Bleacher Report's Ultimate 2014-15 NBA Season Preview and Expert Picks

Chris Trenchard@ChrisTrenchardNBA Deputy Editor October 28, 2014

Bleacher Report's Ultimate 2014-15 NBA Season Preview and Expert Picks

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    D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images

    There's something about the upcoming 2014-15 NBA season that feels awfully familiar, you guys. 

    LeBron James is a Cleveland Cavalier again, determined to win over the hearts and minds of Cleveland's born-again witnesses. Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose return to full strength after devastating, psyche-crushing, season-ending injuries...again. Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs defend an NBA title, again.

    Phil Jackson is talking Zen again, in the city in which he first learned how to win. Charlotte has cast aside its cursed Bobcats moniker and returned to its beloved maiden name. Rajon Rondo is on the trade block (probably). The NBA draft lottery of today is still the NBA draft lottery of yesterday. The Philadelphia 76ers are a laughing stock... 

    Is this some sort of sick joke, basketball gods? 

    OK, granted, things have changed...drastically in some cases.

    Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers are finally on sturdy foundation, free from the horrors of previous ownership, well-positioned for a run at the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Anthony Davis might already be the third-best player in the world at just 21 years old, bringing more hope to New Orleans than any single player since Pistol Pete (sorry Chris Paul, even you couldn't claim this kind of upside while still putting up all-world numbers).

    Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum headline one of the most promising rookie classes of a generation and might even make basketball watchable in Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Salt Lake City, respectively. And—not to be understated—the NBA has a new gargantuan media-rights deal, which will likely change the entire structure of the league's finances and labor relations in the coming years.  

    So, same as it ever was, same as it never was. Got it.

    How will things change in 2014-15? Bleacher Report's NBA experts have the answers to guide you through the 82-game expedition, as well as democratically agreed-upon picks and predictions for the record (and your scrutiny, please).

    Blows whistle.

    Tosses basketball skyward.

Does LeBron James Make the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Title Favorites?

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    Typically, champions are celebrated until the start of the next season, if not longer. The San Antonio Spurs, after a nearly perfect NBA Finals performance, didn't even get a couple of weeks. Some 10 days after the Spurs secured their fifth NBA title, the superstar they dethroned, LeBron James, opted out of his contract and—two weeks after that—returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    The Spurs became an afterthought again.

    James makes the Cavaliers contenders, for sure, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them come out of the East, even if the Bulls push their way to a No. 1 seed. But let's not get carried away.

    The Spurs are returning all 14 of the players who played at least one playoff minute, and their core trio skipped the summer's World Championships to heal up and stay fresh. There's nothing to suggest they'll step back, not after 17 straight seasons with no worse than a .610 winning percentage.

    For all the talent in Cleveland's regular rotation, more talent than surrounded James during his first season in Miami, it will take some time to create cohesion. That's something that James clearly recognizes, which is why he's been consistently downplaying expectations, even after the acquisition of Kevin Love.

    Kyrie Irving, Love and Dion Waiters have never been to the playoffs. There may be a learning curve. And the Spurs? Well, all of them have been around the bend.  

    —Ethan Skolnick

Who Will Emerge from the NBA's Crowded Western Conference?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    There will be a year when the battle for Western Conference supremacy doesn't come down to the old guns, the San Antonio Spurs, and the new pistols due north, the Oklahoma City Thunder—but this is not it.

    For the fourth year in a row, one of them will be the survivor. Either the Spurs seal their claim to being the league's latest dynasty by winning back-to-back titles for the first time in franchise history, or the Thunder take the final step to proving they are potential heirs to the Spurs' illustrious record of success.

    Both the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks could prevent a Spurs-Thunder conference finals showdown, but the West only has two teams stocked with players who know what it takes to get to the Finals—and one of those teams will do just that. Need more than that? Everyone is focused on Kevin Durant's fractured foot, but Manu Ginobili's leg stress fracture is more worrisome.

    The Thunder also have to know, even if it's not spoken, that the chance of Durant re-upping with them would greatly improve if he hoisted a trophy there. That's powerful motivation. Go with OKC.

    —Ric Bucher

What Does the NBA's New Media-Rights Deal Mean for Players, Fans?

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    Steven Freeman/Getty Images

    The numbers are mind-blowing: $24 billion, paid over nine years, spread among 30 NBA franchises.

    The impacts will be profound.

