Predicting NBA Playoff teams

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

Second week into the NBA and we have seen a UFC style fight, multiple overtime buzzer beaters and of course social media pettiness. With such a short time to analyze the NBA season, that means it is time to overreact and make end of season predictions

First, I believe the Los Angeles Lakers will miss the playoffs. A number of factors come into making this claim that Lebron James will miss the playoffs for the first time since his second season in the NBA. The Western conference is just a different animal than the East, and Lebron is starting to see it.

The Timberwolves and the Nuggets proved that to make it to the playoffs every win matters and you have to win over 45 games to even be the eighth seed in the West. Last year with the Cavaliers James won 50 games, but only faced the Warriors or the Rockets twice each and lost all four matchups. He plays both teams four times with a team that does not contain another all-star. In fact, out of the 16 matchups last year against the Western conference playoff teams, James and company went 5-11. He will see these teams more often and with a team that has not proven themselves to be better than last year’s Cavaliers.

The Lakers are 1-3 to start the season and look out of sync. In an interview James stated that it takes time to form the necessary chemistry to start winning. In the West, you don’t have that much time to start winning when every game matters and the competition is better than he has ever experienced.

This bold claim comes from their offseason moves, last year’s failures leading to motivation and their current wins. The nuggets added Isiah Thomas, and drafted Michael Porter Jr. in the offseason. Thomas playing on a minimum veteran’s contract is eager to prove he can perform like he did in Boston in his MVP like campaign. Both these players are currently injured and have no timetable to return, but the Nuggets believe they can both start playing by the second half of the season. Porter Jr. could have come out of high school and made an impact in the NBA, and the athletic forward is the player that can change a franchise. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler and James are all athletic forwards that have changed their respected franchise.

The Nuggets have another source of motivation for them. By missing the playoffs by literally one game, the Nuggets have proved that they will give effort day and night to get the job done. Starting the season 4-0, their notable play earned them a statement win against the Golden State Warriors winning 100-98. They have played behind Nikola Jokic, who is leading the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and field goal percentage. He was rated top 20 player in the league this year and is trying to prove he is the best center in the league. Along with the young talent in Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and the veteran talent of Paul Millsap, Denver will surprise the NBA and be a top four seed in the West.

Moving to the East, the biggest surprise this year won’t be the dominance of the Boston Celtics, but rather their scoring leader. Jason Tatum will be the Celtics best player this year. Kyrie Irving is coming off injury, Gordan Hayward is as well and Tatum has stepped up and will continue to prove that he is coming to take over the league. The 21-year-old star is already averaging 17.5 points per game, and 10.5 rebounds per game and leading the team in both categories along with field goal percentage. He continues to showcase his pull up jumper is already one of the deadliest in the league and I don’t think he has hit his ceiling. Soon the Celtics will realize that he is the future of the franchise and the NBA as a whole and will start running the offense through him. It’s even possible that Irving is traded away as Terry Rozier has proven he can run the point position effectively. Unloading Irving for more trade assets, or a deeper roster would only increase Tatum’s odds of ending up on top of their stat line.

Finally, there are two early favorites for MVP. First, is the dark horse, Kemba Walker. He is leading the NBA in points per game with 33.0, and is literally the only good talent on his team. He will be utilized on every possession, has a killer crossover with deadly off dribble pull-up jumper. He has the vision and the ability to win his first MVP this year, and hopefully he gives the world a show every time he steps out on the court, and proves to the rest of the league how good he can really be.

Second is my favorite player in the NBA, Anthony Davis. He is averaging 30 points per game, 13 rebounds per game, 5.3 assists per game and leads the league in blocks per game with 3.3. Last year he finished third in MVP voting last year and he will continue to get better and better. There was a month last year he shot 80 percent from the field. This absolute beast of a player is a man among boys and will prove he is the best player in the NBA this year.

After two weeks in the NBA we have seen a lot, and for the remainder of the year lookout for these predictions and see how outageous the NBA will become.