The NBA season tips off tonight as the Celtics take on the Sixers and the Thunder take on the defending champ Warriors. The wait for NBA basketball is finally over. Before the season starts, it’s always fun making predictions about what’s going to happen in the next 8 months.
Here are a few of my better predictions from before last season.
Ben Simmons for the Playoff-bound Sixers will win Rookie of the Year, edging out Lonzo Ball on the lottery-bound Lakers. Turns out I missed on Lonzo, but Lonzo was better than people think he was and I got the “edging out” part right because Donovan Mitchell made it a close and entertaining Rookie of the Year race.
The OKC Thunder will not finish any higher than fourth in the West. Despite being picked by several experts to be the Warriors number one title challenger, the Thunder finished 4th in the West.
Rudy Gobert will once again lead the league in blocks, only this time he’ll be named Defensive Player of the Year. Because of injuries, Gobert did not lead the league in blocks, but Gobert won Defensive Player of the Year despite playing in just 56 games.
A decade from now, Donovan Mitchell will be viewed as the biggest steal of this draft class. I saw him in Summer League and preseason and knew this kid was going to be good, but I didn’t know he was going to be this good, this quickly. Still, this prediction is looking solid.
The Houston Rockets will push the Warriors in a classic seven-game series in the West Finals, before ultimately losing to the eventual champs. This one is freaky. I predicted all but Chris Paul’s injury.
Before the trade deadline, Lebron will passive-aggressively request (through the media) that the Cavs trade the Brooklyn Nets lottery pick it secured in the Kyrie Irving trade to get another player to help them now. The Cavs will refuse, wanting insurance in the event Lebron leaves Cleveland again. This will guarantee Lebron’s departure after the season. Another prediction that was scary close. The Cavs overhauled their roster, but held onto the Nets’ pick. The overhaul wasn’t good enough and Lebron was gone.
On to this season…
10 Predictions for 2018-19
- Deandre Ayton will win Rookie of the Year over Luca Doncic and Colin Sexton in a fun three-way ROY race. Doncic will be more deserving, but Ayton will score more points, and scoring typically wins this award.
- Rudy Gobert will repeat as Defensive Player of the Year by anchoring the number one defense in the league and Draymond will think he got robbed.
- Lebron James will win his fifth MVP award despite having worse overall numbers this season than last. His 5th MVP will pull him even with Michael Jordan and the GOAT debate will reach a fever pitch.
- Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will all post better numbers than Lebron, but voters will want to make up for last year’s snub, where Lebron should have won MVP.
- The Lakers are going to the Playoffs and will finish with a top 4 seed in the West Playoffs.
- The Lakers and Warriors will become the best rivalry in the NBA and every game between the two teams will get chippy.
- Before the Dejounte Murray ACL injury, I would not have said this, but after the injury the Spurs are going to miss the Playoffs for the first time since before Tim Duncan was drafted.
- The Celtics will have the NBA’s best regular season record and will represent the East in the Finals. Boston’s own version of a “death lineup” consisting of Kyrie, Brown, Tatum, Hayward, and Horford will destroy the competition in the East.
- Jimmy Butler will stay in Minnesota, continue to post monster numbers, continue to struggle with his underachieving teammates, and then will join the Lakers in free-agency after the season is over. What will draw Butler to LA is Lebron’s insatiable appetite to win another championship and strengthen his argument that he has passed MJ as the greatest player ever.
- The Golden State Warriors will win the NBA title this season. Their “4 in 5 years,” will cement them as one of the top three dynasties in NBA history along with Russell’s Celtics and MJ’s Bulls, ahead of the likes of Bird’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, Duncan’s Spurs, and Kobe’s Lakers.
Predictions for Regular Season Standings
Out: Spurs, Timberwolves, Clippers, Grizzlies
East 1st Round
(1) Celtics vs. (8) Pistons – Celtics in 4
(4) Bucks vs. (5) Pacers – Bucks in 6
(3) Raptors vs. (6) Wizards – Raptors in 4
(2) Sixers vs. (7) Heat – Sixers in 5
(1) Celtics vs. (4) Bucks – Celtics in 5
(2) Sixers vs. (3) Raptors – Raptors in 6
(1) Celtics vs. (3) Raptors – Celtics in 5
West 1st Round
(1) Rockets vs. (8) Blazers – Rockets in 4
(4) Lakers vs. (5) Thunder – Lakers in 5
(3) Jazz vs. (6) Pelicans – Jazz in 6
(2) Warriors vs. (7) Nuggets – Warriors in 4
(1) Rockets vs. (4) Lakers – Lakers in 7
(2) Warriors vs. (3) Jazz – Warriors in 6
(2) Warriors vs. (4) Lakers – Warriors in 7
Regardless of what happens this season, it’s going to be a lot of fun!