When it comes to the NBA, it is always hard to predict where things tend to go in this league. Just when you think you have it all figured out other developments come into form and completely reshape how you view things. That's just part of the fun that the NBA brings year in and year out to its fans. Every year in the league presents the opportunity for a team or even a single player to do something to re-write history and completely rearrange the landscape of the game in ways many of us could have never predicted would come to fruition.
To put it simply, it's hard to know where things will go in the NBA. However, we make projections on the league's future based on things we've seen take place in years prior and sometimes we manage to be right. That is what we are diving into here. While we know that the league's future is bright thanks to all the young star talent including the Greek Freak in Milwaukee, the Process in Philadelphia, the Fire Power in Denver, and the Dynamic Frontcourt Duo in New Orleans to mention a few, we don't know what to think on what will become of it all in the years that will follow this one. This will hopefully give you an idea on what could take place very soon in the NBA. Here are 15 predictions on what the state of the NBA will be like within the next five seasons.
15 LeBron James: The GOAT
LeBron James has done great things for the NBA and is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time already. What we can't seem to agree on at the moment is whether or not he already is the greatest of all-time. Given how he's been able to do things in his 15th season, that has never been done before by anyone in the history of the game, he’s still making a pretty good case for himself, and it's going to get pretty hard to dispute any argument stating that he isn't the greatest if he keeps this pace up in the coming years. In fact, I don't think anyone will be able to, when it's all said and done. Already one of the most complete players in league history, LeBron doesn't really need any more MVP awards for us to know how valuable he is or how great he is. The fact that he's a perennial candidate for the award still in year 15 is telling enough. Make cases for Michael Jordan all you want. When his career is over - which I'm only assuming happens in the next five years, I could be wrong - LeBron James will be known as the Greatest Of All-Time.
14 The Greek Freak Joins The Process
In every decade in the NBA we are introduced to a new crop of everything in the league. New dynasties, new franchise-saving young players, or more importantly in this case, new marquee free agents. In the past decade the marquee free agent signings included big moves like LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs, LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Heat, Kevin Durant to the Warriors, and so on. In the early years of the next decade we are bound to get plenty of these players. However, this is something I see happening even sooner than you probably think. With both Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz still playing on their rookie contracts, the Philadelphia 76ers should have the cap space (assuming LeBron doesn't sign there) to pick up one of the better players in free agency down the road. The free agent I think they will be picking up is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Having spent his entire career thus far in Milwaukee where he hasn't really been able to accomplish much, Giannis will look to go somewhere where the concern won't be about making the playoffs, it'll be about winning championships. With the signing of Antetokounmpo, this means that…
13 The Philadelphia 76ers Become The New “Super Team”
I may be reaching here because we don't know what to make of Markelle Fultz just yet, Ben Simmons has about as many three-pointers made in his NBA career as I do, and Joel Embiid has knee issues, which for any center in the NBA is deeply concerning. If you look at Golden State and their core or stars there were questions surrounding them as well: Steph Curry’s ankle issues, KD’s foot problems, Draymond Green’s on-court behavior, etc. They found ways to make it work. With this projected 76ers core, if they get past all the individual issues, they have the potential to be the most talented team ever. Especially if Fultz and Simmons pan out as expected, you can't give me anyone who could stop a core of Simmons, Fultz, Embiid, and Giannis. At the very least you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could.
12 LaVar Gets His Wish… Kinda
When it comes to the Ball family you really can't know what to make of them sometimes. Strictly pertaining to basketball though, let me see if i got this down: Lonzo is the best player of the three brothers, LiAngelo is the least and is the least likely to make the league, and LaMelo is more NBA caliber but just isn't as good as Lonzo. I got that right? Okay. So we all know that their father LaVar has been outlandish in the things that he has said, most notably that he predicts all three of his children will play together on the Los Angeles Lakers. Farfetched as it may be I can see it happening for two brothers but not all three, for a sustainable amount of time, that is. The Lakers will probably give Gelo a short-term deal just to see how he plays with his brothers on the NBA stage to see how it could work, but it's more likely that only LaMelo makes the team if even that. The Lakers already have quite the amount of young talent. It's hard to see all three Ball boys making the team.
11 Anthony Davis Becomes The Consensus Best Player In The League
As of right now Anthony Davis is great, but has a bit of a ladder to climb before he can reach the top. In the league today we have guys like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and so on. Fortunately for Mr. Davis, he has the advantage of there being an age gap between him and the other upper tier players in the game. Still at the age of 24, AD has plenty of time to overcome and reach the peak of his game while the others begin to decline. I predict that by no later than 2021, Anthony Davis will be the best player in the NBA, but not as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans...
10 Lakers Tie The Celtics
...but as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Entering free agency in 2021, Anthony Davis opts to join the team that gives him the best shot to both win a championship and dominate the league for several years thereafter. In his current stint as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, he has missed the playoffs numerous times and has never won a playoff game. With the LA Lakers however, a team who will have plenty of young talent knocking on their prime (if not already there) and star player Paul George on board, AD would never worry about making the postseason. In fact, adding him to that projected mix would easily make the Lakers a title favorite, and I think they will take home the Larry O'Brien and with that, tie the Celtics for the most championships won by a franchise.
9 76ers vs. Lakers Dominate The '20s
Much like how in the past several years we've had the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors dominating the NBA, we see the same thing happening in the early to mid portion of the next decade in the form of a Lakers-76ers rivalry. For almost the entirety of it's existence the NBA has been predicated and heavily dependent on dominant teams. Bill Russell's Celtics, Larry Bird's Celtics, Showtime Lakers, Shaq and Kobe's Lakers, Jordan's Bulls, Popovich's Spurs, LeBron James, and most recently, Steve Kerr's Warriors can all attest to that. With the Sixers projected to have a star-studded team that will dominate the east and a loaded Lakers squad that will be favorites in the west for years, we see the making of the next great NBA rivalry coming to form.
