Golden State Warriors
There’s nothing quite like a fairytale playoff run to unrealistically heighten expectations for the following season.
I love watching the Warriors play, especially Steph Curry when he’s on fire and hitting shots from 35 feet off the dribble. I also have no doubt the Warriors will makes the playoffs again this season. But a legitimate championship contender? Hhhmm.
I think the Dubs might miss Jarrett Jack a lot more than people think. Curry is a great shooter, and can get to the paint at times, but his slender frame means he’s not built for consistent penetration. Jack provided that, especially in the fourth quarter of games.
Andre Iguodala isn’t bad with the ball in his hands, but I look at this team, and they’re certainly going to have to move the ball around – and have bodies in motion – in order to get cheap baskets, because there are not a lot of elite level creators on the roster. Iggy might have to be relied upon to create a lot of offense for this team. Which is fine, he’s more than capable of doing it. But I get a feeling the loss of Jack (and Carl Landry) will take some adjusting to.
Throw in the lack of defense by key players – Curry and David Lee – and is this team really likely to be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy at season’s end? I really struggle to see it.
There has been a lot of buzz in the off-season surrounding the Cavs. Though I understand any excitement surrounding Kyrie Irving, I’d be nervous making any overly positive projections for this Cleveland roster.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some nice young talent on the team, with Tristan Thompson and Dion Walters joined by first overall draft pick Anthony Bennett. Combine them with the veteran leadership of Jarrett Jack and the hustle of Anderson Varejao – not to mention the All Star level play of Irving – and you’ve got the bones of a nice lineup.
However, any team that needs to rely heavily on the flaky Andrew Bynum deserves serious question marks about their potential. Even if Bynum returns 100% physically healthy, I fear he’ll never be 100% mentally healthy.
This team doesn’t deserve some of the lofty predictions I’ve heard touted, and it would shock me little if they only won 30 odd games.
Los Angeles Clippers
This team is either wildly overrated, or I wildly underrate the influence coach Doc Rivers will have upon the team.
Yet as much as I respect Rivers, is he really going to help the frontcourt’s free throw shooting, especially in the fourth quarter? Is he really going to improve the team’s low post play? Can he improve the perception around the league that this team can be bullied around?
I’m not so sure.
The Clips added Jared Dudley, Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens and JJ Reddick to their roster for the season. Absolutely fantastic recruiting, especially if the team’s biggest concern was outside shooting. Yet I’m not convinced it was.
If the Clippers had pulled the trigger on the trade to bring in Kevin Garnett, I would legitimately consider them a championship threat, because he would have addressed their biggest weaknesses. But at present, I see this roster crushing teams all regular season, before getting crushed themselves once the real basketball starts in the playoffs.
I fear this is the prediction that will come back to haunt me the most.
Last season, the Rockets were a young and exciting 8th seed in the Western Conference, and won 45 games. In the off-season, they added arguably the best centre in the game, and a player whom – when 100% healthy – is a top 5 talent in the league. All without losing anyone significant from their roster.
So how could I possible think they’re overrated?
Primarily because I’m consistently nervous about Dwight Howard. I have a nagging feeling that he is the epitome of ‘fools good’; a player that gives every impression that he’s a superstar, and yet when you scratch beneath the surface a little bit, he’s found to be lacking true superstar credentials.
He throws his coaches under the bus, he’s a poor free throw shooter, he’s unprofessional, he whinges when things go wrong, he’s unaccountable, he’s unreliable, he doesn’t appear to like pressure, he worries what people think of him, he jokes around too much, and he hasn’t really improved as a player since his rookie year.
Not exactly a player a championship contender should be built around.
Here’s the catch though – the Rockets aren’t really built around Howard. Well, not on offense anyway. On that end of the floor, everything runs through James Harden, who, if he isn’t already a superstar, is on the cusp of being one.
If everything clicks, you could easily envisage the Rockets in the NBA Finals. Yet, it wouldn’t shock me if this team fails to gel, Howard causes issues, and they disappointingly limp into the lower bracket of the Western Conference Playoffs.
Some pundits are predicting the Sixers will win double-digit games.
Against who? They’ll only play Phoenix twice, won’t they?!
I bow to no one in my praise and admiration for coach Brett Brown and his basketball IQ, but seriously, look at that roster and tell me how anyone could think this team will get ten or more wins.
I sincerely hope Andrew Wiggins is all he’s cracked up to be, because this team has the potential to be historically lousy, and is aiming to be just that. For Sixers fans, I hope the pain of tanking the season is rewarded with winning next year’s draft. Double digit wins for the Sixers? I think that’s overrating them.