NBA Award Predictions: Defensive Player Of The Year

My personal favorite of all the NBA awards, the Defensive Player Of The Year award honors the players who do the dirty work on their respective teams and go the extra mile to secure a win. 

Winners of this award include some of the greatest players this game has ever seen in Dennis Rodman, Kevin Garnett, Michael Jordan, Dikembe Mutombo, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Eventually, we will be able to include Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green on that list, but for now, they haven’t yet earned their stripes. So let’s take a look at who has a chance at winning this award in the 2017-18 season:

Kawhi Leonard

Already a 2x winner of this award, Kawhi Leonard has quickly become the poster boy for this award. Not only is Leonard a magician on the defensive end, but he is by far the best in the league at turning defense into offense. Last season, Leonard averaged nearly two steals a game along with 0.7 blocks a game and was tasked with guarding the NBA’s best players each and every night.

Leonard even won the 2014 NBA Finals MVP due to his preposterous defense on Lebron James, the greatest basketball player on the planet today. In the past, Leonard has also led the league in steals and has been in the running for this award the past 4-5 years. It also helps that Leonard plays within the most stable organization in this league for the past decade. However, it looked as if the Spurs were going to be forced into tank mode once Tim Duncan retired before Leonard made an amazing breakthrough and proved himself as the air to the Spurs throne.

Leonard’s prowess defensively has gotten to such a high level that teams are purposely avoiding him and hoping that their other contributors can step up and give the team a win. Having Kawhi Leonard guard you has become the highest level of respect you can reach as an NBA player. Once you see that serious, straight face stare you down, you know that although you may not reach double digits that night, you are a top 30 NBA player. That kind of impact defensively is unmatched as Leonard has only been in the league for six years and could stack up to five of these awards on his way to Springfield.

Predicted Defensive Stats: 2.1 Steals Per Game, 0.9 Blocks Per Game, 4.8 Defensive Rebounds Per Game

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Rudy Gobert

The best rim protector in the NBA, Rudy Gobert nearly edged out Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard for this award last season. Coming in third last season for this award, Rudy Gobert will now be the focal point for both the Jazz’s offense and defensive with Gordon Hayward out of the picture. Last season, Gobert led the league in blocks, averaging 2.64 a game along with 8.9 defensive rebounds per game.

Already proven as one of the leagues best rim alterers this game has seen, Gobert has steadily been proving himself and nearly came out on top for this award last season. However, the loss of Gordon Hayward could prove costly as surely the Jazz will fall in terms of the standings which could deter the voters. But if Gobert can play great offensively and earn his first all-star appearance, it will indeed increase his chances at winning the Defensive Player Of The Year award. If Gobert does want to have a chance at winning the award, he will need to be even more efficient than last year and really carry the Jazz organization on his back.


If Gobert happens to see any sort of drop in numbers, his chances at this award will drop to below slim. However, that possibility is highly unlikely as Gobert, at age 25, is still a few years away from reaching his prime leaving him much room for improvement. So if a young star such as Gobert a momentous award such as this one to his mantle, it go would go a long way for his Hall Of Fame credentials.

Predicted Defensive Stats: 0.5 Steals Per Game, 3.0 Blocks Per Game, 9.2 Defensive Rebounds Per Game

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Giannis Antetokounmpo

Wildly overlooked on the defensive side of the ball, Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most athletic specimens on the planet. Standing at six foot, eleven inches, Giannis has a seven-foot, four-inch wingspan with over a twelve-foot vertical leap. These statistics just add more proof to his nickname, the “Greek Freak.” However, despite his athleticism, people still don’t see Antetokounmpo as a force on the defensive side of the ball.

Last season, Giannis averaged 1.6 steals a game to pair with 1.9 blocks and 7.0 defensive rebound. An all-around great defensive season, Giannis was put on the all-defensive second team and an All-NBA team as well. However, his presence was still overlooked and many don’t see any possible way he prevails as the front-runner for this award. But if the Bucks continue to develop their young talent, and Giannis continues to take the next steps in his development, it will be hard for the voters to leave him off of the short list.

Now I’m not saying he is for sure going to win it, as he will be facing players such as Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, and Rudy Gobert, who are seen as some of the best defenders of all time. But Giannis does have two “X” factors in his favor. For one thing, he is a foreign player which means he will get the overwhelming support from his country which does influence the voters. And two, he is an offensive superstar, and let’s face it if two players have nearly identical defensive numbers, voters are far more likely to pick the one who is considered a superstar and dominates both sides of the ball. However, with that said, only time can tell which defensive power, can sustain their excellence for another full year.

