NBA Midseason Predictions – MVP, Rookie Of The Year, Sleepers, and More
How Far Can the Hawks And Warriors Go?
I think the Hawks have a chance to succeed in the playoffs and perhaps make it to the NBA championship. The only way the Hawks won’t make it to the playoffs is if the one of the “stars” gets injured. The Hawks don’t have any particular “STARS” other then Al Horford and Jeff Teague. If either of these guys goes down the Hawks are doomed for mediocracy – again. Coach “BUD” is doing an amazing job and in my opinion he is the shoe-in for Coach of The Year, the Hawks have the best defense in the league statistics wise, other teams average only 96 points a game. The question of whether the Hawks will make it to the FINALS is up for grabs, depending on how well they do in the final stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
The splash brothers have brought the Warriors to an astonishing record with only 6 loses over the past 41 games, and that is very impressive. Unlike the Hawks the Warriors have real All-Stars like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Combined Steph and Klay average 15 3-pointers per game, and make 7 of them. The Warriors are a offense-oriented team while the Hawks are defensively oriented. I think the Warriors will at least get past the 1st round of the playoffs, but afterward the defensive ability needs to improve to win more games. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!
Atlanta is for real, and they have proven that to the world and they will do it again. What else does a record of 35-8 tell you?
This is one of the most balanced teams in the league, with perfect floor stretching (Korver, Millsap), great inside presence (Horford and Millsap), and a quality floor general (Jeff Teague). They can go as far as their bench takes them though, and so far that has not been very far, just 20th in the league.
With bench mob members like Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore, Elton Brand and Mike Scott, this team isn’t meant for scoring. They win games with a gritty defense, ranked 1st in the league, courtesy of coach Mike Budenholzer. They also rank 2nd in the league in assists per game.
All in all, Atlanta can and will keep this up. An Eastern Conference Finals trip is very likely for this team finally jumping out of mediocrity.
If you think the Hawks are for real, imagine what the Golden State bomb droppers are.
The Warriors are first in points per game AND first in assists per game. They average a stellar 49% field goal percentage, 10.2 three pointers a game, and they shoot 39% from downtown.
Their two stars, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson AKA the Splash Bros, are the deadliest backcourt in the NBA, and the big Michigan State man Draymond Green has led GSW to a league best record. This team has all the makings of a championship team.
I think both the Hawks and Warriors can go very far; both teams have the potential to reach the finals. It all starts at the top with both teams. They are each extremely well coached, and I would honestly be surprised if someone other than Steve Kerr (Warriors) or Mike Budenholzer (Hawks) ends up winning the Coach of the Year award. Both teams shoot the ball incredibly well, with the two best shooters in the league (in my opinion) residing on these teams – Steph Curry for Golden State, and Kyle Korver for Atlanta. Also, neither of these teams have a fatal flaw that will easily be exploited in the playoffs, which will be key. I expect both of these teams to continue their winning ways in the regular season, secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs in their respective conference, and make a lot of noise in the playoffs.
The Hawks seem to be made for the regular season. They have a great all around team, but I’m just not sold on them doing it 4 out of 7 games. I think an 8th seed in the east is similar to a D-league team, so they should make it to the second round, but a matchup against either Chicago or Cleveland seems to be where their season would end. Both have high quality bigs and star power, as well as deep playoff experience, which the Hawks lack.
The Golden State Warriors currently hold a 5 game lead in the west, which is very hard to do. They have all the scoring in the world, and some of the best young firepower the NBA has ever seen in Steph Curry, Clay Thompson, and their band of athletic swingmen. They also have the necessary depth in the Front Court to last through a long playoff run. I see them making it to the Western Conference finals, and fighting through Portland or Houston, to advance to the Championship. Unless Lebron decides to lead the Cavs that far, I see the Warriors bringing home the title in June.
Who is a Sleeper in Each Conference?
This isn’t much of a sleeper, but according to the standings, the Cavs are a 5th seed. If the Cavs can get their stuff together and start playing together as a team, they can definitely win a championship. They definitely have the talent to challenge any team in the league. This answer is completely dependent on whether or not LeBron and his teammates can come together and start winning games, especially because Kevin Love does not seem to belong in Cleveland over the first half of the season.
Western- OKC Thunder
The Thunder will make the playoffs. I’m going off on a whim and I am going to say that the Spurs aren’t going to the playoffs, but the Thunder will. A healthy Thunder team can beat basically anyone. Hopefully Dion Waiters can help the team more than he hurts it.