    There are many wrinkles to the new national television deals signed by the NBA earlier this month, with ESPN/ABC and Turner Broadcasting (which owns Bleacher Report). But it’s the dollar figures that will matter most—to owners, to players and eventually to fans.

    More revenue means a much higher salary capperhaps as much as an $18 million leap between now and 2016, when the new TV deal begins. And a higher cap could completely change the league.

    Teams that are capped out today could have room for a superstar in 2016. In fact, all 30 teams could have significant cap room in 2016, an unprecedented event. Some teams, perhaps even several, will have room for two superstars. With two years to plan, expect team executives to start plotting accordingly, by sticking to short-term deals.

    As the cap shoots up, max salaries will too. The beneficiaries will be LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who will both hit the market in 2016, just as the new TV money arrives.

    And yet the complete ramifications of the TV deal might be unclear for some time. The NBA is proposing to "smooth" the cap increases—essentially to spread out the new revenue over a few years—to avoid a massive tremor to the system. The players’ union is still studying the matter.

    Regardless, the cap will soon be rising rapidly, perhaps changing the entire balance of powers in the league.

    —Howard Beck

Will Kobe Bryant Silence or Validate His Critics?

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Part of the charm of Kobe Bryant's existence on this earth is that he inspires manic devotion in supporters and critics alike, so even a renaissance season isn't going to silence those who've made crusading against him a part of their constitution. It will, however, be hard for anyone to complain too much about a 36-year-old posting a 24-point average after hardly playing the past year and a half.

    Bryant's primary job is to maintain his excellence as an all-time-great scorer for the Lakers, despite the minimal threats at his side. He has worked painstakingly over the summer to re-master his mix of fadeaways, knowing he is now most dangerous when he can cut up defenses slowly and deliberately in the post or mid-post.

    If the Lakers win only 20-something games while Bryant is scoring 20-something points, his critics will definitely be able to dwell on how empty his comeback is on the team scale.

    But Bryant playing more than the six games he did last season—and the meaningful improvement from proteges Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and Wesley Johnson with a greater sense of team community established by the accord between Bryant and new coach Byron Scott—will allow the Lakers to avoid being the sort of fundamental disappointment they've been ever since Phil Jackson left.

    —Kevin Ding

How Long Will It Take Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher to Fix the New York Knicks?

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    Not until at least next July, when the Knicks will have the cap space to sign one, maybe two, marquee free agents to complement Carmelo Anthony, will Phil Jackson finally have a fair shot at prescribing an effective, exhaustive remedy for the New York Knicks.

    Only then will the Knicks have a chance to substantially upgrade at point guard (Rajon Rondo?) and down low (Marc Gasol?), as well as add some experienced two-way slasher/defender-type players.

    As of now, the Knicks rely too much on a shaky shooting guard platoon of J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. They'll be counted on for secondary scoring beyond Anthony, and that's a scary thought.

    Adjusting to the triangle offense takes a season or more. An NBA scout who was in Minnesota several years ago under now-Knicks associate head coach Kurt Rambis told B/R that teaching the subtleties of the triangle's spacing and off-the-ball movement can take up the majority of practice time.

    Knicks fans better hope Fisher saved some gym time for the defensive side of the ball, where they ranked 26th in the league last season.

    This upcoming season is a developmental one, while Jackson has the biggest assignment of all: trying to line up a big July.

    —Jared Zwerling

Is Anthony Davis Already the NBA's Third-Best Player?

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    When evaluating Anthony Davis right now, age can't matter. His meager 21 years on planet Earth may dictate a limitless future in the NBA, but he's already a remarkably productive player.

    Sure, Davis doesn't have the typical track record of a top-three player at the highest level of professional basketball. Kobe Bryant does, but you won't see any realistic cases made for him at No. 3.

    Here, now and going forward is all that matters.

    Davis has more important characteristics than age, like those Plastic Man arms that allow him to wreak havoc on any offensive scheme, whether he's protecting the rim and leading the league in rejections or swarming perimeter players with his tenacious trapping tendencies.

    The World Cup showcased some of his offensive growth, and the preseason followed suit, shining a light on his mid-range jumpers, thunderous putback slams and even some 1-guard-esque pull-up buckets when driving to his left.

    Chris Paul's reign of terror at the No. 3 spot is over, but not because he's declining. Few players have been able to stand in the way of Davis' meteoric ascent up the NBA hierarchy, and Paul is no longer an exception.

    Adam Fromal

What's Chicago's Ceiling with a Healthy Derrick Rose?