Predicted Defensive Stats: 1.9 Steals Per Game, 2.2 Blocks Per Game, 7.3 Defensive Rebounds Per Game

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Other Notable Players: Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, Patrick Beverly, Andre Roberson

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3 for 3: Top NBA Long Range Shooters


Now considered one of the most important skills an NBA player should possess, three-point shooting has taken over the NBA. While many are still working to perfect the craft, others have already done so to certain degrees. Here are your top three NBA three point shooters:

3. Kyle Korver

Despite his Finals slump, Kyle Korver is still a top 3 shooter in this league. Over the course of his career, Korver has shot over 43% from behind the arc and 88% from the charity stripe. Last season, however, Kyle Korver hit threes at a 45.1% mark and was knocking down over 90% of his free throws. Korver also averaged 10.1 points per game, which although isn’t great, for nearly half of the year, Kyle was on a Cleveland Cavaliers team that didn’t need him to play the same kind of starter role that he was a part of in Atlanta. A tribute to Korver’s unique ability is his 1x all-star appearance which is basically because of his 49% three-point field goal percentage and over 12 points per game scoring. When you can earn an all-star appearance just from one ability that you do so well, you have to be considered one of the best in the league at that ability.

Korver also averaged 10.1 points per game, which although isn’t great, for nearly half of the year, Kyle was on a Cleveland Cavaliers team that didn’t need him to play the same kind of starter role that he was a part of in Atlanta. A tribute to Korver’s unique ability is his 1x all-star appearance which is basically because of his 49% three-point field goal percentage and over 12 points per game scoring. When you can earn an all-star appearance just from one ability that you do so well, you have to be considered one of the best in the league at that ability.

Over the course of his career, Korver has played for six different teams, with his longest and the best stint of his career coming with the Atlanta Hawks. During his time with Atlanta, Korver had begun the teams most energetic player to watch. Although not the greatest of NBA fan bases, when Kyle Korver pulled up for his trademark transition three, the energy in the arena was like no other. With all of that said, Korver’s career is winding down, and he may become less efficient as time goes on. But for now, Kyle Korver is still the third best shooter on the planet.

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2. Klay Thompson

When Klay Thompson gets going, there is no creature on this earth that can stop him. This is a man who scored an NBA record, 37 points in a quarter, not to mention his incredible 60 points in less than 30 minutes played. One-half of the best backcourt in the NBA, Thompson is a 3x all-star and 2x NBA champion.

Last season, Klay averaged 22.3 points per game while shooting 41.4% from behind the arc and 85.2% on free throws. Clearly a deadeye shooter, Thompson is also an elite defender who has locked up some the greatest offensive talents in the league. To summarize Thompson’s game in one sentence, I would say he is a “glorified three and d player”. He’s much, much better than you Andre Roberson’s, but at the end of the day, he is still running off screens for catch and shoot opportunities while playing lockdown on the other end of the court.

Over the course of his career, Thomspon has shot nearly 42% from downtown while averaging 2.9 three-point field goals per game. However, the past several seasons, Klay has been averaging well over 3.0 three-point field goals a game. Another advantage for Thompson is that his short NBA career has seen just seven full seasons as at 27 years old, Klay should be getting ready to enter his prime in the coming years. However, due to the overwhelming amount of success he has already seen, it seems crazy to think that he hasn’t even entered the best years of his career. Then again, there is no true way of knowing that you’re in the best years of your career until you’re out of them. With that being said, if we already have seen the best years of Klay’s career, then it was one hell of a peak.

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1. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry has revolutionized the modern NBA game. A couple years ago, you were being pulled out of the game for taking a 27-foot jumper. Then came Stephen Curry. Curry routinely knocks down 26-30 foot jumpers as they have become a key component of his game. This ability has made it nearly impossible to stop him as he will either knock down a deep three or if you choose to play up, he can just blow past you for an easy layup.

Stephen Curry has not broken the season record for three-pointers once, twice, but three different times. It was just two years ago when Curry broke the record for what can only be assumed the last time for his career, as he hit a stunning 402 three-pointers. This left just a few three-pointer records Steph hadn’t held. One of those was the single game three-point record which at the time he shared with a couple other players. But then, just a few weeks into the season, Stephen Curry hit 13 three-pointers in a fall game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Already 10th on the all-time list for three-pointers made, it is just a matter of time before Steph breaks that record as well.

