With the NBA offseason activity beginning to wane heavily this week, albeit for a few signings still up in the air- Brandon Jennings/Nikola Pekovic notably. And on the eve of the NFL and college football's annual takeover of all things media, I think it's finally time to make some predictions for the upcoming NBA season given that the majority of rosters are somewhere between working rough draft and fixed. Now before reading this column, I need you guys to realize a few things: 1) I'm making NBA predictions in JULY and literally ANYTHING can happen before the season to derail these predictions. 2) These are 100% serious. I am not here to troll or make fun of anybody. That would be churlish and a waste of time. 3) I encourage you to respond with how you feel about my predictions. So without further ado, I present to you a running column that will include a Fanpost for each and every NBA team, "The Flagrantly Early, Incredibly Half-Baked NBA Predictions Series."
No. 1: Rajon Rondo will miss too many games for the Celtics to compete
I know right now Danny Ainge is saying Rondo will be back for opening night, and I get it. He's instilling hope into all Celtics fans that this season won't be a waste. But the fact of the matter is that knee surgery, in any capacity, is excruciatingly hard to come back from mentally. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Doesn't matter if you are the most fit athlete ever, and every doctor, mentor, friend you have is saying "you're ready." You are not ready, until you convince yourself you are, and look I'm not talking out of my ass here- I've had major knee surgery- and I agree 100% with what Derrick Rose did this past year. The mental aspect is absolutely going to mess with Rajon Rondo's head because he is such a cerebral dude. Take it from someone who knows, you can step on any court, field, pitch and be medically declared healthy but every off step you take that feels even slightly funny has you second guessing. Those are little steps back that mar the recovery process greatly.
So back to my point, say Rondo's out 10-15 games or until December which is very reasonable. This team is hemorrhaging talent after him. He's the number one guy and I see it impossible for them to compete. They're a collection of pieces that are not NBA 1st unit guys and they will lose many games if he sits out. Then there's the possibly of Rondo just mentally checking out if this team goes down the drain. Rajon Rondo is going to be a polarizing player for the Celtics this season, but I do not see him being all in mentally when the team is not going to be on a high level talent wise, which also may delay his return and recovery.
No. 2: This team will be virtually unwatchable
Brad Stevens is going to take some big knocks in his first season. It's going to be like the freshman guy on the high school football team who is scrawny, not quite there physically and just gets abused by all the big, angry seniors. But then he puts his head down, gets in the weight room and every year gets bigger, better until he's the big senior busting on freshman. But this season will be bad. The Celtics were 41-40 last season; not exactly world killers. Even with Jeff Green and Avery Bradley expected to suit up into massive roles, they were on that team. Now they are without KG & Pierce- the absolute heart and soul of that team, guys who put this sorry bunch on their back when Rondo went down to make a playoff run. Are you telling me Jeff Green can get you 20 wins alone? I don't buy it.
I see a lot of games for the Celtics ending with 3K fans in the Garden sullenly looking on as the C's stand drasticaly outmatched heads hanging low. This is just a team of players that a lot of NBA execs do not love and it's hard to see them winning anything when they are going to be so undermanned talent wise.
No. 3: Kelly Olynyk - The Great White Hope
Sorry for bashing the Celtics those last two predictions, but things frankly look bleak in 2013-2014. Yet, I believe one bright spot for them will be the emergence of Kelly Olynyk playing 30 minutes a game in the National Basketball Association. The guy is a cross between Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, Greg Ostertag, and Brian Butch before he got hurt. And I will have you know, those are 3 incredible centers who played the game with passion, with intensity, and a lotta heart.
After watching Big O absolutely shred fools in Orlando summer league, I'm a believer. The guy has an incredible inside/out game that reminds me of a young Mehmet Okur. He can dominate the paint and I believe he'll be an average defender plus defensive anchor once he gets his feet wet. Is he going to be best center in the world? No, but he'll certainly be better than Robin Lopez.