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50 NBA Predictions for the 2014-15 Season

Joel Brigham makes his annual 50 predictions about the upcoming NBA season…

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As I’ve done every year for nearly as long as I’ve been covering the NBA, I’m making 50 NBA predictions for the upcoming season.

This is a hard column to write because it’s impossible to know how things will play out. That’s the beauty of sports. That said, we will revisit these predictions in the spring and check to see how well (or how poorly) I did. As moronic as some of these predictions are sure to be, at least I hold myself accountable.

That said, here are this year’s predictions:

Individual Predictions

1. LeBron James will still finish in the top five among all players in usage rate, despite his new team.

2. Kevin Love’s usage rate will be the lowest of the “Big Three” in Cleveland, but he’ll still finish among the top three in the league in rebounds per game.

3. Andre Drummond will be the guy that leads the league in boards this year.

4. Anthony Davis will end up with more MVP votes than Kevin Durant.

5. But Davis will not lead the league in blocks; Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will take back the blocks crown this year.

6. As much as he may want to, Paul George will not play a game this season.

7. Kobe Bryant will play at least 65 games this year and will average at least 20 PPG.

8. Goran Dragic will lead all Suns point guards in PPG and APG.

9. Brook Lopez will play fewer than 60 games this season.

10. Derrick Rose will play more than 60 games this season.

11. Lance Stephenson will see drops in rebounds and assists this season now that he’s moved to Charlotte, but he will also average more PPG as a Hornet.

12. Chris Bosh will have his best year as a member of the Miami HEAT.

13. Russell Westbrook will lead the league in both usage rate and turnovers again this season.

14. DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond will both make their first All-Star teams this year.

Team Predictions

15. The Chicago Bulls will finish with the most regular season wins in the Eastern Conference.

16. The San Antonio Spurs, meanwhile, will finish with the most regular season wins in the West.

17. The Portland Trail Blazers will have one of the three best records in the Western Conference this year.

18. No team will come within six losses of the Philadelphia 76ers.

19. The Miami HEAT, winners of 54 wins a season ago, still will win no fewer than 49 games.

20. The Toronto Raptors will once again win the Atlantic Division.

21. The Golden State Warriors will top their 51-win season from a year ago.

22. The Memphis Grizzlies, meanwhile, will win fewer than their 50 wins from last season.

23. The Dallas Mavericks, 26th in the league last year in team rebounds per game (40.9), will add at least two boards per game to that total and finish in the top half of the league this year.

24. The Mavs also will lead the Western Conference in points scored per game.

25. The Atlanta Hawks will be among the top five teams in the league in team assists per game.

Playoff Predictions

26. The Detroit Pistons will not only make the playoffs this year, they’ll be a top six seed.

27. The Washington Wizards will be lower than Detroit in playoff seeding.

28. The Indiana Pacers, who have made the Eastern Conference Finals two years in a row, will not make the playoffs at all this season.

29. The Phoenix Suns, despite posting an above-.500 record for the second season in a row, will narrowly miss the postseason in a very competitive Western Conference.

30. The L.A. Clippers will represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals this year.

31. They will face the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will represent the Eastern Conference.

32. Cleveland will win the NBA Finals in 2015.

Rookie Predictions

33. Jabari Parker will pretty obviously be the Rookie of the Year, though this year’s crop looks like an undeniably strong one.

34. Nerlens Noel and Andrew Wiggins will also make the All-Rookie First Team.

35. Noel will lead all rookies in both rebounds and blocks.

36. Elfrid Payton will lead all rookies in assists.

37. Dante Exum will generally struggle in his rookie season, and will finish with worse numbers than Trey Burke had in his rookie season.

38. Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine will both participate in the Slam Dunk contest this year, and one of them will win it.

39. Outside of the injured Joel Embiid, Nik Stauskas and Aaron Gordon are the only top-eight draft selections who will not make one of the All-Rookie teams.

40. Philadelphia’s K.J. McDaniels will generally be considered the best of the second-round picks after his first full season in the league.

Transaction Predictions

41. Rajon Rondo, once he’s healthy, will be dealt to another team at some point this season.

42. The Houston Rockets will be involved in at least one major trade this season.

43. To clear out their crowded frontcourt, Milwaukee will trade Ersan Ilyasova before the deadline this year.

44. Despite Nikola Pekovic’s not really fitting into the Timberwolves’ long-term plans, they will struggle to return what they deem fair value for him, and so will keep him through the end of the season.

45. After spending so much time in trade rumors almost since he was drafted, the New York Knicks finally will trade Iman Shumpert this season to clear up a logjam at shooting guard that also includes J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway, Jr.

46. He’ll appear in some trade rumors, but ultimately the Denver Nuggets will hold onto JaVale McGee through the end of the year.

Miscellaneous Predictions

47. Anthony Davis will be the No. 1 player in fantasy basketball by the end of the season.

48. Despite rumors to the contrary, the NBA Draft Lottery process will not change midseason.

49. That said, the Utah Jazz will win the NBA Draft Lottery this spring.

50. Per tradition, because I’ve made this prediction every year since I’ve been doing this column and I’ve always gotten it right, the Chicago Bulls will lead the league in attendance.

If you’ve got any of your own predictions, feel free to add to the list by dropping them into the comments section. Otherwise, enjoy what should be a wildly entertaining season, and make sure you check back in June to see how it all worked out.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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