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Check out the Eastern Conference Over/Unders and Previews here.
Golden State Warriors
Prediction: OVER (70-12)
I broke down everything that could go wrong with the Warriors this season. You can read that here. In regards to the total, don’t overthink it. This team could walk backwards into 70 wins. Just take it.
Los Angeles Clippers
Prediction: OVER (59-23)
I didn’t think I’d ever want the Clippers to figure it out, but now we need them to. We need to embrace this team with all our hearts, because they’re the only chance we have to see Golden State get challenged before the Finals. Is this the year Chris and Blake figure it out together? Does Chris have one last MVP-esque season in him? Can Blake become the superstar we’ve always wanted him to be? Can DeAndre hit his free throws? Can they find a permanent small forward? Can they raise their defensive intensity to play with Golden State? Can they stop whining about every single call that’s ever gone against them?
I’m all in on the idea of one last Clippers run. Will the beat the Warriors? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean they can’t push 60 wins and establish themselves as the number two seed in the West. I’m optimistic, and not just because I’m forcing myself to be. I honestly believe Blake will have a monster season. I honestly believe Chris will step into a secondary role and allow Blake to flourish. And I’m hoping, above all else, that they’re mature and composed enough to give the Warriors a legitimate scare before the Finals.
Prediction: UNDER (30-52)
It’s almost impossible to be as stupid as the Sacramento Kings. #FreeBoogie
Prediction: UNDER (29-53)
Phoenix is a weird organization man. I don’t even know what they’re trying to be. They have an extremely young centerpiece in Devin Booker and two extremely raw potential talents in Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. They have a handful of well respected yet over the hill veterans in Chandler, Dudley, and Barbosa. And in the middle there’s a pair of in-their-prime-yet-always-injured guards in Bledsoe and Knight. Like… what is that team? Where are you going with that team? I’m all for the idea of surrounding your rookies with vets to learn from. But why not just move Bledsoe and/or Knight and go into full tank mode? I’m honestly tempted to say Push on 30 wins just because, but I’ll lean under knowing that half their team will end up getting hurt by January.
Los Angeles Lakers
Prediction: OVER (28-54)
I can’t believe I’m saying this right now… but I sneaky love this Lakers team. Now that they’re free of both the Kobe retirement tour and Byron “I don’t believe in three pointers” Scott we’ll finally get the chance to see these young guys flourish. D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram are going to be stars in this league, and watching them develop under a real, competent basketball coach in Luke Walton could quietly make them a fun League Pass team this season. They won’t sniff the playoffs or even top 30 wins, and that’s fine. This is a year to experiment and develop and build upon a really strong core of Ingram-Russell-Randle-Clarkson. 24.5 just seems too low for that much talent, even though they lack experience. Give me the over.
San Antonio Spurs
Prediction: UNDER (57-25)
I wrote about Kawhi and the Spurs here. Go read it.
Prediction: OVER (48-24)
I wrote about Harden and the Rockets here. Go read it.
Prediction: UNDER (40-42)
Right now, Memphis is my odd man out in the Western Conference. I love the Griz, and this is probably unfair, but the injury thing scares me too much.
Prediction: UNDER (38-44)
It kills me not to put Dirk in the playoffs. Absolutely tears me up inside. But the Western Conference is just too deep. At some point Dirk won’t be able to carry this team by himself, and I don’t believe enough in Harrison Barnes’ or Andrew Bogut’s health (or Deron Williams’ talent or Wes Matthews’ health, for that matter) to believe they’ve upgraded in any way from last year. I… I just… I’m sorry Dirk. I need a minute.
New Orleans Pelicans
Prediction: UNDER (30-52)
If Anthony Davis continues to get hurt all the time, this team will win less than 37 games. If Anthony Davis stays healthy all season, this team will still win less that 37 games. Buddy Hield will be awesome, that’s not enough to overcome the lack of talent here. This roster STINKS. Hammer the under.
