Here is my 2017 NBA Season Preview. We’ll take a look at all 30 teams,how I think they’ll do and even playoff predictions and a Finals prediction. Without any further delay,let’s get this started.
1. Golden State- (68-14)
The Warriors come into this season having won their second title in three seasons and are hoping to do something they have yet to: repeat. The band is mostly still together with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry,Draymond Green and Klay Thompson as their core four. They did add to their bench the likes of Omri Casspi, Nick “Swaggy P” Young,and rookie Jordan Bell. They join Shaun Livingston, Andre Igoudala,JaVale McGee,David West,Patrick McCaw,and Kevon Looney to give Golden State possibly the deepest bench of all time. A lot of folks will probably have them winning 70 games or more this year,but I’m not about that life. I think they’re going to be about a 68 win team,which is still really,really good and more than good enough to get them into the Finals yet again. Lucky us!
2. San Antonio-(58-24)
Last season the Spurs were a series away from reaching the Finals, only to fall short against the Warriors. This season San Antonio will have Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard starting on the disabled list while LaMarcus Aldridge,Pau Gasol,and Rudy Gay will have the lead the way in their absence. Also back with the team is Manu Ginobili,40, who decided against retirement in lieu of coming back for one more year. He helps solidify a deep bench with Patty Mills,Danny Green,and Dejounte Murray. One has to wonder if the window for them is closing with guys like Parker,Ginobili,and Gasol getting older,but for now,this team is still good and still has the league’s best coach in Gregg Popovich. I expect them to be as competitive as they’ve always been. Are they Finals bound? Probably not unless the Warriors unravel big time.
3. Oklahoma City-(53-29)
Last season it was shown that the Thunder can’t have MVP Russell Westbrook do this on his own. In fact,they’re one of the teams who are trying to challenge the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy. Adding to the lineup,Oklahoma City traded to get Paul George to add depth to the backcourt. Also coming over is Carmelo Anthony,who is also likely to give the Thunder a good scoring presence and helps anchor the frontcourt with Steven Adams,moreover he doesn’t have to worry about being the key guy to lead them. Also added are strong reserves in Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson. Also coming back is Nick Collison,who has been with the team since they left Seattle and rookie Terrance Ferguson should provide a spark off the bench. I think this team looks really good and are more improved, but not as good as San Antonio and not nearly as deep as Golden State,but it would be fun to see the Thunder and Warriors face off in a conference final.
4. Houston (51-31)
Last year, the Rockets’ season ended in the second round of the playoffs after winning 55 games. This year they hope to be more of a contender. Maybe not a Finals contender, but possibly a conference Finals contender. One acquisition they made to help get them over the top is point guard Chris Paul,who should provide a lot of offense and leadership along with MVP candidate James Harden. P.J. Tucker also comes over from Toronto as did Luc Mbah a Moute from the Clippers,both players are capable of providing good long-range shooting on a team that did trade away a lot of depth in the trade to get Paul. Eric Gordon, the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, and Nene are also part of Houston’s great depth. I think the Rockets are going to be a pretty good squad, but am unsure if they’re better than last year. They’re more than likely going to be about the same as last year, maybe win fewer games, but yeah,they’re about the same team.
5. Minnesota (46-36)
I think one of the more intriguing stories of the NBA season is going to be how well the Timberwolves do now that they have Jimmy Butler,who was acquired from Chicago via trade. He joins a young nucleus with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns that is hoping Butler’s presence will help Minnesota reach the postseason for the first time in 14 seasons. Also coming to the team is veteran point guard Jeff Teague,who replaces Ricky Rubio, Taj Gibson,who reunites with Butler and coach Tom Thibodeau,Aaron Brooks and Jamal Crawford,two veteran guards. With the offseason moves they’ve made,the Timberwolves should improve on both offense and defense. I think Wiggins and Towns may make their first All-Star appearance and this team will finally be playoff bound. They’re pretty good on paper and I think they will be when they hit the court.
