It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the NBA is back in full swing with three games on tap tonight. Detroit will visit Atlanta, Chicago will play home to Cleveland and the champion Golden State Warriors will welcome the New Orleans Pelicans, in a re-match of last year’s first round match-up in the West.
In the past, I have done two previews-one for the west and one for the east-this year I will do a preview for the NBA as a whole.
Most improved player: Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards.
Porter gave me and my beloved Raptors fits during the playoffs last season. He is very lanky, he can defend all five positions and has worked on his jump shot. Playing defence and having a respectable jump shot can make any player a threat on both ends of the court. With Pierce gone to LA, Porter will be the starting small forward on a very good and experienced Wizards squad.
Coach of the year: Jason Kidd, Milwaukee Bucks.
Kidd has surrounded himself with quite an up-and-coming cast of players. The Greek Freak is another year older (and probably centimetre taller), Middleton has signed a new contract and they have one of the best young point guards in the game in Michael Carter-Williams. Adding Greg Monroe, one of the game’s best big men, was also very impressive because Milwaukee hasn’t exactly been a primary destination for free agents in the past. With all that being said, Jason Kidd will have more pressure on himself to produce and go deeper in the playoffs, but he will do just fine.
Sixth man of the year: Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers.
He showed some flashes of what he can do last season, specifically in the playoffs. The Clippers did an excellent job of adding key pieces to their already potent offense this off-season with the additions of Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith just to name a few. Rivers showed that he can make shots, get out in transition and get teammates involved. If the Clippers want to be successful going forward, Rivers will need to do much of the same this season.
Rookie of the year: Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets.
It’s usually the rookie who starts for his respective team and has a huge impact, numbers wise that wins ROY, so I’ll go with Mudiay. I’m not sure how well Okafor will do in Philly, where he will be paired with big man Noel. Russell may not even be the starting point guard for the Lakers and Towns is still fairly raw to make an immediate impact with the T-Wolves. Mudiay is a 6’5 point guard who can cause match-up nightmares for opposing defenders. He is also an excellent ball handler and distributor, which should make the likes of Faried, Gallinari and Chandler quite happy.
Most valuable player: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans.
If Davis can stay healthy and if his team makes playoffs, he should win the MVP award. Of course, I am assuming that Davis’ numbers will be very similar to his production from last season. With both Asik and Ajinca out for a period of time, this will put more pressure on Davis to carry his team on his back. Davis has fought injuries in the past and has yet to play all 82 games in a season, which is also something to keep an eye on.
Eastern Conference Standings:
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Washington Wizards
- Atlanta Hawks
- Chicago Bulls
- Toronto Raptors
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Miami Heat
- Boston Celtics
- Indiana Pacers
- Orlando Magic
- Charlotte Hornets
- Detroit Pistons
- Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks
- Philadelphia 76ers
Western Conference Standings:
- Golden State Warriors
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Los Angeles Clippers
- San Antonio Spurs
- Houston Rockets
- Memphis Grizzlies
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Utah Jazz
- Dallas Mavericks
- Phoenix Suns
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Sacramento Kings
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Denver Nuggets
- Portland Trail Blazers
Predictions/thoughts for the season
-After missing out on the playoffs last season, the Miami Heat will make a return. A healthy Bosh, a developing Whiteside and a solid bench that consists of Green and Winslow will go a long way for the Heat.
-Key an eye on Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson, he could be a sleeper for ROY.
-If the Cavaliers can stay healthy, they should take the east.
-Both Batum and Aldridge will struggle with their new teams.
-I am eager to see how well the Rockets will play with the acquisition of Ty Lawson, one of the better point guards in the league.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.