On the eve of the NBA returning, TFPP is back with our favourite roundtable discussion; Four Thought. Our team of writers like to tackle the NBA’s tough topics and throw some wild predictions around, answering four questions centred around a particular topic but focusing on our roster of teams. This year we will be joined by a guest for every edition, who will take control of the moderator’s roster and get in on the discussion.
Our first edition for Season 2017/18 is – Season Predictions. Let’s meet the panel;
Josh Lloyd – @redrock_bball – a Nikola Mirotic lookalike who still has a soft spot for the Bulls but spends his days as the Lead Fantasy Analyst for basketballmonster.com and hosting the Locked On Fantasy podcast for the Locked On Network. Josh will be taking on
Kevin Love’s David’s roster of ATL, BKN, HOU, MIL, NYK, OKC, PHX plus CLE & GSW.
Joel Noble – @Jobba0312 – a Charlotte Hornets believer who is extremely scared of what Dwight Howard might do to his team this season. Unlike Nate Wolters, Joel is focused on the NBA and goes into this season with a roster of BOS, CHA, CHI, DAL, LAL, MEM, UTA and the CLE/GSW combo.
Sam Eley – Too Old For Twitter – a Miami Heat tragic who will admittedly let his love for all things Heat cloud his judgment every once in a while. A fraction of the size of Aron Baynes, Sam looks far more like the pre-Zangief Baynes who entered the NBA. He also prefers to play outside and covers DEN, LAC, IND, MIA, ORL, PHI, SAS, CLE & GSW.
Xander Hamilton – Reeves – @xanderhr – likes to consider himself as handsome as Chris Webber in his playing days and roots hard for the Trail Blazers. Point Guard skills and a coaching background brings unique coverage to his roster of DET, MIN, NOP, POR, SAC, TOR, WAS, GSW & CLE.
Question 1: Playoff Standings – Alright guys, a nice and easy one for you to start with. What are your final playoff teams for the East and West after 82 Regular Season games?
East: 1. Boston 2. Cleveland 3. Toronto 4. Washington 5. Milwaukee 6. Miami 7. Charlotte 8. Detroit.
West: 1. Golden State 2. Houston 3. OKC 4. San Antonio 5. Minnesota 6. LA Clippers 7. Portland 8. Denver
East: 1. Cleveland 2. Boston 3. Washington 4. Toronto 5. Milwaukee 6. Miami 7. Charlotte 8. Philadelphia
West: 1. Golden State 2. Houston 3. OKC 4. San Antonio 5. LA Clippers 6. Portland 7. Denver 8. Minnesota
East: 1. Cleveland 2. Washington 3. Boston 4. Toronto 5. Miami 6. Milwaukee 7. Charlotte 8. Detroit
West:1. Golden State 2. Houston 3. San Antonio 4. OKC 5. Denver 6. Minnesota 7. Portland 8. Utah
East: 1. Cleveland 2. Boston 3. Washington 4. Toronto 5. Miami 6. Milwaukee 7. Detroit 8. Charlotte
West: 1. Golden State 2. Houston 3. San Antonio 4. OKC 5. Denver 6. Minnesota 7. Portland 8. N’Orleans
Interesting. There is a consensus top four team’s in each conference and not a great deal of difference in all the rankings overall. Looks like Joel is on his own picking Philly to make the playoffs and I don’t mind that gamble. They are actually the only extra team for East picks, with a few more extras for the Western Conference. Xander looks pretty confident on the Pelicans sneaking in, while Sam goes rogue with Utah (which I also quite like).
Question 2: NBA Regular Season Awards – Trophy time! A topic that I take quite seriously and believe certain formulas go towards winning each category. Who are your hot favourites for all the usuals: MVP, MIP, DPOY, ROY, 6MOY and COTY?
I could easily have the top five finishers for the MVP with this bunch of teams – James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Giannis Antetokounmpo – plus Steph Curry, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. But, if I’m going with my teams, I’m picking Giannis. My pick for Most Improved Player is D’Angelo Russell. He has a huge opportunity after getting shafted by horrible situations in his first two years with Los Angeles. He will score, hit threes, and dish assists and playing on a team with low expectations should allow his offensive game to thrive, especially with the high pace Kenny Atkinson likes to run at. Defensive Player – One player who is going to be able to focus all of his energy on defense is Andre Roberson in Oklahoma City. With Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joining the team, Roberson can go balls out on the defensive end 100% of the time and with so many eyes on the Thunder, his defensive prowess should be more noticeable to voters this season.
