The Calling Bank Team of James Aloi, Tom Ballhausen, Harry Rutner and Tomas Kurudiscuss their predictions for the upcoming season (0:42) including: Who will win the Championship, Worst NBA team, and All of the NBA awards! Then stay tuned for some rapid fire questions (40:16).
Check out our predictions below from James Seymour, James Aloi and Harry Rutner:
ROY: Ja Morant
With Zion’s season already delayed and the likelihood of further injury looking more and more likely, Ja looks the most likely to impress out of this rookie class. Darius Garland, Coby White and dark horse candidate Tyler Herro are intriguing prospects but at this point in their careers remain a step behind the top tier prospects in Zion and Ja.
MIP: Myles Turner
Turner is in the ideal situation for Most Improved candidacy. He’s already shown that he can contribute at a high level defensively and anchor a top 5 defence, but for the first time in 3 seasons the Indiana Pacers project as a more potent offense than defence. If Turner can improve his 3 point shooting volume and percentages as well as getting to the line more frequently and maintaining his top tier defence then he projects as a borderline All-Star. It’s also interesting to note that Indiana is the MIP factory with previous winners Victor Oladipo, Paul George, Danny Granger, Jermain O’Neal and Jalen Rose.
COY: Mike Malone
The Denver Nuggets will be the best team in the Western Conference next season. Statistically at least. The Nugget’s offensive and defensive rating took a step forward last season and looks likely to do the same this season, expect Nikola Jokic to draw a lot of MVP buzz and Malone to generate the same hype in the coaching ranks.
DPOY: Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert will once again be the best defensive player on one of the best defensive teams in the league. ‘Nuff said. But no, for real, Gobert’s metrics on the defensive end speak for themselves and his visible impact on the floor is palpable. My dark horse for this award is the Nugget’s Torrey Craig, an absolute pest on the perimeter with a developing ability to be a playmaker defensively. The Nugget’s will be giving him the toughest defensive assignment every night and I think he can deliver.
6MOY: Lou Williams
While Lou’s minutes look likely to drop this season with the inclusion of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, his impact should be even more profoundly felt. Expect Lou to continue to close games for the Clippers and throw a few game-winners in there for good measure. Notable runner up for this goes to the omnipresent Eric Gordon.
MVP: Nikola Jokic
If you haven’t already noticed, I am well and truly on the Denver Nuggets’ hype train. So much so they actually gave me a first class cabin. The Nuggets’ could be the best team in the league next season and Nikola Jokic is their best player. His impact metrics are out of this world and the way that he passes the ball and initiates Denver’s offense is unlike anything we’ve seen before from the centre position. The NBA loves superstars but it also likes headlines (see R.Westbrook and G.Antetokounmpo) and should Denver continue to win a crap-tonne of games, Jokic should be in the drivers seat. James Harden and Anthony Davis are my other two selections for the MVP. Harden has looked incredible in the pre-season and Davis looks primed for a comeback year. Injuries and efficiency could hold both these players back, but ultimately it’s the storyline that wins it for Jokic.
Eastern Conference Champions: Philadelphia 76ers
Who’s going to score against this team? The only likely team to compete in the East is the Milwaukee Bucks and this team has the two best defensive matchups for Giannis in Al Horford and Joel Embiid. This team is designed to stop the Greek Freak, with dogged perimeter guys and size and discipline on the interior it’s tough to see the Bucks getting past Philly, even if the 76ers offense may sputter at times.
Western Conference Champions: Los Angeles Lakers
Don’t bet against playoff Bron.
NBA Champions: Philadelphia 76ers
Can Lebron’s ageing body carry the Lakers to the promised land? Will Anthony Davis finally find post-season form? What will the Lakers get from the bench and supporting cast?
Don’t get me wrong Philly have plenty of question marks too. What will the spacing look like? Will Embiid and Horford be healthy? Can Richardson and Harris thrive off the ball?
Ultimately this decision came down to my doubts for the Lakers outweighing that of Philly. This is the most wide-open year we’ve seen in terms of championship contention. I’d be very happy to be proven wrong here.
Worst Team in the League: Cleveland Cavaliers
@_jamesseymour for all your condolences. The Cavs don’t have any defensive assets outside of John Henson and Larry Nance Jr and they were the worst defensive team in the league (almost ever) last season. Don’t get me started on the offense.
Champions: Milwaukee Bucks
East Conference Champs: Milwaukee Bucks, #1 seed will go to Philadelphia 76ers
West Conference Champs: LA Clippers, #1 seed will go to Denver Nuggets
Worst Team: OKC Thunder
MVP: Steph Curry
ROY: Ja Morant
6th Man: Spencer Dinwiddie
DPOY: Giannis Antetokounmpo
MIP: Terry Rozier
Giannis is going to take a step back during the season to conserve his energy for the playoffs, saying this, he will still come out to start the season with guns blazing. I do think Philly will win more games this season, but will come unstuck in the playoffs. Giannis’ season-long preservation however will see him become a defensive beast as that is an aspect of his game he’ll want to dominate, and another new award to place in his cabinet. The decrease in his offensive tenacity will allow Steph Curry, the warrior’s one-man-army to win MVP, as his offensive numbers will likely parallel that of James Harden’s last season. Lastly, although the Clippers will be a great side, they won’t have an answer for Giannis, and that’ll be their downfall in the Finals.
Champions: Los Angeles Clippers
East Conference Champs: Milwaukee Bucks
West Conference Champs: LA Clippers
It pains me to say this, but…. The Los Angeles Clippers will win the NBA title. They have the deepest roster with two sixth man of the year candidates in Harrell and Sweet Lou, they will arguably have one of the best defensive line-ups with their floor general Pat Beverley and they have the reigning Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard and top three MVP candidate in Paul George. This team is stacked. If they stay healthy, no one, not even my beloved Lakers, can stand in their way. While the series against the Eastern Conference Championship Bucks will be tough, especially if Giannis takes yet another step forward, Kawhi has shown he can shut down the Greek Freak and the Clippers roster should be strong enough to win their first every championship.
Worst Team: Charlotte Hornets
The worst team has to go to Charlotte, who will be led in scoring by… I guess Terry Rozier? Their bench is non-existent and they don’t have any superstars, or even a single top 50 player in the league. This team may not go 7-59 like they did in 2011/2012, but they will not win much.
MVP: Steph Curry
ROY: Ja Morant
Steph Curry is my pick for MVP, he has the weight of the Warriors on his shoulders and will be basically given free reign to take as many shots as he wants, if he can stay healthy and take a step forward in his defence, he will be unstoppable. Whilst Zion is probably the best player on the Rookie roster, injury for the big man will mean that Ja Morant has this award in the bag. Ja has been given the keys to Memphis and with his court vision and speed, will win this rookie race easily.
6th Man: Lou Williams
DPOY: Anthony Davis
MIP: Aaron Gordon
6th Man of the year is Lou’s award to lose… with a stronger starting five, Lou will likely still be playing huge minutes and scoring a bunch with the Clippers, especially with load management for the Clippers stars. DPOY goes to Anthony Davis. I think people have forgotten what a force this power forward/ centre/ point guard can be. He will remind everyone very quickly, especially with the absence of any other real defence (bar Green and Bradley) on the Lakers roster. For most improved, I think Aaron Gordon will finally win this award. For years I thought he would take the next leap and become an all-star, and with a weak Eastern Conference, I think now is the time for his breakout season. His leap could even help solidify Orlando as an actual playoff team.