NBA Season PredictionsMichael Loccisano/Getty Images

NBA Season Predictions

Luol Deng speaks out against Trump’s immigration ban
Los Angeles Lakers are 2017 NBA Summer League champions
Lakers select Lonzo Ball 2nd overall
Average read time: 9-10 minutes

The off season is almost over! Players and coaches are back and ready for training camp, which means the NBA Season is right around the corner. In case you missed it, the last few months have been insane. Russell Westbrook won MVP thanks to a historic season averaging a triple-double, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry lead the Warriors to an NBA Championship, the 76ers traded up to the #1 pick and drafted Markelle Fultz, Kyrie Irving got traded to the Celtics, and Carmelo Anthony got traded to the Thunder. Such an action-packed off season, but we’re finally back to September and ready for the new season to begin.

Before every season starts, predictions on the upcoming season awards are made. Some awards are fairly easy to predict, such as Defensive Player of the Year. We get it Draymond, you play defense. Other awards are a little tough to gauge, like Rookie of the Year. Because we all thought Malcolm Brogdon would win ROY, right? It would be boring if this article was all Lakers fans choosing Lonzo Ball as Rookie of the Year, so I’ve chosen a select few individuals to give their opinion on the upcoming season.

Question 1: This time last year, Bleacher Report released a “Bold Predictions” article on the 2016-2017 season. Some of the predictions were on point, as BR stated a big trade including Cousins could happen in Sacramento, and the Lakers wouldn’t be the worst team in the Western conference. Both of these were true, as Cousins was sent to New Orleans during the All-Star Game, and the Phoenix Suns were the worst team in the West. Although a few were correct, they also predicted Giannis Antetokounmpo would put up the most triple-doubles and that the OKC Thunder would miss the playoffs. Both of these were false, as Westbrook and Harden accumulated 42 and 22 triple doubles, a bit more than Antetokounmpo’s 3, and the Thunder finished as the 6-seed in the West. What is your bold prediction for the 2017-2018 season?

TJ Young – Lakers Pulse:

The Spurs won’t win 50 games for the first time since 1996-1997. Kawhi Leonard is an outstanding player – a top 5 defender and arguably a top 5 player in the NBA, but there’s not enough on the Spurs roster to convince me they can compete with some of these super-teams in the West. Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol are atrocious on the defensive end, Manu and Tony Parker are on the last leg of a long road, and this team didn’t improve much from last season. I like the Rudy Gay signing a lot, I just don’t think this team is better than the teams I’m about to mention.

We thought the Western Conference was dominant the past few years, but it really just got scary. The Warriors should win 65-ish games, with the Rockets and Thunder potentially hitting 60 games each, as well. The Wolves and Nuggets didn’t even make the playoffs last year, but I see both of them being top-6 teams in the West this year. I’m a big fan of the Jazz, even after Hayward ditched them for those ugly green jerseys.

With all of this said, I think the Spurs finish as the 7th seed in the West. In 2009-2010, they finished as the 7th seed and won 50 games (all 8 West playoff teams won 50 games), but no team that year in the West won 58 games. This year is way different, as 3 teams should win 58+, making the Western Conference even more lopsided than it usually is. But prove me wrong, Pop.

Oliver Maroney – Dime on UPROXX writer and Host of The BIG3 Show:

I’ve got two bold predictions.

1. The Warriors will lose more games this year than last year. I just think they’ll be more comfortable with Kevin Durant and will ultimately not care as much about the regular season as the postseason. Kerr is from the Popovich way of thinking and I just see them coasting to a one seed, even in a deeper Western Conference. This will likely see them rest more and thus, lose more games.
2. The Rockets and that back court of Chris Paul and Harden will work. I think many people are assuming the Rockets season last year was an anomaly and that it won’t happen again. I completely disagree. I think the Rockets (like I said last season) will be better than many believe and one that’ll be poised to challenge Golden State for that number one seed in the West.

Victoria Jacobi– Franchise Magazine:

Boston will win the east. I know… How dare I pick a team that doesn’t feature LeBron on the roster? Well, we’re talking “bold”. Kyrie and Hayward have something to prove, I think they can do it along with Brad Stevens as coach.

