The NBA season is set to tip off Tuesday night, and contrary to what the folks in La La Land say, there are more than two teams in the NBA. This season has the potential to be the most competitive in recent memory because about ten teams in the NBA have a legitimate claim to championship expectations. At the beginning of each season, the NBA general managers take a survey where they predict several aspects of the upcoming season. Today, I am going to be giving some of my predictions for the upcoming season as well as compare some of mine with the GMs of the NBA.
2020 NBA Champions
NBA GM Survey Prediction: LA Clippers
My Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers
Photo Credits: CBS Sports
This has been a long time coming for Philadelphia. The key offseason additions of Al Horford and Jason Richardson gives Brett Brown the best starting 5 in the league and a roster that will remain steady for the duration of the season. Ben Simmons made a three in the preseason, and if he can continue to develop a decent jump shot, he will emerge as a serious MVP candidate. Simmons is not the only MVP candidate on the 76ers because Joel Embiid is the best big man in the game. Tobias Harris will be an All-Star, Al Horford will be Al Horford, and Josh Richardson is a talented young player with less turmoil than Jimmy Butler. Obviously Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons still have a lot of maturing to do, and J.J. Reddick was a key loss this offseason, but Elton Brand will do just enough to the roster and add whatever pieces are missing. Philly’s twin towers of Horford and Embiid will be the deciding factor in an epic 7 game series victory in the conference finals over Milwaukee. The Sixers will ride this momentum to their first NBA championship since 1983.
2019-20 KIA MVP
NBA GM Survey Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
My Prediction: LeBron James, LA Lakers
Photo Credits: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
LeBron James should have a lot more than the four MVPs he currently he has to his name. I think the four time winner gets his fifth this season by having a stellar second season with the Los Angeles Lakers. James was excellent from a statistical standpoint in his first season with the Lakers putting up 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists per game. James will cede some of the workload to fellow superstar Anthony Davis, but he will still have to be an elite playmaker for this Lakers team to reach its goals. If “The King” can stay healthy, shoot efficiently, and defend with a bit more effort while the Lakers win over 50 games and are title contenders, he will have a true case for MVP. He’ll also own an emotional appeal over some of the voters who would love to see LeBron prove he is still the most elite force in the game of basketball.
Rookie of the Year
NBA GM Survey Prediction: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
My Prediction: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans (if healthy), Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers (if Zion is injured)
Photo Credits: Getty Images
It’s hard for anyone to pick a rookie other than Pelicans phenom Zion Williamson to actually win this award. He’s the clear frontrunner (as he should be), he looked great in the preseason and plays on a team that could sneak into the Western Conference playoffs. It would take something unforeseen, like the injury that’s keeping him out for the first several weeks of the season turning into a serious injury to keep him from emerging as the award’s recipient. Hopefully Williamson is healthy and wins the award, but if he’s not, Cleveland’s Darius Garland is the best candidate. Garland is able to create space and get his shot off. He has unlimited range and can shoot off the dribble. Most importantly, he has a natural feel for running the offense, creating shots for his teammates. He excels in all the categories that elite NBA point guards do. These factors allow him to make a smooth transition into the NBA despite not playing a lot in college. Garland is a lot better than people realize, and usually gus who outperform their initial expectations get a voting boost.
Best Defensive Player (DPOY)
NBA GM Survey Prediction: Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers
My Prediction: Paul George, LA Clippers
Photo Credits: USA TODAY Sports
George always defends the best player on the opposing team, and he has two exceptional defenders (Patrick Beverly and Kawhi Leonard) playing alongside him. This award typically goes to a player who leads the league in blocks, because many voters view that as the defining statistic. However, on-the-ball defense is even more important, and George is the most exceptional at shutting down opponents’ superstars.
Most Improved Player: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Photo Credits: Getty Images
He was playing in the shadow of Hassan Whitside last season, and Pat Riley has kept him despite getting multiple calls from other teams around the league. The third year man out of Kentucky will average a double double and participate in the All-Star game. Adebayo’s success will allow Pat Riley to have an “I told you so’ press conference in March. He has the potential to anchor a top 5 defense. He is a versatile, talented, and complete player. I fully expect him to be unleashed this season. Disclaimer: if Ben Simmons makes over 50 three pointers he should win this award.
Sixth Man of the Year: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn
Photo Credits: AP Images
You almost have to reflexively vote for Lou Williams, but with more firepower in LA, the door is open for a new winner. Dinwiddie should have a compelling case on a team that needs him to make plays off the bench. Besides Kyrie Irving and Caris Levert, the Nets are short on playmakers. Dinwiddie is big enough to play with Kyrie, and skilled enough to carry the second unit for Brooklyn.
Coach of the Year: Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets
Photo Credits: Fansided
If not for a late season slump last season, Denver would have been the number 1 seed in the West last season. They are returning the most unguardable player in the NBA, Nikola Jokic, and the rest of the supporting cast that put up 54 wins last year. The Nuggets are two deep at every position, and Michael Porter Jr. might even work his way into the rotation if he gets healthy. In my opinion the resurgence is all thanks to Malone, who will lead them to the number 1 seed in the West this season.