We’re still a good 3 months from the start of the new NBA season, but the takes are coming in fast. We won’t call ESPN’s annual prediction calculator a “hot take,” their resources are considerable. But to be doing this before we see the end of July seems…premature.
Still, the numbers are in, and there’s no real surprise at the top of the Western Conference predictions. ESPN predicts that the Golden State Warriors will finish atop the Western Conference regular season standings for the third consecutive year, coming off their second-consecutive Finals berth and the addition of Kevin Durant to their roster. However, the matter of debate is in the team’s win total. ESPN has the Dubs slated to win 67 games. That feels like a bit of a lowball, doesn’t it? They’re returning their 3 All-Star starters, replaced one departing starter with one of the game’s 3 best players, and retained their salient role players. They even added a productive one in David West.
Still, ESPN has the Warriors 6 games off their record-setting pace, which is still really, really good.
The rest of the West’s top 4 looks pretty reasonable, with the Spurs, Clippers, and young Portland Trailblazers securing home-court in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. The Durant-less Thunder still make the cut as the 6th seed, and the Dwight Howard-less Rockets squeeze in at 41-41, very similar to last season.
You can see the full list of predictions for both conferences here.