The start of the NBA season is always an exciting time, and with the abundance of off-season moves during free agency, as well as executed blockbuster trades, the league has shaped out quite differently than ever before. Here are my predictions for playoff seeding in the Western and Eastern Conferences:
1. Golden State Warriors: The Warriors happen to be the favorites to win the title once again this season, and with the addition of Nick Young to come off the bench, there is no telling how dominant Golden State will truly become for seasons to come.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: With a reigning MVP in Russell Westbrook, as well as the addition of both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George via trades, this Thunder squad should look to threaten most contending franchises in the West.
3. San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs contain the best coach, arguably the best two-way player in Kawhi Leonard, and a great winning culture to go along with it. Based on that alone, San Antonio should be considers locks to make the playoffs once again.
4. Houston Rockets: After surprising many and nabbing the third seed in the West last year, the Rockets should expect greatness once again, especially after acquiring superstar Chris Paul.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: With arguably the leagues best center in Karl-Anthony Towns, a new elite shooting guard in Jimmy Butler, and a dominant small forward in Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves should expect a playoff run in the 2017-18 season.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: With studs such as C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, this Portland offense should have what it takes to reel in 45+ wins this year.
7. Memphis Grizzlies: With stars like Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, as well as strong role players to come off of the bench when need be, the Grizzlies should be able to sneak back into the playoffs once again this year.
8. Denver Nuggets: This team is loaded with young talent in Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and a whole lot more. Denver happens to contain one of the deepest rosters in the league, and by adding Paul Millsap, they should be able to edge out other contenders for the last spot in the playoffs for the Western Conference.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: After making the finals yet again in 2016, the Cavs still have the East’s most talented roster. Although they also contain the oldest roster in the NBA, don’t undervalue what some of these veterans can provide when the moment counts.
2. Boston Celtics: Boston went out and signed Gordon Hayward, but lost a lot of depth in the process. They also managed to trade for Kyrie Irving, which cost them a lot more than expected. This is a team that happens to look nice on paper, but how will this completely redrawn roster form its chemistry?
3. Washington Wizards: John Wall is probably the East’ s best point guard, and Bradley Beal is a consistent sharpshooter for Washington. In addition, role players such as Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. will only benefit the Wizards’ chances in the postseason, as the franchise should be marked as contenders.
4. Toronto Raptors: With stars in DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry, as well as a decent amount of depth to compliment them, the Raptors should become a lock to make the playoffs once again this year.
5. Milwaukee Bucks: After almost beating the Raptors in the first round of the postseason last year, more should be expected from this young Bucks team. If Jabari Parker can return to full health, and if Giannks Antetokounmpo continues playing at an elite level, Milwaukee should turn out to be a favorite to make the playoffs.
6. Charlotte Hornets: Charlotte has enough talent at each and every position, but how will the loss of Nicolas Batum for 6-8 weeks affect them? The Hornets should be able to fly under the radar and slip into the postseason (somehow).
7. Philadelphia 76ers: Will “trusting the process” earn the 76ers a playoff spot in the watered-down Eastern Conference? It definitely could if Joel Embiid remains healthy, but it will also take success from the inexperienced studs in Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons.
8. Detroit Pistons: After an underwhelming season in 2016, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond should be held to a higher level of expectations this year. With the addition of Avery Bradley, don’t be shocked if the Pistons are the #8 seed by the end of the season.
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