League of Legends Championship: Week 6 Recap

This week in the NA LCS will be just over the halfway point in the spring split of 2017. However unlike most splits prior to this, who will be in the lead going into finals is very unclear. As per usual there are teams in the lead like Team Solo Mid and Cloud 9 but even they still have been beaten twice so far. When you move to the middle of the pack how the split will go becomes less clear. With only two wins separating third through eighth place and the bottom two still having a couple good wins under their belts this split is still far from over.

There is plenty to get excited about this week Cloud 9, who (until a 2 loss weekend) were the undisputed leaders until this past weekend, need to recover if they want to remain at the top. They should (absent any unforeseen variables) be able to dispatch Echo Fox with little trouble, but can they beat FlyQuest(deemed Cloud9 2)  who have surprised everyone many times, even beating Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid. CLG and TL have been struggling as of late this was no small victory for a recently created team such as FlyQuest. We will just have to see if Cloud 9 can bounce back from last week.

Phoenix 1 is another new team that has been showing a lot of promise ended last week with 2 wins. So they should come into this week with some momentum and it will be exciting to see if they can continue to impress us. But probably the most exciting game for the fans will be that of rivals TSM and CLG. Though this game will mostly likely end with a TSM victory, anything is possible when it comes to these teams, especially since they have both found themselves struggling at various times during the split.

It will no doubt be an exciting week as well as an exciting second half of the split. We will just have to wait to see who comes out on top.

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Will the Suns Rise Again in Phoenix?

For now, the Phoenix Suns sit as the worst team in the Western Conference (record wise). With a record of 18-41, the Sun’s season has set, but the future may be bright.

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NewsFlash! S3:EP14

“Attack on Central City”

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Let the Buyouts Begin

The trade deadline has come and gone, but player relocation is still a factor.

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The Destiny of the Boston Bruins

With how the season is turning out for the Boston Bruins it won’t shock most fans to find out that they hold their chances to get into the playoffs in their own hands. They currently sit one point back of the Philadelphia Flyers in the standings and with three games left on their schedule, all at home against quality teams, they have every opportunity to get over that barrier.

 

The last game the Bruins played ended in a disappointing loss at the hands of the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks despite a very strong late game push. They have been playing great during the latter half of games but it has been proving to be insufficient seeing as they have lost more of them then won.

 

After the loss in Chicago the media mainly focused on the Boston veterans who were in a similar position to this last year when 96 points was not enough to get them into the postseason. They all had a similar one game at a time mentality.

 

“We are focusing on the game against the Hurricanes. That’s the biggest focus right now,” said Boston defensemen Zdeno Chara. “We don’t look at as a three game sequence, you know? Right now we look at it like the Carolina game is the biggest game for us.

 

If they win out against all three of their upcoming opponents they will guarantee themselves a place in the playoffs.

 

Switching Up Lines to Attempt Improvement

With the scratching of Ryan Spooner for the Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins are being forced to switch up their lineups with hopes to gain some more consistent production from their lackluster late lines.

The main move is right wing Loui Eriksson moving from his natural position to the center. He will be suiting up in a new way next to teammates Jimmy Hayes and Frank Vatrano and will try to give the third line rotation something to contribute.

He has played a bit of center earlier this season, most recently against the Maple Leafs following Spooner leaving the game in the third with an undisclosed injury and while Eriksson might not have the physical aspects to match Spooner’s game, his high IQ when it comes to the game and better two-way game could prove to be an advantage.

“I did try it in Dallas. I had a few games in Dallas at center. It’s a little different. I kind of liked the work you have to put in as a centerman, and I’ll try to do my best.” said Eriksson.

The forward from Sweden is on the upswing offensively with three assists and 11 shots in the last trio of games. That is great for the team as they are looking for offense wherever they can find it going into this stretch of must win games.

Bruins Bow Late to the Kings

Yesterdays’ Boston Bruins game was one of the rare times when the winner was the team who didn’t play better during the game. After a taxing road trip the Bruins started off very lethargic against the Los Angeles Kings and that led to a quick boost for the home team. The Kings ended the first period up 1-0 on the visiting Bruins and they held that lead through the first and added to the score in the second leading by two heading into the third. This is when Boston came to life. Even during the second the Bruins played great despite giving up another goal.

