The 2015-2016 season is shaping up to be one of the best we’ve seen.
LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland for San Antonio, leaving the Blazers with just Damian Lillard in their starting lineup while Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and others are returning to the court after missing good portions of the 2014-2015 season.
With that all being said, here’s our full NBA predictions from everything to who will lead the NBA in points, and who will be the champions of the basketball world come June. Let’s dive right in.
Western Conference Standings:
1: Oklahoma City Thunder (62-20)
Kevin Durant is back, and Russell Westbrook looks to repeat his career year alongside Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter. If the Thunder don’t get thrashed by injuries again in 2015-2016, look for them to be on top of the Western Conference once again.
2: Golden State Warriors (59-23)
Last year’s NBA champions are being overshadowed by the Spurs, Clippers and other teams in the Western Conference, but Steph Curry and Co. will have another great season which could pin them in the Western Conference Finals yet again.
3: San Antonio Spurs (57-25)
LaMarcus Aldridge and David West are looking to help Tim Duncan win his 6th ring in what could be his final NBA season. It won’t be as easy as people think due to the fact that it was evident that age caught up to the Spurs during the final stretches of the season and into the playoffs. Tony Parker will need to be the Parker we all know to get him past the West’s elite guards.
4: Houston Rockets (56-26)
Ty Lawson has joined the mix in Houston, alongside one of the game’s best players in James Harden and one of the very well known players in the league in Dwight Howard. It should be interesting to see how Lawson and Harden can co-exist when Lawson is focused.
5: Los Angeles Clippers (55-27)
The Clippers will be trying to come off a year where they collapsed in the semi-finals, but they still have very good talent, along with some new additions. Lance Stephenson is looking to be a good player again, and Paul Pierce will come up big for them this season come playoff time.
6: Memphis Grizzlies (52-30)
Retaining Marc Gasol and pairing him with Mike Conley will keep the Grizzlies in the playoff picture as well as the 50-win club. Shooting the ball is likely going to still be a problem in Memphis this year, which will prevent them from rising past the teams we put ahead of them.
7: New Orleans Pelicans (48-34)
The Pelicans surprised us all last season, winning 45 games in the tough Western Conference, and beating the Spurs to make the playoffs. What was especially surprising was that the Pelicans made it with key injuries, and Anthony Davis didn’t even play in every game for them last year. If healthy, they could pose a tough first round matchup versus a higher seed.
8: Utah Jazz (44-38)
Rudy Gobert’s emergence was part of the reason the Jazz were such a good team after the all-star break. Losing Dante Exum for the season with a torn ACL is going to be tough to overcome, but the Jazz were one of the better defensive teams in the league last year. The die hard fans in Utah will once again see their Jazz back in the playoffs.
9: Suns (43-39)
Another year of falling short of the playoffs seems to be the case in Phoenix despite the additions of Devin Booker and Tyson Chandler. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are one of the NBA’s best young backcourt,and Booker can shoot the lights out. Tyson Chandler can help mold Alex Len’s game,and Markieff Morris will look to win Suns fans back.
10: Sacramento Kings (41-41)
I really like what the Kings did this off-season, but telling how it’s going to work is a big mystery to me. Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, and Rudy Gay have all had problems with coaches in the past, and it appeared DeMarcus Cousins had an issue with George Karl for a little bit last year. If it all works out in Sacramento, the Kings could end up challenging the Suns for the 9th seed while we have the Suns chasing the Jazz.
11: Dallas Mavericks (39-43)
Signing Wesley Matthews was a good move, but DeAndre Jordan backing out of his deal will come to bit the Mavericks in the butt. Dirk Nowitzki isn’t getting any younger, and the Mavericks will be counting on a resurgence from Deron Williams. They’ll be good enough to miss the playoffs by a few spots, but not good enough to just miss.
12: Portland Trail Blazers (34-48)
The Blazers quite possibly had the worst off-season out of any team in the NBA over Summer, losing everyone in their starting lineup besides point guard Damian Lillard. LaMarcus Aldridge was included in the loss, which will be the biggest blow to the team. Lillard will make you pretty happy in fantasy basketball this season, but don’t expect to be so happy for him.
13: Los Angeles Lakers (32-50)
The Lakers have what they hope to be there next franchise player in D’Angelo Russell after Kobe Bryant decides to hang it up – which could come this year. Russell won’t be able to skyrocket the Lakers back into the playoffs, but having Julius Randle back with Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert as well will help the Lakers make steady improvement.
14: Denver Nuggets (29-53)
Last year, I picked the Nuggets to make the playoffs. Yes, you can laugh at me all you want, but I have learned from my mistake while the Nuggets helped me out. It’s likely that the Nuggets could rebuild their entire team around Emmanuel Mudiay will trading away some players, so I don’t expect them to win over 30 games this year.
15: Minnesota Timberwolves (25-57)
After the tough news regarding Flip Saunders, it’s sad that the Timberwolves won’t be in contention to win it for him this year. This year for Minnesota will be and improvement, however, and finishing last in the West could land them a guy like Ben Simmons or Malik Newman, a right step in the direction, just like Flip Saunders would want to see again.