Cranjis McBasketball – Laker Film Room:

The Lakers will have the worst half court offense in the league. Based on what we’ve seen from Luke Walton’s team last season, their Summer League team this year, and everything being said, it’s looking like the Lakers will have a similarly horrendous playbook this season.

I spent countless hours for weeks scouting NBA teams over the summer, and the Lakers stood alone as having the worst scheme of any. The freelance motion of pick and roll and post up sets were accompanied by no movement. The set plays were quite “bare bones,” as the team recently said they’d like to do this year. The plays would be one zipper cut/down screen/flare screen/etc., and that’s it. No weak side action. No actions setting up other actions. Just one pin down and then into isolation if that didn’t work.

No matter how good Lonzo Ball is as a passer, expecting him to come in and turn a bunch of guys standing around into a great offense with no scheme to help him won’t work. Lonzo thrived in UCLA’s half court offense, which is one of the best designed offenses I’ve ever scouted. He thrived as a creator with players running off of flare screens and split cutting and doing other things to get themselves open. His job wasn’t to get them open, it was to quickly make a decision about which of the 2-3 options was the best pass and then throw an accurate pass. Lonzo will still make flashy passes and have highlight plays, but I expect him to mightily struggle due to the poor scheme, get killed for it by the national media, and not be rookie of the year because of the poor scheme.

The Lakers want to get out in transition all they can, but we have to be realistic here. If they were in transition 30% of their possessions, which would be 10 percentage points higher than any team in Synergy’s records, that’s still leaving 70% of plays where we’ll need some form of half court offense. Set plays are essential, and thinking they’re going to “bog down the offense,” as the Lakers are saying, shows gross incompetence and isn’t a good sign for the team moving forward.

They can’t use the excuse that their team is young, because high school and college teams are out there running more complex offenses successfully than what LA did last season. Personnel last season isn’t an excuse, because Walton didn’t try to force those mismatched pieces into his “system” from Golden State, which we have no evidence of, nor did he design an offense fitting those pieces well. Instead, LA just ran bad plays. That’s not a good sign.

Jamie Rico – Lakers Pulse: 

The Nets will win more games than the Lakers. The Nets won 6 less games than the Lakers last season, and there is an argument that they improved their roster and the Lakers didn’t. The Nets will have, possibly, a full year of healthy Jeremy Lin, a healthier DeMarre Carroll, and Allen Crabbe. These additions alone should add to their win total, but they’ve also added D’Angelo Russell, who will be entering his 3rd season. Players typically take their biggest leaps in their 3rd season, and with the change of scenery he looks poised to have a massive breakout.
On the Lakers side, they are (perhaps) better suited for the long run, but likely not for this upcoming season. They are putting a ton of their hopes into Lonzo Ball. Ball looks like a budding star in the NBA, but as we have seen over and over, young players, especially rookies do not help lead to wins. The Lakers have improved their supporting cast from last season with the additions of Lopez and KCP, but Lopez is always a question mark regarding health and KCP passes the eye test on defense but the numbers don’t exactly backup with supposed defense abilities.
The Lakers future is much brighter than the Nets, but for this upcoming season, the Nets will win more games.

Parker Willman – Orlando Magic Fan:

John Wall wins MVP and the Wizards get the #1 seed in the East. John Wall continues to elevate his play and this year it all comes together. With the Celtics /Cavs trade, there are some question marks at the top of the Eastern Conference. This is a great opportunity for Wall and the Wizards to stake a claim atop the Eastern conference.

Question 2: The Westgate SuperBook has the Golden State Warriors winning a league-most 67.5 games this year, and the Chicago Bulls accumulating the least amount of wins – a mere 21.5. Obviously, all 30 teams will either exceed or fall short of their Vegas projected win total. Which team do you think was given too high of a win total to beat, and which team is Vegas sleeping on?

TJ Young – Lakers Pulse:

One team I really like this year is the Utah Jazz. Even with the loss of Gordon Hayward, I think this team will still make the playoffs, winning 45-48 games. They’re only projected 40.5 wins, and I will definitely take the over on that. Rudy Gobert should make another big leap this year on both ends of the floor, but I’m curious to see which wing steps up in place of Hayward. Rookie Donovan Mitchell is in my top 5 to win Rookie of the Year, Joe Ingles just got paid and should make an impact on both ends, but I’m REALLY excited for Rodney Hood. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be the 2nd best player on this team.

