The New York Knicks are going to secure the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference
We’re talking about a low-key loaded team in New York. The Knicks have a star point guard in Brunson, a go-to scoring option in Randle, floor spacers in Grimes, Quickley, and Hart, and rim protection from Robinson and Hartenstein. These are all ingredients for success under a Tom Thibodeau led team. The Knicks currently hold the 8th best Net Rating in the league, but I expect them to improve on that as there is no real weakness. If they can get RJ Barrett to play efficiently in a reduced role, then I could see the Knicks upsetting someone in the playoffs.
The Miami Heat are going to struggle to make it out of the play-in games
It feels like every game the Heat play in is decided by 5 points or less, which is extremely worrisome for a team that struggles to score from the perimeter. Kyle Lowry cannot get in the paint and score at an efficient rate which means the success of this Miami team hinges on the scoring abilities of Adebayo and Butler which just isn’t enough unless Herro can get hot and score an efficient 20 points each game. If they do add Kevin Love, I pray they play him over Caleb Martin who should be a backup wing instead of the starting 4. You can never count out Miami, but when you have Lowry and Duncan Robinsons clogging the salary cap, it’s hard to structure a winning team around Bam and Jimmy.
The Sacramento Kings will end up the 6th seed in the Western Conference
I love the Kings and their potential, but the Western Conference has gone crazy with veteran talent and right now when looking at the standings I think there is a real chance that Sacramento will slide down to the 6 seed come playoff time. I expect the Suns and Clippers to surpass the Kings in the standings as they are both legitimate contenders that can win the title this year while the Kings are young up-and-comers that still need to get experience. Even if they do slide down a little bit, I love the future we’re seeing from the Kings and I hope they can add a piece or two to their core of Fox and Sabonis.
The Los Angeles Clippers will be the most dangerous team in the Western Conference
Lots of conversations are had about the Clippers and Ty Lue’s rotations, the health of Kawhi and PG, and the teams contending window. But even with all of the criticism, I think the Clippers will end up the team that emerges from the Western Conference this year. They have the star power, defense, shooting, bench play, etc. to become scary in the playoffs. I love the additions of Mason Plumlee and Eric Gordon as vet contributors off the bench and I think they can match up well against the Nuggets and Suns if/when they meet in the playoffs. As long as Kawhi and PG stay healthy, then I think they can be a finals favorite.