1. Luol Deng will not be traded at the NBA deadline, but won't be in a Bulls uniform next season.
Ok, maybe this isn't such a bold prediction by some people's standards, but I keep hearing talk of Luol Deng being traded before the trade deadline passes. I don't think that's going to happen. Deng is still owed $14 million this year before his contract expires, and I don't see a team picking up that salary. However, the Bulls will not keep Deng. I just see them giving Jimmy Butler, who has emerged as a budding star, a big extension to lock him up. Deng won't have trouble finding work as a sharpshooter, but it won't be in Chicago.
2. The Clippers will get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
Ok, now we're getting somewhere here. Look, I'm just not buying into the Clippers. I know they got Doc Rivers in the off season. I understand they signed J.J. Redick, a quality sharpshooter, on the team to spread defenses. I just don't think they will make a deep run. I love Chris Paul, he's a great player. I'm squarely looking at Blake Griffin, who in my mind is the most overrated NBA player in the league. What can Blake Griffin do? Dunk. Defend the low post, sort of. What can't he do? make a shot outside of 10 feet. Defend the low post at an all-star level. Rebound at an all-star level, and make a free throw (66% from the line last season). No, I do not like this team at all, and I will go as far as to say they get bounced from the playoffs early in May.
3. The Pistons will miss the postseason.
Now I know they picked up Josh Smith and traded for Brandon Jennings, but so what? I've been a Bucks fan for the last 10 years (yes, you get to laugh at that). Brandon Jennings just isn't good. Last season, Jennings shot an average of 15.6 shots per game, and made a shade under 40% (actually, it was .399). He was first in the league in games where he took over 20 shots, and made under 40% of those shots. He had 21 of those games! Fact of the day, 2nd was Monta Ellis, his backcourt running mate with 15 of those games (Yes, that's how bad the Bucks backcourt was). Josh Smith is an effective player in the post, but he doesn't utilize the post nearly enough to be an efficient player. Smith constantly settles for 19-foot jumpers that constantly miss and make him a worse player than he actually is. I have Detroit going in the 9 slot, missing the postseason.
4. The Miami Heat will NOT reach the NBA championship.
Look, every season, there comes a new responsibility. Relationships of former start to strain, practices start to get lackadaisical, and players begin to start thinking they don't have to do anything to win the title. On top of that, the teams just behind the Heat will be even hungrier than before. I don't have enough faith in the Heat to 3-peat as champions. I have them losing in the Eastern Conference Finals.
5. Dirk Nowitzki gets dealt at the deadline.
Boom. there I said it. I know this is nothing more than a gut feeling, but Nowitzki is now 35 years old, and Marc Cuban has done weirder stuff. I think that the Mavericks won't be a contender for the playoffs and will try to get something out of their star. The Mavs may only be trying to stockpile picks for the loaded 2014 class and stick a team with a player on the decline.