NBA Season Outlook and Standings Predictions: Northwest Division

NBA Season Outlook and Standings Predictions: Northwest Division

The Utah Jazz won the Northwest title last year. How will the departure of Gordon Hayward and arrival of Jimmy Butler and Paul George affect the division this season?

 

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Photo Credit/www.blog.gtbets.eu.com

 

16-17: 31-51

Major Additions: Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, Justin Patton, Jamal Crawford

Major Losses: Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, possibly Shabazz Muhammed

The Timberwolves made a blockbuster move earlier in the summer with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for young guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. The move easily puts the Wolves in contention for a home court playoff spot in the Western Conference next year. The team was also able to sign point guard, Jeff Teague, to a 3yr, $57 million dollar contract later in the summer. The new Minnesota backcourt is a significant upgrade from last years guard tandem of Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine. The Timberwolves now have one of the most star-studded starting units in the league and a bench including Jamal Crawford and either Taj Gibson or Gorgui Dieng to keep up in the West. Young PG Tyus Jones, who’s shown potential in his first few years with the T-Wolves, may get more playing time this year as a result of the departure of Rubio and Dunn. With increased shooting and star power this season, expect Minnesota to be a top team in the West and make the playoffs for the first time since the KG era.

17-18 Record Prediction: 59-23

 

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

Photo Credit/www.youtube.com

 

16-17 Record: 47-35

Major Additions: Paul George, Patrick Patterson, Raymond Felton

Major Losses: Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Taj Gibson, Anthony Morrow, Norris Cole

The Thunder completed the other huge Northwest Division trade earlier in the summer with the acquisition of F Paul George from the Indiana Pacers. In the deal, they gave up slasher, Victor Oladipo, and young stretch big man, Domantas Sabonis. The move should improve the team’s win total from last season and get them in the running for a home court playoff seed in the playoffs. They also replace Taj Gibson with fellow PF Patrick Patterson. The signing gives the Thunder much needed shooting at a bargain. They also bring in veteran PG Raymond Felton to play behind Russell Westbrook and provide extra backcourt depth. Despite the loss of a few young playmakers, Oklahoma City looks ready to make noise in the stacked West this season with their new superstar duo.

17-18 Record Prediction: 55-27

 

3. Denver Nuggets

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

16-17 Record: 40-42

Major Additions: Paul Millsap, Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon, Monte Morris

Major Losses: Danilo Gallinari, Roy Hibbert, Mike Miller, Alonzo Gee

Along with my top two teams in this division, the Nuggets also made an impactful acquisition earlier this summer in their sign-and-trade for PF Paul Millsap. Millsap returns to the Northwest Division after 4 years in Atlanta with the Hawks. The frontcourt of him and Nikola Jokic will be a nightmare for teams due to both player’s innate playmaking ability. The team traded for PFs Trey Lyles and Tyler Lydon on draft night in exchange for 13th pick, Donovan Mitchell. The move gives Denver a stretch 4 in Lyles to play behind Millsap and help fill out the depth chart at the power forward position. A backcourt consisting of young talents Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris will improve next year. I think Murray has the potential to put up 15+ppg this season and become the team’s full-time starter at the 2. The team did lose wing scorer, Danilo Gallinari, to the Los Angeles Clippers, but do have experienced F Wilson Chandler to come in and start full time this year. With the Millsap addition and help from young players, I think Denver will get over the hump and make the playoffs this year.

17-18 Record Prediction: 49-33

 

4. Portland Trail Blazers

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

16-17 Record: 41-41

Major Additions: Andrew Nicholson, Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan

Major Losses: Allen Crabbe, Festus Ezeli, Tim Quarterman

The Blazers are coming off a year where they squeaked out a playoff spot over the Denver Nuggets. While Denver brought Paul Millsap to the Mile High City, Portland wasn’t able to make any significant moves this summer, which could devastate their playoff chances. The Western Conference is as loaded as it possibly ever has been and despite having one of the best backcourts in the NBA, they’ll most likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were the highest scoring backcourt in the entire NBA last season, though still were only able to grab their team the 8 seed in the West. The team is yet to find a solid starter at the 3 after the Evan Turner failure of a signing last season. The team was able to massively decrease their luxury tax by sending Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn; however, the move does them no good in the win column. Portland added several young frontcourt prospects to their team in this year’s draft and it will be interesting to see how that works out for them. As for this season, Dame and C.J. give them a slim chance, but the West is too ridiculous to start thinking playoffs again.

