The 2017-18 NBA season begins tonight so the Denver Stiffs are here to put their predictions in writing, free for the internet to mock in 7 months when we are all way off! Today we make NBA predictions. Tomorrow we’ll drop our Denver Nuggets predictions. Make your predictions in the comment section below!
By Evan Fiala
Last season showcased a historic MVP race but even just months later the dynamics of the NBA have completely changed. Russell Westbrook will be hard pressed to average a triple-double again and has more help than ever with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony by his side. James Harden has to share with Chris Paul. As good as the Warriors will be, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry take away from each other in MVP-related categories. Kawhi Leonard will continue to be dominant on both ends of the floor and is deserving of the award, but is not flashy enough to attract attention from the voters. It’s been four years since the best player on Earth has been rightfully awarded MVP. This season it’s going back to LeBron James.
Most improved player
by Adam Mares
I’m sorry, Nuggets fans, but I think our ol’ friend Nurk is headed for an MIP season. After arriving in Portland last February, Nurk doubled his per game stats in nearly every category. Even his free throw shooting improved by 17%! Now, with an entire season in his new home, Nurk will likely see his numbers continue to rise. In total last season, Nurkic averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block. This season, I wouldn’t be surprised if his averages were closer to what they were in Portland at 15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. Only 15 players have ever had those averages and the names on that list are impressive; Robinson, Abdul-Jabbar, Ewing. So brace yourself, nuggets fans.
|Jusuf Nurkic||Emmanuel Mudiay||D'Angelo Russell||Myles Turner||Myles Turner||Myles Turner||Kristaps Porzingis||Nikola Jokic||Buddy Hield||Jusuf Nurkic|
Defensive player of the year
by Gordon Gross
This is an award that tends to be centered on a couple of players (no pun intended) from year to year. Most players who win one will win more than one, and most of those players in the last two decades have been centers. Kawhi Leonard is the exception, since Draymond Green essentially plays the center position for Golden State. The battle will be between a very small handful of players, and we have it to just two: will it be Draymond, the guy who has already has one and who takes the Warriors from amazing to transcendent, or will it be Rudy Gobert, the defensive powerhouse and now central focus of his team (again, no pun intended)? Our writers are evenly split, so I’m going with Gobert. He led the league in blocks last year and likely will again, and without Gordon Hayward to share the limelight it really will be Gobert’s team to drive. Dikembe Mutombo won 4 DPOY awards in a different time - now we’ll see if another defensive force at center can do the same in this offensive era.
|Draymond Green||Rudy Gobert||Rudy Gobert||Draymond Green||Rudy Gobert||Draymond Green||Rudy Gobert||Rudy Gobert||Draymond Green||Draymond Green|
By Kayla Osby
In what is arguably the toughest division in the NBA, I will make the (not so) bold prediction that the Oklahoma City Thunder will finish at the top. It's possible every team in this division will be improved from last year (with the likely exception of the Utah Jazz, who lost Gordon Hayward in free agency). Still, with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, it's hard seeing another team beat them out for the top spot. We got a preview of this team during the preseason when the Nuggets faced off with them, and they are a high-powered offensive team that is going to be very hard to stop. Unlike last season, they will have a superstar on the court at all times, which will likely take a lot of pressure off of Russell Westbrook and this means no rests for the opposing team on the defensive end. Aren't we lucky to be in this division?
By Adam Mares
The Lakers, Kings, and Suns will all probably stop trying to win games before Christmas and the Clippers are relying on the health of two of the most fragile players in the NBA: Danilo Gallinari and Blake Griffin. They’re also the Clippers, and you should never bet on the Clippers. Lastly, there is the Warriors, the reigning NBA champions who somehow managed to get better in the offseason and might go 82-0. So don’t overthink this one. The Warriors will finish light-years ahead of everyone else.
By Zach Mikash
This is probably the toughest division to pick in the whole NBA. The Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs both have the look of top 4 teams in the West. There’s a very good chance both are above 50 wins at the end of the season. However, Kawhi’s injury situation is troublesome while an already potent Rockets team added arguably the greatest point guard of all time. There will likely be some early bumps as there usually is when star caliber players team up , but once Houston figures it out, they should have enough firepower to push them close to 60 wins and above the Spurs in the standings.
By Ryan Blackburn
This may be the most interesting two-team division race, with apologies to the Rockets and Spurs. The Toronto Raptors are bringing their band back together that won 51 games last year. The Boston Celtics are completely changing things up after acquiring Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. I’m usually a fan of continuity though, and I have Toronto edging out Boston by two wins. The Celtics’ moves are sexier, but the Raptors missed Kyle Lowry for 22 games and still made it to 51 wins. The year before, he played 77 games and they won 56. If Lowry is healthy and what Ibaka showed in his brief stint north of the border is real, I like the Raptors winning the Atlantic division.