I will not be joining the Philadelphia 76ers hype train this year. Joel Embiid has played a total of 31 games in 3 years, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are yet to play an NBA game, and they’re supposed to win 42.5 games? They’ll be led by a squad of Robert Covington and JJ Redick, with the last two top draft picks passing them the ball. I think Philly has the potential to win 40+ games in the future, I just don’t see it happening this year. Give me 33.

Oliver Maroney – Dime on UPROXX writer and Host of The BIG3 Show:

Boston was given too high of a number. 56.5 is a ton given the roster has been completely changed from last year. I think this team is good on paper, but it may take awhile for them to gel specifically with stars like Hayward and Irving.
Vegas is sleeping on the Nets. The Nets acquired a lot of talent and helped themselves in many ways. Of course, they acquired talent by taking on big contracts like Allen Crabbe and Mozgov. But, I still believe they got much better. I think they can win 30-35 games this season if all goes well, that’s well over the projected number.

Victoria Jacobi – Franchise Magazine:

The Clippers over .500 winning 43 games? Let me take a moment while I laugh hysterically… They won’t win more than 35-37.

Vegas is sleeping on Blazers a bit. CJ & Dame can be a problem.

Cranjis McBasketball – Laker Film Room:

It would be an NCAA violation for me to gamble on any sport that has a college version of that same sport, so I certainly won’t be placing any bets on NBA win totals this year. With that said, I took a look at the Westgate Superbook and a couple teams stood out that were too high or too low. I think Sacramento (28.5 wins) will win less games, and think Charlotte (42.5 wins) will win more.

The Kings had a fun Summer League team to see in person and have some good young players, but I think they’ll be in the low to mid 20s for wins. This team looks very different from what it did last season, and they have one less superstar. I like Buddy Hield and the team has plenty of young talent that I can’t want to watch and see develop, but I don’t believe they’ll be winning many games this season. George Hill is getting older and has averaged just 55 games played the past three seasons. If he goes down, this team looks BAD.

The Hornets, on the other hand, are a well coached team with some exciting players ready to win now. Last season, the Hornets had 8 less wins than my Points Over Expectation model said they should have, and I actually really like their Dwight Howard and Malik Monk additions. Kemba Walker is the one stud point guard fans don’t yet recognize as one, but I think that’ll change this year as Charlotte outperforms their win projection and doesn’t look like a fun 1st round matchup.

Jamie Rico – Lakers Pulse: 

The team I think is given too high of a win total is the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard is a superstar and one of the 5 best players in the NBA, but I do not like the rest of the Spurs aging supporting cast. I felt last season the Spurs were not as good as their record reflected, and with everyone else a year older, LMA not being happy, I think this could be the year they threaten to fall below 50 wins.
The team Vegas is sleeping on is, surprisingly, the Kings. I don’t think the Kings will be much better than their projected 28.5, but I could see them pushing 32 wins, as long as the front office doesn’t mess anything up. They have a nice blend of talent and players on the verge of breaking out and could be one of the surprise teams of the season.

Parker Willman – Orlando Magic Fan:

Too High: Boston Celtics. Westgate Superbook has the Celtics at 56 wins. That’s 3 more than last year’s final win total. If they had the same team then sure I could see 3 more wins. However, 4 of the 5 starters aren’t even on the team anymore. Isaiah Thomas? Gone. Avery Bradley? Gone. Jae Crowder? Gone. Amir Johnson/Kelly Olynyk? Gone. The only starter returning is Al Horford. The additions of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Morris look great on paper. The emergence of Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum could help this team as well. We just haven’t seen how well this team will actually play together.

Too Low: Los Angeles Clippers. Yes, they lost Chris Paul which is huge – and they lost JJ Redick. However, they did address their biggest issue which was depth. The Clippers were known for a great starting 5 and a bad bench. Now. they have a decent starting 5 and a much better bench. Don’t forget that they still have Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan. Also, they finally addressed the small forward position with the addition of Gallinari. Will they take a step back? Of course, but don’t expect it to be as bad as you think. The Clippers can do better than 43.5 wins.

Question 3: There were a few key trades and signings this summer that really surprised everyone. Which new duo are you most excited to watch?

