NBA 2020-2021 Season Preview/Predictions


Eastern Conference

Central Division

Chicago Bulls


Top Players - Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr.


Returning - Coby White, Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Jones, Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchinson


New Additions - Patrick Williams, Garrett Temple


Key Losses - Kris Dunn


Team Strengths - Being able to push and score the ball during fastbreak opportunities. Last year they were top 12 in defensive rating. Several players being able to switch against multiple positions on the floor. Adding Garrett Temple and Patrick Williams adds more defensive versatility at the perimeter and in the paint.

Team Weakness- Lack of culture. Very Young & inexperienced team. Have not figured out how to win as a team yet. Lack real veteran leadership. Thaddeus Young at 32 and Garrett 34 are your only veterans. Both are great professionals, good character men, and good locker room guys. Between both, they are not the guys to change a culture of a team but it is a start.


Last Year Record- 22-43


Upcoming Record Prediction- 31-41



Cleveland Cavaliers


Top Players- Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Colin Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr.


Returning- Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum


New Additions- Javale McGee, Thon Maker, Isaac Okuro (Auburn), Lamar Stevens (Penn State)


Key Losses- Tristian Thompson


Team Strengths- Paint Protection, shot blocking, and rebounding. Adding Javale McGee & Thon Maker adds height, length, and defensive presence around the paint.


Team Weaknesses- No true leadership. Team scoring is subpar. Currently, there is no franchise caliber player on the roster. Perimeter defense is poor with players that can play better defense as a team. Last years offensive rating was 25th overall. Teams defensive rating was 29th overall. Must improve on both ends of the floor.


Last Year Record- 19-46


Upcoming Record Prediction- 26-46



Detroit Pistons



Top Players - Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin


Returning - Svi Mykhailuk, Sekou Doumbouya


New Additions - Saadiq Bey (Villanova), Killian Hayes, Saden Lee (Vanderbilt), Josh Jackson, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, Delon Wright, Rodney McGruder, Wayne Ellington


Key Losses - Christian Wood, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway


Team Strengths - Leadership from star players and new role players. Exceptionally good mix of young and experienced veteran players. Different variety of scoring and 3-point shooting at the guard and forward positions. Improved outside shooting compared to last year’s roster. Solid rebounding team. Can push the ball more during Fastbreak situations.


Team Weakness- Above average rim protection. Team chemistry. Brand new roster.


Last Year Record- 20-46


Upcoming record prediction- 37-35



Indiana Pacers


Top Players - Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, T.J Warren, Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon


Returning - Aaron Holiday, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, T.J McConnell, JaKarr Sampson, Doug McDermott


New Additions - Cassius Stanley, Jalen Lecque


Key Losses - No one


Team Strengths - Quality guard play. Overall, they play relatively well as a team. Share the ball well. They have a well-balanced outside/inside game. Last year, they were ranked 3rd in opponents point per game and top 6 defensive rating in the league.


Team Weaknesses - They do not have great depth off the bench. Average bench but not enough to help offensively on a consistent basis if starters are having a bad shooting game. Above average shooting team from 3-point range.


Last Year Record- 45-28


Upcoming Record Prediction- 41-31



Milwaukee Bucks


Top Players - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Kris Middleton


Returning - Brook Lopez, Donte DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, DJ Wilson

New Additions - Jrue Holiday, DJ Augustine, Bobby Portis, Torrey Craig


Key Losses - Eric Bledsoe, Kyle Korver, George Hill, Wesley Matthews, Ersan Ilyasova, Marvin Williams


Team Strengths - Defense, size, versatility on both ends of the floor. Highly skilled players than can do a little bit of everything. Strong backcourt. Added players like Jrue Holiday and D.J Augustin that can create off the dribble for themselves and others if or when the offense becomes stagnant during an offensive possession. Well balanced team.


Team Weaknesses - Outside of Kris Middleton, they lack another solidified 3-point specialist. However, they have players that are capable of knocking down open uncontested 3’s.


Last Year Record - 56-17


Upcoming Record Prediction - 50-22



Southeast Division


Miami Heat


Top Players - Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Gordan Dragic, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson


Returning - Andre Iguodala, Kendrick Nunn, Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynyk, Udonis Haslem, Chris Silva


New Additions - Avery Bradley, Maurice Harkless, Precious Achiuwa (Kentucky)


Key Losses - Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, Der

rick Jones


Team Strengths - Culture, leadership, defense, 3-point shooting, versatility at every position.


