With his co-pilot Russell Westbrook slated to miss a good chunk of time in his recovery from a torn meniscus, Durant will be relied upon even more than usual and he will not disappoint. I fully expect Durant to lead the league in scoring and post career highs in rebounds and assists while leading OKC to a division title.
Runners-Up: LeBron James, Miami & John Wall, Washington
Oladipo will be thrust into a starring role for a very young and very bad Magic squad. He does everything well and will be asked to use those skills immediately. Expect him to be Orlando's leading scorer while being asked to lock down the opposing team's best guard as his backcourt mate Jameer Nelson is borderline useless on the defensive end these days.
Runners-Up: Cody Zeller, Charlotte & Ben McLemore, Sacramento
Since I don't think The King will ever make a hard run at Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year is the last individual accolade for James to win. He finished second last season but this is the year LeBron breaks through and becomes the first perimeter player to win the distinction since the Artist Formerly Known As Ron Artest at the conclusion of the 2003-2004 campaign.
Runners-Up: Joakim Noah, Chicago & Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City
The Most Improved Player award is always the hardest one to gauge. 33 players garnered votes last season ranging from MVP runner-up Kevin Durant to Earl Clark. Turner played 82 games for the first time last year and his small preseason sample looks as if he is taking higher percentage shots and is ready to take the leadership reigns of an inexperienced Sixers team.
Runners-Up: Klay Thompson, Golden State & Kemba Walker, Charlotte
The addition of Andre Iguodala leaves the talented Barnes presumably coming off the bench for the time being. He may work his way back into the starting lineup at some point in 2013-2014 but Golden State may have a not so secret weapon on the second unit if coach Mark Jackson decides to utilize the North Carolina product in that role.
Runners-Up: Jamal Crawford, LA Clippers & Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
This is my biggest reach of all my picks. I am inexplicably high on the Wizards this year. You may just think I'm inexplicably high. The Wizards were .500 after John Wall returned last year and I think that uptick continues this year. If the embattled Wittman can get a team who picked third in June's draft to the playoffs this year he is justly deserving of this award.
Runners-Up: Mo Cheeks, Detroit & Doc Rivers, LA Clippers
The majority of previews I've read have Daryl Morey as the runaway pick for Executive of the Year after his acquisition of Dwight Howard. As you'll read tomorrow, I think that exact move will be more detrimental to Houston's success than be worthy of praise. What the 38 year old Myers has done in Golden State may be even better. He acquired Andre Iguodala in a three team trade and shed the albatross contracts of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson in the process. I have high hopes for Golden State and Myers' GM magic should keep them high for the forseeable future.
Runners-Up: Sam Presti, Oklahoma City & Gary Sacks, LA Clippers