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NBA 2016-2017 Predictions 

The NBA Regular season tips off in less than a month, and with the storylines created by this summer’s big free agent move by Kevin Durant, plus the unprecedented Monopoly money-ish like signings that had players moving from team to team more than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends, this season is sure to be one that rivals your favorite reality show.

The combination of KD, Steph and Klay could be the most efficient offense in NBA history. Photo Credit: NBA.com

The Association stole the summer headlines at a time when fans have put their tank jerseys away for the ones with sleeves, as they usually prepared for the boys of the gridiron.

I’ve been thinking about this coming season since game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals ended. So here are my predictions for the 2016-2017 season that I’ll be watching and waiting to happen all season.

  • All eight teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs will have winning records, my even bolder prediction is the eighth seed will be at least 5 games over .500 (46-36).
  • The teams that will take the biggest leaps this season will be the Utah Jazz, who missed the playoffs by one game last season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves will both make the Western Conference playoffs. The Jazz will challenge for a top 4 seed and home court advantage thanks to all the veteran leadership they’ve added in former San Antonio Spurs Champion Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson. The T-Wolves will hold off another squad for the 7th or 8th seed. My two teams out from last season’s playoffs will be the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets.
  • The Southeast Division which had three of its five teams qualify for the 2016 playoffs–#3 seed Miami (48-34), #4 seed Atlanta (48-34), #6 seed Charlotte (48-34)–will only have one team make the playoffs in 2017. The Washington Wizards or Orlando Magic will make it as a 7th or 8th seed.

The Thunder is all Russell’s, and you know he relishes that. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • Russell Westbrook will average a triple double (27 ppg, 12 apg, 10 rpg) for the Oklahoma City  Thunder. He will lead the Thunder to a top 4 seed in the Western conference playoffs and win the League MVP, which would be his first.

The Pelicans Rookie Buddy Hield’s should benefit from a healthy Anthony Davis. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • In (somewhat of) an upset, Buddy Heild of the New Orleans Pelicans will win Rookie of the Year. Especially now that the early favorite Ben Simmons will miss significant time with the Philadelphia 76ers due to a broken foot. Brandon Ingram will had to contend for shots with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle who will all be a little too hungry to fill the Kobe scoring load. I really like Minnesota T-Wolves point guard Kris Dunn—and I think he’ll be the starter by seasons end—but everything will revolve around the big three of Wiggins, Anthony-Towns and Lavine. Heild, however, will get the opportunity and have the numbers thanks to all the attention drawn by Anthony Davis, helping New Orleans get back into the playoff mix after a disappointing setback of a year in 2015-2016.

LeBron is still chasing MJ, it will help if he adds a DPOY to his resume. Photo Credit: NBA.com

  • The Cavs will challenge 70 wins. Just like last season, LeBron will get annoyed that the Golden State Warriors are getting all the attention with their new addition Kevin Durant. This will be enough to keep the Cavs motivated to dominate the East and not take nights off for “rest.” I predict the Cavs will go 69-13.
  • LeBron James will finally win the Defensive Player of the Year award he probably should’ve won twice already. Why? Because what else is there left for him to accomplish individually? He always leads his team’s in blocks, steals, and is usually top two in defensive rebounding, while often guarding the opponents top wing or power forward. No further analysis needed, he is due.
  • LeBron will earn a seventh consecutive NBA Finals birth after defeating the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • The San Antonio Spurs will beat the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, then face Cleveland in the NBA Finals. San Antonio has added key veteran pieces with championship experience in Pau Gasol and David Lee. The Warriors made the big splash signing, but the Spurs signings added to the mix of young talents in Kwahi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge will make them the better DEEPER team. Something the Warriors lost in their quest to sign KD.
  • LeBron and the Cavs will win their second consecutive title. LBJ has a pattern, he loses two Finals (’07, ’11), then wins two (’12, ’13). He lost in 2014 with the Miami Heat, and 2015 with the Cavaliers. Now that he’s won in 2016, next is a win in 2017. It’s his trend. Cavs in another epic seven game series, and Kyrie Irving takes home the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.

Analytics, Smanalytics: New Stats That Should be Added to Basketball 

This is what an official basketball box score looks like, but there should be more categories added.

It seems these days everyone is enamored with stats and analytics in sports. Especially in the game of basketball. Thank Fantasy leagues for that. No matter how much people like Charles Barkley, Shaq dislike them, myself included, we might as well get use to them.

While I agree stats and numbers can often be overrated and deceiving, I understand how they can play a factor in-game planning. But, most of those numbers only detail offensive efficiency. Defense still wins championships. Just look at Golden State, who trotted out a stingy defense to go along with their high-powered offense.

But, some of the stats in the game today don’t tell the overall story of a player or teams effectiveness on that side of the court. That is why I propose the game of basketball, specifically the Association, add these categories to help the casual fan as well as die hards, better understand a player’s value. You hear the saying all the time, “it won’t show up in the stat sheet, but this player’s impact on the game has been immeasurable.” Well, I found a few measurables that could help certain player’s get in the box sc

The Hockey Assist 

First let me say, you wouldn’t add this to the total of assist. This would be its own separate category.

Points, assist and offensive rebounds shouldn’t be the only numbers that determine a players contributions to the offense. So many times players pass the ball to a teammate in rhythm to shoot a good shot, only to have that player pass it up to another teammate to get a better shot, and that player gets the assist and credit. But, what about the guy who started it with his unselfishness? The Hockey Assist in basketball results from great ball movement and high basketball I.Q. Like a player’s plus/minus stat, this stat would further so how important a player’s overall effectiveness is on his team. The San Antonio Spurs would probably lead the Association in this category.


How many times has a player deflected a ball of an offensive player out-of-bounds creating a turnover? How about a defender jumps in the passing lane and tips a ball, disrupting the offensive set and forcing the opponent to force up a bad shot as the shot clock runs down? Or, what about the countless times a player has deflected a pass only for a teammate to swoop in and get the steal as the ball is lose?

Too many to count right? Think of this stat like a how a defensive back in football is credited with a pass defended.

Hustle Stats

Changed shots: a great shot blocker probably only averages a shade under four a game, that’s at least 6 to 8 points saved a game, but his intimation may cause a player to shoot an awkward or bad shot another four times a game for another 8 points. That’s 16 points one player single-handedly kept off the board.

Charges: Blocking shots or changing shots above or at the rim isn’t the only way to defend the paint, basket. Taking a charge is a skill and while its counted as a turnover in the stat book, the individual should be credited taking it as a show of their impact on defense just like a blocked shot. For the record, Shane Battier probably would have been the Associations All-Time leader.

Just like the NBA has made on court changes like illegal defense, removing hand checking and reducing the ten second timeline rule to eight seconds to speed up offenses to score more points, these changes to the stat book can also be easily made to help better analyze the game. Since, you know, we’re in that analytics world anyway. Might as well go all the way with it.