Ahhhhh, can you smell it? After a long, excruciating wait of two months, the NBA season has arrived. Kicking off with Warriors vs. Nets at 7.
I'll be giving out my MVP, breakout player/team, main storylines to look out for, and more. Let's get right into it with my pick for MVP.
I was going to go with Giannis winning his third straight MVP here. However, after winning back to back MVPs, I think Giannis is going to get the LeBron treatment. After careful consideration, I figured I'd go with the easy choice... Luka Doncic.
Luka's been nothing short of amazing since he first stepped foot on an NBA court. What he did in the bubble was truly incredible. He gave us a glimpse of what type of player he's capable of becoming. If the Mavs can position themselves to be a top-4 team in the West, I think there's no doubt Luka will be MVP. He's currently the odds on favorite to win the award at +410 on Fanduel.
We'll see if Luka can take that next step becoming a top-5 player in the NBA, but get your MVP bets in now as it can drastically change in a month.
The one team I think will surprise a lot of people is the Wizards.
With Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, I think the Wizards have a good chance of snagging a playoff spot. I don't think they're going to be a top-three team in the East, but I certainly think they can grab a spot anywhere in the 5-8 range. Beal and Russ will obviously pick up the majority of the slack, but I like the supporting pieces they have in Bertans, Hachimura, and their rookie, Deni Avdija.
I also think Russ is going to play with a chip on his shoulder. He's been wildly inconsistent, and no one knows what type of Russell Westbrook we're going to get on a given night. With that said, you know Russ is going to bring it every single game. He's a great type of player to have in a young locker room that's trying to set a culture.
There are a few good candidates, but there's one player that keeps coming back to mind. I think Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is going to take that next step.
With CP3 traded to the Suns, SGA is now the head of the household. OKC is his team, and I expect a big year for him. He averaged 19 PPG on 47% shooting and averaged 6 rebounds along with 3 assists per game. Now, their point guard situation is unclear with CP3 and Dennis Schroder gone. They were a huge part of SGA's development, so that's my main concern with him.
If they can find a competent floor general, I think we're looking at a 22+ PPG type player. I don't think he gets an all-star nod strictly because that I don't think OKC is going to be very good. We never know as OKC has surprised us in the past.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
This rookie class comes nowhere close to the one that came in last year. There are still some players that can make an immediate impact. I think the man that's best positioned to win the award is Obi Toppin. He has an NBA ready body and he's playing for a terrible Knicks team. With all of that being said, I'm going with James Wiseman.
The Warriors are a complete mystery. With Klay gone for the year again, people are skeptical whether a team of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins can carry them to a playoff spot in the always competitive Western Conference. I think they can, and it's because of James Wiseman.
Wiseman would've been the first overall pick if he played last season. He only played in three games for Memphis. In those three games, it was very clear he was one of the best, if not the best player in the country. With a team like the Warriors who like to shoot the three-ball, I think Wiseman has a chance to feast inside. It'll be interesting how he plays out on a team with championship pedigree like the Warriors.
BIGGEST LET DOWN
There's always a team that takes a step back rather than a step forward. The 76ers obviously didn't meet expectations last year, and I think they take another step backward.
Something about the Ben Simmons-Joel Embiid relationship scares me. I don't think the Sixers will have a lot of long-term success as long as those two are together. Don't get me wrong, they're both high end, top-notch players in this league. Something about their play styles doesn't mesh well. I'm also not the biggest fan of Doc Rivers.
Darell Morey made some moves in the offseason, adding much needed three-point shooting and adding Dwight Howard. I don't think those moves are enough to bring the Sixers to the next step. I have the Sixers making the playoffs, but not as a high seed. I'm expecting another disappointing season from Philadelphia.
(Please ignore if James Harden gets traded to the Sixers)
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
This is an easy choice for me. It's Brooklyn vs. Milwaukee. I think these two teams are the most talented and deepest on paper in the Eastern Conference.
Let's start with Brooklyn. There's obviously a lot of questions on how they're going to play. Kevin Durant coming off a ruptured achilles, Steve Nash being a first-year head coach, and Kyrie being Kyrie. With all these questions, I think they will be just fine. They're taking the whole "nothing outside of this building matters" approach, which is good considering all the noise around the team. KD looks like his old self, so as long as the chemistry on this team doesn't implode, they will be just fine. They should be hungry and motivated as they have a two-year window to get a championship in Brooklyn.
The Bucks had a busy offseason. They were able to cross off their biggest priority, signing Giannis to a multi-year extension. After the Bogdanovich debacle, the Bucks were probably sweating bullets about Giannis leaving. Luckily, they were able to keep him. They also traded for one of the best two-way players in the league, Jrue Holiday. Can Giannis and the rest of the team finally get over the playoff hump? After dominating the East for the past two years, they've fallen short in the playoffs leading people to question them.
Giannis vs. KD will be a delight to watch in the ECF. I think these teams will trade blows, but I think Giannis finally gets over the hump.
BUCKS IN 7
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Just like the East, this was an easy choice. How could it be anything other than Lakers vs. Clippers? The battle of LA for a trip to the NBA Finals. Does it get any better than that?
The Lakers vision of pairing AD and LeBron together became a reality last offseason. After mortgaging their future to win-now, their gamble paid off. Coming off their bubble championship, Rob Pelinka and the front office put in work. I think the Lakers had the best offseason out of anyone. First, trading for Dennis Schroder to replace Rajon Rondo, then stealing Montrezl Harrell from the Clippers. The veteran additions of Marc Gasol and Wes Matthews should also be a big help. I think the Lakers cruise into the WCF, but with only a two and a half month offseason, will fatigue be a big question mark?
The Clippers are interesting. Just like the Nets, they're a team with questions with a shit ton of talent. Can they rebound from their bubble failures? Is Kawhi going to be considerate to his teammates and show up on time? Is Paul George good? Ty Lue has a lot to work to do in his first year as head coach. Luckily, he was part of the organization last year as an assistant, so he knows the dynamic of the team. They're pretty much bringing back the same team, adding Serge Ibaka and Al Horford to replace Harrell. This team needs to work on their chemistry, or else they'll be watching the Finals on their couch.
The biggest x-factor between these teams is Paul George. Are we getting the Paul George who's a lethal scorer and can shut anyone down defensively? Or are we getting the Paul George who bricks threes off the edge of the backboard?
LAKERS IN 6
I have the Bucks vs. Lakers in the 2020-2021 NBA Finals.
I think these two teams are the best in the league because they have the two best players. LeBron vs. Giannis is something the NBA needs. The two best players in the world, throwing haymakers.
The Lakers win in six. I considered the possibility of this series going seven games, but I think AD is too much to handle for the Bucks. Looking at the Bucks roster, I don't see anyone stopping AD. Like last year, you can definitely steal a few games from the Lakers, but LeBron and AD are going to be too much to handle.
AD will win Finals MVP and even though I hate this argument, I think LeBron separates himself from Jordan in becoming the true GOAT.
Buckle up NBA Fans. Get ready for what should be, a very eventful NBA season.
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