 

Heading into the third the Bruins were looking for a turnaround and many fans watching were confused how they didn’t pull out a win. After the Kings scored their second goal the B’s started playing as if their season was on the line leading to fourth-liner Tyler Randell to score making it a 2-1 game. Randell’s goal was the first the Bruins had scored on their three game road trip through California. The main difference maker for the Kings was their goalie Jonathan Quick who saved 27 out of 28 shot attempts continuing with yet another successful season. The Bruins are looking to wash this bad taste out of their mouths Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

Bruins Win Big In OT

The Boston Bruins have put together a very rough patch over the last 10 games, but seeing the season they are having overall puts a better taste in fan’s mouths. The most recent game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the only team that was above Boston in the Atlantic Division going into the game, was a defensive showing that held all the way to the final buzzer. The Bruins are known for their stifling 1-on-1 defenders and stellar goal-keeping that shined through as they dragged the Lightning into overtime. Their leader on defense was goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who tallied 42 saves and allowing no points to be scored by the opponents. Over the season, he has a 91.6 percent save percentage, which is the highest of his career. After a very disappointing season for the Detroit Redwings last year, the fans in Boston are glad he has bounced back.

 

Offense was a scarce sight in this contest, but the Bruins didn’t let that stop them as within the first 10 seconds of overtime, the game was decided. After a solid pass from Patrice Bergeron during a 2-on-1 rush, Brad Marchand was able to put in a shot on Ben Bishop, one of the best goalies in the league, for an amazing stick side shot. Now the Bruins and Lightning are tied atop the Atlantic Division and are fighting for playoff positioning. This game might end up being very factor later on.

The Rising Salary Cap Will Change Everything. What Do People Think?

  • Over the next two seasons the NBA’s salary cap is expanding by upwards of 20 million dollars.
  • Only people who pay pretty close attention to the league’s inner workings would know about the changes.
  • There are many mixed opinions on the salary players in professional sports are paid to play competitively for a living.

 

NBA teams are getting an enormous boost to their spending salary this upcoming season due to ESPN and TNT extending the TV game deals. The students of Oklahoma Christian University are not impacted directly by this event, but it does impact the college landscape and its players. After speaking with Seth Copple, who is speaking from an outside perspective, that even without following the game, he still had strong opinions about the budget increase.

 

Benefiting Others

 

“They should use some of that money to benefit other parts of the communities,” said Copple. “They deserved to be paid a large amount, but some of that money should go to veterans or other worthy causes.”

 

NBA teams are expected to gain $ 20 million in salary cap space in the upcoming 2016 – 2017 season. The average player’s potential max contract would jump from around $ 26–35 million per athlete. That brings the normal max contract for players up to a bit less then what Michael Jordan was making on his biggest contract. Putting that into perspective is like saying that some players who are the best on their team but not a top-five talent in the league will be making money similar to the amount Jordan made. Speaking with David Young brought about a new way to approach the subject.

 

Deserving of Pay

 

“I think it is a good thing for both the teams and the players in multiple ways,” said Young. “They put so much effort into what they do and devote themselves to it fully, and that deserves to be compensated for.”

 

With every professional sport there is speculation and criticism about how much players are payed. It always degrades into arguments over how much they should earn. This dispute changes drastically depending on multiple facets such as experience with the sport, whether they actually enjoy the game or if they even have an opinion on it. When asked about the topic, Cody Gill, a student from OC, had some varying views about the budget increase.

 

“I agree with the salary cap getting an increase because the NBA is bringing in more money to sustain a larger budget,” said Gill when asked about the money coming in. “It is a great thing for the players who really need the extra money, but for the more well-known players, the money is reaching insane heights.”

 

 

Safe Changes

 

Though Gill points out the positive effects of the change, he also remarks that new rules need to be set in place to make these changes work.

 

“If a player makes more than a certain amount of money each season, then they should have a larger amount of contractual obligation toward their teams,” Gill said. “Players that make under that set amount each season should be immune to the same restrictions that someone with a LeBron James-sized contract during events such as a lockout.”

 

The difference this monetary increase makes will be seen immediately once free agency hits and the players on the market start setting new  records for salary for their roles. The same could be said when it gets even bigger in 2017, because contracts will be breaking all previous records by the beginning of that year’s season.

danny-ainge

[Danny Ainge, General Manager of the Boston Celtics, talking to the media about upcoming events during a press conference at TD Garden Arena in Boston, Massachusetts.]

