2017-18 NBA Season Predictions: Biggest Underachiever

With many teams bolstering their rosters in the offseason, there will definitely be teams that will exceed expectations, but there will be teams that are disappointments. Will Russell Westbrook be able to incorporate his new teammates in OKC? Is Houston able to play Chris Paul and James Harden effectively.


Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers might have wonderful long-term effects of the Kyrie Irving trade, including Ante Zizic and a pick that could be #1 overall next summer. With explosive players like Marvin Bagley and Michael Porter Jr., the Cavaliers could find themselves a future after LeBron James leaves. But, this season, there’s a solid chance Boston or Washington catches them.

This season, there’s no guarantee about when Isaiah Thomas will return from his hip injury, and there’s no guarantee he is the same. The Cavs lack a dominant perimeter defender that both the Wizards and Celtics have. Isaiah Thomas is a liability on defense to an already terrible Cavs defense. Jae Crowder adds nice bench depth, but the loss of Kyrie Irving will kill the Cavs in the short-term.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The addition of Carmelo Anthony is a big addition for the Thunder, but it also brings up some questions about how Westbrook, Melo, and George will play together. All three of them have spent their entire careers being the #1 scorer on their respective teams, and now two of them won’t. The Thunder will certainly have to adjust with all three of them, as the team might take a while to gel.

Carmelo had a bad ending in New York and Russell Westbrook has always had a bad rep of not making his teammates better. There’s no saying this will work, and with a thin frontcourt after the loss of Domantas Sabonis and Enes Kanter, the Thunder could be a letdown.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers, fair or unfair, have a lot of expectations this season, as they’ve had the #1 overall pick the last two seasons. And with the emergence of Joel Embiid and the signing of JJ Redick, the 76ers could make the playoffs in a relatively weak Eastern Conference.

But, the 76ers are young and very injury prone. Ben Simmons hasn’t even played an NBA game yet and Joel Embiid played only 31 games last season. Embiid said recently that fans shouldn’t “count on [Embiid] for an entire season.” He has a good point, as he’s missed almost all of his NBA career to various injuries. The 76ers are good together, but injuries and youth doesn’t guarantee any success.

Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers

Trading away Kyrie Irving will bite the Cavaliers in the short-term. Assuming Isaiah Thomas returns in January, Derrick Rose will be running point guard. I think Rose will have a much-improved season, but he’s no Kyrie Irving. The Cavs lack in a lot of places, including their their size.

Size has always been an issue for the Cavaliers, but with Kevin Love (barely 6’10”) and Tristan Thompson (who got out-rebounded by Steph Curry in the Finals) as options to play center. There’s no guarantee that Isaiah Thomas returns to 100%, which is necessary if they want to be even close to the NBA Finals. But, with Washington, Boston, and Toronto on their tail, this will finally be the year that a different team will represent the Eastern Conference.


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