Last season my predictions weren’t good. They were great. As a matter of fact, they were easily the best of any “expert” on the sport. In each conference I correctly predicted seven of the eight teams that would make the postseason, and did so almost perfectly according to their playoff seeding. If that wasn’t enough, my predictions for the NBA Finals was only 1 game off, as I picked Lebron James and the Cavaliers in six instead of the crazy seven game series it turned out to be.
So with the NBA season just a week out, there should be no place other than GameDaySportsBlog.com to come get your predictions and pre-season analysis of this season.
Last season we saw the greatest regular season team in history with the Golden State Warriors winning a record 73 games on their way to the 1-seed in the NBA Playoffs. The only thing that has changed for the Warriors since last season is that they may have gotten better. They added Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the league to already by far the best roster the league may have ever seen.
Behind them is the same cast of characters as last year. Chris Paul leads a good Clippers team into the hunt, and Kawhi Leonard makes the loss of Tim Duncan almost irrelevant in San Antonio (blasphemy, I know). The problem is these teams aren’t so much on the hunt for the top seed in the West, but instead shooting for 2nd in the conference. The Warriors are just that good.
And although it seems not much has changed near the top of the Western Conference, minus the Thunder who dropped from legitimate contender to playoff hopeful, there is a lot of shakeup after the top 3 spots.
Portland could make a run for that 4th spot led by Damian Lillard and Terry Stotts, who should have been named Coach of the Year last season. Memphis should make their 7th straight postseason appearance, and Dallas could make the tourney as well. One team a lot of people are sleeping on in the West is the Utah Jazz who may not have a full blown superstar on their roster but have a definite
And Houston is on the bubble of being a playoff team, with Mike D’Antoni trying to have a more successful stint in Houston than he did in LA. Minnesota is another team on the brink, and with another talented draft class they could make a serious move towards being a real competitor. Even the Sacramento Kings could make a possible run at being a lower seed playoff team in the very top-heavy Western Conference.
Meanwhile at the bottom of the conference, the Pelicans entered last season with playoff hopes and enter this year just trying not to have head coach Alvin Gentry fired mid-season. In Phoenix things aren’t much better, and the same goes for Denver.
- Golden State Warriors
- San Antonio Spurs
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Utah Jazz
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Dallas Mavericks
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Houston Rockets
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Denver Nuggets
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Sacramento Kings
- Phoenix Suns
The Eastern Conference isn’t as top heavy as the West this year, with a litany of teams fighting for good seeding come playoff time. But just like the West, there is a definite favorite in the East. Lebron James and the Cavaliers are coming off one of the most exciting NBA Finals in league history and it seems almost pre-ordained that King James will repeat as Eastern Conference champion for a 7th straight year.
Behind Cleveland is a plethora of teams who all have enough talent to get into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
Boston signed Al Horford, making them a somewhat legit threat to the Cavs in the East. The Nicks’ signing of D-Rose along with the offensive game of Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony show that they are for real offensively. If Joakim Noah can stay healthy they just might have enough defensively to make the 8-seed. The Raptors will be the basketball version of their local baseball Blue Jays by doing well in the regular season before losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Scott Brooks will have the Wizards playing better, but there is no telling how their almost non-existent front court will play. The Heat lost D-Wade and haven’t truly had Bosh in some time, but they still have enough young talent to make a run at being a top 10 team in the East. The Hawks are still good, even with their best player leaving for Boston, plus Paul Milsap is an overlooked stud.