More From this Writer:

https://boosterblogs.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/nba-season-preview-2015-16/

https://boosterblogs.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/top-five-surprising-starts/

 

Similar Articles:

http://www.peachtreehoops.com/2015/7/10/8920347/nba-salary-cap-figures-2015-2016

http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/4/17/8447839/nba-salary-cap-projection-free-agency-2016-2017

 

Top Five Surprising Starts

Top Five Surprising Starts

By: Cale S Michael (@BoosterGreen)

In my last article I talked about my predictions for what the NBA season would shape up to look like, but as we all know no one can predict everything and man did I mess up on some stuff. This one will be all about the five things that surprised me the most out of the first few weeks of this season. They will be in no particular order but these are just a couple of thoughts about the most surprising starts for a team, player, etc.

 

  1. The Warriors Big Start

In my predictions article I said that the reigning champs would take a small step back from last year and I will be the first to admit that I was completely wrong. The Dubs are back and better than ever. Steph Curry is playing out of his mind at a level that an MVP should play at. If he played like this last year he would have been much more accepted as the MVP. The entire team, minus the new additions from this offseason, are playing with a chip on their shoulder for being underestimated even after all they did last year. They are in my opinion the most dangerous team in the league for multiple reasons but there is one main reason. Anyone on this team could have an amazing game. Sure you have to worry about Curry and Thompson, but that doesn’t mean you can sleep on Barnes, Green, Iguodala, or even Bogut to have a big night. This team is proving that they are ready to repeat and I think they might just be able to pull it off.

 

  1. Timberwolves Uprising

True they may not be as good as some of the other teams in the league at the moment and sure they might look a bit out of sync with each other at times, but they have come out this season with a fiery spirit that is fit for a team willing to fight to the last man in the last minute of a close game. Rubio is healthy and firing on all cylinders and looking great while doing it. Watching the T-Wolves play you can feel the impact Rubio has and although he isn’t a great 3-point shooter he is still an amazing all-around player. Wiggins looks like he is ready to improve on his already great rookie season. Towns is looking like a pro already and making a huge impact already while learning from the great KG. I am really looking forward to the remaining season for this squad.

 

  1. Detroit Basketball Returns

The last few years have been a disappointment for the Pistons except for two bright spots. One of those bright spots now plays for Milwaukee and the other is dropping 20-20 games left and right. I still think they should have traded Monroe knowing that he had a high chance to walk away but if the compensation for that mistake is the Drummond-Jackson combo that we have been seeing to start this year off, I think it was worth it. Illyasova is fitting in great with the scheme and all of the pieces are falling into place for Detroit to make the playoffs. I would like to see them trade for some other shooters to help space the floor better but the upside is looking very high this season.

 

  1. Rajon Resurgence

Most Celtics fans will tell you that Rondo was the best pure point guard in the league. Most Mavs fans are now in tears seeing as the Celtics fans were right and now that Rondo is in the mess that is called the Kings organization and setting the court on fire with his triple-doubles. And most Kings fans are also crying because despite Boogie’s great year so far and Rondo playing great, their team is still a huge mess that has little hope of a turn around this year. The entire league is waiting to see the coming implosion and where that leaves the three main players, Gay included, of that team. Most of the teams in the league are salivating at the prospect and getting the phones ready for that day.

 

  1. Raptors Pull It Together

The Raptors were not favored by me in the previous list and I want to apologize here for that. This team is complete now after they added Carroll in the offseason. They have depth, scoring, defense, and the toughness needed to take them over that hump they have been stopped at for the past few seasons. With Lowry and Jonas playing superbly along with the other pieces they have, this team will be one to watch for the remaining season.

 

I hope that some of my points are valid and put some of the basics of this year into perspective. The season has just started and many more surprises are waiting to happen in the near future. I will probably make more lists similar to this over the course of the year. As always thanks for reading.

 

  • Cale S Michael (11-15-2015)

NBA Season Preview 2015-16

Season Preview

By: Cale Michael (@BoosterGreen)

The NBA season is fast upon us and with all of the changes that happened during the draft and the off-season I suspect that many teams will not only look, but also play a lot differently than last season. This article will go over what each team has lost and what they have gained since the end of the season and what I think they will accomplish this year. I will be listing in Alphabetical order so sorry Wizards fans you’ll have to stick around for a while.

Team 1: Atlanta Hawks

Last Year’s Record: (60-22). 1st in the Eastern Conference.

