The new year is already a week in and while nothing monumental has happened yet, the NBA season still has until April — June for two lucky teams — and I feel we can see some things that have never been seen before, or haven’t been seen for a long time.
Without further adieu, here are three of my boldest predictions for the upcoming year.
San Antonio & Golden State Win 70+ Games Each
Golden State, I feel, is almost a lock to win 70 games this year. Steph Curry is playing at an incredibly high level, Draymond Green is on the rise to superstardom, Klay Thompson is in his groove, and the rest of the team understands the role that they possess.
The Warriors’ success is, of course, contingent upon the health of Steph Curry, as they’re 1-1 in the two games without him. Luckily for Golden State, Curry’s durability isn’t something that should worry the Warriors.
San Antonio, on the other hand, has a defense that is approaching all-time great and their offense is so efficient that they just piece opposing defenses apart; currently first in field goal percentage (49%), second in assists per game (25.7) and sixth in points per game (103.5).
That attack has led to the Spurs becoming the first team in league history to win nine of their first 37 games by 25 points.
The Spurs currently boast a DRtg per 100 of 95.79, while no individual has a DRtg higher than 99 and superstar Kawhi Leonard leads the NBA with a DRtg of 92.
The front office & Coach Popovich has done a marvelous job of assembling the team and utilizing them. San Antonio’s roster has so much talent that they’re able to rest Parker, Manu, Duncan, Aldridge, and whoever else and still blow out their opponents.
Russell Westbrook Puts Up Historic Numbers
Even with the return of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook is continuing to put up monster numbers for the Thunder. He’s sixth in the NBA in PPG (25.2), first among guards in RPG (6.8), fourth in APG (9.4), and second in PER (29.6).
A season with scoring (25+), rebound (6+), and assist (9+) numbers like that has only been achieved by one other player in the history of the league, Oscar Robertson. Westbrook would be the second player to do that and would be the first to have a PER greater than 28 with averages like that.
Note: Robertson’s highest PER in a season with those averages was 27.6 in 1963-64.
Lakers Win Lottery, Draft Ben Simmons And Start A Dynasty
Almost always, the team that’s projected to win the lottery never does, and this would be great fortune for the Lakers. As of Friday, Los Angeles possesses a record of 8-29 with a 19.9% chance of landing the first pick; Philadelphia leads with 24.3%.
If the Lakers were able to get those ping pong balls to bounce in their favor, GM Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family would salivate at the thought of adding Ben Simmons to the core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr.
Next season LA is projected to have some one of the biggest cap spaces in the league. With slightly over $26M committed in salary and a salary cap of $89M, the Lakers would have some serious money to go out and sign some veterans to come off the bench and help mentor their young core.
While the dynasty is going to take a year or two to start showing signs, once the young guns reach full potential, the Western conference is going to have a serious shakeup.
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*All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.*
*Photo Credit: Rocky Widner / NBAE / Getty Images.*