Daring Predictions for the Remainder of the 2023-24 NBA Season
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The 2024 NBA commerce deadline is now full, with maybe extra headlines being made for what did not occur then what truly passed off.
The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers, two groups that seem like they need assistance to even make the playoffs, had been surprisingly quiet. The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks each determined to maintain their cores collectively regardless of no proof of success, and the Dallas Mavericks gave up the final of their first-round picks for…P.J. Washington.
Whereas the buyout market may change the fortune for some groups, we’ve a fairly good concept of the place groups stand heading into the homestretch of the season.
With the commerce deadline now handed, it is time to make some daring predictions.
Minnesota Timberwolves Will not End as a High-4 Seed
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The Minnesota Timberwolves have held a top-4 seed in the West since Nov. 6 and have held down the No. 1 seed for almost all of the season.
By the center of April, nevertheless, the Wolves must open the playoffs on the highway.
This is not essentially a knock on Minnesota, however reasonably a tip of the hat to the highest of the West typically. The Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers are all tied or inside a half sport of Minnesota. All three have outplayed the Wolves over the previous month-plus as nicely.
Because the calendar turned to 2024, the Timberwolves are simply sixth within the West with an 11-9 file total. The Clippers (15-4), Thunder (13-7) and Nuggets (12-5) have all been higher, with the Wolves not doing sufficient on the commerce deadline to encourage any actual confidence for a turnaround.
A fall to fifth will probably be full when Minnesota finally will get handed over by the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns seem like a unique workforce with a wholesome Bradley Beal, they usually’ve gone 16-6 over their previous 22 video games. With Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Beal all on the ground, Phoenix has a internet score of plus-16.5, good for the 99th percentile in accordance with Cleaning the Glass.
A commerce deadline deal to amass Royce O’Neale from the Brooklyn Nets solely makes this workforce deeper, particularly because the Suns did not must ship out Grayson Allen or Nassir Little.
The Suns will rise to a top-4 seed within the West, inflicting the Timberwolves to surrender homecourt benefit within the playoffs.
Buddy Hield to Sixers Is Finest Commerce Deadline Day Deal
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Whereas gamers like Bojan Bogdanović, P.J. Washington, Grant Williams, Gordon Hayward, Royce O’Neale, Dennis Schröder, Kelly Olynyk, Daniel Gafford and Patrick Beverley all switched groups on commerce deadline day, no deal will transform extra essential than Buddy Hield going to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philly is in an extremely tough spot, making an attempt to nonetheless keep afloat within the East whereas ready for a hopeful return from Joel Embiid from a knee harm. A 4-12 file this season with out the MVP heart hasn’t impressed a lot confidence, nevertheless.
The 76ers additionally wanted to protect cap house for this summer season whereas upgrading the roster, all whereas making an attempt to carry on to their first-round picks acquired within the James Harden deal.
Test, examine and examine.
Getting Hield was big for Philly, particularly because the sharpshooter is on an expiring $18.5 million contract. The Sixers desperately want his taking pictures and playmaking, as they rank simply 20th overall in offensive rating since Embiid was shut down.
Hield is not simply one of the crucial prolific three-point shooters in immediately’s sport, both. The 31-year-old is a proficient passer when known as upon to take action and may have loads of alternatives to make performs for his new teammates. That is essential contemplating Tyrese Maxey is making 46.1 % of his catch-and-shoot threes, in comparison with simply 32.3 % of his pull-ups.
The addition of Hield will hold the 76ers within the high six seeds within the East till Embiid can return.
Golden State Warriors Dynasty Formally Ends
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No workforce wanted to make an impression commerce greater than the Golden State Warriors.
As a substitute of exploring frontcourt assist, discovering an improve over Andrew Wiggins or utilizing Chris Paul’s expiring contract to assist facilitate a deal for a star, the Warriors’ solely transfer was sending Cory Joseph to the Indiana Pacers to help shave their luxury-tax bill and open a roster spot.
For a workforce at the moment ranked eleventh within the West and out of the play-in event, this is not going to chop it.
It is time to formally declare the Warriors dynasty lifeless.
New normal supervisor Mike Dunleavy Jr. failed Stephen Curry on the deadline by not getting him extra assist. There is not any dependable second scoring possibility anymore with Klay Thompson’s decline, with the vast majority of this roster both too outdated or too inexperienced to compete for a title anymore.
The Warriors had a first-round pick to trade in 2028 together with gamers like Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Brandon Podziemski and a wage matcher in Paul. Future second-round picks are coming in 2026 and 2028 from the Atlanta Hawks. Whereas this may increasingly not have been sufficient to commerce for a celebrity, the Warriors actually may have fetched an improve to their beginning lineup subsequent to Curry.
There’s nonetheless an opportunity that Golden State will get Paul again from a damaged hand and climbs into the West play-in event. They may even end as a seventh or eighth seed within the West by the beginning of the playoffs.
