Sorry for the delay as I’ve been on a mini-personal hiatus from writing so I know everyone has been waiting for something for me to drop this. I don’t watch NBA preseason as I’m not a psychopath and there’s literally 82 regular season games. What’s happening now will 100% change come playoff time. This time last year, the only thing we knew was Giannis Antenkoumpo was a MVP candidate and the Warriors were NBA champs waiting to see who they were going to beat from the Eastern Conference. From Christmas and beyond, James Harden lit the damn world on fire bringing a very compelling argument to win. Ultimately, Giannis won and deservedly so considering he played well all 82 games as opposed to Harden turning it on Christmas night. As for the Warriors, well any real sports fan knows that they got dismantled by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors.
The times have changed in the NBA since that championship. The super team is essentially dead and one of the best free agent offseasons in any sport saw a jump in legitimate contending teams. The NBA now is more fun than it’s ever been because of the diluting of top teams. A legitimate case can be made for maybe 8 teams to win it all. Next year you can add the Nets to that mix as both teams will be fully healthy seeing the return of KD. I do have the benefit here of making these 10 games in but believe me or not, I’ll be as honest as possible in these predictions in terms of I’ll eliminate things like injuries determining seeding (aka where the Warriors are seeded).
New York Knicks
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors
San Antonio Spurs
New Orleans Pelicans
Portland Trail Blazers
Oklahoma City Thunder
Eastern Conference Seeding
Eastern Conference Finals: 76ers over Bucks
Western Conference Seeding
1.) LA Clippers
2.) LA Lakers
3.) Utah Jazz
4.) Portland Trail Blazers
5.) Houston Rockets
6.) Denver Nuggets
7.) San Antonio Spurs
8.) Dallas Mavericks
Western Conference Finals: Lakers over Clippers
NBA Finals: Lakers over 76ers in 6
It’s not going to be easy, but I think the Lakers get it done. They are deep and Lebron James has to be hungrier than ever after missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-2005 NBA season. The Western Conference is a damn war zone. The Clippers adding Kawhi and PG13 make their defense one of the best I’ve seen since the early 2000’s Detroit Pistons. They are MEAN. The Jazz are the super low key team that no one should sleep on. Donovan Mitchell is ready for the big time and has added an elite PG in Mike Conley. Throw in Gobert anchoring that defense down and they can stack up with anyone. In the East it’s simple, can the 76ers get past the Bucks. Giannis is a freak but the 76ers have been tanking for this exact year. They subtracted Jimmy Butler but added Josh Richardson via trade and created enough space to add Al Hortford in FA. He’s going to do wonders for Joel Embiid in terms of him being asked to do less on the defensive end of the floor. In the end, the combo of the King and AD will reign supreme.
Bold predictions: Warriors miss the playoffs. This was going to happen before the Steph injury. This team lost KD, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, and Quinn Cook. It does not matter that they added De’Angelo Russell because that’s still not enough scoring considering all of the other teams around them got significantly better. There was too much turnover and too many miles on the tires to expect them to make it to the playoffs again. What’s scary is they will get a lottery pick next year and be right back in the thick of it next year.
Coach of the Year: Brett Brown
Most Improved Player: Luka Doncic
Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis
Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams
Rookie of the Year: Zion Williamson
MVP: Joel Embiid