After last season's fairy tale ending for the Cleveland Cavaliers, all predictions were essentially thrown out the window unless you picked LeBron James. No Warriors title, no Curry Finals MVP, none of that. Those who stuck with the Cavaliers all along, to you we salute, as you probably took a great deal of gripe for sticking to your prediction. This season, the NBA is fresh off of shot-gunning 100 Red Bulls, as many marquee players league-wide have found a new home and look forward to a fresh start.
So, what could happen this season? Well, that's really for you and your friends to decide while sharing a drink over the old water cooler. It is up to the figments of your NBA imagination. We have however, attempted to sort this imagination out for you, or at least inspire it, as we have come up with 15 player predictions that are so crazy, they just may come true. Okay, not all of them are crazy. Some take comfort in the normality of the NBA and some explore outside the realm of our wildest imaginations, like Andrea Bargnani becoming a Sacramento King. Anyways, have a read and remember, the NBA season is just around the corner!
15 Steph Curry Will Still Lead Warriors in Scoring
With the talk of the town abruptly shifting from Steph Curry's historical season, to the arrival of Kevin Durant this summer in Golden State, many have seemed to declare Durant "the man" in Golden State. Yes, Durant will find success, and yes the Warriors will (or should) be a powerhouse this season. However, they will still be led on and off of the scoreboard by Steph Curry.
Adding Durant only makes Curry's life easier and ability to score more deadly. With the opposition now stuck with the task of guarding Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin, the shots may not be as frequent, but the quality of shots will improve for Curry and this should result in more buckets. Curry may not average 30+ points again, but we believe he will still lead the Warriors in scoring.
14 Dwight Howard Puts Up Or Shuts Up
This prediction essentially entails that Dwight Howard will return to 2009 form, or he will ride the pine alongside Kris Humphries next season. Yes, the style of play across the NBA has somewhat shifted, but when you are that strong and dominant, all it takes is a little bit of effort to want to do well and crazy things can happen, Dwight!
Howard may have gotten away with mediocrity in Los Angeles and Houston, but Atlanta has been one of the most professionally and well-run organizations over the past few seasons and thus, I don't think will provide Dwight with much wiggle room for acting like a toddler. That being said, Dwight will either dominate the glass or dominate the pine this upcoming season- there is no in between.
13 Russell Westbrook Will Win the NBA Scoring Title
Why not? Two seasons ago when Kevin Durant was out for the majority of the campaign, Russell Westbrook threw on his Superman cape and almost single-handedly led the Thunder to a play-off birth. Russ was forced to put the offensive load on his back and ended up finishing with a career high 28.1 points per-game- winning the 2015 scoring title.
Russell Westbrook is team captain of the "F-U" all-stars, perfectly prepared to destroy anything in his path- especially those who burn his bridges. We think that Russ will have a new sense of motivation this season, after Durant bolted to the Warriors without saying a word to Westbrook about it. He is the last player in the league that you want to make angry (okay I guess KG technically is still in the league), but regardless, Russ will explode this season and win his second career scoring title.
12 Karl Anthony-Towns Will Crack the Top-5 in MVP Voting
Sound crazy? Maybe- but Karl Anthony-Towns is the real deal and we feel as though he has what it takes to contend for NBA MVP this season. Towns put up an astounding 18.3 points/ 10.5 rebounds/ 2 assists, and 1.7 blocks per-game in his rookie campaign, easily winning Rookie of the Year in the process. The big man even shot 35% from the three-point line, illustrating his ability to be a dominant, modern stretch five.
This season the Timberwolves will be joined behind the bench by the legendary Tom Thibodeau, which we believe will only help to elevate Anthony-Town's game and make him a greater all-around player. Now, we are not oblivious to the elite crop of players that contend for the MVP honors year in and year out. However, we believe that Towns has the ability to become a household name in the NBA, joining Curry, James, Durant, Westbrook, and some of the other big names in the game today.
11 The Gasol Brothers Under/ Over for Games Played is 110
We are not sure whether they will eclipse this under/ over or not, but the fact of the matter is, we predict that the Gasol brothers will combine for somewhere around 110 games played this season. With one foot and half a kneecap between the two, it will be interesting to watch the Gasol's combat their nagging injuries as well as their age.
