The NBA regular season kicks off in just ONE day, and as excited as we are to watch the Thunder take on the Warriors in Oakland tonight, we’re extremely excited for the entire season. The start of a new season means the Thunder Guys are back with our annual bold predictions for the upcoming season.
1. Russell Westbrook will win his second MVP.
Many people believe that Russell Westbrook’s MVP days are behind him. In my opinion, the best from Westbrook is yet to come. Considering the amount of talent around him on this roster, he has the potential to have the best season of his career. It won’t be like his first MVP where he was simply all Oklahoma City had. This will be a hungry, focused, and extremely efficient Russell Westbrook leading his team to the post-season.
2. Billy Donovan will win Coach of the Year.
Let me get this straight, Billy Donovan is a great coach. Sure, I’ve been critical of him in the past, but the guy wasn’t given the easiest situation in his first few seasons as an NBA coach. Donovan has never been able to coach the same roster from one year to the next. With a ton of returning talent this season, I believe Billy D will have the best game plans, rotations, and halftime adjustments we’ve seen yet.
3. OKC will reach the Western Conference Finals.
Most analysts have the Thunder finishing in the top three in the Western Conference. However, I don’t think anyone has them making the Conference Finals. Unlike a year ago, this Thunder roster really is made for the post-season. I think the Thunder roll over their opponents in the first two rounds and head into the playoffs with plenty of rest.
4. OKC will win 60 Games.
Getting to 60 wins may seem like a ridiculous expectation for this team. However, I believe they will finish the season as the #2 seed. In order to finish in the top two in a conference that has both Golden State and Houston, you’re going to have to win 60 games. This Thunder team is more than capable of having that kind of season. In fact, if they can stay healthy, it’s highly likely.
5. Russell Westbrook will average a triple-double once again.
Are the days of triple-doubles getting played out? Not even close in Oklahoma City. I’ve already predicted Westbrook to win MVP. If he’s going to do that, and if this team is going to get 60 wins, Russ will need to average a triple-double. I do not see this being something that the Brodie chases after, I just think he will do whatever needs to be done in order to win.
1. The Thunder will finish in the top 10 in free throw shooting.
Last season, Oklahoma City struggled for the charity stripe, and nobody really knows why. The Thunder finished 29th out of 30 in the NBA making just 71.6% of their attempts. While it may be easy to blame guys like Andre Roberson for the team’s low percentage, the biggest free throw problem last year was Russell Westbrook. I think that will swing back in the right direction this season.
2. Oklahoma City will average double-digit steals.
A year ago, the Thunder led the league in steals with 9.1 per game. Losing Carmelo Anthony in the offseason doesn’t exactly hurt Oklahoma City’s defense, but the setback concerning Andre Roberson’s injury definitely could. Still, I expect this team to crank up the intensity on the defensive end and do more of taking the ball away from opponents.
3. The Thunder will lose no more than seven home games.
Only twice in the Thunder’s time in Oklahoma City (not including the shortened 2011-12 season) has the Thunder lost no more than seven home games. They did it in consecutive season in 2013-14 and 2014-15, losing exactly seven home games each season. This year, I think Oklahoma City has what it takes to do the same and hold down home court advantage as good as any team in the league.
4. Steven Adams will average 15 PPG.
Last season, Adams averaged 13.9 PPG on just 9.4 FGA per game. His 62.9% shooting from the field was the sixth-highest FG% in the league last season, and his efficiency around the rim will once again help him improve his scoring. Steven Adams is going to directly benefit from the departure of Carmelo Anthony, and he should see more touches in the paint, which will naturally lead to a scoring increase.
5. Russell Westbrook will finish the season with fewer than 10 technical fouls.
In six of the last seven seasons, Russell Westbrook has finished the regular season with at least 10 technical fouls. During that time, he has been ejected six total times. I think that this season will be generally less frustrating than past years, and because of that Westbrook will be far less likely to blow up, specifically at officials.
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