With a new season come new stories. This season will be no different. In fact, it may actually be one of the most storied seasons in NBA history. The best got better and the rest improved. The talent that has come out of the NBA draft the past few seasons has injected new life into the NBA just as the old guard (Kobe, Duncan, Kevin Garnett) moves on.
I dive into a few stories, predictions, and other mischief that I believe will take place for the upcoming season.
Cleveland vs Golden State: Round Three
This will be the first time in NBA history that the same two teams have faced off in the NBA Finals. It’s hard to see anyone beating the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference as they shouldn’t have a real playoff series until the second round. Cleveland’s biggest competition comes from the Raptors or the Celtics, both of which are one all star away from being a contender. Until one of those teams makes a splash with a trade, the Cavaliers will be the clear favorite in the East.
The Golden State Warriors will have a harder road but that road became easier with the addition of Kevin Durant. The Spurs and Clippers will compete and an injury could change the landscape of the playoffs. However, as it sits, the Warriors are still the clear favorite. We will see a third round against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.
The 76ers will Trade
No one outside of the 76ers front office believes they can play an entire season with Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. The 76ers will absolutely trade either Okafor or Noel in hopes to acquire more draft picks because Trust The Process. The 76ers are young and will be getting Joel for back for his first NBA season. In the long run, the 76ers will have Ben Simmons playing the three with his ability to distribute the ball. There are simply too many cooks in the kitchen in Philly, especially if Ben Simmons’ agent decides to let him play basketball this season after he heals from his injury. I expect the 76ers to work a deal moving Noel or Okafor for some draft picks and young guards.
The Rockets will be better than expect
I am not sure why everyone is down on the Rockets. NBA fans are acting like the Rockets are in a rebuilding year. They let Dwight Howard walk after he declined his player option. They hired Mike D’Antoni and will be playing James Harden at the point guard. This preseason Harden has been doing it all in a system that favors his run and gun type of game. I expect the Rockets to finish in the 4-6 seed range for the Western Conference with James Harden being a strong MVP candidate.
Only Two Coaches Will Get Fired Mid-Season
I don’t foresee many coaching changes in the league. Teams that are bad are expected to lose so those coaches like Brett Brown and Earl Watson are expected to lose. There will be a few guys in the coaching hot seat if they lose . The list of potential coaches to receive a pink flip to me is: Jason Kidd, Fred Hoiberg, Alvin Gentry, Quin Snyder and Terry Stotts. It’s hard for me to see Terry or Quin get let go by their ball clubs even if the season doesn’t go in their favor because both have shown the ability to bring out the best in their talent. If the Jazz or Blazers underachieve it will most likely be due to injuries.
This brings us to our next batch of coaches, Jason Kidd isn’t known as a strong coach and his miscommunication early on in camp with Greg Monroe shows he may not be connecting with his team. If the high hopes of Milwaukee aren’t met, the owners could be looking for a scapegoat in Jason Kidd. Fred Hoiberg is another coach who could be used as a scapegoat by owners. Chicago has never been loyal to their coaches and if the season goes badly after the Rondo and Wade acquisitions, Gar Forman could be looking to blame Hoiberg for the team’s struggles.
The last coach on my short list is basically as good as gone in my eyes. Alvin Gentry will be the first one fired this season when the Pelicans struggle out of the gate. They are already injury riddled and the loss of Holiday for personal reasons will only fuel the fire for ownership to move on from Gentry. He has a top 10 player in Anthony Davis but has not been able to do much with him.
Boston Makes The Conference Finals
I am betting hard on the Celtics meeting the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, regardless if they make a trade or not. Toronto has leveled out in terms of their success, at least until Dwane Casey learns to incorporate Jonas Valancunius more. The Raptors struggle in the postseason due to their inability to work the ball inside. They aren’t a strong shooting team and if you force DeMar DeRozan to play hero ball, it makes an already volume scorer have to use an even higher volume to produce.
The Celtics on the other hand will have the best defense in the league. They are also the deepest team in the Eastern Conference. Their depth will allow them to overcome injuries or even a blockbuster trade. Boston’s offense will come from their athleticism and turnovers. Lineups such as Avery Bradley-Marcus Smart- Jae Crowder – Amir Johnson and Al Horford will cause many teams to struggle to score points. Without Horford, the Celtics matched up well with the likes of the Cavs and Warriors last year. Look for the addition of Al Horford to allow the guards to gamble a little more with the help protection.
Dallas and Memphis Will Re-haul Their Roster
Here we have two franchises that have slowly declined since reaching their pinnacles. Both rosters host aging veterans without any real young talent that can take the mantle. In Dallas, we are witnessing the end of the Dirk era. Mark Cuban is a proud owner and will never tolerate tanking or losing for the long term. Instead, he prefers to patch the roster with overpaid average players (Harrison Barnes) and veterans who are affordable (Andrew Bogut). Memphis on the other hand resigned Mike Conley (who else would they have got?) and moved Zach Randolph to the bench. Ironically, Memphis signed away often injured Chandler Parsons in hopes that he would be the franchise savior after Marc Gasol and Conley’s talents start to fade. Both of these teams will decline and miss the playoffs this year paving way to the young teams like Portland and Utah.
Pre/Post Game Fashion Will Be Out Of Control
With all the fashionable players in the league and the dress code rules implemented by previous commissioner David Stern, the league will have to address some of the outfits the players will wear. Guys like Russell Westbrook, Iman Shumpert, Amare Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade are just a few NBA players who enjoy dressing outside the box. This year we will see the first controversy regarding off court attire in this modern PC world we live in. Some garment will offend someone or be over the top that it will create a story during a slow sports week causing talking heads across the non-sports media landscape to pick the story up into national headlines. I don’t know who or what but I have this gut feeling it will happen this year.