2017-18 NBA East and West Conference Predictions
The past couple of NBA seasons have been quite similar, with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers both reaching the finals, but with this past off-season, the NBA could change a lot this year. Here’s what I predict will happen in this season.
1. Boston Celtics – The Boston Celtics made some big roster additions this off-season, adding four-time NBA All-Star and NBA Champion Kyrie Irving. Irving sure was a fun player to watch in Cleveland, and after coming to Boston in a trade, he is now going to be the leader of this Celtics team. Irving’s leadership will be necessary, especially after the season-ending injury to All Star forward Gordon Hayward, whom they also acquired during the off-season from the Utah Jazz. After a slow start, the Celtics are looking great, and I expect them to reach the post-season with the first seed.
2. Washington Wizards – The Wizards, who have been getting better each year with young players, made a statement last year by getting fourth seed in the East last year. John Wall and Bradley Beal are one of the game’s greatest duos, both averaging over 20 points per game (PPG). Washington is getting better each year; D.C. fans have a lot to look forward to this season.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavaliers, who have made it to the finals for the past three years led by arguably the greatest player of all time LeBron James, have dominated the Eastern Conference. The Cavs did lose All Star guard Kyrie Irving in a trade to Boston, and they haven’t started out too well with the new additions of Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose. And, with Isaiah Thomas not returning until January, the Cavs might not dominate the Eastern Conference as they usually do.
4. Milwaukee Bucks – There is sure a lot to mention about this young and talented Bucks team, but let’s talk about the so-called “Greek Freak,” Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is a talented player all around who is currently averaging 38.4 PPG and is well into the MVP conversation after leading the Bucks to the playoffs last year with a 42-40 record. The Bucks sure have a big year ahead, and Antetokounmpo is predicted to be one of the greatest to ever play the game. The Bucks are a young team with a lot of heart, so don’t be surprised if you see them reach the playoffs in years to come.
5. Toronto Raptors – After being swept by the Cavaliers in the second round of last year’s playoffs, the Toronto Raptors have made some big roster changes. The Raptors, led by All Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, have added some new players with Serge Ibaka and CJ Miles. The Raptors will also give Forward Norman Powell some more playing time. Toronto is a team that regularly makes the playoffs, reaching them in their past four seasons. They will reach the playoffs this year with the fifth seed, since they are surrounded by some quite talented teams here in the East.
6. Orlando Magic – The Magic had a surprising start to the 2017 season, winning five of their seven games and beating the Cavaliers and Spurs by over 20 points. The Magic don’t have many good players other than Aaron Gordon, but if they keep playing like they are now, they could be a strong team in the East.
7. Detroit Pistons – The Pistons started the season well, and I believe they will keep it up. Andre Drummond, the Pistons big man, will be a threat, and he will get a lot of rebounds, along with points. The Detroit Pistons won’t be ranked too high although they can compete in the East. They didn’t make the playoffs last season, so this will be a great bounce-back season for the franchise.
8. Philadelphia 76ers – The Sixers have had many years of disappointment and frustration. They’ve gone down as one of the NBA’s worst teams ever, finishing with a 10-72 record two years ago. This year all of that will change with former number-one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ben Simmons, finally healthy after breaking his foot in his rookie season. With Simmons and the talented point guard Markelle Fultz, this team has a bright future. The 76ers, who are currently in the rebuilding process, also have center Joel Embiid, who, if healthy, can take the team to the playoffs.
9. Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets are a weird team entering this season. With additions of Dwight Howard and Malik Monk to play alongside Kemba Walker, the Hornets sure did quite a bit this off-season. I don’t think these players will fit into Steve Clifford’s coaching style, and I don’t expect Dwight Howard to be playing multiple seasons in Charlotte. The Hornets have a lot of work to do to make the playoffs.
10. Miami Heat – The “Big 3,” consisting of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, is long gone, so the Heat will have to win games with a new lineup. There are a lot of familiar faces from last year, including Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside. I do believe this team can win although their championship days are pretty much over. Miami also finished the second half of last year’s season 31-10 after an ugly 10-31 start. That would’ve been a comeback season for the ages, but the Heat just missed the playoffs in a tiebreaker with the Chicago Bulls. I don’t believe the Heat will make the playoffs this season, but I do expect a good season from Dion Waiters.
