Happy Holidays, readers. Or as I like to call it, Happy Start of the NBA Season! We are now only hours from the big day, and some of the NBA's superstars will be battling on Christmas.
Between the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and the rest of the games, we will get a sneak peak at the top contenders for the most prestigious awards of the NBA season. Here is a prediction of the winners for MVP, Defensive Player, Rookie, Most Improved, Sixth Man and Coach of the Year.
Go ahead and call me biased on this one, because I have been much more of a Derrick Williams guy than a Kyrie Irving guy since before the NBA draft. I just think he is the better player, and would have been the top overall pick if this was not a point guard-driven league.
The only thing that will stop Williams is if Michael Beasley and Kevin Love eat up too much of the playing time in the frontcourt. Williams has explosive athleticism, is a tenacious rebounder and can hit the three with ease. The more minutes he gets, the more he will produce.
Runners up: Kyrie Irving, Jimmer Fredette
Odom may come off the bench with the Dallas Mavericks, but he will get starter's minutes. I was ready to dismiss the Mavs' chances repeating until they stole Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers.
With Odom, they have a flexible and dangerous lineup. They can start with Brendan Haywood (who provides a lot of the same assets that made Chandler so valuable) then go to a smaller, more explosive lineup with Odom and Dirk at the 4 and 5.
Odom's all-around ability and big-game experience will be a perfect fit for the Mavs.
Runners up: Jamal Crawford, Shane Battier
Watch out for the Memphis Grizzlies. After sneaking into the playoffs as the eight seed, they upset the San Antonio Spurs and gave the Oklahoma City Thunder all they could handle for seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Now, they return their best player in Rudy Gay. They have two brutes down low with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, a young pass-first point guard in Mike Conley and one of the best defensive players in the league with Tony Allen. Their winning percentage will undoubtedly improve from last year, and Hollins will get a lot of deserved credit for developing this young team.
The only thing that could hurt them this season is big-man depth. The season-ending injury to promising young power forward Darrell Arthur leaves them with Brian Skinner as their only backup big. If it becomes an issue, they could trade one of their many talented young guards that will be vying for playing time.
Runners up: Mike Brown, Vinny Del Negro
McGee has improved steadily in each of his three NBA seasons. In the last two months of 2011, the Washington Wizards' young center averaged 13 points, nine rebounds and 2.8 blocks.
With a second season catching alley oops from John Wall, that is right where I expect McGee's production to be this season. Los Angeles will not be the only "lob city" in the NBA.
Runners up: DeAndre Jordan, Evan Turner
The New York Knicks are true title contenders in the NBA. Chandler will get a lot of the credit, as he should. He will erase most of the defensive mistakes from Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, while that duo lights it up on the other side of the floor.
Chandler's presence is exactly what this team needs. There is no center in the NBA that can come out on a guard and stop his own man from scoring like Tyson Chandler. He needs to and will be all over the court for the Knicks.
Runners up: Dwight Howard, Tony Allen
What happens when a superstar jumps to another team, and the new team becomes a playoff force? Said superstar is an automatic MVP candidate, which is exactly what will happen for CP3 with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Paul is a phenomenal player, but he will get more credit than he should this season. The Clippers are better set for the future with Paul, but they would have been just as good this year with a Chauncey Billups/Eric Gordon/Caron Butler/Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan starting five.
Runners up: LeBron James, Kevin Durant