The NBA is back, and The Circuit predicts everything from the Finals matchup, to the MVP to most confusing player and more! How will your
team do this year? Who will win the major awards? Find all that out here!
Wemby has arrived! Dame finally left! And Harden is… somewhere? Nowhere? Everywhere? Who knows! But I do know this; the 2023-24 NBA season is going to be awesome. From over/unders, to awards predictions to who will win it all, we’ve got you covered for the upcoming hoops season!
Without further ado, let’s dive into how I think each team will finish, as well as predicting how each team will do vs. their over/under win total (because I love to gamble). *I went 23-7 in over/unders during the 2021-22 season, and 17-13 last season, so if you bet on all my picks, you’re going to win some serious cash. Just saying.
1- Boston Celtics (O/U 54.5=OVER)
2- New York Knicks (O/U 45.5=OVER)
3- Philadelphia 76ers (O/U 48.5=UNDER)
4- Brooklyn Nets (O/U 37.5=OVER)
5- Toronto Raptors (O/U 36.5=UNDER)
I love this Celtics team. If Tatum really is that guy, then this is the year he’s going to make the leap. They’ll easily have the best defense in the league, and Mazzulla will be better (he can’t be worse). OVER!
The Knickerbockers have a lot of good will right now, which is alarming for that franchise. But I love the Villanova reunion they have going on, and the East is weaker this year, so OVER!
Jesus, what is going on in Philly!? This team has dumpster fire written all over it. I don’t think they’ll be terrible, but it’s hard to justify this team winning 48+. UNDER!
The Nets are quite puzzling. They seem destined for mediocrity this season, and I see them right around 38-39 wins. OVER!
Fuck the Raptors. I was all-in on them last season and they fell so short of their over/under, I’m not falling for it again! Anunoby and Barnes are the two most overrated players in the NBA, and I’m just out on this team. UNDER!
1- Milwaukee Bucks (O/U 54.5=OVER)
2- Cleveland Cavaliers (O/U 50.5=UNDER)
3- Indiana Pacers (O/U 38.5=OVER)
4- Chicago Bulls (O/U 37.5=UNDER)
5- Detroit Pistons (O/U 28.5=UNDER)
What the Bucks are losing on defense will be more than made up for on the offensive end. The Dame-Giannis pick-and-roll will be the most devastating play in the sport (whichever way they run it), and these awesome teams that go with a new coach tend to work out well (Warriors & Kerr, Cavaliers & Lue, Raptors & Nurse, etc…). OVER!
Cleveland feels like a team that should be on the ascent, buuuuut that playoff series was damning. And not to mention, I think the Donovan Mitchell situation will loom over this team. UNDER!
The Pacers are going to be one of the most fun teams to watch in the league this year, and the sky's the limit if Haliburton can make a huge leap. OVER!
Oh, the Bulls. Not much to say here. UNDER!
Someday, the Pistons will be good again. But that day is not today. UNDER!
1- Atlanta Hawks (O/U 42.5=OVER)
2- Miami Heat (O/U 45.5=UNDER)
3- Orlando Magic (O/U 37.5=OVER)
4- Charlotte Hornets (O/U 30.5=OVER)
5- Washington Wizards (O/U 24.5=OVER)
I have no clue why I’m high on this Hawks team, but I am! This is clearly a two-team division, and I just like their regular-season ceiling slightly more than the other team. OVER!
I don’t care how many Finals this team makes, I’m still not going over! They lost two starters from their run in the playoffs, and last year I was rewarded for going under with them. UNDER!
The arrow for the Magic is pointing straight up. While they aren’t ready to contend this season, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect them to sneak into the playoffs. Also, look out for this team to be a dark horse for Embiid if he asks out; a lot of young players and plenty of draft capitol. OVER!
When I tell you that I collapsed in disappointment when the Hornets card came up at #2 on Lottery night, I’m not exaggerating. I think a full season of Melo can help push this team to 31 wins. Still not good, but not as bad as last year. OVER!
