NBA preseason predictions – Our experts’ picks for 2019-20


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The 2019-20 edition of ESPN’s NBA summer forecast is here.

Which will be the best and worst teams this season? Which superstar players will win the major awards? What surprises are on the way?

We polled ESPN’s panel of basketball experts for their predictions heading into the season. Over the next week, we’ll roll out the results right here.

Next up: The most likely NBA Rookie of the Year contenders, along with strengths and weaknesses for the top players.

Plus, vote on the next topic: Who will win NBA MVP?


Who will win NBA Rookie of the Year?

The top-3 voting totals here follow the draft order, with Zion Williamson starting the year as a convincing front-runner ahead of Ja Morant and RJ Barrett.

1. Zion Williamson | New Orleans Pelicans: 143 points (72.7% first-place votes)

2. Ja Morant | Memphis Grizzlies: 88 points (18.2% first-place votes)

3. RJ Barrett | New York Knicks: 53 points (9.1% first-place votes)

4. Darius Garland | Cleveland Cavaliers: 5 points

5. Coby White | Chicago Bulls: 4 points

6. Jarrett Culver | Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 points

7. Michael Porter Jr. | Denver Nuggets: 1 point

MORE: Swing skills for top ROY contenders

Voters were asked for their top three most likely ROY candidates, and we calculated a weighted point total.

Who will win the NBA title?

Heading into 2018-19, the Golden State Warriors received every first-place vote in this category. Now there’s more competition, with the LA Clippers leading the way as the most likely NBA champion.

1. LA Clippers: 117 points (54.5% first-place votes)

2. Milwaukee Bucks: 85 points (36.4% first-place votes)

3. Philadelphia 76ers: 38 points (6.1% first-place votes)

4. Los Angeles Lakers: 29 points

5. Golden State Warriors: 15 points (3.0% first-place votes)

6. Houston Rockets: 11 points

7. Utah Jazz: 3 points

MORE: Biggest question and greatest edge for each title contender

Voters were asked for their top three most likely title teams, and we calculated a weighted point total.

Eastern Conference standings

The Bucks and Sixers are the clear leaders in the East, and they came out with the top projections in either conference.

Will a third team break out as a contender to crash the NBA Finals? And can an up-and-coming team such as the Bulls or Hawks break into the playoff picture?

1. Milwaukee Bucks: 57-25

2. Philadelphia 76ers: 55-27

3. Boston Celtics: 48-34

4. Indiana Pacers: 46-36

5. Brooklyn Nets: 45-37

6. Toronto Raptors: 45-37

7. Miami Heat: 43-39

8. Orlando Magic: 41-41

9. Detroit Pistons: 38-44

10. Atlanta Hawks: 34-48

11. Chicago Bulls: 32-50

12. Washington Wizards: 28-54

13. New York Knicks: 26-56

14. Charlotte Hornets: 23-59

15. Cleveland Cavaliers: 22-60

MORE: 5-on-5: The most overrated and underrated NBA teams

Teams with the same projected record had ties broken before rounding.

Western Conference standings

Continuity wins in the West, as the Nuggets retained their core while adding a nice piece in Jerami Grant, though they held off the Clippers by only a fraction of a win. Then it’s a tight playoff race all the way down to Sacramento at No. 12. Even if teams take time working in new additions, the Western Conference will be loaded.

1. Denver Nuggets: 54-28

2. LA Clippers: 54-28

3. Houston Rockets: 53-29

4. Utah Jazz: 52-30

5. Los Angeles Lakers: 51-31

6. Golden State Warriors: 49-33

7. Portland Trail Blazers: 47-35

8. San Antonio Spurs: 43-39

9. Dallas Mavericks: 41-41

10. New Orleans Pelicans: 40-42

11. Minnesota Timberwolves: 38-44

12. Sacramento Kings: 37-45

13. Oklahoma City Thunder: 33-49

14. Phoenix Suns: 28-54

15. Memphis Grizzlies: 27-55

MORE: Projected records, standings for every NBA team Insider

Teams with the same projected record had ties broken before rounding.

Vote now: Who will win NBA MVP?

Our experts have made their picks. Now it’s your turn to weigh in before the next reveal: Who will win NBA MVP?

Image credits: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images; Ethan Miller/Getty Images; David Zalubowski/AP Photo; Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images; Stacy Revere/Getty Images

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