The 2015-16 NBA Regular Season Preview

By: Jacob G.

133 days separate the start of the NBA season, from Game 6 of the NBA Finals. In the spectacular closer of the 2014-15 NBA season, Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala scored 25 points, giving the Golden State Warriors their first title in 40 years, while LeBron James put up an NBA Finals performance to remember.

In the offseason, a total of eight players retired, including four-time all-star Shawn Marion, and the 1999 first overall pick, Elton Brand. Five coaches were fired, including three from the powerhouse teams of the Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Pelicans, and Chicago Bulls. There were no major trades, but over 200 free-agents signed some major deals, including LaMarcus Aldridge joining a stacked San Antonio Spurs team, Jimmy Butler resigning with the Bulls, Canadian Cory Joseph signing with the Toronto Raptors, DeAndre Jordan rejoining the Clippers after an emoji-frenzi, while Kevin Love and LeBron James signed back with the Cavs. In the NBA Draft, Karl-Anthony Towns was the first overall pick selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Canadian Trey Lyles was selected 12th overall by the Utah Jazz.

On opening night this year, the Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Chicago Bulls, and the Golden State Warriors will battle the New Orleans Pelicans.

This NBA Season will be the 70th in their history, and I hope by the end of this article, you will be informed about what will happen in a fantastic season to remember.

This season asks the questions: How will young stars including Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin play for their top-ranked teams? Will Kevin Durant bounce back from an injury-plagued season and re-sign with the Thunder? Will the King, (LeBron James) win his 3rd NBA Championship and return to the throne? Will Andrew Wiggins win the Slam Dunk Contest in his home country of Canada?

We will have to wait and see!

Below are my predictions of where teams will finish in their conferences, who will win this season’s awards, and who will win the NBA Championship.

Rank Team Comments
1 Cleveland Cavaliers If LeBron James’ back doesn’t bother him this season, the Cavs will have a season to remember. Kevin Love signed a five-year $110 million contract, but Kyrie Irving is still injured with a fractured knee-cap, and could be back anytime between the season opener and January. Don’t worry Cavs fans: LeBron James, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Co. will keep you entertained and extremely satisfied, until Kyrie Irving returns, where it could be even better, and scary for opponents.
2 Washington Wizards Last season, John Wall averaged a double-double for the season. with 17.6 points and 10.0 assists per game! Also, with 4/5 starters for the Wizards scoring at least 10 points per game, the Wizards could be a pretty competitive team, and could also have a great campaign for free-agent Kevin Durant at the end of the season.
3 Toronto Raptors In the offseason, the Raptors added DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo and others to improve their defense. With the combination of the high-scoring offense, the new defense,and the new re-brand, the Raptors could be a top team in the East.
4 Miami Heat Chris Bosh comes back after blood clots ended his season in February, to lead the Heat with Dwyane Wade, who signed a one-year $20 million deal. After the Heat missed the playoffs last year, the first time since the post-LeBron era, they will be ready to bounce back.
5 Chicago Bulls After Jimmy Butler won the Most Improved Player of the Year for last season, averaging 20 points a game, the Bulls could be break or bust, with Pau Gasol aging, and Derrick Rose getting injured all the time.
6 Atlanta Hawks The top team in the East won’t be top this year. After losing DeMarre Caroll, the Hawks could be that team in the East that gets nominated as the biggest slump.
7 Indiana Pacers The Pacers wouldn’t be in the playoffs if it weren’t for this guy: Paul George. George returns this year after suffering a broken leg that allowed him to play six games at the end of the season. George is looking to have a career year, and could be a top-five point guard in the NBA with a great year.
8 Milwaukee Bucks The Bucks have 2014 2nd overall pick Jabari Parker back after he tore is ACL, after only playing 25 games last season. They also have two guys with 13+ letters in their last names: Michael Carter-Williams (14) and Giannis Antetokounmpo(13); and oh yeah, they’re pretty good too.
9 Boston Celtics After Rajon Rondo left to the Mavericks last season, Boston had zero key players from their 2008 championship team. Never fear Celtics fans: if your team doesn’t return to the playoffs this year, they’ll be back next year, thanks to the signings of power forwards David Lee and Amir Johnson.
10 Philadelphia 76ers Even though Philadelphia probably won’t make the playoffs this year, they will be the surprise team of the year, finishing much higher than expected (last place). Rookie Jahlil Okafor and sophomore Nik Stauskas, will help aid third-year player Nerlens Noel resulting in a better-than-expected season for the 76ers.s
11 Charlotte Hornets The Hornets have pretty solid backups at every position except for shooting guard. That wouldn’t necessarily matter, except Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out until at least April, which is far too late for a playoff berth.
12 Orlando Magic The Magic won’t make the playoffs this year, but with a rising young team, they could be a top team in the near future.
13 New York Knicks The Knicks won’t be the worst team in the Eastern Conference this year, but they are just beginning the re-building phase. Although power forward Kristaps Porzingis could be a questionable first step.
14 Brooklyn Nets After just making the playoffs last year, Brooklyn lost point guard Deron Williams to the Mavericks. How will they rebound from this? With the second-worst record in the conference.
15 Detroit Pistons The Pistons could be this season’s worst team, and could end up with Ben Simmonds who was rated 97/100 on ESPN’s best players in 2016.

