With the NBA regular season about to begin, it’s time for your humble blogger to take a couple of leaps of faith, or more likely make an ass of himself… It’s time for some bold, and not so bold, predictions!
Let’s start with some general NBA predictions and work our way to some Bulls specific ones.
1. The Cleveland Cavaliers will be eliminated from the NBA playoffs before the Eastern Conference Finals
I thought I’d start bold. Why do I think this? The Cleveland Cavaliers are old. Yes, they have Lebron, but even he is starting to wear down. This will be another season of personality clashes and player drama, as Dwayne Wade forces himself into J.R. Smith’s starting position. Kevin Love will be the most hated player on the team, again, as he struggles to play the center position. There is no guarantee that Isaiah Thomas will be anything close to his former self when he returns from his hip injury. A power change is coming in the East, and it’s coming quicker than most people realize.
2. The Golden State Warriors will win the NBA Championship… again
I started bold, now it’s time to take it easy. The Warriors are the most talented team in the NBA right now. Their superstars have proven capable of sacrificing for the team and playing for each other. No other team can match up with the Warriors. ‘Nuff said.
3. The Washington Wizards will have the best regular season record in the Eastern Conference
This is a popular prediction, I am certainly not the first person to say it, but the Wizards are due. With Boston retooling their roster, Cleveland seemingly content with just drifting into the playoffs, and Toronto on the down swing(?), it’s the Wizards turn to step up. While big changes were happening around the NBA this summer, Washington didn’t change any of its key personnel. Their team consistency and the annual improvement of John Wall and Bradley Beal make them a real threat to have the best record in the East.
4. Atlanta will finish with the worst record in the NBA
I just get the feeling that the entire franchise has embraced tanking. There is nothing other than my gut instinct on this. Yes, the Bulls are bad, but Coach Hoiberg is playing to win and so are his players. I’m not sure if that’s the case in Atlanta.
5. Kevin Durant will win MVP
Westbrook vs Harden was fun last year, but the new superstar additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony on the Thunder, and Chris Paul on the Rockets, will make it tough for those individuals to shine as brightly. For whatever reason nobody seems to vote for Lebron as MVP anymore (even though he is obviously the best player), so that leaves KD. Logicked!
Let’s get Bulls specific!
6. Lauri Markkanen will score 40 points or more in a single game
It is clear that Markkanen has all the makings of a great scorer. He has a great shot that he can use from anywhere on the court. He is both a vicious dunker and finesse finisher at the rim with either hand. He also has the nearly unblockable turnaround fall away jump shot in his arsenal. One game he is going to put all his skills together, and it will feel like any shot he takes he makes. Maybe the Bulls catch a team on a back-to-back, or it’s another tanking eastern conference rival. Either way, it will be the perfect storm. 40+ points.
7. The Bulls will lose a game by 50 points
As exciting as Lauri Markkanen is on offense, the Bulls defense is just as worrisome a work in progress. I picture this game happening against a western conference opponent, a team more than happy to run and gun, and very comfortable defending in transition. The Bulls will probably shoot less than 20% from behind the three point line, but chuck a lot of threes as they desperately try to claw back into the game. It will be ugly.
8. Jerian Grant will get a triple double
Jerian Grant came very close to a triple double in the last preseason game against the Toronto Raptors. He finished the game with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists while only playing 26 minutes. When his head is in the game, Grant is a decent player. He has a grasp on the Bulls offense and he passes the ball fairly well. If the rest of the team is hitting shots, he can wrack up the assists. As his minutes have increased, Grant’s rebounding numbers have improved. He averages just over on rebound a game for his career, but in his last 3 games of the preseason Grant was averaging more than 6 rebounds. It will take a bit of luck, but I think a Jerian Grant triple double will happen this season.
9. The Bulls will select Luka Doncic second overall in the 2018 draft
This is a two part prediction, because it assumes the Bulls will get the 2nd pick in the draft and that they will use it on Doncic. This is a limb walker because of all the variables involved: Will the Bulls be bad enough to get a chance at a top three pick in the draft? Probably. Will the lottery balls bounce in just the right way for them to get the 2nd overall pick? Maybe. Will Luka Doncic be available with the 2nd pick? Who cares. This was more a stab in the dark sort prediction, the kind that makes you look like a genius if it works out, but is completely out of the realm of reasonable expectation. Go me!
10. Gar Forman will get a contract extension
There have already been rumblings from the rumor mill that a contract extension is in the works for Gar. I’m guessing, after the Bulls select Doncic, John Paxson will throw a press conference lauding Gar for all the hard work he has done putting together a young team with a bright future, yadda yadda yadda, four more years of Gar. It’s the exact crap move this front office enjoys making.
In more somber news, Nikola Mirotic was hospitalized after getting into a fight with Bobby Portis during practice yesterday. Niko started it, Bobby finished it (and probably his career with the Bulls) by breaking a couple bones in Niko’s face. All the people who were worried about a log jam at the forward position can breath a little easier: Niko will be out weeks, if not months as he recovers, Portis may never play for the Bulls again, and Lauri Markkanen will have to be your starting power forward in the season opener. It’s going to be a long season.