It has to be Josh Jackson for the Rookie Of The Year. He may not score enough to actually take home the award but his defense and aggression will get him minutes and a level of national attention – not to mention his hair. If Jackson can go close to average in his shooting numbers, his chances rise significantly. Jason Kidd doesn’t realise it, but Greg Monroe is the Bucks’ best centre. He is committed to playing him off the bench, so that puts him right in line to win Sixth Man Of The Year. The concern is he limits him to 20 minutes per game but Monroe was supreme last season and was actually a decent defender, despite what generally accepted narratives are about him. Finally, if the Thunder can get to 60 wins, Billy Donovan has a huge chance to nab the Coach Of The Year award. People will marvel at how he reined in Russell Westbrook and successfully blended Melo and PG into his team and play style.
MVP: James MIP: Dunn DPOY: Gobert ROY: Smith Jnr 6MOY: Smart COTY: Lue
I don’t like anyone from my roster for MVP, so will default to LeBron James. He is still the best player in the league for mine and if Cleveland can win more than last season, he and Lue should be in line for those awards. Kris Dunn is possibly a surprising choice for MIP but I am hamstrung by my roster of players a bit. With LaVine hurt, Dunn is going to get every opportunity to turn things around but I am happy to admit a win for him could be a down year for the award like Brogdon for ROY last season. Rudy Gobert for DPOY, speaks for itself. Utah will need a Top 5 defense again if they are any chance to make the playoffs and Rudy will be a big reason for that. Dennis Smith Jnr is my shortest priced favourite for an award this year and I am already a big fan. He is going to get the best opportunity for minutes and shots, so I expect eye-catching numbers. If Marcus Smart continues off the bench, I’d expect similar numbers to Eric Gordon last year with a rise in efficiency and the box score stuffing stats from playing the one and two for Boston.
My MVP – Kevin Durant – mainly due to the fact he was on track before the injury last season. LBJ didn’t win the MVP the first year on the Heat, so I think KD is in line this year. My MIP – Myles Turner – who is going to have the usage and shots to see his overall stats jump up. He might be a case of not actually improving but just getting more opportunity but that often happens with the award. My DPOY – Kawhi Leonard – because he’s the best perimeter defender in the game. I actually expect a huge year from Kawhi that will result in just falling short in the MVP race, so this award will be his consolation prize.
My ROY – Ben Simmons – as a second year rookie that looks to have enough of a jump on the current Rookie class. My 6MOY – James Johnson – if the Heat continues with Kelly Olynyk in the starting unit, then Johnson as a sixth man candidate makes sense. He finished fifth last season in voting, so he definitely has the awareness to win. My COTY – Steve Kerr – who didn’t get it last season and if the Warriors win big, then it could be a case of who is the coach of the league’s best team?
I’m going with Joel, LeBron James is the real #MVP. He’s the only thing keeping that team together and the Cavs are comfortably the best team in the East. Is he bordering on being underrated now? I’ll go with my boy Jusuf Nurkic for #MIP, as he’s likely to have a big jump in PPG, RPG and BPG and if the Blazers improve their record on last season – Nurk will get all the credit. #DPOY honours should go to Anthony Davis. Outside of Draymond, Davis is the best stats defender on a team that will likely be Top 10 in defense again.
The only rookie on my roster for #ROY is De’Aaron Fox and I can’t be saved by the Cavs or Warriors, although I do love Jordan Bell. Fox is explosive and should have the stats to backup the highlights. I don’t have a lot of #6MOY options either, but Gorgui Dieng will certainly get the minutes off the bench for a much-improved Wolves team. Minnesota is pretty thin, so Dieng will likely get all the credit for any decent bench play. I will go with Sam for #COTY and Steve Kerr. I don’t see a lot of options within my roster of teams and similar to Pop, Kerr could arguably win it every year for as long as he stays at the Warriors.
Some good picks there and a little bias creeping in, which is always expected. Good on you Joel for not trying to sneak Dwight Howard in somehow. I’m a big fan of the LeBron MVP calls, as well as Kerr for COTY. I think both will hit the historical criteria I like for those awards. ROY and 6MOY are points awards, so I agree with Joel’s Smith Jr. pick (I do love Simmons though) and Josh’s Monroe one. I’m a Dray for DPOY guy but I like the Leonard pick from Sam and Josh’s Russell pick for MIP is a great pick!
Question 3: Las Vegas Over/Unders – A little bit of gambling for you! Based on the Vegas Over/Under Lines, I want a certainty on either side. Give me one team that will easily go over their Wins Line and one team that will struggle to reach theirs?
I love the Houston over at 55.5. The Rockets won 55 games last season and added Chris Paul, PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. They should have improved play from Clint Capela too. Yes, they did lose Pat Beverley and Lou Williams but it’s an upgrade overall and I can’t see how they don’t best last year’s win total.
The Milwaukee Bucks won 42 games last season and Vegas has them at 47.5. I’ll take the hard under. They won’t have Jabari Parker until February, and even then, he won’t be at full strength. Giannis Antetokounmpo could improve and they do get a fully healthy Khris Middleton plus growth from Thon Maker, but I don’t think it translates into an additional six wins.
