Thursday, October 23, 2014

10 Bold Predictions for the 2015 NBA Season


The 2014-15 NBA season is finally (almost) upon us. And what NBA blogger or sportswriter starts the season without some bold predictions? This isn't going to be like Zach Lowe's predictions column for Grantland where Cleveland leading the league in points per possession counted and Indiana missing the playoffs counted as bold. Enough with the introduction, let's get straight into the meat of some predictions that will make you raise your eyebrows more than once BUT will be supported with more than a desire to jump on or off a team/player bandwagon...

San Antonio will not be a top-three seed

I pulled a Gregg Popovich and may have outsmarted not just him, but also you, with this pick. After all, when you’re dealing with Gregg Popovich, you have to think at least ten steps ahead. You thought that I’m picking against the Spurs with this prediction…but I’m not. Popovich is the master of the regular season and the post-season. He’s like the Mamba of coaches (who took home almost every coaching award in the annual NBA GM survey). He waits and waits and pounces just when the time is right. As his team ages, he doles out fewer and fewer regular season minutes to his starters. I foresee that trend continuing to the point where he doesn’t mind losing out to the Thunder, Clippers, and Warriors in seeding.

Dallas, the 8 seed, gave them the hardest battle in the 2014 playoffs, so seeding only matters so much. Pop knows a healthy squad is more valuable than home-court through the Western conference playoffs if the two are mutually exclusive.

Terrence Ross will average 18-6-4

For a guy to make the jump from 11-3-1 to get to 18-6-4, we’re talking about a most improved player-worth leap. But for T Dot who can leap out of the building on any given dunk, I think it’s possible considering he has a maniacal fan base and great team around him. His point guard, Kyle Lowry, just got $48 million guaranteed so he’s ready to throw out some dimes. 2014 Terrence Ross can put up 2013 Klay Thompson-type numbers. Ross is quietly a 40 percent three-point shooter who goes crazy on left corner threes (47 percent), a vital shot as determined by NBA efficiency gurus.

I’m going to throw in a bonus prediction: Toronto will be a No. 2 seed over Chicago and Washington. The dynamic between Paul Pierce and the Wiz young backcourt will be interesting. I’m not sold on Derrick Rose until I see him thrashing through the Leastern conference defenses. Bagels in FIBA competition is not reason for optimism with the former NBA MVP.

TNT will suspend Charles Barkley once

It’s too easy to make this just a bold playoff predictions article. Plus, the side stories are often nearly as entertaining as the games themselves. In fact, some off-season talk on the BS Report landed in this realm and suggested that the NBA free agency period receives more attention than the NBA games. The celebrity appeal crosses into the sports realm more frequently than just when a Kardashian hops from dating one NBA player to another (yes, Lamar Odom and Kris Humphries, I’m looking at you).

Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA was and is must-see TV. More than once, I wouldn’t re-watch a TNT game if I had missed it live… but I would scroll back to the halftime shows. Those short segments with Chuck, Kenny, Shaq, and Ernie were always exciting because you never knew when someone would drop what Jalen Rose calls a “don’t-get-fired” moment. If you didn’t see Barkley's antics describing San Antonio women, go to YouTube right now and watch them.

He was one step away from getting suspended. If ESPN can put Bill Simmons on vacation for calling the NFL commissioner a liar with some cuss words sprinkled in, then TNT could suspend Chuck for some inevitably outrageous comment this year.

LeBron James will continue his year-over-year increase in FG% that began in 06-07


He’s climbed from a "paltry" 47.6% to an unfathomable 56.7%. LeBron James doesn’t have much more room to improve but he’ll figure out a way to do it. Kevin Love will be spotting up and working P&Rs, Kyrie will finally learn how to play within a team concept, and Dion Waiters chip on his shoulder is still Goliath-sized.

LeBron has been raving about new head coach, David Blatt. I almost wanted to throw out a prediction that would only turn out to be outrageous…LeBron will average a triple-double. Two main reasons I decided against it: 1) LeBron slimmed down. I’m expecting him to play less at the power forward spot and more at the 3 (hence lower rebounding numbers). 2) Blatt and LeBron may come to the agreement that the best player in the game needs to rest more. This won't stop the best player in the game from an efficiency level that you can’t reach in NBA 2K15.

The Lakers will have the fewest wins in their 54-year Los Angeles history

26 wins or less. And if I’m setting the over-under at games Steve Nash plays at that same number, I’m taking the under there, as well. Unless Linsanity 2.0 erupts in Los Angeles, the combination of Lin, Kobe, and the self-anointed Swaggy P could be a scoring backcourt gone oh-so-very-wrong. Iso-ball + jacking up contested shots = losses.

