The Late But Massive 2017-2018 NBA Preview

After the craziest NBA offseason ever, the season has finally arrived, and it feels awesome.

What hasn’t arrived yet: The preview.

It’s been late almost every year in this site’s history.  I think we’re just gonna make it a tradition.

Warning:  There’s a lot of words below, anywhere from 200-500 a team.  If there’s only certain teams you care about, they’re listed alphabetically.

Atlanta Hawks

  1. Dennis Schroder-Malcolm Delaney-Josh Magette
  2. Marco Bellinelli-Kent Bazemore-Tyler Dorsey-Nicohlas Brussino
  3. Taurean Prince-DeAndre’ Bembry-Luke Babbitt
  4. Ersan Ilyasova
  5. Dewayne Dedmon, Mike Muscala, John Collins, Miles Plumlee (Starter when healthy???)

There are not many teams that have this much turnover in a matter of two years.  Atlanta once almost won the Eastern Conference with an insanely fun team led by Paul Millsap, Al Horford, and Kyle Korver.

Now, everyone is gone.

Obviously, this is tank/rebuilding year.  You probably shouldn’t watch this team.  I’m not a fan of Dennis Schroder; he’s like a less-athletic, losing Russell Westbrook. I’m not sure that Malcolm Delaney is a point guard, either.  Perhaps with Schroder’s forthcoming suspension for a battery arrest we’ll know the answer to that.

I know he won’t, but I think Marco Bellineli should start.  He’s more effective off-the-ball.  Kent Bazemore and Schroder on the court at the same time could turn into a cat fight for the ball.  I’m not sure I’d want Bazemore on my team anymore, but he’s still a nice off-the-bench scorer who you can run an offense through for like 15 minutes.

Taurean Prince really came on at the end of the year last season, and seems to be someone who can contribute to a contender at some point.  Atlanta won’t build around him, but he’s a great asset.

The frontcourt is kinda a mess and also kinda intriguing.  Dwight Howard is gone (I’ve written 200 words on this team already and forgot that Dwight Howard was played for them last year.  What a freaking disaster that was.), which immediately gives the Hawks two extra wins due to the eradication of the DwightBola virus.  They signed Dwanye Dedmon, who I like but is probably overrated since he just had his best year with the Spurs.  

They have a trade to make to clear some clutter.  Mike Muscala is sneakily really good; he could be a nice trade for a contender down the road (Warriors??).

They’re stuck with Miles Plumlee’s contract, so he should probably start (When he’s back from injury) just to get some value out of it.  That might not make the most sense though.  There’s a lot of John Collins hype.  If he turns out, him and Prince are two solid young players for Atlanta.

Ilyasova definitely starts at power forward.  He’s a good floor spacer and can play with almost any center.  Him and Collins could be deadly.

Really, this frontcourt cluster isn’t gonna matter much.  I’m watching like five Hawks games this year anyways.  You should watch zero.

Projected record: 26-56

Boston Celtics

  1. Kyrie Irving-Terry Rozier-Shane Larkin
  2. Jaylen Brown-Marcus Smart-Gordon Hayward (Injured for year)
  3. Jayson Tatum-Semi Ojeyele-Abel Nader
  4. Marcus Morris-Guerschon Yabusele-Daniel Theis
  5. Al Horford-Aron Baynes


I had about 350 words written on this team before Gordon Hayward went down.  I had them winning 62 games (Best in the East) and was incredibly excited.

Wednesday night sent a chill down my spine.

The only way Hayward’s injury doesn’t really affect them:  They weren’t accustom to having him out there.  Adjusting on the fly sucks, but it’s not like there’s any chemistry missing.

Now, Jaylen Brown has to step up even more.  He looked awesome Wednesday night, flying all over the court and draining threes.  But I don’t know if he can do that consistently yet.  This is only his 2nd year.

Same with Jayson Tatum, who’s a rookie.  They need big outings from him.  That is why they drafted him in the first place.

Perhaps the guy Hayward’s injury has the biggest effect on: Kyrie Irving.  He wanted his own team, and now he truly has it.  It’s his time to show us what more he’s capable of.

Wednesday night sucked.  I was so sad for Gordon, for the Celtics, for the league as a whole after that freak accident.  I’m still so upset.  When you’re a NBA fan in general, you feel the same way as Celtics fan.

Even with Hayward’s injury, I expect Boston to be fine.  I dropped their wins quite a bit, in fact so much they’re gonna end up at the No.2 or No.3 seed instead of No.1.  But this team is still really talented, and they’ve got a great coach too.  But more importantly: They have Hayward.

Projected record: 55-27

Brooklyn Nets

  1. D’Angelo Russell-Isaiah Whitehead-Spencer Didwidde
  2. Caris LeVert-Sean Kilpatrick-Joe Harris-Jeremy Lin (Injured for year)
  3. Allen Crabbe-Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
  4. DeMarre Carroll-Trevor Booker-Quincy Acy
  5. Timofey Mozgov-Jarrett Allen-Tyler Zeller

I’ve talked about this Nets team quite a bit over the offseason on here and among friends since they are heavily but not directly involved with the Kyrie trade.

My main point has been…  This team isn’t that bad!  It’s another reason why Boston won the Kyrie trade; the 2018 Brooklyn pick is the least valuable of the four Boston has owned, and will probably end being the least valuable unless it turns out to be Luka Doncic.  That’s why Boston was okay with trading it.

Anyways, the Nets aren’t brutally bad, and actually have some things to look forward too.  Their strategy over the offseason was to take on bad contracts and gain assets in the process.  They haven’t had a pick in years, so they needed as much draft capital as possible.  At the same time, they also have no incentive to win or lose.  It’s been referred to as no-man’s land since the Kevin Garnett trade.

At the very least, you could make the team that owns your pick miserable about it, and that’s what they’ve decided to do.  This team isn’t making the playoffs, and won’t be one to watch that often, but they’re at least competent.  They have real basketball players who have contributed in the past and still can contribute.  They also have some young assets, like D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert, who are cornerstones of a future playoff team.

The biggest storyline with this team will be their success and how it affects Cleveland’s pick.  I really think they’re good enough to drop Cleveland to No.7 or so in next year’s lottery.  People have given up on Russell way too soon; he was in the worst possible situation in LA with a terrible coach and was forced out.  He was the No.2 overall pick for a reason.  He’s a little too ball-dominant and has no defensive effort, but he makes things happen.  For now, he’s a great young guy to lead this team.  Jeremy Lin’s injury sucks, but that means more minutes for guys like Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe together, who are both extremely underrated (Crabbe’s actually become underrated since people have been trashing his contract all Summer.  It is pretty bad, but still.).  Jarrett Allen has potential to be a stretch 5, but may not see huge minutes as the Nets are gonna be squeezing as many minutes out of Mozgov as possible.