17-18 Record Prediction: 35-47

 

5. Utah Jazz

Photo Credit/www.nbahoopsonline.com

 

16-17 Record: 51-31

Major Additions: Donavan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Jonas Jerebko, Thabo Sefolosha, Tony Bradley, Ricky Rubio, Nigel Williams-Goss, Ekpe Udoh

Major Losses: Gordon Hayward, Trey Lyles, George Hill, Shelvin Mack, Boris Diaw

It’s rare to see a defending division champ end up dead last in the same division the very next year, but I’m afraid that’s what we’ll get in the Utah Jazz in the 17-18 season. From where it now positions the West, I think the Gordon Hayward departure will have a similar effect on the Jazz as the LeBron decision in 2009 had on the Cavs, despite the margin between the two’s talent. This move could quite possibly push Utah all the way back to last in the West after making their first post Williams-Boozer playoff appearance last season. The team will also lose veteran PG, George Hill, to Sacramento, and two members of their frontcourt from last year in Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw. The Jazz still have C Rudy Gobert and talented rookie G Donavan Mitchell to build around for the future, but this offseason will sting fans in Salt Lake City for a while.

17-18 Record Prediction: 28-54

 

 

 

Advertisements

NBA Season Outlook and Standings Predictions: Central Division

The Cleveland Cavaliers have won this division three years in a row. Will we see them capture a fourth straight Central title in 17-18?

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

16-17 Record: 51-31

Major Additions: Jeff Green, Cedi Osman, Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon

Major Losses: Dahntay Jones, likely Kyrie Irving

The Cavs biggest question mark this offseason is by far the status of PG Kyrie Irving. Irving recently requested a trade from the team, citing New York, San Antonio, Miami, and Minnesota as his preferred destinations. Despite these being the teams Irving would LIKE to play for, the Phoenix Suns currently have the most attractive assets to offer Cleveland for Irving. The presumed trade would be Eric Bledsoe, rookie Josh Jackson, and a 2018 1st round pick in exchange for Irving, though the Suns are reportedly not willing to include Jackson in any trade (per CBS Sports). In my opinion, Koby Altman and the Cavs front office must find a way to make this trade happen. Not only would declining to trade Irving make for a sour locker room but likely Phoenix trade asset, Eric Bledsoe, is very close with LeBron James. Bringing Bledsoe to Cleveland gives them better defense at the point guard position while increasing their chances of retaining James in free agency next summer. If this deal is made, along with the other playmaking pieces the Cavs signed this summer, I see them atop the Central Division again.

17-18 Record Prediction: 49-33

 

2. Milwaukee Bucks

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

16-17 Record: 42-40

Major Additions: D.J. Wilson

Major Losses: Jason Terry, Terrence Jones

The Bucks come into this season with a similar roster compared to last year. The team drafted Michigan project, D.J. Wilson, in the first round of the 2017 draft, adding to their plethora of length already in the lineup. Milwaukee will likely not re-sign veteran guard Jason Terry and will also lose PF Terrence Jones to China. As for their core, we all know what Giannis Antetokounmpo brings to the table with length, defensive versatility, playmaking ability, and an innate slashing attribute, all at around 6’11”. PF Jabari Parker is coming off his best season as a pro despite suffering a season ending injury. Expect him to put up 20+ppg on high percentages this year. Two other young talents for the team, Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon, should both have increased roles next year as Milwaukee improves. As for the frontcourt, reports are swirling that big men, Greg Monroe, as well as John Henson, are available via trade (per Bleacher Report). We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the summer shakes out for the Deer, but they should finish next year higher in the East, grabbing a home-court playoff spot.

