers, Magic and Hawks got worse in the offseason.
The Knicks should be able to challenge for a top-four seed with Woodson on board and finally be able to break through in the playoffs.
If the older veterans like Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas can stay healthy and Amar'e steps up this season, New York might be a legitimate threat to Miami and Boston.
Sixth Man of the Year: James Harden
Even with his poor performance in the NBA Finals, James Harden is by far the best sixth man in the league.
In 31.4 minutes of work, the former Arizona State star averaged 16.8 points, 3.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds for the Thunder.
Look for his minutes to increase heading into this season as he becomes a better passer and rebounder, while learning to be more assertive with the basketball.
Playing with Team USA will definitely help Harden because it will show him what it takes to become a superstar in this league.
With that being said, don't be surprised if he averages 19 points, five rebounds and five assists this upcoming season.
Most Improved Player: Lamar Odom
Picking up Lamar Odom looked like a steal for the Dallas Mavericks last season because they did not have to give up anyone.
Odom promptly played like he did not want to be in Dallas and was a major disappointment.
The Mavericks were forced to part ways with the versatile forward, because he was averaging a mere 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Now that he is back in Los Angeles, with the Clippers once more, Odom will be far more motivated to perform at a high level.
Odom will play like he did when he was with the Lakers, giving the Clips a legitimate sixth man.
Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis
To me, there really is no competition between Davis and the rest of the rookies.
When you are chosen for the Olympic team as a rookie, albeit due to many injuries and players declining, it is clear that you can play now with the world's best (via USA Basketball).
Davis has the ability to make an impact on the defensive end of the floor already, and his offensive tools even mirror those of a guard.
At the end of the day, there really is no prospect in this draft class that can touch the former Kentucky superstar.
If he stays healthy, the award is his.
Defensive Player of the Year: LeBron James
At one point, LeBron James has to win one of these awards right?
Considering that he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, along with Tony Allen, James might take home the Defensive Player of the Year award this season.
His defensive prowess is not limited merely to the perimeter, as James is a solid post defender and uses his quick hands to pickpocket smaller players.
With stiff competition coming from Serge Ibaka, Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard, this one could be the biggest toss-up out of them all.
However, I see James winning his first in 2013.
MVP: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has cemented himself as the best scorer in the league by being the undisputed scoring champion of the past three years.
In addition, he has improved his rebounding and defensive skills, while leading the Thunder to stratospheric heights.
With Oklahoma City earning the No. 1 seed in the West in my opinion, I see Durant finally winning an MVP award.
Playing on Team USA will help the Thunder's young core of James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Durant because I think they will develop more team chemistry.
Look for OKC to finally put it together in the regular season.
NBA Finals MVP: Rajon Rondo
You didn't see this one coming did you?
I might have tipped my hand here, but I have the Boston Celtics winning the NBA Finals next season, giving Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett a second and final title.
Rajon Rondo will be the major reason why this happens. He always steps up in the postseason, averaging 17.3 points, 11.9 assists and 6.7 rebounds in the 2012 Playoffs.
While Miami, Oklahoma City and both Los Angeles teams might be the sexier picks, Boston is the real team to watch.
A deeper Celtics team will allow KG and Pierce to end their careers on top.