2013-14 NBA Season Predictions That Proved Dead Wrong
At the start of every NBA season, fans and analysts alike make predictions about the coming year. Some of those projections, such as LeBron James' and Kevin Durant's MVP candidacy, have become a reality. Others simply have not.
As we enter March, it's safe to say that a number of preseason prophecies won't come to fruition. Kobe Bryant won't be making a dominant return—neither will Derrick Rose—and the rivalry in New York has hardly piqued the interest of the league-wide audience.
Then again, being wrong isn't always a bad thing, as we also assumed the Phoenix Suns would be one of the worst squads in the entire Association.
Nobody should be afraid to speculate, because theories start engaging debates among an entire community of basketball fanatics. That said, nobody wants to be wrong, which is exactly what happened with a handful of predictions before the 2013-14 campaign.
Houston Rockets Will Trade Omer Asik
The Houston Rockets never traded Omer Asik, which at one point looked like an absolute certainty.
Back in July, Asik requested a trade, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The 7-footer didn't want to share the block with Dwight Howard, and his name instantly began to surface in rumors as the season approached.
Months went by, and no trade was completed. In fact, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey explained the situation in January, stating that the window to trade Asik had already passed.
Via ClutchFans, Morey said, "At this point, Omer is very likely going to be here until the end of his contract at the end of next season, not this season...teams weren’t aggressive enough to get him, so we’re excited about him being a part of our future."
All that said, rumors never fully went away, as Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy confirmed that the Rockets were still fielding offers just days before the deadline. B/R's D.J. Foster even listed Asik as one of his players most likely to be traded entering the year, but as we now know, the big man will play out the rest of the season in a Rockets uniform.
New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets Will Create Next Great Rivalry
With the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets finishing the 2012-13 season second and fourth out East, respectively, the rivalry was supposed to heat up following the additions of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the equation.
While there's little denying the two crosstown squads dislike each other, the bigger question is: How much has the national audience paid attention?
As of March 4, the Knicks and Nets are 11th and sixth out East, respectively. This is a far cry from where they were last season, which is why all anyone wants to talk about out East is the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
In defense of these two franchises, there's still time to build a fantastic rivalry, albeit not this season. Neither organization is going anywhere soon, giving fans hope league-wide that there are promising days to come—days where both teams are fighting for an Eastern Conference championship.
Portland Trail Blazers Will Be a Fringe Playoff Team
The Portland Trail Blazers weren't supposed to be contenders this season. Alas, here we are nearly three-quarters of the way through 2013-14, and Rip City owns the fifth-best record in the entire NBA.
After losing their final 13 games in 2012-13, it's easy to see why some doubted what the Blazers could do. B/R's own Adam Fromal projected them to win just 40 games, stating:
Portland had a fantastic offseason, acquiring a strong defensive center (Robin Lopez) and a lot of depth (C.J. McCollum, Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson and Mo Williams). But the second unit—while not as weak as it was last year—still isn't a strength, and that will ultimately be the team's downfall.
In Fromal's defense, he admitted that Portland could find itself in the playoffs if it received "a few lucky bounces." But with the Blazers looking at the possibility of earning a top-three seed out West, it's safe to say that "fringe" no longer describes their playoff candidacy.
Kobe Bryant Will Come Back Strong
If you listened to Kobe Bryant before the regular season began, you would have believed he was coming back to be the Black Mamba of old—not the old Black Mamba.
Before the year tipped off, ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin reported that Bryant was aiming to play in the Oct. 29 opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. And who were we to doubt him? He is, after all, one of the greatest players to play for one of the most storied franchises in history.
Despite being one of the most driven players we've ever seen, the 35-year-old's body caught up to him and prevented him from his early return. In fact, it only took six games for Bryant's body to break down again, further disappointing fans after an incredibly hyped initial return.
Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers can find solace in the fact that Bryant's continuing to say the right things. He recently told "Jeff G. the Sports Dude" of Power 106 in L.A. that "next year it ain’t gunna be this way," and that "revenge is sweet and it's quick," courtesy of Lakers Nation's Serena Winters.
Bryant has given fans reason for optimism in the final two years of his contract, but the hope is that he can follow through on those words, unlike this season.
Derrick Rose Will Come Back Strong
Well, so much for #TheReturn.
Sticking with the theme of disappointing comebacks, enter Derrick Rose. The 25-year-old spent the 2012-13 season recovering from a torn ACL, and while fans were frustrated with the status of his health, all would be forgiven if he could return to prominence for the 2013-14 campaign.
As far as his impact on the Chicago Bulls, oddsmakers had faith. Bovada named Chicago the second-likeliest team to win the 2014 championship, per SI.com's Ben Goliver, tying it with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Unfortunately for the Bulls faithful, Rose's return—as well as Chicago's chances of dethroning Miami—was short-lived. Rose went down again on Nov. 22 with a torn meniscus, and while it wasn't his fault he couldn't live up to the hype surrounding his resurgence, that doesn't make it any easier for Chicagoans who are hungry for a title.
The Phoenix Suns Will Be Tanking
As we approach the end of the 2013-14 regular season, it's painfully clear that there are a handful of teams aiming for the lottery. Apparently nobody told the Phoenix Suns that they were supposed to be one of them, as the group from the desert has eclipsed everyone's expectations.
According to ESPN.com's preseason forecast, Phoenix was supposed to be dead last out West in 2014. ESPN gave the Suns 22 wins in its projection, which is a number they reached way back on Jan. 15.
The chemistry on this roster—not to mention the coaching of Jeff Hornacek—is the reason for the sudden success, but don't discredit what Goran Dragic has done up to this point. The floor general has been brilliant this season, recently earning MVP chants in a contest against the New Orleans Pelicans.
"I never thought they would cheer that for me," Dragic said, per Kevin Zimmerman of ValleyoftheSuns.com. "It’s something special in my career I am probably going to remember my whole life."