The NBA Preview and Predictions Thread For 10/26/16: Jamal Murray for Rookie of the Year; The NBA Finals Choice Everyone is Making
Welcome to the NBA Preview, to be used constantly on Twitter on the real opening night of the season, October 26.
Rookie of the Year: Prime favorites Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram have major questions marks to start the season, both with terrible teams and Simmons with his injury.
Dragon Bender and Kris Dunn will be major factors all season, as well as Bender’s explosive Suns teammate Marquisse Chriss. And mature sharp shooter Buddy Hield will not yield on his ability to not down the 3 at this level as he did prolifically at Oklahoma.
The likes of Sabonis, Prince, Malik Beasley, Bembry, Check Diallo, Tyer Ulis, Hernangomez, Diamond Stone, Niang, Gbinije, Kay Felder, Richardson, Jackson and undrafted Ader Nader will make headlines.
But my Rookie of the Year choice is the Nuggets Jamal Murray, who is ready to explode as a dynamic scoreline who has the ability to put the ball in the net at all 3 levels, catch and shoot, and create his own shot.
Most Improved Player: The freshman sensation shooting guard that proceeded Jamal Murray at Kentucky, Devin Booker, is my prime favorite for Most Improved Player, although he was showing signs of elite player dynamics at the end of last season. Already one of the Association’s most feared shooters, Booker continues to show that he isn’t just a young Klay Thompson but an explosive talent capable of taking over games by himself.
Booker will have contention from slam dunk standouts Aaron Gordon and Zack LaVine for Most Improved, as well as Jonathan Simmons who took the first day lead with his sensational display in the Spurs tremendous opening night humbling to the Warriors. Orlando Magic guards Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja will have their says besides their teammate Gordon, with their continued strives to helping the north Florida team return to prominence.And of course Dennis Schroder will make an impact as being the main point guard in Atlanta.
The Wizards Kelly Ombre, after looking like he needed another year at Kansas instead of being one of the steals of the 2015 NBA Draft, had a terrific preseason and will be pivotal to Washington’s chances to get back in the playoffs. The Nuggets Giant “Twin Ics” of Jusuf Turkic and Nikola Jokic will continued their underrated rise out in the Rocky Mountains while confusing casual fans around the league over which one is which.
The Mavericks Justin Anderson will have plenty of chances to prove that he is truly one of Mark Cuban’s players to lead his squad in the post Nowitzki era, whenever that comes. And Jordan McRae scoring exploits in the D-league and the preseason should lead to Tyrone Lue giving him some ket minutes this season for the Cavs.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green are the clear favorites, with Hassan Whiteside and possibly Andre Drummond and a healthy DeMarre Carroll with a say. Avery Bradley and off injured “rookies” Joel Embiid and Dante Exum have the potential to emerge this season as top defenders. The same holds true for the aforementioned Jonathan Simmons and Larry Nance Jr. Michael Kidd Gilchrist returning from injury and Whiteside’s teammate Justin Winslow could also factor in.
And of course, don’t forget about Anthony Davis, who has seemingly been forgotten as a superstar talent, and Dwight Howard, who hopes returning home will give him that push to return to some elite consistency.
NBA Division Predictions:
1. Celtics slightly over the Raptors
2. Wizards slightly over the Hawks
3. Cavs in the best division in the NBA
1. Spurs clearly in the Southwest
2. Trail Blazers over the Thunder
3. Warriors slightly over the Clippers
Conference Predictions, East: 1) Cavs 2) Pacers 3) Celtics 4) Raptors 5) Bucks 6) Wizards 7) Pistons 8) Hawks 9) Knicks 10) Bulls 11) Hornets 12) Magic 13) Heat 14) 76ers 15) Nets
Conference Predictions, West: 1) Warriors 2) Spurs 3) Clippers 4) Trail Blazers 5) Thunder 6) Rockets 7) Grizzlies 8) Timberwolves 9) Nuggets 10) Suns 11) Jazz 12) Pelicans 13) Mavericks 14) Kings 15) Lakers
Coach of the Year: Indiana Pacers Nate McMillan
MVP: With Curry and Durant cancelling each other out, Westbrook trying too hard like two years, Anthony Davis mired in a mess in New Orleans and LeBron resting most of the way, three prime contenders for the MVP could really emerged. That does not include Blake Griffin and Damian Lillard, who easily could emerge as prime candidates.
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Kyrie Irving should have banner seasons if they all stay healthy and place themselves fully in the shame echelon, if they aren’t already, with the last three MVPs.
But my pick will be Kawhi "That Guy" Leonard.
NBA All-Pro First Team
G - Stephen Curry
G- Kyrie Irving
F - LeBron James
F- Kawhi Leonard
C/F- Anthony Davis
NBA Finals: Warriors d Cavs