CHARLIE HUSTLE NBA PREVIEW
  • Oct 25, 2016
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  • by Charlie Hustle

 

 

The upcoming NBA season has the potential to be the most compelling in nearly two decades. There are a few reasons why the world waits with bated breath for the new year to tip-off. One big reason is the resurgence of the point guard position and with it increased scoring, but most importantly more 3-pointers. An argument could be made that while college basketball suffers from the one-and-done epidemic, the NBA is thriving with an overflow of young superstars, spread evenly across the league. And perhaps the most enticing aspect of this year's NBA season is Golden State, last season's runner-up, boasting four of the NBA's Top 15 players. Matchup's chock-full of storylines, King James defending his Cleveland throne, and the 2011 All-Star team relocating to Madison Square Garden, has the universe buzzing. We've taken a look into the future and compiled our expert analysis to bring you the 2016-17 NBA Preview.

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

Dallas Mavericks

They retained most of their core (Dirk, Wes Matthews, Deron Williams), added Harry Barnes (sigh) and Andrew Bogut.  Bogut is an upgrade over Zaza and with one of the most consistently forgotten great coach’s and Jim Carey doppelgänger, Rick Carlisle at the helm, the Mavs will sliver ever so slightly into the 8th playoff spot.

MVP - Andrew Bogut: Revitalized from the disrespect Golden State showed him, the center from “down under” has his best statistical season since 2010 in Milwaukee.

Rising Star - Star is an overstatement but look for Dwight Powell to get a bump in minutes and production this season.

Record - 42-40

Playoffs - 8 seed

Finish - Swept and quickly forgotten by the leviathan that is Splash City.

 

Denver Nuggets

The Nugs have some nice pieces in place but are still at least a year away from making the postseason leap.  Jokic and Nurkic both look promising in the post, but they have a log jam at guard.  While Mudiay is the clear point man, Will Barton, Gary Harris (injured currently), and rookies Malik Beasley and Jamal Murray are all similar score-first type players.  That being said, if one of them separates from the pack, Mudiay shows improvement shooting, then the Denver could wind up with an improved record from last season.

MVP - Nikola Jokic

Rising Star - Emmanuel Mudiay: Love the raw the physical tools and if he can cut down on TO’s and become an average shooter he’s going to be a star.

Record - 36-46

Playoffs - Nah

Finish - 11th in the Western Conference

 

Golden State Warriors

The question with any super team is always about cohesiveness.  When Miami assembled the Heatles, there was a learning curve and their first season ended with a loss in the Finals to Dallas.  The difference between the Heat and Warriors is that they had three guys that were ball dominant players; that isn’t the case for GSW.  Each of these guys can play off the ball and the mere fact that they so actively recruited KD so hard shows they have nothing on the agenda other than winning titles.

MVP - Kevin Durant

Rising Star - They arguably have four of the twelve best players in the game, so they don’t really have room for anything else.

Record - 68-14

Playoffs - 1 seed

Finish - Champions: They cruise through the postseason with only one loss until San Antonio takes them to the brink in the Western Conference Finals, but Splash City prevails in the end. They are going to be so fun.

 

Houston Rockets

Don’t expect to see anything resembling a competent defensive unit, but the Rockets are going to score a shit ton of points.  Mike D’Antoni is the new coach in town and with his run and gun system in place and the addition by subtraction loss of Dwight Howard they should improve on last year’s win total.

MVP - James Harden

Rising Star - Clint Capela: He may not become a star, but with Dwight in Atlanta he’ll see an increase in minutes.  D’Antoni is going to try and recreate pick-and-roll magic between the wiry athlete, Capela, and Harden that he had so much success with in Phoenix.

Record - 44-38

Playoffs - 6 seed

Finish - Ousted in six games by the Clips.

 

Los Angeles Clippers

Lob City’s roster is pretty similar to last season, but a healthy Blake Griffin and a Durantless OKC should vault the Clips to third in the West.  If Griffin can keep from getting into fights with trainers, and focus more on his basketball career than his comedy one (he is actually pretty good at this though), then the Clips should be in good shape.

MVP - Chris Paul

Rising Star - They’re built to win now: Deandre Jordan, Blake, and CP3 are the stars

Record - 55-27

Playoffs - 3 seed

Finish - Bumped by Pop and the Spurs in six in the second round.

 

Los Angeles Lakers 

With the end of the Kobe farewell tour and Byron Scott’s ineptitude there is a lot to be optimistic about for the Lake Show.  Expect Deangelo Russell to be let loose on the court and be more subdued on social media.  Ingram has looked like a future star in the preseason, and this team could be fun for some late-night League Pass viewing.

