With our individual team previews behind us, Josh and I wanted to get into the post-season awards, playoffs, and All-Star predictions.
You can see all of our predictions below. Josh’s picks will be in Red and mine in blue. Selections we agree on will be in purple.
Bibs Comments: With the way Kyrie left on top of the way they lost in the Finals Lebron has all the reason in the world to be extra motivated this year. He’s on the back end of his prime (though I’m not sure we can judge him on mortal standards) so I’m sure he’s feeling that as well. There’s also his looming Free Agency and the decision needing to be made on where he will play next year. In the meantime though, the Cavs have surrounded Lebron with the most talent he’s ever had around him, more depth and versatility in their roster and more importantly gave him multiple closers and players with extra motivation as well. This all plays into his strengths and I feel Lebron has one last great season in him and capitalizes. There’s also the fact that most of those that would threaten him for the crown are on super teams as well.
Josh Comments: Kyrie is gone and even with Wade, and D-Rose, and a banged up Isaiah Thomas, Lebron is going to have to be even more spectacular than ever to get this team to the top.
Defensive Player of the Year
Bibs Comments: When you looked at the Jazz last year it was very clear to me that Rudy Gobert was more important to the team’s success and the stats back me up. The Stifle tower had 14.3 win shares last year compared to Gordon Hayward’s 10.4. Rudy’s presence in the paint is why the team overperformed last year. With Hayward gone Gobert spent the offseason working on his offensive game and the results are clear. With Rudy engaged on both ends I only expect him to become more dominant in the paint. Blocking or deterring shots and carrying Utah on his back.
Josh Comments: They say good defense leads to good offense, and I think the reverse is also true. Utah will lean a bit more on Gobert to get buckets which I think will energize him on good offensive nights and lead to even more dominant defensive nights. I expect the “Stifle Tower” to win his first of several DPOY awards this year.
Coach of the Year
Terry Stotts – Portland
Brad Stevens – Boston
Bibs Comments: If you saw my Portland team preview you saw that I have them finishing 3rd in the West. This would be a surprising result to most and that is why Terry wins the coach of the year. To me it makes sense though. They’ve added rim protection and rebounding in Nurkic. Then drafted more rim protection in Collins and rebounding in Swanigan. I also believe Swanigan moves into that starting 4 spot and the Blazers suddenly start 4 real scoring threats instead of the 2 we’re used to. This also means they always have a stopper (Harkless or Aminu) at the most important position on the floor and with Evan Turner running the second unit they’ll always have a floor general. Don’t sleep.
Josh Comments: Even though the majority of their team from last season is gone, Brad Stevens managed to bring in two all stars in the offseason (one a top 10 player in the leauge.) Despite having a mostly new roster, Brad Stevens will get them to play together and finish with a solid record in the East.
6th Man of the Year
Bibs Comments: I went back and forth with this one and almost went with D. Rose, however with Isaiah out there’s a good chance Rose starts too many games to qualify. Josh saying JR put me over the top. Everybody loves a good story and to see JR go from frustrated by being moved to the bench to becoming 6th man of the year would be a good one.
Josh Comments: He might be frustrated coming off the bench, but Smith has already won a 6th man award before because of the scoring and energy he brings off the bench. I think he’ll be key for Cleveland this year.
Rookie of the Year
Bibs Comments: As much as I don’t want it to be Lonzo I have accepted that it will. I do expect Dennis Smith, Jr. to have much better stats and Simmons to have similar stats but Lonzo has all of the hype and simply needs to show up. Only an injury will keep him from this title.
Josh Comments: He’s got the hype, the coverage, and the playing style to make his teammates better. I don’t think Lonzo will necessarily be the best rookie, but I think he’ll get enough attention and play well enough to win the award.
Most Improved Player
Bibs Comments: This selection almost contradicts my previous one because I do believe Lonzo has a positive impact on Brandon Ingram. Pushing the pace is going to give Ingram more opportunities to score on the move which he’ll need to do since he’s not going to be moving bodies with his frame in the half court. I think he is going double his scoring (from 9 to 18 ppg) and being in L.A. with the Lonzo hype will boost his status.
Josh Comments: I was debating between Booker and Myles Turner, but I think Booker becomes a potential All Star caliber player this year, garnering a lot more recognition from even casual NBA fans who traditionally aren’t paying attention to Phoenix.
Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo
John Wall, Joel Embiid
Dwyane Wade, Kristaps Porzingis
Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis
Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker, DeMar Derozan, Hasaan Whiteside, Kevin Love
Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis*
John Wall*, Kyle Lowry
James Harden, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Karl Anthony Towns
Nikola Jokic, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gobert
Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Klay Thompson
*Other person has this player starting
Bibs Comments: In the East, we only had one player different with Lowry vs. Beal. In the West our starters were the same but we had 3 players completely different in the reserves. I could compile a list of 10 snubs in the West but I believe Goran Dragic will be the most deserving snub from the East.
Josh Comments: Key snubs: In the West — Draymond Green, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony/ In the East — Joel Embiid (I need to see Embiid make it even half a season without being injured before I can commit to him becoming an All Star)
All Rookie 1st Team
Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr., Ben Simmons
Caleb Swanigan, Jayson Tatum
Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson
All Rookie 2nd Team
De’Aaron Fox, Milos Teodosic
Malik Monk, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Josh Jackson*
Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma, John Collins
Bibs Comments: I added Tatum here at the last minute with the rumor floating that he’ll start day 1. Last year’s all rookie teams were looking for player to add while this year’s is going to wish they had room for a 3rd team. (Kuzma, Fultz, Mitchell, Zach Collins, John Collins)
Josh Comments: Overall I think this will turn into a pretty strong rookie class. Guys like Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, and Caleb Swanigan will have decent seasons I think, but not make an All Rookie team. I also think Bogdan Bogdanovich will be a surprise rookie standout.
1st round notable results
Spurs, Wolves, and Raptors eliminated in the 1st round.
Charlotte advances in the East. San Antonio knocked out in the west.
Bibs Comments: I have the Spurs with a hobbled Parker losing in 7 to the Rockets, the Raptors being put out by the Wizards (another team that will keep their core together the next 3 years), and the Wolves being the Blazers first victim.
Josh Comments: Charlotte Hornets win their first playoff series since the 2001-2002 season. San Antonio gets stunned by Portland and is knocked out of the first round.
Thunder and Celtics lose in the 2nd round.
Golden State vs OKC goes to a game 7.
Bibs Comments: Dame D.O.L.L.A. and co put out the Thunder and their historically bad closers in 7 games while the Celtics lose to the Wizards in 7. John Wall and Lillard both make sure their names go into the “best PG in the league” discussion.
Josh Comments: After the first round I don’t have any real surprises. There will likely be some decent series, but I think the best will be OKC vs Golden State, potentially going to 7 games and setting up a week’s more worth of Russ vs KD storylines.
Warriors pushed to 7 games
Warriors edge Rockets. Cavaliers win in 6.
Bibs Comments: The Cavs take care of the Wizards in 6 and the Warriors have just a little too much for the Blazers but both Wall and Lillard will have made their statement. Regardless, we get yet another matchup between Golden State and Cleveland.
Josh Comments: I think any Houston vs Golden State game will be won by whoever has the ball last. Lot of points going to be put up when those two teams play, but I think the Warriors pull it off in the end. Also I think Cavs beat the Celtics a little easier than expected in the playoffs (although I think Boston gets the upperhand during the regular season).
Lebron gets revenge for last season and wins his 4th ring.
Bibs Comments: Following up on a dominant regular season Lebron will go OFF in the Finals. His play-making will be at it’s best we’ve seen as he scores and distributes the ball like nobody’s business. With Isaiah finally healthy, Wade and Rose to help carry the scoring load and 3 stretch 4’s on the roster the Cavs will be able to mix and match the lineups to keep the Warriors on their toes. The Warriors still have more firepower offensively but Lebron will be on a mission.
Josh Comments: I think this is Lebron’s peak year. I think he’ll have his best statistical season ever and will potentially get the rest he desires during the season with having such a deep and semi-star-studded team. Wade and Rose has seen better days but I think they’re capable of turning back the block with someone like Lebron to follow. I expect Lebron to meet the Warriors one last time in the finals and get his revenge, bringing home a second championship to Cleveland.
As always thank you for reading! If you have any predictions or completely hate ours let me know on your preferred social media platform. NBA basketball is less than 24 hours away as this is being released. We’ll revisit these rankings at the mid-year point and of course after the season ends.