[Editor’s note: After a full NBA Season, 2 blown 3-1 series leads, and an east coast west coast podcast beef, our hero Alex Knapp returns with another series of wild predictions and theories for the 2016-2017 season. Betting with Vegas has closed for the season, but we at Fullsass will gladly take bets with anyone willing to fork over some cash.]
OKLAHOMA CITY 45.5: UNDER (lock)
This team will be trash. I don’t believe in Westbrook to WIN, yes maybe he puts up crazy numbers (except any of the efficiency stats), but none of that will translate to wins – in fact by the end of the season it will be known that his wild ball-hog dominate-everything style of play will translate to a lot of their losses. This team won’t make the playoffs.[UPDATE* – They will make the playoffs if they trade for Rudy Gay, he would become a great addition to their squad and surprise a lot of people with how he can help a team win.]
UTAH 47.5: Under
I don’t necessarily believe the hype. Adding “Iso” Joe, Boris Diaw, and George Hill doesn’t translate to 8 more wins,as I think Joe and Boris are both washed up at this point. This team is solid, but unless Gobert becomes Dikembe (which could happen), I don’t see this team being as good as everyone wants them to be. They could win 45 games though. I just think the difference between being good to being great is a big leap in the NBA. Plus Hayward is slated to miss some time with a finger injury. He is more important than people realize.
PORTLAND 46.5: (Under….I know…sorry)
With Ezili still sidelined (until possibly February–yikes!) we still have yet to fix our interior defense (Statistically Plumlee was the worst interior defender out of all 30 starting centers). The jury is still out on whether Evan Turner can actually fit in and impact games, or if he is destined to land in Stotts 3/4 merry-go-round rotation. Crabbe isn’t worth 17 million. Dame and C.J. are the same turnstiles on defense. We don’t have a consistent 3rd best offensive option – in a league that demands one. Basically we are the same team we were last year –a team that overachieved last year –and will regress to the mean this year, at right about 42 wins. I’m pessimistically taking the under.
MINNESOTA 41.5: Under
This is an all time hype line set by Vegas. People want this team to be so good so fast that they would probably be willing to bet the over no matter what it was set at.
Yes, this team is exciting. Yes, a bunch of young athletes just got the coach they desperately needed. BUT NO – Tibs is not worth 13 games this season, just not this season.
This team will get to 38 or 39, contend for the 8th seed – and then, next season…Explode for to a top 4 team in the West. I don’t know why people still hate on LaVine, guy is an athletic freak with a motor and near perfect form on his JUMP shot.
HOUSTON 41.5: Over
Can they score? YES. Can they defend, TBD. I like the additions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon letting it fly from deep. I think Clint Capela will and can anchor their interior defense – whether they let teams bomb from 3 may not be something he can control. I think they secretly have a very competent and fun, deep bench with guys like Montrezl Harrel, K.J McDaniels, Tyler Ennis, and Portland-native NBA-underdog Kyle Wiltjer (dude won’t play, but he can score).
With Hybrid PG Harden running the show, what could go wrong?
INDIANA 43.5: Over
Eastern Conference Finals dark horse winner right here:
Competent PG’s, top 5 player in the game, Myles Turner is a beast just needs to get more consistent every night, Thad Young is a professional starting NBA PF, and a decent enough bench. They need to find a way to rebound and guard the 3pt shot (ultimately that’s just effort). Nate McMillan doesn’t add any wins to this team – but the addition of Thad and emergence of Turner does.
DALLAS 39.5: OVER (lock)
In the last 15 seasons (Dirk/Cuban era) the Mavericks have missed the playoffs ONCE, in ’12-13 with a record of 41-41. That was also their lowest winning percentage in the last 15 seasons.
This team wins more than 40 games and makes the playoffs every year, and this year will be no different. Lock of the century.[UPDATE* They started 0-3 and I still don’t care. This team will make the playoffs. ]
NEW ORLEANS 36.5: Over
When you read my individual award selections below, this “over” will make more sense to you:
Another year of Gentry to install a faster paced offense, a handful of decent/hungry FA role player signings to help build out around Davis, hopefully Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday come back sooner rather than later to give Ant more offensive options to play with. My boy Tim Frazier finally gets the burn he deserves (ghost handshake). Davis is a fucking beast, so if he can get even a tiny bit more help than last year and stay healthy, this team should clear this over/under.
2016-2017 Individual Award Predictions.
The predictions below take into account the Las Vegas betting odds, specifically the “Moneyline odds”, the number in parenthesis is how much money you make for every $100 you spent betting on this specific thing. These can also be translated into more standard fractional odds (+1300 = 13/1).
My picks are what I think the pre-season “best bets” would be. Where you can make the most money for something that actually has a chance of happening.
My Pick: Anthony Davis (+1300) – I think the Pelicans have a bounce back season under Gentry and with a restock of roll players, and Buddy Hield firing from deep (see below), I think they make the playoffs. Davis’s 25ppg, 13rpg, 2 blkpg could make a strong case for him. [UPDATE* – Dude averaged 42 points through the first 3 games. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?]