Prediction: OVER (50-32)
Utah… Utah is the perfect “like em, don’t love em” team. Great defense, underwhelming offense. Awesome team play, no superstars. Could be great, but there’s a ceiling. Gobert, Favors, and Hayward are an awesome frontline combination. Rodney Hood and Trey Lyles provide a real scoring punch. Exum has potential. And George Hill and Joe Johnson bring a veteran presence to this team.
Prediction: OVER (48-34)
I wrote about Dame and the Blazers here, go read it.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Prediction: OVER (50-32)
Ever since I wrote my Russell Westbrook thing last week, I’ve been slowly talking myself into the Thunder. We keep comparing this OKC team to when Durant was hurt two years ago, and I get why. But this is an entirely different situation. 1) Steven Adams has developed into an awesome NBA center. 2) There are multiple guys in Oladipo, Kanter, and Sabonis who can create their own shot and take pressure off Russ. 3) Billy Donovan is a better coach than Scott Brooks. 4) That team lost Durant midseason and threw Russ into a situation where he thought he had to do everything on his own in the short term. This Thunder team has had an entire offseason and preseason to prepare for life without Durant. Russ isn’t being thrown into a situation where he thinks he has to do everything. He knows there’s talent around him and he’s prepared to use it. He’s smart enough to have learned what worked and what didn’t work during that stretch. 5) Durant left all of them, not just Russ. There’s added motivation all the way around. And that added motivation alone will carry them to a couple extra wins on nights other teams might take their foot off the pedal. 50 Wins. Book it.
Prediction: OVER (44-38)
Karl-Anthony Towns is everything he’s been hyped up to be. Watch any of his preseason highlights and you see a man amongst boys. It’s honestly unlike anything I’ve ever seen on a basketball court. No man that big is supposed to move like that. The combination of explosiveness and fluidity is absolutely outrageous. I left him out of my MVP column because 1) I have a full Towns blog in the pipeline and 2) Minnesota, understandably, isn’t quite there yet. But there’s a very real chance we end this season giving him the Award. He’s that good.
As for Minnesota? Towns isn’t the only reason to be optimistic. Thibs is a top five coach. Wiggins is an awesome second banana who should thrive defensively for Thibs. And Lavine might very quietly be ready to take a MASSIVE leap this season. Neither Rubio or Dunn brings much shooting from the point guard position, but they can both make plays and defend the hell out of other guards in the West. The pieces are there for them to make a run, no matter how young they look. And again… they have Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s everything we thought Anthony Davis was, only better at everything and significantly more mature and willing to be the face of the NBA. He’s the modern day Duncan, and his teams will never miss the playoffs for the rest of time.
Prediction: OVER (39-43)
Is Jokic for real? Can Mudiay improve on an underwhelming rookie season? Why has nobody talked about Jamaal Murray? Will Gallinari or Faried get traded? Will Nurkic commit a murder on the court? There are a lot of questions surrounding this Nuggets team. Most important of which is whether they make a move towards contention or back to the lottery. One thing is for sure… they’ll be fun as hell to watch.
- Golden State
- Los Angeles
- San Antonio
- Oklahoma City
- New Orleans
- Los Angeles
Golden State over Minnesota
Los Angeles over Portland
San Antonio over Houston
Oklahoma City over Utah
Golden State over Oklahoma City
Los Angeles over San Antonio
Golden State over Los Angeles.
Finals: Cleveland over Golden State… You’re god damn right I’m doing it.
MVP: Kawhi Leonard – explained at length here
DPOY: Kawhi Leonard – He’ll win the MVP on the strength of his defense and sweep both. Too young, too talented, too hungry to rest on his laurels. Best defender since Pippen. Nobody else should come close here.
ROY: Brandon Ingram – Ingram is being wildly slept on for this award right now. I don’t care how thin he is. Ingram is special and we’ll see more than enough flashes of that this season.
COY: Brad Stevens – As long as the C’s reach 50 wins it’s hard not to see Stevens receiving, and deserving, this award.
Sixth Man: Brandon Jennings – (More on this later tonight)
Most Improved: D’Angelo Russell – he’s free of Kobe and has been handed the Steph role in Luke Walton’s offense. Is he Steph? Of course not. But he’s going to be awesome.