Western Conference Playoff Preview

New Orleans Pelicans (8) vs. Golden State Warriors (1):

The Golden State Warriors posted one of the best records in NBA history this season. The Warriors are incredible because their backcourt is the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. The Splash Bros are legitimate threats to win the championship because they have great role players, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut.

The Pelicans are happy to make the playoffs and so are many new NBA fans. Finally, the average fan will be able to see Anthony Davis play on national TV. Davis has transformed himself into one of the five best players in the league and will be the best player in a few years.

Predictions: Warriors win in 5

Dallas Mavericks (7) vs. Houston Rockets (2):

Many prognosticators do not believe in the Rockets because they do not think that Howard is a star and they do not believe in their roles players. However, they won 56 games and James Harden is one of the three best players in the league. Howard and Josh Smith will need to play at a high level if they are going to make a deep run into the playoffs.

Many teams are picking the Mavs to win this series because of Rick Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler. However, since the Rondo deal, the Mavs have not been a quality team. In addition, they need to make a lot of jumpers in order to stay competitive with the Rockets. It will be interesting to see who Carlisle will put on Harden because they do not have a defense stopper.

Prediction: Rockets win in 7

San Antonio Spurs (6) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (3):

The Clippers have been one of the most consistent teams in the Western Conference since Paul arrived in Tinseltown. Chris Paul needs to win this series. He has been touted as one of the best players in the NBA this generation, but he has yet to reach a Final. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan need to play at an incredibly high level to defeat the defending champs.

The Spurs wanted to have home court advantage, but they are right where they want to be since every player on their team is healthy. In addition, they are playing their best basketball and Kawhi Leonard is playing the best basketball of his career, including last seasons Finals. The Spurs will not lose any series, which puts incredible pressure on their opponents.

Prediction: Spurs win in 6

Memphis Grizzlies (5) vs. Portland Trailblazers (4):

The Trailblazers have been a quality team throughout the season, but they are dealing with a lot of injuries, Nicolas Batum and Wes Matthews. The Trailblazers need LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard to play at a very high level to carry Portland on offense.

The Grizzlies have quietly experienced a lot of success in the playoffs over the past 5 years. The Griz have been successful due to their size inside with Gasol and Randolph. The Griz may have a difficult time scoring, but they will play great defense and it will be difficult to win in the Grindhouse. The deciding factor will be the health of Mike Conley.

Prediction: Grizzles win in 6

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

Brooklyn Nets (8) vs. Atlanta Hawks (1)

The Hawks enter the playoffs with the best mark in the eastern conference, 60-22. However, the Hawks have many doubters because they lack a true superstar. Fortunately, the Hawks have one of the best teams in the league because they play like a team and are deep.

The Nets narrowly made the playoffs, but finished the season winning 13 of their last 19 games. The Nets were under 500, but are dangerous due to their experience, talent, and Brook Lopez’s latest domination of the NBA. However, they have never melded as an unit and Deron Williams has not played like a superstar since leaving Utah.

Prediction: Hawks win in 5

Boston Celtics (7) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (2)

Although the Cavs are the second best team in the east, they are favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals. The Cavs have been one of the best teams since the all star break because LeBron has learned to play with Irving and Love, which forms the best big three. The trades for Shumpert, Smith, and Mozgov significantly improved their defense and depth.

Brad Stevens has done an absolutely great job with the Boston Celtics. Although the Celts have dealt their best players, Stevens has been able to turn average players in quality starters. The Celts will not have the talent to play with the Cavs, but they will play incredibly hard.

Prediction: Cavs win in 4

Milwaukee Bucks (6) vs. Chicago Bulls (3)

At times during the season, the Bulls have looked like the best team in the league. Finally, the Bulls are moderately healthy and should play their best basketball of the season. Although they will play incredible defense, they will not be able to win without Rose playing like a superstar and Gasol, Noah, and Butler playing at a high level.

Although it is unlikely, Jason Kidd should win the Coach of the Year because he has led the team with the worst record to the playoffs without their second best player, Jabari Parker. The Bucks have transformed into a great defensive team due to their length, Greek Freak, MCW, and Khris Middleton. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they have the worst record against over 500 teams, 9-27, of any playoff team.

