Patience is a virtue, a proverbial phrase grilled in the minds of many a child when they were young. Patience; the period where time slows to a crawl as you wait for something, something you’ve wanted for a while. Yet, if you wait diligently then what you desire will soon be yours and the excitement and happiness you derive will be greatly magnified as your hunger is satisfyingly satiated.
We have just over a month till tip-off on opening night on October 17th and if you’re like me then that date really can’t come quick enough. The thought of seeing some proper NBA action is the only thing keeping me going.
Hold tight NBA fans, we will soon get our reward.
But until then us avid NBA fans just have speculation and debate to keep us going. Talking about general NBA topics is one way to keep our minds occupied and One of the best debates is about how every team is going to next season.
Every year the layout changes; new teams rise and old teams fall, new players emerge whilst others shrink into the dark. From these changes experts then try and estimate the records of the teams for the upcoming season and I’m to attempt the same.
Here are my predictions for the win-loss records for the Eastern Conference next season.
15. Brooklyn Nets - 18-64
The Nets traded away their top scorer in Brook Lopez to the Lakers in return for D’Angelo Russell. Trading away a very solid veteran in exchange for a young inexperienced point guard is always going to cause teams to struggle. Russell has yet to show whether he has the ability to lead a team and control an offense.
D’Angelo will be asked to do a lot more next year and because of that, he’s going to struggle, which will cause his team to struggle. This could be a historically bad season for a team that just can’t seem to pull itself up from complete ineptitude.
14. Atlanta Hawks - 24-58
For the first time since 2008, we will not be seeing the Atlanta Hawks in the Playoffs. They have been a steady team in the Eastern Conference for nearly a decade, but that time has come to an end.
The Hawks lost their two best players in Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap and didn’t get much in return. Millsap left in free agency and all they got in return for Howard was Marco Belinelli. This season will be a tough one for Hawks fans who were used to see their team be competitive every year.
13. Indiana Pacers - 30-52
Whenever a team loses their star player, the inevitable decline quickly follows. When LeBron left Cleveland in 2010, the Cavs went from 61-21 to 19-63. This is because the team's offensive and defensive structure is usually centered around their star player to best utilize their talents.
Paul George was traded to OKC and all Indiana got in return was Victor Oladipo and Donatas Sabonis. Oladipo is a decent player and Sabonis has some potential, but George was one of the best two-way players in the league and someone who could carry an offense and defense on a nightly basis.
Don’t despair too much though Indiana fans, Myles Turner now has the chance to explode next season despite Indiana having a bad record. Turner could be in contention for an All-Star selection.
12. Chicago Bulls - 30-52
Another team which traded away its star player was Chicago when they dealt Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen. Butler, again like Paul George, is a fantastic two-way player and Chicago will deeply miss him along with Rajon Rondo.
If LaVine come back healthy, then Chicago should be fairly interesting to watch, assuming they buyout Dwyane Wade’s contract and give LaVine room to fly.
11. Orlando Magic - 33-49
The Magic are a team that seems to being going nowhere fast. They have some ok players like Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton, but the potential of their current squad is very low. There’s no wow factor there, no players with the potential to greatly improve for the Magic to contend for a playoff spot.
This will be another mediocre season in Orlando as they continue to search for an identity this long after Dwight Howard left in 2012.
10. New York Knicks - 36-46
My prediction for New York is based on the very possible trade of Carmelo Anthony. For too long he’s been held captive in Madison Square Garden, hugely underappreciated by a spoilt New York crowd and publically shamed by then head of basketball Phil Jackson.
A decent trade package for Melo should get New York some decent pieces to go along with Kristaps Porzingis who looks ready for a monster 3rd season.
9. Philadelphia 76ers - 39-43
76er fans have a lot to be excited about this season. Their squad is filled to the brim with incredible talent and if they can create some good team chemistry this year then they may even make it into the Playoffs.
Joel Embiid might already be a top 3 center in the NBA, Ben Simmons is an excellent young combo forward and Markelle Fultz is a very talented guard who can score and run an offense. They are still young and so there will be a steep learning curve, but this team has the potential to beat nearly any team if they are on form.
8. Detroit Pistons - 41-41
It’s so frustrating to watch a team struggle when you know that with the addition of a few players they would make them much better. This was the case with me and the Detroit Pistons last year. Defensively the Pistons were pretty decent. They allowed only 102.5 points per game which ranked them 7th in the NBA, but they had literally no good outside shooters so their offense was very easy to defend against.
