East and West Playoff Predictions
Yes, I know that I am not the best, when it comes to understanding football. My spread picks and saying Sam Darnold was going to be a top 10 QB this year speak for themself. But we all know where I make my bread, basketball. Though I look like a terminally ill ostrich whenever I get on the court, I am a basketball guru. So, I am here today to tell you what the playoff seedings will be for this season.
1. Milwaukee Bucks The defending champs brought back the whole squad outside of PJ Tucker. They added Grayson Allen, which will give them more depth at the guard position and perimeter defending. Bucks are led by one of the best players of this generation and two great sidekicks, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, I expect the Bucks to run the east in the regular season
2. Miami Heat got better this offseason. I think Oladipo will get healthy and return as a solid number 2 offensive option for the team. They also added Kyle Lowry, who will add veteran leadership and shooting to a team that could use it. Same exact thing could be said about the addition of PJ Tucker. Butler and Bam are still 2 of the best defenders at their position and have not forgotten about getting swept by the Bucks last season. If Tyler Herro can develop into a 6th man of the year candidate, the Heat could find their way back to the finals.
3. Brooklyn Nets had a dysfunctional offseason with Kyrie Irving and whether he will play. I think this might be a distraction up until his final decision (if we ever get one). But the Nets still have 2 of the top 5 players in the NBA and Paddy Mills is a solid starting guard to try to fill Kyrie’s absence. I think the Nets will start out the gate slow but heat up around the All-Star break. Any team with Kevin Durant and James Harden should have 50+ wins in the regular season and a shot at the finals.
4. Atlanta Hawks will look to build onto their ECF run last season. Trae Young has established himself as a true superstar in the league. John Collins just got PAID, which worries me a bit, but he still has all-star potential. They added depth with Dieng and Delon Wright. I think the Hawks will be a feisty team but are still one piece away from being able to make the finals.
5. Boston Celtics seem to be stuck in purgatory. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are absolute studs but outside of those two, the offense is bad. They added Schroder, who is good for about 15 a game with the second team, so that should help. They also brought Horford back, who can provide great post defense but with the coaching change and lack of offense, I think the Celtics will take a step back this year.
6. New York Knicks The Knicks will look to build on their breakout year last season. I think they have some good players and brought in Kemba Walker. If he can return to his old form, they could be a top 4 seed in the east and be a threat to anybody, but this is unlikely. Evan Fournier should also help the knicks offense, especially if he plays how he did in Tokyo this past summer. The Knicks will be dangerous this year regardless. Also, look for RJ Barrett to have a breakout season.
7. Philadelphia 76ers are a weird team to assess. They were not able to trade Ben Simmons this year and it seems he has no interest in helping the team this season. Though that probably gives them a better chance in the playoffs, it will hurt their regular season record. Embiid is an absolute monster, who can dominate any big in the league. With that, he does have injury concerns and is probably due to miss anywhere between 15-20 games throughout the season.
8. Chicago Bulls should be a fun team this year. They have some very good pieces: Zach Lavine, Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, and DeMar DeRozan. They will need to have the offense gel first, but the Bulls are going to be a strong team this year.
9. Charlotte Hornets are a young core that could become contenders. Not this year though. LaMelo Ball is unreal good. He is looking like he could carry the team to playoffs by himself. The east has a bunch of good teams this year, so the odds are against them. If Terry Rozier can score like his Celtics days, the Hornets could be a dangerous play-in team.
10. Indiana Pacers have good players with Levert, Warren, and Sabonis. Outside of that they just have a bunch of role players and not much help on offense. Myles Turner is solid but not much of a threat on offense. Sabonis has been mentioned in trade rumors this summer. That will determine their season since he is by far their best player.
11. Washington Wizards are not a complete basketball team. They have Bradley Beal and acquired some decent players but gave up Russell Westbrook. They also added Spencer Dinwiddie, who is a good guard but not great. This could be the year the Wizards finally trade Beal and blow the whole thing up.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers probably have the tallest team in the NBA. Outside of that, they are not very interesting. They drafted Evan Mobley from USC. He seems to be a sure stud. It will take time for him in the NBA, since he is a big. Garland and Sexton have not lived up to their potential but have shown flashes. If they can consistently live up to their scoring potential and Kevin Love play some meaningful minutes, the Cavs could make the play in games.
13. Toronto Raptors are not good. They have Pascal and Gary Trent Jr. That’s about it. Both could be used for draft picks in a trade. They also moved off Lowry indicating a full rebuild.
14. Detroit Pistons drafted Cade Cunningham. He is a lock to be a superstar. Great scorer and can play defense. They are still a really bad team, but Cunningham is a good start in building something for the future.
15. Orlando Magic has nobody. They should be the number 1 overall pick this year and be the worst team in the league.
1. Utah Jazz is not the best team in the west but will most likely have the best record. Donny Mitchell is a superstar paired up with Gobert in the post and savvy vet Mike Conley. They have great shooting and the best bench player in the league with Jordan Clarkson. The Jazz are going to be a threat to win the entire west but will Definitely succeed in the regular season, like last year.
