Commentary

NBA champion and award picks

Updated: October 30, 2013, 11:57 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The NBA regular season is here and I am excited for basketball fans everywhere! These are the best athletes in the world, and there should be plenty of competitors out there to challenge the Miami Heat.

I was recently at The Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and a fan asked my opinion of the NBA this season. Well, here it goes.

The Miami Heat will be tested in the East by the Bulls, Pacers, Nets and Knicks. Chicago has Derrick Rose back, and even though the Bulls lost to Miami in the opener, they will be heard from all season. Indiana has improved and the Pacers were so tough in the last postseason. Carmelo Anthony has the Knicks ready, while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett want to make one more run, now in Brooklyn.

Out west, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers stand out. Gregg Popovich's team almost won it all last season and will be dangerous again. At the end of the season, I believe the Heat will accomplish a three-peat.

As for Player of the Year, I think it will be a thrilling showdown. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose are all in the hunt. I will go with Oklahoma City's Durant to edge King James for the crown. Durant will have to do so much while Russell Westbrook is sidelined.

My choice for Rookie of the Year is Orlando's Victor Oladipo out of Indiana. He gets the nod over former Hoosier teammate Cody Zeller, among others.

It should be a fun season to watch.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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