TJ Young – Lakers Pulse:

James Harden and Chris Paul under Mike D’Antoni’s high pace offense is unfair. If we’re talking 2K or Fantasy Basketball, James Harden is a shooting guard, and Chris Paul is a point guard. But I truly believe coaches look at players and give them one of three positions. You have bigs, you have wings, and you have ball handlers. James Harden and Chris Paul are two of the best ball handlers – playing on the same team. After the CP3 trade to Houston, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni (please come back to LA) said, “The more point guards you have on the floor, the better it is.” I think the CP3/Harden-led Rockets will finish 2nd in the West, legitimately competing with the Warriors.

Oliver Maroney – Dime on UPROXX writer and Host of The BIG3 Show:

Harden and CP3 without a doubt. Those two are friends off the court and have been spending a lot of time with each other throughout the offseason. I expect big things from both of them and the Rockets based on D’Antoni’s system and their level of comfortability with one another.

Victoria Jacobi – Franchise Magazine:

Really intrigued to see Westbrook & PG… The MVP paired with one of the best 2 way players in the game? I’m here for it. Will they be electric enough to compete with Harden/CP3 & KD/Steph? The world needs to know!

Cranjis McBasketball – Laker Film Room:

I’m really excited to see what Harden and CP3 can do together. Both guys have largely been primary ball handlers, but both guys are also elite off-ball players. Harden, over the past three years, was better than 84, 87, and 96 percent of the NBA in catch-and-shoot points per possession. For CP3, 98, 96, and 93 percent. We’ll see a lot more of those types of possessions for both players this year playing second fiddle to each other a fair amount and that first fiddle being a great distributor.

I’m also excited about what Mike D’Antoni can do schematically with both players. It’ll be a fun year of them attacking in secondary breaks off of drag screens and both players running off of screens looking to shoot and score. I also think D’Antoni is smart enough to stagger their minutes well, so Houston will rarely be without a superstar on the court.

Jamie Rico – Lakers Pulse: 

I am most excited to watch Westbrook and PG13. Watching Westbrook and PG13 in OKC will be a nice preview for how they will look together in LA. But honestly, those two guys are near the top of my favorite players to watch, and it will be interesting to see if Westbrook can adjust to having another star again and dial back his ball dominance. I also think PG will see a big jump in his overall play since he won’t be the focal point of defenses and will get numerous spot up and 1 on 1 opportunities.

Parker Willman – Orlando Magic Fan:

Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

 

 TJ YoungOliver MaroneyVictoria JacobiCranjis McBasketballJamie RicoParker Willman
Most Valuable PlayerKevin DurantKawhi Leonard. However, I think Chris Paul has a good chance.Kawhi/HardenKevin DurantJames HardenLebron James
Rookie of the YearLonzo BallLonzo Ball. However, I wouldn't be shocked about Donovan Mitchell.Lonzo/SimmonsBen SimmonsLonzo BallBen Simmons
Most Improved PlayerRodney HoodEvan TurnerD'Angelo RussellKristaps PorzingisD'Angelo RussellMyles Turner
Sixth Man of the YearJae CrowderWill BartonRudy Gay/DRoseSeth CurryLou WilliamsLou Williams
Defensive Player of the YearRudy GobertDraymond GreenRudy GobertRudy GobertDraymond GreenKawhi Leonard
Coach of the YearBilly Donovan (OKC)Kenny Atkinson (BKN)Brad Stevens (BOS)Mike D’Antoni (HOU)Kenny Atkinson (BKN)Tom Thibodeau (MIN)
Eastern Conference ChampionCleveland CavsCleveland CavsBoston Celtics (ew)Cleveland CavsBoston CelticsCleveland Cavs
Western Conference ChampionGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State Warriors
NBA Finals ChampionGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State WarriorsGolden State Warriors
NBA Finals MVPKevin DurantDraymond GreenSteph Curry (averaging a double double) Kevin DurantKevin DurantSteph Curry

This year should be extremely entertaining. We’ll see new teams make the playoffs, players taking big leaps to get to the next level, and an increase in competition to take down the Warriors in the West, and Cavs in the East. A big shoutout to everyone who participated in this article – click on their name above, and give them a follow! How do your answers and award predictions match up with ours? Let us on know on Twitter!

For all Lakers news on this upcoming season, follow us @LakersPulse on all platforms!

Comments

comments

COMMENTS