I think that this article is pretty self-explanatory based on the name. In this article, I’m going to be making 20 predictions that I consider to be “bold” for this upcoming season
A little side note: I talk a lot about my record predictions in this article. If you would like to read that article to fully understand what I’m talking about when mentioning them, click this link and go read my record predictions for all 30 teams: https://atletissports.com/2019/08/04/projecting-every-teams-record-for-the-2019-2020-nba-season/
Number 1: The Warriors will not get above 50 wins this season
The Warriors offseason has been considered a success by many fans, as they acquired D’Angelo Russell and a draft pick in a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant. But, they lost a top 3 player in this league in Durant, and will not have Klay Thompson until at least February. They still don’t have a solid bench except for a center (whether it be Cauley-Stein or Looney) and are so guard heavy that they will be playing Klay at the 3-spot if they keep Russell after Klay returns. With the lack of a bench, a guard-heavy team, and two very ball-dominant guards on their team, I believe that the Warriors will not pass 50 wins this season
Number 2: Gordon Hayward will come back to average 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists
When Gordon Hayward went down with an ankle injury during the first night of the 2017-2018 NBA season, fans let out a collective gasp because they figured the Celtics were not going to achieve the goals they had before that game. Then, Hayward returned for the 2018-2019 season and was very disappointing. But, that’s after a summer of getting strength back and rehabbing. Now that he is healthy for an offseason, he can work on bettering himself and his game. I think that he’s not worried about injury anymore and will bounce back and start to look like “Utah Jazz” era Gordon Hayward. He won’t be as good as then, but he will start to get on track to being that good again.
Number 3: James Harden will not score above 30 points per game, but will average a double-double in points and assists
James Harden is one of the best scorers in the entire NBA. He averaged 36 points per game this past season and went on a very impressive run of scoring 30+ points in consecutive games. With that being said, though, Russell Westbrook was added to the team by trade this offseason, and that means there is now a scoring point guard in Houston instead of a pass-first one. So, just from common sense alone, people will probably not bet on Harden scoring 30+ ppg this season. However, because he has a scoring point guard on his team, he is now able to dish the ball to all 4 players on the court for them to score, inside or outside. He averaged 7.5 assists already this past season with only 3 options, and at one point only 2 because Capela was injured. I think that with the new addition of Westbrook in Houston, it will bring down Harden’s scoring totals, but will dramatically increase his assists. Therefore, he will average a double-double for the season.
Number 4: The Suns will finish as the worst team in the NBA, and the only team below 20 wins because they trade Devin Booker
It hurts me to say this, it does. I love the Suns, and Devin Booker is one of, if not my favorite player in the NBA. He would be an all-star on any other team, and would be in talks for an MVP award was he on a contender. But the Suns are like the Cubs in the mid-to-late 1900s, as in they’re the lovable losers of the NBA. But, even then, you gotta admit that so far this rebuild is not working out for them.
The main reason I believe the Suns are going to be this bad, though, is that they will finally cave and trade Devin Booker at the deadline for draft picks and expiring deals. Or, you could trade him for an experienced veteran shooting guard who has experience with rebuilds. I like trading Booker for Jrue Holiday, Frank Jackson, one of the Laker’s first-round picks, and a Pelican’s first-round pick. You could maybe throw a second-round pick or 2 in there, but it just depends on how much the Suns want in return for Booker. Booker gives a shooting presence in the starting lineup that the Pelicans don’t have, and I believe that would immediately shoot up their chances of winning a title in the next couple of years. Also, I just really want to see Devin Booker play with Zion because we all know that would be fun.
Number 5: The Clippers will be the only team that gets 60+ wins
If you were to ask any NBA fan who has the best roster in the league from starters down, they would say the Clippers. Their projected starting lineup is looking like Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Ivica Zubac, with people like Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell coming off the bench. They have the best bench in the NBA, with probably the most depth as well. Most teams have around 1 or 2 guys that can get you 20 a night, but the Clippers have 4. The Clippers are the Golden State Warriors of the NBA this season, except people, don’t hate them. They’re the best team with the most loaded roster, and almost everybody believes that they’re going to be the team representing the West in the Finals this year.
Number 6: Jordan Clarkson gets traded from the Cavs to a contending team
It’s really funny how things come full circle for Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson was on a terrible team that obtained the number 2 pick three years in a row, then got traded to a team that made it to the Finals. Now, he’s on a terrible team that is lottery bound for the time being and will likely be traded to a contender willing to give up draft picks. Clarkson will likely be a rental for whatever team he goes to, as he only has one year left on his deal. The Cavs would most likely like to players that are in either the second to last or the last year of their deals as they are aiming to attack free agency in either 2020 or 2021.