Eastern: Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte is just on the outside looking in in terms of playoff pictures, but I have little doubt they will not make the playoffs, either in the 8th or 7th seed.
Kemba Walker has been playing like an All Star to date, and great supporting cast roles have been played by Bismack Biyombo, Gerald Henderson, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The Hornets have what it takes to challenge the Hawks, Bulls, or Wizards in the first round of the playoffs and beyond.
Western: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers may be historically disappointing in the playoffs, but this could be their year.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin still make up one of the deadliest combinations in the league, and the bench is deep enough to carry them. They also have excellent shooters to spread the floor like JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, and Matt Barnes.
They already stand at a stellar 29-14, so the West should watch out for the Clips.
In the East, there aren’t really many sleepers – I think five teams have a shot at making the finals (Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto, and Washington), and since everyone knows those five, it really isn’t much of a sleeper. With that said, the team I think has a better chance than most people give them credit for is the Wizards. John Wall is playing like one of the ten best players in the league, and they have a team that fits around him. If Nene can stay healthy and Rasaul Butler continues his incredible shooting up off the bench, the Wizards have a great chance of competing for a berth in the Finals in June.
Out West, my sleeper is the Dallas Mavericks. They haven’t been lighting the world on fire since the Rajon Rondo trade, but make no mistake about it – their starting lineup is as explosive and talented as anyone’s in the league. I think Rondo fits like a glove in Dallas, provided he and Monta Ellis can figure out how to share the ball adequately. I think this will happen as the season progresses, and Dallas will probably enter the playoffs as a very dangerous 5 or 6 seed.
In the east, the biggest sleeper is Cleveland. They had huge expectations and are currently on 3 games above .500, but if you go back to Lebron’s first year in Miami, the heat also struggled. The star power and talent of the Cavs should shine late, just like it did the first year in Miami.
In the West, The Pelicans are my sleeper team. They are at .500 and have some very high quality pieces. Their biggest and best player is Anthony Davis, who is quickly putting himself in the conversation as the best in the NBA. With him as the driving force, they can push themselves into the 8th seed in the west. Only a few years ago The 8 seed Grizzlies beat the Spurs as a 1 seed, and the pelicans hope they can continue that trend.
Who Is The Best Team In The East And West?
HAWKS. ‘Nuff said.
This might not be the popular opinion as of now (and is probably somewhat of a homer pick), but I think the Cavaliers are the best team in the East. No disrespect to the Hawks, who have been winning everything, but the Cavs just have more talent. LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA, Kyrie Irving has been fantastic this season, and Kevin love is still a great player, despite some of his early season struggles. With the newly acquired J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov all playing well (Shumpert has actually been out with a shoulder injury and made his debut in limited minutes Friday against Charlotte), the Cavs now have good role players that fit with the big 3. They are coming together, and when they reach their peak, no one in the NBA can beat them in a seven game series.
The best team in the East is the Hawks, no contest.
Portland, even though LaMarcus Aldridge injured his thumb the Blazers have alot of talent that can bring them far. Damien Lillard and Nick Batum are a dangerous combination.
WARRIORS. ‘Nuff said.
In the West, I believe the best team is the Memphis Grizzlies. They have three superstars, despite the popular belief that their only one is Marc Gasol. That’s false, as Mike Conley and Zach Randolph are both superstars as well. Conley is perpetually underrated, and unlike most guys who appear on all of these “most underrated lists”, it’s not changing people’s view of him for whatever reason. He, Randolph, and Gasol are all top 10 at their positions in the league, with Gasol arguably being the best center (I’d put him second after DeMarcus Cousins). As a team, they defend as well as anyone in the league, and their grind it out style makes them dangerous come playoff time. Their only visible weakness was their lack of an explosive scorer off the bench, but that has been filled with the acquisition of Jeff Green. This team has no holes, plays very well together, is well coached, and plays a brand of basketball perfectly suited for the playoffs. They are my pick for best in the West.
The Best team in the West in my opinion, is the TrailBlazers. I base this off of who I think would could beat everyone else, and with Damian Lillard and Lamarcus Aldridge, taking them isn’t too risky of a bet.
Who deserves the MVP Award?
In my opinion the MVP is a toss up between, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and James Harden.
The only reason I wouldn’t give the award to Harden is because he plays horrible defense. Anthony Davis on the other hand is a long lanky man who can block shots, rebound and score 25 almost every night. Steph Curry is an amazing shooter but I think that Anthony Davis should win this award due to his overall abilities on the offensive and defensive side.
