Cohen 8-Ball: Bold Predictions
July 11, 2013
Miami and Cleveland will play each other in First Round of playoffs next season
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: With a more experienced Kyrie Irving, an underappreciated Anthony Bennett, who many suggested shouldn’t have been the No. 1 pick, a quality supporting cast including Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack and now a legit center (if he is healthy) in Andrew Bynum, the Cavaliers should have enough to reach the playoffs.
It’s obviously impractical to forecast playoff seeds in July, but somehow, someway the Heat and Cavaliers need to match up in that opening round. With LeBron James likely to test free agency next summer and with endless reports that he may consider an implausible return to Cleveland, there would be no better dream scenario than a seven-game series between these two franchises.
Victor Oladipo will be this year’s Rookie of the Year
Cohen’s Analysis: For one, this year’s draft class wasn’t stacked with future perennial All-Stars. Second, some of the prodigies, including Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett and Alex Len, have been dealing with injuries and it may take more time for them to adjust to the NBA.
But most importantly, Oladipo has a complete package – an explosive offensive arsenal and unparalleled defensive prowess – to steal the spotlight and surpass the competition.
Several teams will regret some of their acquisitions this summer
Cohen’s Analysis: Golden State will be repentant for replacing Harrison Barnes with Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup. Charlotte and Atlanta will regret their signings because Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap make their teams too good to get a prized draft pick but not good enough to make the playoffs.
Andrea Bargnani’s defensive deficiencies and everlasting injury problems will not help New York improve. There may be too many egos in New Orleans’ backcourt after acquiring both Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans.
Kevin Martin is an expense for Minnesota and Jose Calderon and Devin Harris are not the right consolation prizes in Dallas for missing on Dwight Howard.
It will be more beneficial to finish between 25-30 in standings than between 10-25
Cohen’s Analysis: By all accounts, next year’s NBA Draft class will be loaded. One NBA executive recently said he thinks there will be at least five eventual perennial All-Stars from the bunch.
For franchises in position to grab a top five pick in 2014, there will be an opportunity to upstart their teams without getting stuck in the middle of the pack.
In three years, Maurice Harkless’ game will resemble Paul George’s game
Cohen’ s Analysis: Every time I watch Harkless I am reminded of George, who emerged as an All-Star this past season.
Like George, Harkless is long, athletic and versatile and can adapt as a big guard or small forward.
In two years the Lakers will be relieved Dwight Howard didn’t re-sign
Cohen’s Analysis: The Lakers shouldn’t cater to Kobe Bryant. They shouldn’t act impatiently. They shouldn’t feel remorse for Dwight deserting them.
With plenty of salary cap space to try and lure either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony next summer in free agency and with a chance to be “bad” enough this upcoming season to secure a high draft pick in a stacked draft class, the Lakers are not in complete disarray like everyone is suggesting.
The Brooklyn Nets will beat the Miami Heat in the conference finals next season
Cohen’s Analysis: Some have compared Brooklyn’s additions to what the L.A. Lakers did in 2003 when they acquired Karl Malone and Gary Payton at the twilight of their careers. That was generally a fail considering L.A. lost in the Finals that following season.
But I think Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have enough in the tank to make a drastic difference. They each provide the Nets with dimensions that were unmistakably missing last season in Brooklyn.
Especially if Dwyane Wade’s knees aren’t right and Chris Bosh doesn’t reform his game, the Heat are vulnerable and the Nets may be the opponent to knock out the two-time defending champs.
And next year’s playoff teams will be….
Eastern Conference: Heat, Nets, Pacers, Bulls, Knicks, Cavaliers, Pistons and Wizards
Western Conference: Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Rockets, Warriors, Pelicans and Blazers