Eli Horowitz | Medium Talk Co-Creater
1. The Warriors, barring injuries, will break the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls record for regular-season wins.
The 1995-1996 Bulls team went 72-10 and had a nearly perfect season. The Warriors are already 12-0 with an average margin of victory of 15.3 points per game. To finish at 73-9 and break the record they’ll need to go 61-9 in their final 70 games (an 87% winning percentage-last year they were 67-15, winning 81.7% of their games). Barring a long-term injury to Steph Curry or Draymond Green, I don’t see this team finishing below that mark. While the organization could decide to rest people for the playoffs, the players will likely have other ideas.
2. Coaching Matters
While ultimately it is a players league, coaching is the difference-maker when it comes to elevating a team from mediocre to competitive. The Pistons are surprising people because of their coaching. The Spurs continue to win because of their coaching. Even on the margins, the difference between the Hawks and the Wizards is coaching. And thus, I’m not surprised that at 4-7, the Rockets fired Kevin McHale today. The most disappointing part of McHale’s tenure was Dwight Howard, who didn’t seem to improve his post-up game despite McHale being one of the greatest big men of all time.
Below are the early season records of teams with Championship coaches:
Warriors- 12-0 (Kerr sidelined)
Mavericks- 7-4 (Carlisle)
Spurs- 8-2 (Popovich)
Clippers- 6-4 (Rivers)
Heat – 6-4 (Spoelstra)
3. Stan Van Gundy Knows What He’s Doing
See above. Though Stan doesn’t have a ring, he dragged Dwight Howard and a bunch of shooters to the championship against the Lakers in 2009. In many ways Van Gundy was ahead of the curve playing with just one big man before the entire league followed that model. Dwight Howard’s best basketball was in Orlando under Stan Van Gundy. Thus, it’s no surprise that Andre Drummond has exploded under Stan’s tutelage in Detroit. With already two marquee wins against Cleveland and Chicago, it will be interesting to see if Detroit is able to add one more piece before the trade deadline.
4. The East MIGHT be Deeper than the West
Yeah I said it. Who really scares you in the West outside of Golden State and San Antonio? In the East you have Cleveland, Chicago, Toronto, Atlanta, Washington, and Miami—all of whom are potentially dangerous teams. Even after those, you have teams like Boston, Detroit, and Milwaukee who are young and seem to be really well coached. While the Rockets, Thunder, and Clippers at their best are far more talented than the aforementioned East teams, there is something really intriguing about the depth in the East.
5. Three Teams Have a Chance to Win it All
For all the articles, podcasts, and analysis, there’s really only three teams left in the field. The Warriors will likely repeat, but only the Spurs, with their superior coaching and veteran play, and the Cavs, who have the best player in the league, could seriously contend with Golden State in a seven-game series. The other teams worth mentioning are the Clippers, Thunder, and Bulls, but a lot would have to go their way.