Last season, Stephen Curry shot 41.1% from downtown and nearly 90% from the free throw line. However, over the course of his career, Curry has shot 43.8% from behind the arc and has averaged 3.3 three-pointers made per game. His revolutionary movement earned him his first all-star appearance, and to a certain extent, his other three all-stars, and his two MVP awards. Stephen Curry’s best season from behind the arc came in 2016, when he averaged over five three-pointers made a game, this also happens to be the season when he became the first player in NBA history to win a unanimous MVP. Coincidence?

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Can D’Angelo Russell Turn Things Around in Brooklyn?

Although a talented scorer with loads of potential, D’Angelo Russell made more than a few mistakes during his time with the Lakers. Whether it was ratting his teammates out, or saying he doesn’t know if he can play with the teams future second overall pick, D’Angelo Russell just wasn’t mature enough to handle the jungle that is Los Angeles. 

However, now he’s on his way to Brooklyn where there is little to no pressure due to the lack of recent success within the organization. However, he is still in New York which may not be the best city for him at the moment. With that said, let’s check out what D’Angelo Russell is capable of doing both on and off the court.

On The Court

Russell is coming off the best season of his very short career. Averaging 15.6 points per game, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds a game on just over 40% shooting from the field. Although his efficiency wasn’t the best, he was playing on a lackluster Lakers team that never had a chance at competing. However, things started to look up last season after the drama-filled first season, but we will get to that later.

Russell began to start to prove himself as an elite NBA point guard last season and should continue to take extensive strides on the court. Especially because now the sole focal point of the team will be D’Angelo Russell rather than in previous seasons where there was no real star and the Lakers were still searching for an identity. I have even seen articles predict that Russell will make his first all-star appearance next season, and I have to say, I don’t totally disagree.

In a weakening Eastern Conference, Russell has a legitimate chance at averaging 20+ points per game which would nearly secure him a spot in the all-star game. In a big market area such as New York, all Russell has to do is prove that he is the future of the Nets organization and that he is willing to do anything to help the team take the next steps in their process. This is possibly the best chance D’Angelo Russell will ever see to prove himself in this league.

Off The Court

Off the court wise, D’Angelo Russell possibly had the worst rookie season you could dream of. He not only somehow took attention away from Kobe Bryants farewell season but alienated all of his teammates after a private conversation with then-teammate Nick Young surfaced exposing that Young was cheating on then fiance, Iggy Azalea. This scandal caused Azalea to split from Young.

Russell was shunned by his teammates the following night at the team’s dinner as he sat a table all by himself. However, Russell, for the most part, was able to lay low and stay his head out of drama outside of the team facility. But his head coach at the time, Byron Scott did not have the greatest relationship with Russell and even came out and said that Russell has “some growing up to.” Scott was fired though and Warriors assistant, Luke Walton was brought in.

Walton and Russell seem to have developed a great relationship both on and off the court as there is even a quote of Russell calling Walton his “dad” after Luke congratulated him on making an appearance at the NBA all-star weekend. However, things began to take a turn for the worst this offseason after Russell began to stir up some controversy about playing with then college standout, Lonzo Ball.

Ball, who was clearly going to be the Lakers first round pick in the upcoming class is a pure point guard, which is also what Russell views himself as. I would hope this incident woke Russell up and showed him just how cruel this league can be if you don’t play by the rules. Then again, time will tell if D’Angelo has finally decided to take on the responsibility required to play in this league.

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Complete NBA Predicted Standings (Based On Division Predictions)


Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors: 68-14

2. Houston Rockets: 58-24

3. San Antonio Spurs: 54-28

4. Los Angeles Clippers: 39-32

5. Oklahoma City Thunder: 48-34

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: 48-34

7. New Orleans Pelicans: 44-38

8. Denver Nuggets: 43-39

9. Memphis Grizzlies: 42-40

10. Portland Trail Blazers: 38-44

11. Sacramento Kings: 37-45

12. Utah Jazz: 36-46

13. Los Angeles Lakers: 34-48

14. Dallas Mavericks: 34-48

15. Phoenix Suns: 32-50

Image result for nba western conference teams

 


 

