Predicting the next NBA champion and major award winners
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Heading into the 2019-20 regular season, theScore's NBA staff predicts who's taking home the individual hardware at the end of the year and who's hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Western Conference finals

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Editor West champ West finalist
Casciaro Lakers Clippers
Chick Clippers Lakers
Nacion Jazz Clippers
Potter Clippers Nuggets
Soveta Clippers Rockets
Weinstein Clippers Lakers
Wolfond Clippers Lakers

One thing is very clear: We're big believers in the Los Angeles Clippers' transformative offseason. All seven voters picked Doc Rivers' new-look team to at least make the conference final in Year 1. - Potter

Eastern Conference finals

Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Editor East champ East finalist
Casciaro 76ers Bucks
Chick 76ers Bucks
Nacion 76ers Bucks
Potter 76ers Bucks
Soveta Bucks 76ers
Weinstein Bucks 76ers
Wolfond Bucks 76ers

The East is looking like a two-team race. Last spring, the Toronto Raptors ended both the Philadelphia 76ers' and Milwaukee Bucks' seasons. With Kawhi Leonard joining the Clippers, no one is counting on the Raptors to defend their conference crown. - Potter

Finals

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Editor Champion Finalist
Casciaro Lakers 76ers
Chick Clippers 76ers
Nacion 76ers Jazz
Potter 76ers Clippers
Soveta Clippers Bucks
Weinstein Clippers Bucks
Wolfond Clippers Bucks

There are no major surprises here, as the Clippers hype train is expected to roll all the way to the 2020 title. Despite everyone projecting the Bucks to at least make the Eastern finals, no one believes they'll actually win the championship. - Potter

15th seed

Joe Murphy / National Basketball Association / Getty
Editor West East
Casciaro Grizzlies Hornets
Chick Grizzlies Hornets
Nacion Suns Hornets
Potter Grizzlies Hornets
Soveta Grizzlies Cavaliers
Weinstein Suns Hornets
Wolfond Grizzlies Cavaliers

The Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets are expected to finish with the worst record in their respective conferences after both teams moved on from franchise point guards this summer. Perhaps surprisingly, no one picked the New York Knicks to finish last in the East after they posted an NBA-worst 17-65 record last season. - Potter

Rookie of the Year

Layne Murdoch Jr. / National Basketball Association / Getty
Editor Pick
Casciaro Zion Williamson
Chick Ja Morant
Nacion Zion Williamson
Potter Ja Morant
Soveta Zion Williamson
Weinstein Ja Morant
Wolfond Zion Williamson

As tight a two-horse race as it gets. Team Zion is understandably high on the New Orleans Pelicans rookie, though Morant will be given the keys to the Memphis Grizzlies and the freedom that goes with it. - Soveta

Coach of the Year

Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Editor Pick
Casciaro Mike Malone
Chick Quin Snyder
Nacion Quin Snyder
Potter Mike Malone
Soveta Alvin Gentry
Weinstein Erik Spoelstra
Wolfond Mike Malone

The Denver Nuggets boast the quality to disrupt the heavyweights in the West, giving their bench boss, Mike Malone, the edge over his Utah Jazz counterpart, Quin Snyder. - Soveta

Executive of the Year

Adam Pantozzi / National Basketball Association / Getty
Editor Pick
Casciaro Lawrence Frank
Chick Lawrence Frank
Nacion Lawrence Frank
Potter Lawrence Frank
Soveta Lawrence Frank
Weinstein Lawrence Frank
Wolfond Lawrence Frank

It's a unanimous selection for the Clippers president of basketball operations, who engineered the blockbuster trade for Paul George out of nothing in order to also land Leonard. - Soveta

Most Improved Player

Fernando Medina / National Basketball Association / Getty
Editor Pick
Casciaro Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Chick Jayson Tatum
Nacion Anfernee Simons
Potter Markelle Fultz
Soveta Malcolm Brogdon
Weinstein Lonzo Ball
Wolfond Bam Adebayo

No one is in agreement about who will make the biggest leap this season. What the majority of voters do agree on is that the winner will be competing for a new team in 2019-20. - Soveta

Defensive Player of the Year

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty
Editor Pick
Casciaro Joel Embiid
Chick Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nacion Giannis Antetokounmpo
Potter Draymond Green
Soveta Anthony Davis
Weinstein Joel Embiid
Wolfond Giannis Antetokounmpo

No one showed any love to two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. Nearly half of our voters did tab Antetokounmpo, last year's runner-up, to take home the hardware. - Potter

Sixth Man of the Year

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty
Editor Pick
Casciaro Fred VanVleet
Chick Lou Williams
Nacion Spencer Dinwiddie
Potter Fred VanVleet
Soveta Fred VanVleet
Weinstein Montrezl Harrell
Wolfond Joe Ingles

To be eligible for this honor, a player must come off the bench for at least half of his appearances, making this a tough one to project. In any case, 14 of the past 15 winners have been guards, so that's probably a safe bet yet again. VanVleet is the only player to be selected by multiple voters. - Potter

Most Valuable Player

Gary Dineen / National Basketball Association / Getty
Editor Pick
Casciaro LeBron James
Chick Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nacion Joel Embiid
Potter Giannis Antetokounmpo
Soveta Anthony Davis
Weinstein Anthony Davis
Wolfond Giannis Antetokounmpo

Three tabbed the Greek Freak to go back-to-back. That isn't a particularly uncommon feat, having been achieved five times this century: Tim Duncan (2001-03), Steve Nash (2004-06), LeBron James twice (2008-10, 2011-13), and Stephen Curry (2014-16). With no second star to split his votes, Antetokounmpo will certainly be in the mix if the Bucks continue to be among the league's best teams. - Potter

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Predicting the next NBA champion and major award winners
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