Brooklyn has some lower rotation guys of intrigue too.  Sean Kilpatrick was awesome in college and did some good things on the court last year.  Trevor Booker doesn’t space the floor, but he can rebound well.  And even Joe Harris is alright.  See!  This team isn’t that bad!

With competence, a couple young players and a good coach in Kenny Atkinson, I think this Nets team can surprise some people, and put Cleveland in a rough spot next June.  I mean, with the way the back of the East is looking, they could even contend for the 8th seed.

Projected record: 34-48

Charlotte Hornets

  1. Kemba Walker-Michael Carter-Williams-Julyan Stone
  2. Malik Monk-Dwayne Bacon-Jeremy Lamb-Nicholas Batum (Starter when healthy)
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-Treveon Graham
  4. Marvin Williams-Frank Kaminsky
  5. Dwight Howard-Cody Zeller-Johnny O’Bryant 

There is so, so much going on here, and it’s literally the back of the East in a nutshell.

This feels like 35 wins exactly.  Chances are it’s higher, but there’s also a scenario where it’s below, too.

This team’s identity was defense until they were infected with DwightBola.  Who would’ve thought it’d be possible to downgrade from Cody Zeller???  That was mean.  He’s not bad, it’s just that he’s not my type of big guy.  Neither is Dwight.

If I’m Zeller, I’m pissed I’m not starting.  How is Dwight Howard contributing anything positive to anyone’s team anymore?

The Nicholas Batum injury is problematic, but Malik Monk is awesome.  There is no reason for Jeremy Lamb to start.

Kemba Walker and Monk could be a disaster or work beautifully.  If there’s any positive to Batum’s injury, it’s that it gives the Hornets a test case for a Walker-Monk pairing.

It was my concern at the draft and still remains:  Monk’s fit here is troubling.  I get why Charlotte took him… he fell way too far and was easily the best player available.  But Monk’s the type of player who needs the ball, and who could turn into a really good player on a championship team.  Charlotte needs talent upgrades, but with their current roster, Monk’s role will be limited.

I see this team hanging around the 8th seed.  They’ll be competent enough to sneak into the playoffs, but certainly won’t be pulling any upsets.  If they start poorly, a blowup could be on the horizon.

Projected record: 35-47

Chicago Bulls

  1. Jerian Grant-Cameron Payne-Kris Dunn (Starter when healthy)
  2. Justin Holiday-Zach Lavine-Denzel Valentine-David Nwaba
  3. Lauri Markkanen-Paul Zipser-Quincy Pondexter
  4. Christian Felicio-Nikola Mirotic (Injured)-Bobby Portis (Suspended)
  5. Robin Lopez-Diamond Stone

I thought before writing this column that there might be some incentive in watching the Bulls.

There isn’t any.

This is a brutal roster.  There’s a ton of overlap.  There’s too many minutes.  They have way too many lanky guys who are streaky shooters.  It’s a mess.

Oh, and they have teammates punching each other.

Not that I trust the Bulls front office is doing so, but the first thing that should be done is evaluating the young talent they possess.  I still believe in Kris Dunn, and think he can be a nice distributor who can irritate on the defensive end.  The only reason Bobby Portis wasn’t cut after punching Nikola Mirotic in practice was because he’s only one of two young assets they have.

Besides that, I’m not sure where else the talent is.  Zach Lavine is a nice player, but needs the ball in his hands to contribute and couldn’t guard a telephone pole defensively.  Nikola Mirotic is being paid about $5 million more than he should be, and is now out for the next month.  But hey, thank God they have Paul Zipser!  He’s the exact same player!

Then you have to throw in Lauri Markannen, who the Bulls inexplicably took over Malik Monk at No.7 overall in June’s draft.  I’m conflicted on him.  I’m much lower on him than most; my projection is a lanky wing who can shoot and be used in pick-and-pops.  But the multi-positional, ball handling Markannen that some project is baffling to me.  Where’s the athleitiscm?

On the contrary, he should start.  You could run some nice plays with him and Jerian Grant, who’s very crafty with the ball.  If Kris Dunn isn’t a turnover machine, his passing ability should help Markannen immensely.

You start Markannen because Mirotic is hurt, because Zipser is not good at anything in particular, and because, well… whatta got to lose?  Games?  If it gets me Luka Doncic, then sure!  Sign me up.

Projected record: 24-58

Cleveland Cavaliers

  1. Derrick Rose-Jose Calderon-Isaiah Thomas (Starter when healthy)
  2. Dywane Wade-JR Smith-Iman Shumpert
  3. LeBron James-Kyle Korver-Jeff Green-Cedi Osman
  4. Jae Crowder-Channing Fyre
  5. Kevin Love-Tristan Thompson-Ante Zizic

We’re gonna have concerns.  The pieces may not totally fit.  They might be terrible defensively.  They may not have a competent point guard till January.  They might look terrible at times.

It won’t matter.

A team led by LeBron James, especially this version, a pissed off, “FU Kyrie” version of LeBron James will not fail.  In the regular season that is.

My point is that they will be fine until the Eastern Conference Finals.  They have LeBron, and for 90% of the year, that’s all that matters.  The issues they have won’t be problematic till late May.

For now, it’s team that has the best player in the world and a bunch of “Wait, what?” guys.  Who would have thought in 2010 that LeBron, Wade and Derrick Rose would be on the same team?

For a team that’s struggled with chemistry the past three years, this current roster doesn’t offer many solutions.

I think Kevin Love playing center will help him fit in more, but he’s not a rim protector and never has been.  Over the summer, everyone acted like Jae Crowder is still an amazing defender.  Newsflash: He’s not, and he misses threes like myself.  Oh, and congrats to Jeff Green on getting a contract.

When Isaiah Thomas gets back, this team could be deadly.  They might give up 120 points a game, but Thomas’ debut should help smooth out ball movement, as his off-the-ball ability will be useful when Wade and LeBron are controlling things.

Projected record: 57-25

Dallas Mavericks

  1. Dennis Smith Jr.-Seth Curry-Devin Harris-JJ Barea
  2. Wes Matthews-Yogi Ferrell
  3. Harrison Barnes-Dorian Finney-Smith
  4. Dirk Nowitzki-Josh McRoberts-Dwight Powell-Max Kleber
  5. Nerleans Noel-Salah Mejri-Jeff Whitey

I think this team could surprise some people.  They probably aren’t making the playoffs, but they’ll at least be watchable.