As if a team of defensive sieves wasn’t enough, Byron Scott decided to take down any chance at improved offensive efficiency. The new Lakers coach wants his team to take 10-15 threes a game. A Twitter account has been born out of Scott’s desire to essentially eliminate the most efficient shot in the game (the corner three). @HaveTheLakers MadeACorner3? is a real thing. At least Kobe will be able to shoot 9-28 and put up big scoring numbers…right?

Chris Bosh will come surprisingly close to 50-40-90

And the award for 2014-15 Biggest Chip on His Shoulder goes to…. Chris Bosh! The ramifications of the LeBron move ripple throughout the NBA, but nowhere moreso than King James’ former team. One thing that LeBron did do for Bosh was help create the necessity for a three-point shot, something that became a weapon for the stretch-5. With LeBron gone, Bosh can go back to working in the paint in addition to spreading the floor with his three-point shot. What does this mean? A lot of mismatches and increased efficiency. His career peaks in FG% and FT% are 54 and 84, respectively. Last year, he was 34 percent from 3. Coming within a total of 5-7 percentage points of the 50-40-90 club would be a career year, but for a rejuvenated former All-Star who’s still only 30, it’s not too outrageous.

(For good measure, the second place finisher in the Biggest Chip on His Shoulder was another casualty of the LeBron trade: 2014 no. 1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins.)

Carmelo Anthony will hit the 30 points per game mark for the first time in his career



The East has significantly improved from last year to this year. However, the Knicks have almost been part of that upward trend. The pick-up of Jose Calderon at point guard will prove to be a significant upgrade to the ever-ballooning Raymond Felton…and I don’t mean ballooning in skill. Newly-minted head coach, Derek Fisher, and the Zen Master, Phil Jackson, should be able to maximize the ability of their roster, unlike Mike Woodson.

The relationship between Iman Shumpert, a player that I believe has a solid upside despite a career FG% south of 40, and former coach Mike Woodson was tumultuous (as Phil Jackson recently pointed out). Put all of this together, and Carmelo Anthony is right in position for a career year. I’m not expecting his assist numbers to skyrocket, but the 30ppg mark is well within reach for one of the NBA’s top-2 scorers.

The 76ers will not have the worst record in the NBA

This is probably the least likely prediction out of all of them. Most pundits consider the 76ers falling to the bottom inevitable. I'm going to go the other way because unlike the Sixers, the Jazz are in the West. Dante Exum still has to prove he can compete with the best basketball players in the world. I think eventually he’ll be a serviceable starter/borderline All-Star, but I’m taking a flier on this year’s Nerlens Noel before I take one on Exum. The Celtics are cellar contenders when they eventually trade a malcontent Rajon Rondo. It’s a tough call, but I’ll take the field in the competition for the NBA’s 2014-15 Least Likely to Agree to Lottery Reform.

Klay Thompson will be a 2015 All Star and get his max contract

…and he’ll be considered underpaid a few years down the line when the new TV contract leads to the eventual gradual or rapid salary cap spike. The younger Splash Bro has already said that he prefers the contract extension now instead of waiting for a long-term deal once the new cap hits. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports has pegged this extension to be worth $89 million and last through the 2020 NBA season.

For comparison, if he sought a Parsons like deal, he could make nearly $100 million in that same time-span. If Klay does accept an extension by October 31, it’ll put him in the pay grade of the top-five shooting guards in the league, something he is well-worth. I’m betting on Klay to have a big year under new coach, Steve Kerr. Former Warriors coach, Mark Jackson, was a great friend to (most) players in his locker room but left much to be desired in terms of on-court strategy. The lack of ball movement is one of Jackson’s main failures as an HC, and Kerr is already turning that around.

Better (and more) motion will lead to open shots, and open shots for one of the game’s best shooters will be lethal. Klay will be in the 20-5-4 range when the All-Star break rolls around and find himself playing alongside Steph Curry in the game. Hype matters when it comes to All-Star voting, so Klay’s FIBA success and the ever-increasing spotlight on the Warriors will push him into All-Star glory.

Now, I’m going on record saying that the Warriors can support two All-Stars with two defensive stoppers, potentially the best defense in the league, and a bright coach. So I’m ready to make my boldest prediction and become the first person to predict that…

The Golden State Warriors will win the 2015 NBA Finals

The squad that the Warriors will put on the floor is as good as any teams. Superstar? Check. Shooting? The best. Perimeter and interior defense? Third-best defense in the league last year. Bright, young coach surrounded by a great staff? Finally. What about the bench? With Brandon Rush, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Mo Speights, and Draymond Green coming off the bench, this squad has all the pieces. And the thing that will always go underrated…chemistry? SB Nation called them the Weird Warriors for a reason. They are a little weak in the Veteran Leadership Dept., though. Only David Lee and Leandro Barbosa are the sole players older than 30…and they’re both only 31 years old.

