LWOS NBA Predictions Roundtable
Who wins Rookie of the Year?
Chris Voloschuck, Pro Basketball Contributor: Buddy Hield, SG, New Orleans Pelicans. With Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter both nursing injuries, Hield, the sixth-overall pick in June, will have plenty of opportunities to help the young Pelicans with his explosive scoring ability. He averaged 25.0 points per game for Oklahoma last season while shooting just over 50 percent from the field (45 percent in threes), and brings with him a level of maturity at age 22 that many of his fellow rookies might not have yet.
Daniel Scheer, Pro Basketball Contributor: With Ben Simmons out for a good chunk of the year, the rookie of the year award is up for grabs. With that being said, I’m giving my vote to Buddy Hield. The 6″4 phenom was the focal point for a very offensive Oklahoma team in college and i can very well picture that happening again in New Orleans alongside one of the best in the business, Anthony Davis.
Harrison Marcus, Senior Basketball Editor: Ben Simmons is out indefinitely with a fractured foot, which makes this year’s Rookie of the Year battle a more compelling competition. Joel Embiid and Brandon Ingram should enjoy plenty of success this year, but I have to go with the former Providence guard Kris Dunn. The Wolves selected him fifth overall with the expectation he becomes their starting point guard of the future. If Ricky Rubio gets hurt or is traded – which are both likely situations – then expect Dunn to see plenty of minutes and thrive alongside a young and talented Minnesota team. Kris Dunn is a big time talent.
Joe Garcia, Pro Football and Pro Basketball Contributor: Kris Dunn. Web Search NBA Rookie of the Year and Kris Dunn, and you can’t help but coming across Ricky Rubio trade rumors. And it makes perfect sense. Thibs loves defense (Dunn), and needs someone that can run the offense and shoot (not Rubio). Working in favor of Dunn too, rumors of Rubio and Dunn playing simultaneously. An experimental coach + a rookie in need of huge minutes.. When’s the last time a team had back-to-back-to-back ROY’s!?
Which contender is actually the biggest pretender this year?
Voloschuk: Los Angeles Clippers. There remains nothing truly scary about this team, and everyone is another year older. They’re good enough to win 50 games and a top-four seed, but they will probably lose before the conference finals, because there’s just something missing with this group, even though it features a Hall of Fame floor general Chris Paul. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will combine to form, arguably, the most athletic front court in the league, but it hasn’t helped get the team past the second round of the playoffs in any of their seasons together. Head coach-general manager Doc Rivers was able to bring back Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers and Paul Pierce, and added depth by signing Brandon Bass, Marreese Speights, Raymond Felton and Alan Anderson. J.J. Redick, Wesley Johnson and Luc Mbah Moute are all back to round out the rotation. But the core that has underachieved will remain the same, and Rivers has yet to recapture the magic that led to two Finals appearances and a title in Boston. A rebuild may not be far off for this team.
Marcus: The Atlanta Hawks. They lost two of the franchise’s best players over the past half decade in Jeff Teague and Al Horford, replacing them with Dwight Howard. Yuck. Some think Howard will be able to turn his career around in Atlanta, but I’m not buying it. The dropoff from Horford to Howard is significant, especially for a team like the Hawks that relies so much on ball movement and a free-flowing offense. Many pundits and fans still seem to view the Hawks as a middle tier Eastern Conference playoff team, but I don’t see them winning more than 40 games this year.
Scheer: Minnesota Timberwolves. This one was tough to pick but I have to go with the Timberwolves. The T-Wolves didn’t make any huge splashes during the offseason but this team will be much improved from within the organization. Andrew Wiggins is entering his third year in the NBA and will be looking to go from an up-and-coming talent to a proven star in the NBA. It’s hard to believe that Karl-Anthony Towns is going into only his second year in the NBA, and is already a top five center. This team is on the rise and the time for this team can be as early as next season. Towns said it best: “A lot of people tend to think we’re the Timberwolves and we’re at the bottom of the barrel. I just want people to know that we’re coming. Just remember us because where we were the last 13 years, things are about to change.”
Voloschuk: Golden State Warriors. It’s incredibly hard to picture a scenario in which a team featuring Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the same lineup could be beaten four times in a playoff series. Cleveland pulled off an incredible rally in the Finals, but Durant could make it nearly impossible for any opponent to stop them.They have Curry, Green, and Durant that can all run the point. Zaza Pachulia and David West boost their rebounding plus add toughness along with the returning Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. Length, speed, shooting prowess, intelligence and a surprising lack of ego throughout the roster has to make the Warriors the clear front runner to win a second title in three years.
Scheer: Golden State Warriors. I hate to jump onto the bandwagon, but how can anyone go against the Warriors winning the Championship this coming season? With the addition of Kevin Durant and even Zaza Pachulia, this team can be one of the greatest teams to ever step onto the court. Just take a moment and think about a death lineup featuring Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Igoudala and Kevin Durant. No one, not even LeBron James, will be able to take out this offensive juggernaut.
Marcus: In what could’ve very easily been a three-peat, the Golden State Warriors will win their second title in the past three years. Now that the Dubs have four of the top twenty players in the league, it would be even more shocking if they didn’t win it all this year than it was last year. I’m not sure if there has ever been a time in the history of the league that a team was as heavy of a favorite as the Warriors will be this year. Kevin Durant should fit right into the high energy, loose style of play that has allowed the Warriors to be so successful the past two seasons. Will this year’s Warriors top 73 wins? Probably not, but the odds that they fall up short in the Finals again seems next to impossible.
Garcia: Golden State. But at what point do they start rolling during the season where all hope is lost for the rest of the League. Here’s what everyone forgets. Last year they were one of the best teams in transition ever and have now added Durant. Jumping to that Raptors preseason game this year. For the first quarter and half they struggled to find a groove, even down 44-50, and then all of a sudden with 2:32 left something clicked and they were off and running – Curry rebound, Iggy assist, Durant 24 foot 3 pointer, and then next possession Draymond rebound, Curry assist, Iguodala dunk. Like finding something they had lost, only it never was, it just had to be rediscovered. What happens when they ignite the half court offense… game over.