2015-16 NBA Season Preview


Apr 25, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives past New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the first quarter in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015-16 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Chicago Bulls. It’s the best time of the year when football, baseball and basketball are all going on at the same time.

The Golden State Warriors won it all last season, but this time around, they have a target on their backs. A number of teams have improved significantly in the offseason and believe they have a real shot to become NBA champions.

Regardless, the anticipations is building, basketball fans. Here’s everything you need to enjoy the 2015-16 NBA season.

Biggest Storylines:

Can the Warriors Repeat?

The Golden State Warriors have gone from the hunter to the hunted. It’s rare in sports for a team to repeat as champions, but if there is a team that’s capable of it, it’s them. It won’t be an easy task, however, as the Western Conference is tough year after year. There are at least five teams who have a legitimate shot at taking the crown.

A Rookie Takeover?

Oct 7, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dribbles the ball after making a steal in the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Target Center. Oklahoma City Thunder won 122-99. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody knows about the 1984, 1996 and 2003 NBA Drafts. While the 2015 class probably won’t go down in the history books with those three, it still has the potential to be a special one. There are a handful of players from this year’s class who just exude star power, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. Expect these players to have major impacts on their respective teams early and often this season.

Return of KD

Kevin Durant is back and he’s healthy. The former MVP missed a good chunk of last season due to foot problems. If the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to get back to the top of the heap in the Western Conference, they will need Durant to be at 100 percent. When healthy, Durant is easily a top 3 player in this league. Can he regain MVP form?

Cavs Seeking Redemption

The injury bug hit the Cleveland Cavaliers hard in the postseason, as both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving went down. That left LeBron James to shoulder the burden left by their absence. The Warriors were just too much for even the best player in the world to deal with. The Cavs retain most of their team from a season ago and even made a couple key veteran additions. They will be looking to redeem themselves this time around.


Rookie of the Year: SF Stanley Johnson, Pistons

This is the guy not a lot of people were talking about. But, if you don’t know him now, you’ll know him by season’s end. Johnson has been lighting it up since being selected 8th overall by Detroit. The former Arizona Wildcat averaged 16.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in the Summer League. Johnson has continued his hot streak in the preseason (13.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.7 SPG). He is likely to begin the season behind Marcus Morris at the small forward position, but if he keeps playing the way he’s been, he’ll be the starter in no time.

Sixth Man of the Year: PG Isaiah Thomas, Celtics

Apr 14, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) works the ball against Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross (31) in the second half at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 95-93. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Because of his small stature, Thomas continues to be one of the more underrated players in the NBA. In 21 games with the Celtics last season, he averaged 19.0 points and 5.4 assists per game. Although he is typically the smallest player on the floor on a given night, Thomas’ confidence allows him to play big. He provides a scoring punch off the bench and his performance this season will have a significant impact on how well the Celtics fare.

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Coach of the Year: Jason Kidd, Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks are a team on the rise. They finished with a .500 record last season, earning them a spot in the playoffs. After several key offseason moves, the Bucks are in position to be a factor in the Eastern Conference. Trying to build a team in a small market is no easy task, but the Bucks are making all the right moves. Kidd was a great basketball player, so there’s no doubt that he knows what he’s doing. If he can get his players to buy in, 2015-16 could be a big season for Milwaukee.

Defensive Player of the Year: SF Kawhi Leonard, Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs predicate themselves on fundamentals and defense. Leonard exemplifies those principles. The former NBA Finals MVP is arguably the best one-on-one defender in the NBA. It doesn’t matter who he’s guarding, Leonard is going to give them fits all game long. His length and athleticism allow for him to defend multiple positions, making him an all-around defensive stopper.

MVP: SF LeBron James, Cavaliers

Oct 7, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) takes the court prior to the game against the Atlanta Hawks at the Cintas Center. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Often, the meaning of this award gets misconstrued. It’s called “Most Valuable Player” for a reason. Although, he’s not quite the same player as he once was, James is still the best basketball player in the world. Sure, Cleveland has a loaded roster, featuring two other All-Stars, but there’s no way they make it to the NBA Finals last year without LeBron. He impacts the game in so many different facets and the intangibles put him amongst the all-time greats. The Cavs should win at least 60 games this season and James will do what he always does. The King regains his seat on the throne.

Playoff Projections:

Eastern Conference:

1. Cavaliers

2. Heat

3. Hawks

4. Raptors

5. Bulls

6. Bucks

7. Wizards

8. Celtics

The Skinny: The Cavaliers are the clear favorite in the East. On paper, the Heat could give them a run for their money, but that largely depends on health. The Hawks, Raptors and Bulls are pretty much even right now, but they must be wary of the upstart Bucks. The Wizards take a step back, but will still be a factor. The Celtics continue to improve and lock up the final spot. Overall, the East is getting better.

Western Conference:

1. Warriors

2. Thunder

3. Clippers

4. Spurs

5. Rockets

6. Grizzlies

7. Pelicans

8. Suns

The Skinny: The Western Conference continues to be the superior conference from top to bottom. The No. 1 spot was a toss-up between the Warriors and Thunder. The Clippers are much-improved and are real contenders this season. The Spurs also made some major moves, but will still likely rest their old guys to be ready for the playoffs. The Rockets and Grizzlies are both capable of making things interesting in the first round. With Anthony Davis blossoming into a star, the Pelicans are dangerous. The Suns are just the best of the rest.

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavs over Heat

Western Conference Finals: Thunder over Warriors

NBA Finals: Cavs over Thunder

Next: Wizards Season Preview & Predictions

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