1. Stephen Curry Will Score 70+ Points In A Single Game
Since Kobe Bryant’s 81 point conniption back in 2006, the highest single-scoring games have been as follows:
- Kobe Bryant, 65 points (March 2007)
- Carmelo Anthony, 62 points (January 2014)
- Kobe Bryant, 61 points (February 2009)
- LeBron James, 61 points (March 2014)
- Kobe Bryant, 60 Points (March 2007)
There’s only been ten 70+ point performances in NBA history, only 3 of which not accomplished by someone other than Wilt Chamberlain. Yet, though sheer will, we can certainly make the argument that the Golden State stars might align for a similar outburst from Curry:
He’s one of the most prolific scorers in the game right now, is entering his prime (he’s 26), and he holds the NBA single season record for most 3 pointers made (272). Grantland’s Zach Lowe has predicted that the NBA at large will yet again break its record for most 3 point attempts.
Is this simply spinning the stats in a way that makes something nearly impossible seem somewhat possible? Probably.
But then again, this is the NBA. Anything is possible.
2. …And Will Also Win The Scoring Title
When it rains Stephen Curry predictions, it pours.
Curry finished seventh in scoring last season, averaging 24 points per game. He’s capable of major scoring jumps, moving from 14.7 ppg in 2012-2013, to 24.0 this past season.
(Granted, Curry was injured for most of the 2012-2013 season, but why look at reality when you can have numbers?)
Anyway, let’s say he jumps by 5 ppg, up to 29.0 per — definitely a difficult jump, but also not impossible. Kobe’s too old to average 29, LeBron probably won’t try until the playoffs, Carmelo is taking scowling lessons from Eli Manning, and Kevin Durant is injured. Is this Curry’s year?
3. Blake Griffin Will Do Another Set At The Laugh Factory
They say that when you get the bug, you really get the bug…
4. Phoenix Will WIN A First Round Playoff Series
The Suns were one of the less-talked about surprises from last year — led by first year coach Jeff Hornacek, the Suns, widely projected to be one of the worst teams in the league, won 48 games and finished one spot out of the playoffs.
With the team a year older, and the Nash/Amar’e era now completely in the rearview, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic could easily build on this team’s success. They’re small, they can potentially cause matchup problems, and if key young players like Markieff Morris and rookie draft picks Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren can make an impact, the Suns could find themselves slowly turning into…a contender?
While the Suns may not be as talented as those young OKC teams who gave the top-seeded Lakers a tough time a few years back, there’s somewhat of a similar feeling; the youth, the energy, the “nobody expects us to do anything” momentum. Hornacek has shined as a coach, and you never know what can happen in a seven game series.
5. The Cavs Will Have 2 Serious MVP Candidates
If the Cavs didn’t get Lebron, Kyrie Irving probably would’ve continued down his torrid path of being one of the leagues best point guards (if not overall players). Last season Irving put up a solid 21 and 6, and racked up the MVP award at the NBA All-Star Game.
This season, with LeBron and Love as incredible toys, Irving’s assist stats could potentially go way up. With so much focus on LeBron, Irving and Love could turn into quite the two man show, racking up statistics that could rival that of His Majesty Himself.
Dethroning LeBron would be far from likely, but from a pure statistical standpoint, could one of these two put up MVP-like numbers?
6. Doug McDermott Will Come Up Big During The Bulls’ Playoff Run
Last year’s National College Player of the year is one of the most decorated players in college basketball history; the awards are endless for the 3 time All-American, who has both the fifth most points in college basketball history and a pretty stellar haircut.
McDermott now finds himself at an unfamiliar place; fighting for playing time and a spot in the Bulls rotation, which is far from guaranteed. But midwesterner’s shooting prowess and offensive versatility could be quite huge for a team that struggled mightily from long range last year — and if his college career is of any indication, this is a guy who can put up points.
McDermott could easily turn into a lesser version of Robert Horry in his early years — scoring when Rose is otherwise triple-teamed, spotting up at the three point line to drain clutch dagger after dagger.
7. Jason Kidd Will Contend For Coach Of The Year
Kidd’s first year as the Nets head coach didn’t exactly run smoothly. He was suspended the first two games of the season as a result of a summer DUI charge, had this semi-notorious spilling water on the court incident, and fell into a 10-21 hole with a talented team that many had predicted to make some noise (noise, with like eight o’s and an extra i or two).
But despite the dismal start, Kidd turned the team around big-time, and the new look Nets made it two the second round of the playoffs. He then tried to leverage the second-half turnaround into an extended power-grab, vying to also run the Nets operations.
After the Nets were like “nah,” the semi-floundering Milwaukee Bucks jumped on the opportunity to hire Kidd, who proceeded to ditch Brooklyn for Wisconsin. As coach of the Bucks, Kidd will have the opportunity to turn rookie standout Jabari Parker into the superstar everyone expects him to be.
