5. Golden State Warriors will return to the Western Conference Finals
With the moves they’ve made this offseason, this is a Warrior team fully focused on making at least one more deep playoff run under their current core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The distractions of last season should now be behind them, allowing on-court basketball to be the primary storyline. We should see improved results, even if Golden State don’t take the regular season too seriously as to ensure their veteran pieces are healthy come playoff time.
Predicting the Warriors to get back to the Conference Finals isn’t just about themselves necessarily, but more so about the rivals in the West and the generally competitive nature that’s forecasted.
Golden State is one of a plethora of teams capable of making an extended playoff push, but who also face very real and legitimate question marks heading into the season. Most have the reigning champion Denver Nuggets as the prohibitive favorite in the conference, yet even they appear weakened by the offseason losses of Jeff Green and particularly Bruce Brown.
As for every other team who may be in the mix, the Warriors might fancy themselves at least a 50-50 bet if a seven-game series were to start tomorrow. Of course things can change over the course of an 82-game season, but the franchise should feel like it’s well placed to challenge for another NBA title.