Number 7: Zion Williamson will NOT win Rookie of the Year
The think about the Rookie of the Year award is that it usually goes to the player that affects their team the most. Players like Michael Carter-Williams won the award because they would have standout seasons on their teams that were awful. That’s the type of award winner I expect this year, as RJ Barrett is on the team that I project to have the second-worst record in the entire NBA in the New York Knicks. Zion, on the other hand, is on a team that many people (myself excluded, I have them 9th by one game) have going to the playoffs. He will be an impact player for the Pelicans and will be a finalist for the award, but because of the impact that RJ will have on the Knicks, I have RJ winning the award over Zion.
Number 8: LeBron James will be a finalist for MVP again after leading the Lakers to a 57 win season
People claim that LeBron started to decline last year, which is honestly kind of stupid to say because he did better than his career averages in every major statistical category. Yes, he got majorly injured for the first time in his career, but injuries happen. LeBron is still in peak physical condition and hasn’t lost a step. He’s also rested and has gotten a full offseason for the first time in 14 years, which means he’s well-rested and able to work on strength and mobility instead of worrying about how he’s going to carry a team to the Finals again. I think that LeBron has what it takes to average a double-double in points and assists this year. His scoring will likely take a step down with AD and Cousins around him, but that won’t matter too much because Point LeBron is coming a full time this season.
Number 9: LeBron James will pass Kobe Bryant for 3rd all-time in scoring
Speaking of LeBron, I have another prediction about the 6’8″ small forward from Akron, Ohio. This isn’t a bold prediction, but it’s so big that it has to be mentioned. If he plays his average number of games per season at 74, and he scores at just his career average of 27.2, he will get 2,037 points in this upcoming regular season, which means he will be ahead of Kobe by 937 points. This does not include the playoffs, which the Lakers will certainly be in barring any disaster string of injuries. So, just based off of math alone, Kobe will no longer be 3rd all-time in scoring come to the end of the regular season.
Number 10: Ben Simmons shoots 30% from 3 with a minimum of 100 attempts
Ben Simmons has listened to the haters and has decided to finally work on a jump shot. I’ve seen videos of him in workouts and scrimmages, and he’s hitting them with some level of consistency. Plus, he is hitting them off the dribble and with the catch-and-shoot. Going into this next season, I think that people will stop doubting his work ethic and want to get better because you can tell that he has that desire. He’s not going to set the net on fire anytime soon, but I believe he has what it takes to jump from 0% to 30% in just one offseason.
Number 11: Isaiah Thomas returns and averages 15 ppg as the starting point guard for the Wizards
I don’t think any player has had it as rough as IT in the past couple of years. First, he was traded to the Cavs, then he had to have hip surgery. He then got traded after about 18 games with the Cavs after locker room disputes and was not chased by anybody in free agency until the Nuggets picked him up. Then he had to have another surgery on his hip, and when he was benched for the most part during the regular season and the playoffs, even though he was healthy. But now, he’s on a team that has no clear starting point guard since John Wall will be out for the whole year. It’s going to be a while for him to get back to MVP-candidate form if he ever does. But I believe that this season will be the year that he shows what he can be worth to a team.
Number 12: The 76’ers represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals
Remember after game 7 in the second round when all of you made fun of Joel Embiid for crying? Yeah, well, you might have just made Joel mad. He has started working on his diet and getting into even better shape, as well as he’s only going to get stronger and more mature from here. With Simmons adding a three-point shot and better defensive players on the floor, I think that the 76’ers have a real shot of going all the way to the Finals. Do I think they’ll win? They may do, but it goes against my prediction because:
Number 13: The Rockets will win the 2020 NBA Championship
The Rockets are going to need some time to gel, and that’s why I said that they won’t surpass 60 wins this season. They certainly have the potential to, but I just don’t think that it will happen this year. But, we have seen teams with less than 60 wins win the championship plenty of times in the past, and in recent history especially. Plus, now they have two of the last 3 MVP’s playing on the same team. All they need is a better wing player to match up with Russ and Harden so they don’t have PJ Tucker starting every game. If they do that, they will be the best team in the NBA from a talent standpoint. But from a chemistry standpoint, I think they’re already there.