2015-16 NBA Season Preview

The NBA Season is upon us, which means high flying dunks, sick crossovers, crazy uniforms, the hilarious Inside the NBA cast, and some of the world’s most talented athletes are returning to action. After a wild 2014-15 NBA Season no one can predict who will come out on top this year. There are lots of new coaches, players on new teams, and not to mention the addition of an exciting rookie class too lookout for this year. Unlike the NFL, the NBA season is an 82 game “marathon” to the finish line in June. Will the Warriors repeat as champions? Are Lebron and the Cavs going to run the East? Can the Clippers end their postseason woes? Will the Triangle offense work in New York? Will this be the Black Mamba’s (aka Kobe Byrant) last season? Will the Spurs finally meet father time? So many team headlines this year, so I’m going to go ahead and give a brief analysis and predict the seedings of all 30 NBA teams in their respective conferences and then predict who I have winning it all next June.

Western Conference

1-Seed: Oklahoma City Thunder 66-16

“Guess whose back back, back again…” The Thunder came up short of the playoffs last season mainly due to numerous injuries to their star players Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Fans forget how dominant of a team they were when they had both their stars healthy. New head coach Billy Donovan takes over this season after having lots of success at the college level with the Florida Gators. I think Kevin Durant is on a mission this year to silence all his doubters and claim his first title. If he and the rest of the Oklahoma City team stay healthy, this will be the team to beat in the Western Conference.

2-Seed: Golden State Warriors 60-22

Right behind them will be the Golden State Warriors.  This is pretty much the same team as last year: the Splash Brothers, Igoudala, Bogut, and they resigned Draymond Green in the offseason. Only big question for them is how long will head coach Steve Kerr be out. For this reason I have Golden State starting off fairly slow the first couple months but after New Years this team will catch fire and look to repeat as Champions come June.

3-Seed: Memphis Grizzlies 58-24

The “Grindhouse” as they call them. Memphis has been the picture perfect definition of a solid team the last half decade or so but they seem to be lacking that final piece to put them over the top and into the Finals. They have a solid core group of guys in Marc Gasol, Zach “Z-Bo” Randolph and Mike Conley and with new additions from the offseason in Matt Barnes, Brandan Wright, and Jarrell Martin this Grizzlies team looks to make the next leap and earn a spot in the Finals.

4-Seed: San Antonio Spurs 57-25

Year after year the Spurs somehow find a way to defy father time. San Antonio also has a new look frontcourt with the additions of Lamarcus Aldridge and David West to go along side Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw. Fundamentals are the name of the game with the Spurs and with younger pieces in Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green they add a little bit more athleticism to that starting lineup. Look for the Spurs to go under the radar (once again!) and possibly land a spot in the NBA Finals.

5-Seed: Los Angeles Clippers 56-26

The Clippers have been a really exciting team to watch during the regular season, but have not found a way to get past that 2nd round hump that keeps haunting them. Bearing any serious injuries, they can’t blame the lack of talent on their roster. This offseason they added Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson, “The Truth” Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Cole Adrich, and DeAndre Jordan (even though he never really left although he did verbally committ to the Mavericks in the offseason). We’ll see if Doc Rivers can lead “Lob City” to the promise land this year.

6-Seed: Houston Rockets 51-31

Why are the Rockets ranked so low? Because their health of their big men are in question to start this season. Dwight Howard, Donatas Mantejunas & Clint Capela are all expected to miss some significant time at the beginning of this year. James Harden also put a figurative ‘X’ on his back this offseason when he claimed that he is the best player in the NBA and felt like he should’ve won the MVP last season. Rockets depth will be tested this season but I believe they still have enough talent to win 50+ games.

7-Seed: New Orleans Pelicans 49-33

Give the Pelicans some credit, they had a really good season last year and surprised everyone when earning the #8 seed. I have them improving one spot up from last year. They have a new coach this year too, Alvin Gentry, and with athletic superstar Anthony Davis coming in to his own, all they can do is improve on last year’s season.

8-Seed: Dallas Mavericks 45-37

Dallas was humiliated this offseason losing DeAndre Jordan after he had verbally comitted to sign with them this offseason and then changed his mind. Since they did not land their main target and lost Monta Ellis, they went out and brought in a bunch of good key role players instead. Wesley Matthews, Javale McGee, Samuel Dalembert, John Jenkins, Deron Williams, and Zaza Puchilia were who they brought in this offseason. The Mavs definitely have talent on their roster but I do not think this group of players will gell well together. I would not be surprised if this team even dropped out of the playoffs to a 9 seed.

9-Seed: Phoenix Suns 44-38

Sorry Suns fans, Phoenix will fall short of the playoffs once again this year. The Suns have the same problem they did last year, a lot of good, not great, guards, and a weakness in their frontcourt. They did bring in Tyson Chandler this offseason which will help them out defensively but not sure how much the 33 year old veteran will change this team all around.