Last season the Nuggets fell just short of a playoff berth and this season they hope to do what they couldn’t do, clinch a playoff spot. In the offseason,Denver signed Paul Millsap to give them a strong veteran forward, Trey Lyles comes over from Utah via trade,and Tyler Lydon, a rookie drafted in the late first round. They join Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried,Nikola Jokic,and Jamal Murray in what is a young Denver nucleus. Murray is one player who hopes to make the starting lineup and make a difference. Malik Beasley hopes to have an impact in his second season as well. While the offense is strong,it’s the defense that needs improvement and I think it will get better with the addition of Millsap. I think the addition of him gives Denver a very good boost and pushes them into the postseason for the first time since George Karl was head coach.
Last season the Blazers got the last playoff spot in the conference only to bow out early to the eventual world champions. This year they hope to win more games and try to advance past round one. Unfortunately they didn’t get much better with any real free agent signings,but they did draft Nick Collins with the tenth pick in the draft. He joins a very good core of Damian Lillard,C.J. McCollum,and Jusuf Nurkic who hope to continue to gel as the big three players on the team. Noah Vonleh proved he’s worthy of being in the starting lineup last season and hopes to continue his strong play,but will start the season on the injured list. Caleb Swanigan,the rookie power forward drafted late in the first round this year,may contend for that role to start along with Al-Farouq Aminu. I think if Portland can play better all-around defense and have a healthy core,they’ll be back in the postseason and win a few more games than last season.
8. Memphis (42-40)
Last season the Grizzlies exited the postseason early as per usual,but this year they’re hoping things are different for Mike Conley,Chandler Parsons,and Marc Gasol. The roster,for example,has had a major overhaul with veterans Zach Randolph,Tony Allen and Vince Carter departing and incoming are Mario Chalmers,Tyreke Evans,and Ben McLemore. These players join Brandan Wright, Wade Baldwin IV,JaMychal Green,and James Ennis to give Memphis solidification on the bench. Ivan Rabb and Dillon Brooks are two rookies on the roster who hope to prove they’ve got the chops to contribute early. The major key in getting the Grizzlies back to the playoffs is having everyone healthy. Parsons missed a lot of last season and McLemore will miss time with injury to begin the year,as will Parsons. Evans,Chalmers,and Wright will also have to stay healthy. I think that they’ll sneak in ahead of teams like the Jazz and the Pelicans to be the final seed in the playoffs. I won’t be surprised if they fall short,though.
New Orleans (41-41)
Last season the Pelicans were hoping to make a playoff push by trading for DeMarcus Cousins from Sacramento. It didn’t happen and the team finished with 34 wins. Will it this year? That depends on if Cousins and Davis can maintain a high level of play. Joining the Pels on their quest for postseason play is veteran wingman Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo reunites with Cousins. Ian Clark comes over from the Warriors. These three players are major upgrades to the depth of the team,which was comprised with a lot of guys who probably shouldn’t have been on an NBA roster. Jrue Holiday is back on a max-deal,but with that gives New Orleans less depth on their bench than they should have. What also could be of concern is if the team is out of it,will they trade Cousins to a contender? Only time will tell on that one. I think they fall just short of a playoff berth this year. They’ll be close,but teams like Portland and Memphis will be able to edge them out.
Last season the Jazz made their first playoff appearance since 2012 but lost to the Warriors in the second round. Gordon Hayward and George Hill are gone,which means Rudy Gobert is now the main guy in Utah. Joining him,Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors are Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha,and Jonas Jerebko. They also drafted Donovan Mitchell in the first round who should provide a lot of scoring to compliment the defense. Also back in the NBA is Ekpe Udoh,who should receive minutes during times when Gobert isn’t on the floor. Also on Utah’s bench is veteran Joe Johnson,who at 36 should provide a spark in his role. If the Jazz can stay healthy,particularly Favors, they’ll be a playoff team yet again,but I can’t help but think that the loss of Heyward and adding Rubio,who isn’t known as a great shooter by any means,is going to make this team any better. I think they’re a little bit worse and I think they’ll fall short of a playoff berth this year. They might make it back next season,though.