I don’t know what Dennis Smith Jr. is yet, but his wrecking ball-like presence is gonna fool teams.  There’s a chance he’s already a top five athlete in the league.

I feel like his presence will affect at least half their games, in a one way or the other. There’ll be 20 games where the Internet is freaking out about something he did, or some crazy stat, but there’ll also be 20 games where he’s shooting them out of it, turning the ball over, and essentially loosing the game by himself.

Their supporting cast isn’t a disaster.  They have a nice guard rotation with Seth Curry, Wes Matthews and Yogi Ferrell.  All are multi-positional and can score effectively.  The only question is how they fit next to Smith.  Also, Devin Harris isn’t bad if he’s healthy, and the last legs of JJ Barea can contribute some minutes.

Harrison Barnes is fine, but will probably end up like Dion Waiters on Oklahoma City in 2014, with his hands in the air asking for the ball.

There’s no way Dirk is going out with a bad year.  If this is it, he’ll still put up 16 points and nine rebounds every night.  His presence will help Dallas in every way, including spiritually.

I’m not sure what I’d pay Nerlens Noel, but it’s certainly more than the qualifying offer.  He’s an elite rim protecter who can space the floor if needed.  That will help Smith Jr. and these young guards get to the rim.

Also, and this is a super nerdy basketball thing, but Dwight Powell is a pretty nice player off the bench.  If they make the playoffs it won’t be because of him, but he’s a criminally underrated rebounder.

Projected record: 38-44

Denver Nuggets

  1. Jamal Murray-Emmanuel Muiday
  2. Gary Harris-Will Barton-Malik Beasley
  3. Wilson Chandler-Tyler Lydon-Richard Jefferson
  4. Paul Millsap-Kenneth Faried-Trey Lyles-Darrell Arthur
  5. Nikola Jokic-Juan Hernangomez-Mason Plumlee

I loooove this team and think they’re gonna be really fun to watch.

They’re not there yet though.  Obviously to compete in the West you need stars, and they don’t really have that type of impact player yet.  Nikola Jokic is a 2nd tier superstar, and Millsap, at this point, is probably 3rd tier.  That doesn’t get it done.

I smell a trade at some point.  They need to see what they have at point guard, but this could become, if he is available, a Mike Conley destination.  They were in the Kyrie mix, and should have gone after Kyle Lowry in free agency.  Conley would be the type of star they need, because even though he’s not the dominant one-on-one player you need in the playoffs, him parried with Jokic and Millsap would be unfair.

I thought cutting Jameer Nelson was insane.  Denver’s making the right decision in starting Jamal Murray, but I don’t think we can be sure he’s a true point guard.  Emmanuel Muiday has his obvious problems; he can’t shoot or defend.  Nelson was at least competent at the end of last year, and would be the only true point guard on this roster.

The wings are also an issue for Denver.  Wilson Chandler’s fine, but they need shot making.  That’s why getting Tyler Lydon in the draft was a smart move.  He’s a more of a small-ball four, but his shooting can allow him to play at the three if needed.

There’s still no star there.  Denver was also interested in Paul George at the trade deadline.  That ship has sailed, but if a star wing becomes available later in the year, Denver could easily make a move.

So how does a team riddled with holes contend for the playoffs?  I think a lot of things go their way.  1)  Murray adapts to the big role well, and can score a bunch of points while getting by as a passer. 2)  Tyler Lydon shoots 43% from three and scores 12 points a game, and the Nuggets make a trade for a scoring wing before the deadline.  3)  Mike Malone is an awesome coach.  He’ll squeeze more wins out of this team than anyone.

Projected record: 45-37

Detroit Pistons

  1. Reggie Jackson-Ish Smith-Langston Galloway
  2. Avery Bradley-Luke Kennard
  3. Stanley Johnson-Anthony Tolliver-Reggie Bullock
  4. Tobias Harris-Jon Leuer-Henry Ellenson
  5. Andre Drummond-Boban Marjanovic-Eric Moreland

Yuck.  Anyone who thinks this team is making the playoffs is out of their mind.  Please don’t watch this team.

There is a lot of average and a lot of mediocrity entrenched in this team.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are platooning with Reggie Jackson by January; Jackson’s probably the only person on the planet who thinks he should be getting paid as much as he is.

Avery Bradley’s not the distributor type, but you could run an offense through him occasionally.  There’s a decent chance he’s this team’s leading scorer.  Andre Drummond probably will be, which probably isn’t a good thing since a big man who is consistently having plays ran for him and only him probably means your team is stuck in the old age.  And the Pistons definitely are.

Moving along, Luke Kennard might be able to share some distributing duties, but you can’t start him and Bradley together.

The wings are in rough shape.  Stanley Johnson hasn’t worked out, and Anthony Tolliver is getting old.  Tobias Harris really isn’t good at anything, and Henry Ellenson is a stiff.

If things are really bad, this could be a tear down project starting in February.  But at the same time, who wants any of these players?

Projected record: 30-52

Golden State Warriors

  1. Stephen Curry-Shaun Livingston
  2. Klay Thompson-Patrick McCaw
  3. Kevin Durant-Nick Young
  4. Draymond Green-Omri Casspi-David West-Jordan Bell-Chris Boucher-Kevon Looney
  5. Zaza Pachulia-Javale McGee-Damian Jones

Not a whole lot to see here.  In year two of the KD era, I think this team could reach incredible heights that may even surpass what the 2015-2016 team did.

There’s no issues here, but I have a couple things to keep an eye on:  1)  How do Oregon products Jordan Bell and Chris Boucher contribute?  Both were awesome in college, and are long, athletic big men who can run the floor and rim protecter.  Both are raw offensively, but it’s not like the Warriors need any more of that.  If Zaza and Javale fall off a cliff due to age, can Bell step in and contribute minutes at center?  I say yes after watching a small sample size against Houston Wednesday night.  2) If they’re both way too raw, does my proposed Mike Muscala trade go through?  3)  Can Patrick McCaw make this team even scarier?  He’s gonna take on a bigger role this season.  I’ve always loved him and his high shorts, and think his athleticism and ball-handling will make the Warriors even more dreadful when their stars are off the court.

The chemistry of this team will really come together, and hopefully KD will be healthy all year.  Because of that, we will see another historic year.

Projected record: 70-12

Houston Rockets

  1. Chris Paul-Demetrius Jackson-Bobby Brown
  2. James Harden-Eric Gordon
  3. Trevor Ariza-PJ Tucker-Luc Mbah-a-Moute-Troy Williams
  4. Ryan Anderson
  5. Clint Capela-Nene-Tarik Black-Zhou Qi-Chianu Onuaku

I had my doubts about this team coming into the season, but with OKC’s trade for Melo, they’re back up to my No.2 seed in the West.

