By Cayden Westgate and Chazz Jacks
A lot of crazy moves has happened this NBA offseason, a lot of history making moves, and questionable moves. These moves have made people wonder what teams will be dominant and what teams won’t be. We are here, (Chazz Jacks and Cayden Westgate), to tell you each of our predictions of the top 10 NBA teams and why we think they deserved a spot in our top 10.
Chazz Jacks’ Top 10
They took the Warriors to 6 games in the first round of the playoffs. They have a strong bench, good overall chemistry, good coaching. Now, they have added Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. That makes them more dangerous defensively (Paul, Beverley, Kawhi) and better scoring (Paul, Lou) .
They did not have the season everyone thought they were going to have but I believe they are going to pull themselves together. They added Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Dwight Howard, and DeMarcus Cousins. (Yes, he got injured… again, but he could recover… again and play as a solid 6th man type player). They put Lebron at Point. He has size and athleticism, but he doesn’t have that energy and agility he had when he was with the Heat. Known for his perimeter defense and three-point shooting, Green has been a key contributor on both ends on the floor. Davis has been a top-five player in the NBA for years now, and everything about his game has improved this past season. Dwight hasn’t been his Magic self for well since he left the Magic, but if he really wants to add NBA champion to his resume, he will cut the crap, swallow his ego and play like he knows he can. He is a double double maniac, dominate, and a solid shot blocker.
For the past two seasons, they have been a top 10 team and not to long ago, they were the laughing stock of the NBA, like the New York Knicks right now. They have Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, and other key players. I feel like since the main teams in the East are sort of high powered offensively, (besides Milwaukee) they have have some pretty good defense as well thanks to players such as Joel Embiid and Al Horford. And I believe that Joel and Al can work together to take down inside the paint power houses such as reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounpo, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, and many others. It’s going to be fun seeing how the 76ers play this year.
They have a good solid all around team that can rely on each other offensively and defensively. They have spot on shooters (Brook Lopez, Khris Middelton, Kyle Korver) Good defense (Brook Lopez, DPOY candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middelton) and plus they had the best record of the season. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo lead them to that amazing record and the Eastern Conference Finals, only falling short to the Toronto Raptors. They have lost Malcom Brodgon, but gained off the dribble and catch and shoot specialist Kyle Korver. And speaking of shooting, Giannis has shown tremendous improvement in his shooting. Not only that, they have 2019’s 3 point shooting contestant, and Brook Lopez who this past season made more three pointers than Kobe Bryant ever did in a single season.
It seems like all is lost for this former high favored dynasty, but in my eyes not exactly. The departure of the 2x NBA finals MVP Kevin Durant is a big blow to the team and fans. Klay Thompson suffered a torn ACL late in Game 6 against Toronto. DeMarcus Cousins left the team to join back up with former teammates Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo in lala land(Los Angeles Lakers). But this means we might see a little of 2015-2016 Steph Curry, which will be pretty scary. And now he will be paired up with D’angelo Russell, which is going to be a next level splash brother thing. And maybe Draymond Green will have another great season with KD gone. I wouldn’t call it quits on this team just yet.
They have been growing, and growing the past couple seasons. They were lead to a 6th seed spot by former Nets All-Star D’angelo Russell and put up a fight. Now they have acquired Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan. No one knows who will be the leader of this stacked New York team but hopefully Kevin Durant will come back (Most likely not till near or during playoffs). Kyrie will get along and DeAndre will tap into his potential. He should back in his Clipper days, and some players on the rest of the team will break out (Jarett Allen, Spencer Dinwidie etc).
Yes, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, and other key players have departed this team, but all hope is not lost. Kemba Walker will now be the leader and in my opinion will be a better leader than Kyrie ever did for the Celtics. He put on a show last year for Buzz city, and now we can see what he can do with some high caliber players(Tatum, Jaylen, Kanter Hayward). I see Tatum having a breakout year, as in being an all-star, averaging over 22 points and etc. Kanter is a solid team player, and if Gordon Hayward can get back to his solid shooting days back in Utah and keeps out of injury, Boston is a team I see lasting to the second round being a 4th or 5th seed.
They were the 2nd seed in a stacked Western Conference (54-28). They made it past the Spurs four games to three led by Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris. They didn’t make it past the Blazers though, but didn’t go down without a fight, lost the semifinals 3 games to 4. Jamal Murray showed us all a sneak peek of his potential with his smooth handles, shot making and ability to drive and finish. I see them getting a 3rd or 4th seed in the Western Conference, but getting knocked out second round.
9. Utah Jazz
They have shown tremendous growth to me. For everyone who’s a Jazz fan who got worried when Hayward left, now being lead by not one, not two, but three players(Mitchell, Gobert, Conely). In the 2018 NBA playoffs, they eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder lead by at the time reigning MVP Russell Westbrookand Paul George. That caught my attention. Now we’re seeing Donavon Mitchell grow more each season, not just as a dunker but as a leader. Rudy Gobert has now won two consecutive DPOY, and have automatic Aussie Joe Ingles. They also have acquired Mike Conely, who is a Grizzlies legend. Now the young guys will be led by him and we can see how it goes.
