Added: Kevin Durant, Zaza Pachulia, Patrick McCaw, Damion Jones, JaVale McGee
Lost: Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush, Festus Ezeli
Summary: The greatest regular season team of all time added an all-time great scorer in Kevin Durant without losing a single truly key player. What could possibly go wrong for the Dubs this season? Well, they did lose a lot of depth, especially at power forward and center. Teams with size might be able to attack them on the boards, especially when they go small. Pachulia is a solid enough center, but he wore down over last year, and at age 32 might not be up to the task of big-time games. Like any other team, they are susceptible to injury: losing any one of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, or Durant makes them just extremely good rather than unbeatable. During the regular season, they are going to have off-games just like every other team, and Steve Kerr is going to rest his players more than he did last year. Still, the 2017 Warriors are the strongest on-paper team ever assembled.
Predicted Record: 69-13
Added: Marreese Speights, Raymond Felton, Alan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Brice Johnson, Diamond Stone
Lost: Cole Aldrich, Jeff Green, Pablo Prigioni, CJ Wilcox
Summary: This iteration of the Clippers is probably the best of the Chris Paul era. They have star power, depth, and versatility. Sadly, they also play in the same conference as the Golden State Warriors. The Clips probably have the best chance of any non-Cavalier team of defeating the Dubs due to their explosiveness and size, but still need to make it to the Conference Finals to get to that series in the first place. Fortunately, the other top two West teams last year, the Spurs and Thunder, weakened over the summer (the Thunder for obvious reasons), and the Clippers should be the favorites to be the 2 seed in the West. If they can make it through the season healthy, the Clippers have a chance at 60 wins. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are top 10 NBA players, DJ is in the top 25, and JJ Redick is damn good too. This year’s Clippers team would be considered great any other year. As is, they are the closest thing to an upstart candidate in the Western Conference.
Predicted Record: 60-22
Added: Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa, Tyler Ulis, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss
Lost: Mirza Teletovic, Jon Leuer, Ronnie Price
Summary: The Suns seem to be pulling in two directions at once. On one hand, they have a group of veteran players who would be a boon to any playoff team’s roster: Dudley, Barbosa, PJ Tucker, and Tyson Chandler. They also have a good (when healthy) guard combination of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. On the other hand, the rest of the roster is composed of young prospects, most of whom aren’t effective NBA rotation players yet. Devin Booker had a good rookie season (though I think the rush to anoint him as a soon-to-be superstar is extremely premature), and should improve some this season. TJ Warren and Alex Len aren’t on his level as prospects, but both have had stretches of good play in their young NBA careers, and will get minutes to develop this season. Barring a huge breakout from one of those three, or an incredible rookie season from Chriss or Bender, the Suns aren’t going to be a good team this season. They will be fun though-- it will be interesting to watch their young players grow.
Predicted Record: 33-49
Added: Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Jose Calderon, Yi Jianlian, Ivica Zubac, Coach Luke Walton
Lost: Kobe Bryant, Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Coach Byron Scott
Summary: The Kobe Bryant era is finally over in Lakerland. And most Lakers fans couldn’t be happier. The last couple years have been awful for the Lakers, as they endured a couple scandals, dealt with the departure of a franchise legend, and suffered under the travesty of Byron Scott. The future is bright— the Lakers have two blue-chip prospects in D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, along with several other promising young guys. They overpaid for Deng and Mozgov, but those veterans should help the on-court product and provide some stability in the locker room. Luke Walton is untested with running his own team, but he has received rave reviews everywhere he has gone, and can’t be anything other than a huge upgrade over Scott. The Lakers should be exciting, but are not gonna win too many games.
Predicted Record: 31-51
Added: Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, Matt Barnes, Anthony Tolliver, Ty Lawson, Jordan Farmar, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, Coach Dave Joerger
Lost: Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Quincy Acy, James Anderson, Seth Curry, Coach George Karl
Summary: The Kings remain a mess. Dave Joerger was a great addition as head coach, but the problems behind the scenes and on a pure talent level remain. Sacramento drafted two centers in the draft this year…their two best current players also play center. They have no starting point guard, and are going to be relying on a completely out-of-sorts Ty Lawson for big minutes. Arron Afflalo is a “name”, but he is awful defensively, and he’s not much more than a role player at this point in his career. Rudy Gay wants out. The smart move would be to trade DeMarcus Cousins, who has tons of talent but hasn’t been able to help the Kings move out of the lottery. The Boogie experiment has gone on long enough, and it’s time to start a complete rebuild around Willie Cauley-Stein and their draft picks this year. Sadly, the Kings moved to a new stadium this year, and need Cousins to sell tickets. It’s going to be another frustrating, mediocre season in Sacramento.
Predicted Record: 29-53