Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Western Conference Vs. Eastern Conference

Entering 2021/22, Eastern Conference teams had posted a winning record against Western Conference teams just once in 22 seasons since the turn of the century. That happened during the 2008/09 campaign, when the East put up a 231-219 record vs. the West.

However, the East regained the upper hand last season, ever so slightly, finishing with a 226-224 record against Western opponents. Even though no team in the East won more than 53 games, the conference was deeper than the West, with 10 teams registering at least 43 victories. By contrast, only eight teams in the Western Conference won more than 36 games.

The emergence of Eastern teams like the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Hornets played a part in the conference’s relative success in 2021/22, while disappointing regular seasons by the Clippers, Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Pelicans were factors in the West’s slide.

Of course, many of those Western underachievers dealt with major injury issues — with better health from Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Damian Lillard, and Zion Williamson, those teams are poised to improve in 2022/23.

This summer’s trades and free agent moves don’t appear likely to swing the pendulum drastically from one conference to the other. Most of the offseason’s top free agents re-signed with their own teams, while the most impactful players who changed teams via trade generally remained in the same conference, including Rudy Gobert (Utah to Minnesota), Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana to Boston), and Christian Wood (Houston to Dallas). Jalen Brunson‘s move from Dallas to New York was one of the few instances of a noteworthy player changing conferences.

There are still big-name trade candidates whose eventual destinations could have a major impact on the East/West balance. Those deals could ultimately favor the East more than the West — the Knicks are considered Donovan Mitchell‘s top suitor, for instance, while Kevin Durant has been linked most frequently to the Heat, Celtics, and Raptors since the Suns brought back Deandre Ayton.

We want to know how you view the East and West ahead of the 2022/23 season. Will returning stars help the West reclaim its place as the dominant conference next year, or will the continued growth of improving Eastern squads result in back-to-back winning seasons vs. the West?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Poll: Early 2023 Rookie Of The Year Predictions

When Scottie Barnes was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year for the 2021/22 season, it was the 17th time in the last 19 years that a top-six pick won the award.

The only outliers during that time were Michael Carter-Williams, who was the 11th pick in 2013 and beat out an uninspiring crop of rookies that included No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett; and Malcolm Brogdon, a 2016 second-rounder who won the award in a year in which the No. 1 pick (Ben Simmons) sat out with an injury.

Going back even further, only three other players drafted outside the top six since 1975 have earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors: Amar’e Stoudemire (No. 9) in 2003, Damon Stoudamire (No. 7) in 1996, and Mark Jackson (No. 18) in 1988.

In other words, it should come as no real surprise that the major betting favorites to win the award in 2023 are all top-six picks.

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Draft Results]

According to BetOnline.ag, Magic forward Paolo Banchero, this year’s No. 1 pick, is the current frontrunner (+250), which makes sense — Orlando is expected to finish in the lottery again this season and there aren’t many veterans on the depth chart standing in the way of Banchero earning a significant role from day one.

Thunder big man Chet Holmgren (+400) and Kings forward Keegan Murray (+400) are the next-best bets, per BetOnline. Holmgren and Murray were among the top two-way players in the 2022 draft class, which could help their respective Rookie of the Year cases. As Barnes’ win earlier this year showed, voters have become more inclined to weigh a player’s defensive contributions than they once were — it’s not just about which rookie averages the most points per game.

Rockets forward Jabari Smith (+800), Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (+800), and Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin (+1000) round out the top six. After that group, Rockets forward Tari Eason, the No. 17 pick in the draft, has the next-best odds at +2000.

All three of Smith, Ivey, and Mathurin are in position to play major roles on rebuilding clubs, though guards like Ivey and Mathurin sometimes require some time to get their feet under them and learn how to score efficiently at the NBA level — slow starts from Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green last season cost them a chance at Rookie of the Year honors, despite strong finishes.

We want to know what you think. Which player is your early pick for Rookie of the Year in 2022/23? Are you taking a top-six selection, or is there a dark horse you believe can defy the historical odds and take home the award?

Vote in our poll below, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your two cents!

Poll: Where Will Kyrie Irving Start 2022/23 Season?