2. Los Angeles Lakers are going to be the most talked about team this year. Adding some veterans and only bringing back 3 players from last year’s roster. I think Russell Westbrook will help carry the load in the regular season. This will give Lebron and AD some rest. Melo adds shooting to the team, which they needed. I think the Lakers are going to win a lot of regular season games but will struggle with spacing the floor in the playoffs.
3. Phoenix Suns are the defending western conference champs. I think they still have a great team, but after crumbling in the finals last year, they are going to have some psyche problems. They have CP3, Booker, Ayton, and Mikal bridges. But the rest of their team isn’t great. If Cameron Johnson can develop then the Suns might be a real threat in the playoffs again. Regardless they are going to win a bunch of games.
4. Denver Nuggets have a solid roster. Jokic coming off his MVP season and Michael Porter Junior looking to establish himself as an all-star. They will struggle with guard play but that shouldn’t cause them to be in the bottom half of the west. This team is my favorite to win the west, depending on when Murray’s return is.
5. Golden State Warriors will be so fun this year. They won’t win as many games as they should during the regular season, but once they get Klay back, the warriors will probably look like they did in 2015. They brought back Iggy. Also, Jordan Poole is supposed to be a breakout guard for them. If Wiseman turns out to be a true star, the Warriors could take the west and return to their throne as the champs.
6. Dallas Mavericks are built around Luka, as they should be. The problem is the rest of the team sucks. Hardaway Jr. is a good piece but should not be a playoff team’s second-best player. But KP is kind of terrible now. He has no post game and is 7’3”. Jason Kidd is their new coach, but I really liked Rick Carlyle. Luka is going to make his case for MVP, so the Mavs will get some regular season wins. But I do not see the Mavs being a true contender in the west until they build around Doncic.
7. Los Angeles Clippers are not what they were supposed to be when they got Kawhi and Paul George 2 years ago. Kawhi starting the year on the bench will hurt them, but hopefully PG13 can step up like he did in the playoffs. If Terrence Mann can build off his playoff run, the Clippers will be able to stay afloat without Kawhi. But if not, things could get ugly in LA this year.
8. Portland Trail Blazers have one of the best players in the NBA with Damian Lillard. CJ McCollum is an all-star caliber player. Unfortunately, Nurkic’s career has been derailed by injuries. Norman Powell might turn out to be a great offensive weapon for them, if he can take another step forward in his game. Chauncey Billups is obviously the big move for them this offseason. I don’t know how much of an impact he will have though because it just seems that they do not have enough talent to make another step forward to being in the top half of the playoffs in the west.
9. Memphis Grizzlies stepped up big time last season. Ja Morant is turning out to be Russell Westbrook 2.0. Jaren Jackson is also looking like a promising running mate to Ja. Dillon Brooks provides shooting for them and spacing the floor for Ja. They lost Valanciunas but added Steven Adams and De’Anthony Melton in return. Melton could be a breakout star. They are still young but will be challenging for the playoffs this year in a stacked conference.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves has a solid core. DLO, Anthony Edwards, and KAT all have all-star potential. They also have Jarred Vanderbilt and Josh Okogie, who draft experts loved. They are very young but have skill. If they can work well together early, the T-Wolves will be in contention for the playoffs.
11. New Orleans Pelicans lost Lonzo Ball but added a good player with Devonte’ Graham. They have Ingram and Williamson, who both could be all stars this year. Also, added Valanciunas who is a beast. But the rest of the team is not very good, and they are still very young. Hopefully Williamson can stay healthy this year, that will play a huge role on how their record ends up.
12. Sacramento Kings are so bleh. Not exciting at all, and do not have any real direction. Fox is really good, but he doesn’t seem to be a true 1st option on a contending team. Hield seems to be in trade rumors ever since he got to the Kings. Haliburton is a solid player, but I do not see him ever reaching all-star level caliber. They got Davion Mitchell 9th overall in the draft, and he’s very good. But same problem, his ceiling is low. Maybe if Marvin Bagley stays healthy this year and it plays like the 2ndoverall pick is supposed to play, the kings will make the playoffs. But Bagley appears to be a bust.
13. OKC Thunder This definitely depends on how hard they are going to tank. SGA is an all-star level player and Lu Dort is an up and comer. Josh Giddey looks like the real deal thus far in preseason and his over sea play. This is a young team that could exceed expectations but is most likely going to tank.
14. San Antonio Spurs do not have much talent outside of Walker. They are still well coached, but they need a lot more on offense to compete.
15. Houston Rockets are tanking. They have Jalen Green, who in my mind, will have the best career from this year’s draft class. But outside of Green and Wood the Rockets are not good at all, unless Wall and Kevin Porter Jr. step up in a big way.