Boston Celtics – Jaylen Brown will win Most Improved Player
The Celtics revamped their team and practically changed their identity. Their biggest problem was scoring points and with the additions of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, scoring shouldn’t be an issue. However, with the gruesome, season-ending injury to Hayward, the “next man up” tactic has been put in place. Jaylen Brown will have the minutes and opportunity to become the two-way player that the team needs right now.
Brooklyn Nets – They will win 30 games this year
With the addition of D’Angelo Russell, the Nets should win a few more games than last year. He has a lot to prove, especially after what Magic Johnson said about him after he was traded this summer.
New York Knicks – Kristaps Porzingiz will make an All NBA team
The Knicks are rebuilding around Porzingiz after finally moving on from “Hoodie Melo“. With inferior talent surrounding “The Unicorn”, he will have ample opportunity to put up huge numbers.
Philadelphia 76’ers – They will finish as the 6th seed (if healthy)
Joel Embiid has superstar talent. Ben Simmons can be a walking triple-double. Markelle Fultz can score from anywhere. This young core plus veteran leadership can definitely clinch a playoff in the subpar Eastern Conference. Just “Trust The Process”.
Toronto Raptors – Will lose in the first round
Even though Kyle Lowry returned this past off-season, this team has plateaued two years ago. Cleveland, Boston, Washington, and Milwaukee are better than them. Unless something drastic changes with this roster, this team will only get worse.
Chicago Bulls – Justin Holiday will be the team’s leading scorer
The full rebuild in Chicago is underway. With Zach LaVine still a few months away from returning from an ACL injury, Justin Holiday seems like the candidate to take the reigns for scoring on offense. He’s flying under the radar and might even be in the hunt for Most Improved Player.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Jae Crowder was the biggest addition this summer
Neither Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green or even Isaiah Thomas have the same significants that Jae Crowder brings. Crowder will guard the opponent’s best player ever game. This will ultimately allow LeBron James to rest more on defense and put more emphasis on the offensive end. With Thomas being out until at least February, LeBron once again is the focal point.
Detroit Pistons – Reggie Jackson gets traded
Last season, the Pistons underachieve as a whole after making the playoffs the season before. Even though Jackson was dealing with a knee injury, he hasn’t lived up to the 5 year/80 million contract he signed in 2015. Jackson was almost traded this summer so expect changes if there team gets off to a good start again.
Indiana Pacers – Myles Turner will finish top 5 for Defensive Player of the Year
With Paul George’s future hanging a cloud over the franchise last season, Turner became the bright spot for the team moving forward. He averaged 14.5 points. Where Turner made a difference was on defense by grabbing over 7 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. With Myles Turner being the cornerstone of the franchise, he’ll have the tools to succeed.
Milwaukee Bucks – They will play Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals
Last season, the Bucks took a step forward with the “Greek Freak” leading the charge. Antetokounmpo finished in the top 20 in all five of the main statistical categories (points, rebounds, assist, steals and blocks) and will be a strong candidate for MVP this season. If this team stays healthy and is rolling on all cylinders, I don’t see why they can’t finish in the top 3 in the Eastern Conference and make their way to a showdown against the Cavs.
Atlanta Hawks – John Collins will make All-Rookie First Team
The 6 foot 10 inch forward out of Wake Forest showed his versatility and potential during the summer league. And the way this roster is currently constructed, he’ll have ample opportunity to put up some numbers.
Charlotte Hornets – They will return to the playoffs
The Hornets regress last season after making the playoffs the year before. Losing Al Jefferson left a void in the middle. The team is hoping that signing Dwight Howard can have an impact. He’s not as offensively gifted as Jefferson, but his impact on the defensive end can be a difference maker. He should be motivated after a disastrous season in Atlanta.
Miami Heat – They will make a big move at the trade deadline
With many teams making power moves over this pass offseason and Miami missing out on stars such as Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin, this team finds itself at the fork in the road. Even though the Eastern Conference is lackluster, they are still behind Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, and Milwaukee. Don’t be surprised if Pat Riley tries to move Justin Winslow and/or Josh Richardson for a premier wing.
Orlando Magic – Jonathan Simmons will be the team’s best player
Simmons made the most of his opportunities last season as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. With his high motor, athleticism, and work ethic, he will earn every minute and penny of his contract.
Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal will make his first NBA All-Star game
In reality, Beal should’ve been an all-star last season instead of Carmelo Anthony. And even with the new format for selecting players for the exhibition game this season, Beal has taken is game to another level. He’s worth being selected.