Western Conference Results

Rank Team Comments
1 San Antonio Spurs A team must start to drop eventually, right? In the case of the San Antonio Spurs, the word bad has only been used four times in team history when they missed the playoffs four times out of 42 seasons!!! This year is the exact same, if not better. This year what makes a difference for the striving Spurs is that LaMarcus Aldrige, from the Trail Blazers is joining this star-studded team including Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and other consistent players. The bottom line for the history of this team: If I were the owner of this team, I would really be getting my money’s worth.
2 Los Angeles Clippers Since the Clippers are so good now, I guess it makes sense why they used to be so bad. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are the best two-player combination in the league, as Griffin averaged 22 points per game last year, while Paul averaged 19 points and over 10 assists, for most in the NBA. Meanwhile, big-man DeAndre Jordan, who had the best field goal percentage last season, scored 11.5 points per game and had 15 rebounds per game, decided to stay with the Clippers after a free agency frenzy. The Clippers also have 38 year-old Paul Pearce, who scored 12 points per game, and J.J. Redick who averaged 16.5. So if you add those numbers up, the Clippers score 80 pointers just with their starters alone!! That sounds pretty ridiculous and outrageous to me!!
3 Oklahoma City Thunder In Kevin Durant’s last year under his current contract, the Thunder will need to finish pretty high and make a deep playoff run, if they want to secure him for next season. Russell Westbrook, who finished 1st in points per game last season with 28.1 and Serge Ibaka who finished 2nd in blocks per game last season with 2.42, will have to have a productive year in Durant will remain in Oklahoma.
4 Golden State Warriors After a year in which Stephen Curry, who won MVP and brought Golden State a NBA Championship, along with Splash Brother Klay Thompson, the Warriors will be at it again with a sold 4th place finish.
5 New Orleans Pelicans Do you hear NBA MVP for The Unibrow-Anthony Davis? Because I do! Davis will basically be a one-man show for the Pels, with help from Eric Gordon this year, as Davis will probably lead the league in both points and blocks. He will be the reason they make the postseason through the NBA’s toughest division.
6 Houston Rockets Houston…We’ve got a problem. Yes, things will not work out as planned for the Rockets. Something will go wrong for this team, whether it’s a lasting injury for NBA Top-5 point guard, James Harden or just a really long losing streak.
7 Sacramento Kings In the offseason, the Kings added Rajon Rondo, to join Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. They also drafted Willie Cauley-Stein, and acquired Steph Curry’s brother, Seth. This could be a great season for the Kings, or a really bad one.
8 Memphis Grizzlies The Grizzlies are getting older; all five starters are 28+ years old. Although, older does mean wiser, which equals the Grizzlies 6th consecutive playoff berth.
9 Portland Trail Blazers Poor, Damian Lillard! His all-star teammate, LaMarcus Aldridge left him to join the Spurs. If the Blazers want to make the playoffs, Lillard will have to score 40 points a game!
10 Minnesota Timberwolves The Timberwolves could also be a surprise team in the West, finishing as high as 11th, with the help of rising star Andrew Wiggins, who could average 18+ points per game, while Karl-Anthony Towns could win NBA Rookie of the Year.
11 Los Angeles Lakers This will probably be Kobe Bryant’s last season in the NBA, and even with help from Julius Randle, who played 14 minutes before breaking his leg in the opening game last season, and Roy Hibbert, acquired from the Pacers, his season will most likely end in no playoffs for the Lakers, but who knows? Anything can happen.
12 Phoenix Suns The only talented player the Suns have is Eric Bledsoe, who averaged 17 points per game. That won’t be enough for Phoenix, unless veteran Tyson Chandler has a breakout year.
13 Utah Jazz 12/15 players on the Jazz are 25 or younger, while no one is even 30 years old! The Jazz might finish pretty low, meaning another young gun will join their team at the 2016 NBA Draft.
14 Dallas Mavericks After DeAndre Jordan decided to stay with the Clippers after he agreed to a deal with the Mavs, they will have to do all they can with an aging Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas will be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference, by finishing in 13th.
15 Denver Nuggets Kenneth Faried and 1st year point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will do all they can for the struggling Nuggets, but they could also be in the running for Ben Simmonds.

Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference

First Round

  • (1) Cleveland Cavaliers beat (8) Milwaukee Bucks
  • (2) Washington Wizards beat (7) Indiana Pacers
  • (3) Toronto Raptors beat (6) Atlanta Hawks
  • (5) Chicago Bulls beat (4) Miami Heat

Eastern Conference Semifinals

  • Cleveland Cavaliers beat (5) Chicago Bulls
  • Toronto Raptors beat (2) Washington WizardsEastern Conference Finals

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers beat (3) Toronto Raptors

Western Conference

First Round

  • San Antonio Spurs beat (8) Memphis Grizzlies
  • Los Angeles Clippers beat (7) Sacramento Kings
  • Oklahoma City Thunder beat (6) Houston Rockets
  • Golden State Warriors beat (5) New Orleans Pelicans

Western Conference Semifinals

  • San Antonio Spurs beat (4) Golden State Warriors
  • Los Angeles Clippers beat (3) Oklahoma City Thunder

Western Conference Finals

(2) Los Angeles Clippers beat (1) San Antonio Spurs

NBA Finals

  • (1) Cleveland Cavaliers beat (2) Los Angeles Clippers

cavs

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