L.A. Clippers (37-45)
Last season the Clips were the fourth seed in the playoffs and exited in the first round once again. Now the roster looks a lot different with J.J. Redick and Chris Paul gone. Blake Griffin is still around having signed an extension in the offseason, he should have an expanded role in the offense with DeAndre Jordan continuing to be a force on defense in the frontcourt. Joining them is Patrick Beverley,who came over in the Paul trade as did Lou Williams. Danilo Gallinari should fill the hole at small forward nicely. They headline the many acquisitions Los Angeles made over the summer. One question remains: Who will be the starting backcourt? Many think it may be Austin Rivers and Beverley,but it also may be 30-year-old rookie Milos Teodosic,who came to the NBA in the offseason and put up monster numbers in EuroLeague. Overall, the Clippers have a good group of guys that many expect to be back in the playoffs,but I don’t. I think Paul brought something to the team that they’ll be missing a little bit of. Also,health is an issue,particularly with Griffin. If he isn’t healthy,they won’t stand a chance.
L.A. Lakers (34-48)
It is now the Lonzo Ball era in Los Angeles. The second overall pick brings much talent,and an overbearing father,to the Lakers. He joins a much improved roster with Julius Randle,Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson as well as newcomers Brook Lopez,who came over in the D’Angelo Russell trade, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope,and Andrew Bogut. Also new are rookies Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. Some say Kuzma may crack the starting lineup at some point as there’s been much buzz about the first-year forward. Ball,however,has to prove that he’s more than a raw talent and has to develop consistency in his own game. Right now,it’s up to GM Magic Johnson and coach Luke Walton to see what they have on their roster and how it gels. If it’s a good mix of talent that plays well together,they may push for a playoff berth. But honestly,they’re a work in progress that will more than likely make baby steps this year.
Sacramento,the De’ Aaron Fox era is here. The talented young guard headlines a great rookie class for the Kings,who also drafted Justin Jackson,Harry Giles,and Frank Mason III. While they drafted very well, they also spent their time and money wisely in free agency with bringing over veterans Zach Randolph,George Hill and Vince Carter to help mentor this young squad as they move along. Sharpshooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic comes over from Europe and should fill big need with quality shooting from three-point land. Make no mistake about it,this team is very young. Willie Cauley-Stein is the longest-tenured player (third season), and he has to show that he is capable of making that leap and being more of an offensive threat. Buddy Hield hopes to excel in his second year as does Skal Labissiere,who showed some flashes of greatness late in the season. If these guys can make some strides and even a few leaps, they’ll finish right where I have them now. If not,they’ll probably win about 24-29 games. In any case,the future is here!
Last season the Mavericks finished with only 33 wins after getting off to a very bad start. This year the Mavs hope to turn things around and get back into the postseason. Dirk Nowitzki,39,is back after an injury-plagued year last year and looks healthy. He will lead a Dallas squad with a new point guard in Dennis Smith,Jr.,who the team is very excited about. Smith,with Nowitzki on the wing and Nerlens Noel in the paint give the Mavericks a lot of possibilities loaded with potential. One storyline I’m curious to see is if Yogi Farrell continues his stellar play after being picked-up last season and signed to a multi-year deal afterwards. Harrison Barnes was an outstanding pick-up last season and he should continue playing well. He was one of the few bright spots last season for the team. Is it possible that Dallas makes a postseason return? Sure, but honestly I think it will take them some time to gel a little before that happens.
Right now in Phoenix,the rebuilding continues. After winning only 24 games last season,the Suns drafted Josh Jackson with the fourth pick in the draft. Jackson joins a very young team with Eric Bledsoe,Devin Booker,Marquise Chriss,and Brandon Knight. Jackson has the makings of a future big time superstar player and the team hopes he and Chriss will be able to gel together in the front court,as well as Dragan Bender. Meanwhile,Booker is coming off a season where he averaged 22.1 points per game and he could be ready to be more of an offensive threat. Veterans Jared Dudley and Tyson Chandler are still on Phoenix’s roster,but for how long if these youngsters develop ahead of schedule? Would Bledsoe also be on the move? At any rate, I think the Suns will show to be more competitive, but will still finish at the bottom of the standings in the West. They have a timeline and are sticking to it.