8 Warriors On Their Last Legs
When this current Warriors squad first came together, a lot of us thought to ourselves that this is a team that would eclipse anything that Michael Jordan's Bulls ever did. That is how talented they all are. However, the more fitting team for this comparison would be the 2008 Boston Celtics. I say that because for as talented as that team was when they got together, injuries and aging prevented them from enjoying any further success. Now I'm not saying that last year's championship victory was their last, all I am saying is that this won't last as some of us expected. As we dive into the next decade the Warriors stardom will dim and their run will end.
7 Toronto Raptors Win First Title In Franchise History
We all look at the Toronto Raptors as a team that will always manage to lose even when they shouldn't. Coming up short in playoff run, after playoff run after playoff run, this is probably the last team you would expect to emerge and win a championship. Stranger things have happened though. Besides with the depth they have on this roster right now, they don't stand much chance to win a championship right now but should definitely remain in contention for a while especially if Lowry and DeRozan stay atop their game. There is always that one playoff campaign where half the crop has a legitimate claim to the championship. I predict one of those seasons will come in the next few years and it will be the Toronto Raptors taking home the Larry O'Brien trophy.
6 Sacramento Kings Return To Playoffs
The have been several NBA franchises who have been nothing short of pathetic for the better part of the century. Some these teams include the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans, and so on. There does eventually come a time where these teams stop being bad and actually get back into the thick of things. One team that I definitely see making a reappearance into the postseason very soon is the Sacramento Kings. Over time, they have accumulated young talent and set the foundation to build the team on with a projected top pick to come in the upcoming draft, their upcoming pick should be that last piece to the puzzle that will lead to the Kings finally going back to the playoffs.
5 Devin Booker Signs With The Minnesota Timberwolves
In his short career, Devin Booker has already established himself as one of the premier scorers in the NBA and shows no signs of letting up. Unfortunately the first few seasons of his career have been wasted because his team, the Phoenix Suns, have predicated themselves on tanking and accumulating talent through the draft in hopes of one day fielding a contender. While I do have my criticisms of such a plan, I really don't have the time to put it all out there. Here is what I will say though: are you sure that's going to work? Other than Booker and Josh Jackson, nobody else seems to have a very high ceiling. Getting to the playoffs should be no problem, going anywhere once you get there is a different story. Because I don't see the Suns going far in the nearby future, I predict that Booker will leave the team in free agency and team up with his college teammate Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota to win a championship.
4 The Power Balance Shifts
For as long as I can remember, the mode of the NBA has been that the Eastern Conference is the weaker side, and the West is where the big boys play. In the beginning of the next decade I think there will be a time where both conferences will be closer to being matched, with probably the West being a little deeper. However, not long after that I expect the East to officially become the better conference. This will be due largely to Eastern Conference teams emerging into the upper tier of elite teams in the league with some Western Conference teams dropping out of that category. You look at teams like the Bucks, Sixers, and Celtics, they have a ceiling higher than that of any other team in the west. That in mind, you can expect for the east to finally emerge as the stronger side again.
3 OKC Blows It Up
The Oklahoma City Thunder will go down as one of the saddest stories in league history. They will be known for a long time as the team that should have won several titles, but could never quite get it right. Whether it was due to trading away the wrong player, injuries at the worst time to star players, choking at the worst time, or losing stars to free agency, this team could never find its way to the top. With the way the team is currently constructed they are playoff caliber, but are very limited in how much damage they can really do. Within the next five seasons, when Russell Westbrook and whoever else is on the team starts to age, you can expect Sam Presti and the Thunder management to not wait a second to kickoff the rebuilding process in OKC.
2 The End Of An Era In San Antonio
The San Antonio Spurs have been the model of consistency in the NBA for what feels like centuries at this point. Their run of dominance in the NBA has outlasted that of the New England Patriots in the NFL and is comparable to that of the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL. Sadly, much like every great run by a franchise in a sports league, the Spurs are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now. This year will likely mark the end of their elongated streak of seasons with at least 50 wins. On top of that, there appears to be a lot of friction between the team and its top player Kawhi Leonard. Moreover, the stars who were key components in constructing this great run like Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are at the end of the road and it's not that the Spurs won't have the talent to stay relevant, it just won't be the same. It wouldn't surprise me if Gregg Popovich decided to call it a career not long after Parker and Ginobili leave. Whatever happens, it'll be the end of an era in San Antonio.
1 Seattle SuperSonics Return
This is long overdue in my opinion. Seattle is one of the best sports towns in all of the United States and yet here they are still without an NBA franchise for what will be ten years now. Fans have been clamoring for it, and it is about time the get their wish. Now there's a possibility for expansion but I am of the mindset that there are already more than enough teams in the league as it is. What the league ought to do is relocate a team to head up to the pacific northwest and there are plenty of teams to choose from. The Sacramento Kings could use the move. Los Angeles doesn't need a second basketball team, especially since the Lakers are the most revered franchise in the game, so the Clippers wouldn't be missed. Maybe they can move the Thunder back over. You could even send an Eastern Conference team out west like the Atlanta Hawks or Orlando Magic. They don’t fill seats every game. You could bring over the New Orleans Pelicans or Memphis Grizzlies to the east to even it out. However you do it, it really doesn't matter. The NBA needs the Sonics back.