It appeared early in free agency as if some momentum was building toward a trade that sent Kyrie Irving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, but there has been no indication recently that an agreement between the Lakers and Nets is close.

One report last week said that the vibe coming out of Brooklyn was that the Nets are comfortable entering training camp this fall with Irving and Kevin Durant still on their roster. Another report, citing a source close to Irving, suggested that Kyrie hadn’t asked to be traded since opting in for 2022/23 and has “every intention” of playing in Brooklyn next season.

Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up on Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski didn’t rule out the possibility of Irving being traded to Los Angeles, but the language he used – referring to the talks as “not completely dead” – didn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

Additionally, as NetsDaily relays, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said on the most recent episode of his podcast that Irving seems to be increasingly accepting of the fact that he’s “overwhelmingly likely to be back in Brooklyn.”

The Lakers aren’t the only team that can make a trade for Irving, but they’re the only one that has been seriously and repeatedly linked to him this offseason. Teams like the Mavericks, Sixers, and Heat have been floated as potential suitors, but those scenarios have been shot down pretty quickly by local beat reporters. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype described Irving’s trade market last week as “Lakers or bust.”

If Irving doesn’t want to be in Brooklyn – and multiple reports this month have suggested he’s interested in joining the Lakers – his best strategy may be to report to camp without making any waves, rebuild his value after a lost 2021/22 season, and either hope for a trade at the 2023 deadline or simply sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent next summer.

However, it’s unclear how patient Irving is willing to be. Reporting from several outlets in June indicated that he was seriously exploring other destinations and only opted into his contract with the Nets after it became clear that none of the teams on his wish list were prepared to make him a lucrative, long-term offer in free agency. If the team is able to find a suitable trade for his good friend Durant, Kyrie seems even less likely to happily stick around Brooklyn for another season.

It’s also worth noting that recent reports about the Nets’ willingness to open the season with Durant and Irving on their roster could simply be posturing, with Brooklyn trying to regain leverage in trade discussions. Even if a Kyrie trade isn’t imminent today, we still have over two months until training camps begin — that gives the Nets plenty of time to try to find an offer they like.

With all that in mind, we want to know what you think. Which team will Irving open the 2022/23 season with? Will he remain in Brooklyn or end up elsewhere? And if he’s still a Net this fall, how much longer will that last?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Which Team Will Win NBA Finals?

Four games into the NBA Finals, neither the Warriors nor the Celtics have put their stamp on the series and established themselves as the clear-cut frontrunner to win the 2022 title.

Both teams have won once at home and once on the road. Both have continued to avoid losing streaks of any kind — the Celtics are 7-0 in the postseason following a loss, while the Warriors are 6-0. As Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) observes, the aggregate score of the Finals is 422-421 in favor of Golden State, and the two teams have made an identical number of three-pointers (64).

Oddsmakers like Bovada.lv and BetOnline.ag currently have the Warriors listed as slight favorites, but that’s mostly due to their home court advantage — the Dubs will host Game 5 at the Chase Center on Monday and would do the same in a potential Game 7 on Sunday.

As Lowe writes, given how tight the series has been so far, it’ll likely come down to “execution, toughness, poise, and a little luck.” Robert Williams‘ health will be an X-factor, as his knee continues to be a nagging issue. The Warriors’ ability to find second and third scorers to complement Stephen Curry will also be crucial. Through four games, Curry has 137 points and Klay Thompson – Golden State’s next-best scorer – has 69, Lowe notes.

Several more subplots will play a part in determining this year’s champion. As solid as Jayson Tatum has been in the series, he doesn’t have a signature performance yet, having shot just 34.1% from the field through four games. Does he have a huge game in him? How much can the Warriors expect from Draymond Green, who has been stout defensively but has done next to nothing on offense (4.3 PPG on 23.1% shooting)? Can the Celtics’ role players continue to knock down open catch-and-shoot threes? Will Boston need to adjust its pick-and-roll defense on Curry?

Lowe believes the Celtics are the “better, deeper team on paper,” but the Warriors have home court advantage and have had the best player in the series.