Team Weaknesses - Once Bam is out the game, the bench front courts defensive presence are not strong at protecting the basket.


Last Year Record- 44-29


Upcoming Record Predictions- 52-20



Washington Wizards


Top Players - Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura


Returning - Ish Smith, Thomas Bryant, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Jerome Washington, Garrison Matthews, Anzejs Pasecniks, Isaac Bonga


New Additions - Russell Westbrook, Deni Avdija, Raul Neto, Moritz Wagner, Anthony Gill


Key Losses - John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Ian Mahinmi


Team Strengths - Spacing the floor, a lot of pick & roll action. Fairly good 3-point shooting team. They can score the ball at a high clip. Last year they were ranked 7th in the league for points per game.


Team Weaknesses - Worst team in the league in defensive ranking. No rim protection. Poor on-ball defenders.


Last Year Record - 25-47


Upcoming Record Prediction - 34-38



Atlanta Hawks


Top Players - Trae Young, John Collins, Clint Capela


New Additions - Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo, Danilo Galliano, Kris Dunn


Key losses

• No key losses


Team strengths

• Depth

• Veteran leadership

• Athleticism


Weakness

• Chemistry

• Youth


Last year record

20-47


Upcoming record prediction

36-36


This is a much improved Atlanta team but chemistry is still a big concern. Adding guys like Rondo, Bogdanovic, and Gallinari provides an instant improvement to the team as well as providing some guidance to the young core of guys. Kris Dunn also isn't a young player who can use this experience to build on his potential as a player. Trae Young looks to build on his All Star season and get this team into the playoffs. In conclusion this is a very deep and veteran oriented team who can compete for a 5th-8th seed in the playoffs.


Charlotte Hornets


Top Players

• Terry Rozier, Devine Graham, Gordon Hayward


New Additions

• LaMelo Ball

• Gordon Hayward


Key losses

• No key losses


Team strengths

• Shooting

• Speed


Weakness

• Youth

• No real identity

• Coaching


Last year record

23-42

Upcoming record prediction

24-46


This Charlotte Hornets team have the versatility to stay in games but lack the leadership and star power to close games. LaMelo Ball adds excitement and media attraction to the franchise but with the Hornets being guard heavy expect some inconsistent play from the team as a whole. If they can find a solid rotation and make a few moves this team can potentially be right on the outside of the playoffs, but the cold truth is that this team will be picking in the top 5 again next season.


Orlando Magic


Top Players

Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon


New Additions

• Cole Anthony


Key losses

• Dj Augustin


Team strengths

• Chemistry

• Well Coached

• Depth

• Mature atmosphere

Weakness

• No true star

Last year record

33-40


Upcoming record prediction

37-35



The Orlando Magic are a very well coached team who play together and at a nice pace. With the inside presence of Vucevic mixed in with shooters and athleticism this team is poised to return to the postseason, but thats when reality hits every year for this team (1st round exit). With guys like MCW, Cole Anthony, Terrence Ross this team gives me the pre Kawhi Toronto vibe. They are a player away from being able to do real damage. Expect a playoff birth this season but that's really where it ends this season


Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics


Top Players

• Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown


New Additions

• Jeff Teague, Tristan Thompson


Key losses

• Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter


Team Strengths

• Scoring

• Defense

• Size at the wing positions

• Depth


Weakness

• Toughness down the stretch

• Interior defense


Last year record

48-24


Upcoming record prediction

46-26


The Celtics have the ability to score and defend at an elite level. With Tatum, and Brown career still trending up and the scoring ability of Kemba this team is will be tough for any opponent to defend. The addition of Tristan Thompson adds toughness and defense that they were lacking at the big man position since the departure of Al Horford. Jeff Teague also is a great addition off the bench, allowing Boston to still have a starting caliber PG when the bench comes in.

Brooklyn Nets


Top Players

• Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Lavert


New Additions

• Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Steve Nash(Coach) Landry Shamet


Key losses

• No Key losses


Team Strengths

• Star Power

• Scoring

• Shooting

• Size

• Depth


Weakness

• Too many mouths to feed

• Potential Chemistry issues

Last year record

35-37


Upcoming record prediction

48-24


The Nets have all the star power to contend for a Championship. The Nets success will be contingent on them being able to defend at an elite level. Allen and Jordan provide an above average - great interior defense. If the Nets can get their talent to mesh together they will be poised for a deep playoff run.

New York Knicks


Top Players

• Julius Randle, Rj Barrett, Mitchell Robinson


New Additions

• Obi Toppin, Austin Rivers, Nerlens Noel


Key losses

• No key losses


Team strengths

• Youth / Energy

• Potential


Weakness

• Inexperience

• No All Star players

• No true identity

Last year record

21-45


Upcoming record prediction

26-46


The Knicks will be a more discipline and sharp team under new Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. The youth and Depth of the Knicks allow them to get out and run in transition, but this is still a rebuilding team who will struggle to win games. With the additions of veteran players like Burks, Noel, and Rivers the Knicks are moving in the right direction as far as changing the culture, but don't expect much immediate growth from the team.

Philadelphia 76ers


Top Players

• Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris


New Additions

• Doc Rivers(Head Coach) Danny Green, Seth Curry, Dwight Howard


Key losses

• Al Horford, Alec Burks


Team strengths

• Star Power

• Size

• Defense

• Shooting

• Experience


Last year record

43-30

Upcoming record prediction

44-29


The 76ers can contend for a title if healthy. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both have the potential to he top 5 players in the NBA. With the additions of Danny Green and Seth Curry the Sixers are expecting to be more of a shooting threat than previous seasons. Dwight Howard provides depth at the big man spot and well as experience. Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle are expected to continue improving their game/role. If a trade for Harden takes place this team is still expected to compete for a title but the whole landscape of the team maybe different depending on who and what they give up. In conclusion this Sixers team will be a very dangerous team this season.


Toronto Raptors


Top Players

• Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet


New Additions

• Aaron Baynes


Key losses

• Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka


Team Strengths

• Experience

• Toughness/ Gritty

• Chemistry

• Well coached


Last year record

53-19


Upcoming record prediction

48-20

Toronto take a small step back this season after losing two veteran big men (Gasol, Ibaka), but this is a well coached team with chemistry and experience so do not be surprised if they find themselves right back in the mix this season at the top of the Eastern Conference. Van Vleet and Lowry are one of the better back courts in the conference mixed with rising All Star Pascal Siakam this Raptors team will be a tough matchup for the entire NBA. Norman Powell is an upscale role player off the bench. If Chris Boucher can fill the Ibaka role as well as providing energy off the bench this team will continue to succeed in the Eastern Conference.


Western Conference

Southwest Division

Memphis Grizzlies


Top Players - Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, Dillon Brooks


Returning - Gorgui Dieng, Grayson Allen, Brandon Clarke, Tyus Jones, Kyle Anderson, De’Anthony Melton


New Additions - Xavier Tillman, Desmond Bane, Justise Winslow, John Konchar, Sean McDermott, Killian Tillie


Key Losses - Josh Jackson


Team Strengths - They play with great pace (6th in the league). Guards and wing players are exceptionally good at creating off the dribble to help create space for themselves and others to score. They move the ball well for being a young upcoming team.


Team Weaknesses - They are an average defensive team. Need to improve taking better 3-point shots and making 3-point shots as a team.


Last Year Record - 34-49


Upcoming Record Prediction - 37-35


New Orleans Pelicans


Top Players - Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball


Returning - Josh Hart, Wenyen Gabriel, Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, JJ Reddick, Sindarius Thornwell


New Additions - Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams, Willy Hernangomez


Key Losses - Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, Jahlil Okafor, E’Twuan Moore


Team Strengths - Play with great pace. Last year they were 2nd in pace, 5th in points per game. They love to push the ball on offensive transition. They play a lot of pick & roll action. They shoot the ball well from 3-point range as a team (37%).


Team Weaknesses - Average defensive team. Last year they were ranked 19th in defensive rating & 27th in opponent points per game but can improve. In addition, Stan Van Gundy is the new coach and is a defensive minded coach. Defensive end should improve this incoming year.


Last Year Record - 30-42


Upcoming Record Prediction - 41-31


San Antonio Spurs


Top Players - DeMar DeRozan, Lamarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray


Returning - Patty Mills, Lo

nnie Walker IV, Tre Lyles, Jakob Poeltl, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Drew Eubanks, Luka Samanic


New Additions - Tre Jones, Devin Vassell


Key Losses - Marco Belinelli


Team Strengths - Last year they were 8th in points per game & 9th in offensive rating. They play a well-rounded inside/outside to outside/inside game. It just depends on the specific opponent when it pertains to their approach.


Team Weaknesses - 2 out of the 4 top players (LaMarcus Aldridge & Rudy Gay), while still productive, are aging and out of their prime. They are one of the worse defensive teams in the league (25th in opponents points per game & 25th in defensive rating).


Last Year Record - 33-38


Upcoming Record Prediction - 36-36




Houston Rockets


Top Players

• James Harden, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins


New Additions

• John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins


Key losses

• Russell Westbrook


Team strengths

• Scoring quick

• Speed

• Versatility


Weakness

• Defense

• Chemistry

• Unproven Coaching


Last year record

44-28


Upcoming record prediction

40-32


It will be interesting to see how Houston handles the trade request of James Harden, but as of right now Houston can score 120+ on any team with their shoot at will play style. John Wall and Boogie Cousins provide some balance to the floor as far as scoring and not relying on threes. Its hard to honestly project what the season will look like until we gain some clarity on the James Harden situation



Dallas Mavericks


Top Players

• Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis


New Additions

• Josh Richardson


Key losses

• Seth Curry, Delon Wright


Team strengths

• Well Coached

• Versatility

• Depth

• Chemistry


Last year record

43-32


Upcoming record prediction

45-27



Dallas looks to build on the success of last season. With Luka being an MVP favorite as well as having Porzingis this team in looking to build on last seasons success. Dallas can go about 10 deep and they have the potential to be a top 5 offense as well as a top 5 defense.



Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors


Top Players - Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson (OFS)


New Additions- James Wiseman (Memphis), Kelly Oubre Jr., Brad Wanamaker, Kent Bazemore, Nico Mannion (Arizona)


Key Losses- Alec Burks


Team Strengths

• Stephen Curry

• Leadership

• 3pt Shooting

• Youth


Weaknesses

• Defense


Last Year Record - 15-50


Upcoming Record Prediction - 27-45


As we all know the Warriors will be without Klay Thompson yet again and the other Splash Brother will be missed. With key additions of Oubre and Bazemore they should fit right in with the Warriors as the Warriors have struggled defensively without Klay Thompson’s defensive abilities ranking at 26th without him last season and with him they were always in the top 15. However, we get to see a very healthy Stephen Curry with the amount of time he’s had off after Golden State completely ran the NBA for years. He’ll be a great watch in the MVP conversation. Is this the year we get to see what Andrew Wiggins really could be?


Los Angeles Clippers


Top Players - Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams


New Additions- Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard, Daniel Oturu (Minnesota), Jay Scrubb (John A. Logan College)


Key Losses - Montrezl Harrell, Maurice Harkless

Team Strengths

• Defense

• Scoring

• Experience

• Depth


Weaknesses

• No clear closer

• True Point Guard


Last Year Record - 49-23


Upcoming Record Prediction - 52-20


Now that the Clippers are without Doc Rivers it’s interesting to see how Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will complement each other this year being that Doc Rivers was supposedly the problem. Ty Lue will be testing out the triangle offense for Kawhi which shall be interesting to see how he thrives within that offense and how Paul George will be used. Will they make any moves to complete with their crosstown rival as their 6th man of the year (Montrezl Harrell) has moved over to the Lakers? Harrell will be missed for being their inside bully, their loose ball guy behind Patrick Beverly and snagging plenty of offensive rebounds. With the addition of Serge Ibaka and his ability to stretch the floor can he be s better fit than Harrell. The pressure is on after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets.


Los Angeles Lakers


Top Players - LeBron James, Anthony Davis


New Additions - Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, Alfonzo McKinnie, Dennis Schroder


Key Losses - JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo

Team Strengths

• NBA’s Best Duo

• Veterans

• Deep Bench

• Togetherness

• Leadership

• Scoring


Weaknesses

• Rebounding

• Size

• Defense


Last Year Record - 52-19

Upcoming Record Prediction - 57-15


With the Los Angeles Lakers the time is now! Despite winning the 2019-2020 NBA Championship the Lakers made some key offseason moves snagging the top 2, 6th man of the year candidates, former defensive player of the year in Marc Gasol and a great defender and 3pt shooter Wesley Matthews. While losing a key veteran like Rajon Rondo who was nothing more than a pest in the post-season, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee’s size and defensive presence, their ability to provide second chance opportunities and shot blocking ability. With added fire power the Lakers will have plenty of options after having Kyle Kuzma as their 3rd star. Can they double back and win again?



