We have already taken a look at a few point guards and projected how they may fare in the 2017-18 NBA season, but now let us turn our attention to three of the league’s brightest stars (with no disrespect to the more than a handful of names we leave out, in these selections). LeBron James is still the league’s most dominant two-way talent, even with Kawhi Leonard closing the gap each season.
We focus on LBJ. Beyond that, the Slim Reaper, Kevin Durant, enters his second season with the Golden State Warriors, so we try to assess what, if any, improvements will be on the slate for the most talented scorer perhaps ever. He is certainly the most-efficient in the last three decades. Lastly, we take time to look at The Bearded one, James Harden and try to figure how the addition of Chris Paul will impact his stats this season.
All futures odds and bets are c/o Bovada.lv
LeBron James over/under 7.5 assists per game
LeBron James over/under 24.5 points per game
LeBron James over/under 8 triple-doubles
LeBron James bid adieu to his running-mate Kyrie Irving this summer, and Irving was replaced with the diminutive (and injured) 5-foot-9 gunner Isaiah Thomas. The effect this has on the King’s stats should be nothing short of incredible, and while James has been known to “coast” through regular seasons, there is something indicating that might not be the case this year as he now teams back up with his friend Dwyane Wade this year. James probably is going to light the league on fire, and in doing so entirely revitalize the career of Derrick Rose.
That really should not be as shocking as it sounds, but it does seem at least a little strange to think of both Rose and Wade resurgences, albeit for slightly different reasons.
James should have little problem beating the 7.5 assists, probably averaging close to nine per game. The 24.5 points per game are is also setting the bar low for a guy who can basically score at will, whenever he feels like it. Triple that statement for the triple-doubles, as this could potentially be a year that we begin to wonder if James ever will indeed show any signs of age, or if he rather will just dominate through the age of 40, much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, and the other freakishly talented and conditioned that came before him. Three OVERS, believe it or not.
Kevin Durant over/under 25 points per game
Kevin Durant over/under 8 rebounds per game
Kevin Durant secured the 2017 Finals MVP award, and he fit perfectly in Golden State. He averaged 25.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season, and we expect very similar numbers in his second year in the Bay. Durant saw a career-low 33.4 minutes per game last season, mostly because the Dubs simply blew everyone out and there was little need for him to be on the court in blowout fourth quarters. His efficiency scoring the ball is what we really like though: Durant shot 53.7 percent from the floor and 87.5 percent from the line while attempting 16.5 field goals and 6.2 free throws per game.
The rebounds, however, are more concerning, and Durant has not ever averaged over 7.6 rebounds per game in his 10 NBA seasons. This really seems too easy, but we are going with an OVER on the 25 points—if ever so slightly, just like last year— while going with the UNDER on the rebounds, because it just does not seem plausible that at age 28 he increases that figure by a half-board per game. Typically as guys get into their late 20s, their rebounding numbers begin to trail off, and a more interesting mark for oddsmakers would have been to set this at 7.5. That is the true mark. So, it is an UNDER on the glasswork.
James Harden over/under 8.5 assists per game
James Harden over/under 28 points per game
James Harden over/under 7 rebounds per game
James Harden had one of the most dominant seasons in NBA history last year. However, Russell Westbrook put on a slightly greater show simply due to the accruement of his vast number of triple-doubles—and his triple-double average. Let us not ignore just how good Harden was, however. The Beard averaged 29 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds per game. One major change this year, though, is that he now has the mega-talented point guard Chris Paul coming over from L.A. to join him in the backcourt. Counter to this, of course, is that the pair has already exhibited great chemistry in the preseason, and the fact that Mike D’Antoni is probably one of the league’s best ever at incorporating talents and just making them all fit together seamlessly.
That said, while we do see Harden approaching 30 points per game, the fall off will come in his passing, which oddsmakers certainly concur on. 8.5 assists seem like setting it low, but Paul is the point “god” of the team, and CP3 will be the one who reaches double-figure assists. As for Harden, it is simply too dicey. We take a PUSH on the assist total while going with the OVER on the 28 points. His rebounding should be about the same as last year, which was 8.1 per game. That makes for another OVER.
Harden and Paul should team together to produce a club that reaches the elusive 60-win total for the regular season, and in doing so, Harden will continue to rack up the stats—the assists are just too tough to call as the offense restructures and adapts to having two elite primary ball handlers who can make plays for the plethora of shooters inhabiting H-Town’s roster.