Last time we saw meaningful basketball, LeBron James had an iconic chase down block of Andre Iguodala, and Kyrie Irving hit one of the most clutch shots in NBA Finals history, to bring Cleveland a championship that was 52 years in the making.
Now over four months later a new journey will commence. After another exciting off-season we can answer some intriguing questions. How will the addition of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo help the Chicago Bulls? How will the new look Knicks perform? And how scary will the new “lineup of death” in Golden State look with the addition of Kevin Durant. Well I am here to tell you how things will play out this season. I will predict everything from playoff teams, award winners, and Finals predictions for the 2016-2017 NBA season.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Boston Celtics
- Toronto Raptors
- Atlanta Hawks
- Charlotte Hornets
- Detroit Pistons
- Indiana Pacers
- Washington Wizards
The East is going to be an intriguing division to watch this year. The top 3 teams in the East are easy to predict, then there are 1o teams that could finish anywhere from the 4th seed to the 13th seed, then there are the Sixers and the Nets. As you can see, I do not have the Knicks, Bulls, or Heat in the playoffs. I do not see how the addition of a broken down Derek Rose and Joakim Noah will help the Knicks get from 32 wins to about 45 to make the playoffs in the East. Then we will see on ESPN “Oh wow, the Knicks are bad! But they are New York!” That’s basically what I hear every year about a team that gets a lot of hype just because they are a big market. The same thing will go for the Chicago Bulls. It is going to be a lot of fun to watch them run their entire offense inside the three point line. They have a backcourt of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo and thought, “you know what will make things better? Adding Michael Carter-Williams! Of course!” I really can’t believe in the age of analytics they assembled a team that will not be able to shoot. But we all know what will happen, I lambaste them now and they will end up as the fifth seed. Next is the Miami Heat. The Miami Heat have some nice young pieces, but the loss of Bosh and Wade in the same off-season will hurt them. I am looking forward to seeing Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow step up this season and fill bigger roles. Look out for them.
In the end, the LeBron James will reach his 7th straight NBA Finals and continue his dominance in the Eastern Conference.
Western Conference Playoffs
- Golden State Warriors
- San Antonio Spurs
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Portland Trailblazers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Utah Jazz
- Houston Rockets
Look, I purely picked the Rockets to get the 8th seed because James Harden is going to be so much fun to watch this year. They are having him play point guard this season and his head coach is Mike D’Antoni. It is a match made in heaven. The coach who does not care about defense and loves a run-n-gun offense is paired with James Harden. It’s gonna be wonderful to watch. One team that I was very close to putting in the playoffs was Rafael Torres’s Denver Nuggets. I think they can be that surprise team this year and have the potential to take that next step and make the playoffs. The young talent in the West is going to be a pleasure to watch on NBA League Pass this season. That would include Devin Booker, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and the Timberwolves roster. The Timberwolves have the head coach and I think they will have one more year in the lottery before making the playoffs. And let’s all say a prayer for Anthony Davis. He is so good and the Pelicans front office is so inept its unbelievable. Is it really that hard to build around a basketball specimen like Anthony Davis? Really?
Anyways, the warriors will make the Finals for the third straight year. I cannot wait to watch this team on offense and in transition this year. It is going to be beautiful.
So we are gonna have a third straight year of the Warriors playing Cleveland in the Finals and I cannot complain. The past two years have been incredible watching what LeBron has done with the chips stacked against him. The passion that Draymond has in the playoffs is phenomenal. Everything about it is great and I want part three.
The Warriors will win their second title in three years as they defeat Cleveland in 6 games.
So I am only going predict three awards here; MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year. I feel like these are the most talked about awards so that is why I picked them.
MVP- Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is going to be a man on a mission this year. He wants to show Kevin Durant why Westbrook was the Batman to Durant’s Robin and show why Durant never should have left. The numbers that he will put up will be ridiculous. He is going to lead the league in triple doubles and be either first or second in the league in scoring (Harden). The reason that he wouldn’t win this award is if the Thunder aren’t a great seed in the playoffs. Typically, one of the top seeded teams have the MVP.
Rookie of the Year- Joel Embiid
This is a pick that I am not all that confident in. It has been reported that Joel Embiid will be limited to about 24 minutes per game and will not play in back-to-backs. However, I think the great ability that he shows combined with his per 36 numbers will give him a real chance at this award. Let’s just look at the pre-season so far. Per 36 minutes, Joel Embiid averaged 28 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks. Of course, he did only average 14 minutes in those games. I think that even if he does not win this award, he will be the Karl-Anthony Towns of this season. That guy who shows an ability to do everything as a center and get people talking about how great the Sixers are set up to be with him and Ben Simmons.
Defensive Player of the Year- Kawhi Leonard
At 25 years old Kawhi Leonard could have 3 defensive player of the year awards. That is incredible for a guy that has to guard perimeter players. He does not get to benefit from playing underneath the net and averaging a lot of blocks to win this award. That is a testament to just how good of a defender he is that he gets recognized for this award in the same season that Hassan Whiteside averaged over 3 blocks per game. Leonard is also someone that I think has a good shot at the MVP this season. No Tim Duncan this year, someone has to step up as the leader in San Antonio, maybe this is Kawhi Leonard‘s coming out party as an elite player.