NBA 2013-2014 Season Preview

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The Cover 4.com presents you with NBA 2013-2014 Season Preview! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @thecover4 or facebook at theCo VerFour

THE DAY IS FINALLY NEAR! Second only to my birthday, and slightly more exciting than Christmas; the Rose is finally surfacing out the concrete, and boy isn’t it a beautiful sight? Of course, it’s only right that I start the first topic of discussion for the season with Chicago’s hometown hero, Mr. MVP himself, Derrick Rose. Not only am I excited about his return, but every NBA advocate is eager to see what a season-and-a-half long rehab session can do to a player. So far in the preseason, Rose has not lost a step, in fact, he’s taken control of the floor as if he never left. And I’m going to go ahead and throw this out there. Michael Jordan missed an entire season as well; granted he wasn’t injured, but a season-long absence by a superstar is nothing foreign to the Bulls. What impresses me most is how Rose has gone as far as to share advice with the second best point guard in the league in suggesting that Thunder guard Russell Westbrook not rush to get back on the floor and to properly rehabilitate his injury.

Season Superlatives:

Most Valuable Player LeBron James (MIA)

  • Only reason why I say this is because LBJ is feeling himself, and rightfully so. Don’t expect to see him post 34 points per game (even though he is capable of doing so), but do expect him to fully utilize the new talents of Michael Beasley in his effort at his third title. But I’m letting you know right now, my mans D-Rose will NOT be “giving” anything to him. October 29 will be a dogfight. Rose is showing the league that he’s back and LBJ is growing hungrier to surpass Jordan.

Rookie of the Year – Victor Oladipo (ORL)

  • Let me tell you something about this 21-year-old stand-out stunner. After coming off a PHENOMENAL summer league season he continues to make sure his name Oladipo is no longer considered foreign with his preseason play. This kid is explosive when driving to the paint, as well as a real threat from the arc. How many rookies can you consider to be multidimensional? Even LeBron had to work on his shot when he entered the league. He’s already averaging six, four and two. No, not six points, six BOARDS, four assists and two steals each game. This guy’s hustle is exactly the spark that will make an immediate impact on any team.

Most likely to NOT Succeed – Utah Jazz

  • Plain and simple: I just don’t see it happening there. They’re too unstable at this point. They couldn’t do it with Deron Williams, so naturally, I don’t see Trey Burke staying much longer than three or four years.

Most likely to Lose Your Money in a Bet – OKC Thunder

  • I’m a believer that Kevin Durant is the most lethal threat in the league, and with Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson as their x-factors, the Thunder WILL be a contender…however, what’s a contender without the their oxygen tank? After last year’s playoff performance, it has been proven that Westbrook is the fuel that keeps this car going. KD just isn’t the same flamethrower without his igniter. Now, for the love of all NBA 2K14 games and tournaments that I will be participating in this season, I REALLY hope that I am wrong. But Westbrook has proven to be such an intricate piece to this puzzle that it will be nearly impossible to replace him.

The Zero to Hero Award – GoldenState Warriors

  • With the most impressive addition of Andre Igoudala in their front court and Andrew Bogut in the back, I see these guys being not-so-silent killers of the NBA. This summer, Poppa Thompson was very active in the mentoring and developing of his young offspring, Klay. With Igoudala in the lineup, the Warriors now have four potential/future all-stars in Iggy, Thompson, Steph Curry and Harrison Barnes bringing some serious energy off the bench, the Warriors will rise this year and present themselves as one of the top contenders if all goes right.

The Sixth-Man – Harrison Barnes (GS)

  • It is almost a sure thing that with Iggy moving into the lineup, Barnes will move into the sixth-man spot, and I believe it for the best. Barnes’ explosiveness and energy will allow the Warriors to compete the entire 48 minutes. Watch him work!

Most Likely to Be Named Top Dawg – The Heat versus The Field

  • As much as I hate to admit it, there aren’t many teams capable of doing what the Heat have the potential of doing. Making the finals three times in a row is a pretty remarkable feat, especially when your star player is at the pique of his prime. Don’t discount the improvements that Chicago, Indiana and Brooklyn have made, but the Heat have something that other teams are still building on: CHEMISTRY! This bulls eye that is on the backs of the Heat organization is going to cause what I believe to be a chemical combustion that will lead to a phenomenal season, and likely a third consecutive ring for LBJ and his troops.

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Malcolm Branch
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Fantasy Basketball: NBA First Half Review

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As we pass the trade deadline, we find ourselves at a very interesting point in the 2012-2013 NBA fantasy season. Now that we’re a bit past the halfway mark of this season, let’s take this moment to review the biggest surprises and major disappointments that we’ve come across this year.

Surprises

1) James Harden

Fear The Beard! What else is there to say, this guy is an absolute beast. Harden is posting career highs across the board, averaging 26.1 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 boards, 1.9 steals and .5 blocks per game. When The Beard got traded to the Rockets everyone thought his numbers would increase, but no one thought he would be a top-five fantasy player midway through the season. As long as he can stay healthy, big things will continue to come. Expect this kind of production nightly as Harden establishes himself as the third-best shooting guard in the league after Kobe and Wade.

