The NBA season is officially in its home stretch. The All-Star break is over, and while many people, myself very much included, are still frustrated about the most egregious All-Star snub of all time (Zach “13 3’s in one game” LaVine), it’s time to look to the future. This brings us to The Argus’ official predictions for the rest of the NBA season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will repeat as MVP. Just like his brother Thanasis, this is inevitable. His stats are wild and his team, the Bucks, will probably win 70’sum games. Too bad nobody cares.
Ja Morant will win Rookie of the Year, and he deserves it for carrying the previously bottom suckling Grizzlies to the doorstep of the playoffs. But let’s be honest here, Zion’s still better.
Anthony Davis will win Defensive Player of the Year. The dude has been a beast. His build is ji-wompus. He has arms that go forever. Truly, nothing gets past that unibrow.
Brandon Ingram will win Most Improved Player. In one season he went from being LeBron’s wimpy failed sidekick to literally Kevin Durant. Props, but Zion’s still better. I used to think Devonte’ Graham was a good choice too, but then I saw he’s shooting just 37% from the field, and now I no longer think Graham is a good choice.
Erik Spoelstra will win Coach of the Year. What this guy is doing right now is crazy. He took Jimmy Butler and a bunch of rookies and brought them to the top of the East. I mean, they don’t really have a shot at the chip, but their regular season’s been cute enough to merit Spo winning this.
The playoffs are gonna be wild. This is how the seedings will look:
In the West: (1) Lakers (2) Clippers (3) Jazz (4) Nuggets (5) Rockets (6) Mavericks (7) OKC (8) Trailblazers
In the East: (1) Bucks (2) Raptors (3) Sixers (4) Celtics (5) Heat (6) Pacers (7) Nets (8) Magic
- LAKERS vs (8) TRAILBLAZERS: The ’Blazers will play tough. Lillard vs. LeBron will be a whole lotta fun. Carmelo will ball his geriatric mind out. And the Trailblazers will be swept honorably. Plus if Lillard continues the stretch he’s on right now, there’s like a 50% chance he’ll be dead by the end of this series. 4–0 LAKERS.
- CLIPPERS vs (7) OKC: The Thunder is a gritty team, and individually their players have a lot of playoff experience. Chris Paul and Paul George both facing their old teams will also be interesting. All the games will be battles and OKC will surprise a lot of people. That being said, the Clippers are STACKED. 4–2 CLIPPERS.
- JAZZ vs (6) MAVERICKS: This is gonna be THE series of the West in the first round. A stout Utah defense vs. a transcendent Dallas offense. The power and athleticism of Donovan Mitchell vs. the calculated and always-two-steps-ahead court vision of Luka Dončić. This is gonna be a dog fight. But superstars are extra important come playoff season and Luka being the only legit superstar in the series is enough for me to give the Mavs the nod. 4–3 MAVERICKS.
- NUGGETS vs (5) ROCKETS: This will be another great series. Both teams are really good in their own unique ways. Jokić will have a blast carving up the puny Rockets lineup (not a single rotation player is above 6’7”). Michael Porter Jr. will emerge as a legit NBA star in this series too. However, I think the Rockets’ tiny-ball experiment is gonna pay off. They’ll just be too fast for Jokić’s big ole body to keep up with. 4–2 ROCKETS.
- BUCKS vs (8) MAGIC: Hahahahahahahahaha. 4–0 BUCKS.
- RAPTORS vs (7) NETS: The only way this could be interesting is if the Nets’ Kevin Durant decided to come back early from his Achilles tear. Otherwise, Kyrie Irving will probably inefficiently stink it up and pull the Nets’ potential down. 4–1 RAPTORS.
- SIXERS vs (6) PACERS: The structures of these teams are diametrically opposed. The Sixers are an incredibly talented team that, due to poor coaching, strange fit, and individual egos, has consistently underachieved. The Pacers, on the other hand, are a decently talented roster that has overachieved all season because of its great coaching and unselfish team play. The Sixers do have a lot of talent though. 4–2 SIXERS.
- CELTICS vs (5) HEAT: This’ll be a fun one. The Celtics will be eager to prove their playoff caliber after finally exorcising the flat Earther from their ranks. For the Heat, Jimmy Buckets is gonna whip all his young whippersnappers into shape until they’re equally or more eager than the C’s. While this might be a hot take, I just don’t really believe in this Celtics team. They’re really talented, I just don’t know if they have the endurance to last in the dog fight that the Heat are guaranteed to bring. 4–3 HEAT.
- LAKERS vs (5) ROCKETS: This series will show the faults inherent in the Rockets’ tiny-ball system. Matched up against the monstrously large Lakers squad, they’re gonna be bullied pretty badly. Anthony Davis is probably gonna average 40 points and 20 rebounds the whole series. 4–1 LAKERS.
- CLIPPERS vs (6) MAVERICKS: As great a team as the young Mavericks are, experience is important in the playoffs, and they don’t really have any. The Clippers do. 4–2 CLIPPERS.
- BUCKS vs (5) HEAT: The Heat is a fun young squad with a lot of fight, and this series is gonna be crucial for their future development. Bam Adebayo is gonna face the biggest challenge of his career in guarding Giannis, and the Heat will likely respond to the Bucks’ elite inside defense by relying more heavily on the production of rookie shooter Tyler Herro. The Bucks are winning this one, but it’ll be harder than they expect. 4–2 BUCKS.
- RAPTORS vs (3) SIXERS: A rematch of their second round matchup from last year’s playoffs. The Raptors are a really, really good team; however, I just don’t think Pascal Siakam is good enough to put his team on his shoulders the way Kawhi had to in order to win against the Sixers last year. After the way they got beat last year, I don’t think the Sixers are letting themselves lose this one. It’ll still be a great series though. 4–3 SIXERS.
- LAKERS vs (2) CLIPPERS: This is what we’ve been waiting for all year. Yet, I don’t think it’ll be as interesting as we expected. The Clippers don’t really have anyone to guard Anthony Davis, so he’ll probably feast. And while I’m sure Kawhi will be a monster, Paul George has consistently underperformed in the playoffs these past few years. 4–2 LAKERS.
- BUCKS vs (3) SIXERS: The Sixers seemingly built their current roster with this particular matchup in mind. The Sixers are big, really big. They’re gonna cause Giannis a whole lot of issues at the rim and try and force him to shoot as much as possible. Because of this, it’ll be up to the Bucks’ depth and supporting cast to bring Milwaukee to the finals, and I think they’ll come through. 4–3 BUCKS.
- LAKERS vs (1) BUCKS: Coming out of their series against the Sixers, the Bucks, and particularly Giannis, are gonna be really beaten up. It’ll be the first time any of their major players play in the finals, which is a very different atmosphere. This’ll be LeBron’s 10th finals appearance. The Lakers are winning it all, and they’re dedicating it to Kobe. 4–2 LAKERS.
Nate Schultz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.