11. Brooklyn Nets – The Nets started off hot, but they will eventually cool down. This Nets team isn’t as good as they appear since they will be missing Jeremy Lin this season. Don’t forget that this is the team that only won 21 games last season, so I don’t expect them to be on the winning side. The Nets are rebuilding and could have a good team soon, but it won’t happen this year.
12. Indiana Pacers – The Pacers had a rough off-season by getting robbed in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul George was traded for some half decent players, which shocked many Pacer fans. The Pacers will not make the playoffs without that lost talent, and Myles Turner isn’t enough of a leader to carry this team to victory.
13. Chicago Bulls The Chicago Bulls have lost a lot of talent this past off-season, including All Star forward Jimmy Butler being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They also lost Dwayne Wade, who only spent one season in his home city to play alongside LeBron James. The Bulls made the playoffs last year, but that won’t happen this year. The Bulls have officially begun rebuilding their team, and they will be tanking for a good draft pick.
14. New York Knicks – After losing star forward Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder, the Knicks are getting worse and worse as the years go by. Signing Tim Hardaway Jr. is just a baby step for the franchise because they’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do. If Kristaps Porzingis can’t win with Carmelo Anthony by his side, it’s even less likely without him.
15. Atlanta Hawks – Oh boy! After losing in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Hawks lost two of their main players. They lost Paul Millsap in free agency, and they traded away Dwight Howard to the Hornets, even after the big contract they gave him, which many questioned. Dennis Schroeder does not have the qualities of a leader, and this team will be absolutely awful. Putting them this low is understandable, but very disappointing for a team that’s regularly in the playoffs, and that got the number-one seed in 2014.
1. Golden State Warriors – The 2017 NBA Champions are here, and they’re ready to make another great run. The Warriors have been the most dominant team these past three seasons, with the most combined wins of all time in that three-year period. In 2015, the Warriors finished with a 67-15 record and won the finals. In 2016, the Warriors broke the record for most wins in a season with 73 wins and only 9 losses. Then the Warriors came back even stronger, adding All-Star Kevin Durant to their lineup. The Warriors won the finals with Durant and are back to fight and likely advance to their fourth straight finals.
2. Houston Rockets – James Harden, one of the best players in the league, now has a new sidekick, Chris Paul. Paul is one of the league’s best in assists, and alongside Harden, this team will make a great run. Harden must take advantage of having Chris Paul now because he might not stay in Houston after this season. The Rockets are always a strong team, and I believe they are tough competition to this Western Conference.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder have just built a super trio this off-season adding All Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to go along with the most loyal NBA player and 2017 MVP, Russell Westbrook. Building this “Thunderous Trio” is big for this team after losing Kevin Durant last year to the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder, without Durant, made the playoffs, but got knocked out in the first round to the Rockets. The Thunder are now back in business, so that’s why I’ve got them at number three.
4. San Antonio Spurs The Spurs, who are normally dominating the Western Conference, have a lot of pros and cons. One big question is how long 35-year-old Tony Parker will play since in this past season he has been slowing down due to injuries. Pau Gasol is on his way out as well since he hasn’t been performing well at all lately. The Spurs will soon move on from their very old team with Kyle Anderson, who is expected to be big. Gregg Poppovich, one of the game’s greatest coaches, will start giving these rising stars more time sooner than later, and don’t forget that the Spurs do have defensive monster Kawhi Leonard, who has led the team to a finals championship.
5. Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers normally make the playoffs. They should reach the post-season, but expect them to be gone by the first round, again. Chris Paul was a big part of this team, and trading him away isn’t going to help the Clippers win a championship.
6. Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are great all-around players. Mike Conley, the Grizzlies’ starting point guard, has done well in this league, and Marc Gasol, who leads the team in scoring, will help this team make the playoffs
7. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were enough to take this team to the playoffs last year, and they should repeat. They will have a great year, even if they don’t play Golden State in the first round again. This team could be a playoff threat.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves – This is arguably the team with the best off-season other than the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Timberwolves have made a lot of roster additions, including Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Bulls and Jeff Teague, who signed as a free agent. These two strong players will go along with Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns to make one of the biggest powerhouses in basketball. This team will soon be high up in the Western Conference, but in their first year they won’t make it too far in the highly competitive Western Conference. I do believe that the Wolves will be a great team, and they will be tough competition for the Warriors.
9. Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets are a good team, but they won’t be good enough. Yes, I know they have added All-Star Paul Millsap to play along with Nikola Jokic, but that duo is nowhere near as good as Curry and Durant, and Westbrook and Paul George. The Nuggets are still rebuilding. Even after adding these players, they still need more help at the guard position.