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Eastern Conference

1. Boston Celtics: 57-25 (modified due to Kyrie Irving trade)

2. Cavaliers: 56-26 (modified due to Kyrie Irving Trade)

3. Toronto Raptors: 53-29

4. Washington Wizards: 50-32

5. Milwaukee Bucks: 46-36

6. Philadelphia 76ers: 44-38

7. Detroit Pistons: 44-38

8. Miami Heat: 42-40

9. Charlotte Hornets: 41-41

10. Indiana Pacers: 35-47

11. New York Knicks: 33-49

12. Brooklyn Nets: 30-52

13. Atlanta Hawks: 27-55

14. Chicago Bulls: 26-56

15. Orlando Magic: 22-60

Image result for nba eastern conference teams

Sources: NBA Atlantic Division Predictions, NBA Central Division Predictions, NBA Southeast Division Predictions, NBA Northwest Division Predictions, NBA Pacific Division Predictions, NBA Southwest Division Predictions,

Who are the leagues top coaches? Here’s what we think.

Top 10 NBA Coaches (Part 2)

Make sure you check out Part 1 of this series before taking a glance at Part 2!

Quin Snyder

Last season, Quin Snyder was by far the league’s most overlooked coach. Snyder put together one of the leagues best teams despite his team starting a total of 23 different starting lineups. That is a new starting lineup per every three and a half games.

Unmatched by any other team, Utah fought through their injuries and never made any excuses along the way. Whether it was Gordon Hayward who missed a good chunk at the start of the season due to a pre-existing injury, or George Hill who missed nearly the entire season due to foot surgery.

Quin Snyder always found a way to rally his men and lead them to victories. Thankfully, Utahs play style matches that mentality perfectly. As long as you can play great defense and take care of the ball offensively, Quin Snyder has built a system for you to succeed in. Snyder took over Utah in 2014 when they were nothing more than a lottery team. However, Quin quickly installed the winning culture that seemed absent with the previous coach and in just three years, the Jazz was back to nearly contending. Snyder, who started coaching in 1992, has yet to let go of that 90s play style. His teams have played solid tough defense and then slowed it down and taken fundamentally sound shots offensively. An ideal score for the Utah Jazz is 88-75.

However, that play style will be especially be tested this upcoming season as Quin will no longer be able to rely on Gordon Hayward to carry the scoring load. However, as I said before, the great ones always find a way to win.

Predicted Ranking: N/A

If Quin somehow found a way to sustain Utah’s success despite their disappointing offseason it would be one of the craziest feats we have ever seen. With that said, I won’t believe it until I see it. NBA Northwest Division Predictions.

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Erik Spoelstra

Erik Spoelstra nearly led the greatest Cinderella story in NBA regular season history. After a horrific 11-30 start, the Heat bounced back and went on a 30-11 run to end the season but just missed the playoffs coming in as the 9th seed, just less than half a game back of the Chicago Bulls. This amazing comeback can only be contributed to the amazing coaching of Erik Spoelstra and his team.

Of course, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside did their part but ultimately, the Heat would have been considered one of the leagues worst teams without the unmatched coaching of Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra, who started in this league as the director of scouting for the Heat, was working behind the scenes for nearly a decade before randomly getting pulled up to be the head coach.

Spoelstra immediately made an impact leading Miami to four straight NBA final appearances which also included two  NBA Championships and four Eastern Conference Championships. However, many wrote off Spoelstra as they believed it was the superteam factor rather than the coaching. Although, as I have said before, it takes a special kind of coach to balance all of those egos and mesh them to form a championship team.

With that said, let’s take a look at where Erik Spoelstra is projected to be on this list next season.

Predicted Ranking: 5/10

There is no possible way the Heat could see a big enough win improvement to move Spoelstra up in this list and due to the improvement of other premier coaches teams, Spoelstra will likely move down at least one spot on this list next season. If you want to read more about my Miami Heat predictions for next year, read my NBA Southeast Division Predictions.

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Rick Carlisle

President of the NBA’s Coaches Association, Rick Carlisle is one of the league’s most respected figures. Carlisle is also a former player who won the 1986 NBA championship and has been able to incredibly transfer his knowledge into coaching. Learning under an NBA legend in Larry Bird, although Carlisle only averaged 2.2 points per game throughout his career, he has become one of the best coaches this league has ever seen.

Despite the Mavericks lackluster season last year, Carlisle has built a great enough reputation to not let that affect his legacy or ranking among the league’s coaches. Carlisle solidified his legacy a few years ago when he led a less than championship ready team to an NBA Finals win over the Miami Heats newly formed super team.