10. The Portland Trailblazers
They have shown a lot of improvement in the playoffs, and there were a lot of odds against Rip City. Led by Damian Lillard, he took the Blazers all the way to the Western Conference Finals. And taking down some pretty good teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder led by MVP candidate Paul George, where he made that cold blooded game 5 winning shot OVER Paul. Then they took on the highly favored Denver Nuggets and beat them in 7 games. But sadly this team doesn’t have a happy ending. Damian, and the Blazers were swept by the Golden State Warriors. Now they have acquired shot blocking specialist Hassan Whiteside, which gives them more defense and second shot opportunities. Now the Blazers have Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Hassan Whiteside. I wouldn’t sleep on this team.
Cayden Westgate’s Top 10
1. The Clippers
The Clippers deserve my number one spot because they really impressed me with how they took the dangerous Warriors team to game 6 when everyone expected them to get swept by the Warriors. They already have good firepower of Lou Williams (14.2 ppg, 2.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists ), and Montrezl Harrell ( 11.2 ppg, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists), and now the Clippers have added Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. So now the Clippers have a really good defensive team. George was qualified for both defensive player of the year and MVP. Kawhi also just won a championship with the Raptors and he was the Finals MVP. With the combination of George and Leonard. If they stay healthy, the Clippers will have amazing defense plus Patrick Beverly who can get under anyone’s skin. Since the Clippers added George and Leonard, the team has plenty of scorers, almost there whole team is able to score. The Clippers are a title contending team but they have a lot of competition ahead of them.
2. The Nets
I put the Nets at the number 2 spot because they don’t have a good defensive lineup like the Clippers but they good players that can score on anyone. Adding Durant, Irving, Jordan makes it so much easier for them to score. Adding all their scoring abilities will make them a threat in the league. Also the Nets bench is pretty good as well. Off the bench they have Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarret Allen, Joe Harris and other assets, but those three are lethal. Harris is an amazing shooter, Allen is a defensive monster, and Dinwiddie is a strong team player. If the Nets decide to start Harris, the floor will be spaced out really well. There potential starting lineup is Irving, Durant, Allen, Harris, and Jordan. This team is also tall, so they should be able to get a lot of rebounds. Other than that, the Nets have amazing scoring talent, but I am worried about their defense.
3. The Lakers
The Lakers were hard to place in my top three because they really only have two amazing players, Lebron James and Anthony Davis. But they also have the young star, Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers can make so many lineups. They could put Lebron at power forward, Kuzma at small forward, move Davis to center, Avery Bradley or Danny Green at shooting guard, and keep Rondo at point. They could do so many more lineups and that’s why I think they deserve my number three spot. They can mess with teams head with there lineup switches. What is so convenient about the Lakers being able to mix the lineup is that when they see a possible mismatch they can make it happen easily. Alongside there versatility with the lineup they have good defense. Both Lebron and Anthony are extremely dangerous. Over Anthony Davis’s career, he averages 2.4 blocks a game. With him barely playing last season that is still pretty good. Lebron may have not averaged as many blocks as Davis did but he averaged 1.3 steals a game. He also does a lot of defensive things that don’t show up in the box score, like tipping passes or just contesting shots, and the person that is being guarded by Lebron is being pressured because Lebron is questionably the best player to ever play. Scoring is very questionable for the Lakers, yes they have Lebron and Anthony but they cant do it all. Spacing is also a big issue for the Lakers. If they start Dwight, Davis, and Lebron, the paint will be really crowded because all three of them or more dominant inside. Lebron and Davis can hit the three but not consistently. We will see what they do when the season starts.
4. The Warriors
We all know the Warriors lost the finals and lost one of their best players on the team, Kevin Durant. They are still in my top 5 because they still have Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson(injured but might return in time for the payoffs), but they also acquired D’Angelo Russell this offseason. So the Warriors still have a big three but without the firepower of Klay Thompson it will be rough season for them. Personally I think the Warriors should start Curry and Russell at point, or could switch off being point guard and shooting guard, Draymond can stay at power forward, and since they don’t really have another small forward other than Klay they could run two power forwards and put in Kevon Looney and have Willie Caulie-Stein at center. Now spacing may be an issue, but I honestly think this may be the best lineup they have unless they make some trades and acquire good assets for the team. If Klay makes a fast recovery and comes back like 25 games before the playoffs, they will be a title contending team. When Klay is healthy, I think there starting lineup should be Curry at point, Klay at shooting guard, Russell at small forward, Draymond at power forward, and Cauley-Stein at center. This team is pretty deadly if you ask me but again Klay is out for the majority of the season, and that’s a big hit for the Warriors but I still believe the Warriors can clinch a playoff spot.
