Five Bold NBA Predictions for Week 2 Of 2018 Season
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers finally won a basketball game; as of Thursday afternoon, the Oklahoma City Thunder still haven’t. Ben Simmons has been a triple-double machine for the Philadelphia 76ers, Stephen Curry has been a scoring machine for the Golden State Warriors, T.J. Warren has been a bench machine for the Phoenix Suns, and Hassan Whiteside—as expected—has not been an assist machine for the Miami Heat. Now it’s time for some bold (or not-so-bold?) predictions for week 2 in the 2018 NBA season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will win back-to-back games
Russell Westbrook returned from a knee injury to make his 2018-19 debut this past Sunday and Oklahoma City still lost—to the lowly Sacramento Kings, in fact. The Thunder were at least somewhat competitive, trailing by five points with a little more than five minutes remaining en route to a 131-120 setback. Westbrook delivered 32 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists on 13-of-23 shooting, so from an individual perspective it was an encouraging performance. Following a tough Thursday night date with the Boston Celtics, OKC has back-to-back home contests against the Suns and Los Angeles Clippers. Phoenix star point guard Devin Booker may be out, while the Clippers are 2-2 and not expected to be anything special this season.
Ben Simmons won’t have another triple-double
Simmons has played three full games this season; he has produced a triple-double on two occasions and missed a third by two assists in the 76ers’ opening loss to the Celtics (19 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists). Against the Chicago Bulls last Thursday he went for 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. The 22-year-old Australian left after eight minutes due to a back injury this past Saturday and missed Tuesday’s setback against the Detroit Pistons. Simmons returned to contribute 14 points, 13 points, and 11 assists in Wednesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. A possible balky back, however, is always a concern and Philadelphia is obviously loaded with talented pieces who in general will sap some of Simmons’ statistics.
Stephen Curry will score at least 40 points at Madison Square Garden
After the absolutely ridiculous basketball that Curry displayed on Wednesday (51 points on 11-of-16 marksmanship from downtown during a 144-122 win over the Washington Wizards), this is not exactly an overly bold prediction. Still, 40 points are 40 points; it’s not easy—not even for the former Davidson College star. Like many others, he loves playing in Madison Square Garden (Golden State visits the New York Knicks there on Friday). But since pouring in 54 points at MSG in 2012-13, Curry has slumped in the Big Apple. He has averaged just 22.8 points per game in his last five appearances. The two-time NBA is due for another huge performance, and right now he is certainly playing like he’s going to deliver it.
Hassan Whiteside will assist on a basket
Miami’s 7’0’’ center has not yet dropped a single dime through four games this season. Even by big-man standards he is not exactly adept in the passing department, but can Whiteside at least dish out one freaking assist?!?! Dating back to the 2017-18 playoffs, in fact, the 29-year-old has played eight consecutive contests without recording an assist (he last had one—and exactly one—in Game 1 of the first round against Philadelphia). Whiteside twice delivered four-assist performances during the 2017-18 campaign, so he is at least somewhat capable of making a basketball leave his hands without going in the direction of the rim. He also has plenty of outside shooters to feed the rock to in Josh Richardson, Goran Dragic, and Rodney McGruder.
T.J. Warren will keep playing like the Sixth Man of the Year
Booker exited Wednesday’s loss to the Lakers with a strained hamstring and did not return. A Booker absence would not thrust Warren into the starting lineup of affect his playing time at all, as the former N.C. State standout plays power forward. But it would mean more statistics to go around for the rest of the Phoenix roster. Warren has already been racking up plenty of them, averaging 17.5 points per game while coming off the bench. The 25-year-old, who is shooting 54.0 percent from the floor (9-for-17 from three-point range), has also delivered two multi-steal performances. Warren contributed 19.6 ppg last season (albeit as a starter), so this is no fluke.