T.J. the Sports Geek’s 2016 NBA Season Preview

nbapreview16

Hey Everyone,

I apologize for this being so late,it’s been a busy time in my life,but here today I have for you my NBA Season Preview. Summaries for all 30 teams and playoff predictions and a Finals prediction. I was right-on with the Cavaliers winning last season and hopefully I can get two winners correct this year. Here we go…

West

Western Conference

WarriorsAlt1. Golden State Warriors 66-16

Who else did you see me putting first in the standings in the West? The Warriors won 73 last season,but in the end couldn’t finish the deal against the Cavs to win a second straight championship. So the Warriors got even deeper with talent by signing free agent forward Kevin Durant to try and not just get back to the Finals,but win another title. Durant joins Stephen Curry,Klay Thompson,and Draymond Green in a line-up that’s sure to dominate the league once again. JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia were also brought in to give the bench more stability. Also making noise is rookie Patrick McCaw,the team’s second round pick who the team really likes and thinks will be a nice piece of the puzzle in due time. They won’t win 73 again,but they’ll win plenty because nobody knows how to defend the perimeter in the NBA so they’re free to shoot all the threes they want.

SpursAlt2. San Antonio Spurs 60-22

The Spurs won 67 games last season,but were upended in the playoffs by the Thunder and Tim Duncan retired not long after their postseason exit. They still,however,have a superb roster of players like Tony Parker,LaMarcus Aldridge,Kawhi Leonard,and Manu Ginobili. They also added veteran forward Pau Gasol to the mix to provide size in Duncan’s absence. David Lee and Patty Mills are great veteran presences off the bench as is Danny Green who provides great spark off the bench with his great perimeter shooting. They also have,in my view,the best coach in the league in Gregg Popovich. They’re still a championship contender,but the Warriors might be standing in their way.

ClippersAlt3. Los Angeles Clippers 56-26

The Clippers still have a dynamic nucleus in Chris Paul,Blake Griffin,and DeAndre Jordan,but do we know how long this group will last together and will they ever get past the first round? They do have a pretty good bench to add to the core group mentioned above with Mo Speights coming over from Golden State as well as Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton. Toss in Paul Pierce,who is entering his final season. They also have one of the best named rookies coming in with center Diamond Stone. I think if this team stays healthy, Los Angeles has a great chance to win a few more games than they did last year and maybe even win a playoff series.

GrizzAlt4. Memphis Grizzlies 51-31

David Joerger is gone,David Fizdale is in as head coach. Last year the Grizzlies went through 28 players on their roster on their way to the playoffs where they fell to the Spurs in the first round. Health will be key for guys like Marc Gasol, Mike Conley (who got a very rich contract in the offseason to stay in Memphis),and Zach Randolph. Coming aboard is Chandler Parsons from Dallas who gives the team more size and depth in the frontcourt. Tony Allen,Vince Carter,and James Ennis will be the prominent reserves for Memphis as well as Branden Wright. I think the Grizzlies will be back in the postseason,this team has too good of a core to not get back,they need to stay healthy to do that,though.

Trail Blazers5. Portland Trail Blazers 49-33

Last season showed us that just when you thought the Trail Blazers weren’t going to be good when life after LaMarcus Aldridge happened, along came a surprise season when the team won 44 games and got to the second round of the playoffs. That was thanks to a strong group of players like Damian Lillard,who is the heart and soul of this team, C.J. McCallum,and Noah Vonleh. Allen Crabbe was re-signed in the offseason after having a great campaign last year. Festus Ezeli and Evan Turner were brought in via free agency to pack more punch off the bench. I think Portland is still very good and will add to last season’s win total. I see them even winning a playoff series again and the scary thing is they’re only getting better.

