The 2016-17 NBA season is less than a month away and teams ready to open their training camp next week. The Golden State Warriors are still the favorites to not only make their fourth straight NBA Finals but also to win their third NBA championship in four years. However, it seems like analytics have found a new foe for the Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals.
According to Seth Walder of ESPN Analytics, the Warriors have a 57.9 percent chance of repeating as NBA champions based on their Basketball Power Index or BPI. It is a model developed by ESPN to predict the offensive and defensive strengths of each NBA teams. The BPI also uses other factors such as schedule, game location and rest differential to make projections.
The ESPN model simulates the entire NBA season 10,000 times for both the regular season and playoffs. With the season still about a month away, BPI used previous team performances and Vegas win totals to predict that the Warriors have a 57.9 percent of winning the 2018 NBA championship. Golden State had a 52.4 percent chance last season when Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and the rest of the crew only needed 17 games to win their second NBA title in three years.
The Warriors are the favorites because they have kept their roster intact while also adding role players such as Nick Young, Omri Casspi, and Jordan Bell. Golden State also has a +9.4 rating heading into the season with +5.6 rating on offense and +3.7 rating on defense.
The new-look Houston Rockets came in second with a +5.1 BPI rating, followed by the San Antonio Spurs with +4.9. But since the Rockets and Spurs are in the same conference as the Warriors, they are not going to meet in the 2018 NBA Finals. The current favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference is the Kyrie Irving-led Boston Celtics with a +4.9 BPI rating.
Boston is +1.1 BPI ratings better than the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics have 12.1 percent of winning it all with their new core of Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum. On the other hand, the Cavaliers were only given a 6.4 percent chance of becoming two-time NBA champions.
Golden State and Boston both had a great offseason with the Warriors keeping their core intact while the Celtics getting a superstar like Kyrie Irving. However, the Warriors are already having problems with Kevin Durant, who blasted Stephen Curry’s Under Armour shoes and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Twitter.
According to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, the Warriors were reportedly perplexed by Durant’s recent actions before the start of training camp. Durant already got his championship ring and he is looking to add more so it’s time for him to move on from the Thunder.
As for the Celtics, they are ready to take it to the next level with Kyrie Irving at the helm. Irving is already out of LeBron James’ shadow and he has an early chance to prove it when they open the season against the Cavaliers. The Warriors, meanwhile, hosts the Rockets on Opening Night where they will receive their championship rings.
[Featured Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]