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2020-21 NBA SEASON PREVIEW

@TheWillBaldwin

The NBA is back, so here is my full NBA preview:

Standings (All team specific previews linked)

East

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Boston Celtics
  3. Miami Heat
  4. Philadelphia 76ers
  5. Brooklyn Nets
  6. Toronto Raptors
  7. Washington Wizards
  8. Indiana Pacers
  9. Orlando Magic
  10. Atlanta Hawks
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Chicago Bulls
  13. New York Knicks
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers
  15. Detroit Pistons

West 

  1. Denver Nuggets
  2. Los Angeles Lakers
  3. Los Angeles Clippers
  4. Portland Trail Blazers
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. Utah Jazz
  7. Golden State Warriors
  8. Phoenix Suns
  9. Houston Rockets
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
  11. Memphis Grizzlies
  12. San Antonio Spurs
  13. Minnesota Timberwolves
  14. Sacramento Kings
  15. Oklahoma City Thunder

Power Rankings

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Milwaukee Bucks
  4. Los Angeles Clippers
  5. Boston Celtics
  6. Denver Nuggets
  7. Philadelphia 76ers
  8. Brooklyn Nets
  9. Toronto Raptors
  10. Portland Trail Blazers
  11. Dallas Mavericks
  12. Golden State Warriors
  13. Utah Jazz
  14. Phoenix Suns
  15. Washington Wizards
  16. Houston Rockets
  17. New Orleans Pelicans
  18. Indiana Pacers
  19. Memphis Grizzlies 
  20. Orlando Magic
  21.  Atlanta Hawks
  22. San Antonio Spurs
  23. Minnesota Timberwolves
  24. Sacramento Kings
  25. Charlotte Hornets
  26. Chicago Bulls
  27. New York Knicks
  28. Oklahoma City Thunder
  29. Cleveland Cavaliers
  30. Detroit Pistons

Playoffs

East Finals: Miami Heat in seven over the Brooklyn Nets

West Finals: Los Angeles Lakers in five over the Portland Trail Blazers

Finals: Lakers in six over the Heat

Here I am with my super hot take that the Lakers will win the title! Jokes aside, they have the best roster by a wide margin and should be everyone’s pick right now too. I went with Miami out of the East because I think their young guys take another step and also, I see them making a move at some point throughout the season that’ll improve them that much more. For me it’s a rematch of last year’s finals with the same exact result going down.

Awards

MVP- Damian Lillard

I truly believe everything is setting up for Dame to have his MVP season. Last season he set career highs in points and assists and frankly deserved more MVP consideration than he got. The reason he didn’t though was because half his team was hurt and as a result, they weren’t that good. Now with Jusuf Nurkic back and with the addition of Robert Covington to go with Dame and CJ, to me this feels like a dangerous regular season team that is going to rack up some wins. The MVP is never the favourite going in so rule out Luka, plus without Porzingis for a chunk, I don’t see them being as good as Portland in the regular season. I thought about LeBron but I think he rests more this year than ones in the past and Jokic was considered as well however I don’t think he’ll score enough. Dame meanwhile is going to lead a good team, score a ton of points and play in a lot of games. He has the formula for an MVP this year, just watch. 

ROY-  Cole Anthony

This prediction could blow up in my face but I don’t care, I loved what I saw from Cole in the preseason. For starters, he’s going to get major minutes and lots of shots for Orlando which is always a great indicator for rookie of the year. Secondarily, I think he has the chnace to be significantly more efficient in the numbers he puts up than LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards or someone else. The difference for Cole and those guys is because he’s going to play on a team with real good NBA players like Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic, he’ll have real space and help to operate. Also, there’s a chance Orlando blows it up this season (finally) and he gets even more touches. I know this is a relatively hot take but trust me, Cole is going to have a year. 

DPOY- Anthony Davis

The case for this is pretty easy. He almost won it last year and in the playoffs, I thought he went up a level defensively. If that upped level continues in the playoffs coupled with the fact he hasn’t won it yet and I’m willing to bet the Lakers are a great defensive team again, this pick is about as safe of a preseason awards pick as you can find. 

