Way Too Early NBA Predictions

Luke O'Connell, Editor-in-Chief

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     As the new season of NBA action rolls around, I decided it would be fun to provide Lance readers with some way too early NBA power rankings and award projections. To kick things off, I’ll project winners of Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year. I’ll then dive into power rankings, discussing the 5 teams that will lead the league.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

     First off, I think either Giannis Antetokounmpo will end up earning his second MVP in two years this season. After leading his team to the Eastern Conference Finals, and a 60 win season (only the fourth in franchise history), the Greek Freak is sure to make just as big of an impact on the court as he did last year. As Antetokounmpo has played, he’s consistently improved his game, and stats. One thing he could improve on is his versatility, as he is much more proficient around the rim than from three point range. If he manages to improve from deep while continuing to excel in the paint, the Bucks’ star should be able to continue his reign as league MVP. I considered James Harden for MVP, but with the recent addition of Russell Westbrook to the Rockets, Harden will likely average less time with the ball in his hand, meaning he may have less of an impact on the court.

     For Rookie of the Year, I’ve got Ja Morant or RJ Barrett over Zion Williamson for a number of reasons. First off, Williamson will be on a relatively good Pelicans team, which may make it tough for him to excel. He’ll have players like Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram surrounding him, which means he won’t need to shoulder the offensive load. Morant on the other hand, will be in Memphis, which is a relatively small market team, meaning he’ll have the spotlight. Williamson also lacks experience which other freshmen have, like RJ Barrett, who’s already played on the Canadian national team.

     For the upcoming season, Los Angeles tops the list power rankings wise. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the Clippers and Lebron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers, it’ll be exciting to see who comes out on top in the west.

     At number one, I’ve got the Clippers. With an eventful offseason, signing Leonard and trading for George, Lob City has set themselves up for a deep playoff run at the least. To back those two up, the Clippers will have Lou Williams and Pat Beverly to round off an already stacked roster. It’ll be easy for Leonard to find inspiration in LA, as it’s his hometown, which may prove to help him have just as good of a season as he did last year.

     For number two, I’ve picked the Lakers duo of Lebron James and Anthony Davis. After signing Demarcus Cousins over the offseason, the Lake Show is bound to make a playoff run on the backs of these three all stars. The reason the Lakers are at two instead of one is mainly Lebron’s age. He may be the GOAT, but he’s over the hump, and compared to Leonard and his past season, he won’t be making an impact worthy of the number one spot.

     The Milwaukee Bucks are number three, but mainly because of the Greek Freak. Coming off of an MVP season, Giannis is set to put the team on his back yet again, with the help of the Lopez brothers in the paint. Though they lost Malcolm Brogdon over the offseason, the Bucks should be able to stay consistent.

     At fourth, I’ve got the Philadelphia 76ers with Joel Embiid and Al Horford. Though the City of Brotherly Love lost both JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler in the offseason, they picked up Horford to pair with Embiid down low. Ben Simmons is sure to have improved over the summer and Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson are sure to add to the team’s overall firepower.

     Finally, I’ve got, surprisingly, the Jazz at fifth. With the pick up of Mike Conley to add to Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, the Jazz may end up going deeper than people expect this year. The star-studded backcourt will surely be helped out by the fan favorite Joe Ingles along with Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic.

     In summary, the NBA will be exciting to watch this year. With an impressive draft class and some influential offseason moves, it looks like the west will dominate over the east yet again.