The time has finally arrived! Our beloved basketball season has finally returned. There is nothing quite like already knowing who the champion of the league is going to be before the season starts but still sitting down every evening to watch meaningless games. That’s what the NBA has become, and we are all very much still here for it.
Sure you and I both may complain at times about how there’s no parity and Golden State is more than likely going to win it all, so what does it even matter? Yet, it does matter, because we are all still gonna sit down and witness greatness.
With that said, I will go ahead and post my last minute preseason predictions.
- Golden St. Warriors
- Houston Rockets
- Utah Jazz
- L.A. Lakers
- OKC Thunder
- Denver Nuggets
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- San Antonio Spurs
- Portland Trailblazers
- Dallas Mavericks
- N.O. Pelicans
- L.A. Clippers
- Phoenix Suns
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Sacramento Kings
Nothing too new here. The Warriors are even stronger, they now have DeMarcus Cousins pretty much resting on the bench until the playoffs. I think that tally’s them at five All-Stars. That’s kind of impressive, probably shouldn’t be legal but i’m not gonna knock them for being great.
I had the Lakers at #3 but then switched them out for Utah. The Jazz have a REALLY good team and with a hopefully healthy Rudy Gobert all season, I think they can be a dark horse candidate to sneak their way into the Western Finals.
LeBron’s meme team is a thing. I suppose I’m of here for it. A lot of people seem to think LeBron is taking a late career red shirt year. Makes sense, rest his body up and let the Lakers youth grow and give Magic Johnson some time to find another all-star. However, I don’t think it happens that way, LeBron doesn’t strike me as a take a year off kind of a guy. He can probably pull off a top five seed here and at the very least annoy the Warriors again in the playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets are a team I think makes a giant leap in the West. They won 40 games last season in a tough western conference, and just missed getting the 8th seed in the final game of the season, in an overtime loss to the Timberwolves. A healthy Paul Millsap this time around and a more experienced Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray should give them better results in the win column.
With all the drama circulating around the Timberwolves, I still think they have too much talent to miss out on the playoffs. Assuming Jimmy Butler remains on the team, the trio of him, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns should power them into the playoffs.
Everyone seems to be knocking the Spurs. Folks, you can never doubt Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have been to the playoffs for 21 straight seasons and there is no way I am going to bet against them now. They made it last year and Kawhi Leonard didn’t even play! They flipped him for an All-Star in DeMar Derozen, and somehow they’re supposed to regress? I get the injury bug is hitting their point guards, but all those guys are inexperienced anyways. They still have Patty Mills who is good enough to start and they’ll find someone off the streets to contribute. No worries for them, they will sneak their way in.
Now, I have never seen a team snatch another team’s soul quite like the Pelicans did to the Trailblazers in the playoffs. Portland was the #3 seed and now it seems like they’re falling apart. You hate to see it. On the flip side, the Pelicans lost very key pieces in Rajon Rondo and Cousins, and I can’t see them replacing what those guys did for them last season. Even with Anthony Davis’ greatness, I expect a big drop off.
Everyone else in this conference are probably bottom feeders. I can see a scenario where Dallas is making some noise. I like Luka Doncic a lot, but don’t think they’re quite ready to push for a playoff spot. It looks like Phoenix hit on the DeAndre Ayton pick. If they can find a competent point guard, they may be a year away from the playoffs.
- Boston Celtics
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Toronto Raptors
- Indiana Pacers
- Charlotte Hornets
- Washington Wizards
- Detroit Pistons
- Miami Heat
- Brooklyn Nets
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Orlando Magic
- Chicago Bulls
- New York Knicks
- Atlanta Hawks
LeBron’s reign in the East is finally over, it’s time to rise. Boston should be even better this year. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are now seasoned playoff veterans. Kyrie is healthy, Gordon Hayward is almost fully healthy. That’s two of the leagues best scorers being added back to a team that was extremely close to making the finals.
Same case for Philadelphia. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons who are already really good can only get better, which is scary. Markell Fultz might actually be able to shoot now, and everyone else can contribute in some way. If Embiid can stay healthy, they should remain among the eastern conference elites.
I’m looking for big things from the Bucks this year. Coach Budenholzer might be able to unlock Giannis’ shooting ability, and no one in the league needs that. Kris Middleton doesn’t get enough credit and the addition of Brook Lopez is going to be huge for this team I think. The Raptors are gonna be great, don’t let the 4th seed confuse you, I think the top 4 teams are going to be super close, and all very good. I think there can be some growing pains, and i’m not certain if Leonard can give them a full season, but he will definitely be on a mission to prove he’s still that guy this season.
My homerism is showing with seeding the Charlotte Hornets at #6. I think there’s a significant drop off in talent after the Pacers at 5. Indiana was a shocking surprise last season, and it seems like Myles Turner and Sabonis are ready to take the next step. I think Charlotte might be the surprise team of this year. There’s always one that jumps out (Utah and Indiana last season) and this time that could very well be them.
Everyone else just really isn’t good. The 7th and 8th seed will be fought for by Washington, Detroit, Miami and Brooklyn. The Wizards are the best of the bunch but that team may have more drama than the Timberwolves. I think all of these teams finish around the same record. The Bulls, Knicks and Hawks are going to be must see TV if you enjoy watching teams purposefully lose games.
Regular Season Awards
MVP – Giannis Antetokoumpo – As I said before, if he starts making three pointers at a solid rate he is going to be SCARY. If he can push the Bucks to a top 3 seed in the East, this award is all his.
Others: LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid.
ROY – DeAndre Ayton – I really don’t believe Ayton is actually 19 years old. He’s gotta be at least 27, someone needs to do an investigation on him. He’s already dominating players in the low post. If he’s anything like what he showed us in this preseason this should be a cake walk for him.
Others: Luka Doncic, Miles Bridges, Trae Young
COY – Mike Budenholzer – I’m 100% on the Bucks bandwagon. Same case goes for Giannis. If the Bucks end the season in a top 3 seed with one of the best 5 records in the NBA, he should be at the top of every voters list.
Others: Brad Stevens, Nick Nurse, Luke Walton, James Borrego
Most Improved Player – Brandon Ingram – LeBron needs a second option. Right now that’s looking like Ingram. He’s ready to blow up and has the perfect skill set to do so. Elite shooter, can guard just about every position at his height, even plays some point guard when needed. If the Lakers finish in a top 5 seed, look for Ingram to snatch this award.
Others: Malik Monk, Lonzo Ball, DeAngelo Russell, Aaron Gordon
Lets get ready for another highlight fueled season. Check for the majority of my Hornets content over at http://www.atthehive.com.