ed. note — Watch out for our “Starting 5” post on the Chicago Bulls season, to be published Wednesday prior to their season opener in Charlotte.
Which high-profile free agent signing is most unlikely to work?
Demonze Spruiel — Kyrie Irving with the Nets. Most NBA fans know Kyrie is the real deal but without a true superstar next to him (LeBron James in the past; no Kevin Durant as he recovers from the Achilles injury), the Nets will out of the playoffs by its second round.
Ian Jackson — I think the high-profile free agent that will lose a step this year might be Al Horford. Because of the minutes he got in Boston don’t expect him to contribute the same in Philadelphia — he may have to face playing the same minutes with Joel Embid, which will cut into production, or play with a lesser second lineup that should also cut into what he does.
Sean Terry — To paraphrase the late, great Notorious B.I.G. from “I Got a Story To Tell” — “Ioono, one of them ole Knick ass ninjas.” There’s a lot of redundancy at the stretch four position for NY with only so many minutes to distribute. They won’t be short on the fugazi tough guy talk, though.
Joshua M. Hicks — No I’m not. I personally believe that his recent injury stems from not fully taking care of his knee when he hurt it in college.
Now that he has finally taken the steps to heal the injury and will be working with professional therapists in New Orleans, Zion will rest and learn how to keep his body healthy and in shape, while also developing his game offensively overtime to maintain his status in the league. Zion already has an NBA body, he just has to learn to adjust his tactics and make the necessary adjustments on and off the court.
Kyle Means — Zion may have to learn how to do more with less effort sooner than any player of his athletic ceiling. A large part of his career will be stopping potential injuries, a lot of that will come with controlling his weight and he may have to do less on the ball and conserve his most explosive plays for clean-up situations or in half-court situations instead of pressing in the full court.
DS — Yes, all of that weight on that explosive/athletic body is not the best mix. If he drops some pounds, though, watch out!
Did the Golden State Warriors’ playoff decisions (playing Durant and Thompson during injuries, etc.) and off-season contracts end their dynasty?
DS — If extending the GSW dynasty means winning a championship, then yes, but only for the moment.
JH — No they didn’t. They actually might have opened the door to get themselves back into the original conversation of a potential deep playoff in the face of losing Kevin Durant. The addition of the young, talented D’Angelo Russell and the eventual comeback of a healthier and rested Klay Thompson will help incorporate more versatility and depth along their bench. That combined with the potential of an MVP-like return performance from Stephen Curry gives the Warriors their usual high chance at making the Finals.
ST — Nope. Just a minor speed bump while they reinvent their supporting cast. Never count out a team with a two-time MVP.
Giannis, Bron and Joel are top MVP candidates and primed for a huge season. Who may be a currently unsung player that could enter the MVP race?
DS — Nikola Jokic. The Year of Joker will become more of a full era this year.
JH — Paul George. PG-13 will miss some time to begin this season while recovering from double shoulder surgeries, but when George is playing at an elite level he can be impactful on both ends of the floor. An MVP candidate last season, averaging 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists a game alongside Westbrook, I expect PG to put up similar stats in a fully encouraging situation with Kawhi Leonard and make some big noise by the end of this season.
KM — Dame Lillard has got to be feeling himself as much as he’s ever had this season — he pretty much took down the Westbrook era in Oklahoma City and he’s roasted both Marvin Bagley and Shaq on wax (compressed file?).
‘I Wanna Be MVP. I Want a Grammy’: Damian Lillard’s Plan to Balance Music and Basketball (Rolling Stone)
Ironically, Lillard is likely in a Westbrook circa 2017 position now — he’s caked up and locked in a long-term deal, he’s the clear No. 1 on a team that just came off a playoff season where it peaked. Only thing to do now is swag out on the league and put up his craziest numbers yet while winning a surprisingly-enough total of wins to make him MVP-worthy.
Who will make the conference finals and the Finals?
DS — The Battle of LA in the Western Conference Finals. The 76ers versus the Bucks in the East. Clippers take on the 76ers in the Finals.
I.J. — In the East I’m expecting the Milwaukee Bucks versus the Philadelphia 76ers with the Bucks finally going over the hump to get to the Finals. In the West the Clippers and Lakers will decide things with the Clippers making it to the Finals. In the championship series the Bucks finally win that title that Giannis has longed for.
ST — Eastern Conference Finals: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Western Conference Finals: Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets
Finals: Philadelphia vs. Utah
Follow WARR Media (We Are Regal Radio) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram