Finals: GS VS THE FIELD 4-0 CLE's best shot was reloading and taking another swing with Kyrie. They get smaller and more injury prone, the matchup is even easier for Golden State now. Crowder is a nice player, but you don't become a better match up against GS by getting smaller at both guard spots. Steph now has a 3&D guy he can "reasonably" guard in Crowder , and Klay's 6'7 frame will swarm 5'8 Isaiah Thomas the way he did a 6'3 Kyrie Irving. Draymond will also be yelling out to the refs every time Isaiah Thomas carries the ball trying to get to the rim. Golden Empire begins. MVP- Karl Anthony-Towns Karl Towns is one of the greatest young players to ever play in the NBA, yet insanely underrated. He scores, rebounds, hustles, shoots abnormally high percentages from every where, has a great attitude and continues to get better. His second half of his sophomore season in tandem with the TWolves' off-season moves is what puts him here. With Minnesota trying to will themselves into their first playoff appearance in over a decade, KAT jumped his averages up accross the board. After the all star break, Towns averaged 28.3 PPG (59.7% FG 43.4% 3P 84% FT) and 13.4 RPG. Towns as well as the newly acquired Jimmy Butler play and carry themselves with the win at all cost mentality upper-echelon teams have. So far Karl Anthony-Towns has improved drastically each year and this season he moves within reach of the top five in the NBA. Side note- Kevin Durant was my 1B choice but I cannot ignore the breakout for Towns I'm expecting. The NBA is going to have to ignore Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double again (He will), because he won't be the repeat MVP. After violating the "best player in the world" for five straight finals games, Durant is ready to turn the page and become the face of the league. This feels like the final straw for Lebron in Cleveland and this year could give him the reason necessary for him to bolt his hometown area a second time. If Towns doesn't win it, it's because it took all the pieces in Minnesota half the year to gel and Durant walks away with it. Defensive Player Of The Year Draymond Green (B2B) Most Improved Player Kristaps Porzingis (BREAKOUT ALERT BREAKOUT ALERT) Sixth Man Of The Year Rudy Gay (if hes not recovered from injury, Enes Kanter) Coach Of The Year Tom Thibideau Rookie Of The Year Markelle Fultz (Greenlight to score) Breakout Players NYK Kristaps Porzingis The Unicorn being his nickname is so ironic. A unicorn is a unicorn because it's never seen, and that defines Kristaps Porzingis' FULL skillset two years into his career-- we haven't seen it. With Derrick Rose gone and Carmelo on the way out by the trade deadline at the latest, Porzingis officially runs the town. In my lifetime of playing and observing, I've never saw a prospect with as much potential. At 7'3 he shoots the ball off the bounce and spotting up with range, blows by wings on the perimeter, finishes layups acrobatically and above the rim over defenders. Defensively his lateral quickness is freak of nature for his size and his length allows him ridiculous range chasing blocks. His only negative aspects are his tendency to settle for jumpers and a lack of weight-- both a result of youth. In 2017, Porzingis is the unquestioned franchise guy in New York and we get our first official unicorn sighting. Stat Predictions: 24.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 2.9 BPG PHX Devin Booker Booker lit the second half of his sophomore season on fire. Offensively he exudes confidence, and it was on full display with a 70 point explosion against the Celtics-- while they were fighting for the top seed. Booker's game is beyond his years and at twenty years old his offensive repertoire could possibly be more sophisticated than any guard at the same age in recent memory. Simply put, Devin Booker does everything Klay Thompson wishes he could with a live dribble. Booker knows the team is his, and as he continues to work on his body as well as his free throw attempts his scoring will sky-rocket. Projected Stats: 25.2 PPG, 4.1 APG. 3.2 RPG PHL Joel Embiid As it stands, injuries are currently his only flaw. Embiid can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court, can put it on the floor using combination dribbles, plays face up, back-to-basket and willingly gives up his body to aggressively defend the rim. If he can stay relatively injury-free for an entire year he is a generational talent. During the months of December and January the talent stricken 76ers actually flirted with a playoff berth, as Joel Embiid was dominant all while being relegated to minute restrictions. Perhaps most impressive though was how he performed against the elite NBA centers. After their matchup Demarcus Cousins became a believer: "I don't give a lot of people props, but I like that kid. I like him a lot. He's gonna be the best of man in the league..........after I retire" Embiid is as intertwined with the city of Philadelphia as any athlete since Brian Dawkins of the Eagles. He has the entire city at his fingertips and the only thing that can stop it is another injury. Projected Stats: 26.3 PPG 11.1 RPG 2.1 BPG Eastern Conference: CLE BOS WAS TOR MIL CHA MIA DET Philly is the sexy pick these days among people that were haters as recent as last year, but they aren't ready just yet. It will take a full season for the young talent to gel. This year they compete with everyone and possibly get close, but next year is when they make the playoff jump. Detroit had a tough season one year removed from the playoffs. A lack of progression from Drummond and a Reggie Jackson injury was the main issue, but SVG is too good a coach with enough roster talent to win at least 40 games. Western Conference: GS MIN SAS OKC HOU NO DEN LAC So tough to call, but MIN makes major leaps led by now blossomed superstar Karl Anthony-Towns. SA has too much know-how and Rudy Gay should thrive off the bench. OKC becomes one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Paul to Houston trade is overrated, how much better can they be on offense? Theoretically they are more talented, but Harden with the ball in his hands was just the 1b MVP. NO has too much talent and productive role players to not figure out 44-48 wins, DEN has a nice corps and I LOVE the bench but the Jokic hype is a little overrated. The Clippers holds on to the last spot with the Lou Williams and Galinari pick ups. Damian Lillard said the Blazers play scared and he was right. McCollum and Lillard try to keep them in it scoring the ball in bunches, but Nurkic continues to accrue nagging injuries and they miss the playoffs. The only thing that changes their fortune is Carmelo Anthony. Rudy Gobert is being grossly overrated as a premier player, sorry Utah back to the lottery. BEST PLAYERS AT POSITIONS (in order): PG S.Curry R. Westbrook K. Irving C. Paul J. Wall SG J. Harden J. Butler K. Thompson D.Derozan D. Booker SF K. Durant L. James K. Leonard G. Antetokounmpo P. George PF A. Davis B. Griffin D.Green P. Millsapp K. Porzingis C D. Cousins K. Anthony-Towns M. Gasol H. Whiteside J. Embiid SIDEBAR- I want to change all of this because if Joel Embiid stats healthy he's winning a lot of awards and might be in running for MVP.