MVP - Deangelo Russell

Rising Star - Brandon Ingram

Record - 25-57

Playoffs - Not even close

Finish - Set up for another top five draft selection in a loaded draft.

 

Memphis Grizzlies

Staying healthy will be the key in Memphis.  When Conley and Gasol are running on all cylinders, they are one of the best big/guard combos in the league.  If Parsons can stay healthy as well, then the Griz should wind up with a win total somewhere in the mid 40’s.

MVP - Marc Gasol

Rising Star - Not any young guns to speak of here. 

Record - 45-37

Playoffs - 5 seed

Finish - A first round exit in 7 against Portland.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves struck lottery gold two years ago when they landed the first pick and future hall of famer (according to KD), Karl Towns.  Wiggins had a nice sophomore season and with Thibs taking over as the new captain of the ship look for him to turn Wiggins into a premiere wing defender.  The predictions are all over the map for this team but other than the Jazz they may be the most trendy turnaround pick.  Keep in mind this team only won 29 games last season so an improvement that would land them a playoff spot would have to be colossal. 

MVP - Karl-Anthony Towns

Rising Star - Andrew Wiggins: it would be Towns here too, but he is already a star.

Record - 39-43

Playoffs - Not quite.

Finish - They’ll be in contention for one of the final playoff spots but will fall just a tad short.

 

New Orleans Pelicans

The Birds of the Bayou have been handcuffed by their franchise star, Anthony Davis’ inability to stay on the court.  When he’s healthy, there’s no denying his jaw-dropping talent so if Hield can justify his lottery selection with a promising rookie season than there could be reason for hope in New Orleans.

MVP - Anthony Davis

Rising Star - Buddy Hield

Record - 30-52

Playoffs - Not so much.

Finish - Another rough year for NOLA and a 12th place finish in the West.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Make no mistake, losing KD is really really shitty but OKC should remain a postseason team as long as Russ is still running the show. One of the most exciting things to look forward to for NBA fans this year is watching Russ take a John Wickian attitude of vengeance to the court every night.  While this is going to be supremely entertaining, it’s hard to figure how this is going to equate to more wins.  There just aren’t any shooters or scorers there to compliment Russ.  That being said, their defense should be superb. They’ve got the anchor and rim protector in Adams, and two excellent wing defenders in Oladipo and Roberson.

MVP - Anthony Rober…Just kidding. Russ Westbrook.

Rising Star - Not sure if there is a rising star but Sabonis will be an interesting prospect to watch moving forward.  There should be a gradual increase of his minutes as the season goes and he looks like he could develop into a solid pro.

Record - 43-39

Playoffs - 7 seed

Finish - They draw the Spurs in the first round, Russ wins two games almost singlehandedly, but they lose in six.

 

Phoenix Suns

Last season didn’t equate to much in the win column, and the quality was at times hard to stomach for Phoenix fans.  They had a couple of lottery picks and landed Dragan Bender and Marquise Chriss.  Both look to be long term projects but with the rise of Devin Booker there is plenty of reason for optimism in the Cactus City. 

MVP - Eric Bledsoe - The best player if he’s a healthy, which is a big if.

Rising Star - Devin Booker: He might look like a 12 year-old, but he’s got the game of a savvy vet. The silky smooth shooter and playmaker out of Kentucky is looking to build on a promising rookie campaign.  What makes him stand out more than anything is feel for the game and basketball IQ.  He is a star in the making.

Record - 23-59

Playoffs - Not close.

Finish - The worst record in the West but cement themselves into a lottery with one of the deepest drafts in recent memory approaching in 2017.

 

Portland Trail Blazers

Maybe the most surprising team of last season was Rip City’s Blazers.  They lost Lamarcus Aldridge and several other key pieces, so most assumed they were in line for a significant drop-off.  What no one saw coming was the emergence of one of the most dynamic backcourt duo’s the league has to offer.  We already knew about Dame, but CJ McCollum exploded into the fold and looked every bit the part of a worthy backcourt mate for Dame.

MVP - Damian Lillard: Easily their best and most important player.  He holds the keys to the franchise in the City of Roses.

Rising Star - CJ McCollum

Record - 48-34 - Building off a strong season, Portland continues their winning ways.

Playoffs - 4 seed

Finish - They advance to the second but then run up against the juggernaut that is The Warriors and are sent home in five.

 

Sacramento Kings

Outside of KD heading to the Bay Area, Sac Town provided one of the juiciest offseason morsels when Boogie Cousins sent this tweet on draft night when his team drafted a Greek big man no one had ever heard of.  Unless the Kings intend to unveil the first three man back to the basket lineup (Greek guy, Boogie, and Cauley-Stein) then no one really know what the f--k they were/are doing. 