When we polled our readers prior to the start of the series, over 61% of respondents predicted a Warriors victory. If you voted for Golden State in that poll, are you still confident in your pick, or are you now leaning toward the Celtics? If you voted for Boston before the series, are you changing your pick now or sticking with it?

Ahead of Monday’s Game 5, vote in our latest poll below, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Poll: Golden State Warriors Vs. Boston Celtics

The last two teams standing have plenty of history in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics will be seeking to break their tie with the Lakers for the most NBA championships. They’ve both won it 17 times, though Boston hasn’t captured the Larry O’Brien trophy since 2008 and hasn’t reached the Finals since 2010.

The Warriors will be seeking their fourth title in eight years — they won it in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Defense has been the calling card of both teams. They finished first and second in the regular season in defensive field goal percentage — Boston held opponents to 43.4% shooting, while Golden State limited opponents to 43.8% shooting. They are second and third in that category in the postseason behind Milwaukee.

Both teams have versatile players who can guard multiple positions. Boston has the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, Golden State has former DPOY Draymond Green.

Offensively, the Celtics rely on their wings while the Warriors lean on their guards. Boston’s Jayson Tatum (27.0 PPG in this postseason) and Jaylen Brown (22.9 PPG) are capable of taking over games at any time. Of course, Golden State has the Splash Brothers. Stephen Curry (25.9 PPG) and Klay Thompson (19.8 PPG) are just as dangerous as ever and they’ve got plenty of support from 22-year-old Jordan Poole (18.4 PPG).

The Smart-Curry matchup could set the tone for the series. Andrew Wiggins will draw either Tatum or Brown.

The Celtics’ frontcourt of veteran Al Horford and Robert Williams, with a big assist from Grant Williams, will go toe-to-toe with Green and one of the postseason’s biggest surprises, Kevon Looney.

With the home court advantage and championship experience, Golden State enters the Finals as the favorite. However, Boston’s defense and dynamic scoring duo can’t be underestimated.

So now it’s your turn to decide how the Finals will play out. Vote in our poll, then head to the comments section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Which Team Will Win The East?

The Celtics and Heat are tied at 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the games haven’t been as close as the series score suggests. The Celtics’ two wins have come by an average margin of 22.5 points per game, while the Heat used a big third quarter in Game 1 and a big first quarter in Game 3 to build leads they never surrendered.

In addition to being comprised mostly of blowouts, the Eastern Finals have been marred by injuries. Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams have all missed at least one game in the series, while others – including Jimmy Butler – have either left a game early due to an injury or have been affected by various ailments throughout the series.

Still, for all its shortcomings, the series has been a compelling one, and it remains very much up for grabs heading into Wednesday’s Game 5. Miami holds home-court advantage and would host a potential Game 7 if it gets that far, but Boston has looked like the slightly better team through four games, posting a +7.7 net rating.

While the Celtics may have played a little better so far, the Heat’s defense gives them a chance almost every night, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link), who looks at some of the biggest questions that could decide the series.

As Lowe writes, Miami is still trying to solve Boston’s half-court defense, but has had success when forcing turnovers — the Celtics turned the ball over 39 times in their two losses, compared to just 18 times in their two victories.

The Heat have also done well when targeting Payton Pritchard and Derrick White and should rely more on that approach as they try to get Butler and Bam Adebayo going, says Lowe. Butler was just 3-of-14 from the floor in Game 4, while Adebayo scored 31 points in Game 3 but has scored just 25 in the series’ other three games.

Williams’ health will be a key factor going forward for the Celtics, Lowe notes, suggesting that if Boston’s starting center is unavailable, the team should lean on a frontcourt duo of Al Horford/Grant Williams before turning to Daniel Theis.

In the other frontcourt, the Heat are minus-19 in 38 minutes with Dewayne Dedmon on the court, but don’t have many other great options to spell Adebayo. Markieff Morris and Omer Yurtseven have been out of the rotation and P.J. Tucker – who is capable of playing small-ball center – has been dealing with injuries and isn’t at 100%.

With Game 5 less than 12 hours from tipping off, we want to know how you think the rest of the series will play out.

