They just announced the most hyped rookie in 16 years, Zion Williamson is going to miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season due to injury. (cue the Greg Oden groans) We might as well wait til Christmas too. The NBA debuts its season really in the thickest of things. The World Series reminds people baseball is finally almost over. The NFL is approaching midseason, an intense time for many fans with playoff aspirations and Bills fans regardless. In college football, Wisconsin has once again choked in another promising season. Oh yeah and hockey’s started but do you even skate, bro?
The NBA season really doesn’t start until the Christmas Day games when the narratives for the regular season really gain steam and we have a sense of teams’ true identities. That being said, here, to satisfy my lust for being right are some predictions for this upcoming season.
The Cavs aren’t gonna be contending this year. They’re gonna play the small market strategy and develop their youths and hope to hit stardom in the lottery again. The Cavs tv ratings dropped 58% last season but it still ranked 6th in the NBA. A testament to the loyalty of Northeast Ohio and also there’s not that much better stuff to do really. I’m going to avoid making the obviously terrible pun but not be able to resist making you think about it. Where once there were Witnesses, there will now be Winston….Garland fans. Garland’s only played 5 games since high school (part of the Kyrie comparisons) but how he play acts with last year’s first rounder Collin Sexton will determine if the Cavs have the next Lillard-McCollum or Marbury-Francis.
There’s a lot of interesting teams vying for the 2nd tier in the East (see: Hawks, Heat, Nets, Pacers) but the East boils down to the Bucks and the 76ers. The 76ers have a chance to build on chemistry and with the most talented team in the East, make that final leap. But it’s hard to go against a determined Giannis and Mike Budenholzer’s proven system trying to make their own. The Bucks will need to replace Malcolm Brogdon however while Philly might replace Brett Brown mid-season if anything smells rotten.
Playoffs: 1. Bucks 2. 76ers 3. Celtics 4. Nets 5. Pacers 6. Heat 7. Hawks 8. Magic
Bucks over Magic, 76ers over Hawks, Celtics over Heat, Pacers over Nets
Bucks over Pacers, 76ers over Celtics
76ers over Bucks
In the West it’s the Battle of Los Angeles that looms largest but there’s no shortage of big time story lines here. Harden and Westbrook in Hot Shots Part Deux, Harden’s second stint with another ball dominant superstar, the Warriors getting into “They Doubt Us!” mode, and everyone who hates superstar teams wildly rooting for the Jazz, Nuggets, and Blazers. But let me tell you folks. I’ve watched about 2 and a half preseason games and there’s no doubt in my mind, the Lakers have the potential to go 82-0. They might make all their opponents look like the Washington Generals, or frankly, the Wizards.
But all kidding aside, the battle for the playoffs and seeding in the West will be fantastic. And the playoffs should be out of control. And with up and coming teams like the Mavs, Kings, and yes, the Timberwolves still, the race for the playoffs will be a battle between the old guard and the new. But I learned my lesson to never go against the Spurs.
Playoffs: 1. Clippers 2. Lakers 3. Jazz 4. Nuggets 5. Blazers 6. Rockets 7. Warriors 8. Spurs
Clippers over Spurs, Lakers over Warriors, Rockets over Jazz, Nuggets over Blazers
Clippers over Nuggets, Lakers over Rockets
Lakers over Clippers
MVP: Anthony Davis: He should have a career high in assists and LeBron might lead the league in them. We’ll see how sincere James was when he said he would pass the torch or how much his ego will want the personal glory. It’s really his choice who wins MVP this year.
Defensive Player of the Year: Lawrence Taylor: Best I ever seen. But to pick a current NBA player, let’s go Joel Embiid in an upset.
Most Improved: Lonzo Ball: I think Lonzo will flourish with his old teammates, some proper veteran leadership from Jrue Holliday, and the obviously lesser pressure of signing with No Limit versus Death Row. Okay, maybe I dated myself.
6th Man of the Year: Spencer Dinwiddie: I don’t see Lou Williams three-peating and Spencer Dinwiddie is good. Kyle Kuzma should also get votes but I don’t want people to think I’m a Lakers fan or anything. Plus, peep Dinwiddie’s contract proposal where he’s selling shares of it to high end investors.
Rookie of the Year: Zion Williamson: *If Zion doesn’t miss more than half the season, otherwise after seeing 3 highlights of Tyler Herro (UK player on the Heat) on Twitter, he’s my second choice.
Coach of the Year: Frank Vogel: I think everyone just feels sad for him cause he was their 3rd choice and Ty Lue was ahead of him and Jason Kidd is sneaky.
Oh and the Finals Pick: 40 years to the day, Alex Caruso steps into the center role for an injured Anthony Davis and leads the Lakers to a shocking Game 6 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Enjoy the season! Follow @bengalli33