Every summer, ESPN Forecast surveys a whole bunch of people and asks for a prediction on the record of every team, who will win awards, and on and on. The idea is simple: A large collection of minds predicting something often can create a consensus, which is often very accurate.
The East was revealed on Monday, with the Cavs being picked first with a 56-26 record. The West is out today, and the Thunder are sitting atop it with a 58-24 predicted record.
Here’s the rest of the West:
Trail Blazers 51-31
So… why the Thunder on top of the defending champs? One thing to remember: The Thunder won 59 games last season and finished just three back of the Spurs despite Russell Westbrook missing 36 regular season games. Now, they played exceptionally well for a stretch without him, but they also had two very difficult patches in adjusting to playing without him. If Westbrook plays the entire season healthy, I think he’s worth 4-6 more wins alone.
The Thunder should be better this season than last. They’ve made one small roster improvement in adding Anthony Morrow, an their core pieces are a year older and hopefully, a year better. Plus, the younger players like Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams and Perry Jones should come back better players.
Doesn’t necessarily mean the Thunder are the favorite, but it’s not hard to see why they’re an early pick to win the most in the rough and tumble West.