10. Golden State Warriors
Yes, the Golden State Warriors have won the NBA Championship in 3 of the last 5 years, but they will certainly not look the same. The losses of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala obviously makes this a much less talented team, not to mention the injury of Klay Thompson.
Yes, they added D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein in the off-season, but there are major questions of the fit with Russell. For starters, he’s a ball dominant guard on a team that prides itself on ball movement. How will Russell fit? Will his presence take the ball out of Draymond Green’s hands, who the Warriors have used as their primary facilitator? Will Russell’s volume shooting take away from Curry’s shot attempts? These are all valid questions for the Warriors to figure out as they look to turn the page on one of the best assembled rosters in the history of the league. I still have them in the playoffs but I’m not expecting them to get very far.
9. Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have undergone a culture change over the last several years. Steve Atkinson and Sean Marks have re-set the culture and led the Nets into the playoffs with a young roster led by D’Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, and Spencer Dinwiddie. Granted they did lose Russell, but they retained Dinwiddie and Allen. And they also were arguably the winners of free agency having added Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. Sure KD won’t be ready to play for likely a year but they will still be one of the top 3 teams in the Eastern Conference and should make some noise this season. Fellow New Yorkers will have something to be proud and excited about, even if only for one of their teams.
Next: Nos. 7-8