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James Harden has been very unhappy with the Philadelphia 76ers throughout the offseason and went out of his way to request a trade. Keep in mind that this isn’t the first time that Harden has requested a trade with a team, as he also requested one in Houston and Brooklyn. He has mainly criticized president Daryl Morey by calling him a liar at a promotional event in China and saying that their relationship was “fractured”. The 76ers had talks with the Clippers, Knicks, Rockets, and the Heat, but nothing grew into serious discussion. Harden has yet to show up to any 76ers practices, and there’s a massive chance that the 76ers open the season without the star PG. After several weeks of the disgruntled star causing havoc, the 76ers will trade Harden to the Western Conference.
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Karl-Anthony Towns has been linked to the Knicks for the last couple of offseasons, but nothing has come to fruition involving a trade. I believe that this offseason is the one where president Leon Rose pulls the trigger. Towns is coming off a season in Minnesota where he averaged 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. He also just received a massive extension (4 yrs, $224M) and is being owed $36 million this year. Rumors of the Knicks possibly trading for the center ignited when Knicks brass called Towns over before a preseason game and Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau praised his former player in a press conference. This move would send shockwaves throughout the NBA as the Knicks would instantly jump to a serious contender in the Eastern Conference.
3. The Celtics win over 60 games and finish as the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference
The Celtics won 57 games last season with a starting lineup of Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. That is a very good lineup, but this year’s may blow you away: Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kristaps Porzingis. Add in a deep bench and this could be a very scary team if they show chemistry quickly. Tatum and Brown are coming off very successful seasons, 30.1 PPG and 26.6 PPG respectively, and Derrick White/Payton Pritchard can be anchors at the guard position. Jrue Holiday should be a massive upgrade over Smart on the offensive end, as he averaged 19.3 PPG and 7.4 APG with the Trail Blazers. Finally, Porzingis can be a solid center in the Celtics’ system, as he averaged 23.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and provides spacing with his three point ability.
4. The Thunder finish with over 45 wins and avoid the play-in tournament
The Thunder shattered expectations by going 40-42 last season and losing to the Timberwolves in the first round. This was mainly because of the MVP-caliber season from Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, who averaged 31.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, and shot 51% from the field. The growth of Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams also contributed to OKC’s shocking season. Going into this season, the debut of No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren can improve the team to even greater heights. He showed lots of promise during the preseason, as he had 18 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and a block on Damian Lillard. If the Thunder can stay healthy, I can see this team avoiding the play-in and being a top 6 seed.
5. Luka Doncic wins his first MVP
Luka Doncic had an outstanding season last year (32.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 8.0 APG), but the Mavericks couldn’t make the postseason with the addition of Kyrie Irving. They had a prolific offense last season, but they also had the 25th rated defense. I see a bounceback season coming from the Mavs, as they re-signed Dwight Powell and Kyrie Irving and added Seth Curry, Grant Williams, Dante Exum, Richaun Holmes, and Derrick Jones Jr. These moves were all intended to upgrade the Mavs’ defense, and this can definitely get them back into the playoffs. All of these factors will lead to Luka winning his first MVP, as he will nearly average a 30-10-10 triple double throughout the season, and Dallas avoiding the play-in tournament.
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6. The Celtics beat the Nuggets in 6 games to win the NBA Finals
The Celtics will return to the NBA Finals after almost completing a 3-0 comeback against the Miami Heat last season. Boston will finish the season as the clear No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference by advancing to the Finals because of their stacked roster. Tatum and Brown will anchor the offense, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis have solid seasons, and Derrick White becomes a finalist for 6MOY. In the West, Nikola Jokic will have another MVP-caliber season with Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and Caldwell-Pope will play secondary roles, and the Nuggets’ prolific offense will carry them through a talented Western Conference yet again. Boston’s roster will keep the Nuggets’ scoring in check, and the Celtics will win their first title in the Jaylen Brown-Jayson Tatum era to wrap up the 2023-24 season
My name is John Pagnotta and I live in Queens, NY. I am a sophomore at Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School. I am a huge fan of the Jets, Mets, Islanders, and Knicks. I started following sports when I was around 7 years old and I have not lost love for it ever since!