By: Kyle Posey
It’s that time. All this is where all the bandwagon fans come out. “I’m a big Rockets/Warriors/Bulls/Pacers” or every other team that’ll be good fan comes out. We know, deep down, they’re not. Just give them their glory. Let them be fake great.
I’ll go over who I think the playoff teams will be, how the playoff brackets will play out and who will win it all. It’s not the popular pick, let’s just say that. I’ll also go over who will win each award, so let’s start with that.
The Lebron reign is over. Kevin Durant finally will win this prestigious award which he seems to care about way too much. KD has improved his passing/ball handling skills. He’ll put up ridiculous numbers with Westbrook out and average just enough assists, and a respectable amount of rebounds to win it. OKC being winning a bunch of games helps. Don’t think the voters will give it to Lebron, AGAIN.
On the flip side, maybe a new reign begins for Lebron. The best defensive player in the league who doesn’t have to over extend himself, like a Tony Allen. This is no slight to Marc Gasol, who’s a great player, but the only guy who can guard and dominate four positions is long overdue to win this award.
6th Man Award
This one was tough. This usually goes to a shooting guard off the bench who comes in a puts up instant offense, ala Jamal Crawford/J.R. Smith. I wanted to pick Harrison Barnes here, but he clearly wants to be a starter and I think his confidence is a little shot knowing he’s coming off the bench. I don’t think he’ll be as efficient, so I’m going with Tyreke Evans from the Pelicans. I think he helps lead them to the playoffs and flourishes in a new setting. *Note: if Klay Thompson ends up coming off the bench he is my pick.*
Rookie of the Year
Victor Olapdipo seems like too easy of a pick. When you’re an athletic freak like he is, it’s easy to see why. I’m going with a lights out shooter in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from the Pistons. Think he’ll be in a great position where he doesn’t have to create his own shots, he’ll be able to get his minutes and put up solid numbers.
Coach of the Year
Doc Rivers would make a ton of sense, he’s great. But honestly, why wouldn’t or shouldn’t Greg Popovich win it? He’s the best at what he does and should win it as long as he’s coaching.
Another tough one. I’m going with Bulls SG Jimmy Butler. Think Derrick Rose being back makes life easier on him, take his game to the next level and help the Bulls do the same. He’s an underrated talent that has too many pieces around him to not be good.
I’m not going to talk about the Celtics, Magic, 76ers, because no one really cares, right? I’ll stick to the 8 teams I think will make the playoffs.
1. Miami Heat
Think they’ll just be able to cruise through the regular season again, win 60 games like it’s nothing and be on Sportscenter routinely with plays like this.
2. Chicago Bulls
A team that pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination, almost, gets their best player back. They also get healthy, and get better. The Bulls will be good. Very good.
3. Indiana Pacers
No Danny Granger? No problem. This is Paul George’s team and he’ll show why he was worth his zillion dollar contract this year. It was huge in bringing back David West, an underrated bench in Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, and Lance Stephenson. These top 3 teams will be very tough to be.
4. Brooklyn Nets
A team with great talent finally gets much needed veteran leadership in the additions of Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Less is more with these three as they’ll be able to make the Nets a legit team, finally.
5. New York Knicks
Carmelo is uber talented, offensively. He should have another huge season and the Knicks will have some big wins and have a good regular season. They usually do. It’s the playoffs were ‘Melo and the Knicks struggle. Not buying any of their signings but in a weak conference, they’ll be fine.
6. Cleveland Cavilers
Kyrie gon’ eat. Andrew Bynum is literally a huge addition. Giving them a much needed presence in the middle. Kyrie Irving is arguably the best offensive player in the league; he’s a wizard with the ball. If the team can get stops, they’ll surprise. Kyrie himself is worth 10 wins; he’s THAT good. It’s all about the players around him knocking down shots.
7. Washington Wizards
This is the surprise team. If I remember correctly, they won 5 of their first 30 games. That ain’t happening this year. They were playing above .500 ball after the break. The back court combo of Bradley Beal & John Wall should produce some great moments this year. If they can produce anything from their front court, they should make the playoffs.
8. Detroit Pistons
Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith are both “meh” to me. But, I still think by default they’ll make the playoffs. They have good size and that should be enough to push them into the playoffs.
Playoffs 1st round
1 Heat vs. Pistons 8
Heat will win in 5. Pistons win game 4 and Twitter will explode. The next game they’ll lose by 20+ as Lebron goes Lebron just to remind everyone how good he is.
2 Bulls vs. Wizards 7
Bulls will sweep the Wizards. They’ll force Wall to make shots, he won’t and this series will turn ugly.
3 Pacers vs. Cavs 6
This is a bad 1st match-up for Kyrie & company. Just too much talent to overcome as the Pacers will take the ball out of his hands and make someone else beat them. They won’t. Pacers in 5.