5. The Bucks
The Bucks had a spectacular season, they had the best record in the league with 60 wins and only 22 losses. There most important player on the team, Giannis Antetokounmpo, won MVP averaging 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists. They are at my number 5 because they really don’t have the firepower besides Giannis. Yes they have quality players like Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, and acquiring Kyle Korver over the offseason. Kyle Korver will be a perfect fit for them because they need players that can knock down the three consistently. I think the only thing the Bucks need are more superstars on there team. In the east I honestly think they can be the first seed but they have the 76ers, Nets, and the Celtics to worry about and the Detroit Pistons as well since they added Derrick Rose and they have a big three. I’m really curious if they can keep the same drive and mentality they had last season to bring over to this season and possibly bring home the title.
6. The Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets have been having trouble these past few years in the playoffs trying to make it past the Warriors. I feel like they were just missing a small piece in there roster. Adding Westbrook is very questionable because both Harden and Westbrook are ball dominant guards but also Westbrook is pretty good at dishing out the ball and that’s why it is very questionable if adding Westbrook was a good move. If you remember, Harden and Westbrook were teammates on the Thunder for three years and got to the finals his third year with the help of Kevin Durant. Since they both have developed and got better over the years they should be a high caliber team but again sharing the ball might be a problem. The Rockets also have good quality players surrounding Harden Westbrook, they have Clint Capela, which is a defensive monster, Eric Gordon who can knock down the three consistently, and Kenneth Faried who can rebound and score a decent amount of points. But what I think is stopping them from being a top 3 seed is them being able to share the ball, I think they will make it to the playoffs but not get far.
7. The 76ers
Losing Jimmy Butler was a big hit for the 76ers, that’s why I don’t think they will be as good as they were last year. But they did add Al Horford. Adding him is a good move because he can be a backup center or he could start power forward and have Joel Embiid at center. They have one really big problem, and that is being able to shoot the three at a high percentage. I did see Ben Simmons (a big threat on both ends of the court) working on his three pointer this offseason, so hopefully he is able to knock them down. Also Tobias Harris can shoot the three a little bit as well. Joel Embiid is going to be the driving force of this team with Simmons by his side. This team will have really good defense. Embiid last season averaged about 2 blocks a game, so he has the paint locked down, he also managed to snatch up about 13 rebounds a game. And with Ben Simmons passing abilities, him and Joel could run really good pick and roll plays and pick and pop plays. They are definitely a playoff team but I really don’t think that they are championship quality.
8. Portland Trail Blazers
Like the Houston Rockets, the Portland Trail Blazers have been having trouble making it past the first two rounds of the playoffs. They added Hassan Whitside this offseason, which is a good move because in my opinion Jusuf Nurkic is way to soft and gets injured to much. Of course they have their two stars, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and they have Rodney Hood who is a decent player. If they want to make it far into the playoffs, they need more superstars on there team, or at least good quality players that can score the ball, pass the ball, and play defense. If Lillard has an amazing year like he did last year they will definitely put up a fight to make the playoffs. In my opinion CJ and Damian need more help because for the past few years it seems like they have been doing all the work. But now that Whiteside is on the team, their defense should be good. Last season Whiteside didn’t average many points but he did pull down 11.3 rebounds a game and about 2 blocks a game, so adding him was honestly a smart move, but the question is, can he stay healthy? Like the 76ers, I just don’t think they are championship bound yet, maybe another year or two.
9. The Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets had a breakout season this year. They finished the season 54-28, one of the best records in the NBA. The tandem of Nickola Jokic and Jamal Murray are a deadly duo. Jokic is dominant center who can also play like a guard, his passing is outstanding and his playmaking is outstanding as well. Jamal Murray also is an amazing point guard and hopefully next season he improves a lot more. In the playoffs the Nuggets came up short and lost in the 2 round to the Blazzers in a game 7. So I think if everyone on their roster improves on everything they could possibly make it farther into the playoffs, but since they are in the west, it is going to be really hard for them to compete.
10. The Boston Celtics
Last but not least are the Boston Celtics. They lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford this offseason which hurt them bad, but luckily the Boston Celtics acquired Kemba Walker so losing Irving and Horford isn’t that bad, and they also acquired Enes Kanter over the offseason to replace Horfords spot. The Celtics have a young team so I think it might take the team a while to fully develop into there primes, especially Jayson Tatum, in a couple years, if he stays healthy, he will be a dominant player in the league. Kemba will also do good for the teams scoring and dishing out assists to everyone on the team. If Kemba, Jayson, and Kanter have good chemistry they can potentially be a big three in the league. They also added Tacko Fall who is insanely tall and can rebound and defend the paint, but he needs to gain more strength so for now I think Enes Kanter will be the starting Center. I believe the Celtics can make it to the playoffs and possibly make it past the first round but they definitely are not a championship team.