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Basketball

30 Teams, 30 Thoughts

For the NBA 2020-21 Season

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlanta Hawks

Personally, I think the Hawks are slightly overrated this season. A lot of people are buying into the hype due to their recent acquisitions, but I’m not one of them. Yes, they’ve made a lot of great decisions and improved their roster, but I still think they are at least another year away. I can’t see the Hawks making the playoffs and I don’t think they will be above .500 this season.

Boston Celtics

You could summarise Boston’s problem in one word : Depth. It’s a pretty great starting lineup, but then what? If anyone gets a major injury, it could spell trouble for the Celtics. With that in mind though, it’s a pretty great starting lineup and I’m expecting another leap from Tatum and Brown. This might finally be the season that Boston can make it to the ECF.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are a bit of a wildcard team. In my season preview, I have the Nets taking it all and winning the championship. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nets struggle though. As time goes on, Kyrie seems to become increasingly problematic for any locker room he is a part of. It doesn’t look like this season will be any different. However, Kevin Durant is still one of the top 5 players in this league and the Nets have a tremendous bench behind them/ Chemistry could be the issue, but I’m betting on them figuring it out.

Charlotte Hornets

It hasn’t been a great start to the age of Hayward. As time goes on, I’m sure that MJ has regretted his decision on Kemba a lot. I suspect this season that he will regret it even more. How will will LaMelo settle into the NBA? What can scary Terry do? The Hornets have a few solid pieces, but no real direction. It might be a long season for Charlotte basketball fans.

Chicago Bulls

I’ve been buying in to the Bulls for a while now. This season is no different. I’m really feeling like it’s time for this team to put it together and make it to the playoffs. It’s not quite a playoffs or bust season for them, but Donovan needs to get them playing like it is. No more excuses for this team. They’ve made some big office and coaching changes, it’s time for the players to step up. Staying healthy is another issue that always seems to surround this franchise.

Cleveland Cavaliers

I mean no disrespect, but if Andre Drummond is your best player, it’s going to be a long season. I’m interested to see how Sexton improves and I’m curious to see what Okoro can offer, but I won’t be watching a lot of Cavaliers basketball this year.

Detroit Pistons

Detroit are getting slept on a little bit. Blake Griffin is playing fairly well. Derrick Rose seems to be really happy in his new role. I think Killian Hayes will be ROTY. They’ve got some good vets and some promising young talent. Obviously, it’s not their time just yet, but the future looks good for the motor city.

Indiana Pacers

What to expect of the Indiana Pacers? On paper, they look to have all the right pieces to be a lower seed in the playoffs. I’m not so sure though. I think it might take them a while to settle in to their new system. It should be a lot of fun to watch them play this season. I think they’ll come close to the playoffs and make the play in tournament, but that might be all.

Miami Heat

The Heat had an amazing run in the bubble. So amazing, that I had forgotten they were a little sub par before the season was suspended in March. The question surrounding Miami is if they have figured out how to play on the road. If they wan’t any success this season, they are going to have to pick up some wins in hostile environments!

Milwaukee Bucks

This team has to make it to the ECF. At least. If they don’t, the whole year is a waste. This team has continued to excel in regular season basketball, only to flame out in the playoffs. Jrue Holiday needs to remind people how elite he can be and Giannis has to take his game to another level! It’s hard to see Coach Bud still employed if this team doesn’t make it to the Finals this season.

New York

Toppin and Thibs. I think, for the first time in a long time, the Knicks actually have a future. Thibs will get these guys playing hard and playing well. They are still young and have a long way to go, but the foundation is being built. I’m really excited about a lot of these guys ” Toppin, Robinson, Barrett, Noel….the future is looking good. Keyword : FUTURE. I still think the Knicks will improve on their win/loss record from a season ago.

Orlando Magic

The Magic are basically running it all back, one more time. This time with the addition of Cole Anthony. Who knows what the rookie will bring? It’s hard to imagine he is the missing piece to finally get them out of the first round. I predict another 8th seed entry, stealing game 1 and being eliminated shortly thereafter.

Philadelphia 76ers

Remember what I said about Miami needing to figure out their road blues? Ditto for the Sixers. New head coach Doc Rivers is going to have his hands full. Surely, this is the last chance the Dynamic Duo has before one of them get traded. Rivers needs to get Embiid to stay inside. I imagine Simmons will continue to play the same way, but at least he has Seth Curry to shoot the three ball now. I should probably mention Danny Green as well.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are being slept on a little bit. They still have a lot of great pieces and have added Aron Baynes to the mix. I think they are still a top 4 team in the Eastern Conference and they have a great head coach. VanVleet needs to find some consistency and reward the team for his new contract. Siakam and OG need to take the next step. Don’t sleep on this squad, the dinosaurs aren’t extinct yet!

Washington Wizards

Washington have once again managed to be neither good, nor bad. What’s the ceiling for this team? .500? I think so. I think Westbrook and Beal will be a phenomenal 1-2 punch. I’m high on Rui Hachimura. I’m curious to see what Deni Advija can offer, but I’m worried he will be inconsistent. What else has this team got?

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Dallas Mavericks

Can Luka actually make a push for the MVP this year? It’s definitely in play. The raincloud hanging over the head of the Mavs is Kristaps Porzingis and his injury. Is a January return feasible? Are the playoffs still in play for him? They are really going to miss Seth Curry this year. I’m confident that Luka is enough to get them to the playoffs, but then what happens?

