The anticipation for the upcoming NBA season is off the charts thanks to a hectic off-season. With multiple stars switching teams this summer, the league is once again interesting because of it. Even though the season is still one month away, it is never too early for some season predictions. As this off-season taught us fans, anything is possible. That is why I have made some predictions for the upcoming season. These predictions are bold, some may seem like stretches but they are not out of the realm of possibility.
Prediction 1: Kyrie Irving wins MVP
Kyrie Irving in Cleveland was a top ten player in the league. Kyrie Irving in Boston is going to be the MVP. He has all the talent in the world, and in Boston it is all going to come together for a breakout campaign. Brad Stevens is going to build his offense around Kyrie, giving him all the opportunities in the world. He is now the leader of a team with high expectations. The team’s success and failures are going to be on his shoulders. This is what he wanted, so he’s going to have to prove that he can do it.
Prove it he will. Kyrie is going to play like a man on a mission. He is going to pick up right where Isaiah Thomas left off and go from there. All his talents are going to show up this year. His top notch dribbling, shooting, passing, and yes even defense. He will score at a high rate while also facilitating the offense. He will take Boston’s offense to new heights this season while holding the MVP trophy at the end of it.
Prediction 2: New Orleans Pelicans start their rebuild
The New Orleans Pelicans are going to do the unthinkable this season and trade Anthony Davis. Davis is a transcendent talent that teams should trade all their assets for. And what team has those assets? We’re all looking at you “Trader Danny” in Boston. With an assortment of young prospects and a treasure chest of draft pick, they can give New Orleans a “rebuild starter pack.” They have Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and a treasure chest of first round draft picks. A package of the Los Angeles Lakers/Sacramento Kings pick, Memphis Grizzlies 2019 pick, and any choice of Tatum, Brown, Rozier, plus any throw-ins to get the deal done.
Along with Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins will also be on his way out of The Big Easy. Cousins is one of, if not the best center in the league, but finding a trading partner may be hard to find. Not a lot of teams are going to want a hot-headed big man that doesn’t fit well in the small ball era who is also going to be a free agent at the end of the season. No team would want to give up assets for the big, unless that team is the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have plenty reasons to trade for him, most notably to try to re-sign Lebron James in the offseason. They also have the perfect asset to trade, the unprotected Brooklyn Nets 2018 draft pick. That pick, along with any other pick and players, should get the deal done.
With those two trades the Pelicans will set themselves up for the future. With Good young players, and multiple draft picks coming in, the Pelicans will have a bright future. They can have three lottery picks in a loaded 2018 draft. They would also have good young talent like Brown and Tatum who have high ceilings to build upon. The future is bright in New Orleans with a perfect rebuild opportunity.
Prediction 3: Milwaukee Bucks will be a top-three seed in the east
The upper echelon of teams in the east includes the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards. The Milwaukee Bucks will join those teams in the top of the east. They have a talented core with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jabari Parker. As well as good role players like John Henson, Greg Monroe, and Matthew Dellavedova just to name a few. They also have developing young talents like rookie of the year, Malcolm Brogdon, and Thon Maker. With all this talent on one roster, there is no reason not be a top-three seed in the east.
It also doesn’t hurt that they play in such a weak eastern conference. Last year, the Bucks finished in sixth place. Ahead of them were Boston, Cleveland, Toronto, Washington, and Atlanta. Atlanta is currently starting their rebuild. Washington and Toronto didn’t do much to improve their rosters. Boston has a whole new team, and Cleveland is getting older by the day. The Bucks are young, hungry, and entering their prime. They will be the third seed in the east behind Cleveland and Boston.
Prediction 4: Philadelphia 76ers will make the playoffs
Well, Philadelphia you trusted the process and now you are reaping the benefits. The 76ers are brimming over with young talent. They have Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Jahlil Okafor all on one roster. With so much young talent, there is no reason to not make a playoff push.
Playing in the east helps the Sixers out a lot. There are only five real contenders in the east; they include the Celtics, Cavs, Raptors, Wizards, and Bucks. Then, there are the rebuilding teams that include the Bulls, Hawks, and Pacers. Furthermore, there are teams like the Knicks, Nets, and Magic who can’t get out of their own way to put a competing team on the floor. Everyone else is in the middle: not contending, but not tanking. There is an exception: the Philadelphia 76ers. They are exiting the rebuilding stage and are ready to compete. They are on the rise and will make the playoffs.
It is yet to be seen how this team will bond and play together. The team does have some question marks that they have to figure out. How will Okafor play alongside Embiid? How will Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz co-exist with only one ball? These are good questions to have because of the talent that those players have. Head Coach Brett Brown will figure it out in time to make a playoff push. They will end up making it as the number eight seed. Doing so will be a big leap for a team that has been rebuilding for too long.
Prediction 5: Minnesota Timberwolves will make the biggest jump
Before the offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves were a team to keep an eye out for. They had a nice young core of players that were ready to break out. But after the offseason, get ready for them, because they are coming. The T-Wolves are going to make the biggest jump this year from perennial losers to big winners. Their team is led by big man Karl Anthony Towns. He will have help from Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, and Jeff Teague which is not a bad supporting cast. That core four right there is a scary unit to play. And with defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau at the helm, no one is going to want to play the T-Wolves this season.
Does this team remind you of a former team coached by Thibodeau? Say maybe the Chicago Bulls? Thibodeau’s fingerprints are written all over this team. Tough, gritty, defensive players who are hungry for success. They have talent all over the place, with chemistry, and a smart coach. This team is destined for the playoffs for the first time since the Kevin Garnett era.
Prediction 6: Cavs and Warriors will not meet in the Finals
The non-competitive days of the NBA are over. No longer is it the league of just Golden State and Cleveland. Teams are stepping up and trying to take down the superpowers of the Warriors and Cavs. This off-season consisted of one crazy move after another. Every move was made with one thing in mind: to compete with the Warriors and Cavs.
In the West, Houston has stepped up to the plate to try to take down Golden State. They made a power move by trading for Chris Paul. A Paul-Harden backcourt is good enough to take on the tandem of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Then, with good role players and a good bench, they have what it takes to upend the Warriors. They have room to improve to by making in-season trades for more talent.
Then there’s the San Antonio Spurs who are always in contention. They could have defeated the Warriors last year if Kawhi Leonard didn’t get hurt. They will be back healthy and ready for revenge.
Finally, there is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Young, hungry, ready to play Cinderella in the Western Conference. They have the top level talent to keep up with the Warriors. It also doesn’t hurt that they have Karl Anthony Towns, who the Warriors won’t have an answer for.
In the east teams are still trying to take down the king of the east, Lebron James. The Boston Celtics have revamped their roster to better compete with the Cavaliers. They signed Gordon Hayward and traded for Kyrie Irving. They have a whole new roster full of young hungry talent that fit Brad Stevens’ system. They can even improve their roster by making a trade for another superstar, possibly Anthony Davis.
The East also has young teams that are hitting their primes like Washington and Milwaukee. Their top stars (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Giannis Antetokounmpo) are all ready to break through to superstar status and bring their teams to the top with them.
Anything is possible. Injuries/trades happen and team chemistry can crack. All these factor in to why we won’t get a fourth round of Cleveland vs. Golden State. At least one new team will be in the finals, making the NBA interesting again.