17-18 Record Prediction: 48-34

 

3. Detroit Pistons

Photo Credit/www.slamonline.com

 

16-17 Record: 37-45

Major Additions: Avery Bradley, Luis Montero, Langston Galloway, Anthony Tolliver, Luke Kennard

Major Losses: Marcus Morris, Darrun Hilliard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aron Baynes, Beno Udrih

The Pistons made several franchise-changing moves this off-season. They acquired guard Avery Bradley from the Boston Celtics in exchange for F Marcus Morris. This move led to the departure of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from the Motor City, as it looks as if Detroit has found its shooting guard for the future. The team also added Duke G/F Luke Kennard with their 1st round pick in the 2017 draft. It’s possible we see Kennard play at the 3 with Bradley at the 2. Last season, the team voiced its uncertainty of the future of its two biggest pieces, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, though with the team yet to move either at this point in the summer, it’s likely the two are in Detroit to start the 17-18 season. Despite the loss of frontcourt depth in the offseason, I don’t think the Pistons will fall completely off the table this year. I predict they challenge for an 8 seed in the East barring injury.

17-18 Record Prediction: 39-43

 

4. Chicago Bulls

Photo Credit/www.youtube.com

 

16-17 Record: 41-41

Major Additions: Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Justin Holiday, David Nwaba, Antonio Blakeney

Major Losses: Jimmy Butler, Michael Carter-Williams, Rajon Rondo

The Bulls made one of the biggest trades of the offseason earlier this summer when they moved All-Star guard Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. The team also added to their young backcourt with the additions of Justin Holiday, David Nwaba, and Antonio Blakeney. This summer was really about out with the old and in with the new on the Chicago roster. The most intriguing new Bull is rookie Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen has achieved Dirk Nowitzki comparisons dating back to last college ball season when he was with Arizona. His silky-smooth long range jumper and post-potential along with his length on defense were enough for Chicago to select him number 7 overall in the draft. As their rebuild begins it will be interesting to see if one of the high-expectation prospects turns out as a star or whether we see a surprising young player shine. Despite retaining Dwyane Wade, the Jimmy Butler deal made the playoffs well out of reach for Chi-Town.

17-18 Record Prediction: 29-53

 

5. Indiana Pacers

Photo Credit/www.fadeawayworld.com

 

16-17 Record: 42-40

Major Additions: Victor Oladipo, Cory Joseph, Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic

Major Losses: Paul George, Rakeem Christmas, Rodney Stuckey

Indiana’s worst nightmare came true earlier this summer when their star, Paul George, gave them notice he would not be re-signing with the team next offseason. The Pacers made the right move getting him out of Indianapolis before the start of the season, but was it the best they could do? In return for George, Indiana received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis from the OKC Thunder. Though these two players are fairly young with considerable upside, it’s hard to believe the team couldn’t have squeezed a player like Jamal Murray out of Denver or a fairly high lotto pick from this year’s draft. A young core of Oladipo, Turner, and Leaf could turn out getting them a playoff appearance in 5 years or so, but if I were leading that front office, I would’ve been looking for a younger guard than Oladipo with much higher potential. What Oladipo is now and what he’ll likely be for years to come is a much, much lesser version of a Dwyane Wade type guard. I believe Myles Turner could turn into an Eastern All-Star in even as soon as two years, but as of now the Pacers are probably just praying Marvin Bagley lll is able to re-classify to be available in the draft next year, rather than having their eyes on the 2018 playoffs.

17-18 Record Prediction: 24-58

 

Episode 1: Zeke the Freak, The UnLucky Chronicles, Power Rankings & More!

Episode 1: Zeke the Freak, The UnLucky Chronicles, Power Rankings & More!

Recorded 7/25/17

The pilot episode is finally here! Kuda and Chase make their podcast debut, hosted by none other than Sports Fan Entertainment. On this episode, we talk about local bully Ezekiel Elliot putting hands on a DJ (most likely played Despacito in the club). Lucky Whitehead’s series of unfortunate events (don’t sue Netflix). Colin Kaepernick’s inability to find a job. We will also be giving our very own and personal power rankings going into the NFL season. Be prepared for pilot episode jitters, along with some unnecessary Cowboys slander at the hands of Chase.

Brian’s 2017 Breakout Buys: Quarterbacks

Brian’s 2017 Breakout Buys: Quarterbacks

Every NFL season, superstars rise, whether expected or not. In 2016, Jay Ajayi and Terrelle Pryor came out of nowhere with huge breakout performances. 2017 will be no different. There will be breakouts no one expected, but there will also be those who just needed a year or two to get their footing in the league. Here are my favorite quarterbacks who are on the brink of superstardom.

