The NBA World View: 12 Experts, 10 Countries and 20 Questions About 2013-14, Page 2

The Experts
With the start of the 2013-14 season just days away, a dozen of the world's top hoops experts -- representing the NBA's entire fleet of international web destinations -- came together to make some predictions about the 68th season in NBA history. Some predictions were, well, predictable. Like the Heat taking the title and LeBron continuing his reign as Best, By A Lot. Others, less so. (Hint: Check out the Call Me Crazy section)

Some came at questions from opposite sides. Some finished each other's sentences -- from opposite sides of the earth.

So before the season tips on Tuesday (along with a free, weeklong trial of NBA LEAGUE PASS for international users), find out what to expect in the world of the NBA, according to top hoop heads the world over.

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9 – What three games have you circled on your calendar to watch?
Albuquerque: Chicago @ Miami, February 23rd, Houston @ San Antonio, November 30th, Clippers @ Golden State, December 25th. The first is the team with the best chance to upset Miami in the East playing the champions away from home post-All-Star Break; the second is a clash of my two favorites in the West and a test of what Dwight Howard can do against the best frontcourt in the West in a hostile environment; the third is a duel of top point guards with the Pacific Division on the line, with the best crowd in basketball present.

Aschburner: Chicago @ Miami, Oct. 29 / No team takes the regular season more seriously than the Bulls. Derrick Rose is back to challenge the Heat, who will be getting their championship rings prior to the season opener. San Antonio @ Miami, Jan. 26 / Not sure Popovich treats it with the drama it could have, but Spurs' return to scene of Games 6, 7 losses should pack a punch. Golden State @ L.A. Clippers, March 12 / This will be the final meeting of these teams before any possible playoff clash. Could dictate playoff positioning and bragging rights between two rising West powers.

Aviñante: Spurs-Heat, Nets-Knicks, Bulls-Heat

Aytekin: Brooklyn Nets-Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder-Chicago Bulls

Blinebury: Dec. 25 -- Heat at Lakers. Will Kobe Bryant be the Christmas gift L.A. needs? Feb. 19 -- Rockets at Lakers. Dwight Howard goes back to Laker Land. Jan. 26 -- Nets at Celtics. K.G. and Paul Pierce return to Boston.

Caplan: Bulls at Heat (Oct. 29); Rockets at Thunder (Dec. 29); Clippers at Warriors (Dec. 25).

Chinellato: Bulls at Heat on opening night, Rockets at Lakers on Feb 7, Spurs at Knicks on Nov 10

Dornhegge: Bulls vs. Knicks on Oct. 31 - Derrick Rose's first regular season home game. Lakers vs. Rockets on Feb. 19 - Dwight Howard's return to L.A. Celtics vs. Nets on Jan. 26 - Paul Pierce's return to Boston; on my birthday!.

Enyadike: Knicks v Nets, Heat v Bulls, San Antonio Spurs v Lakers

Guan: Nov. 29 - CHI @ MIA, Dec. 25 - MIA @ LAL and April 4 - OKC @ HOU

Manwani: All three opening night games.

Triantafyllos: San Antonio @ Miami for the Finals rematch, LA Clippers @ Brooklyn to see coach Doc against his boys and Houston @ Oklahoma City, just to watch Russell Westbrook's face when he guards Patrick Beverley.
10 – Give me one bold prediction for the 2013-14 season
Albuquerque: Anderson Varejão and Andrew Bynum will BOTH be still healthy and playing by the end of the regular season.

Aschburner: The atmosphere and trajectory of the Oklahoma City Thunder is going to hit a rough patch. Coming up short for several years, and the lack of added help for Kevin Durant is going to show in losses and frustration.

Aviñante: Derrick Rose will be better than his pre-surgery form

Aytekin: The Bulls and Nets will challenge for the Eastern throne.

Blinebury: All the money spent by the Nets won't pay off with a championship contender.

Caplan: Ricky Rubio will average a double-double (points and assists) AND Kevin Love will average 20 ppg and 15 rpg. Bold enough?

Chinellato: LeBron James won't win the MVP trophy

Dornhegge: The Miami Heat will not reach the Eastern Conference Finals

Enyadike: The Miami Heat will win again

Guan: The Lakers will make the playoffs

Manwani: Jason Kidd and his Brooklyn Nets will push the Heat to the brink.

Triantafyllos: Upsets all over the place in the Playoffs
11 – How do you watch your NBA? Live, on-demand? Scores on, scores off?
Albuquerque: Live, with scores on my mobile.

Aschburner: Live. In-person, or via League Pass or local or national network TV.

Aviñante: I watch the NBA Live on my subscription channel, NBA Premium.

Aytekin: I’ll watch with NBA League Pass. It is a great oppotunity to watch four games at the same time.