Predictions: Bulls win in 5

Washington Wizards (5) vs. Toronto Raptors (4)

For the second straight season, the Raptors have won the Atlantic Division and possess home court in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they have not been playing their best basketball due to injuries, especially Kyle Lowry. If Lowry does not play at a high level, he will not be able to match Wall’s production.

The Wizards took a big step forward last season when they beat the Bulls in 5 games. During the offseason, they acquired small forward, Paul Pierce, who was made for the playoffs. Last season, Pierce was a key factor in the Nets victory over the Raptors. The experience of winning a round in the playoffs and their toughness should make them a tough out.

Wizards win in 6

 

Which team is set to reach in the first round?

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Jameis Winston

The Bucs need a franchise quarterback to throw to their big and strong receivers and tight ends. Although many have questions about Winston’s character and talent, I think he is by far the best quarterback in the draft and will be a winning quarterback at the next level.

2. Tennessee Titans:

Leonard Williams

The Titans may select Marcus Mariota, but I do not think he is a NFL quarterback and will not achieve success. The Titans should take Leonard Williams because he is a game changing defender due to his massive size, motor, and quickness off of the line.

3. TRADE Cleveland Browns via Jacksonville Jaguars:

The GM of the Browns, Ray Farmer, needs to find a franchise quarterback if he is going to keep his job and lead the Browns to the playoffs. Mariota has talent and may be able to succeed in the right offense with quality skill players, which the Browns do not possess.

4. Oakland Raiders:

Kevin White

The Raiders seem to found their starting quarterback, Derek Carr, but they need to find him weapons. The Raiders already signed Michael Crabtree, but Kevin White is a big physical wide receiver that should immediately experience success in the pros.

5. Washington Redskins:

Dante Fowler Jr

During the offseason, the Redskins lost a few outside pass rushers and desperately need a replacement. Fowler is the best pass rusher in the draft and could provide the Redskins with a versatile defensive player.

6. New York Jets:

Amari Cooper

The Jets will be in a difficult position because they can either draft the top wide receiver in the draft or one of the best pass rushers. Cooper has been compared to Odell Beckham Jr who caught the league by storm last season and displayed plays that we have never seen.

7. Chicago Bears:

Vic Beasley

The Bears, which prided themselves on their defense, has seen their defense falter over the past few years. The Bears can drastically improve their unit with an outside linebacker like Vic Beasley, who did everything at Clemson on defense.

8. Atlanta Falcons:

Shane Ray

The Falcons’ desperately need a playmaker like Shane Ray on their defense. Last season, Osi Umenyiora was second on the team with only 2 sacks. Ray has the talent and speed to become the next Von Miller, who has established himself as the premier Defensive End in the league.

9. New York Giants:

Brandon Scherff

The Giants’ offensive line rarely gave Eli Manning enough time to find open receivers. Next season, the Giants have the ability to become the best offense in football, if Manning has enough time in the pocket to find Cruz, Donnell, or ODB.

10. St. Louis Rams:

Ereck Flowers

The Rams were able to develop a nasty defensive line over the past few drafts, but the offense still remains a question mark. The addition of a huge yet agile offensive lineman like Flowers should provide Nick Foles with more time.

11. Minnesota Vikings:

DeVante Parker

Teddy Bridgewater was able to experience success last season toward the end of the campaign. If the Vikes can add his former number one receiver from college, he may take the next step and lead the Vikings to one of the Wild Card positions.

12. TRADE Jacksonville Jaguars via Cleveland Browns:

Randy Gregory

If the Jaguars trade out of the 3 position, they will likely lose the opportunity to acquire Dante Fowler Jr. However, Randy Gregory may have a higher ceiling as an edge rusher due to his outrageous size and speed.

13. New Orleans Saints:

Danny Shelton

The Saints experience a nightmare season last year because the offense did not have success and the defense took a dramatic fall. However, the Saints have the potential to revamp their unit with a player like Danny Shelton because he can dominate the middle.

14. Miami Dolphins:

Trae Waynes

The Miami Dolphins made significant gains on the defensive line, but the secondary needs assistance. Waynes is the best corner in a draft that does not appear to have a shut down corner. Waynes has incredible speed, which should make him an attractive option.

