So far, we all know a couple of things about this NBA season.
James Harden, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo seem like the frontrunners to win the MVP award, but Russell Westbrook and a couple others can also make a case.
Some players have pleasantly surprised us, like Victor Oladipo and rookies Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma.
Others have been flat-out disappointing while injuries have been a huge problem across the Association.
In the Western Conference, it looks like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs are the top contenders. In the East, the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors seem like they’re light years ahead of the rest of the field.
But, as seen every year, nothing ever seems to go as planned. New storylines emerge as every season rolls along. Trades happen. Crazy individual and team performances are highlighted. Unfortunate injuries ruin the potential of certain squads. Streaks occur. Momentum changes.
Here are three bold predictions about the rest of the regular season.
1. THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS WILL BREAK A LONG-STANDING FREE THROW RECORD
The 1988-1989 Boston Celtics hold the NBA record for best team free throw percentage over the course of a season when they knocked down 83.2 percent of their chances from the charity stripe. The Warriors are currently shooting an NBA-best 81.2 percent despite the fact that Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant both missed a bit of time this year. Curry is shooting 92.6 percent and Durant is shooting 89.4 percent from the line. With them back and healthy, this team definitely has the potential to break the Celtics’ mark.
2. THE TORONTO RAPTORS WILL FINISH FIRST IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE
The Raptors are currently 28-11, which ranks second in the Eastern Conference behind the 33-10 Celtics. However, digging deeper into the numbers, the Raptors have a few encouraging signs to point to. They hold the East’s best home record at 14-2. They also lead the conference in plus-minus at plus-7.7. Averaging 111.5 points per game (tops in the East as well), the Raptors have one of the best overall offenses in the game and have gone 6-2 against their division opponents so far. It’s safe to say that the Celtics have outperformed their expectations so far and could regress at some point. The Cleveland Cavaliers are a talented, yet flawed, group who could struggle on the defensive end of the floor with their current roster construction.
3. RUSSELL WESTBROOK WILL FINISH THE SEASON AS THE LEAGUE’S WORST THREE-POINT SHOOTER
As of Tuesday night, Westbrook holds a 31.4 percent three-point shooting mark which ranks seventh-worst among all qualified players. Brook Lopez, Dion Waiters, Lonzo Ball, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Ricky Rubio all have more embarrassing percentages, but Rubio’s league-worst 28.6 percent clip isn’t too far away. Considering Westbrook’s volume, it wouldn’t be shocking for his shooting percentage to swing high or low in a short period of time. He has been in a season-long funk from deep and there’s no reason to assume that he’ll snap out of it since he’s averaged under 30 percent from beyond the arc in four different seasons and is a 31.3 percent career shooter from long range.