When last we saw the NBA, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors were hoisting the Larry O’Brien NBA trophy and King James and his Cleveland Cavaliers were once again the bridesmaids.
A lot has happened in the NBA since that time, including the San Antonio Spurs reloading to get Tim Duncan one more ring, the Cavs for some reason resigning Kevin Love who does not fit in that offense at all, the Los Angeles Lakers striking out on major free agents again and Derrick Rose getting injured. It almost seems like a repeat of the last off-season.
But with tip-off of season just over a week away, it is time for some bold predictions. Anybody can predict the Spurs will win the title, or that the 76ers will end up in the draft lottery. No, these are the kind of predictions that someone (namely me) has to go out on a limb for. But no matter how far out there I may go, I am still pretty damn sure all of these are going to come true.
So without any further fanfare, here are 10 bold predictions for the upcoming season:
1) The Cavaliers and King James will be at best the No. 3 seed in the East, and will not even make the Eastern Conference Finals. Yes the East is a lot weaker than the West, but not even James can will this team to the Promised Land. Kyrie Irving is too injury prone now, Kevin Love is a horrible fit in this offense and there is nobody else on this team worth a damn. Their failure to resign Tristan Thompson will come back to bite them in the butt. Las Vegas may have installed them as 2-1 favorites to win it all, but I say if you bet them, you are throwing your money away.
2) With just Damian Lillard and a bunch of scrubs, the Portland Trailblazers will finish with the worst record in the NBA, and the Rose Garden, which used to be one of the toughest places to play in the league; will be a spot where teams desperate for a win will be thrilled to go this year.
3) The biggest under-the-radar move still left over from last year’s trade deadline will be the Thunder’s acquisition of Enes Kanter. He will give the Thunder what they had when they first acquired Kendrick Perkins, only with an offensive game as well. Kanter will fit in so well with the Thunder, that teamed with Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder will be the #1 seed in the West, not the Spurs or Warriors.
4) Anthony Davis of the Hornets will be the NBA MVP this season and will officially have the Pelicans designated as the team, nobody wants to face in the playoffs. They will make a deep run, probably to the Western Conference Finals, only to fall short of their ultimate goal.
5) Lakers rookie (only because he didn’t even play 1 full game last year), Julius Randle will be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. He will dominate the competition, and it will be Randle not first round pick D’Angelo Russell that will be the building block of the future for this Lakers team.
6) The Timberwolves and Lakers will both make the playoffs this year, while the Blazers and Dallas Mavericks will be the two teams that made it last season that will not make it back. While it will be expected that Portland misses the post-season, Dallas’ inability to land a marquee free agent will cost them dearly as Mark Cuban’s boys will end up as the 9th or 10th seed. They will still have a better record than the 7th seed in the East and Cuban will demand some sort of radical change be made to the playoff system.
7) Kobe Bryant will play in at least 70 games this season and average more than 18 points per. While not quite where he was in his heyday, it will be appropriate for what this Lakers team needs, as he allows others to flourish as well. The Lakers will be a dangerous team come post-season time, but will also ultimately bow out of the post-season, probably in the second round.
8) The Pacers will once again miss the post-season because of the loss of David West and Roy Hibbert, plus the move of Paul George to the Power Forward spot will backfire and George will have the worst year of his career numbers wise. Monta Ellis will prove to be a good addition offensively, but this team will not be able to play the tenacious defense that they want.
9) Speaking of defense, the Chicago Bulls will also be a lot worse this season, but not because of an injury to a player or even how good or bad a player is. They will rue the day they let Tom Thibodeau go this off-season, and it will become obvious to the entire league that he is a great head coach and he will be hired to be a head coach before the end of the season.
10) Finally, the Western Conference Finals will feature the Los Angeles Clippers defeating the New Orleans Pelicans while in the East it will be the Washington Wizards beating the Milwaukee Bucks. The Los Angeles Clippers will hoist their first banner ever and there will be a parade in the streets of Los Angeles come June, only this time the Purple and Gold we are so used to seeing will be replaced with the Red, White and Blue of the Clippers.
Just in case you were wondering, the Spurs and Warriors will both lose in the semi-finals, and the Thunder will get a horrible match-up and get eliminated early as well.
There you have it folks, 10 very bold predictions for the up-coming NBA season. Do I expect to go 10-for-10 on these? No, probably not, but I would like to think I can get at least 70% right. Check back in next June to find out just how outlandish this turned out to be.