Thunder6. Oklahoma City Thunder 48-34

Kevin Durant is gone,but the Thunder hope to try and pick up the pieces and pick up where they left off last year when they came close to winning the West and knocking off the Warriors to get to the NBA Finals. Russell Westbrook signed an extension for three more seasons,keeping him in OKC for a few seasons longer. Victor Oladipo comes over from the Magic in exchange for Serge Ibaka to provide the backcourt with some youth and athleticism. Ersan Ilyasova also came over in that trade to give the bench some depth. Steven Adams continues to be a decent big man for the Thunder and Enes Kanter, Ronnie Price,and Nick Collison will be called upon to play quality minutes in the roles off the bench. The Thunder also has rookie Domantus Sabonis that may be an impact player one day. I see OKC back in the playoffs,but not where they were last season. They took a big leap backwards after Durant left.

MavsAlt7. Dallas Mavericks 46-36

Last season the Mavericks got bounced early in the playoffs by the Thunder. This offseason saw the Mavericks sign Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors as well as role players like Seth Curry and Quincy Acy from Sacramento. They join an already talented group that includes Deron Williams,Wesley Matthews,J.J. Barea,and of course Dirk Nowitzki,who re-signed to the only team he’s played for in the offseason and begins his 19th year in Dallas. I always feel like at some point this team is going to drop off and be in a rebuilding of sorts,but they don’t because they always find a way to stay competitive and have winning seasons year after year. I think they will again with the new pieces they’ve added to the picture and they’ll make the postseason.

Jazz8. Utah Jazz 45-37

Last season many thought the Jazz would be a darkhorse team to make the postseason. it didn’t happen. This year,however,I think it does. The nucleus of the team,which includes Gordon Heyward (who I really like), Rudy Gobert,and Derrick Favors is another year older and another year more seasoned. They,along with veterans Boris Diaw,Joe Johnson,and George Hill will be called upon to try and get Utah to their first playoff berth since 2012. They also have younger reserves like Trey Lyles and Dante Exum who should provide some spark in their roles off the bench. I see few reasons why they won’t make the playoffs. They have a combination of youth and experience and it will benefit them greatly come playoff time.

Rockets9. Houston Rockets 42-40

The Rockets made the postseason last year,but barely. Will it happen again? Only time will tell! Dwight Howard and Josh Smith have departed and in comes new head coach Mike D’Antoni. Also coming aboard is guard Eric Gordon, and forwards Ryan Anderson and Nene. These players join the re-signed James Harden and Patrick Beverley and a bench featuring Corey Brewer, K.J. McDaniels,and Trevor Ariza to try and get Houston back to the postseason and even to a better record than last season. Even though Harden doesn’t play any defense, I think he’s still a great player and the best guy to lead this team. I don’t think they got any better,but they didn’t get any worse.

TWolvesAlt10. Minnesota Timberwolves 39-43

The Wolves have a new head coach in Tom Thibodeau,who has a proven track record,and he will attempt to guide the young pups in Minnesota to a postseason berth for the first time in 13 years. Minnesota’s got a great young core of players like Andrew Wiggins,Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns and Kris Dunn,their first round draft pick who are joined by veteran roleplayers like Rasual Butler,Cole Aldrich,and Jordan Hill. Ricky Rubio is still there as well,but there’s always a chance that he gets traded at some point during the season, he was almost traded on draft day, but there weren’t any takers. Gone is Kevin Garnett,who wrapped up his 21-year career last season and recently announced his retirement. I think this team is going to make a lot of strides and will improve greatly. I don’t think they’re a postseason team yet but they are a year away. Make no mistake about it,though,something awesome is brewing in Minnesota.

PelicansAlt11. New Orleans Pelicans 38-44

Last season the Pelicans had quite a down year after making the postseason the year before. Injuries derailed the team and they only won 30 games. Everyone’s coming back healthy,including Anthony Davis,who has been plagued with injury issues in his brief career. Buddy Hield was drafted to give New Orleans a solid option at shooting guard along with Lance Stephenson and Jrue Holiday. Tyreke Evans is also there as a viable combo guard,but I have a feeling he’s going to be traded at some point to be the odd man out. He is back,however,after having knee surgery that ended his season last year. The X-factor of the team will most likely be Terence Jones. I think the Pels will be much better as long as players are healthy and Hield shows the promise of being the sixth overall pick, but a playoff berth may be a season away.