That doesn’t mean their problems are solved.  The CP3 trade was confusing, and it stripped them of a ton of depth.

No matter how good of friends they might be, and no matter what type of conversations took place before the trade, I just don’t see this pairing of Harden and CP3 working out.  Both were in the top ten of usage rate in the playoffs, and love the ball.

The positive?  Houston will have Harden and/or Paul out there at all times, which is terrifying for a defense.  Staggering minutes should limit Harden and Paul on the court together, but crunch time will be a work in progress.

As I mentioned above, Houston shed a ton of depth in the trade with the Clippers.  Now, they’re stuck with little depth on the wing, and have a plethora of big guys who just don’t fit their mold.

That said, I loved the PJ Tucker signing.  You could make the case that he should start, but he isn’t the shooter Ariza is.  Houston’s biggest matchup problem with Golden State is on the defensive end.  Tucker won’t single handily fix the problem, but at least they added an option.

Even with their issues, Houston’s still pretty good.  Clint Capela is a great rim protector, and Ryan Anderson, though a blackhole defensively, can still shoot.  They have dudes, but the chemistry and defense, two things that were definitely issues Wednesday night, still, even after the win, don’t put them above Golden State.

Projected record: 57-25

Indiana Pacers

  1. Cory Joseph-Darren Collison-Joe Young
  2. Victor Olidipo-Lance Stephenson-Damien Wilkins
  3. Bojan Bogdanovic-Glenn Robinson lll (injured)
  4. Thaddeus Young-Domatas Sabonis-TJ Leaf
  5. Myles Turner-Al Jefferson-Ike Anigbogu

This is definitely a tank team.  I really have no idea what’s going on here.  Perhaps it’s a year they can take to evaluate some of the young talent they have.  With Domatas Sabonis’ option picked up, perhaps they’re already confident in him.  But Myles Turner is gonna be due for a big payday soon, and rookies TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu deserve minutes.

I know Darren Collison will probably start, but where are you going with him?  Cory Joseph is at least competent, and provides a little bit more scoring.  He’s better for these young guys to play with.

I’m running out of opinions on this team.  Let’s end this right away.

Projected record: 27-55

Los Angeles Clippers

  1. Patrick Beverley-Milos Teodosic-Jawun Evans
  2. Austin Rivers-Lou Williams-Sindarius Thornwell
  3. Danilo Gallinari-Sam Dekker-Wesley Johnson
  4. Blake Griffin-Montrezl Harrell-Brice Johnson
  5. DeAndre Jordan-Willie Reed

I can’t tell whether this team had a net positive offseason or not.  Essentially it’s about what you think the actual issue was.

For me, it was chemistry, spacing and injuries.  CP3 being gone might make everyone on the Clippers roster much happier, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Blake Griffin will miss 30+ games at some point.  I’ve never been a fan of the DeAndre Jordan-Blake pairing, since Jordan is useless in crunch-time due his free throw shooting and Blake isn’t a multi-positional player.  However, while Blake doesn’t possess a three point shot, there’s a chance he stretches out to the perimeter if the Clippers use him in more of a play-making role.  The Gallinari signing was odd; I’ve always seen him as a small-ball four.  The spacing issues are still there, and it’s not like Doc Rivers is gonna be the guy to make it work.

Maybe LA’s guards can help create space.  The Clips did a nice job of replacing CP3 and improving their bench in the trade, getting Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley, two very solid guards who can start or come off the bench.  They also have Milos Teodosic, who is already making me audibly gasp from highlight tapes.  That is, preseason highlight tapes.  Lob City ain’t going anywhere though.  Teodosic’s liability is on the defensive end, but Beverley can certainly make up for that.

The Clips are fun, but a lot of the same issues are still there from last year.  I think it’ll be a worse but happier team this season.

Projected record: 43-39

Los Angeles Lakers

  1. Lonzo Ball-Tyler Ennis
  2. Kentavious Caldwell Pope-Jordan Clarkson-Josh Hart
  3. Brandon Ingram-Luol Deng-Kyle Kuzma-Corey Brewer
  4. Julius Randle-Larry Nance Jr.
  5. Brook Lopez-Ivan Zubac-Andrew Bogut-Thomas Bryant

“Meh” is the feeling I get when I looked at this roster.  I stared at it for awhile, just trying to understand what the goal really is right now.

I think we have to take everything that happens with this team with a grain of salt until next July.  The LeBron/Paul George question is just too much of a cloud (It’s a cloud on a partly sunny day).

This team shouldn’t try, but they probably have to since the Celtics have their pick.  It’s not a terrible squad, but it’s also not a fantastic one.  As I said above: It’s meh.

Lonzo can be a bright spot.  His passing should be gorgeous to watch, but the Lakers don’t really have a large of supply of three-and-D perimeter guys for Lonzo to kick it out to.  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is more of an isolation player, and Brandon Ingram has no jump shot.  Julius Randle has no stretching ability; I think this is make-or-break for him.  Larry Nance Jr. played really well last year.

The bigger question to all of that is whether Ball can attack the rim in the first place.  A knock on him is his softness and lack of driving ability.  This could be a good year to work on it with the lack of shooters.  Getting Brook Lopez was a sneaky-great move, since he can move out to the perimeter to create room.  Even though he’s hurt all the time, he’s excellent defensively (A rare thing on this team) and gives Lonzo a good pick and roll man to start experimenting with.

The Lakers are raw, young and won’t be able to defend anyone.  That’s their big flaw, and it’s a fatal one.  It’s not like they’re gonna make the playoffs anyways.  Congrats in advance on Lebron!

Projected record: 33-49

Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Mike Conley-Mario Chalmers-Andrew Harrison
  2. Wayne Selden-Tyreke Evans-Ben McLemore
  3. Chandler Parsons-James Ennis lll-Dillion Brooks
  4. Brandan Wright-Ivan Rabb-Jarell Martin-JaMychal Green (Starter when healthy)
  5. Marc Gasol-Deyonta Davis

The West is good, but let’s not act like it’s a ten team fight for the playoffs.  This team is pretty average.

If all goes wrong, and might already be with JaMychal Green’s injury, I think Conley and Gasol become available.  I mentioned Denver above for Conley.  The Celtics rumors about guys like Anthony Davis and Gasol won’t go away.  If they struggle to rebound again, they could make an offer.

Besides those two, I just don’t know how to evaluate this team.  You know Chandler Parsons is gonna play in 45 games.  Shooting guard is a complete disaster if Wayne Selden isn’t competent.  Green’s injury hurts, but they do have some depth there.  Still, it’s not a good sign that dudes are already getting injured for a team that’s always plagued by them.

