The Hornets had a sneaky-good offseason. Lance Stephenson was a great pickup, assuming he can stay sane, but their draft was the best part. I'm a huge Noah Vonleh fan, he'll be able to step in and contribute faster than people think, he's the perfect companion for Al Jefferson, someone who can protect the rim and stretch the floor for him on the offensive end of the court. P.J. Hariston was a good gamble to take late in the first round as well.
I'll state my pick here in the form of a question: Why is everyone assuming Derrick Rose will be the same player when he comes back? He's played ten games in the last 18 months and nobody injured that long has been the same player afterwards. The Bulls will still make the postseason easily in this atrocious Eastern conference, but Cleveland will have no trouble with them in the playoffs.
Rookie of the Year
As much as I'd like to say Wiggins, I don't see anyone topping Jabari Parker. He'll get plenty of opportunities in the Bucks' offense and can score anywhere on the court. After him I'll say Wiggins, he'll benefit from playing with Rubio and be a center point of the Wolves attack. My final choice is Gary Harris. As much fun as Lavine is to watch, I was pissed on draft day when the Wolves passed up Harris to take him. Harris is a little undersized, but can do everything. He's a great defender, a good shooter, and has lots of athleticism exactly what the Timberwolves were missing last year.
This was supposed to be a two horse race before Durant got injured. Now there's one horse left. LeBron will put up his usual amazing stats, nothing new here, although Anthony Davis could be someone who makes the race slightly more interesting.
The Cavaliers. In fact, I'd still choose the Cavs if they didn't have Love. I've already talked about why the Bulls don't scare me if I'm a Cavs fan, who else is there? The Pacers are out because of George's injury, the Raptors, Hornets and Wizards are the next closest, but none of them are in the same class as Cleveland. They'll skate to the finals.
Now here's a tighter race. Our options are the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and Warriors. As hard as it is to pass some of these teams up, I just don't see Duncan and Pop being done. They'll take care of business in April.
The red flag for this Cavaliers team is the fact that historically these superteams don't tend to do as well as one would think their first year. The Garnett-Pierce-Allen three headed monster won in 2008, but LeBron's Heat struggled against the Mavericks in the 2011 finals, the Kobe-Shaq lead Lakers didn't win anything until 2000. If you want to go even further back, after acquiring Wilt before the 1968-69 season, the Lakers didn't win a championship until 1972. While paper says the Cavaliers, history (in more ways than just that) says the Spurs.