Wow, that really snuck up on me… Here I am solely focused on my Astros going for their second World Series Title in the past 3 years, and it hits me that we have real NBA games tonight! After all the craziness that the offseason brought, it seemed like opening night was ages away. Yet here we are. One of the most anticipated NBA seasons I can remember. So here I am in the middle of the night, hammering through all of my thoughts about the upcoming season. This might be a long one… We’ll get into everything from division previews and awards predictions, to projecting every teams lineups, and of course my Playoffs and Finals Predictions. Lets go!
Guards: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell
Forwards: Paskal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Centers: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka
The 2018-19 Champs find themselves in rare territory for a team defending a title. Their best player, their superstar, their Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard is gone after one season. Not to mention, glue-guy Danny Green is gone too. Thats two key spots in the rotation that need to be filled. Can Paskal Siakam take another step after he broke out last season? He’s going to have to for the Raptors to remain atop the East. Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet will need to step up as well, and Kyle Lowry needs to at least maintain his borderline allstar status.
Guards: Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylon Brown, Romeo Langford (R)
Forwards: Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Grant Williams (R), Semi Ojeleye
Centers: Enes Kanter, Daniel Theiss
Boston is coming off of a very disappointing season with a lot of production that needs to be replaced. Kyrie is in Brooklyn now. Could that be addition by subtraction? Perhaps, but they will still need Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward to get closer to the players the used to be. Kemba needs to prove he can play with other good players, and they have a massive hole in the middle. Enes Kanter can’t be someone you’re relying on to protect the paint.
Guards: Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Garrett Temple
Forwards: Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler
Center: Jarrett Allen DeAnder Jordan
This season is going to interesting for the newly assembled Nets. The addition of Kevin Durant won’t matter this year, as he recovers from his torn achilles. So its kind of a stop gap year, but they are still talented. LaVert could be a breakout star this year if he stays healthy, Jarrett Allen is a defensive force and should continue to improve. The biggest question, outside of depth, is going to be whether or not Kyrie Irving brings down these young players the way he did in Boston.
Guards: Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith, Raul Neto
Forwards: Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Matisse Thybulle (R), Mike Scott, James Ennis
Centers: Joel Embiid, Kyle O’Quinn
Go ahead and crown Phily the weirdest roster of the 2019-20 season. Their PG is roughly the same height as their PF, who is really a Center playing PF. Their shooters are big and their PG pretty much only scores in the paint (don’t get fooled by the preseason 3 pointer). Look, these guys are going to be nearly impossible to score on, this amount of length is unprecedented. But guard depth is an issue, and I have some questions on their ability to make outside shots with any kind of consistency.
New York Knicks
Guards: Dennis Smith Jr, RJ Barrett (R), Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock
Forwards: Kevin Knox, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington
Centers: Mitchell Robinson, Taj Gibson
Holy disproportioned roster Batman!! I mean, what a joke. This team literally has 4 “tweeners.” They went out and signed bunch of dudes that are going to take minutes away from Kevin Knox, who needs all the experience he can get. The only thing the Knicks need to worry about is making sure JR Barrett develops. There is no other point to the season…
DIVISION CHAMPS: 76ers
Guards: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Wesley Matthews
Forwards: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kriss Middleton, Sterling Brown, Erson Ilyasova
Centers: Brook Lopez, DJ Wilson, Robin Lopez
Just like last year, this team will live and die with the Greek Freak. Resigning Middleton was a must, but outside of him, Giannis doesn’t have much help. Bledsoe has to prove he can show up in the playoffs, George Hill is getting older by the minute, and Wes Matthews is far from his Portland days. Can Brook Lopez repeat his shooting numbers from last year? The Bucks should win a bunch of games and finish near the top of the East. But they need more from just about everyone if they want to advance further in the playoffs.
Guards: Victor Oladipo, Malcom Brogdon, Aaron Holiday, Jeremy Lamb
Forwards: TJ Warren, Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday
Centers: Myles Turner
Indiana is in an interesting place… The biggest issue for them is getting Victor Oladipo back and at the level he was before the injury. They made some really good signings in Brogdon and Lamb, and I don’t hate the TJ Warren pick up. But big man depth is an issue. Do they want to play Sabonis and Turner together? They’re certainly paying both guys starter money… We’ll see.
Guards: Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway
Forwards: Blake Griffin, Tony Snell, Markieff Morris
Centers: Andre Drummond, Thon Maker
I mean, what are we doing here Detroit??? Do we expect Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson to play together? And if so when is Luke Kennard, their best shooter, going to get to shoot the ball? Do they think Andre Drummond is suddenly going to be able to play modern basketball? Blake Griffin had an underrated season last year, and should be good again. Maybe they’ll do him a favor and move him at the deadline.