Seeing Tony Allen and Zach Randolph leave started the end of this era.  Conley and Gasol are the next to go.  I don’t know if it happens this year, but it needs to soon.

Projected record: 39-43

Miami Heat

  1. Goran Dragic-Tyler Johnson
  2. Dion Waiters-Josh Richardson-Wayne Ellington
  3. Justise Winslow-Okaro White-Rodney McGruder (Starter when healthy??)
  4. James Johnson-Kelly Olynyk-Udonis Haslem-Jordan Mickey
  5. Hassan Whiteside-Bam Adebayo-AJ Hammons

Miami is like the Eastern Conference’s Denver, though they won’t struggle to make the playoffs.

There’s a lot of talent here, and even if it doesn’t totally work out, they have assets to make a trade if necessary.

The Rodney McGruder injury is troubling, but if Justise Winslow puts it together, the loss affects Miami’s depth more than their starting lineup.  McGruder, who’s limited offensively, could be a bench guy at the end of the year.

The Heat have built the prototype for the NBA’s new era.  They have a great point guard, lengthy, defensive minded wings, and a solid rim protector.  But the sheer talent they possess isn’t quite on par.  Who’s their superstar?  Who’s their late-game, one-on-one scorer in the playoffs?  Dion Waiters?  Yikes.

This is why the Heat were chasing Gordon Hayward this Summer.  He’d be that guy, and Miami would be eight wins better with him.  If a star becomes available before the trade deadline, Miami should jump on it.  They need that guy.

In this conference though, the Heat have enough talent to get close to 50 wins.  The depth, especially in the front court, will propel them.

Projected record: 46-36

Milwaukee Bucks

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo-Matthew Dellavedova-Jason Terry
  2. Malcolm Brogdon-Rashad Vaughn-Sterling Brown-DeAndre Liggins
  3. Khris Middleton-Tony Snell
  4. Jabari Parker-Mirza Teletovic-DJ Wilson
  5. Thon Maker-Greg Monroe-John Henson

Talk about equipped for the modern NBA…

This team is gonna be really freaking good.  Led by the Greek Freak, Milwaukee has put athletic wings who can shoot all around him.  They’re long, which is perfect for defending a team like Golden State or Boston.

Giannis is obviously incredible.  There’s never been anyone like him… at that size with that athleticism, he defies anything we’ve seen.  And if he can shoot now?  (Eyes emoji seven times)

Yeah, be afraid NBA.  He’s high on my MVP candidate list at No.4.  I find it hard to believe he’ll win, since Milwaukee has a talented roster and plays in the East.  But if the Bucks win a crazy amount of games, say 59+ or so, there’s no doubt he’ll get some serious consideration.

It’s hard to find a hole in this team.  Malcolm Brogdon should continue to flourish, and Khris Middelton is an awesome offensive player.  Same with Jabari Parker, if he can stay healthy.

Parker’s contract wasn’t extended by Milwaukee before the deadline.  I don’t think it’s something to panic about if you’re a Bucks fan.  Put it this way:  Wouldn’t you want to see him play a full season before you hand him ~$80 million?

If Jabari is healthy, it makes this Bucks offense a potential top seven or so group in the league.  He’s a gifted scorer, and that post-up ability gives Milwaukee some sort of presence down low.

You can bank on Thon Maker being a solid rim protector, and really, that’s all you want out of him.  Anything else that he does is an extra bonus.  If the hype he had coming into the 2016 Draft is real, then watch out.

The Bucks are really good, and I think this team could develop into a contender throughout the year.  That’s not saying they’ll win the East, but for a team like Cleveland or Toronto, the mismatches might be too overwhelming.

Projected record: 54-28

Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. Jeff Teague-Aaron Brooks-Tyus Jones
  2. Jimmy Butler-Jamal Crawford
  3. Andrew Wiggins-Shabazz Muhammed-Marcus Georges-Hunt
  4. Taj Gibson-Gorgui Dieng-Nemanja Bjelica
  5. Karl-Anthony Towns-Cole Aldrich-Justin Patton

Minnesota was another team that did a complete reload after realizing it would take stars to compete with the Warriors.  The Jimmy Butler trade was a steal, but besides that, where were the upgrades?

Trading Ricky Rubio made sense once the Butler trade happened, because those two sharing the ball or one playing off the ball is not efficient.  But the Timberwolves could have signed a more defensive minded or simply better point guard than Teague, who’s about league average at his position.

What Teague does bring is the ability to play off the ball and make shots.  He’s a good shooter, and you can run him around screens against certain defenses.  Essentially, he’s the 5th guy.

The Taj Gibson signing gives Minnesota a little bit more veteran leadership, but as for on-court fit, I wasn’t a fan.  Though he’s a bruiser, can rebound and play defense, he doesn’t bring the floor spacing Gorgui Dieng does.  Dieng certainly has his issues, but his athleticism and streaky three point shot makes him more efficient for today’s league.

My biggest worry about the Wolves is their chemistry, and Andrew Wiggins, like Teague and Gibson, are the main reason for those concerns.  Wiggins has always been used to having the ball in his hands, isolating himself, posting up, and going 4-17 on any night.  Sorry, that was mean.   But my point is that Wiggins isn’t a great shooter; he’s extremely streaky.  One night he’ll score 26, hit 45% of his shots, and single-handily win the Wolves a game.  But the next night he could be 2-13 and look completely incompetent.

That is certainly not worth $30 million a year, which is where Wiggins’ new contract will put his salary at.  Accounting for what seems to be a lack of effort on defense too, and you’re looking at paying for a good stats-bad team guy.

Wiggins will have to adapt into an off-the-ball role, but Jimmy Butler is a menace, especially down the stretch.

Even with all my concerns, the sheer talent of the Wolves will get them far.  Butler and Towns is quite a duo, and Teague can provide some shooting too.  They have Aaron Brooks and Tyus Jones to help facilitate if Teague doesn’t fit.  I could see their struggles bringing them down to a 7th or 8th seed, but having a year like last season won’t happen again.

Projected record: 50-32

New Orleans Pelicans

  1. Jrue Holiday-Frank Jackson
  2. E’Twaun Moore-Tony Allen-Jordan Crawford-Rajon Rondo (Starter when healthy)
  3. Dante Cunningham-Ian Clark-Solomon Hill-Darius Miller
  4. Anthony Davis-Cheick Diallo
  5. DeMarcus Cousins-Alexis Ajinca-Omer Asik

I have no idea what this team is.

I thought I knew what they were.

But then the Rajon Rondo signing happened, and New Orleans failed to address any other area of their roster, leaving a slew of guys who are old, washed up, overpaid and/or average.

