As we start the new NBA season, Golden State is still the team to beat in many people’s eyes. Cleveland is still the best team in the east, although Boston is gaining ground on them fast. The west continues to get better with Houston obtaining Chris Paul and Oklahoma City acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in the off-season. San Antonio has not done much this past summer, but you can expect them to be in the hunt for a top three spot in the west, yet again.
Golden State’s run to the finals could be a rough one because they could potentially meet: Houston, Oklahoma City or San Antonio. In the east, in my opinion, it is rather open. Sure Cleveland is still the team to beat, but the loss of Irving – the team’s closer – could hurt them down the stretch of games. Boston, Toronto and Washington could all give Cleveland a good fight come playoffs.
Here are my awards for the upcoming NBA season.
Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers
Ingram had a good rookie season last year, but he got bullied on both ends of the court due to his lack of strength. This season’s Laker team should be very exciting. Ingram and Zubac have a season under their belt and Ball and Kuzma have been great selections via the draft. Ingram’s offense was not very fluid last season and he shot poor percentages from all over the floor, which is fairly normal for a rookie who is raw coming out of college. This season Ingram will take a big step forward in all offensive categories and with his height and quickness; he should be an above average defender. Ball’s unselfishness should do wonders for Ingram’s confidence.
Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves
He finally has all the necessary pieces to make this Timberwolves team a potential powerhouse. Butler and Teague bring in playoff experience, while Jamal Crawford adds some much needed scoring depth off the bench. If Towns and Wiggins can once again take another step in their development this Minnesota team could be a handful for any team.
Sixth Man Award: Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors
Fresh off a new contract with the Raptors, Powell will prove his worth from the jump. He came to life in last year’s postseason where he lit up the Bucks after coach Casey made him a starter. This season, Powell will be the focal point for the Raptors off the bench. He has shown the ability to hit the three, even though he struggled to make them vs the Cavs in the postseason, but it has been an aspect of his game that he has worked on. On the defensive end, he could very well be Toronto’s best defender. He can guard two or three different positions.
Rookie of the Year: Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo has not spoken highly of Nas, yet Nas is my favourite rapper. I will let that slide this time, Mr. Ball. All jokes aside, Ball, in my opinion, is the most talented rookie of the 2017 crop. Like all rookies, Ball will struggle, especially with his jump shot and it will take some work to perfect it. As for his shooting form, I am not very concerned with that. His ability to get everyone involved on the offensive end will pay dividends, something that Russell was not very good at. Also of note, rookies who start and play a lot of minutes, usually win the ROY award. Fultz, Tatum, Fox, Markkanen, Monk and others will most likely come off the bench to start their career, which usually results in less minutes played. I can potentially see the ROY award going down to Ball, Smith Jr., and possibly Simmons.
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Even though guys like Durant, Westbrook and Leonard are closing the gap, James is still the best player in the league. His ability to facilitate and get teammates involved is second to no one. He has expanded his shooting range, so unlike a few years back, you now have to respect his three point shooting ability. The only part of his game he has to improve on is his free throw shooting, something he has struggled with especially in the playoffs. With the loss of Irving and Thomas and Rose struggling with injuries, a lot more pressure will be on James this season to take over the scoring load even with Love and an aging Wade in Cleveland.
The Rookie of the Year race becomes much more competitive than I initially thought. Fultz starts for the 76ers later in the season due to the team’s struggles. Jackson takes the starting sf reigns from Warren with the Suns. The Hornets realize they need more scoring from their starters, so they insert Mink into the lineup.
The Clippers struggle with injuries to both Griffin and Gallinari, but they creep into the playoffs thanks to their bench play.
Marc Gasol gets traded at some point in the season, as things will not go well for the Grizzlies this season; could entertain trade proposals for Conley as well.
Malcolm Brogdon takes a step back. Bucks go out and acquire the aforementioned Conley?
Philly finally makes the playoffs! #TrustTheProcess
2017-2018 Eastern Conference Standings
|12||New York Knicks|
2017-2018 Western Conference Standings
|1||Golden State Warriors|
|3||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|5||San Antonio Spurs|
|7||Los Angeles Clippers|
|9||New Orleans Pelicans|
|10||Los Angeles Lakers|
|12||Portland Trail Blazers|
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.