The Bucks aren’t supposed to be terribly good this year. And when it comes to being coach of the year, low expectations are everything. If the team slips into the playoffs (which is very possible given that they play in the Eastern Conference), the narrative would likely turn to Kidd, and how he’s really found his home in Milwaukee.
Narratives = SportsCenter Hype = Blogz Getting Traffic = Awards.
8. The Clippers Will Have The Best Record In The West
(Very passionate) new owner, same incredibly strong team. The Clippers are certainly one of the favorites to win the West, and this is definitely one of the years they could crest. Chris Paul will turn 30 this may, Blake Griffin is morphing from young star to established superhuman, and the supporting cast of DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, and more make for a pretty well-rounded team.
Not to mention, coach Doc Rivers is contractually obligated to be leading a contender.
9. …But Lose In The First Round
The Suns? The Blazers? The West is deeper than the fissures from which Kaijus emerge from, which means that cruise control probably won’t be an option during any round of the playoffs.
The Clips outlasted Golden State last year in a first-round playoff series that ended up being about a lot more than just basketball. But they’ve yet to reach the conference finals, and haven’t yet proven themselves as a true playoff savvy team. This is probably their sink or swim year. Someone’s gotta sink.
10. Kevin Love Will Have TWO 30 point, 30 rebound games
Despite Michael Jordan’s prodding, LeBron probably won’t play every game this season. This means Kevin Love will be the primary beast fed by Kyrie, which is a pretty good recipe for explosion.
In 2010, Kevin Love recorded the first 30 point, 30 rebound game in 28 years, putting up a 31/31 spot against the Knicks. Four years more experienced and on a better team, what’s to say he doesn’t do it again. What’s to say he doesn’t do it twice?
(A whole lot, actually. But the stage may very well be set for one.)
11. The 76ers Will Win Less Than 15 Games
It would be VERY hard for the Sixers to be as bad as the 2012 Bobcats, but the Sixers are widely considered to be the worst team in the league. Their division isn’t exactly brimming with contenders, but as it stands now, the Sixers are in for a very long year.
12. Phil Jackson And Carmelo Anthony Will Have Some Sort Of “Public Feud”
Sometime around January, after the Knicks lose 5 games in a row. Carmelo will fire off an in-the-moment quip about how much he wants to win. Because it’ll be a slow news day, that’ll somehow be warped into him being unhappy with Phil Jackson.
When Phil says something along the lines of that they’re working through the issue internally, everyone will lose their minds until the next sensationalistic story develops 3 minutes later.
13. The Heat Will Play the Cavs In The Playoffs, And Beat Them At Home
When I was little I constantly played my older brother in basketball; he was bigger, stronger, and overall better than me. Because of my relative shortcomings, I had to try very hard. Because he was a lot better than me, there were times when he didn’t always try very hard.
Chris Bosh, who is not as good at basketball as LeBron, is very angry. If the Heat play the Cavs in the playoffs, I feel like this anger result in an outburst that the Cavs may not exactly be ready for. In line with that prediction, the Heat will steal a Game 1 from the Cavs**
**Even without LeBron, the Heat are probably still one of the better teams in the East. These two could very easily see each other in the second round.
14. The Wizards Officially Become A Contender
I was in DC this past weekend. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past six years in District, and this was the first year I can recall people actually being legitimately (and confidently) excited about the team.
And for good reason. The Wiz came within striking distance of the conference finals last season, thanks in large part to the blossoming of their very dangerous backcourt of Bradley Beal and John Wall. Now, with a champion-tested veteran on the squad (Paul Pierce), could the Wiz move up a rung or two?
15. The Houston Rockets Won’t Make The Playoffs
Between San Antonio, Oklahoma City, LAC, Golden State, Portland, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, Denver, and Phoenix, there are gonna be some odd men left out. Although they did replace him with the ever-improving Trevor Ariza, Chandler Parsons’ departure is most certainly a major blow to this team — last year, Parsons averaged 19 points and almost 7 rebounds per game, and was on the floor for more minutes than both Howard and Harden.
Given the never-ending drama carousel that is Dwight Howard, is this the team that gets shafted? It’s gotta be someone…
1. James Harden, Often Criticized For Terrible Defense, Will Be Amongst The League Leaders In Steals
Is Harden a bad defender or a lazy one? I can recall him giving Kobe fits when he locked in a few years back with the Thunder. Now, steals don’t necessarily mean you’re playing lockdown defense, because often times you have to take risks to get them, but it’s a defensive stat that Harden can strive to excel at acquiring.
2. Damian Lillard Will Win His First NBA MVP
Lillard was cut from Team USA. Lillard wasn’t thrilled about it. Everyone already knows Lillard is elite, but this season, after being slighted in the summer, we’ll see Damian Lillard play on an even higher level, consistently. Night in and night out, we’ll hear of Lillard putting up remarkable numbers — 40 point games, hitting more game winners, doing whatever it takes to put the Blazers amongst the top 4 teams in the Western Conference. With Durant missing time and LeBron adjusting to playing with two all-stars, this season will be the one that finally, firmly builds the case that Lillard is arguably the best point guard in the league. Yes, the same league CP3 and Russell Westbrook play in.
3. Kobe Bryant Will Win The Scoring Title
Surely being ranked 40th best player in the league didn’t sit well with Kobe, who’ll have the opportunity to jack up as many shots as he’d like in this borderline hopeless season.
4. The Memphis Grizzlies Won’t Make The Playoffs
The teams that made the playoffs out West last season will all be back, except for Memphis, who will be outdone by the Phoenix Suns.
5. Quick-Tempered DeMarcus Cousins Won’t Be Ejected From A Single Game, Not Even Once
In a Team USA game against Lithuania, DeMarcus restrained himself from molly-whopping Jonas Valanciunas, which was a great sight considering Cousins hasn’t always controlled his temper too well. This year, he’ll get a technical here and there, but never two in a game, staving off ejection.
6. At Some Point, Blake Griffin Will Throw A Punch After Being Fouled Hard
DeMarcus’ short fuse found its way to Blake Griffin’s personality, and he’s done taking shots from folks while he’s in the air. I’ve heard the argument that people are mad because Griffin is trying to viciously dunk on and humiliate them, but that doesn’t validate cheap shots, so at some point look for Griffin to retaliate in a big way, with swingin’ fists.
7. The Cleveland Cavaliers Will Go 72-10, Matching The ’96 Bulls For Best Regular Season Record Ever
While LeBron will have to adjust to playing with different personnel, there’s no way this team won’t be able to flat-out pummel the rest of the East, Chicago Bulls aside. I wouldn’t be shocked if they win all but one or two games at home, and quickly develop a chemistry that results in an impressive number of W’s.
8. Someone Will Sign Andrew Bynum And He Will Play A Double Digit Number Of Games
Someone in the NBA. As in not overseas.
9. Kevin Garnett Will Average Double Digit Points Per Game
He said himself that he’s playing with “a little bit of an edge” this year, so don’t expect the 38-year-old to play a mediocre in his 20th season as he did last year. He’s starting at Power Forward, he’s amped up, he’s got a great opportunity to deliver at least 10 a game, in addition to the rebounding, subtle elbowing, verbal assaulting, etc.
10. Jimmy Butler, Not Rose, Or Noah, Or Gasol, Will Lead The Chicago Bulls In Scoring
Here’s my reasoning – Rose may require some rest at various points to preserve his health, Noah’s offense mostly comes in the flow of the game, and Gasol isn’t always aggressive, leaving the door ajar for Jimmy Butler to swoop in and take the wheel. Butler’s durable, and his offense appeared improved in preseason, not to mention he’s playing to woo and get an extension, so look for him to impress and be a leader on this team.
11. Danny Green Will Lead The NBA In 3-Pointers Made
Patty Mills is out until at least January, and Danny is an assassin who’ll likely have the… greenest of lights. He’ll become a fire hazard as he shoots threes in a high volume, at a high percentage, leading the league in this category.
12. The Oklahoma City Thunder Won’t Have Home-Court In The First Round Of The Playoffs
This means they’ll finish as a 5-8 seed, and while I expect it to be 5, I think not having Durant to begin the year, then having contributors who stepped up in his absence have to take a step back when he returns will make it a regular season of adjustments. The Clippers, The Spurs, The Trailblazers and The Warriors will lock up the top 4 spots, leaving OKC to battle it out for positioning amongst the bottom 4.
13. The Knicks Will Go 37-45 For The Second Consecutive Year, And Miss The Playoffs
Carmelo will turn into the Joe Flacco of the NBA, minus the championship ring. He’ll continue telling everyone he’s “elite,” and technically he performs well enough that it’s not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard, so you just kind of silently disagree.
14. Russell Westbrook Will Average The Most Assists Per Game Of His Career
Russell has to score more with Durant out, but he also has to get teammates involved when defenses collapse on his relentless drives, which should lead to open looks for shooters and easy baskets for the bigs. Even if Westbrook keeps his shoot first mentality, he’s bound to have to dish it out more often this season.
15. Kawhi Leonard Will Be An All-Star
Whether the Spurs offer him a max contract immediately or not, Kawhi will play phenomenal basketball and earn himself a spot on the best in the West’s roster. He’ll be tightlipped all weekend as well, quietly trying to blend in and avoid the spotlight.