I’ve been so swept up by hockey, baseball, Aaron Hernandez and the NBA Draft that I’ve completely forgotten to congratulate the Miami Heat on their riveting seven-game series win over San Antonio. This is the Heat’s third title and LeBron James’ second straight. We haven’t been witness to a Finals this good in years in my opinion and now we already turn our focus to the 2013-2014 season just days after the draft.
If you’re thinking of laying some dough on next year already then let me give you the top contenders and their odds and I’ll even throw in a few potential long-shots for your entertainment.
Miami Heat 2-1 The Heat did nothing to add to their roster through the draft because they didn’t have a pick but they did exercise options on Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen is sticking around as well. The big question I have for Miami is the health of Dwyane Wade. Reports are that he had his knee drained prior to game seven and it hampered him throughout the playoffs. He and Chris Bosh were both absent at times during the playoffs but they survived. Can they next season?
Oklahoma City Thunder 11-2 I don’t believe the Thunder would have won the title this past season had Russell Westbrook not been injured but his loss certainly was the nail in the coffin of their playoff run. In order for OKC to be a legitimate threat next season they need a third scorer who used to be James Harden. His absence was especially glaring with Westbrook out. I love the Thunder’s first round draft pick in seven-footer Steven Adams of Pitt. He will provide tremendous size and a defensive presence despite being a bit raw.
Brooklyn Nets 10-1 The Nets jumped to this position with the trade that brings Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn from Boston but long-term I think this will hurt the Nets as they gave up youth and a lot of draft picks. What that means is they must win now and with a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd. The Nets will have a really good starting five and added Duke’s Mason Plumlee in the first round the other night. He will provide some rebounding and defense off the bench. The Nets have a very small window due to age and health of Garnett and Pierce and that makes me leery of laying cash on them.
Los Angeles Clippers 10-1 The Clippers immediately jumped to this spot with the addition of coach Doc Rivers who I believe will take both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to new heights as players. The Clips also added shooting guard Reggie Bullock from North Carolina in the draft. It’s amazing that a coach like Vinny del Negro was fired after a 56-win season but this is a player’s league and there was certainly friction. I expect the Clips to once again win the Pacific but I’m not sure I’m willing to lay money on them winning the title just yet.
The Longer Shots Golden State at 25-1 is one I’d take a shot on. The guard play is outstanding and if healthy the bigs can be effective. Atlanta Hawks 66-1 is another I like especially if they land Dwight Howard. I love their pick of Shane Larkin in the draft as he can provide solid minutes at the point to compliment Al Horford and company. Portland Trail Blazers 100-1 Portland was on the verge several times last season of making a go at the playoffs but fell short. I like the drafting of scorer C.J. McCollum and they added size and smarts with Jeff Withey from Kansas. I can see them making a run in the playoffs next year.