Nonetheless, there is not any method this roster is successful a playoff spherical. Curry will probably be 36 this March and Draymond Inexperienced, 34. Thompson simply turned 34 and will probably be a free agent this summer season.
After pulling off one of many best 10-year runs in NBA historical past, the Warriors dynasty will formally finish this season.
Trae Younger Will Request to Be Traded This Summer time
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Final yr round this time, we made the prediction that Damian Lillard can be enjoying out his remaining season with the Portland Path Blazers. This yr, count on Younger to be the subsequent star guard traded throughout the offseason.
The Hawks have been going backward ever since their shocking run to the Japanese Convention Finals in 2021, with successful percentages of .524, .500 and now .431 the previous three years. After shedding within the first spherical of the East playoffs the previous two seasons, the Hawks are in actual hazard of even lacking the play-in event now.
A breaking level is coming.
Younger has simply two guaranteed years remaining on his contract after this season, which means the earlier the Hawks commerce him the higher the return will probably be. Younger’s endurance with the entrance workplace and enjoying for 4 completely different head coaches the previous 4 years could possibly be carrying out as nicely.
Want some extra causes to imagine a Younger commerce is approaching?
The Hawks made the shocking option to hold Dejounte Murray on the commerce deadline regardless of limitless rumors about him being moved. Preserving Murray on board as a franchise level guard is sweet insurance coverage and means Atlanta can transfer Younger and never have to fret about getting a premier flooring normal again in return.
The Los Angeles Lakers, a workforce loaded with Klutch stars like Younger, can be on the entrance of the road as a commerce vacation spot. In addition they selected to remain quiet on the deadline, and by doing so will now have three first-round picks to commerce by the draft (2024 or 2025 relying which the New Orleans Pelicans need, 2029 and 2031). Like with Anthony Davis, Younger may request a commerce to the Lakers solely.
The Hawks are going nowhere this season, in addition to Younger has performed. Anticipate this to be his remaining yr in Atlanta.
Dallas Mavericks Will Miss the Playoffs…Once more
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After swinging the massive commerce for Kyrie Irving final yr, we predicted that Dallas would miss the West playoffs, a prognosis that didn’t go over nicely with Mavericks followers.
Even following trades for P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford, we’re nonetheless doubling down and predicting an early offseason for the Mavs.
Dallas is an efficient workforce. They acquired higher on the commerce deadline, and the pairing of Luka Dončić and Irving has been extra profitable in 12 months 2. Nonetheless, on this West, merely being good is not adequate.
The Mavs are 14-10 this season with their two stars energetic and have a net rating of plus-5.3 with each Dončić and Irving on the ground. Once more, good, however not encouraging sufficient to imagine that Dallas goes to leapfrog groups just like the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings to make it out of the West play-in event.
We have seen what a locked-in LeBron James-led Lakers workforce can do in a event setting, which means the Mavs must knock off both the Suns, Kings or Pelicans to even earn an eighth seed within the West. All three are extra proficient than Dallas.
Gafford is not going to repair a 22nd-ranked defense, and the Mavs now haven’t any extra first-round picks left to commerce after giving their remaining one up for Washington. Their 2031 choice solely turns into out there to deal this summer season.
Lacking the playoffs in back-to-back years is a nightmare situation for the Mavericks, particularly figuring out the competitor that Dončić is. With simply two guaranteed years left on his contract, there could possibly be some robust conversations coming this summer season in Dallas, particularly since a lot of the future has already been mortgaged.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Wins MVP
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With Joel Embiid now sidelined following
surgical procedure a process on his left knee, Nikola Jokić has turn out to be the overwhelming favourite to win his third MVP award.
Whereas Jokić continues to be the very best basketball participant on the planet proper now, the regular-season MVP will finally go to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Gilgeous-Alexander started constructing his MVP momentum final season, ending fifth total within the voting and finally held again by the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder’s below-.500 file. That excuse cannot be used for voters this time round.
The Thunder and Denver Nuggets (together with the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves) are all tied or inside a half sport of first place within the loaded West. The workforce that finally finishes greater between OKC and Denver may have a huge impact on every star’s MVP case as nicely.
Between the 2, the Thunder had the higher commerce deadline, selecting up veteran wing Gordon Hayward from the Charlotte Hornets whereas the Nuggets remained silent. OKC is the deeper workforce, loaded with wings and a plethora of younger expertise nonetheless climbing in direction of their collective primes.
Whereas Jokić’s superior stats have beforehand helped his case, he is now wanting up at OKC’s star guard.
Gilgeous-Alexander ranks first within the NBA with 14.6 estimated wins added this season per DunksandThrees.com, and solely Joel Embiid has the next estimated plus-minus rating than SGA’s plus-9.6.
No guard has gained MVP since James Harden in 2017-18, a drought that Gilgeous-Alexander will finish.