Cavs fans,is this the last year you’ll see LeBron James in your team’s uniform (again)? It might be if they don’t win it all. This team added a lot of veterans in the offseason like Derrick Rose,Dwyane Wade,and Jeff Green. Kyrie Irving was traded to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas,Jae Crowder,and Ante Zizic. They join an already deep roster with James,Tristan Thompson,J.R. Smith,Kevin Love,Kyle Korver,and Channing Frye. This is honestly the deepest roster Cleveland has had in a while,even moreso than their title year two seasons ago. Will the moves they made be enough to thwart the Warriors’ quest to be champions for the third time in four years? Will these guys gel together well? Will Thomas be a better complimentary player than Irving? All these questions will be answered once the year begins,but ultimately I think they’ll be the best beasts in the East once more.
Despite finishing the season with the best record in the conference, the Celtics stopped short of their championship goal. This year,they hope things are different as they try and challenge Cleveland for the chance to get a Finals berth. The roster is also a little different as Kyrie Irving replaces Isaiah Thomas as the club’s point guard. Joining Irving as a new arrival in Boston is Gordon Hayward,who signed a max deal to come there via free agency. They headline what is a major roster turnover from last season. Only four players from the year before (Al Horford,Terry Rozier,Marcus Smart,and Jaylen Brown) are left on this roster. Also new are rookies Jayson Tatum and Semi Ojeleye. We think the main three will be Irving,Hayward,and Horford. On the wing will possibly be Brown or Tatum,and also possibly Smart. While the roster may not be as talented as last year’s,I think they will be very good and they’ll win one more than the year before.
Last season the Raptors were swept away by the Cavs in the second round, but Kyle Lowry,Demar Derozan,and Serge Ibaka hope to get their squad further than last year. C.J. Miles was the club’s main offseason add while in the draft they selected sharpshooter OG Anunoby from Indiana. What Toronto is looking for is a good frontcourt combo,which will more than likely be Miles,Ibaka,and Jonas Valanciunas at press time. Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam are also hoping to fill the role at the 4 spot. Delon Wright should have a more prominent role in the offense as will Jakob Poeltl on the defensive end. This may be prove to be a more talented roster than the year before as the season goes on. Overall,though, I see the Raptors finishing at the same place in the conference, with a win more than last year.
Winning 42 games last season,the Bucks were the sixth seed in the playoffs and their season ended in the first round against the Raptors. This year Milwaukee is hoping their luck gets better and their odds of getting past the first round. Giannis Antetokounmpo is this team’s star and we still haven’t seen the best from him yet. It’s going to be interesting to see how much we see from him in terms of his development this year. Reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon and his fellow sophomore teammate Thon Maker will look to showing hopes of becoming more dynamic players. Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker are back after missing time with injuries and will need to be healthy for the Bucks to have a better season. I think the Bucks will win more games than the year before, they’ve got a lot of great talent and I like where Antetokounmpo’s game is heading. He’s going to be a bigger star.
5. Washington (49-33)
Last season,the Wizards bowed out in the second round of the playoffs against Boston. This year,they’re hoping to get further than that and their core guys of John Wall,Bradley Beal,and Otto Porter are back. Porter signed a max-deal to stay in Washington and joining him is Jodie Meeks,Tim Frazier,and Donald Sloan can play big roles with the departures of key players in the offseason. Meeks has been hampered with injuries,but is a great three-point shooter. They do have a deep bench with Kelly Oubre,Jr., Markieff Morris,Marcin Gortat,and Jason Smith. My biggest concern is health with this team and they’re already limping into this season,which is why I have them finishing fifth in the conference. I think they’re capable of going further, but like I said,health is key!
Okay,I gotta say that last season was an anomaly for the Hornets. They lost 12 more games than they did in the season before last and I think this group has more talent than you think. Kemba Walker is an outstanding guard and is an underrated superstar not just in Charlotte,but throughout the league. Dwight Howard is a new face this year for the Hornets after a year in Atlanta. Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon,both rookies, also come over via the draft. Michael Carter-Williams also was signed,but will spend time on injured reserve due to knee issues. Rounding out the roster are standouts in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist,Nicolas Batum,Jeremy Lamb,and Frank Kaminsky. I like what I’m seeing with the Hornets,and there’s even a possibility that they may even make a deep run in the playoffs. I think that bringing over Howard and drafting Monk were solid moves for them and will give them a better record than last season.
Will this be the end of the process for the 76ers? This team hasn’t been known for winning a lot of games the last few seasons, in fact,all they’ve won are high draft picks,and they have another one in top overall choice Markelle Fultz. He hopes to be the point guard Philadelphia has looked for the last couple seasons. He joins a young cast of players like Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor,Dario Saric,and Ben Simmons. J.J. Redick came over on a one year,$23 million deal to be a good shooting presence for this young 76ers squad. Amir Johnson also came over to provide veteran depth on this roster. A big key for the Sixers making the playoffs is Embiid staying healthy. He shined last year in the 31 games he was in before getting hurt and if he can avoid the injury bug,this team is going places. I also am wondering who will start at the 4 spot: Saric,Robert Covington,or Simmons? Or someone else? Anyways, I think the years of tanking for good picks are going to end this year and that the fans in Philly will have some bonus basketball this season. Book it!
8. Miami (42-40)
Last season the Heat were on the outside looking in regarding the playoff picture and this year they weren’t able to cash in during free agency in the offseason. But they do have great leadership in Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic. Both guys stepped up in the leadership role last year. Miami did bring Kelly Olynyk over in the offseason and drafted Kentucky bigman Bam Adebayo in the first round. They join the rest of the cast of talent of Wayne Ellington,Dion Waiters,Josh Richardson,Justise Winslow,who only played in 18 games last season due to injury and is hoping to show he’s worthy of starting at the wing. Also back is the longtime Heat veteran Udonis Haslem at age 37. I think the Heat will be a little bit better and should reach the postseason. They could potentially win more than where I have them at here,but I think other teams are a little ahead of them and I think other teams dropped off below them,which puts them in here almost by default.
Last season the Pistons fell short of being in the postseason again,but this year they’re hoping for some better success as they move to their new downtown arena. Coming to Detroit is Avery Bradley,who the team signed on a one-year deal to be the guy who fills the two-guard spot until rookie Luke Kennard grows into the role. Langston Galloway and Reggie Jackson are also on the roster to provide depth at that position. Andre Drummong and Tobias Harris will anchor the frontcourt and their defense got even better with Anthony Tolliver coming over from Sacramento via free agency. I think both sides of the ball are a little better than last season and in a weaker conference that is the East,anything can happen. However, I think a few other teams will leapfrog the Pistons to get into the postseason. I think they’re going to free up a lot of money in the cap to try and get free agents to come there next season.
The Paul George era in Indianapolis is over. The Pacers decided to revamp their roster and traded George away to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The only holdovers from the prior year are Myles Turner,Glenn Robinson III,Lance Stephenson and Thaddeus Young. Darren Collison comes back to be the starting point guard and Bojan Bogdanovic will start on the wing. Indiana has a lot of young players coming in like T.J. Leaf,Ike Anigbogu,who were both drafted this year. But they also added some veterans such as Al Jefferson and Cory Joseph. Jefferson, Collison,and Stephenson should provide stability while the youngsters earn their stripes. You might even see Glenn Robinson III get more playing time and be inserted into the starting role at times. Right now,it’s a rebuilding process for the Pacers and a playoff berth is too much to hope for at the moment.