2) Nikola Vucevic

A pleasant surprise this year, Nikola Vucevic could be the steal of the 2012-2013 season. With an average draft position (ADP) of 171 in standard 12-team leagues, Vucevic was seen as a capable contributor in points, rebounds and blocks but not a top-10 PF/C. Vucevic has had four-plus games of 17 or more rebounds and has earned 32-plus minutes a game for the struggling Orlando Magic. Many people overlooked this piece in the blockbuster Dwight Howard deal, but it looks like Orlando got this one right.

3) Paul George

Paul George continues to amaze me. He has all the talent in the world, but seemed inconsistent at times last year for whatever reason. However, this year due to a blessing in disguise injury to Danny Granger, George has taken the next step in his long and talented career. Getting selected to his first of many all-star games this year, George is averaging 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.8 steals and .7 blocks per game, all career highs. George is playing at such an elite level lately, rumors have swirled that Granger could be traded before the deadline. You know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

4) David Lee

What a year David Lee is having. Deserving of his all-star selection, Lee is averaging 19 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and just under 1 steal per game. More importantly he, along with Steph Curry, is a big reason why the Warriors are in playoff contention this year. This production wasn’t expected seeing as the Warriors brought Andrew Bogut and Carl Landry onto the scene this past offseason. Shooting over 50 percent from the field, while leading the league in double- doubles this year with 33 to go along with one triple-double, Lee will continue to dominate. With an ADP of 38 in standard 12-team fantasy drafts this year, Lee is a top-five fantasy player only behind superstars like Lebron, Durant, Kobe and Harden.

5) Tony Parker

Tony Parker is on his way to having a career year. Leading the Spurs to the best record in the NBA this year, there is no question the team has become his. Averaging 21 points, 7.7 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal per game, while shooting a career high 54 percent from the field, Parker is easily in the prime of his impressive career. In his past five games, Parker is averaging close to 30 points a game while maintaining that high field-goal percentage. He is the second-best point guard this year in fantasy scoring — only behind Russell Westbrook — and will continue to dominate as the Spurs cruise during the second half of the season. With an average draft position of 46, don’t be surprised to see Tony on a ton of championship winning teams this year.

Other Notable Mentions

Greivis Vasquez-Leads the league in double doubles amongst all guards. (ADP-111)
J.J. Hickson- 28 double doubles, good for fourth in league amongst all players. ( ADP-113)
Joakim Noah- First all-star appearance while having a career year in all categories. (ADP-56)

Disappointments

Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace

This is not the team the Brooklyn Nets envisioned after spending a ton of money in the offseason. Deron Williams looks out of sorts and uncomfortable, Joe Johnson seems to be playing better as of late, but has struggled the majority of the year figuring out how to adjust his game when he’s not the number one option and Gerald Wallace has fallen off completely. For being a top-10 pick in most league and being considered a top-three point guard last year, Williams has been nothing short of a major disappointment. Johnson’s efficiency has taken a major hit this year. Even though he is averaging about 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists a game, Johnson is shooting 42 percent from the field, his worse average since his days in Phoenix. Wallace’s average draft position this year was 57th. He’s owned in only 50 percent of ESPN leagues and is averaging 8.8 points per game, his worst points average since his days in Sacramento. Good thing Mikhail Prokhorov has deep, deep pockets.

Roy Hibbert

Coming off his first all-star appearance last year,  many thought that Hibbert would continue to excel in Indiana. Unfortunately, this year has been the exact opposite. Shooting a career-low 40 percent from the field, Hibbert has been really poor this year. The only reason why the Pacers are still a playoff dark horse is because of David West and Paul George. Hibbert’s ADP was 49th, putting him ahead of guys like Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday and Joakim Noah. Can anyone say redraft?

Steve Nash and Pau Gasol

If anyone told me at the beginning of the season that Pau and Steve would be this disappointing I would laugh in their face for days on end. Pick and pop all day is what i envisioned pre-season, but man was I wrong. These guys will be hall of famers one day, but for some reason Mike D’Antoni’s system has been a damper on their production. At first I thought it was Kobe’s ball dominance, but after he transformed into Kobe Johnson, Nash’s production continued to struggle. Of course, Pau looked like he was coming into form, but then he got hurt. With average draft positions of 16 for Gasol and 40 for Nash, a ton of people thought this team would be championship bound, but now we will be lucky to make the eighth seed… someone call Phil.

Tyreke Evans

The Kings continue to be one of the most disappointing franchises in the NBA. After his rookie year, everyone believed Tyreke would turn the franchise around, but he continues to struggle with living up to those expectations. With an ADP of 52, Evans had some people believing this would  be the year, but instead he is averaging a career-low in points and assists. At this point the Kings might be wise to trade him while he has some value and build the team around Demarcus Cousins.

Other Notable Mentions

Marcin Gortat- No Steve Nash… need I say more? (ADP-34)
Andre Igoudala- Iggy is still trying to find his groove in Denver, no one thought it would take this long. (ADP-33)
Kris Humphries- 29 double-doubles last year, on track for 12 this year. (ADP-76)

All stats from: http://www.hoopsstats.com/basketball/fantasy/nba/
ADP rankings: http://www.fantasypros.com/nba/rankings/overall.php

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Rico’s 24/7 Fantasy
Guest Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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