Pau will be 36-years-old this season and hasn't played a full season since 2010-2011 with the Lakers. Pau missed ten games with the Bulls last season due to several nagging injuries including a swollen right knee, sore hand and sore Achilles. His younger brother Mark broke his foot last season and appeared in just 52 games for the Grizzlies. In 2013-14 the Gasol brothers combined for a total of 119 games. Almost there guys!
10 Reggie Jackson Will Be More Efficient from Three-Point Range Than Andre Drummond is from the Free-Throw Line
Seeing as Andre Drummond is a historically pathetic free-throw shooter, we thought we would choose his point-guard Reggie Jackson to create a somewhat comical, yet very realistic prediction. In fact, this prediction is so possible that it almost happened last season, as Andre Drummond shot .355% from the charity stripe and Jackson shot .353% from three-point range. Hey Andre, it's called the charity stripe for a reason! Do you get it? Probably not.
This season Drummond will likely continue to struggle from the line and in contrast to last season's numbers, it is quite possible that this prediction comes true during the 2016-17 NBA season. Not that any player would wish such a fate upon his own game but when you struggle in the pros, you often struggle hard.
P.S. We really want to see this happen.
9 DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Karl Anthony-Towns Will Combine for 200 Three-Pointers
Did we ever think that the day would come where three big-men were predicted to combine for two-hundred three-balls? Over the past few seasons, the expectations for big-men have slowly begun to increase. This is not to say that if you can't hit from the perimeter you won't play, as we know how many effective, low-post monsters still exist in today's NBA. It has however, turned into a premium, so if you are a big man trying to make it, work on your perimeter shooting, and you may be able to tack on a few extra million dollars.
Two-hundred is a lot, but these three men definitely have the ability to do it if they can all stay healthy (cough, Anthony Davis, cough). Last season, Boogie Cousins knocked down 70 three-pointers, Davis 35 (in just 61 games), and Towns 30 (in just his rookie season), for a combined 135. With the trend of the stretch-five on the rise, we have every reason to believe that these three men will have enough looks to accomplish this feat.
8 Sacramento Kings Sign Josh Smith or Andrea Bargnani- OR BOTH
Sorry, we had to have at least one of the 15 predictions make a mockery of the Sacramento Kings. Now, just to clear things up, these are not real rumors by any means, but that doesn't mean that the Kings will shy away from making an insanely questionable decision this season.
If there was a team that would attempt to revitalize the career of either Andrea Bargnani or Josh Smith, it would be the Kings, with a countless amount of rationalizations to go with it- "Bargnani DID put up 21 a game in 2011 on a 22-win Raptors team. Josh Smith HAS averaged almost two blocks a game for his career!" Yes, this one was more of a joke-although anything is possible in Sacramento, and if it does happen, somebody owes us a Bargnani Kings jersey!
7 DeMar DeRozan Will hit at Least 70 Three-Pointers This Season
If you are a die-hard Toronto Raptors fan, this would probably suffice as one of your Christmas gifts this season. DeMar DeRozan has been the man in Toronto since 2009 and this off-season signed a monster five-year/ $139 million deal with the club. Hopefully a few of those dollars can go towards learning how to shoot from the perimeter.
DeRozan has been one of the more elite two-guards in the NBA over the past few seasons, but his one constant knack is his inability to consistently knock down the three-ball. He is a career 28% three-point shooter, putting him right near the bottom of efficiency in terms of guards around the NBA. In 2013-14, DeRozan knocked down a career high 64 three- pointers, but took only 88 attempts the following season. We think DeRozan is more than capable of hitting a three per-game, but for now, seventy will suffice. Baby steps DeMar, baby steps.
6 Kent Bazemore Will Emerge as the Franchise Guy in Atlanta
After going undrafted in 2o12, Kent Bazemore is a member of the "I'll show you club"and show us he did. Nobody really knew who Kent Bazemore was when he was putting up 13 points a game for the lowly Los Angeles Lakers in 2013-14. Upon being moved to Atlanta, Bazemore slowly began to grow into his role as an explosive and versatile wing man, who can slash to the basket for two points, or kick back to the perimeter for three.