More likely to happen: Kawhi Leonard (+1100) – The best bet if the Spurs have the best record in the NBA–which I think they could. Kawhi is going to be all over the floor, on every end, and with Tony Parker’s decline in production, and Duncan doing laps in a pool somewhere – Pop will lean on Kawhi to shoulder the offensive load a lot of nights. I’m excited to see it.
Long Shot: Paul George (+2200) – A bit more of a long shot bet, but he is the 2nd (maybe 3rd) best two-way player in the league. I think he is going to put up super dope numbers and Indiana is a top 4 team in the East (see above). PG for 3!!!!
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
My Pick: DeAndre Jordan (+800) – DeAndre could possibly just beast shit up this season. He’s consistently averaging around 15rbs and 2.5 blocks the last couple seasons. He anchors the Clippers D and yet is athletic enough to chase stretch 4’s and 5’s to the perimeter when necessary. Watching him defend the Pick and Poll during the last playoffs was pretty devastating. He impacts EVERY shot at the rim. This could be his Dwight year.
Could Happen: Rudy Gobert (+550) – IF the Stifle Tower becomes Dikembe Mutumbo this season, then Utah will be a serious team to deal with, and all the Jazz hype will be vindicated. This goes contrary to my Utah under 47.5 pick (see above), but for those of you inclined to agree with the likes of Zach Lowe – then this might be the pick for you.
Long Shot: Jimmy Butler (+330) – I consider this one more of a long shot, but if the Bulls are going to be any good this year, somebody is going to have to play lockdown D and it seems like Butler is the only one we can turn to. If some crazy sport tracking data comes out where Butler is the best on-ball wing defender in the NBA (opponent shoots lowest FG% against him, opponent takes less shots, opponent is forced into higher degree of difficulty shots, etc), then Jimmy may have an outside chance.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
My Pick: Buddy Hield
(+1400) – Buddy is the Jimmer we always needed
. The guy can flat-out score and with Jrue Holliday away from the team, Tyreke still injured, and a cast of new characters – Buddy will crack the starting lineup, play at least 20 minutes a game and lead rookies in scoring, while helping Anthony Davis get back to the playoffs (see above).
Could Happen: Buddy Hield (+1400) – I’m all in on Buddy.
Long Shot: Joel Embiid (+900) – Let’s say Ben Simmons misses the entire year with his foot injury. Let’s say one of Okafor or Nerlens gets moved for a competent wing/guard. Let’s say somehow the 76ers are halfway decent, even just winning somewhere around 25 games. Let’s say Embiid doesn’t get seriously injured this season and plays 70+ games. This would be your rookie of the year – he’s that talented….but only if all those other things I said happen.
COACH OF THE YEAR
My Pick: Stan Van Gundy (+2000) – If the Pistons win 55 games this year (oh baby watch out), that’s an 11 game upgrade over last season – Then SVG will be the COY. Or maybe I’ve just become brainwashed from JJ Redick saying he is the best coach in the NBA over and over on his podcast. GET OUT OF MY HEAD JJ!
More Likely to Happen: Brad Stevens (+700) – People love this dude, and for good reason. He is probably the best coach at drawing up after-timeout plays (ATO’s), and it seems like Boston is primed to make a serious push for the best record in the East (they added Al Horford and I think Lebron will chill during the regular season).
Long Shot: Rick Carlisle (+5000) – This Mavericks team WILL make the playoffs this year, just like they have 15 of the last 16 years since Cuban bought the team. AND, they will win more than 40 games, just like they have 15 out of the last 16 years (The shortened lock out year they went 36-30, and lost in the 1st round of the playoffs). AND if they compete for the 4th seed (it could happen), then Carlisle WILL be your Coach of the year. All he does is win.
Western Conference Finals
Golden State Warriors vs San Antonio Spurs
That’s right, we are going to get the matchup everyone wanted last year – and this one is going to be a doozy. The Warriors are going to be the best offensive team we have ever seen in the history of the NBA by several metrics. And this Spurs team is going to fare better in the playoffs then they did last season with the addition of Pau Gasol. They still have a solid bench with Patty, Manu, Simmons, Kyle Anderson, and I like the additions of David Lee, Dewayne Dedmon, and Dejounte Murray.
Eastern Conference Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics
I really want to pick my sleepers of Indiana or Detroit here, and I actually think the Eastern playoffs are going to be chalk full of awesome series. But you just can’t bet against Lebron, the guy is just the GOOG (Greatest Of Our Generation) and Boston is primed to take the leap after adding Al Horford and Brad Stevens in his 4th season.
Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers
I have never done this in my life. I have never EVER picked a repeat title series. It’s just not something I do, it’s completely the opposite of my personality. VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE! I’m the kind of guy who can’t order the same thing twice in a row when visiting a restaurant, even months apart. “I had the burger last time…so I HAVE to get the chicken…” But this is different, I just see it in my head – the epic climax to the three-part series. Curry and new best friend
KD try to prove they are the best tandem in the history of the game, while Lebron and his Frien-emies, Kyrie and KLove try to work together to repeat for the title. Dubs in 7
Alex Knapp is a Portlander living in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years. A filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills, Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him. You can check out his podcast with Anthony Levy, PDXPATS on Itunes.