Lost in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Hawks went from the 8th seed to the 1st seed in the east in just one season. Nobody saw this coming and I don’t think it really set in until four out of the five starting members of the team made the Eastern All-Star team. At the end of the regular season, the surprise Hawks had a better record than the powerhouse Cavs and looked ready to take on the whole conference behind newly named Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer. Unfortunately the playoffs did not go as Atlanta planned and they were tested early by the 8th seed Nets and by the Wizards in the second round. All of their struggles came to a peak when they were swept in the conference finals by the 2nd seeded Cavs. The troubles continued when DeMarre Carroll decided to sign with the Toronto Raptors over the summer but I still have two plus points for this team.

  • The core roster is still intact. Even if they won’t have their starting SF back they still have a good shot of being a 50+ win team if they can stay healthy.
  • Other than Al Horford the team has at least two more seasons with all of the other starters on their squad and plenty of assets to trade to gear up for another deep playoff run.

Prediction for 2015: (50-32) 3rd in the Eastern Conference.

Team 2: Boston Celtics

Last Year’s Record: (40-42). 7th in the Eastern Conference.

Lost in the First Round 4-0 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Okay I am going to try to remain as unbiased as possible for this section. So this was a surprise year for the young boys in green, most of the league expected them to miss the playoffs for the second straight year and continue their rebuilding effort. Those people were wrong, they made it to the playoffs off of a strong second half to the year bolstered by the addition of Isaiah Thomas from the suns. The young team shocked everyone by jumping into the 7th spot and although they were swiftly dealt with by the powerhouse Cavaliers they made a strong showing of their team and energetic play. I have way more positive to say about this team than most others but for the sake of being fair I will limit myself.

  • The team has a bit of experience now and swapped the rarely used Gerald Wallace for the starting quality David Lee. A nice swap that brings a much needed veteran to the team. (They also resigned some players and snagged Amir Johnson)
  • They still have the struggling Nets first-round picks for the next few years, along with a few other teams. The future looks bright for the Celtics.

Prediction for 2015: (45-37) 6th in the Eastern Conference.

Team 3: Brooklyn Nets

Last Year’s Record: (38-44) 8th in the Eastern Conference.

Lost in the First Round 4-2 to the Atlanta Hawks.

Good news Nets fans! Brook Lopez looks healthy and in top form! Bad new, you gave Thaddeus Young a ludicrous deal and your starting point guard is Jarret Jack. Not the worst news but it doesn’t look good for the near or distant future right now. If I had to guess they will have to bank on free agents over the next few years to rebuild or try and get lucky with a few trades. Other than that all they have is Brook Lopez and a quickly aging Joe Johnson in an Eastern Conference with a healthy PG and a very scary Heat squad. Good luck!

  • Brook Lopez resigned and looks like he wants to remain in Brooklyn for the foreseeable future.
  • After Joe Johnson’s 20+ million contract expires this off-season, the sky is the limit for FA signings.

Prediction for 2015: (30-52) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 4: Charlotte Hornets

Last Year’s Record: (33-49). Did Not Make Playoffs

Here is a pretty interesting young squad that could go one of two ways. The first possibility is Kemba Walker has a breakout year and stuns the NBA alongside a deeper bench and a health Big Al or the second… they have a repeat of this year and fall apart early on. I really want to see Kemba stay healthy and become a top ten PG but I feel that it will take another year for the Hornets to get over the hump. But man do I want to watch this team play this year!

  • They are a very young team that has a lot of potential for the future with many great assets.
  • They have one of the top ten centers in the league in Al Jefferson and a great PG in Kemba Walker.

Prediction for 2015: (33-49) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 5: Chicago Bulls

Last Year’s Record: (50-32). 3rd in the Eastern Conference.

Lost in the Second Round 4-2 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

One of the top teams in the east last year and still a contender this year, the Bulls are only going to drop off a little bit. With the recent injury to the cursed Rose I had to rethink what the team could bring to the game. Of course I expect Gasol and Butler to be in top form and hopefully Noah will be back and healthy, but that doesn’t sell me on the team as a whole. Their depth at every other position is a concern for me and I honestly don’t think Rose can stay healthy for long periods of time anymore. I hope I am wrong but until I am proven my statements remain unchanged.

  • They still have two always healthy All-Star players on their team.
  • All the pieces are in place, as long as his team can stay healthy they have a legitimate shot at the title.

Prediction for 2015: (49-33) 4th in the Eastern Conference.

Team 6: Cleveland Cavaliers

Last Year’s Record: (53-29) 2nd in the Eastern Conference.