MVP - Boogie Cousins

Rising Star - More Boogie

Record - 28-54

Playoffs - LOL

Finish - Boogie becomes increasingly distraught over the front office’s ineptitude and rather than demand a trade, goes into early retirement and joins the NBA Tonight crew on TNT.

 

San Antonio Spurs

Very few constants exist in the world, but the Spurs finishing top 4 in the West is a goddamn given.  They added Pau to replace the Big Fundamental after his retirement which is an upgrade.  They’ve still got Pop, whose the best coach in the business and Kawhi is a quiet assassin on both ends.

MVP - Kawhi Leonard

Rising Star - Kawhi Leonard: Not sure he’s still rising because he’s already a bonafide star.  He’s the best two way player in the game and just keeps getting better offensively.

Record - 56-26

Playoffs - 2 seed

Finish - Western Conference Finals: They take the NBA’s closest thing to the Monstars (GSW) to seven but fall just short of producing the hottest hot takes ever written about the failures of KD.

 

Utah Jazz

There are many who believe the Jazz are primed and ready to make a leap into the postseason this year.  They have a bevy of intriguing youth (Trey Lyles, Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert), Gordon Hayward (whose out with an injury till around Thanksgiving), and solidified the PG position by adding George Hill via trade.  They should be improved but they are still missing the go-to presence a team needs late in games to be a playoff contender.

MVP - Gordon Hayward

Rising Star - Trey Lyles: Get this guy some PT, Coach Snyder!  He has all the tools to be a hell of a force offensively.    Standing a 6’10 with a silky jumper this dude can fucking ball.

Records - 41-41

Playoffs - Close, but no cigar.

Finish - A slow start due to a Hayward injury keeps the Jazz just outside to postseason fences.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Atlanta Hawks

The big add for the Hawks was Dwight Howard. This is what Dwight needs, I think he is gonna have a year. That being said I just don’t know what this squad truly has going for it. The East is getting more competitive and I don’t see the Hawks going enough. As much as I think Dwight might do I still don’t think it is enough.

MVP - Dwight Howard (LOL)

Rising Star - Dennis Schröder

Record - 44-38

Playoffs - 4 seed

Finish - Second round loss.

 

Boston Celtics

This is a good time to be a Celtics fan.  I am all in on this bandwagon. They are on the come up, lots of young talent. Also, they added Al Horford, who is seemingly a perfect fit. Marcus Smart has also been working on his shooting. This is a team growing. They are gonna be good and they are going to push the Eastern Conference in the right direction.

MVP - Isaiah Thomas

Rising Star - Marcus Smart

Record - 2 seed

Playoffs - 52-30

Finish - Lose in the Eastern Conference Finals

 

Brooklyn York Nets

This squad is just unimpressive to me and really to everyone. They are bad. In fact they are the worst team in the whole NBA this year from what I have seen so far.  All the NBA haters will talk about how there is no defense in the league. Well, in the case of the Nets they are right. They had the second worse defensive efficiency last season. They made some additions to the squad this year but none to their awful defense. EXCEPT FOR JEREMY LINN!!!!! If there was every a wildcard he is it. Every time he joins a team I wait for the resurgence of Linsanity.

MVP - Brook Lopez

Rising Star - Jeremy Linn

Record - 20-62

Finish - “Wait, we did worse than the 76ers? Wait, for real!?”

 

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets pulled off an impressive 48 win season last year. I just don’t see it happening again. The East is getting better and better or at least more interesting as teams are more competitive. They lost Linn, Jefferson, and Lee in the offseason. We will see if this is team, as an offense, that can put together some wins.

MVP - Kemba Walker

Rising Star - Marvin Williams

Record - 37-45

Playoffs - N/A

Finish - The NBA equivalent to the Jordan Crying Meme

 

Chicago Bulls

What do you make of team who basically had a fire sale in the off-season? They got rid of Rose, Noah, Gasol. They got Dwayne Wade, Lopez, Rondo, and Valentine. This squad could be quite surprising. I want to love this team and I want them to do well, but I just have some real doubts. Adding Rondo and Wade could add some maturity to the floor so who knows what happens.

MVP - Jimmy Butler

Rising Star - Valentine

Record - 39-43

Playoffs - Missing in action

Finish - “Listening to John Mayer’s “In Repair” on repeat during the playoffs.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

This squad knows who they are now. I think, just like last season, they are going let everyone talk about Golden State while they are secretly building a championship team. They are still the best team in the East on almost any night and they are going to just run it back this season. Lebron will hopefully not subtweet as much though.

MVP - Lebron James (was there even a question?)

