Posted Nov 4, 2013 9:32 AM
NBA legends Peja Stojakovic, Horace Grant and Darryl Dawkins sat down with NBA.com to discuss the top stories in the league and make predictions on the 2013-14 NBA season.
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1. What are you most looking forward to heading into Kia NBA Tip-Off 2013?
Peja Stojakovic: I'm excited to see how the Clippers will play under Rivers and how Chicago will play with a healthy D Rose. I'm also excited about Brooklyn and the Lakers.
Horace Grant: I'm looking forward to a very competitive season throughout the year.
Darryl Dawkins: Watching Indiana (keep your eye on them), Memphis, and Miami. If Greg Oden can get healthy, Miami can play even better than last year. You also can't count the Thunder out, because Westbrook is coming back with a vengeance.
2. In the countdown to Kia NBA Tip-Off, what has been the biggest off-season move?
Peja Stojakovic: Brooklyn by acquiring names on both the coaching level and player level.
Horace Grant: For obvious reasons, the biggest off-season move would be the trade between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.
Darryl Dawkins: Oden to Miami was a big move, but Holiday to New Orleans was bigger because he can bring the noise any way they want it (shoot, run, pass, play defense). Everyone says Dwight to Houston was the biggest move. As of now though, my pick for the biggest off-season move is Brooklyn because on paper, they can beat anyone.
3. Which team has improved the most heading into Kia NBA Tip-Off?
Peja Stojakovic: It's not necessarily Brooklyn, but it's going to be interesting to see how they play together. I'm also interested to see how healthy Oden will be for Miami. Small things will make the difference this year.
Horace Grant: The Chicago Bulls because of Derrick Rose.
Darryl Dawkins: Memphis and Indiana will be even better if their players worked out properly and come back healthy, but as of now, I think the most improved team is Houston with Dwight being added to the roster.
4. What do you think are the most important traits for a Kia Sixth Man of the Year?
Peja Stojakovic: Understanding your role is the biggest. Finding your game under the team's fit and being productive is also very important.
Horace Grant: Ability to score.
Darryl Dawkins: They come off of the bench and work hard.
5. In your eyes what makes a player deserving of the Kia Most Improved Player Award?
Peja Stojakovic: A player who consistently adds things to their game. It's hard to judge though because one season you can have 10 points per game and then jump to 20 per game suddenly, but the question is whether the change is based on more opportunity/minutes or because the player improved his game.
Horace Grant: If the player makes his team better and if the team is a contender for the championship.
Darryl Dawkins: A guy who eliminates weaknesses in his game and somebody who has started to understand the game -- it's not about scoring 40, but rather about the team winning and getting everyone involved.
6. Who are your early predictions for the end of season Kia NBA Performance Awards (MVP, Defensive Player, Most Improved, Sixth Man and Rookie) for the coming season?
Kia MVP -- Derrick Rose
Kia Defensive Player of the Year -- Dwight Howard
Kia Most Improved Player-- Hard to predict who will get the minutes and the opportunity.
Kia Sixth Man -- Not sure, as it's tough to know the rotations and who will actually come off of the bench.
Kia Rookie of the Year -- Another tough call as you don't know who will be able to translate their college game to the pros very well. Always interesting to watch.
Kia MVP -- LeBron James
Kia Defensive Player of the Year -- LeBron James
Kia Most Improved Player -- Tough to say because you don't know who may suddenly get the opportunity with added minutes.
Kia Sixth Man -- Jamal Crawford
Kia Rookie of the Year -- Victor Oladipo
Kia MVP -- I don't see many beating out LeBron James, I would like to see Kevin Durant go for it, but I think it could be Marc Gasol because he's improved so much with his outside shot and he doesn't rush his game.
Kia Defensive Player of the -- Dwight Howard
Kia Most Improved Player --If he's worked on his jump shot, Blake Griffin, because everyone backs off of him.
Kia Sixth Man -- Thaddeus Young
Kia Rookie of the Year -- They all look good in college, but let's see what they can do when they play against the pros. I'll have to revisit this in 2 months.
7. Who do you think will be NBA Champions this year or which two teams would you like to see make it to the NBA Finals?
Peja Stojakovic: Thunder (if Westbrook comes back healthy, the team stays healthy and they make some small tweaks) vs. Miami
Horace Grant: I believe the Chicago Bulls will win the championship and I would love to see them play the Lakers.
Darryl Dawkins: Indiana or Miami vs. LA Clippers
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