Warriors’ bounce back expected

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If not for the coronavirus pandemic we’re living through, the 2020-21 NBA season would be starting in roughly two weeks. Now we’re not likely to see action until 2021, although opening up on Christmas Day is something we’ll likely hear discussed.

Uncertainty rules the world these days. Fortunately, we can have faith in a league that managed to finish an abbreviated regular season and hold an entire postseason run in a bubble to find a way to get things squared away in a timely manner.

The NBA Draft is the next event we can wager on, but that won’t come until Nov. 18. The Timberwolves select first, followed by the Warriors, Hornets, Bulls and Cavs. California native LaMelo Ball, a versatile point guard who played in Australia’s pro league is the favorite to go No. 1, but that’s no lock.

Georgia wing Anthony Edwards, Memphis center James Wiseman, Auburn forward Isaac Okoro, Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton and international talent in guard Killian Hayes (France) and forward Deni Avdija (Israel) should all garner consideration in a fairly open draft that lacks depth.

From a futures standpoint, discovering what Golden State winds up doing with that No. 2 pick could play a huge role in riding the team that essentially tanked last season due to injuries to star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Will they pick Wiseman, a lanky rim protector who would be the best fit? Okoro and Avdija would also be terrific fits next to the Splash Brothers, Draymond Green and another former No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggins.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Golden State at 10-1, which appears to be terrific value given the likelihood that the Dubs get back on track. The defending champion Lakers are favored at 7-2, while the Clippers are at 9-2 despite disappointing by not reaching the Western Conference finals. Owner Steve Ballmer let go of Doc Rivers, but L.A.’s other team should remain a factor behind Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

The Bucks are favored to win the Eastern Conference (7-1) thanks to two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, but I love the Brooklyn Nets’ potential at 12-1. With Kevin Durant set to resume playing alongside Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, rookie head coach Steve Nash could have instant success and claim the title that eluded him as a player.

This season’s East finalists, the Celtics (12-1) and Heat (14-1) aren’t going away, so expect the East to be the most competitive it has been in over a decade.

Rivers will coach the Philadelphia 76ers now, and at 25-1, his ability to get the most out of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons makes them an intriguing option. Other longshots worth considering are the Houston Rockets (20-1) and Dallas Mavericks (30-1), whose talented All-Star tandems figure to improve in their second seasons playing together.

Last week: 1-1

Final season record: 45-32-2

About the Author

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national sportswriter for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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