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    Derrick Rose’s health is the biggest question mark in the Eastern Conference. He’s looked great in the preseason, but the preseason doesn’t always mirror what will happen once the games count.

    Rose’s knees have the potential to swing an entire conference. If Rose is hurt again, the Bulls are what they have been the last two years without him: a middle-tier playoff team that could win a first-round series, and that's about it.

    But if he stays on the court and plays like something close to his 2010-11 MVP form, there’s no reason the Bulls can’t make the Finals or even win a title if they get the right matchup.

    With the additions of Pau Gasol and rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic improving their depth, as well as a defense that will continue to be elite, they’re the only team in the East that’s in the same class as the Cleveland Cavaliers, as long as Rose plays.  

    It all comes down to him.

    —Sean Highkin

Which NBA Rookie Will Make the Greatest Impact in 2014-15?

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Most of the hype surrounding the 2014 draft class is fueled by each prospect's long-term upside—not his short-term outlook.

    That's where Jabari Parker separates himself.

    Parker offers both: All-Star potential down the road, as well as an immediate answer for a Milwaukee Bucks team that lacks go-to weapons in the lineup. Parker sports an NBA-ready body and inside-out versatility—not to mention the green light he'll have as a Buck, which should translate to immediate offensive production.

    Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 No. 1 pick, will certainly create his fair share of highlights and excitement, but between his loose handle, unreliable jumper and Minnesota's overload of wings, you have to expect inconsistency.

    With No. 3 pick Joel Embiid potentially out for the year and most of the other high-profile rookies, such as Dante Exum and Aaron Gordon, designated for part-time roles, it's tough to envision anyone having a bigger season than Parker. That goes for Nerlens Noel in Philadelphia as well, even though he too will be an exciting player.

    And you never know—between Brandon Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Larry Sanders, the addition of Parker just might help the Bucks move the needle and win a few extra games in a mediocre Eastern Conference.

    —Jonathan Wasserman

How Much Longer Can San Antonio Spurs Maintain Championship-Level Status?

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    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    It feels dangerous to go on record predicting the time and place of the San Antonio Spurs' inevitable decline. We’ve heard those pronouncements before, long before head coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan tallied their fifth championship in June.

    But with Duncan returning for one more season (perhaps more) at age 38 and Popovich agreeing to a multiyear extension this summer, there’s reason to believe the Spurs as we know them will last at least as long as Duncan does—perhaps a season or two beyond the 2014-15 campaign in a perfect world.

    San Antonio will have some options when Duncan does call it quits. Reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is only beginning to discover his prime at age 23. Six-time All-Star Tony Parker could remain a potent weapon for another five years, at which point he’ll be 37.

    And while names and faces will change, general manager R.C. Buford has an unrivaled record of finding the right fits since he became general manager in 2002.

    The organization has young prospects such as Davis Bertans and Livio Jean-Charles developing overseas, and it may have another steal on its hands after drafting UCLA product Kyle Anderson with the 30th overall pick in June.

    A down year at some point is probably inescapable, but this team won’t leave the title conversation for long.

    —Stephen Babb

Will Steve Kerr Top Mark Jackson's 51-Win Year in 1st Season as Warriors Coach?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Fifty-one wins is no joke, especially in a place like Golden State, where respectable basketball has only recently become the norm.

    Jackson got the Warriors to 51 a year ago on the strength of an elite defense, and Kerr must be careful not to lose sight of that as he overhauls the team’s scoring attack. Thus far, the Dubs have looked phenomenal on offense. Fluidity has replaced stagnation, and Andrew Bogut—whose considerable talents as a passing hub were previously marginalized—is now a weapon.

    Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson figure to feast on open shots as defenses scramble to keep pace with Kerr’s Gregg Popovich-inspired, triangle-infused Frankenstein monster of an offense.

    Now a team with a top-five defense on its resume and a top-five offense among its very reasonable future goals, the Warriors profile as a legitimate title threat—health permitting. They’ll win at least 51 games this year, and don’t be surprised if they wind up within spitting distance of 60.

    —Grant Hughes

Can the Clippers Defense Match Their Potent Offense?

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Clippers should have no trouble piling up points in 2014-15. They led the league in that department on a per-possession basis last season and will welcome a more perimeter-friendly Blake Griffin, healthier versions of Chris Paul and J.J. Redick and the addition of Spencer Hawes, a skilled 7-footer, into that lethal mix.