NuggetsAlt12. Denver Nuggets 34-48

The Nuggets didn’t have the best of seasons last year winning only 33 games and this season probably won’t be very much different. They do have some excellent players on this team,though. Kenneth Faried (Who I really like and wish was on the Kings) is the leader of this team and will try and lead a group with veterans like Mike Miller,Jameer Nelson,and Wilson Chandler and youngsters like Juan Hernangomez,Emmanuel Mudiay,and Malik Beasley back to a playoff berth. Michael Malone’s bunch is still raw,though,and unless they go on a surprise tear at some point in the season,I see Denver back in the draft lottery room in New Jersey come playoff time.

LakersAlt13. Los Angeles Lakers 29-53

Like after Kobe begins in Los Angeles with a young group of players who will try and get the team back to prominence and respectability. They’ll try and do that with the stench of youth,starting with new head coach Luke Walton. He’ll try and get a young core of players like Julius Randle,Jordan Clarkson,D’Angelo Russell,and second overall pick Brandon Ingram to places that they haven’t been before. They also signed Timofey Mosgov from Cleveland to bolster the frontcourt and Luol Deng comes over to provide a veteran presence in the backcourt. I think this Lakers team will no doubt be a competitive bunch,but the wins will come less frequently than the losses will.

SunsAlt14. Phoenix Suns 26-56

The Suns are still a young bunch finding their way in the league. Leading the way are guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight and the frontcourt of Tyson Chandler,Alex Len,and fourth overall pick Dragan Bender and eighth overall pick Marquisse Chriss,who I think will be an outstanding forward. They also welcome back Leandro Barbosa,who spent his first seven seasons in Phoenix,to give the backcourt and the bench some veteran leadership. I think coach Earl Watson and his staff have a big challenge in front of them and the players have a lot of learning to do in terms of how to play in this league at a high level.

SacKingsAlt15. Sacramento Kings 24-58

My beloved Sacramento Kings are bringing up the rear in this preview. Sure,there’s excitment about this team,but that’s just because they are opening up a new arena. Sure,they have DeMarcus Cousins,but will be and new head coach Dave Joerger get along? Only time will tell. If they don’t,expect Cousins to be shipped out. Aside from Cousins there isn’t too much to write home about. They don’t have a decent starting point guard or a decent backcourt. They have way too many big men as a result of drafting too many big men this year in Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere. They also drafted Malachi Richardson to give the bench some depth at shooting guard and I do hope Willie Cauley-Stein gets more playing time this season. The roster,unlike the arena,just doesn’t excite me at the moment.

East

 

Eastern Conference

CavsAlt1. Cleveland Cavaliers 60-22

The Cavs shocked the NBA world last year by knocking off the 73-win Warriors in the Finals and bringing Cleveland it’s first championship in 52 years. They’ll try to do this again with LeBron James,Kyrie Irving,Kevin Love,Tristan Thompson,and J.R. Smith and a veteran bench with players such as Channing Frye,Iman Shumpert,Richard Jefferson (who ditched his retirement plans to return),Mike Dunleavy,and Chris “Birdman” Anderson (who I was surprised to see was in the league still). With a team like this and a leader like James,there’s no question that we’ll see this team back atop the Eastern Conference and are a strong enough team to try and do it again.

CelticsAlt2. Boston Celtics 55-27

Brad Stephens has put together a solid bunch of young players that have brought the Celtics back to the postseason twice in a row. In the offseason,they added Al Horford to bring an undersized frontcourt more size alongside Kelly Olynyk,Jae Crowder,and Tyler Zeller. Add to that a great backcourt with All-Star Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart,and Avery Bradley. One thing I like about this Boston squad is that aside from Horford there aren’t too many superstar players as opposed to quality role players who know their place on the team and are capable of contributing when called upon. I really like the Celtics being the second seed in the East,they’re especially strong enough to be that and it wouldn’t surprise me otherwise.