15. San Francisco 49ers

Arik Armstead

The 49ers lost significant pieces on their defense when Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, and Chris Borland left the team. Armstead is a punishing defensive tackle who will command opposing offenses to double team him.

16. Houston Texans:

Jaelen Strong

This offseason, the Texans were forced to cut the best player in their franchise’s history. Strong was a stud at Arizona State. Although he does not possess great size, he is a consistent receiver who could help the Texans’ offense.

17. San Diego Chargers: gurly

Todd Gurly

The Chargers’ playoff hopes were diminish last season because they did not have a semblance of a running game. When Gurly was on the field last season, he was dynamic and one of the best running backs over the past decade.

18. Kansas City Chiefs:

Andrus Peat

The Chiefs lost one of their best offensive lineman when Brandon Albert left during free agency. The addition of Peat will solidify one of the tackle positions and help Matt Cassel stay upright throughout the season.

19. Cleveland Browns

Branden Perriman

If the Browns traded inside the top three to acquire Marcus Mariota, they may be forced to lose this pick as well. However, Perriman will be a solid addition to a team that lacks an talent at the skill positions. Perriman brings extreme speed and size, which has him rising on many draft boards.

20. Philadelphia Eagles:

Landon Collins

If the Eagles do not trade up in the draft for Marcus Mariota, they will fill the holes in their secondary. Landon Collins is the best safety in the draft and will provide the Eagles with a big hitting safety that can play the run and the pass.

21. Cincinnati Bengals:

La’el Collins

The Bengals’ offensive line has been impressive over the past few seasons, but they can inject youth into the unit. La’el Collins is a behemoth from LSU and should be an impact player at either the guard or tackle position.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers:

Marcus Peters

The Steelers’ will be without two longtime starters in their secondary when Troy Polumalu and Ike Taylor retired this offseason. Without the off the field issues, Peters would have been the first corner selected because of his size and ability to intercept passes.

23. Detroit Lions:

Malcolm Brown

The interior of the Lions’ defensive line took a hit this offseason when they lost both Suh and Fairley to free agency. Although they traded for Haloti Ngata, Brown should be able to anchor the second defensive tackle position in their 4-3 defense.

24. Arizona Cardinals:

Bud Dupree

The Kentucky outside linebacker has risen up the draft board over the past month, but this draft is full of pass rushing linebackers. The Cardinals were able to thrive with a blitz heavy defense under Bowles, but Dupree should allow them to be less predictable.

25. Carolina Panthers;

DJ Humphries

The Panthers need an offensive line that will not let every pass rusher sack Cam Newton. Newton is a big man and take many hits, but Humphries should help extend Newton’s career.

26. Baltimore Ravens:

Dorial Green Beckham

The Ravens lost their number one wide receiver when Torrey Smith cashed in with the 49ers. Beckham is one of the most talented and physical wide receivers in the draft, but he has not played in a year and has major character issues.

27. Dallas Cowboys:

Melvin Gordon

The Cowboys had the best rushing attack in the league last season, but lost their number one running back, DeMarco Murray. However, Gordon should be able to fill Murray’s shoes because he has everything that one wants in a running back.

28. Denver Broncos:

TJ Clemmings

The Broncos need to protect Peyton Manning because this could be his last season and he cannot protect himself outside of the pocket. If the Broncos do not select a new right tackle, they may improve their defense, which was awful toward the end of last season.

29. Indianapolis Colts:

Eli Harold

The Colts’ defense is not on par with the other AFC heavy-weights and it is quickly aging. The Colts need a new defense and Harold could be a key player to build around. Harold possesses high end athleticism, which should allow him to become a solid player.

30. Green Bay Packers:

Jalen Collins

The Green Bay Packers want to win the Super Bowl and they realized that the two teams in the Super Bowl had the best secondaries in the league. The Packers need extra corners because their current corners are aging and Collins is a potential starter.

31. New Orleans Saints:

Kevin Johnson

The Saints desperately need to hit on their draft picks this offseason because their defense could use new faces. Outside of shut down corner, Keenan Lewis, the Saints do not have a quality corner. Johnson has solid size for a corner at 6’0″ and always shows up on the field.

32. New England Patriots:

Byron Jones

The Patriots’ secondary took a hit this offseason when they lost Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Jones must play at a starter’s level if the Patriots are going to make the Super Bowl again.