Coming up with this list of predictions for this next upcoming season was a lot harder than the on for the Eastern Conference. While a lot of shifts, additions, injuries, and come backs are going to change how the shape of the Eastern Conference the same cannot be said about the wild west.
8. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are the prime example of the old saying – if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Since allowing Rudy Gay to walk, this team has been one of the best defensive teams in the league. Their size is unique to their team and the can cause match up problems at just about every position. The addition of Vince Carter off the bench will give this offensively desperate team some desperate offense. (see what I did there?) The rest of team, under Mike Conley will continue to fight in late games like this team always seems to do very well. This team didn’t get much better- but they didn’t get worse. They are still the weakest of the top 8, and that’s a strange thing to say about a team that has won 50 games.
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 46-36
7. Golden State Warriors
I am still salty about the way the front office handled the situation in relation to Mark Jackson. I felt that he was a scapegoat, and it was unfair to let him go. Like everything else in life, it moves on. Steve Kerr is now at the helm, and while I do not believe he will do a bad job, I am not convinced he is going to do a good job either. The biggest problem he is going to have to face? The player’s trust. The way they look at it, they are still loyal to Mark Jackson. If they do not feel like Steve Kerr is an adequate replacement then their success will crumble as a result. I expect a lot of growing pains- Mark Jackson was more of a team play type of coach. While it is not definite, it appears that Steve intends on playing on the strengths of this team with a stronger emphasis on offense. Time will tell if it was a good move or a noob move bringing in Kerr. What I am sure of is that this team will not play better than they played last year.
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 49-33
6. Portland Trailblazers
Let give the Trailblazers the credit that they well deserve. They have come a long way since losing players like Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. The one constant throughout all of it has been LaMarcus Aldridge. He has led this team through a lot of adveristy. Now his team is one more star player away from being an actual contender. Damian Lillard had a breakout season last year. But his inexperience and lack of facilitator skills do weaken this team a bit. This was most evident during the playoffs against a seasoned team like the Spurs. If you have been reading the Post Up for a couple of months, you will be able to recall that I said the same thing before the series. Do not get this wrong, Lillard will be a star in the NBA. The question is when will he be an elite star. In my opinion, it is going to be when he learns how to balance being the hero and being the facilitator. When you get to that Tony Parker level, then I will consider the Blazers a serious threat. Remember, I am saying it is only a matter of time.
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 51-31
5. Houston Rockets
I don’t care what Dwight Howard says- losing Chandler Parsons is going to hurt them in the long run. He was next best defensive player on the team after Dwight, and could offer a good amount of offense that was very important during their 1 round exit to a much younger and less experienced team. Trevor Ariza is not a bad pick up for the team, but he is not a great one either. Along with Asik leaving, this team’s strengths are not what they were a year ago. There is nothing worse than a team I feel lukewarm towards- I do not expect success nor failure. See Houston Rockets Article from last week for more info. A lot is going to be expected of Dwight and Harden. The question will be- do they have what it takes to walk the large amount of talking they have been doing?
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 51-31 (Win Tie Breaker)
4. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are like a rash, no matter how much you try to ignore the, they will always remind you they are still there. Year after year this team puts together small pieces together until they have formed a reasonably good team. Marc Cuban is a genius- being able to resign Dirk for a low-cost while adding pieces like Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons.All while retaining Monta Ellis who had a huge comeback season after some forgetful seasons in Milwaukee and the reemergence of Devin Harris, who in the playoffs looked to be in peak form. There is a lot to like about this team, and it all starts with the timeless Dirk. This team will be a much better team both defensively and offensively with the additions of Chandler and Parsons respectively. You know what they say- one teams trash is another’s team treasure.
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 53-29
3. Los Angeles Clippers
New Owner? Same team. The Clipper are the best team to never win anything. They have all the talent they could imagine. Without a primary scorer, this team will always fall short. This became evident in the series with the Thunder. Yes, the whole Donald Sterling thing was pretty distracting. But distractions can not change the fact that when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are not on the court together, the team really struggles. Couple that with their volatile style of play and you have a team that will win a lot of regular games but will struggle in the playoffs.
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 54-28
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder will never win with Russel Westbrook playing point guard. With that said this team is still very good. Serge being out during the beginning of the Western Conference Finals proved how brittle this team is. The team played well because Durant played the season of his life. We will see if Durant is for real or if he just had a fantastic season. Regardless, it’s expected that the Thunder will retain the level of play that was displayed for most of the season. The X-factor is going to be which one of the prospects will finally step up. Couple that with Durant’s growing frustrations and Westbrook’s lack of patience and the Thunder are primed to explode. The question will be will it be in a good way or a bad way?
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 56-26
1. San Antonio Spurs
Is this really a surprise? It shouldn’t. The Spurs have effectively built an ever churning system of support players- any play can contribute, and every player has a role. This is the best and most complete team in the NBA. The true big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginoboli are looking to pass the torch to a new core of young players of the likes of Patty Mills, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter. Look for these players to get more playing time and the old big three to get a lot of rest. With the way Coach Pop has the team setup, they can win the West on auto pilot. The only concern? The Spurs have never won a championship back to back. Could this be the year?
2014-2015 regular season prediction: 60-22