Denver Nuggets – Playoff bound
Last season, the Nuggets showed glimpses of their potential. The emergence of “The Joker” as giving the Mile High City new life in its rebuilding stage. Signing Paul Millsap and Richard Jefferson will enhance their roster. Jamaal Murray and Gary Harris should be a formidable backcourt for years to come. This team will make a splash.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Will make it to the Western Conference Semi Finals
At the moment, the T’Wolves are the 5th best team in the Western Conference (Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Houston are ahead). As the season progresses, this team will become a defensive juggernaut once they fully buy into Tom Thibodeau’s scheme. Adding Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson will give them that grittiness on defense. The team added depth by signing Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford. If Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins can take their games to the next level, this team will a tough out against anybody in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Carmelo Anthony will be a top 15 player again
We’ve seen Phil Jackson rip Carmelo Anthony to shreds in the media last season and to Carmelo’s credit, he handled it like a professional. After the appearance of “Hoodie Melo” and being dealt to Oklahoma City, Carmelo has an opportunity to be the player that we once knew. The past month or two says that he is having fun playing the game of basketball again. He seems motivated, hungry, determined, and eager to prove all of the doubters wrong. Now if the league could only let Melo wear his hoodie on the court…
Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard will be an all-star
The general consensus is that Damian Lillard was snubbed for the NBA All-Star game the past 2 seasons. With the new format that allows two captains to pick their teams, Lillard should get his opportunity to perform this up and coming February. Dame D.O.L.L.A. average 27 ppg, 5 rebounds, and 6 assist per game last season. If he stays consistent, there’s no reason why he won’t be on the team.
Utah Jazz – Rodney Hood will emerge as a star
Gordon Hayward’s departure left a hole to fill, especially on the offensive end. Rodney Hood as the skill set to put up numbers. Also, with an extension is unlikely to get done, he will be betting on himself to cash out next summer as a restricted free agent.
Golden State – Will repeat
You would think the Golden State Warriors couldn’t get any better after beating the Cavs in 5 this past June. Then the off-season happened. The team brought back Curry, Durant, Iguodala, McGee, Livingston, West, and Zaza. Also, they added Swaggy P, Casspi and Jordan Bell. This team is more talented than the team from a season ago. Good luck!
Los Angeles Clippers – They won’t miss a beat
Trading Chris Paul might seem like a downgrade on paper but the additions that were made this off-season will not regress them into their old habits. Signing Danilo Gallinari gives them the small forward they were always lacking. Signing Milos Teodosic still gives them a true point guard. They become a better defensive team with Patrick Beverley on the floor. Don’t expect them to fade away.
Los Angeles Lakers – Kyle Kuzma has a legitimate chance to win Rookie of the Year
Drafting Lonzo Ball is worth every penny they’re going to pay him because we will make his teammates better. Drafting Kyle Kuzma was probably the best value pick of the whole draft. He can attack the basketball, can play off the ball and has a smooth shooting touch. Give him minutes and he will produce.
Phoenix Suns – Devin Booker will be an NBA All-Star
Devin Booker is a special player. Whenever you can get the Boston Celtics fans to cheer for you dropping 70 points in your building, you are on the right track. As the team continues to rebuild, he will be the face of the franchise.
Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox will be the starting point guard by February
No disrespect to George Hill but Fox is the future of this team and this team isn’t going anywhere this year. His speed alone gives him an advantage over everyone in the league except a handful of players. He has perennial all-star talent and once his skills catches up to his ceiling, watch out.
Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith Jr with become the cornerstone of the franchise
A lot of analysis suggested that Smith should’ve been drafted by the Knicks instead of the Mavs. He reminds me of Derrick Rose 2.0 with his explosiveness. His impact with make his teammates better and eventually will turn them into contenders again.
Houston Rockets – They will underachieve
Anything less than a visit to the Western Conference Finals will be considered a failed season. Adding Chris Paul will improve their backcourt play. However, the other teams in the Western Conference has gotten better (Oklahoma City, Minnesota, San Antonio, and Golden State). Each of those teams can not only score but they play GREAT defense. That has yet to be seen from a Mike D’Antoni team.
Memphis Grizzlies – Marc Gasol will be the center of trade talks
The Memphis Grizzlies used to me known as a “grind it out” team and was a tough matchup for any opponent in the playoffs. It looks their window as contenders has closed either the departures of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen. Marc Gasol is 32 and his value will only decrease from here. He should be heavily coveted.
New Orleans Pelicans – Will make the playoffs
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have a combined total of 4 playoff games in their careers. I believe a year together will do them good. They both can average 20 points and 10 rebounds a piece. Most importantly, they will learn how to play together on the floor without limiting each other. Rajon Rondo will make a difference once he returns from injury.
San Antonio Spurs – Kawhi Leonard will win MVP
Leonard came into the league as a defensive specialist. He emerged as the future cornerstone of the Spurs when he gave LeBron James problems and won the NBA Final’s MVP back in 2014. As the face of the franchise for the next decade, he has every opportunity to continue to lead the Spurs into contention and win MVP this year.