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2016-17 NBA predictions: Can the Warriors finish the job this time?

At long last, the NBA season is upon us.

The Cavaliers began their title defense Tuesday night at home against the New York Knicks, while Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors opened their highly anticipated 2016-17 campaign against the San Antonio Spurs -- and kind of flopped. We'll give them a mulligan on that one.

SEE MORE: NBA Power Rankings 1.0: Warriors, Cavs destined for a Finals rematch

Anyway, in the spirit of opening week, we present to you our officially official predictions for the 2016-17 NBA season.

Below are our picks for the major annual awards, followed by our playoff predictions -- spoiler alert: you're already pretty familiar with our Finals matchup.


NBA Awards

MVP: Russell Westbrook, Thunder

Rookie of the Year: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Sixth Man of the Year: Enes Kanter, Thunder

Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs

Most Improved Player: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets

Coach of the Year: Billy Donovan, Thunder


Eastern Conference Playoffs

First Round

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Washington WIzards: Cavaliers in 5

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Charlotte Hornets: Celtics in 6

(3) Toronto Raptors vs. (6) Atlanta Hawks: Raptors in 6

(4) Detroit Pistons vs. (5) Indiana Pacers: Pacers in 7

Conference Semifinals

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers: Cavaliers in 6

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (3) Toronto Raptors: Celtics in 7

Conference Finals

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (2) Boston Celtics: Cavaliers in 6

Western Conference Playoffs

First Round

(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Dallas Mavericks: Warriors in 4

(2) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (7) Utah Jazz: Clippers in 6

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Oklahoma City Thunder: Spurs in 7

(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers: Rockets in 7

Conference Semifinals

(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (4) Houston Rockets: Warriors in 5

(2) Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs: Clippers in 7

Conference Finals

(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (2) Los Angeles Clippers: Warriors in 6

NBA Finals

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (1) Golden State Warriors: Warriors in 6

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NBA Power Rankings 1.0

28 PHOTOS
NBA Power Rankings 1.0 (10/25)
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NBA Power Rankings 1.0 (10/25)

30. Nets (0-0)

Jeremy Lin will put up numbers on this roster, and Brook Lopez may play his way onto another team's. But there isn't much to see in Brooklyn this year.

(Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

29. 76ers (0-0)

No Ben Simmons, no Nerlens Noel, no Jerryd Bayless -- only a limited dose of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor to open the year. Keep an eye on Embiid and Dario Saric to impress early, but it'll be hard for the 76ers to compete.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

28. Lakers (0-0)

Brandon Ingram has the makeup of a legit threat -- but in the short-term, he's unlikely to dominate. The Lakers are getting younger and collecting assets, but it won't bear any fruits this season.

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

27. Suns (0-0)

The young pieces in Phoenix will have their moments of Vine-worthy awesomeness, but in the West, it'll be hard for this raw bunch to string together much success.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

26. Heat (0-0)

It's a new era in Miami -- and one that will be painful for fans in the early going. With no Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, the Heat are banking on Hassan Whiteside to carry the full load, along with a few intriguing young pieces. It'll be jarring seeing Miami buried in the Eastern Conference standings, but that's looking like the likely scenario.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

25. Nuggets (0-0)

Denver has established a core of promising youth, with a mix of young-ish veterans sprinkled in. If everything breaks right, they could make a push toward a .500 record, but there's still a lot of inexperience leading the way.

(Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

24. Magic (0-0)

With Frank Vogel in charge, the Magic finally seem to be in good hands. The team swapped out Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka -- who makes a great fit at power forward with Nic Vucevic at the 5 -- but also brought on Bismack Biyombo. Aaron Gordon is currently slated to play at the small forward, with Jeff Green also factoring in somewhere. There's talent and youth, but all sorts of mismatched pieces.

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

23. Kings (0-0)

The Kings are hoping contract-year Rudy Gay will be able to step up, and also that an experience under Coach K with the national team has helped DeMarcus Cousins' ever-evolving maturation process. Again, there's talent in Sacramento. In Dave Joerger, a coach that players generally have liked, there may be a fit. But, with the Kings, we'll just have to wait and see.

(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

22. Grizzlies (0-0)

Health will be what ultimately dooms the Grizzlies this season. Chandler Parsons still isn't fully recovered, Marc Gasol is coming off surgery and point guard depth behind Mike Conley is a pair of rookies. If they can maintain a healthy roster all year, they'll likely make the playoffs. But we're not ready to make that assumption.

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

21. Pelicans (0-0)

As Jrue Holiday rightfully remains with his family, Tim Frazier and Langston Galloway will handle the point duties for New Orleans. Buddy Hield will likely see a good amount of burn, while Tyreke Evans and Solomon Hill are the other top wing options. In other words: There really isn't much help around Anthony Davis in NOLA.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

20. Timberwolves (0-0)

Minnesota has a combination of elite young talent and one of the best head coaches in the league, which should have its fanbase's collective mouth watering. It'll be important to remember this is still Year 1 of a new regime, and while the team will grow, it won't be without hiccups.

(Photo by Eric Francis/NBAE via Getty Images)

19. Bulls (0-0)

The Bulls added some glitz to their roster in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, and to a lesser extent Michael Carter-Williams. But investing in a roster on which Jimmy Butler is the best three-point shooter isn't exactly wise in 2016-17. They'll win some games strictly on talent, but their roster makeup completely contradicts winning NBA strategy today.