With the likes of Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll, and Al Horford all departing Atlanta in the last year or two, it is clear that the Atlanta Hawks are undergoing a major face lift going forward. This is the perfect time for a young Bazemore to fully find himself and embrace the roll of being the go-to guy, on a solid Atlanta team. We think Bazemore can average around 20 points per-game this season and with Paul Millsap, lead the Hawks on and off the floor.
5 LeBron James Will Leap Shaq and Move Into 6th All-Time in Scoring
We have been lucky enough to watch LeBron James grow throughout the years and take leaps into the Pantheon of the NBA's most elite. LeBron James currently sits 11th all-time in NBA scoring with 26,833 career points. With just 1736 points, LeBron will leap past Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes, Moses Malone, and Shaquille O'Neal, into seventh place all-time in scoring.
If he doesn't do it this season, there is no doubt that by 2017-18 LeBron James will accomplish this feat. As mentioned, LeBron needs 1736 points to surpass Shaq this season and he has not scored less than this amount in a single season since 2011-12 in Miami, when he missed a career high twenty-games. Assuming LeBron is healthy and himself this season, we believe that we will be watching history once again, unfold before our very eyes.
4 Curry and Durant Become First Teammates in 50/40/90 Club
For those who don't know what these numbers entail, the 50/40/90 club is a prestigious accomplishment that see's a player shoot 50% from the field, 40% from three-point land, and 90% from the free-throw line. To put how challenging this feat is into perspective, only seven men in the history of the league have done it, led by four-time member Steve Nash.
So, what are the odds that two teammates achieve this feat in the same season? Well, they are probably at their highest with these two men, as both of them are two of the seven members of the club already. Durant accomplished the feat in 2013 and Curry did it last season. With both men now playing together, they have created every team's worst defensive nightmare. We think that Curry and Durant playing together will cause defenses to settle on one of them, leaving the other to get off clean looks the majority of the time, hopefully resulting in a high efficiency for both men. It's a stretch, but Durant and Curry playing together give us the best odds of seeing this feat come into fruition.
3 Ish Smith Will be Traded by the Deadline
You don't have to be a fortune teller to guess this one- just go look up Ish Smith's career and you will understand this prediction entirely. Smith is an undersized, undrafted journeyman of the NBA, who we personally think is an underrated point guard. He has not been able to find a steady NBA home however, as the Detroit Pistons will be his ninth NBA team in just six seasons! We bet that he will make it ten this season.
For Ish Smith, moving around the league has become a normal part of his career and chances are his suitcase has not found a permanent home in Detroit. Look for Smith to once again pack-up and make his way to his tenth NBA team by the deadline in 2017.
2 Dwayne Wade Will Have a Career Low Season
Poor Jimmy Butler. He finally gets to send the battered and broken Derrick Rose off into the sunset and was ready to assume the roll as the Bulls official franchise player. That was of course, until the Bulls decided to bring in an aging and unpredictable Rajon Rondo as well as "hometown hero" Dwayne Wade! Things are about to get interesting in Chicago....
That being said, we don't exactly think that these decisions will work out to the benefit of the Bulls this season, or Dwayne Wade himself. Wade has been slowly digressing each year ever since he put up a league-high 30.2 points-per game in 2008-09. Last year was the first season that when Dwayne Wade had the ball in his hands, his opponent was honestly not all that worried. Wade's killer instinct is all but dead and we have begun to see that his style of play cannot keep up with his age and history of injuries. We think this season will be a mess for the Bulls, and Dwayne Wade will show nothing but digression.
1 Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson Will Hit More Three-Pointers Than 1/3 of NBA Teams
Before you roll your eyes preposterously, the Splash Brothers combined to out-do 13 teams from three-point range last season and even tied Oklahoma City with 678 three-balls. So yeah, it's possible and will probably happen yet again.
With the arrival of Kevin Durant in Golden State, many believe that Klay Thompson will get less looks and thus fewer buckets. We believe however, that although he may take three or four less shots than last year, the quality of looks will increase due to the offensive arsenal that the Warriors possess and thus, we don't foresee Thompson's numbers diminishing at all. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry will continue to shoot fire while also finding beter looks thanks to the addition of Durant. Big things are coming in Golden State.