Five Bold Predictions for the 2017–18 NBA Season
This offseason has had more shockers than just about any other one in recent memory. From Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler and Paul George being traded, to the Carmelo Anthony vs. Phil Jackson saga and Gordon Hayward departing for Boston, this summer has been hectic to say the least. The landscape of the league has been altered drastically in the last few weeks, and next season is going to be a lot different. So, let’s take a look at five bold predictions for next season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves Will Disappoint
The Timberwolves have may have pulled off a great trade for Jimmy Butler, but they still have two issues: they lack shooting, and they lack defense. Here’s a hot take: shooting and defense are both very important. While Butler is a great defender, Taj Gibson is the only other above-average player in their starting lineup on that side of the ball. And as far as shooting goes, Karl Anthony-Towns is solid. Jeff Teague is good. Butler and Andrew Wiggins still are below-average from deep, and Taj Gibson has become a non-factor on offense entirely. Their floor spacing will be bad, to say the least. And despite having a coach like Tom Thibodeau who is so focused on defense, their performance on that end likely won’t be great at all. The substantial amount of talent on the team will get them into the playoffs, but don’t expect the Wolves to meet their sky-high expectations right away.
The Utah Jazz Will Be Just Fine
When a team loses a player as good as Gordon Hayward, it’s hard to ever look on the bright side. But there certainly is one for the Utah Jazz. Their roster is certainly still talented enough to reach the playoffs, they still have the guy that was truly their best player last season in Rudy Gobert, and will have the oppurtunity to give lots of young pieces a chance to shine. Donavan Mitchell was the steal of the draft, and has looked fantastic in Summer League. Joe Ingles gets the opportunity to prove himself worthy of his new contract with a larger role. Rodney Hood has the chance to have a break-out season. They’re going to take a step back for sure, but not all hope is lost for the Jazz.
No Worries, the Chris Paul-James Harden Combo Will Work Perfectly
Many have already expressed concern over how the duo of Chris Paul and James Harden will play together, arguing they will not be able to coexist considering they share the same ball-dominant nature. General Manager Daryl Morey knew exactly what he was doing here. These two players are too good and too smart to not excel as a pair. Harden has been a weapon when used off the ball in the past, and don’t expect anything less now that he has Chris Paul dishing him the rock.
The Portland Trail Blazers Will Miss the Playoffs
Portland lucked their way into the eighth seed last season thanks to a flukey hot streak, but their luck has run out. Their backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum is fun to watch, sure, but building a team around two undersized guards who can’t defend is a recipe for disaster. They’re both great players, but both need a defender next to them. As the quality of their supporting cast declines and the quantity of great teams in the Western Conference increases, the Blazers will soon find themselves at home watching come playoff time.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Will Win the Most Valuable Player Award
Yes, this is an incredibly bold prediction to make about someone who is still just 22 years old. But the Greek Freak has stepped up a level in terms of his dominance every year thus far, and the next step is to be one of the few best players in the entire league. He will have free reign to control his team, and do so in a very weak Eastern Conference. Antetokounmpo is truly a once-in-a-generation talent, possessing top-tier ability in all aspects of the game aside from shooting. If he can develop just an average jumper, he will truly be unguardable. In a wide open field for the league’s most coveted trophy, expect the phenom for the Bucks to make a hard push to take home the gold.
This exciting offseason has set us up for an even more exciting regular season. There is no shortage of storylines, whether you’re watching the development of young stars like Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid, following the newly-built teams like Minnesota and OKC, or observing the interesting dynamics in the league like the one in Houston. No matter what parts of the NBA you enjoy, there is something for you next season.