Note: Let’s keep the rookie’s out of it, and focus on NFL players looking to make a big jump this season.

Continue reading

32 Teams in 32 Days: Cincinnati Bengals

32 Teams in 32 Days: Cincinnati Bengals

What to expect:

Before last season, the Bengals were no stranger to the playoffs. The team strung together 5 strait playoff appearances from 2011-2015. Continue reading

NBA Season Outlook and Standings Predictions: Southwest Division

The Spurs and Rockets will likely duke it out to see who wins the Southwest division this year. Who will take the title in the Texas shootout?

 

1. Houston Rockets

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

16-17 Record: 55-27

Major Additions: Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute, Zhou Qi, Tarik Black, possibly Carmelo Anthony…..

Major Losses: Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Wiltjer, possibly Ryan Anderson….

The Rockets already made one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the summer in acquiring Chris Paul from the Rockets in exchange for Lou Williams and several young players. The move gives Houston two elite ball-dominant guards who can spread the floor and distribute the ball in Paul and Harden, but they’re likely not done yet. H-town is also currently looking to acquire Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks, though will most likely have to give up Ryan Anderson or in a less likely case, 6th man of the year Eric Gordon. This trade would give the Rockets even more shooting and could also revive Melo’s career, as he’s currently in a mess in New York City. Playing Anthony at the 4 could make him one of the best stretch 4’s in the game and help him on defense, where guarding power forwards will make defending an easier job for him, as his lack of quickness on D has always been a liability for him guarding small forwards. If Houston is able to keep young rim protector, Clint Capela, while acquiring Anthony via trade, I see them easily surpassing 60 wins and disrupting the Spurs Southwest reign.

17-18 Record Prediction: 63-19

 

2. San Antonio Spurs

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

16-17 Record: 61-21

Major Additions: Rudy Gay, Derrick White, Joffrey Lauvergne, Jaron Blossomgame

Major Losses: Jonathan Simmons, Dewayne Dedmon, Possibly David Lee

The Spurs look to again be one of the top teams in the Western Conference. The team replaces C Dewayne Dedmon with Frenchman Joffrey Lauvergne. This change could hurt San Antonio’s inside D but now gives them another stretch bigman alongside Davis Bertans. The team could lose veteran forward, David Lee, as he recently declined his player option for the 17-18 season, though could sign him or another bigman to a minimum deal. The team will also be without energetic G, Jonathan Simmons next season. In my opinion, Simmons was the 2nd most important player for the Spurs in the playoffs this past season, only behind Kawhi Leonard. His slashing ability and relentless defense was seemingly always there for San Antonio. The team will surely miss Simmons’ duties, though they were able to sign former Kings F, Rudy Gay, with the extra money and roster spot. The Spurs will likely have no problem getting these new players to adapt to the team play style. I predict they’ll post 60 or more wins again this year.

17-18 Record Prediction: 62-20

 

3. New Orleans Pelicans

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

16-17 Record: 34-48

Major Additions: Frank Jackson, Rajon Rondo

Major Losses: Donatas Motiejunas, Tim Frazier, Quinn Cook, Axel Toupane

The Pelicans have without a doubt the most dominant frontcourt in the NBA heading into next season. The All-Star duo of Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins will give teams problems in the post, nightly. With solid PG, Jrue Holiday, and newly acquired floor leader, Rajon Rondo, the Pels backcourt looks better than it has in years. Their real issue in years past and most likely this year as well is shooting on the wing. The team finished 19th in the NBA in 3pt percentage last season, and didn’t really ever find a solid wing player to play alongside their three cornerstones. Unless Solomon Hill, Quincy Pondexter, or Dante Cunningham do enough to showcase their value at the 3 for New Orleans, the Pels should look to make a move for a solid “3 and D” small forward. If the shooting problem is eliminated and they find a reliable wing, the Pelicans will challenge for a late seed in the West.

