The 2013-14 NBA season is underway, and a lot of storylines are already taking place. Can the Miami Heat three-peat? How will Derrick Rose do coming back from injury? Are the Houston Rockets title-contenders with Dwight Howard and James Harden? Can Kevin Durant make it back to the Finals? Are the Spurs still title contenders? Can the Lakers make the playoffs when Kobe Bryant returns?

There are so many, and that is what makes this NBA season one of the most exciting. Here's FootBasket's 2013-14 NBA season preview.


Eastern Conference

1. Indiana Pacers
2. Miami Heat
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Brooklyn Nets
5. New York Knicks
6. Detroit Pistons
7. Cleveland Cavaliers
8. Washington Wizards
9. Atlanta Hawks
10. Toronto Raptors
11. Boston Celtics
12. Charlotte Bobcats
13. Milwaukee Bucks
14. Orlando Magic
15. Philadelphia 76ers

Don't be shocked to see the Pacers finish ahead of the Heat in the standings. Will be much like the 2010-11 season when the Bulls finished ahead of Miami in the Eastern Conference. Expect Indiana to do the same this season with how stacked their team is. Heat will be the team to beat in the playoffs, nonetheless. I see the Nets finishing ahead of the Knicks and doing a lot better. I also can see Deron Williams returning to his top 5 point guard form. Meanwhile, the Cavs, Hawks, Wizards and Pistons battle it out for the final three seeds. It's a major toss-up there. I also see the Raptors being a dark horse for the playoffs. As for the Sixers and Magic, they'll be battling for getting Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Boston Celtics make a case, but with Rajon Rondo, they'll get some wins to finish ahead. Bucks are also a dark horse for Wiggins. I do see the Bobcats rebuilding, but they could definitely use Parker or Wiggins as well if they really needed it and were in the position. 


Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Los Angeles Clippers
4. San Antonio Spurs
5. Houston Rockets
6. Portland Trail Blazers
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
8. Memphis Grizzlies
9. Denver Nuggets
10. Los Angeles Lakers
11. Dallas Mavericks
12. New Orleans Pelicans
13. Sacramento Kings
14. Utah Jazz
15. Phoenix Suns

Yes, folks, I have the Warriors finishing with the best record in the West — possibly even the whole NBA. Golden State is very deep and they could definitely run away in the West. However, the Thunder will be right behind them in the Western Conference race. The Clippers, who could definitely can get the No. 1 seed, will be in for an onslaught this regular season. The Spurs, as usual, will finish with one of the top seeds. The Rockets will be impressive as well, but won't have enough to be a top 4 seed, I think. For the Blazers and Timberwolves, I see them locking up their playoff seeds easily if all goes well barring injury and everything. As for the 8th seed, it will be a four-way battle between the Grizzlies, Lakers, Nuggets and Mavericks. Kings and Pelicans could become surprise darkhorses. As for the Jazz, they will rebuild. And the Suns ... they are definitely in all-out tank mode. 



MVP: LeBron James
LeBron should be able to rack up the MVP award. But it's going to be a lot harder, especially if the Heat don't grasp the No. 1 seed in the East. Guys like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul — heck, maybe even Paul George and Stephen Curry — all make a great case against the King. It all depends on how James' stats will end up like by season's end. I definitely can see an increased amount of points averaged per game coming from him this season — maybe even a 30-8-8 season. 

Coach of the Year: Mark Jackson
If the Warriors don't end up in the top 3, or they finish behind the Clippers in the standings, then I don't think Jackson will win COY. It will be a battle between him and Doc Rivers for who wins. Based on my current predictions, Jackson will be the winner. However, Frank Vogel definitely makes a case as well, especially if Indiana finishes with the league's best overall record. 

Rookie of the Year: Victor Oladipo
Maybe it's because I'm in Indiana Hoosiers fan, but I do see Oladipo winning. He'll basically be the whole team for the Magic, and I see him doing a lot for them. Expect him to become a household name by midseason. Ben McLemore also makes a strong case for ROY as well. 

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard
Now with the Rockets, I think Howard will become revamped version of his All-Star Orlando Magic self. He will excel in the team's pick-and-roll offense with James Harden. Along with that, I see Howard becoming a force again on the defensive side. The man is too good on the defensive end, and I see him locking up the award that was rightfully his for the past few years.

Sixth Man of the Year: Tyreke Evans
Evans was a star in his rookie year, and even drew some comparisons to LeBron thanks to his 20-5-5 season with the Kings. However, since then, Evans has fell off. He is still very talented, and with a new deal and stroke of confidence in New Orleans, expect Evans to flourish off the bench. 

Most Improved Player of the Year: Andre Drummond
Drummond will be one of the top centers in the league by season's end. Drummond has so much potential, and I see him using it to the max this year. He's going to dominate. Other guys who make a case for the award include Roy Hibbert, Jonas Valanciunas and Eric Bledsoe. 


Playoff Predictions

First Round

East: (1) Pacers over (8) Wizards in 5, (2) Heat over (7) Cavaliers in 4, (3) Bulls over (6) Pistons in 5, (4) Nets over (5) Knicks in 7
West: (1) Warriors over (8) Grizzlies in 4, (2) Thunder over (7) Timberwolves in 5, (3) Clippers over (6) Trail Blazers in 6, (5) Rockets over (4) Spurs in 7

Pacers, Heat and Bulls breeze by while Nets-Knicks is the series of the round. Warriors and Thunder breeze in the West. Clippers get in a pretty good one with Portland while Rockets upset San Antonio. 

Semi-Finals (Second Round)

East: (1) Pacers over (4) Nets in 6, (2) Heat over (3) Bulls in 6
West: (1) Warriors over (5) Rockets in 5, (3) Clippers over (2) Thunder in 7

Pacers get in a tough one with Brooklyn. Not too bad. Heat kind of breeze by with Chicago. I see them starting out with a 3-1 lead. Warriors breeze by again. Clippers upset Thunder. OKC knocked out of the second round for second year in a row. Could lead to a major change in the offseason. 

Conference Finals (Third Round)

East: (2) Heat over (1) Pacers in 6
West: (1) Warriors over (3) Clippers in 6

I think the Heat are able to overcome the Pacers' size and depth this time around. They start out with a 3-1 lead much like the Bulls series. The Warriors get in a scare, trailing 2-1 to Los Angeles, but they rebound after that. 


NBA Finals

This will be one hell of a Finals matchup. Both teams are stacked up so well, but I do think the Warriors can do enough to give Miami trouble thanks to their depth. Andre Iguodala will give LeBron a tough time throughout the series, but I expect the King to overcome it much like last year's series versus the Spurs. Expect Stephen Curry to go lights out going against Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers. Chalmers and Cole will be the key for Miami winning this series, as they must stop Curry. Dwyane Wade versus Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes will also be very interesting. Warriors can definitely upset in this and take over, but I think the Heat have one last breath to squeak this one out in six games. Miami three-peats as LeBron enters the GOAT discussion. 

Prediction: Heat over Warriors in 6

What do you think of the predictions? Drop your opinions in the comments below!

This article was written by Josh Dhani. Follow him on Twitter here and read more of his work here


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