Mar 14, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (8), center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and guard Andrew Wiggins (22) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 107-104. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Looking back and analyzing five 2016-17 NBA pre-season narratives that we were all wrong about heading into the new season
The 2016-17 NBA season is roughly a week old, give or take a few days. During that short span, we’ve come to learn plenty of things about how this season will, or could, unfold.
From the Golden State Warriors getting a rude awakening on opening night, to the Cleveland Cavaliers picking up where they left off in the NBA Finals. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are still really good, and will continue to carry the Toronto Raptors.
Russell Westbrook is posting unbelievable, video game numbers and is looking like a legit NBA MVP candidate.
And that’s only the start of everything that transpired during the first few days of the NBA season. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at some of the loudest pre-season narratives that we were completely wrong about entering the 2016-17 season – at least one week into the NBA season.
Nov 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dribbles the ball as Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) plays defense in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Timberwolves Will Be A Top 4 Seed In The West
Throughout the summer, the Minnesota Timberwolves grew into NBA darlings. From Karl-Anthony Towns bursting into the scene a year ago, to the Wolves making some key additions during the NBA Draft, there was a lot to like about Minnesota moving forward.
However, through one week, I think it’s safe to say that we were all a bit wrong about the how good – or ready – this team will be. Don’t get me wrong, this team has immense talent. They’re the most talented young team in the NBA.
But that’s a problem. They’re young.
The Wolves, if they continue to develop, will eventually rule the NBA. It will be theirs one day. I just don’t think that will be this season. Minnesota might make the playoffs, but they won’t be a top 4 seed in the West. And I believe 1-2 start is a good indication of just that.
Oct 31, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots the ball as Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris (12) defends during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bulls Would Be A Disaster
As we witnessed Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman put together a roster of almost no three-point shooters, featuring Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams, we just continued to laugh from a distance.
One week into the new NBA season, and it’s Forman having the laugh. As of today, the Bulls are the best three-point shooting team in the league. Chicago is shooting 42.5 percent from three-point range on the year.
Dwyane Wade – 56%
Jimmy Butler – 55%
Doug McDermott – 50%
Isaiah Canaan – 50%
Michael Carter-Williams – 50%
Again, this is only through three games and is an extremely small sample size, but the fact that the Bulls have proved everyone wrong in this aspect is quite interesting.
Will their shooting eventually regress to the mean? You’d think. But, hey, we’ve seen stranger things (and not just the Netflix Original).
Oct 30, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after scoring a basket against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Warriors won 106-100. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors Will Be Untouchable
After the Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant on Independence Day, many wanted Adam Silver to ship them the Larry O’Brien Trophy that afternoon. However, it’s never as easy as it looks.
And the Warriors experienced that first-hand on opening night, when they were absolutely manhandled by the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio won by 29 points and, often times, it didn’t even feel that close.
There is still a lot that needs to be figured out between Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. And it will take some time.
With that said, I don’t think it’s fair to say that this team is going to cruise to an NBA Finals victory. The Spurs helped prove that for us on opening night.
Nov 1, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Utah Jazz small forward Joe Johnson (6) during the second half at AT&T Center. The Jazz won 106-91. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs Will Take A Step Back
With Tim Duncan exiting stage left, and heading into retirement, this was the ideal time to expect some sort of step back from the San Antonio Spurs. Instead, almost the opposite has happened. In large part to Kawhi Leonard.
Through five games, Leonard has been insanely good. Leonard is averaging 28 points on 51 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent from three-point range.
He’s the biggest part to the Spurs not taking a step back so far this season. This team desperately needed him to take a larger, more dominant role this season. He’s answered the bell, and then some.
And as we witnessed on opening night, the San Antonio Spurs might be the biggest obstacle between the Golden State Warriors winning a title this season. It also appears that Leonard is ready for that challenge.