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Ah yes, we’re only a week away from the sounds of squeaking sneakers, trash talk, and Jordan Poole (friend of the brand) hitting the floor after Draymond didn’t get the contract he wanted… wait.
Anyway, the NBA season is a week away and as RYP’s resident NBA Twitter lurker, I’m here with some takes ahead of the season. A mix of things that will happen, could happen, or that I might just be wishing to happen as a Heat fan. But for now, let’s just say it’s Almost Definitely Happening.
Fire up that league pass subscription and get ready for none of these ‘predictions’ to land!
LeBron James will become the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer
James currently sits at 37,062 points, just 1,325 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabaar for 1st all-time. Considering James averages nearly 2,000 points per season, it’s safe to say a record that may never be broken again stands to fall this season.
Chris Paul becomes the 3rd player to record 11,000 career assist
The Point God may never win a ring, but it’s hard not to be enjoying his late-career renaissance. As obnoxious as CP3 can be on the court at times, he’s been a marvel to watch and one of the best in the game since his rookie season in 2005. He needs just 23 assists to hit 11k, it may happen before game 3.
A record number of teams Tank
In case you’re out of the NBA prospect loop, take a minute (or 20) to watch some of Victor Wembanyama’s highlights. This kid is being touted as the best prospect since LeBron, with LeBron’s own former teammate, Richard Jefferson, saying Wembanyama would be picked ahead of LeBron if they were in the same draft. Outrageous take? Sure, but just look at Victor next to Rudy Gobert, and imagine if Rudy Gobert could dribble and make 3’s. Half of the league may be tanking by midseason.
The L.A. teams return to relevance
The Clippers finally get Kawhi back, and we get to see what they can do back at full strength. They also added John Wall, who is at the very least, going to be a great scoring punch off the bench and at best create a menacing big 3 alongside Kawhi and PG. They’re currently a favorite to win the West by many. The Lakers didn’t do much of anything this offseason outside of hiring a new coach. Russell Westbrick is still there but the good news? AD is healthy, if AD and LeBron stay on the court, they’ll be in the thick of things out west.
The Warriors defend their title
I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a team re-tool on the fly quite like the Warriors did during the two years A.D. (After Durant). Resisting the pressure to turn picks into veterans, they have a stockpile of young talent alongside their core 3 of Steph, Klay, and Dray. Adding a healthy Wiseman to the mix with Kuminga, Moody, and Poole doesn’t seem fair. If Draymond stays in check these Dubs might knockout the competition, yet again.
Awards that will almost definitely happen
MVP – Luka Doncic +450
Luka has been putting up insane numbers since he entered the league. He’s coming off of a 28-9-8 season and has improved nearly every year in the league. He’s paid his dues and the league is all-in on making him one of the faces of the future.
Rookie of the Year – Paolo Banchero +180
Lazy take choosing the 1st overall pick? Yes. Still, Paolo is not only the best player to come out of this draft, but he’s also the most NBA-ready, and lands in a situation where the team is bad and they’ll need him to produce and have high usage immediately.
Coach of the Year – Erik Spoelstra +1400
Talk about being due. A consensus top 3 head coach in the league, picked as one of the best coaches of all-time last season, and a coach that has consistently had his team at the top of the east (even without LeBron), Spo somehow doesn’t have a coach of the year. That probably won’t change this year but I’m hoping it does.
Defensive Player of the Year – Bam Adebayo +650
Apologies for the second homer take in a row, but I’m still fuming that Marcus Smart won DPOY last season because Bam missed some time with a thumb injury. Bam has his offensive struggles but no one in the league can defend 1-5 the way he can. How many other players can go from locking up Embiid to staying in front of Harden in ISO? Bam finally get’s his.
Most Improved Player – Zion Williamson +2000
This feels like cheating since Zion was hurt last year, but this one is a no-brainer to me. Zion is in shape, healthy, and ready to prove that he is not a bust. Ja has gotten all the shine while Zion has been on the mend and it’s time for him to go out and show his potential to be a perennial all-star. Sidebar: watch out for the Pelicans this year, sneaky good roster.
6th Man of the Year – Malcolm Brogdon +1300
The singular most underrated move of the offseason, Brogdon is a tremendous fit in Boston and will absolutely thrive leading their second unit. The former ROTY is coming off a season averaging 19-5-5 and gets a chance to play big minutes for a contender. Tremendous fit for this team, and he’ll have an immediate impact.
Conference and Finals almost definitely happening
WCF: Warriors vs Clippers
ECF: Bucks vs Cavs
Finals: Warriors vs Bucks