It makes no sense.  It’s totally disrespectful to DeMarcus Cousins, who they rescued from an awful situation in Sacramento and are now putting him through something similar.  It’s even more disrespectful to Anthony Davis, their franchise player who they’re in denial about trading.  Yeah that’s right, I went there.

The Pelicans are on a track to go nowhere this season.  New Orleans is a candidate for a reverse Ewing theory once Rajon Rondo returns.  Jrue Holiday is a really nice point guard, and his craftiness coupled with Boogie and AD is gonna be awesome.  But throwing Rondo in the mix creates another set of needy hands, and with the way Rondo has played the past two years, minus the beginning of the Bulls-Celtics series in April, those are gonna be a rusty, cocky pair.

I want to give this team hope, but I can’t.  I think they need to take a long hard look at themselves, flip Boogie to a contender, and then start to evaluate the trade market for Davis.  You think what the Celtics gave up for Kyrie was a lot?  Well, Davis, because of that long contract and age, will garner a package big enough to kick-off a rebuild.

Projected record: 35-47

New York Knicks

  1. Frank Ntilikina-Ramon Sessions-Jarrett Jack
  2. Courtney Lee-Ron Baker-Damyean Dotson
  3. Tim Hardaway Jr.-Doug McDermott-Mingdaus Kuzminskas-Lance Thomas-Michael Beasley
  4. Kristaps Porzingis-Enes Kanter-Kyle O’Quinn
  5. Willy Hernangomez-Joakim Noah (Starter when suspension up??)

We’ve hit a rough patch of teams.

The Knicks are the Knicks and will always be the Knicks due to their complete lack of logic in putting together an NBA roster, making trades, and drafting players.

I mean, what is going on here?

(It’s really incredible how many teams have that question being asked about them.)

Point guard is a flaming disaster, and is so bad that giving Tim Hardaway Jr. the ball looks pretty appeasing.  What are the odds Hardaway Jr’s usage rate is 28% and he shoots that same percentage?  6-1?

They (or Phil Jackson, who’s now gone) drafted Ntilikina to help run the Triangle offense, which, like Jackson, is gone.  As bad as the Triangle is for today’s NBA, the pick made sense solely for the reason of running the Triangle.  But this is also 2017, and it’s all about quick buckets.

Ntilikina is a big x-factor.  You could see him playing out both ways.  A 6-5 point guard in today’s NBA, creating slashing lanes for people, leading a high powered offense and going to the rim?  That’d be sick.

But there’s also a chance he’s Kris Dunn 2.0 (It’s still early).  With Ntilikina, he’s not big enough of a star to guarantee that his uniqueness pays off.  We haven’t really seen anyone like Ntilikina ever before, and usually that’s a good thing, but since he wasn’t a polarizing prospect, it makes you wonder.

New York’s frontcourt is just as confusing as the rest of the team.  The first thing that should be pointed out is that the Knicks have Joakim Noah, who’s a complete shell of his old self and can’t defend anyone.  So what did the Knicks decide to do about that?  They traded for Enes Kanter, who’s literally the only player worst than Noah on the defensive side of the ball in the whole league.  Knicks, man.

Noah’s also suspended for PEDs, which really helped him last year.  That should move Willy Hernangomez into a starting position, creating a young, athletic duo between him and Porzingis.  Hernangomez is more of an older style big man, who lumbers around and could have ball fed to him if needed.  But he’s got surprising athleticsm for the type of player he is.  With Porzingis able to shoot the three ball and possibly do whatever you need him to, Hernangomez and Porzingis should be able to play with each other.

This could be a revolutionary Porzingis year.  He’s got the “Phil Jackson contemplated trading me.” buzzer going off in his head.  He is free of Carmelo.  He might be trying to get out of New York (Eyes emoji seven times).

But what I’m more interested in is his other abilities on the court, like the ball-handling, the passing, and the pull-up shooting.  He’s probably not that guy: A do-it-all who can play all five positions no problem.  But with the current shape of this Knicks roster, why not try out Porzingis in weird spots?  What do you have to lose?Have him handle the ball!  Use him as a jump-shooter!  Just please, for the sake of your fans, do something interesting.

Projected record: 29-55

Oklahoma City Thunder

  1. Russell Westbrook-Raymond Felton
  2. Andre Roberson-Terrance Ferguson
  3. Paul George-Alex Abrines-Jerami Grant-Kyle Singler-Josh Huestis
  4. Carmelo Anthony-Patrick Patterson-Nick Collison
  5. Steven Adams-Dakari Johnson

I already wrote substantially on this team after the Carmelo Anthony trade.  I think they’ll figure it out for the most part, but a season from hell can’t be ruled out.

Projected record: 51-31

Orlando Magic

  1. Elfrid Payton-DJ Augustin-Shelvin Mack
  2. Terrance Ross-Aaron Affalo-Mario Hezonja
  3. Evan Fournier-Jonathan Simmons-Wesley Iwundu
  4. Aaron Gordon-Bismack Biyombo-Jonathan Issac-Khem Birch
  5. Nikola Vucevic-Marresse Speights

Yet another team that has no idea what its doing or where its going…

The problem with this team is that there are young guys who need minutes to show what they’re made of, but then there’s also veterans who need minutes because having them sit on the bench when they’re overpaid is even more of a waste of money.

This is a make-or-break year for Elfrid Payton, who is what De’Aaron Fox as a bust looks like.  There’s a good chance Payton never gets it together, leaving DJ Augustin (who has to be 35 but isn’t) and Shelvin Mack, who really shouldn’t be on a roster, running the ship.

Terrance Ross will start because they have no one better, but if Orlando really wanted to tank and get a sense of their young guys, you’d move up Fournier and start Jonathan Issac, just to see what he’s made of (It’s not a lot based on his frame).

I still believe in Mario Hezonja.  The Magic have buried him behind a collection of average players.  They never gave him a shot and it sucks.  If I’m Detroit or Indiana, I’m taking a flyer on him.

Evan Fournier will play because he’s probably the best player on this roster.  He’s definitely not worth the money he got last Summer, but where else is that cash gonna go?

If Issac comes along, Orlando could look to move Nikola Vucevic, who they’ve been shopping for what seems like three years.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Issac pre-Draft, but think if he does turn out, it’ll be as a rim protector.

The Magic are going nowhere, and need to take this year to evaluate guys like Payton, Hezonja and Issac to see what they have.  Please don’t watch this team.

Projected record: 28-54

Philadelphia 76ers

  1. Jerryd Bayless-TJ McConnell-Markelle Fultz
  2. JJ Redick-Nik Stauskus-Furkan Korkmaz
  3. Robert Covington-Justin Anderson-Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
  4. Ben Simmons-Dario Saric-Amir Johnson-Richaun Holmes
  5. Joel Embiid-Jahlil Okafor

I have no words for this team and I mean that in the most positive way possible.