4 Nets vs. Knicks 5
Another year, another letdown for the Knicks. Too much leadership/experience for the Nets as they win in 6.
Heat vs Nets
As much improved as the Nets are, they won’t be able to get past the Heat. Think this is one of those “Wade goes off series” as the Heat win in 6. They’re just too good on defense and Brook Lopez is a terrible defender. He’ll allow points in the paint as the Heat will play small ball and drag KG out of that area.
Bulls vs Pacers
This will be fun. This will be like Heat/Pacers of 2012. Both top 7 defenses, points will be hard to come by, but at the end of the day, D. Rose reverts to MVP form and the Bulls shooters are too much. Bulls in 7.
Bulls vs Heat
What do you need to beat the Heat? A point guard who can take over, a dominant big man defensively, and shooters. Check. Check. Check. Getting back to the finals four times is nearly impossible, hasn’t been done in almost 30 years. I think the Bulls take the Heat as Lebron has to do it by himself too much, and there’s no Mike Miller to bail them out. Bulls in 7.
1. San Antonio Spurs
Until they actually prove they’ll stop winning 58-60 games, I’ll stop doubting them. Coach Pop, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan will cruise much like the Heat in the regular season.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is out 20 games, and that’ll turn out to be a blessing in disguise for this team. He’ll get a chance to know what his teammates can do without him, and he’ll come back a better distributor and have his best season yet. Oh yeah, they have Kevin Durant. He’s okay.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
Doc Rivers is the biggest addition. But they also get more shooting in J.J. Reddick, and an underrated big man signing Byron Mullens. If the Clippers can buy into Doc and get stops, this team can go a long way.
4. Golden State Warriors
If there’s a top 3 things you want to watch in the NBA, Steph Curry on fire is one of those things. That ankle needs to hold up, though. I think Iguodola coming over will help them on defense and when they go small with Barnes, they’ll put up points. Only thing holding them back is a dominant big man on defense in the middle.
5. Memphis Grizzles
Firing your coach after a conference finals trip is rough. But this team showed it’s better without Rudy Gay and is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. That will allow them to win a ton of games. Think their inability to score will catch up to them.
6. Houston Rockets
Dwight Howard definitely helps, but teams that just lump superstars together usually take longer than a year to figure out when they don’t have veteran leadership. James Harden is one of the best players in the NBA, but I’m not sure they have enough to get over the hump.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
This is hoping that Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love stay healthy. If they can, with the addition of Kevin Martin, this is a playoff team. Peckovic in the middle is an underrated big man.
8. Portland Trailblazers
Damien Lillard came on strong last year, and I think he’ll only get better. Lamarcus Aldridge is better than most people think and with some veterans, they should sneak into the playoffs. Surprise team.
1 Spurs vs. Blazers 8
The Spurs, like most great defensive teams, will suffocate Lillard and make someone else beat them. Batum is good, but Tony Parker should have his way and the Spurs will sweep.
2 Thunder vs. T’Wolves
Minnesota always gives OKC problems, and I have no idea why. The pick’n’roll Rubio runs and Love being a deadly shooter is tough to stop. That being said, the Thunder should be rolling come playoff time and win this in 5.
3 LAC vs Rockets 6
These games will probably be the most fun to watch. So many points. So many highlights. But, Doc is such a smart coach and I believe the Clippers will outscore the Rockets. Clippers in 6.
4 Golden State vs. Grizzles 5
This is tough. The Warriors got hot last year, but fizzled out quickly at the end of the Spurs series. I think they take the next step this year. Just too many weapons and don’t think the Grizzles have the fire power to keep up. Think the small ball lineup takes over. Warriors in 6.
Spurs vs Warriors
A re-match from a great series last year. The Warriors are better, but not good enough. I think they stretch it to 7 games, but eventually, they have no answer for Tim Duncan and Parker. Spurs in 7.
Thunder vs. Clippers
Chris Paul has had his way with the Thunder in recent years. This isn’t the same Thunder. Their players are better, and Durant will be too much for Doc to overcome. I think the Clippers won’t be able to score with OKC. The Thunder are an underrated defensive team(4th best last year.) OKC in 6
Thunder vs. Spurs
This comes down to match-ups. Both are great teams. The Thunder are just too athletic for the Spurs. The Spurs don’t have an answer for Durant, and aren’t able to keep up in a 7 game series physically. This series will have people talking how close Durant is to Lebron. Thunder in 7.
OKC vs Bulls
This won’t be as high scoring as you’d think. Both great defensive teams, both collapse the paint, and have long limb wing defenders to effect shooters. This series will go 7. One game Westbrook will dominate, the next Rose. KD will surely put up numbers. But at the end of the day, the Bulls will be superior and just too good defensively. Bulls in 7 and the NBA Champions.