The NBA season is upon us! With the creation and breakdown of multiple franchises, the NBA landscape is drastically altered. The Clippers made huge off season moves adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but the Lakers wouldn’t go down without a fight as they added Anthony Davis. The 76ers lost Jimmy Butler, but they added Josh Richardson and kept the nucleus of the team together. Bottom line, the days of a Warriors vs. Cavaliers final on repeat is over. With the start of the NBA just underway, I decided to breakdown my picks for multiple end-of-season awards and the NBA Finals. Here are my opinions below:
MVP- Steph Curry: Steph Curry will have to do something that he hasn’t had to for many years: carry the team on his back. Yes, the Warriors have Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell, but neither athlete is anywhere near the caliber of either Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant. Curry is in danger of missing the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference. The Warriors don’t have a prayer if Curry can’t perform at peak levels. Curry is a prolific scorer, and the Warriors can still pull off an upset or two, but not if their superstar can’t be that catalyst. Curry should have just enough support to register a tremendous statistical season, but it won’t be enough to get to a title.
ROTY- Ja Morant: Ja Morant exploded onto the scene with his high-flying dunks and crazy athleticism. After registering a blowout upset in the 2019 March Madness tournament, Morant became a top-3 lock in the upcoming NBA Draft. Even if Zion Williamson played the full season, which we now know he won’t, Morant is still the easy pick for ROTY. Morant joins the Memphis Grizzlies, and he is already the best player on the roster. Morant will rack up great numbers, and he will be the #1 option all season long to score for the Grizzlies. With his handles, speed, and court IQ, Morant is an offensive and defensive force. Morant will be a perennial all-star, and it starts with an incredible rookie year.
6th Man- Montrezl Harrell: Despite the fact he will get overlooked on a loaded Clippers roster, the Clippers need a player like Montrezl Harrell. Harrell adds a tremendous inside presence with both his scoring and defense. He averaged 16.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in just 26.3 MPG last season. The Clippers’ big man adds a much-needed presence off the bench, and he is an offensive and defensive playmaker every second he is on the court. Harrell is easily a starter on most NBA rosters, and it’s incredible to have an athlete like that not even starting.
MIP- Markelle Fultz: Markelle Fultz was a #1 draft pick; his numbers, well, they don’t reflect that. Fultz had an incredibly underwhelming career with the 76ers. Fultz had tremendous confidence issues, and he even forgot how to shoot completely. Fultz is now with the Magic, and he has an opportunity to start over fresh this season. He is still incredibly athletic, and his workouts this offseason look promising. This is easy because of how bad he has been. Fultz has the greatest range to improve. In an award titled “most improved,” Fultz has the widest range that he can improve. The sky is the limit for Fultz because he’s been scrapping the bottom for a while.
COTY- Brett Brown: Brett Brown has the best roster the 76ers have seen in an incredibly long time. The 76ers have an incredibly tall and lengthy roster, and they also have the ability to improve greatly. Tobias Harris can improve his shooting. Ben Simmons, well, he needs to learn how to shoot. Joel Embiid needs to work on his health and continue to develop. Not only are the 76ers loaded with all-stars but also, they have young stars like Matisse Thybulle and Zhaire Smith. The 76ers compete in the Eastern Conference, which is much weaker than the Western Conference. The 76ers should only have one real opponent in the East to get past – The Milwaukee Bucks, – and after that, it should be smooth sailing. I don’t think the 76ers have the best team in the league, but they should have the best record.
Finals Prediction- Clippers vs. 76ers: I mentioned above that I think the 76ers have the best chance to escape in the East. They are loaded with depth, height, and defensive ability. If the 76ers learn how to knockdown perimeter shots, they could win it all. The Clippers are the best team in the West. They added an all-star, two-way player in Paul George, and the best player in the league, Kawhi Leonard, all in one offseason. The Clippers also boast depth and experience. For me, there is little wiggle room in my NBA Finals prediction. Both the Clippers and 76ers are made of experience, depth, talent, and ability to grow; this is the combination for glory.
NBA Champion: Clippers: When it comes down to it, Kawhi Leonard won the NBA Finals Pascal Siakam and others contributed, but, ultimately, Leonard is the reason The Raptors have an NBA Championship. Leonard elevated an entire roster of perennial losers to NBA fame. Now, Leonard has a stacked roster and the chance to cement his legacy even further. The Clippers need less polishing than the 76ers, and I think they will need less work to reach their best form. I think the series will go six games, but if the Clippers emerge after being tested all season in the Western Conference, they will find a way to get it done.