    Of greater concern to the Clippers is another trend that may well carry over into the upcoming campaign: their defense, with rebounding and dribble penetration as the biggest concerns. According to Basketball-Reference.com, L.A. ranked 26th in defensive rebounding percentage last season, despite sporting a pair of double-double machines in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

    "We have proven that we’re not a good rebounding team," Rivers recently told Bleacher Report. "We have to be a great rebounding team, and we can be that. We have to be better at it, but that’s our No. 1 issue to me."

    That issue stems, in part, from the team's reliance on Jordan as both a glass-cleaner and defensive dynamo. In some respects, Jordan's excellence as a rebounder (he led the NBA in that category last season) might lull L.A.'s guards and wings into a false sense of security when it comes to collecting caroms.

    This becomes particularly problematic when Jordan has to come out to cut off dribble drives and contest shots, leaving him out of position to grab any resulting boards.

    In the event the Clippers do a better job of rebounding and defending as a unit, they should find themselves in the thick of the championship chase. But if their porous play in the preseason is any indication, the Clippers still have a long way to go in that regard.

    —Josh Martin

What Will Be the Biggest On-Court Trend in 2014-15?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The NBA is a copycat league, so expect to see plenty of teams try to mimic (some of) the things that make the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs successful.

    That means managing minutes and rest schedules, lots of side-to-side ball and player movement, a healthy heaping of corner threes, eschewing offensive rebounds in favor of getting back in transition defense and coaches giving sarcastic one-word answers during between-quarter interviews.

    Passive pick-and-roll defense where the big men drop back to the paint and the wings rarely stray away from shooters should continue to gain traction around the league as well. This is the strategy employed by many of the league's top defenses, from stalwarts such as Chicago and Indiana to upstarts such as last season's Charlotte squad.

    You can get burned this way if you don't find a way to force turnovers (just ask the Blazers), but in general, it helps in forcing offenses into those inefficient mid-range jumpers.

    One last one: The continued rise of dual-point guard lineups. Point guard is the league's deepest position by far, and with teams such as the Phoenix Suns going all-in on two-point looks, we could see these configurations get more court time than ever this year.

    —Jared Dubin

Are the Houston Rockets Still Contenders Without Chandler Parsons?

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    To answer the above question, we should begin with another question. Were the Houston Rockets contenders with Chandler Parsons?

    For all the anger about the Rockets breaking up last season's team when they chose not to match Parsons' offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks and dealt Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to create cap room for Chris Bosh that Bosh did not take, the Rockets did not break up the '86 Celtics. They were a team that was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

    The Rockets did well in replacing Parsons with Trevor Ariza, who fits with Dwight Howard, James Harden and the team's needs better than Parsons, even if he is unlikely to bring the variety of talents Parsons had. They have yet to find suitable replacements for Asik and Lin, the strength of a bench that was already shaky.

    As long as Howard and Harden are healthy, the Rockets should remain a playoff team. Depending on development of their young second unit, they might even be a better team come playoff time than they were last season. But barring an addition made possible with the offseason decisions, they don't seem any more of a contender than they were last season.

    —Jonathan Feigen

Who Will Be Alpha Dog for Miami Heat in 2014-15?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When LeBron James went back to Northeast Ohio this summer, the Miami Heat lost more than the best player on the planet.

    Who will be the alpha dog for the Miami Heat in 2014-15?

    They lost their team leader.

    Replacing the four-time MVP’s production will be hard enough, and finding someone to fill the leadership void won’t be any easier.

    Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem are the longest-tenured players on the team, but the former brings a host of injury concerns, and the latter spent last season shuffling in and out of Erik Spoelstra’s rotation. That puts nine-time All-Star Chris Bosh under the alpha-dog spotlight, where he’ll need to thrive both inside the lines and inside the locker room.

    Bosh, now the highest-paid player on the roster, has said he is excited to get back to being a No. 1 option. His background says he has the tools needed for the job. Over his final five seasons with the Toronto Raptors, he averaged 22.8 points and 9.9 rebounds, numbers he’ll need to at least approach for an offense that could run short on off-the-dribble creators.

    Team president Pat Riley found some intriguing complementary pieces in Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts this offseason, and Spoelstra has the creativity to maximize the impact of that pair. But this will be Bosh’s team to lead as far as he can take it.

    —Zach Buckley

Will Boston Celtics Trade Rajon Rondo Before the 2015 Trade Deadline?