Phoenix Suns


Top Players - Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton


New Additions - Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Abdel Nader, Jalen Smith (Maryland), Ty-Shon Alexander(Creighton), Langston Galloway, Damian Jones, E’Twaun Moore


Key Losses - Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio


Team Strengths

• Perimeter Shooting

• Interior Defense

• Pick & Roll Offense

• Scoring

• Leadership


Weaknesses

Shooting


Last Year Record - 34-39


Upcoming Record Prediction - 43-29


With the addition of Chris Paul’s leadership and willingness to be great on both sides of the ball the Phoenix Suns actually have a shot at making the playoffs for the first time with Devin Booker. Offense will be easier for Devin Booker as he’ll no longer have to be as ball dominant as previous years. Also, the additions of veterans Jae Crowder who’ll add defensive toughness and 3pt shooting, E’Twaun Moore who’s been fantastic for the Pelicans over the years so it’ll be interesting to see him in a new role and Langston Galloway who can also provide some offense for the Suns.



Sacramento Kings


Top Players - De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, Harrison Barnes


New Additions - Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State), Chimezie Metu, Jahmi’us Ramsey (Texas Tech), Glenn Robinson lll, Hassan Whiteside, Robert Woodard (Mississippi State)


Key Losses - Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kent Bazemore


Team Strengths

• Speed

• Potential

• Size

• Age


Weaknesses

• Inexperience

• Health

• Structure

• Veteran Leadership

• Defense


Last Year Record: 31-41


Upcoming Record Prediction: 32-40


Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets


Top Players - Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray


New Additions - Facundo Campazzo, JaMychal Green, RJ Hampton, Markus Howard, Zeke Nnaji, Greg Whittington


Key Losses - Torrey Craig, Jerami Grant


Team Strengths

• Nikola Jokic

• Offensive Ceiling

• Versatilit

• Well Coached


Weaknesses

• Wing Defenders

• Youth

• Chemistry


Last Year Record: 46-27


Upcoming Record Prediction: 42-30


Minnesota Timberwolves

Top Players - Karl Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley


New Additions - Ed Davis, Anthony Edwards, Ashton Hagans, Jaden McDaniels, Ricky Rubio


Key Losses - None


Team Strengths

• 3pt Shooting

• Scoring Potential


Weaknesses

• Lack of Defensive Interest

• Youth

• Wings


Last Year Record: 19-45


Upcoming Record Prediction: 23-49

Oklahoma City Thunder


Top Players - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander


New Additions - Trevor Ariza, Moses Brown, Josh Hall, George Hill, Al Horford, Frank Jackson, Justin Jackson, Ty Jerome, Theo Maledon, Darius Miller, Aleksej Pokusevski, Kenrich Williams


Key Losses - Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder


Team Strengths

• Veterans


Weaknesses

• Youth

• Chemistry

• 3pt Shooting

• No Superstar/All Star


Last Year Record: 44-28


Upcoming Record Prediction: 17-55

Portland Trailblazers


Top Players - Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Carmelo Anthony


New Additions - Keljin Blevins, Robert Covington, CJ Elleby, Harry Giles ll, Derrick Jones Jr., Enes Kantner


Key Losses - None


Team Strengths

  • 3pt Shooting

  • Deep Rotation

  • Guard Play

  • Chemistry


Weaknesses

  • Defense


Last Year Record: 35-39


Upcoming Record Prediction: 43-29

Utah Jazz


Top Players - Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert, Jordan Clarkson


New Additions - Udoka Azubuike, Trent Forrest, Shaquille Harrison, Elijah Hughes


Key Losses - None


Team Strengths

  • Experience

  • 3pt Shooting


Weaknesses

  • Interior Scoring

  • Wing Defenders




Last Year Record: 44-28



Upcoming Record Prediction: 42-28



MVP - Luka Doncic

MIP - Lonzo Ball

6th Man - Jordan Clarkson

DPOTY - Anthony Davis

ROTY - LaMelo Ball


Finals - Los Angeles Lakers v. Philadelphia 76ers


This preview/prediction was created and curated by a collection of talent. Hope you enjoyed. Expect this team to bring you content all season long!

- Rod Matthews, Alex Crawford, Shaquan Worthy & Bilal Benjamin

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