Predicting Who Will Be the Best Player on Each Team During 2012-2013 NBA Season
Last season I made an article similar to this, with most of the choices being correct. I will try to duplicate my success this year.
Every NBA team has a player who excels above the rest during the season. Some MVP choices are pretty obvious, while some teams have a question mark as to who will lead them when the season comes.
Teams are not the same as they were last season, with certain franchises rising while others are falling.
Here is who I believe will be each team's MVP by the time the season is over.
Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith
With Joe Johnson being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, it is time for Josh Smith to step up and be the leader this team needs.
The Nets have been a team that struggles in the spotlight, and the big question is, can they reach the spotlight again, or will they have to start from scratch and rebuild?
If they really want to return to the playoffs, Smith is the guy who is going to help them.
He is going to be a bigger focal point on offense, and could be averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo
Rondo is one of the best all-around players in NBA history. Although it might not happen every game, people should not be surprised when Rondo grabs triple-doubles here and now.
He is one of the best passers and defenders in the league, and with age crawling up on guys like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Rondo is going to have to take the reins of the Boston Celtics.
The chances of the Celtics making a championship run are less with every passing season, and with a revamped roster, the Celtics have one last chance to win an NBA championship.
Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams
After so many rumors that Williams was either heading to Dallas or staying with the Nets, Williams chose the latter.
With the addition of Joe Johnson, this Brooklyn team might be seeing the playoffs, and Deron Williams is the guy who is going to lead them there. He is a top-five point guard and has not had good teammates around him during his stay with the Nets.
With the Nets adding Johnson and locking up guys like Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, Deron Williams will excel, and we will see how good the Nets really are.
Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker
Ah, the Charlotte Bobcats...the worst team in NBA history last season.
Things are not going to change much in North Carolina, but the team will be much better than last season.
Kemba did not live up to expectations last season, but there was so much pressure on him coming off a tremendous collegiate season.
A more mature and more experienced Kemba will help this Bobcats team in the long run, and although they are a long shot for the playoffs, they are going to try and make a name for themselves, and Kemba is going to be the leader to make sure they make that a good name.
Chicago Bulls: Joakim Noah
Normally, Derrick Rose would be the only player that would really go on this slide, but with Rose out for probably most of the season, Noah is going to take over this team during Rose's absence.
Noah has established himself as one of the better centers in the NBA in the past five years. He is a very good defender and a good rebounder.
With Rose out, Noah will be expected to score a little more for the Bulls, and although scoring is not his forte, he scores on a consistent basis.
He can average a double-double this season, and if the Bulls want to stay relevant with Rose out, they need Noah to step up.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving had one of the better rookie seasons in NBA history, already showing fans that he is a trustworthy scorer who is also very good during the clutch with a few game-winners already under his belt.
The Cavaliers have improved the team around him, and Irving himself has improved. His defense was good, and with better teammates, his assist numbers should be going up as well.
Irving could end up scoring 20-plus points this season, and just like the Bobcats, the Cavs will probably not make the playoffs but can show other teams they are up-and-comers in the league.
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk has been the leader of this team for almost a decade and is still the leader until the day he retires.
He is one of the greatest offensive-minded big men to play in the NBA, and his signature fadeaway has been terrorizing opponents for years.
He led the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA title just two years ago, and now that the team has made some changes for the better, the Mavericks will be back in the playoffs instead of fighting for a spot.
Denver Nuggets: JaVale McGee
This prediction comes based on his showing in the NBA playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers this past season.
McGee is truly a great player inside, and he has all the tools to be a force to be reckoned with. He can already alter the direction of shots, and still needs to polish his defensive game, but if he puts in a little more work, he can get it done.
Some may argue that Ty Lawson deserves to be here, but with McGee's growth and maturity under the coaching of George Carl, we might be seeing a new JaVale.
Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe
Greg Monroe has developed into a very good player since his rookie year, and with a better supporting cast, as well as a high-potential rookie in Andre Drummond on the court next to him, Monroe is just getting better.
Monroe has improved his game on both ends of the court, and as Brandon Knight gets better, he will get better looks for players like Monroe.
The Pistons aren't a contender yet, but might be in the near future.
Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson
Ever since Monta Ellis got traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, Klay Thompson played like a beast. He was one of the better rookies in the second half of the season, and he shot lights-out.
If Stephen Curry can stay healthy and get good looks for Thompson, then Klay can be the scorer the Warriors drafted him to be.
Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lin
There really is no one else on this team who will produce other than Jeremy Lin. The Rockets do have the likes of Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones and Royce White, but it will take time for these players to become the players they are predicted to be.
Don't take offence when I say no one else can produce, because it isn't entirely true, but Jeremy Lin will be the main offensive weapon on the team.
He can dish out assists; not only to his own team, but to the other team as well. Lin will have a successful year, but won't lead the Rockets into the playoffs anytime soon.
Indiana Pacers: Paul George
Paul George has turned into a pretty good NBA player compared to his rookie year. He got to start on an overachieving Indiana Pacers team, and he played effectively.
He is only 22 years old and still has many years ahead of him. He has established himself as a very good defender and is able to hit the occasional jumper.
The Pacers are a dark-horse candidate in the Eastern Conference, and with a much more experienced team, including Paul George, the Pacers might give the Heat a run for their money.
Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin
Once again, I put Blake Griffin here.
Blake has obviously improved his jumper and has a bigger array of moves to score other than dunking. Even though that still is his preferred way of scoring points, he can get it done other ways too, although not very effectively.
His defense has improved, and he has matured more as a player. The Clippers are going to make the playoffs again, and with the help of a more experienced Griffin, they might be able to make it past the second round.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
Dwight Howard might make a little more sense due to his youth and dominance in the post, but Bryant is always going to be the leader of this team and can be relied on anytime for the Lakers.
Kobe is going to be in talks for scoring champion, despite his age, and he is going to be the one who leads this team to the playoffs—not Steve Nash, not Pau Gasol, not Dwight Howard, but Kobe Bryant.
Kobe has been leading this team through thick and thin ever since Shaq left L.A., and it is still his team. He will be the one to lead this team to a possible championship run this season.
Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay
Easily one of the most underrated players in the NBA, Rudy Gay has led the Memphis Grizzlies to become a consistent playoff contender every year.
Gay has the nice scoring touch and is one of the most clutch players in the NBA. He is also a good defender and makes smart decisions.
The Grizzlies are once again going to be an underdog heading into the NBA season, and Rudy Gay is going to lead them to the playoffs.
Miami Heat: LeBron James
Who else would be here, honestly?
LeBron is the reigning regular season MVP, NBA Finals MVP and is coming off one of the greatest years in sports history, winning an Olympic gold medal and an NBA championship.
He is in his prime and has most definitely matured compared to when he first joined the Miami Heat.
Arguably one of the greatest all-around players in NBA history, LeBron will be leading Miami in hopes for another title shot.
The picture says it all.
Milwaukee Bucks: Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis is another one of those underrated NBA players. He has been an All-Star snub for the past few years and is still one of the NBA's premier scorers.
He has the quickness and speed to do a lot of things on the court. He is a good defender and a very talented scorer.
The Bucks is one of those teams that is still a borderline playoff/lottery team, so it is very hard to predict if Monta can lead it to the playoffs; but it is possible for the team to squeeze into the playoffs as the eighth seed.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love
Kevin Love has been slowly gaining a name for himself ever since two seasons ago. He has established himself as an elite rebounder and, most recently, a very talented scorer.
His defense needs some improvement, but on the offensive side of the game, he is one of the best. A rare combination of being a big man and the ability to shoot well is what Kevin Love has shown on the court.
Arguably the best power forward in the NBA, Love is ready to take the Timberwolves to the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett was on the team.
New Orleans Hornets: Eric Gordon
A healthy Eric Gordon is a very efficient Eric Gordon. Although injuries have held Gordon down these past few seasons, he is still one of the best young talents in the NBA.
He is a very good scorer who can shoot the ball efficiently and is good at taking the ball away from opponents.
He had a very good PER of 19.23 in the few games he played and was able to put up 20-plus points. If Gordon is healthy this season, him and Anthony Davis might be able to lead the Hornets to the playoffs in a few years.
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is now the lone player out of the top five draft picks from 2003 to not have a ring, but he is close.
One of the NBA's most talented scorers, he can score and light it up from anywhere on the court as he pleases.
He has a very big burden on his shoulders, and that is to carry this New York team to a championship. With better team chemistry under new head coach Mike Woodson, the Knicks might be able to accomplish some things.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant and the Thunder were oh-so close to a championship last season, but LeBron James and the Miami Heat got in his way.
Now the Los Angeles Lakers are revamped and will be making a claim for the best team in the NBA and the Western Conference.