Lost in the Finals 4-2 to the Golden State Warriors

The Cavs by far have the most stacked team in the league. They have the best player in the world, two other all-stars and a whole cast of great other players surrounding them. The depth on the team got even better over the offseason. If Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are both back to form and can avoid any other injuries this team will easily takeout the competition. This super team has everything it takes to win it all.

  • Even better overall depth than the previous season.
  • Amazing starting 5 that could be the best we see this year.

Prediction for 2015: (61-21) 1st in the Eastern Conference

Team 7: Dallas Mavericks

Last Year’s Record: (50-32) 7th in the Western Conference

Lost in the First Round 4-1 to the Houston Rockets

I really don’t like what the Mavs did this offseason. Sure they signed Wesley Matthews and that is cool but they just let Ellis and Chandler walk away and then failed to get Deandre. They put all of their eggs into one basket and I think it is going to backfire for them. What they should have done was offer DJ that contract but also offer Tyson and Monta a deal too just in case one falls through. Now they have Zaza starting at center while the Suns got Chandler with no resistance. Dumb management.

  • They have a good starting lineup.
  • Some of their players are young and can still improve.

Prediction for 2015: (39-43) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 8: Denver Nuggets

Last Year’s Record: (30-52). Did Not Make Playoffs

This is another team that could either be really good or really bad. They have a strong young core with enough veteran leadership to make a decent playoff push, but aren’t quite at the level where they could go deep into the post season or contend yet. All of the pieces are there for them to be contending in a few years but right now they should focus on developing their young guys and prepping for the future.

  • Young team with a lot of potential.
  • Enough talent to make it into the playoffs now.

Prediction for 2015: (32-50) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 9: Detroit Pistons

Last Year’s Record: (32-50). Did Not Make Playoffs

This team has yet to decide which way they are going to start building the franchise. They let their starting PF walk away to the Bucks and then give Reggie Jackson a huge contract that he didn’t deserve. They drafted a player in Stanley Johnson who could pair up with the young Andre Drummond nicely for the next decade or so, if they can keep them both, and if that is the case then playing Jackson and Jennings at the same time could help them in the long run. However, this franchise has no chance of making the playoffs if the roster stays like this.

  • Good franchise cornerstones in Drummond and Johnson
  • Many assets contending teams would love to have. (Jennings, Ilyasova, etc.)

Prediction for 2015: (30-52) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 10: Golden State Warriors

Last Year’s Record: (67-15)

Won the Finals 4-2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers

The defending champions kept the core of the group who brought home the biggest W intact (Minus David Lee but they parted on good terms so … meh), but they have a much tougher road to the throne this year with the even more loaded teams in the West prepared for round two. They really just need to stay healthy and try to keep home court advantage in the playoffs again. Also if the bracket sets them up against the Spurs or Thunder in the conference finals that would help too. Also not a knock against the Warriors and what they did but I still think that as a whole the team can’t replicate what happened during the regular season.

  • Almost the exact same team that won the whole shebang last year.
  • A few moves to cover some old weaknesses.

Prediction for 2015: (55-27) 4th in the Western Conference

Team 11: Houston Rockets

Last Year’s Record: (56-26) 2nd in the Western Conference

Lost in the Conference Finals 4-1 to the Golden State Warriors

This team got better by a large margin this offseason. Their only real loss was Josh Smith leaving for LA, but that was overshadowed by the addition Ty Lawson and the combination he could bring with a healthy Dwight Howard. The should have been MVP James Harden looks to be just as deadly as ever and now they have depth at their weakest position, PG, that killed them during the playoffs once Beverly went down. If the starting five can stay healthy and Lawson meshes well with the squad this team could very well be the one to beat in the west.

  • Improved the PG position and made it a strength.
  • Both Howard and Beverly look healthy and in good condition.

Prediction for 2015: (60-22) 2nd in the Western Conference

Team 12: Indiana Pacers

Last Year’s Record: (38-44). Did Not Make Playoffs

Last year’s season was basically up for grabs since Paul George was out nearly the whole year due to that nasty injury he got over the summer, and it turned out to be a lukewarm season overall. They barely missed the playoffs and over the summer the traded Roy Hibbert away to LA to move in a more small ball style with rookie Myles Turner and the former Laker Jordan Hill. They also bolstered their pretty strong guard squad with the signing of Monta Ellis. With this invigorated roster and the coaching staff trying PG out at the four spot, this year should be very interesting indeed for the Pacers. I do think that it will take a year for them to work things out and they will fall just a tad short of the playoffs once more.

