This season should be remembered for three things: Golden State winning 83 games, LeBron James literally winning two NBA Finals’ games alone and injuries. The injuries were absolutely brutal, more brutal than they maybe have ever been. The healthiest teams usually puts themselves in the best position to win. It makes sense. Golden State had the deepest, most complete team this year. You can’t take anything away from their no. 1 offense and defense rating. They had a great rotation and deserve recognition for winning EIGHTY-THREE games. There’s no but, either, they’re the champions. Now, it’s time to look forward. Can Golden State sustain it? Can they join the Heat and Lakers as the only teams to repeat this century? I don’t think so. Numbers suggest they can. They dominated opponents this year. Teams couldn’t figure them out at home, and they had too many weapons to consistently beat them on the road. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are the best backcourt in basketball. Draymond Green morphed into this crazy hybrid playmaking four who racked up triple-doubles like it was nothing. Andre Iguodala accepted his off-the-bench role, and was rewarded with a damn Finals MVP. The last two Finals’ MVPs combine for 1 All-Star appearance. Crazy. Anyway, Golden State’s good. They could very well repeat as champions. Everyone comes back. It’s yet to be determined how much Draymond Green gets paid, but they’ll most likely retain him. Golden State will have one of the best rosters in basketball come October, unless something drastic happens. They’re in excellent shape to be a West contender, but as I wrote after the Warriors dropped two of the first three to begin the Finals, Golden State plays in the West, which has four of the best five teams in basketball.
I haven’t heard from Kevin Durant recently. He’s getting healthy, or maybe he’s already healthy. He’s last season’s Most Valuable Player, but he spent much of this year watching games from the bench. Your team usually doesn’t play well when your best player doesn’t play, but the Thunder nearly made the playoffs in the competitive West because their second best player, Russell Westbrook, went bonkers down the stretch. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook together is the best duo in basketball. Throw in a consistent post presence, Enes Kanter, spot-up shooters, Anthony Marrow and Kyle Singler, a third star, Serge Ibaka and physical, gritty guys, Dion Waiters (maybe), Mitch McGary, Steven Adams, DJ Augustin and whomever they pick in the lottery and Oklahoma City has one of the most complete rosters in basketball. Billy Donovan has an enormous job. This might be Kevin Durant’s last season in OKC, and Billy Donovan has a fantastic opportunity to win it all. My way, way too early Finals’ prediction has Oklahoma City winning it all.
This offseason isn’t nearly as intriguing as last year’s on paper, but it could end up more intriguing. Cleveland has major question marks since they have three restricted free agents (Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert) and eight unrestricted (although Shawn Marion’s retiring and who knows what Mike Miller will do). LeBron James, Kevin Love, Miller and J.R. Smith have player options, while Timofey Mozgov has a team one, and James Jones, Kendrick Perkins and Marion are outright free agents. Dwyane Wade may or may not return to Miami, so Cleveland will be rumored to Wade until Miami signs him, or he signs elsewhere. Tristan Thompson is a guy that Cleveland wants to retain, for sure. I don’t know what team will offer him the max, but there has to be a couple after his play in the postseason. If Kevin Love does leave Cleveland, that Wiggins-Love swap is just as bad, maybe even worse, than the James Harden trade. It made zero sense then, and it makes even less sense (if that’s possible) now.
I might ramble in the next paragraph, but here’s what I want some teams to do this offseason. Boston Celtics should sign Kevin Love, and then try to trade up to draft Willie Cauley Stein. Dallas Mavericks should sign LaMarcus Aldridge, a wing (Khris Middleton/Danny Green) and get DeAndre Jordan. I don’t know if Monta Ellis comes back in that situation. (I don’t know if the salary would even work for Aldridge, Jordan and a wing; Middleton’s going to get paid by Milwaukee, hence why they traded Ersan llyasova, but Dallas can afford Danny Green). The Knicks best way to make the playoffs next year is signing Greg Monroe, drafting D’Angelo Russell (or trading the fourth pick for Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe and their 13th pick). New Orleans should not re-sign Omer Asik, but instead sign former Hornet Robin Lopez. Brook Lopez? I have no idea where he lands. Maybe back in Brooklyn, but I can’t even decipher what Brooklyn should or shouldn’t do. They’re too much of a mess. If Aldridge leaves Portland, where does that leave Wes Mathews? Look out for Cleveland. I would love Mathews with the Cavaliers. They don’t have to retain Iman, and J.R. might opt out of his player option to get a longer deal. Minnesota has to draft Karl Anthony Towns, and let this thing grow. The Lakers? Their best bet in Kobe’s last year, to make the playoffs, and maybe win a series, would be to sign LaMarcus Aldridge and trade their pick for a really good wing. But like that’s not going to happen, so they might as well build for the future. It sucks because Kobe should go out at or near the top.
That’s just several teams’ moves I’d love to see happen. With the cap rising soon, teams will have many makeovers in the next couple seasons. This year’s important because there are some key free agents that might decide to do smaller deals, so they can get one final max contract when the cap rises. Who knows where Paul Millsap lands? There are lots of big men available in free agency, and, I don’t mention earlier, but the Houston Rockets could snag one of them.
As for the NBA Draft a week away, I still want the 76ers to draft Russell. I think he just makes too much sense for them. I don’t really know what’s going on with Joel Embiid. Everything is just speculation outside of Woj’s report and Sam Hinkie’s statement that followed. There have been reports that he doesn’t need surgery, but he has to sit out all next year? I don’t know what to make of them. It’s crushing because Embiid’s supposed to play in the summer league and be ahead of schedule to play next season, and now there’s a chance he doesn’t play in 2015-2016. But if him sitting out of basketball activities for a month or so, lets him being 100 percent healthy than it doesn’t matter if we can’t see him play in Las Vegas. I really like either guard Philly worked out this week (Russell and Mudiay), and although Philly has been rumored to Kristaps Porzingis the last few weeks, I still think they draft a guard/wing.