Warriors

LeBron James, Lakers' preseason predictions were incredibly wrong

LeBron James, Lakers' preseason predictions were incredibly wrong

The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention after losing to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. For the first time since the 2004-05 season, LeBron will not be in the playoffs.

When James signed with the Lakers during the offseason, most people found themselves on one of two ends of the Hot Take Meter.

You were either on the side of “LeBron is the best in the world and won’t have any issues in the West," or you were the side of “LeBron only had success because he was in the East, and can’t repeat it in the West.”

There wasn’t much of a middle ground, nor is there ever in the era of morning debate shows and Twitter rants.

For analysts Stephen A. Smith, Chris Broussard, Nick Wright and others on the end of “LeBron is the best, he won’t have a problem,” well … they were wrong. 

By a lot.

Of course, any time someone has a hot take, there’s only one of two ways it can end up. You’re either going to be spot on, or you're going to be dead wrong.

The funny part is just how wrong they all were.

“Wake me when a LeBron James team doesn’t win 50 games,” said Wright.

Someone please wake up Nick, because the Lakers can’t sniff 50 wins. They currently sit at 31 wins with just nine games left.

Not only did Smith and Broussard predict the Lakers would win at least 50 games as well, but they also said LeBron would win MVP.

That’s not happening either. James hasn’t even been in that conversation for most of the year, ever since the Lakers' season started spiraling after he injured his groin Christmas Day against the Warriors.

“The Lakers are going to the Western Conference Finals, for sure,” predicted comedian Michael Rapaport, a frequent guest on Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed.

Any dream of LeBron vs. the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals is going to have to wait at least until next season, presumably after LeBron rebuilds the entire Lakers roster. 

The Warriors, despite a somewhat tumultuous season, have held onto their perch atop the Western Conference. While their rival Lakers have completely imploded, the Dubs sit at the No. 1 seed in the West and are heavily favored to three-peat as NBA Champions. 

[RELATED: Draymond makes bold prediction about Dubs in Chase Center]

While the Warriors' run to another title has been predictable, the Lakers' collapse has, admittedly, been stunning.

But that’s the business most of these guys are in. They get paid to give their hot takes. They’re going to miss on some predictions and hit on others. These were all predictions at the beginning of the season and obviously changed as the Lakers rough season progressed.

We could have shown all the people who predicted the Lakers fate correctly, but what fun would that be?

Warriors' Steph Curry second-best leader to Damian Lillard, NBA GMs say

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AP

Warriors' Steph Curry second-best leader to Damian Lillard, NBA GMs say

Warriors superstar Steph Curry is revered by his teammates and organization, and considered a fantastic leader.

Damian Lillard -- by all accounts -- is beloved by his Blazers teammates and franchise, and viewed as an awesome leader as well.

So it wasn't a surprise to see the following results to one specific question in NBA.com's 18th annual GM Survey:

Which player is the best leader?

1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41 percent
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37 percent
3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15 percent

Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City

Sure, Warriors fans probably think Curry should reside in the No. 1 spot. But this finding isn't a knock on the two-time NBA MVP, as it's more highlighting the positive perception (and reality) of Lillard.

Besides, Dame hails from Oakland and practically is slander-free in these parts. He grew up going to Warriors games at Oracle Arena. That's really cool.

[RELATEDNBA GM survey: Curry receives the second-most MVP votes]

But we will remind everybody that Curry and the Warriors eliminated Lillard and the Blazers from the playoffs in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

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Steph Curry reiterates championship goal despite slow Warriors preseason

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USATSI

Steph Curry reiterates championship goal despite slow Warriors preseason

The Warriors have one game to go on their preseason slate. So far, not so good. 

Golden State is 1-3 this preseason, losing all three of their games against the revamped Lakers. The Warriors' latest defeat came Wednesday night in a 126-93 beatdown by Los Angeles at Staples Center. In their three losses to the Lakers, they have been outscored by 61 points. 

While the Dubs were drubbed by 33 points on Wednesday night, star point guard Steph Curry could only watch his team get crushed. The two-time All-Star was on a planned night off. His view of Golden State's loss, however, didn't chance his view of the Warriors one bit. 

“A championship is still the goal,” Curry told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. “It’s always been. We’ve experienced it all and we’re going to keep pushing to get back there. That’s the goal. It’s the North Star. The narrative might have changed internally, but we’re still chasing the same goal.”

The biggest difference for Curry and the rest of the new-look Warriors, which had players such as Jacob Evans, Alfonzo McKinnie and Marquese Chriss is their starting lineup in their fourth preseason game, is how they start the season. Simply put, the Warriors can't coast. 

In years past when it nearly felt like a guarantee the Warriors were bound for the NBA Finals, they could use the first quarter of the season as more of an experiment. This year, the focus must ramp up. 

“We’ve always talked about focusing on the first 20 games, but this season, it doesn’t mean as we’ve said before. In the past, it was focusing on the first 20 games just to break up the 82-game monotony of the season. Now, it’s like the first 20 games [are] in a sense of urgency,” Curry told Haynes.

“We’ve got to start off on the right foot and create a new identity and basically have fun playing basketball no matter what happens, while working through some of the unknowns."

[RELATED: Warriors' frontcourt issues highlight season of change]

The unknowns are truly what stand out. Even Curry, who has won three titles through his first 10 seasons in the NBA, doesn't exactly know what this Warriors team is.

The next time Golden State can look for some Lakers redemption is Friday at Chase Center as the Warriors close out their preseason schedule. Less than a week later, the stakes become much higher in the regular-season opener against the Clippers.