Blinebury: Live TV.

Caplan: Live. League Pass. NBA Game Time app. Twitter.

Chinellato: Mainly Live. Scores off

Dornhegge: I prefer to watch live and always have the scores turned on. That way I know when something exciting is happening elsewhere.

Enyadike: On-demand and live on League Pass

Guan: Live

Manwani: League Pass.

Triantafyllos: Live, with scores and Twitter on.
12 – Outside of favorites like Kobe, KD and LeBron, who’s your favorite player to watch?
Albuquerque: Kyrie Irving. I love guards, love it when I see crazy handles like his, and love guards who can finish at the rim.

Aschburner: Kevin Garnett / I covered his entire Minnesota run as beat writer and continue to follow his career arc. All-timer whose full appreciation game late.

Aviñante: Derrick Rose, Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving.

Aytekin: Derrick Rose

Blinebury: I get a kick out of watching Stephen Curry continue to confound any defense that is thrown at him and fire in shots and pile up points.

Caplan: Figuring Chris Paul fits into the "favorites" category, but does Russell Westbrook? He's the one, but if he's a "favorite" give me Steph Curry.

Chinellato: Derrick Rose

Dornhegge: Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, who are elite defenders with an increasingly good offensive game. Also: the still underrated John Wall.

Enyadike: Dwight Howard

Guan: Derrick Rose

Manwani: Derrick Rose for sure.

Triantafyllos: Giannis Antetokounmpo! A 6-foot-9, does-it-all freak of nature. Sorry. Greek of nature.
13 – Make a case: the most underrated player in the NBA is…
Albuquerque: Luis Scola. He is slow, doesn't jump too high, but still have countless weapons to score, vocal leadership and veteran smarts to get opponents in foul trouble or out of their comfort zone. Huge addition to the Pacers.

Aschburner: Luol Deng, Chicago / He doesn't do any one thing better than other players, but he does a lot of things really well – including defensive hectoring of top wing scorers and a great "motor" in logging heavy minutes. When healthy, he's an ideal No. 2 or No. 3 player in a team's pecking order, the kind good teams need to win.

Aviñante: Greg Monroe, he has been really solid but he never gets any attention for himself. When they talk about the Pistons they always mention the addition of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, the return of Chauncey Billups or the immense potential of Andre Drummond. But don't sleep on Monroe.

Aytekin: DeMarcus Cousins

Blinebury: Tony Parker. He's taken on the burden of being the main cog in the Spurs attack, put up numbers that match any point guard in the game and yet seems to fly below the radar every year in MVP voting. Over the past two years he's been the best point guard in the NBA.

Caplan: Greivis Vasquez. He's a 6-6 PG. He's determined and hard-working. He finished third in the league in assists (9.0 apg) last season (plus 13.9 ppg) for New Orleans and no one knew it. He was summarily traded away when NOLA had the chance to nab Jrue Holiday. Vasquez is a heady player who will continue to add to his game. He'll make Sac better.

Chinellato: Anderson Varejao

Dornhegge: Josh Smith. He's been criticized for his bad decision-making, his weak jumper and so forth. Rarely do his great qualities get mentioned: great leaper, two-way player, quick, versatile, solid in the post.

Enyadike: Al-Farouq Aminu

Guan: Andre Miller

Manwani: For the flak he gets every time the Heat fail, Chris Bosh is the most important player on the Miami roster and most underrated, compared to James and Dwyane Wade.

Triantafyllos: Kyrie Irving. He is an elite player that still lives under the shadow of other super-stars.
14 – Finish this sentence: Call me crazy, but I believe…
Albuquerque: The Minnesota Timberwolves will make the Playoffs. I love the additions to their roster, they have a lot of shooters around Rubio, Love and Pekovic, and I think they will be highly entertaining. I believe they will take advantage of other up-tempo teams like the Lakers, Dallas and Denver and will sneak into the playoffs.

Aschburner: Highly sought Kansas phenom Andrew Wiggins is going to end up being drafted by the Toronto Raptors, a perfect boost delivering a great Canadian prospect to that country's lone NBA club.

Aviñante: The Minnesota Timberwolves will ball out this year and return to the Playoffs as high as the sixth seed.

Aytekin: Kobe is going to be back and he will avarage 30 points per game.

Blinebury: We have not yet seen the best of LeBron James.

Caplan: Rudy Gay will make the first All-Star team of his career.

Chinellato: The Celtics will fight for a playoff spot

Dornhegge: That Dwyane Wade will not be an All-Star this year.

Enyadike: Lebron will win 7 rings

Guan: Kobe Bryant will be ready to play when the Los Angeles Lakers open the season on Oct. 29.

