Jan 1, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
The beauty of sports is that our predictions are often off the mark — like life itself it goes in directions we can’t predict.
Still, we have some ideas of what we will look back on in a year as the biggest stories in the NBA for 2014. If the Miami Heat three-peat it will be a huge story, a coronation for LeBron James. A first title in Indiana or Oklahoma City would be epic. Unfortunately injuries to star players — Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Brook Lopez — and their returns will continue to be huge.
But I predict the biggest 2014 NBA story will be the June draft.
We may not know if the individual players pan out until sometime in 2017, but the way teams are jockeying — read: tanking — because their scouts tell them the upcoming draft class really does contain multiple franchise-changing players has already changed this NBA season. Once the lottery balls find their slots it will forever change several franchises for the rest of the decade (at least). Nothing will shape the NBA landscape in the next 12 months like this draft.
Most draft boards still have Andrew Wiggins, the explosively athletic Kansas swingman, at the top. His ceiling almost doesn’t seem to exist, the question is do teams think he can play that way consistently and get there?
Then you get into the big men — Julius Randle, the Kentucky power forward; Jabari Parker, the Duke sensation at the four; then maybe the most interesting of the group, Kansas center Joel Embiid.
They are followed by a couple of point guards such as Australia’s Dante Exum and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart.
Any or all of them could be franchise changers. We know based on history that a couple of those guys will not be as elite as imagined, but it’s also likely somebody picked farther down the board (Gary Harris of Michigan State?) will exceed expectations.
What we do know already is a host of NBA teams trying to be bad this season to get one of those top lottery slots and a chance at one of those game-changing players. In the NBA you need one of about 10 elite players (ideally two of the top 15) to win a title. If you are in a middle to small market you can really only get those players through the draft.
When Adam Silver announces the lottery order in May the fortunes of multiple franchise will change — some will get one of those coveted top slots, others will fall down and look for other ways to rebuild.
But one way or another the draft of 2014 will shape the NBA going forward in ways even other recent drafts do not.
Those lottery balls and the players attached to them will be the biggest NBA story of 2014.
Dec 20, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
An expletive was added for emphasis.
Dec 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
No contact on the perimeter, yea he’s up for that.
Dec 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
The Christmas Day slate of games is (mostly) stellar.
Dec 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Dunk of the year by Johnson had Drummond throwing elbows.
Dec 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Rivers saw this coming just four games into the season.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
Lin understands why Bryant always gets the ball in these situations, but admits he’d like to get some opportunities.
Dec 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
As the Thunder ended up winning by one, 104-103, this block ended up being very important.
Dec 20, 2014, 2:07 AM EST
Lillard needs to get mentioned with the game’s top point guards.
Dec 20, 2014, 12:49 AM EST
Young earned this one and will get to write a check to the league.
Dec 20, 2014, 12:02 AM EST
Former NBA player now trying to make his way as a fighter.
Dec 19, 2014, 10:50 PM EST
There are a whole host of reasons Rondo was traded; this is just the most convenient for Boston’s brass.
Dec 19, 2014, 9:40 PM EST
Nice gesture by the players.
Dec 19, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
…pretty smoothly somehow
Dec 19, 2014, 7:25 PM EST
Leonard was the Finals MVP for San Antonio last season.
Dec 19, 2014, 6:45 PM EST
Warriors coach has jokes
Dec 19, 2014, 6:35 PM EST
This is the smart move by the Thunder.
Dec 19, 2014, 5:59 PM EST
It’s kind of moot now, but it’s not a surprise.
Dec 19, 2014, 5:15 PM EST
Lakers star: ‘If the opportunity came up, then that’s the time to have that discussion’
Dec 19, 2014, 4:29 PM EST
Black-and-white version of Toronto’s new logo looks similar to Brooklyn’s
Dec 19, 2014, 3:44 PM EST
President wants to see more athletes take political stands
- Clippers rip officials after being called for seven technical fouls in loss to Nuggets 16
- Jeremy Lin after Kobe misses at the buzzer: ‘I like game-winners too’ 40
- Damian Lillard drops career high 43, leads Blazers to 3OT win over Spurs (VIDEO) 7
- Kendrick Perkins: Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston 7
- Report: Minnesota agrees to trade Corey Brewer to Houston 7
- Dallas moves into title contender status with addition of Rajon Rondo 45
- Kevin Durant turns ankle, leaves game not to return; X-rays negative. 4
- Report: Celtics ‘pretty pleased’ with return they got in trade for Rajon Rondo 31