There sure are a lot of questions circulating around the NBA as of late, as the league has changed a lot since last season. Every NBA fan is extremely excited for the upcoming year, as there are a lot of story lines people are going to be following. Whether it's how a rookie will perform in the league to how the Warriors will fare with Kevin Durant, there is going to be a lot of interesting games this season.
Free-agency has also been very intriguing, and the big moves made in this year's offseason can lead to some seriously bold predictions. One prediction that you will notice is omitted from this list is whether the Cleveland Cavaliers will be NBA Champions. While there is a good chance that this will happen, it's too cheap of a prediction to call a "bold prediction."
In this article, I will be listing 15 bold predictions for the upcoming NBA season. From how a player will do with their new team to what team will win take home the championship, hopefully you will gain some insight on how the upcoming season will turn out.
As always, feel free to leave any comments you have on this matter, as we would love to hear your thoughts on this upcoming season.
Here are the top 15 bold predictions for the upcoming 2016-17 NBA season.
15. Warriors Don't Break Their 73-9 Record
Even with their addition of Kevin Durant this offseason, the Warriors will not break their own record of 73-9 this year. The Warriors will be working out a lot of kinks throughout this season, which will most likely mean some more losses than expected this year, particularly early on. While the Warriors will have their chemistry questions resolved by the end of the season, the first couple of months of playing together will be spent trying to find a balance between all of the great players on the team. There is only one ball on the court, and there is going to be a lot of possessions spent on finding the Warriors' ideal game style.
This, however, does not mean the Warriors will not grab the no.1 seed in the West this year, but for those who think the Warriors will walk there way to a 82-0 record, you are sadly wrong.
14. Suns Make The Playoffs
The Suns actually have a dangerous roster, and their immense struggles last season are no indication of the record they will have this year. Eric Bledsoe will be back from his season-ending injury last year, and he will be joining a much improved team. Devin Booker could be an offensive star in the NBA, and could be one of the best scorers in the league this year. Alex Len was a nice surprise for the Suns, and the young team could do some damage in the West this year. Not to mention the Suns added some great rookies to the team with Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, who were both lottery picks. Phoenix doesn't have to wait a few years to win a real number of games, as the Suns are ready to be a dominant team in the league right now. With all of the team's pieces healthy and better than they were last season, the Suns will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
13. Derrick Rose Will THRIVE In New York
A change of scenery is always good, and Derrick Rose will thrive with his new team, the New York Knicks. Rose's career has gone stale in his hometown of Chicago, and his career will be revived in the Big Apple. While I don't believe he will go back to being his MVP self, Rose's stats will increase, and he may even have the opportunity to be one of the best guards in the league. There was just too many bad memories and too many "what ifs" in Chicago, and Derrick made the right move in signing with the Knicks. I do respect Phil Jackson's move in going after Rose this offseason, as he really will be one of the Knicks most valuable pieces in their success for the next few years. Expect D.Rose to have a comeback season, as a new team may be what was needed for him to leave his injury-ridden past behind him.
12. Kris Dunn Wins Rookie of the Year
While players such as Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram are the front-runners to win the Rookie of the Year award, Kris Dunn of the Minnesota Timberwolves will have the most successful rookie season. Being selected with the 5th pick, Kris Dunn is the best point-guard in the draft, and his showing at the NBA Summer League was impressive to say the least. Despite scouts saying otherwise, Dunn shot the three very well and definitely has the athleticism to compete in the NBA. Kris Dunn will be joining the perfect situation for him in Minnesota, as the young team will be a fast paced squad, which compliments Dunn's play-style nicely.
This is not to say that Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram won't have good success this year, but the point-guard from Providence will have the best rookie season from the 2016 NBA Draft Class. You can mark my words on this one.
11. OKC Trades Russell Westbrook
The Thunder are in a much different situation now than they were with Durant, as they went from a championship contender to a middle of the pack team. Russell Westbrook will most likely test his value in free agency after the season, so if the Thunder don't trade Russell for some assets, they will lose him for nothing. A few teams have apparently gone after the superstar, but as of now, it appears he will be playing for OKC.
The Thunder must be aware of the fact that even though they still have Westbrook, their best move may be just to rebuild, so they are going to want to get some valuable draft picks or even just some younger pieces for Westbrook. Russell Westbrook is a game-changer to any team he may end up joining, and the Thunder will most likely try to get a few assets for their all-star point guard in Westbrook.
10. Timberwolves Make The Playoffs
While many people believe the Timberwolves will be a dominant force in the league in a few years, the T-Wolves could actually do some damage this year. While all of their young pieces may confuse some people into thinking they are still rebuilding, the Timberwolves will actually make the playoffs this year. The Timberwolves acquisition of Kris Dunn with their 5th overall draft pick this season may have already given them one of the most talented point-guards in the league. Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins have both proven their talent in the league with successful starts to their young careers, which means the Timberwolves may just be primed for a playoff appearance this season.
While I do not think the Timberwolves will obtain a high seed or even get past the first-round, the progress that Minnesota will make this year will be very eye-opening to other teams around the league.
5 Warriors DON'T Win The Championship
There are a few reasons for why I believe the Warriors, even with Kevin Durant, will not take home the title this season. Nothing is given in the NBA, and each team the Warriors face will be hungry to beat them, as they will be getting each team's best effort every night. Even though they have one of the best starting lineups in the league, they will be susceptible to losing to many teams in the league. The Warriors' talent is just too great for them to not make the playoffs this year, but I do believe that the problems they will have with too many stars on the court at once will end up costing them a playoff series, whether it be in the NBA Finals or not.
As for which team from the league sends the Warriors home we do not yet know, but the Golden State Warriors will not win the NBA championship this season.