Manwani: The Nets have a legit chance this season.

Triantafyllos: That the Pistons will have a solid season and a play-off birth.
15 - Everybody says their fans are the best in the world. Why do you think yours are?
Albuquerque: Is this a serious question? Ask Dana White what's the loudest crowd he ever heard. Ask Eddie Vedder what's the most active crowd he ever saw. Ask the Spanish National Team what's the best home field advantage in the world. There's no beating Brazilian fans: we can chant, we can play drums and we can dance. Triple threat, baby!

Aschburner: USA / Twenty-nine of 30 NBA franchises, wins Olympic gold medals, produces the game's very best players … and sports fans here know it.

Aviñante: Filipino fans are very passionate and knowledgeable. Basketball is a religion in our country and almost everyone plays ball even in a makeshift court in farms, mountains or provinces. Basketball is just a way of life for us.

Aytekin: Everywhere we go, we're loud. And our fans travel well.

Blinebury: Arenas are mostly full, TV ratings continue to grow. The appetite for the NBA continues to grow in the U.S.

Caplan: N/A

Chinellato: They watch games on the West Coast that starts at 4:30am Italian time and go to work or school at the buzzer.

Dornhegge: Because they are very demanding, they always call for a better product. And thus help us get better every day.

Enyadike: In Nigeria, we stay up late all night to watch, buy merchandise and follow the stars...Hakeem Olajuwon was the catalyst.

Guan: They will cry when they see their idol. I have seen this so many times recently.

Manwani: Their passion for the game is...well, ‘BIG’

Triantafyllos: Have you watched an Olympiakos-Panathinaikos basketball game? Only then you will really understand the definition of "fanatic."
16 - Imagine you are the owner of the LAL: who would you buy to fight for the title?
Submitted via Facebook by Francesco Generale and Marco Corbene (Italy)
Albuquerque: Obviously, if I can have my pick of anybody, I'm "buying" the best player in the world, LeBron James. But, if we're talking about working under league rules and actual viability, one player just won't cut it. They need an overhaul so they can get better defensive players, such as MKG, Anderson Varejão, Mo Harkless, and a new coach.

Aschburner: LeBron James, next summer.

Aviñante: If I could of course I'll try to sign Lebron James, others will follow.

Aytekin: Carmelo Anthony

Blinebury: First off, you can't just "buy" anyone you like. I don't believe LeBron will jump ship from the Heat, so the most logical choice as a foundational franchise player is Carmelo Anthony.

Caplan: This is tough because LeBron and/or Melo aren't coming to Lakerland, just forget about that. Lakers management has to be smart and piece together a roster that will best serve Mike D'Antoni if indeed they are intent on keeping him around long-term. Maybe a guy like Chris Bosh, try to trade for Ryan Anderson. Get a team that can shoot and run the floor -- you don't need superstars but rather good fits -- for Kobe's final years.

Chinellato: Can I get Dwight Howard back? If not, my plan B is Phil Jackson.

Dornhegge: This year? There's nothing you can do? Next year? LeBron, if I can. Obviously.

Enyadike: LeBron James

Guan: LeBron James

Manwani: I would wait for LeBron to enter free agency next year and make the best pitch to get the game’s best player next season.

Triantafyllos: Dwight Howard. Ok, bad joke. Kevin Love. For more than one reason.
17 - What do you make of Melo's decision to enter free agency, and announce this early?
Submitted via Facebook by Yaar ǥlik (Turkey)
Albuquerque: I think it's gutsy to come out and state it publicly, and also a major distraction for the always turbulent Knicks. My feeling is he's testing his owner and GM to see if they are loyal to him even though he's threatening to leave, and I also think that's his way of challenging them to keep making moves as to catch up with Miami, Brooklyn, Indiana and Chicago.

Aschburner: Anthony continues to be the league's most underachieving "star" player, in my opinion.

Aviñante: It's the right decision for him, it will not hurt to explore different options for his career and his family.

Aytekin: He wants to make more money. But I don't think he is going to leave the Knicks.

Blinebury: It's entirely within his rights to maximize his earnings. I have no problem with Carmelo saying he'll enter free agency so long as he doesn't complain about being constantly asked questions all season long. The last time he was in this situation, he quickly got fed up with it.

Caplan: No surprise here. He'll forfeit the $23.3 million he's due next season for one last max contract. He might as well let it be known now, otherwise he'll be asked every day of the season. Plus, I think he likes the attention. Why should the opt-out spotlight shine solely on LeBron, right?

Chinellato: Melo is a pro and will have another career year. He's lived with pressure since his day 1 in NY.

Dornhegge: I take it that he doesn't want to commit to the Knicks long-term. Understandably, for now.

Enyadike: Gives him a great chance to go to the right team.

