The 2019-20 NBA season starts in just a few short weeks, and it’s arguably the most anticipated season in recent memory. With countless blockbuster moves and exhilarating young players, the league has an incredible buzz around it. With all the changes, there’s certainly going to be a shakeup in standings and individual performances. These are my preseason NBA predictions for standings, all star teams and awards.
Eastern Conference Standings:
15: Charlotte Hornets
14: Cleveland Cavaliers
13: New York Knicks
12: Washington Wizards
11: Atlanta Hawks
10: Chicago Bulls
9: Detroit Pistons
Charlotte will most likely end up being the worst team in all of basketball this season (sorry, Terry Rozier). Cleveland still has a long way to go. New York is slowly getting better, minus all the veteran PF’s. Washington could end up being even worse if they trade Beal and or Wall. Atlanta is still growing, but the Young/Collins duo will be fun. Chicago is a sleeper team to sneak into the playoffs. Lauri, Dunn and LaVine will be exciting. Detroit is the odd man out in my predictions, but behind Griffin and Drummond they’re certainly not dead in the water.
8th: Orlando Magic
Orlando surprised a lot of people when they made the playoffs last season. They surprised even more when they stole game one from the eventual champs. They have a good young core led by Vucevic and Gordon, and should be able to grow off of last year’s campaign.
Side note: I just really really hope Fultz can find his footing
7th: Toronto Raptors
Toronto is coming back with basically the same team they won a title with…except without the most important player. With Kawhi’s departure, the Raptors need to hope Siakam can continue to develop and Lowry discovers what consistency means. Simply put, they do have enough talent to make the playoffs (7 might even be low balling them). It is the Eastern Conference after all.
6th: Miami Heat
The Heat were within a few games of making the tournament last season. With the edition of Jimmy Butler they’ll certainly get in this time around. Not to mention moving on from Whiteside, leaving more minutes for the young and promising Bam Adebayo. Miami is tough and talented, and will be a better team in 2019.
Side note: If they stay aggressive and go after Paul, Beal, or another star, they become a title contender.
5th: Boston Celtics
Lets keep it short and sweet. It’s the East. Walker, Brown, Tatum and Kanter gets you in the playoffs.
Side note: Don’t get your hopes up, Celtics fans.
4th: Brooklyn Nets
KD won’t play this season, but the editions of Kyrie and Deandre Jordan will make this team elite. The two of them joining Dinwiddie, LaVert, Harris and Allen is dangerous. Not enough people are giving this team credit for being the immediate contenders that they are.
3rd: Indiana Pacers
Indiana isn’t as talented as Brooklyn, but the thing they have going for them is consistency. The only notable piece they’re trying to incorporate is Malcolm Brogdon, who won’t even be one of their three best players. Their middle of Sabonis and Turner will only get better, and Oladipo will be back eventually. Adding TJ Warren and TJ McConnell only add to their grit and grind identity, and Jeremy Lamb gives them some much needed shooting. This is another gritty team that can will improve off of last season.
2nd: Philadelphia 76ers
The top two are obvious. Philly lost Butler, but replaced him with Horford and Josh Richardson. The size and length on this team is good terrifying. Their depth, on the other hand, is bad terrifying. But with two all stars, two more borderline all stars, and one of the best two way players in the league, this team will be a clear title contender.
1st: Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis will only be better. Middleton and Lopez will continue to compliment him beautifully. Bledsoe has some disappointing moments, but is certainly a talented starting PG. Korver and Matthews gives them better perimeter shooting. And they’re deeper and more experienced than Philly. Milwaukee will be pushing 60 wins again.
Western Conference Standings:
15: Oklahoma City Thunder
14: Phoenix Suns
13: Memphis Grizzlies
12: Minnesota Timberwolves
11: New Orleans Pelicans
10: Dallas Mavericks
9: Golden State Warriors.
Oklahoma being at 15th is me predicting they’ll get rid of Paul and Adams. Phoenix has done nothing to show they’re any less of a you-know-what show. I love the Morant/Jackson Jr pairing…just won’t do much for a while. Minnesota is boring and bad, but KAT is a superstar (yes, he’s better than Jokic). New Orleans will be fun. They’re not a playoff team. Porzingis and Doncic are going to be amazing. And Golden State, like Detroit, could very well make the playoffs. But with Klay going down and Draymond being nowhere close to the player he was just a few seasons ago, I can see them getting bumped out of the competitive West.
8th: Sacramento Kings
This pick will surprise a lot of people, I know. But they were just outside the playoffs last season. Fox, Hield, Bogdanovic and Bagley III will all have another year together, and the veteran play of Ariza, Barnes and Cory Joseph will be very beneficial. This team is young, athletic, explosive and talented. This very much feels like their season.
7th: San Antonio Spurs
As long as Gregg Popovich is the head coach of the Spurs, I’ll pick them to be in the playoffs. DeRozan and Aldridge are phenomenal players, and Derrick White showed a lot of promise last year. But having Dejonte Murray return from injury will be huge for them. They’re simply too talented and too well coached to assume they’ll be outside the top eight.
6th: Portland Trailblazers
The top six is where it all becomes interchangeable. These teams will all be fighting for a WCF appearance, and will only be separated by a few games. Portland, though, has made some good moves. They added Hassan Whiteside to replace the injured Nurkic, which is an upgrade defensively. They also flipped Evan Turner for Kent Bazemore, which gives them some more shooting. Portland has always found themselves in the mix, and this year will be no different.
