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Early NBA Playoff Seeding Predictions Has Jazz As Top-3 Team

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Now that the bulk of free agency is over, the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season is starting to take shape, including early predictions.

CBSSports.com released their way-too-early predictions for the top-eight playoff spots in each conference.

They have the Utah Jazz slotted at No. 3 in the Western Conference after acquiring Mike Conley via trade and signing free agents Bojan Bogdanovic, Jeff Green, Ed Davis and Emmanuel Mudiay.

Here is what CBSSports.com has predicted the playoff seeding for both conferences ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Western Conference

1. Denver Nuggets

This was a little surprising to see them picked to win the west after only making two moves in the off-season. They picked up the team option on former Jazzman Paul Millsap to return for the final season of his current contract. The only other move they made was trading for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jerami Grant. Denver finished with the second best record in the conference last season behind the Warriors. CBSSports.com thinks that the Nuggets will win 58 games after winning 54 games last season.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

The only surprise to this prediction is that they are not the No. 1 team in the west after signing Kawhi Leonard and acquiring Paul George via trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The two paired up with Doc Rivers and elite perimeter defender Patrick Beverley will make the Clippers a title contender and very tough to face in the NBA. They are predicted to win 56 games after finishing as the eighth seed last season and won 48 games. Most betting lines have the Clippers as the favorites to win the championship.

3. Utah Jazz

Here is what CBSSports.com said about the Jazz in their predictions:

Outside of the Lakers and Clippers, the Utah Jazz improved their team more than anyone this offseason (we’re not counting the Nets because we have to wait a year to see Kevin Durant ). Utah is going to be able to play four shooters around Rudy Gobert , which will space the floor much better for Donovan Mitchell to attack. The defense has been elite. Now the offense is, too, with Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic. Utah is a real threat to go over that 55-win prediction.

After winning 50 games in the 2018-19 season, Utah is predicted to win 55 games.

4. Houston Rockets

This is a shocking prediction. After the postseason that the Rockets had last season and the turmoil in the off-season and basically bringing back the same team, the Rockets should be at No. 5. Chris Paul is getting past his prime and James Harden can’t carry the load every year all year long. After winning 53 games last season, the Rockets are predicted to win the same amount of games this season.

5. Los Angeles Lakers

After losing out on Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers have built a nice roster. They acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, while keeping former Ute Kyle Kuzma and with LeBron James coming back healthy. They have also added Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Avery Bradley. The Lakers should be a top-four team in the west. They are predicted to win 51 games after picking up 37 wins last year.

6. Golden State Warriors

It has been a disappointing month for the Warriors. After falling to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals, they lost Kevin Durant in free agency and Klay Thompson for most of next season after a torn ACL injury in the Finals. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are back and they picked up D’Angelo Russell, but the Warriors depth will be tested this season. They are projected to win 50 games this year after winning 57 games last season.

7. Portland Trail Blazers

Having the Trail Blazers this low on the way-too-early predictions is disappointing. They are bringing back both former Weber State star Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and former Jazzman Rodney Hood. They also traded for Kent Bazemore, which is an upgrade at the wing position and Hassan Whiteside will fill the void of Jusuf Nurkic until he returns from a broken leg. Portland won 53 games last year and reached the conference finals, they are predicted to win just 48 games.

8. San Antonio Spurs

As long as Gregg Popovich is the head coach in San Antonio, the Spurs are expected to make the playoffs. They return DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge as well as Dejounte Murray after missing last season to an ACL tear. They signed DeMarre Carroll and re-signed Rudy Gay. The Spurs might lose Marcus Morris with reports saying he might change his mind about signing with San Antonio and joining the New York Knicks.

9. New Orleans Pelicans

They have the Pelicans on the outside looking in of the postseason, which is a big accomplishment to David Griffin and the Pelicans front office if they get to the No. 9 spot one season after trading their star Anthony Davis to the Lakers. New Orleans has had a great off-season with the acquisitions of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and former Jazzman Derrick Favors, joining Jrue Holiday and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

Eastern Conference

CBSSports.com predicted the playoff seeding for the Eastern Conference as well:

1. Philadelphia 76ers – Predicted to win 60 games

2. Milwaukee Bucks – 55 wins

3. Indiana Pacers – 52 wins

4. Boston Celtics – 51 wins

5. Brooklyn Nets – 47 wins

6. Toronto Raptors

7. Miami Heat – 45 wins

8. Orlando Magic – 44 wins

9. Detroit Pistons