10. New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans have a playoff-caliber team, but they don’t have much of a bench, which means starters such as DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis will have to do most of the heavy work.
11. Utah Jazz – Gordon Hayward is no longer on the Jazz, and that will make an impact on this team. The Utah Jazz have got some young players on the rise, but that won’t be enough to qualify for the playoffs.
12. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball is expected to be great, but he hasn’t put up the numbers to back up that statement. Lonzo’s boastful father will be wrong since his team won’t make the playoffs, and the Lakers should be tanking for a good draft pick.
13. Phoenix Suns – The Suns are awful. Devin Booker is probably the best player they have since Eric Bledsoe is long gone, and you guessed it, the Suns will need some more years of rebuilding.
14. Dallas Mavericks – These aren’t the same Mavericks as the ones from 2011. Dirk Nowitzki is on his way out, and the Mavs aren’t going anywhere with the lineup they have now. Dennis Smith Jr. is a talented player, but he will need some good players on his side as well.
15. Sacramento Kings – The Kings’ 11-year playoff drought will soon turn to 12. The Kings would be lucky if they won more than 25 games this season. DeAaron Fox might have been a sensation to watch in college, but he won’t shift to the pros like all the others of this draft class. DeMarcus Cousins isn’t a King anymore, and they will end up dead last.
2017-18 NBA East and West Conference Predictions
The pre-season has ended and the regular NBA season has kicked off. While the Eastern Conference still has arguably unbeatable talent, the Western Conference has been flooded with skill and aptitude. With players like Paul George, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony adding onto the West during the off-season, it is clear there will be a lot of competition this season. Here is a projection for the Eastern and Western standings for the 2017 season, from 1 to 15.
Western Conference Predictions
1. Golden State Warriors: Ask someone what 2+2 is. Then, ask them who they think will do the best in the West. They will most likely say the Warriors. With four all-stars, it looks obvious that the Warriors will be on top of their game this season.
2. Houston Rockets: Many fans are hesitant about the Rockets’ roster; the new James Harden and Chris Paul duo has been looked upon critically because they both need the ball in their hands. But at the end of the day, they have good basketball brainpower in that they’ve both played in the NBA for several seasons, and they both know how to win. Therefore they can make it work.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC had arguably the best off-season of any team—getting Paul George and Carmelo Anthony for as cheap as they did must guarantee success to some extent. So far, the OKC trio has been working out just fine.
4. San Antonio Spurs: While the Spurs are still a great team all around, their main point guard, Tony Parker (who may be facing health problems this season), is not up to standards with the PGs on OKC, Rockets, and the Warriors. The Spurs are also facing small problems, like the chance of John Simmons leaving and Pau Gasol’s old age. These problems shouldn’t stop the Spurs from placing high in the standings like they prove they can do every season.
5. Los Angeles Clippers: Many say the Clippers won’t go anywhere now that they lost Chris Paul. However, they signed many players to make up for the loss, and with the re-signing of Blake Griffin, the Clippers are crossing their fingers that he can be a reliable leader. On the downside, the Clippers’ starters, like Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverly, seem to have inevitable health issues.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves have a lot of added talent. They now have Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and more. But due to all the talent in the West, getting sixth seed is not bad. After all, the Timberwolves got 13th seed last season, so moving this many spots up is good for them. They’ve also missed the playoffs for many years, so getting sixth seed would be a huge plus for the franchise.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers had a rather quiet off-season compared to other teams in their division. However, they have assets such as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic, whom some say has lots of potential.
8. Denver Nuggets: With the addition of Paul Millsap, the Nuggets now have a Nikola Jokić and Paul Millsap duo, which many call “a match made in heaven.” Nikola Jokić is a young rising star who will excite Nuggets fans. However, there are many holes in the Nuggets roster, most obviously the PG position.
9. Utah Jazz: While they lost Gordon Hayward, the Jazz still have their share of talent. Rudy Gobert is seen as the best player on the Jazz, but there are a handful of players who consistently put up just as many points as he does.
10. Memphis Grizzlies: The West is changing in front of Memphis, and I don’t think they have what it takes to keep up with the improving teams. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are gone, which is going to clearly bring them down.
11. New Orlean Pelicans: While it’s unusual to put a team with players like Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday this low in the standings, the Pelicans bench is brutal, and if any of their starters get injured, they will be in big trouble.
12. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers have had a past to forget, but now with adding Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma, they have undoubtedly improved. But there are still too many holes and unreliable players in their roster, which means they won’t get near the playoffs.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. has been opening up many people’s eyes. However, the team is not good overall. The Mavs are starting to realize they need to rebuild and try to get a high draft pick.
14. Phoenix Suns: The Suns have a bright future with their young talents; however, they are a little too young for their young players to shine. Devin Booker, undoubtedly the Suns’ best player, has already proved he is a great leader for the future of Phoenix. Their interim head coach, Jay Triano, has already proved to be a better coach than Earl Watson. Unfortunately, now that Bledsoe is gone, the Suns now are in need of a good and young PG.
15. Sacramento Kings: While the Kings have the potential to be a playoff contender in the near future, their players still need time to mature. Recently-drafted PG De’Aaron Fox is going to be the Kings’ centerpiece for the season.
Eastern Conference Predictions
1. Boston Celtics: Kyrie Irving has already proved he can lead a team just as good, if not better, than LeBron James. Landing Gordon Hayward was a guarantee for first seed, but now that he is out for the season, the Celtics are in need of a small forward. Jayson Tatum is not up to par with the other small forwards in the East, such as Jae Crowder (Cavs) and Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre (Wizards).
2. Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are ready to take the next step this season. Lots of attention is surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo, recently traded for Eric Bledsoe, as he is improving rapidly. Many people believe Giannis will be the next best player in the NBA this season, if not next. The Bucks’ other young players, such as Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon, are going to support 22-year-old Giannis this season and lead the Bucks to the fourth seed.
3. Orlando Magic: The Magic have opened many NBA fans’ eyes as they have been doing much better than predicted. With Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, the Magic are slowly becoming a team that people don’t look forward to playing against.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Although their stars like Lebron James, Isaiah Thomas, and Kevin Love are getting up there in age, the Cavs did a good job in the off-season on trading for players who can complete the team and replace Kyrie Irving. In my eyes, Irving was vital to the Cavs, and Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose won’t be able to support Lebron as well.
5. Washington Wizards: John Wall and Bradley Beal led a good lineup last season, leading the Wizards to 49 wins. Now that a lot of All Stars have migrated to the West, the Wizards are getting their opportunity to compete against Cleveland. Wizards fans just have to hope nobody gets injured.
6. Toronto Raptors: While Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are still shining in Toronto, many other players, such as DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, Cory Joseph and P.J. Tucker, departed Toronto. This leaves the stars without support, which will leave Toronto on one leg strong enough to still be a playoff team, but not for long.
7. Detroit Pistons: Although the Pistons added Avery Bradley, a solid talent, they lost Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was one of their star scorers last season. However, they’ve started well, and I think their balanced team can make the playoffs.
8. Charlotte Hornets: The Hornets are depending on Dwight Howard for success this season. Their small forward, Nicolas Batum, got injured in the pre-season, which will bring the Hornets down a bit. Although they also have Kemba Walker, the Hornets still do not have enough firepower to go far in the playoffs.
9. Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers have a healthy frontcourt, with talents like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The first pick in this year’s draft, Markelle Fultz, can also help the Sixers make the playoffs.
10. New York Knicks: I think the Knicks will play better this season without Carmelo Anthony slowing down the offense. Frank Nikilala may prove his talent this season and support Kristaps Porzingis, the star player on the Knicks.
11. Miami Heat: Although the Heat still have Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters, who can open some eyes this season, you have to worry when the Heats’ biggest signing in the off-season was Kelly Olynyk.
12. Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are undoubtedly going to be worse this season. With the departure of Paul George and Jeff Teague, the Pacers are not projected to be near the playoffs. Myles Turner, who is not up to par with the other team’s top scorer, is now their top scorer.
13. Chicago Bulls: Many people believe the Bulls got robbed in the Butler-LaVine trade. However, the Bulls did this trade so they could get young talent that can hopefully carry them to a playoff team in a few years. But for now, their youngsters aren’t in their prime, and the Bulls are in rebuilding mode.
14. Brooklyn Nets: While the Nets still have talents like D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, the loss of Brook Lopez ensures that the Nets won’t be anywhere near the playoff picture this season.
15. Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are currently rebuilding, which means they are not competing for the playoffs. Instead, they are competing with the 15th seed for a high lottery pick.