Ross Kelly, CBS Local Sports
The NBA season is just a month old and the basketball we’ve seen thus far will be far different from the basketball we see come the end of the season (except for maybe in Philadelphia). But that won’t stop us from jumping to conclusions and overreacting to what we’ve seen so far. But these aren’t just overreactions as that would be too mundane; here are the top 10 over-the-top reactions after the NBA’s first month:
1. The Golden State Warriors will win 70+ games
I figured that I’d get this one out of the way early. One thing that people often forget when discussing if the Warriors will get to 70 wins and/or possibly break the ’96 Bulls record of 72-10 is the fact that scheduling has changed since that 1995-96 season. The NBA was dramatically reduced the number of back-to-backs and four games-in-five days situations (the Warriors actually don’t have any of the latter). Six of the Bulls’ 10 losses came on back-to-backs and the fact that the Warriors don’t have as many of those situations to deal with should enable them to win 70 games…at a minimum.
2. Kristaps Porzingis’ play will expedite a trade of Carmelo Anthony
Even the most stubborn of Knicks fans will agree that Zinger has been better than expected out of the gate. His style of play is also much more conducive to the Triangle Offense than Carmelo Anthony’s. There were offseason rumblings that Phil Jackson wanted to trade Carmelo and unlike Jeremy Lin, Porzingis is a legitimate threat to shifting fans’ allegiances from believing it’s Melo’s team to believing its Porzingis’ team. Melo will eventually see that and ask to be traded and Phil will be happy to accommodate and move his $124 million contract.
3. The 76ers will have the most losses in NBA history
This is year three of the 76ers rebuilding “plan” and this is the worst of those three teams. Last year they went 18-64 and this year they’re scoring two fewer points per game and allowing three more points per game. Also, the eastern conference as a whole has improved so the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers may pop some champagne come April after this year’s team eclipses their loss record of 73.
4. The Houston Rockets will not make the playoffs
How does a team make the Western Conference Finals, lose no key players in the offseason, add an All-Star caliber point guard in Ty Lawson, and miss the playoffs the following year? Poor leadership and organizational dysfunction. Kevin McHale wasn’t the problem and his firing won’t solve the Rockets’ issues. It starts at the top and their GM is a little too enamored with analytics and too indifferent with chemistry. If your team “leaders” are James Harden and Dwight Howard, then your team doesn’t have any leaders.
5. DeMarcus Cousins will get traded to….Boston
No matter what they may publicly say; the George Karl-Boogie Cousins pairing just won’t work. Despite the preference of the Kings to getting rid of the coach instead of the star player, the front office doesn’t want to add a fourth coach to its payroll after going through Mike Malone, Ty Corbin, and Karl over the past two years. Karl had a similar situation with Carmelo Anthony in Denver and shipped him to New York for a package of players and draft picks. Boston makes a good destination for Boogie as he’ll be the star in a big market and the Celtics have the requisite depth and players to accommodate the trade.
6. Derrick Rose will NOT get traded
Despite ESPN’s Brian Windhorst saying the “Derrick Rose-Bulls breakup has begun”, the hometown Chicago kid will not be leaving the Windy City. As someone who lived in Chicago when Rose was the league’s MVP, I can tell you that people outside of the city just don’t realize how strong the bond is between Rose and Chicago. I honestly think Chicago would tear down the Michael Jordan statue in front of the United Center before Rose is traded. With that being said, I think Rose should be traded; I just don’t think it will ever happen.
7. Kobe will keep shooting and be back again next year
Much like Peyton Manning with the Broncos; Kobe Bryant believes that the best thing for his team is to have the ball in his hands. But unlike Peyton and the Broncos, the Lakers’ front office still wants Kobe back next year. Front offices don’t just see wins and losses, they see $$$$ and Kobe is still a cash cow and raises the value of the franchise as a whole. Which do you think the Busses would rather have: a young Lakers team with no stars fighting for the 8th seed or the current cellar-dweller team with Kobe on it that ranks high in tickets/merchandise sales?
8. The Miami Heat will make the Eastern Conference Finals
The Heat have jumped out to the second best record in the east despite Goran Dragic playing like Zoran Dragic. Once he busts out of his offensive slump then the Heat will be deadly on both ends of the floor. They are already arguably the best defensive team in the league and Hassan Whiteside is the real deal (prediction: NBA DPOY). As long as they get some contribution from Gerald Green, outside of a hotel, and Amar’e Stoudemire finds the Fountain of Red Wine; then this team should be meeting up with LeBron and Co. come the conference finals.
9. The Grizzlies will have a mid-season fire sale
These Grizzlies feel similar to the mid-to-late 2000 Detroit Pistons. Both had success relying on a four-man nucleus but both stayed with that core for a year or two too long. That Pistons team was broken up by the Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson trade and I see the Grizzlies moving some of their big names. Mike Conley is a free agent at season’s end and Zach Randolph would be better served on a championship-contending team so I don’t think either of those players finish the year in a Grizzlies uniform.
10. The Cavs and Spurs will meet in the 2016 NBA Finals
The Cavs is practically a given so I’ll talk about the Spurs. They haven’t even found their offensive groove yet and are still sitting in second place in the west. Once LaMarcus Aldridge full integrates himself into “The Spurs Way”, I think they will be equally dominant on both ends of the floor. As for the Warriors? They’ve always struggled against San Antonio, particularly when Kawhi Leonard is in the lineup. GSW is just 1-6 vs. the Spurs since the start of 2013-14 season and Steph Curry has fell victim to “The Claw”. No western conference team holds Curry to a lower shooting percentage than San Antonio and Curry’s career offensive rating of 102 vs. the Spurs is his worst mark against any NBA team.