2019 NBA predictions


Keith Allison

Giannis Antetokounmpo, a player for the Milwaukee Bucks, during a game.

Peter Styx, Staff Reporter

The start of the NBA season has been a complete toss-up. No one would have predicted what has happened to the Warriors, Suns and even the Heat. The entire Warriors starting lineup has gone to waste, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, D’Angelo Russell, and Draymond Green all injured, at the SAME TIME. The Suns have come out of nowhere and are starting out HOT, with a record of 5-2 in the first week or so. At the same time, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden are making their stances to become repeat MVP’s.

I have all sorts of opinions and predictions for who will make the playoffs, and some of them are bold.
For the Western Conference, you have sleeper teams all over the place, and the 8 spots in the playoffs do not truly show off all of the talented teams in the Western Conference. There are not really any truly obvious bid teams in the West, as teams who were awful last year seem to be starting off really hot and the dynasty in Golden State can not seem to stay healthy. For teams that will miss the playoffs, I think that the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers will not make the cut. Although all these teams have started off strong, I just do not think that their success will keep up, plus the West is so good that they will barely not make it. Following that, I think that the 8-1 seeds will be:

Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
Denver Nuggets
Dallas Mavericks
Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns
Sacramento Kings

As I said before, the West is completely stacked, and it is even hard for great teams led by top-notch players and coaches to fit into all 8 spots. The first three seeds are the teams everyone thinks are serious contenders in the West this year. The Luka Doncic led Mavericks are easily a four seed and the way they have played this year backs it up. When it comes to the Rockets and Warriors, although they aren’t playing the best right now for all sorts of reasons, there is no way they are not making the playoffs. As far as the last two spots, I think that the Suns will finally be able to find the spark plug they needed in Devin Booker as he leads them to their first playoff appearance since 2010.

Booker, a promising young scorer, will hopefully be able to keep up his pace of being a leading scorer in the league and help his fellow teammates get to that desperately needed playoff appearance. Finally, the Kings, with all the young talent on their team, including leaders such as De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, will most definitely find their way into the tight 8th spot.

As far as the East Coast goes, it’s a little bit easier. There are the obvious front runners, and a ton of mediocre teams wrapping up the rest of the spots. At the same time, it can be hard to tell which of those possible .500 teams can fight for a spot in the playoffs. Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are the obvious front runners. There are also upcoming teams such as the Brooklyn Nets, who have key additions this year such as Kyrie Irving and an injured Kevin Durant (a return this year is a little bold, but Irving can still carry the team). That also leaves a ton of teams such as the Hawks, Pacers, Hornets, and Heat who are serious contenders for a playoff spot. That leaves the 8-1 seeds coming out to be:

Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat
Boston Celtics
Brooklyn Nets
Indiana Pacers
Charlotte Hornets

It is hard to determine exactly what spots the Eastern Conference will teams place into, but based on how they are looking in the first week or so, these predictions should be pretty accurate. The 76ers are a pretty clear cut to finish first in the East. The Bucks and Raptors are runner ups but they will not finish as well as the stacked starting lineup of the 76ers. Giannis Antentokounmpo will be able to lead his team to the second spot purely based on his strength playing on both sides of the court. The Raptors, although they lost their star player in Kawhi Leonard, have a team of role players led by Pascal Siakam, and they will be able to easily find their way back to the top half of the Eastern Conference. After that, with the addition of Jimmy Butler, the Heat will be able to beat the Celtics for the higher spot. Finally, the Nets, Pacers, and Hornets will fill out the East and make it a tough battle to get there.

If things play out in the way they should, there should be an interesting, competitive season ahead of us. Who knows how long these predictions will stay relevant, but this is how I see the NBA playing out this season: eventful and jam-packed.