2015–2016 NBA PREDICTIONS
It’s hard to believe that the NBA season is upon us. For Cavs & Warrior fans, it seems like just yesterday that the NBA Finals ended.
So what’s going to happen this season? Here are my predictions for you to disagree with/treat as gospel/make fun of.
I’d also note this is my FIRST post ever on Medium. This is a pretty huge deal for me.
The East starts and ends with the Cavs, who if they can get healthy will be by far the deepest team Lebron’s ever played with. Consider their full strength lineup:
G — Shumpert, PG Kyrie Irving, C Mozgov, PF Kevin Love, SF LeBron James
That’s the best starting lineup in the NBA. The game’s best player, 2 other all-stars, plus Shumpert & Mozgov who are no slouches.
But the scary part about this year’s Cavs is they now have a legit second unit.
G — J.R. Smith (Last year’s NBA Finals starter)
PG — Mo Williams (dropped 50+ in a game last year, and started)
C — Anderson Varejo (Last year’s starting center at beginning of season)
PF — Tristan Thompson (Last year’s NBA Finals starter)
SF — Richard Jefferson (a huge upgrade from Shawn Marion who had nothing left)
Essentially the Cavs entire second unit with the exception of Richard Jefferson started for huge portions of last season, and two of them started in the NBA Finals.
The Cavs 11th, 12th & 13th men off the bench are Delly (last year’s NBA Finals STARTER) James Jones, and Sasha Kaun. That’s right, the Cavs 11th best player and THIRD STRING point guard played 40 minutes a night in last year’s NBA finals.
This is a team that got significantly deeper.
In order, the Bulls, Hawks, Raptors, Heat, Wizards and Bucks will all join the Cavs in the playoffs with the Pacers and a few other teams fighting it out for the last playoff spot.
The final four teams in the East will be Cleveland, Chicago, Miami and Washington. Unfortunately the Wizards didn’t get better in the off-season and are only in the semis because they play in the East and Miami isn’t deep enough with an aging Dwayne Wade (who can still go in a big way) so crucial to their success.
The only real competition for the Cavs in the East will once more be the Chicago Bulls, who Cleveland will again beat in 6 games but this time in the Eastern Conference Finals. That will send the Cavs back to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row and the third time in the last ten years.
The West is scary. There are at least 5 teams who are legit title threats and that number would be higher if they played in the East.
Out West, the following teams will make the playoffs and compete for the title. Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets. The Grizzlies and Pelicans will almost assuredly make the playoffs as well, leaving the Mavs & a handful of other teams competing for the final spot. The Clippers & Rockets each got better in the off-season (and both were already pretty good) but the Warriors, Spurs & Thunder are in a class by themselves.
The Thunder won 45 games last year without Kevin Durant for much of the season. Much like the Cavs, this is the best team in the conference if they’re healthy, but health is a big question for all their stars. The Warriors certainly didn’t get worse and despite winning the title have a chip on their shoulder because of people like me who put an * next to their title. San Antonio remains the 8th wonder of the world, because they not only refuse to age out of contention, they manage to bring in new stars to compliment Duncan/Ginobli/Parker.
The final four in the West will be the Thunder, Spurs, Clippers and Warriors. If like last year, the Warriors make it through the playoffs without having to face a healthy Spurs, Thunder or Cavs team, then the Warriors will repeat as NBA champs…but I don’t think it happens this time. At the end of the day I think the Warriors will ultimately lose to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
In the NBA Finals the Cleveland Cavaliers will exercise the demons of a city starved for a championship since 1964 and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 or 7 games. I’m not to blame if the Cavs don’t win it all since I’m like the 100th person to predict them winning it all, including Sports Illustrated, the NBA GM’s, and a bunch of other prognosticators.
**I should add that if I have my way, the Cavs will meet the Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch with both teams relatively healthy so we can show that taking the Warriors to 6 games without two all-stars clearly meant we would have beaten them if we had either Love or Kyrie, let alone both.