When we conducted our first poll on the Eastern Finals, the overwhelming majority of respondents predicted it would go at least six games, and most were betting on a Celtics victory. If you voted in that poll, has your pick changed, or are you sticking with your initial prediction? Do you see this series going the distance, or do you expect either the Celtics or Heat to win the next two games?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Poll: Golden State Warriors Vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Warriors took down the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, the Grizzlies. Then the Mavericks eliminated the top-seeded Suns with a stunning Game 7 blowout on Phoenix’s home floor.

What’s left on that side of the playoff bracket is an enticing matchup featuring two of the game’s biggest stars, Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic.

Curry and Doncic fought off late-season injuries to lead their respective teams to this point. Golden State, with its championship pedigree, now takes over the role as the favorite to reach the Finals and capture the title. But anyone who watch Dallas’ beatdown of the Suns on Sunday knows that Jason Kidd’s club shouldn’t be underestimated.

Curry is averaging 26.9 PPG and 5.6 APG in the postseason, though his 3-point shooting has been spotty (35.9%). Splash Brother partner Klay Thompson is averaging 20.4 PPG, including a 30-point outburst in the clincher against Memphis. Jordan Poole‘s breakout season has seeped into the playoffs (19.3 PPG, 4.8 APG).

Andrew Wiggins has added solid production and Draymond Green has been Golden State’s biggest play-maker (6.6 APG) while anchoring the defense, as usual. Kevon Looney delivered a huge 22-rebound, five-assist outing in Game 6 of the conference semifinals. Gary Payton and Andre Iguodala may not be able to go in the series, so Otto Porter Jr., Jonathan Kuminga and Damion Lee will need to deliver quality minutes.

The Mavericks are generating their offense from smaller lineups. Doncic (31.5 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 6.6 APG) solidified his superstar status by putting his team on his back and vanquishing the Suns. Soon-to-be free agent Jalen Brunson (22.9 PPG) has pumped up his price tag and midseason acquisition Spencer Dinwiddie (13.2 PPG) has resurrected his career with Dallas.

Forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock have been defensive stalwarts, while Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber have divvied up the minutes in the middle. Davis Bertans could be an X-factor off the bench.

The chess match between Kidd and Steve Kerr will be fascinating. Dallas will want to slow things down, while Golden State will look to get out in transition. There will be plenty of switching and defensive wrinkles drawn up in an effort to neutralize each other high-scoring backcourts.

So now it’s your turn to weigh in:

Poll: Boston Celtics Vs. Miami Heat

The Celtics defeated the Bucks in their second-round series on Sunday, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in the last six seasons. They’ll play the Heat, who’ve made the conference finals in six of their last 12 seasons.

Boston and Miami have recent postseason history. The teams have met twice in the playoffs over the last decade, both times in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Heat winning in 2012 and 2020. Both are regarded as strong defensive teams, and either franchise could easily win the championship this season.

Boston had home court advantage against the Bucks, but will start on the road against Miami. The Celtics made an NBA record 22 three-pointers in Game 7 on Sunday, receiving strong contributions from Grant Williams (27 points), Jayson Tatum (23 points) and Jaylen Brown (18 points).

Miami is coming off a series win against Philadelphia. The team caused issues for Trae Young in round one, then proceeded to hold the Sixers to an average of 96 points in the second round. The Heat have been led by Jimmy Butler on both ends — he’s averaging 28.7 points and 2.1 steals per game in the playoffs.

Both Boston and Miami are dealing with injuries to starting players. Celtics center Robert Williams III (left knee soreness) was active for Game 7, but he didn’t see any action. Heat guard Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, is still battling a hamstring injury.

The Celtics will likely continue deploying their switch-heavy defense, while the Heat may wait to see who Boston starts before finalizing matchups. The team could assign Butler and Tucker to Brown and Tatum, for example, but would have to live with Max Strus defending one of Boston’s big men. The Celtics could assign Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart to Butler.

Which team do you think will win this series? Will the Heat advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three seasons, or will the Celtics return to the Finals and compete for an 18th title? Vote in our poll, then take to the comments section below to share your predictions!