Rising Star - Not Skinny Kevin Love

Record - 59-23

Playoffs - 1 seed

Finish - Loss in the NBA Finals

 

Detroit Pistons

DETROIT BASKETBALL! I am going all in on the sleeper band wagon, I really dig the Pistons. Even with the Reggie Jackson going down for six weeks. That may cost them a couple of games but they still make playoffs and I think they do it with a solid 6 seed

MVP - Andre Drummond

Rising Star - Ash Smith

Record - 42-40

Playoffs - 6 seed

Finish - Second Round Loss

 

Indiana Pacers

Big additions in Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young for this Indian squad. This team is another sleeper. They are gonna finish strong. Paul George secretly had a great year last year, which was one of the stories that was overshadowed by the Warriors. I think this team is building and are primed to sneak in the 3 seed of the East.

MVP - Paul George

Rising Star - Thaddeus Young

Record - 49-33

Playoffs - 3 seed

Finish - First Round Upset

 

Miami Heat

If there was ever a team in a rebuild it is Miami. I don’t quite know what they are building. I have truly only been an NBA fan in an era where the Heat are always in contention, so it is weird that they are seemingly not relevant this season. I don’t trust it…

MVP - Hassan Whiteside

Rising Star - Josh Richardson

Record - 36-46

Playoffs - NA (Unless they somehow sneak into the 8 seed)

Finish - “We will be back.”

 

Milwaukee Bucks

This is the squad that beat the Warriors last season when no one else could. I am saying they win 39 but I could see them walking away with 40-43 wins too. The addition of Dellavedova might secretly be a real strong addition to a squad that really has the potential to make the playoffs.

MVP - Jabari Parker

Rising Star - Giannis Anteokounmpo

Record - 39-43

Playoffs - 8 seed

Finish - Loss in round 1

 

New York Knicks

The more I write about these teams the less confident I fell about my predictions. What is with the East? There is so much shake up… Look at the Knicks: Melo, Rose, Noah, Jennings. The truth is, who knows if Noah is healthy? Who knows what Derek Rose’s off the court situation will do to this squad? I honestly don’t know. Let's call them a 500 team. 

MVP - Carmelo Anthony (I guess, but who's to say?)

Rising Star - Kristaps Porzingis

Record - 41-41

Playoffs - 7 seed

Finish: First Round Loss

 

Orlando Magic

It is crazy to think that the Orlando Magic is now just a team of irrelevance. Just four years ago this was not the case. Then something happened, the NBA started to change and honestly the Orlando did not change with it. All that is different now in 2017. The Magic have just 6 returning players. There is a lot of talent on this roster and everyone is saying that the worst is over for the Magic but that doesn’t mean that they are gonna be a sleeper for the playoffs.

MVP - Serge Ibaka

Rising Star - Aaron Gordon

Record - 34-48

Playoffs - Not enough pieces to the puzzle.

Finish - “That could have been worse.”

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Oh boy. The (second) worst team in the Association had a glimmer of hope in the No.1 Overall pick Ben Simmons. With a broken foot all the hope was dashed. They have basically no perimeter play, this team is just not built for the current NBA. They do have Joel Embiid though. I think with him healthy they have a shot at possibly even doubling their record, but hey I am an optimist.

MVP - Joel Embiid

Rising Star - The Hype of Ben Simmons’ Return

Record - 21-61

Playoffs - Only if they create a 3-on-3 playoff where 3 pointers are banned.

Finish - “Trust the process… Please, we are almost there!”

 

Toronto Raptors

The North lost some depth in Biyumbo and Scola, with that I just don’t see them really pushing that hard. To be honest though, I don’t like the Raptors because I don’t like Drake. Seriously, I couldn’t be more out on Drake…

MVP - DeMar DeRozan

Rising Star - Jonas Valančiūnas

Record - 44-38

Playoffs - 5 seed

Finish - First Round Loss

 

Washington Wizards

I don’t like the team name “The Wizards” so I am going to refer to them as The Bullets. The Bullets lost Nene and didn’t get hometown hero Kevin Durant. That is all okay though because I love Scott Brooks, I love Bradley Beal (maybe), and I love John Wall. I just don’t know if this team is playoff ready. They are my backup pick for the 8 seed and just may do it.

MVP - John Wall

Rising Star - Scott Brooks

Record - 38-44

Playoffs - Maybe, just maybe, 8 seed

Finish - Rebrand ending with return of The Bullets

 

FINALS

Cleveland Cavaliers VS Golden State Warriors

It's the rubber match we've all been hoping for, as the Cavs and Warriors meet in the Finals for the third straight time. Lebron, Kyrie, and K-Love are battle-tested and beleaguered from their journey through the East. This leaves the Cavs coasting into the Finals on fumes, to face a hybrid of a team that has yet to exhaust a drop of gas. Golden State proves to be too much for Bron Bron, and KD gets what he deserves.

Games - 5

Champion - Golden State Warriors

MVP - The Durantula