Guards: Zach Lavine, Thomas Satoransky, Coby White (R), Kris Dunn
Forwards: Lauri Markenen, Otto Porter, Thad Young, Denzel Valentine
Centers: Wendell Carter Jr, Daniel Gafford
The Bulls haven’t been good for a few years now, but at least they’re doing this rebuild the right way. Or at least trying to. Unlike Detroit, the Bulls haven’t made pointless trades and/or signings just to stay in the playoff hunt. I think that will start to pay off for Chicago this season. I love Coby White, Lauri, and even WCJ. Zach Lavine is a flawed player, but he can score. I think Chicago flirts with the playoffs this year.
Guards: Collin Sexton, Darius Garland (R), Jordan Clarkson, Matthew Dellavedova, Brandon Knight
Forwards: Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr
Centers: Tristan Thompson, John Henson
Cavs are still in a bit of a “pre-rebuilding” phase, in my opinion. They’re obviously not going to be competitive at a high level quite yet. But they still have some guys that don’t need to be on a rebuilding team (Love, TT, Clarkson). But I like Garland as the first piece in the full rebuild. Sexton isn’t that guy, but maybe Garland can be.
DIVISION CHAMPS: Bucks
Guards: Trea Young, Kevin Heurter, Allan Crabbe, Cam Reddish (R)
Forwards: De’Andre Hunter (R), DeAndre Bembry, Evan Turner, Jabari Parker, Chandler Parsons
Centers: John Collins, Alex Len
Atlanta is headed in the right direction. Roster is a little out of balance, but they have some really good young players lead by Trae Young. Heurter is going to be good, Hunter and Reddish were both great draft picks in my opinion, and John Collins is an underrated young player. Not sure why they signed Jabari Parker and Chandler Parsons though….
Guards: Evan Fournier, DJ Augustine, Markelle Fultz, Terrence Ross
Forwards: Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu
Centers: Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba, Khem Birch
Another team that needs a crash course on how to build a roster… I honestly don’t know what to expect from these guys, they some how found their way into the playoffs last year. But then signed their Center to a huge contract in the offseason despite their top prospect also being a Center. They need a full sale rebuild.
Guards: Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, Dwayne Bacon
Forwards: Miles Bridges, PJ Washington (R), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nic Batum, Marvin Williams
Centers: Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, Willy Hernangomez
What a mess! This team is destined for a top 3 lotto pick come draft time. Unfortunately, I don’t trust that they’ll make a good pick. Theres just nothing to be hopeful for right now. Rozier is not a starting caliber PG, MKG is still on their roster doing a whole lotta nothing. They’re just paying too many bad NBA players a lot of money right now. Its going to be a long, long season in Charlotte.
Guards: Bradley Beal, Ish Smith, Isaiah Thomas
Forwards: Rui Hachimura (R), CJ Miles, Davis Bertans, Admiral Schofield (R)
Centers: Thomas Bryant, Ian Mahinmi
Its a lonely world for Brad Beal… John Wall is still out and no one really knows when he’ll be back. And I don’t even think they’d want him back at this point. They should have traded Beal, in stead they extend him so that they can pretend to be trying…
Guards: Goran Dragic, Justice Winslow, Tyler Herro (R), Dion Waiters, Kendrick Nunn (R)
Forwards: Jimmy Butler, Derick Jones Jr, Kelley Olynyk
Centers: Bam Adebayo, Meyers Leonard
Part 2 of the post Dwayne Wade era has officially begun. Jimmy is the guy now and I’m sure he thinks he can carry this team to a deep playoff run… But he cant. Look for Miami to be active in the trade market. Thats their only chance at contention.
DIVISION CHAMPS: Heat
Guards: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley
Forwards: Paul Milsap, Will Barton, Jerami Grant, Torrey Craig, Michael Porter Jr
Centers: Nikola Jokic, Mason Plumlee
The Nuggets, like last year, are just so deep. Jokic proved to be a superstar in the regular season last year, and his supporting cast is awesome. Whether or not they can make a deep playoff run is still up in the air, but they’ll be in the hunt for home-court advantage in the first round once again.
Guards: Mike Conley Jr, Donavan Mitchell, Emmanuel Mudiay, Donte Exum
Forwards: Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neal, Jeff Green
Centers: Rudy Gobert, Ed Davis
Utah made a couple really good moves by bringing in Conley and Bojan. They finally have some shooting to go along with Quinn Snyder’s awesome defense. Mitchell needs to continue to improve, they’ll be a playoff team again.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Guards: Chris Paul, Shea Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroeder
Forwards: Danilo Gallinari, Andre Roberson, Tarrence Ferguson
Centers: Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel
The first season in OKC history that will be played without Russell Westbrook on the team. Its going to take some time to get used to for sure. But this roster actually doesn’t suck. CP3 is going to be out to prove that he can still play. SGA is a really good young guard, and Galo had an underrated season last year. Will be tough to make much noise in the stacked west, but they won’t be terrible.