Poll: Phoenix Suns Vs. Dallas Mavericks Game 7

The Celtics and Grizzlies will be looking to pick up wins on Friday night in the hopes of sending their respective Conference Semifinals to a seventh and deciding game. But as we await the outcomes of those games, we can already look forward to one Game 7 — the Mavericks‘ home victory over the Suns on Thursday assured that the two teams will play a win-or-go-home contest in Phoenix on Sunday.

It has been an unusual series so far, with none of the first six games decided by fewer than seven points. The Suns have won their three home games by an average margin of 19 points per game, but have lost their three road games by more than 15 points per contest. Those home/road splits bode well for the NBA-best Suns, who earned home court advantage with their 64-18 regular season record and will host Game 7.

Still, they’ll be coming off their worst performance of the series, a 29-point blowout loss in Game 6. In Thursday’s Mavs victory, Luka Doncic reinforced his claim as the best player in this series, putting up 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals while the Suns’ All-Star guards – Devin Booker and Chris Paul – combined for eight turnovers and just seven assists.

As Tim MacMahon of ESPN relays, it was the second game this series in which Paul recorded more turnovers than assists in a game, marking the first time in his career that he has done that more than once in a single postseason.

Suns head coach Monty Williams said after Thursday’s loss that his team didn’t match Dallas’ level of desperation. Starting center Deandre Ayton said Phoenix will have to adjust its intensity level for Game 7.

“It’s got to be a together thing where everybody is on the same page,” Ayton said. “And it wasn’t like that (on Thursday). There were a lot of mistakes. It felt like a regular season game, the amount of mistakes we had today. The turnovers, terrible, unacceptable. It was that type of game where it was just unacceptable, man. Them dudes, they wanted it more.”

The Suns are currently six-point favorites in Game 7, per BetOnline.ag, but if Doncic has another huge game and Booker and Paul aren’t at their best, there’s not a ton of room for error. The Mavs were one of the NBA’s best teams down the stretch – they had a better record than the Suns during the final two months of the regular season – and have shown by forcing a Game 7 that they won’t roll over easily.

What do you think? Will the Suns hang on and advance to the Western Finals for a second consecutive year, or will the Mavs pull off the upset?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your predictions.

Poll: Who Will Win Game 4 Of Bucks Vs. Celtics?

In our poll before the No. 2 seed Celtics faced the No. 3 seed Bucks in the East’s second round, 62.87% of our respondents predicted Boston to emerge victorious in the series.

Through three games, Milwaukee holds a 2-1 lead in a hotly contested matchup. The first two games were both fairly lopsided, with the Bucks putting on a defensive clinic in Game 1’s 101-89 win, followed by the Celtics making key adjustments in a blowout 109-86 victory in Game 2, holding Milwaukee to just 3-of-18 on three-pointers.

Game 3 had some controversy, as both sides were unhappy with the officiating. The Bucks ultimately emerged victorious by a score of 103-101 after the Celtics missed three put-back attempts in the closing seconds.

Reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the best player in the series to this point, averaging 31.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and 1.7 blocks in 38.1 minutes per contest, although he’s struggled with shooting percentages (.439/.167/.625). In the absence of Khris Middleton, who will miss at least Game 4 (and possibly the rest of the series), Antetokounmpo is carrying a heavy load and will have to continue to play at an extremely high level to triumph over Boston’s top-ranked defense.

For the Celtics, Jaylen Brown (23 points, 9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals on .489/.417/.867 shooting) and Al Horford (15 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks on .459/.429/1.000 shooting) have both been fantastic. However, the team needs more from star Jayson Tatum, who shot just 6-of-18 from the field in Game 1 and 4-of-19 in Game 3, sporting an overall slash line of 20 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2 steals and 1.7 blocks on .351/.360/.688 shooting.

Wesley Matthews has done a great job shadowing Tatum and making him uncomfortable, but Tatum is 11 years younger (24 vs. 35) and four inches taller (6’8″ vs. 6’4″) than Matthews, so he should still be able to get his shot off. Of course, if he drives to the paint, Antetokounmpo and/or Brook Lopez will be waiting for him, so that makes things more complicated.

Who will Monday’s crucial Game 4? Will it be another nail-biter? We want to know what you think. Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on Celtics/Bucks!