Denver Nuggets

Confidence should be on the side of the Denver Nuggets, after their very impressive bubble. However, it was at times, very unimpressive. That is the key problem with his squad. Will Jokic be able to avoid his usual slump in a condensed season? Will Murray continue to develop into one of the elite scoring threats in the NBA? Let’s not forget about Michael Porter Jr and Bol Bol, their development and success could be crucial.

Golden State Warriors

Obviously, they are going to miss Klay. That’s a huge loss. I don’t think that means that the season is over for this team though. The Warriors could still make a push for a top 4 seed in the west. Curry is still one of the best guards in the game. Draymond will be looking to bounce back and bring some defensive credibility back to this team. Who knows what Wiggins will bring? James Wiseman should destroy the glass and I am a huge Kelly Oubre fan. Don’t forget about the Warriors.

Houston Rockets

I’ve never been high on this Rockets team. I think John Wall is a very talented guard, but I don’t think he is enough to make the difference. The real question is Harden. Will he stay or will he go? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter for Houston. I think either way they will miss the playoffs this year, but even if they make it, they won’t go very far.

Los Angeles Clippers

Talk about falling short of expectations. This team was a mess last season and only time will tell if anything has really changed. They are lacking any real leadership and I’m not sure if Leonard, George or new head coach Ty Lee will be able to sort it out. Chemistry is also an issue with this squad. There are some genuine issues within the locker room and they won’t go very far unless they sort it out. I hope they have.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers once again proved to be not only the best team in L.A., but the best team in the NBA. They only got better in the off season as well. They are rightfully the favourites to win the title and it’s hard to argue against their chances. The regular season won’t really matter to them, I’m sure they will be happy enough with a top 4 seed. I expect them to take it easy, especially LeBron, until the playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies

How can you not like this Grizzlies squad? It was a very disappointing bubble for the Grizz and hopefully they learned how to play under pressure. It was a darn shame that they missed out on the playoffs. The playoffs should be the goal again for the Grizzlies team and anything less will be a disappointment. If you haven’t been watching Ja Morant play, pay attention. This kid is something else.

Minnesota Timberwolves

A lot of questions surround the T’Wolves. Can Karl Anthony-Towns play like an MVP candidate? What will the return of the beloved fan favourite Ricky Rubio bring? Will Anthony Edwards be the deserving number one pick? What can D’Angelo do for this team? Can they bring it all together? Who knows? The Wolves always surprise and not necessarily in a good way. I think this might be another underwhelming year for Minnesota, there is just too much good competition in the Western Conference.

New Orleans Pelicans

How far can Zion take this squad, assuming he remains healthy? I think they will be close to being a .500 team and knocking on the door of the playoffs. My real concern is the pieces around Zion. I assume the starting lineup will be Ball, Reddick, Ingram, Adams and Zion. They’ve also got some good pieces on the bench. How will they all come together though? I imagine that it is going to be a Zion heavy system. Will everyone else be able to put their egos aside?

Oklahoma City Thunder

Everybody wrote them off last year and they finished one of the top 4 teams in the west. Everyone is writing them off again this year. Sure, they’ve lost the services of Paul and Adams. They’ve also lost the advantage of surprise. It’s SGA’s team now and I’m sure he will deliver. He has some good rookies and excellent veterans behind him too. I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs, but they will come close to the play in. No matter what though, this team has some great rookies and a heck of a lot of draft picks. It’s a good time to be an OKC fan.

Phoenix Suns

Surely this is the year right? Right? They’ve added the services of Chris Paul and we all saw what he managed in OKC last season. Devin Booker was ballin’ out in the bubble and lead this team to an 8-0 record. They need to take the next step. If the Suns don’t make the playoffs this season, they never will.

Portland Trail Blazers

Wow, it’s gonna be a good year for the Blazers. Remember, Dame averaged around 30 points a game last season. CJ never quite gets the credit he deserves. Nurkic is a big part of this teams offense as well and he is healthy and ready to play. Anthony seems to have found a nice home in Portland. DJ Jr., Zach Collins and Covington should all contribute nicely. If they stay healthy, this team could potentially make it all the way to the WCF.

Sacramento Kings

I really want to be high on the Kings, but they aren’t making it easy. You never want to put too much on the pre season, but Fox is in a slump. Whiteside is always a dominating player, but he sometimes lacks enthusiasm. Hield and Bagman are usually consistent, but are they enough to survive without Fox? I assume his slump won’t last, but even so, how far can this team realistically go? 11th? 12th? It’s hard to see them being anywhere other than the bottom of the conference, which is a shame considering all of the talent that they possess.

San Antonio Spurs

Can Pops bring this team back to the playoffs? I really don’t know. I don’t like betting against him or against this team. They have some very talented players. 3 things are certain in life : death, taxes and the San Antonio Spurs winning 50 games. That’s what they used to say. I can’t see this team winning 50 games (or 40 I guess, in a condensed season), but I can’t say I’d be surprised if they found a way. I’m betting against them, purely because it is such a loaded conference. I’m not happy about it though.

Utah Jazz

With the exception of Donovan vs Jamal, there wasn’t much excitement in regards to Utah last year. At least not in a positive manner. Gobert will forever have a cloud above his head. If there is one thing I can say for certain, it’s that this team is never as good as they should be. They will make it to the play in tournament, but I don’t know if they will make it out of it.

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