  • Paul George is back and they signed Monta Ellis.
  • Small ball fits this team and will probably work to their advantage.

Prediction for 2015: (40-42) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 13: Los Angeles Clippers

Last Year’s Record: (56-26). 3rd in the Western Conference

Lost in the Second Round 4-3 to the Houston Rockets.

The west is so full of good teams as usual that some of them just have to fall back a bit. That is not to say that the Clippers got worse, not at all, they actually improved their much needed depth by bringing in Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson at the three and Josh Smith at the four. The roster itself is much improved but compared to the other teams I think that they will struggle early on and hit their stride after the All-Star break. This team has everything it takes to succeed. They just have to put it all together.

  • Added some much needed depth to the bench.
  • This team looks ready to contend for a few years to come.

Prediction for 2015: (54-28) 5th in the Western Conference

Team 14: Los Angeles Lakers

Last Year’s Record: (21-61). Did Not Make Playoffs.

Okay Laker fans prepare for the truth, and this coming from a Celtics fan since the early 00’s so please heed my advice. I know that you really want to believe your team will be in contention and I know you have some good players, but your team will not make the playoffs this year. Barring a miracle from Kobe that turns himself and Hibbert back to their primes and can also somehow make the young guys play like they have been in the league for years. This is squad is leaps and bounds better than last season but they do not have any realistic shot of snagging one of the playoff spots in that packed conference. I feel your pain, but just wait a bit longer, good things come to those who wait (and who also don’t brag about how good their team is going to be constantly even when they aren’t. That is obnoxious.)

  • A few really talented young players that look like they have a bright future.
  • Next season Kobe’s giant contract is off the books.

Prediction for 2015: (30-52) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 15: Memphis Grizzlies

Last Year’s Record: (55-27) 5th in the Western Conference

Lost in the Second Round 4-2 to the Golden State Warriors

This is by far the team that remained the most unchanged during this offseason and also the team that I think has the best underdog opportunity in the league. Memphis has never been that flashy and brilliant team that you love to watch for their skills, they are a team that plays physically and breaks other teams. The starting lineup of this team represents that playstyle. They now have a full year to incorporate Jeff Green into their systems and get back to where they were last year and possibly even further. The only thing this team could really improve on would be depth, and Tony Allen’s shooting, but even that is a mild complaint. This team has what it takes to win the west and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see it happen.

  • They are the most imposing team in the league and are nearly unmatched in physical play.
  • They are hardly ever injury ridden, so a healthy year should be expected.

Prediction for 2015: (52-30) 6th in the Western Conference

Team 16: Miami Heat

Last Year’s Record: (37-45). Did Not Make Playoffs.

This is the hardest team in the entire league to predict this season. They have an amazing starting lineup and very good depth, but the entire season comes down to one thing, health. The entire outcome of the team rests on if D-Wade and Bosh can remain healthy and play like we all know they can. The roster they have assembled is great from top to bottom and is capable of going toe to toe with any other team and has the best chance of beating the Cavs this year. Like I said earlier, health is key.

  • Improved depth for every position.
  • Healthy start to the season will prove to be a key factor later on.

Prediction for 2015: (55-27) 2nd in the Eastern Conference

Team 17: Milwaukee Bucks

Last Year’s Record: (41-41) 6th in the Eastern Conference

Lost in the First Round 4-2 to the Chicago Bulls

This is where I do get a little biased on the list. While the Milwaukee youngsters did manage to secure the 6th seed last year and have only improved throughout the offseason, I still think they take a small step back this year due to some growing pains. In the near future this team will move up the ladder of the east but this will not be their year. Dealing with new players and an actually successful season should keep the staff busy and they should focus more on developing the young talent over winning immediately.

  • Young core that has not reached full potential yet.
  • Healthy Jabari Parker this year.

Prediction for 2015: (41-41) 7th in the Eastern Conference

Team 18: Minnesota Timberwolves

Last Year’s Record: (16-66). Did Not Make Playoffs.

The team that had the worst record in the league last year now has one of the highest upsides for the coming years. With the previous Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and a lineup that looks more complete overall they have a chance to shock some people. Even if they do perform as we expect them to and they still remain on the outside looking in, I still say watch out. With Kevin Garnett leading this young squad and taking Towns under his wing, this team will be one to reckon with for the coming years.

  • A nice mix of super talent and veteran leadership.
  • Two of the best up and coming young players.