25 wins is not very many, and there aren’t that many teams that fail to hit that threshold. I think Poole and Kuzma will score enough to fall backwards into 25 wins. OVER!
1- Los Angeles Lakers (O/U 47.5=OVER)
2- Golden State Warriors (O/U 48.5=OVER)
3- Phoenix Suns (O/U 51.5=UNDER)
4- Los Angeles Clippers (O/U 46.5=UNDER)
5- Sacramento Kings (O/U 44.5=UNDER)
To all those that poo-pood the Lakers last year, how you feeling now? Once we got rid of those parasites Patrick Beverly and Russell Westbrook, we had the best defense in the league and got to the West Finals. With a roster that makes sense, a reinvigorated Anthony Davis and star-in-the-making Austin Reaves, look for the Lakers to have a great season. OVER!
I won’t quit the Warriors until Steph, Klay and Draymond are all retired. As long as they’re all there, they’ll be good. OVER!
I do actually think the Suns could be good, but 52 wins is a lot for a team that has some serious injury and depth questions. Other than Kawhi, Durant might be the least dependable star in the league, and their center position could be a problem. UNDER!
Clippers; give me a break. UNDER!
The Kings were a really cute story last year, but I don’t see them ascending the Western throne in 2024. UNDER!
1- Dallas Mavericks (O/U 45.5=OVER)
2- Memphis Grizzlies (O/U 45.5=UNDER)
3- New Orleans Pelicans (O/U 44.5=UNDER)
4- Houston Rockets (O/U 31.5=UNDER)
5- San Antonio Spurs (O/U 28.5=UNDER)
This division is full of silly teams. Silly team #1: Dallas. I do not feel good about this pick at all, but someone has to go over, right? This is purely a Luka pick and nothing more. OVER!
Silly team #2: Memphis. Ja is out 25 games, Marcus Smart is steering the ship, and the conference has gotten deeper. UNDER!
Silly team #3: New Orleans. Does Zion ever want to actually play? Doesn’t seem like it to me. Between that and Ingram’s terrible summer with Team USA, this team feels doomed. UNDER!
Silly team #4: Houston. Dillon Brooks? Really??? As if this team didn’t have enough issues. UNDER!
Only non-silly team: San Antonio. The Spurs are far from silly, they just don’t have much talent other than the big fella (plus I will forever root against the Spurs for taking him from my Hornets). UNDER!
1- Denver Nuggets (O/U 52.5=OVER)
2- Minnesota Wolves (O/U 44.5=OVER)
3- Oklahoma City Thunder (O/U 44.5=OVER)
4- Utah Jazz (O/U 35.5=UNDER)
5- Portland Blazers (O/U 28.5=UNDER)
Denver impressed the hell out of me in the playoffs. A full season of a healthy Murray should be enough to boost this team to 53 wins. OVER!
Minnesota is another team I just refuse to give up on. I see Edwards making the leap into superstardom this season. OVER!
Does any team have a higher Q rating than the Thunder? SGA, Chet and Williams #1 should be enough to boost this team into the mid-40’s. OVER!
I have a hard time imagining the Jazz jumping out to as strong of a start as last season, and if they don’t it’s hard to believe they’ll hit 36 wins. UNDER!
While the Blazers offense could actually be decent, this will easily be the worst defensive team in the league. That’s typically not a great recipe for success. UNDER!
Now let’s take a look and see who I have winning the major (and novelty) awards!
Regular Season Awards
MVP: Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Like I mentioned in the over/unders, if it’s going to happen for Tatum it’s going to be this season. He’s got a great team that should be near the top in wins, and it’s officially his team now that Smart is gone. Give me Tatum for MVP!
DPoY: Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
I know, I know. “There’s no way he’ll stay healthy enough to qualify for the award, forget winning it”. If that’s your argument, I don’t really have a counter. But I’m banking on that spectacular postseason run parlaying into a season of (relative) health and prosperity for Davis.
CoY: Michael Malone (Denver Nuggets)
I refuse to give this award to Mazzulla, and despite Malone’s bet efforts to tarnish the legacy of the man who lobbied for him to get hired in Denver in the first place (LeBron), Malone has earned this distinction.
