Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece | mdixon27@gmail.com

With a new NBA season being very close to starting, it’s only right to offer my insight since the offseason built volumes of intrigue with so many All-stars changing teams. This sparked much debate and many predictions from professional counterparts and fans.

After listening to a number of podcasts for different teams, I decided to take some of that information along with what others said or wrote and condense it with my own thoughts into one “hot line” like many lyricists (“You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song.”) often deliver.

Basketball and hip-hop have always crossed paths (“I’m the Question and the Answer like Iverson.”) and why not continue the trend with a brief question or statement predicting what to expect from each NBA team for the 2017-18 campaign.

ATLANTA – With Kent Bazemore as the highest paid player and Dennis Schroder right behind him, the Hawks may not be as bad as many predict but probably not a playoff team either–if so that postseason streak ends at 10.

BOSTON – Can all the new pieces (Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, etc.) jell in time to get the franchise back to the Finals for the first time since 2010?

BROOKLYN – Will the addition of D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe keep the Nets out of the East’s basement?

CHARLOTTE – The trade for Dwight Howard should get the Hornets back in the playoffs in a weak East.

CHICAGO – This team does not have enough NBA caliber players so this season will be bad, but a Zach LaVine dunk here and there will be worth seeing.

CLEVELAND – The loss of Irving, addition of his injured replacement (Isaiah Thomas) and possibility of LeBron James not resigning could keep the Cavs from a fourth straight Finals appearance.

DALLAS – An explosive rookie season from Dennis Smith Jr. and contending for the eighth seed will be a positive step for the franchise.

DENVER – The Nuggets were competing with Portland for the final playoff spot last season, and now they have Paul Millsap, who could help make that goal a reality.

DETROIT – Trading for Avery Bradley and drafting Luke Kennard did address the Pistons’ 3-point shooting issues but will that make this season better than last season?

GOLDEN STATE – If health is not an issue, the Warriors will be the first champs to repeat since the Miami Heat.

HOUSTON – Chris Paul could finally clear that second-round hurdle to the conference finals and James Harden shouldn’t run out of gas helping him get there.

INDIANA – The Pacers gave away Paul George for two, non-impact players, and also a return to the postseason.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – Time on the injured list for Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari along with the departure of Chris Paul could jeopardize the Clippers’ chances of making the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS – The Lake Show becomes the Lonzo Show while the organization wishes it could press fast forward to free agency in July.

MEMPHIS – The Grindfather (Tony Allen) and Zebo (Zach Randolph) are no longer Grizzlies so will the grit-and-grind style of play continue?

MIAMI – Much of the core is back so the Heat should secure the play spot they barely missed last season.

MILWAUKEE – A full season of Jabari Parker, who has a history of knee injures, alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo would be great to see.

MINNESOTA – The new additions don’t really solve the Wolves’ outside-shooting concerns but Jimmy Butler will help them hold on to leads late and end a 13-year playoff drought.

NEW ORLEANS – Will the best interior duo in the league be enough to get the Pelicans into the postseason despite a minimal upgrade in the 3-point shooting department?

NEW YORK – Carmelo Anthony is now a member of the Thunder–let the reconstruction around Kristaps Porzingis officially begin.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook has more than enough help now with Paul George and Carmelo on the roster but will he trust them when it matters most?

ORLANDO – A legit push for a playoff spot by the Magic will restore respect for the franchise, and take some attention away from Elfrid Payton’s bad hair choice.

PHILADELPHIA – A lot of young talent but a history full of injuries. Will this dilemma keep the Sixers from a playoff appearance again in the weaker East?

PHOENIX – The Suns have another young athlete (Josh Jackson) on the team but more youth and athleticism probably won’t increase their win total from a season ago by much.

PORTLAND – The Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum show will continue, and Jusuf Nurkic is healthy and lighter, but can the Blazers push their way past the eighth seed and deeper into the playoffs?

SACRAMENTO – The franchise brought in some veterans who will help the young players deal with a rough NBA season.

SAN ANTONIO – Even though so many rosters have changed around them in the West, the Spurs will still find a way to win almost 60 games or more.

TORONTO – Maybe Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan should save some of their regular-season success for the postseason this time around.

UTAH – Once again, the Jazz will be tough to score against but where will the scoring come from in the final minutes of games? Iso Joe at 36?

WASHINGTON – The starting lineup from last season is still intact and the bench has been upgraded so are the Wizards on the verge to position themselves atop the conference?

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