Opinion: Predicting NBA Standings for upcoming season


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Vasileios Michaelides

Western Conference

1. Phoenix Suns

The Suns will come into this season with something to prove. They will not want to be seen as a fluke that had benefited of its playoff opponents’ untimely injuries.

A combination of a great coaching staff led by Monty Williams and excellent players like Chris Paul, Devin Booker and the improving DeAndre Ayton will propel Phoenix to the top.


2. Utah Jazz

Last season, the Jazz were atop the most cohesive units across the league .With almost everyone returning this season, Utah will have another run at the top seed. Look for Donovan Mitchell to take a leap and Rudy Gobert to turn in another Defensive Player of the Year campaign.


3. Los Angeles Lakers

The city of angels gained another superstar in Russell Westbrook this offseason. Although that may be enough for another championship, it won’t be enough for the top seed. The medical record of Westbrook and Anthony Davis is something that shoots fear into many. Their health, along with LeBron James’, will play a pivotal role at points in the season. The Lakers, however, just have too much star power not to finish as a top three seed in the West.


4. Denver Nuggets

I would have the Nuggets higher but with Jamal Murray sidelined due to an ACL tear, Nikola Jokic will have to take on an even bigger role. Michael Porter Jr. will have to make a long jump in order for Denver to get where they want to go. Even with no Murray though, the reigning MVP should be enough for a top four finish in the West.


5. Golden State Warriors

This one might be my first shocker but, at some point this year, the Warriors are getting the band back together with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Until Thompson is cleared to return, Curry and Greenwill have to carry the load. The team also make some key acquisitions this summer signing Otto Porter Jr. and drafting Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.


6. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers will have a worse season than last solely because  its best player, Kawhi Leonard, is likely to miss a good chunk of the season due to an ACL tear.

As a result of Leonard’s absence, Paul George will be forced to carry the Clippers. George alone is good enough to lead the Clips to a playoff spot. So good in fact, he could garner some MVP votes. Also, look out for Terrance Mann. He’s set up nicely to have a breakout year.


7. Dallas Mavericks

The departure of former head coach Rick Carlisle will play a big role in Dallas’ mediocre season this year. It should also be noted that Kristaps Porzingis cannot be trusted due to his injury history. It is just the Luka Doncic show in Dallas, and while he is a generational star, it  will not be enough for the Mavericks to earn a top seed in the West.


8. Portland Trailblazers

With a defense as bad as Portland’s, it’s hard to imagine the Blazers being a high seed in the stacked Western Conference. Every Blazer fan should be thanking their lucky stars that a top 10 player like Damian Lillard is still there.


9. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are in store for a similar season to last. Unless Ja Morant absolutely explodes and becomes a top five point guard in the NBA, the young Grizzlies will be on the cusp of the playoff mix. However, they seem like a lock for a play-in spot thanks to their good mixture of talented, young players: Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. Dillon Brooks and more, alongside experienced veterans Kyle Anderson and Steven Adams.


10. Minnesota Timberwolves

What an interesting predicament the T-Wolves find themselves in for this upcomigng season. After firing their head of basketball operations,  Gerson Rosas, the Timberwolves need to succeed in some way this year. Not only for the good of the franchise, but to keep superstar center Karl-Anthony Towns in what feels like a potential last season in Minnesota for him. Look for Towns to play out of his mind this year and finally take Minnesota to the playoffs, even if it is just a play-in spot.

11. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans have the potential be a problem in the playoffs, or to completely miss out on the postseason. This team will go only as far as Zion Williamson will take them this season, which may not be that far  based on their depth.


12. Sacramento Kings

The Kings have the talent to make a push for a play-in spot but will ultimately fall short because of coaching. Unless Luke Walton is ousted as coach, the Kings will continue its playoff drought


13. San Antonio Spurs

Having the Gregg Popovich-coached Spurs ranked so low seems like blasphemy. Sadly though, the Spurs just don’t have the talent to be a good team in the Western conference. They are clearly a young team with some veterans that can contribute, but there is no clear star that can carry them to wins.


14. Oklahoma City Thunder

Once again, the Thunder will find themselves near the bottom of the Western conference as its rebuild continues. Nonetheless, the Thunder will be competitive because of star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The young guard has the capabilities to single handedly will them to victories.  As the season progresses, however, beware of a potential shutdown as the tank continues.