Ah, the juiciest question.
James Harden, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol. They all make excellent cases.
But this one goes to the most unguardable player in the league, Stephen Curry.
His stats tell the story, as he averages 23.2 PPG, 8.1 APG, nearly 5 RPG, and 2.1 SPG.
Curry has done nothing but dish out sweet assists, drain long balls, and score score score. He has his Warriors with just 6 losses through late January and is on his way to a historically great projected finish to the season.
No one has had the greatest effect on their team’s success more than Curry has, so my vote goes to the Davidson product.
At this point in the season, the MVP is really a two-horse race between Steph Curry of the Warriors and James Harden of the Houston Rockets. In an article of mine two weeks ago, I picked Curry. I don’t know what happened in the two weeks since, but I’m changing my mind – I’m going with Harden now. He still is putting up incredible statistics and has established himself as the clear number 1 option in Houston over Dwight Howard – it’s no longer 1 and 1a there. The main reason why I switched my pick is that Harden just does everything for his team. He scores, distributes, rebounds, and even defends (something that seemed outrageous just a few months ago). Overall, I believe Harden’s contributions mean just a little bit more to his team that Curry’s contributions mean to his.
Steph Curry deserves the MVP award, because He has been playing the best basketball of anyone in the NBA, and his play is contributing and driving his top 2 team in the league. I say him over James Harden because the Rockets are only 6th in the West
Who will be the Rookie of the Year?
Is this even a question?
Andrew Wiggins and his 15,1 PPG, 1.1 SPG, 4.3 RPG, and 43% shooting make this not a contest thus far into the year.
If Jabari Parker hadn’t had gone down with a knee injury it is possible that this race could look a little differently, but unlikely.
Wiggins has started all 41 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, and he is coming off a recent 31 point, 9 rebound game against the Nuggets. The Canadian is looking a lot like the superstar he was thought by many to be.
This is the easiest question on the list – the answer is the Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins. The rookie class has been weakened due to injuries to players like Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, but make no mistake; Wiggins would be the best rookie either way. He has improved in every aspect of the game as the season has progressed, and in January, he is averaging 20.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game while sporting shooting splits of 42/36/84. He has also become less passive as the season has progressed, which critics believed to be his biggest downfall last season at Kansas. He has been phenomenal, and if he continues his strong play, he will run away with the award.
If Jabari Parker made it through 60 games, I would give it to him. But because of his injury, I think that Andrew Wiggins has really improved from his rough start and deserves the award due to Parker’s injury
Who will be the Defensive Player of the Year?
Anthony Davis and his unibrow steal this award hands down. No doubt in my mind if he doesn’t win the MVP award he will win this (OR BOTH). 1.5 steals per game and 7.8 defensive rebounds a game are both great stats alone but with the 3 blocks per game, Davis should already have the award in a trophy case at home.
Anthony Davis, obviously.
1.5 steals per game, 2.9 blocks per game, 3.2 defensive win shares, 7.8 defensive rebounds a game, and a 6.7 block percentage.
Not much else to say. Anthony Davis steals this one.
The Kentucky product is producing at a hall of fame rate here in his third season, and his prowess on defense is worthy of such an award.
Thus far, the defensive player of the year has been Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have the number one defense in the NBA so far, and Green is their best defender. He can guard anyone from James Harden to Anthony Davis effectively, and is constantly tasked with guarding the other team’s best player. The stats back Green as well – the Warriors are 5 points per 100 possessions better defensively when Green is on the floor, and his defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions when that player is on the floor) is 96, which is tops in the league. After the Splash Brothers, Green is clearly the most important player for the Warriors. He will command max money as a free agent this year, and his Defensive Player of the Year-quality campaign will be a big reason why.
The best defender in the NBA this year is DeAndre Jordan. He has been as good as always on that end of the floor, and has been an anchor for the Clippers this year. He is second in the League in blocks, and for a center he is averaging a steal a game. He also averages the most defensive rebounds of any player. He might be one of the lower level DPOY award winners, but he is still the best in the league this year.
The Cavs have playoff experience? Wtf are you smoking? Two of their big three have never been to the playoffs. Smith and Shumpert? Ok.
The Hawks have the second longest playoff streak in basketball, but they don’t have playoff experience?
In the past seven years NONE of the eastern conference contenders have won more playoff series or playoff games than the Hawks. The Hawks have advanced beyond the first round more than the Bulls have.
Do a little homework….