10-Seed: Sacramento Kings 41-41

Sacramento that’s right, showing some love to the hometown team. The Kings owner may be a little in over his head when he says his team will make the playoffs but I think this team will definitely have big improvements this year. Even though there was some early conflict with Demarcus Cousins and new head coach George Karl, I think they both have moved passed that. They brought in Rajon Rondo and drafted Willie Cauley-Stein, both who I think will shine in Karl’s high tempo offense. Things do look good for the Kings if all their players and coaches stay on track.

11-Seed: Los Angeles Lakers 32-50

I have never been a huge fan of Kobe Bryant but it is a shame to see his career end like this. Plagued with season ending injuries last couple of years and the Lakers front office can hardly put a decent enough team around him anymore. Positives for the Lakers is Juluis Randle will be back healthy after missing all of his rookie season to go along with the newest rookie D’Angelo Russell. Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass, Louis Williams, and Nick Young round up some of the other players that they have surrounded Kobe Bryant with.

12-Seed: Utah Jazz 27-55

The Jazz is a team trying to rebuild and are pretty far away from the finished product. Center Rudy Gobert looks to continue is recent success after breaking out last season. But outside of Gobert, Gordon Hayward, and Trey Burke, the Jazz need to develop the other players to play at a high level.

13-Seed:Portland Trailblazers 26-56

What Portland did this offseason truly broke my heart. The Trailblazers were an exciting playoff team to watch the past couple season but when they lost Lamarcus Aldridge to free agency this offseason, Portland’s front office decided to start fresh. Alongside Aldridge they lost Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, and Nicholas Batum this offseason. It will be a frustrating year for rising star Damian Lillard who has been used to winning his first couple of seasons and now will be asked to lead a subpar team. Hopefully in a couple years we can see Lillard and the Trailblazers in the playoffs again.

14-Seed: Minnsota Timberwolves 23-59

Just like the other teams down here at the bottom of the Western Conference, Minnesota is in a rebuilding stage as well. Timberwolves do have a lot of impressive young players though. Andrew Wiggins, dunk champion Zach LaVine, the crafty Ricky Rubio and new rookie Karl Anthony-Towns look to have great seasons in the near future. And with the addition of bringing back veteran Kevin Garnett this offseason, I think he will serve as a great mentor for Towns, Adreian Payne, Gorgui Deng and the other young Minnesota big men.

15-Seed: Denver Nuggets 18-64

Plain and simple this could be the worst team in the NBA. Denver used to be very competitive in the George Karl era but since his firing, this team has looked like a lost puppy with no idea what to do. This offseason they traded away Ty Lawson and are now looking to rebuild. If the season gets really ugly for the Nuggets I would keep an eye out for them to trade away players like Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Randy Foye for more draft picks.

Eastern Conference

1-Seed: Cleveland Cavaliers 67-15

Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving…no surprise here that this team has the potential to be the best in the NBA. Last year Cleveland started off really slow, but now with a year under their belts I expect them to come out strong and at full strength from the beginning of the season. Their lack of depth could run them into trouble again with injuries like it did last year; however, I still believe this team will easily dominate the Eastern Conference.

2-Seed: Chicago Bulls 57-25

Sometimes I imagine a world where Derrick Rose never tore his ACL and wasn’t injury prone because that is the only thing holding the Bulls back from their chances at the NBA Finals. If Rose ever returns back to his MVP form from a couple seasons ago, this could be a dangerous team. With an improved supporting cast in Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and a new head coach, this is easily the biggest threat in the East for the Cavaliers.

3-Seed: Atlanta Hawks 55-27

The Hawks are one of those teams that can play great in the regular season but come playoff time, they struggle to repeat that same success. Not many changes in Atlanta this offseason with the exception of signing Tiago Splitter and losing Demare Carroll to free agency. We’ll see if Atlanta can find an answer for their postseason struggles.

4-Seed: Indiana Pacers 51-31

Don’t sleep on the Indian Pacers this year guys. Paul (PG-13) George is returning from that grewsome leg injury that kept him out almost all of last season and many NBA fans forgot how good this Pacers team was with him healthy. This is a new look Pacers team without Roy Hibbert, David West, and Luis Scola as their big men but with the addition of guard Monta Ellis this gives Indiana an explosive backcourt. I expect the Pacers to go out and trade for a big man mid-season to boost them up to the top of the Eastern Conference.

5-Seed: Milwuakee Bucks 50-32

If you are looking for the ideal example of a team rebuilding done right, look no further than Milwuakee. A couple years ago this team decided to rebuild and 2 seasons later they are a serious threat in Eastern Conference. The new addition of Greg Monroe this offseason also gives the Bucks one of the tallest starting lineups in the NBA. Not to mention the sweet new jerseys they will rock this year. Look for this Milwuakee to make some noise in the east and maybe even pull of an upset or two in the playoffs.

