As in they will pace the league in win totals, according to basketball gambling soothsayers. The Golden State Warriors are projected to have another 67-win season in 2017-18. The Dubs retained their big four core of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and the other guy – Curry in particular signed the largest contract in the history of the NBA, though it was only the 13th largest deal in the history of sports. Additionally, the Warriors resigned Shaun Livingston, David West, and Andre Iguodala, and acquired Nick Young and Omri Casspi. All things considered no surprises there. What might or might not come as a shock to people betting on NBA games is the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers are not playing second fiddle to the Dubs; more like fourth fiddle, actually.
The Cavs are expected to win 54 games, which is actually three more than last season. Then again, fans betting on NBA games should not be surprised if LeBron James plays even fewer regular season games in 2017-18. Fun fact: the King has never played a full 82-game regular season. Furthermore, he has reached 80 games only twice; 80 in 2004-05 and 81 2008-09. More recently, he played 69 games in 2014-15, 76 in 2015-16, and 74 last season. And this has nothing to do with age – because he gets better with age, like a sexy fine wine – or health because, like Chris Jericho, he’s never really been injured. Basketball gambling-wise, teams are more successful when James plays fewer games; the Heat won title in 2011-12 and 2012-13 when LeBron played 62 and 76 games. Ditto the Cavs in 2015-16. Cleveland has learned the value of saving the King for the playoffs, which is the Wrestlemania season of the NBA. So he’s like the Undertaker. Like a Jericho-Taker hybrid. Yeah, that’s it.
So the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs are sandwiched between the Warriors and the Cavs, at 56 and 55 wins respectively. The Rockets resigned Maybyner Rodney Hilário (legally known as Nenê) but obviously to matching and possibly surpassing last year’s 55-27 record lies with one James ‘’The Beard” Harden and his newly arrived from Los Angeles teammate Chris Paul, in exchange for whom Houston sent Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer, a future first round pick, and cash considerations to the Clippers. Say what you will, Lance… the Clips totally traded Chris.
Meanwhile the Spurs resigned Rudy Gay and have made no offseason acquisitions so far, but what they really need to be basketball gambling contenders is a healthy Kawhi Leonard. The small forward is the only player in the league to be in the top three of the MVP voting for the last two seasons and if his game continues to improve – and injuries aside there is no reason to believe it won’t – he just might top the list this upcoming season. His biggest challenge though will be to lead the Spurs as a whole to new heights.