The Magic are hoping to get better than their 29-win record last season and shock teams to win even more games. They’ll do so with Aaron Gordon leading the way with a young core of players like Elfrid Payton,Mario Hezonja,and rookie Jonathan Isaac. They’re surrounded by some veteran presence as well with Aaron Afflalo and Mo Speights signing minimum deals to help mentor the youngsters,Shelvin Mack signed a two-year deal to be a productive back-up point guard. At small forward to start,it’s a toss-up between Terrence Ross and Jonathan Simmons. Also,who starts at center? Nikola Vucevic or BIsmack Biyombo? Overall,I think the Magic have some good players who are developing nicely,especially Gordon, but it’s going to be a process for them this year. I think they win a few more games this year,though.
The Hawks were the fifth seed in the playoffs last season and this year they have a roster with players many won’t recognize other than Kent Bazemore,and that’s because I spotted you Bazemore’s name just now. Paul Millsap,Dwight Howard,Tim Hardaway,Jr.,and Thabo Sefelosha are all gone. Atlanta hopes to play their younger players like Dennis Schroder,Taurean Prince,DeAndre’ Bembry and rookie John Collins a lot more to see what they can do. Veterans Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee,and Eryan Ilyasova round out the roster. All Hawks fans can do is hope for the best or a very high lottery pick,whichever comes first. I have them winning just over 30 games,and that’s being generous. They may win a little more than 25 games this season,we’ll see.
The Knicks finished with only 31 wins last season,not nearly enough for a playoff berth and fans aren’t holding their breath for one to come anytime soon. Carmelo Anthony is gone and it looks as though it’s Kristaps Porzingis’ team now. He leads a roster that honestly doesn’t look like it’s making the postseason anytime soon. When your biggest free agent signings are Michael Beasley (who I forgot was still in the league for some reason) and Tim Hardaway,Jr., it’s not looking good. Not to mention Joakim Noah is suspended to begin the year and Courtney Lee’s bloated contract is supplanted by Hardaway’s, therefore Hardaway may be the new starting shooting guard. They did draft Frank Ntilikina who has a lot of talent,but may be on the wrong team to showcase it. I think New York needs to shed a lot of their contracts that haven’t panned out before they start winning again. I think they’ll finish with less than 30 wins,maybe even less.
After slipping into the playoffs to be the first victims of the Celtics, the Bulls go into this season without Jimmy Butler as he was traded on draft day to the Timberwolves. In return they received Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn,and the seventh pick in the draft,which became Lauri Markkanen. Chicago is hoping LaVine can be the high-flying,high-scoring player he was before getting hurt. He and Dunn have an opportunity to build a good young backcourt with this team and Markkanen has a chance to make his mark in the lineup. It’s clear that the Bulls made the moves that they did in order to build their roster with younger,more raw players to see if they’ll develop better than their veteran teams barely making the playoffs did. I think it’s going to be quite the rebuilding season and Bulls fans will have to see if they win the lottery instead.
The Nets go into this season without having had a first round draft pick. But they did revamp their roster a little by trading Brook Lopez to the Lakers for Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell. Allen Crabbe was also brought in via trade from the Trail Blazers and DeMarre Carroll from Toronto. Tyler Zeller came over from Boston in free agency. Mozgov joins Trevor Booker in the frontcourt along with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Brooklyn goes into this season with a bunch of offense-driven guards and defense-only big men,and that doesn’t bode well for synergy and a foundation to build on. However,Russell has a lot of upside left and is in a place where he can turn things around and bounce back to being worth a high draft pick three years ago. I think the Nets will still be at or near the bottom of the standings,but may be more competitive than in past seasons.
Golden State over Memphis
San Antonio over Portland
Oklahoma City over Denver
Houston over Minnesota
Cleveland over Miami
Boston over Philadelphia
Toronto over Charlotte
Washington over Milwaukee
Golden State over Houston
San Antonio over Oklahoma City
Washington over Cleveland
Toronto over Boston
Western Conference Finals
Golden State over San Antonio
Eastern Conference Finals
Washington over Toronto
Golden State over Washington
Enjoy the season!