Carlisle has also been an advocate of past coaches getting fired such as Kevin McHale who was fired early in the season a few years back. Then there is the Dirk Nowitzki factor. Carlisle has been the coach for the most of Nowitzki’s prime and was smart enough to leave the facilitating up to a veteran point guard in Jason Kidd. However, the Mavericks future looks bleak as Nowitzki is getting ready to retire and they have already entered rebuilding mode.

With that said, let’s check out where Rick Carlisle is predicted to stand on this list come this time next year.

Predicted Ranking: 3/10

At this point in Carlisle’s career, the Mavericks aren’t going to get much better but even if they did make a run for the playoffs, Carlisle isn’t moving up on this list and probably also isn’t moving any further down it. If you want to read more about my predicted season for the Dallas Mavericks, check out my NBA Southwest Division Predictions.

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Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr took over a middle of the road team and led them to three straight NBA Finals appearances. That incredible stretch included two different NBA championships and looks as if there are no signs of slowing down.

Kerr, who was a 5x NBA champion as a player, played under some of the greatest coaches this league will ever see in Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. Both of which have inspired Kerr’s coaching style and laid back mentality. Although Kerr has been blessed with great talents in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and now Kevin Durant, many of them were not nearly as impactful before as they are today.

Green, for example, was simply an expendable role player for the first few years of his career but now you couldn’t dream of a trade that would tear Draymond away from the Warriors. Another example of Kerr’s impact is Stephen Curry, who was just a 1x all-star before Kerr came along and now is a 2x NBA MVP and the first unanimous MVP in league history.

Now obviously not all of this improvement is due to Steve Kerr but it is no coincidence that suddenly the Warriors young core started to sprout once Kerr took over. Even Klay Thompson although looked at as a pure shooter has gotten much better at finishing around the rim.

However, many have written of Kerr for last seasons championship as he missed the majority of the postseason and the team added an NBA superstar in Kevin Durant. But I have said it many times on this list before and I will say it again, it takes a special kind of talent to blend the egos of stars and convince them to other want to play for one another.

As for the absence, Kerr built a winning culture in Golden State which made it that basically, anyone in the organization could take over the team for a short stint and not miss a beat.

With that said, let’s see if Kerr will drop or improve on this list come this time next year.

Predicted Ranking: 2/10

Barring any sort of injury, the Warriors should not fall in the standings and Kerr has solidified himself among the leagues best coaches. Steve will also not take any steps further on this list simply due to legacy points. If Kerr continues his success for another decade or so, then it’s a different story, but for now, Kerr will have to settle for second place. NBA Pacific Division Predictions.

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Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich is by far the greatest coach of the 2000’s era. A 5x NBA champion and future Hall Of Famer, Popovich will go down as the arguably the second greatest coach in NBA history as the San Antonio Spurs have made the playoffs for an astonishing sixteen straight seasons (and counting).

Teenagers who you may pass on the road still haven’t seen San Antonio absent from the Western Conference playoffs. That is a feat no other coach can say they have achieved.

Pop along with the Spurs organization as a whole is great at developing young underrated players into great role players and sometimes even NBA stars. An example of this is Kawhi Leonard who was drafted 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers but was immediately traded to the Spurs for veteran point guard George Hill. It’s safe to say that Gregg and the Spurs won that trade. Popovich then proceeded to slowly turn Leonard into a defensive anchor with his breakout moment coming in the 2014 NBA Finals when he won Finals MVP due to his amazing defense on LeBron James.

That is just one of many examples of Popovich taking less than star level players to the “promise land”. The Popovich era has also outlasted some of the NBA greats in Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, and most likely Dirk Nowitzki.

Although he has never won back to back championships, Pop does have the most rings out of any coach in the 200’s era. With that said, let’s take a look at where Gregg Popovich will be on this list next season.

Predicted Ranking: 1/10

At this point, it is all about legacy. Although many may put Steve Kerr at this spot rather than Popovich, I am going to give Gregg the benefit of doubt and cushion his ranking due to his legacy. However, Popovich is still a top two coach in this league leading the San Antonio Spurs to the Western Conference Finals last year. If you want to read more about my San Antonio Spurs predictions for next season, read my NBA Southwest Division Predictions article.

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Top 10 NBA Coaches Today (Part 1)

Although NBA Players are specimens of the human nature, they would be completely lost on the court without the unsung heroes that are NBA coaches. However, like any professional job, some coaches are not as great at what they do than others. So today we will count down the NBA’s top 10 current NBA coaches.