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    As the Celtics enter year two of their rebuild, determining Rajon Rondo’s future in Boston is the biggest dilemma the team faces. Team president Danny Ainge must decide if he's willing to invest big money in Rondo next summer as the Celtics reconstruct the roster, or if the C's should sell off the point guard for some assets and move on. The 28-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2015.

    Rondo has declared on multiple occasions in the past year that he wants to stay in Boston beyond this season, but Ainge has to determine whether Rondo is worthy of the max contract he desires. Whether $20 million-plus per season is a sound investment for a rebuilding team to make in a player who will turn 29 in February is unclear.

    The Celtics must also guard against the chance that Rondo will sour on waiting out a Boston rebuild and become enchanted with the idea of joining a contender. This possibility will surely lead to Ainge inquiring with other teams about Rondo’s trade value throughout the coming months.

    Ultimately, a top-flight point guard is not a major need for most teams around the NBA right now, given the depth of the position throughout the league.

    With Rondo’s health history and high salary demands, there will be few, if any, teams that have both the desire to trade for him and the assets to reach Boston’s sizable asking price. My bet is that Rondo will remain a Celtic for the entire 2014-15 season.

    —Brian Robb

Will Russell Westbrook Prove Capable of Carrying a Championship-Caliber Team?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Russell Westbrook fans have been waiting for this moment forever. With Kevin Durant out to begin the season, Westbrook finally has his own team.

    There's this saying in the basketball world: Let Westbrook be Westbrook, meaning to succeed, Russ needs to do all the actions for which his worst critics condemn him. Except even when Westbrook has been Westbrook in the past, he hasn't really been Westbrook.

    He is a nomad, a free roamer, the lone wolf of the NBA. To let Westbrook be Westbrook, you have to let him control the island. Finally, we're going to get a chance to see exactly what that means.

    Over the past two years, Westbrook has played 323 minutes without KD on the floor, per NBA.com (subscription required). In that time, he attempted 217 shots. That's 24.2 attempts per 36 minutes, up almost five shots per 36 from his usual average, according to Basketball-Reference.com.

    You have to figure with Durant out for significant time, Westbrook is going to shoot even more, getting on those heat-check streaks when he chucks up seven jumpers in five minutes.

    Kobe Bryant, the guy who averaged 35.4 points per game and seemingly never passed the ball, averaged 27.2 field-goal attempts per game in 2005-06. Couldn't Westbrook pull off such an act with Durant out for the foreseeable future?

    Westbrook could surely lead the league in triple-doubles this season, and even though the Thunder's wings become infinitely weaker with Durant out of the lineup, a Westbrook-Serge Ibaka duo at the top should be strong enough to help OKC tread water until its MVP returns.

    —Fred Katz

Does Paul Pierce Make Washington Wizards Serious Championship Contenders?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    In John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards boast one of the NBA’s most potent one-two punches—an explosive cocktail of speed, athleticism and upside capable of making teams the league over quake in their boots.

    Given the Wizards’ blistering backcourt, it’s easy to see them as being but a piece or two away from becoming genuine contenders in the Eastern Conference.

    Paul Pierce is not that piece. 

    That’s not to say signing the 16-year veteran to a two-year, $11 million deal was somehow a bad idea—far from it. In Pierce, the Wizards now have a viable third playmaker capable of consistently breaking down the defense. Trevor Ariza, for all his three-and-D gifts, simply didn’t fit that billing.

    More than anything, though, the signing was about building a bridge to 2016, when Pierce’s contract ends and Kevin Durant—an area native who some believe might follow in LeBron James’ prodigal footsteps—officially hits free agency. 

    Pierce’s offensive versatility and locker room presence alone should be enough to propel the Wizards a few rungs further up the conference ladder. But make them a contender? In a conference where LeBron James and Derrick Rose stand to command a pair of hardwood powerhouses? That’d be one hell of a Wizards spell.

    —Jim Cavan

Will Philadelphia 76ers' 2-Year Tank Job Be Worth It?

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    This isn’t a league where you can consistently settle for mediocrity, and the Philadelphia 76ers are all too familiar with that disease.

    The Sixers are on their eighth head coach since Larry Brown departed in 2003 and have put together just two seasons (2004-05, 2011-12) over .500 in the past 11 years.

    And after the Andrew Bynum fiasco enveloped what was supposed to be a prosperous 2012-13 season, a complete teardown was necessary.

    Simply put, ownership made it clear the status quo wouldn’t be accepted any longer.

    Now, in the span of two summers, the Sixers have laid the foundation for a bright future. Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric comprise a strong young core, and another high lottery pick almost certainly awaits following year two of the rebuild.

