By Jeremiah Delgado
After a very exciting offseason, the NBA regular season kicks off on Tuesday night with the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks. So many different outcomes could occur this season, but here are five bold predictions for this season.
1.Russell Westbrook will become the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double.
This one might sound a little more like an unrealistic prediction, but it is not that crazy to believe. If you take a look at Westbrook’s stats without Kevin Durant, then you might see how this is possible.
During the season where Durant missed significant time, Westbrook averaged 28.1 points per game, 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game. That was only in a span of 55 games. Now, think about the possibilities of not having a “glass-eater” like Serge Ibaka to get those rebounds. Somebody other then Steven Adams has to rebound.
Westbrook will be in attack mode all season now that he is the outright leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder. His ability to penetrate will help him dish out assists all game long and nobody else on the team will command for the ball like Durant did.
His points are going to be the easiest part as he is their best scorer and already averages 21.0 points per game for his career.
2.The Atlanta Hawks will miss the playoffs.
Sure, the Eastern Conference is not nearly as tough as the Western Conference but a lot of teams have improved in the East. The Hawks are not one of those teams. They lost arguably their best player in Jeff Teague and their leader in Al Horford.
They swapped those two consistent players for Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard. Howard is way past his prime and is one of the most selfish players in the league even if he doesn’t think so. Schroder is not going to be able to produce quite like Teague did.
Howard does not fit the criteria of Mike Budenholzer coached team. He requires the ball in his hands to make plays happen and Budenholzer is a disciple of Greg Poppovich, which means he wants his team to share the ball.
Not to mention the fact that Kyle Korver will be 35 and definitely took a step back last season.
3.The Indiana Pacers will challenge the Toronto Raptors for the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana is going to be one of the most improved teams in the league and will get back to their 2012-13 form. Paul George has fully recovered from that brutal injury and showed it last season. Now with a supporting cast George will be able to take the Pacers back to the top.
Adding guys like Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson and Thaddeus Young will be a big help. Teague allows George to move around without the ball in his hand. Jefferson gives them a great backup for Myles Turner who can come in and score points off the bench. Young is going to average a double-double and help out on offense and defense.
4. Carmelo Anthony wins his first MVP Award.
Alright, this one is borderline ridiculous but maybe if the entire New York Knicks roster plays close to 82 games then he can do it. The biggest question mark for the Knicks is health and if healthy this team can be really good.
Let’s take a look as to why he wins the MVP. Supporting cast around him? Check. Still the focal point of the offense? Check. Can play off the ball? Check.
He is coming off of one of his most efficient seasons ever as he averaged 21.8 points per game, 4.2 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game. He has someone who can get him the ball and the triangle offense could finally work. Having other scoring options will help spread the floor and give Anthony the space he needs to score.
5. Karl Anthony-Towns finishes the season with MVP consideration.
Anthony-Towns is coming off of a Rookie of the Year award and a good season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He finished the 2015-16 season with 18.3 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game. That was accomplished as a rookie and with virtually no head coach.
The Timberwolves hired Tom Thibodeau as their head coach and are hoping he takes them to the next step. This is the same coach that helped Derrick Rose win MVP and turned Jimmy Butler from a role player to an All-Star. Now, he will have a new pupil to coach this season.
Anthony-Towns is the focal point of the offense for Minnesota. He is still a little bit of a raw talent and needs a coach just like Thibodeau to help him strengthen his game.
Jeremiah Delgado is a fan of the Jets, Yankees and Knicks. He doubts he will, but hopes to live long enough to see the Jets or the Knicks win a championship.
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