1: Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21)
Not picking the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the East with LeBron James on their roster would be foolish.
2: Miami Heat (50-32)
The Heat transformed themselves to the second best team in the East only 2 years after LeBron’s departure from South Beach.
3: Chicago Bulls (48-34)
The Bulls have a new coach, alongside Jimmy Butler, and what they hope to be a healthy Derrick Rose. If all goes well, the Bulls will still be a top tier team in the East.
4: Toronto Raptors (46-36)
The Raptors are another team in the East that didn’t upgrade their roster dramatically, but there was never really any reason to make a big change. The Raptors are still a playoff team.
5: Atlanta Hawks (45-37)
The Hawks will be good and a playoff team this year, but not nearly as good as they were in 2014-2015. Jeff Teague and others will look to repeat their career seasons, which could make the Hawks a second round team.
6: Washington Wizards (43-39)
Losing Paul Pierce will hurt, but bringing in Kelly Oubre Jr. and having a much more improved Otto Porter Jr. could make the Wizards better than we’re expecting. Bradley Beal will need to have a big year, however.
7: Milwaukee Bucks (40-42)
The Bucks will take a step back this season unless Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo find their jump shot and improve their defense. The Bucks will also be relying on Jabari Parker to make a return to the court and show what he did last year for a good month.
8: Indiana Pacers: (39-43)
The Pacers improved their team this offseason, and by the looks of the preseason, Paul George appears to be Paul George again, because he wasn’t at the end of the 2014-2015 season. The Pacers improved their bench, and they have a star, which should be enough to get them to the playoffs along with the addition of Monta Ellis.
9: Boston Celtics (38-44)
I feel bad for taking the Celtics out of the playoff picture after their surprising season, but with the improvement by non-playoff teams in the East last year, the Celtics could be on the way out, but not by much. Isaiah Thomas will hopefully have another great year which could propel the Celtics over the Pacers.
10: Charlotte Hornets (37-45)
The Hornets steady improved over the Summer, but I am not sure if that makes them worthy of a playoff spot even then.
11: Orlando Magic (35-47)
This will be an encouraging year for the Magic, who could take advantage of some injury plague teams that will most likely be featured in the East this year, sadly.
12: New York Knicks (32-50)
The Knicks have nowhere to go but up after a disastrous 2014-2015 season.
13: Detroit Pistons (30-52)
The young core in Motown will need one more year before I can trust them and maybe label them a playoff team in the East.
14: Brooklyn Nets (28-54)
Outside of the front court, the Nets have question mark after question mark with no signs of consistency anywhere. I am expecting a big fall back.
15: Philadelphia 76ers (18-64)
None of us know what is going on in Philadelphia at this alarming rate.
MVP: LeBron James
After not winning the MVP after another NBA season, look for LeBron James to make a strong attempt at making his mark on the league known again before others start to get crowned MVP over him again in our predictions.
Defensive player of the Year: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis will win a major award this year for sure. While we don’t have him as the MVP, we expect him to be the defensive player of the year.
Coach of the Year: Billy Donovan
Another first-year coach will make a strong big at the coach of the year award in Billy Donovan this year, and we have Donovan winning it this year.
Rookie of the Year: Emmanuel Mudiay
Mudiay will likely be starting tonight for the Nuggets, which gives him an advantage over every rookie almost, making his rookie of the year case even stronger.
Most improved Player: Aaron Gordon
The Magic will improve this year, and their lottery pick from 2014-2015 will also improve greatly.
Comeback Player: Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh had to deal with a life-threatening situation last year, causing him to miss the second half of the season. Bosh will likely still average over 20 points and 7 rebounds, and the fact that he had a near death experience could add to his case.
Sixth Man: Gerald Green
Erik Spoelstra recently said that he doesn’t care how many shots Gerald Green takes off the bench this year, which could be a lot, giving him an average of 15 points per game could skyrocket him into the sixth man of the year voting for sure.
Executive of the Year: Pat Riley
If the Heat make the playoffs ranked as a high seed just two years after LeBron’s departure from Miami, Pat Riley should get a much deserved executive of the year award.
You’ve been waiting for this, and we’ve only made you wait until we get everything else out of the way. Here are our playoff predictions:
Thunder over Jazz in 4
Warriors over Pelicans in 5
Spurs over Grizzlies in 6
Rockets over Clippers in 7
Thunder over Rockets in 6
Warriors over Spurs in 7
Thunder over Warriors in 7
The Oklahoma City Thunder are our Western Conference champion, but who will they be taking on the Eastern Conference? Let’s find out.
Cavaliers over Pacers in 5
Heat over Bucks in 6 (The Bucks finally get the series to six games, Brandon Jennings)
Bulls over Wizards in 7
Hawks over Raptors in 7
Heat over Bulls in 7
Cavaliers over Hawks in 6
Cavaliers over Heat in 7
Cavaliers over Thunder in 7
Finals MVP: LeBron James
LeBron James will earn his 3rd ring and his first with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, capping off one of the hardest years in his career. Kevin Durant won’t win a ring in Oklahoma City during his final contract year, which could make him re-think things.
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