Unfortunately I don’t see the Hornets improving on the great showing they had last year. And the Pacers are a complete question mark to me; as are the Bulls who made some offseason acquisitions but that might not help as much as the big names suggest they will.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the league, the Pacers are a complete question mark; as are the Nets. And if Philly ever figures out how to stay healthy, or how to play 4 big men at the same time they could really throw a wrench into the whole conference standings.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Boston Celtics
- Toronto Raptors
- Atlanta Hawks
- Indiana Pacers
- Charlotte Hornets
- Orlando Magic
- Detroit Pistons
- Washington Wizards
- New York Knicks
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Miami Heat
- Chicago Bulls
- Brooklyn Nets
- Philadelphia 76ers
Teams to Surprise
The Utah Jazz –
It’s impossible to look at this Jazz roster and not see a very good team, and one that is a legitimate playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Every starter that is lining up for Utah this season is above-average, and they have one of the deepest benches in the league. Add in a good coach and a young team and the chances the Jazz improve on what was a decent year last year is almost inevitable. Some people will say that they are missing a true superstar, something every great team needs nowadays, and to that I say these five starters are good enough without a “superstar” to be one of the West’s top 5 teams, and Gordon Heyward is turning himself into one heck of a player, as the critics will see this season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves –
Yes, the last time the T-Wolves made the playoffs since 2004, back when even Kevin Garnett was a young man, but this year they just might make it. I have Karl-Anthony Towns as a top 10 player in the league, and is up there with Demarcus Cousins as the best center in the league. Andrew Wiggins is becoming the player every scout in the league thought he could be. Zach LaVine is finally turning that insane athleticism into game production. Gorqui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad are underrated solid players, and Kris Dunn was maybe the best pick in the entire draft. I am not a Rubio fan (he was selected over better guards like Brandon Jennings, DeMar DeRozan, and some guy named Steph), and Dunn could be the player who helps finally get this team turned around, in place of the overrated Spaniard.
The Washington Wizards –
I was critical of Scott Brooks’ tenure at OKC. I think the fact that he was only able to get that talented of a team to the Finals once, and get absolutely blown out by Miami’s “Big 3” when he had an even better “Big 4” was disappointing. With that being said, I think a change was needed in DC, and I like the hire of Brooks, even if it was just a failed attempt at getting KD to look at DC as a possible destination. A new coach and the loss of a couple veteran players makes people think that there will be trouble in the nation’s capital this season, but this writer is expecting Bradley Beal to live up to his draft position and help John Wall out in carrying this front-courtless team to a top-10 finish in the Eastern Conference, which for this roster would be a surprise. Most are expecting a lottery pick from the Wizards this season; I’m expecting at least expecting 35 wins.
Rookie of the Year (ROY): Brandon Ingram – The Lakers made the right choice in the draft this year, grabbing maybe the best scorer in the class with this small forward. His smooth stroke and solid athleticism will help him put up some good numbers for the Purple & Gold this season. Of course the sexy pick here is for Ben Simmons of the 76ers, but with their recent history and the fact that Ingram is set up to average double digit PPG, the new face of the Lakers is about to be the NBA’s next ROY.
Most Valuable Player (MVP): Russell Westbrook – Can we just rename this award already please. Steph Curry was the best player in basketball last season, but he wasn’t the most valuable. This year the voting should be pretty simple. If the Thunder make the playoffs without KD and Ibaka, then the award NEEDS to go to Westbrook. If they don’t make the playoffs it gets a little more complicated. Too many great players on the Warriors to think the award ends up in the Bay Area and Chris Paul still is somewhat overlooked for having good players around him in LA. That means the award either goes to Lebron James or Kawhi Leonard if OKC doesn’t make it to the postseason.
Western Conference Champion: The Golden State Warriors – I have talked to a few basketball aficionados who believe that this team will implode with simply too many shooters and too many stars on one team. Although I agree that there may be some growing pains, and that Golden State won’t hit the 73 win mark they did last year, I can’t see a scenario in which they aren’t representing the West for the 3rd year in a row.
Eastern Conference Champion: The Cleveland Cavaliers – We all know it isn’t as hard to win the East as it is to win the West, but none the less the Cavaliers will do what they are supposed to do and once again make the playoffs after resting their “Big 3” at the end of the regular season in hopes of remaining healthy for another run at an NBA Title.
NBA Champion: The Golden State Warriors – Last year I picked Cleveland to beat them in six and I was wrong….it took seven. This season I simply think they are too good to be stopped. Last year Harrison Barnes, an underrated player, didn’t show up in the Finals, so they replaced him with one of the NBA’s top 5 players in the league. That puts this team over the top, and back reigning the NBA like they should.
Well there is the GameDay Sports Blog predictions for the 2016-17 NBA Season, and we will look back at these next summer to see how close we came and how far off we were on other things, but we hope we picked as well as we did last season. And we hope we gained a little respect in the sports community for just how good of predictions they were.