David Fizdale

Let’s be honest, the main reason David Fizdale makes this list is because of the “TAKE THAT FOR DATA” speech. Fizdale has won multiple championships in the past as an assistant with the Miami Heat and is known as a great player development coach. However, Fizdale did breathe some new life into the Grizzlies organization as Memphis nearly shocked the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs last year following his famous speech. Although, the main reason for Fizdales appearance is more for how he won over the city of Memphis rather than the Grizzlies on court play. A blue-collar city such as Memphis will no doubt gravitate towards someone who stood up for their team and proved himself as one of them. This acceptance has most likely guaranteed Fizdale a job for the next two or three years. David also generated great relationships with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol along with the rest of the Memphis team as they even paid for his $30,000 dollar fine from the NBA. Former players such as LeBron James have even expressed their relationship with Fizdale and so far there have been no negative reviews. The Grizzlies were also nowhere near bad last season as they ended the regular season with a record of 43-39, a one win improvement from the year before. However, Memphis did challenge the Spurs last season unlike the year before where they were easily swept. With that said, let’s take a look at where David Fizdale could end up on this list next year.

Predicted Ranking: N/A

Yes, I do not think Fizdale will be on this list next season and if you want to know why you can check my NBA Southwest Division Predictions.

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Mike D’Antoni

D’Antoni finds ways to fit into whatever the current NBA trend is. Whether it’s the Phoenix Suns seven seconds or less offense or the Houston Rockets taking 50 three pointers in a game, D’Antoni always finds a way to win. However, D’Antoni has had some great luck with superstars in Steve Nash and James Harden, but then again, what great NBA coach hasn’t. Last season, Mike brought the Rockets back from life support. It looked as if James was going down a slippery slope with the Dwight Howard situation and the entire team looked as if they hated each other. Harden was beginning to get a bad rep and needed a change of scenery. Then came in Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni put Harden at point guard making him the center of attention and main ball handler of the team. This was huge for James’ productivity as he went from not making any All-NBA teams to nearly averaging a triple double and leading the league in assists. Mike also made another huge change as he decided mid range shots are the plague and would probably bench any player even thinking about taking a 15-foot shot. Although this seems dark, it did indeed work. Houston went from a 41 win team to a 55 win team. One of the biggest win improvements in Rockets history, if D’Antoni keeps it up, he will go down as one of the best coaches in Houston Rockets history. However, D’Antoni has had little playoff success and has had extra trouble with one specific coach, Greg Popovich. Then again, what coach hasn’t lost to old Popovich. So let’s take a look at where Mike D’Antoni is predicted to land on this list next year.

Predicted Ranking: 6/10

With the addition of Chris Paul, the Houston Rockets should see another win improvement. Although it will obviously not be as big of a win improvement as last season, I could easily see the Rockets landing somewhere around the 60 win mark. However, if you want to read more about my predictions for the Houston Rockets 2017-18 season, you can check out my Southwest Division Predictions article.

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Dwane Casey

Dwane Casey has been the best coach in Raptors franchise history. Casey has brought Toronto the most success they have ever had while taking them as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. However, somehow this team has still been labeled as disappointing and underachieving due to the lack of play their two stars have shown in the playoffs. Although the fact of the matter is, the Toronto Raptors were the second best team in the east for a full two years. Once DeMar DeRozan finally blossomed and grew into his own player, the Raptors were nearing contention but were still missing another piece. Then came in Kyle Lowry who provided a second scoring option and was able to run their offense clearly. Casey had the rare and great ability to cleanly gel these egos and was lucky enough to see that DeMar and Kyle developed a brotherhood like no other. Dwane also has a front office that has been willing to spend money and do whatever they can to keep up with the Cavaliers. Obviously, that hasn’t worked but we cannot put that blame on Dwane Casey as he has done the absolute best he can stay on pace with Cleveland. Below is my predicted ranking for Dwane Casey this time next year.

Predicted Ranking: N/A

Yes, just like David Fizzdale, come this time next year, Dwane Casey will be sitting somewhere outside the top 10 best coaches in the league. This will most likely be due to the Cavaliers continual success and Celtics strengthing up their main core in an attempt to build a super team. Though, if you want to see my full predictions for the Raptors 2017-18 season, check out my NBA Atlantic Division Predictions.

