The NBA season is upon us. The reigning champions the Golden State Warriors will look to repeat, and win their 3rd NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Lebron James and the Cavs will look to unseat the Warriors, while teams like the Celtics, Thunder, and Rockets, try to push past these two powerhouse teams, and avoid a third straight repeat of Cavs vs Warriors in the Finals. There was a ton of player movement in the offseason. Kyrie Irving went to the Celtics via trade. Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, and Isaiah Thomas are now Cavs, Paul George and Carmel Anthony are on the Thunder, and Chris Paul joined James Harden on the Rockets. NBA talent continues to consolidate onto fewer and fewer teams. Did any teams improve enough to be able to take on the two conference champions, or will we see Lebron and his Cavs take on Durant and the Warriors again?

Eastern Conference

  1. Cleveland Cavilers- I think the Cav’s actually got better this offseason. Yes, they lost Kyrie, but the gained Thomas, who is a hell of a scorer, they gained Dwayne Wade, who while not what he used to be, is still a damn good player and added Derrick Rose to come off the bench. Many signs point to Lebron leaving after this season, but he will still try as hard as he can to win this year.
  2. Boston Celtics- Great coaching, good defense, and now, a legit superstar in Kyrie. They still are not quite good enough to beat the Cavs in the best out of 7, but the additions of Kyrie via trade, and Jayson Tatum via the draft, certainly make them a dangerous team going forward.
  3. Milwaukee Bucks- The best of the rest. The Bucks are a talented young roster. Arre they ready to break out this year? Maybe not, but they will certainly be fun the watch, and should excel in a very weak Eastern conference. Last year they won 42 games, this year they get at least 50 wins.
  4. Washington Wizards- They are basically the same team they were last year. I expect the same result. A top 4 seed, that loses in the playoffs.
  5. Toronto Raptors- See the Wizards. The Raptors are a perennial 50 win team, that just isn’t good enough to compete with the Celtics or Cavs. One of them will knock each other out in the first round, the other will be knocked out by the Celtics or Cavs in the second round.
  6. Philadelphia 76ers- The Sixers, like the Bucks, have an extremely talented young roster. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, and Markelle Fultz, should be very fun to watch. Difference between them and the Bucks, the Bucks core has more seasoning. Still, once this young team gets some chemistry, they could win games.
  7. Miami Heat- The Heat are a sneaky good team. They may not be flashy, and they may lack superstar talent, but as a team, they were scorching hot at the end of last season. Expect them to carry a little of that Mojo over. They are not going to be world beaters, but they can win some games in an Eastern conference that lacks top-tier talent.
  8. Charlotte Hornets- Not much to say here. Hornets are a solid team but are nothing special. Should sneak into the playoffs, because of the teams below them, are pretty awful.

 

Western Conference

  1. Golden State Warriors- By far the best team in the league on paper. They have 4 top 20 players. But it isn’t just about the talent, it is how the talent blends together. The chemistry is great. No team can match the Warriors in talent, and no team seems to be better constructed either. They didn’t just throw 4 players together, they crafted a well-rounded team.
  2. Houston Rockets- I really like the Harden and Paul combination. Is it good enough to compete with the Warriors? No, but it is enough to make them the second-best team.
  3. San Antonio Spurs- Good coaching will keep a team good. Spurs have the best coach. Every year they are a top 4 team. Lose a Hall of Famer in Tim Duncan? They were still a top 4 team. They are the most consistent team, ever. If they can stay healthy, they are the one team in the West that could maybe beat the Warriors in 7. Not because they are more talented, they aren’t, but because they play smart basketball.
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Like the Bucks and the Sixers, the Timberwolves are another talented young roster ready to break out. I expect them to take a big step forward, sneaking into the top 4 of western teams.
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder- Yes they added talent, but it is very similar talent. They have 3 players, who primarily play Iso. That just will not work. Yes, they will have some great nights, but they will also have some disasters where the three players cannot get out of their own ways.
  6. Utah Jazz- Solid team. 7 years ago, before the talent consolidation, they could be contenders. Now, they just don’t have the talent to keep up with the super teams.
  7. Memphis Grizzlies- Grizzlies seem to have reinvented themselves to be a more dynamic team. They will be more fun to watch, but still not good enough to compete with the top teams.
  8. Denver Nuggets- Another solid team, that doesn’t isn’t good enough to compete on a higher level. These teams like Memphis, Utah, and Denver, got left behind by the league when the Super Team trend started. They don’t have the money, or the brand, to attract these big-name players.

Playoffs Round 1

East

1)Cavs vs 8)Hornets- Cavs in 4

2)Celtics vs 7)Heat- Celtics in 5

3)Bucks vs 6)Sixers- Bucks in 7

4)Wizards vs 5) Raptors-Raptors in 6

West

1)Warriors vs 8)Nuggets-Warriors in 4

2)Rockets vs 7)Grizzlies- Rockets in 5

3)Spurs vs 6)Jazz-Spurs in 5

4)Timberwolves vs 5)Thunder- Timberwolves in 7

 

Conference Semi-Finals

East

1)Cavs vs 5)Raptors- Cavs in 4

2)Celtics vs 3)Bucks- Bucks in 7

West

1)Warriors vs 4)Timberwolves- Warriors in 4

2)Rockets vs 3)Spurs- Spurs in 6

 

Conference Finals

 

East

1)Cavs vs 3)Bucks- Cavs in 5

West

1)Warriors vs 3)Spurs-Warriors in 6

 

NBA Finals

1)Cavs vs 1)Warriors- Warriors in 7

Cavs have improved, but they still aren’t as good as the Warriors. Unless there is an injury on the Warriors, they just have too much talent to beat in a best of 7. As I said above, this team is too well constructed.

 

Season Awards

MVP- Lebron James- SF- Cleveland Cavaliers 

He is the best player in the league. This year, he has a chance to really take over and carry his team.

Defensive Player of the Year- Rudy Gobert- C- Utah Jazz

As a Sixers fan, I would love to put Embiid here. He has such a huge defensive impact when on the court. But I know he will not be on the court for every game. Also, Rudy Gobert is just too good on defense. Look at these defensive stats.

There is no arguing with that. He does everything on defense better than everyone else. Maybe one-day Embiid can do that, but for now, Gobert is too good on defense to lose this award.

Rookie of the Year- Ben Simmons- PG- Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons is a hell of a passer. His scoring touch could certainly use some work but is very possible he could average 10 points and 10 assists a night. No other rookie is going to do that. Also, plays good defense, and gets rebounds.

Coach of the Year- Jason Kidd- Milwaukee Bucks

There are many options for this award, but it tends to go to a coach that most improves their team. Bucks make a huge jump this year, Kidd wins Coach of the Year.