Guards: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Anfernee Simons, Kent Bazemore
Forwards: Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Mario Hazonja, Anthony Tolliver
Centers: Hasan Whiteside, Pau Gasol
Im a litte concerned about Portland’s ability to keep up in a stacked western conference. When most teams improved their rosters, Portland didn’t do much other than replace their very good, but injured Center (Nurkic), with a guy who really just doesn’t care to compete (Whiteside). I think they could take a step back.
Guards: Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Napier, Jarrett Culver (R)
Forwards: Jake Layman, Robert Covington, Treveon Graham
Centers: Karl Anthony-Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Jordan Bell
The only thing I find interesting about this team is Jarrett Culver’s development… Wiggins is past his grace period, he’s officially a bust. KAT is really good, they need to just try to win enough to keep him from demanding a trade.
DIVISION CHAMPS: Nuggets
Los Angelas Lakers
Guards: Rajon Rando, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso
Forwards: LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Jared Dudley
Centers: Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee
First things first, I see a lot of people talking about AD playing the 4 next to Dwight or McGee… Im a LeBron fan, I’ll be rooting for the Lakers for the most part, but if they do this they will deserve exactly what they’ll get. AD is a Center in the modern NBA. He just is. The have a hodge podge of guards that will all be competing for playing time and I really don’t know who will end up getting the most minutes. But if LeBron and AD can stay healthy, and Frank Vogel can avoid clogging the court with bigs, they can win it all.
Los Angelas Clippers
Guards: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Landry Shamet
Forwards: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Maurice Harkless, JaMychal Green
Centers: Ivica Zubac, Montrezl Harrell
The Clippers are everyones favorite pick to win it all right now, and I understand why. Kawhi and PG are two of the best forwards in the game and two of the most versatile defenders as well. Lou and Trez are still there to run that second unit, and Beverley is going to make sure that they are playing with a chip on their shoulder. HOWEVER, I have some questions still. As much as I love Patrick Beverley, he’s not a guy that excels at getting his teammates involved in the offense. The ball is going to go though Kawhi and PG, which is obviously something you’d want, but neither of those guys are known for making plays for others. I could see this offense struggling at times. They’re contenders, but Im not sure they should be favorites.
Golden State Warriors
Guards: Steph Curry, DeAngelo Russell, Alec Burks, Jordan Pool
Forwards: Draymond Green, Glenn Robinson III, Eric Paschall (R)
Centers: Kavon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein, Omari Spellman
Its going to be a weird season for the former dynasty out in Golden State. If Klay were healthy, they’d be right there with the rest of the WC contenders. But they just aren’t very deep. Steph is going to have an occasional monster game because he’s pretty much their entire offense now. I think they’ll be looking to trade DeAngelo Russell by the deadline. They’ll be a fringe playoff team, at best. With the news of Klay likely being out for the entire season, even that might be a stretch.
Guards: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdon Bogdonovic, Cory Joseph
Forwards: Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley, Trevor Ariza
Centers: Dewayne Dedmon, Harry Giles
I didn’t really understand a lot of the moves Sacramento made this offseason. Signing Ariza, Joesph, Dedmon, and Barnes to a total of about 1 billion dollars just didn’t add up in my head. Hield and Fox are awesome. Watch them and have fun… But this team is going nowhere.
Guards: Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jarome (R), Tyler Johnson
Forwards: Kelly Ubre Jr, Mikal Bridges, Dario Saric, Cameron Johnson (R)
Centers: Deandre Ayton, Frank Kaminsky
Booker should have worked on beating that double team in the offseason… Because Ricky Rubio isn’t going to help with that.
DIVISION CHAMPS: Clippers
Guards: Luka Doncic, Delon Wright, Jalen Brunsen, Seth Curry
Forwards: Kristops Porzingis, Justin Jackson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr
Centers: Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber
I have seen a few overzealous takes regarding these Mavs… Luka is a stud, KP was really good before his injury, and has looked good in the preseason. But take a look at the rest of that roster and your excitement should end immediately. They’ll be better, but I would not expect playoffs just yet.
San Antonio Spurs
Guards: Dejounte Murray, Devin White, Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills
Forwards: DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, DeMarre Carroll, Lonnie Walker
Centers: LaMarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl
With Murray back and healthy, Pop has a nice collection of good, young players. How far can he take them is the question. I don’t think they’re contenders, but you can bet they’ll be right in the playoff mix in April.
