Thinking back to the 2008 Finals and the ESPN experts picks for the championship as seen in the graphic above, there was just one who gave the Celtics a chance to win. A couple even picked the Lakers in 5. Going into this season there I was looking over the ESPN "expert" picks for this season and once again, there isn't a lot of love for the Celtics. While 4 of their experts do pick the Celtics to be 1st in the East, 5 pick them to come in 3rd and a 6th says they will be 2nd.
I got to the individual player awards and for the Defensive Player of the Year, there were a couple of surprise picks. There are the expected 14 votes for Dwight Howard. Then there is Jemele Hill's vote for Ron Artest (Has she watched him play recently?) And Jack Ramsey's very surprise vote for Mickael Pietrus. Chris Sheridan cast his vote for Rajon Rondo which kind of goes with the GM survey that Rondo ties Kobe for best on the ball defender. JA Adande and Andrew Ayres both feel that KG will recapture the award this season. Personally, I'll go with the 2 who picked KG. He is going to have a great season this year after being deprived of the last half of the season last year.
2 Celtics got consideration for Sixth Man as Marc Stein, JA Adande and Chris Sheridan voted for Sheed and Jon Barry and Jack Ramsey voted for Quisy. Other then these two, there were quite a few others getting consideration: Paul Milsap 1, Lamar Odom 3, Ben Gordon 1, Rudy Fernandez 1, Jason Terry 1, Manu Ginobili 4, Leandro Barbosa 1, Jamaal Crawford 1, Rafer Alston 1, and Nate Robinson 1. It isn't a surprise, but I'd say the Celtics have a shot at this one with either Quisy or Sheed. Quisy is going to be more versatile and Sheed will be a key player, but which one has a better shot at the 6th man depends on who Doc brings in first.
No surprises, but they don't expect any Celtics to be Rookie of the Year as their only candidate is Lester Hudson and it would be a huge upset for the 57th pick to overtake either Blake Griffin or Tyreke Evans who are the picks of choice. And there are no Celtics mentioned for Most Improved Player either. As with the 6th man, there are a variety of opinions with the most votes going to Andrew Bynum. Bynum has too much of an opinion of himself to be most improved. I'd say that Perk and Rondo have a good chance at this one but I guess I'm on my own with that one.
I was most surprised to see that not one "expert" thinks that Doc Rivers will be Coach of the Year. 3 pick the Zen Mistress and we all know that he really isn't that great of a coach. Give him a team that isn't ready made with a superstar or two in place and he would be just another scrub coach. And when he did have 2 superstars on his team, he couldn't manage them. A good coach can manage his players, even if one player is a self centered jerk like Kobe. Flip Saunders and Rick Carlisle each got 3 votes. and Scott Brooks (who?) got 2 votes.
Not one Celtic was considered for MVP. There is the usual LeBron love with 13 votes, along with 2 for Kobe, 1 for Chris Paul, 3 for Dwight Howard, 1 for Dwyane Wade, and 1 for Carmelo Anthony.
I didn't see the votes for the Champions but I'm sure that the few who picked the Celtics to get out of the East also picked them to lose to the Lakers. who are a unanimous pick to win the West. I still say being the underdog is a good thing. While everyone is gunning for the media darling Fakers, the Celtics can stay under the radar as they win their 18th championship.