Our writers look ahead to the new NBA season with a series of predictions from eventual champion through to underachieving team and Defensive Player of the Year.
Let us know your predictions in the comments or tweet us @FranchiseSprts.
Matthew Bowen: The Lakers. I feel like LeBron took all the criticism of the Lakers at the end of last season personally. Along with AD, he’s gonna make it his mission to reap revenge on a league who dared question his greatness
Sam Cox: The Sixers. Keep Embiid healthy and Philly can go all the way. Their size will be a nightmare for any opponent.
Joe Cox: Philadelphia 76ers. They may have lost two shot makers in J.J Reddick and Jimmy Butler but they have gotten even bigger and may well have the best defence in the league and defence is what makes the difference in the big postseason moments.
Matthew Bowen: Russell Westbrook. It’s hard to predict MVP these days due to “load management”. So, who better to pick than the guy who goes all out every night? Westbrook under D’Antoni is going to be a super juiced Steve Nash.
Sam Cox: Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets are being slept on at the moment. Accompanied by Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Joker will make sure that doesn’t last too long.
Joe Cox: Steph Curry. The only reason that he has not been a front runner the past few years is down to being surrounded by other All-Star level players. With Kevin Durant gone and Klay Thompson out for half of season, Curry will take a lot more shots and he has something to prove again after losing in the finals.
Matthew Bowen: The LA Clippers. I just don’t like Paul George. I also don’t believe that a team can have two ball dominant forwards on their team. What made the Clippers so good last year was their sense of ‘team’. I think that will be lost this season with the arrival of Kawhi and PG.
Sam Cox: Orlando Magic. After a brilliant end to last season, the Magic might find themselves a borderline playoff team again unless Markelle Fultz breaks out.
Joe Cox: Houston Rockets. They have acquired another All-Star player in Russell Westbrook but he is not the athlete of a few years ago. The partnership of Westbrook and Harden can only work if Harden accepts a lesser role and even then the fit is questionable.
Matthew Bowen: The Sacramento Kings. The NBA’s dark horses.
Sam Cox: Toronto Raptors. This roster is still really good, Pascal Siakam is awesome, OG Anunoby is back. If Masai Ujiri keeps the veterans, they should be a top four team.
Joe Cox: Atlanta Hawks. They have added De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish to their young core of Trae Young and John Collins. The youth movement combined with the experience of Vince Carter and Chandler Parsons means that they will continue to build on their successes of late last season and sneak into a playoff spot.
Matthew Bowen: De’Aaron Fox. Guy plays like a young Westbrook. Going to make his mark this season leading the Kings to the playoffs.
Sam Cox: Lauri Markkanen. I think the Bulls might actually be kinda good this season. Markkanen and Wendell Carter can become a really fun frontcourt.
Joe Cox: Trae Young. He has very similar attributes to Steph Curry and would have been an All-Star of the second half of the season. With even more talent around him this season maybe the first of many All-Star seasons for Young.
Matthew Bowen: The Houston Rockets. As mentioned previously, Westbrook with D’Antoni as well as James Harden continuing to do James Harden type things all year.
Sam Cox: Chicago Bulls. Whether I’ve overestimated the Bulls or not, they should be entertaining. The mix of young talent with the toughness of Satoransky and Young makes for some watchable basketball.
Joe Cox: New Orleans Pelicans. They have the most anticipated draft talent in over a decade and a group of very talented young players with something to prove.
Defensive Player of the Year
Matthew Bowen: Giannis. Haven’t mentioned him yet. Feel he deserves a mention on the list and of course, the guy is already stellar at defence.
Sam Cox: Anthony Davis. The Lakers need Davis to carry a heavy load defensively – he will be able to handle it.
Joe Cox: Rudy Gobert. There is a reason that he has won the award for the last two years. He is considered a “star” manly for his defensive capabilities. He will go down as one of the most dominant defenders in the history of the sport.