CHAMPIONS: Los Angeles Clippers
The LA Clippers haven’t boasted a team this strong since the underwhelming 2012-13 roster.
With arguably the best current two-way players in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, along with a supporting cast of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and more – the Clippers have covered all bases creating a championship-calibre team.
Doc Rivers will have an immense amount of fun with these line-ups.
RUNNER UP: Philadelphia 76ers
Expect Sixers to improve on last season, they were four lucky bounces away from advancing to the conference finals and they’ve added vet Al Horford to fill a much-needed defensive structure. The sheer size of Philly’s starting unit will see them expand on their 51-win season.
MVP: Joel Embiid, 76ers
Continuing the Philly flavour, Joel Embiid is a slightly left-field prediction for his maiden MVP trophy. After playing 63 games in year two, followed by 64 games last season – Embiid threatens to breakout into the ultra-elite category if he can raise that tally to 72 or more.
Without a versatile type like Horford to lean onto for support, Embiid still averaged 27.5, 13.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Pending good health, the possibilities are endless.
ROOKIE: RJ Barrett, Knicks
The easy choice here is Zion, but his former Duke teammate will own a monstrous amount of workload this season playing in front of a wild New York crowd. Coach Fizdale has made it clear that Barrett will be given point-guard duties at times, and the unselfish nature of his game will help balance out his dynamic scoring potential. The versatile Barrett is ready for all the smoke.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Anthony Davis, Lakers
The dramatic reactions that ended Davis’ 18/19 season prematurely cost him any chance of an award, but he is more than capable of being the best defender in the league. The reason behind this; he is operating on a highly-dynamic defensive roster.
The Lakers are stacked in the big man department, meaning AD will get to bully undersized power forwards. He finished third in this award two seasons ago, while averaging 2.6 blocks and 1.5 steals – these are very achievable numbers alongside the King.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: DeAndre Ayton, Suns
Very rare that a player is awarded most improved in their sophomore year, but Ayton has all the tools to do so. With the signing of Ricky Rubio, and an even hungrier Devin Booker, the Arizona big is primed to dominate.
Aaron Baynes will give him defending advice, there’s every chance Ayton can go from a 16 (points avg) and 10 (rebound avg) player to a 25 and 13 player.
SIXTH MAN: Jabari Parker, Hawks
One of the forgotten players of the NBA, Parker comes to an electrifying Hawks team ready to shake up the East. Still just 24, Parker has evidently fallen behind Deandre Hunter and John Collins as the starting forwards, as we saw in pre-season matches. Providing valuable bench production to a team chasing a playoffs berth makes Parker a genuine sixth-man candidate.
COACH: Mike Malone, Nuggets
Last season, the Bucks owned the best seed in the East, their best player was in MVP form, and they made the conference finals. The Denver Nuggets are primed to do the exact same, with Nikola Jokic ready to take the next step in his development. Mike Malone has a deep roster at his disposal, and it’s obvious the Nugs enjoy playing for him.
SURPRISE ALL-STAR: Luke Doncic, Mavericks
The European sensation was a revelation in his rookie season, averaging 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 6.0 APG and 2.3 three-pointers.
Look for him to take his game to even greater heights this season, particularly if his shooting percentages come up. Th addition of Kristaps Porzingis will help space the floor and get him some better looks from the floor.
If the Mavs climb the Western standings, Doncic
SCORING TITLE: Steph Curry, Warriors
This one speaks for itself; Curry will come close to another MVP trophy but instead take the scoring title. D’Angelo Russell is a natural play maker, and like Draymond Green, he enjoys getting others involved. Curry’s movement without the ball is what helps make him so elite. Watch the two-time MVP go off and average around 38 ppg through the first month.