1. Can anyone compete with the Golden State Warriors?
There is still a lot of talent in the Western Conference, even though the Warriors are clearly the most talented. In a one game set, the San Antonio Spurs may still have what it takes to beat GSW. All hopes for a series win against GSW in the West rest on the shoulders of the Los Angeles Clippers. They have the fight and the firepower to pull it off but I do not see it happening. The only team with a shot in the East is LeBron and “the World Champion” Cleveland Cavaliers.
2. Can the New York Knicks be a real threat in the East?
In a fantasy world where there are no injuries… yeah, they could! However, here in the real world where birds fly Derrick Rose is going to miss games, a lot of games! Joakim Noah and Carmelo Anthony are also going to miss games. The best the Knicks can hope for is that they are not all injured at the same time to affect them earning a playoff spot. The next question would be can they fit into their roles with Kristaps Porzingis before the postseason to really matter. I believe that they may be able to knock out a team like Toronto or Boston in the playoffs if healthy but they do not have what it takes to knock off Cleveland.
3. Who will win MVP this season?
Russell Westbrook will do his best to earn the award by carrying OKC to the playoffs and Damian Lillard will do the same with Portland. James Harden will probably lead the league in scoring but that won’t get the trophy and the Golden State Warriors will all cancel each other out. LeBron James will win the award on the way to another trip to the NBA Finals.
4. Who will earn Rookie of the Year?
With young sensation Ben Simmons out after foot surgery and not scheduled to return until possibly January, the field is wide open. I think that Kris Dunn of the Minnesota Timberwolves is my frontrunner with Buddy Heild in New Orleans a really close second.
5. Big surprise of the season.
This one is a good news/bad news situation. Here’s the bad news first. The Chicago Bulls won’t make the NBA Playoffs this season. Head coach Fred Hoiberg has always liked an offense full of guys who can shoot the ball. This season he has a team full of guys who like to slash to the basket, not shooters so something here is not going to work. Here’s the good news. The Minnesota Timberwolves are going to slide into the playoffs out West. They are athletic all across the board with Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine and rookie Kris Dunn. Coach Tom Thibodeau has enough experience to get them to focus and apply that athleticism to both ends of the floor and win more games than people think.
By Gordon Robinson