Detroit only shot 33% as a team from 3 last season, a truly abysmal number considering how shooting-orientated the league has become. The Pistons did add Avery Bradley who is a great 3 and D player which I think should just about get them a Playoff spot.
7. Charlotte Hornets - 45-37
Although it has pained me to see the decline of Dwight Howard from gravity-defying mega-monster to simply a very good role player, he has a great chance to prove all his haters wrong next season. With Atlanta, the system he was playing didn’t give him enough opportunities to showcase his talents.
With Charlotte, it will be him and Kemba Walker running the show. Walker is an excellent young point guard who can do it all on the offensive end after averaging a career-high 23.2 points a game last year. The combination of Dwight and Kemba in the pick and roll game should get them both some very easy shots, and despite his age and diminishing athleticism, Howard is still a beast on defense.
6. Miami Heat - 46-36
A tale of two halves would be the perfect way to describe what went down in South Beach last year. After starting the season 11-30, the Heat somehow flipped it around. A 30-11 finish caught everyone by surprise as Miami caught fire and burned nearly everyone in their path.
With that season behind them, many people are wondering if Miami can somehow replicate that for this season. They have a bunch of great players that can do some serious damage. Hassan Whiteside is a monster on defense and is a great anchor for them, Goran Dragic is a great scorer at the point guard slot and Dion Waiters has finally found a place in the league.
5. Toronto Raptors 47-53
Toronto like basically every single other Eastern Conference team, stuck in the difficult position of being good, but not good enough to get to the Finals AND they don’t seem able to improve. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are perennial All-Stars who can carry their team on any given night, but they aren’t LeBron James.
They are stars, but not superstars.
LeBron and whatever team he’s on is just going to be better by default and unless the Raptors can get a top 10 player in the league to come play with them then they aren’t going anywhere. The players know this and so their incentive to play hard and win gets smaller and smaller with every season.
4. Milwaukee Bucks - 48-34
Just give me some Greek Freak!
I’m probably exaggerating a bit, but I think that this season is the one that will go down in history as the one where Giannis Antetokounmpo ascended to superstardom. He is so unbelievably talented that I reckon that he will carry this Bucks team to a 4th seed this year.
Giannis does everything except shooting exceptionally well. He can play all 5 positions on offense and guard all 5 positions on defense. He can be your primary ball handler, your best defender and as he adds experience, I have no doubt that his skills as a leader will drastically improve as well.
3. Washington Wizards - 51-31
This is a big season for the Wizards; with the two top teams in the East (Cleveland and Boston) swapping star players, the stability of both teams is up in the air. Maybe Kyrie and Hayward clash and don’t mix, maybe Isaiah Thomas can’t stand behind LeBron James. All this uncertainty could mean that both teams fail to live up to their potential, leaving the door open for other teams to come swooping in.
Washington has the 2nd best backcourt in NBA behind Golden State. John Wall is terrific on offense and defense and Bradley Beal just averaged 23.1 points a night whilst shooting 40.4% from 3 on 7.2 attempts per game. These two are only going to get better and with even more chemistry this season the rest of the league best be ready.
2. Boston Celtics - 53-29
My predictions for these last two are solely based on my opinions of Kyrie Irving as a playmaker. We all know just how good of a scorer Irving is. He has the best handles we’ve ever seen, his below the rim finishing is right up there with the like of Jordan, LeBron and such and he will routinely shot above 40% from 3.
But I don’t think he’s the type of player you need to run your team for a whole season. Despite playing at point, Kyrie has never been a great passer and he seems to always look to score rather than set up a teammate. He is a phenomenal offensive weapon that benefitted hugely from playing with the incredible passer that is LeBron James.
Kyrie may prove all his doubters wrong, really ramping up his assists next year, and that certainly would give Boston the edge over Cleveland.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - 55-27
Despite what many people believe, I actually think that the Irving/Thomas trade will help Cleveland get more wins than last year. Isaiah Thomas showed in his last season in Boston that he has the ability to run a team offense and score in big games. Thomas was second in the NBA last season in points scored in ‘close’ games which with 5 minutes to go there is only a 5 point differential in the scores.
This ability to carry an offense will be so valuable because it then allows LeBron to get the much-needed rest for him to play at his best throughout a grueling NBA season. LeBron at 32 led the league in minutes last season, something that cannot happen again if the Cavs want another shot at the title. LeBron should ideally be playing no more than 32-33 minutes a night so he can preserve his body for the Playoffs. Thomas and his ability to run the show will go a long way into giving Lebron that rest.