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

18. Knicks (0-0)

New York underwent yet another roster overhaul, adding Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah to its star duo of Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Banking on Rose and Noah to stay healthy, though, will likely prove disappointing. Adding Noah, specifically, when Porzingis should be transitioning to the center position, is also a peculiar fit. There's talent and big names in New York, but it will still be a challenge to crack the East's top eight.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

17. Mavericks (0-0)

Dallas added two pieces from Golden State's nucleus over recent years -- but the pieces not named Curry, Thompson or Green. Dirk Nowitzki, in the twilight of his career, remains productive, but there's still not enough talent to guarantee Dallas a playoff spot. Rick Carlisle's presence alone gives them a shot, but this roster doesn't look overly promising. 

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

16. Bucks (0-0)

2017 will be the year Giannis Antetokounmpo rises to the ranks of the elite -- there's little in the way of it. The Greek Freak will get a chance to dominate this season, and his size, versatility and growing experience makes it a near certainty. If Jason Kidd figures out the optimal lineup for this team, which may include limiting Greg Monroe's minutes more than ever before, the Bucks could make a run toward the postseason.

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

15. Wizards (0-0)

While Scott Brooks isn't the most sophisticated x's-and-o's head coach, he brings an aura that Randy Wittman never could. Barring injury, the John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt still has potential to be one of the best in the league. If any of Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre or Markieff Morris can step up and become a major contributor, the Wizards could be in business.

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

14. Hornets (0-0)

After a playoff berth last season, the Hornets brought back most of their major pieces. The re-installment of Michael-Kidd Gilchrist into the starting lineup should be major dividends on both ends, too. Barring a letdown, Charlotte should be in store for another postseason run. Success would mean advancing past the first round -- something they fell one win short of a year ago.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

13. Jazz (0-0)

Utah is the trendy pick in the West to eclipse 50 wins this season, and perhaps more -- and for good reason. Gordon Hayward's injury stunts their growth a bit, but Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Joe Johnson in the frontcourt is more than passable. A combination of George Hill, Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Shelvin Mack, Alec Burks and Joe Ingles at the guards gives them plenty of depth. If they can stay afloat in Hayward's absence, look out for them to make a serious run upon his return.

(Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

12. Hawks (0-0)

With Jeff Teague out of the picture, the offense belongs to Dennis Schroder. Al Horford is out, and Dwight Howard is in. These are fairly major changes for a team whose nucleus has proven successful over recent years, but thanks to a strong infrastructure, they should be able to manage. Under Mike Budenholzer, it's hard to imagine Dwight Howard ruining Atlanta's culture -- especially if, at age 30, he acknowledges that this may be his last chance at success. The depth chart is still packed with shooting and above-average defenders, giving them a good shot every night.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

9. Trail Blazers (0-0)

The Blazers, after a shocking run to the second round of the postseason, have returned all major contributors from a year ago and are now equipped with crucial experience of postseason success. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe make up an incredibly versatile trio that could beat teams in a number of ways. There's still obvious reason for concern in the Western Conference, but all signs are pointing to Portland being very competitive once again.

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

7. Rockets (0-0)

Call us crazy, but we like Mike D'Antoni's fit in Houston. A combination of shooters, wing defenders and a mobile big man in Clint Capela are a great combination for the veteran coach's gameplan, and James Harden will assuredly thrive offensively. 

(Photos by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

6. Raptors (0-0)

Kyle Lowry is suddenly in a contract year after Toronto came within two wins of an NBA Finals berth.Toronto returns most of its primary contributors from a year ago -- although the loss of Bismack Biyombo is significant. Still, The Raptors have the talent to come in well above the middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference teams if everything holds up.

(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

5. Celtics (0-0)

Of the non-Cleveland East contenders, Toronto has proven more. But Boston's ceiling is higher. Adding Al Horford to the nucleus that won 48 games last season should pay huge dividends -- he's about a good a fit as the Celtics could've welcomed in. Continuing last season's chemistry building and success, Boston is a near-lock to finish top-three in the East, perhaps resulting in a showdown with Cleveland for a trip to the Finals.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

4. Spurs (0-0)

Tim Duncan is out of the fold, but San Antonio is still almost a guarantee to finish top-three in the West. Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge still make up one of the better 4-5 duos in the league, while Kawhi Leonard will continue to be an MVP contender. It won't be natural to see a Spurs team without Duncan, but it'll be natural watching them play deep into the postseason.

(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. Clippers (0-0)

This has to be the last year of the Clippers core if things don't pan out, right? Entering Year 6 of the Chris Paul era, the Clippers have yet to play in a Conference Finals. The talent remains plentiful, as it has over the last half-decade. We're expecting this to finally be the year Los Angeles puts it all together from wire-to-wire -- because if it's not this season, the plug will likely be pulled.

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

2. Cavaliers (0-0)

Cleveland enters as overwhelming Eastern Conference favorites, and for good reason: They have the best player the league has seen in decades, now finally free of the stress deriving from a career-long quest to deliver Cleveland a title. With that banner rising to the rafters Tuesday night, the Cavs will be expected to follow it up with another trip to the Finals -- James' would-be seventh straight appearance. J.R. Smith is finally back, and despite a few holes in the roster -- namely at the backup point guard slot -- Cleveland shouldn't have trouble punching a ticket to the championship matchup. 

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Warriors (0-0)

Can they win 74? 75? 82? Frankly, that shouldn't be the goal for this team, as last year's Warriors found out exactly how grueling a quest for regular-season records may be. Golden State clearly boasts the best roster in the NBA, and the most star-studded lineup basketball has perhaps ever seen. 74 wins shouldn't define success -- a trip to the Finals and an eventual championship should. Anything short of that, though, means failure.

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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