RaptorsAlt23. Toronto Raptors 52-30

Last season was Toronto’s finest,winning 56 games and getting to the Eastern Conference Finals. Getting back to that point isn’t enough for the Raptors,though. They want more. Led by All-Star Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan,who re-signed in the offseason, the Raptors have a team that wants to contend in the East. They also have good frontcourt players in Patrick Patterson and Jared Sullinger and they selected Jakob Poltt with the ninth overall pick to give the team more size and athleticism. I don’t see the Raptors being as good as last season,but much of the talent that was there last season is still there and they have shown being capable of getting it done.

PacersAlt4. Indiana Pacers 46-36

Following the Pacers’ heartbreaking first round loss in the playoffs,the team decided it was time to part ways with coach Frank Vogel and Nate MacMillan,the associate head coach,was promoted. Leading the way is Paul George who had a resurgent year last season. Monta Ellis, Aaron Brooks,and Rodney Stuckey round out the backcourt which added Jeff Teague from the Hawks. Thaddeus Young came over via trade from Brooklyn to give more size in the frontcourt. Myles Turner will begin his second season after having a nice rookie campaign. Even with some of the moves Indiana made,I think they’re about the same team they were last season. They’ll be in the playoffs again,but a higher seed than last year.

HawksAlt5. Atlanta Hawks 45-37

The Hawks got bounced in the Conference Semifinals last season and are hoping to get further than that. Two seasons ago they were in the Conference Finals. It’s going to be a lot tougher,especially when you’ve replaced Al Horford with a Dwight Howard,who at age 30 seems like his best days are behind him. They do have Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver as well as veterans like Kent Bazemore and Kris Humphries to help guide them,but they also have rookies Taurean Prince (whose rights were traded by the Pacers in exchange for Jeff Teague) and DeAndre Bembry. I don’t see Atlanta being as good as they were two seasons ago,especially with Howard not being close to his former self, but they’ll still be a playoff team.

WizardsAlt6. Washington Wizards 44-38

After missing the postseason last year,the Wizards fired Randy Wittman and hired former Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. He will try and get his squad led by John Wall and Bradley Beal back to playing bonus basketball in May. Trey Burke came over via trade from Utah to give Washington a solid back-up point guard. Otto Porter hopes to build off of his breakout season last year and Markeiff Morris hopes to continue to produceat a high level after some controversial times in Phoenix. I think the Wizards will improve under Brooks’ guidance,but I don’t see them winning many more games than they did last year.

HornetsAlt7. Charlotte Hornets 43-39

The Hornets had an expecetional 48-win season last year before losing in the playoffs to the Heat in heartbreaking fashion,but the team is hoping to build on a great year. Led by Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte boasts an outstanding backcourt that includes Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lamb. Newly acquired Marco Belinelli hopes to leave the stench of Sacramento behind and have a fresh season this season. The frontcourt has a mix of youngsters like Frank Kaminsky and veterans like Spencer Hawes (who sucks!), Marvin Williams,and Roy Hibbert. I think the Hornets will still make the playoffs but not win as many games as they did last season because I think they overachieved a little bit. They can still prove me wrong,though.

PistonsAlt8. Detroit Pistons 42-40

Last season Detroit made the playoffs for the first time in forever and I think they’ll do it again. They brought back Andre Drummond and gave him a boatload of money to stay,they also brought Ish Smith in to give the backcourt great depth with Reggie Jackson and Kentavius Caldwell-Pope. They also have some pretty good forwards in Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris,and Reggie Bullock. What troubles me,though,is that I don’t know that they improved that much. I do like the Smith signing,though. Stan Van Gundy’s bunch is good enough to get to the playoffs again,maybe a little deeper and maybe a higher seed.

BucksAlt29. Milwaukee Bucks 39-43

The Bucks had a down year in 2015-16 after making the postseason the year before. Jason Kidd’s team is going to try and get back to the postseason with great young players like Jabari Parker,Thon Maker (who was drafted way too early in my opinion),Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo. They also have veterans like Greg Munroe,Jason Terry and Michael Beasley. Michael Carter-Williams was traded to Chicago in the preseason so the Bucks have a hole of sorts at that position even with Matthew Dellavedova coming over from Cleveland. I think Milwaukee will come close to a playoff berth,but not quite get one.