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Tyronn Lue

Although maybe a bit overlooked due to the LeBron James factor, Tyronn Lue did indeed lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first ever NBA championship. That is something no other Cavalier coach has been able to say. Although it is obvious that Lue didn’t win the championship on his own as he had some help from the NBA’s best player, and one of the leagues premier point guards. It’s easy for some to write Lue off and say anyone can coach that team, but guess what? David Blatt couldn’t. LeBron has spent a total of 10 years with Cleveland and own just one championship. That proves that it is by no means easy to LeBron and Kyrie as although the two are split up now, he had to balance their egos for over years. However, Lue has been on record saying he has the hardest job in the NBA, which is simply not true. Last season, the Cavaliers ended with a final record of 51-31 which was good enough for second best in the Eastern Conference. However, Cleveland’s tumultuous season came to an end when they fell to the Golden State Warriors for the first time in the Tyronn Lue era. However, Lue could be on the hot seat in the coming years as Irving is already gone and most believe James will be on his way out this coming free agency.  These two departures could leave management baffled and I’m afraid Lue could be the scapegoat for all of this. With that said, let’s check where Lue will end up on this list next year.

Predicted Ranking: 9/10

Although the Cavaliers may stay second in the Eastern Conference, they will drop in terms of power rankings as that will reflect on Lues ranking. However, if you want to read more about my predicted season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, check out my NBA Central Division Predictions.

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Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens has officially proven himself on the professional level. There was no doubt what Stevens could do on the collegiate level as he led a less than championship talented Butler team to the NCAA Finals before losing on a missed half court shot from Gordon Hayward. However, Stevens has now proven that he is able to take that knowledge and transfer it to the NBA as he led the Boston Celtics to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance and truly brought out the best in Isaiah Thomas. Now although Isaiah is now gone, I don’t think Brad will lose any sleep at night knowing that he has a former NBA champion and scoring machine, Kyrie Irving running his offense. Stevens was also played a huge part in the acquisition of Gordon Hayward this summer and has built a culture in Boston that attracts players and makes them want to play for the organization. Although, this new team will be a huge test for Brad’s ability as a coach due to the fact that the Celtics are expected to be nothing short of a championship contender this season, despite the fact many of them have never played together. If Boston stumbles at all and drops in the standings, the downfall blame will be assigned to Brad Stevens as many will initially think that with that many stars on a team, it must be the coaching staff that is the problem. However, let’s take a look at the Predicted Ranking for Brad Stevens come this time next year.

Predicted Ranking: 4/10

Although there are questions about how well this new Celtics team can work together, ultimately, Stevens will figure it out and somehow figure a way to balance their egos. The great ones always find a way. NBA Atlantic Division Predictions.

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Are you ready to see Part 2 of this series? Click here.

NBA Award Predictions: Sixth Man Of The Year

Image via GM Hoops

Honoring NBA teams unsung heroes, the NBA Sixth Man Of The Year award is the highest honor a role player can achieve. We have even seen a sixth man go on to become NBA Hall Of Famer in the great Kevin Mchale. Mchale who is a 2x winner of this award also won three NBA championships and was selected to seven different all star games throughout his career.

However, in today’s NBA, the poster boy for NBA sixth men is Jamal Crawford. A pure scorer off the bench who adds a unique flair and style to your team. Let’s take a look at who has a chance at coming away with this award in the 2017-18 NBA season.

Eric Gordon

The defending champion of this award, Eric Gordon is one of this leagues premier three point shooters. This was especially showcased in last years NBA All Star three point shootout where he beat out superstars such as Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson to bring the trophy back to Houston.

Last season alone, Gordon averaged 16.2 points per game on 37.2% from behind the arc. Eric was also an instrumental part in Houston’s playoff run and should be twice as productive this year with Chris Paul passing him the ball.

Granted, last season James Harden, who led the league in assists, was passing him the ball, but Paul has a court vision that is unmatched in today’s NBA and is possibly the best facilitator of this generation. Over the course of his career, Paul has averaged 10 assists a game and was at one point in his career, an MVP candidate.

Although, when Houston traded for fellow sixth man Lou Williams, Gordon became a bit less productive. However, this offseason the Rockets traded away Williams for Paul making Gordon the focal point of their bench unit once again.

Gordon also plays starter minutes which will tremendously help him in his case because he will get the chance to receive passes from Harden and Paul for his trademark deep three pointers. With that being said, let’s take a look at Eric Gordons predicted 2017-18 NBA stats.

Predicted Stats: 16.5 Points Per Game, 3.0 Rebounds Per Game, 2.8 Assists Per Game, 45% Field Goal Percentage, 43% Three Point Field Goal Percentage

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Lou Williams

A former sixth man of the year recipient, Lou Williams is possibly the leagues best scorer coming off the bench.