8. Celtics Make Eastern Conference Finals
While this may seem very bold, the Celtics record last year of 48-34 shows they know how to win, and the added talent of Al Horford, who the Celtics signed this offseason, may be the necessary piece for Boston to become one of the best teams in the league. All-stars in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford are both primed for excellent seasons this year, as they look to lead the Celtics deep into the playoffs. Rookie Jaylen Brown, who the Celtics picked with their 3rd overall selection in this year's draft, is NBA-ready, and will guard some big names this year as he may already be one of the most solid defenders in the league. It's been too long since the Celtics were actually considered a championship contender, and Boston's acquisition of former Hawks big-man Al Horford will garner them enough wins throughout the playoffs for at least an Eastern Conference series appearance.
7. Harrison Barnes Has Breakout Season With Dallas
Harrison Barnes was a dominant scorer throughout his college career at UNC, but he has yet to show his true talent in the NBA. Accustomed to playing in the shadow of all of the great stars on the Warriors, Barnes will have his best season to date with his new team, the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs will be perfect for Barnes, as Dallas lost their starting small forward, Chandler Parsons, to the Memphis Grizzlies. Barnes will be getting a lot of minutes this year, and his real talent will be able to truly shine on the Mavericks. Harrison is going to be taking on a lot of the scoring load with the Mavericks, and he may even average over 20 points a game. While he struggled immensely throughout this year's finals, Harrison Barnes will leave his past behind him and he will have a breakout season with the Dallas Mavericks.
4 Damian Lillard Wins Most Valuable Player
Damian Lillard is arguably one of the most valuable players on this team, as Lillard's performance is vital to the success of the Trail Blazers. Lillard was somehow not selected as an all-star last season, even though his skill and stats spoke for themselves. Damian Lillard is in the perfect position to win M.V.P this season, as he is the primary scorer and by far the best player on his team. I definitely think the award of Most Valuable Player should go to a player like Lillard, and not to a player whose team could still compete without them, like Stephen Curry or LeBron James.
Without Lillard, the Trailblazers wouldn't be a playoff contending team, but the Trial Blazers will find themselves in the playoffs this year due to the actions of Dame. Damian Lillard is going to have his best season to date this upcoming year, and will be finally awarded for his talents with the MVP award!
3 Ivica Zubac Makes All-Rookie First Team
The Lakers didn't just hit big with drafting Brandon Ingram with the 2nd pick in the draft, as they got an absolute steal with grabbing Ivica Zubac with the 32nd pick. He is one of the best centers in the draft, and his showing at the NBA Summer League recently underscored that he could be a dominant center in the league. While Zubac will most likely be coming off the bench behind Timofey Mozgov, the progress Ivica will make this upcoming season will garner him the minutes needed to make an impact. Zubac is already a fan favorite due to his motor and solid play throughout the Summer League tournament. Ivica Zubac was probably the best big man in the draft and could even be one of the most productive centers in the league this season. This means that Zubac will get a spot on the All-Rookie First Team, where he will most likely join his teammate Brandon Ingram.
4. Sixers Win Over 25 Games
The Sixers were the worst team in the league last year with an embarrassing record of 10-72, but things are looking sunny in Philadelphia. The Sixers will be getting to see two of their valuable rookies in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, who both have the potential to be something special in the NBA, have breakout years. The Sixers will have a very solid front court this year and now they also have one of the most versatile players in the league with Simmons. The Sixers have also acquired some very experienced players for this season, with Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson, both of whom will add a nice veteran presence to the young team. Dario Saric will also play for the team, and he is considered to be one of the best players in Europe right now. All of these factors have led me to the conclusion that the Sixers will no longer be a bottom feeding team anymore.
3. Dennis Schroder Wins Most Improved Player
With Jeff Teague moving onto the Pacers this offseason, Dennis Schroder is now the starting point-guard for the Atlanta Hawks. Schroder has the potential to be an excellent player in the NBA, and this year will be his true coming out party. He will be getting a lot of minutes this year, and his stats will increase immensely, which will lead to him being awarded with the MIP award after this season. He has the scoring ability to average over 20 points a game, which the Hawks will need with two of their stars, Teague and Horford, now gone. Dennis Schroder is now a leader of the Hawks team with Paul Millsap, and I believe Dennis will take on the challenge. Jeff Teague leaving the Hawks may have been a blessing in disguise for Atlanta because Dennis Schroder may actually be a better option for the Hawks than Teague, in reality.
2 Pacers Win Over 55 Games
The Pacers have quietly built themselves one of the most dangerous rosters in the entire association. The Pacers had a pretty solid season last year with a record of 45-37, but their recent additions of Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson, and Thaddeus Young will propel them into being one of the best teams in the league, winning over 55 games this year. My other bold prediction with the Celtics making the Eastern Conference Finals leaves the Pacers out of the series due to the Cavaliers most likely making it, but that doesn't mean the Pacers don't have an incredible regular season. They have the star-factor in Paul George, and the supporting pieces added this off-season will complement him greatly. Myles Turner had a promising rookie season as well, and he will be much improved for his sophomore campaign. The Pacers will be one of the toughest teams to beat this year, and will win over 55 games.
1 Spurs Win NBA Championship
You asked for bold, and you definitely got it with this one. The Spurs' addition of Pau Gasol this offseason was a big win for San Antonio, as they now have one of the best front courts in the league with Aldridge and Gasol. While Tim Duncan will be missed this upcoming season, his skills haven't been the same in years, and Gasol will be more valuable to the team. Kawhi Leonard is also one of the best defensive players in the league, and the Spurs still have one of the deepest benches in the NBA. Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest minds in basketball history, and we all know he will end up cooking up something interesting to contain the shooters on the Warriors. Most likely facing the Cavaliers in the championship, the Spurs will ultimately take home the title for the 6th time since the team's establishment in 1967.
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