15. Houston Rockets

The Rockets just scream last seed with all of their young talent. On the bright side, they will be a fun team to watch with the likes of  Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Alperen Sengun.


Eastern Conference

1. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are among the favorites to win the NBA Title, and for good reason. The combination of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, three of the best 10 players in the league, put together with excellent depth in Patty Mills and Jevon Carter and talented young players like Cam Thomas will make the Nets a force to be reckoned with.


2. Milwaukee Bucks

The defending champs will have another great regular season and may even earn the top seed depending on how things unfold this season. As long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is healthy, fear the deer.


3. Boston Celtics

Many people are sleeping on Boston this year. The Celtics have two All-stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum will be in the MVP conversation this year. if he takes that leap that many think he’s capable of. If he does the Celtics will be a much improved ball club.

Let’s not forget the Celtics play great defense with lock-down defenders in Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III and have improved their depth thanks to the acquisitions of Al Horford and Dennis Schroder this offseason. Look out for the Celtics this year.


4. Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers have had the biggest spotlight on them this off-season due to the Ben Simmons saga. At this point it has become so tiring to follow, but, as of right now, it seems Simmons will be back on the 76ers roster. However, with a disgruntled Simmons, the Sixers won’t recreate the successes of last year.


5. Miami Heat

Another team that will surprise many is the Miami Heat. The Heat improved this summer  with the addition of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry. Jimmy Butler is still Jimmy Buckets, and Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro are set to make big leaps.


6. New York Knicks

The New York Knicks will once again turn heads this season. This team can be even better than last year’s, since the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier can give the Knicks offense a new dimension. The defense will remain one of the best in the sport as well. After all, you can’t play for Tom Thibodeau and not play defense. The Knicks will have enough to escape the play in and maybe even enough to push for a top 4-5 seed again.


7. Atlanta Hawks

A top four finish in the East by the Hawks wouldn’t surprise anyone, but it’s hard to put Atlanta ahead of the other teams mentioned.  But no matter what, Atlanta will be a fun team to watch this season.


8. Chicago Bulls

One of the best offseasons happened in Chicago with the acquisitions of Lonzo Ball, Demar DeRozan and Alex Caruso. However, the Bulls will still struggle. Their defense, a big issue last season, will still be a problem. Besides  Caruso, the Bulls don’t have much depth. The Bulls will be a better team this year than last, but just not as good as some people expect them to be.


9. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are in for another mediocre season. Although their roster may say otherwise, Indiana will be right where they finished last season.  If they can stay healthy, then maybe they can climb up in the East.


10. Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets will once again be everyone’s favorite league pass team but won’t do much else except excite crowds. LaMelo Ball is ready for a big year in year two.  The Hornets will be an interesting team to watch, considering its mix of young talent and veteran players.


11. Washington Wizards

To put it in simplest terms: the Washington Wizards will not be good. Superstar Bradley Beal will lead them to some victories, but besides Beal, the Wizards don’t really have any above average players. Spencer Dinwiddie will prove to be a solid addition and Montrezl Harrell could have a career resurgence in D.C., but the Wizards just won’t have the firepower or  the defense necessary to compete on a regular basis.


12. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are another team that just don’t have the talent for a playoff push. Pascal Siakam will miss the beginning of the season and will probably spend a good portion of time acclimating himself again to the court when he gets back. The scoring responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Fred VanVleet, who will probably post career highs in points and assists this year. However, other than VanVleet, the Raptors are just a bunch of young players and veterans like Scottie Barnes,  Precious Achiuwa and Khem Birch.


13. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs should thank their lucky stars for landing the best prospect in this draft class, Evan Mobley. He will have a rookie of the year-caliber season and will play a big part in the Cavs’ future. The backcourt of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton seems poised to take a leap given their abilities, but Cleveland is still miles behind the top of the East.


14. Orlando Magic

The Magic are another young, rebuilding team that will not win many games this season. Players like Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony and Mohamed Bamba among others are excellent young talents that will give fans hope for the future. As for this season though, the Magic will be one of the worst teams in the league.


15.  Detroit Pistons

After landing the top pick in the 2021 NBA draft, Detroit may finish the 2021-22 season with the best odds to land the top pick again. All of the franchise’s focus is on developing its young rookie, Cade Cunningham, and other young players like Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey.