#30) Oklahoma City Thunder:
Over the past few years the OKC Thunder have traded or didn’t resign Kevin Durant, James Harden, Victor Oladipo, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Domantas Sabonis and Enes Kanter. This team will be in “tanking mode” all season long. They won’t win 30 games.
#29) Charlotte Hornets:
(From Wikipedia)…On June 15, 2006, Michael Jordan bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats. As part of the deal, Jordan took full control over the basketball side of the operation, with the title “Managing Member of Basketball Operations.
Jordan is the worst owner in the NBA when it comes to talent evaluation and draft picks. Under his leadership, the Hornets have 2 winning seasons in 10 years and they never made it past the first round of the playoffs. As great of a player Jordan was… He is equally as bad at running a team.
#28) Cleveland Cavaliers:
Life without LeBron James has not been easy. The Cavs were 19-63 last season and I would be shocked if they win more than 25 games this year.
#27) Memphis Grizzlies:
The Grizzlies will be at the bottom of the Western Conference but they landed two potential starts in Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. These two should be fun to watch.
#26) Phoenix Suns:
Is this the year that Phoenix finally battles for a playoff spot? Over the past 4 years they have won 23,24,21 and 19 games. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton should put up plenty of points with Ricky Rubio running the point guard position. Rubio could lead the NBA in assists.
#25) Chicago Bulls:
Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen make a formidable “Big-3.” If Coby White out of North Carolina takes over the point guard position, they could have a young, talented, nucleus for the next 3-5 years.
#24) Washington Wizards:
Bradley Beal is the most underrated 2-way player in basketball. Other than Beal where is the Wizards offense coming from? They could be the worst scoring team in the NBA this season. The John Wall contract will continue to be an albatross around this teams neck.
#23) Minnesota Timberwolves:
Karl Anthony Townes is wasting his talents in Minnesota. Two years ago, Andrew Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game. Last season he averaged 18 points per game. Wiggins is not a legitimate number 2 option.Townes should ask for a trade by Christmas.
#22) Atlanta Hawks:
The Atlanta Hawks could be the most exciting team that doesn’t make the playoffs. Trae Young is a “poor man’s” Stephen Curry. John Collins could be a consistent “double-double” machine and Cam Reddish has tremendous upside out of Duke University. They are 1 or 2 years away from making the playoffs.
#21) Toronto Raptors:
Kawhi Leonard brought the Raptors their first ever NBA Title last season. I don’t see the Raptors making the playoffs. Pasqual Siakam is the only exciting player they have.
#20) Miami Heat:
Since LeBron James left the Miami Heat, they have failed to make the playoffs 3 out of the last 5 years. Erik Spoelstra has never been passed the 2nd round of the post-season, without LBJ. The Heat drafted Justise Winslow with the 10th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Winslow has been a role player at best. He has a career average of 9 points and 5 rebounds per game. Jimmy Butler should make this team better and Tyler Herro, out of Kentucky, could thrive in the Heat’s offense.
#19) Detroit Pistons:
The Derrick Rose tour continues, Rose has joined the Detroit Pistons. He should proved 13-15 points per game off the bench. Other than Blake Griffin, the Pistons don’t have any player that scares opposing coaches. They will win less than 40 games.
#18) New York Knicks:
The Knicks had a very good off-season. New York should be optimistic about their team.
The Knicks signed:
Julius Randle, the 24-years old power forward, averaged 21 points,8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season.
Marcus Morris, 14 points, 6 rebounds per game.
Elfrid Payton, 10 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds per game.
Bobby Portis, 14 points, 8.6 rebounds per game.
They also drafted, RJ Barrett out of Duke and added Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington. This team is surrounded by solid professionals to go along with young talent like Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson. The Knicks should lead the NBA in rebounding and could be a playoff team.
#17) Sacramento Kings:
De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are a young and upcoming backcourt. Marvin Bagley Jr. could average 20 points and 10 rebounds every night. Like the Atlanta Hawks, this team is a year or two away from the playoffs.
#16) Orlando Magic:
Nikola Vucevic is an elite big man that no one outside of Florida knows about. He averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists last season. Can you win a playoff series with DJ Augustin as your point guard?
#15) San Antonio Spurs:
I am higher on the Spurs than most NBA experts. I like the Dejounte Murray/Derrick White back court. Keldon Johnson could be the steal of the draft. The Spurs two top scorers, LeMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan never shoot the three point shot. That could be a negative as they push towards the post-season.
#14) Dallas Mavericks:
A healthy, stronger Kristaps Porzingis and Luca Doncic in his 2nd year… Sign me up to watch. Throw in Tim Hardaway Jr and Seth Curry off the bench. This team should be very good offensively, but… can they guard anyone?
#13) New Orleans Pelicans:
Zion Williamson will be the face of the NBA over the next 3 to 5 years. This team may be young, but they are built to win now. Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, JJ Redick and Jhalil Okafor could win 45 games this year.
#12) Indiana Pacers:
Malcolm Brogdan will take over the point guard duties. The Pacers also signed TJ Warren from the Phoenix Suns. Warren averaged 18 points per game last season. Domantas Sabonis should averaged a double/double every night, now that he is the starting power forward. Victor Oladipo is the quietest super star in the NBA. No one wants to play the Pacers in the playoffs.
#11) Brooklyn Nets
The Nets signed Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan in the off-season. Durant probably won’t play this season and Jordan will back up Jarrett Allen. Kyrie Irving should average 25 points a game. The Nets should make the playoffs and when Durant comes back they should be a title contender.
#10) Boston Celtics:
Al Horford and Irving are gone. This could be addiction by subtraction. Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum could be a very good 1-2 scoring punch. Enes Kanter is a very good rebounder and offensive center. Brad Stevens will have this team winning close to 50 games.
#9) Portland Trail Blazers:
The Trail Blazers have the 2nd best back court in the NBA. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum can both score 50 points on any given night. I Don’t like the signing of Hassan Whiteside. He is a center that won’t play in the 4th quarter or crunch time when opponents go small.
#8) Golden State Warriors:
We don’t know how long Klay Thompson will be out of action with his leg injury. What we do know is that Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green are a very good, “Big-3″. The Warriors acquired Willie-Cauley Stein from the Sacramento Kings. He averaged 10.8 points and 8 rebounds per game last season. When Klay comes back, this team could compete for another championship.
#7) Utah Jazz:
Can Mike Conley make a good team great in Utah? That is what the Jazz fans are hoping for. Bojan Bogdanovic averaged 18 points per game with the Pacers last season. Can you win a title with Bogdanovic as your number 2 scoring option? Quin Snyder is the best coach in the NBA that no one knows about.
#6) Houston Rockets:
We have seen this script with Mike D’Antoni every year. He has a plethora of offensive talent but when they need to get a stop on defense, they can’t. Tyson Chandler should provide some defensive leadership but will it be enough? The Rockets have an elite starting five. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J Tucker and Clint Capela can be a nightmare for opposing coaches. Capela should score 20 points per game just off “pick-and-rolls” alone. The Rockets will win 55 or more games but they don’t play defense when it matters and that will be their downfall, once again, in the post-season.
#5) Denver Nuggets:
The Denver Nuggets won 54 games last season without having a legitimate #1 scoring option. Nikola Jokic averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and 7.3 assists last year. He did this despite not having the prototypical NBA body. The question here could be Denver’s young players. Bol Bol was considered a top 5 draft pick before he got injured his freshman year at Oregon. Michael Porter Jr is a 6’10 swing man who is just 21 years old. This team could win 60 games.
#4) Los Angeles Lakers:
Are LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma the best trio in the NBA? It would be hard to argue they aren’t. Throw in Danny Green and a few other solid veterans and this team can make a run at the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers must get point guard help and consistent three point shooting to have long term success. How does Dwight Howard play into this mix? As constituted, this team is not deep enough to win a title. Look for the Lakers to be very active at the trading deadline.
#3) Milwaukee Bucks:
The Bucks are led by last year’s MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. “The Greek Freak” averaged 27 pointes, 12 rebounds and 5.9 assists. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe are back to complete their core group. Brook Lopez can stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting and Kyle Korver should provide offense off the bench. The Bucks should win 60 games this year but I don’t think you can win a title with Bledsoe as your staring point guard.
#2) LA Clippers:
With Patrick Beverly, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers have the best defensive front court in the NBA. This could be the best defensive three in the history of the NBA. Ivica Zubac is a 22-year-old, 7’2 center, who is highly skilled. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are two of the best 6th and 7th men in the NBA. This is the best Clippers team, LA has ever had. The Lakers gave up on Williams and Zubac, that could come back to haunt them come playoff time.
#1) Philadelphia 76ers:
The 76ers signed Al Horford away from the Celtics during the off-season. They also acquired Josh Richardson who averaged 16.6 points per game last year. This could be the best staring 5 in the NBA.
Zhaire Smith, the rookie from Texas Tech, could be asked to play a significant role as the season goes on. The Bench on this team is unproven but their starting lineup is downright scary. Harris, Richardson, Horford and Embiid can all shoot the three point shot and stretch the floor.
MVP: Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers).
NBA Western Conference Finals: Lakers vs Clippers.
NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Milwaukee Bucks vs 76ers.
NBA FINALS: Clippers vs 76ers.
NBA Champions…PHILADELPHIA 76ERS.
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