NBA: 10 Bold Predictions For The 2017 Basketball Year

Dec 17, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35), forward Draymond Green (23) and guard Stephen Curry (30) high five after a play against the Portland Trail Blazers during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 135-90. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With 2016 officially in the books, we look to 2017 and make 10 bold NBA predictions for the new basketball year

The 2016 NBA calendar year is officially in the books.

From the Cleveland Cavaliers winning an NBA Championship to Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors, there were many of memorable moments from this past year – some good and some bad. Nevertheless, they will all be remembered.

2017 brings new opportunities – and not just for the Warriors or Cavs. For every team. As the NBA begins to hit the thick of the 2016-17 NBA season, we look ahead to the entire 2017 NBA calendar year and make a few predictions to what we believe will be a historical year in the Association.

Dec 23, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) reacts to his foul against the Sacramento Kings in the first quarter at Target Center. The Kings win 109-105. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Goran Dragic, Rudy Gay, Brandon Knight, Ricky Rubio and DeMarcus Cousins will all be traded

Four of these players will be traded at the NBA Trade Deadline. DeMarcus Cousins will be moved in the summer. However, all five of these will be on a new team by the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, perhaps for the best.

I’m not exactly sure where each of these players will land, but it’s pretty safe to say that all, if not most, are in need of a massive change of scenery.

For some, especially guys like Goran Dragic and Brandon Knight, they’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time – they simply don’t fit on their current teams. A fresh start would do them good. And they’ll finally get that in 2017.

Dec 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) celebrates after making a three point basket during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) celebrates after making a three point basket during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden will finally get his NBA MVP award

Many believe that James Harden should’ve won the NBA MVP award a few years ago, the one which Stephen Curry ultimately won. However, this season, James Harden will finally get that elusive MVP award.

As it stands, it’s a two-man race at the moment – Russell Westbrook vs James Harden. While many will be blinded by the insane statistics that Russ is able to produce on a nightly basis, mostly because who else is going to produce for that team, I firmly believe that Harden’s value – and importance to his team – will shine brightest when season draws to a close.

James Harden will be your 2016-17 NBA MVP.

Nov 10, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia (27) and forward Kevin Durant (35) and forward Draymond Green (23) in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 10, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia (27) and forward Kevin Durant (35) and forward Draymond Green (23) in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors will win the NBA Championship, rather easily

If you’re a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I hope you enjoyed that Christmas Day victory. That might be the last time you see the Cavs beat the Golden State Warriors this season.

The Warriors are getting better with every passing minute, hour and day. The more that this team plays together, the more dangerous it’s going to be. So the Warriors team that you see today, next week and even next month, isn’t going to be the Warriors team that we (likely) will see in the NBA Finals.

I’m predicting a fairly easy victory for Golden State in the NBA Finals. Perhaps even a sweep. Book it.

Jul 5, 2013; Waltham, MA, USA; New Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, right, shares a laugh with General Manager Danny Ainge during a news conference announcing Stevens new position. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 5, 2013; Waltham, MA, USA; New Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, right, shares a laugh with General Manager Danny Ainge during a news conference announcing Stevens new position. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Ainge finally makes a move

Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge has a plethora of assets. He’s just waiting for the right time to pull off “the big move”. And in 2017, that time will come.

In the way of young talent, draft picks and even quality veteran contracts, Ainge will have the ability to make quite the splash this year – something that he’s been hesitant to do in the last 18 months. However, with his team “close”, he’d be foolish not to make a move.

The Celtics have the opportunity to win now, if they play their cards right. Boston needs a No. 1 options. A star. They have all the pieces to land one. It’s time for Ainge to go fishing.

November 19, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during a stoppage in play against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

November 19, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during a stoppage in play against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade leaves Chicago; signs with a contender

Dwyane Wade decided to leave the Miami Heat after years of being “disrespected” during free agency. He  ultimately “went home” to sign with the Chicago Bulls. With the opportunity to opt out after this season, I believe he will.

But he won’t re-sign with his “hometown” Bulls. Instead, he’ll begin his ring-chasing era. I’m not sure if he’s going to try to play with LeBron James in Cleveland, but he’s going to sign with a contender in a last-ditch effort to secure one more ring.

A few teams to watch are the Cavs, Knicks and Clippers. His narrative of going home was a big ploy to find a way out of Miami by saving face. After one year, we’ll all realize that.

Dec 14, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is introduced prior to the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz won 109-89. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 14, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is introduced prior to the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz won 109-89. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Gordon Hayward signs in Boston

The 2017 NBA Free Agent class is loaded. However, and partly thanks to the new CBA, the likelihood of any of the big names – which include Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant – switching jerseys in small.

Of the next wave of names, there’s one free agent that will make the biggest splash this summer. Gordon Hayward.

Hayward nearly signed in Charlotte a few years ago when he hit restricted free agency. Utah matched the offer sheet. Now, Hayward will be able to choose where he plays, with no restricted tag.

Hayward will entertain a few teams this summer, but the lure of his former coach (Brad Stevens) and a Celtics team that is “one talent away” is going to be too good to pass up.

Dec 13, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 13, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Klay Thompson will be traded

The Golden State Warriors are going to win the 2017 NBA Finals and then realize that they’re going to have to pay Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. In an attempt to save a few bucks, they’ll trade Klay Thompson, who becomes the odd man out of the three – assuming that they can’t part ways with Draymond Green, the backbone of the team.

Thompson will be a highly sought after name, as he was a few years ago when it was reported that the Warriors were debating a swap around Kevin Love.

In exchange, Golden State will get some nice young pieces and role players, setting them up to have a little less top heavy of a roster.

Nov 1, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (right) celebrates with Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (left) after Winslow made a three point basket during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 109-89. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami trades Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside

There will be a number of big moves made this summer, including Miami Heat President Pat Riley’s last-ditch effort to rebuild one last championship team for Micky Arison. In perhaps his last few years in change, Riley will trade Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside for a more established piece.

Assuming that the Heat snag a top 5 pick in this year’s draft, Riley will try to pair this year’s rookie with a veteran star – similar to what he did when he built that 2006 NBA Championship team.

The Heat’s new tandem won’t be as good – and perhaps not as successful – as Wade and Shaq, but it will be a similar blueprint.

Nov 15, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson watches the first half between the Duke Blue Devils and the Kansas Jayhawks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Jackson retires

Frankly put, Phil Jackson in New York simply hasn’t worked out. Sure, they might make the playoffs this season, but they’re not close to competing for an NBA Championship. The good news is that Phil didn’t completely screw things up, and he drafted Kristaps Porzingis.

The game has passed Phil by, unfortunately. It’s time that he say goodbye to this “experiment” and go enjoy retirement. He needs to do that before he says something else stupid.

Phil will always be remembered as one of the best coaches of all-time. What he did with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers can never be taken away. He just isn’t a great front office guy. That’s OK.

Dec 11, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) calls a play against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the second half at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Nevada defeated Washington, 87-85. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 rookies will be as hyped as the ’04 draft class, and they’ll deliver

We’ve already heard some of the hype that is coming out of the expected 2017 NBA Draft class, but it’s only going to grow from here on out.

From Markelle Fultz to Harry Giles to Josh Jackson, this class is absolutely loaded. Some have even been on record scything there could be 10-15 all-stars to come out of this draft. That’s…insane, and unprecedented.

Ironically, in a year in which no teams are really tanking, this would actually be a good year to tank. This draft is loaded, and they’re going to deliver in 2017.

Believe the hype.

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