By Zach Mikash
Is there really any debate here? Despite Kyrie Irving forcing his way out of town, the Cavaliers still look like the most loaded team in the East, let alone the Central Division. As long as Isaiah Thomas gets a clean bill of health, then Cleveland arguably has an even better roster than last season. They’ve shored up they’re lack of playmaking outside of LeBron and the point guard spot by adding Dwyane Wade. They added some defensive toughness and versatility with Jae Crowder and if they can get anything out of Derrick Rose from the backup point guard spot then they’re going to be difficult to defend all 48 minutes of the game. However, for the first time since LeBron returned to Cleveland, there’s a clear contender for the division title on the horizon. While the Milwaukee Bucks probably don’t have much of chance to win the division this year, that’s likely to change very soon, whether or not LeBron stays in Cleveland long term.
by Gordon Gross
The Washington Wizards made a clean sweep on our predictions, and why not? John Wall and Bradley Beal both took steps that have been expected for them, and newly-extended Otto Porter brings great spacing and defensive potential to the mix while still having a higher ceiling he can reach. They have two bruising centers (if they can stay healthy) and a bench with some capable players that need to step up. Kelly Oubre is their version of Boston’s Jaylen Brown, and with health and aggressive play I think they can be a tough out for any non-Cleveland team in the East - especially if they can get home court over a team like the Celtics who might have more of an adjustment period.
They shouldn’t have a lot of challengers for the division crown; Atlanta and Orlando are going through different kinds of rebuilding, while Charlotte might be capped in their current iteration and the Heat have to figure out whether they are the team of the first half of last year or the second half. That should mean that Washington can set its sights higher than this title, and work on breaking through to the conference finals.
Eastern conference finals
by Gordon Gross
The Cavaliers and Celtics rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals has seemed pre-ordained for much of this offseason. The news about Isaiah Thomas’s hip issues hasn’t done much to dampen Cleveland’s buzz, and Kyrie Irving talking trash about Cleveland 5 seconds after he left makes it a broadcaster’s dream (which is a strange thing to say about any Cleveland sport that doesn’t involve LeBron James). The problem with that notion is that Boston was completely outclassed against Bron, and swapping in more offensive firepower in Irving and Gordon Hayward won’t necessarily help a team that may have significant issues stopping anyone. Don’t be surprised if a team like Washington can catch the Celtics in a couple of poor shooting games and make a suprise appearance in the EC Finals, but otherwise we’re expecting to see the rematch - with the same results as last year.
|Cavaliers over Celtics||Cavaliers over Celtics||Cavaliers over Wizards||Celtics over Cavaliers||Celtics-Cavaliers||Cavs over Celtics||Cavaliers over Celtics||Cavaliers over Celtics||Celtics||Cavaliers over Celtics|
Western conference finals
By Zach Mikash
Why the hell not people? Why the hell not?! Look, I’m bored with the Warriors winning, I’m even more bored with them playing the Cavaliers. I don’t think Cleveland stands any chance of beating Golden State in the finals (we’re a Draymond Green suspension away from everyone talking about how lopsided of a three peat the Warriros have had), so for my desire for parody to come true, it’s going to have to happen in the Western conference finals. I like how the Thunder matchup up too, the only legitimate defensive concern in a playoff series in their starting lineup is Carmelo Anthony, and he’d be on Draymond who’s great and all, but if you’re playing the Warriors that’s who you want to make beat you. The Thunder also look like a team who’s going to want to play physical, which may be the only way to beat the mighty Warriors.
|Warriors over Rockets||Thunder over Warriors||Warriors over Thunder||Warriors over Spurs||Warriors-Thunder||Warriors over whoever||Warriors over Rockets||Warriors||Warriors over Thunder|
By Ryan Blackburn
Well, I have the Warriors winning things. I also have the Cavaliers getting back to the Finals in an Isaiah Thomas-Jae Crowder revenge tour. Sadly, I don’t think the Cavs improved enough to give the Warriors any trouble. Golden State will have won 70 games or close to it, while the Cavs will have had to fight pretty hard to return to the Finals this time around. Is there really that much to talk about here? The Warriors have four All-Stars, two top five players, and they got even more Swaggy this offseason!
|Warriors||Thunder||Warriors||Warriors||Warriors-Celtics||Warriors||Warriors over Cavaliers||Warriors||Warriors||Warriors over Cavaliers|