Kevin Durant has established himself as a superstar in the past few years, and as he matures, as well as gains experience, he will become a better NBA player with each passing day.
He has improved in every aspect ever since joining the NBA and will be mentioned among the all-time greats by the time his career is over.
Orlando Magic: Glen "Big Baby" Davis
The choice here is not obvious anymore with the Dwight Howard saga over. This team has no true leader, and the Magic will have a hard time making a name for themselves in these next few years. They need to start from scratch and do it all over again.
Glen Davis showed stints of very good play last year on the court, and he did have some very memorable games. Unfortunately, he was very inconsistent, with a huge emphasis on the very.
On the bright side, when Howard got injured, Glen Davis averaged 16.4 PPG and 8.8 RPG in the month of April, as well as a good showing against the Indiana Pacers.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Bynum
Now that Andrew Bynum is on the 76ers roster, he will be one of the more important players on the team and will be getting more touches in the paint.
Bynum had a breakout year and was a strong candidate for most improved player. He had career highs in points per game and rebounds per game.
Sometimes, he looked like he was better than Dwight Howard and truly was the NBA's best center, but at other times, he looks like a little child who wanted everything his own way.
If the 76ers want to succeed in a probable playoff run, they need Bynum to be the dominant force he is instead of the immature tween.
Phoenix Suns: Marcin Gortat
This one was another one where you have to really consider who belongs here. With Steve Nash gone, the Suns need a new leader to take over the team, and Marcin Gortat is that guy.
He is a veteran, and in the past few seasons he has proved to be a serviceable big man. Should he be able to run the same kind of pick-and-roll game with Dragic as he did with Nash, then he can continue to put up good offensive numbers.
He is not going to be a huge factor in a game, but Phoenix is starting to look like a Denver Nuggets-type of team with no true superstar.
Portland Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge
Another one of those players who fits into the category of underrated, LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the best PFs in the NBA, but he doesn't get enough credit.
He was expected to lead the Blazers to the playoffs last year, but that clearly didn't happen and the team looks as if they might be able to squeak into the playoffs this year.
Aldridge is a very good defensive player and has polished his offensive game since joining the NBA.
Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins has slowly established himself as one of the better centers in the league. He has problems sometimes on and off the court, but has become a more mature player compared to the player he was two years ago.
He has all the tools to be a top-notch center for years to come, and he needs to learn how to utilize them if he wants to make a bigger name for himself and the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings posses so much talent but can't seem to convert it into wins, and one of those talents includes Mr. Cousins.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker
Tony Parker made a case to become the regular season MVP, but LeBron was just too much.
Parker has been the reason why the Spurs are still seeding high in the playoffs. Gregg Popovich has done a great job with the team, and it is hard to think of another point guard running the Spurs not named Tony Parker.
Should the Spurs be a top seed again in the West, a large part of it will be due to Tony Parker.
Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani
Last season, with Bargnani in the lineup, it looked like the Raptors could be doing better than expected; but then injuries brought Bargnani down.
A healthy Bargnani is vital to Toronto's success because he is one of those players who can stretch the floor on offense and is one of the league's most underrated scorers.
His defence has improved under new head coach Dwane Casey, but it needs to get better if he wants to be more effective on the other end of the court.
Casey and the Raptors' 2011 draft pick, Jonas Valanciunas, complement each other, and the Raptors might squeak in as the eighth seed in the East.
Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson
Once again, we have an underrated player on this list. Al Jefferson is one of the best centers in the NBA but doesn't get enough recognition.
He has a very nice touch on offense and is a very good interior defender. Unfortunately for "Big Al," the Utah Jazz are not one of the bigger known teams in the NBA and it is unfortunate for a player with the talent that Jefferson has to be in a place like Utah. (No shot to Utah, but the fact that they are not very popular in the NBA community is unfortunate.)
Washington Wizards: John Wall
John Wall has so much talent, but sadly the talent around him is not on par with his. On the bright side, the Wizards have really revamped their roster to build around John Wall.
He has struggled with his jumper, but there is so much room for improvement for Wall. He has a better team and will not be relied on as much as he was the past two seasons.
Wall is already very good defensively and has great tools on offence, and if he lives up to the hype that people talked about when he joined the NBA, he could be mentioned as the best point guard in the NBA along with Kyrie Irving in a few years.
I hope you enjoyed reading the article.
I have a personal blog for up-to-date NBA news, so you can check that out or follow me on Twitter @pyaghoobians