Guan: It means he wants to join the Lakers.

Manwani: The Knicks’ front-office executives aren’t sleeping very well and the roster chemistry will certainly be affected by Melo’s announcement.

Triantafyllos: That he wants to play for a team that can win it all.
18 - With a tough loss during the last finals and a Big 3 getting older, can the Spurs still dream of a new NBA title?
Submitted via Facebook by Quentin Oriol, Jean-Baptiste Mhx, Jean-Philippe Clauzel, Alex Sac (France)
Albuquerque: As we say in Brazil, dreaming doesn't cost a dime, so yes, they can dream as much as they want. But you really can't count 'em out - we've been saying their window is closing for the last six years, and they were just half a minute away from being champions again. So yeah, they're in the title picture until Duncan retires.

Aschburner: Yes, the Spurs still can dream of another NBA title. But it's not clear they actually can WIN one. Father Time is undefeated.

Aviñante: Yes, as long they are together, the Spurs will be dangerous. They simply outsmart and outwork their opponents and they play better in the playoffs.

Aytekin: Yes, they can. I believe they have one round left to fight.

Blinebury: As long as Tim Duncan can remain healthy and assuming that Kawhi Leonard can continue to grow, the Spurs are the favorites in the West.

Caplan: Absolutely. Tony Parker is at the height of his career. I just hope his body holds up after this very long and taxing summer. Tim Duncan will be fine, Kawhi Leonard will continue to get better, they have role players and a great coach. It won't be easy, but the Spurs will contend yet again.

Chinellato: No, but I think they'll go deep in the Playoffs, even this year.

Dornhegge: Of course they can. Kawhi Leonard is the key, and Belinelli will help.

Enyadike: I don't think so. The door's closed.

Guan: Yes.

Manwani: Never count the Spurs out. If Kawhi Leonard develops at the same rate that he played in the 2013 postseason, the Spurs could still be serious contenders with coach Pop and the Big 3 still around.

Triantafyllos: Last summer you would answer the same question with a "No". So, "yes".
19 - Are the Nets a real contender for the Heat?
Submitted via Facebook by Isaac T. Marinhac (Spain)
Albuquerque: They are. All of those guys are hungry and very willing to make this work. But then again, the Heat aren't their only problem in the East: there's Chicago and Indiana as well.

Aschburner: No. Brooklyn is no better than the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference. Asking Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to give the Nets a heart transplant is like asking Samuel L. Jackson to make a movie without cussing.

Aviñante: Yes, they have everything you need in a team except maybe their age and lack of athleticism compared to the Heat.

Aytekin: Yes, they are. Especially with the new additions, the Nets roster's good enough to be a champ.

Blinebury: No.

Caplan: Definitely. This team might have a few graybeards, but they're great graybeards in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Deron Williams, and health continues to be a significant issue with him, but if his ankles are healthy, he will again be an All-Star. Signing Andrei Kirilenko was huge, providing tremendous versatility and depth. Rookie coach Jason Kidd is a question mark, but players have always had such great respect for him and that should carry over. This team is very talented and should be right there when the playoffs roll around.

Chinellato: Yes, they are. They have the best starting five in the league and one of the top 5 benches.

Dornhegge: I think they are. Not as athletic and fast, but smart, experienced and really deep.

Enyadike: Definitely

Guan: Yes.

Manwani: Yes, provided Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce don’t break down.

Triantafyllos: Did you ask the Pacers?
20 - Who will be the first to win a title: Melo or KD? Or neither?
Submitted via Facebook by Mert Eris (Germany)
Albuquerque: Kevin Durant seems closer, but Melo could either move to Cleveland/Los Angeles in free agency and become part of a superteam, or the Knicks could make trades and become a better version of their 2012/13 team. You're right, Durant it is.

Aschburner: The statistically sound answer would be "neither" because winning a championship is hard and most players do not win even one. But if choosing between those two, I say Kevin Durant. He is a great asset to whatever team he's on (and he might have to go elsewhere to finally get a ring). In contrast, Carmelo Anthony is a liability in ways on the floor and off that undercut his scoring skills.

Aviñante: Kevin Durant: he has more chances after Lebron takes a plunge in his battle against the undefeated Father time.

Aytekin: Kevin Durant is closer than the Melo since OKC is better team (with RW back)

Blinebury: Kevin Durant.

Caplan: Who will be the first to win a title: Melo or KD? Or neither? Just look above to question No. 1. KD.

Chinellato: Kevin Durant

Dornhegge: Easily KD. I would bet everything that Durant wins a title one day, not so sure about Melo.

Enyadike: Melo

Guan: Durant

Manwani: KD.

Triantafyllos: Kevin Durant has Russell Westbrook in his corner.