Predictions are never an exact science and more often than not, they tend to be wrong.
But when it comes to the NBA, forecasting the team that will hold up the Larry O’Brien trophy next June has been a breeze the past two seasons.
The Golden State Warriors enter the new season as the prohibitive favourites after going back-to-back and winning their third title in four years, and that run doesn’t feel like it’s going to end just yet.
When it comes to the league’s individual awards, however, the range of outcomes is unpredictable.
And yet, we tried to peg exactly where all the hardware will go when the dust settles anyways. Check out our predictions for the new season below.
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
Even if LeBron James was still around in the East, Boston would be the favourites based on the talent and depth they possess now that Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are healthy.
The Sixers and Raptors will be threats, but this Celtics squad is shaping up to be potentially special.
WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
Golden State Warriors
Finding a way to mesh with DeMarcus Cousins will give them enough of a reason to not get too bored in the regular season, but taking the playoffs seriously has never been their issue.
If Houston had the same team as last season, they could give the Warriors a run for their money again, but the Rockets may take a step back, making the road even easier for the defending champions.
Golden State Warriors
Don’t sleep on Boston’s ability to match up with Golden State and give them some of the same problems Houston did in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors should win again, but we could get a six or seven-game epic.
If the Lakers are a top-three team in the West, this could easily go to LeBron, but otherwise the Greek Freak will have the stats and narrative working in his favour.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Utah could boast not only the best defence in the league, but one of the best in recent memory, which would give Gobert – the person most singularly responsible – a strong chance to repeat.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
He’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot and put up some nice all-around numbers for a Dallas team that should be much better than last year.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Playing next to LeBron will put a massive spotlight on Ingram, who will continue to evolve his game and have more opportunities to succeed as the Robin to James’ Batman.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
The last time a player won this award in back-to-back years was 1999, so it’s unlikely Lou Williams break the streak. Evans has a chance to put up similar numbers as Williams for a playoff team.
COACH OF THE YEAR
If his team notches 60-something wins, he’ll be the clear front-runner for the award.
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