5th: Denver Nuggets
Denver was a team that exceeded all expectations last season, finishing as the second seed. They then failed to live up to the hype, as they let the first round go to six games, and fell to Portland in the second round. But they will still be a very nice team this year. They’re young and talented on the offensive end, plus Michael Porter Jr and Jerami Grant will only make them better on both sides.
4th: Utah Jazz
Mike Conley has always been underrated, but he’s become all but irrelevant on some recently bad Grizzlies teams. In Utah, he’ll be the leader on both ends of the floor, especially considering he’s their most experienced player. The editions of Bojan Bogdanovic and Jeff Green add some much needed shooting and athleticism. This is going to be a very balanced team on both offense and defense, and certainly better than last season.
3rd: Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James + Anthony Davis. Need I say more? This team definitely has some concerns regarding depth and chemistry, but barring LeBron’s (and now Kuzma’s) health, they’ll be right in the mix for a Finals appearance.
Side note: Let’s show Demarcus Cousins some love. If it weren’t for the Achilles tear, he’d have a fat pay day somewhere and still be considered the best center in the league. Hopefully he can get healthy soon and be back to being great.
2nd: Houston Rockets
A team with a superstar point guard just traded him for a younger, healthier, more talented superstar point guard. The Harden/Westrbook duo presents some issues, but I think this will work out perfectly. With Capela, Gordon and Tucker still in the rotation, this might be the best Harden-era Rockets team yet.
1st: Los Angeles Clippers
Was there any doubt? Kawhi and Paul George will be an elite duo, Lou Williams is a dangerous sixth man, Beverly is a lock down defender, Harrell is an electrifying big, and Shamet is a dead eye. This team had talent on both ends, perimeter shooting, toughness, depth and great coaching. Until proven otherwise, this is the best team in the NBA.
Side note: Lou Williams: Hall of Famer?
Eastern Conference All Stars:
Guard: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie is undoubtedly the best guard in the Eastern Conference. With no KD, he’ll certainly be the Nets’ number one option.
Guard: Kemba Walker
New team, same Kemba. He should be in the 20ppg ball park, even with significantly more talent surrounding him. He’s one of the most electrifying players in the league, and that’ll be put on display more than ever in Boston.
Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Forward: Blake Griffin
The forward positions are pretty thin in the East. Even if Detroit struggles, Blake will still be one of the better players in the conference. He’s still Detroit’s star, and should continue to build off his career year in 2018-19.
Forward/Center: Joel Embiid
The best center in the league on one of the best teams in the league. Embiid is in for a monster year, especially if he can stay healthy.
G: Ben Simmons
G: Bradley Beal
F: Khris Middleton
F: Jimmy Butler
F/C: Nikola Vucevic
WC: Pascal Siakam
WC: Myles Turner
Adam Silver’s pick: Vince Carter
Honorable Mentions: Victor Oladipo (depends on when he returns), Zach LaVine, Tobias Harris)
Western Conference All Stars:
Guard: Steph Curry
For the first time in three years, the Warriors will be his team again. With Klay being out, he’s going to carry the load offensively. 2019 Steph might be the best version we’ve seen in a while.
Guard: James Harden
Even with Westbrook, Harden should be one of the league’s leaders in scoring and assists. He’s easily the best guard in basketball, so this spot will no doubt go to him.
Forward: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi’s return to the Western Conference will be an eventful one. Being the best two way player in the league will ensure him all star votes, especially if the Clippers play as well as we expect.
Forward: LeBron James
Duh, part 2.
Forward/Center: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis has been the best big in the NBA for years, and that won’t change in L.A..
G: Russell Westbrook
G: Damian Lillard
F: Paul George
F/C: Nikola Jokic
F/C: Karl Anthony Towns
WC: CJ McCollum
WC: Luka Doncic
Honorable Mentions: Kristaps Porzingis, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert)
Coach of the Year:
This could go a lot of ways. Mike Bud and Doc Rivers seem like obvious choices considering their teams should be the best. If the Lakers are as good as we want them to be, Vogel could get it. Or a team like Miami or Utah could exceed expectations, and Spoelstra or Snyder could snag it. I think Doc Rivers will be the safe choice, though.
6th Man of the Year:
Always tough to pick. Lou Williams seems like an obvious pick. Depending on what Indiana does, Sabonis could be in the mix. Bogdan Bogdanovic will be great in Sacramento. I’m going to go with Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn. Backing up Kyrie, he’ll be a great boost off the bench for a title contender.
Most Improved Player:
This is basically an unpredictable award. You never know who could end up being a breakout star in any year. I’ll roll the dice, and say Bam Adebayo fills Whiteside’s void and then some.
Side note: Yes, I am a Heat fan. Sue me.
Rookie of the Year:
Considering New Orleans will be the best of any of last year’s lottery teams, and that he’s the most exciting prospect in years, Zion’s the pick. Ja Morant could end up squeaking past him, but Zion seems like he’s going to light up the big easy.
Defensive Player of the Year:
I’m really tempted to lean Giannis here. But the league loves to give this award to big men, so I’ll go Joel Embiid. Rudy Gobert has already won it twice, and Embiid is the next bext defensive big. If he’s healthy, this should be his best season yet.
There’s a few names here, as always. LeBron, Kawhi, Harden, and Embiid are obvious choices. But Giannis is a generational talent. The scoring, passing, rebounding and defense makes him unstoppable, even without a jumpshot. This man will only get better with time, as will the Bucks. This is his league for the foreseeable future.