    While some ownership groups wouldn’t be comfortable prioritizing a patient approach, Josh Harris and Co. have embraced the long game, providing head coach Brett Brown and general manager Sam Hinkie with the resources (time and loads of cap space) necessary to craft the roster the way they see fit.

    —Alec Nathan

Which Team Has the Highest 'NBA League Pass' Ceiling?

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    When trying to figure out which NBA team has the highest League Pass ceiling, it's tempting to roll with the superstar-stuffed Cleveland Cavaliers or offensively outstanding Los Angeles Clippers. But they, like many other teams, are frequently on national television. That leads us to...the New Orleans Pelicans.

    It's a travesty that this team only plays 10 nationally televised games. Anthony Davis is a galaxy-gobbling god who's already the league's third-best player. What he does on the hardwood—from jump shots to drives to alley-oops to rim protection—should be illegal.

    That the Pelicans are swiftly becoming whole again only makes them a more thrilling must-watch. This was a top-13 offense last season, per NBA.com, that's basically adding All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and three-point assassin Ryan Anderson into the mix.

    Eric Gordon might even decide to remain healthy. All of which gives the Pelicans an offensive arsenal that will, in theory, run and gun and dunk and destroy, before climbing into top-10 territory and flirting with its first postseason appearance since 2011.

    This team could be sneaky dominant while making for one helluva nightly matchup nightmare. Failing to witness the offensive and standings explosions Davis' Pelicans are headed for would be unforgivable.

    —Dan Favale

Bleacher Report Expert Picks, Predictions and Superlatives

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Twenty-two Bleacher Report writers and editors were asked to write in one answer for the following questions:

    Which Western Conference team will have the best regular-season record?

    San Antonio Spurs (11), Golden State Warriors (5), Los Angeles Clippers (5), OKC Thunder (1)

    Which Eastern Conference team will have the best regular-season record?

    Chicago Bulls (14), Cleveland Cavaliers (8)

    Which team will win the 2014-15 NBA Finals?

    San Antonio Spurs (8), Chicago Bulls (4), Cleveland Cavaliers (4), Oklahoma City Thunder (4), L.A. Clippers (2)

    Who will win the 2014-15 NBA MVP award?

    LeBron James (16), Steph Curry (3), Blake Griffin (2), Anthony Davis (1)

    Who will be the NBA's scoring champion?

    Carmelo Anthony (7), Kevin Durant (6), James Harden (5), Russell Westbrook (2), Blake Griffin (1), LeBron James (1)

    Who will be the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year? 

    Tom Thibodeau (4), Steve Kerr (3), Gregg Popovich (3), David Blatt (3), Rick Carlisle (2), Steve Clifford (2), Erik Spoelstra (1), Terry Stotts (1),  Stan Van Gundy (1), Mike Budenholzer (1), Doc Rivers (1)

    Who will be the NBA's 2014-15 Rookie of the Year?

    Jabari Parker (18), Andrew Wiggins (3), Nerlens Noel (1)

    Who will be the NBA's 2014-15 Executive of the Year?

    David Griffin (12), Donnie Nelson (2), Gar Forman (2), Bob Myers (2), Ernie Grunfeld (1), *LeBron James (1), Sam Presti (1), Masai Ujiri (1)

    Who will be the NBA's 2014-15 Defensive Player of the Year?

    Serge Ibaka (7), Anthony Davis (6), Dwight Howard (4), Marc Gasol (2), Joakim Noah (1), Roy Hibbert (1), Andrew Bogut (1)

    Who will be the NBA's 2014-15 Sixth Man of the Year?

    Taj Gibson (10), Isaiah Thomas (5), Jamal Crawford (3), Andre Iguodala (2), Dion Waiters (1), Vince Carter (1)

    Who will lead the NBA in dunks in 2014-15?

    DeAndre Jordan (14**), Blake Griffin (7**)

    Who will lead the NBA in three-point field-goal percentage (min. 50 attempts)? 

    Kyle Korver (10), Steph Curry (5), Mike Miller (2), Klay Thompson (2), Jose Calderon (2), Anthony Morrow (1)

    Who are you most excited to see back, Kobe Bryant or Derrick Rose?

    Derrick Rose (14), Kobe Bryant (8)

    How many games will the Philadelphia 76ers win?

    Mean was 15.7

    *We'll allow it.

    **One vote was cast for the "Lob City Clippers." We'll allow that too.