Guards: Ja Morant (R), Dillon Brooks, Tyus Jones, Grayson Allen
Forwards: Jaren Jackson Jr, Kyle Anderson, Jae Crowder
Centers: Jonas Valanciunas, Brandon Clarke
The Grizzlies will not win a lot of game this year at all. But Memphis fans will enjoy watching the growth and development of Jaren Jackson Jr and Ja Morant. As long as they don’t get ahead of themselves and try make a trade just to be competitive, their rebuild is on the right track.
New Orleans Pelicans
Guards: Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, JJ Reddick, E’Twaun Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart
Forwards: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram
Centers: Derick Favors, Jahlil Okafor, Jaxson Hayes
Pels have some talent, for sure. Zion’s injuries would terrify me if I were a NO fan. But they should still be excited. The roster is pretty imbalanced, too many guards and not enough depth up front. A healthy Zion would make for a successful season.
Guards: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Ben McLemore
Forwards: PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr, Thabo Sefolosha, Gary Clark
Centers: Clint Capela, Tyson Chandler, Ryan Anderson
The Rockets replace one HOF PG for another in 2019-20 by bringing in Russell Westbrook in the trade for Chris Paul. I think Russ and Haden are going to thrive playing together. I have seen a lot of takes saying that both guys numbers will drop. While I see their point and don’t completely disagree, I also think its possible that playing with Russ will give Harden an easier path to his 35-40 ppg. Russ will see his assist numbers fly up but might not score as much. But overall, the depth of this team is getting overlooked. Gordon, House, PJ, Clint, Rivers, and newcomer Thabo Sefolosha might make for the most complete supporting cast in the league. Its title or bust for the Rockets until this window closes.
DIVISION CHAMPS: Rockets
Scoring Champ- James Harden
Rookie of the Year- Zion Williamson
Most Improved Player- Caris LaVert
6th Man of the Year- Spencer Dinwiddie
Coach of the Year- Nick Nurse
Defensive POY- Anthony Davis
Most Valuable Player
This award is impossible to predict. The smart thing to do is to see who the media has already started creating a narrative for. The guys I have seen mentioned most are Joel Embiid because he’s the “next in line.” Or Steph Curry because he won’t be playing with two other elite scorers and his usage rate should go way up (eye role). Or Giannis because we love a back to back as long as its not James Harden… I’ve even seen Jokic and AD mentioned by some, which is nuts. For me, Im picking a guy that I know for a fact is going to once again step his game up. There are two guys that have proven to be able to do just that on a yearly bases… Those guys are LeBron James and James Harden. I think LeBron is going to be all up in that load management life, but could have an MVP season despite that. Harden might lighten his workload during the regular season as well. But I believe playing alongside another dynamic playmaker will make life easier for The Beard. I think Harden tops his historic 2018-19 season and voters concede that there’s no way a guy can average over 36ppg two consecutive years and not win MVP in either season. James Harden walks away with his second MVP in 2019-20!
2019-20 NBA Finals/Playoffs Predictions
So above you saw my playoff standings. I have the Clippers finishing atop the West, just barley edging out Houston and LAL. I think 1-5 will be pretty close as far as regular season standings go. Out East, I think the Bucks get the top seed once again, with Phily coming in at number 2. Those teams that have been mentioned by name, in my opinion are the only real title contenders. So lets quickly run through these playoff match-ups…
WEST ROUND 1
1-LAC over 8-POR
4-DEN over 5-UTAH
2-HOU over 7-GS
3-LAL over 6-SAS
EAST ROUND 1
1-MIL over 8-ATL
4-TOR over 5-BOS
2-PHI over 7-BRK
6-MIA over 3-IND
WEST ROUND 2
1-LAC over 4-DEN
2-HOU over 3-LAL
WAST ROUND 2
1-MIL over 4-TOR
2-PHI over 6-MIA
Rockets Vs Clippers
Harden and Westbrook Vs Kawhi and PG! Would be a really fun matchup, but I think the more difficult series is in round 2 when the Rockets play LeBron and the Lakers. I think shellack of a true point guard is going to haunt LAC in the WCF and they won’t be able to keep up with the fast paced Rockets. As long as Houston defends and rebounds at a respectable rate, they win the West and move on to the Finals.
Bucks Vs 76ers
Length Vs Length! The unconventional 76ers roster, I believe, will find a way to outlast the Bucks in a hard fought 7 game ECF. The ability to put 4 or 5 different players on Giannis will be the difference here. If Joel Embiid plays the way he can, no one on the Bucks can guard him. Phily moves on to the Finals.
2019-20 NBA Finals
Rockets beat the 76ers in 5 games, earning their 3rd Championship in franchise history!
What’d you expect!? #ClutchCity