- Someone has to win a title this year. That said, we still thought long and hard about why your team (including the Warriors) won't win the NBA Finals.
The summer is a time for optimism for most NBA teams. But with the season starting early this year, we're already creeping up on opening night. That said, let's do away with the niceties and talk about why your team won't win the NBA Finals this year:
Atlanta Hawks: Dennis Schroder is unpredictable both on and off the court, Kent Bazemore has a role for this team that isn’t “bench celebrator-in chief," and a Plumlee is going to play big minutes.
Boston Celtics: While Summer League is Summer League, both the Lakers and Nets, the two teams whose picks Danny Ainge owns, looked promising in Las Vegas, and neither will be the worst team in the league next season. If this holds true in the regular season, Ainge’s fetish for asset accumulation will come back to bite him at some point when he rejects trades for superstars, instead choosing to bet on a top-3 pick in the draft.
Brooklyn Nets: Timofey Mozgov is the starting center of the Nets. Also, D’Angelo Russell will become the best Page 6 content generator since A-Rod and DeMarre Carroll hasn’t been an above-average starter in three years.
Charlotte Hornets: Dwight Howard hasn’t been a great player and a great influence simultaneously since his lone Finals appearance in 2009. Also, the team's owner might be better than anyone not named Kemba Walker.
Chicago Bulls: Dwyane Wade will be grumpy until he’s bought out, and even with the future Hall of Famer in tow, Chicago’s top talent is Zach LaVine, who is recovering from a torn ACL.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland's second-best player, wants out. Additionally, if Dan Gilbert continues to push LeBron’s buttons, who knows what might happen?
Dallas Mavericks: A lot of famous names in Dallas, but they don’t quite fit together. Dennis Smith Jr. is still growing, Dirk is aging, Seth Curry has too big of a role, Wes Matthews is still regaining his pre-Achilles injury form, and so on. They might not even make the playoffs, let alone win a title.
Denver Nuggets: For all his great qualities, Nikola Jokic still runs like a hungover college student.
Detroit Pistons: The best player on the Pistons averages 13.3 points per game for his career. That’s not very good. Also, Stan Van Gundy, who is an excellent coach, is not an excellent general manager.
Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson’s missed dunk in China wasn’t just something funny, he’s actually Patient Zero of the real life Monstars, only this time, it’s just contained within the Warriors, and at that, just the four All-Stars. Sorry, you really have to stretch for something here.
Houston Rockets: "There’s only one ball” might become more than just a trite cliche, and the extreme lack of depth is definitely alarming. Also, age has to catch up to Chris Paul at some point, right?
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner has shown flashes, but as of yet has not proven himself as a franchise cornerstone-level talent on a consistent basis. Also, we saw how the whole “Victor Oladipo as a second offensive option” thing went last season, and while part of his lackluster performance can certainly be attributed to the Russell Westbrook vortex, he’s also just not worthy of such a large offensive role.
Los Angeles Clippers:Doc Rivers’s club won’t win because they’re cursed. Basketball-wise, Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari have two of the most troubling injury histories in the NBA, and a Patrick Beverley-Austin Rivers confrontation seems like a near certainty at some point next season.
Los Angeles Lakers: A lot of competing agendas on this Laker squad. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram need developing, Julius Randle needs to show he’s worthy of a big contract next offseason, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope needs to both get his stats and play an under-the-radar part in Rich Paul and LeBron’s chess match. This team is all about the 2018 offseason.
Memphis Grizzlies: The collective formerly known as Grit n’ Grind has some holes to fill with Tony Allen, Vince Carter, and Zach Randolph all gone. Also, who the heck is the team’s third-best player?JaMychal Green? That’s a little worrisome.
Miami Heat: There are a lot of nice pieces in Miami and Erik Spoelstra’s one of the best coaches in the league, but as long as Hassan Whiteside remains the offensive focal point and Justise Winslow remains in search of a jump shot, there’s a ceiling on the Heat.
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis will be an MVP candidate in due time, but the messy front office, his lack of a jump shot, and an always injury-riddled supporting cast make contending a risky proposition this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves: An ancient Chinese proverb reads, “Young teams make the leap a year after they’re hyped.” This age-old wisdom will hopefully apply to the Twin Cities as well, but a lack of perimeter spacing, defensive struggles, and Tom Thibodeau overworking his starters are still obstacles.
New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins on the same team will always keep coaches up at night, but a Jrue Holiday-Rajon Rondo backcourt with Solomon Hill on the wing? The only people getting nightmares from that trio are Pelicans fans.
New York Knicks: LOL.
Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC has now climbed back to 80% of its KD-era peak with the addition of Paul George, but potential chemistry problems and George's impending free agency loom large here.
Orlando Magic: Mario Hezonja might play 20 minutes a game, the Elfrid Payton experience was renewed for another season, and Jonathon Simmons, a player who’s not great offensively, is still somehow one of the best offensive options on the Magic. New management, same shenanigans.
Philadelphia 76ers: Obviously, youth and injury risk are the main roadblocks to a championship for this group, but figuring out the depth chart and developing chemistry among the Big Three of Embiid, Markelle Fultz, and Ben Simmons will also take some time, probably over multiple seasons.
Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker looks like a star and Eric Bledsoe continues to be one of the most underrated players in the NBA, but everybody else is either old, young or underachieving.
Portland Trail Blazers: What’s more likely: A Damian Lillard/C.J. McCollum defensive stand or a good Knicks free agent signing? The fact that this is a legit question is enough to worry.
Sacramento Kings: George Hill and Buddy Hield will be the team’s top two scorers. The Kings were right to get rid of Rudy Gay and Tyreke Evans, but their status as proven bucket-getters would have at least provided consistent offensive highlights for a team that will struggle next season.
San Antonio Spurs: While they landed Rudy Gay, the Spurs let one of their most athletic players leave in Jonathon Simmons, and for a club that really lacks athleticism and quickness, that was a rare questionable move.
Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan would have been one of the best players in the league in the 1990s, but it’s 2017. On the other hand, his backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry, is an aging, undersized point guard with an injury history. The T Dot better be satisfied with 45-win seasons.
Utah Jazz: Go-to scoring was this team’s issue when Gordon Hayward was ON the team. Joe Johnson would have helped seven years ago, but not anymore. Rodney Hood in the clutch? Ugh. Donovan Mitchell? Not yet. Derrick Favors? Come back when he plays 75 games. Even with Rudy Gobert’s emergence, the Jazz might be right back in the thick of the lottery hunt.
Washington Wizards: John Wall and Bradley Beal make up the best backcourt in the East, but the talent in D.C. drops off significantly after the dynamic duo. There’s no defense to be had anywhere (aside from Otto Porter), Kelly Oubre as sixth man isn’t going to work, and neither will a repeat of the Ian Mahinmi fiasco that ruined Washington’s playoff run.