2017-18 NBA Predictions

Western Conference:

  • Golden State      70-12
  • Houston              64-18
  • San Antonio       59-23
  • Oklahoma City  58-24
  • Denver                 54-28
  • Minnesota           49-33
  • Portland              46-36
  • Grizzlies              44-38
  • Utah                       43-39
  • LA Clippers          41-41
  • New Orleans        39-43
  • Dallas                    32-50
  • Sacramento          26-56
  • LA Lakers             24-58
  • Phoenix                 21-61

Eastern Conference:

  • Cleveland           62-20
  • Washington       56-26
  • Boston                 52-30
  • Toronto               51-31
  • Milwaukee         48-34
  • Miami                  45-37
  • Philadelphia      40-42
  • Charlotte            38-44
  • Detroit                  36-46
  • Orlando                29-53
  • Atlanta                  24-58
  • Brooklyn               23-59
  • Indiana                 20-62
  • New York              20-62
  • Chicago                 16-66

MVP: LeBron James. With the culmination of superteams, and the ensuing cannibalization teammates’ MVP votes, a reinvigorated and motivated LeBron will have an open lane to bring home his 5th MVP award. Rounding out the top-5: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons. Simmons will be the primary ball-handler for an exciting up-tempo team in a very weak Eastern Conference. With good play from Simmons–and reasonable health from Joel Embiid–the Sixers have a good chance of making the Playoffs in 2018. Even if they miss postseason play yet again, Simmons will win ROY after averaging 16 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds, while providing highlight reel passing along the way. Rest of top-5: Dennis Smith, Jr., Lonzo Ball, Donovan Mitchell, Markelle Fultz.

Most Improved Player: Nikola Jokic. In my opinion, Jokic was way too good last season to qualify for this award. However, if he carries the Nuggets to the playoffs and posts a borderline MVP-level season (or flat-out wins the award), the voters might reward his ongoing leap to greatness and give the Serbian superstar some well-deserved national recognition. Others in top-5: Myles Turner, Khris Middleton, Victor Oladipo, D’Angelo Russell.

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert. As the anchor of the best defensive team in the NBA (in terms of DRTG) and leading the Jazz to the Playoffs in the first post-Hayward year of the franchise, Gobert takes home the award after finishing as the runner-up in 2017. Rest of top-5: Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeAndre Jordan.

Coach of the Year: Mike Malone. Malone will lead Denver to its first Playoff appearance since 2013 after unleashing the beast that is Nikola Jokic and successfully integrating Paul Millsap into the best passing front-court in the NBA. With fellow MIP candidates Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, the Nuggets are poised to explode. While a top-4 finish is unlikely based on who else plays in the West, finishing as the 5-seed could prime Malone to take home the award. Remaining top-5: Gregg Popovich, Scott Brooks, Erik Spoelstra, Brett Brown.

6th Man of Year: Andre Iguodala. This is the year the voters recognize more than PPG when anointing the best bench player in the NBA! I know it! But if not, at least Iguodala has his Finals MVP to fall back on. As the warriors sleepwalk to ~70 wins, and Iguodala is once again present in the league’s most potent lineup, the voters lean towards a two-way players over an inefficient scorer. Rest of top-5: Marcus Smart, Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Milos Teodosic.

Playoffs, Round 1:

  • (1) Cleveland over (8) Charlotte, 4-0
  • (2) Washington over (7) Philadelphia, 4-1
  • (3) Boston over (6) Miami, 4-1
  • (5) Milwaukee over (4) Toronto, 4-3
  • (1) Golden State over (8) Memphis, 4-0
  • (2) Houston over (7) Portland, 4-1
  • (3) San Antonio over (6) Minnesota, 4-1
  • (4) Oklahoma City over (5) Denver, 4-2

Conference Semifinals:

  • (1) Cleveland over (5) Milwaukee, 4-0
  • (2) Washington over (3) Boston, 4-3
  • (1) Golden State over (4) Oklahoma City, 4-0
  • (2) Houston over (3) San Antonio, 4-3