There is so, so much happening here.  The celling is so high it’s mind-boggling.  The Sixers are long, athletic, young, dynamic, and injury-prone.  Yeah, there’s a lot of adjectives for this team.

For the 76ers, it’s a matter of best-case scenario.  If everyone is healthy, and potential is reached, they could be the 3rd seed in the East.  Here’s how:

Ben Simmons wins Rookie of the Year by playing de facto point guard, making ridiculous passes and using his athleticism to get to the rim.  Markelle Fultz gets healthy and ends up starting, being used as an off-the-ball scorer who can run things when Simmons is out.  Joel Embiid remains insanely efficient and stays healthy, anchoring the offense and defending the rim at high levels, while also being able to space out and shoot threes.  Robert Covington finally shows everyone what he’s made of: A great three-and-D player who’s totally fine not having the ball.  And the bench is awesome: Dario Saric contends for Sixth Man of the Year as a stretch 4,  Justin Anderson breaks out and TJ McConnell does an average job facilitating.

For me, that’s 45 wins.  But health is the key to all of it, and with Fultz’s shoulder acting up, Embiid’s history of back/knee/foot injuries, and Simmons’ probable rust from not playing in awhile, that total could very well come down.

Projected record: 44-38

Phoenix Suns

  1. Eric Bledsoe-Tyler Ulis-Mike James
  2. Devin Booker-Troy Daniels-Davon Reed
  3. Josh Jackson-TJ Warren-Derrick Jones Jr.
  4. Marquese Chriss-Jared Dudley-Alan Williams-Dragan Bender-Alec Peters
  5. Tyson Chandler-Alex Len

Even with all the young talent the Suns have, they’re still building.  These guys are incredibly young:  Devin Booker is 20; so is Josh Jackson and Marquese Chriss.  Yeah, three of our starters are 20 years old.  Give us a break.

That said, these guys need to play, which is why veterans like Jared Dudley will come off the bench.  The Suns still have the Tyson Chandler albatross that they’ve desperately been seeking to move.  It’s probable that by the time it’s up, this team is still really young and only winning 30 games, so it may not be that bad.  

Still, it’s not great to have to force minutes to Chandler when someone really raw like Dragan Bender needs reps.  If Bender makes strides, Chandler could end up like Dudley.

The Suns should tank and add another piece, but with all the youth, they may not have to intentionally lose games.  It might just come off inexperience.

Despite that, the Suns are watchable.  Devin Booker made that clear last season.  Josh Jackson is a force on both ends; he’ll attract eyeballs.  And Derrick Jones Jr.’s dunks will be on your Twitter feed multiple times this year.

The Suns are gonna suck, but you can suck and still be fun.  That’s a rarity, and we should be thankful for it.

Projected record: 25-57

Portland Trail Blazers

  1. Damian Lillard-Shabazz Naiper-Pat Connaughton
  2. CJ McCollum-Evan Turner
  3. Mo Harkless-Jake Layman
  4. Al-Farouq Aminu-Ed Davis-Caleb Swanigan-Noah Vonleh
  5. Jursuf Nurkic-Zach Collins-Meyers Leonard

Portland’s roster building strategy ever since losing the heart of their team in the Summer of 2015 has been extremely strange, and those mistakes are now starting to come to a head.

The Jursurf Nurkic trade was a positive, but excluding that, the moves have not been totally logical:  The Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe contracts, the Meyers Leonard contract, and the drafting of Noah Vonleh and Caleb Swanigan have all been pretty confusing.

There’s a lot of average on this roster.  Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu aren’t terrible, but aren’t locking the top players in the West.  Nurkic, who’s a good scorer, has defensive issues.  Lord knows Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum won’t guard anyone.

As the guards will dominate offensively, their defense collectively is so bad that it costs the team as a whole.  Portland, once again, can’t guard anyone.  It was their biggest issue last year, and as we saw in the Finals, you have to be able to defend to have a chance against Golden State.

The chemistry between Lillard and McCollum fell apart last year, and both acknowledged it.  I don’t know if the Trail Blazers’ front office is smart enough to consider it, but flipping McCollum or even Lillard into young pieces or a defensive minded star may not be a bad idea.

Projected record: 37-45

Sacramento Kings

  1. De’Aaron Fox-George Hill-Frank Mason
  2. Buddy Hield-Garrett Temple-Malachi Richardson-Vince Carter
  3. Bogdan Bogdanovic-Justin Jackson
  4. Skal Laissiere-Zach Randolph-Harry Giles
  5. Willie Cauley-Stein-Kosta Koufos-Georgious Papagiannis

Another season, another question of “WTF are the Kings doing?”

Like Orlando, the Kings just need to let the young guys play.  Sacramento went out and spent quite a bit of money on George Hill, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph and Bogdan Bogdanovic this Summer.  Only one is still a quality player and should be counted on for minutes (Hill).  The others are more there for leadership roles, but Randolph started in the season opener, and so did Garrett Temple.  Why?

When you’re developing young talent, the win total shouldn’t matter.  What should matter is getting guys reps and experience, and making sure they get better.  Not wins.  The signing made by the Kings this Summer were made to win games.  George Hill is a really good point guard; he’s a great passer and gives a crap defensively.  But there’s no reason to give him $18 million when you spent your No.6 overall pick on De’Aaron Fox, who’s probably already the 3rd most athletic guy in the league.  If anyone’s ready, it’s that dude.

Because of this, Sacramento will probably win more games than they should, since the organization is too caught on winning rather than development.  Hill is really good, and Bogdanovic can shoot on the wing.  Willie Cauley-Stein is a stretchy big who’s a menace under the basket on both ends.  Sacramento won’t contend for the 8th seed, but instead will be stuck in the middle, which is exactly where you don’t want to be.

Projected record: 34-48

San Antonio Spurs

  1. Dejounte Murray-Patty Mills-Tony Parker-Derrick White-Brandon Paul
  2. Danny Green-Manu Ginobli-Bryn Forbes
  3. Kawhi Leonard-Rudy Gay-Kyle Anderson
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge-Davis Bertans
  5. Pau Gasol-Joffrey Lauvergne

If you were confused about why Kawhi Leonard is the favorite for MVP, then looking at this roster should provide some insight.

Before I go over my concerns, I should say that this is the Spurs, and their head coach is Gregg Popovich, and they will almost certainly prove me wrong.

Anyways, here we go.

