Erick’s Hardwood Hypothesis – week one

Who to look out for to go “all the way” this NBA season



The Larry O’Brien Trophy

ERICK AGUILAR, Evergreen reporter

With a new NBA season underway, I couldn’t be more excited, this presents a new opportunity for a new beat. One for me to express my weekly NBA opinions as the season progresses. 

Welcome to Hardwood Hypothesis week one.

I do appreciate the more spread-out  weekly schedule where I can get home after a long day, flick on the TV and know that there will be a game waiting for me. 

With that being said, there are very few matchups that will have peaked my interest and have me actually planning to watch the game. I mean nobody wants to watch a 4:30 p.m. game between the Knicks and Magic on a Monday… yes this is an actual matchup, don’t believe me, check the schedule. 

Let’s skip the formalities and get to the good stuff… the NBA Playoffs. 

The NBA playoffs are the real deal, under the tough competition of the playoffs, the weaker teams are eliminated. The deeper into the playoffs we get, the more formidable the competition.

It is easy for a team to eaze off the gas during the regular season, the playoffs are not the same, it is an unforgiving crucible that will spit you out for the slightest of mistakes. After all, this is the playoffs, every team present deserves to be there. 

I digress. Here are my hot takes on teams to go all the way and darkhorse teams to make a DEEP playoff run, despite last year’s record. 

Champions out of the Eastern Conference

  • Miami Heat 
  • Milwaukee Bucks 

Both the Heat and Bucks have shown themselves as strong enough to make the finals. I believe they are still strong enough to win it, nothing more to it. 

It is no secret the Celtics and the 76ers have phenomenal teams, but I think they both fall short and crack under the pressure. The Hawks are also formidable, but their scoring is too reliant on Trae Young. 

Dark Horses out of the East

  • Chicago Bulls 
  • Cleveland Cavaliers 

Both teams have made eye-catching star player additions to an already great supporting cast, with the respective names of DeMar DeRozan and Donovan Mitchell. For this reason, I think both have what it takes to not only make the playoffs but put together a deep respectable run. 

I was also considering listing the Charlotte Hornets here as well. I think they have the dynamic scoring roster of a winning team, but the roster lacks a veteran presence and an ironclad player in the paint. 

Champions out of the Western Conference

  • Los Angeles Clippers 
  • Golden State Warriors 
  • Phoenix Suns 

The Clippers, if able to stay healthy have the roster to go all the way. The Warriors, well Stephen Curry, need I say more? And the Suns proved that they have what it takes to make it to the finals and they certainly have the roster to win it. 

The Mavericks, Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Grizzlies all suffer from the same problem. Although they have a great team with great culture and strong coaches, they have not been able to get into the finals. The reason being their absence of a number two star alongside their crown jewel scorer. It takes two to tango, simple as that. 

Dark Horse out of the West

  • Minnesota Timberwolves 

The Timberwolves are probably my all-around  favorite dark horse across the league. With a gritty pedigree and a new roster, there’s no secret that this team will be one to watch. The team includes D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Rudy Gobert. This roster is that of a star team, the only reason for the dark horse label is the fact that this is their first year together. 

In all honesty, I really don’t see any other team being a dark horse out of the west.

I look forward to referring back to this column later during this season and potentially adding to or correcting my predictions.