Conference Finals:

  • (1) Cleveland over (2) Washington, 4-1
  • (1) Golden State over (2) Houston, 4-0

NBA Finals:

  • Golden State over Cleveland, 4-1



2017 NBA Draft Big Board

  1. Markelle Fultz
  2. Lonzo Ball
  3. Dennis Smith, Jr.
  4. Josh Jackson
  5. Jonathan Isaac
  6. Jayson Tatum
  7. Malik Monk
  8. Frank Ntilikina
  9. Donovan Mitchell
  10. De’Aaron Fox
  11. OG Anunoby
  12. Lauri Markkanen
  13. Zach Collins
  14. John Collins
  15. Luke Kennard
  16. Derrick White
  17. Jawun Evans
  18. Sindarius Thornwell
  19. Justin Patton
  20. Justin Jackson
  21. Jordan Bell
  22. Caleb Swanigan
  23. Thomas Bryant
  24. Terrance Ferguson
  25. Bam Adebayo
  26. Ike Anigbogu
  27. Harry Giles
  28. Cam Oliver
  29. Jarrett Allen
  30. T.J. Leaf

Caris LeVert

  • 6’7” Shooting Guard with 6’10” wingspan
  • 21 years old; played 4 years at Michigan
  • Had season-ending left foot injury as Jr. after just 18 games
  • Had season-ending left leg injury as Sr. after just 15 games
  • Great size/length for a Guard
  • 44.6% 3pt shooter on 4.3 attempts/game (40.1% on 334 career attempts)
  • 79.4% FT shooter on 4.5 attempts/game (77.0% on 265 career attempts)
  • Length helps him get shots off over smaller defenders
  • Avoids contact at rim; chooses to pull-up/use floater instead of attack bigs
  • Not an explosive athlete
  • 33.3% Assist%, 6.4 Assists/40 both above average for guards scouted/drafted
  • Only 2.2 Turnovers/40
  • Moves reasonably well defensively; can help him stay in front of smaller, quicker ball-handlers
  • Will need to bulk up to match up against 3’s at the next level
  • 6.9 Rebounds/40
  • All comparison stats must be taken with a grain of salt: LeVert only played 2 Big Ten games; most games came against lower-level non-conference opponents


  • Has size to play 1-3 offensively; projects best as combo guard with ability to pass/shoot over defense
  • If healthy, could develop into decent role player on a good team
  • #10 Shooting Guard, #16 overall Guard; probably 2nd Round pick due to foot issues: draft range between 31-undrafted

Malcolm Brogdon

  • 6’6” Shooting Guard with 6’11” wingspan
  • 23 years old; played 4 years at Virginia
  • Hard worker
  • Strong player with good size for Shooting Guard
  • Strength might not be enough to translate from younger NCAA opponents to older professionals
  • Doesn’t have great ball skills or athleticism to beat defenders 1-on-1
  • Very good shooter
  • 39.1% on 5.1 3pt attempts/game (36.5% on 507 career attempts)
  • 89.7% FT shooter on 4.2 attempts/game (87.6% on 482 career attempts)
  • Very average in PnR; won’t hurt team with risky play, but doesn’t create much
  • Just 1.6 Turnovers/40, lowest among guards scouted/drafted
  • 8.3% Turnover% also lowest among guards scouted/drafted
  • Stays in front of man defensively
  • Strong defender; can guard 2’s and switch to 1’s or 3’s for small spurts
  • Not prone to taking risks; should help him fit in as complementary player offensively and defensively
  • Seems to do his job/know his role, and do so very well


  • Not a high-ceiling player; is what he is
  • Should see success as spot-up shooter that keeps ball moving around perimeter
  • Maxes out as a role player, but should be successful in that role for many years
  • #9 Shooting Guard, #15 overall Guard; draft range 28-40