RoY: Victor Wembanyama (San Antonio Spurs)
This was actually much tougher to predict than I expected. I think Scoot will put up some pretty big numbers and Chet is going to have a massive impact on a really good team. The biggest risk with this pick is will Wemby hit the 65-game threshold to qualify? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs sit him out a lot, but I’m holding out hope.
6MoY: Malik Monk (Sacramento Kings)
I’ve been pretty dismissive of the Kings the last couple seasons, so I’ll give them some love! I see Monk coming off the bench and lighting up second units for the Kings.
Stan Van Gundy Coaching Award (Worst coaching job)
JB Bickerstaff (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Couple other worthy candidates here: Steve Clifford, who I picked last year, will likely continue to underwhelm as the Hornets coach. And Joe Mazzulla is the worst coach in the league, but they have too much talent and will win too many games for him to get this award. The Cavs will be one of the more underwhelming teams in the league, so Bickerstaff takes it.
Allen Iverson Award (Most exciting player to watch)
Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves)
On the way to propelling himself into the All-NBA conversation, Edwards is going to collect souls at the rim like they’re infinity stones and he’s Thanos.
Rasheed Wallace Award (Most impactful trade)
Kyrie Irving to the Los Angeles Lakers
It feels inevitable, doesn’t it? D’Angelo Russell has the perfect contract to trade, the Lakers still have a 1st round pick left, plus some intriguing youngsters to throw in. If the Mavs start slow, don’t be surprised if Kyrie finds himself back with the only player that has ever kept him in check; LeBron.
Jeremy Lin Award (Hottest 2-week stretch from a random player)
Cam Reddish (Los Angeles Lakers)
This award is admittedly a crapshoot. I was high on Reddish at Duke, and I believe he’s going to have a moment in this league.
All-NBA First Team:
G- Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
G- Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
F- Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
F- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
C- Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
All-NBA Second Team:
G- Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)
G- Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
F- Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves)
F- Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)
C- Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
All-NBA Third Team:
G- Damian Lillard (Milwaukee Bucks)
G- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)
F- Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
F- Paolo Banchero (Orlando Magic)
C- Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
1- Boston Celtics
2- Milwaukee Bucks
3- New York Knicks
4- Philadelphia 76ers
5- Atlanta Hawks
6- Miami Heat
7- Cleveland Cavaliers
8- Brooklyn Nets
9- Orlando Magic
10- Indiana Pacers
11- Chicago Bulls
12- Toronto Raptors
13- Charlotte Hornets
14- Washington Wizards
15- Detroit Pistons
1- Denver Nuggets
2- Los Angeles Lakers
3- Golden State Warriors
4- Phoenix Suns
5- Minnesota Wolves
6- Oklahoma City Thunder
7- Los Angeles Clippers
8- Dallas Mavericks
9- Sacramento Kings
10- Memphis Grizzlies
11- New Orleans Pelicans
12- Houston Rockets
13- Utah Jazz
14- Portland Blazers
15- San Antonio Spurs
7 Cleveland Cavaliers def 8 Brooklyn Nets
9 Orlando Magic def 10 Indiana Pacers
9 Orlando Magic def 8 Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn just won’t have the size or the firepower to compete with the Cavs in Cleveland. Bridges is a great #3, a decent #2, but an uninspiring #1.
Two of the youngest, most exciting teams going at it in an elimination game? Sign me up! Paolo will be able to dictate the game on his terms, so give me the magic.
This may be a bit premature, but I just really like this Orlando team. I don’t think it’s too soon to expect them to make the playoffs, and this will be a great stepping stone into true contention 2-3 years down the road.
7 Los Angeles Clippers def 8 Dallas Mavericks
9 Sacramento Kings def 10 Memphis Grizzlies
8 Dallas Mavericks def 9 Sacramento Kings
As much as the Clippers make me want to stop watching basketball, I do think that if they’re healthy they will beat the Mavericks.
The Grizzlies, as noted earlier, are a silly team and I do not trust them. The Kings with that raucous home crowd will get the win. LIGHT THE DAMN BEAM!!!
Unfortunately the beam-lighting only lasts one game, because Luka will vanquish the mighty and noble Kings.
East 1st Round:
1 Boston Celtics def 9 Orlando Magic 4-0
2 Milwaukee Bucks def 7 Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1
3 New York Knicks def 6 Miami Heat 4-3
5 Atlanta Hawks def 4 Philadelphia 76ers 4-2
Lots of positives to take away from getting into the playoffs, but unfortunately the Magic just won’t have enough to compete with the Celtics.
In Mitchell’s last game as a Cav, Cleveland will go out with a whimper against the Bucks in a gentleman’s sweep.
Knicks-Heat will be a great series, so give me the team with home court. I respect Butler, but at some point this run will end.
Upset! I told you I like this Hawks team. The 76ers have a lot of issues, and I don’t see them being able to solve them in time to beat Atlanta.
West 1st Round:
1 Denver Nuggets def 8 Dallas Mavericks 4-1
2 Los Angeles Lakers def 7 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3
3 Golden State Warriors def 6 Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2
5 Minnesota Wolves def 4 Phoenix Suns 4-2
Luka is too good to get swept, but this series will never be in doubt. Nuggets roll easily into the second round.
Finally! The battle of LA! Spotlights vs. Streetlights! The Russ bowl! Whatever you want to call it, the Lakers will once and for all answer any questions about who owns the Crypt (despite LeBron and AD having won 6 playoff series, including a title, compared to Kawhi and PG with 3).
This will be the most fun series of the first round. The reigning dynasty fighting for one final title, vs. the upstart Thunder looking to take their first steps towards a championship. Ultimately experience wins out, but the Thunder are coming.
The size of the Wolves will just be too much for the extremely thin Suns to handle. Edwards has a chance to be the best player in the series, which is enough to pick the Wolves.
East 2nd Round:
1 Boston Celtics def 5 Atlanta Hawks 4-3
2 Milwaukee Bucks def 3 New York Knicks 4-1
Just like last year, the Hawks will play the Celtics tough but in the end Boston has too much talent to fall short here.
The Bucks will roll the Knicks and continue their rampage towards another title.
West 2nd Round:
1 Denver Nuggets def 5 Minnesota Wolves 4-1
2 Los Angeles Lakers def 3 Golden State Warriors 4-3
Nuggets-Wolves is going to go pretty much exactly the way it did last year; Minnesota shows flashes of being able to compete, but in the end Jokic is too much for them to handle.
And in another rematch, Lakers-Warriors will also go almost exactly like last year; Golden State will have 1 or 2 games where they are unstoppable from 3, but in the end they won’t have any answer for Davis.
Eastern Conference Finals:
2 Milwaukee Bucks def 1 Boston Celtics 4-2
These are quite clearly the two best teams in the East, so it’s only fitting they meet in the Conference Finals. Not even the best defense in the league will be able to stop the Dame-Giannis (or Giannis-Dame) pick-and-roll, and I’m banking on the Bucks having the better coach. Maybe next year, Boston!
Western Conference Finals:
1 Denver Nuggets def 3 Los Angeles Lakers 4-3
Same result, but much different journey. While the Lakers unquestionably played the Nuggets the toughest of any team in the playoffs last year, they were atrocious at closing games. With Kyrie in the mix, I expect a couple of those coin-flip games to go in favor of the purple and gold. Not to mention, it’s unrealistic to expect Murray to play as well as he did last year (his numbers in that series were Jordan-level). But in the end, I have to go with Jokic and the Nuggets.
2 Milwaukee Bucks def 1 Denver Nuggets 4-2
(Finals MVP: Damian Lillard)
Last year, an average defense didn’t cost the Nuggets. This year it will. We’ve seen time and time again that a good team who gets a rookie head coach tends to be very successful, and I just see Dame going nuts on the biggest stage.
There you have it! The complete and comprehensive guide to everything you can expect to see for the 2023-24 NBA season. Make sure to check back in regularly at The Circuit to see what we got right, and more importantly, what we got very very wrong.