Prediction for 2015: (30-52) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 19: New Orleans Pelicans

Last Year’s Record: (45-37) 8th in the Western Conference

Lost in the First Round 4-0 to the Golden State Warriors

And finally we reach the one man team. This team reminds me so much of the early years of LeBron in Cleveland it is almost uncanny. He has a supporting cast that doesn’t really fit his playstyle, other than Tyreke, but somehow they squeaked by the Thunder thanks to Davis’ buzzer beater. This team has limitless potential but they need to try and fill out the roster with more complimentary players for Davis. If they could get those pieces then this team becomes a legitimate threat to anyone. I recommend an upgrade at the center position and trying to fill out a better backcourt.

  • They have the soon to be best player in the entire league in Anthony Davis.
  • Plenty of cap space to make some helpful moves.

Prediction for 2015: (48-34) 8th in the Western Conference

Team 20: New York Knicks

Last Year’s Record: (17-65). Did Not Make Playoffs

Truly this team had one of the biggest changes in identity last season. With the trading of Tyson Chandler and the release of Amare Stoudemire the big three of New York was officially in the past. All of the pressure fell upon Carmelo Anthony to carry the team and he failed miserably. With nearly a whole new group coming in for the big apple I expect improvement. However I think that they need to explore trading Anthony to see if they can get some nice young talent and start building for the future.

  • Added some nice pieces.
  • Very unpredictable playstyle.

Prediction for 2015: (35-47). Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 21: Oklahoma City Thunder

Last Year’s Record: (45-37).  Did Not Make Playoffs

With the previous MVP Kevin Durant being out most of the season the depth of the Thunder was really thrown into the open as they were picked apart by the tough competition. With the midseason trade that brought so many players to the team to fill those gaps, I really thought that they would make the playoffs. However, that didn’t end up happening and now they have a seemingly healthy KD back and some much needed depth I think that this might very well be the year my hometown team takes the next and final step.

  • Much better depth.
  • A new coach that should give the team a boost.

Prediction for 2015: (66-16) 1st in the Western Conference

Team 22: Orlando Magic

Last Year’s Record: (25-57). Did Not Make Playoffs

There isn’t much to say about the Magic. They have a lot of up and coming young talent and one of, in my opinion, the best centers in the league with Nikola Vucevic, and the sky is the limit for this squad. I still feel that they are one piece and a few years too early to compete for anything major. If they can continue to develop the young players then I think they have a good chance to be a good team in the near future.

  • Very young and talented team.
  • Plenty of cap space and assets to make big moves.

Prediction for 2015: (34-48). Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 23: Philadelphia 76ers

Last Year’s Record: (18-64). Did Not Make Playoffs

With the second worst record in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers continued to be awful with little to no hope for a quick turnaround. The previous year’s 3rd Overall pick Joel Embiid never even touched the court and a mid-season trade sent the 2013 Rookie of the Year to Milwaukee for little to nothing of instant value it seems that the franchise was destined to continue their streak of losing seasons. There was two bright sides to this season for them however.

1) Nerlens Noel finally started putting up starter quality numbers.

2) They drafted possibly the best player in the draft in Okafor so there is a small light at the end of the tunnel for this franchise.

Prediction for 2015: (25-57) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 24: Phoenix Suns

Last Year’s Record: (39-43). Did Not Make Playoffs

This team continues to baffle me each year. I really thought they had something with Goran and Bledsoe and even after they traded for Knight I still thought they were fine, but now I just don’t know. Tyson Chandler is my favorite big man in the league but even I know when they are overpaying him just to get someone for rim protection. This is another team with no clear direction for where they want the team to go, and I am afraid that it will end with yet another mediocre season.

  • Better paint protection.
  • A few really talented players that could have good seasons.

Prediction for 2015: (38-44) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 25: Portland Trail Blazers

Last Year’s Record: (51-31) 4th in the Western Conference

Lost in the First Round 4-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies

I really like what the Blazers had going with LA and Lillard but all things come to an end eventually. Now it is back to square one and though I do think Lillard will be amazing this year, the team as a whole will not be as successful. I expect this team to be focused on developing the unproven talent they got in the offseason and if they can win while doing it then good on them.

  • Great young talent to build around.
  • Cap space and good trade pieces.