It has been a crazy year for Williams as he has bounced around from the Lakers to the Rockets, and then back to Los Angeles but this time as a Clipper.

Last season, Lou led the league in scoring off the bench averaging 17.5 points per game. Williams also dished out 3.0 assists per game and shot 36.5% from downtown.

Williams was also second in Sixth Man of The Year voting behind former teammate, Eric Gordon. However, many believe that Williams should have won the award due to his scoring and impact off of the bench.

As a Clipper, Lou will lead a bench unit that includes Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverly. Williams is also almost an exact recreation of former Clippers sixth man, Jamal Crawford. Both are prominent scorers who are always in the race for the Sixth Man award.

Although, I did believe that Lou was a perfect fit for the Rockets due to his slinger mentality and fast paced play style. However, we saw how great Crawford performed in the system which only bodes well for Williams. Now although I don’t believe that Williams is the frontrunner for this award, he is no doubt in the top three.

So let’s take a look at Lou Williams predicted stats for the 2017-18 NBA season.

Predicted Stats: 17.8 Points Per Game, 2.2 Rebounds Per Game, 3.4 Assists Per Game, 43.2% Field Goal Percentage, 39.8% Three Point Field Goal Percentage

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Jamal Crawford

You always have to assume Jamal Crawford will be in the running for this award. After deciding to part ways with the Los Angeles Clippers and choosing to join the growing Minnesota Timberwolves team, Crawford put himself in perfect position to reinvigorate his career and be the mentor of some young Timberwolves guard.

Crawford would also be coming in behind star guard, Jimmy Butler which has helped sixth men in the past. If a player can come in off the bench behind an NBA superstar and thrive, it pleads to voters and shows them that despite the lack of minutes, they are efficient on the court and know how to utilize their talents when given the chance.

Crawford has also already won 3 Sixth Man awards and has turned into the ultimate “just give the award to him” guy. If in any particular year there is no clear cut winner, Crawford will quickly turn into the favorite barring any major injuries.

However, last season Crawford averaged 12.3 points per game on 36.0% shooting from three. These numbers are obviously not award winning worthy, and one can only hope that they weren’t a sign of his age starting to show off the court.

If you ask me though, we will see a completely different Jamal next season. It was clear to everyone that the Clippers just were not having fun and enjoying the game last season.

J.J. Redick even admitted that there was a feeling of sadness and tension between the team. That kind of feedback from a former player shows how hard it is to find a rhythm on a team with that low of chemistry on the court.

With all of this said, let’s take a look at Jamal Crawfords predicted stats for the upcoming season.

Predicted Stats: 14.7 Points Per Game, 1.8 Rebounds Per Game, 3.1 Assists Per Game, 42.1% Field Goal Percentage, 37.7% Three Point Field Goal Percentage

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Andre Iguodala

In my opinion, Andre Iguodala should have already been a recipient of this award.

Iguodala is possibly the leagues most underrated player as he is the fifth best player on the defending NBA champions. Iguodala showcased these skills in the 2015 NBA Finals taking home the MVP and again in the 2017 Finals stripping LeBron late in game 3 and scoring 24 points in the series closer back at Oracle.

Andre is a perfect example of what is wrong with this award. Rather than going to truly the most valuable sixth man on a team, it ends up in the hands of a bench player who simply scored a ton of points.

Last season, Andre Iguodala averaged 7.6 points per game, 1.0 steals, and 4.0 rebounds on 52.8% from the field and 36.2% from behind the arc. Now although these may not be the flashiest numbers, Andre has proved his worth when it counts time and time again.

When will the voters finally realize that Iguodala is one of the best players on a team stock piled with superstars? However, I’m afraid that we will have to rely on the voter’s mindsets to change as Iguodala will never put up great regular season numbers on this team but will continue to show his impact on and off the court.

I get that this award is made for who performs best in the regular season, but at some point, you have to take past play into account and start appreciating these difference makers.

Predicted Stats: 7.4 Points Per Game, 3.7 Rebounds Per Game, 3.6 Assists Per Game, 54.2% Field Goal Percentage, 38.2% Three Point Field Goal Percentage

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Best Predicted Stats By Category:

Points Per Game: Lou Williams- 17.8

Assists Per Game: Andre Iguodala- 3.6

Rebounds Per Game: Andre Iguodala- 3.7

Field Goal Percentage: Andre Iguodala- 54.2%

Three Point Field Goal Percentage: Eric Gordon- 43.0%