The Forest Scout NBA Preview

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Carter Horan

As the leaves begin to change, fall not only brings playoff baseball but the start of the NBA season. The summer of 2017 may go down as one of the craziest off-seasons regarding trades in the history of the league. Superstars such as Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and many others have relocated in attempt to fight for a championship. These new “Superteams” are being formed in a valiant effort to end the domination of Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors, who have appeared in three straight NBA finals representing the doggedly competitive NBA Western Conference. Also, look for the underdogs, such as the Timberwolves and Bucks to challenge veterans with their young squads. Check out these division previews for a sneak peek at what to expect in the 2017-2018 NBA season.

East

Atlanic

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. New York Knicks
  5. Brooklyn Nets

Expect the Celtics to dominate the Atlantic division for the second year in the row with their new additions of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. The Raptors are always a steady team during the regular season, but always seem to come short in the playoffs. Taking advantage of the last few drafts, the 76ers are a young team finally looking to make that jump forward this year with rookies Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz and a potentially heathy Joel Embiid. In terms of falling behind, the Knicks and Nets will continue to struggle rebuilding their popular franchises.

Central

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Milwaukee Bucks
  3. Detroit Pistons
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Indiana Pacers

The Cavs made some major changes this offseason with the Irving-Thomas trade. But, with LeBron James still on their team they will continue to control the Eastern Conference no matter what his supporting cast may be. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s superstar level is rising and his efforts in Milwaukee will inch them closer to a higher, top-4 playoff seed this season. Detroit has failed to find a hero in Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, and that trend will only continue this year as the Pistons will have trouble keeping pace offensively. The Bulls and Pacers have low expectations for this season after losing high-production players Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively.

Southeast

  1. Washington Wizards
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Charlotte Hornets
  4. Orlando Magic
  5. Atlanta Hawks

The best 2-way point guard in the league, John Wall, and the Washington Wizards will surprise fans with their success this season. As a mediocre team, the Miami Heat look to become a great team with leaders Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside steadily showing signs of improvement. The Charlotte Hornets are hopeful for rookie Malik Monk to carry over his strong play from the preseason to the regular season and become a productive scorer alongside point guard Kemba Walker. At the bottom of the division, the Magic and Hawks lack the offensive threats and firepower to lead their teams into playoff contention.

 

West

Pacific

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. LA Clippers
  3. Sacramento Kings
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Phoenix Suns

The fight for the West will continue to be commanded by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Their deadeye shooting will only grow this season with their diversity of snipers among different positions. With the addition of PG Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets and the folding of Lob City, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will hold larger scoring roles than previous years for the Clippers. Young talent in this division will come from the Kings, Lakers, and Suns will develop from favorites De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Lonzo Ball, and Devin Booker.

Southwest

  1. Houston Rockets
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Memphis Grizzlies
  5. New Orleans Pelicans

The Rockets and Spurs will fight for the Southwest division title the same way they did a year ago. James Harden will seek his first MVP crown alongside added distributor Chris Paul. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. was given the keys this offseason in an effort to rebuild the Mavericks aging group. Big men Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins control the destinies of the lackluster Grizzlies and Pelicans and the bottom of the division.

Northwest

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  2. Minnesota Timberwolves
  3. Portland Trail Blazers
  4. Utah Jazz
  5. Denver Nuggets

The “Big-3” has been assembled in Oklahoma after Kevin Durant’s departure just a season ago. Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony will become a legitimate playoff contender as their team learns to play with one another. The Timberwolves made a giant step this summer, reuniting Jimmy Butler and Coach Tom Thibodeau to build their developing unit with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Star duo Damian Lillard and CJ Mccollum will fight for top-5 playoff seed once again as Oregon’s team looks to break the seal this year. Finally, the Jazz, and Nuggets battle for the last playoff seeds, but will most likely not be able to escape the first round.