Early NBA Finals Prediction
With the 2018-19 NBA season in full swing, there are plenty of surprising teams that have performed better than anticipated, as well as plenty of teams that have mightily underachieved. We’re three and a half months into the season, and we’re getting a decent idea of what the outcome of the season might be. The West may be stacked with teams like the Warriors, Thunder, and Nuggets, but teams like Rockets are the real surprises this season. Houston can’t seem to keep their ducks in a row with Chris Paul out and without James Harden putting up 50 point triple doubles, but seem to have stepped on the gas recently and have gathered some key victories. With all that said, we all know who will come out of the Western Conference. Golden State has managed to put together 5 All-Stars in an attempt to win back-to-back-to-back NBA Finals, and I don’t see any team from the West beating them 4 times out of 7. The Eastern Conference may have a tougher time sorting itself out. All of the current top 5 teams in the standings have a shot at the Finals, but only one can represent the East. Out of the teams capable, the Raptors seem to have a chip on their shoulder that not many can knock off. Being constantly bullied by LeBron’s almighty reign over the East has given Toronto fits. With LeBron now in purple and gold, it seems Toronto’s time has come to rise into supremacy in the East.
Finals Prediction: Golden State (4) vs Toronto (2)
Finals Winner: Golden State Warriors
Early Award Prediction as of February 1st, 2019
MVP: James Harden
Let’s face it, the Harden step back isn’t a travel, it’s the modern version of a layup. He might be a literal walking bucket, or at least the closest in the world to it. At least that’s how easy he makes it seem. Averaging 36.3 PPG this season along with averaging 43.6 PPG during the month of January, Harden has put on a show on offense so far this season. With multiple massive triple-doubles and already three 50 point games this year, The Beard has proven to be the best and most dangerous offensive player in the league this year.
Defensive POY: Paul George
When you say Defensive POY, you usually think big men. Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, and Rudy Gobert to name a few. Of course, Kawhi has proven to be an elite defender, but this year it’s been Paul George that has established himself as the leading candidate for DPOY. George is averaging 2.3 SPG along with .5 BPG and with a defensive win share of 0.185, which is good enough for second in the league. It seems that the Thunder organization has now become PG’s team, and the fact that he’s an elite defensive talent along with an amazing offensive arsenal also puts him in the discussion for the MVP award.
Coach of the Year: Michael Malone
The Denver Nuggets haven’t made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season. While last year they were only 1 game out, they still couldn’t muster enough wins to extend their season. Michael Malone has been with the team since 2015, and it seems as if he’s finally struck some gold in Denver. The Nuggets currently own the Western Conferences second best record at 35-15, only half a game out of first in the West, without players such as Isaiah Thomas, and potential star Michael Porter JR. Malone seems to have created a cohesiveness within the team that is leading to great chemistry and most importantly, wins. As long as the team stays on course, I don’t see them falling out of second in the West, and may even give the Warriors a run for their money for first place.
Most Improved Player: De’Aaron Fox
The last time a second-year player won MIP was in 2006-2007 when Monta Ellis won the award, but it seems as if another deserving sophomore may be the next winner. Fox is putting up new career highs with 17.4 PPG, 7.2 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 0. BPG, 46.2 FG%, and a 36.2 3P%. All of those are a massive step up from his numbers last year which has translated to a 51% team win percentage which is much improved over last seasons 32%. Fox has continued to progress with his skills on the hardwood and as long as he continues, the team will reap the benefits.
Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic
C’mon, was it really going to be anybody else? The 19 year old Slovenian seems to have taken Dirk’s place as the team’s favorite foreigner, at least for now. With the acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis, that may change. He’s an absolute cold-blooded killer and has showcased his undeniable skillset every night during this young NBA season. Currently holding the highest scoring average among rookies with 20.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 5.4 APG, Doncic has won the hearts of most around the league. His all-around skill set gives him the advantage of not being tagged as a one-dimensional player and has translated well in the NBA. Doncic unfortunately didn’t get selected as an All-Star, but we all know that the results won’t stop him from being a dominant presence on the court. The Mavericks seem to have found their next foreign freak duo.