The NBA Season Is Back And These Are Our Picks for 2017 Champs
Today is the day — the flying orange balls are back in action. More of the Presidential election? No, the NBA is returning to the courts for the 2016-17 season, and we’ve got our sights on the top picks. While the Cavs upset the Warriors in the back half of last season’s finals, we expect a very different outlook this year, as well as a fresh start for some of our favorite franchises. Tune in for NBA action and get classic Marv Albert, shiny cheerleaders, crybaby Lebron and hopefully a little appearance from the great Craig Sager. On, but no Kobe Bryant.
10. Boston Celtics (Expected Number of Wins: 46)
Leading off their season on Oct. 26 against the Nets, the Celtics will look to further their strong efforts of late last season, the first we’d seen since the disbanding of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. With Al Horford now in the lineup, he’ll get to help show everyone the luck of the Irish when they rival up with former Celtic, Raja Rondo, as he takes point for the Bulls on Oct.27. Look for LaMarcus Aldridge to possibly jump ship to Boston, should things not go well in Texas, which could make Boston move up the ranks of this lovely list.
9. Toronto Raptors (Expected Number of Wins: 48)
The Raptors have been successful at pulling top rank in the East the past few years, but they’re not much of a playoff contender. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are fired up and ready to lead the charge, but they’re going to have to step it up from last season, being one of the few potential teams to remove King James from his throne of bad acting and fake tears. Ultimately, we imagine they’ll blow some doors off in the season but fall short when the playoffs up the ante.
8. Detroit Pistons (Expected Number of Wins: 49)
Detroit was the underdog of the East last year, rising up the ranks and only gaining speed like a good piston is meant to help do. Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are back, already showing competitive signs between them and the three-way consolation prize teams to Cleveland (Atlanta, Washington, Toronto). Expect Detroit to pack about as hard as the Clippers will in the East, but mid-season won’t be nearly as telling as the back half, especially if the Pistons kick it into high gear the way they did last time. They’ll face the Raptors in the season tip-off, which could be very telling how those two will match up in the race for second.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (Expected Number of Wins: 57)
Although they were up in the final four of the playoffs last year, it felt like a distant second in the West. Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter are all set to hit the floor, possibly together for the last year as Carter moves in on 20 years in the league and possibly 60 years of age (actually, it’s 40 but feels like forever). With this being a possible final push on his three-year deal, we expect the boys in blue to push extra hard this year, but beating the Warriors is looking fairly insurmountable. The team picked up Matt Costello and Kellen Dunham just in time to face off against the Timberwolves on Oct. 26.
6. Chicago Bulls (Expected Number of Wins: 55)
They didn’t even make the playoffs last year, but it wasn’t for lack of a solid roster. Injury, inner turmoil and new coaching styles plagued one of the potentially best teams in East last year, but now Chicago is back after trading out most of its starters and then some. With Derrick Rose moving east with Noah, and Pau Gasol heading south, the Bulls were allowed to make salary space to bring on Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo in a couple unexpected bold moves for the conservative franchise. We expected a few rebuilding years with Jimmy Butler at the epicenter carrying the torch alone, but it looks like the Bulls have a real shot at the Eastern finals, if they can find some cohesion with Coach Hoiberg at the helm. But then again, they couldn’t get it last year with a great team so pack a lunch on that idea. The Pippen marital woes could be more interesting.
5. San Antonio Spurs (Expected Number of Wins: 58)
This could be the beginning of a slump for the Spurs, or it could be a fresh start. With the release of Tim Duncan, the Spurs will bring in another big veteran, Pau Gasol, to replace the high-percentage shooting. However, Gasol has been known to be silent on many occasions, so it’ll be up to the shooters, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, to pick up the leftover slack.
Personally, this feels like a year for the Spurs to let Golden State do their thing and rebuild over the next few years around a new player, possibly Leonard or LaMarcus Aldridge, if they can hang onto him while the core three (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili) fade into the woodwork of the AT&T Center.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (Expected Number of Wins: 60)
Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, along with the resigning of Jamal Crawford, has the Clippers back and healthy. If they hadn’t been hurt or thrown a few punches last season, they might’ve seen their way further through the playoffs. Consider this year a do-over.
3. Indiana Pacers (Expected Number of Wins: 62)
Although Indiana is so boring a state they couldn’t pick a single city to host the team, the Pacers are back and more exciting than ever with the return of Paul George and the addition of Jeff Teague (Atlanta), Thaddeus Young (Brooklyn) and Al Jefferson (Charlotte). The Pacers were already a top contender in the East, but this year we expect them to be close behind the Cavs in what could be a neck-in-neck race.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (Expected Number of Wins: 65)
Gloat all you can, Lebron. You just won your last title. Once Oct. 25 hits, it’s back to the crybaby Cavs way until someone gives him another ring, but unfortunately for Cleveland, their over-the-budget salary cap and loss of devilish Matthew Dellavaedova and Timofey Mozgov will only slow their roll. They did grab veteran shooter, Michael Dunleavy, but he’ll be hurt half the season, and they will need all they can get against the golden trio in Oakland. With the possible addition of Demarcus Cousins, which requires axing a few more players, that would be a big move for Cleveland right before season tip-off, making them another superstar team and boring us with countless wins until the finals hit.
1. Golden State Warriors (Expected Number of Wins: 77 (Only 5 losses)
Considering they broke the record for most wins ever by an NBA team last year, albeit they choked in the finals, we’re wondering if this season is even worth playing now that they’ve added on of the best players in the league (Kevin Durant) to the roster. With an all-star starting lineup and one of the best in the Sixth Man category, the Warriors could withstand multiple injuries and still win with ease. Hell, if it’s five-on-three in the finals with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant, they’d be alright. Let’s see if anyone can beat the Splash Fam.