6-Seed: Miami Heat 46-36

The Miami Heat will make a return to the playoffs this year. Dwayne Wade is no longer the superstar that leads this team but Miami has put a solid squad together. Hassan Whiteside will look to continue his recent success he had last year and alongside new additions of Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, and rookie Justice Winslow, this will be a solid team in the Eastern Conference.

7-Seed: Toronto Raptors 44-38

The team north of the border will struggle to find the same success in year’s past. They lost quite a bit of depth since the start of last season and I think that will be the main reason they struggle. They still have Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan and new addition Demare Carrol will all have to carry this team to the playoffs.

8-Seed: Boston Celt8ics 43-39

The Celtics don’t have a definitve superstar but they have about 11-13 players that are tough scrappy guys. Last postseason, even the Cavaliers admitted that their most physical series was against Boston. With their new big men Amir Johnson and David Lee to add to the very deep roster they had last year, this team is poised to make the playoffs again and possibly upset a top seeded team.

9-Seed: Charlotte Hornets 41-41

In a typical Eastern Conference scenario, a .500 record or right below is usually good enough to make the playoffs but not this year. With the improvement and return of some good teams in the East, I think the Hornets fall just short of making the playoffs. They will be a very competitive team and have a lot of good talent on their roster. They added Nicholas Batum, Frank Kaminsky, PJ Hairston, and Jeremy Lin this offseason and I think the Hornets are a year away from making the playoffs and climbing the rankings in the East.

10-Seed: Washington Wizards 40-42

This is a team we are used to seeing in the playoffs recently also but with the return of Indiana and Miami I think Washington gets left out. Losing Paul Pierce this offseason will have a bigger impact than most expect. Bradley Beal and John Wall are still one of the most dangerous backcourt tandems but will need a mid-season trade if they want to make it into the playoffs.

11-Seed: New York Knicks 32-50

Well, flat out, the Knicks were awful last season. A positive going into this year is they will get All-Star Carmelo Anthony back healthy. But New York is clearly in rebuilding mode and I think they are a couple pieces away from making the playoffs. I think Carmelo will do all he can this season and that’s why I have them winning 32 games, but in the end, it still won’t be enough.

12-Seed: Detroit Pistons 28-54

Since the dissemblement of that great Pistons team that lasted most of the 2000s, Detroit has struggled to find consistency. Last season they picked up Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline and also added Ersan Ilyasova, Stanley Johnson, Steve Blake, and Marcus Morris this offseason. Detroit also gets back Brandon Jennings back from his achilles injury around Christmas time, not to mention they also have big time Center Andre Drummond. This roster still needs some tuning up and additions for them to have any shot at the playoffs.

13-Seed: Orlando Magic 26-56

This team might not be good now, but be patient Magic fans, I think this Orlando team will be in the playoffs in the near future. They are in a rebuilding process but they have already found some quick success and actually remind me of the Milwuakee Bucks about a season or two ago. Elfrid Payton, Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Mario Hezonja are a really solid group of guys they get to build a team around.

14-Seed: Brookyln Nets 24-58

I am a little surprised that I have the Nets ranked so low but I honestly can’t see them being better than any of the teams I ranked higher than them. They still have Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young,  & Brook Lopez but I wouldn’t be surprised to see those guys get traded at the deadline if the front office decides to rebuild and collect draft picks.

15-Seed: Philadelphia 76ers 19-63

Here at the bottom of the barrell again is the 76ers. I questioned Philadelphia’s front office last season when they decided to trade away star point guard Michael Carter-Williams. If a team is trying to rebuild, you would assume that they would keep a young star they just drafted. 76ers have some big men with a lot of potential in Joel Embiid, Jhalil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel. This team’s goal though will be to tank and hopefully land another top pick in the draft lottery.

Now we can move onto the playoffs and since I already seeded the teams in my predicted order, we’ll go ahead and start in the second round because the first round match-ups can easily be figured out.

2nd Round of Playoffs

Eastern Conference

1. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 4. Indiana Pacers, Cle wins 4-3

2. Chicago Bulls vs. 6. Miami Heat, Chi wins 4-2

Western Conference

1.Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 5. Los Angeles Clippers, OKC wins 4-1

3. Memphis Grizzlies vs. 2. Golden State Warriors, GSW wins 4-3

Western Conference Finals

2. Golden State Warriors vs. 1. Oklahoma City Thunder, OKC wins 4-3

Eastern Conference Finals

2. Chicago Bulls vs. 1. Cleveland Cavaliers, Chi wins 4-3

NBA Finals

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Chicago Bulls, OKC wins 4-3

I’m hoping Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook finally figure it out and get their rings this season. Whether you agree with these predictions or not, I hope you are just as pumped for the NBA season to start as I am.



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