By David Anthony
This upcoming season promises to be filled with plenty of suspense. With plenty of teams introducing new players, coaches and systems there will be much to discuss. Here are my top 5 predictions for the season:
- The Golden State Warriors will struggle- While this might not be such a bold prediction, many around the league have questioned if the Warriors could somehow win 74 games this season. By now we all know the Warriors have signed Kevin Durant, but how will the former MVP fit into such a diverse team. The Warriors already feature ball dominant players such as Curry, Green and Thompson. Yes the Warriors implement a very pass friendly system, but there is only one ball and four players who will demand touches. Not to mention Thompson had some controversial comments about the addition of Durant while on “The Vertical”, “I’M NOT SACRIFICING (EXPLETIVE) BECAUSE MY GAME ISN’T CHANGING”. Those are bold statements which may or may not indicate some friction already arising. Let’s not forget the last super-team in Miami struggled mightily in their first season. Although they advanced to the NBA final they lost to a team that did not have the same star power in the Dallas Mavericks. Anything less than a NBA championship will be deemed a failure and may cause Durant to second guess his decision.
- The Utah Jazz will make the playoffs- The western conference is always a fight to the very end, with plenty of talented teams miss out on the playoffs. This year the Jazz should end their playoff drought which extends to the 2011-12 season. The Jazz have some very young and exciting players like Hayward, Gobert, Exum and Burks. They also added proven NBA vets in George Hill, Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson. If healthy the Jazz will employ one of the best defenses in the league with Gobert manning the middle. Teams like the Thunder, Pelicans and Kings have all taken step back and this should allow the Jazz to take a playoff spot this season.
- Dwight Howard will have a bounce back season- It sounds funny to say a player who averaged 13.7 ppg 11 rebounds 1.6 blk per game had a disappointing year but such is the case with Dwight Howard. We have all seen what Howard is capable of when he is locked in. He averaged 18.4 ppg 13.0 rebounds 2.2 blk in 8 seasons down in the Magic Kingdom. While this might seem like decades ago Howard is still only 30 years old and should have plenty to prove now that he is back home with the Hawks. Coach Budenholzer features a pass friendly offense and the big man should see plenty of touches, not getting the ball enough has long been a pet peeve of his.
- Russell Westbrook will not be the MVP- Many around the league have already given out the MVP award to Westbrook and they may not be far off. While I do not argue with the fact that he will put up huge numbers, I do argue with the fact that the thunder will be a winning team. Losing Durant will have a huge impact on the short term success of the Thunder. The last time OKC played without Durant ( 2014-15 season due to injury) they missed the playoffs. Not many MVP players have ever played for a club that missed the playoffs. So history is not behind Westbrook.
- James Harden will be the MVP- We all know what Mike D’Antoni can do, but have we ever seen him coach a player like Harden? The last player D’Antoni had that could drive to the lane at will was Steve Nash and he only won 2 MVP awards. Not only can Harden drive to the hole but he can score from anywhere on the court, and I dare you to name a player who draws more fouls then Harden. James has put up huge numbers in the past but under Mike D’Antoni’s shoot first, second and last offense he just might put up MVP numbers.
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