Heat10. Miami Heat 37-45

Last season Miami got to the second round of the playoffs,but two of the main reasons why have left. Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng are gone and Chris Bosh’s future remains in question as he’s trying to overcome blood clots that threaten his ability to play. They do have Justise Winslow who is hoping to improve on a ho-hum first season. They also have Goran Dragic,but who knows how long he will be there as he has been rumoured to be on the trading block. They did bring Dion Waiters over from Oklahoma City to help a depleted backcourt and they re-signed Hassan Whiteside,a quality shot blocker with great size. Overall I think it’s a down year as the Heat gets turned down in the East.

Magic11. Orlando Magic 36-46

The Magic hired Frank Vogel as their head coach in the hopes that he’ll get them back into the playoff picture. Helping in that matter was trading for Serge Ibaka on draft day in exchange for Victor Oladipo. Bismack Biyombo comes over from Toronto to give Orlando some frontcourt presence and shot blocking and joins Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic,creating a new-look line-up up front. The backcourt is looing sharper Mario Hezonja and Elfrid Payton as well as veterans C.J. Watson, D.J. Augustin,and Jodie Meeks. I think this team will be more competitive than they have been in recent years,especially with the moves they made, but they’re a season away. They need to learn what kind of team they have and evaluate their talent as the season goes on.

Bulls12. Chicago Bulls 35-47

The Bulls missed the postseason last year and after the year they waived goodbye to Joakim Noah,Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose but welcomed Dwyane Wade,Michael Carter-Williams,and Robin Lopez. They also drafted Denzel Valentine to bring youth to the bench with Bobby Portis and Doug McDermott. Taj Gibson hopes to get back on track after a down season. Jimmy Butler will try and guide his team back to the postseason,but it’s going to be tough. I don’t see it happening.

KnicksAlt13. New York Knicks 33-49

The Knicks as usual were not able to make the playoffs,but made some changes in the offseason to hopefully make the postseason drought go away. They brought over Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from Chicago as well as Brandon Jennings from Orlando and Courtney Lee from Charlotte to the mix with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. With the moves they made,I don’t think they’ll pay off right away because of Rose and Noah’s health problems and I think coach Jeff Hornacek is going to need tiime to get these players to blend together.

76ersAltPhiladelphia 76ers 22-60

Ah,the 76ers, the team that hasn’t been interested in winning (unless it’s in Sacramento,of course). They secured the top choice in the draft and got Ben Simmons. He joins a group of big men like Joel Embiid (who finally makes his league debut after being out the first two years), Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric. They also added some veterans such as guard Jerryd Bayless,Gerald Henderson,and Sergio Rodriguez. I know a 22-win year doesn’t seem like a successful one,but in Philadelphia it is because of the direction the team has purposely taken to tank and tank badly. After only winning 10 the year before,they can’t be any worse,it’s time to take the next step.

NetsAltBrooklyn Nets 19-63

Yes,I have the Nets being the worst team in the league this season. Aside from having the league’s worst color combination (black and white,really?), their roster isn’t exactly thrilling anyone. Joining Brook Lopez are guys who are past their prime such as Randy Foye,Luis Scola,and Greivis Vasquez. Their biggest free agent signing was Jeremy Lin,who has the worst and most socially unacceptable manbun in sports history. This team is far from where they were just a few seasons ago when they were consistent playoff contenders. They look more like they are contending for ping-pong balls in the draft lottery.

NBA Playoffs

First Round

Western Conference

Golden State over Utah

San Antonio over Dallas

Oklahoma City over L.A. Clippers

Memphis over Portland

Eastern Conference

Cleveland over Detroit

Boston over Charlotte

Toronto over Washington

Atlanta over Indiana

Conference Semifinals

Western Conference

Golden State over Memphis

San Antonio over Oklahoma City

Eastern Conference

Atlanta over Cleveland

Boston over Toronto

Conference Finals

Western Conference

Golden State over San Antonio

Eastern Conference

Boston over Atlanta

NBA Finals

nbafinalsprediction17

Boston over Golden State

Enjoy the season!

 

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