Hello everyone. One person has asked for my NBA predictions and that is all I need. The haters will have this blog memorialized to throw in my face later and I get to bloviate about the League; either a win-win or just a huge overall loss for content in general, depending on how you look at it.
A few assumptions:
1) Health assumed for all players not currently injured, including KD and Kyrie.
2) Covid-19 cancellations/ re-scheduling is not accounted for, 72 games played is assumed for all teams.
3) The 8 seeds from each conference are the final 8 seeds, in that the 7 and 8 seed have advanced from their respective play-in tournaments.
4) Harden is on the Rockets. Rare is an MVP-caliber player available in this manner. I will follow up when/if he is traded.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: LaMelo Ball
I think LaMelo is the best player currently of the rookies and also has the most upside. I also think he will be the League Pass MVP with nightly displays of his already elite-level passing.
|Photo from The Charlotte Observer|
ALL NBA 3rd Team: James Harden, Jamal Murray, Paul George, Pascal Siakim, Rudy Gobert
Wherever Harden plays, he is going to be at an All NBA level. Murray carries over his insane bubble scoring. A little bit of a bounce back for PG, who is on record saying how the Bubble negatively affected his mental health. Siakim and Gobert continue their All NBA level from last year.
ALL NBA 2nd Team: Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Kawhi Leonard, Bam Adebayo
Steph reminds the world of his greatness. Dame is more of the same. Same for Kawhi. Tatum bumps up a team level as he grows (literally and figuratively) into a consistent top-ten player. And Bam's trajectory is similar to Giannis'.
ALL NBA 1st Team: Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Giannis
This is the same as last year, with the exception of a recovered KD returning to his rightful spot.
|Photo from the New York Times|
Hardest Omissions: Ja Morant, Nikola Jokic, Donovan Mitchell, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Russ Westbrook, Chris Paul, Domantas Sabonis, Zion Williamson
Most Improved Player: Michael Porter Jr.
Healthy and still only 22 years old, I love this guy's offensive game and with his size, the D could make a leap for a Nuggets team that is desperate for D.
Comeback Player of the Year: Kevin Durant
MVP: Anthony Davis
I think and hope LeBron takes some maintenance. AD keeps the dominant Lakers rolling.
Coach of the Year: Nick Nurse
Eastern Conference Playoffs:
1. Milwaukee Bucks
Dominant regular seasons continue with Giannis locked up. Got better with Jrue.
2. Brooklyn Nets
There is a ton of depth behind KD and Kyrie.
3. Miami Heat
The Bubble was not a fluke.
4. Toronto Raptors
Never gets "culture" credit that other teams do and they should.
5. Boston Celtics
Kemba health is a huge question mark, but even if he is not there, Tatum, Brown and Smart can carry this team.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
I want them to trade Simmons for Harden, but for now, here we go running it back again.
7. Indiana Pacers
Very talented and were without Sabonis in the Bubble, I think I am playing it safe with them at 7.
|Photo from CBS Sports|
8. Washington Wizards
Give me the team with Russ and Beal over the Hawks, Magic, etc.
Bucks over Wizards 4-0
Nets over Pacers 4-2
Heat over Sixers 4-2
Celtics over Raptors 4-3
-Mostly chalk here
Bucks over Celtics 4-2
Nets over Heat 4-3
-I can see any of these series easily going the other way
Bucks over Nets 4-2
-Giannis is headed to the Finals by playing more minutes and better contributions from his teammates
Western Conference Playoffs:
1. LA Lakers
The only question is whether they coast and rest or they gun for the one seed, which they can get if they want it
2. LA Clippers
Embarrassed from the last time we saw them play, The Clippers remind us why they were many people's picks to win it all last year
|Photo from LA Times|
3. Utah Jazz
With cornerstones Mitchell and Gobert locked-up, they get a healthy Bojan for a team that was a Conley in-and-out three from beating the Nuggets in the Bubble.
4. Phoenix Suns
The darlings up the Bubble, the young Suns got the veteran leadership they need to take the next step
5. Golden State Warriors
Curry is back. Losing Klay obviously hurts, but if Curry is the all-time player we believe him to be, he can get this team to the playoffs. Oubre is a sneaky-good addition.
6. Denver Nuggets
The offense is going to be fantastic, but at some point they have to play D which will be tough with their best defender inexplicably heading to *checks notes* the Detroit Pistons
7. Dallas Mavericks
Remember I am only assuming health for currently healthy players, which Kristaps is not. Luka is all-world but the west is too stacked to not have a reliable number 2.
8. Houston Rockets
Even an out-of-shape, uninterested Harden gets you to the playoffs. What if Wall and Boogie stay healthy? Biggest question mark team.
|Photo from Bleacher Report|
*Disclaimer: I tried my best to get the Grizzlies in, but just could not make it work, hopefully I am wrong.
*Disclaimer 2: I had the Blazers at 5 them completely removed them and swapped in the Warriors. There are only 8 teams, a team has to under-perform, maybe it will be the Blazers. Then again maybe they make the WCF again and the haters can have a field day with this.
Lakers over Rockets 4-1
Clippers over Mavs 4-3
Jazz over Nuggets 4-2
Warriors over Suns 4-3
Can I imagine the Mavs with a healthy Kristaps beating the Clippers, yes, but I could not pull the trigger.
Lakers over Warriors 4-1
Clippers over Jazz 4-3
The Lakers coast. Clippers-Jazz is a coin flip, but I am envisioning Raptors Kawhi.
Lakers over Clippers 4-3
My hot take pick is the Clippers winning the West, but I am making my most-likely predictions. We get the WCF we craved last year and the teams save on travel costs.
THE NBA FINALS:
Lakers over Bucks 4-2
To win it all in the NBA, you have to get hurt first, usually many times. This one hurts for Giannis.
|Photo from ESPN|
NBA Finals MVP: LeBron James