COY- Michael Malone

I think the Nuggets take the regular season more seriously than the Lakers or Clippers so because of that they’ll finesse the one seed. Then with all the momentum of them continuing their rise to a real contender, Malone will receive a ton of credit (as he should) and take home the coach of the year. Show me where my logic is flawed. My only real worry is one of the bad teams from last year makes a run into the playoffs and therefore snags Malone’s thunder. Otherwise though, I’m pretty confident in this one. 

Most improved- RJ Barrett

Last year the Knicks had the worst possible roster built around RJ and although some of those pieces remain, he comes back with a greater wealth of knowledge of how to handle the NBA. He’s been off since essentially March and as a known worker, that’s extremely promising. Also, he looked great in the preseason. The Knicks are going to suck this year, RJ is going to have the ball a lot as a result and he’s going to answer the bell by scoring a ton of points. Frankly, it helps his case as well that everyone thought he was a bust last year so that added element of him being good this year will flip the opinions of many. I’m a firm holder of RJ stock and after he wins this award, you will be too. 

Top 10 Players for 2020-21 (by the end of the season this is where they’ll be ranked) 

  1. LeBron James

Do I even need to explain? 

  1. Kevin Durant 

KD looked great in the preseason and within this full season will remind everyone of just how good he is, much like Kawhi in 2019. 

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

He’s the back-to-back MVP with a proven track record of improvement, having him any lower than three is wrong. 

  1. Kawhi Leonard

I know the playoffs didn’t go according to plan but he’s still the dude that led the Raptors to the title a year ago and a half ago and then upped his numbers in LA as an encore. 

  1. Stephen Curry

In the preseason he looked like Steph Curry again and Steph Curry is a top five player no matter what, end of discussion. 

  1. Anthony Davis

My guess is this is the year Davis takes another step with his jumper, further cementing how good he is. That said, all the guys in front of him have significantly more success on their own teams and as of right now, I can’t have Davis higher than them. 

  1. James Harden

I get Houston is a shit show right now but this dude is a walking top five MVP finish. 

  1. Nikola Jokic

Jokic continues his bubble prowess by reminding the world just how good he is this season. 

  1. Luka Doncic

Luka takes another step forward, further proving his Superstar status. However, without a healthy Porzingis for part of the year, Dallas’ roster holds him back from earning a higher spot in a deep playoff run. 

  1. Damian Lillard

My MVP pick at his absolute prime on a roster built for him to have success. Watch Lillard and the Blazers have a year to remember. 

HM: Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Jimmy Butler, Paul George

Top Five Rookies to Watch (in no particular order)

  1. Deni Avdija

Deni’s shot was falling in the preseason and he looked zero percent afraid of this level. If that continues in the regular season, the Wizards got a steal. 

  1. Cole Anthony 

My rookie of the year pick is in the perfect spot for him to excel from day one in the NBA. 

  1. Tyrese Haliburton

Much like Avdija, Haliburton looked amazing in the preseason and with the fast pace I expect his team to play, expect him thriving to continue into the regular year. 

  1. Lamelo Ball 

You saw the highlights, this dude is box office even if the shooting isn’t there quite yet. 

  1. Tyrese Maxey

If anyone is going to have a Herro like rookie year it’s this guy. Don’t be surprised if he ends up starting at some point, he’s that good and exactly what the Sixers need if his three-point shot holds up.

Three Hot Takes

  1. Devin Booker is going to make Second-Team All-NBA 

Now with CP3, I expect Book to have a full season explosion, much like the 30 a game he averaged in the bubble. 

  1. Harden gets traded somewhere we don’t expect

Philly I don’t think improves their offer, Brooklyn’s isn’t enough and apparently Miami is out. Much like how Kawhi randomly ended up in Toronto, don’t be surprised when Harden goes somewhere none of us expected a couple weeks ago. 

  1. Damian Lillard is about to have his 01 Iverson season 

There’s a distinct possibility I hold Dame in too high of esteem but I swear it’s because of how much I watch him and just how good he is. By the end of this season, you too will be joining me on the Dame bandwagon as he takes us to the MVP promiseland.

2020-21 NBA SEASON PREVIEW: HOUSTON ROCKETS

Let’s all be honest here, there’s only so much I can say about this team until Harden is resolved…

2020-21 NBA SEASON PREVIEW: UTAH JAZZ

One of the most forgotten teams heading into this season are the Jazz. Just how good are Donovan Mitchell and Co. and can they with a reloaded roster challenge the conference’s elites?

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