The NBA has changed so much, and each conference is wide open. Take a peak at which teams I think will play well this year in the regular season.
The 6 Through 10 Seeds in The Eastern and Western Conference
10. Raptors: I feel like the Raptors have a decent squad this year, but not a contending team. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet will be the main guys, and they have plenty of depth but no stars to dominate their way through the East.
9. Hornets: The Hornets are in a similar spot that they were last year, but they did lose a key guy in Miles Bridges. The guard trio of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward is very solid but won’t be able to keep up with the elite teams in the East.
8. Hawks: The Hawks added Dejounte Murray to the lineup, but I don’t feel like this affects their placement in the East too much. Trae Young is still one of the top point guards in the NBA, but the Hawks’ defense and depth concern me.
7. Bulls: The Bulls also look very similar to how they were last season, which is very guard-heavy. The star trio of Nikola Vucevic, Zach Lavine, and DeMar DeRozan didn’t pan out too high, but I think they’ll get it together as long as they stay healthy. They need Lonzo Ball to be healthy as well!
6. Cavaliers: The Cavs also added in a star guard from the West in Donovan Mitchell. This is going to boost them up into the East and give them a real shot at knocking off one of these top teams with a great young core of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Mitchell.
10. Trail Blazers: The Trail Blazers are honestly lucky I’m putting them in as a top 10 team. They don’t have too many options outside of Damian Lillard, but having a star of his caliber puts them above the remaining teams. They’ll lose the play-in, most likely.
9. Pelicans: There are high expectations in New Orleans with the signing of C.J. McCollum to a long extension and Zion Williamson returning to the lineup. I like the young guys on the Pelicans, and I think they’ll be a dangerous squad in the West, but nothing too special.
8. Grizzlies: Memphis was one of the best squads in the West last season, but I don’t see them keeping pace in a competitive conference. Ja Morant will continue to be the playmaker for this squad, but they don’t have any other star power which could boost them in the regular season.
7. Lakers: L.A. is the wild card here, and I may be underestimating them. But maybe not. LeBron James is still LeBron, but it comes down to how Anthony Davis and Russel Westbrook play. The rest of this Lakers roster is terrible, so they are very top-loaded.
6. Mavericks: The Mavs still have Luka Doncic, and they acquired Christian Wood. They also lost Jalen Brunson, which is not great for them offensively, but they have wing players that can help out. I think they sneak into the top 6 in the West.
The 1 Through 5 Seeds in The Eastern and Western Conference
5. Nets: The Nets are in a spot where I could see them getting first in the East or eighth in the East. I’m gonna place them in the middle, as they have two dominant superstars in, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, to mix with core guys like Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Joe Harris.
4. Heat: Miami has a terrific team again and should win plenty of games. The Heat are led by Jimmy Butler once again, and Bam Adebayo should have another all-star season. Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry will be the main guys that decide if the Heat win each night.
3. Celtics: The Celtics had a ton of drama during the offseason, but they did acquire Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are coming off of a finals appearance and are an elite duo. Expect Boston to be in the mix all season long.
2. 76ers: There are high expectations for Philly once again, and this is all based on how Joel Embiid and James Harden perform. Those two are incredible, but Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris are the true key factors in their success. I think Embiid has an incredible season and carries Philly!
1. Bucks: The Bucks are definitely the best team in the East and aren’t going to lose many games. Giannis is just a different type of beast, and they have a ton of depth and shooters surrounding him. Plus, Khris Middleton will be back and healthy.
5. Timberwolves: The Minnesota G.M made a major trade for Rudy Gobert this off-season. Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Edwards, and DeAngelo Russel continue to make major leaps each season and should have their best season yet. They’ll be a great team in the regular season.
4. Warriors: The Warriors are the reigning champs and are a major threat to win every night. The caveat with them is that their stars are getting older. I think Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green will have a tough time staying fully healthy, but they’ll still win a ton of games.
3. Clippers: The Clippers may be a bit of an overstatement, but I think they finish in the top 3 with the addition of John Wall. We know how elite Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are, and they also have a lot of key glue guys in Norman Powell and Robert Covington.
2. Nuggets: The Nuggets are going to be a very scary team this season, as long as Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are able to stay healthy. The back-to-back MVP in Nikola Jokic is looking to make a huge run in the postseason, not just the regular season.
1. Suns: Phoenix will be out for vengeance each and every night after they’re embarrassing loss in the playoffs. Devin Booker and Chris Paul are very elite, ‘and DeAndre Ayton is still manning the paint. The Suns have a great squad and won’t lose many games.
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