Prediction for 2015: (25-57) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 26: Sacramento Kings

Last Year’s Record: (29-53). Did Not Make Playoffs

Truly this franchise is a mess. I was watching this team closely over the offseason for many reasons. The main reason was to see if Cousins would be traded, bias here because there were rumors the Celtics were in the sweepstakes, or what other things would implode. I really do not see this team improving even with the addition of Rondo because of all the other questions surrounding the franchise.

  • Have arguably the best center in the game.
  • Good starting lineup.

Prediction for 2015: (20-62) Will Not Make Playoffs

Team 27: San Antonio Spurs

Last Year’s Record: (55-27) 6th in the Western Conference

Lost in the First Round 4-3 to the Los Angeles Clippers

The end of the 2014 season was a huge let down for the defending champions and this season they are looking to take the west by storm. With the additions of LA and West the depth in the post has improved and while they did lose a few players like Splitter and Joseph to get them it was a wise move to do so. Now they have another superstar that is ready to help the Spurs get their sixth title. With this new lineup I see a bright season ahead for the Spurs.

  • They have a strong starting five and a deep bench.
  • The team play this season will be even deadlier this year.

Prediction for 2015: (56-26) 3rd in the Western Conference

Team 28: Toronto Raptors

Last Year’s Record: (49-33) 4th in the Eastern Conference

Lost in the First Round 4-0 to the Washington Wizards

Time for another team to take a step back. I know that this team should improve but I just do not believe in this squad. Carroll was a weird addition and I don’t really understand how this lineup is going to work. If they can prove me wrong then I will be happy because I like some of the players, but while my heart says yes my mind is punching it and saying don’t be stupid.

  • A few borderline star players.
  • Good trade candidate.

Prediction for 2015: (40-42) 8th in the Eastern Conference

Team 29: Utah Jazz

Last Year’s Record: (38-44). Did Not Make Playoffs

If I had to pick a team other than the Celtics to root for it would be the Jazz. Gordon Hayward is probably my favorite player in the league that hasn’t hit his prime yet and his game is just exciting to me. The team plays big and tough defense and don’t want anyone in the league to enjoy playing them, and that is my kind of mindset. With all of their young but effective players and both Favors and Hayward looking to make the jump to all-star caliber, the Jazz will be a team to watch.

  • Have young and effective players.
  • Could have two all-stars and the Defensive Player of the Year if they play the right way.

Prediction for 2015: (50-32) 7th in the Western Conference

Team 30: Washington Wizards

Last Year’s Record: (46-36) 5th in the Eastern Conference

Lost in the Second Round 4-2 to the Atlanta Hawks

The Wizards were actually my pick to face the Cavs in the conference finals, but due to one really lucky miss courtesy of the great Paul Pierce the Hawks got away and then were swept. If all went right for the Wizards they could have been the best team in the east last year. I don’t think they have that same potential this year, but they will put up one heck of a fight against whoever they play. If Wall, Beal, and Gortat stay healthy and play to there potential, the sky is the limit for this team.

  • Great lineup and rotation.
  • Healthy team to start the season.

Prediction for 2015: (47-35) 5th in the Eastern Conference

To wrap up my season of predictions here are who I expect the playoff teams in each conference to be and my predicted records and at the end I will give my finals predictions along with my individual awards prediction.

Western Conference

  • Oklahoma City Thunder (66-16)
  • Houston Rockets (60-22)
  • San Antonio Spurs (56-26)
  • Golden State Warriors (55-27)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (54-28)
  • Memphis Grizzlies (52-30)
  • Utah Jazz (50-32)
  • New Orleans Pelicans (48-34)

Eastern Conference

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21)
  • Miami Heat (55-27)
  • Atlanta Hawks (50-32)
  • Chicago Bulls (49-33)
  • Washington Wizards (47-35)
  • Boston Celtics (45-37)
  • Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)
  • Toronto Raptors (40-42)

Most Valuable Player – Anthony Davis (New Orleans)

Rookie of the Year – Karl Anthony-Towns (Minnesota)

Defensive Player of the Year – Rudy Gobert (Utah)

Most Improved Player – Otto Porter (Washington)

Coach of the Year – Bill Donovan (Oklahoma City)

Finals

Thunder vs Cavaliers

Cavs in 7

Thank you all for reading my list and I can’t wait to see how it holds up over the course of the season. I am so excited! If you want to tell me your ideas or have some nice NBA talks be sure to follow me on Twitter @BoosterGreen because I talk about sports a lot. Also be looking out for my other posts around the sports media centers.

  • Cale S Michael (10-25-2015)