Malachi Richardson

  • Big Shooting Guard at 6’6” with a 7’0” wingspan
  • 20 years old; played 1 year at Syracuse
  • Old for freshman, took advantage of strong end of season/NCAA tourney play by entering 2016 Draft
  • Solid athlete; moves look smooth and coordinated, but won’t jump out of gym
  • 35.3% 3pt shooter on 6.1 attempts/game; upped to 41.5% on 5.9 attempts in conference play
  • Quick, high release coupled with massive length nearly impossible to defend
  • Nothing inside the arc: only 39.0% 2pt shooter for season, worst among guards scouted/drafted
  • Shot 22.5% on 2.8 mid-range attempts/game, often off the dribble and early in shot clock
  • Used his length to convert 47.1% at the rim
  • Very low 12.8% Assist%, ranks 4th worst among guards scouted/drafted
  • 6.9% Rebounding% very low for his size/length, especially playing back line in zone
  • Played lazy defense and took lots of plays off
  • By far lowest BPM among guards scouted/drafted at 3.0


  • Absolute project: has to improve to become 3-and-D guy, but with great 3pt% and length, has potential
  • Good coaching staff or dedicated D-League team could help him become NBA rotation player
  • #8 Shooting Guard, #14 overall Guard; likely drafted 32-45

Gary Payton II

  • 6’3” Point Guard with 6’8” wingspan
  • 23 years old; played 2 years at Oregon State after 2 years at Salt Lake CC
  • Strong defensive player and great athlete
  • 2.9 Steals/40 ranks 2nd among guards scouted/drafted
  • 0.6 Blocks/40 ranks 3rd among guards scouted/drafted
  • 9.2 Rebounds/40 ranks 2nd among guards scouted/drafted
  • Ran PNR more in final year at OSU
  • Looks to pass or get to rim on PNR; avoids shooting; good vision
  • Just 31.4% 3pt shooter on 2.2 attempts/game and 64.2% on 3.8 FTs
  • Poor shooting form; slight hitch
  • Leads to defenders playing off him, going under every screen
  • Has good acceleration if opponents provide opening
  • Not going to beat many people off the dribble
  • Pushes ball in transition
  • Good finisher at the rim; shot 65% on 374 attempts over 2 years
  • Uses athleticism to score over larger defenders
  • 52.0% 2pt shooter on 11.0 attempts/game


  • Athletic, defensive-minded Point Guard
  • Won’t have much of a career without dramatic improvement to jump shot
  • Should get an opportunity due to defensive prowess, ability to score at rim, pass
  • #6 Point Guard, #13 overall Guard; should go 28-45

Demetrius Jackson

  • 6’2” Point Guard with 6’6” wingspan
  • 21 years old; played 3 years at Notre Dame
  • Good athlete, strong frame
  • Ran PNR often in college, and successfully
  • Good, accurate passer
  • Willing to attack; can drive both left and right
  • Sometimes can’t find teammates/connect on passes over larger defenders
  • Low 2.4 Turnovers/40
  • Uses eurosteps/high release on lay-ups to negate height and finish at rim
  • Converted 61.7% of shots at the rim
  • Stays composed and maintains form on pull-ups
  • Only 33.1% 3pt shooter on 4.7 attempts/game; down significantly from previous years (42.9% on 3.3 attempts as So. 41.7% on 2.0 attempts as Fr.)= 38.1% career
  • Dip likely caused/aided by loss of Jerian Grant opening up good 3pt looks
  • 81.3% FT shooter on 4.0 attempts/game shows potential for positive regression on 3pt% in smaller role
  • Needs to up defensive effort, improve stance
  • Could become serviceable defender against smaller—average-sized point guards
  • 5.6% Rebound% ranked 3rd worst among guards scouted/drafted


  • Sometimes too passive; could be good fit with ball-dominant 2’s as successful secondary PNR ball-handler/spot-up shooter
  • Could become good starting Point Guard, likely becomes 3rd guard to play with either starter
  • #5 Point Guard, #12 overall Guard; should go in 18-30 range