Shouldn’t we be a little more concerned about this team?  Pau Gasol is 37 (!!), LaMarcus Aldridge was a disaster in the playoffs (And then somehow just got a massive extension), and as awesome as Dejounte Murray’s flashes have been, he’s still pretty young and could make some mistakes here and there.

If this team didn’t have Kawhi, I think they barely hit 40 wins.  Rudy Gay is coming off an Achilles and has never really been that good anyways.  Davis Bertans is fine, but he’s kinda a stiff.  This could be it for Manu.  Yeah, this team has some issues.

Murray’s youth is backed up though.  Patty Mills is great at running the ship, and Tony Parker still has a little left assuming he can stay healthy.  Oh, and watch out for Derrick White.  That kid can score.

I’m not going under 50 wins for the Spurs because of Pop and Kawhi.  If they hit that number, there’s your MVP and Coach of the Year.

Projected record: 53-29

Toronto Raptors 

  1. Kyle Lowry-Delon Wright-Fred VanVleet
  2. DeMar DeRozan-Norman Powell
  3. CJ Miles-OG Anunoby-Bruno Caboclo-KJ McDaniels-Alfonzo McKinnie
  4. Serge Ibaka-Pascal Siakam
  5. Jonas Valanciunas-Jakob Poeltl-Bebe

I’ve never been a fan of the whole “Run it back” strategy these NBA teams use.  If it didn’t work once and you barely fixed it, then it probably won’t work again.

That being said, CJ Miles is a really good player.  He’s gritty, is great defensively, and can even handle the ball when needed.

Why are they aren’t starting him, I have no idea.

Norman Powell’s also really good, but he’s kinda like Marcus Smart: A guy who can give you an energy spark off the bench.  You put the ball in his hands and he’ll make things happen.  Powell’s a much better shooter, too.

But starting him?  I get he just got big money, but I’d be just as happy paying him that money to come off the bench and do his thing.

The Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan chemistry has been a subject of discussion.  Why throw another guy who needs the ball into the mix?

As talented as Toronto is, they’re not really fit for today’s NBA, and that was evident in their first round series against the Bucks.  Milwaukee killed them with athleticism and speed.  Toronto’s built on slow, inefficient, herky-jerky players.  That didn’t change this offseason.

Plus, their bench got worse.  If Lowry goes down, which is probable, who’s playing point guard?

Jonas Valanciunas is opposite of the prototype you want for a modern NBA center.  He only slows down the Raptors more.  They’ve gauged his trade market before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it again.  If they could flip him for a backup point guard, or even someone who’s worse overall but a little bit more efficient, that’d be a nice upgrade for the Raptors.

Projected record: 48-34

Utah Jazz

  1. Ricky Rubio-Raul Neto-Dante Exum
  2. Joe Ingles-Donavan Mitchell-Alec Burks
  3. Rodney Hood-Joe Johnson-Thabo Selfolosha-Royce O’Neal
  4. Derrick Favors-Jonas Jerebko
  5. Rudy Gobert-Tony Bradley-Ekpe Udoh

I’m really disappointed.  I thought I was gonna like this team a lot more.

Utah is gonna struggle to score points.  As much I love him, you have to wonder whether Joe Ingles’ 2016-2017 season was a little flukey.  Derrick Favors can’t ever stay healthy and isn’t a bucket-getter anyways.  The Jazz need Rodney Hood, who’s shown flashes, to really emerge as that face-up, iso-scorer this season.  He’s been great off the ball in the past, but to be relevant in the playoffs, where you need someone who can get you a bucket.  Who is that on this team?

They’re gonna be excellent defensively;  Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio are two of the best at their position on that side of the ball.

Back on the offensive side, Gobert could average like 25 points a game this season.  Since their offensive options are so limited, I’d run pick-and-roll over and over again with Rubio and Gobert.  Have fun guarding that.

The Jazz lost some depth too.  Dante Exum is out for awhile again; the history of the tall point guard lately has been brutal.  Joe Johnson, who was awesome in the postseason, can’t be relied on like that again given his age.  Thabo Selfolosha is a loose cannon, and Jonas Jerebko, another love of mine, is kinda just a minutes eater and a rebounder.

Utah might win a couple games they shouldn’t due to their defensive presence, but their inability to score will catch up to them big time.  It’s okay though.  After losing someone like Gordon Hayward, these type of seasons are supposed to happen.

Projected record: 40-42

Washington Wizards

  1. John Wall-Tim Frazier
  2. Bradley Beal-Tomas Satoransky-Jodie Meeks-Sheldon Mac
  3. Otto Porter-Kelly Oubre Jr.-Carrick Felix
  4. Markieff Morris-Jason Smith-Mike Scott-Chris McCollugh
  5. Marcin Gortat-Ian Mahinmi

Another East team running it back.  We all know how that works out.

The Wizards have some hope though.  1) John Wall is a BA.  2)  They have some pieces to trade.

This feels like a Boogie destination if the Pelicans decide to go that way.  Washington could offer Marcin Gortat (simply for a center exchange), Otto Porter (As I said in their preview, they need wings) and a protected first round pick (top 8 protected???).  I think that gets the job done; New Orleans would be wanting to get rid of him anyways.

If that doesn’t happen, Beal has to stay healthy, and John Wall has to put up a season like he did last year.  Their depth, besides Kelly Oubre Jr., is lacking.

There’s not a whole lot else to say here.  Washington will end up in the middle of the playoff seeds, anywhere from 3-5.

Projected record: 47-35

Projected Standings:


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers, 57-25
  2. Boston Celtics, 55-27
  3. Milwaukee Bucks, 54-28
  4. Toronto Raptors, 48-34
  5. Washington Wizards, 47-35
  6. Miami Heat, 46-36
  7. Philadelphia 76ers, 44-38
  8. Charlotte Hornets, 35-47
  9. Brooklyn Nets, 34-48
  10. Detroit Pistons, 30-52
  11. New York Knicks, 29-53
  12. Orlando Magic, 28-54
  13. Indiana Pacers, 27-55
  14. Atlanta Hawks, 26-56
  15. Chicago Bulls, 24-58


  1. Golden State Warriors, 70-12
  2. Houston Rockets, 57-25
  3. San Antonio Spurs, 53-29
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder, 51-31
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves, 50-32
  6. Denver Nuggets, 45-37
  7. Los Angeles Clippers, 43-39
  8. Utah Jazz, 40-42
  9. Memphis Grizzlies, 39-43
  10. Dallas Mavericks, 38-44
  11. Portland Trail Blazers, 37-45
  12. New Orleans Pelicans, 35-47
  13. Sacramento Kings, 34-48
  14. Los Angles Lakers, 33-49
  15. Phoenix Suns, 25-57