They showed in 2013 that they can beat the Spurs. That Game 1 collapse in Round 1 emotionally throttled the team but they still made the Spurs fight to win a series I still feel the Warriors should have won (and would have under a better coach). In 2014, they took a Sternly-motivated Clippers team to seven games with their second-best player sidelined. Twice in a row, it’s been so close you could taste it. Both times against two top teams, you felt they had it within reach. All they’ve needed is a #FullSquad and good coach.

I love everything that I’ve seen so far from Steve Kerr. The way he handles the team, the media, his staff, and  himself is how you want your coach to do it. I’ve picked a favorite to win each of the past three NBA Finals and it’s time to change that up. This team has the potential for a top-3 offense and top-3 defense. I’m all in on the Warriors.

15 comments:

  1. Your out of your mind. How do you know Kerr is a bright young coach? He's never been a coach before and he failed miserably at being a GM. Finally the Warriors have a bunch of guys that are injury prone. Stupid predictions don't count as bold.

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  2. Look around the league at what people are saying. Watch some of the Warriors game and look at how the ball actually moves as opposed to stagnates in iso ball situations that it did when Mark Jackson coached.


    The Warriors had the 12th best offense in the NBA last season (4th best defense). A team with two of the league's best shooters should not have the 12th best offense. Yet they still competed with the Clippers in the playoffs - without Bogut, mind you.


    Yahoo! has the Warriors as the second best team in the NBA. Above Cleveland, the Clippers, and the Bulls. ESPN has them the 5th best NBA team. FiveThirtyEight, a highly respected statistics blog, predicts the Warriors to come out on top of the Western conference. All of these predictions came out after mine as well, so it's not as if I was piggy-backing on them.


    I don't need to personally attack you, either. Plus, it would be too easy considering the spelling and lack of quality analysis in your comment.

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  3. Oh. Did we get our feelings hurt? I don't care what Yahoo said. If there are more idiots who think that the Warriors are better than Cleveland then ok. Hey. Have you seen how good the Jazz are looking in the preseason? How well the ball moves? How about the Clippers and the fact that they looked horrible this PRESEASON? I will just remember where not to go for intelligent analysis on basketball.

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  4. Oh and just another thing to add. The Warriors were predicted by many other respected outlets to go to the finals last year as well. Besides I wasn't personally attacking you. I was attacking your prediction and I stand by that misspellings and all. Just because a media outlet is respected it doesn't disqualify them from being wrong. And stupid!

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  5. Thank you for your substantive comments.

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  6. Some thoughts from the man himself (not in any particular order)


    Agree with your Philly prediction. Philly will be atrocious but there are lots of other bad teams out there. I would not be shocked if Indiana is down there with them in the East (a mediocre defense and the worst offense in the league sounds like a good recipe). Boston is pretty bad also.


    The Lakers aren't that bad. The Black Mamba, Swaggy P, Linsanity, and the Big Booz are four solid veteran scorers who will drop enough buckets to hang with any team. The defense will be atrocious, but they'll get over 26 wins. Last year Kobe didn't even play! He might not be the 30ppg superstar Kobe anymore, but he's an upgrade over whoever else took his minutes last year.


    I don't think LeBron will increase his FG% again because like you said, he's going to be playing a lot of SF, which, in addition to limiting rebounds, lowers FG%. He'll still drive to the basket, mind you, but there are no small forwards (probably in league history) who shoot 57%. My guess is something like 54%, and a 28/7/7 line. Basically a standard, ballin' LeBron season, just not a truly historical one.


    I can see Chuck being suspended. His San Antonio bit last year was a riot but I can imagine TNT won't want to alienate viewers if he continues to say stuff like that.


    I like the Dubs but I'm taking Clips winning the West.

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  7. Well, for what it's worth...the boys at FiveThirtyEight think that the Lakers will also be worse this year than last year: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/2014-nba-preview-the-lakers-are-even-worse-than-they-were-last-year/

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  8. They still have Steve Nash as PG. And I may have to change my thoughts after seeing Julius Randle go down yesterday. One of two bright spots in the season (the other being seeing Kobe for one of the last times) is gone.

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  9. That injury was brutal. Really, really sad. But I must say, how many wins is Julius Randle really worth in the end? (My answer: not too many.)

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  11. I guess it depends on how good he was! That's one thing that's awesome about rookies... you never know exactly how they'll turn out. Some turn out exactly how you expect they will (Anthony Davis being a recent example), others don't (Hasheem Thabeet, Anthony Bennett, etc). This rookie class is quite exciting, and I'm very curious to see who of these guys becomes a star. Sadly won't get to see that with Randle this year.

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  12. True but don't forget that the Pelicans won a grand total of 51 games in AD's first two years in the league (this is his third). And as for Bennett, I still think he has potential.

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  13. HarveyMilkSmokedDicksDecember 14, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    20-2...looking good so far

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  14. HarveyMilkSmokedDicksDecember 14, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Almost no one predicted the Warriors to go to the finals last year..i don't know what you're smoking.

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