17-18 Record Prediction: 43-39

 

4. Dallas Mavericks

Photo Credit/www.csnbayarea.com

 

16-17 Record: 33-49

Major Additions: Dennis Smith Jr., Josh McRoberts

Major Losses: Jarrod Uthoff, possibly Nerlens Noel

The Mavs added two new rotation players this Summer, only losing young benchwarmer, Jarrod Uthoff. 1st round draft pick, Dennis Smith Jr., will come in and compete with other young guard, Yogi Ferrell, for the starting PG job in Dallas. Both will get significant playing time this year next to Seth Curry in the backcourt. Josh McRoberts brings frontcourt playmaking ability to play behind Dirk Nowitzki and round out the team. SF Harrison Barnes is coming off his best season in the league and is quite possibly the best player on the Mavs, at just 25 years old. The Nerlens Noel situation is the most complicated in Dallas right now. The team is apparently at a crossroads right now in determining whether or not he’s truly worth the amount of cash he’s asking for. If the Mavericks are able to keep Noel and he shows his potential as an elite rim protector and athletic big man on offense, Dallas could be primed for Western competition in the future. As of now, the team will find it tough to rack up wins in the loaded West.

17-18 Record Prediction: 32-50

 

5. Memphis Grizzlies

Photo Credit/postup.sportsblog.com

 

16-17 Record: 43-39

Major Additions: Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks, Mario Chalmers, Ben McLemore, Tyreke Evans, Rade Zagorac

Major Losses: Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, likely Tony Allen, possibly JaMychal Green

The Grizzlies have an impressive streak of 7 straight playoff appearances going for them right now. Unfortunately for them, it’s likely the streak ends this season. With the loss of long time PF, Zach Randolph, and veteran sharpshooter, Vince Carter, the Griz’ roster looks weaker than last year heading into 17-18. The team will also in all likelihood lose elite defensive guard, Tony Allen, in free agency. The biggest question so far this offseason for Memphis is the status of breakout forward, JaMychal Green. The 27-year old is coming off his best professional season and is looking for heaps of cash this summer. A team has yet to sign Green to a contract, which would force Memphis to match the contract. The team does however have a qualifying offer of 2.8 million dollars extended to Green. If no other organization sees enough value in the forward to give him big money, it’s likely Green plays on the qualifying offer this year before hitting the unrestricted market next summer. Unless Mike Conley or Marc Gasol turns into superman before the start of the season, its likely Memphis sits out the postseason this year.

17-18 Record Prediction: 31-51

 

 

Digging Deeper with Daniel: 7/24-7/30 Discussing CTE

Digging Deeper with Daniel: 7/24-7/30 Discussing CTE

99% of NFL players and over 20% of high school football players have CTE according to a Boston University study

If you haven’t heard, 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players studied , 48 out of 53 deceased college football football players studied, and 3 out of 14 deceased high school football players were found to have CTE (a brain disease caused by repetitive hits to the head) in a Boston University study released this week. This is a concerning study, but not as concerning as the main-stream media would have you think. What hasn’t been studied is the frequency of CTE in the players of other sports such as boxing, UFC, lacrosse, rugby, hockey, or even soccer, all of which are likely to produce high rates of CTE in their players. One important note is also that all of the brains studied are out of dead people, which means that the bodies studied are more likely to have CTE because……well…..they’re dead. Additionally we don’t know two important pieces of this study, which are: What level of brain regression is considered CTE and how much does each varying degree of CTE affect the brain? This is certainly a concerning study, but don’t focus exclusively on football, and learn more about CTE before believing the media narrative of football being uniquely violent.

Corey Davis and the last NFL rookies sign with their teams

We won’t have a Joey Bosa scenario this year. This is great for the NFL because all the rookies will be able to participate in most of training camp and get fully prepared for the NFL. Better player quality equals a better product to watch. Only a few more weeks to go boys, now let’s get to football.

Xavier Rhodes signs a massive contract

Great. He’s staying in Minnesota. Now let’s get to football.

Kyrie rumors

The Cavs are reportedly willing to trade Kyrie to the Suns for Eric Bledsoe, Josh Jackson, and pick(s), but the Suns don’t want to give up Jackson. Kyrie reportedly really wants to go to the Knicks. Nothing has actually happened though, so these reports are just gossip right now.

Da’Shawn Hand arrested

Hand was arrested for a DUI on Saturday. He was a highly touted draft prospect for this upcoming draft and this will obviously negatively impact his draft stock to an extent still to be determined.

 

Image credit to directorsblog.nih.gov