It’s an easy out but I’ll take the Over for the Cavs at 53.5. The East somehow got worse again and that should give Cleveland an advantage on hitting the over. LeBron is going to play this season possessed, after Irving left and his old buddy Wade comes in. They did only win 51 last season but I’ve got them comfortably getting to 56.
Under has to be the Grizz. 37.5 should be feasible but all things considered, Parsons will likely fizzle out quickly and Memphis lost Allen, Carter and Z-Bo. I’m going Under on the Grizzlies and think they’ll be making changes by the end of the year.
Over – Spurs 54.5. Spurs gonna Spur. They won 61 games last year and I just can’t see them dropping 6 -7 games this season. I’ve got them slipping to third in the West but that’s no easy feat in that conference and San Antonio should still win over 55 in my opinion.
Under – Clippers 43.5. I don’t trust Blake Griffin and/or Danillo Gallinari to stay healthy. If either goes down, I just can’t see a way that they can get there. Even with those guys I think it could be a struggle due to the amount of change but you can all but guarantee there will be some missed games through injury for the Clippers.
I’ve got Detroit at 7th in my Eastern standings, so I am doubling down on them being good enough to cover 38.5. The East is that bad, so surely with even just a little internal improvement, the Pistons can get there.
The Kings aren’t sniffing the playoffs and in all likelihood should be a safe bet at the Under at 28.5. Sacramento should be playing too many kids for too many minutes and next to no incentive to win. Plus, they have their pick this year but not next. If they know what’s good for them, the Under is the way to go.
No complaints from me here. Happy to back Josh in on his picks for my roster, as I would have likely come up with the same two choices. I’m bullish on the Clippers but even 44 wins is tough for me to swallow. Perhaps my biggest questions would be the Spurs and Kings, who I just get the feeling might not be quite the teams we are used to seeing.
Question 4: #OzWoj Predictions – We love a prediction here at TFPP, so to refresh you and fill in Josh; an OzWoj is a #WojBomb type event, worthy of Adrian Wojnarowski breaking the story on Twitter. Throw one crazy prediction out there that has a chance (however small) of happening this season and give us the nitty gritty details?
If I’m looking for a big news story that has some likelihood of happening, it’s that the Hawks fire Mike Budenholzer. Bud has already lost control of the front office and the direction of the franchise. So, if he doesn’t acquiesce to Travis Schlenk’s vision of a total rebuild by playing veterans at the expense of young guys and getting more wins than necessary, he could find himself on the way out. It does seem unlikely, but things are not all okay in Atlanta.
Marc Gasol is traded by the Memphis Grizzlies. If the Grizz start poorly, it could be time to say goodbye to the big Spaniard and collect some decent future assets in return. Parsons simply can’t be moved and there isn’t much of a market for Point Guard’s at the moment, even though Conley is very good. Gasol might therefore be the first to go and whilst I won’t give a specific trade scenario, I will give my top three destinations for both fit and getting a deal done. Boston, Milwaukee and San Antonio. Can we somehow get Gasol and Conley on the Spurs with Leonard and Pop?
Call me a pessimist but my prediction is another Joel Embiid season-ending injury in 2017/18. After recently signing his extension, there is going to be some nervous people every time Embiid hits the deck within a game. Me included, as I drafted him in an ESPN Fantasy Auction League. Honestly, I hope it doesn’t happen but history suggests the odds aren’t great and if it’s something like an ACL injury that’s not protected in the new contract, Philly could be in big trouble.
I have a trade to announce! Two of my teams, New Orleans and Washington, could potentially do a deal with one another before the trade deadline. With Boogie Cousins about to enter Free Agency, the Pelicans might look to deal him if things don’t work out with Davis & Co. Is there a more suitable landing spot than the Wizards, with Boogie and Wall re-uniting? Getting Porter to agree to a trade while he has veto rights could be tough but isn’t out of the question. A deadline deal of Gortat & Porter for Cousins & Hill, at least works from a financial perspective.
Wow! That is some serious #OzWojin’. If I had to order things in terms of how likely they are to happen, I would say an Embiid injury tops the list, followed by a Gasol trade, a Bud firing and a Boogie to Washington deal. However, if I went with what I’d LOVE to see happen. It would be more like; Boogie Deal, Gasol Deal, Bud Firing and Embiid injury. Seriously, the offseason was crazy for moves but let’s continue the chaos. Plus, can we PLEASE just get one full Embiid season? I’ll take this season, which may or may not have something to do with sharing Sam’s fantasy team.
That concludes our first edition of Four Thought for the 17/18 Season. Thanks for reading and please give comment your answers on the article or whichever platform you came from. We will be back again soon with another guest and a new topic.