At long last the National Basketball Association season is back and fans are excited to watch their favorite teams play and simply enjoy the sport they love. The start of the new season comes with teams that will be successful and those that will not.
A team that I have an exuberant amount of confidence in this season is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics finished last season second in the Eastern Conference and recorded a 57-25 record throughout the regular season. They lost in a seven-game series to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals after failing to mount a 3-0 comeback.
This season, the Celtics’ roster looks stronger than last season even, with the loss of guard Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies and center Robert Williams III to the Portland Trail Blazers. During the off-season, the Celtics signed center Kristaps Porzingis to a two-year, $60 million contract, giving the Celtics that shooting big that they desperately need.
In addition, the Celtics signed guard Jrue Holiday who is a terrific defender and also fills the void that Smart leaves. On top of this, guard Jaylen Brown signed the largest contract in NBA history, totaling $303.7 million over five years.
Also, the Celtics have their franchise player in forward Jayson Tatum, who keeps improving each season. The Celtics have come close to a championship in recent years, but with all the pieces they have this season, this is the year they bring a title back to Boston.
While many teams are bound for success in the NBA this year, many are poised for a tough season. One team that fits this category is the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies had a tremendous season last year, finishing second in the Western Conference with a record of 51-31. They lost in a six-game series to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals.
This success was mainly due to the play of superstar guard Ja Morant, but his absence at the beginning of the season will be why they will fail to live up to expectations. Morant was issued a 25-game suspension in mid-June for posing with a firearm in a live-stream video on Instagram in May.
The absence of their star guard is the main reason they may not see the results they want, but it isn’t the only reason. Center Steven Adams sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last January. That would force him to miss the remainder of the 2022-23 season and the playoffs. He is expected to return for the 2024-25 season, but his defensive presence will be missed as the Grizzlies progress throughout the season. These two factors will cause the Grizzlies to have a rough year.
The Most Valuable Player for the upcoming season will be center Nikola Jokic. The 6’11 center from Serbia averaged 24.5/11.8/9.8 shooting 63.2% during the regular season. This team also went on to win the championship and their roster has stayed perfectly intact for this year. Jokic is the best player in the world at the moment and this is the season that brings home his third MVP award in the last four seasons.
The Rookie of the Year for the 2023-24 season will be forward Victor Wembanyama. I don’t think there’s too much debate over this one, as Wembanyama is the most hyped-up prospect since LeBron James. The 7 ‘4 phenom from France possesses all the necessary qualities for success in the NBA. Wembanyama is simply a player that the NBA has never seen before and is truly a generational talent. He can shoot from range, has great ball handling and his eight-foot wingspan makes him a great defender too. This Rookie of the Year race won’t be close and the hardware will go to Wembanyama.
The Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) will be Evan Mobley of the Cavaliers. Last season, Mobley finished third in DPOY voting while averaging nine rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 0.8 steals per game. He is poised for a breakout season on both ends of the ball, but his dominant defensive skills will once again shine through as the season goes on. This will be the year when Mobley takes home the award.
The Most Improved Player this season will be Cade Cunningham. The number one pick in 2021 for the Pistons had a very disappointing 2022-23 season that ended early by means of a foot injury that needed surgery. Cunningham is a dynamic player who can put up big numbers day in and day out. The Pistons also have the potential to break out as a competitive team this year, which only helps Cunningham’s chances.
The Sixth Man of the Year will be Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley. He averaged 14.9/4.2/3.4 coming off the bench and finished second in voting last season. He was extremely impactful when he was in the game with an extremely high plus/minus. Quickley is known to be able to shift the momentum of games whenever he steps on the court. This will be the year when Quickley wins the award.
The Coach of the Year (COTY) will be Celtics’ head coach Joe Mazzulla. Last season Mazzulla had a successful season, as he led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals even though they lost to the Miami Heat in heartbreaking fashion. This year, Mazzulla will build on this with the help of superstars Tatum and Brown. The Celtics will finish with the best record in the East this year and go on to win the NBA Championship which is why the COTY award will go to Joe Mazzulla.