As the 2012 NBA season steadily approaches, there are still many questions to be answered. What uniform will Chris Paul and Dwight Howard be wearing on December 25th? Will the Heat finally become the powerhouse that everyone expected? Is Kobe Bryant's career coming to an end?
The only sure-thing is that we finally have an NBA season to look forward to. After months of bickering, Stern and Hunter shook hands for good (well, at least for the next six to 10 years).
Here is my prediction for the five biggest surprises in the 2012 NBA season.
The 76ers gave the Heat a scare in the 2011 NBA playoffs. They have an exciting young roster, led by the sure-handed Andre Iguodala and the sensational point guard, Jrue Holiday.
Holiday had an outstanding sophomore year in ’10-’11, averaging 14 points, six and a half assists, four rebounds, and over a steal per game. At age 21, the sky is the limit for Holiday.
Thaddeus Young is also an outstanding young talent. He is a restricted free agent, but I expect the 76ers to match any offer (as long as it is not outrageous).
Philadelphia has a great supporting cast, with players like Jodie Meeks, Louis Williams and Evan Turner. They also have the veteran Elton Brand in the middle.
Doug Collins had his 76ers playing hard last year, and I expect that to continue in 2012. Look for them to improve upon a 41-41 record in ’10-’11.
At 23 years of age, DeAndre Jordan is poised to become one of the most dominant big men in the NBA.
Athletic big men are few and far between in the NBA. Jordan, at 6’11 265 lbs, is all that and more. He is an incredible athlete and an absolute beast of a defender. This past summer, Jordan worked tirelessly with the legend Hakeem Olajuwon on his offensive game, which should be much improved for the 2012 season.
Per 48 minutes Jordan is averaging 13.3 points, 13.5 rebounds (five offensive), 3.3 blocks, and one steal per game. Perhaps the most eye-popping stat: He shot 69 percent from the field. These numbers are impressive, and Jordan has not even scratched the surface of his potential.
The Clippers are shopping Chris Kaman because they believe that Jordan is their center of the future. They recently offered him a five-year, $40 million contract.
Expect a big year out of Jordan in 2012.
Prediction: 12 points 11 rebounds 2.5 blocks per game
Jimmer was simply incredible throughout his college career at BYU. He was an icon, and became a household name during his senior year in which he led the nation in scoring. Consequently, he was awarded National Player of the Year by the Associated Press.
Many have questioned if Jimmer’s game will translate to the NBA, just like they questioned Stephen Curry. They both have a similar game, dominating scorers in college, and similar questions. Can they create shots for others? Can they create shots for themselves against the best defenders in the world?
Stephen Curry has proved his critics wrong, and Jimmer will as well. He is a very hard-worker, and will fit in with the Sacramento Kings’ young nucleus (Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, J.J Hickson).
I expect a very impressive rookie season out of Jimmer.
Prediction: 15 points, five assists, two three-pointers per game.
Last year, Collison played in 79 games and started in all of them. He averaged 13.2 points per game, 5.1 assists, and 1.1 steals. He also shot 87 percent from the line and 46 percent from the field.
Collison had flashes of brilliance in 2011, as he registered 15 points or more 32 times, and had seven assists or more in 22 games. He is extremely quick off of the dribble and can also hit the outside jumper.
Collison played a big role in the Pacers’ surprise run into the playoffs last year. He is ready to have a breakout season in 2012, and will be a top 10 point guard in the NBA.
Prediction: 18 points, seven assists, 1.5 steals per game
2011 was a tough season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs were the worst team in the NBA, winning only 19 games and losing an NBA record 26 games in a row.
Cleveland will be much improved this season. They have the No. 1 overall pick in Kyrie Irving, and the No. 4 pick in Tristan Thompson. The Cavs acquired 23-year-old Omri Casspi from Sacremento for JJ Hickson. Casspi is expected to start at SF.
The Cavs also have Baron Davis, Antwan Jamison, Ramon Sessions and Samardo Samuels.
With a solid group of young talent, expect the Cavaliers to be a much improved team this season.